Sunday, December 31, 2006
Almighty God our heavenly Father, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Lord, have mercy.
God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray you, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Lord, hear our prayer.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Hat tip to Karin, a fellow blogger, who kindly corrected my information!
"God in a baby's hand"
I sought him dressed in finest clothes,
where money talks and status grows;
but power and wealth he never chose:
it seemed he lived in poverty.
I sought him in the safest place,
remote from crime or cheap disgrace;
but safety never knew his face:
it seemed he lived in jeopardy.
I sought him where the spotlights glare,
where crowds collect and critics stare;
but no one knew his presence there:
it seemed he lived in obscurity.
Then, in the streets, we heard the word
which seemed, for all the world, absurd:
that those who could no gifts afford
were entertaining Christ the Lord.
And so, distinct from all we'd planned,
among the poorest of the land,
we did what few might understand:
we touched God in a baby's hand.
We can do likewise, as we are called to do for those that Christ Jesus loved
This poem/lyric was found on http://freedom-bound.blogspot.com/by a spot on Brit named John Bell.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Today is the day we commemorate the Holy Innocents. I love the prayer for this day because it reflects so much from when it was written to the very present, and I am sure for years to come:
"We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
I could not have said it better myself. How well this prayer rings true of today's world, of today's tyrants, including those in our own Communion [Minns, Schofield and the rest of the noisy gaggle]. There are those who seek to imprison, torture and blaspheme the very grace and reconciliation that Christ Jesus died for until it fits their skewed view of God and Christ's fulfillment of the Law [Hmm...could it be Peter Akinola?].
In a time when the one thing everyone could agree on at our last national Convention was the Millennium Development Goals, how quickly the secessionists and fundamentalist Anglicans forget. Here, let me remind you of what those Goals are that we so wholeheartedly support:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development
Though all of these goals are important, I wish to focus on one in particular that some of the fundamentalist "anonymous" commentators on many progressive blogs are coming down very negatively on. I refer to Goal number 3: Promote gender equality and empower women. Why are we not surprised...
In one particular case the commentator, obviously of the male gender and certainly NOT representative of good men everywhere, was particularly cutting in regard to our Presiding Bishop and her gender. The comment was made in regard to a letter by the Archbishop of Nigeria in regard to our Presiding Bishop in that she will not be invited to Tanzania and should not be invited to Lambeth 2008, because among other things she's a woman and can't possibly know anything about leadership and God.
This guy said because "Doctor Katharine" is a woman how could she possibly know anything about scripture, or its proper interpretation. The Brits tend to call their bishops doctor hence the addressing of our PB as "Doctor". Well, obviously this man has been living in his cave a bit too long and does not care a whit about promoting gender equality and empowering women. It's sad that some men, American and British, and some women for that matter, are sooooo behind the times and do not "get" what Jesus was all about. At least thirty years behind the last time we checked. Our Presiding bishop fulfills the promoting of gender equality and the promotion of women's empowerment in the Church as well as the world by her very Christian example and her authentic humility. It's what Jesus did, that darn radical hippie! Who the bloody heck does that Boy think He was and is! Having women as disciples and financial supporters! The bloody nerve! Didn't He know He was wrecking a good thing for the rest of us guys?
I must say that ++Katharine's letter to the diocese and churches that were considering and have rebelled against the Constitution and Canons of the Church, but more so against the teachings of Christ, was "love in control". I refer to the letter and gloriously wonderful captioned picture at MadPriest's "Of Course, I Could Be Wrong" blog: http://revjph.blogspot.com/2006/11/love-in-control.html . Basically the letter and the picture says it all about the humility and dignity of our God-given, God-sent Presiding Bishop. How well she counters, with love, all the fallacies and hyperbole that the fundamentalist Episcopalians/Anglicans put forth.
I am so very proud and thankful for her leadership and Christlikeness in our Church. We have needed her and she has come to us by way of God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. Thankfully most of the Episcopal Church and other dioceses outside of our borders can see what we see...real leadership and grace.
"And God was a child curled up who slept in her and her veins were flooded with His wisdom which is night, which is starlight, which is silence. And her whole being was embraced in Him whom she embraced and they became tremendous silence."
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
The Rev. Barbara Cawthorne Crafton, writer of The Daily eMos and other wonderful stuff, wrote in today's eMo the words I have not been able to find in myself regarding the most recent news in the Church and the current Advent season. I think anyone can think better than I can at this point in time. Here are her pearls of simple wisdom and observation, of why Jesus came to us in the first place, and answers the question in my mind recently as to why Jesus never spoke a Beatitude for blessing those who divide the Body.
THE SELF-ANOINTED RIGHTEOUS
So much un-peace, in the Church and in the world. A peculiar pride in our own stubbornness has infected many of us -- as if reconciliation somehow represented a failure of moral nerve. We are strongly attracted to visions of ourselves as lonely martyrs for a holy truth -- and this is a dangerous self-image to have. It leaves no room to accept criticism we may desperately
And so we leave churches that aren't holy enough for us. Assume we know God's will solely through a narrow reading of scripture, and pride ourselves on never changing our minds. We stay the course.
In doing so, we are in danger of ignoring a God who is free. A God who does new things. We won't allow it. We insist on worshipping the ancient record of God's work in the world, instead of the God to which it all attests. We will not allow God to be the unexpected thing God must be in every age.
Here comes Jesus -- a child born into a world of division. In his name, we will exclude and even kill, and we will tell ourselves in that very moment that we are doing the work of the Prince of Peace.
No wonder Jesus wept. Lord, have mercy.
Copyright C 2006 Barbara Crafton - http://www.geraniumfarm.org
"You see," writes Catherine of Siena,
speaking in the person of the eternal Father,
"this sweet and loving Word born in a stable,
while Mary was journeying; to show to you,
who are travellers, that you must ever be born
again in the stable of knowledge of yourselves,
where you will find Him born by grace within
Friday, November 24, 2006
I am in the unenviable position of having to block anonymous comments from my blog entries at this point in time.
There are some folks who do not have the courage to identify themselves, giving them license--or so they think--to be offensive and demeaning.
I will brook no such activity on my blog.
If you want to comment you will need to register yourself on blogger.com and/or identify yourself with your real name, et al. You can always tell who the cowards are when they refuse to identify themselves and are blatantly crude in what they say about you, the writer, or someone you respect and has been elected to a place of authority and respect by bishops and lay people, legally and legitimately within the Church. This applies to all entries, church-related or not.
I suppose there will always be people who will act like spoiled children in their adult lives...and that is the real pity.
"The theory of relativity applies only to physics, not to ethics."
~~ Albert Einstein ~~
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
My dear brother:
I have seen reports of your letter to parishes in the Diocese of San Joaquin, which apparently urges delegates to your upcoming Diocesan Convention to take action to leave the Episcopal Church. I would ask you to confirm the accuracy of those reports. If true, you must be aware that such action would likely be seen as a violation of your ordination vows to "uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them." I must strongly urge you to consider the consequences of such action, not only for yourself but especially for all of the Episcopalians under your pastoral charge and care.
I certainly understand that you personally disagree with decisions by General Conventions over the past 30 and more years. You have, however, taken vows three times over that period to uphold the "doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church." If you now feel that you can no longer do so, the more honorable course would be to renounce your orders in this Church and seek a home elsewhere. Your public assertion that your duty is to violate those vows puts many, many people at hazard of profound spiritual violence. I urge you, as a pastor, to consider that hazard with the utmost gravity.
