Friday, November 30, 2007

On-Line Advent Calendar

The calendar features a Nativity scene decorated with numbered windows that are opened by the click of a mouse. Behind each window visitors will find a photograph from the crèche exhibit and links to a meditation, a carol, an audio reflection on the daily readings and a giving opportunity.

Created by the Episcopal Diocese of Washington (D.C.), you can find it here:

An on-line devotional for students can be found here:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day - December 1, 2007

From the Presiding Bishop

For the Congregations of The Episcopal Church

I give thanks as you gather to reflect on the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on the families, congregations, and communities in and beyond the Episcopal Church. I pray that our efforts to prevent and develop effective treatment for this disease will be strengthened, once again, by calling to mind those who have died as a result of this disease. I also pray that new generations will be inspired by the many who have answered the prophet Isaiah’s call to bring “the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a mantle of praise instead of a faint heart.”

As we enter the second quarter-century of this disease, I am mindful of how far we have come and how far we have yet to go. I continue to be inspired by the ingenuity of the human spirit as people around the world work to develop effective prevention programs and new treatments for HIV and AIDS. Since 1988, the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition has served as a witness to these gains. Through their ongoing work, our church is better equipped to bring God’s healing embrace to many who suffer from this disease.

These gains, however, do not negate the fact that HIV/AIDS continues to spread in distressing ways both within the United States and abroad. The statistics tell what has become an all too familiar story—namely, that HIV/AIDS devastates society’s most marginalized communities.

Among people who are HIV positive, the groups showing the fastest and highest increases within the United States are youth, women, and people of color. We must attend to, and work to change, the ways in which social stigmatization, particularly racism and gender discrimination, serve to exacerbate the spread of this disease.

All of us are called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps in bringing God’s hope and healing to those who live with this disease. I am particularly grateful for the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition’s work in challenging the stigma that still haunts this disease. NEAC’s work, along with that of so many others, makes manifest the gift of God’s persistent love. It is as bearers of this love that we are called to bring “the oil of gladness instead of mourning.”

Know that you are in my prayers.

I remain your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori

HIV/AIDS 2007: Facts & Factors
from National Episcopal AIDS Coalition

The severity of the HIV/AIDS crisis, both worldwide and in the U.S., continues to increase. The Episcopal Church must meet this problem with increased awareness and action. Recently, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, (ELCA), with whom TEC is in communion, has renewed programs and work in this area.

Although HIV/AIDS has slipped off the front pages of the media, 2.6 million people have contracted the disease in 2004 making a worldwide total of nearly 40 million people living with some form of the disease. In Africa, especially, infection rates have soured in some countries. Lesotho, for example, has a prevalence rate of 23%. In many places, antiretroviral drugs are not in sufficient supply allowing the disease to progress unabated.

The epidemic has taken a somewhat different characteristic in the U.S. and most countries of Western Europe but continues to ravage populations in those locations also. The number of new HIV infections per year in the U.S. has stabilized at 40,000 per year and projections indicate that this rate will be sustained into the future. Some 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV/AIDS and 25% of them do not know it, and therefore take no precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. Further, about half of the people in the U.S. who have the disease are not under medical care.

The dominant modes of disease transmission in the U.S. are known. The highest risk groups are the African-American population as a whole, with women being the most affected subgroup with an infection rate 20 times that of white women in the U.S..

The introduction of HAART therapy (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) in 1996 has resulted in a continuing extension of lifespan for infected individuals. This extended lifespan results, of course, in a somewhat increased infection rate since there are more infected individuals alive to transmit the virus.

The use of the HIV rapid test over the last few years has helped to identify infected individuals before they vanish into the population. The rapid test offers results in as little as 20 minutes. Many people took the previous antibody tests for HIV but never returned to fi nd out the results. Since no prospects for a vaccine against the disease are on the horizon, education continues to be the best weapon available to fight the disease and our church needs to pursue this avenue of prevention.

