Friday, July 31, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Final Days of Vacation

While I am away in Vermont (see you in August!)...

Get excited & make things!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

St. Benedict would have used Twitter

I believe St. Peter would have liked Twitter, esp. for prayer.

From the Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 20: On Reverence in Prayer

And let us be assured that it is not in saying a great deal that we shall be heard (Matt 6:7), but in purity of heart and in tears of compunction. Our prayer, therefore, ought to be short and pure, unless it happens to be prolonged by an inspiration of divine grace. In community, however, let prayer be very short, and when the Superior gives the signal let all rise together.

The bold parts are my emphasis.

So if we can't pray in 140 characters, maybe our prayer is too long...

Almighty God give us grace following the teaching & example of your servant Benedict to walk with loving & willing hearts in your service

Communion on the Moon

On Sunday July 20, 1969 the first people landed on the moon. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were in the lunar lander which touched down at 3:17 Eastern Standard Time.

Buzz Aldrin had with him the Reserved Sacrament from his Presbyterian Church in Texas.

Read about it here. Thanks Bosco!

Creator of the universe, your dominion extends through the immensity of space: guide and guard those who seek to fathom its mysteries. Save us from arrogance lest we forget that our achievements are grounded in you, and, by the grace of your Holy Spirit, protect our travels beyond the reaches of earth, that we may glory ever more in the wonder of your creation: through Jesus Christ, your Word, by whom all things came to be, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Episcopal Church Is Looking to Grow

Pared-Down Episcopal Church Is Looking to Grow Through ‘Inclusivity’
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN, NY Times, 7/19/09

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Episcopal Church is betting its future on the hope that there are more young people out there like Will Hay. Mr. Hay, 17, was one of the youngest voting delegates at the church’s 10-day triennial convention, which ended Friday. He has stuck with his church, even when the priest and most of the parishioners in his conservative San Diego parish quit the Episcopal Church two years ago in protest of its liberal moves, particularly the approval in 2003 of an openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson.

Mr. Hay has helped rebuild his parish, which was left with 48 people and has since drawn nearly 100 new members. Mr. Hay is no left-wing ideologue, and in fact fears that some of the convention’s landmark decisions last week may alienate even more conservatives. The church’s convention voted not to stand in the way if another gay bishop were elected and to allow for the blessing of same-sex couples.

But Mr. Hay was not troubled by those things. And he believes that the church can grow by emphasizing “inclusivity,” the favorite buzzword of Episcopalians. “I’m sure we will attract people who are saying maybe we are doing it right,” Mr. Hay said as he came off the convention floor for lunch one day with his mother. “For me it seems right because I was raised in a household where we were always taught to accept everyone, regardless of creed, color, gender or sexual identity.”

Whether Episcopalians really can regenerate a church based on youth and “inclusivity” remains to be seen.

Read the whole article here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite, RIP

Father of all, we pray to you for Walter Cronkite, and for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Final Convention Prayer

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our deliberations, decisions and work at General Convention begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(adapted from the BCP, p. 832)

Stll on Vacation

I am still on vacation.

Lots going on in the Episcopal Church and General Convention but please don't blow it out of proportion.

I will have lots to say after I return...

I will also give one last prayer tomorrow for General Convention.

So for now, keep calm and have a cupcake!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Blogger on Vacation

I will be away for the weekend.

Prayers will still post for the General Convention.

See you online middle next week.

General Convention: Prayer III

Almighty and everlasting Father, who hast given the Holy Spirit to abide with us for ever: Bless, we beseech thee, with his grace and presence, the bishops and the other clergy and the laity assembled in thy Name in Anaheim, that thy Church, being preserved in true faith and godly discipline, may fulfill all the mind of him who loved it and gave himself for it, thy Son Jesus Christ our Savior; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(BCP p. 255 adapted)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Opening Address & Sermon

You can find our Presiding Bishop's:

Opening Address here.

Opening Sermon here.

(Both are in PDF format)

Both are worth the read.

