Saturday, March 31, 2007

For Holy Week

To aid you in your journey of Holy Week...

John T. Townsend, "A Liturgical Interpretation of Our Lord's Passion in Narrative Form" (go half way down the page for the Narrative, the explanation at the top of the page is helpful, John Townsend was a professor at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA.)

Collision Course: Jesus Final Week by Marcus Borg & John Dominic Crossan

Tenebrae Service (which we use on Holy Wednesday)

Brushstroke Meditations: Lenten Gospel Reflections through Chinese Characters (Holy Week: LOVE / AI) This series on Chinese calligraphy for Lent comes from Rev. Elyn MacInnis in Shanghai, China. She is delighted to share with you the deep spiritual wisdom and understanding that she has discovered in the roots of Chinese characters.

A Prayer to Go to Paradise with the Donkeys by Francis Jammes (Poem)

"Not my will, but thy will be done! And when you can cry that, you stand up amid life with an exuberant joy. You know that God walks with you. Even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you know that God is there. Even though you stand amid the giant shadow of disappointment, you don’t despair, because you know God is with you." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Share, Save, Spend

Having just attended a conference with Nathan Dungan (author of Prodigal Sons & Material Girls: How Not To Be Your Child's ATM), I wanted to share some thoughts on his important work:

Notice that:

It is share first, save second, and spend third...

"SHARING comes first because it offers the most effective counter-rhythm for all the messages on spending...the overwhelming majority of messages young people receive only tell them to spend it as soon as they get it and more specifically, to spend it on wants. Emphasizing sharing first reminds kids to look around and develop sensitivity to the needs of others.

SAVING is defined in broad terms to encompass all short- and long-term goals on your child's radar screen... By building routine into their saving process, you reinforce the concept of deferred gratification. Again, rarely do young people hear messages espousing the value of saving... It's always about getting something today.

SPENDING. By placing spending last... you put psychology to work. It's a simple way of reminding you to give attention to sharing and saving before you jump to spending... Spending is the easy part... help your child achieve balance." --Nathan Dungan

The whole point of "share - save - spend" is pointed out at their website:

Our Mission
To help youth and adults achieve financial sanity by developing and maintaining healthy financial habits.

Our Goal
Help people understand the relationship of money, values and habits in today's hyper-consumer culture and, in turn, provide resources/tools to assist them in achieving financial sanity.

The social and economic impacts of hyper-consumption are and will continue to be extremely problematic for present and future generations.
• Young people 18 and under will spend and influence the spending of more than $1 trillion dollars this year
• Young adults (25 and under) are now one of the fastest growing segments filing for bankruptcy
• Average credit card debt per U.S. household is nearly $9,000
• Average after tax U.S. savings rate has plummeted to 0.2%
• College students have on average 4 credit cards and $3,000 of credit card debt
• Children today spend FIVE times more money (adjusted for inflation) than their parents did at the same age

Establish an ongoing dialogue with individuals using the Share-Save-Spend™ resources. Past research suggests that when people shift from a spending mentality to one that focuses on sharing and saving they will evidence healthier values and more happiness.

It is good stuff. More to come...

Look here for an easy calculator to determine how much giving 10%, saving 10% and living on 80% would be for any amount entered.

Thought for the Day

From my wife, Ellen:

"If you do not give right attention to the one you love, it is a kind of killing. When you are in the car together, if you are lost in your thoughts, assuming you already know everything about her, she will slowly die." - Thich Nhat Hanh (as reported in Oprah's Magazine)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sermon: 5th Sunday in Lent

Last week, it was a parable of Grace, the Prodigal Son, with the loving, forgiving father. This week, it is a parable of judgment, set in a vineyard...

When I think of vineyards, I always think of Napa Valley (beautiful, good wine!) and back at the turn of the 20th Century it was a New thing! (wine not from France) and of course wine now is even made in CT, our communion wine is from Brookfield!