For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control website,, or NEAC at

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sermon Notes: Christ the King

From the notes on my sermon…

-good food, good fun (except Lions lose)
-joy filled and full of thanks giving

Today – Last Day of the Church Year
-remember – restore all things in Jesus
-King of Kings & Lord of Lords
-free us from sin (which divides/enslaves us)

How do we live each day of the year with such knowledge? To follow Christ our King?

I remember a sermon my wife Ellen preached here…
-Pastor Eloy Cruz (Cuban-American in Brooklyn) (from Jimmy Carter)
-Followed this: “You only have to have two loves in your life—for God, and for the person in front of you at any particular time.”

He follows Jesus’ Greatest Commandment, love God with your whole being and secondly, to love you neighbor as yourself. And certainly that is to follow Christ our King…

This short vacation, I sat with a short story of Leo Tolstoy’s called: The Three Questions, which also I believe helps us consider how we follow Christ the King.

(You can find the short story here.)

"It once occurred to a certain king, that if he always knew the right time to begin everything; if he knew who were the right people to listen to, and whom to avoid; and, above all, if he always knew what was the most important thing to do, he would never fail in anything he might undertake.

And this thought having occurred to him, he had it proclaimed throughout his kingdom that he would give a great reward to any one who would teach him what was the right time for every action, and who were the most necessary people, and how he might know what was the most important thing to do. And learned men and women came to answer the three questions and they all answered it differently…

And because all the answers differed, the King agreed with none of them, and gave no reward. He instead sought out a hermit, known for being very wise, and disguised himself for the hermit would only entertain common folk.

The King came to the hermit's hut, seeing him outside gardening, this very fragile, weak man, he asked the hermit the three questions. The hermit would not answer him but kept on working, but the king seeing the hermit struggle offered to take the spade and work awhile which the hermit heartedly agreed to. Some hours passed and the hermit would not answer. Finally, as the king was to give up his questioning of the hermit, a man ran up who was bleeding from his stomach and collapsed in front of them.

The king and hermit took care of the man and staunched the bleeding. The man asked forgiveness from the king because he wanted to assassinate the king because he executed his brother and seized his property. But the king whom he was to kill saved his life and he asked for forgiveness. And the king was glad to have made peace with an enemy so easily. Before going away he wished once more to beg an answer to the questions he had put.

The King approached him, and said: "For the last time, I pray you to answer my questions, wise man." "You have already been answered!" said the hermit, still crouching on his thin legs, and looking up at the King, who stood before him. "How answered? What do you mean?" asked the King.

"Do you not see," replied the hermit. "If you had not pitied my weakness yesterday, and had not dug those beds for me, but had gone your way, that man would have attacked you, and you would have repented of not having stayed with me. So the most important time was when you were digging the beds; and I was the most important man; and to do me good was your most important business. Afterwards when that man ran to us, the most important time was when you were attending to him, for if you had not bound up his wounds he would have died without having made peace with you. So he was the most important man, and what you did for him was your most important business.

Remember then: there is only one time that is important -- Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary man is he with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with any one else: and the most important affair is, to do him good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life!"

(here ends Tolstoy's story)

How do we serve and follow Christ the king? – it is the answer to those three questions – we do it now, with the person we are with, and to do that person good. When we do this, we honor Christ the king and we are freed in his service. Amen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Upcoming Middle East Summit: Praying for Peace

WASHINGTON (AFP) — US President George W. Bush will host a key conference on November 27 aiming to revive the Middle East peace process and pave the way towards a separate Palestinian state, US officials said Tuesday.Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will open the conference involving more than 40 countries from around the world on Tuesday in Annapolis, Maryland, State Department officials said.

This prayer is from the Churches for Middle East Peace (of which, the Episcopal Church is a member) find their website here.

Let us join together in prayer in support of our government’s efforts and for the success of this important meeting.


O God, we come to you with open hands and open hearts.

We pray for peace and for all those that suffer violence and injustice in the midst of war and conflict. We pray for the innocent, combatants, peacemakers, and religious and political leaders. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, the holy city of God and spiritual home to all the children of Abraham.

