Friday, October 30, 2009

God twitters creation

By melindataub | Published: October 29, 2009

God: Gosh its dark in here.
7 days ago

God: There thats better.
7 days ago

God: Hey guys im finally on twitter! Whats up?
7 days ago

God: guys?
7 days ago

God: oh right. i’m the only thing in existence, haha.
7 days ago

God: shut up i wasnt talking 2 you RT @Satan I TOO EXIST
7 days ago

God: BOOORREEDD with endless void gonna make some stuff
7 days ago

God: Hey look what I did today! Separated the darkness from the light. Universe looks like a black and white cookie.
7 days ago

God: I shall call the light day and the darkness Eileen.
7 days ago

God: Darkness doesnt look like an Eileen. Lets go with night
7 days ago

God: Also i created heaven & earth.
7 days ago

Read it all here.
Quite good!

Halloween - a Christian Holiday

Halloween is really All Hallows Eve, or the Eve of All Saints' 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.” – Rev. Sam Portaro from “Brightest and Best”

"Halloween is the time of year when we see that Christ has so triumphed over Evil, that even little children can mock the Devil with impunity." – Fr. Victor

You, O Lord, have made us from the dust of the earth and to dust our bodies shall return; yet you have also breathed your Spirit upon us and called us to new life in you: Have mercy upon us, now and at the hour of our death; through Jesus Christ, our mediator and advocate. Amen.

A Wonderful article on Halloween and its proper place within Christendom can be found here:


The author is the the Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston (written before he was consecrated bishop of Virginia and posted on October 26, 2005).

My favorite quotes from his article:
"Of course I am aware that satanists, Wiccans, and other occult groups are indeed active on October 31. It is also true that some pseudo-spiritualists and some plain ole’ nut-cases use Halloween as an excuse to act out. NONE OF THIS CHANGES WHAT HALLOWEEN ACTUALLY IS OR WHAT IT MEANS IN THE CHURCH’S LIFE AND WITNESS...

The bottom line is Halloween’s relationship to All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1), one of the Church’s seven “Principal Feasts.” The celebration of any Principal Feast may begin on the evening before––thus, Christmas Eve, Twelfth Night (before Epiphany), Easter Eve (the Great Vigil), etc. Halloween is simply the eve of All Saints’ Day, which is also a baptismal feast. The great truth behind Halloween’s revels is that which we declare at every baptism: “YOU ARE SEALED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT IN BAPTISM AND ARE MARKED AS CHRIST’S OWN FOREVER.”

The most important thing to remember is this: Halloween is the time when Christians proclaim and celebrate the fact that Satan and the occult have no power over us and cannot disrupt our relationship with our Lord and Redeemer, as long as we live faithfully to Christ. We show this by making fun of such pretenders, lampooning them in their face. This is why our costumes and decorations certainly should be witches, devils, and ghosts. In the victory of Christ, Christians are privileged to do this and we must not be timid about it!

Ours is not a fearful faith, cowering from the prospect of falling unawares into Satan’s grasp. In God’s grace and your faithfulness, you ARE Christ’s own forever. Nothing supersedes that fact. Halloween is therefore one of the boldest Christian witnesses, precisely because of its highly public, graphic, and lampooning nature."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A few final thoughts on the Vatican's announcement...

Too much ink has already been written on it, but I found these articles interesting:

In the New York Times:

A.N.Wilson wrote Rock of Ages, Cleft by the Pope.
Randy Cohen wrote Can We Talk About Religion, Please?
MAUREEN DOWD wrote The Nuns’ Story

In the Boston Globe:

James Carroll wrote Vatican, a tainted olive branch

and on a satirical note:

Christian P. Hansen wrote Canterbury approves "Vatican use" rite

Ray Suarez on Stewardship

Trinity Wall Street's annual stewardship campaign recently got some help from Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for the Newshour with Jim Lehrer. Suarez was the guest preacher at the downtown Manhattan church on Oct. 25, and spoke at the parish's campaign kick-off following the service.

Have a listen!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sermon: October 25 (8 AM)

Watching the kids have such fun at our Harvest Potluck Party on Friday night and thinking about my kids and the fun they have in costumes, I am reminded of the kid-like joy that Halloween brings. Halloween is part of that celebration of life in the midst of darkness, of Christ's victory over death. All part of our All Saints celebration.
"Halloween is the time of year when we see that Christ has so triumphed over Evil, that even little children can mock the Devil with impunity." - Fr. Victor
The story of such hope, such impunity, is one we heard this morning... on the side of the road outside Jericho is Bartimaeus, son of Timeaus. He is a blind beggar. He has heard of Jesus, the miracles he has done. And now as this crowd goes in front of him, he hears that Jesus is among them. "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." Many ordered him to be quiet, to shut up, to stop bothering Jesus. But he would not give up, he had hope... "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Call him here says Jesus. When Bartimeaus hears that Jesus is calling to him, he springs up, throws off his cloak, and comes to Jesus. Just a think of someone sitting near the entrance to Jericho, giving up what he had, his few meager possessions, but he leaves those behind to see Jesus. What do you want me to do for you? asks Jesus. Rabbouni (my teacher) let me see again. He asks.