As you contemplate this action I would also remind you of the trust which you and I both hold for those who have come before and those who will come after us. None of us has received the property held by the Church today to use as we will. We have received it as stewards, for those who enjoy it today and those who will be blessed by the ministry its use will permit in the future. Our forebears did not build churches or give memorials with the intent that they be removed from the Episcopal Church. Nor did our forebears give liberally to fund endowments with the intent that they be consumed by litigation.
The Church will endure whatever decision you make in San Joaquin. The people who are its members, however, will suffer in the midst of this conflict, and probably suffer unnecessarily. Jesus calls us to take up our crosses daily, but not in the service of division and antagonism. He calls us to take up our crosses in his service of reconciling the world to God. Would that you might lead the people of San Joaquin toward decisions that build up the Body, that bring abundant life to those within and beyond our Church, that restore us to oneness.
I stand ready for conversation and reconciliation. May God bless your deliberation.
Your servant in Christ,
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I am thankful for a wonderful friend in Tacoma, Washington who prays for me and encourages me, who loves wildlife [not "wild life!"], the outdoors and nature as much as I do, who understand how important our furry domesticated friends mean to us who live alone and endure loneliness but would prefer not to.
I give thanks for a womanly couple who have been strong allies in the fight for right in the workplace and who have had faith in me since our first introduction [and who appreciate animals, especially my rabbits] who also long for a spiritual home.
I give thanks for a licensed clinical social worker who I got to know from my church when I agreed to read to one of her hospice patients [and that in turn began a new friendship between she and I], and for her outrage at the lack of concern from our own parish members for my situation.
I give thanks for the Domestic Violence Coordinator at Rogue Valley Medical Center who has been a friend and support in trying to help me find work so I can support myself [and no, I did not require her professional services as a DVC; my Shih Tzu and rabbits are not abusive!], and who has made time to listen to my cares and concerns, who has made phone calls on my behalf to other clinics to try to find me a job.
I am thankful for my second oldest brother who works for Homeland Security at PDX who tries his best to help me from afar. It's more than my other two older siblings have ever done for me.
I am thankful for my dog and teenage rabbits, who love me without guile or conditions for their affection; they give my love and compassion a place to go...
Mostly I am thankful to God who gives me the roof over my head, the clothes that protect me, the food which feeds me, and books to nourish my mind. I am thankful for 8 year old moosehide slippers that are all worn out inside but enable me to pad around my home in warmth.
I am most grateful for the Son of God who died for me that I might live with the Holy Family in heaven, Father, Son and Holy Spirit--in all of Her motherly glory and wisdom.
I am thankful that I live in the freest nation on the planet, so I can live and worship in my own way, speak my mind and not walk my street in fear.
Friday, October 27, 2006
I don't know why I need to write about it but there is an urgency to tell someone, somewhere of my continued but mild frustration with this aspect of blogging.
Not only do the blog columns shift but I sense a shift in the columns of all those polls happening nowadays with the interim elections drawing near. Red is shifting to Blue, Democratic realizations and leanings are increasing and the we are beginning to see the light of hope once again.
Not only is the current President pushing the envelope of political and semi-tyrannical power but even local Republicans think they own the freaking Valley. The children of Democrats are targets of harassment and bullying regardless of grade-level [probably with the exception of kindergarten but one never knows for sure]; lawn signs supporting Democratic or even Independent candidates or measures are vandalized regularly; and drivers honk, tailgate and wave the finger at Democrat drivers sharing the roadway if they have a bumpersticker or static cling decal in their window. It's like we are not allowed free speech or the expression of it in this current administration and the President's minions are everywhere, doing his bidding. It won't be before long that neighbors will be accusing Democrats everywhere of being potential terrorists and tipping the FBI falsely just to show their alleged superiority.
If that happens then America is no better than North Korea or Iran in controlling the people and their thoughts. I will be thankful for our deliverance in 2008 when a Democrat is in the White House, and when Democrats control the and Senate, and repeals the oppression we are currently under now and for the next two years. This in no way means we will be soft on international terrorism or that we as a country and people will lose our moral compass but it will be different and it will be more equitable and the rule of law will not be abused; that everyone, every American will have the equals rights granted them in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It will bring relief to those who are currently oppressed by this government's tyrannical and oppressive fundamentalist Christian control.
I am in no way anti-American because I am expressing my right to freedom of speech, guaranteed to me by the founding parents of this country who fled Europe for the very reason we are wishing to flee the oppression of the Republican administration. We are entitled to religious freedom however liberal our opinions might be and we are entitled to a government that is balanced and not run by a man who thinks he was elected King.
Now how did I get to this point? Oh yes, I was talking about shifting columns in this blog template. It simply proves that things do shift very badly but the problem can be corrected to the benefit of all. What was it FDR said, "We can not make up for lost ground but we can make up for lost time". I think we can do both.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
In the recent WakeUp.org news there is a campaign underway to withhold consent to the consecration of The Very Rev Mark Lawrence from the Diocese of San Joaquin, one of the breakaway schismatic diocese of the Episcopal Church, who was recently elected to be the new Bishop of South Carolina. The Very Rev Lawrence makes it no secret that he wants to be under the auspices of the Anglican Communion Network which is the creation of +Akinola of Africa, the one who is to be credited for creating problems in his homeland and abroad within and without the Communion.
What are the reasons for seriously considering withholding consent:
1. He advocates that the Episcopal Church surrender its governing authority to the Primates of the Anglican Communion.
2. He appears to be an advocate of schism in the Episcopal Church.
3. Rather than continue to remain in dialogue, Father Lawrence is willing to cut off those who disagree with him, and he believes that homosexuality is a valid “reason” for schism. If a split does occur, it seems likely he will leave the Episcopal Church.
Is this someone who should be a leader in that very Church?
So, what do you think, dear reader? Shall we ask if not demand that our bishops and Standing Committees withhold consent to his consecration as Bishop of South Carolina? And whichever way you vote, please share your reasoning behind your decision. This is not a scientific poll by any means. My curiosity is peaked as is that of others interested and concerned for the unity of the Communion and the strength and independence of the Episcopal Church. We are no one's colony after all.
If you think that he will do more harm than good to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, then let your diocesan bishop know as well as your diocesan standing committee. Also let the current PB as well as +Katharine know how you feel in this matter that is so crucial to the unity of our Church in the USA.
Email addresses for the PB and PBE are as follows:
PB: email@example.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org
"I'm for the separation of Church and hate."
Monday, October 23, 2006
The state of marriage would benefit greatly if the religious right would leave people alone and stop thinking they can run the lives of everyone around them. It's called the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You'd think they never read the Bill of Rights or the Constitution or the Emancipation Proclamation. Gee, what history class did they skip?
The institution of marriage as we know it will go the way of the dinosaurs if we don't make some adjustments. We do not live in a static world where change does NOT take place. That's for people who believe the world is flat, and that we are the center of the universe. Sorry, you do not pass GO or collect $200 dollars. Nope.
Same-sex couples want to preserve the institution of marriage by being allowed to marry and enjoy all the benefits thereof. Same-sex couples will strengthen, not weaken the institution of marriage. By allowing elderly couples to marry without the fear of losing their individual benefits, they will in turn strengthen the
institution of marriage, not detract from it. By allowing those who receive government assistance, whether it's Social Security or another form of assistance like disability, they too will strengthen the institution of marriage.
