Justified by Faith, Proper 6 (C) – 2016

[RCL] 1 Kings 21:1-10 (11-14) 15-21a; Psalm 5:1-8; Galatians 2:15-21; Luke 7:36-8:3

As Christians we believe that God freely justifies us by faith in Jesus Christ.

“Justification” and the related verb “to justify” are funny words because they can have different meanings depending on the context. In regular modern American English, to justify something (often an action like a big purchase or some bold statement) is to be put on the defensive possibly after being accused. It requires answering the why’s and why not’s of judges and questioners. It usually feels acutely negative. Alternatively, when it comes to using a word processor on a computer, justification is about which margin to make straight. Aside from editors and English teachers, no one gets very excited over the subject. However, in the context of Christian theology justification is word with a positive meaning that ought to resonate in every heart. It is an idea that is at the very core of the Gospel and the Church’s understanding of God’s great and merciful love. Unfortunately, it seems all too often that even in the Church people misunderstand what justification is all about.

So what is the Christian understanding of justification? In short, justification is how we are reconciled and placed in a right relationship with God. Despite some historic arguments among theologians about certain nuances of the doctrine of justification, Christians of all stripes recognize that the Holy Scriptures offer one clear answer to the question of how sinners are restored to communion with God. The answer is that our relationship to God is restored by faith in Jesus Christ.

In today’s reading from Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we hear: “We know that a person is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Jesus Christ… by works of the Law no one will be justified.” It seems to be a straightforward message. We are restored to communion with God, and we are made right with God by trusting in Jesus Christ to save us. It is something that God does for us when we believe in God’s Son.

The Articles of Religion that are printed in the Book of Common of Prayer beginning on page 867, state this idea in words that Episcopalians have affirmed for centuries: “We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings.”

Despite the clarity of the New Testament and historic Christian theology, our sinful pride often gets the better of us, and we begin to think that we have fellowship with God because we are well behaved and do the right things. We look at our good things, the things we have accomplished in life and the good things we would like to do, and we begin to believe that we are closer to God because of them. We become good people in our own eyes rather than seeing ourselves for what we are, sinners in need of forgiveness. Sometimes, acknowledging our mistakes, we become convinced that if we put in the effort to fix some of our problems, God will love us more. Perhaps the worst version of this bad theology is when people try and fail so much that they start to believe that God could not and would not ever love them or forgive them.

These errors are nothing new. They are simply versions of an old heresy known as Pelagianism, named for the British monk who promoted the idea. Pelagianism is the belief that we can earn favor with God on the basis of our own merits and good behavior. It is an ideology that leads to spiritual pride. The words of the Psalmist “Braggarts cannot stand in [God’s] sight” remind us there is no place for pride or self-righteousness in God’s kingdom. We know that such self-righteousness is wrong because the Scriptures tell us, “By the works of the Law, no one shall be justified.”

The Good News for those who will receive it is that God’s love and mercy for us are not dependent on our good works, our feelings, or our failings. God does not love us more because we give money to the right causes or protest the wrongs of the world. God does not love us less because we as broken creatures keep trying to improve ourselves and we still fall short. God does not justify us because we deserve it – we certainly do not – rather God justifies us because God loves us.

Theologians call this gift of God’s love “grace.” Grace is simply a gift. Grace is wildly gratuitous and undeserved. It is something we have not earned and frankly cannot earn, because, as Paul reminds us, if we as sinners could have earned our justification, Christ would have died for no purpose. Elsewhere in the New Testament, the Apostle writes, “By grace you have been saved not by works, and this is so that no one can boast.”

Jesus provides a good example of what justification looks like in today’s Gospel reading. Luke tells us about a dinner party at the house of a very religious man named Simon. Simon apparently believed he was right with God because he was a devoted Pharisee and was therefore different from the common lot of sinners. The Pharisees were known for trying to make themselves holy by following the precepts of the Law and by performing good works. In contrast, by all accounts the woman at the dinner was a sinner. She made no appeal to her righteousness or her good works. Instead, threw herself at Jesus’ feet, seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness. Jesus forgave her. He told her to go in peace because her faith had saved her. He restored her to communion with the Father, and he justified her because she trusted in him. The woman’s signs of affection were responses to Jesus’ overwhelming love and kindness.