We heard in Isaiah: Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

Look again at the Parable of the Vineyard from the Gospel
-what is that new thing?
-why did the chief priests/scribes get so angry?

Owner leases the vineyard to Tenants
-when the season came, he sent slaves to collect his share of the produce of the vineyard -the tenants refused to give it; beating some slaves, wounding them, thrown out…
-owner sends the son, surely they will respect him.
-they thrown him out & kill him
-what will the owner do? Thrown out those tenants, destroy them and give it to others.

Why did they go so angry? They understood what Jesus was getting at…the owner of the vineyard is God, the slaves were the prophets who were thrown out and not listened to, the son is Jesus, the one whom the chief priests, refuse to hear and plan to destroy… The stone the builders rejected…the cornerstone of our faith, is the son.

How does St. Paul talk about all this? Righteousness is not about following the law but faith in Christ. The cornerstone of our faith is Jesus, the stone some rejected…

Because of this rejection, the vineyard is given to others…The chief priests & elders understood the parable. They would be rejected as they reject Jesus. They are angry! They want to get him, but they do not lay hands on Jesus because they fear the people, those to whom the vineyard will be given…

This is a new thing!

God is always at work creating new things… For the people of Israel returning from their exile, God tells them through the prophet Isaiah, that the Lord is making things new…(do not remember the former things) It is a time of hope, a time of fortunes restored, a time of renewal.

How we will we re-act to such a parable? What newness is God springing forth about us today?
We can be like the scribes & chief priests, the wicked tenants in the parable, who use violence to get their way. To hold the status quo. To keep their interests and their power. Newness means change, and they refuse to allow it. And the judgment is against them. Or we can be the people who re-act by confessing with their hearts, taking in the message from God, from the prophets, from Jesus. Knowing God is constantly making new things, and hope to be in the midst of it. By accepting the Spirit of God who guides us in God’s ways, opening our hearts to the new things God does…

For it is about how we live, how we respond to the Gospel, how we perceive God doing new things in our world today and being a part of it.

There once was a devoted priest who wished to have a vision of both heaven and hell, and God gave way to his pleading. The priest found himself before a door which bore no name. He trembled as he saw that it opened into a large room where all was prepared for a feast. There was a table, and at its center, a great dish of steaming food was set. The smell and the aroma tantalized the appetite.

Diners sat around the table with great spoons in their hands, yet, to the priest's surprise, they were miserable— gaunt with hunger. They tried desperately to feed themselves, but gave up—cursing God—for the spoons that God had provided were so long that they could not reach their mouths. So these pitiable self-feeders starved while a feast lay before them. The priest had seen enough, so the door to this room closed before his eyes.

Next, the priest found himself standing before another door that appeared the same as the previous one. He began to despair, as the pain from viewing the first room was overwhelm­ing, and he did not want to see that scenario again. Again, the door opened, and it led to a room just like the first. Nothing had changed. There was a table at the center of the room covered with a cornucopia of steaming, delicious food.

Around it were the same people. But there were no cries of anguish, and no one appeared gaunt and starving, even though they, too, had the same elongated spoons. Nothing had changed, yet every­thing had changed. With the same long spoons these people reached to each other's mouths, and fed one another. And their joy was overflowing.

Are we ready for what God gives us today? Are we ready to be made new?

As the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Law in the 17th Century put it: "Religion is not ours till we live by it, till it is the Religion of our thoughts, words, and actions, till it goes with us into every place, sits uppermost on every occasion, and forms and governs our hopes and fears, our cares and pleasures."

Are we ready for the new things God will do today? Let me end with St. Paul’s words… Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

In the News...

Both articles are from the NY Times:

Episcopal Church Rejects Demand for a 2nd Leadership
Published: March 22, 2007

Bishops rejected a demand to create a parallel leadership to serve the minority who oppose their church’s liberal stand on homosexuality.

