A Message from the Rector:

Hidden in Plain Sight: the Key to Following the Way of Jesus

Dear People of St. Andrew’s:

I have had many comments and much feedback following Sunday’s sermon. I am taking advantage of our Wednesday NewsNote to spell out one of the components of the sermon—the authority of binding and loosing found in Matthew 16:19 and again in Matthew 18:18-19. As a result, this week’s note is more of an essay than a chatsy! –Jen+

Last Sunday our Gospel was from Matthew 16. In that passage Jesus says,
“… I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

The authority that Jesus gives Peter—and thus the church—to “bind” (δέω dēo) and “loose” (λύω lūo) is the key that is hidden in plain sight, the key to the mandate to follow Jesus. It is the key to actively and conscientiously engage, assess, and then apply holy scripture in general, and Jesus’ actions and words in particular, so that they are guidelines for Christian life in the 21st century.*

“Binding” and “loosing” are terms used by rabbis to assess the laws of righteous living in the context of the here and now. For instance, we all know that one of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shalt not steal.” But what do you do if you find a dove in the street? Who owns it? Should the finder look for the rightful owner? Or is the rule “finders, keepers”? When asked these questions, the rabbis decreed that if the bird is found within 50 cubits of a dovecote, the dove belongs to the owner of the dovecote. The finder is bound to the law that you must not steal. However, if the dove is found beyond 50 cubits from the dovecote, the person who found the dove may keep it—they are loosed from the obligation to find the owner and may keep the dove.

“Binding” and “loosing” is thus the authority and the responsibility of the church to decide what the rules are for, to make a determination as to how a particular situation reflects the intended outcome of the rules, and to adjudicate accordingly.

Throughout the Gospels Jesus shows us the tension of binding and loosing: Jesus heals on a Sabbath, Jesus encourages his hungry disciples to pluck grain on the Sabbath, Jesus touches lepers. These actions are against the letter of the law. But when he is challenged, whenever someone says that he should be ashamed of breaking the rules, Jesus spells out the purpose and intention of the law and shows that his actions fulfill that purpose and intention. He is “loosed” from the obligation to not work on the Sabbath by the dire predicament of a paralytic, his famished disciples are loosed from the law against working on the Sabbath; Jesus is “loosed” from the obligation to remain separate from unclean lepers by his ability to heal them and his compassion for their plight.

Throughout the Bible, we are told that at the core of all laws are the commands to love God and to love neighbor. Throughout the Bible, we are told to live holy lives, to be holy because God is holy. Throughout the Bible, we are shown that God’s ideal is that we flourish in our relationship with each other and the world, and that we honor God’s creation by doing so. In Word made flesh, in God coming among us and living with us, in Jesus, we see how it is done. And in Matthew 16, and again in Matthew 18, Jesus gives this responsibility of actively living the Way of Love to the church—to us.

This is hard work, and it is challenging work. It means that we cannot just point to words on a page and blindly follow those words without any consideration or thought; it means that we cannot simply look around at the customs of the day and accommodate them in order to be “up to date.” If we are following in Jesus’ footsteps, we will do what he did: we will consider scripture and commandments in the context of the core rules of loving God and loving neighbor. If we are following in the footsteps of Jesus, we will challenge the aspects of the status quo that are hurtful to outsiders and powerless, aspects that are typically advantageous to insiders. The church is called to a higher standard than just following “the way things are,” either in society, and even in the Bible. Through the centuries, the church has done this. In our own time, the church continues to do this.

The early controversies may seem a little silly now. We’ve moved way beyond whether becoming Jewish was binding for new converts to the Way of Jesus (the big controversy in the first century of the church) or whether to loose the prohibition against images from the Second Commandment (the shattering controversy in the 700s and 800s). In their time, these controversies caused as much anger, schism, and deep thought and conversation as any of our modern controversies.

In the 18th and 19th century the church wrestled with the question of whether it was biblically permissible to own other human beings. Slavery is taken for granted in the Bible. If slavery is not criticized in the Bible, shouldn’t we be able to take slavery for granted? Isn’t it okay? No, it is not. You cannot take slavery for granted if you apply the core teaching Jesus’ reaching out to those who suffer; you cannot take slavery for granted if you take seriously that all humans are made in God’s image; you cannot take slavery for granted if you hold to the principle that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Now we look back in shame to see that the Bible was used to justify the practice of slavery—and we can also look in pride to see that the church loosed that “right” to own another human. The church changed, binding us all to regard neighbor as self. The religious zeal of abolitionists and their unwillingness to give up the fight in the face of massive disapproval, criticism, and even danger to themselves shows the power of Jesus’ command, and of Jesus’ example.