So long as we are convinced of our own righteousness like Simon the Pharisee, we will miss the point of the Gospel, and the point is that God gives us what we cannot earn when we trust in Jesus Christ. He justifies us freely by his grace. Jesus restores our broken relationship with God the Father through the merciful gift of his love.

Upon hearing Jesus’ words to the woman: “Your faith has saved you,” we might ask, “What is faith?” The best answer to that question is that faith is trust. Faith is trust that God truly loves us and wants to forgive us and to restore us to his family. Like the woman who trusted Jesus not to condemn her, we trust that Jesus will not condemn us, and we trust that he will forgive us because he died for our sins and rose from the dead to give us eternal life.

The fruit of God’s gift of justification then is that we have a new life in Jesus Christ. At Holy Baptism when our faith in Christ is proclaimed before the world, God’s love is poured into our hearts in such a way that we can join the Apostle in saying, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no long I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who love me and gave himself for me.” This new life in Christ sets us free from sin and dead works that could never justify us before God. We are now free to know, love, and serve God. Our response to God’s incredible gift should be to share his love and mercy with the whole world. Amen.

Download the sermon for Proper 6C.

Written by The Reverend Jack Lynch

The Rev. Dr. John J. Lynch is the rector of Christ the King Episcopal Church in Yorktown, Virginia, having previously served in the Diocese of Honduras. He is also the Province III Chaplain to the Order of the Daughters of the King. In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, Father Lynch writes and publishes the Spanish-language blog “El Cura de Dos Mundos”. 

All of us part Pharisee and part sinful woman, 4 Pentecost, Proper 6 (C) – 2013

June 16, 2013

1 Kings 21:1-10 (11-14), 15-21a and Psalm 5:1-8 (or 2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-15 and Psalm 32); Galatians 2:15-21; Luke 7:36-8:3

Jesus had a marvelous way of confronting people who held worldly beliefs, by turning their views upside down, shaking them out, so his listeners could understand the deeper realities of God. He was a genius at bringing his message down to a common-sense level – often by telling stories, sharply driving home a point leading to the unmistakable values of God.

In today’s gospel account, we see an excellent example of this aspect of his ministry. A social event, at which Jesus was invited as the rabbi, allowed him to provide a powerful lesson. He turned around the circumstances of the moment by telling a story as an example. Then he issued a judgment that brought the meaning of the story back to present reality and further challenged conventional wisdom that flew in the face of Godly truth.

It is Luke’s unique version of a famous, popular story – the sinful woman with the alabaster jar who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears.

Perhaps a retelling of this first-century illustration in a modern setting, bringing the message a little closer to home, will make it as clear to us as it was to the original followers of Jesus.

Imagine your congregation holding a major celebration, perhaps a stewardship banquet, with Jesus as the main speaker. He sits at the center of the head table with the priest and wardens surrounding him. Into the midst of the parish hall, adorned with the best accouterments the church has, enters a scraggly looking woman. Everyone recognizes her as a notorious sinner who has made no secret of her indiscretions. She is clearly very upset, and to the horror of the church members, walks toward the head table, slowly and with her head bowed low, almost crawling, until she reaches Jesus.

Obviously, she is ruining everything – all the best-laid plans – and she destroys the joy of the moment. Crying at Jesus’ feet, she offers to minister to him in her humble way. To make matters worse, Jesus does not turn her away, but allows her to continue interrupting the proceedings.

Angry and embarrassed, the priest tries to save face by telling the congregation that they made a mistake in asking Jesus to join them, because his unwillingness to reject the woman makes it clear that he is a fraud.

Now Jesus turns the tables on the priest and wardens and all who think like them. He asks, “There were two men, financially broke. One was three months behind on his mortgage, but the other faced immediate foreclosure. When the bank forgave both debts, which one appreciated it the most?” The priest replied, “I guess the one about to be foreclosed on.”

