Tuesday, January 30, 2007

200th anniversary of the Abolition of the British and the U.S. slave trade (1807-2007)

William Wilberforce (1759-1833) led the twenty-year fight to end the British slave trade, a victory now regarded as He finally succeeded in March 1807 and continued to fight for abolition until, days before his death in 1833, he saw the institution of slavery abolished throughout the British colonies. Not limiting himself to just abolitionist work, he dedicated his life to what he called his "two great objects:" abolishing slavery in the British Empire and what he called "the reformation of manners [society]." To this end, he advocated for child labor laws, campaigned for education of the blind and deaf, and founded organizations as diverse as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the National Gallery (of Art). "Good causes," it has been said, "stuck to him like pins to a magnet." (by Kevin Belmonte)

On Wed., Feb. 7 at 10:30 AM & 7:30 PM we will watch a documentary and discuss the legacy of William Wilberforce and how we can affect change today.

We will also talk about the estimated 27 million people who are still enslaved today and learn about the Amazing Change, the campaign to abolish modern day slavery and what we can do to be part of the abolitionist movement. Visit:


We will also go see the movie “Amazing Grace: the William Wilberforce Story” due to be released in theaters in the US on February 23, 2007.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Annual Parish Meeting

Looking for the wardens' report or my address at the Annual meeting?

You can find it here:


and download your own copy.

U2charist Music for Feb. 4 (10:15 AM)

Prelude: Pride (In the Name of Love)

Mysterious Ways

Song of Praise:


Love and Peace or Else

Communion: One Step Closer and Yahweh

Closing: Beautiful Day

Postlude: Where the Streets Have no Name

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sermon on 3rd Epiphany

One thing I ask of you, O Lord, that I do not use my reason against the truth. Amen.

Starving for the Truth

There is a hunger inside each of us for the Truth. This is not only true of our own day, with so much spin, so much manipulation of the facts, that it is at times hard to find the Truth, but it is also true of centuries, millennium ago, as the faithful sought out ways to find the Truth…

In the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Jewish people are returning from their exile, returning home from the Babylonian Captivity.

They had been starved for the truth in their exile, but upon their homecoming, “all the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate in Jerusalem. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel.”

There was a hunger to know the Truth, to know what God had expected of them.

And after a series of unpronounceable names who stood near Ezra, “they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.” And the people who had been starving, wept for hearing of the truth…

But Ezra, Nehemiah and the Levite priests did not just want weeping, they wanted to celebrate that truth too.

They said to the people, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our LORD; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

By hearing the Truth, the people were able to celebrate for they learned that the joy of the Lord is their strength. The Scriptures were there to lead them to that joy, which they had been starved of, in their expulsion from the land.

In the time of St. Paul, there was some disunity among the Christians living in Corinth. He reminds them that their unity is based on their baptism:

“For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”

No matter who we are in our lives, Jew or Greek, free or slave, male or female, we are baptized into one body, the body of Christ. And yet there existed in the community, some who looked down upon others, seeing no need for them among the community.

Others saw themselves as inferior to other members, not as equal. To both of these, Paul speaks clearly…

“God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.”

There are no greater or lesser members of the body of Christ, for we are to care for one another, we are in it together…

And have we not experienced that here…when one member of our parish suffers, we all suffer with them, when one member is honored or rejoices, all rejoice together.

To a community that was starving for the Truth, St. Paul gives them the Truth, they are all members of the body of Christ, equally, and individual members of it for our unity is in baptism, because through it we become part of the body of Jesus Christ.

After Jesus’ own baptism, knowing that the people were starving for the Truth, he began to preach in the synagogues of Galilee and his name spread.

When he returned to his hometown, he went to the synagogue and was handed a scroll, he read from Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

To the people there, who were starving for the Truth, starving for the savior, he says, today, this scripture is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is fully present, right here, right now.

As one author put it, it was his inaugural sermon, for indeed he would bring good news to those who only knew bad news, release to those held captive by their lives, by their illness, by their own prejudices, he would let the oppressed go free, to rejoin their families and society, he opened the eyes of the blind, and proclaimed by all he said and did the year of the Lord’s favor.

He embodied the spiritual reality of the Good News of which Isaiah wrote, which God had sent him down to earth to do.