Divorce is still a contested act, with some denominations condemning the practice, others allowing it. Jesus gave his reasons for condemning divorce: in his day, divorce left women helpless and destitute, and only the husband could initiate divorce. By Jesus’ day, some women were divorced for essentially no reason at all for the convenience of the husband. It was cruel to the woman who could be summarily divorced because she would likely find herself without any means of support. The Episcopal Church has loosed the rule against divorce: women today are able to initiate divorce, and women today have many ways to support themselves and their family if they do divorce.

Ordaining women is another example of the church binding and loosing. There are passages in the Bible that say that women should be silent in church; there are passages—including in the Gospels—where women clearly are leaders and far from silent. In our own time, we have loosed the prohibition against ordaining women because we can see that women have the vocation, the skills, the training, and the capacity to lead the church.

On September 24th (or October 1, if we postpone the Pond Eucharist because of rain), we will have an Adult Forum after Sunday service to study the particulars of the Episcopal Church’s careful, prayerful, and important decision to ordain LGBTQ+ persons, and to create and bless a liturgy of marriage for any two adults who have committed themselves to a lifelong relationship. I hardly need tell you that our church’s decision to be open and affirming has been bitter and divisive, and that our church’s decision continues to be controversial and to garner criticism. But perhaps now that we are at the end of this essay I also hardly need tell you that the decision was made prayerfully, biblically, and with the authority given the church—the authority of binding and loosing that Jesus gave Peter and the church. In the 20th and 21st century we have seen the emergence of new awareness of the construction of human sexuality, and we honor the deep desire of people—whether they are heterosexual or not—who wish to serve God and neighbor, and who wish to be in lifelong, committed, loving relationships.

I hope you will bring your thoughts, your questions, your concerns, and your Bibles with you for that Adult Forum. May God bless you as you navigate this rich and challenging life. We follow the Way of Love that Jesus showed us and commanded us to follow—Jesus who is Messiah, Son of the Living God, and human being from the ancient world and a land and culture so very different from our own—a Way of Love that continues to challenge us so that we may truly love God, and truly love our neighbor.

May the peace of the Lord be always with you,


* This news note message is based on the scholarship of Mark Allan Power. See Mark Allan Powell, “Binding and Loosing: Asserting the Moral Authority of Scripture in Light of a Matthean Paradigm,” Ex Auditu 19 (2003), 81-96.

Connect With Us

Rector’s Office Drop-In Time

Rev. Jen has set her office drop-in day as Wednesday of each week from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. for anyone who would like to stop in and visit. You are always invited to make an appointment for a time convenient for you. Mondays are her Sabbath day. NOTE: No drop-in hours Wednesday, September 13 as Rev. Jen will be out of the office September 12 – 14.

The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost  

Sunday Morning In-Person Morning Worship Service, September 3, led by The Rev. Dr. Jennifer Oldstone-Moore, 10:15 a.m.

You can stream the service via St. Andrew’s Facebook Page. Click on this link to view the Live Stream. We will start the Live Stream 5 minutes prior to the start of the service.

Click here for the service booklet for September 3.

The Latest Updates


Formation for elementary aged youth started Sunday, August 20. Macie is leading the youth with a combination of lessons from Godly Play, crafts, and lessons suited to the church year. Please consider being a second-adult volunteer in the Elementary classroom! Volunteers need to be certified for Safe Church through on-line courses similar to many that businesses and schools require. Please consider being a volunteer!


On Sunday, September 17, the Saint Andrew’s Sunday Service will be at 10:15 a.m. at Raccoon Lake, courtesy of the Jedele family. Lakehouse address is 9591 East Keep Lane, Rockville, IN. See more details below!


For the past several decades, the question of sexual orientation and the church have been topics of great importance–and often great conflict–for Christians. On September 24 we will have an Adult Forum after Sunday service (teens and children are welcome per parental consent) about the Episcopal Church’s decisions to include LGBTQ clergy and marriage. We will look at the biblical basis for these decisions, and also strategies for your everyday discussions with friends and family about our “open and affirming” church.


