Monday, July 30, 2012

Morning Devotion with Julian of Norwich

I shared this story from "Revelations of Divine Love" with the teen campers this morning:

He showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, in the palm of my hand, and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with my mind’s eye and I thought, “What can this be?” And the answer came, “It is all that is made.” I marveled that it could last for I thought it might have crumbled to nothing, it was so small. And the answer came into my mind, “It lasts and ever shall because God loves it.” And all things have being through the love of God. In this little thing I saw three truths. The first is that God made it. The second is that God loves it. The third is that God looks after it. What is he indeed that is maker and love and keeper? I cannot find words to tell.

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Location:Camp Washington

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Camp Washington

I leave for Camp Washington tomorrow to be the chaplain for Teen Week!

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Location:Lakeside, CT

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Watching the Olympics - Ryan Hall

There was a story in the Sports section of the NY Times last week about a marathon runner whose coach is "God."  I liked the story as it gave glimpse into the world of a marathon runner and one who also belives mightily in God.  He also seems like a well grounded young man!

Ryan Hall rocked slightly, palms up, closing his eyes or singing softly to lyrics projected on giant screens at the evangelical Bethel Church. Other worshipers jubilantly raised their arms and swayed and jumped in the aisles. A band played onstage and a woman waved a fabric flag like a rhythmic gymnast.

Thin and blond and boyish at 29 — flight attendants still asked his age when he sat in an exit row — Hall wore jeans and a blue shirt labeled with the shoe company that sponsored his running. At the 2011 Boston Marathon, he ran a personal best of 2 hours 4 minutes 58 seconds. No other American has run faster.

The Boston course is not certified for record purposes because of its drop in elevation and its layout. Still, of the 29 fastest marathon performances in 2011, Hall’s was the only one by a runner from a country other than Kenya or Ethiopia. His next marathon will come Aug. 12 at the London Olympics. On a Sunday in March, Hall firmly believed he could challenge the East Africans for a gold medal.

“Light a fire in me for the whole world to see,” he sang.

Go Ryan! (Chariots of Fire Theme Music) 
You can read the whole article here:  A Runner’s Belief: God Is His Coach By JERÉ LONGMAN (NY Times)

July 15 Sermon

“There's no such thing as a free lunch.”
A phrase that dates back at least 80 years but hints to a practice when free lunches were offered to entice the consumer to come into the saloon in the 19th century. Those free lunches would be very salty and the consumer would then purchase the drinks. “There's no such thing as a free lunch.” We’ve come to understand that you can’t get something for nothing, there is always a cost.

John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness, baptizing many, proclaiming a message of repentance. He was certainly noticed by the authorities. He did his ministry by the Jordan until he proclaimed the King’s marriage was not right. The King had him arrested.

As he sat in prison, after he had spoken against the King and his new wife, did he know his fate? Did he think he would he be released?

I suspect he knew he would not get out. That his truthful words had so unnerved them, that he would pay the price… and Heordias the wife got her wish, and John the Baptizer died.

John stuck to his belief and his message… repent, even as he must of known that it might end his life. His story is a foreshadowing in the Gospel of what would happen to Jesus. It is also a story that we see in the lives of others, there is a price for faithfulness…

In the spring of 1939, 47-year-old Paul Gruninger was a police officer in St. Gallen, a picturesque Swiss town near the Austrian border. Gruninger was quiet, church-going, non-confrontational, conservative. He had served with the Swiss Army in World War I, obtained his teaching degree and settled into a position at an elementary school where he met Alice Federer, a fellow teacher. They married and began a family.

At the urging of his wife and his mother, Gruninger applied for a better-paying position with the police department. The job was largely administrative, involving completing reports and arranging security for visiting officials. Or so it seemed.

