Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Mother's Union

When I was in Mozambique in 2014, I first encountered the Mother's Union.  Similar to our ECW here in the US, the Mother's Union is very strong there as it is the primary women's organization of the diocese and is truly the backbone and the worker bees of the Anglican Church of Mozambique!

You can learn about it here:
God 'has never failed me yet' affirms Mothers' Union president (New Zealand)


Mary Sumner started meeting with mothers of her parish in 1876 Mary wrote the first Mothers' Union prayer..

All this day, O Lord,let me touch as many lives as possible for thee; and every life I touch, do thou by thy spirit quicken, whether through the word I speak, the prayer I breathe, or the life I live. Amen.

The current prayer, like the original, focuses on the real concerns and needs of women throughout the world.  

Loving Lord, We thank you for your love so freely given to us all. We pray for families around the world. Bless the work of the Mothers' Union as we seek to share your love through the encouragement, strengthening and support of marriage and family life. Empowered by your Spirit, may we be united in prayer and worship, and in love and service reach out as your hands across the world. In Jesus' name. Amen

Our Episcopal Church Women’s Prayer

Almighty God, we pray that You will bless our work in mission and ministry in the world. Help us to pray fervently, labor diligently and give liberally to make known the power of your love given through your son Jesus Christ. Let us not forget the lessons from the past nor fear the challenges of the future. Anoint us with your grace and shine in our hearts as we reflect your light throughout the world. Amen.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Poems

We remember & honor their sacrifice...

Decoration Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
  On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
  Nor sentry's shot alarms!

Ye have slept on the ground before,
  And started to your feet
At the cannon's sudden roar,
  Or the drum's redoubling beat.

But in this camp of Death
  No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
  No wound that bleeds and aches.

All is repose and peace,
  Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
  It is the Truce of God!

Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
  The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
  Your rest from danger free.

Your silent tents of green
  We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
  The memory shall be ours.

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Memorial Day By Michael Anania


Saint of the Week: Oscar Romero

icon by Tobias Haller

In light of his beatification this past weekend, even though his feast date in our church is March 24 (the date of his assassination), we remember him this week...

His readings: http://www.lectionarypage.net/LesserFF/Mar/Romero.html

His bio: http://satucket.com/lectionary/Oscar_Romero.htm

My favorite quote: "How beautiful will be the day when all the baptized understand that their work, their job, is a priestly work--that just as I celebrate Mass at this altar, so each carpenter celebrates Mass at his work-bench, and that each metal-worker, each professional, each doctor with the scalpel, the market woman at her stand is performing a priestly office! How many cabdrivers I know are listening to this message there in their cabs... You are a priest at the wheel, my friend, if you work with honesty, consecrating that taxi of yours to God - bearing a message of peace and love to the passengers who ride in your cab." (Oscar Romero Nov. 20, 1977)

Memorial Day: History

As we remember and honor the faithful dead who served our country in our various wars and conflicts to win and protect the freedoms we have, a look back at its history is important:



A view on Wikipedia will show us that many places honored the war dead. I bring up the African American experience because too often, those who are miniorities in our country, have their history forgotten or set aside for other narratives. African Americans also had a hand in this memorial.
From Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, by Professor David W. Blight:
African Americans founded Decoration Day at the graveyard of 257 Union soldiers labeled "Martyrs of the Race Course," May 1, 1865, Charleston, South Carolina.

The "First Decoration Day," as this event came to be recognized in some circles in the North, involved an estimated ten thousand people, most of them black former slaves. During April, twenty-eight black men from one of the local churches built a suitable enclosure for the burial ground at the Race Course. In some ten days, they constructed a fence ten feet high, enclosing the burial ground, and landscaped the graves into neat rows. The wooden fence was whitewashed and an archway was built over the gate to the enclosure. On the arch, painted in black letters, the workmen inscribed "Martyrs of the Race Course."

At nine o'clock in the morning on May 1, the procession to this special cemetery began as three thousand black schoolchildren (newly enrolled in freedmen's schools) marched around the Race Course, each with an armload of roses and singing "John Brown's Body." The children were followed by three hundred black women representing the Patriotic Association, a group organized to distribute clothing and other goods among the freedpeople. The women carried baskets of flowers, wreaths, and crosses to the burial ground. The Mutual Aid Society, a benevolent association of black men, next marched in cadence around the track and into the cemetery, followed by large crowds of white and black citizens.