O God of mercy and compassion, Embrace our Israeli and Palestinian brothers and sisters. They have endured profound loss and sorrow. They are fatigued by fear and anger. Mend their broken hearts and failing spirits. Ignite in them sparks of hope. Comfort them and guide them onto the road of peace.

O God of peace and reconciliation, Lift up the international leaders who search for peace. They have talked before without success. They face a difficult road and many obstacles. Inspire them to move from words to actions that fulfill a greater vision of peace. Arouse in them a passion for righteousness. Bless them and their work for peace.

O God of all creation, Your people cry for peace. May your promise of justice and enduring love Breathe renewed Life Into our commitment to a sustainable peace, When two states – Israel and Palestine – are a reality, Living side-by-side in security, harmony and peace. Amen.

Thought for the Day - What we owe ourselves

You owe it to yourself. This is the proverb of the one who clutches the good things - money, time, pleasures - tightly to oneself, sur­rendering nothing. The reward system is built in and functions smoothly. The consumer mentality, on this principle, plays into the hand of the myriad industries eager to cater to every desire and turn a profit. The ego is at the center of the world, firmly ensconced, like a spider jealously guarding its web and drawing everything in.

What this mentality reveals is greed, that most profound and insatiable desire of the human heart. But hidden deep within the damning dictum is the echo of Augustine's cry: 'Our hearts are made for you, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.' Nothing so reveals the true destiny of the human spirit as this insatiable quest for more and more. This most powerful of all human instincts leads, if we will but lift our eyes, toward the Infinite Love which we do, indeed, 'owe' to ourselves. - Hilary Ottensmeyer, osb

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Blessed are you, O Lord God, King of the Universe, for you give us food to sustain our lives and make our hearts glad; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Funeral Sermons

Funeral Sermons for
  • Kate Burgess
  • Sven Svensson
  • Don Dorne'
will not be posted here, but I will email you a copy if you would like.

You can find my email here.

Sermon: November 18

We come together each week to share a sacred meal at this table, at this altar. And every week, before we do that, we sit and hear the story of God’s people in the OT and the NT. The Eucharist is always connected to our hearing the words of Holy Scripture. We don’t have one without the other. The Bible or Holy Scripture is central to our faith.

For Anglicans & Episcopalians, since the later 16th Century, and the works of Richard Hooker, we have held a type of middle way between those who believed in interpreting Scripture through the lens of tradition alone, and those who believed in Scripture alone, a pure interpretation that made everything in the Bible about salvation. Our understanding uses tradition and reason to interpret Holy Scripture, not to dilute the meaning, but to have it meaningful for our lives as we live them today. This is the gift that Hooker gave to the Episcopal Church. Its been called a three legged stool, but I like a tricycle as one author mentioned. The front tire is Scripture which directs us with tradition and reason helping us along.

The purpose of our studying Scripture in Church and at home is to help us enter into the story, to get us to connect with God’s people of time past, to enter into the salvation story, and to hear what God is calling us to do with our lives today. I think of WC Fields who was visited on his deathbed by a friend who caught him reading the Bible. “Why are you reading that Bible, WC?” he asked. Fields replied, “Looking for loopholes, looking for loopholes!” We don’t read the Bible looking for loopholes, we don’t read the bible just at the end of our days or the end of the world, we read the bible now because we believe it has something to say about our lives.

One of my favorite collects of our Church Year is the one appointed for this Sunday, “Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life.” God caused the bible to be written for our learning. For our faith seeks understanding. And to do that we must hear the Scriptures, we must read them, mark them, learn them, and inwardly digest them. I love that phrase: “inwardly digest them.” To digest something is to have take root inside of us, so we don’t even have to consciously think about it, we just do it. For when we inwardly digest it, I think of the meanings that will play out in all parts of our lives and Scripture will be inside us to guide us.

In Stewardship, our managing of our own resources as gifts to be shared, is also something that can take root inside us of so we don’t just think about it, we just do it. We have recently buried members of this parish who were very generous in giving of their time, talent and treasure to this parish over many years.