Then Jesus turned to the woman, and looking at her lovingly, said to the priest, “I am sure you and your congregation agree. So, look again at this woman and compare her actions to yours. You have been polite to me, but you haven’t really rejoiced overwhelmingly that I have come to be with you. You seem to want only to bask in the honor of my presence. You want me to say what you expect to hear. Before dinner, you sang ‘Amazing grace,’ but none of you looked particularly amazed. You think I have threatened the security of your community by accepting someone you consider an outcast.”

In contrast, he lauded the woman. “What love she has! You have done nothing of note for me, but she came with her heart in her hand and offered me all she had. She humbled herself and wept because of her sin. That is why her sins are forgiven.” To her he said, “Your faith has saved you. Go in Peace.”

In his teaching moment, Jesus used the classic method of contrasting two behaviors in order for his audience to understand the competing value of the one against the other, and thereby helped them discover the truth of God. He compared the actions of the Pharisee with those of the sinful woman.

The woman was a known sinner, not an insider, not a member of the synagogue. She was not among those whom any generation would likely consider as doing God’s will.

The Pharisee stood among those who were traditionally good and generally kind. By reputation, they clearly committed themselves to God as they understood him. The Pharisee was a leader among his community. However, he lacked genuine humility, considering himself a superior person – a wonderful example of a God-fearing believer. He seemed unaware of his own failing, his own sin, his own need for anything beyond himself.

The woman, due to the keen awareness of her sin, felt a clear sense of her failings. She did not consider herself better than others, and could only turn to Jesus, weeping, in an act of kindness and begging for mercy.

The Pharisee expressed himself mostly in terms of judgment. He set himself apart from the woman, self-righteously considering himself better than the outcast who disturbed his great moment. He expected Jesus to express the same opinion. He also thought he had all the answers, and so had no reason to be open minded. Being part of the “in group,” who were in the right, he didn’t need to learn anything more about life, because he thought God was perfectly satisfied with who and what he was.

The woman, in contrast, came to Jesus with a deep sense of humility. She was not concerned about how others acted, only about her need to change and her need for forgiveness. She had almost no resources and knew she didn’t have all the answers – maybe no answers at all, except to rely on Jesus.

The Pharisee expressed only insensitivity and lack of awareness about the least of society and his excluding approach to woman contrasts with the inclusive, loving, accepting actions of Jesus.

Obviously the Pharisee’s lack of awareness, exclusivity, self-righteousness and judgment do not measure up against the simple actions of the humble woman who was aware of her sin, knew her need for God, and was ready to serve others. The characters are there for us to choose from, and the choice is easy.

But perhaps it isn’t that simple.

Maybe the more important takeaway from this teaching comes from realizing that we human beings tend to share the characteristics of both the Pharisee and the woman. Most of us find ourselves able to identify with both characters, and we can learn from both ends of Jesus’ story and his assertion.

So, imagine the story further. Imagine seeing the woman and the Pharisee (or the priest in the modern version) meeting on the street the day after the big event. Imagine her, filled with a refreshing awareness of God’s forgiving love, now able to look at herself with confidence. She knows that she has power to change her way of living, put her sin behind her, and stand with the Pharisee as an equal in God’s view.

Imagine further, the Pharisee after a hard night of soul-searching, having seen the light Jesus cast over the shadowy nature of his beliefs. Imagine him now able to see his own sin and greet the woman no longer as an outcast but as a sister in Christ.

Wherever we find ourselves today, Jesus’ teaching through this gospel story helps us along the journey of faith – helps us know that God loves us as we are, with freely offered grace, and  enables us to renew ourselves and better take part in today’s version of the Good News of God in Christ.

 

— The Rev. Ken Kesselus, author of “John E. Hines: Granite on Fire” (Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, 1995), is retired from full-time, active ministry and lives with his wife in his native home, Bastrop, Texas.

Jesus knows us, Pentecost 3, Proper 6 (C) – 2010

[RCL] 1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14), 15-21a and Psalm 5:1-8 (Track 2: 2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-15 and Psalm 32); Galatians 2:15-21; Luke 7:36-8:3

Today’s story from Luke could easily be a contemporary one-act play – a single scene where characters, conflict, and social norms clash together to reveal an unexpected and utterly transformative truth. The set: a well-decorated dining room, simple but expensive looking. The characters: Simon the Pharisee, a curious intellectual with an eye for the interesting; Jesus of Nazareth, the guest of honor and eventual game changer; and the Woman with the Alabaster Jar, a character with no name who is the source of the scene’s most uncomfortable moments.