All dropped their spring blossoms on the graves in a scene recorded by a newspaper correspondent: "when all had left, the holy mounds — the tops, the sides, and the spaces between them — were one mass of flowers, not a speck of earth could be seen; and as the breeze wafted the sweet perfumes from them, outside and beyond ... there were few eyes among those who knew the meaning of the ceremony that were not dim with tears of joy." While the adults marched around the graves, the children were gathered in a nearby grove, where they sang "America," "We'll Rally Around the Flag," and "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The official dedication ceremony was conducted by the ministers of all the black churches in Charleston. With prayer, the reading of biblical passages, and the singing of spirituals, black Charlestonians gave birth to an American tradition. In so doing, they declared the meaning of the war in the most public way possible — by their labor, their words, their songs, and their solemn parade of roses, lilacs, and marching feet on the old planters' Race Course.

After the dedication, the crowds gathered at the Race Course grandstand to hear some thirty speeches by Union officers, local black ministers, and abolitionist missionaries. Picnics ensued around the grounds, and in the afternoon, a full brigade of Union infantry, including Colored Troops, marched in double column around the martyrs' graves and held a drill on the infield of the Race Course. The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration.
Our prayer:

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; We give you thanks for all your servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them your mercy and the light of your presence, that the good work which you have begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen. (from the BCP)

Pentecost Sermon

O Holy Spirit, still me. Let my mind be inquiring, searching.
Save me from mental rust. Deliver me from spiritual decay.
Keep me alive and alert. Open me to your truth.
O Lord, teach me so that I may live in your Spirit. Amen.
(adapted from The Sacrament of the Word by D. Coggan)
At that 1st Pentecost that we heard in the Acts of the Apostles this morning, when the Spirit came down upon the disciples, it gave them the ability to speak so all could hear the Good News in a symphony of voices, in their own mother language, the Good News of Jesus and that salvation has come to all the peoples.

The Spirit set the apostles free to do their ministry, just as Jesus promised at the Ascension.

The poet Malcolm Guite sees in Pentecost the ‘four elements’ of earth, air, water and fire. How each of them expresses and embodies different aspects of the Gospel and of God’s goodness, as the Spirit is poured out, breathed, kindled…
Today we feel the wind beneath our wings
Today the hidden fountain flows and plays
Today the church draws breath at last and sings
As every flame becomes a Tongue of praise.
This is the feast of fire, air, and water
Poured out and breathed and kindled into earth.
The earth herself awakens to her maker
And is translated out of death to birth.
The right words come today in their right order
And every word spells freedom and release
Today the gospel crosses every border
All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace
Today the lost are found in His translation.
Whose mother-tongue is Love, in every nation.
Finding that Spirit today in truth, and freedom and love for as Jesus said, "When the Spirit of truth comes, the Spirit will guide you into all the truth."
In her book Honeybee, the Arab-American poet and writer Naomi Shihab Nye tells of waiting for her flight in Albuquerque when she heard this announcement: "If anyone near Gate 4-A understands Arabic, please come to the gate immediately."

As it happened, that was Naomi's gate and she went to the counter. An older woman, in traditional Palestinian dress, was crumpled on the floor, wailing. The agent asked Naomi to explain to her that her flight was going to be delayed but would come, that there was no need to worry.

Naomi stooped down and put her arm around the woman and spoke to her in Arabic, assuring her that her flight was not cancelled, that she would get to her destination. The distraught woman cried to Naomi that she needed to be in El Paso the next day for medical treatment. She did not understand that the flight was only delayed, not cancelled.

“You'll get there, just late." Naomi said in Arabic. "Who is picking you up? Let's call him."

Naomi called the woman's son in El Paso and explained (in English) what had happened. Naomi told the son that she would stay with his mother until her plane left. Mother and son then talked and he assured her that he would be there to pick her up whenever she arrived. Then, just for fun, Naomi and the woman called her other sons. Naomi then called her own dad and the woman and Naomi's dad spoke for several minutes in Arabic - and discovered that they had several mutual acquaintances.

By the time the woman boarded her flight, she was at peace, even laughing with Naomi and other waiting passengers. Before departing, she pulled from her bag a sack of cookies - little crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts and topped with sugar - and offered them to the other women at the gate. To Naomi's surprise, no one declined. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the lovely woman from Laredo were all smiling, covered with the same sugar.

