About Fr. Maney

Fr. Kevin Maney received his PhD from the University of Toledo in Curriculum and Instruction, majoring in educational technology and minoring in educational leadership. He completed his studies for a Diploma in Anglican Studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA, and did his coursework almost entirely online. He was ordained as a transitional deacon in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) on February 9, 2008 and as a priest in CANA on May 1, 2008. He is now the rector of St. Augustine's Anglican Church in Westerville, OH, a suburb of Columbus. St. Augustine’s is part of the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes (ADGL) and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

The Christian Hope of Glory

Sermon delivered on Sunday, Trinity 8C, July 17, 2016 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of this sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: Amos 8.1-12; Psalm 52.1-9; Colossians 1.15-28; Luke 10.38-42.

In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In our epistle lesson this morning, Paul tells us that he is working to make the word of God fully known to us so that we will be let in on a profound mystery. God’s mysteries for the apostle and the rest of the NT writers are things previously unknown but now revealed to us by God. And what is this thing Paul is talking about? It’s none other than Christ in us, the hope of glory. But what does Paul mean by that? This is what I want us to look at this morning.

Contrary to what many of us think, the mystery revealed to us in Christ isn’t about getting right with Jesus. It isn’t just about Jesus and my salvation, although that is certainly part of what Paul is talking about. No, Paul has in mind something much richer and more exciting. He is talking about how God has revealed to us his promise to redeem his good creation gone bad, us included. If we don’t understand this fundamental promise, that God has promised to heal and redeem his broken creation, both the physical and spiritual dimensions of it, Scripture won’t make a lot of sense to us because that’s exactly the story it has to tell.

Take our OT lesson for example, with its uplifting message of the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel’s happiness, “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass them by. The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,” says the Lord God; “the dead bodies shall be many, cast out in every place. Be silent!” (Amos 8.2b-3). Many of us hear judgment oracles like this and conclude that God surely must be the supreme tyrant and ogre who is always angry with us and just waiting to rain on our parade, preferably with fire and brimstone. This (false) god we conjure up in our minds is determined that we should not have a good time and unfortunately has the power to enforce his wishes.

But to read these texts in this way does violence not only to the text but to God himself because we almost completely miss the point of what is going on in the story contained in them. We must always keep in mind that the OT is the story of God’s interaction with his called-out people Israel, the people whom God chose to help him heal and redeem his good but sin-corrupted world. You can and should read the background for this narrative in Genesis 1-11 and God’s call to Abraham starting in Genesis 12. God’s people were supposed to reflect the glory and love of the one true God to the nations around them who did not know God and who worshiped false and destructive idols, because we inevitably turn into the idols we worship. But instead of acting in the truly human ways as God created them for, and the people God called them to be, so that they could show others who did not know God a much better way, Israel astonishingly adopted the ways of the nations they were supposed to convert! Sound familiar?

Now in our OT lesson, we see the fruit Israel is bearing, and it ain’t real tasty. As was God’s habit, God sent a spokesman to speak to his people on God’s behalf, in this case Amos, and we learn that after repeated warnings Israel had rejected God’s call to turn from their false and dehumanizing ways of living that had resulted from God’s people worshiping false and dehumanizing idols. And here we get a glimpse of what was happening. Merchants had made profit their idol and this resulted in all kinds of shady economic practices and the poor being exploited. These greedy folks were so eager to line their pockets they cut short their God-mandated sabbath rest and the festivals that were to produce real and heartfelt worship of the one true God. We all know what endless work does to our body, mind, and spirit, and we all know what happens when we fail to worship God regularly. We get flat worn out and our hearts get hardened. These folks presumably pursued their wealth for the same reason we pursue wealth so hard: for power and control. Implicit in these behaviors was the notion that God could not be trusted to provide. No, these folks wanted to be in control instead of aligning their lives and work to mesh with God’s good creative purposes for human living and work. It’s not that God wants us to sit around waiting for him to drop good things into our laps. It’s about who is in charge of things, us or God? When we choose the former over the latter, all hell breaks loose.

So after repeated warnings, we see God announcing the end of his people’s happiness. Their celebrating would turn into mourning when God’s final judgment fell on them. It would be so terrible that even the creation would mourn for God’s people, and we are reminded once again that God created us to be wise stewards over God’s creation so that when we act selfishly and myopically, all creation suffers, not just humans (cf. Romans 8.22). If we understand the backdrop to this story, we see what’s going on. To be sure, God is not happy with sin because sin corrupts and dehumanizes, and causes chaos and evil to erupt. But there’s more to the story than this. We see God the Father angry at his children for not living up to their purpose as God’s people. Instead of reflecting the glory of God and the promise of his redemption outward to those who desperately needed it (whether they knew it or not), God’s people had turned inward and saw their status as God’s people as a privilege with no accompanying responsibility. To make matters worse, many of them had turned away from worshiping God and worshiped false gods or idols. As parents we all get this dynamic, especially if we have dealt with children who wanted nothing to do with being part of the family. It gets messy and complicated in a hurry and that is what is going on here, only on a cosmic level. God’s people had refused to live up to their calling to help bring God’s healing to the world and in the process they had adopted lifestyles that were destructive and dehumanizing. Real love never wishes that for the beloved. Never.