Two quotes:

"The decision-making we face here is an opportunity to choose the direction of our journey into God’s mission. ... We will fail if we choose business as usual." (from Opening Address)

"If you read Ezekiel a bit more closely, you discover that the delivered promise of full larders and planted fields and repopulated cities is followed by repentance, by metanoia, getting a new mind – and a new heart. Once abundance is recognized, people begin to feel their hardened hearts. Abundant life is not only promised, but realized, and when we notice, we begin to accept the transplant. We will find more abundant life only in being poured out in giving life to the world. So, how will this heart push more lifeblood out into a languishing world? Can hear the heartbeat? Mission, Mission, Mission…" (from Opening Sermon)

General Convention: Prayer II

Gracious God, once again, we gather in General Convention with thanksgiving and petition. We thank you for those whom you have touched, blessed and served through your Church and for those saints upon whose shoulders we stand. We pray, Lord, Bless those who gather in this convention. Give them ears to hear and eyes to see. Bestow upon them the gift of discernment that they might know and do your will. Unite them with a spirit of godly unity. Make them instruments, leading the Church to minister as you call it and serve as you have entrusted it. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

--Originally for the 2000 GC by The Anglican Fellowship of Prayer.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Following GC on Twitter

To follow what's happening with General Convention on Twitter:

search on twitter: #ecgc #gc09 #pray4tec

follow via twubs:

follow the General Convention's Media Hub on Twitter:

Church camps closing amid declining use, economy

GALLANT, Ala. – Camp Sumatanga has meant Bible stories and softball games for generations of Methodist families. Young and old alike come to the old church retreat for renewal in its quiet coves and chapels.

Today, though, the 1,700-acre retreat is in danger of shutting down.

Nestled in the Appalachian foothills, it's among hundreds of church camps nationwide that are on the critical list. Years of declining usage and the recession have forced administrators to consider closing or cutting services.

The president of the Christian Camp and Conference Association, Bob Kobielush, said dozens of camps nationwide ceased operating in the last three years, and this could be the last summer for many more.

"I think this fall through Christmas we will see as many as 10 to 15 percent of camps decide they no longer can continue operating," said Kobielush, whose organization has about 950 member camps. He estimates there are about 3,000 church-affiliated camps nationwide.

Leaders say Camp Sumatanga, operated by the United Methodist Church in north Alabama, could close at the end of the summer without $300,000 to make up a budget deficit.

You can read the whole article, here.

[Thankfully, Camp Washington here in CT is doing well.  Sadly, my old camp in MI, Gordonwood, was closed a couple of years ago.]

General Convention: Prayer I

God our Wisdom, who eternally makes all things new: encourage by your Holy Spirit those who prepare for General Convention to labor together for the building up of your world and your Church; counsel them when to act and when to wait; turn their hearts always toward those in greatest need, and away from their own preoccupations and fears; help them never forget that love and mercy are your greatest gifts given us all to offer one another as we see in them Jesus Christ who alone is our joy, our way, our truth, and our life. Amen.

Commissioned by the General Convention Office and written by the Rev. Jennifer Phillips, Vicar of St. Augustine’s Church, Kingston, Rhode Island.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Codex Sinaiticus - The Oldest New Testament

Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book. (from the website)

You can find it here.

From a NY Times article (by Reuters)...

LONDON, July 6 (Reuters) - The surviving parts of the world's oldest Christian bible will be reunited online on Monday, generating excitement among biblical scholars still striving to unlock its mysteries.

The Codex Sinaiticus was hand written by four scribes in Greek on animal hide, known as vellum, in the mid-fourth century around the time of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great who embraced Christianity.

Not all of it has withstood the ravages of time, but the pages that have include the whole of the New Testament and the earliest surviving copy of the Gospels written at different times after Christ's death by four of the Apostles: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

The bible's remaining 800 pages and fragments -- it was originally some 1400 pages long -- also contain half of a copy of the Old Testament. The other half has been lost.

"The Codex Sinaiticus is one of the world's greatest written treasures," said Scot McKendrick, head of Western manuscripts at the British Library.

Read the article here.

