To Turn Around

To Turn Around

Mattia Preti – “St. John the Baptist Before Herod”

By the Rev. Tom Sramek, Jr., rector of St. Mark’s, Medford

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” – Matthew 3:1-2
Repent. It is not a word we are used to hearing or using in everyday life. We don’t commonly ask ourselves or others “Have you repented today?”

But repentance itself hopefully isn’t unusual. To repent (Greek: metanoia) means simply to turn around, to change one’s mind, to go in a different direction. Since we are all imperfect people, we hopefully do this all the time.

We say something, do something, or go somewhere and we find out that is not God’s will for us, hurts someone else, or simply is wrong and we turn back from that, perhaps apologize, and move on to hopefully do better next time.
It is sad and unfortunate that our contemporary culture seems to see repentance as either a weakness or a marketing stunt. There is a sense that once committed to a course of action, the idea of acknowledging it to be a mistake, perhaps apologizing for it, learning from it, and moving in a different direction is somehow a sign of weakness, wishy-washyness, or “flip-flopping.”

As a culture, we seem to penalize people for admitting that they were wrong. This obviously results in people being extremely reluctant to admit mistakes and take corrective actions.

On the flip side, if someone DOES admit to an error, there is the temptation to crucify them for it and not to “let them get away with it.” In such a culture, repentance either becomes or can be taken as a marketing technique or a political ploy rather than a genuine change of mind.
But repentance is something we should get used to doing frequently and intentionally, whether it is a thoughtless remark, a bad habit, or even a poor life choice. We should welcome it in ourselves, our friends, and our political leaders.

Indeed, true repentance and amendment of life requires that we regularly listen for and heed the prophetic voice inside and/or around us that calls us to examine our lives, “clean out” the things that keep us from living the full life that God intends, and chart a new path in accordance with God’s will. Grace is meaningless if we do not avail ourselves of it frequently.

Preparing for the anniversary of the first coming of the Christ child and Jesus’ second coming in the future reminds us of this need for God’s grace.  

2019 Grant Application from Commission on Poverty and Homelessness

The Commission on Poverty and Homelessness is experimenting with a new timeline for grants. The application is now available and you may immediately begin sending in your proposals. The application deadline is September 30. The Commission will meet the following week to review and do the grants; we hope to have the checks out the following week. In the meantime please note that the proposal information will remain substantially the same. We are eager to hear your plans for serving  the Beloved Community and to assist you however we can. It is such a privilege and a blessing to walk with you in your vital work meeting Holy Needs.

Click the following link to download the application: Commission on Poverty and Homeless 2019 Grant Application

This Fund supports many projects, including food pantries, community gardens, medical clinics, and homeless shelters. The Fund especially seeks to support new ministries that involve children and youth, involve community partners, or display innovative ways of addressing poverty’s many challenges.

We encourage your congregation to assess your current direct-relief and advocacy efforts and to consider ways in which you can be more effective in addressing the needs in your community.

Grants are limited to $1,000 per congregation. The projects must have active parishio­ner involvement. We especially encourage new requests and ones that try new approaches (such as an after-school program for enriching children’s lives or a language skills program). We do not fund salaries or capital improvements.

The CPH Fund grants are supported by the basket raffle at diocesan Convention and the Thanksgiving Offering of the churches of the diocese.