Thursday, June 27, 2013

From the Bishops of CT - on DOMA & VRA

Statement of the Bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut on the Supreme Court Decisions on DOMA and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

We give thanks for the recognition of state and federal law enacted by the Supreme Court's decision to strike down provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act.  In Connecticut that means that all married couples will have the same status before the law.  This is a move forward for equal justice for all and the civil rights of gay and lesbian people. We give thanks for the marriages of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, and the voice of General Convention offering rites of blessing for their love. 

At the same time, we grieve the decision of the Supreme Court regarding  
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and will continue to strive for all citizens to have just access to the full right to vote and to be equitably represented in state and federal legislatures. 

We commit ourselves to God's reconciling love and the ministry of listening to and caring for all God's children as we work for justice and peace.
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop Diocesan
The Rt. Rev. James E. Curry, Bishop Suffragan
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan 

Why we should appreciate an unorthodox Bono

A great article on Bono:

Why orthodox Christians should appreciate an unorthodox Bono

from the Washington Post.

Bono: “The job of love is to realize potential. When you see lives squandered in the developing world because they cannot get access to medicines that we buy … or they can’t vaccinate their kids for measles, then you know something’s up. The job of love is to realize that potential.”
Other links:

Give Civility a Try!

My latest blog post on Civility on the Monroe Patch:

and a good news article:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tweeting Prayers of Reconciliation

Each day at 10:30, 3:30 and 8:30, I tweet prayers in recognition of the work of Koinonia Farm, to join them in a moment of prayer, a prayer of our reconciliation in Christ.  After the Supreme Court ruling yesterday on part of the Voting Rights Act, and the current dust up around the words of Paula Deen, it is quite clear we have lots of work to do around racial reconciliation.

In 1942, Clarence & Florence Jordan and Martin & Mabel England formed Koinonia Farm as a Christian community located in Americus, Ga.  Its early existence "challenged racism, militarism, and materialism," which continues to plague us today.  It is a "demonstration plot for the Kingdom of God."
"The Koinonia mission: We are Christians called to live together in intentional community sharing a life of prayer, work, study, service and fellowship. We seek to embody peacemaking, sustainability, and radical sharing. While honoring people of all backgrounds and faiths, we strive to demonstrate the way of Jesus as an alternative to materialism, militarism and racism."
At 10:30, 3:30 and 8:30 each day you will hear the sound of a bell ringing at Koinonia. You will see each of us stop what we are doing to pray, meditate, reflect. We go into the silence to rest for a moment. We come out renewed. This time reminds us why we are here, helps us to think about the meaning of Koinonia and to reflect on the meaning of being a demonstration plot for the kingdom of God.

Whether here at Koinonia, around the corner, or on the other side of the earth, we ask that you join us in these important moments each day. They not only allow us to focus and seek blessing, but they can be a means of bringing us together. They remind us that we are all God's children and though we may have different responsibilities, it is together that we can bring about the Kingdom of God. (from

The Search for God and Guinness

A wee review of the book: The Search for God & Guinness by Stephen Mansfield (c) 2009

After reading and reviewing Mansfield's The Mormonizing of America, I learned about his earlier work on a book called The Search for God and Guinness.  I was intrigued.  I love Guinness both its legendary stout and the recent newcomer, the black lager.  I wondered about the faith of the brewers.

His prologue grabbed my attention, because as a preacher I am always interested in what people hear, and since he first heard a sermon on Arthur Guinness that was more myth than truth! (And he is right about the problem of stories on the internet that are not always true...)  The true story of how Arthur Guinness brewed his stout in St. James Gate and how "Arthur Guinness began to think differently about how to use his wealth. He started the first Sunday schools in Ireland and founded hospitals for the poor; he positioned his company to transform lives."  And it transformed his family too.