And just so you know, it's not all about money either. It's the right to be at a loved spouse's bedside in a the hospital, it's the right of that spouse to not be dictated to by the other's children or their own, it's the right to inheritance like other married people, it's the right to equal taxation under the law, it's about being able to say, "This is my lovely wife" or "This is my handsome husband" regardless of the sex or age of the person saying it. As for civil unions, they are NOT the same as actual marriage. It's about equal protection under the law, that all States in our United States must honor and obey regardless of what that particular State's bias might be, it will have to be obeyed if all are truly protected everyone in this country under the law. And that law should be to protect the right and the institution of marriage by letting ALL Americans participate in it without some religious fanatical group like Focus on the Family or the Family Research Council, try to tell the rest of us how to live.
The very reason this country was founded by renegade Christians and Jews was to escape the persecution of Europe. Heck, Jesus was the Chief Renegade of all Renegades, Christian or Jewish, and consequently the fundamentalist right or any religion does not own us or this country, nor do they have the right to dictate domestic or foreign policy. We have the opportunity to make a difference in the upcoming elections from the local level and all the way to the White House.
Let's make Oregon and the other "red with shame" states a true American "blue", so that when our time comes to tie the marriage knot, we can do away with the something old [red state America] and tie on something blue, true blue for honor in this country once again, and become a respected country again abroad. Do it for the state of marriage in America and do it for our national honor. Let the words or our forefathers and foremothers [don't think they didn't influence their husbands, sons, or fathers!] ring true for all Americans, gay, straight, old and young, abled or disabled. We all deserve equality when it comes to marriage as well as other rights guaranteed to us by the documents that made this country great.
Friday, October 20, 2006
One of the camera operators on today's Ellen DeGeneres Show was definitely on the ball and knows his or her bishops! Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire was in the audience of Ellen's show today, in his bishop's magenta shirt and white collar, having a hysterically good moment with the rest of the audience. Good thing my Episcopal mind is programmed to notice clergy when we see them, in or out of the collar--and in a Los Angeles flashbulb moment! Good thing too that I didn't blink or I would have missed him altogether. I think it would be a hoot if more clergy showed up at Ellen's show, maybe to plug the MDG's or ONE Episcopalian Campaign. I know in my heart that Ellen
would go for it since she has the true heart of a humanitarian given all her fund-raising for various but worthwhile causes. I think that is why people, gay or otherwise, appreciate Ellen so much: she simply loves everyone and accepts them as they are.
And she puts her wallet where the needs are in this country or around the world. Thank you Ellen for showing us how we should be in our giving and our compassion. And thank you +Gene for showing
up on a great talk show.
To you both, hat tip.
is Whitey, the albino. Shamus [the brindle] will need a name alteration as the previous "he" is really a "she", so I think I shall amend her name to Chamois [pronounced "shammy"] for the sake of propriety. And why they are both hiding in the bathroom is beyond me. They are very gentle and healthy, which is all a mom could ask for, right? Right.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Writing droughts are a bit inconvenient don't you think? But then it doesn't help at all when you cannot think of blessed thing to put to paper either. It is definitely fall as the Japanese maples are already shedding leaves and the birds are hanging about waiting for the free handout, after all the sign does say "National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat" and we all know that the fauna can read as well as SEE the statue of St Francis of Assisi and all he means to creatures, great and small. They can read the "Beware of Dog" sign too but know that a Shih Tzu can truly constitute no real threat to anyone either.
Apparently some of the more domestically feral wildlife is also flourishing as can be proven by three new infant bunny charges now in my care. Rescued from my neighbor's huge orange feline [known to me as the Big Orange Menace to small creature everywhere...] by said neighbor, I now have the blessing of fostering Chappy [a white with charcoal markings and a brown mustache],Shamus [a brindle of black, charcoal and brown, great for camo subterfuge],both of which fit into my hand, and Whitey [a rare albino the size of a business card wallet]. Two of my dear friends in town decided that since I could not locate a rabbit rehabilitation person or group in southern Oregon, decided I needed a habitat for these wee furry feedbags and bestowed upon my domicile a lovely and large accommodation for said residents. Plenty of room for scrambling and doing binkies, stretching and sleeping as well as the consumption of various meals and the elimination thereof. A virtual spa for the result of God's sense of whimsy during creation. Pictures will be forthcoming at some point, so stay tuned.
I missed the blessing of the animals at Trinity, my parish church this last Sunday on the labyrinth but I know they are blessings anyway. It is an event in Ashland that truly draws the community together regardless of one's belief system. And the weather was reportedly perfect. Can't ask for more of a blessing than that when you have furry and feathered and scaly friends to bring for their yearly hands-on blessing by Rev Anne.
Life is looking better these days for me, and I am thankful. I am a bit
tired of same sadness and disappointment but life is beginning to look good and full of promise again. I thank God for that with all my heart.
So, until the next missive, be of good cheer and keep out of the All Hallow's Eve goodies...it's not here yet.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I can’t escape
I feel as if I drown
In the air.
I find no comfort.
So many people
Not reaching out.
I have not words
To tell them
All I feel is pain
Sadness so heavy
Grief so sharp
It cuts my heart
There is no healing.
I am not understood
Never have been
Never will be
To go away again
And again, and
Until they get
Of the mind
No cup of water
No bread to eat
If I ask You
My soul now to keep.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
I wish everyone a lovely Fall and fun at football and soccer games. May you all enjoy the changing hues and tones of the season. I will be back writing hopefully soon...again. In the meantime, be kind to one another, and to the stranger in your midst as you may indeed be entertaining angels of God.
Monday, September 11, 2006
So much has been said, analyzed and commented on over the years that one is truly left with trying to come up with something original. I guess my whereabouts were not as dramatic or fortuitous as others but that just points to the ordinariness of a day in the life of a healthcare worker. I was out and about earlier than usual that day. I had to drop my dog off at a new groomer I wanted to try across town. And that was fine...the dog lived to tell his tale. As I was returning to south Medford, coming down the main north-south arterial, I was sort of listening to the morning DJ's on the soft rock station I listen to and thought that they had crossed the line of good taste by giving us this "story" about a terrorist attack on our own soil. Now, I knew it wasn't impossible because of the Oklahoma City bombing years before, but c'mon, the World Trade Center? Give me a break already. As I came through town I had to stop by the local BMW dealership to pick up a part for my car but when I got inside the building, everyone was crowded around the large TV's in the waiting area of the showroom. And there it was. No sick joke by any DJ. This was for real.
As I pulled up in my driveway, my mom opened the front door, weeping. We stood there , after I had gotten inside, and at that moment we watched the first tower collapse in disbelief. It was going to be a very long day...
Practically on that very day, people began thinking of a memorial to those who died innocently that fateful hour, in the various buildings and on the planes. There is now a concerted effort underway to fund and build this much needed memorial. Please go to http://www.buildthememorial.org/site and see what is being planned, how you can help and also hear the stories, and see the names...so that those who died that day will not be forgotten in the rebuilding of that area of Lower Manhattan.