And then we read a strange thing happening as part of God’s judgment on his people’s bad behavior. God would withhold his word from them and the effect would be devastating. As Genesis 1-2 make clear, without God’s word to bring order, there is only chaos, chaos in all creation and chaos in our personal lives. As Fr. Bowser continually reminds us (does that mean he is doing a lousy job of preaching if he has to keep reminding us of what he tells us?), if we do not align our lives to God’s good creative purposes for us, we can expect our lives to be chaotic and we will personally experience all kinds of physical, spiritual, and mental chaos. Here in our OT lesson we see the same thing happening to God’s rebellious people Israel. Go figure.

When God’s word is absent in our lives, we instinctively know it and it terrifies us because we know that without God’s word, we will not experience God’s order, God’s blessing, God’s fulfillment of his wonderful purposes, and God’s forgiveness. Here God is telling his people that he is withdrawing from them, giving them up in judgment to their own evil desires, and the people frantically search for that which they’ve lost. No wonder their happiness has turned to mourning! Remember, this is not about God raining on people’s parade and denying them a good time. God is condemning those behaviors that cause suffering and injustice (chaos) to break out on folks, especially on the poor, the weak, and the helpless. How can God’s love spread throughout his creation to heal it if God’s people will not cooperate?

Before we look at what Paul has to say about this, we need to stop for a moment and reflect on what this means for us because we too are called to bring God’s healing love to the world. God’s judgment on Israel’s greed and love for injustice falls on our own practices. It reminds us we cannot be two different people, ones who worship God on Sunday and then go to our areas of work to worship the god of avarice and greed. It means we must look carefully at all sides of the burning social issues of our day so that we can best bring God’s healing to bear on them. It reminds us that we have to pursue justice, hard as that can be at times, so that the poorest and weakest of our day do not suffer at our hands. When we stop looking after the needs of others, darkness and chaos will surely descend on us as it did for God’s people Israel.

Thankfully for us, however, we are not entirely like Israel because as Paul reminds us, God has become human in the man Jesus to be the faithful Israel and so complete God’s plan to heal and redeem his good world hijacked by human sin and the evil it unleashes. Paul further reminds us that we belong to Jesus, who is the firstborn of all creation, and who rules over God’s current creation and will rule over God’s promised new creation. He tells us that on the cross, evil has been defeated and we have been reconciled to God. Paul doesn’t spell this out in any detail, only that this is what God has accomplished. Evil has been allowed to do its worst to Jesus and has failed to destroy him. Instead, God raised him from the dead and in doing so, ushered in God’s new creation, God’s newly healed and redeemed world in Christ. Not only that, but God has called us as Jesus’ people to be human agents of God’s new creation in the world. When we believe that God really has overcome evil and reconciled us to him in and through Jesus’ death on the cross, we know that we too will share Jesus’ ultimate fate of resurrection so that what happened to our Lord will also happen to us. We become a forgiven people in Christ and we have confidence that we can stand before God as Jesus’ people, despite our sins.

And as Jesus’ people, we are called to work on deepening our relationship with him so that we do know without a doubt that the above promises are true and that we too are part of God’s promises to heal and redeem his good creation. This is the mystery Paul talks about in our lesson today. Jews are not the only ones who are called to be part of God’s new world. Gentiles are called to be part of it as well, specifically Gentiles who put their hope and trust in Jesus and who develop a living and active relationship with our living and active Lord. This is what it means to have Christ in us, our hope of glory. It means he is available to us at all times in the power of the Spirit to love us and heal us and help us live as people who have real hope, even in the midst of our present adversities, because we have faith that we too will share in his risen glory. What this means on a practical basis is this. As Jesus’ people, we know first and foremost that we are loved and forgiven by our Creator so that we know the real heart of God. This, in turn, means we are to live our lives patterned after Jesus for the sake of others. We look out for each other and care for each other. We are careful not to pursue our own self-interests at the expense of others. We are quick to forgive and slow to judge in self-righteous ways. We are tenderhearted toward each other and bear each other’s joys and burdens. Every time we do these things, the new creation becomes a fuller reality. And it all starts by engaging with Jesus, the Word of God. No wonder our Lord reminded Martha and the others that Mary was doing the needful thing by sitting at his feet and listening to him teach God’s truth and wisdom. It’s the very truth and wisdom that enables us to know we have Good News and to live it, now and for all eternity. To him be honor, praise, and glory forever and ever.

