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Voices Carry (April 17, 2016)

Sermons - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 00:27

Youth Sunday (April 10, 2016)

Sermons - Sun, 04/17/2016 - 17:04

Helping Keep Our Kids Well

Father Rob's Blog - Fri, 02/26/2016 - 12:08

2cnd wellness day

Dear Friends,

To me, wellness speaks to all aspects of one's well-being. Eating smart, exercising, and maintaining a healthy spiritual life contribute to one's well-being and confidence. I believe this begins when we are children.

Last February, we wanted to try something new at St. Matt’s. The idea was to show kids how to embrace a healthy lifestyle. We wanted to reach out to the community and show that St. Matthew's cares about their overall wellness. And, we wanted it to be fun. So, Children's Wellness Day was born!

Last year was a huge success. Over 200 children came to participate in exercise classes, play games, and run through the 30-foot obstacle course. Parents were able to sit back and watch their kids have fun while they learned about health and wellness. Many of the attendees had never been in our church before, but they left that day with a smile on their faces.

It was such a great day … we're doing it again!

This Saturday, we are going to have lots of fun activities for kids like yoga, Zumba, a 30-foot obstacle course, jump rope, and an inflatable basketball court. Additionally, LAJ Foods will be here with their delicious plant-based soups, Drama Kids of Loudoun County and Kids First Swim School will be here to talk with parents too.

Join us as we get out of the house and get active!

Please bring a non-perishable food item to help support our local Backpack Buddies program.

Thank you for your support and we'll see you Saturday.

~Tracey Kelly

The Problem with God

Father Rob's Blog - Thu, 02/25/2016 - 02:31

Whether you are a believer in God or not, have you ever at some point in your life prayed for something? Have you had the experience in a moment—any moment, no matter how fleeting, or whether you continued to believe in such a moment or not—that God granted your prayer? For many of us, this creates one of the biggest God-problems of all. Here’s what I mean.

Recently my wife had a tooth problem. I care about my wife, and personally I believe God cares about her too. So I prayed the problem would resolve itself without major complications. Now let’s just suppose that all of a sudden all of Linda’s pain went away and her tooth was a good as new with no further dental attention or procedures needed. Great, right?

But… what kind of God answers that prayer, which in the grand scheme of thing is relatively minor, and lets a starving child die? How would such a Being fit any of our definitions of good? I benefit. I gain. I receive. But what of the person whose plight is so much worse than mine who does not?  It is problems like this that lead JB Phillips to write,

Many men and women today are living, often with inner dissatisfaction, without any faith in God at all. This is not because they are particularly wicked or selfish or, as the old-fashioned would say, “godless,” but because they have not found with their adult minds a God big enough to “account for” life, big enough to “fit in with” the new scientific age, big enough to command their highest admiration and respect, and consequently their willing co-operation.

Is there a way out of problems like these?  Can the issues behind them really be resolved with any kind of integrity and intellectual honesty? 

That's what we are asking in our current sermon series at St. Matt's.  And this week we ask one of the toughest questions of all.    Where is God in the Holocaust, the killing fields, the genocides, the terrorism  and religious violence of our age? 

Oh, and by the way:  my wife needed a root canal...

God Who?

Father Rob's Blog - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 12:42

Whoisgod4

As you might expect of a priest, I spent several years formally studying the doctrine of God from a wide variety of philosophical, anthropological, sociological, psychological, and religious perspectives. I was pretty young at the time, and I think one of the follies of youth can be a certain hubris. At the end of my studies, I believed I had God pretty well figured out.

But there was... a problem.

The God I thought I had figured out didn’t really hold up.

Some of my beliefs began to feel false. Doubts grew. That’s not an easy place to be if you are a priest.

At the time I only saw two choices: believe what I had been told was true, or become an unbeliever. Neither felt right, and so I did what I think most of us do in these situations: I ignored my discomfort and the issues behind it.

That’s not a workable long-term strategy, of course. With time I realized I was going to have to think more deeply about God. Initially, this felt like a betrayal. I was ashamed of myself for not having the strength and courage to uphold what I thought I had promised to uphold. My younger self would not trust my older self, and would think I have gone far astray. That has been something of a hard pill to swallow.

But the simple truth is: I was wrong. Sometimes terribly wrong, and terribly wrong about very important things.  I expect I still am.    But here's the thing.  At this stage in life, as much as I appreciate my youthful passion, I do not think I would  fully trust anyone my age who has not come to a similar place on at least some subject or treasured belief.

There is one thing has not changed. In fact, this belief has only grown. It is the belief that there is no question more important than the question of God, and in particular of who God is. Everything I have ever studied, seen, heard, and experienced affirms this.

And so I invite you to join me at St. Matt's on a journey.  For the next five weekends in Lent, we'll  explore together  a more accurate (and life-giving) knowledge of the God who Is. This isn't an exercise in dogmatism, but discovery.  I do hope you'll come along!

More Streamers

Father Rob's Blog - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 02:13

Sex dungeon 018

Learning to spin deer hair is the next skill on my fly-tying list.    There is something about even this stage that makes me happy just to look at it.

The next stage is shaping the head with a  razor blade.  It's fun letting loose one's inner sculptor.   

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There's still plenty of room for improvement, but it ends up looking something like this.

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It does make a bit of a mess.