One parishioner paid their pledge first, every month, not because they had to, not because they got a call from the Rector, but because it was so much a part of them, they just did it. On our retreat we heard from Amma Sarah living in the desert of Egypt who said, “It is good to give alms for men's sake. Even if it is only done to please men, through it one can begin to seek to please God.” Reminding us even when we take pleasure in giving our alms, giving away our treasure, it can begin to please God. Or I think of St. Aidan who walked the roadways of England exhorting others to do good works, to live as Christ has called them to live and to give alms, to be generous in giving.

All of this is based on Scripture being inside of us, leading us on. I think of William Stringfellow, an Episcopalian and theologian who wrote, “The ordinary Christian, lay or clergy, does not need to be a scholar to have recourse to the Bible, and indeed, to live within the Word of God in the Bible in this world. What the ordinary Christian is called to do is to open the Bible and listen to the Word.”

If the Bible is to have meaning for us, if the salvation story is to become our story, then we must sit and listen to God’s word.

In another church, a parish meeting was called to discuss building a new sanctuary A wealthy and powerful gentleman from the parish arose in protest and suggested re­pairing the present facility. He sat down rather hard, jarring the pew, which shook the side of the build­ing, which shook the wall, which shook the ceiling, which shook loose a piece of plaster, which fell down and hit him on the head. He quickly rose and exclaimed, "This building is in worse shape than I thought. I pledge $20,000 to­ward a new building." A voice from the back murmured, "Hit him again, Lord, hit him again."

We don’t need to be hit in the head to be generous, we just need to remember what Jesus taught that money can be a threat to our well being because we can let it control our lives, or we can see the responsibility we have of giving it away, of helping others not for the sake of praise or feeling good or salvation, but to do it because that is what is asked of us. Our generosity, our giving away, our stewardship of things is connected with our understanding of the Bible and its meaning for us.

Is the Bible some relic that sits dust covered in our home, or is it something we try to read and study? Is Scripture heard on Sunday mornings only, or do you take the time to sit with the Sundays readings during the week (taking the bulletin home), to listen and hear the word of God?

If we study Scripture, if we live it, digest it, and follow where it leads, we will find ourselves in the place of hope & faith & love. No loopholes. No plaster falling from ceilings or lightning either. Holy Scripture can teach us if we are willing to listen, to open ourselves up to the generosity of our God, to hear the stories of old and make them our own and in turn give away our love, our treasure, our hope, so that we are truly the vessels of God. Amen.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007



A crucial date for members of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America is the consecration of the first Bishop of the Anglican Communion in the United States. During the colonial era, there had been no Anglican bishops in the New World; and persons seeking to be ordained as clergy had had to travel to England for the purpose. After the achievement of American independence, it was important for the Church in the United States to have its own bishops, and an assembly of Connecticut clergy chose Samuel Seabury to go to England and there seek to be consecrated as a bishop.

However, the English bishops were forbidden by law to consecrate anyone who would not take an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. He accordingly turned to the Episcopal Church of Scotland. When the Roman Catholic king James II was deposed in 1688, some of the Anglican clergy (including some who had been imprisoned by James for defying him on religious issues) said that, having sworn allegiance to James as King, they could not during his lifetime swear allegiance to the new monarchs William and Mary. Those who took this position were known as non-Jurors (non-swearers), and they included almost all the bishops and clergy of the Episcopal Church in Scotland. Accordingly, the monarchs and Parliament declared that thenceforth the official church in Scotland should be the Presbyterian Church. The Episcopal Church of Scotland thereafter had no recognition by the government, and for some time operated under serious legal disablities.

However, since it had no connection with the government, it was free to consecrate Seabury without government permission, and it did. This is why you see a Cross of St. Andrew on the Episcopal Church flag. In Aberdeen, 14 November 1784, Samuel Seabury was consecrated to the Episcopate by the Bishop and the Bishop Coadjutor of Aberdeen and the Bishop of Ross and Caithness. He thus became part of the unbroken chain of bishops that links the Church today with the Church of the Apostles.