In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

David Brooks: Are We on the Path to National Ruin?

12brooksWeb-master768I never really understood how fascism could have come to Europe, but I think I understand better now. You start with some fundamental historical transformation, like the Great Depression or the shift to an information economy. A certain number of people are dispossessed. They lose identity, self-respect and hope.

They begin to base their sense of self-worth on their tribe, not their behavior. They become mired in their resentments, spiraling deeper into the addiction of their own victimology. They fall for politicians who lie about the source of their problems and about how they can surmount them. Facts lose their meaning. Entertainment replaces reality.

Once facts are unmoored, everything else is unmoored, too. People who value humility and kindness in private life abandon those traits when they select leaders in the common sphere. Hardened by a corrosive cynicism, they fall for morally deranged little showmen.

And then perhaps there’s a catalyzing event. Societies in this condition are culturally tense and socially isolated. That means there are a lot of lonely, alienated young men seeking self-worth through violence. Some wear police badges; some sit in their rooms fantasizing of mass murder. When they act, the results can be convulsive.

Read and reflect on it all.

Fr. Philip Sang: Obedience to God

Sermon delivered on Trinity 7C, Sunday, July 10, 2016, at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, click here.

Lectionary texts: Amos 7.7-17; Psalm 82.1-8; Colossians 1.1-14; Luke 10.25-37.

Throughout scripture we hear many stories of how God uses the least likely of people to do great things. The stories of Amos and the Good Samaritan and of Paul are such stories.

Amos was a shepherd and he tended to sycamore-fig trees in the Judean countryside.    Amos was not a prophet nor was he the son of a prophet, but he loved God and devoted his life to serving God and he was an honest man. God came to Amos one day in a vision and Amos saw God holding a plumb line. We know that a plumb line is a very simple yet necessary tool which is used to ensure the straightness of a wall which will be strong and long lasting. God wants us to have a good and right relationship with him, one that is free from sin and using a plumb line as a measure will be our guide as to how to be right with God.

The people in the northern kingdom of Israel were becoming too complacent, they were worshipping idols and were oppressing the poor and so God was not pleased with them.    God asked Amos to tell the people that if they did not change their ways he would pass judgment on them. Of course when Amos delivers God’s message to the Chief Priest Amaziah, who then tells Jeroboam the King of Israel, they were not at all concerned about God’s message, they seemed to only want to maintain their own positions so they would not listen to anything God had to say.

This always seems to present a problem when leadership takes on their own ideals instead of following the path of God. Amos was the least likely messenger in the eyes of the Chief Priest and the King of Israel, and they were quite happy to keep things the way they were.    Since they did not heed God’s message to change their ways, very soon trouble befell their country.

But Amos was a faithful servant of God and he obeyed God’s command to prophesy to God’s people of Israel. The church today is also called to obey God’s command, are we willing to obey God’s call when it comes to us?    Are we willing to speak the truth in love to our leaders, or anyone else for that matter, when we see something being done that is not right and we have prayed about it and we feel that the Spirit is telling us to say something? This is not an easy thing to do, but oftentimes God calls the least of us to deliver such a message, and it is up to us to obey that call.

Paul is another faithful servant of God who traveled far and wide to tell the story of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and the Jews.    Paul is writing to the people of Colossae telling them that he has been continually praying that they may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. There was a connectedness between Paul and the people of Colossae which comes through prayer, and it is said that Paul never did visit Colossae, but he prayed for the people and encouraged them to live in the ways of God. When we pray with our heart it becomes the active presence of God’s Spirit at work in our life. So when we do our intercessory prayers, as we are going to do in a moment, we do not really have to know the people we are praying for, but to hold them up in prayer brings them into the presence of God.

In the gospel story about the Good Samaritan, again we see how God uses the least likely person to do a great deed. The Jews hated the Samaritans, they thought of them as the scum of the earth because they were a mixed race and the Jews thought of themselves as pure descendants of Abraham, but in God’s eyes we are all the same because we are all made in the image of God.

We all know the story of the Good Samaritan, it was probably one of the first Bible stories we heard as a child.

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, he is on his way to face a trial by people who did not like him because he threatened their authority and they are planning to get rid of him. This of course is very heavy on Jesus’ heart, and then he meets a young lawyer who wants to know what he has to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus and the lawyer had quite a dialogue and then  the lawyer asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus then tells the lawyer the story of the Good Samaritan.

Let us take a look at this story again and I invite you to put yourselves into each of the characters in the story.

Think yourself as person who was beaten up by robbers and left as dead. You have been stripped of all your money and most of your clothes, and you have been beaten up, blood is everywhere and you are hurting very badly. You hear people passing by but no one is stopping to help you; and you are so weak that you are unable to cry out for help.

