An Excerpt from a sermon given by the late Most Rev. John T. Cahoon, Jr. at St. Andrew & St. Margaret of Scotland on Sexagesima, 1997

… Jesus tells us a parable this morning which describes various ways people respond to the Word of God. "The Word of God" means several different, but related, things. First of ll, the Word of God is any message we get from him no matter how we get it. God tries to communicate with us all the time--mostly through the things he causes or allows to happen in our normal lives. Everything that goes on is telling us something. It is a Word from God.

In a more direct sense, the Word of God is the Bible. God communicates to us through the Bible, through sermons which are based on the Bible, through the Prayer Book which is the Bible made usable, and through our study of the Bible--alone and together.

The Word of God is also Jesus himself. St. John gives him that name. "Word" in this sense means "the way you present yourself--the way you show and reveal who you are." God presents himself to the world as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus the Messiah. Jesus says, "I and the Father are one. ..He who has seen me has seen the Father."

The parable of the sower uses a poetic image from agriculture to talk about the way the Word of God is communicated. The sower--who is God or the instrument he uses to preach or teach or otherwise make his point--tosses out the seed which is the Word. This sort of sower does not place the seed carefully--he throws it out--broadcasts it.

The various kinds of ground onto which it falls respond to the seed in different ways. Jesus uses those responses to talk about the way different people respond to communications from God. Some never get the message at all. Some keep with it for awhile but then fall away if they are tested. Others make some effort to respond, but what they realty care more about are convenience and comfort and power and position.

Then there is the good ground--the people who respond positively and hang on all the way. That is the group where we all think we see ourselves. The fact is we spend most of our time either by the wayside, or ground against some rocks, or choked with thorns and vines. Lent is the time to ask God to help us become more receptive and fertile.

The Old Testament Law said that women who had given birth to boys remained unclean for forty days after which they were purified. Boy babies also had to be presented in the temple in Jerusalem and then bought back as a reminder of how God bought Israel out of slavery in Egypt. Both these ceremonies took place on the forty-first day of the baby's life. February 2 is forty days after December 25. Joseph and Mary went through the rituals not because Jesus was extraordinary, but because they were ordinary Jews.

What gives the story a twist is the response of two of the people in the temple. They reveal what kind of ground they are. The first is a man named Simeon. God had revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he had seen the saviour of Israel--the Messiah. When the baby Jesus is carried into the temple to be presented, Simeon recognizes who he is, and he tells God, "I can die now, because I have seen him--your salvation, the consolation and glory of Israel who is also the light to lighten the Gentiles."

The other person watching this scene is an elderly prophetess named Anna who fasts and prays in the temple all the time. She too recognizes this baby as the Saviour and tells everybody in Jerusalem who was looking for redemption that he has now arrived.

So Simeon and Anna both show that they are good and fertile ground. They expect a Word from God, and when it comes they respond. Simeon goes on to speak directly to the Virgin to tell her something about how we respond to her son. He says, "This child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed."

He is telling her that, finally, what determines God's evaluation of everyone--Simeon, Anna, and we ourselves, is how they respond to Jesus, God's Word made flesh. How you respond to the presence of God in the world is what determines everything.

Jesus himself gives us these somewhat chilling words to contemplate: "The Father loves his Son and has put everything in his power. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not have life, but will remain under God's punishment." Don't you think it's time to get serious?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

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Sunday Services, 7:45 AM, 9:00 AM, & 11:15 AM (for online participation for the services go to: )

Wednesday, 12 noon, Holy Communion and anointing for healing

Wednesday, 7:30 PM, Bible study with Father Bragg, church undercroft, "The Gospel of Saint Mark in the World of Saint Mark"

Shrove Tuesday – February 13 at 7:00 p.m.  Evening Prayer service followed by a pancake and champagne supper in the undercroft

Ash Wednesday – Holy Communion services with Imposition of Ashes – February 14 at noon and 7:00 p.m.

Stations of the Cross and Lenten Suppers – Beginning on Friday, February 16, and every Friday at 7:00 p.m. during Lent – If you can provide a soup and bread supper on one of these Friday evenings, please so indicate on the sign-up sheet on the bulletin board in the undercroft

Saturday February 17, MEN'S GROUP, 8:30 AM, breakfast by Chef Extraordinaire Claude Crump, Grits by Fr. Roddy, Bible study by Fr. Bragg.  Great food and fellowship

Monday February 26, 7:30 PM, Vestry meetings, members of the parish are always welcome

The 2024 Tithing Envelopes are available in the undercroft.  Please sign up and take a box.  PLEASE DO NOT CONTINUE TO USE THE ENVELOPES FROM 2023!

The 2024 Altar Flower Chart has been posted on the bulletin board in the undercroft.  Please consider signing up for a Sunday!

Food Donations 
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
• jelly
• tuna
• 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

List of Needs for MaRIH Center (crisis pregnancy center)
MaRIH Center with its all volunteer staff provides 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.)

Especially Needed
 In Bold and  * are a critical need.

Diapers (sizes newborn, 1, 2, 3, 4*, 5*, & 6*)
Baby wipes*
Diaper rash ointment
Winter Clothing:0-3 mo*, 3-6 mo*, 12-18 mo*, 2T*
Baby shampoo
Baby blankets*
Formula: Simulac Advance Formula*
Formula: other but not recalled
Wash clothes
Hooded towels
Grocery gift cards*

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St. Andrew & St. Margaret of Scotland
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Alexandria, VA 22301-1625