Go your faith has made you well. Immediately his sight is regained and he follows Jesus to Jerusalem. We can lean from Bartimaeus:

-what it means that Jesus is the messiah and teacher of us all
-to be persistent in one's faith, is valued by Jesus,
-when called by Jesus to follow him, to throw off all that would hold us back

He gets what the rich man was looking for a few weeks back, he gets peace in his heart, for Bartimaeus was willing to give up everything, and he follows Jesus after his healing, it his faith that sets him free, a willingness to ask and to follow where it leads.

The crowd that shouts him down, fails to see the faith in another person, wanting their own time with Jesus not to be bothered by the blind beggar. Sometimes we are blind to our own needs, and sometimes we are the crowd failing to see the needs around us. Yet we must always ask God to help "open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us."

May our eyes be opened to God's work and may we follow in faith where Jesus is leading us. Maybe this Halloween, we should dress up as blind Bartimaeus and remember his impudence and his hope in Jesus and in turn remember the faith that is inside us, for with a little help from Jesus, our eyes will be opened to the works of our God in the world today.

Let me end with a poem by Anne Sexton entitled Welcome Morning to help us open our eyes…
There is joy in all:
in the hair I brush
each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with
each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry of the kettle that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair that cry "hello there, Anne"
each morning,
in the godhead of the table that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean, / though often forget, / to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard, dies young.
Let us see with the eyes of faith to recognizing the Spirit of God in every human being and for discerning the presence of God in every place and moment of our lives. Amen.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ian Elected -Its official!

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Dr. Ian T. Douglas of Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass., was elected October 24 as bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

Douglas, 50, Angus Dun Professor of Mission and World Christianity at EDS, was elected on the second ballot out of a field of four nominees. He received 150 votes (121 needed to elect) in the lay order and 169 (140 needed to elect) in the clergy order.

His election marks the first time in the diocese's 224-year history that a priest from outside of the diocese has been elected bishop.

The election took place during the diocese's 225th annual convention at Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Episcopal Church - Who We Are (2.0)

A great video with a sense of humor.

Day I of Convention

225th Annual Diocesan Convention

Bishop has delivered his annual address. Posted here.

Standing committee election: Thom Peters elected as lay member; the Rev. Nancy Cox elected as clergy member.

Resolution #1, clergy salary, passed.
Resolution #2, budget, passed AS AMENDED.
Resolution #3, resolution on Israel and Palestine to go to Executive Council, passed.
Resolution #4, complicity in slavery and repentance, passed,
Resolution #5, renewal of companion partnership with Colombia, passed.
Resolution #6 Renew commitment to tithing, passed, with small amendment to eliminate 5-year reference.

You can find the resolutions and other details here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Prayers for Convention this weekend...

Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in Hartford for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose a bishop for this Diocese, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

both from the Book of Common Prayer

Roman Catholics & Anglicans

In the news...
Pope Benedict XVI has created a new church structure for Anglicans who want to join the Catholic Church, responding to the disillusionment of some Anglicans over the ordination of women and the election of openly gay bishops.

The new provision will allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while maintaining their Anglican identity and many of their liturgical traditions, Cardinal William Levada, the Vatican's chief doctrinal official, told a news conference.
You can read the whole article here.

I think the move by the RC Church raises more questions for them than us. There will always be people who move from one church to another. It seems like the questions being raised now are about the celibacy rule of the RC priesthood since they are now accepting married priests from both Eastern & Western Churches and allowing those marriages to remain when they become RC priests. Why not do this for all RC priests?

I do not see a great swarm of people swimming the Tiber to become RC but it will definitely help those who don't believe in having women in leadership roles in the church (including the priesthood) to have a new home.

My wife (an Episcopal priest) and I wish Godspeed to them!

A good news article on this can be found here.

Follow the Bishop's Election on Saturday

From Karin Hamilton, our Diocesan Editor:
Your diocesan editor will be reporting live from the Convention this weekend (God willing). During each day, you can stay current by checking the home page of the diocesan website for updates. The homepage will also carry a Twitter feed (short messages that show up as they are written and sent). More options: you can join and follow EpiscopalCT to get "Tweets" on your computer or mobile phone, or if you use Tweetdeck or similar, search for our hashtag, #epct, to find related Tweets and contribute to the conversation.