Like any good drama, this story begins with the mundane. A Pharisee asks Jesus over for dinner, Jesus accepts, and the two sit down for a meal. So often in the gospels the Pharisees are cast as the villains. Unable to accept Jesus’ teaching, confused by his deliberate opposition to certain devout customs, this group of religious leaders is often understood as an organized faction out to get Jesus. But here, we see a different side of the Pharisees. Simon is obviously open minded enough to invite the renegade rabbi over to his house for dinner. As we find out later, he is not quite excited enough about the event to make a big show of it – to ask a servant to wash Jesus’ feet, for example – but he is willing to hear what the increasingly popular teacher has to say. There is no evidence to indicate that the dinner invitation is a plot or a trick. It’s simply a dinner, and Simon has at least an intellectual interest in this man named Jesus.

Enter the Woman with the Alabaster Jar. Luke does not give her a name, nor does he give her any lines. We know very little about her aside from the fierce gossip spoken behind her back – “Sinner!” – yet she provides the action that drives the rest of the story. We don’t know how she entered the house, how many people she defiantly walked past before finding Jesus as the table. She stands behind him, then crouches on the ground. She begins to cry, allowing her tears to collect at his feet, bathing them, washing away the day’s dust. Without a towel or even a scarf – maybe she didn’t think this through – she unties her hair and dries his feet, wet with her own tears. Finally, she takes expensive oil and anoints him again and again, kissing him as she does it.

Imagine the room. Imagine Simon, whose carefully casual dinner just became shockingly uncomfortable. Simon’s reaction – or the emotional response that we might picture him having – is not difficult to understand. If he is shocked, there is a good chance that we are too. Even contemporary readers thousands of years removed from the first telling of this story, readers thoroughly on board with Jesus and his message, may find this part of the scene more than a little awkward. A woman overcome with emotion for reasons that we do not know, her tears washing a man’s feet, her hair drying them, her kisses, the oil … it all seems a little voyeuristic on our end, as if we are spying on an a moment so raw, so vulnerable, that it was never meant to be seen at all.

Only Jesus remains unflappable. Only he – the God in him, the man in him – is able to understand this woman’s extravagant gesture, her otherwise inappropriate actions, as a full-body attempt at reconciliation, a plea for forgiveness. If she is a sinner like the rest of us, only Jesus knows her sin.

If this story was a one-act play, it might be titled “Forgiveness.” Here, we get a sense of God’s love, of God’s composed and collected way of accepting our broken pleas, our vulnerable moments, and refusing to turn away from them. While we may find it difficult to forgive, we see that forgiveness is natural to God. While we may find ourselves cringing away from the brokenness of others, we see that God never blinks. For Simon, and maybe for us, this introduction to a God so full of love and so ready to reconcile with us can be almost too much to bear.

In today’s reading from Galatians, we find Paul taking a stab at using theological language to describe the type of forgiveness that Jesus displays at Simon’s house. While the Woman with the Alabaster Jar ignites the right side of our brains, Paul goes to work on the left. “We know that a person is justified not by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ,” he writes. “But if in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!”

“Justified,” “faith,” “works,” “law,” “sin”: Paul throws around heavy religious words that can be hard get a handle on. The underlying theme of this and many of Paul’s points is that through the person of Jesus – his whole life, his death, his resurrection and ascension – we, as individuals and as a gathered community, find unity with God. It is through faith in Jesus that all of our sins are forgiven. Even that sin, whether it be one or many, that we cannot even name, that causes us to weep as we crouch at Christ’s feet.

Back in Simon’s dining room, Jesus is about to show his true colors, revealing that he doesn’t care too much for fancy dinner parties or the invitations of respected hosts. While Jesus may have been a bit of a curiosity to Simon, the Pharisee’s status was of little interest to his guest. When Simon questions Jesus’ status as a prophet, claiming that if he really was what he said he was, he would know that this woman with her tears and her kisses was a sinner, Jesus calmly responds. I imagine him meeting Simon’s gaze across the table, setting down his glass, staring for a while. In case we were wondering who is in charge here, we are about to find out. “Simon, I have something to say to you,” Jesus begins, and then he tells a story.

