October 8, 2023
St. Francis Propers – George Yandell
Although not unique, Koko the gorilla was one of the few non-humans known to keep pets. She had been taught American Sign Language. Researchers at the Gorilla Foundation said that Koko asked for a cat for Christmas in 1983. Ron Cohn, a biologist with the foundation, explained to the Los Angeles Times that when she was given a lifelike stuffed animal, she was less than satisfied. She did not play with it and continued to sign “sad”. So on her birthday in July 1984, she was able to choose a kitten from a litter. Koko selected a gray male Manx from a litter of abandoned kittens and named him “All Ball”. Dr. Penny Patterson, who had custody of Koko and organized the Gorilla Foundation, wrote that Koko cared for the kitten as if it were a baby gorilla. Researchers said that she tried to nurse All Ball and was very gentle and loving. They believed the kitten, and her skills gained through playing with dolls, would be a tool to help Koko learn how to nurture an offspring.
In December of that same year, All Ball escaped from Koko’s cage and was hit and killed by a car. Later, Patterson said that when she signed to Koko that All Ball had gone, Koko signed “Bad, sad, bad” and “Frown, cry, frown, sad”. Patterson also reported later hearing Koko making a sound similar to human weeping.
In 1985, Koko was allowed to pick out two new kittens from a litter to be her companions.
October 1, 2023
Proper 21A – George Yandell
I want to talk about a woman who led an entire Roman colony to faith in Jesus. And how the congregation in her house witnessed to their faith and led to creating numerous other congregations across the northern Mediterranean.
After Paul first arrived in Philippi, he and Silas went down to the river on the Sabbath day, supposing there was a place of prayer there. They found a group of women gathered by the river, probably near the synagogue, and they spoke to them. Acts says, “A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from [a nearby village] and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul.” Lydia became the first European convert to the Way of Jesus, @ 49 CE (Acts 16:13-40).
Lydia was a businesswoman who sold purple cloth, a luxury item. Her business would have put her in contact with the wealthy. (Women’s Bible Commentary, Newsom/Ringe, 1998, p. 400) Acts describes her as a “god-worshipper.” This means she was a Gentile/ Greek speaker attracted to Jewish synagogue worship. She sympathized with the Jews. “God-worshippers” were the major targets of Paul’s missionary work. He regularly sought them out when coming to a new city. God worshippers had decent knowledge of Hebrew scripture, and often were patrons of the local synagogue. The use of Lydia’s personal name suggests she enjoyed high social status among free persons and merchants.
September 24, 2023
Pentecost 17 – Ted Hackett
Today’s Gospel…usually called “The Laborers in the Vineyard”
…is one of Jesus’ best-known parables,
… But also one of his most baffling… It is a story Jesus told… And it seems…frankly….unfair….
The story goes that it’s harvest time…and this guy who owns a vineyard needs day-workers to pick grapes… He goes to the market early in the morning and hires some guys. They agree on a denarius…a fair wage for that time…and off they go to pick grapes.
It was hot…there were a lot of grapes and the work went more slowly than usual… So the owner went out again…at noon and again at 3:00 and found men at the market and hired them. He told them he’d pay them what they were worth… At five o’clock….there were still grapes on the vines…so the owner went out to the market again and found some guys hanging around and told them to go pick grapes. He’d pay them whatever was fair.
Twilight closed in, the grapes were in a wagon and the guys lined up for their pay… The ones who came at five…got a denarius… And so did others… But when the ones who started work at dawn….and worked in the Palestinian heat all day came up… They …quite naturally… expected more… After all…it was only fair! They had worked for 12 hours In the sweltering sun… And the lazy louts who only put in a couple of hours got as much as they did!
September 17, 2023
Proper 19A – George Yandell
From the Exodus reading – Israel is saved by a tsunami that God uses to kill all the Egyptian warriors and their armaments. God was angry that pharaoh had enslaved and mistreated the Hebrew people for generations. We are created in God’s image, so anger comes naturally to us. Anger and forgiveness are two poles of human nature. The one, anger, is a natural human emotion. Some child psychologists think it’s anger at not getting our way as one- and two-year-olds that creates distinctive, innovative character in adults. How we cope with our anger makes us either disciplined or despairing, self-blaming or other-blaming. Anger drives much of our behaviors throughout life. One mentor of mine said that anger is a resultant emotion- that the primary emotion is fear, and very often anger rises unbidden out of our fears.
Forgiveness is an acquired attitude of action. Where anger happens, it comes unbidden into us, as do all emotions. Forgiveness is a learned behavior, learned at great price. Forgiveness requires sacrificing anger and pride, and accepting others, and God, in humility.
Is it any wonder that so much of human energy is devoted to getting even? You and I spend ½ of our tax dollars helping our country prepare for revenge. We have defensive weapons and systems that keep our capability for revenge as high as possible. Anger is a defensive emotion. It helps animals survive when threatened. The Medieval Church labeled anger as one of the 7 deadly sins.