And... Kurt Huber set up a Twitter group (or hub) on Twub for #epct, so those who want to can join and watch and/or contribute. Visit:

It's true, not everyone wants or needs real-time notices. The diocesan web pages will be updated from time to time during the day, and an eNews will be sent out at the end of each day with a summary of events. Also, a photographer will be capturing some of the people and events over both days, and these will later be compiled into an online slideshow.

Plus, of course, local reports from your parish clergy, delegates and alternates. And a summary of major decisions, published in the next diocesan newspaper.
For those who follow me (Rev_Kurt on twitter) I will also be tweeting results from Saturday.

Do not make the KJV Bible an idol...

In the news...
A Baptist Church near Asheville, N.C., is hosting a "Halloween book burning" to purge the area of "Satan's" works, which include all non-King James versions of the Bible, popular books by many religious authors and even country music.

"I believe the King James version is God's preserved, inspired, inerrant and infallible word of God," Pastor Marc Grizzard
Read the news article here.

Problem - The KJV is one translation among many. The KJV was authorized by King James I in England. I don't think Baptists were included in the authorization in 1611. But seriously, the one translation should not be made an idol.

A much better way to look at it:
Take a look at the Bibles on your bookshelf. Which are the ones you read again and again? Many of us read the New Revised Standard Version, and the King James of course, but alongside these, we value translations by individual authors. On my own shelves, for example, I read Tyndale daily, and I often read Everett Fox's Five Books of Moses and Robert Alter's translation, The Book of Psalms.

Individual authors have been translating the Bible for centuries, but their work has little authority. From the Septuagint in the 2nd Century BCE to the King James translation of 1611, it is not translations by individuals but by committee that are authoritative. Individual translations of the Bible, however, have a vitality that just doesn't appear in the work of translation committees. So renditions of the Bible by individuals are crucial to the dynamism of the text. In this article, I'm going to explore the rationales some individual authors give for their Bible translations and the authority of their work both immediate and derived.
Read the whole article: The contribution of the lone translator By Deirdre Good

Do not empty the cross of its meaning

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Symbol-Minded
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

His satire makes a point. The cross has a meaning that needs to be taken into account and I like how he uses the Nicene Creed at the end.

Stewardship Moment: Another Symbol

Another symbol is our Pledge (Faith) Card

For it is a symbol, a symbol of:
  • Our connection to this parish
  • Our connection to God’s mission
  • Where our heart is
  • Hope that God is leading us together
  • Generosity (no matter the size of the pledge)
It is a symbol that all things come from God and from God’s own, we have given back (returned) and pledged.

Henri Nouwen on "Can you drink the cup?"

Another thought from Henri Nouwen:
It is the question that has the power to crack open a hardened heart and lay bare the tendons of the spiritual life. Can you drink the cup? Can you empty it to the dregs? Can you taste all the sorrows and joys? Can you live your life to the full whatever it will bring?...

Drinking the cup that Jesus drank is living a life in and with the Spirit of Jesus, which is the Spirit of unconditional love. The intimacy between Jesus and Abba, his Father, is an intimacy of complete trust, in which there are no power games…It is only love-pure, unrestrained, and unlimited love. Completely open, completely free. That intimacy gave Jesus the strength to drink his cup. That same intimacy Jesus wants to give us so that we can drink ours. That intimacy has a Name, a Divine Name. It is called Holy Spirit. Living a spiritual life is living a life in which the Holy Spirit will guide us and give us the strength and courage to keep saying yes to the great question.

Sermon: October 18

We all have things in our lives that are symbols for us. For some, it is an AA chip that reminds them how long they have been sober and the importance of that sobriety to their lives. For others, it is their wedding ring, not only a reminder of the vow they have made to their spouse, and the love they share, but often the rings have been passed on from different generations. That is also true, sometimes of wedding gowns, but more often baptismal gowns that many generations have worn when they were baptized as infants.

And then there are the crosses we wear, a symbol of connection to Christ and our following him as a disciple today. So often they were given to us at a special moment in our lives, or maybe passed on from an older generation. There are lots of symbols in our lives that remind us of our connection to one another, to generations past and our connection to God too.

