And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, chapter viii, verses 5-10 KJV
Reading next Sunday's gospel lesson brought to mind a conversation from years ago when a priest of my acquaintance told me that he was seriously annoyed whenever he saw a then-popular bumper sticker that read “God Is My Co-pilot.” He explained that a co-pilot is subordinate to his or her lead pilot and is only called upon to act if that lead pilot allows him to or is incapacitated. Otherwise, it's the lead pilot who is in charge.
That seems to be the attitude of many people towards God. They see Him as a vague and easily ignored benevolent presence who gives no directions and makes no demands as they conduct their lives but who can always be called upon in times of need or trouble. That's a far cry from the attitude of the centurion, the attitude that elicits such high praise from Jesus.
As a professional career military officer the centurion is comfortable with the responsibilities of command and confident that his orders will be carried out by his subordinates, but he does not see himself as the source of the authority that he exercises. By describing himself as “a man under authority” he is recognizing that his own authority is derived from his recognition of and obedience to the authority to which he himself is subordinate. He deserves and expects obedience from those under him because he tenders obedience to those above him in the military command structure. They in turn derive their own right to be obeyed by their own obedience to those above them in a chain of command that stretches ultimately to its real source, the absolute authority of the emperor.
What he sees in Jesus is a spiritual analagy to his own military experience. He believes that Jesus has divine power to heal because He is exercising that power in accordance with the will of God, the ultimate source of all power. This is what Saint Paul means when he says of Jesus that He “... took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Saint Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, chapter ii, verses 7b-8, KJV)
I do not believe that the centurion recognized Christ's divinity, but that he definitely recognized His holiness, seeing in Him a man obedient to the authority of God and thus able to exercise that authority.
God is most definitely not our co-pilot, passively and silently watching as we choose and execute our decisions and actions however we desire. He is rather our Lord and Commander. He speaks to us in Scripture, in the traditions of the Church, and through the sanctified application of our God-given ability to reason. Those who wish for His grace and favor will listen and strive both to understand and to live in accordance with that understanding.
-- Father Bragg+
All things come of thee, O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee
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Sunday Services: 7:45 AM; a combined 10:00 AM service (no 9 AM nor 11:15 AM) followed by Annual Parish Meeting If you will not be able to attend this meeting, it is very important that you fill out a proxy form, copies of which may be found on the narthex table and on top of a cabinet in the undercroft. If you are a communicant member of the parish, you can also respond to this email and indicate that you are giving your proxy for the annual meeting to the Rector, the Senior Warden or another parish member but please specify whom. (for online participation for the services go to: https://www.facebook.com/saintsofscotland/ )
Wednesday at Noon – Holy Communion and anointing for healing
Monday, January 30, 12 noon, Feast of Blessed Charles Stuart, King & Martyr
Monday, February 20, 7:30 PM, Vestry Meeting, undercroft
Tuesday February 21, Shrove Tuesday Service 7 PM followed by pancake and champagne supper (soft drinks also available)
Ash Wednesday, February 22, Noon & 7:00 PM Services including Imposition of Ashes
Saturday, February 25, 8:30 AM, Men's Group in the undercroft with breakfast by Chef Claude Crump and Bible Study with Bob Boyd. Start the year off right with food, fellowship and Bible study with other men of the parish.
Donations to the Food Bank and Marih Center are greatly needed. Across the country, crisis pregnancy centers have been attacked or vandalized. The needs are great. Please help with either a goods donation or a monetary donation. You can give through the donation button in this newsletter and use the drop down menu to choose "Charity & Mercy." Thank you.
Please help this month with a food donation if you are able. Christ House is very thankful for the food we provide to them each month. Please also buy low sugar cereals (and not the kid's types that have lots of sugar). Current needs include the following:
• canned meats (chicken, corned beef, spam)
• peanut butter
• canned vegetables (corn, green beans - (regular and low sodium)
• individual fruit cups (low sugar)
• canned fruit (low sugar)
• cereal (low sugar)
• pasta (regular and gluten-free)
• instant potatoes
• Macaroni & cheese kits
• Coffee, cooking oil, flour, sugar
Updated List of Needs for MaRIH Center (crisis pregnancy center)
MaRIH Center with its all volunteer staff has been providing help to mothers-to-be and mothers in need. If you can provide some of the items that are needed, please do so. (You can leave the donations where the food for the food bank is collected on the pew in the undercorft.)
Baby wipes* (an ongoing great need)
Diapers (sizes 1*, 2, 3*, 4, 5*, & 6*)
Diaper rash ointment
(Bold and * are a critical need.)
Clothing for boys and girls (0-6 months)
Sleep Sacks: Girls 0-6 mos.
Socks: Boy/Girl 2T
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St. Andrew & St. Margaret of Scotland
1607 Dewitt Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301-1625