Money Looms in Episcopalian Rift With Anglicans
Published: March 20, 2007

As leaders of the Anglican Communion hold meeting after meeting to debate severing ties with the Episcopal Church in the United States for consecrating an openly gay bishop, one of the unspoken complications is just who has been paying the bills.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sermon: 4th Sunday in Lent

“It didn't have to happen that way. We could have sat down and talked it over. But my husband is a hothead, and my sons—one fumes; one sulks. The tension between them had been building…” And so begins the Parable of the Missing Mother based on the parable of the Prodigal Son, written by Kathy Coffey. I used it at the Women’s Retreat two years ago as one of the meditations.

I love how she enters the story of the Prodigal Son through the eyes of the Missing Mother, and this morning, I invite you into this parable through the mother, and to hear the story of the prodigal son in a new way.

“I will always regret not being home the weekend of the explosion. I returned from my sister's to find an eerie quiet in the house, and my youngest son's empty room. "What have you done?" I accused the men who looked guilty. They were quick to list the charges against him. It had escalated beyond the usual skirmishes, perhaps because I wasn't there to settle it with a little humor, some time apart, a good din­ner. By the second week, the thrill of the combat had worn off. They were no longer boasting how they'd gotten the bet­ter of him, and were starting to worry beneath the cool cam­ouflage of unconcern. His absence was gnawing away at me; I longed for his quick tongue, the flashing fall of his laughter. He was young and naive; he'd never traveled alone. Was he safe? Had he been mugged along the road? How long would his money last? The questions prodded me awake in the middle of the night, as my husband snored beside me.

After a month, I noticed my husband taking long walks down the road, usually at twilight when there was no reason to work there. Was he starting to miss him as much as I did? It emerged in our talks that my husband recognized his own impetuosity in our younger son. They both had the nature of a spring storm: intense and fierce. They would hurl furious words, then all was calm. Except this time. No one had intervened; no one had suggested a time to cool off. My husband felt terrible about the damage done, and grieved that the loss was permanent. It took a lot of talking, and he needed time to sit with his grief. But I think the incident made a deep impression. We agreed that if he ever did come home, we would not take him for granted again. We would love him for lightning flash and thunderbolt; then we would cradle him securely when the storm was spent.

After four months, I went searching. My husband seemed sunk in a stupor; the eldest son was sullen and depressed. If the youngest was ever to be found and brought home, it was up to me… By the time they found me, exhausted with the futile search, the wine had gone flat and the leftovers of fat­ted calf had congealed. No matter—both my boys were safe. I slept with a deep security I hadn't had in months. As I drift­ed off that first night home, I reviewed the story the servant had told me. According to her, the first sight of that unbathed boy galvanized his father. He ran down the road with the energy of his youth. The servants heard the pounding steps and shouting, so they rushed to see what was happening. He drowned the boy's apology in his huge embrace. I knew that my youngest had been enveloped in enormous arms, right there on the dusty road. When my husband called with exuberance for the ring and sandals, of course they were ready and waiting. As the serving woman brought the gold and leather, she heard my husband bellow, "This son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found."
Of course tomorrow the euphoria will wear off and I'll have to deal with the eldest. He's still filled with the poison of resentment and I'll need to find out what's really causing his anger. But I don't know if I can top what my husband told him. The servant reported that he said, "You are with me always and all I have is yours." If that doesn't reassure the boy, I don't know what will. The words have been for me a lovely pillow, the cornerstone of our house, the surety of my
husband's good heart.” [from “Hidden Women of the Gospels,” Chapter 10, by Kathy Coffey, ©2003, Orbis Books]

Kathy Coffey captures for me the true Spirit of the Prodigal Son with this imaginative and telling look at this parable…