I love how he began by looking at the history of beer.  It is fascinating to understand how long beer has been with us. The history of Arthur Guinness and his family is what the book is about and he does a masterful telling of their story, and especially of their faith and how it impacted the beer they made, the people who drank it and the workers who made it!

I recommend his book!  It was an enjoyable read and I wish the captains of industry today would read his book and follow the lead of Arthur Guinness in how they treat their workers and how to affect society today. (I hope the next project for Stephen Mansfield will be on Milton Hershey!)

As he wonderfully said in an interview (which goes along with his epilogue):
Find out what God is doing in your generation and get involved. Look around at society, look where the poor are, look where injustice is happening, look where you can make a difference and get involved. That is No. 1.

The other [lesson] is that you cannot make money from people unless you’re willing for people to make money from you. The idea is you invest in your clients, you invest in your employees and you transform corporate culture.

Also think in terms of generations yet unborn. Think in terms of the future. Don’t measure corporate success by the bottom line in the next quarter. Measure success by what you’re providing for generations from now.

One of the most important issues is that the sacred and the profane are not delineated as clearly as some people think they are. The Scriptures say, “In him we live and move and have our being,” meaning that all of your Christian life ought to be an integration of your spiritual beliefs, your values, your character as an offering to God.

That would transform things. People need to believe that what they’re doing as a policeman or a teacher is very much an offering to God that’s pleasing to him. (from
Mansfield also got me thinking about John Wesley and Oscar Romero.

Two quotes from Wesley that go with his book:
Having, First, gained all you can,
and, Secondly saved all you can,
Then give all you can.

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can. 

(attributed to Wesley)

And this quote from Oscar Romero that came to my mind as I read his book, reminded that no matter what we do, brew beers, drive taxis, preach in Church that we all have arole to play in God's creation:
How beautiful will be the day when all the baptized understand that their work, their job, is a priestly work--that just as I celebrate Mass at this altar, so each carpenter celebrates Mass at his work-bench, and that each metal-worker, each professional, each doctor with the scalpel, the market woman at her stand is performing a priestly office! How many cabdrivers I know are listening to this message there in their cabs... You are a priest at the wheel, my friend, if you work with honesty, consecrating that taxi of yours to God - bearing a message of peace and love to the passengers who ride in your cab.

Praying for our Country

I am thrilled DOMA was struck down and that it seems Prop 8 is no longer in force in CA. I also know that many Christians grieve these decisions. These are prayers for our country to remind us of our connection to one another.  I left some of these prayers in the older language they were created in, to remind us that people have been praying for our country since its inception.

For our Country

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.  Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue  with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Courts of Justice

Almighty God, who sittest in the throne judging right: We humbly beseech thee to bless the courts of justice and the magistrates in all this land; and give unto them the spirit of  wisdom and understanding, that they may discern the truth, and impartially administer the law in the fear of thee alone; through him who shall come to be our Judge, thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

For Sound Government

O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth.

To the President and members of the Cabinet, to Governors of States, Mayors of Cities, and to all in administrative authority, grant wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties.
To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our laws in States, Cities, and Towns, give courage, wisdom, and foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to fulfill our obligations in the community of nations.

To the Judges and officers of our Courts give understanding and integrity, that human rights may be safeguarded and justice served.

And finally, teach our people to rely on your strength and to accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for the well-being of our society; that we may serve you faithfully in our generation and honor your holy Name.  For yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Amen.

Prayers from the Book of Common Prayer.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Prayer

Heavenly Father,
you entrusted your Son Jesus,
the child of Mary,
to the care of Joseph, an earthly father.
Bless all fathers
as they care for their families.
Give them strength and wisdom,
tenderness and patience;
support them in the work they have to do,
protecting those who look to them,
as we look to you for love and salvation,
through Jesus Christ our rock and defender. Amen.

from the Church of England

June 16 Sermon

Thomas Beckett, Joan of Arc, Janani Luwum: When you cross a King or a Ruler, you often pay with your life. These three found that out. Beckett by four knights of Henry II, Joan of Arc by the uncle of Henry VI, Luwum at the hands of Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin.