In return, he promised them that he would do his best to persuade the American Church to use as its Prayer of Consecration (blessing of the bread and wine at the Lord's Supper) the Scottish prayer, taken largely unchanged from the 1549 Prayer Book, rather than the much shorter one in use in England. The aforesaid prayer, adopted by the American Church with a few modifications, has been widely regarded as one of the greatest treasures of the Church in this country. (
by James Kiefer)

We give you thanks, O Lord our God, for your goodness in bestowing upon this Church the gift of the episcopate, which we celebrate in this remembrance of the consecration of Samuel Seabury; and we pray that, joined together in unity with our bishops, and nourished by your holy Sacraments, we may proclaim the Gospel of redemption with apostolic zeal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fall Reading

A taste of what's on your Rector's night stand:

The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (Random House, 2007) by Philip Zimbardo.

"In this book, I summarize more than 30 years of research on factors that can create a "perfect storm" which leads good people to engage in evil actions. This transformation of human character is what I call the "Lucifer Effect," named after God's favorite angel, Lucifer, who fell from grace and ultimately became Satan."

An excellent book!

You can get a taste of it here from The Engines of Our Ingenuity on NPR or go to the official website here.

I have just begun...

The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response (HarperCollins, 2004) by Peter Balakian .

Peter Balakian's The Burning Tigris places the story of the Armenian genocide in its larger historical context, which includes the international response and the emergence of a fledgling human rights movement that, two decades later, turned its attention to events in Nazi Germany. Balakian's book also illustrates how quickly the victims of history are pushed aside and forgotten in the greater geopolitical picture. Adolf Hitler, addressing his generals as they prepared to invade Poland in 1939, told them to be as ruthless as Genghis Khan and ominously asked, "Who today ... speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

Read the whole article: "Do-gooder dilemma: the limits of humanitarian intervention" by Victoria Barnett here. (from The Christian Century, August 10, 2004)

Peace Pole

Peace poles are four or six-sided obelisk shaped poles decorated with the message and prayer for peace - “May Peace Prevail On Earth.” The planting of peace poles is an expression of our love for all of God’s children and wish for global peace and harmony. Through the active support of individuals and organizations the world over, peace poles are continuously being planted as an international symbol of peace. There are more than 250,000 Peace Poles in 180 countries all over the world dedicated as monuments to peace. They serve as constant reminders for us to work for and pray for peace.

On this day, November 11, 2007, as we again remember the veterans who nobly fought of old to win peace in our world and for those who continue to fight for peace in our world today, we ask for God’s blessing upon and dedicate this Peace Pole at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Monroe, CT, in loving memory of Jay Sheppard.

Let us pray.

God of all goodness, you have been our refuge from generation to generation. Your will is that peace should shine on all people everywhere. With your spirit, guide the efforts of humankind to bring peace and justice to the nations of the earth, and give strength to rulers and all who work to establish peace and justice in the world.

Inspire those who come together in search of ways to bring about peace, and through your word, change the hearts of all people so that we shall strive for: Peace and not war, the Common good, rather than individual wellbeing, your Justice, instead of our own glory.

You have given us your peace. Enable us to share that peace with those around us, so that love and harmony may be always present in our lives, that all the world may know happiness, that we may live with dignity as brothers and sisters, and that all may rejoice in your presence. May this peace pole be a reminder to us as we call upon your infinite grace, humbly asking you to receive our prayer and make us instruments of your peace. Amen.

Veterans Day


O judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept it disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

You can find "A Veterans Day Reflection” by the Rev. Dr. George Clifford, U.S. Navy Chaplain, Captain (Retired) as well as other resources (prayers, etc.) at the Office of the Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies (The Episcopal Church) here.

A document on Honoring our Veterans (pdf) from Episcopal Life This Week.

Sermon: November 11

Wherever Jesus went, people approached him. Some wanted to hear this rabbi/teacher they had heard about on the streets. Others sought him out to be healed. Some wanted to learn the wisdom of God. And there were those who wanted to test him, question him, see if this is really the messiah like the Sadducees. The Sadducees find Jesus in Jerusalem. They are part of the priestly class, wealthy and aristocratic, they believed that the first five books of Moses, the first five books of our bible are authoritative. They do not believe in resurrection of the dead, or oral tradition, and this often got them into heated debates with the Pharisees (also part of the priestly class).