General Convention Coverage

To follow what happens at General Convention, go to the innovative Media Hub:

For the first time, people anywhere can follow the General Convention of The Episcopal Church on the Media Hub website.

Colorful, eye-appealing, sharable and embeddable, featuring many ways to interact, with live video streams and lots of images – the Media Hub will enhance and expand the experience of The Episcopal Church's General Convention 2009.

“The Media Hub is a pioneering way to keep track of all the actions, discussions, and ministry that happens at General Convention,” noted Mike Collins, director of digital media. “It’s a way of connecting that just hasn’t been done before.”

“This is the first time people in the pews can follow along from home or work,” Collins said. “It's all on the Media Hub.”

What can viewers expect from the Media Hub? According to the developers:

- Full multimedia coverage of The Episcopal Church's 76th General Convention.

- Live video streams plus video on demand.

- Available in English with select programs in Spanish.

- Following General Convention on Twitter at @gcmediahub09. Tweeting about GC? Hash: #gc09.

- News stream, daily calendar, legislative tracker, live chat, flickr feed and more!

The Media Hub concept was developed by Collins, and the Episcopal Church web development team built the site: senior web developer Wesley Bliss, developer Gregory McQuillan and designer/front end developer Chris Clement.

General Convention 2009 will be held July 8 – 17 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. The Episcopal Church’s General Convention, held every three years, is the bicameral governing body of the church. General Convention is comprised of the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 members, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay representatives from the 110 dioceses, at over 850 members.

Inheriting the Trade

Inheriting the Trade is an excellent book and I recommend it.

You can find more information here.

This is an excerpt from the Preface:

Everyone has secrets—shameful episodes in our past that we try to keep buried. Heaven forbid that anyone should find out. What would people say? This book is about one family’s secret: my family’s. It is also about an American secret of which too few are fully aware.

When I was a child, I was taught with pride about our Founding Fathers. I reveled in hearing the patriotic stories about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. I imagined myself carrying on their legacy and basked in their glory. I share the human inclination to believe that the noble acts of our ancestors are reflected in who we are today. If new information tarnishes those stories, our pride tends to diminish. What I’ve learned in the last few years challenges the stories I grew up with.

During the summer of 2001, I traveled to New England, West Africa and Cuba with Katrina Browne and eight other distant cousins to retrace the steps of our ancestors—the DeWolfs—who were active in the slave trade. Katrina had decided to make a documentary feature film, Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, and the memoir you now hold is my story about not only that journey but about what comes after.

I learned new truths about myself, my ancestors, and the founding of the United States, and that it’s impossible to think constructively, and honestly, about race without simultaneously examining issues involving gender, class and privilege. I learned that slavery wasn’t limited to the South: black people were enslaved in the North for over two hundred years, the vast majority of all U.S. slave trading was done by northerners, and, astonishingly, half of all those voyages originated in Rhode Island. Compromises made by my childhood heroes ensured that slavery would continue as the driving force in our nation’s economy. Throughout this country’s history, white people have benefited as a direct result of the riches in land, money and prestige that were gained because of slavery.

A question that white people sometimes ask each other about black people in regard to slavery is, “Why can’t they just get over it??” During our journey, several African Americans provided a terse and accurate response: “Because it’s not over.”

Even after the Civil War, blacks were prevented from becoming equal citizens through Jim Crow laws, racial violence, lynching, and various other forms of terror and discrimination. Though civil and voting rights laws were adopted in the 1960s, the pecking order that has been in place for hundreds of years—with major disparities between blacks and whites in terms of education, housing, employment, health care, and treatment within and by the criminal justice system—continues.

It’s easy to agree that slavery prior to the Civil War was wrong. It’s much more difficult for whites to reflect on the systemic racism that lingers today. In my experience, one of the major impediments to discussing the legacy of slavery is that the subject is so overwhelming. My hope is that focusing on one family’s history will help readers get a better grasp on it, so that we can all begin an honest dialogue about race in the United States.

Our nation was founded on the ideals of equality and freedom, but these “unalienable rights” have never been secured once and for all for all people. It is a perpetual struggle, an ongoing journey. The journey you are about to embark upon began when nine people responded to an invitation. It altered my life. I invite you to join us.