How often have you felt like this in your life? When you have experienced some hard times whether it is an illness, the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, or you are feeling depressed and you desperately want someone to take the time to talk and listen to you, but no one seems to be coming to offer a helping hand or ear; so you just sit there and hurt.

Now you are the Priest or Levite who is on their way to the Temple; and out of the corner of your eyes you see that someone is laying by the side of the road and is bloody and dirty.    If you should stop to help you will become unclean and you would have to go through the ritual of cleansing before you could go into the Temple.    You are in a hurry so it is better for you to pass on the other side of the road so the hurt man does not see you.    And you say very convincingly to yourself, that it is better that I follow the law than to stop and show mercy.

How often have you passed someone on the road that seems to need help, but you just speed along, or you saw someone at work, or at church or even in your family, having a hard day, but you did nothing to help because it is easier to leave it for someone else to help them.

And now you are the Samaritan, and you are not liked by the Jews.    But as you are riding along the road you happen to notice that there is a man laying there who seems to have been hurt – yes, he is bleeding and he has been stripped of some of his clothes. You stop and pour oil and wine on his wounds and then put on some bandages, and you take the person to get help.

At sometime in your life you have shown love and compassion to the stranger as you go on your journey.

Then there is the Innkeeper, the Caretaker; you keep a nice Inn for travelers who pass your way and want to spend the night. A Samaritan has just come in and has brought in a man who has been very hurt; you are asked to take care of this man until the Samaritan passes by next week, and he has given you some money to take care of him. Your business is hospitality so of course you will take care of the sick man.

Hopefully at some time in your life you have taken in a stranger and shown hospitality to them; as you guys did to my family and I when I we came as a strangers, and when you did, it gave you great joy. To us who received the hospitality from you the warmth we felt kept us here to date.

Then Jesus asks the young lawyer who of the three people did he think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers? The lawyer answered, “The one who showed Mercy,” and Jesus told him to go and do likewise.

Having placed ourselves as each of the characters in this story, I would suspect that we can identify with each one of them; that at some time in our life we have represented all these people. Jesus wants us to show love and compassion to all God’s people, because EVERYONE is our neighbor. How does this make us feel and how do we now answer the question as to who is your neighbor. The story of Jesus is the story of Love and the story of the Good Samaritan is also a story about Love; these two stories are tied and held together with a LOVE that is so strong that Jesus gave himself up for everyone of us so that we might live a life free from the bondage of sin.

When we gather here each week for Worship, our Service nourishes us so that we can go out into the world to live the life Jesus wants for us. We are inspired to use the plump line to guide us in building a strong faithful relationship with God. We are encouraged to show compassion, love and mercy to everyone so that we will inherit eternal life. We are fed with the food of forgiveness and love which strengthens us and gives us the courage to face life’s challenges. We learn to be open to hearing God’s call as we follow what the Spirit is telling us; and then we are sent out filled with God’s Love and Peace to sustain us until we gather again.

As I conclude, like Paul, I sees the church community as one body and I pray that you  “be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.”

In the name of God, the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Lincoln on the 4th of July and Declaration of Independence

lincoln19In the 1850s, Abraham Lincoln’s rhetoric was suffused with a profound sense of loss. He considered it shameful national backsliding that a new affirmative defense of slavery had arisen in the South. At the time of the Founding our nation had merely tolerated slavery; now, it was an institution actively celebrated in part of the country.

In a letter in 1855 despairing of ending slavery, Lincoln wrote to the Kentuckian George Robertson that “the fourth of July has not quite dwindled away; it is still a great day–/for burning fire-crackers/!!!”

At around this time, Lincoln fastened on the Declaration of Independence as “his political chart and inspiration,” in the words of his White House secretary John G. Nicolay.

He made it the guidepost by which the country could return to its lost ideals. His example shows the enduring vitality and the endless potential for renewal that is inherent in the Declaration.

Some good stuff here. See what you think.

Our Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America…

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, declaration_of_independence_630Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Read and reflect on it all. A country without God as its basis and foundation cannot be free.

This Day in Civil War History: The Battle of Gettysburg Ends

On the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate imagesGeneral Robert E. Lee‘s last attempt at breaking the Union line ends in disastrous failure, bringing the most decisive battle of the American Civil War to an end.

Read it all and read about Pickett’s charge, the battle that effectively ended the Gettysburg campaign.

This Day in Civil War History

Today marks the 153rd anniversary of the beginning of the battle of Gettysburg.

UnknownThe largest military conflict in North American history begins this day when Union and Confederate forces collide at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The epic battle lasted three days and resulted in a retreat to Virginia by Robert E. Lee‘s Army of Northern Virginia.

Read it all.