20th Sunday after Pentecost- Fr. Chris- October 22, 2017

October 22, 2017

Mondegreen: A noun meaning a “misunderstood or misinterpreted word or phrase resulting from a mishearing of the lyrics of a song.”

Mondegreen is a relatively recent addition to the dictionary with Oxford adding it in 2002 and Merriam-Webster in 2008. It does not come from Greek or Latin nor does it originate from Germanic or Celtic. No, the word “mondegreen” is in itself a misunderstood lyric. Mondegreen is a mondegreen. American writer Sylvia Wright coined the term in 1954 when sharing how she misheard the lyric in an old Scottish ballad. The lyric “and laid him on the green” was misheard as “and Lady Mondegreen.” Since that time, the misheard Lady Mondegreen has worked its way into our dictionaries and has given us a word for something of which I am sure we are all guilty.

What are your mondegreens? As a child in church, I heard Rite I’s confessional “heartily” as “HARDLY.” As in, we are “hardly sorry for these our misdoings.” This apparent brutal honesty always shocked me as it seemed so disrespectful. And because I typically went by rote memory, it wasn’t until I was nearly a teenager that this misinterpretation was resolved. Similarly, my brother-in-law was befuddled each Sunday when the priest declared that we are all “bald to say” the Lord’s Prayer. Technically those are not mondegreens as a mondegreen refers specifically to song lyrics, but here are some other examples I have heard:

  • “Surely good Ms. Murphy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Apparently, good ol’ Ms. Murphy always has our back according to the misheard Psalm 23.
  • How about Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze? “Scuse me while I kiss this guy” or as it should be “Scuse me while I kiss the sky.”
  • In the Twelve Days of Christmas the mondegreen four “calling birds” became so prevalent that the original “four colly birds” has been replaced. Many versions now use “calling,” instead of the Old English word “colly” which referred to black birds.

Today begins our annual pledging season. Stewardship is a year-round process and a way of living our life. Stewardship is how we give of our whole selves to care for what God has given us: time, relationships, money, and talents. In this particular season of pledging, we are challenged to prayerfully discern how we will give monetarily to help grow the kingdom of God through the good works and ministries of St. Paul’s. But this is about more than filling out a pledge card… It is about how we commit to being St. Paul’s.

Good people of St. Paul’s, many of you know that a little more than a month ago, I challenged everyone in the parish to reflect for the whole year upon what it means to be St. Paul’s. What would happen if we all claimed within our lives “I am St. Paul’s?” As Christ’s disciples, we choose to live that out in the here and now in this place on the corner of Franz and Drexel… But it doesn’t stop at the sidewalks, what starts here radiates out into the world with Christ’s transformative love and grace. And it is with gratitude that we begin to discern how we can be good stewards of all that God gives. And part of our discipleship, our stewardship, is to tackle these questions in regards to money.

So why as stewards of the Church do we give of our treasure?

  • We give in order to tap into the abundance of life that has been given to us. As Christians, we seek to imitate Christ and therefore we must learn to give as Christ gave.
  • We give in order to We serve as evangelists with the good news of the Gospel and we serve in outreach as the hands and feet of Christ to a hurt and broken world.
  • We give to be obedient to God’s teachings.
  • We give in order to transform lives in the name Christ, the lives of others and our own lives. For it is in giving that we receive and if done faithfully then lives cannot help but be transformed.

Here at St. Paul’s, we have four principles to guide us in our Christian stewardship. First, we acknowledge that all that we have and all that we are is of God. Second, every one of us has been equipped and called to give. Yes, your participation matters! Next, no gift given faithfully is greater than another. It is not equal giving but equal sacrifice from each member of the body of Christ, the Church. Finally, making a pledge is not about just paying the parish’s bills. Sure, there is a very practical side to giving money, but when money is given from a place of faith then it is in fact a spiritual event and a way of living out our gratitude to God.

I have a vivid memory from my youth of standing with a group of my friends in the old Astrodome during the Houston Rodeo. Southeast Texas native Clay Walker was on the stage and I was singing my heart out to “What’s It to You,” “If I Could Make a Living,” and “Rumor Has It.” Then during the encore, beach balls fell from the ceiling, the crowd batted them around, and I sang along as Clay Walker belted out Ben White… “Ben White, where you gonna turn when you can’t turn back for the bridges you’ve burned and fate can’t wait to kick you in the butt Ben White, oh Ben White.” Poor Ben White. At least, I thought Clay Walker was singing about some guy named Ben White. I found out that night as my friends not so kindly explained, the song is actually “Then What.” Huh, who knew?! Just another one of my many mondegreens…

In our stewardship, we give and we give faithfully. And then what? It’s a question that has been asked time and time again throughout history. We have seen incredible growth in depth of faith and breadth of reach here at St. Paul’s… We have taken an incredible step forward in faith with the ongoing construction which is on track to be completed in a month and a half…. We have come together to fix the church and help our neighbors in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and will continue that work into the future… And we have a community that continues to grow and we continue to be one of the only liturgical churches in the area… And so, we now sit at the West Houston frontier with unimaginable possibilities and I ask you the question that economists, historians, scientists, and yes, even apparently Clay Walker, have asked for centuries… “then what?” What comes next in the story of St. Paul’s? What happens when we all live into being Christ’s disciples here at St. Paul’s… When we all say for ourselves, “I am St. Paul’s.” Then what? What shall we do with our time, relationships, and talents, and yes, even our treasure?

We can still see the need here in our parish and at the same time we see the need beyond our doors in the world that is still hurting. And we hear the calling of Christ echoed in our mission of “Loving the Lord and our Neighbors.” The challenge is that giving our money can seem scary, but the reality is that we are a people of abundance with a god that is the God of infinity all the while we think we live in scarcity. We ask, “Will there be enough?” or “Will God really provide?” This way of living is a treadmill of constantly running but going nowhere. This exercise does not build us up but rather tears us down. Life cannot be spending, wanting, and wasting. Instead it is faith, hope, and love lived out with gratitude for God who created us in his image. In the end, that is what our annual pledging is about… That is what all stewardship is about… That is what being St. Paul’s is all about.

The answer to the question “Then What?” is faith, hope, and love lived out with gratitude for the God that created us in his image.

Service Schedule

Sunday Services
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite I
9:15 a.m. Christian Formation
10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite II

Weekday Services
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist


St. Paul's Episcopal Church
5373 Franz Rd
Katy, Texas 77493
(281) 391-2785

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