Sermon: Independence Day

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

That prayer is from the BCP & is entitled for the nation. It is one of the options for Independence day. There is another prayer listed under our Holy Days for Independence Day that begins: “Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us…”

And it is that part, won liberty for themselves and for us, as a friend pointed out that is not correct. For history reminds us that African-Americans did not have liberty at our founding but were still slaves, women were not equal partners and could not vote and others like Native Americans were forced to leave their lands. Liberty was for a precious few.

I really understood that after finishing reading, Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History. The DeWolfe family are from Rhode Island; they are also predominantly Episcopalian. 10 family members in 2001 undertook the journey retracing their ancestors steps and visiting RI, Ghana & Cuba, (Triangle Trade) they began to understand the reach of slavery and their family’s involvement. What struck me most from the book, is not only the horrible conditions of slavery but how it touched almost every part of society back then. Even the DeWolfes who refused to be part of the slave trade, still had dealings with their own family members and in their own way supported slavery if only indirectly. It reminds us that the North prospered like the South with the slave trade and its legacy sadly remains with us.

All of this reminds me that our founding fathers were not perfect, they couldn’t see the sin of slavery before themselves and get rid of it. That liberty for all would take a couple more centuries before all could taste that freedom but they did start this democratic experiment and as that collect for Independence Day also says, “lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn...”

The torch of freedom that would inspire the Abolitionists and Suffragettes, people like Frederick Douglas & Elizabeth Cady Stanton to continue the founders work so all would have freedom and liberty here. I think of Washington, Madison & Monroe the Episcopalians, Adams the Unitarian, Jefferson & Franklin the non-conformists, and the countless others who also lit the torch so that no matter what our religious faith, there is religious freedom and a separation of Church and State.

At this hour, not only are we here at worship, but so are Congregationalists across the green, Lutheran, Baptists, Methodists, Roman Catholic and Evangelical Free are also at worship. Nearby Muslim and Jews and Buddhists have also gathered for their worship. Worshipping as we wish without worry that the State might step in. Sadly, many of our brothers and sisters around the world do not have such freedom, nor do they have the liberty to choose how they can practice their religion.

These words written and signed in 1776, still hold such power and still are a torch to those around the world who seek such freedom in their lives today:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
As we continue our celebrations, we pray for those around the world, who seek such liberty and life in their homelands and we think of those who continue to fight across the sea and here at home who fight for our rights. I came across this story and I think certainly this is someone who fought in his own way for us.
He was an accountant at a hospital run by a major health care corporation. His employers had asked him to keep two sets of books, one to show the Medicare auditors for reimbursement and the other marked CONFIDENTIAL - Do Not Discuss or Release to Medicare Auditors. He refused to go along with the fraud and was fired. He sued the company for wrongful termination; in the process, he discovered that the company was doing the same thing at hundreds of hospitals.

He filed a "whistle-blower" complaint with the appropriate government authorities. The case dragged through the courts for years, and during all that time he was unemployed and unemployable before he was finally vindicated, awarded a large financial settlement and an acknowledgment of the truth of his allegations. The corporation had to pay out more than one billion dollars in fines, penalties and reimbursements.

What gave him the courage and determination to do what he did at great personal cost? He knew who he was working for. He was not working for the greedy, dishonest corporate executives who signed his paycheck. He was working for his sick and injured neighbors who sought care at a hospital where they believed their well-being would be that hospital's chief concern. As an accountant, he was working for the American taxpayers, keeping the health care provider accountable for the Medicare dollars entrusted to them.

And he was working to maintain a sense of himself as an honest man. He wrote:

"There were many, many times when I had to ask myself: Why am I doing this? You don't always know why, but you see your kids and you realize you may have lost your job, your career, most of your savings, everything you've worked for, but if you ever lose their respect, it's something that cannot be replaced. I knew that when it was over, no matter how it turned out, I wanted to be able to look my kids in the eye and tell them that truth and honesty really do matter." [Jim Alderson, writing in The Rotarian, January 2004.]
That is what we carry on today, that is what has been passed on to us, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not for ourselves alone but for those around us too. And we do it with honesty, truth, honor, and out of love for God and our neighbors. Today and everyday, may we serve God in freedom and in peace, with a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with God’s gracious will. Amen.