The parable is a simple one. A creditor has two debtors, one who owes a lot of money and one who owes less. Neither of them could pay, so the creditor cancels both debts. In the end, the one with the greater debt loved the creditor more, Jesus and Simon agree. “The one to whom little is forgiven loves little,” Jesus says. Then he turns to the woman and tells her that she is forgiven. Her sins, known to him alone, have been wiped away like the dust on his feet, and she is free to go and live a new life in the assurance of God’s grace.

This final exchange is the resolution of the one-act play and it is the perfect image to go along with Paul’s words about sin and justification. The audience knows that something important has happened, for the Woman with the Alabaster Jar, for us. Like any good play, when the lights go down, the attention shifts from the stage to the silent working of the audience’s hearts and minds, where the lessons learned struggle to take root and grow.

Like Simon, we all might have an intellectual interest in Jesus, an interest that extends about as far as a carefully casual dinner party with Christ as the guest of honor. But we have our “alabaster jar” side, too – that part of us that yearns for reconciliation and forgiveness, that wells up with emotion when we think of the pain and the wrong that we cannot name. Here we learn that Jesus knows us better than anyone else, that he accepts our offerings no matter how awkward, how ugly, and forgives.

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Written by the Rev. Elizabeth Easton
The Rev. Elizabeth Easton is the associate rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Omaha, Nebraska. A native of Washington State, she graduated from Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 2009.

Coming to terms with shadows, Pentecost 3, Proper 6 (C) – 2007

[RCL] 2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-15; Psalms 5:1-8 or 32; Galatians 2:15-21; Luke 7:36-8:3

Shadows can be both fun and frightening. Do you remember when you were a child, marveling at your shadow, especially in the late afternoon when shadows are long? Or making shadow pictures by holding your hands certain ways? Then there is the other side of shadows. Like the uncertainty of who is approaching you in the shadow either at night or back-lit by the sun. Children can imagine many things about shadows cast on their bedroom walls in the middle of the night.

Today’s readings are about coming to terms with the frightening side of shadows. We hear of three people who did just that: David, Paul, and the unnamed woman in the Gospel. They were genuine sinners who overcame the shadows of their past to know the bright sunlight of God’s forgiveness. The connecting thread between these three people we’ve heard about is their authenticity.

What makes Paul real is his consistency to a life of faith in the love of God in Christ Jesus. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ.” Life was not in the law, or the system of rituals it required.

The woman at the house of Simon has a ring of authenticity. She has no illusions about her past, but it doesn’t prevent her from making a deep and direct encounter with Jesus.

David from the depths of his heart can proclaim with all the power of his kingship, “I have sinned.” He repents, and God’s response is spoken almost immediately by the prophet Nathan: “God has put away your sin.”

These scriptures today help us to look at the subject of sin. It is a subject we tend to avoid or even ignore altogether as if there were no such thing as sin. Sin has not gone away, but we have other ways of talking about it.

One way we talk about it is in psychological terms with words like “persona” and “shadow.” Our word for person comes from the Greek word “persona.” Persona means “mask” and the word comes from the mask worn by actors in ancient Greek and Roman drama. Modern psychology uses the word “persona” for the mask we wear when we go out to face the world and other people. The persona has a socially and psychologically useful function. You may be feeling perfectly rotten on a particular day, but as you go about your various tasks and encounter other people you may not always want to let your vulnerability be seen.

The problem comes when we identify with the persona too much. When we think we are that person we are putting on, then the persona is being misused. When we identify with a persona it leads to artificiality, falseness, and shallowness of personality. This was one of the reasons Jesus complained about the attitude of the Pharisees like Simon in the Gospel today. The Pharisees seemed to think they had no sin. Jesus called them “hypocrites,” which in Greek means “actors.”

A common psychological problem is that when there is over-identification with the persona, our contact with the shadow side of our personality is certain to be lost. The shadow as a concept in psychology refers to the dark, feared, unwanted side of our personality. Our conscious personality is shaped by ideals that come from society, parents, a peer groups, or religious values. Society tells us we cannot steal, murder, or engage in other socially destructive behavior without being punished.