The Sadducees stand before Jesus in our Gospel reading today, and ask him a question, to see if he can pass their test. Following the law as laid out by Moses, they ask if a widow married her husband's brothers because she was childless and was hoping to produce an heir but fails with all seven brothers, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? Do the Sadducees really care about the woman? No. They want to intimidate Jesus for they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. They were not mourners looking for hope, or believers asking a question. They were here to embarrass this so-called Messiah by trapping him in an important theological question. As Jesus so often does, he understands the question in a deeper way than those who ask the question.

Jesus responds that life on earth and in heaven are different. On Earth, in our relationships with one another, we do indeed get married and are given in marriage. In Jesus time, marriages were arranged through families. Jesus says, in the age to come, if one is, considered worthy of a place there, one does not get married or is given in marriage, there is no need for such arrangements. In the age to come, we are children of the resurrection, children of God. There is no more death, we become like angels in the Kingdom of God. So our existence will be much different and it is a gift from God. Jesus then mentions the story of the burning bush where we hear that our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God is not a God of the dead but of those who are alive. So Abraham, Isaac & Jacob must be alive to God. They are children of resurrection and have a place in that age to come.

The question about new life, about resurrection, is an old question. "If mortals die, will they live again?" asked Job. Job whose life was idyllic but whose life is turned upside down through calamities, plagues, and tragic death, three friends who judge him and his own feeling of abandonment by God. Job searches for the wisdom of what life will be. Resurrection is about knowledge. The knowledge that death is not an ending, but a transition.

“Death is not a period that ends the great sentence of life, but a comma that punctuates it to more lofty significance.” Said Martin Luther King, Jr.

That transition begins not when our earthly bodies pass away, but when we become children of God, children of resurrection. Jesus did not come to teach us about death, he came to teach us about life and about living our lives not as people who will die, but as a people who are alive, and who will continue to live now and in the age to come. There will be cynics among us, the Sadducees of today (those who write about the God Delusion and such) who will scoff at the idea of something beyond our mortal lives. Prove it they say. What will it be like? Can we be married there?

"The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God." says the Wisdom of Solomon. "In the eyes of the foolish, they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be their destruction, but they are at peace." The Sadducees scoffed at such an idea. Jesus in turn points out that our God is a God of the living, whether we are alive on earth or in the age to come. We like the disciples and others gather around Jesus in Jerusalem to see this questioning take place. He answers the Sadducees and we are amazed, but if we leave it at that, then we have missed the teaching of Jesus.

The God who created life, the same God who created the institution of marriage, is the same God who provides new life after death to those who accept God's gracious gift. Our worthiness is how we accept that gift and live it in our lives. Living as children of the resurrection is about living with hope and without fear - physical or emotional. We are called to live without fear because as Christians we are given that gift of knowledge of the resurrection. The knowledge that our Lord & Savior overcame death for us - so that we can be free - free to live our lives as God want us to live - with hope and without fear.

Job knows that hope. From our reading today, Job says, "I know my Redeemer lives, and that at last he will stand upon earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another." In Job's words, we find hope and comfort. We feel a connection to our redeemer, our Jesus. Even Job understood that in the end, when all is gone, he shall see God. Job wants vindication for all that he suffered. Job wants to know that there is meaning in his life, even at the worst of moments, in plague, in death. And in his words, is the voice of hope.

This reading from Job is used at funerals for it connects with our hopeful longing for redemption and for the resurrection. This hope, the knowledge of resurrection is not just for those who have died, because Kate Brugess, Sven Svensson and Don Dorne (and all our loved ones) already taste that redemption through the resurrection in their new lives.