Each of them were killed because they were seen as an obstacle to what the ruler wanted. "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?" Henry II is said to have uttered, it could have been true for the others as well.

It was true for King Ahab of Samaria. Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of King Ahab, and the King wanted it for a vegetable garden but Naboth refused to sell his ancestral inheritance. It was his family’s land.

The King went to bed sullen. But Jezebel, his wife, refused to give up so easily. She hatched a plan to frame Naboth and have him killed. And her plan worked, Ahab is set to take over Naboth’s vineyard! Enter Elijah the Tishbite to confront the King and the treachery brought by Jezebel.
“I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, I will bring disaster on you."
Elijah calls the king to account for the evil deed done on his behalf. The King may not have wanted Naboth killed but his death got him what he wanted, the vineyard and he was happy to take possession of it.

But of course, that is now how God expects us to act and sends Elijah to reset the moral compass of Ahab and his people. How does God expect us to act?

Everyday when I drive Aidan into Jockey Hollow, I am greeted by Sandy Hook Elementary School with the words “we choose love,” written in the windows.

We choose love. I think that is a great summary of what God expects of us even in the face of horrible violence. It is not the easy choice. The easy choice is revenge, to act on our feelings, to strike back! (or in King Ahab’s case, to take what is not rightfully his.)

We choose love makes us stop in our tracks and look at the larger picture and consider what God expects of us: to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors as ourselves. On that hangs everything we read in the Bible. Love God, Love Neighbors – We choose love.

In the Gospel, Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to his home for a meal, he is curious about him. But a woman in the city having heard where Jesus was, also entered Simon’s home, bathing the feet of Jesus with her tears and anointing his feet with ointment… Simon is upset that such a sinner had entered his home, and he questions how prophetic Jesus is because he is letting this woman touch him.

Jesus knows what is in Simon’s heart, and tells him a parable about two debtors; one who owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, the creditor canceled the debts for both of them. Jesus asked, “Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt."

And Jesus goes on to tell Simon that he is right BUT as Jesus entered his house; Simon did not respond with hospitality but the woman from the city chose love; she gave Jesus hospitality by washing his feet & anointing them with oil.
Jesus says, “I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." Then he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven and Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
The woman’s sins were forgiven by her loving acts. Simon, on the other hand, did not love much and is not praised for his inaction. God acts with forgiveness and love and that is what is expected for our lives. Jesus says – choose the good – choose to forgive and to love!

And sometimes the most appreciated response to an act of love is quiet, grateful acceptance, just as Jesus did at that dinner.
The great cellist Yo-Yo Ma said he learned that lesson while touring Namibia a few years ago. After a company of African dancers and musicians performed for him, Ma wanted to reciprocate and took out his cello to play for them. But Ma remembers with a laugh, "They said, 'Stop. Don't play. We want to play for you.' It was hubris on my part to bring my cello."

The experience was a lesson in humility for the renowned musician. "To be a good performer, you have to have a strong ego," Ma says. "But to be a really good performer, you have to make sure your ego is not the center. To play Beethoven, you have to figure out who he was, and how that's encoded in the music. And then you have to realize you are not Beethoven." [Newsday.]
We are neither Beethoven nor God. We are simply whom God created each of us to be. The story of the woman who washes the feet of Jesus at the home of Simon the Pharisee is a lesson in both humility and love. Pharisee and sinner stand as equals before God (just as a King, a Priest, prophet): We all have all been given much by God - and we have countless opportunities to express our love by giving and forgiving as God gives and forgives us.