In the comment section of this article, please feel free to share where you were on that day five years ago, and your thoughts then and now...as our own way of remembering those 3000 plus individuals--business men and women, service workers, police, fire, and rescue workers, children, clergy, and the many others who were simply on the ground walking to work or taking the subway. And let's do it for us, the living, and for America, and all the nations that were adversely affected by these acts of hate and unconscionable slaughter. As for the American spirit, long may she wave...
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
They are subtle changes not always apparent to the everyday eye. Watching, as I was today, a fledgling robin find its way in my front outdoor room was one of those changes. Only beginning to get its rusty coloring, its chest speckled for now, it was calm as robins are in that peculiar way that other birds are not. I could approach it to within two feet and it would remain still and look at me for the longest time hoping that if it remained still enough I would not see it.
And I may be seeing the end of the reign of the neighborhood bunnies too. I haveonly seen one in the past week. It was not long after Beta died that Alpha disappeared. Homer and Frac could be seen hanging out together often in the neighborhood but now it is only Frac. The dishes of rabbit pellets are still nearly full since I filled them a week and a half ago. The apples are still there but one or two are missing. I think it is a young opossum that has been enjoying the fruit late at night. I did see the little smuggler a few weeks ago, snatching the odd bug or snail from under a plank and munching away happily, or so it seemed.
There is the way the sunlight changes this time of year, thought not seeming as
bright in the late afternoons and early evenings, its heat is intense even when the tint of the tilting light is not.
And it is getting darker earlier now. At one point the sun didn't go down until almost 9 pm. Now it is setting around 8pm, but then that is the way of it, isn't it? It is consequently darker in the morning when the sun does not rise until about 6:35 am when it was coming up around 5:30 am before.
And of course there are the way-to-early geese already a step ahead of their.
fellows, migrating a bit too soon for my tastes, but then, I'm not a OCD angle of geese either.
Of course we know that school will start soon. All the commercialism tells us that as well as the city maintenance crews repainting crosswalks and bike lanes, new bus drivers practicing their routes and learning the new tricks of the trade, namely, security, how to deal with unruly students, bullying and the like. I usually find someone's new pair of mittens laying in the street in front of my house when the cold mornings finally arrive, or the rubber bracelet representing some cause in the gutter. So much for living strong.
The other thing, and this is one I dread every fall, is the recklessness of high school students speeding down residential streets, cutting into oncoming lanes of traffic, running stop signs, drag racing down my street at lunch time, the dumped fast food wrappers and soda cups on everyone's lawns and the foul language shouted as loudly as possible without regard for the originator's respect, much less for anyone else's. I know to never try to leave my driveway before noon or a bit thereafter as I may lose the front of the bimmer or the back. And this goes for around 8 or 8:30 am and 2:30 to 3 pm as well. In such a hurry to get there and then in such a double hurry to leave. Education: so important. Traveling to and from it: a risk at best.
And church, that spiritual thing that I love. It is still the "green season" and yet we know that the choir will soon be starting up again with it's "choir camp" come September, and Sunday school will begin again in earnest with all the children back home.
The blessing of the animals in October is also a telltale sign that fall has arrived, and the labyrinth in the Trinity garden will be alive with the fauna of our homes. From gerbils, hamsters, birds, and bunnies to cats, kittens, puppies and dogs--and maybe the odd sugarglider, iquana, gecko or tarantula-- they will arrive with humans in tow for Rev. Anne's blessings. And they are, blessings to young and old alike, the firm and infirm, the happy and the sad. Even Murphy, our priest's golden retriever will be there to help make all of our animal friends comfortable...or create a tiny bit of chaos perhaps. After all, Murphy is only a year or so old and you know what that means...toddler behavior and slap-happy antics!
Fall gardeners will be busy in their beds [garden beds, people!] harvesting summer produce and perhaps planting fall vegetables for harvest later. I have already picked what seems like a billion tomatoes and have some in my food dehydrator as I type. I also dry zucchini for putting into stews, soups and marinara sauces during the colder months. Some I will send to my brother in Portland for the same purposes in a regular "care package"--along with some coconut macaroons--that he gets more often during the winter than the rest of the year since his work keeps him from visiting often.
As more fall reminders come to mind, I will share those observations with you. In the meantime, enjoy the waning days of summer as if the season would go on forever. It will last longer that way.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
All of these very scenarios play themselves out each day in countries all over the world. In Darfur, Sudan; in Rwanda; Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Israel, Gaza, England, the Netherlands; in America, in a town or city where you live. Someone somewhere is suffering at the hands of another someone, either physically, mentally, or ideologically. In Christianity we call those who step out of the crowd to stop a senseless killing or bombing or, in the old days, a burning or an inquisition, a martyr. Someone who is willing to die for another or an idea. We see the dark side of martyrdom in modern times in the embassy bombings in Africa, or the suicide bombings in Israel, or the bombing of the USS Cole, the senseless kidnapping of some country's soldiers which causes a conflict that ends up destroying a country or a people, or the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 here in our native land.
Christian martyrs died for the right to worship and believe in Christ instead of human beings with unlimited earthly powers because they decided they needed to be gods of--most notably--the Roman Empire. No one is asking for anyone to be a martyr nowadays in America because we have a lot more rights than the folks of that time period. I said more, not all the rights, we should have but we have some rights, both civil and ecclesiastical.
And I say some because even in the Church, especially the Episcopal Church, not every one is equal in the eyes of the Church but we are, as we know, equal in the eyes of God even if some narrow-minded people tell the rest of us that they are somehow better than the rest of us. Here lies the rub.
There is a growing ultra-conservative minority in the Episcopal Church that believe they have the "red phone" to God and the rest of us do not. And who are we to think that we are all equal before God, for pity sake? There are three dioceses in America that refuse to ordain women as priests, 30 years after the fact that made us equal to men in the priesthood. Talk about living in the dark ages. And here we thought we were so modern! And now this very sect, for that is what they are, want to relegate not only women, but gay and straight women, not to mention gay men, to the back of the proverbial bus, or not even the back of the bus, but the luggage compartment instead.
Let's see now. God has said that we are made in Their image, all of us, gay, straight and inbetween. Every human being, past, present and future, are reflections of God in Their creative glory. Who are we to deny the images of God in us to be relegated to the luggage compartment? No one has that right but apparently this sect has the arrogance to try do so. Believe me, I don't want to be them when standing before the judgment Seat of Christ on THAT day! Furthermore, and it has been said so many times, that according to our Baptismal Covenant that we renew in vows every Easter and at every baptism we attend, that we will strive for the justice of all, we will with God's help. So I ask: What part of the Baptismal vows don't the ultra-conservatives get? What part of the Baptismal vows don't the fence-sitters get? How are you going to work for justice when you can't decide what to do? Whose side to be on? That of justice or injustice? For me the choice is crystal clear, and that choice is justice. And yes, it will demand that dirt gets under one's fingernails because obtaining justice and defeating prejudice is a dirty job, and those brave of heart, mind, soul and spirit can and will do it.
The approaches are few. Talking helps but it takes two to listen and understand. Change is necessary and inevitable. There are only two constants in the universe: God and change. It was through Christ that God changed us from a legalistic people to a grace people. To return to legalism would be to negate everything Christ was sent to us to do. He will have died in vain if we even remotely give legalism any quarter.
