Showing items filed under “The Rev. Alina Williams”

Getting Ready for Sunday by the Rev. Alina Williams

My children and I have recently discovered the glory of the trampoline park industry that booms in major cities.  There’s a particular park in Richardson that we enjoy going to on a regular basis.  At this park, there are two special features: the first is a battle beam that transcends a foam pit, and the second is a trapeze that swings out over a similar foam pit.  My older child is fairly fearless when it comes to the trapeze.  We attended a birthday party in June at this park, and she was on the trapeze for at least an hour.  Perhaps it is the feeling of freedom she attained from swinging repeatedly, or perhaps it was the security in knowing she wouldn’t hurt herself when she let go of the bar; either way, she kept returning time and again to this feature.

The beam, on the other hand, had only one chance to impress her.  Mind you, the battle beam feature also comes with the opportunity to shove your opponent off the beam into the foam pit in order to traverse the beam.  Although my daughter is fearless when it comes to the trapeze, the possibility of someone hitting her off the beam into the same style foam pit was terrifying.  She even grew anxious when she was the only person on the beam—the narrow, long and difficult road to the other side was scarier than sailing through the air at twelve feet above the foam pit of the trapeze.  Halfway through her trip across the beam, with no threat of someone knocking her off, she jumped into the foam pit of her own volition.

How often do we find ourselves in a similar situation… walking along a narrow and difficult path and instead of trusting that we will make it to the other side with a bit of concentration and hard work, we sabotage ourselves with self-doubt, distractions, and isolation.  Much like Peter in Matthew’s Gospel lesson for this week, we let something as simple as a gust of wind distract us from the reward of walking with Jesus on the water.  Don’t get me wrong, I, too, would be terrified if I was on the boat—a storm arises on the sea and is overcoming the boat, not to mention the fact that someone is walking on the water toward the boat.  But I am not sure I would have the guts to test the waters myself.

Peter, on the other hand, is just that gutsy.  “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  This may well be the first theological bargain we hear about, but we know from personal experience it is not the last—God, if you help me pass the test… God, if you help my team win… God, if you take away the cancer… God, if you make it stop hurting… God, if you can fix my marriage…  God, if you will heal my child…

And Jesus bids him, “Come.”  But not without hard work and concentration and focus.  How can we walk on water in the midst of a storm?  Well, we must be as gutsy as Peter is, but more trusting of the one who calls to us in the storm.  We cannot expect Jesus to do all the work, either: we should expect to work harder than ever before, focus more on God’s presence within the storm, and remember who it is that is calling us in the midst of the chaos.  We can’t let the fear that comes from walking across the narrow and difficult path determine whether we jump off of the beam or stay on—we must remain focused on who is on the other side of that beam cheering us on.

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Getting Ready for Sunday: By the Rev. Alina Williams

The Collect for the First Sunday of Advent reminds us directly of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, a Christian, a “little Christ.” We ask our God to “give us grade to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light” in this life that we are living now, so that “in the last day, when he shall come again…we may rise to the life immortal.” And St. Paul urges the Roman church to wake from sleep. He counsels them, impresses upon them the need to put on the Lord Jesus Christ—to clothe themselves in all that they do in Jesus Christ. And Matthew’s Gospel lesson only reinforces the Collect and the Epistle by conveying a sense of urgency, the need for these things (waking and putting on Christ) to happen as quickly as possible.

And, so, what has this to do with us? Everything, my brothers and sisters; it has everything to do with us. Our recent past, as a nation, as a community in and around Dallas, has taught us that the life that some of our African American brothers and sisters live is very different, much more dangerous than the lives that most Episcopalians in North Texas experience. The darkness they experience is very different than the darkness most of us experience. And, as St. Paul teaches, “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (1 Cor. 12:26).

As a member of the Body of Christ and of the human race that God made, and made good, I am deeply concerned about the light that I am putting on and projecting out into the world. Is the light, light enough? Is the armor of light strong enough to protect myself, my family, my brothers and sisters in Christ from the hate that is spreading like wildfire through our nation, our world? Am I putting on the right armor of light: Am I truly putting on the armor of Christ’s light or am I simply putting on the armor that someone else is telling me to put on?

We must awake! We must be roused from this comfortable sleep—the sleep that persuades us that all is well and there are no problems with “the way it always has been.” This living that we are doing now will, indeed, affect that immortal life that we hope to attain. But more than that, putting on the armor of light, putting on Christ—showing the love of Christ to everyone we meet—that will affect the souls of those who have yet to learn about that immortal life. The renewal movement song that comes to my mind is “They’ll Know We Are Christians.” The world will know that we are little Christs by the love that we show.

The world will not know that we are Christians unless we put on this armor of light, unless we put on Christ fully, completely, and repeatedly—day in and day out, we must put on Christ. In all that we do, we must put on Christ. In all that we say, we must put on Christ. In every dollar we spend, we must put on Christ. In every reaction to hatred, we must put on Christ. In every thought of our minds, we must put on Christ. In every judgment we make, we must put on Christ.

We must put on Christ; and we must do it now. There’s an urgency, my brothers and sisters, and we must awake from our sleep. With clear eyes, open ears, willing hearts, and hands and feet at the ready, we must put on Christ. The time is now, and our call is clear: put on the armor of light; fight the darkness; and show it in all that we do.

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This is a blog of essays meant to prepare parishioners for an upcoming Sunday reading.