He is the truth to those starving for the truth. Which is as true today, as it was in his own day. But now, we are the ones to help embody his message, to be part of our life and witness as Christians.

As one song writer put it, “I can hear Jesus’ quiet voice in the words he said, words that set the captive free, words that lift the dead into the living. In his dying now he asks us in his stead to be the one, be the one. Be the one to speak the words of truth, be the one to quell the lies. Be the one to see that justice will be done. Be the one to learn from children, be the one to teach the wise, be the one, be the one, be the one.” (Ray Makeever)

And if we are to be the one, we need to learn from Ezra and Nehemiah that to lead people to the Truth, is to lead them to joy, for the joy of the Lord is their strength.

And we need to learn from St. Paul, that we are all members, all have our part, no matter how big or small, lesser or not, we are all equal in God’s eyes for God has put us together.

And to follow Jesus, and speak to that hunger for truth means we have work to do, which is how Episcopal Priest and hymn writer, Carl P. Daw, Jr. put it.

Till all the jails are empty and all the bellies filled; Till no one hurts or steals or lies, and no more blood is spilled;
Till age and race and gender no longer separate;
Till pulpit, press and politics are free of greed and hate;
God has work for us to do.

And that’s the Truth. Amen.

Friday, January 19, 2007

New Zealand U2charist ad

Here's what one parish did...

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an octave, that is, an observance lasting eight days, beginning with the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter, on January 18, and concluding with the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, on January 25.

Blessed be the Lord our God for the love that you have shown us through Jesus Christ our Lord. In him who loved us we are conquerors over hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and the sword. In the silence of abandonment and solitude, of sickness and death, pour out the riches of your blessing, that we may be ever more faithful to serve you in our sisters and brothers, and that our joy do do your will be ever greater.

We bless you and glorify you, for you listen to the silence of our hearts. You act within us with power, healing us and leading us to speak in the name of Jesus, your Son. Send us into the world to carry our your will and to break down the walls of silence that separate us. May we witness to you, our only Savior, being ever more united by "one faith and one baptism." And may we grow in grace and in the peace of God that passes all understanding, that your name may be glorified. Amen. (by the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Holy Eucharist with music by
Bono & U2

“God is in the room.” – Bono

“Souper Bowl” Sunday
February 4 at 10:15 am

All monetary donations go to the Downtown Soup Kitchen in New Haven, all canned goods go to the Monroe Food Pantry

“It feels like God walking through the room, and it feels like a blessing, and in the end, music is a kind of sacrament.” – Bono

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I have a dream...

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

To hear or read a sampling of his sermons, go here.

To read his Letter from Birmingham Jail, go here.

To read his "I Have a Dream" speech, go here.

More information may be found at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers Project at Stanford Univ, here.

Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last: Grant that your Church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sermon for 2nd Epiphany (C)

Celebrations. Our lives are full of celebrations when we gather with family and friends to commemorate those important moments in our lives.

Sometimes the celebrations come at the beginning of our lives like the birth of a child or today as we join with Tom & Michelle and the twins in celebrating Thomas Luke Caporaso’s baptism.

Sometimes the celebrations are bittersweet like the celebration held yesterday for Bud Mix. We mourn his death and celebrate his nearly 85 years of life, the things he did and the people he touched.

Another such celebration is a wedding. We celebrated a wedding this year with Beth & Darrell Harrington. I suspect there are families here that had weddings. It is one occasion where families are drawn together. Certainly the weddings at the time of Jesus were also family celebrations. But they were also much more.

Weddings and their celebration would last seven days! At these weddings, 2 families would gather to celebrate the marriage of their son and daughter, more importantly, these 2 families would be intimately linked together; And the celebration which would include invitations to all in the village or town, would have to be done well, the family honor is an important part of the public celebration that takes place.

A family, of course, would need lots of assistance from neighbors and friends to pull off such an event! Lots of cooking and materials (wine, water, food) were needed for such an undertaking. Gifts of wine were usually given in advance to the family hosting the celebration, so there would be enough on hand for 7 days. This helped the host family celebrate each day with those who would come. To run out of food or wine was a sign of family dishonor either in one’s finances or lack of friends.

With this in mind, we enter the scene in the Gospel of John: the wedding has taken place, Mary the Mother of Jesus is there with other women helping with the cooking and such. Were they kin? Friends? Neighbors?