For Job, whose whole life and family fell apart before his eyes, sat on a dung heap wondering how it all happened, the symbol he wanted was God’s voice. He wanted to hear from God – he wanted to know why. A most natural question especially when everything has gone wrong. And Job has lost it all, but we are reminded that he didn’t curse God for what had happened, nor did he believe his three friends who accused him and his family for bringing the calamity upon themselves. Job sat and waited, argued with his three friends for He just wanted God to speak. That was his symbol, his connection…

He finally got his wish in the 38th chapter, for then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind:, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me.”

This was probably not what Job expected to have the Lord question him. And yet in the midst of this Job will be vindicated for after the Lord had spoken to Job, the Lord said to his friends: “My wrath is kindled against you; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” The voice of God gives Job his symbol, his connection and he was satisfied.

For James & John, 2 of the disciples of Jesus, they asked Jesus a favor. They wanted to know if one of them could be at his right hand and the other at his left, that is, they wanted the place of honor in heaven to be next to Jesus. Such symbolism to know you are the favored ones. A bold favor but not one Jesus could grant. Of course, the other 10 disciples are angry at James & John for asking.

Jesus then moves the argument from greatness = next to Jesus, the place of honor, what society expects, to greatness = service, for the Son of Man came to serve not to be served. His example is to be their guide. To be great, is to be servant of all. So very different from the world, for to be great, is to be powerful, wealthy, notable. Not so says Jesus. If you follow me, then you will be servant to others, and there will be your greatness.

And in the midst of this, Jesus also asked a question, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” To which James & John replied, they are! Of course, we are too.

We are baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus. We follow his steps into the water and the Spirit comes upon us just as it did Jesus. And as we gather each Sunday here, we gather to eat his bread and drink from his cup. Think of the prayer we say after communion:
You have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart. (BCP, p. 365)
We are fed spiritual food in the Sacrament and we are sent into the world to love and serve. That is the symbol of our connection to God in the Bread & Cup, and going out from here to serve others. That bread and cup, is our symbol, our unity with Christ and one another, on a common journey to restore our unity with God and each other in Christ. For it is our gathering here each week and partaking of that communion that gives us such a symbol.

Let me end with some words from the late Henri Nouwen on this Eucharistic Symbol:
“It is the life of Christ and our life, blended together into one life. As we drink the cup, we drink the cup that Jesus drank, but we also drink our cup. That is the great mystery of the Eucharist. The cup of Jesus filled with his life, poured out for us and all people, and our cup, filled with our own blood, have become one cup. Together when we drink that cup as Jesus drank it we are transformed into the one body of the living Christ, always dying and always rising for the salvation of the world.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Prayers & Poems

From New Zealand (Thanks Bosco Peters!):

Awaken in us a sense of wonder for the earth and all that is in it.
Teach us to care creatively for its resources.

We remember with gratitude your many gifts to us in creation and the rich heritage of these islands. Help us and people everywhere to share with justice and peace the resources of the earth. Give wisdom to those in authority among us and to all leaders of the nations.

Caring God,
we thank you for your gifts in creation:
for our world,
the heavens tell of your glory;
for our land, its beauty and its resources,
for the rich heritage we enjoy.
We pray:
for those who make decisions about the resources of the earth,
that we may use your gifts responsibly;
for those who work on the land and sea, in city and in industry,
that all may enjoy the fruits of their labours and marvel at your creation;
for artists, scientists and visionaries,
that through their work we may see creation afresh.

From John Wright:

Let the trees be consulted before you take any action
every time you breathe in thank a tree
let tree roots crack parking lots at the world bank headquarters
let loggers be druids specially trained and rewarded
to sacrifice trees at auspicious times
let carpenters be master artisans
let lumber be treasured like gold
let chainsaws be played like saxophones
let soldiers on maneuvers plant trees give police and criminals a shovel
and a thousand seedlings
let businessmen carry pocketfuls of acorns
let newlyweds honeymoon in the woods
walk don't drive
stop reading newspapers
stop writing poetry
squat under a tree and tell stories.

From TS Elliot's Ash Wednesday:

Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth This is the time of tension between dying and birth The place of solitude where three dreams cross Between blue rocks But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

From Wendell Berry's The Peace of Wild Things:

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

From Wendell Berry's Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

And a final prayer:

O God of all, at this time of our gradual awakening to the dangers we are imposing on our beautiful Earth, open the hearts and minds of all your children, that we may learn to nurture rather than destroy our planet. Amen. (by Lorraine R. Schmitz)

Blog Action Day: Climate Change

The news out this morning is striking: "The Arctic Ocean could be largely ice-free and open to shipping during the summer in as little as ten years' time, a top polar specialist has said." (from the BBC)

Climate Change is happening. There are still some with their heads in the sand denying this because it would force them to change their ways. I think it is time we tell the truth about what is happening to our planet, that we are living in a way that is unsustainable.