But one morning in April 1939, Gruninger went to his office to find his entry blocked by a uniformed officer. "Sir, you no longer have the right to enter these premises," he was told. His credentials were taken from him; he was ordered to return his uniform. An investigation had discovered that Gruninger was secretly altering the documents of Jews fleeing Austria for safety in Switzerland. When the Nazis came to power in neighboring Austria, Austrian Jews headed to the Swiss border. To avoid confrontation with the Nazis, Swiss police were directed to deny the Jews entry - but Officer Gruninger would make minor alterations in their passports to allow them to enter safely. A few strokes of Gruninger's pen saved hundreds of lives. It was a small action but one of great personal risk.

And Paul Gruninger paid the price. He was dismissed from his position. Charges were filed against him. False rumors circulated that Gruninger had demanded money and favors from those he helped. Shunned by his neighbors, Gruninger peddled raincoats, greeting cards and even animal feed until he died, broke and disgraced, in 1972.

Gruninger was an unassuming man whose faith and family were formed in a world in which anyone who saw what he saw, "the heart-breaking scenes . . . the screaming and the crying of mothers and children . . . could not bear it anymore . . . [and] could do nothing else."

Paul and Alice were buried together near St. Gallen. A plaque was placed on the grave. It read: Paul Gruninger saved hundreds of refugees in 1938-1939. At his funeral, a rabbi read from the Talmud: "He who saves a single life, saves the entire world.” From Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times by Eyal Press.
Paul Gruninger, a righteous gentile, put aside the safe convention of his life for the sake of others, and like John the Baptist, was a prophet who proclaimed the reign of God by his actions, and it would cost him dearly but he lived as faithfully as he could.
As Dietrcih Bonehoeffer put it, “Being a Christan is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God's will.” There's no such thing as a free lunch – our faith life is meant to be lived out!
May we possess their courage and righteousness to be prophets of the light of Christ when darkness threatens to snuff that light out in our own time and place. May we follow through in our faith, knowing we too must live and serve like John the Baptist & Paul Gruninger, not knowing what it may cost us, but be willing to pay the price. Amen.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Standing in the Silence

After hearing about the tragedy in Aurora, CO, the internet has been filled with commentary, thoughts, prayers and lots of emotion. Too much has been spent on our own feelings and too little on those most affected by this event.

One of the best responses I have seen is from the Huffington Post in an article called, "Reacting Faithfully to the Colorado Shootings."

In it, Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Senior Religion Editor, says

The faithful response is to hold a vigil. The reason why it is so important to stay silent and be still in the immediate aftermath of tragedy is that if we respond or answer too soon we do not honor those victims who have died, and those who continue to suffer. Instead, our reactions serve the idols of our own agendas and ideas. Our reactions become about us and our egos, and only serve to distract away from the real work of compassion.

Read it all here.

Let me end with another article that was thought provoking, that of Roger Ebert in the NY Times.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Prayers for Aurora, CO

Prayers this morning for Aurora, Colorado in the wake of the mass shooting at a movie theater:

God our saviour,
we pray with those in Aurora, CO
who are shocked, grieving or in pain.
In your mercy, look on this wounded world,
and hold us closely to your promise of hope
in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Holy One, you do not distance yourself from the pain of your people, but in Jesus bear that pain with us and bless all who suffer at others' hands. Hallow our flesh and all creation; with your cleansing love bring healing and strength to the victims of this shooting; and by your justice, lift them up, that in the body you have given them, they may again rejoice. Amen

O God our Vindicator, come speedily to our help. Receive the souls of those killed in this act of violence, your children into the arms of your mercy, and deliver their assailant to justice, that your holy Law may be served, and your peace renewed; through Jesus our Savior. Amen

God our strong deliverer; when those charged with the mediation of your healing poer feel overwhelmed by the numbers of the suffering, uphold them in their fatique and banish their despair. Let them see with your eyes, so that they may know all their patients are precious. Give comfort, and renew their energy and compassion, for the sake of Jesus In who in our life and hope. Amen

Ty to Episcopal Cafe.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Prayer for the Olympic Games

A prayer in preparation for the 2012 Games

Eternal God,
Giver of joy and source of all strength,
we pray for those
who prepare for the London Olympic and Paralympic games.
For the competitors training for the Games and their loved ones,
For the many thousands who will support them,
And for the Churches and others who are organising special events and who will welcome many people from many nations.
In a world where many are rejected and abused,
we pray for a spirit
of tolerance and acceptance, of humility and respect
and for the health and safety of all.
May we at the last be led towards the love of Christ who is more than gold, today and forever. Amen.