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Therapy

Father Rob's Blog - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 00:36

Flies 003

When my personal world gets particularly chaotic, I used to do puzzles.  To be able to bring order to even a small piece of the universe was somehow calming.   These days I tie flies.  Learning how to tie wool-headed articulated streamers has been most enjoyable.  This guy is in need of a hair cut.

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Clipping away, it starts to take shape.

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Now all that is left is to fish these in hopes that somebody like this will find them tasty.

Bigbrown

Back Yard Drama

Father Rob's Blog - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 14:52

Sf

Despite the snow, the foxes are out and about.   Unfortunately, this one seems to have sustained a wound on his right front leg.

Healthyfox

This one looks a little healthier.

Ffsniff

At the suet feeder, things we're heating up.  A squirrel wanted up the tree. The pileated woodpecker wanted its space. 

Bigbird

The cat, uninterested in anything except having her belly rubbed, lolled.

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Snow Ad Infinitum

Father Rob's Blog - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 13:22

His

With school canceled for the week, one might have thought my wife would sleep in.  She decided, however, that the sunrise was worth getting up for.  Just in case you missed it, here's another pic.  Perhaps the prettiest sunrise I've seen in a long time.

Sr

In other news, the snow is starting to melt.

Melt

That's good because the snowdrifts on the roof looked like high mountains, their peaks glistening in the sun.

Mountains1

The hummers are long gone, so it would probably also make sense to take down the feeders.

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Snowlaxing.

Snowlaxing

Feathers and Light

Father Rob's Blog - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 00:45

Sunrise

I think all the snow and ice reflected the colors of the sunrise and made it even more spectacular than usual.

The birds arriving for their morning breakfast picked up the light as well.   Take a few thousand pictures,  and perhaps one gets a good one every now and again.  This morning I got lucky--I  think I did.

F

It always seems strange to me that a bird with so much red on its head is called a red-bellied woodpecker, but it is.

Rbwa

As it looked down for a sunflower seed, its feathers caught the rising sun just right, and its head was set ablaze.  Seeing things like those, one cannot help but feel he is lucky to be alive.

Rbwb

Birds in a Blizzard

Father Rob's Blog - Mon, 01/25/2016 - 00:05

Blizzardlanding

In between what hours of shoveling yesterday, I took a few pics of birds.  There were the usual blue jays, the crest on their head often flattened by the wind.

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I take too many pictures of them, I suppose, but it always seems like there is a reason to take another one.

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A wren came too.  Love the colors, the intricacy of the feather patterns.

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And there were cardinals, like this guy with icy eyebrows and an icy beard. 

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Cedar Waxwing didn't come to the deck, but ate fruit from the trees.  Unfortunately, they too far away for a good picture, but you can still get a sense of how pretty they are.

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Meanwhile, Linda relaxed by the fire with a good book and a hot cup of tea.

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Planning for a Blizzard

Father Rob's Blog - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 13:15

Dear Friends,

It’s Friday morning, 6AM. Like every Friday morning, the Friday Flash is sent.

But unlike every other Friday, a snow storm of epic proportions is predicted to begin today. Already words like “historic,” “colossal,” and “monster” are being used to describe it. Will it live up to its hype? We’ll soon find out.

At this point, we think it prudent to cancel the Saturday night service and reschedule the Annual Meeting to February 7. Oh, and did I mention we’ve also scheduled the 2016 CHILI COOK-OFF on that day as well? You will know doubt want to put that on your calendar right now.

But back to this weekend. At 5PM on Saturday, a decision regarding Sunday services will be posted to our website and Facebook page. If we can hold services (or even just a single service at 11AM) without compromising people’s safety, we will do so. But in that case, we will also stream the service for those who do not in any way feel comfortable venturing forth.

In my experience, challenging circumstances bring out the best in churches. That has certainly always been the case at St. Matt, and you can be sure we’ll be out in the community, helping where help is needed. Your staff has developed an extensive list of people who live alone or who otherwise may need a hand, and we’ll be calling them on Saturday night. Based on what we learn from those calls, teams will be going forth as soon as possible to dig people out who would otherwise be stranded. If you can think of any one in particular you’d like us to call, please email Miriam at Miriam@stmtts.org.

Please do remember those who live alone. Events like this can be isolating, and hence very scary.

For those fortunate enough to have loved ones around, make the most of what will no doubt be a chance to create memories that will perhaps never be forgotten. Some of my best memories, both from childhood and from my own family, were shaped in snowstorms. Don’t fight the opportunity to slow down and simply enjoy being together.

May God keep all of you safe and warm, Rob+

Loving Our Enemies

Father Rob's Blog - Mon, 01/18/2016 - 12:22

The world saw him as a marching protest leader, but Martin Luther King, Jr., was first and foremost a preacher. “In the quiet recesses of my heart,” he once remarked, “I am fundamentally a clergyman, a Baptist preacher.” Here's a few quotes from his sermon "Loving Your Enemies," preached Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama on November 17, 1957.

In order to love your enemies, you must begin by analyzing [your]self.

The second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy...

Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it ... The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. And that is the tragedy of hate, that it doesn’t cut it off. It only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe.

The  final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies”  is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals... if they succumb to the temptation of using violence  (in our age it would be shame, a particular form of violence--Rob) in their struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.

We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way. Jesus discovered that.

All this is why Dr. King says that following Jesus  "is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies."   Clearly, Dr. King was not a timid man.

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