As Jesus once told this parable and Coffey retells it in her own words: there are no families that don’t have such hassles in their family life, isn’t it true that often there is one child who is sulking and another laughing: failure and achievement often sit side by side at our kitchen table. And yet, the father lovingly embraces the son who ran off, and calms the son who is fuming at his return… The father loves. He forgives his child before he can really apologize. He tells his other child that he is always with him and all that he has is his. They are words reassuring…

As one author put it, “The prodigal knows he’s a dead son. He can’t come home as a son and yet in his father’s arms he rises from the dead and then he is able to come to his father’s side. The dead son, the no good Prodigal Son, is home. He has been raised from the dead by his father’s embrace. He has done nothing to earn it…” (Robert Farrar Capon)

The father in the parable is often identified with God, and we are identified as the two sons, the younger and the elder, the one whom fumes and the one who sulks… The parable shows us through the father figure, that God’s forgiveness is for us all. It is grace. Not because we earned it, but because God wills it. And the son is restored, but what about the good kid? Don’t many of you here feel more like the eldest than the youngest. The one who stood by his parents, never leaving and yet feeling left out at the end… We may wonder if the eldest ever did go in and enjoy the party and welcome back his brother. But the real questions for us, is will we? Will we, the good kids go in when the not so good are welcomed back? And the father looks at us and give us those words, “You are with me always and all I have is yours”

No matter what, its all yours, you are always with me, says God. Drop the resentment, the anger, let it go and come, enjoy the party! The only way we get left out in the cold is if we stay there ourselves. And the missing mother, from Coffey’s retelling, for me is the Holy Spirit; who is blowing through the whole story trying to bring everyone back together, to bring life to the dead, to make that family whole again.

No matter what part of the parable you see yourself in, the father or mother, the Prodigal Son, the good ol’ son, know that here at this table you are invited, welcomed at this party, this feast…for in the midst of our Lent, God gives us Godself to us, in bread and wine, the bread of heaven and cup of salvation, so that God can live in us and we in God. May the story of the Prodigal Son and the words of assurance from our God be for you a lovely pillow, the cornerstone of your house, the surety of God's good heart for you. Amen.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bible Quiz

Do you know your stuff?

Thanks to Padre Mickey, (a friend from seminary) I took the test!

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Try the Bible Quiz too! How did you do?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Christian Peace Witness for Iraq

[Episcopal News Service] With the nation about to mark the Iraq war's fourth year, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is asking Episcopalians churchwide to join in affirming the work of the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq, and its March 16 services planned for Washington, D.C.

Ongoing Peace Witness initiatives include prayer and fasting, study of the Bible and the practice of non-violence, and the creation of weekly witness events in local communities.

The organization plans two March 16 Peace Witness services, one at Washington National Cathedral, and another at Washington D.C.'s New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Full text of Jefferts Schori's statement follows:

“I urge awareness of and prayers for the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq, to be held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on March 16(note GC Resolution D020). As followers of Jesus, we are called to work for peace with justice in all contexts. The continuing war in Iraq demands our best efforts in seeking peace. May the Prince of Peace help us all to find peace in our day.”

The work of the Peace Witness organization is also endorsed by the churchwide Episcopal Peace Fellowship.

More information about the Christian Peace Witness can be found through their website.

More information about the Episcopal Peace Fellowship is online at the EPF website.

Christ, no one on earth really wants the pain and horror of war. We do not want to kill or be killed, to hurt or be hurt. But we all see injustice, and sometimes it makes us angry and we see no other way to right the wrong except by war. Christ, teach us the ways of peace! Calm our angry hearts and grant to all peoples and their leaders patience in the search for peace and justice. Help us to be ready to give up some of our comforts and power and pride, so that war will leave the face of the earth and we may work for you in peace.

