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Services are at 8:15 a.m. and 10 a.m. each Sunday

Standing Up To Demons

Standing Up To Demons

“Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Legion’; for many demons had entered him.” Luke 8:30

The Reverend Luther Zeigler

June 19, 2016 – Pentecost 5C

What happens when an Orthodox rabbi and his mother walk into a gay bar? No, this is not the opening line of a joke. Far from it. It is, rather, a true story; and the answer is that something beautiful, courageous and sacred happens.

A former clergy colleague of mine from Washington, DC, Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, leads the oldest orthodox synagogue in our Nation’s Capital. Last Sunday, Rabbi Herzfeld was leading services celebrating the Jewish festival of Shavuot, a holiday that commemorates the occasion when God gave the Torah to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai. Rabbi Herzfeld hadn’t yet heard all of the awful details surrounding last week’s massacre in Orlando because, as an orthodox Jew, he is forbidden from using the internet or other electronic conveniences during a holy day and therefore hadn’t had access to the news. But as evening came, and the Jewish holiday drew to a close, the horrendous facts unfolded for him.

Upon hearing what had happened, Rabbi Herzfeld gathered his congregation late Sunday night and led them in prayers of mourning and lamentation. But when they were done praying, he did something more. He led a dozen members of his congregation, including his mother, down the street to an establishment called Fireplace, a bar that Rabbi Herzfeld knew served a predominantly gay and African-American community. The rabbi later reported that he hadn’t been in a bar in over two decades, and that he had never before been in a gay bar.

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Forgiving Alvin

Forgiving Alvin

“Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love.” Luke 7:47

The Reverend Luther Zeigler

June 12, 2016

Several years ago a sociologist took a survey in which he asked people what words they would most like other people to say to them. Stop and think about that question for a moment: what words would you most like to hear from others? The number one answer was “I love you.” The number two answer was “I forgive you.” The number three answer was “Supper is ready.” Yes, it is funny. But it is also profoundly true. We all want to be loved and to be fed; but it is that middle answer that is the subject of our gospel text today: We all deeply need forgiveness.

The late Richard Farnsworth was one of my favorite movie actors and probably the best performance he ever gave was in the movie, The Straight Story, which came out in 1999, and is a profoundly spiritual treatment of the power of forgiveness. Based on a true story, the movie centers on 73-year-old Alvin Straight, played by Farnsworth, who lives in Iowa, with his mentally disabled daughter, played by Sissy Spacek. When we first meet Alvin we can see that he is aging: he walks with the aid of a cane and his body is beginning to fall apart on him. As the movie opens, Alvin receives word that his younger brother, Lyle, has had a stroke and may soon die. Alvin and Lyle are estranged and haven’t seen each other in ten years. We are not told what caused the rift between the brothers, but upon hearing the news of Lyle’s illness, Alvin knows what he has to do: he must go see his brother and patch things up.

The trouble is that Lyle lives in Mount Zion, Wisconsin, some 300 miles away, and Alvin can’t drive because he doesn’t have a driver’s license. Not to be deterred, Alvin picks the only means of transportation available to him – his 1966 John Deere riding mower – and decides that he is going to drive his lawn mower the entire 300 miles to see his dying brother. And so begins this strange pilgrimage toward reconciliation.

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Summer 2016

Summer 2016

We’re looking forward to another wonderful summer at Emmanuel Church in 2016. Our first service of the summer will be a single service of Holy Eucharist at 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 12. Then, we resume our regular schedule, starting June 19, of two services each Sunday: one at 8:15 a.m. (Holy Communion, Rite 1) and one at 10 a.m. (Morning Prayer, Rite 2, except on the first Sundays of July and August, when we will have a service of Holy Eucharist at 10 a.m.). Our last service of the summer will be a single service of Holy Eucharist on Sunday, Sept. 4. We hope to see you this summer!

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