Recently, the a court in Washington state denied the appeal of many gay and lesbian couples hoping to obtain equal standing in the right to be legally married like their heterosexual counterparts. Everyone asked "Where is an activist judge when we need one?!" when the appeal was struck down by that court. If we want to save the Episcopal Church from a similar fate, we need to become active, not passive and hope something nice will happen while we watch from the fence. I won't be on it with those who choose to take the easy way out but want their equal rights in the Church all the same without working for the justice it will take to get those rights and the God-given equality that was paid for in Christ's body and blood.
I urge, encourage, strongly recommend that Episcopalians, gay or straight, become involved in one or both of the following progressive equality movements that have come out of the 2003 and 2006 General Conventions. Please visit their websites below for more information and how you can become a part of this justice movement in the Episcopal Church. I am not asking anyone to forego caring about and becoming involved in the MDG"s or the ONE Episcopalian Campaign. These are in addition TO those two very worthy and just causes:
The Episcopal Majority at http://episcopalmajority.blogspot.com/2006/08/national-gathering-of-episcopal.html
WakeUp Episcopal Organization at http://www.wakeuptec.org/
Thank you for your time and consideration. The outcast community of the Episcopal Church in the luggage compartment thanks you.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
I tell you, God gets a very bad rap when this happens. For humanity to do something in the name of a benevolent and merciful God especially. It is my view that the Crusades were just as heinous as the Holocaust, and that's just one example among many where murder or torture is committed in the name of God. I don't care what you call your God. Allah, El Shaddai, Jesus, Shiva, Buddha...The name doesn't matter. What does matter is the willfulness of the creature--human beings--to commit their evil will in a good God's name. They think that somehow this justifies their actions. Not.
I am not much of a philosopher so don't hit me up for some ontological argument. I like to keep concepts simple. Ok, so here is a simple concept.
The ten diocese and various churches within certain dioceses that can't get a grip on reality enough to know that they are wrong about The Episcopal Church, are perpetrating a willful, controlling evil on the rest of the Church, or at least they are trying hard to do so. The Episcopal majority however sees things more clearly and has a firm grip on reality. Why? Because they are living the Gospel, the very message of Christ crucified and risen again, for all humanity. They make no exceptions; God's grace through Jesus Christ is sufficient for salvation and acceptance into His open arms.
Jesus does not give a Continental if you are gay, straight, liberal, conservative, stupid or smart, ideologically blind or spiritually perceptive. If you have accepted Christ into your life, it's a done deal. Christ fulfilled the Law thereby making it perfect and that perfection is evident in the grace He has bestowed upon us all, once for all. End of discussion. Nope, not a peep, because He is the end all, the be all of propitiation for sin...He is THE propitiation...period.
A lot has happened since the turning point in 2003 at General Convention, when the Church finally recognized that all of us are created equal and all are equally loved by God. The Spirit moved men and women to a decision then, and they were led by the Spirit gain in 2006 to another turning point in our Church by the election of Bishop Katharine to be our next Presiding Bishop. God has worked in the lives of women for centuries, since the beginning of time itself. Actually, since before time as we know it when They created us in Their image. And it was very good.
The good that is done in the name of God anywhere is almost always overshadowed by the evil in the world. Yet even out of evil, good can happen. Sounds like a contradiction in terms, I know. But we also have to remember that nothing is impossible for God...nothing. Early on when I began this blog I mentioned something similar in phrase. And I also quoted the part of the verse "nothing is impossible for God" and I said this is so, not because Scripture tells us so, but because the word "nothing" is not in God's vocabulary. I am always assured and encouraged when I read a plaque that my grandmother gave to my mother before I was born. It is a verse that I always come back to even in the darkest moments of my life:
"And we know that all things work together for good, to them who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose". Romans 8:28
To know that all things--even the very worst things we know or imagine--will work out for good is a hard thing to believe when we see what goes on around us from moment to moment, in our own communities or in the greater world.
No one will ever truly understand why a father would commit murder-suicide with his eleven year old son, causing the rippling grief into two families, just to make a statement to his ex-wife. Nor will we understand why a nutjob, alleged man of Allah, would plot to kidnap two Israeli soldiers and get more than he bargained for and, in the process, cause the misery of innocents on both sides for his own selfish political gain.
It will never make any logical sense for these two scenarios or any of the other thousands of incidences that play out ever moment of every day all over the world. But to blame God for the actions of self-promoting, power-hungry people...well, that's plain stupid and wrong. We who know that God is not to blame, well we just have to show the rest of the world what God is really like by our lives and our words, our actions and our thoughts. We are the examples, we are the representatives of the true, living, life-giving God, and it's our job to be His/Her ambassadors for good. But perhaps more than that, we need to show the world Christ, the real, the merciful the pure, unblemished, the all accepting Son of God and display His grace to all.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
I've learned an interesting thing here lately and that is when it's time for your church to do a pictorial directory, all kinds of neat stuff happens, especially when you get more than 3/4's of your parishioners to actually show up for the picture taking. Yes it takes fortitude on the part of the organizer or organizers but it pays off in more ways than the end product.
Recently my parish embarked on this most monumental task. Our rector reminded us so very graciously and with gentle firmness that it was not optional to get your picture taken or be in the directory...It was affably mandatory. And--it worked. Sure the vestry had to move their meeting the first night of "snaps" otherwise we could not have had so much fun filling out little forms for the photographer and his assistance, calling folks who were late [everyone got a 10 minute grace period to show or be called], checking off those who had verified their vital statistics, nailing the ones who had not completed their census forms or parish surveys requested by the Strategic Planning Committee. We got three birds with one stone, that's one more bird than average!
But what was more significant was the interaction of parishioners who had not met one another, either at all or not for a very long time. I know I met some folks that I had never met, some I had seen but didn't know who they were, and some I had spoken to and knew but had never learned their names. I know, it's pathetic but there it is. And as we waited for out appointed time, it was sort of sweet to see some folks fussing over each other so not a hair would be out of place or a tie crooked, or a lapel folded under.
Some parishioners literally flew threw the doors having forgotten their appointment while working in the yard or in the house at a chore. A few guys were dressed to the nines from the waist up while sporting holey jeans or dirty sneakers; or the occasional gal with a leaf still in her hair or blackberry stain on their hand. But you know, we could laugh and smile and gently chide one another, young, old and in between and simply enjoy the fellowship of waiting and wondering "how did I turn out?"
It was also a good time to catch up with folks we had not seen or spoken to in a good while. And it was a fine time for those who had been on hiatus to return to the flock. I heard lots about gardens, pets, visiting relatives, a new house that had been bought, a trip to Europe or some wonderful project someone had started with the help of a neighbor. Good stuff from good people.
I also noticed that as some waited for their turn, they were perusing signup sheets for various activities or work crews, be it the Meals on Wheels program needing drivers or the rummage presale event. Always something to contribute to...All the while waiting to contribute an image for posterity and the answer to the oft heard remark: "I wondered who that was!" or "So that's who that is !"
Working with the photography crew was fun too, and we thank them for their good-naturedness and the tireless hours they spent over the four days they were with us. They were thankful for the coffee and any other goodies we could scare up. We enjoyed their company as well as they enjoyed ours.
True, some folks were gone on vacation or had other commitments that took them away from the Valley that part of the week earlier this month, but they made provision for a picture to be included all the same.