Pre General Convention Prayer

O God, Grant your blessing on all Who join in the General Convention, By your Spirit Give them/us grace to listen And grace to speak. Help them/us to discover Where you are leading this church. Give us all a unity in mission That will enable the church By its life and witness To fulfill the ministry You have entrusted to us, Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

-- From Anglican Fellowship of Prayer

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Interview: Christian formation, No longer your grandmother's Sunday school

Interview: Christian formation, No longer your grandmother's Sunday school

Posted using ShareThis

Man of Contradictions, Shaper of Modernity. Age? 500 Next Week.

He was born on July 10, 1509, a religious thinker and leader who may have done as much as anyone to shape the modern world. And yet after 500 years, John Calvin is still not an easy man to understand.

Read the whole NY Times article by Peter Steinfels, here.

Our Father, Lead Us to Tweet, and Forgive the Trespassers

Religious groups from Episcopalians to Orthodox Jews have signed up for Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks with the same gusto that celebrities and politicians have, and for some of the same reasons — to gain a global platform and to appeal to young people who might never go near a church.

Read the whole interesting article from the NY Times, here.

A short excerpt:

Since Good Friday, Trinity has been tweeting its Sunday services to a small but growing group of followers (525 as of Wednesday) from Europe to California, including some who live closer by. A church employee transmits snippets of the service in real time — tweets like “God be with you” or “Inspire us with your holy spirit.”

“I’m a sporadic worshiper,” said Anne Libby, a management consultant in Manhattan who often follows the services on Twitter between occasional visits to Trinity.

The connection, however slender, has drawn her closer to the church community, she said. She has never tweeted back during a service. She does not always follow every word.

But she has noticed that her favorite Bible quotation fits nicely within the 140-character Twitter limit: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” she said.

Friday, July 3, 2009

40 Ways to Celebrate Our Interdependence

God's Politics

40 Ways to Celebrate Interdependence Day on July 4
by Shane Claiborne 06-23-2009


I have some friends who have put together some brilliant ideas for ways of celebrating the Fourth of July as a day of Inter-dependence. After all, as people of rebirth independence seems to be a very counter-gospel value, but interdependence — interdependence on God and one another, this idea that we are not alone in the world — that is at the heart of the Story from which we come, the story that began long before America.

Here's 3 of the 40:

40. Go to a place where people are gathered and offer free hugs to all.

39. Babysit someone else’s children.

38. Pray the Lord’s Prayer and commit to one concrete action to live out each part.

Read more, including the entire list of 40, here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Prayers for Independence Day

From the Book of Common Prayer:

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

From the RC Church:

God, source of all freedom, this day is bright with memory of those who declared that life and liberty are your gifts to every human being. Help us to continue the good work begun long ago. Make our vision clear and our will strong: that only in human solidarity will we find true liberty, and true justice only in the honor that belongs to every life on earth. Turn our hearts toward the family of nations: to understand the way to others, to offer friendship, and to find safety only in the common good to all. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the Lutherans:

Lord of the nations, guide this nation by your Spirit to go forward in justice and freedom. Give to all our people the blessings of well-being and harmony, but above all things give us faith in you, that our nation may bring glory to your name and blessings to all peoples, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Nominees for Bishop

You can fine the link to the website here.

The nominees are:

The Reverend Mark Delcuze

  • Rector St. Stephen's Church Ridgefield, Connecticut

The Reverend Dr. Ian T. Douglas

  • Angus Dun Professor of Mission and World Christianity at Episcopal Divinity School Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Associate Priest at St. James's Church Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Reverend Beth Fain

  • Rector, St. Mary's Episcopal Church Cypress, Texas

The Right Reverend Jim Curry *

  • Bishop Suffragan of Connecticut
  • Nominated by Suffragan Bishop Process *
Go to the website to learn more.