We don’t know but we do know that Mary notices that the wine has run out and wants Jesus to help. Jesus as an invited guest has arrived with some of his disciples; as they participate in the feast, Mary tells Jesus to help out, to do something. Mary says, “the wine has run out.”

Jesus resists. “What concern is this to you and me? My time has not yet come.” Jesus is looking beyond the feast, beyond the immediate need…

Is Mary concerned because the lack of wine could dishonor her family including Jesus? Or does she know that Jesus can do something about it?

Like a good mother, Mary doesn’t listen to her son’s lack of concern. Do whatever he says, Mary tells the servants.

Jesus does not miss her insistence and tells the servants to fill the six large stone jars with water and then give the chief steward a taste.

Think about what it means to fill six large stone jars, each 20 or 30 gallons, it is quite an undertaking. There are no faucets, hoses for the servants to use, they have to fill them by hand with water from the village well.

After filling the jars, they present the water that has turned to wine to the chief steward, who is astonished at the good wine and compliments the bridegroom for keeping the good wine until now. There is now abundant wine, 180 gallons! Enough for the rest of the celebration (the days to come)!

From this, the disciples (and those servants) believed in him, the first of his signs, first of his miracles at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. The Word that became flesh, Jesus, has given us all a sign of his manifestation with the turning of water into wine.

If we left the story on this level, it would be a nice story about a miracle in a tiny village North of Nazareth with Jesus turning water into good wine. We could move on with our lives, and think nothing more of the first miracle.

But there is more to the story, because we must take our part. If we think of our lives and consider whether those empty stone water jars might be us, then we might see and hear this story in a deeper way.

Jesus who first manifested his divine self at the Wedding in Cana; offers us that new wine. We like Mary, and the disciples, and those gathered for the wedding feast, wait for our empty jars to be filled and made with new wine by Jesus.

The emptiness that we may feel at times, deep down in our souls, we often try to fill with food, power, drugs, sex, money, prestige, work, golf, football on tv but nothing quenches it.

But if we look to God to be the Wedding Guest in our lives, whether single or married, divorce or widowed, whatever our circumstances, our God of love would be in our midst, our God who is always ready to change our water into wine, who comes to fill our emptiness.

I believe St. Paul understood this as he writes to the Christians living in Corinth that the Spirit is blowing through our lives, moving all around us, this One Spirit that inspires, gives, empowers different kinds of gifts: the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by the Spirit, they are manifested for the common good.

We are called like the disciples, to follow Christ's call, to fill the emptiness of our lives, with the new wine that Jesus has made from the water of our lives and in that new wine is the Spirit, like a quenching fire that he has given to each us, these gifts of the spirit for our discipleship. We are blessed to use them for the common good.

As a priest friend in Nicaragua put it: "We need to fill up our empty water-pots and bring them to the toastmaster of our party, Jesus, the head of our church, and find the first miracles here in our Galilees."

God gives to us an abundance of gifts, in Jesus we have found a gift that fills our lives with meaning and hope and love. As we find the first of his miracles in our lives, may we find in celebrations together whether wedding feasts of friends and family, in a baptism or in this parish family as we gather around the altar for Eucharist, that Jesus is here offering his abundant love, and transforming us from empty jars to vessels brimming with his new wine. Amen.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Sermon on the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord

So what are you going to do with your gift from Christmas?
No, not that gift…I am talking about the gift of Jesus Christ.

We are now in the season of Epiphany, the season of Jesus made manifest, revealed in our world…We ended Christmas with yesterday’s celebration of the Epiphany, of the three wise men, three kings coming to the manger, of Christ being manifested to those gentile magi…

And so here we are today, with a gift, we all have it. The gift is God’s only son, Jesus. What will you do with your gift?

This is no ordinary gift and although filled with all the joy, love, hope, and peace we could ever want there is more there…As John the Baptist said, “One who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

He was talking about Jesus, the One from God who is more powerful than we can imagine, who baptizes with fire and Spirit, but first Jesus was baptized like we were, and when he came out of that water, those beautiful words rang out, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

And when we were named and presented to God in baptism; we were adopted, grafted in to God’s family, and in that baptism is a gift.

John said, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Indeed we are baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire. We are cleansed and given a new life in Jesus’ name.

