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East Harwich, MA 02645
Tel: 508-432-3734

2 Timothy 1:1-14
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,  1:2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.  1:3 I am grateful to God–whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did–when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.  1:4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy.  1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.

1:6 For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 1:7 for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.  1:8 Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,  1:9 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 1:10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

1:11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, 1:12 and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him.

1:13 Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  1:14 Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

The word “fencing” comes from the verb “brandish” and this comes from the German verb” which means to repair or protect. 

Fencing, organized sport involving the use of a sword, foil, or sabre for attack and defense according to set movements and rules.

Although the use of swords dates to prehistoric times and swordplay to ancient civilizations, the organized sport of fencing began only at the end of the 19th century. It’s often called “physical chess” because of the similarity that each game affords only a few moves, especially few opening moves, but the first few moves can be arranged in a mind-boggling number of different combinations. Also, a good attack plan in either sport will be backed up by a second plan, in case the defender counters the first one, even a third or fourth. People who are good chess players, if physically fit, tend to make good fencers.

There are three different blades in fencing

Epee– target area is full body and no priority; a double hit gives points to both fencers or teams. Points are scored by hitting the opponent with the point of the blade.

Foil– target area is chest only and there is priority*. Points are scored by hitting the opponent with the point of the blade while having priority.

Sabre– target area is upper body and there is priority. Points are scored by hitting opponent with blade while having priority.

Lamentations 1:1-6 New International Version

[a]How deserted lies the city,     once so full of people!
How like a widow is she,     who once was great among the nations!
She who was queen among the provinces     has now become a slave.

Bitterly she weeps at night,     tears are on her cheeks.
Among all her lovers    there is no one to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her;     they have become her enemies.

After affliction and harsh labor,     Judah has gone into exile.
She dwells among the nations;     she finds no resting place.
All who pursue her have overtaken her in the midst of her distress.

The roads to Zion mourn, for no one, comes to her appointed festivals.
All her gateways are desolate, her priests groan, her young women grieve,     and she is in bitter anguish.

Her foes have become her masters; her enemies are at ease.
The Lord has brought her grief because of her many sins.
Her children have gone into exile,  captive before the foe.

All the splendor has departed   from Daughter Zion.
Her princes are like deer  that find no pasture;
in weakness, they have fled before the pursuer.

Luke 17:5-10
17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

17:6 The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.  17:7 “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 17:8 Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 17:9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded?

17:10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'”

Hot-wired for Faith
2 October 2022
The Rev Dr. Dianne ES Carpenter


Fencing Coaches Choices

I once asked a great coach how he decided which weapon a student should fence. He replied, “On the first day, I tell him ‘keep me from hitting you with my straight arm’ and I extend my arm at them.” He then explained what the three types of students do. The first takes a step back out of range of the coach’s hand, he shall be a sabreur. The second slaps the coach’s hand out of the way before the coach can hit him, he shall be an epee fencer. The third lets the coach hit him and immediately turns to any bystanders and insists that the coach’s arm was bent. He shall be a foilist.

The Foil was used for resolving matters of honor.

The Sabre was used by the military.

The Epee was used for dueling – the fight to first blood.

You wake up in the morning feeling lousy.  You check your temperature.  That’s about all you can do at home.  To explore your medical condition further, you head to the doctor’s office.  And wait.

Not anymore.  Healthy or sick, using wearable technology, now you can always know how your vital signs are doing.  Fitness experts are working on more practical applications of wearable technology. A medical “fanny pack” was tested in 1997 when a runner in the Boston Marathon raced from Hopkinton to the Prudential Building wearing a one-pound belt, loaded with an array of bundled health sensors. Researchers documented the heart rate, footsteps, GPS position, and body temperature of the athlete every second of the marathon, transmitting results to the internet for the whole world to read.

The whole concept of smart clothes may be traceable to the ancient art of fencing.  No fencer assumes the “en garde” position without wearing a lame [la-may] – the protective metallic vest used to detect valid touches in a fencing contest.  Since competitive fencers move too quickly for judges to catch every move, electronic scoring systems have long analyzed the moves for them.