Most of us conform more or less to this requirement, and we deny and repress the thief and murderer within us. The Christian moral code goes further, and tells us that we must be loving and forgiving. So to conform to that ideal, we reject the part of us that gets angry and is vindictive.

But why would it be necessary to have commandments such as “You shall not steal,” “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not kill,” unless it was likely we might do these things? Our spiritual traditions recognize that we all have within ourselves the whole spectrum of potential human behavior. We simply exclude some of those possibilities for the sake of developing a specifically conscious personality. If we follow the Ten Commandments, we can be sure that those tendencies forbidden are included in the shadow personality.

In the Gospel passage we have the contrast of two characters, Simon and a woman of the street whom the writer calls a sinner. Simon, the public religious figure is disturbed that Jesus would allow this woman to touch him, let alone show such extravagant devotion. Jesus says to him that the great affection and love she shows him is because she has had so many sins forgiven. “But he who is forgiven little loves little.”

The implication is that Simon is a sinner too but he doesn’t know it. Simon’s love is reflected in his scant hospitality to Jesus. In terms of what psychologists would say, Simon has developed his moral ideals to the point of denial of his sin. He has put his trust for salvation in his ability to fulfill his moral ideals.

The woman, on the other hand, realizes that her moral works cannot save her. All she can do is throw herself on God’s mercy. And what has that done for her? It has brought a profound transformation. It has released the deep wells of love and devotion in her. The woman’s extravagance is a picture of the extravagance of God’s grace.

It is similar to the story of David that we hear of in the first reading. David is able to face his sin and admit it. How easy it is for us to try to excuse ourselves in the face of every wrong doing. We always have a good reason, and extenuating circumstances. The first characteristic of the authentic person is the ability to admit being wrong – not just begrudgingly conceding the fact after a barrage of excuses, but simply saying it out, without hesitation. In the face of that universal human tendency to make excuses, David has extraordinary courage. To the charges made by the prophet Nathan, David does not hedge; he doesn’t make excuses. He makes no attempt to downplay the grievousness of what he had done. His reply is simple, “I have sinned against God.”

As we hear these stories from scripture, we might hear God inviting us to acknowledge the sin in ourselves. That is the power of these stories. It is only when we can recognize this in ourselves that we can have that deeply felt knowledge of David and the woman at Simon’s house – the abundance of God’s love shown to us in Jesus.

Our sinfulness is as unique as our personality. Usually, we are simply working with a laundry list of deeds or thoughts that we know are wrong. What God wants to do is deal with a deep personal pattern – we might say, “the tapestry of our sin.” We must pray that God would reveal to us the mystery of our personal pattern, the deep-seated, consistent recurrence of pride, envy, lust, or whatever has a hold over us.

The Good News is that God in Christ has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves. You can see why Paul called this “gospel,” or “good news.” So often, we see religion as the bad news that you have to believe really hard, or think really deeply, or act very righteously or else there is no way for you to be right. This kind of religion leads ultimately to exhaustion or disappointment when we are forced to admit that we can’t get it all together on our own. We can’t do it right every time, and all our efforts to save ourselves fail.

We come to church, sing these hymns, pray these prayers, read this scripture, listen to this sermon, try to live good lives, not in order to get somewhere with God but rather because we have already arrived. God has already acted on our behalf. Christ has done for us that which we could not do for ourselves: made things right between us and God. That means that religion as something we do, is over.

The only thing required of us is the openness to receive. As we saw with David, this is not necessarily pleasant or easy. It involves a change in attitude and ultimately in our actions.

Remember the woman’s extravagant actions. She “stood behind Jesus at his feet weeping and bathed his feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, kissed them and anointed them with ointment.” These words tell us that grace is highly personal. God calls us each by name. And God’s forgiveness, love, and acceptance opens up deep wells of love within us.

Written by the Rev. Barry Turner
The Rev. Barry Turner has been rector at St. Stephen’s in San Luis Obispo, California since 1996. He has served as chair of diocesan stewardship commissions in NoCA and ECR since 1986. He is married and has two teenage children.