It is that same Spirit and fire that touches all that we are, from our beginning to our end.

As St. Ephraim the Syrian of the fourth century wrote:

See, Fire & Spirit in the womb that bore you
See, Fire & Spirit in the water (river) where you were baptized
Fire & Spirit in our Baptism.
In the bread and Cup, Fire and Spirit.

It is the gift that enlivens us, that reminds us that God dwells with us, in all our steps, has been with us from birth, from baptism and continues to be with us, even in the midst of communion, of bread and wine, God is there. Fire & Spirit. And that same fire and Spirit will carry us to God on our final day.

But too often we forget the gift of Jesus, forget the Spirit that is in us. We have more important things, we have work to do, and the days become weeks and we wonder why our lives seem to ebb away and why we have lost meaning, lost the spirit to do things, why that joy and peace we long for is not in our hearts…

But the gift of Jesus, the gift of that cleansing Fire and the Holy Spirit that he gives, is there for us, if we but take hold of it, indeed our lives will change, and what was missing will be in us.

Evelyn Underhill, an Anglican writer of the last Century said, “The birth of Christ in our souls is for a purpose beyond ourselves: it is because his manifestation in the world must be through us. You are the light of the world because you are irradiated by the One light of the world, the holy generosity of God. And being kindled with that light, we have to get on with it, be useful, let the light shine.”

I believe we who are baptized who have that Spirit are made restless, bothered, feel it when things aren’t right with us, because we have God inside of us, to bug us when we are not getting on with it and being useful in this world, when we don’t let that light shine.

For when we no longer manifest Christ to our world by what we say or do, I think that fire and Spirit gnaw at us and unsettle us, to help us see our need for God and God’s need for our work and love in this world.

This is all grounded in our baptism. Today (at 10:15 AM), Charlotte will join us in being part of God’s holy tribe, and the fire and Spirit will be given to her, and we will recognize in her as we are reminded ourselves that God is at work in our lives and has given us things to do.

In this time after the Epiphany, when we are to manifest Jesus to the world with our lives, even as we continue to learn and grow in what it means to follow him, it is what we do now that defines what we do with our Christmas gift. It is as Howard Thurman once put it,

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make music with the heart…

And to radiate the Light of Christ,
every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.

And the gift of Jesus, who came down for us at Christmas, we will share with the world, by making his love, his joy, his light manifest in our lives, and the Fire and Spirit will guide us…

For we will witness like Peter did so many centuries ago, in our words and actions that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power for he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

To that ministry and to our God we live our lives today and every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say. So let the light of God shine forth in your lives, by the fire and Spirit given to us at Baptism. Amen.

Friday, January 5, 2007

The Epiphany

The Journey of the Magi

By T. S. Eliot

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Learn more about this poem here.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

A Real Step Toward A Living Wage: Support the Fair Minimum Wage Act

From the Episcopal Public Policy Network:

New Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have pledged to bring the Fair Minimum Wage Act to the floor for a vote in the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress. This will be an important FIRST step toward a fair living wage in the United States.

Your support is needed to ensure a "clean minimum wage" bill. A "clean" bill means without amendments. Click here to send a fax to your Senators and Representative.

For ten long years, Congress has raised its own pay but failed to pass an increase in the Federal Minimum Wage - TODAY a full-time worker earning the $5.15 minimum wage makes only $10,700 annually – that is $6,000 below the poverty line. Due to inflation, today's $5.15 minimum wage is lower in value than the minimum wage in 1950.

YOUR VOICE IS CRITICAL. Contact your Senators and Representatives and urge them to support the Fair Minimum Wage Act to raise the Federal Minimum Wage "without amendments." A vote in the House is expected as early as January 10, with a Senate vote in the following weeks. To fax a letter to your Senators and Representatives, CLICK HERE.

I just sent a fax, will you?

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Gerald R. Ford, President and Episcopalian

State Funeral at Washington National Cathedral
Gerald R. Ford
Thirty-Eighth President of the United States

Sermon and Service leaflet can be found here.

Gerald Ford remembered as 'statesman, churchman, and family man' (the news report can be found here.)

Information on the service at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, MI, can be found here.

Rest eternal grant to Gerald, O Lord: And let light perpetual shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.