We have had so many new members lately -- fifteen in the last batch --that a pictorial directory is a must, especially for our rector, who has a true need to know who is who at a glance, not to mention the rest of us, who are always trying to put names to faces given the amazing growth our parish has experienced since the return of Rev. Anne to the Rogue Valley in 2000 as our rector.
Well, the deed is done for about another 4 years. We will see the result in October I think. But isn't great when we reap the benefits of one task that multiplies into a bunch of opportunities? Pictorial directories: love 'em when they are organized and done right, or just dislike them profoundly and avoid them altogether. Thankfully that is not the Trinity way.
So if your church is considering doing one, it will be ok. Just be organized, calm and optimistic.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
And as awful as it all is, we have to remember that we cannot bear the burdens of the world. It's not our place. Yes, we can do what we can, we can care and pray, and try to empathize with the suffering and inhumanity, but we cannot own it in our own persons. When we do this, it is far too overwhelming to bear, and those who try to bear it end up unable to do anything for anyone, much less help themselves.
This is why we pray.
We pray because there is One who can make a difference. It's not always the difference we hope or pray for, but a difference is made nonetheless. It is not a difference we necessarily understand or "see" but it is still a difference. We know that in addition to giving to Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross or the Red Crescent, or UNICEF, or any of a number of human-driven and care-powered organizations, that prayer is making a difference in someone's life somewhere in this vast, writhing world. It is in praying that we can allow ourselves the time and means to heal ourselves from thinking we have to bear the weight of the world in our hearts and souls.
You see, we are not made to carry such enormity of sorrow, pain and grief. That is not how God made us. Jesus Christ enables us, gives us the tools to appropriately lay the sorry, the pain, the grief down on His shoulders, in His hands through grace. And living His hope and love doesn't hurt either.
I have always believed that each person is capable of distributing this gift--grace-- far and wide, if they chose to do so. Some do. Some don't. We don't always know who these people are, except for the blatantly obvious examples of the "don't" faction. And here I refer to those with no palpable conscience, who enjoy the killing of innocents or the torture of those who hold a different point of view or way of life.
But more often than not, we can tell who the "doers" are. They cry when they see a picture on the news or in a magazine of suffering and unnecessary death, they contribute to a special cause that will help alleviate the pain and suffering of others, they help the stranger on the street in their own home town. They also hold their own private sorrows at bay in order to help others. Yet their sorrows count too. They are not easy to see or detect, these sorrows and griefs of the givers, and therein lies the difficulty.
Making the concerted effort to get to know people takes a certain amount of bravery, assertiveness and care. And I acknowledge that not everyone can pull off any one or all of these necessary things. The gestures do not have to be grand, or loud or even expensive. In fact the best gestures are the ones that cost nothing; they are the more touching and considerate every day sorts of things. But even these cost something. Jesus said it is better to give than to receive, and He should know, right? Exactly. My point is that it doesn't have to involve money. Pick a flower from your flower bed, fruit or vegetables from your garden, hand make a card, give an unused quilt or throw, offer to work on a car [makes sure you know what you are doing!], bake bread or cookies or a cake, make a meal and take it to your elderly or handicapped neighbor, keeping an eye on your neighbor's house when they are gone, feed someone else's pet, read a book to a child or elderly person...I could go on but I might break my blogspot.
So in my returning, I have found the kind of rest that only my close friends, deacons, and priests can give. They can tell when I am bearing a burden and they--in their own individual ways--take a little so it's not so heavy. Yes, the main ingredient is grace as a good number of them are from church, but the others are not so much believers as simply good and caring people. And in so doing they make my life a bit more hopeful and not so sorrowful, and encourage me along the way. I thank them too, with all that I am.
We have wars going on inside of us all the time, and famines and even terrorists attacks [you know, panic and anxiety episodes; those are what I deem the internal and infernal terror attacks of the soul and spirit]. If we would only pray and meet with our Creator, the Earthmaker and Redeemer, a difference could be made in us, so that we can make a difference in the world around us. So, check in on your fellow parishioner, your neighbor, the stranger on the street or plane...we might be entertaining angels for all we know.
Returned to the blogosphere...
Friday, July 28, 2006
I'm home for the duration, taking care of stuff and then I am "gone" again. It's always good to check into the blogosphere, see how folks are doing. It seems others are in and out as well. That's good. Now I don't feel too bad about not being fully present.
Had a friend in the hospital but she's out now. However during her recovery, she had to put her older dog to sleep...just too much pain for the ol' gal to deal with. She's fine now, wherever our companions go to frolic in open fields, where there's always a frisbee in the air, food in the dish and lots of shade and cool water. I lost a bunny too, during the tremendous triple-digit heat we had the last week or so. It's sibling seems to always be on the lookout for Beta, patiently waiting for his return. At least Alpha is not alone. Homer and Frac keep him occupied doing binkies, or eating or lounging in the shade.
In the interim I have been reading to a little elderly lady in hospice a couple times a week. She had never heard of the author Sue Monk Kidd but she has now. I am reading "The Secret Life of Bees" to her and she loves it. And I love reading it to her out loud. It's amazing what a little attention can do for folks in hospice care.
It's time to go now. I will be back in a few weeks, writing up a storm no doubt about something that strikes or moves me to put fingertips to keyboard.
Until then, enjoy summer. Drink lots of water, stay out of the heat, go swimming, walk the dog and revel in life.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy blogging. It has in some ways become a saving grace. It is a place were I can fine tune my writing in all of its forms and shapes, share the ideas of others with credit duly given and also to talk about my church--whether Trinity South or THE Church Episcopal USA, and just about any country's name you wish to tack on.
I love my Church because it--in all its frailty and shortcomings--is a very tender yet strong place to be, physically and spiritually. And that is the beauty of it--my church can be and is everywhere I am. I am not a "perfect" Christian, in fact, there is no such creature. We are all in a constant state of flux and growth [at least those of us who choose to grow and not get all gummed up in the static existence of some] and that is as it should be.
I think I have tried to be informative and open-minded [emphasis on the word "try" here], and I think I have succeeded for the most part. From the get-go I let everyone know that I would occasionally rant about things that would and do touch me deeply or that I felt justifiably passionate about, whether about Memorial Day or being a chaplain, or talking about pets, and folks commented accordingly. Thank you for your candor.
It was and is also a creative outlet for poetry, the celebratory and the mournful, and I was happy to provide a place where others could and did have their work shown to the blogosphere and cyberspace, in the hope that it would make a positive difference in someone's life, somewhere.
And it was and is a delight to share the occasional sermon from my rector--with her permission
-- to a wider audience that I felt needed to hear the hope and joy, prayer and praise from someone I admire and respect so very much, and who for me, represents Christ to me each Sunday and during the week. Hat tip to the Rev. Anne Bartlett and, bowing inwardly, namaste.
To my critics and there are some, especially to the north in Portland and surrounding area, I offer this:
If any had bothered to read or visit my blog, you would have had the opportunity to know me better before indiscriminately deleting my postings to the TrinityTwo Yahoo! Group list [ a joint list between Trinity Cathedral Portland and Trinity Church, Ashland ] or banishing me and my attempts to inspire conversation on an otherwise dead list. If people leave something inactive, it is understandable because there is no point in staying. For months there was nothing posted and I, being one who reads things for intellectual stimulation and edification, found the list sorely lacking in content. The words and actions of some of its members have indeed strained the bonds of affection I felt were commonly held as Episcopalians in the same diocese.