It is for us today. The resurrection is not just about what happens when we die a physical death - it is about how we live our lives today ~ wounded, yes, broken, sometimes, but because we already have knowledge of the resurrection, and in our hope, we are able to heal, and can do the work we are given to do because we know, we have that gift of eternal life - and that life begins now. I know my own dad lives in the resurrection after his death 10 years ago but even more so, I know my mother does, for I have watched her life go from the terrible pain of losing a spouse, to the full blossom of a life that she leads today. I have experienced it in my own life too. In fact, we all have in big and little ways. There is new life. There is hope. Our own Sadducees may deny it or refute it. But there my hope lies, in our God, the God of the living, for to God all of us are alive. So let us accept that gift of resurrection and be alive today. Amen.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Thought for the Day on Humility

"Avoid being bashful with God, as some people are, in the belief that they are being humble. It would not be humility on your part if the King were to do you a favor and you refused to accept it; but you would be showing humility by taking it, and being pleased with it, yet realizing how far you are from deserving it. A fine humility it would be if I had the Emperor of Heaven and earth in my house, coming to it to do me a favor and to delight in my company, and I were so humble that I would not answer His questions, nor remain with Him, nor accept what He gave me, but left Him alone. Or if He were to speak to me and beg me to ask for what I wanted, and I were so humble that I preferred to remain poor and even let Him go away, so that He would see I had not sufficient resolution.

Have nothing to do with that kind of humility."

St. Teresa of Avila
"Way of Perfection"

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

Christmas Gifts - Look no further...

Gifts for Life Catalog

from the website...

Browse the Gifts for Life catalog online!

Give a special gift in honor of a loved one, friend or business associate and help children and families, survive disasters and climb out of poverty.

Our Gifts for Life catalog makes it easy for you to give meaningful gifts for:

  • Thanksgiving, Christmas, & other holidays
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • And for any other special occasion

To order copies of the catalog, please contact Episcopal Books and Resources (EBaR) at 1-800-903-5544.

Your gift processing starts immediately when you order online. ERD will send one or more gift cards to you which you can personalize and send to your friends or loved ones.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Go Vote! - Yes You!

Today is Election Day in the U.S.A!

Don't forget to vote!

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States and of this community of Monroe in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sermon: All Saints' Sunday

“A Christian is not a [person] who never goes wrong, but a [person] who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble—because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death that Christ Himself carried out.” These words written by CS Lewis in his wonderful book, “Mere Christianity,” remind us of the truth that Christians, like every human being, make mistakes.

But because the Spirit of God is inside us, given to us to live out that Christ life from baptism, we can always pick ourselves up, repent and begin again… We can always do that, there is always the possibility of life anew. In the midst of our struggles, it is God who helps repair us, enabling us to do Christ’s ministry in the world. In many ways, CS Lewis is talking about holiness that is part of the Christian life, the ability to pick up and start again by the grace of God.

A temptation that confronts us on this day of All Saints, is to put the saints in a box and believe they are the holy ones, not you and me, they got it all right, they are the heroes of the faith. And we can leave the virtuous or the holy life for them while we live our ordinary lives. But the saints can’t be put into a box, and yes they are in one sense heroes of the faith for the actions that we remember them for, but just like us, they screwed up, they ran away, they failed to commend the faith that was in them, they made mistakes.

Francis of Assisi sought glory in battle. Teresa of Avila, after her mother’s death, sought comfort in world’s pleasures and materials. William Wilberforce lived well with his wealth enjoying gambling, singing, and the life of an upper class politician in England. Thomas Becket was trained in law and was also an ordained deacon and as chancellor of England under Henry II helped him politically against the Church.

And all of these people changed their ways, began anew and we remember them today as saints because of their actions after they repented and started again.

“In truth all human beings are called to be saints, but that just means called to be fully human, to be perfect – that is whole, mature, fulfilled. The saints are simply those men and women who relish the event of life as a gift and who realize that the only way to honor such a gift is to give it away.” These words written by William Stringfellow in 1966 remind us that indeed we are called to be saints too, to be fully human, living our lives as a gift. And those saints we remember and those whose deeds are forgotten but whom God honors, we can find that they made mistakes, but they lived their lives as gift, being fully human and following Jesus.

But how do we approach All Saints? How do we understand ourselves becoming saints on the path God has called us to follow?