Please add body wash, aluminum foil, and laundry detergent to your shopping list for the NFP. Every little bit helps our budget go farther in helping meet the needs of folks in Putnam County. The next Non-Food Pantry will be on Saturday, September 30. There is a sign-up sheet posted in Hamilton Hall for folks to help with a product pick-up and/or as well as for help on September 30 at the monthly distribution. FYI: Baskets at church are now dedicated for the NFP and not the food pantry.


Every week the Wednesday St. Andrew’s newsletter has a reflection about life and faith. Most are observations about daily life and where we experience God in the midst of the “same old, same old.” We would love to feature your thoughts – – a few paragraphs that will help us all see more clearly how the Holy One touches us in our ordinary lives. Please let Renee or Jen+ know if you are interested.


We have some large print Day by Day daily devotionals in the sanctuary that you are free to take home for your personal devotions–and if we know that people would like copies, we can order the right amount. Many of you may also appreciate the on-line version of Day to Day. Click here.


The Diocese is offering training for people to become Lay Eucharistic Visitors (LEV). This training licenses you to take the blessed sacrament to those who cannot come to church, including residents of The Waters. It is a wonderful way to be church! The next training is on September 7. Please consider being a LEV! Contact the Rev. Mary Taflinger at taflinger@indiodio.org with questions. Register here.


The new link can be found on the St. Andrew’s website at the bottom of the last page. Click on the Zoom icon to join as an attendee for Bible studies and meetings.


Once a month Sunday services are continuing at The Waters. The next service will be Sunday, September 3 at 2:00 – 2:45 p.m. If you’d like to help with this ministry in any way, please contact Rev. Jen or Renee. All are welcome to attend!


We continue to respond to both our county’s current CDC designation and to the current variant. Masking is optional. Those who serve bread and wine will mask so that anyone who comes to the altar can feel secure. Decisions on COVID policy have moved from the Reconvening Committee to Rev. Jen and the Wardens.

Prayers and Reflections for This Week

We have heard that the daily reflections and scripture readings provided during Lent were appreciated. The meditations are written by persons from Gobin UMC and Beech Grove UMC. They will be in the newsletter each week and go from Wednesday to Tuesday, except for Sunday. Whether you enjoy these every day or as the Spirit moves you, may this resource continue to bring you spiritual food for the journey. Blessings!

Click here to view the readings and accompanying links.

Non-Food Pantry Latest

Saturday, September 30

• Noon to 3:00 p.m.
There will be a distribution in Hamilton Hall and light lunches will be served inside. We are grateful for all those who have worked so hard to obtain supplies for the Non-Food Pantry. Items are having to be purchased from a variety of sources making it much more expensive. Donations to help offset this extra cost will be gratefully accepted! NOTE: Distributions resumed in August with new guidelines and now take place indoors. Participants must provide proof that they live within Putnam County.

Top 3 Needed Items
  • Body Wash

  • Aluminum Foil

  • Laundry Detergent

Your prayers are asked for:

Haile Bane, grandson of Joanne Haymaker
Beth Benedix, friend to many of us at Saint Andrew’s
Douglas Butler, brother-in-law of Claudia Butler
Richard A. Butler, father-in-law of Claudia Butler
Adam Cohen, friend of St. Andrew’s
Michael Curry
Anita Edenfield, friend of Skip Sutton
Bob Fatzinger, brother of Barbara Pare
Kimberley Heithaus, niece of Joe & Jenny Heithaus
Lisa Breese Kincaid, daughter of Bob & Mimi Breese
Mary Mountz
Tom Mullen, father of Patti Harmless
Emmanuel Myril, Karen Hirt Mannon’s son-in-law’s father
Marilyn & Leo Nelson, sister & brother-in-law of Joanne Haymaker
The family of Michael Oldstone, especially his wife Elizabeth, father of Jen+
Gordon Redden
Elizabeth & Natalie Sheffler, daughter & granddaughter of Page & Narda Cotton
Gloria Smith
Skip Sutton
The family of Jerry Taylor, friend of Warren & Connie Macy
Sydnor Thompson, brother of Harriet Moore
Dwight Ziegler, brother of Stephanie Gurnon

Diocesan Cycle of Prayer: St. Paul’s Church, Richmond: The Rev. Barbara Anne Fisher, Rector.

Our companion dioceses: The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil: The Most Rev. Mauricio Jose Araujo De Andrade, Primate of Brazil and Bishop of Brasilia. The people and Diocese of Haiti and Saint Andre’s in Mithon.

Anglican Cycle of Prayer: The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean.

Birthdays: None.

Anniversaries: Orcenith and Pamalee Smith, September 5.

Special Events and Services

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