All who participated in the Urban Abbey retreat at Shrine Mont, Oct. 31-Nov. 2:
The serenity and beauty of Shrine Mont that we experienced during the Abbey retreat remain a vivid memory for me, and perhaps for you as well. A highlight was the joyful celebration of the Eucharist in the outdoor shrine on Sunday morning. We were made to feel very welcome by St. Anne's of Reston, as were five other church groups. The sermon by Jim Papile, rector of St. Anne's, gave us a new way of looking at the Beatitudes, and the essence of his message is reproduced below, so that we can return to it from time to time for additional insight.
Other Abbey members and friends:
I wish you all could have been with us at Shrine Mont for the Abbey retreat. Donna Crocker did an excellent job of organizing a retreat for us that provided generous amounts of time for personal prayer, study, and meditative walks during a weekend of ideal fall weather. And we were blessed to have our own Marlee Norton celebrate the Eucharist for us on Saturday morning. As with any good blending of Urban Abbey and Shrine Mont traditions, the weekend also included observing the daily office and convivial times of "porching", games, and just enjoying each other's company.
The sermon offered an interpretation of the Beatitudes that I'd like to share with you (below). It aims at an understanding of who we are, rather than who God is.
Most of the following text is based on The Message, a paraphrase of the Bible by Eugene Peterson. The one exception is the word for "blessed". The Scottish theologian, Neil Douglas-Klotz, tells us that the Aramaic word that Jesus would have used has the meaning of "ripe", in the sense of being ready. Jesus addresses his companions at a moment of expectation, saying, in effect, you are the fruit that is ripe; you are ready to seed the love of Christ in the world.
Take your favorite Bible translation and open to Matthew 5: 3-12. For each verse, read first your translation, and then the corresponding paraphrase below.
Matthew 5:3-12 3 You’re ripe when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. 4 You’re ripe when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 You’re ripe when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That is the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 You’re ripe when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 You’re ripe when you care. At the moment of being “care-full”, you find yourselves cared for.
8 You’re ripe when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 You’re ripe when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 You’re ripe when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11 Not only that—count yourselves ripe every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable.
12 You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
I found that many of these verses came alive to me in a new way, as they did also for other Urban Abbey members at Shrine Mont that day. I hope that, as you read the same passage, there will be understanding and blessing for each of you as well.
In peace, Wayne