Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sermon: June 28

None other Lamb, none other Name,
None other hope in Heav’n or earth or sea,
None other hiding place from guilt and shame,
None beside Thee!

My faith burns low, my hope burns low;
Only my heart’s desire cries out in me
By the deep thunder of its want and woe,
Cries out to Thee.

Lord, Thou art Life, though I be dead;
Love’s fire Thou art, however cold I be:
Nor Heav’n have I, nor place to lay my head,
Nor home, but Thee. Amen. (poem by Christina Rossetti)
None other Lamb, none other name, than the Lord – for thou art Life! Love’s fire thou art!

Two people saw that life and love in Jesus – Jairus who was wealthy, well-connected and a religious leader came to Jesus to have him heal his daughter. Their journey is interrupted by an unnamed woman who was ill, impoverished, ritually unclean and looking for help.

To that woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years, who endured much under many physicians, spent all that she had; and was no better, but worse, Jesus said to her after she touched his garment:

"Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."

To Jairus, one of the leaders of the synagogue, after hearing of his daughter’s death, Jesus said to him:

"Do not fear, only believe."

Illness and death. They were then and still are two of the great scourges of life. So much so that we fear illness & death. Think of all the superstitions built up around each of these, don’t talk about them or they might just happen to you. Hogwash. The more we talk about them, the more we bring them out into the light, the less we have to fear. We need not be slaves to the twin fears of illness and death. Jesus in his ministry tore down their power and lifted up life.

Our First Reading from the Wisdom of Solomon reminds us that “God did not make death and he does not delight in the death of the living. For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome…”

We are made to live, created in God’s own image. Death is the aberration. Wholeness is what God desires.

The response from Lamentations: “This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. […]Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.”

God is about life. There is no plan for God to afflict or grieve anyone. But God does use us, our situations and God’s life and love are there. God is with us when we mourn for the Charleston 9 and the hope/faith they were living in their lives. There will be darkness and anguish, but it is God who reminds us that death never has the final word, & Jesus reminds us to keep the faith, do not fear, but believe. It is to hold on to see things through believing that indeed God will give us strength, and there will come a time when indeed we will find that peace again. As one poet has put it:
What God Has Promised by Annie Johnson Flint
God has not promised
Skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways
All our lives through;

God has not promised
Sun without rain
Joy without sorrow,
Peace without pain.

But God has promised
Strength for the day,
Rest for the labor,
Light for the way,
Grace for the trials,
Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy,
Undying love.
And sometimes, we learn the most about God’s promises from those who endure such suffering:
A Canadian medical student volunteered to work in a clinic in Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake that devastated that small Caribbean country. One night in the infirmary, after a hectic day, she met Emmanuella, who was fourteen years old and still in her gray school uniform. The medical student remembers:

"[Emmanuella] had the sweetest demeanor, but couldn't lift herself from the cot because she was in so much pain. After talking with her for a while, I asked if she would like to pray with me. She volunteered to pray first and shocked me because she started to pray for me. She thanked God for my being there and prayed that God would use me however He wanted. She then prayed that she would be able to draw closer to Him and that He would use her as well. She said only one sentence about the pain she was suffering. I had never heard such strength and selflessness in a prayer. After praying, she said matter-of-factly, 'God sent you here to be with me.'" [From "Prayer in the rubble" by Gabrielle Apollon, Dissent, Summer 2011.]
Emmanuella possesses the trust and faith of the sick woman in today's Gospel. Emmanuella recognized the compassion and healing of God in the dedication of the medical student and volunteers like her, just as the woman suffering from hemorrhages is convinced that Jesus can and will heal her.

The author and Franciscan priest Richard Rohr says: “All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain.” Faith invites us into our pain and to bring the Mystery of that suffering into our relationship with the Spirit of Life & Love – with Jesus. Too often our fears cause us the most pain but faith can open us up to walk through our pain and suffering. Emmanuela did that. Many of the families of the Charleston 9 did.
“Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof, everyone’s plea for your soul, is proof that they lived in love and their legacies will live in love. So hate won’t win. And I just want to thank the court for making sure that hate doesn’t win.” Words from Wanda Simmons, granddaughter of Daniel Simmons who died in Emmanuel AME Church.
It’s hard for me to imagine standing before the killer of a family member and offering words for his soul. Words based on love, forgiveness, grace. Wanda Simmons & the other family members challenge me to live into that hope that Jesus calls us to embody in what I say and do. For in Jesus love, hate won’t win.

"Do not fear, only believe." Jesus tells us, for God is life and love’s fire! May we truly believe this and live such love in our lives. Amen.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The President's Eulogy

I watched a recorded version of his eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.  Wow.  It was very good.

You can watch it here:

A transcript is here:

Marriage Equality - Statements regarding the SCOTUS Ruling

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued this statement following today’s Supreme Court ruling:
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. [1Corinthians 13:4-8]
I rejoice that the Supreme Court has opened the way for the love of two people to be recognized by all the states of this Union, and that the Court has recognized that it is this enduring, humble love that extends beyond the grave that is to be treasured by society wherever it exists. Our society will be enriched by the public recognition of such enduring faithful love in families headed by two men or two women as well as by a woman and a man. The children of this land will be stronger when they grow up in families that cannot be unmade by prejudice or discrimination. May love endure and flourish wherever it is to be found.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Statement from the CT Bishops about the Supreme Court decision Friday legalizing same-sex marriage:

"Equal dignity in the eyes of the law." -- Justice Kennedy

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Today's Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage in all States. On this historic occasion, we give thanks for the voice of equality and inclusion that our Supreme Court has spoken. We recognize the countless men and women through the years who have worked tirelessly to bring this day about. We celebrate with those whose relationships are affirmed and respected by this vote. May all our relationships and families be strengthened by this recognition of the power, breadth and inclusivity of love.