The woman in today's Gospel becomes the model of such a loving response made in faith-filled praise for the forgiveness and compassion of God she has received. As Yo-Yo Ma discovered, humility enables us to welcome into our lives the gifts of God offered by others with love and respect. So today, let us choose love through our words and deeds and welcome such love in return. Amen.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Remembering Sandy Hook: 6 months later (a prayer)

Almighty God, giver of light and life, in whose hands are both the living and the dead: We offer to you our continued sorrow in the face of the cruel deaths of children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School and a mother in her bedroom. As you were present in the midst of the gunfire and chaos, so we trust you are present now with those who have died. May they rest in peace and live in your perpetual love. In your boundless compassion, console all who mourn, especially parents and family members, & all those who still suffer from this tragedy. Give to us who carry on such a lively sense of your righteous will that we will not rest until our country is safe for all your children. All this we pray in sighs too deep for words and in the name of the lover and protector of our souls, Jesus Christ. Amen.

adapted from a prayer by the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine.

- Posted using BlogPress from my mystical iPad!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Becoming Sméagol


Becoming Sméagol by Charles LaFond

Most of us, with some saintly exceptions, find pledging money to God, through the church, hard to do. I want to hold it back, let others pull my weight, rest on dead people’s gifts to the endowment.

That is my inner-Gollum talking. Do you remember J. R. R. Tolkien’s gnarled character in The Lord of the Rings? He had a split personality; “Sméagol” still vaguely remembered things like friendship and love, while “Gollum” was a slave to the Ring who knew only treachery, scarcity and violence.

One summer day I took a friend of mine on a tour of my farm. She ooo’d and ahhh’d over a summer squash, and though my impulse was to pick it for her to take home, something inside me sputtered, crackled, chilled, hissed and withdrew. “I had a poor crop,” a voice in my head said. “It is my precious,” Gollum might have said. That squash was the only one I could see. So I smiled, rather too sweetly, and we moved on.

The next day I was playing with my dog Kai and his ball went into the garden. Searching for it among the squash plants, I lifted leaves and found six huge gourds, more than I could possibly eat. It turns out that I could have shared with my friend. I chose not to do so.
Our pledge is not about giving to the church. Our pledge is about being who we were designed to be, trusting that we will have enough and giving some away. To practice giving is to practice letting go. Since we will all one day die, this practice is essential for human wellness.
When I give, I am leaning into the Sméagol part of my nature and away from Gollum. I am giving because I was designed in the image of God who is creator, lover and giver. We give to God’s mission through the church because we are seeking to live as redeemed and divine creatures, to reclaim the Garden of Eden, one square foot at a time.
Charles LaFond is widely recognized as one of the most important stewardship leaders in the Episcopal Church today. He spent a decade as a corporate nonprofit development officer and a second decade as an Episcopal priest and monk. He is now the Canon for Stewardship at St. John’s Cathedral in Denver. He blogs on spiritual life, food, hospitality, and generosity at charleslafond. This essay is from his recent book, Fearless Church Fundraising: The Practical and Spiritual Approach to Stewardship (New York: Morehouse, 2012).

Monday, June 10, 2013

Poems for Today

Beautiful Poems by Mary Oliver

On Traveling to Beautiful Place

Every day I'm still looking for God
and I'm still finding him everywhere,
in the dust, in the flowerbeds.
Certainly in the oceans,
in the islands that lay in the distance
continents of ice, countries of sand
each with its own set of creatures
and God, by whatever name.
How perfect to be aboard a ship with
maybe a hundred years still in my pocket.
But it's late, for all of us,
and in truth the only ship there is
Is the ship we are all on
burning the world as we go.

The Gardener

Have I lived enough?
Have I loved enough?
Have I considered Right Action enough, have I
come to any conclusion?
Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?

I say this, or perhaps I'm just thinking it.
Actually I probably think too much.

Then I step out into the garden,
where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,
is tending his children, the roses.

The Man Who Has Many Answers

The man who has many answers
is often found
in the theaters of information
where he offers, graciously,
his deep findings.

While the man who has only questions,
to comfort himself, makes music.

Find more here!