It’s a point system now in case you are wondering whether  fencing is for you it’s also been suggested that fencing is a game of living chess so if you’re a chess player you probably would make a good fencer and you can start participating in this wonderful game fencing is an organized sport involving the sword and a set of movements and rules like chess how you choose your movements and how you obey the rules is also very important in how you play the game

It makes sense to guard one’s physical health. But what about our spiritual health?  Paul reminds us to “guard” our faith, but no wearable sensors have yet been created to monitor “how we are doing” spiritually.  No one is studying the technological means of measuring our rate of heartwarming actions, our footsteps along the right path, our positioning in God’s world, and the temperature of our passion for Christ.  Our spiritual vital signs cannot be easily Analyzed.

Yet contemporary scientists are trying, and the results make headlines.  Humans are hard-wired for God.  The field of neuro-theology promises to yield fascinating discoveries about connections between mystical experience and the human brain.

But Paul assumes the neuro-theological condition.  He argues that certain steps can be taken to move from a lame faith to a faith hard-wired for God [like the lame].  God has not given “us a spirit of cowardice [that’s lame], but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline [that’s lame’ vests of the digital age].

Power is a measure of an entity’s ability to control the environment around itself, including the behavior of other entities. The term authority is often used for power, perceived as legitimate by the social structure. Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to humans as social beings.

Love is the emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In a philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. In a religious context, love is not just a virtue, but the basis for all beings (“God is love”[2]), and the foundation for all divine law

Self-discipline refers to the training that one gives one’s self to accomplish a certain task or to adopt a particular pattern of behavior, even though one would really rather be doing something else. For example, denying oneself of an extravagant pleasure in order to accomplish a more demanding charitable deed. Thus, self-discipline is the assertion of willpower over more base desires, and is usually understood to be a synonym of ‘self control‘.

Nothing high-tech about the benefits of grace.  While we ooh and aah over the latest achievements of technology, first-century believers preferred the ancient over the novel.  In deference to the Romans who looked warily upon new and improved cults, Paul refers to the age-old faith of his ancestors and calls the grace of Jesus Christ a gift given “before the ages began.”

So if God remains unchanging and gracious, how do we check our notoriously human tendencies to wander and be less than gracious ourselves?  How do we guard the faith that our mothers and grandmothers taught us?  How do we detect glitches in our spiritual health?  Our tendency to carry bad spiritual habits and ignore vital signs of the soul remains as ancient as God’s grace.  What’s a neo-modern, technologically sophisticated Christian to do?

Paul offers a few suggestions.  The “gift of God” must be “rekindled” and Paul – ever helpful – declares himself to be just the right one to help.  In the laying on of his own hands, Paul offers support and encouragement to believers needing a sacred nudge.  Paul offers his services as a personal trainer, of sorts, throughout his letters.  The church at its best serves in this capacity too.  We offer personal training in the field of spiritual nurture.  We’ll coach you.  We’ll encourage you.  We’ll suggest a healthy diet of bread and wine, study and prayer.  We’ll teach you up to a point, but then you must be self-disciplined in your own personal training too.  We cannot run your spiritual life for you.

Sensors will not measure your pace, nor will microchip accelerometers analyze your performance.  We must depend upon more visceral signs to detect lame faith.  The 2 Paul mentions most prominently are “cowardice” and embarrassment.

Cowardice:  We’re not talking phobias.  The apostle could’ve used the Greek word phobos here, but he didn’t.  He is not making a comment on the claustrophobic, agoraphobic, or photophobic Christian. The word he does use [deilia] is never used in a positive sense.  It’s sheer fear and timidity.  No Christian possessed of this spirit will assume an en garde position to parry and thrust in the culture wars, the moral battles, and the spiritual struggles that one faces every day.

Embarrassment:  Cowardice is no doubt the product of embarrassment, mentioned twice in Paul’s words here.   Lame faith is a faith unwilling to suffer, unwilling to endure giggles, stares, rejection, ridicule or the like.  A lame’ faith [hard-wired to God] is powerful, loving & disciplined.  A lame faith is cowardly and red-faced.

It’s curious that while intellectuals will quite outspokenly reference pyramid power, or their chandlers or crystals, Christians often struggle to mumble that they believe Jesus is the Christ, the risen Son of the living God.  So what gives?  Are you more – or less- embarrassed to admit that your bodily functions are being monitored on an hourly basis by microsensors in your shorts, or that you’ve put your trust in God?  Lame or lame’?

Paul suggests that we “guard the good treasure” entrusted to us – not with fanny packs filled with radio transmitters – but with the hardwired, neuro-spiritual apparatus Paul calls the spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.  He thinks it’s enough to get us through the day.

He’s right.  En Garde.

1 Church St, Harwich, MA 02645
508 432-3734