(by Avery Brooks, in Plain Prayers in a Complicated World)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sermon 3rd Sunday in Lent

I sat in the pediatricians office on Friday with Hannah and Rowan. Rowan had been there the day before and was now on several medicines. It was Hannah’s turn. Puffy Eyes, snotty nose, and fever, it was time to test her for strep throat. Not once did I think, you know her illness is because of sin…

We just don’t think in those terms anymore…at least on such a small scale. Though when big things happen, we do ask why me? Why this cancer? Why this death that has come to my house? We want a reason. Why did 9/11 happen? Or that tsunami or Katrina…

We don’t like the silence, the lack of reasons, the lack of control… Part of this is human nature, and our sad ability to want to control everything, & when we can’t, to place blame for natural occurrences, no matter how horrific.

When the Black Death ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages, the blame fell mainly upon lepers and Jews. Most lepers in Europe were wiped out because they showed an outward sign of their inward sinfulness. Why else would they be lepers? No one thought that Leprosy was an infectious disease caused by Hansen's bacillus.

For others it was the Jews, they were erroneously called Christ killers, and their sinfulness and unbelief caused the plague to fall upon Europe, many believed. People died because of such ignorance and hate. The plague was probably caused by a bacterium, which no one at that time had a clue about. So instead they looked around them for minority populations to place blame. Such hatred toward others is a sad part of our Christian history.

Of course it still happens today. For years, people who were HIV and died of AIDS were blamed for their own deaths. Their sinfulness caused the disease. In the midst of the epidemic in the early 90s, I read an article about a baby orphaned at birth because of AIDS, who was HIV+ herself and she died shortly after birth because of some opportunistic infection. When the hospital asked several churches if they could do a funeral for the baby, many declined to do it, some citing the fact it was an AIDS baby. Finally, a priest at an Episcopal Church, said she would do it. And the baby was given a proper burial.

I also remember one prominent preacher who said that 9/11 happened because of America’s sins and there are still others today who promote that line of thinking…

So what about in the time of Jesus, those Galileans who were killed by Pilate whose blood had mingled with the sacrifices in the temple…weren’t they sinners? Jesus replied, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you.”

The Galileans were murdered. Jesus refuses to buy into the suffering = your sin understanding of our lives. But notice that does not end it… Jesus said, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them--do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

No they are not worse sinners. BUT unless you repent, you will perish just as they did… What is Jesus getting at?

He gives us no easy answer. No mechanistic worldview that says you do good, you are safe, you do bad and you are not. His own life shows that truth, the sinless man who is killed in a horrible way on a cross. What Jesus does, is call us to repent. Archbishop William Temple reminds us that: “To repent is to adopt God's viewpoint in place of your own.”

Repentance is not giving up a bad habit, it is to have a change of mind, it is about trying to be in fellowship with God by adopting God’s viewpoint as our own. By doing this, we change our heart, our mind, our habits, our actions, everything. We turn from sin to God. “To repent is to adopt God's viewpoint in place of your own”

If we repent, it does not mean that we will be safe at least as far as accidents and tragedies go. What we will be, is right with God. Which leads us to the parable of the fig tree…

Jesus tells us about a fig tree that has not produced fruit. It lives but bears nothing in its three years. The owner of the vineyard wants to cut it down, but the gardener wants to give it another chance, by doing even more, giving the tree more moisture & fertilizer, to give it another opportunity to grow and bear fruit. So what does the parable tell us of repentance?

I think God’s viewpoint as expressed in this parable is a God who is full of love and mercy, willing to give us every chance to bear good fruit. For it is God’s mercy that we rely on and trust. To change our viewpoint to God’s, is to look with love and mercy upon everyone we meet. It is to see others as God’s sees us, to be with others when tragedy strikes, or illness, or an accident, to be with them in love and mercy.

In the end, it is not about us as the flawed, sinful human beings that we are. God knows that. In the end, God will judge what we did do or failed to do. We need to remind ourselves that all of us are created in the image of God. We are redeemed by Jesus. And as Christians, we are called to follow where Jesus has led. For we are loved by God and God longs for us to bear fruit, fruit that shares in God’s love and mercy.

Unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Jesus said. Unless we repent, and take on God’s viewpoint as our own and change our ways, then we are like that fig tree that lives and yet bears no fruit. And in so many ways, that life is like death because it bears no fruit for ourselves or our world.

Let us strive to adopt God's viewpoint in place of our own. See the world through the eyes of love and mercy. To help victims, to help those who are ill and help all people feel God’s presence in the darkest moments of their lives. Without judgment and without easy answers, let us in what we say and do, help them see God’s longing for them and to know and trust there is love and mercy always. Amen.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Our New Suffragan Bishop

The Rev. Dr. Laura Ahrens, the Rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Danbury, CT since 2000, was elected Bishop Suffragan for the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut on 3/10/07.

She was elected on the 5th Ballot with 59% of the Clergy and 54% of the Lay Delegates votes.

You can learn more about her here.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


An old story, as retold by Jim Gustafson:

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

(from The One You Feed - Daily eMos for 3/8/07)

You can read the whole meditation by the Rev.
Barbara Cawthorne Crafton at her website

Look under the Almost-Daily eMos. section.

Almost every day, you can receive a brief meditation by Barbara Cawthorne Crafton by e-mail. It is intended to be something to help you start your day with thoughtfulness. Sometimes the eMos are funny and sometimes they're sad. Often, they're both.

Want eMos? Check out the Subscribe page and be sure to sign up for them! They are excellent and a welcome addition to anyone's email box!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Rebuilding and Reconciling the world

[From Episcopal News Service] A group of Anglican women, as an expression of their faithfulness to the church's mission, issued a statement March 3 reiterating their unequivocal commitment "to remaining always in 'communion' with and for one another," and emphasizing that "rebuilding and reconciling the world" is central to their faith.

The statement came as more than 80 Anglican women are meeting in New York February 26-March 9 for the 51st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW).

The Anglican delegation is the largest non-governmental representation at the UNCSW, an annual meeting that brings thousands of women from around the world to New York, in part to address the challenges raised by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially Goal 3 which calls for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

"We remain resolute in our solidarity with one another and in our commitment, above all else, to pursue and fulfill God's mission in all we say and do," the statement said.

Citing the global tensions "so evident in our church today," the women refused to accept "that there is any one issue of difference or contention which can, or indeed would, ever cause us to break the unity as represented by our common baptism.

"Neither would we ever consider severing the deep and abiding bonds of affection which characterize our relationships as Anglican women."

The women noted that they had been challenged in their time together "by the desperately urgent issues of life and death faced by countless numbers of women and children in our communities."

In their conclusion, the women proclaimed: "This sisterhood of suffering is at the heart of our theology and our commitment to transforming the whole world through peace with justice. Rebuilding and reconciling the world is central to our faith."

The statement will be publicly presented by UNCSW delegate Jenny Te Paa at "Towards Effective Anglican Mission" (TEAM), a March 7-14 conference in Boksburg, South Africa, that will focus on the church's contribution to achieving the MDGs.

Te Paa is the ahorangi or dean of Te Rau Kahikatea (College of St. John the Evangelist) in Auckland, New Zealand.

"Over the past two years since Windsor the women of the Communion have I believe moved from bewilderment to outrage at the ways in which a small cabal of leaders have continued to insist that the issues exercising them alone over human sexuality are inevitably to preoccupy us as well," said Te Paa, who was a member of the Lambeth Commission on Communion, which produced the Windsor Report. "What these leaders have failed to realize is that the priority focus for Anglican women always has been the pressing issues of life and death which are daily facing too many of the women and children of God's world -- how can we compare the needless horrific suffering of women and girls being brutally raped when collecting firewood or water with the endless hysteria of male leaders wanting to debate whether gay men have full humanity or not? How can we compare the daily horror of living with war, with death, with utter human futility with the missiological preferences of those who want to argue a fine line argument about whose method of biblical interpretation is best? Now I know the comparisons may be seen as very unfair but for global Anglican women the unrelenting determinations of any church leader to distract us from our primary mission agenda to heal God's world is what is also being seen not only as unfair but theologically reprehensible."