God has called us to be good stewards of this planet. It is arrogant of us not to be concerned about the planet we will be bequeathing to generations after us. The time for us to act is now.

What is one thing you are doing today to help?

In my office, all lights are off and only the electronics I am using at this moment are on. It is one simple thing and is a start. Recycling our Sunday bulletins, using less paper for bulletins and coffee, turning lights off when not in use, turning down thermostats are also easy fixes for us.

The challenge lays before us and the generations after us will know if we met that challenge and were good stewards and lived in sustainable ways, or if we passed the buck to them.

And of course, we can also pray:

O merciful Creator, your hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature: Make us always thankful for your loving providence; and grant that we, remembering the account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your good gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Climate Change: Care for Creation is part of the Christian Story

"When we believe in transformation at the local and personal level, we are laying the surest foundations for change at the national and international level."

"What we face today is nothing less than a choice about how genuinely human we want to be; and the role of religious faith in meeting this is first and foremost in setting out a compelling picture of what humanity reconciled with both creator and creation might look like."

"The Christian story lays out a model of reconnection with an alienated world: it tells us of a material human life inhabited by God and raised transfigured from death; of a sharing of material food which makes us sharers in eternal life; of a community whose life together seeks to express within creation the care of the creator. In the words used by both Moses and St Paul, this is not a message remote from us in heaven or buried under the earth: it is near, on our lips and hearts (Rom.10.6-9, Deut.30.11-14). And, as Moses immediately goes on to say in the Old Testament passage, 'You know it and can quote it, so now obey it. Today I am giving you a choice between good and evil, between life and death...Choose life' (Deut.30.14-15, 19)."
~ Archbishop Rowan Williams, October 2009

You can read the whole article and his text here.

Climate Change: Be Good to the Land

"Be good to the land, and the land will be good to you." ~ Philip James Jones

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Climate Change: Global Warming

"Well I think it's an enormous problem; it's a huge practical problem, it's a huge moral problem. I think, a profoundly immoral policy and lifestyle that doesn't consider those people who don't happen to share the present moment with us." ~ Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury speaking on Global Warming 3/29/06

Climate Change: The Hope We Share

I just got this via email and thought it was perfectly timed for this week, please read the statement:

The Hope We Share: A Vision For Copenhagen

A Statement from the Anglican Communion Environmental Network

In preparation for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference Of Parties (COP) Meetings, the Fifteenth Session, to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009

To Anglicans Worldwide, to COP Delegates, Faith Community Representatives, Observer Organizations, Friends of Creation:

Is there anyone who does not seek a sustainable world, a world which promotes justice and harmony for all and hope for future generations? May the participants of the Copenhagen conference meet in this spirit and combine to envision a better, more harmonious and just world.

We Anglicans are found in all corners of the globe and our experience is that the world is changing around us to the great disadvantage of the poorest of us and with considerable anxiety for all our children, in the developed and developing world alike. Anglicans in the Pacific and Bangladesh speak of the constant threat of rising waters. The millions of us who live on the continent of Africa know the constant threat of drought and failed crops. In Australia we are experiencing a considerable reduction in rainfall patterns with heightened threat from bush fires and severe lack of water. In some of our communities violence has already broken out as neighbouring tribes and families struggle to gain access to greatly reduced natural resources.

From all points of the globe we point to the reality of climate change and to the very serious effect it is already having upon our people; from severe weather events, to prolonged droughts, major floods, loss of habitat and changing seasons. Many of our peoples no longer have access to drinkable water, many of our farmers are no longer able to grow crops, and many of our peoples suffer from diseases which in the past have not affected us in our homelands. Sadly many of our peoples are now on the move in the vain hope that they might find another place to live, given the place of their birth can no longer support them.

Our faith and our ancestors have always taught us that the earth is our mother and deserves respect; we know that this respect has not been given. We know that like a mother the earth will continue to give its all to us. However, we also know that we are now demanding more than it is able to provide. Science confirms what we already know, our human footprint is changing the face of the earth and because we come from the earth, it is changing us too. We are engaged in the process of destroying our very being. If we cannot live in harmony with the earth, we will not live in harmony with one another.

Those of us who live in the developed world realise all too painfully that our contribution to the human foot print is unreasonably high while the burdensome consequences of climate change is unequally born by our sisters and brothers in the developing world who have contributed least to the problem and who have limited if any choices available to respond to it. This is a moral issue.