The words of the Prophet Micah come to mind… What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Elizabeth of Hungary, daughter of the King of Hungary, born in 1207, lived the life of the daughter of a king, she married a noble, raised children, lived a life of royalty but she would not forget those in need in the realm, taking from the treasury to help those in need or sickness, even helping to found hospitals when the plagues came. She acted justly.

Bishop Nicholas of Myra was known for his outreach to the sailors who entered the port of Myra and for caring for the children of the city & countryside; he often brought gifts, clothing, blankets to the children and their families (to the sailors too); he loved all those who he came into contact with and to this day his name St. Nick, is one of the most revered saints of the church, ask any child. He acted with kindness.

Aidan was a gentle monk who lived off the coast of England in Lindisfarne, would help re-establish Christianity in England in the 7th Century. He was known for his walking the countryside engaging both rich & poor, and as one historian put it “he invited them, if pagans, to embrace the mystery of the faith; or if they were believers, to strengthen them in their faith and stir them up by words and actions to alms and good works.” He walked humbly with God.

Each of these saints of the Church followed the Lord in their age, in their context, reaching out as they followed Jesus. To follow the saints, is not about carrying out great penitential acts to show our unworthiness nor is it refraining from all the enjoyment that life can bring. Rather, as one writer put it, it “can be seen in hands ready for acts of justice, hearts overflowing with tender compassion, and heads bowed in humble acknowledgment of who we are before God.” (Penelope Mark-Stuart)

And it may be as simple as recognizing the Christ who is in our midst, given to us at our Baptism, who awaits our notice, our love, prayers and guidance…

Even someone like CS Lewis, who gave us that great quote, who has given us such great literature, he left the Anglican faith he was raised with in his adolescent years but throughout his long academic and scholarly career began an inner search that led him from atheism to agnosticism to theism and finally back to faith in Jesus Christ. With that in mind let us hear that quote from him again…

“A Christian is not a [person] who never goes wrong, but a [person] who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble—because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death that Christ Himself carried out.”

He understood intimately in his own life the words he wrote: that you can start again and that it is God who repairs us. And so it is for you and me, and for all the saints of ages past and yet to come. Pray that on this day, we might have the faith, the courage, the understanding to continually repent and pick ourselves up and follow Christ anew, and remember those blessed saints for their virtuous and godly living and for picking themselves up by God’s grace, that we too may come to those ineffable joys that God has prepared for all God’s people. Amen.

Friday, November 2, 2007

All Souls' Day

“All Saints' Day is the centerpiece of an autumn triduum. In the carnival celebrations of All Hallows' Eve our ancestors used the most powerful weapon in the human arsenal, the power of humor and ridicule, to confront the power of death. The following day, in the commemoration of All Saints, we gave witness to the victory of incarnate goodness embodied in the remarkable deeds and doers triumphing over the misanthropy of darkness and devils. And in the commemoration of All Souls we proclaim the hope of common mortality expressed in our aspirations and expectation of a shared eternity.” – The Rev. Sam Portaro from “Brightest and Best”

Prayer for the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed (All Souls):

O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

All Saint's Day

“All Saints' Day is the centerpiece of an autumn triduum. In the carnival celebrations of All Hallows' Eve our ancestors used the most powerful weapon in the human arsenal, the power of humor and ridicule, to confront the power of death. The following day, in the commemoration of All Saints, we gave witness to the victory of incarnate goodness embodied in the remarkable deeds and doers triumphing over the misanthropy of darkness and devils.” – The Rev. Sam Portaro from “Brightest and Best”

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy
Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
who thee by faith before the world confessed,
thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the apostles' glorious company,
who bearing forth the cross o'er land and sea,
shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
is fair and fruitful, be thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
and seeing, grasped it, thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
and win, with them the victor's crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
we feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
all are one in thee, for all are thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
the saints triumphant rise in bright array;
the King of glory passes on his way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
and singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Words: William Walsham How, 1864
Music: Sine nomine, Pro omnibus Sanctis, Luccombe, Sarum, Engelberg, For All the Saints

Meter: 10 10 10 4 4