- Posted using BlogPress from my mystical iPad!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Prayers at the end of the Church School Year

Prayer for the Children/Youth

Dear God, we have finished a year of Church School and we are thankful. We have studied and played; we have loved and we have grown. Bless this school year now ending. Bless our teachers and our friends. May our bodies stay well, our hearts and minds open; and may all of our learning help us to serve this world you love so dearly. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

(from Changes: Prayers and Services Honoring the Rites of Passage)

Prayer for Teachers
O God, by your Holy Spirit you give to some the word of wisdom, to others the world of knowledge, and to others the word of faith: We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested in these your servant who have taught Church School this year, and we pray that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer p. 248)

Prayer for New Graduates
God of our journeys and resting places:
Bless these new graduates;
Bring them joy in their leisure,
Eagerness for new service,
And a lifelong love of learning,
That their lives may shine brightly
Throughout your world;
In the Name of Christ and by the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

(by the Rev. Jennifer Phillips)

Relay for Life - Prayers of the People

Each year, more than 4 million people in over 20 countries raise funds and awareness to save lives from cancer through the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. The Monroe/Trumbull Relay for Life took place inside on Friday night at Trumbull HS.

Celebrate: During a Relay event, participants and survivors celebrate what they've overcome.

We celebrate with survivors: Christine, John & others we name…
Remember: We remember people lost to the disease, and honor people who have fought or are fighting cancer.

We remember those who are fighting cancer, their families and their caregivers: Joy, Nancy, Fred & others we name…

We remember those who have died from cancer: Sally, Kathy, & others we name…

Fight Back: The event inspires Relay participants to take action against a disease that has taken too much.

We pray for all the ways we are fighting against cancer, for the funds raised and the awareness of what we can do…
Let us pray:

Loving God, as we walk the relay for life, help us to celebrate the little victories with cancer, for those who cancer is in remission, for those who have hope in new therapies. Let us remember those who have died and all who mourn for loved ones, those families that continue to struggle with cancer and all who minister to those fighting the good fight. Be with us as we fight back against this disease so we can celebrate more birthdays and less days with cancer. We ask this in the name of one who came to heal and save us, our savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

June 9 Sermon

This past week I got to spend some time at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. It is our Episcopal Seminary at Yale Divinity School. It was a leadership conference looking at all the changes going on in our world, in our church and our response to it. We live in challenging times (as you all know)!
One of the presenters brought up a line by Brian McLaren who is an author and pastor, who asked in one of his books: “Are we a club for the elite who pretend to have arrived or a school for disciples who are still on the way?” (Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices)
I was struck by this quote because it asks how we see our church, as a club or a school? Is it a place where we believe we have arrived as the saved, or a school of disciples still learning what it means to follow Jesus. I hope you feel like me that we are all still learning, we are still on the way…

It reminds me of another quote (similar to McLaren’s) from an earlier age you might recognize: “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum (or club) for the saints.”

What these quotes are getting at is the fact that the church is made up of all sort of people on their journey of faith, there is doubt and faith, prayer and deluiosnment, sorrow and joy. We are all imperfect creatures, sinners and we are all saved by the grace of God. And we journey together sharing that love of God.

This is not a club or museum. This is a place for growth in your life, this is a place of healing for all the pain and sorrow you bear, this is a place of peace in the midst of the violent world we live in. And from this place we go out into the world to minister in Jesus name.

And to help us with that, we listen to the whisper of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that gathers us together, that helps us hear the ancient stories from Holy Scripture, stories of God involved in the lives of God’s creation, and then the Spirit guides us outwards.

Today in the Gospel reading, Jesus’ compassion for the widow of Nain, is echoed by our first reading, of Elijah’s compassion for the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings. The first story also has the miracle of meal & oil that did not run out.

In both cases, we have widows who are on the margins of society, even struggling to survive and God has compassion on their plight at the death of their only sons. The stories don’t speculate but bear witness to the fact that God intercedes into our lives, bringing life when there is death. And also abundance when there is scarcity with the meal & oil.