The Lambeth Conferences of Anglican Bishops of 1998 and 2008 speak of creation as gift and sacrament which must be treated with respect and that ‘human beings are both co-partners with the rest of creation, and living bridges between heaven and earth with responsibility to make personal and moral sacrifices for the common good of all creation’. The Anglican Consultative Council meeting held in Jamaica earlier this year called upon Anglicans everywhere to reduce their footprint by 5% year on year.

We cannot say we do not know, we have always known, but the pain we see in the changing landscape brings home to us the extent of the burden we carry and the urgency required in our response.

We look to the Copenhagen conference with hope but also with realism. We realise that this huge task must be tackled simultaneously from two directions. There needs to be common agreement, but there must also be a desire on the part of every nation to do what they know they must, not because they are legally bound, but because they share a vision for a more just and sustainable future. The world has every right to expect the conference to produce agreed and enforceable targets and outcomes. When a crisis hits a family, village, or nation, the benefits of living through it and sharing the reconstruction is itself a lasting heritage: the benefits which will flow to the human family as we share responsibility for this crisis will be infinitely greater than the perceived economic costs in some sectors. We have the chance to build a new world order of mutual trust and respect.

We pray that each nation will come to the conference wanting the highest level outcome; that demanding targets will be set, not in an attempt to discipline reluctant participants, or to give some preferential treatment which undermines the whole; but that a greater vision might be shared.

• Is it too much to hope that all developed countries will commit to significant and immediate reductions in total emissions and that they will work with developing countries to ensure continued development without increased emissions.

• Is it too much to hope that all subsidies for fossil fuels will be immediately halted and that subsidies will be increased for renewable energies in their development stages.

• Is it too much to hope that developed economies consciously break the nexus between economic growth and population expansion. Clearly world population is already at its absolute upper limits.

• Is it too much to hope that countries most responsible for increased emissions provide funds and expertise to mitigate the effects of climate change in those countries most adversely affected, investing in the protection of ecosystems and bio-diversity.

• Is it too much to hope that developed economies will no longer encourage rampant consumerism as a solution to perceived short term economic woes, but will slow consumerism, preserve resources, and invest in choices which minimise alienation through enhanced human fulfilment.

• Is it too much to hope that every country, developed and developing, will commit to the view that what is in the world’s best interest is in their best interest.

We believe these hopes are reasonable and urgent, and we join with all our Christian sisters and brothers and those of other faiths in commitment to a sustainable future. “The earth is the Lord’s”.

We have always known that “without a vision, the people perish”. The Copenhagen Conference can either produce a bland, minimalist set of non enforceable targets or it can sketch a vision to inspire the world and its peoples.

Leaders lead, please . . . do not let us down.

Our prayers will be with the world leaders as they meet to discuss the most important topic imaginable – the future of the world and its peoples.

Bishop George Browning Convener
Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Apple Sues God and St. Peter's?

esarcasm reporting:

Apple announced plans on Monday to sue God, citing “intense similarities” between the apple fruit and the company’s trademarked logo.

“We’ve become increasingly aware of the apple’s resemblance to the Apple logo,” a rare statement from Apple explained. “In attempting to locate the fruit’s designer, numerous documents have pointed us to God, so we decided to pursue our legal action in that direction.”

Apple’s new lawsuit comes on the heels of the company’s challenge against Woolworths Supermarkets, also made public on Monday. The grocery chain had recently revealed a new logo featuring a “W” stylized into the shape of an apple — a design Apple once again claims is too similar to its own. In both the argument against Woolworths and the one against God, Apple says the similarities could lead to consumer confusion.


eSarcasm has learned Apple’s next targets may include the Little Apple Grocery and Deli in Manzanita, Oregon; the St. Peters Episcopal Church Apple Festival in Monroe, Connecticut; and the Hansen Orchards in Grove, Tasmania. The lawsuit against God, not surprisingly, is expected to trump all of those cases in both publicity and potential consequences. Experts expect the battle to reach the “highest courts possible,” though they weren’t completely clear on what exactly that meant.

God was not immediately available to comment on the matter. A spokesperson, however, promised the allegations would be taken seriously — despite, he said, the fact that they came from “an overrated company with one hell of a God complex.”

Read the whole sarcastic article here.

And know we will defend ourselves! :-)

Banned Books Week

Library gives banned books a place on the shelf

Written by Marla Hoffman
Thursday, 08 October 2009
Monroe Courier

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees free speech and freedom of the press, among other rights.

But through the years the rights of publishers and writers have been challenged, both in the U.S. and abroad. Books have been banned, burned and black listed for containing controversial themes, offensive language, and violence.

Since 1982 an initiative has arisen to remind Americans not to take their First Amendment rights for granted.

Read the whole article here.

You can also learn more about Banned Books Week here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Prayer attributed to St. Francis

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

You can find more wonderful prayers from the BCP here.