The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas & The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens

SCOTUS has acted - Marriage Equality for all!

The Supreme Court has voted.  5-4.  Marriage Equality is now the law of the land. This is Good News!

These two essays help us with a Christian Perspective:
my other thoughts can be found here:
David Brooks (years ago) wrote a piece in favor of marriage equality from a conservative point of view:

Our General Convention will be wrestling with our liturgical response.  Stay tuned.

Summer NT Reflections: Proper 8 (B)

Discussion Leader: Robert Berra, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale
“He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum,’ which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement.” (Mark 5: 38-40)

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Stepping away from the particular circumstances of the letter, we can see Paul developing a theology of giving based on the desire to do good and in imitation of Christ. For Paul, there is no great separation between faith and good works; the two are linked. Paul expects that the Corinthians would be willing to give without Paul coercing them. He is asking them to show that the love they profess for others are not empty words, but are followed with the desire to give to the material benefit of the poor. Paul implies that a maturing faith will show that the desire to give will grow and flourish naturally, without his compulsion, and that the Corinthians who (he says) excel in faith, speech, knowledge, in eagerness and love, will show their mature faith in charity. In doing so, the Corinthians will imitate Christ who became poor the sake of others. Knowing that people get tied down by asking, “How much is enough?” or grumbling about “giving everything away,” Paul writes that we seek not that the poor simply become rich and the rich become poor, but for the alleviation of need and a fair balance of necessities. Instead of a begrudging charity, Paul envisions a church trying to enact the kingdom of God, which is not bound to rules of scarcity or the logic of determining winners and losers.

How does faith play into your providing for the necessities of others?

Mark 5:21-43

The story of the healing of the hemorrhaging woman is nestled in the story of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter. The differences in situation in these two healings are stark. Jairus is wealthy, well-connected and a religious leader. He comes to Jesus to request help for his daughter, and Jesus follows. The woman is ill, impoverished, ritually unclean and therefore separated from society. Both Jairus and the woman show faith in Jesus; but the woman shows a well-placed audaciousness that Jairus does not. This may be the difference in the social status of Jairus and the woman. Jairus’ position comes with respect and openness in how he moves in society. The woman seems to act in desperation, a clandestine attempt to be healed before she is found out and removed from the scene.

In these connected stories, we learn something of Jesus and his reordering of societal priorities. Jesus stopped a crowd to establish a relationship to a long-time ritually unclean woman (nowhere near a high social standing) who had touched him. He calls her “daughter” in the presence of established religious authorities of the day. He restores her to health and to community in spite of an interaction that would be considered scandalous. In the case of Jairus’ daughter, he again heals a ritually unclean woman with a touch. In these stories, we are shown that the priorities of Jesus are not the same as the world’s, and that he is willing to transgress worldly boundaries to bring about the good of those who seek him.

Healing may mean something different from being cured of an ailment. How have you experienced healing in your life?

What societal boundaries are you willing to cross when you can aid others in healing?


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Political Cartoons of #CharlestonShooting

What is it about?

What is a symbol?

And we remember and pray...

General Convention has begun - A Litany for General Convention

Let us keep the Church in our prayers as our convention has begun.
A Litany for General Convention (from the ECCT)
Deacon or Presider:
Let us offer our prayers for all those who take council for the renewal of our church and all those gathered at the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, by saying God of grace and God of glory, grant us courage, grant us wisdom.

Watch over all those who travel to and from Salt Lake City over the course of the 78th General Convention. Enfold them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; and bring them in safety to the end of the journey. God of grace and God of glory, grant us courage, grant us wisdom.
Enliven all the deputies of General Convention, especially the deputies from Connecticut. Guide them to perceive what is right, and grant them both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it. God of grace and God of glory, grant us courage, grant us wisdom.

Send forth your Holy Spirit to all bishops as they discern our next Presiding Bishop. We pray for all the candidates for Presiding Bishop: for Thomas, Michael, Ian, and Dabney; and for all their families and dioceses. We pray our new Presiding Bishop will empower us to live fully into where God is calling us to serve. God of grace and God of glory, grant us courage, grant us wisdom.
Refresh your church for this changing world, for things that have grown old are becoming new. We pray that The Episcopal Church will possess the courage to write new chapters in our unfolding story, and to be transformed by your Spirit as we put our trust in your promised hope. God of grace and God of glory, grant us courage, grant us wisdom.

Forgive the sins and failures of our past, and reveal new possibilities for our future. We pray that we will be able to discern what we must let go of and what we need to hold onto in our common life in order to follow Jesus more clearly. God of grace and God of glory, grant us courage, grant us wisdom.
Direct all those who are involved with the 78th General Convention so that their actions will support the least, the last and the outsiders. We pray the resolutions of the 78th General Convention are full of compassion and love, and allow us to join God’s mission in the world. God of grace and God of glory, grant us courage, grant us wisdom.

Give rest to all your faithful people who have served your church in ages past and who now dwell with you. We pray we may look to their faith to proclaim the Gospel and trust in your promises. God of grace and God of glory, grant us courage, grant us wisdom.

Deacon or Presider: 

Eternal God, in your Son Jesus Christ you redeemed all of human history and called us to proclaim the Good News of Christ’s death and resurrection to the ends of the earth and to the end of the age: pour out your Spirit afresh upon The Episcopal Church and our 78th General Convention, help us to rejoice in our past and give us courage to trust your power to shape our future, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.