The widow of Zarephath asks for Elijah’s help but the widow of Nain was bearing her son to the grave, she did not ask, but Jesus had compassion and in a moment of sheer grace, lifts her son from the grave.

These Resurrections brought joy back to the widows, their sons breathed again. And yet the point of these moments reminds us that God acts beyond our understandings and beyond the boundaries of the other, for these gentiles were rewarded just as much as the faithful. We are all disciples learning on the way as God acts in our midst.
In the Raymond Carver story, "A Small, Good Thing," a woman named Ann orders a cake for her son Scotty's seventh birthday party. The baker has been running his little bakery for more years than he cares to remember. He offers no Hello or Can I help you? - he pushes a loose-leaf binder of photographs of cakes at Ann. He takes down the details of Ann's order & says the cake will be ready Monday morning for the party after school.

But the party never takes place. On his way to school on Monday morning, Scotty is hit by a car. Ann rushes the boy to the hospital where they are met by Ann's husband and Scotty's father, Howard. Ann and Howard keep vigil all day Monday and Monday night at their son's bedside. But Scotty never regains consciousness; the boy dies late Tuesday morning. Ann and Howard are devastated.

After they return home from the hospital on Tuesday, the baker has left messages and continues to call. "Your Scotty, I got him ready for you. Did you forget him?"

The exhausted parents are outraged at the insensitivity of the boorish baker. The calls continue all day and evening. Finally, Ann has had enough. Though it is almost midnight, she insists on going to the bakery to put an end to the baker's harassment. They drive to the deserted shopping center and go around to the back entrance of the bakery. When Ann and Howard identify themselves, the baker angrily opens the door.

"I work 16 hours a day in this place to earn a living," he says. "I work night and day in here, trying to make ends meet . . . You want the cake or not?" He all but throws it at them.

"My son's dead," Ann says with a cold finality. "He was hit by a car Monday morning. We've been waiting with him until he died. But you couldn't be expected to know that, could you? Bakers can't know everything, can they, Mr. Baker?"

The baker's anger melts. He takes off his apron and clears a place at his wooden work table and pulls two chairs around. "Sit down, please."

"Let me say how sorry I am. God alone knows how sorry I am . . . I'm just a baker. I don't claim to be anything else. Maybe once, years ago, I was a different kind of human being. I've forgotten, I don't know for sure . . . I don't have any children myself, so I can only image what you must be feeling . . . I'm not an evil man, I don't think . . . What it comes down to is I don't know how to act anymore, it would seem. Please, let me ask you if you can find it in your hearts to forgive me."

Then the baker offers, "You probably need to eat something. I hope you'll eat some of my hot rolls. You have to eat to keep going. Eating is a small, good thing at a time like this."

The baker takes some cinnamon rolls he had just baked and serves them, with hot coffee, to Ann and Howard. The grieving parents are suddenly hungry. The rolls are warm and sweet. With bread and coffee, the three talk about loneliness and loss, about grief and struggle, all night until the morning sun rises on a new day… (from the Cathedral)
Raymond Carver's story is a beautiful tale of simple, heart-felt compassion. Ann and Howard and the baker manage to see beyond their own hurts and disappointments to offer peace and comfort to the other, life in the midst of death.

When Jesus meets the widow at Nain, Jesus is moved with compassion - he opens his heart to feel her sorrow and connect with it. The word compassion literally means "to suffer with." Compassion not only changes the person we feel for but changes us, as well. It was true for Elijah and Jesus and it is true for us. We are called by Jesus to recognize and reach out to those whom the world consciously and unconsciously dismiss as unimportant and marginal, the others and welcome them into our midst as God's own.
And as Meister Eckhart preached that "Whatever God does, the first outburst is always compassion."
May that be true of us as well. Amen.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Teenagers and Hymns

Found this recently (thanks Karin!) on You Tube.  Amazing hymns and teens from the camp in the Episcopal Diocese of MT. Great videos!