Homily: St. Francis (Afternoon at the Blessing of Animals)

On this St. Francis Day – I want us to take a moment on this beautiful green, amongst these beautiful trees and consider a couple of stories about St. Francis and the birds. These stories come from Thomas of Celano*, a member of Francis' religious order who knew the saint personally and wrote about him. He reveals in his book how Francis' love for animals and his conviction that his faith and care for God's creatures go hand-in-hand. Here are the stories and consider what Francis is telling us today:
“One time as Francis was passing through the Spoleto valley, he came upon a place near Bevagna, in which a great multitude of birds of various kinds had assembled. When the holy one of God saw them, because of the outstanding love of the Creator with which he loved all creatures, he ran swiftly to the place. He greeted them in his usual way, as if they shared in reason. As the birds did not take flight, he went to them, going to and fro among them, touching their heads and bodies with his tunic.”

"Meanwhile his joy and wonder increased as he carefully admonished them to listen to the Word of God: 'My brother birds, you should greatly praise your Creator and love Him always. He clothed you with feathers and gave you wings for flying. Among all His creatures He made you free and gave you the purity of the air. You neither sow nor reap, He nevertheless governs you without your least care.'

"At these words, the birds gestured a great deal, in their own way. They stretched their necks, spread their wings, opened their beaks and looked at him. They did not leave the place until, having made the sign of the cross, he blessed them and gave them permission. On returning to the brothers he began to accuse himself of negligence because he had not preached to the birds before. From that day on, he carefully exhorted birds and beasts and even insensible creatures to praise and love the Creator.”

"Once he went to a village called Alviano to preach. The people gathered and he called for silence. But some swallows nesting there were shrieking so much that he could not be heard at all. In the hearing of all, he spoke to them: 'My sister swallows, now it is time for me also to speak, since you have already said enough. Hear the word of God and stay quiet until the word of the Lord is completed.' As if capable of reason, they immediately fell silent, and did not leave from the place until the whole sermon was over. All who saw this were filled with amazement and gave glory to God.”
May we have that same joy and wonder in all of God’s creation – in the birds & animals, and our pets, just as St. Francis had. And may we have the same care for all of our animals both domestic and wild as St. Francis did in his time. Amen.

St. Francis Celebration – 10/4/09

*From Thomas of Celano, The Treatise on the Miracle of Saint Francis, (1250-1252), ed. Regis J. Armstorng, OFM Cap, J.A. Wayne Hellmoann, OFM Cov, William J. Short, OFM, The Francis Trilogy of Thomas of Celano (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2004), 329-330.

Sermon on St. Francis (Morning)

"I have done what was mine to do; may Christ teach you what you are to do."
Those words were the last spoken words by Saint Francis of Assisi just before he died in 1226. Words spoken to his monks from the Order of Friars Minor. And yet, they are words for us today, to consider how Christ taught Francis what was his to do and how Christ will teach and lead us. As the book Lesser Feasts and Fasts puts it, “Of all the saints, Francis is the most popular and admired, but probably the least imitated; few have attained to his total identification with the poverty and suffering of Christ.”

Francis life begin in wealth. Born into a wealthy family – he lived a life of luxury and frivolity. As many young men did, he went off to find glory in war but came back disillusioned. After a time of sickness, he began wondering about the purpose of his life. One day, in the dilapidated church of San Damiano, he heard Christ saying to him, "Francis, fix my Church."

And he did just that. He gave up everything he had, to live a life of poverty. His father who expected Francis to take over his business was incensed and disowned him for a time. Francis fixed up the Church of San Damian and began his life of taking care of the poor, preaching the Gospel in word and deed, wherever he walked.

A story is told of Francis’ visit to the Holy Land in 1219. Francis proclaimed the Gospel to the Sultan, the Sultan who was deeply impressed, remained unconverted, but allowed Francis free passage throughout the lands. Francis proposed an armistice between the two warring sides but was unable to get the Christians at the time to agree.

But of all the images that stick with us about St. Francis, is his connection to God’s creation, and especially the animals. I think of those garden statues with Francis standing and animals swirling about him. We had one in MI where I grew up.

There is a story told, that once when he was staying in the town of Greccio, a hare was caught in a trap and brought live to Francis by a brother. Seeing the hare, Francis was moved to pity and said, "Brother hare, come here. Why did you let yourself be fooled in this way?" As soon as the hare was released by the brother, he dashed over to Francis and, without being forced to do so, jumped into his lap as the safest place available. When he had rested there a while, Francis, stroking him with affection, let him go so that he could return to the wild. Each time he was placed on the ground, the hare ran back to Francis' lap. Finally Francis asked that the brothers carry him to a nearby forest. That worked. This type of thing happened repeatedly to Francis—which he saw as an opportunity to praise the glory of God.