I will remain on the list, though to what avail I know not; perhaps in the hope that an enlightened soul or two will sally forth and offer something of their own for us to feast on instead of the usual empty plate.
I will pray for its success, that its members may become kinder and edify one another.
I will return to writing and posting in about a month, if not sooner. If I feel that something needs to be said or a perspective given, then I will do it. In the meantime I wish all on my update list and those that aren't, peace and goodness, health and well-being. I urge us all to go out and be the Church.
Blessings on the journey,
Monday, July 17, 2006
In the name of the Holy One, who is ever sending us out and bringing us back Home. Amen.
I hear the Gospel words – “He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two.” and my heart sinks. Oh no, not the “sending out” story. It’s one thing to hear about Jesus going about the countryside, preaching and teaching, healing, giving hope,turning lives around, casting out the occasional demon. It’s quite another to hear he sent out his disciples to do the very same things, because then the story might have implications for us.
Of course the whole Biblical saga is about being sent out – or thrown out, as the case may be–from the Garden of Eden on. We children of God are always being told to pack up and move on. Think of Abraham and Sarah, asked at their advanced age to leave friends and family and all that was familiar, on the assurance only of God’s wild word of promise. Think of Moses and the Israelites who were told to leave Egypt in the middle of the night with hardly the clothes on their backs. They were sent through the Red Sea waters only to wander around the desert for forty years to learn what it meant to live in the present moment, by faith, relying solely upon the providence of their God.
Consider the prophets. Talk about being sent out with a message nobody wanted to hear! Crazy old Ezekiel last week was instructed to speak the Word of the Lord to a rebellious and resisting folk, “whether they hear or refuse to hear.” And this morning we got a snippet of the story about Amos, who had neither the family background nor the vocational training to be the bearer of God’s word of judgment on the crooked generation of his day. “I am not a prophet nor a prophet’s son,” he told Amaziah, the priest in charge of the King’s Chapel, the staff person coordinating the President’s prayer breakfast, who was not at all pleased to hear what Amos had to say. “I am a herdsman, for heaven’s sake, and I know how to prune sycamore trees. But God told me to tell you this, about the plumb line and the divine judgment coming upon the religious and political institutions of this land. Hey, this wasn’t my idea, but I have no choice, you see, but to go where God has sent me and do what I have been told to do.”
Sometimes in our biblical story, the “being sent forth” is coupled with a promise: of land, or children, or new and abundant life. But often there is no specific promise attached to the mission, other than it’s what God wants us to do; quite the opposite, in fact. Woven through Scripture like a red thread is the rejection by the world of those whom God has sent to it. Consider Jesus, the Son who was sent. Consider the Cross.
This journeying, this being asked to leave one place and go to another, this “being sent” syndrome is a major theme in our Judeo-Christian faith. We’re always being told to “Go. Go and tell the others.”
Think of Mary Magdalene in the garden that first Easter morning. When she got over mistaking Jesus for the gardener and fell into his arms, he gently set her back on her own two feet and said, “Do not cling to me, Mary. Go, tell the others.”
Nowhere in the bible is it promised that when we are obedient to the command to “go and tell the others” that we will be well received or listened to with respect or even fare well, much less be “successful,” whatever that means in this context. Rather, we are explicitly forewarned that we will likely encounter trials, tribulations, outright rejections. Consider Paul.
Though the rejection these days in our North American culture may be of the mild variety – being ignored, dismissed as irrelevant or naïve, listened to with condescension or even mild hostility, I still don’t want to hear these stories about “being sent.” I want to stay in church where it’s safe and secure, with my parish family and friends. I want to nestle in close to the altar. I don’t want anything to ever change (including the words of the Prayer Book). I want to cling to Jesus right here, forever. I don’t want to go out there into the world to speak unbelievable Good News that few want to hear or to do my tiny part in trying to heal this broken world. I’d much rather work on our hospitality skills, when the strangers show up at our door. It’s much less threatening that way,isn’t it?
Besides, it’s not our style, as Episcopalians, to even imagine ourselves going out
two by two, like fresh-faced Mormons in their clean white shirts and ties, or the Jehovah Witnesses, sweet-faced middle-aged women dressed in brown, holding out The Watchtower for me to take, gently probing to ascertain whether I’ve been saved. I think I’ve told you about the Saturday morning some years ago when I simply couldn’t face another discussion about my salvation, so I hid in the hall closet until they gave up waiting and walked away. I didn’t see them shake the dust off their sandals at the sidewalk’s edge, but I would not have blamed them if they had.
Episcopalians get very anxious when we hear the word evangelism spoken right out loud in public. So I’m not going to talk about evangelism but rather about – listen up – reconciliation. Let’s stop worrying for a moment about being sent out, two by two, to knock on doors. Instead, let’s use our spiritual imaginations and wonder what Jesus might have had in mind when he sent out those first disciples. It wasn’t because his followers were spiritual adepts, you know. They were as frightened, as clueless, as clumsy as we are no doubt. That’s the reassuring thing about the disciples; they really are just like us.
But early on in his ministry with them, Jesus said, “Okay, it’s time for you to practice. I want you to go out and do what you’ve seen me do. I want you to talk to others about God, how the Kingdom is all around, for those with eyes to see. I want you to help others voice their deepest longings to change their lives, get back on track,find “true north” again and live lives congruent with the men and women whom their Father created them to be. Not everyone will be interested in what you have to say; not everyone will be ready to share their souls with you. Travel light --just take yourselves, you don’t need any books, DVDs, brochures. I’m giving to each other so that you can encourage one another and keep on track. You just need to show up, wherever you go,with whomever you may be. Be fully present when you do show up. Speak your truth, the truth you have learned from me. Then let go of the outcome. That’s up to God, not you.
“Do acts of healing, wherever you are. Feed the hungry, heal the sick, include the outsiders and those on the margins, confront evil in all forms, be mediators of reconciliation at all times. Show in your actions, and in your own being, that you already live in God’s Kingdom of love and grace.”
You know, we are talking a lot right now about the mission of the church. It’s too easy to hear that phrase and have our eyes glaze over. It’s very tempting to think that the church exists primarily as a community of belonging, where we come weekly to feel connected to one another and to God. And that’s right and good, but it’s not enough. Because ultimately the church is not supposed to be a comfortable community of belonging but a community of transformation, a place where we allow ourselves to be known, to be healed, to be changed, to be surrendered, and then to be sent. Oh, there’s that word again: to be sent.
The most exciting thing that happened at the recent General Convention of our
Episcopal Church was the renewed focus on the mission of the church. I daresay it was just as if someone had held up a plumb line and pointed out, “I think we’re out of kilter here. We’re spending most of our energy on arguing with one another instead of going out and doing the work Christ has given us to do.” At convention, whenever we stopped obsessing inwards and refocused on our mission, as expressed in the Milennial Development Goals of addressing the root causes of global poverty, energy poured out, especially from the younger members there. It was infectious, and we became united again – over mission.
Question: What is the mission of the Church?
Answer: The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with
God and each other in Christ.
Question: How does the Church pursue its mission?
Answer: The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships,
proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace and love.
Question: Through whom does the Church carry out its mission?