"Come Thou Font of Every Blessing"
"Amazing Grace"
"You are My All in All"

June 2 Sermon

O Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed. Amen.
"The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!"… We must meet one another doing good.” (
This is what Pope Francis said in a sermon a couple of weeks ago.

Some were shocked by it. I am not. Jesus has redeemed everyone, those with faith and those without, as put beautifully in one of our prayers:
“Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace” (BCP p. 101)
That prayer from our Morning Prayer office is a reminder of the sacrifice Jesus made for humanity, it says what we believe, but it also says more, as a monk from SSJE put it:
“As Episcopalians [Anglicans] we often claim that praying shapes believing: we can show people what we believe, by how we pray. But it is just as true that believing shapes living: we can show people what we believe, by how we live.” - Br. James Koester
That prayer not only states what we believe, but how we are to live it too, as that prayer continues:
“So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name.” (p. 101)
Our faith compels us to live it in our hands, in our bodies, to honor his name. So people will know Jesus by what we do: a faith that is made by the Spirit of God and the choices that we each make, that shows forth in our lives.
"The LORD indeed is God; the LORD indeed is God."
These words were spoken by the crowd in our first reading after they witnessed an extraordinary sight and their hearts turned back to God. Elijah challenged the people to follow the Lord their God, the God of their Ancestors and not Baal. But they stood silent, only after they witnessed the fire consuming sacrifice, did they return to their belief.

Like those Israelites, we must decide who we give our faith too. And there a lot of Baals out there, seeking our allegiance, our faith. These imposters of God will readily take our sacrifice, they seemingly give us what we want, but in the end, down deep, we know its not right and we remained unfulfilled by what we receive from them.

Elijah the Prophet was sent to help the Israelites understand their faith and their journey with God, to make the right decision. St. Paul was sent to help the first Christians understand their faith and their journey and to continue what they had been taught.
“Am I now seeking human approval, or God's approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
St. Paul reminds the Galatians and us, that our faith isn’t about pleasing people & seeking their approval, but following that call, the Spirit of God in our lives, to do good, to bring love and healing to the world. Sometimes we are shown that faith by people we would never even guess would have such faith.

In Capernaum, Jesus is asked by a Centurion to heal a slave he valued highly (or was very important to him (he loved)), and Jesus does just that… On the surface, the healing doesn’t seem so extraordinary, that’s what Jesus does, he heals people… BUT, We should note a few things: a Centurion (Gentile) asks a Jew, a Centurion (an occupying soldier) asks one of the occupied for help, he understands his authority and he understands Jesus authority, and in the end, he humbly begs Jesus not to come, because he is not worthy and Jesus word alone will heal the servant. Jesus was amazed by all this:
"I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith."
Some who knew the centurion testified to his faith and generosity by how he helped build a synagogue. The centurion is the ultimate other in Israel in the time of Jesus, same as the lepers, outside the faith. And Jesus praises his faith, heals his servant, and reminds us that faith comes even from the other in our midst, a hated enemy, a non believer…

So maybe, from what Jesus did, we should worry less about how that faith is expressed by others & focus instead meeting one another doing good, by reaching forth our hands in love.

In a world, where the Baals seeks our life & faith & status quo, our challenge is to choose the good, and not worship or fear those gods, but instead live out of that God given faith that is inside you and me, that is set ablaze by God’s spirit, that we may remake our world with the hope & love we have. In the words of one faith community:

(O God) Those who work for change suffer resistance, So make us Strong
Those who do new things sometimes feel afraid, So make us Brave
Those who challenge the world as it is arouse anger, So grant us Inner Peace
Those who live joyfully are envied, So make us Generous
Those who try to love encounter hate, So make us Steadfast in you. (& your love Amen.) ~ The St Hilda Community