On this day, when we remember this great saint of the Church and his words and works, it behooves us to remember the creatures we care for, our pets, and all living creatures.
"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men." (~ St. Francis)
It is St. Francis that reminds us that everything is connected. How we treat animals is the way we also deal with each other. Such care for animals was not lost on Christians centuries later. William Wilberforce the great Anglican of the 19th century who helped end the slave trade in England also helped form the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in England in 1824. It was the first animal welfare charity to be founded in the world. Wilberforce disliked the sports of England that used animals as the sport calling them "cruel and inhuman."

The legacy of such support exists within our own Humane Society here in the US. All Creatures Great and Small is a campaign of the Humane Society in the US, which aims to raise awareness about our responsibilities to all animals, including those raised for food. The campaign reminds us that "in recent decades, agriculture has taken a harsh turn and animals on factory farms are treated like mere objects. Eating is an activity that has moral and spiritual significance."

Indeed the Eucharist, a Christian sacrament is deeply rooted in eating and drinking and having a meal, it is an example of the relationship between food and faith. Think of those eggs we get at Big Y or Stop & Shop. While many of us picture an idyllic Old MacDonald's farm when we think about where our eggs come from, nothing could be further from the truth. Most eggs produced in the United States come from industrialized factory farms confining hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of laying hens in overcrowded battery cages with no room for them to move.

Such factory farming not only degrades animals but us too because we allow it. These creatures were given into our care by God to be good stewards. Our practices today do not reflect such care. They become mere throw away things and we are the lesser for it. Our faithful stewardship of creation means that we are mindful of the animals entrusted to our care, even those used for food.

When we look at the life of Francis, how he engaged the people around him, how he cared for animals and for those in need, how he proclaimed the Gospel, even in hostile lands, his life was lived with integrity. Like Job from our first reading – who refused to curse God even when his life turned upside down. Or Like the Psalmist who said, “Give judgment for me, O LORD, for I have lived with integrity; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.”

Such is the life of St. Francis. A life of integrity, a life lived with God’s love before his eyes; who walked faithfully with God. And yet, Francis never saw his life in such glowing terms. St. Francis said,
“I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.”
Indeed, God works through all of us. We are not called to be St. Francis but we can sure learn from his witness and respond to God working in us. May we have the same care for animals as St. Francis did in his time. May we fight against animal cruelty. May we live our lives faithfully and with integrity. May we proclaim the Gospel through our lives and when necessary, use words. And just as St. Francis did as was his to do; may Christ teach all of us what we are to do today. Amen.

Friday, October 2, 2009

St. Francis Day!

On Sunday we will celebrate St. Francis and we will bless animals too at 4 PM on the Green.

Here is St. Francis' Canticle of the Sun:

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you;
through those who endure sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace,
for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve him with great humility.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Monroe Food Pantry in Need

Here is an article from the Monroe Courier about the Monroe Food Pantry.

Specifically, the pantry needs: vegetable oil; mayonnaise; ketchup; mustard; salad dressing; cereal and other breakfast foods; instant potatoes; bread crumbs; whole wheat pasta; sugar,flour,seasonings; healthy school snacks; crackers; evaporated and dry milk and Parmalat (shelf-stable milk); canned corn, mushrooms, olives, asparagus, beets, potatoes; canned broth; canned fruit; applesauce; jelly; coffee, tea, hot chocolate; toothpaste; deodorant; and toilet paper.

Also, Pam Nicotera said she will accept donations of fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs and meat.

You can bring donations to St. Peter's Church or directly to the Food Pantry.

Religious Literacy

Just read a good book by Stephen Prothero called Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know And Doesn't.

He is quite right, we live in a land that is very pious, with a majority saying they believe in God and even pray BUT very few have a deep knowledge of their faith and very little knowledge of their neighbors faith especially of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.

I agree with his argument that we ought to teach in our schools:
  • a course on the Bible
  • a course on World Religions
The point of which is not to indoctrinate the students in a particular understanding but to open up to them the Bible and Religion so they know something of which they believe and the beliefs of their neighbors. (which is in line with what the Supreme Court has said, teach about religion NOT teach of religion (as if you were teaching to indoctrinate)).

"The fact of the matter is that you cannot avoid teaching religion to your kids; if you offer them nothing, you are telling them that religion counts for nothing."

"There is a widening gap in the US between what we actually know about religion and what we should know."

You can learn more about the author here.