Naomi writes that, as the older woman said goodbye and boarded the plane, "I looked around the gate and thought, This is the world I want to live in. One with no apprehension. This can still happen anywhere, I thought. Not everything is lost."
The fire of Pentecost re-ignites in a New Mexico airport: The Spirit of God overcomes the barriers of language and perception, transforming fear into peace, misunderstanding into community. As on Pentecost, God's Spirit continues to speak in the love of the Beatitudes, in the forgiveness of the prodigal's father, in the generosity of the Good Samaritan, in the hope of the resurrection.

That same Spirit of Peace and Hope guided a group who began a walk for peace in New London; while they walked, when they passed a playground, the would leave a rock that said “peace” on it. They spent last night in our Memorial Room (and had a meal here) and are walking today to Sandy Hook to the UMC there (for a service) and will be placing another peace rock in a Newtown park. (Remembering the teachers and students at Sandy Hook Elementary School.)

That Spirit is also a Spirit of Remembrance & Freedom as I think about Memorial Day.

Last year, Bernard Jordan, an 89-year-old World War II veteran was reported missing from his nursing home in England. He was found later in France. He wanted to attend the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy to honor friends he lost and where he himself had fought. He hid his uniform/metals behind his coat when he left. He return safely a few days later…

The gift of the Spirit, the gift of our Pentecost faith enables us to hear the voice of God speaking in the midst of the clamor and busyness, the pain and despair of our lives, inviting us to embrace the life and love of God in our homes and hearts.

Come Holy Spirit, breathe into our hearts your peace and kindle in us the fire of your love. Amen.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Words of Advice (from the past) for the Church Today

"The church is the church only when it exists for others. To make a start, it should give away all its property to those in need. The clergy must live solely on the free-will offerings of their congregations, or possibly engage in some secular calling. The church must share in the secular problems of ordinary human life, not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men [and women] of every calling what it means to live in Christ, to exist for others…. It must not under-estimate the importance of human example (which has its origin in the humanity of Jesus and is so important in Paul’s teachings); it is not abstract argument, but example, that gives its word emphasis and power." ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letters & Papers from Prison)
 "Do you want to honor Christ’s body? Then do not scorn him in his nakedness, nor honor him here in the church with silken garments while neglecting him outside where he is cold and naked...What we do here in the church requires a pure heart, not special garments; what we do outside requires great dedication.

Let us learn, therefore, to be men of wisdom and to honor Christ as he desires. For a person being honored finds greatest pleasure in the honor he desires, not in the honor we think best. Peter thought he was honoring Christ when he refused to let him wash his feet; but what Peter wanted was not truly an honor, quite the opposite! Give him the honor prescribed in his law by giving your riches to the poor. For God does not want golden vessels but golden hearts.

Now, in saying this I am not forbidding you to make such gifts; I am only demanding that along with such gifts and before them you give alms. He accepts the former, but he is much more pleased with the latter. In the former, only the giver profits; in the latter, the recipient does too. A gift to the church may be taken as a form of ostentation, but an alms is pure kindness. Of what use is it to weigh down Christ’s table with golden cups, when he himself is dying of hunger? First, fill him when he is hungry; then use the means you have left to adorn his table. Will you have a golden cup made but not give a cup of water? What is the use of providing the table with cloths woven of gold thread, and not providing Christ himself with the clothes he needs? What profit is there in that? Tell me: If you were to see him lacking the necessary food but were to leave him in that state and merely surround his table with gold would he be grateful to you or rather would he not be angry? What if you were to see him clad in worn-out rags and stiff from the cold, and were to forget about clothing him and instead were to set up golden columns for him, saying that you were doing it in his honor? Would he not think he was being mocked and greatly insulted?" ~ Excerpt from a homily by St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel of Matthew
"Nine-Tenths of the work of the Church in the world is done by Christian people fulfilling responsibilities and performing tasks which in themselves are not part of the official system of the Church at all." ~ William Temple (Christianity and Social Order)

"It is not for their sake that there is an army; it is for the sake of the nation and the cause which it has espoused. So the church exists in the first place, not for those of us who are its members, but for the Kingdom of God." ~ William Temple (Issues of Faith)

Saint of the Week: Frances Perkins

icon by Tobias Haller
Readings for Her Day: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/lectionary/frances-perkins-public-servant-and-prophetic-witness-1965

Her biography: http://satucket.com/lectionary/frances_perkins.htm

and story: http://www.livingchurch.org/saint-behind-new-deal

And what we should rememer of her ministry & work (Architect of the Gracious Society):