Here's a prayer for discernment:

Loving God, we thank you for the privilege of working with you to discern who will be the 15th Bishop of the Diocese of Connecticut. Guide us in our discernment and help us choose our next Bishop. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Sermon: St. Peter's Day

Lord, you are in this place:
Fill us with your power.
Cover us with your peace.
Show us your presence.

Lord, help us to know:
We are in your hands.
We are under your protection.
We are covered by your love.

Lord, we ask you today:
To deliver us from evil.
To guide us in our decisions.
To defend us from all harm.

Lord, give us now:
Eyes to see you.
Ears to hear your call.
Hands to do your work.
And hearts to respond to your love. Amen.
[Morning Prayer by David Adam]

Today we celebrate our patron saint, St. Peter. Often we think of St. Peter with our jokes of heaven and the pearly gates. But St. Peter’s life and witness can speak to us about our own discipleship today. So let us think about the life of St. Peter:

-ordinary fisherman, called to Jesus along with his brother Andrew
-Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (the Messiah), he is the 1st.
-part of the inner circle: Peter, James and John
-he is called Satan because he rebukes Jesus for talking about his sacrifice and death.
-he denies he knows Jesus at his trial

He makes lots of mistakes, but is still Peter, the rock, on whom the Church is built and is a leader in the early Church along with James and Paul. When we consider his life, it tares down the first myth of a saint, that saints don't sin or make mistakes. Peter did not always understand the ministry of Jesus. Peter whose faith sometimes waivered; I think of Peter who tried to walk on water, took a couple of steps and began to sink, Jesus helped him up and asked why he doubted.

From his simple roots as a fisherman, he does follow Jesus through his doubts and he continues that ministry far beyond the death of Jesus. The Acts of the Apostles has many stories of his ministry. In today's reading from the Gospel of John the risen Jesus gives him his next assignment. After Peter answers him three times (much like his denial three times) that he loves Jesus, Jesus tells him to feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep. From Peter’s love for Jesus, Jesus asks him to feed, to shelter, to love the sheep, those whom God has created in God’s image.

The ministry of Jesus is now his ministry and the disciples. As Leo the Great once put it,
“Although it was primarily to Peter that he said: Feed my sheep, yet the one Lord guides all the pastors in the discharge of their office and leads to rich and fertile pastures all those who come to the rock… There is no counting the sheep who are nourished with his abundant love, but it is not only the martyrs (the martyrs Peter and Paul) who share in his passion by their glorious courage; the same is true, by faith, of all who are reborn through baptism.”
Leo the Great’s words remind us that it is all the baptized that are called by faith, for we all share in Christ’s passion, we all share in that call to feed the sheep. Elisa & Jeff are feeding their little lamb this morning as their daughter Ryanne will be baptized this morning. We who are baptized, who live as the Body of Christ now, are the disciples, making our confession of who Jesus is by our lives. Each of us is called to minister using his or her gifts, to feed the sheep by what we say and do. And we do it, building on the foundation of Peter and the other apostles through the faith they taught, lived, and died for.

There is a legend that while in Rome, and hearing about Nero's attempt to arrest and crucify him, Peter walked outside the city gate, to leave, only to have a vision of Christ before him. He asked Jesus, domine quo vadis? That is, Lord where do you go? Jesus answered I go to be crucified again. After the vision ended, Peter understood the message to stay in Rome and continue Christ’s ministry. He is arrested and in year 64 he was crucified by Nero. Feeling unworthy to die like Jesus, he requests and is crucified upside down.

Peter is often called the Prince of the Apostles. This same Peter, a simple fisherman, who made the right confession, lived his life of faith and doubts, and in the end, followed Christ’s call even to his death. Peter's call to discipleship, is like our own call to discipleship. And like Peter, we will do it well and we will fumble a bit too. For Christ's calls us all through baptism to be his disciples, to feed his sheep.

The question we need to ask, is domine quo vadis? Lord, where do you go? And when Jesus answers us, we need to follow where he is leading the way. Amen.