St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Ardsley, New York
Sundays at 10:00 AM via Zoom
To join via phone:
Dial: 1 929 205 6099
Meeting ID: 960 1152 3996#
For those who plan to attend in person, the church is all clean and sanitized, and equipped with hand sanitizer, gloves, and extra masks if you forget yours. It is all marked for social distancing as well, so please join us if you feel comfortable doing so.
Please click on the PDF below to read the latest edition of The St. Barnabas Beacon, October 2020
The following links may be of interest:
New York Diocese:
Responding to racist violence:
We are currently working on a new website.
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(Canceled until further notice) Sundays at 10 AM: Holy Eucharist, followed by fellowship coffee hour
(Canceled until further notice) Sundays at 10 AM: Sunday School
Homily by the
DR. REV. VARGHESE E. MATHEW
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in thy sight, O Lord, our rock, and our redeemer. Amen.
Dear People of God,
I would like to begin my sermon by sharing with you a story that I remember once reading online titled, “A Changed Parrot.” A young man received a talking parrot as a gift. However, that parrot had a very bad attitude and an even nastier vocabulary. Each word out of the parrot’s mouth was very rude, vulgar language, and words laced with profanity. The person who had the parrot tried to change the bird’s attitude by saying only polite words, talking gently, playing soft music and so on to clean the birds bad vocabulary. Finally, he got so fed up with the parrot and yelled. The parrot yelled back in a tirade laced with insulting words. In total desperation, he grabbed and put the parrot in the freezer. Suddenly, the bird was all quiet. Fearing he had hurt the parrot, the man very quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot very calmly stepped out and said, “I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m really sorry and I will never repeat my wrongdoings.” The parrot’s owner was really surprised at the instant change in the bird’s attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such an amazing change in behavior, the parrot continued, “May I ask what the chicken in the freezer did?”
This story humorously reminds us about the topic of accountability. Nevertheless, what I am about to address today in my homily is a very serious matter. Our words and our actions not only impact ourselves, but it also impacts the world around us, either in a positive or negative way. A few days ago, as I turned on the television; I was watching live coverage of the Capitol building being ransacked, security breached, and violence in the progression. With a pounding heart I watched the basic values of democracy and civility crumble right in front of me. For a moment, the chaotic scenes being broadcasted reminded me about the wretchedness of human condition.
For the last few months, events have been unfolding in a negative manner and the virus of hatred mutating, in its most severe form, threatening the basic freedom that we ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren have taken for granted. For the last couple of days, I have been conveniently avoiding questions from my middle school son asking me if we are really living in a democracy. As I preach this homily, I do not see a political party before me; but all I see is the misery that we all collectively face as human beings who very often need assurance and reassurance. Dear people of God, I don’t have any answers to the many questions bothering us. Neither am I standing here to proclaim judgment, but to proclaim the message of the gospel. The gospel proclaims the good news of freedom through Jesus Christ. Our Vice President beautifully stated the other day, “Violence never wins. Freedom wins.”
I am here to call our community to a ministry of presence. Mark ,the earliest canonical gospel, takes a straightforward approach of conveying the point directly to the readers. Mark presents Jesus openly as the suffering servant who identifies with the suffering of all the people. Mark wants to convey the message that God has come into this world and God’s love is manifest through the sacrificial love on the Cross instead of holding humanity accountable. An extraordinary God identifies with the ordinariness of human condition. Today’s gospel account of Mark 1: 4-11 portrays John the Baptist in the wilderness proclaiming a baptism of repentance and forgiveness. Only with accountability can healing begin. We see Jesus being baptized by John.
I would like to pose the question: Why did Jesus have to be baptized? Especially, the baptism which was performed by John the Baptist was a ritual cleansing away of sins.
John himself acknowledges that Jesus, who is more powerful than him, would baptize everyone with the Holy Spirit. So, why does Jesus, who is greater than John the Baptist, Jesus who is greater than any law or the prophets, baptized? Why is the sinless Son of God being baptized? I’m pretty sure that the early church had a hard time explaining this event? If we try explaining this event through logic it is going to be difficult. But if we try to see things from the perspective of God’s love for humanity; the answer rests in the premise of God’s presence in a community that is in need of redemption. Jesus Christ, the one who is without sin, is identifying himself with the sinners He came to save. And that is the message that the gospel writer consistently conveys. As a church, we have a unique calling – the calling to proclaim and reflect the presence of Jesus Christ whenever and wherever healing is needed. We are called to a ministry of prayerful presence. Amen.