The statement, Te Paa said, "is intended as a clear, confident, Gospel-based, deeply pastoral reminder of how we see our ministry as being first and foremost among those who are the least among us. It was a statement which emerged with ease among the women gathered at the UN -- it was a statement which emerged with profound urgency for the work needing to be done and with deep love and respect for the Church to which we each proudly belong -- a Church which in spite of its occasional faltering still enables us to be prophetic witnesses to Christ's love and compassion in and for the world."

"This statement comes following a 'sacred space listening process' that we invited delegates to participate in," Nomfundo Walaza, an Anglican UNCSW delegate from South Africa, said in an email to the Anglican Communion's secretary general, the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon. "Women were given an opportunity to share their concerns about the consequences of the current tensions within the Communion and the effect that these have on their work and ministries."

Walaza said that the statement was "passionately received" by all Anglican UNCSW delegates during a working session on March 3 and that more than 80 women signed it.

Walaza asked Kearon to relay the statement to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams with a request that it be sent to the Communion's 38 Anglican Primates -- the Communion's presiding bishops, archbishops and moderators.

The effort to bring the women from all 38 provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion is that of the Office of the Anglican Observer at the United Nations and Anglican Women's Empowerment (AWE) -- an international grassroots movement founded in 2003 to use the power of women's voices and presence to pursue a humane agenda for women worldwide.

The delegates, selected by their Primates, attend nearly two weeks of meetings with the commission, an arm of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. The delegation this year includes 10 teenage girls, aged 13 to 18, and the focus on this year's gathering is to create policies for member nations that will "eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child."

The full statement follows:

From the Anglican Women gathered at the 51st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

March 3, 2007

In the name of God, Saviour, Redeemer, and Giver of Life.

We, the women of the Anglican Communion gathered in New York as the Anglican Consultative Council delegation to the 51st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and as members of the International Anglican Women's Network representing the diversity of women from across the world-wide Anglican Communion, wish to reiterate our previously stated unequivocal commitment to remaining always in "communion" with and for one another.

We remain resolute in our solidarity with one another and in our commitment, above all else, to pursue and fulfill God's mission in all we say and do.

Given the global tensions so evident in our church today, we do not accept that there is any one issue of difference or contention which can, or indeed would, ever cause us to break the unity as represented by our common baptism. Neither would we ever consider severing the deep and abiding bonds of affection which characterize our relationships as Anglican women.

We have been challenged in our time together by the desperately urgent issues of life and death faced by countless numbers of women and children in our communities. As a diverse delegation, we prayerfully reflected on these needs.

We thus reaffirm the conclusion of the statement presented by our delegation to this year's Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women:

This sisterhood of suffering is at the heart of our theology and our commitment to transforming the whole world through peace with justice. Rebuilding and reconciling the world is central to our faith.


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Sermon: 2nd Sunday in Lent

As we take our journey through the wilderness of Lent to Calvary and finally to Easter, we walk with Jesus to Jerusalem and along the way we hear his words to the crowds…

Strive to enter through the narrow door says Jesus.

To enter the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, you have to enter through the "Door of Humility." You have to stoop down to enter, it is a small narrow door, a tight fit, made small to protect the Church many centuries ago. As you humbly walk into the Church built over the spot where tradition says that Jesus was born, it reminds us of the humble birth of our Lord and our need for humility.

Jesus on that road also said, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often I have desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.

At a Franciscan Church at the top of the Mount of Olives, on the other side of the valley from Jerusalem, a Church was built to commemorate when Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Behind the altar, is clear glass so you can take in all of Jerusalem, esp. the area of the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock.
If you look at the altar, there is a mosaic that is part of the altar, of a hen gathering her brood under her wings. As you look out at Jerusalem, over the altar & mosaic, we are reminded of the words of Jesus.