Answer: The Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its
St. Paul wrote that God has given us “the ministry of reconciliation. …we are
ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us.” The practical implication of the ministry of reconciliation, restoring all things to unity with God; the practical implication of being ambassadors for Christ, individually and corporately, is that we have work to do, beyond these doors, At the end of each Eucharist we pray God to “send us out to do the work you have given us to do.” Our work is the same work that Jesus did, the same tasks he sent out his disciples to do in his name, way back then and right here now.
What does it look like, when we’re out and about, doing the work we have been
given to do? Well, here’s what I think: it looks like taking our turn staffing the local food bank, it means transporting children to foster care homes, it means be present with a friend in grief, holding hope for her until she can find her own hope again. It means serving on boards who are help the marginalized, it means researching agencies you wish to donate 0.7% of your income to addressing the issues of global poverty, health, education, clean water in the most distressed areas of our global village, it means organizing practical help for an overwhelmed young mother.
It means finding the specific work that Jesus is calling you to do, to be his ambassador, his disciple out there, beyond our doors, in the small acts of everyday kindness, in learning how to speak truth to power, in acquiring the skills you need to be a chaplain to those who are dying, or those in prison, or those who suffer from addiction, or those whose lives seem hopeless and without any purpose. The list is endless, but that does not excuse any one of us from finding our own work to do in the world in Christ’s name.
Because that is our ministry. That is the mission of the Church. That is what
Jesus has sent us out to do. And here is what I have come to understand: that as soon as we refocus on our Christian mission, we find our souls – and the soul of the Church --once again in proper re-alignment with Christ. As soon as we get out of our own way, we find God at work in us, transforming us, changing us, making us clearer channels of God’s power and grace.
Then whatever it is that we do in Jesus’ name, well, it’s no longer about us, don’t you see; it’s about our turning ourselves over to God to do with us as God will. Thus we find ourselves freed from anxiety, from fear, from concern even about the outcome of our ministry. In the process of being sent out, we find ourselves being transformed and sanctified.
Then, and only then, can we go forth into the world rejoicing in the power of the Spirit, unafraid and undeterred by the scope and the complexity of the problems of this world because we have come to know that God’s power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (II Corinthians 5:20)
These words of scripture remind us of our responsibility to be instruments of God’s goodness in our world and in our community. As Christians we bear an important responsibility in sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a spirit of humility, compassion, and reconciliation. Reconciliation demands a renewal of heart, mind, and spirit so that God’s Holy Spirit can work within us.
The season of Pentecost is a season of new birth and a season of renewal. It is a time in which we are called to witness the power of the Holy Spirit moving in and with us and among the communities in which we live, pray, and worship. It is a season in which we are called to grow in commitment to Jesus and grow in our zeal for discipleship among the complex fabrics of our personal and corporate lives.
The themes “Come and Grow” and “Reconciliation” permeated a considerable part of our recent General Convention gathering in Columbus, Ohio. We join with many dioceses around the country in giving thanks to God for the faithful witness of our Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold, who has served our church with prayerful dedication these past nine years and has led us through some difficult times during our common life together as a community of God’s people. We also join in celebrating the election of The Right Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada, who has been elected to serve our church as the 26th Presiding Bishop. Bishop Jefferts Schori has served in our diocese at Good Samaritan Church in Corvallis and had been very active as a research scientist in oceanography at Oregon State University. As we honor and celebrate this member of our own community, we pray that God’s blessings will abide with Bishop Jefferts Schori as she assumes leadership and leads us in mission on behalf of the wider church.
The General Convention of the Episcopal Church meets every three years and offers a time for gathering as a church family in prayer, bible study, reflection and legislation. The Reverend John Danforth, former senator from Missouri and most recently, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, spoke to convention participants on the importance of our church’s leadership in reconciliation in both local and global contexts. Dr. Jenny Te Paa, Dean of St. John’s Theological College in Auckland, New Zealand shared some refreshing insights into what it means to be a Christ-centered community in communion with the larger church. A number of other distinguished bishops, priests, deacons, lay leaders and ecumenical colleagues participated in the life of the convention in a variety of ways that reminded us about the interconnectedness of human life and the breath and depth of the Episcopal Church’s relationships all around the world.
The convention drew well over eight thousand people from all around the country, including over eight hundred delegates and over three hundred bishops from throughout the United States and around the world.
At this gathering, a number of resolutions were introduced and passed. Some others were deferred or referred to other bodies for action. The following points reflect a sampling overview of the legislative highlights of the 75th General Convention. Additional detailed information can be obtained on the Episcopal Church’s website, www.episcopalchurch.org. The full text of particular legislation can be reviewed on the following site: http://gc2006.org/legislation/
The General Convention, as part of its active support of mission and evangelism, officially expressed its support of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and urged parishes, missions, and dioceses to work toward their implementation.
Passed resolution strengthening relations with United Methodist Church.
UMC seen as "a member of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church in which the Gospel is rightly preached and taught" and encourages the development of a common Christian life between the two bodies.
The agreement permits common, joint celebrations of the Eucharist within prescribed guidelines
Support of gay and lesbian people as "children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church."
Adopted a resolution calling for equal representation of women and men on all decision-making bodies within the church at local, diocesan and national levels. This recommendation originated with the 2005 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.
Acknowledged the past involvement of the Episcopal Church in slavery and supported a study of monetary and non-monetary reparations to descendants of the victims of slavery.
Created a new task force to study aspects of church disciplinary canons. Proposed changes to Title IV, which among other things would have included subjecting laity to ecclesiastical discipline, was not fully discussed and revised in time for action. Hence, it was referred to a task force for continued revisions in the next three years.
Authorized the creation of a Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Education and Formation to develop and recommend policies for children, youth, adults, and seniors for lifelong Christian formation (A105).
Approved additional commemorations in the Calendar of the Church Year and authorize trial use thereof for the triennium 2007-2009, for Harriet Bedell, Deaconess and Missionary; Anna Julia Heyward Cooper, Educator; James Theodore Holly, Bishop of Haiti and Dominican Republic; Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, and The Martyrs of El Salvador; Tikhon, Patriarch of Russia and Confessor; Vida Dutton Scudder, Educator and Witness for Peace; and Frances Joseph-Gaudet, Educator and Prison Reformer (A063 and A064).
Approved for trial use new liturgies concerning rites of passage (A067).
Acknowledged the authority of the triune God, exercised through Scripture (D069.)
Recognized the position in the Constitution and Canons that only those who have been baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion; and that the 76th General Convention receive a pastoral and theological understanding of the relationship between Holy Baptism and Eucharistic practice (D084).
Urged the church to work to ensure that governments provide programs that combat social and economic conditions that place children at risk or diminish children's ability to achieve their full potential in the world (A018).
Passed Resolution B033 that calls on bishops and Standing Committees to "exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.
Authorized the establishment of a Church Planting Initiative to raise funds for new congregations (A042).
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold was recognized in the formal minutes of convention: "Deep gratitude to our Presiding Bishop for his guidance throughout 75th General Convention and his faithful service as chief pastor of the Episcopal Church." The bishops also expressed their thanks to Phoebe Griswold for her "ministry to all God's children around the world."
Indeed, a multitude of issues and topics were brought before the Convention that affects the life of our wider community. Of special significance was General Convention’s renewed commitment to mission and evangelism. I pray that as we join with many others throughout our church and around the world, we will continue to use our gifts and energies in mission to be agents of Jesus Christ’s renewing, redeeming, and transforming grace.
“Finally beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
+ Johncy Itty, Bishop