From the Church of England

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We are Episcopalians! Part Three!

Ok, there has been enough ink spilled. I still hope to write something on the Episcopal Church I know and love but for now, these last few essays will have to do...

God and Gays

The Episcopal Church ‘Takes a Flying Leap’ into Controversies Old and New

And finally, Rachel Held Evans tires of this whole thing (Amen!), and feels caught in between liberals and conservatives (which I think most of us are, but that is another post), check her post out:

Liberal Christianity, Conservative Christianity, and the Caught-In-Between

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Monday, July 16, 2012

We are Episcopalians! Part Two.

I haven't had a chance to write a rebuttal to the opinion pieces and other stories from GC. I want to write a narrative about the Episcopal Church I see because I'm tired of what I have seen, which bears little resemblance to the Episcopal Church I love and know.

In the mean time, here are some more particularly good articles:

The Glorious Episcopal Church

Can Christianity Be Saved? A Response to Ross Douthat

A Strongly-worded Letter about General Convention and Love

A Response to Ross Douthat

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Get rid of the Christian Cliches

I found a blogger with a great list of cliches that Christians should just stop using. A sample...

We Christians have a remarkable talent for sticking our feet in our mouths. When searching the words most commonly associated with “Christian,” the list ain’t pretty. I think part of this can be attributed to a handful of phrases that, if stricken from our vocabulary, might make us a little more tolerable. Yes, these things may mean something to you, but trust me, non-Christians don’t share your love for these tried-and-true cliches.
So in no particular order, here are ten phrases Christians should lose with a quickness:

“Everything happens for a reason.” I’ve heard this said more times than I care to. I’m not sure where it came from either, but it’s definitely not in the Bible. The closest thing I can come up with is “To everything, there is a season,” but that’s not exactly the same. The fact is that faith, by definition, is not reasonable. If it could be empirically verified with facts or by using the scientific method, it wouldn’t be faith. It would be a theory. Also, consider how such a pithy phrase sounds to someone who was raped. Do you really mean to tell them there’s a reason that happened? Better to be quiet, listen and if appropriate, mourn alongside them. But don’t dismiss grief or tragedy with such a meaningless phrase.

“If you died today, do you know where you’d spend the rest of eternity?” No, I don’t, and neither do you. So stop asking such a presumptuous question as this that implies you have some insider knowledge that the rest of us don’t. And seriously, if your faith is entirely founded upon the notion of eternal fire insurance, you’re not sharing testimony; you’re peddling propaganda.

Read the rest of his list and his antidotes here.

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Get Married in Church?

There was a thought provoking top ten list of reasons why one should or should not get married in Church...

You find yourself asking the clergy to take all the references to Jesus out of the service. (not)

You have drifted from the church, but as you prepare for your wedding you find yourself seeking a community of faith. (yes)

Check out both lists here.

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We are Episcopalians!

Now that General Convention has concluded, there is a lot of odd reporting going on out there (NYTimes & WSJ). So instead of pointing to those articles, let me point you to four posts worth reading and one satire...

Now is a perfect time to be Unapologetically Episcopalian!

Wrong on Every Count

When “Liberal” Rhymes with “Theology” It’s Time for Evangelism

In Praise of Episcopalians

They are worth the read. And for your humor bone...

The completely truthy account of what REALLY happened at General Convention

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The Cost of Discipleship

“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?...

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Thursday, July 12, 2012

St. Benedict & Twitter

I believe St. Benedict 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.

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

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Pray for General Convention

Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in Indianapolis for the renewal and mission of the Episcopal 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.

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