These Churches stand as reminders of the places Jesus lived and walked, of the things he said and did. Places where Jesus challenged the crowd to do more than just follow him, but to live as he does, to imitate his ways and have them take root in their hearts.

It is clear from the Gospel that as Jesus taught throughout the countryside, the people were hungry for spiritual nourishment.

They wanted to know about salvation. “Will only a few be saved?” someone asked him.

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, was his reply. It is not enough to eat and drink with me, and be around my teaching. No, Jesus says. I do not know you.

Jesus wants us to not only eat and drink with our mouths, but with our head and our hearts too. Not to just to have seen or heard his teaching but to live it! That is to enter the Kingdom through the narrow door.

“People will come from east and west, from north and south and will eat in the Kingdom of God. Indeed some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.”

No matter who you are, or where you come from, the Kingdom of God is open to you. And as Jesus has said on a number of other occasions, there will be those who were last in this world, who will be first, and those who were first, will be last. And lots of us, right in the middle…

The real story is how we live it.

For Abram, he wondered if he would have children, heirs to what God has promised. He’s worried.
But the Lord says to him, do not fear, look at the stars, if you can count them all, so shall be your descendants…and Abram believed the Lord and he was reckoned righteous.

And God made a covenant with Abram, that his descendants would occupy the land.

To live it, is to trust the words of the Lord as Abram did, to trust in what God has given us.

For Paul, it is important we stand firm in the Lord, to imitate other Christians who are following Jesus example. He sheds tears for those who have fallen away or fail to live expecting our savior to come.

For them, “their god is their belly; and their glory is their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.”

Sadly, we know others like this and I suspect we all fall into that temptation as well.

“God is their belly.” In a nation, that can get its mouth fed very easily and cheaply, who have lost our connection to creation, I think we easily fall into this trap. It is not about supporting good food production or healthy practices, it is about the cheapest food at the cheapest prices. For our “minds are set on earthly things.” What is our bottom line?

It’s not our stock dividends, or our wealth or power, our home, our SUV or prestige, it is about who we are…or at least that’s what it should be.

Our bottom line is to expect Jesus to come back as our savior and to follow his ways, as best we can.

And in the midst of this, God longs for us, as Jesus said, “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings”

Jesus is looking at Jerusalem (& at us too). Longing for the people to find life, to find that complete joy that God through Christ can give, if we accept it, trust in it, and live it.

Jesus’ cry to Jerusalem, ends saying that they were not willing. It is the same cry to those who only wanted to eat and drink but not take in his teaching, not live it in their lives nor have it take root.

Every day of our lives, we have the opportunity to follow Christ or to reject his message. Sometimes we get it and our day is filled with the glory of God, some days we forget it and things are not what they could be and often we muddle through, sort of getting it, getting a taste of what that love, hope and joy could be in our lives.

This Lent, right here and now, we can decide how today is going to be. Are we willing? Will we strive to enter through the narrow gate? Will we be part of that brood under his wings? Will we live his message in our lives?

Strive to enter through the narrow door…even if you have to stop and stoop down… Amen.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

On Faith

(from the Washington Post - Online)

From the conversation on religion, this week's question:

What does your faith lead you to believe about gay unions and gay clergy? Could you ever change your mind?

You can find all the responses here.

Some notable responses from Episcopalians and Anglicans:

We Are All Created in the Image of God by retired Bishop, (the Rt. Rev.) Jane Dixon

Blessed are the persecuted by Archbishop Emeritus, (the Most Rev.) Desmond Tutu

'That Bible I Mean to Follow' by retired Episcopal Priest, (The Rev.) James Anderson

I Have Changed My Mind by the Bishop of New York, (The Rt. Rev.) Mark Sisk

Listening is a source of faith by Episcopal Priest, (The Rev.) William Tully