Friday, October 31, 2014

All Hallows Eve

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.

Hallow-e’en 1915
by Winifred M. Lett
clr gif
Will you come back to us, men of our hearts, to-night
In the misty close of the brief October day?
Will you leave the alien graves where you sleep and steal away
To see the gables and eaves of home grow dark in the evening light?

O men of the manor and moated hall and farm,
Come back to-night, treading softly over the grass;
The dew of the autumn dusk will not betray where you pass;
The watchful dog may stir in his sleep but he’ll raise no hoarse alarm.

Then you will stand, not strangers, but wishful to look
At the kindly lamplight shed from the open door,
And the fire-lit casement where one, having wept you sore,
Sits dreaming alone with her sorrow, not heeding her open book.

Forgotten awhile the weary trenches, the dome
Of pitiless Eastern sky, in this quiet hour
When no sound breaks the hush but the chimes from the old church tower,
And the river’s song at the weir,—ah! then we will welcome you home.

You will come back to us just as the robin sings
Nunc Dimittis from the larch to a sun late set
In purple woodlands; when caught like silver fish in a net
The stars gleam out through the orchard boughs and the church owl flaps his wings.

We have no fear of you, silent shadows, who tread
The leaf-bestrewn paths, the dew-wet lawns. Draw near
To the glowing fire, the empty chair,—we shall not fear,
Being but ghosts for the lack of you, ghosts of our well-beloved dead.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Autumn Triduum (Oct 31 - Nov 2)

“All Saints' Day is the centerpiece of an autumn triduum. In the carnival celebrations of All Hallows' Eve (Oct 31) our ancestors used the most powerful weapon in the human arsenal, the power of humor and ridicule, to confront the power of death. The following day, in the commemoration of All Saints (Nov 1), we gave witness to the victory of incarnate goodness embodied in the remarkable deeds and doers triumphing over the misanthropy of darkness and devils. And in the commemoration of All Souls (Nov 2) we proclaim the hope of common mortality expressed in our aspirations and expectation of a shared eternity.” – The Rev. Sam Portaro from “Brightest and Best”
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.

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

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

A Prayer for Peace by Bishop Sengulane

The fountain of all peace
(Peace with you, with ourselves, with our neighbours and nature)
We give you thanks for sending Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace
And for sending the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.
Forgive us for trusting on guns which destroy.
To put our trust in the saving and reconciling blood of Jesus poured on the cross and to turn our instruments of death and domination into means of saving lives and of promoting human dignity
Protect and free the prisoner, those abducted and refugees; and lead us to see and follow the ways of peace. All this we ask to the honor and glory of your name, through Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace and our Savior, AMEN

Prayer for Peace written by Retired Bishop Dinis Sengulane of Mozambique

A Prayer for our Domestic Violence Vigil

Dear God our Creator, we gather because we care about those affected by abuse: women, children, and men.

We remember those who have lost their lives to this malfunction of our society. We pray that their souls are now at rest.

We remember children living in homes of domestic violence. Deliver them and protect them from further harm.

We pray for perpetrators, that they may seek help. Help them to relinquish their need to exert power and control.

We remember current victims whose lives are filled with fear and uncertainty, those who are trapped in the psychological cycle of violence and abuse, hope and false love.

We ask that you give them a new vision. Guide them with your wisdom to make sound choices that will lead to new life.

We give thanks to those who dedicate their lives to providing education, shelter, and support, remembering especially the Center for Family Justice.

Finally, O gracious God, be present with us, restore peace and hope in our homes, that we may persevere with your Holy Spirit. In faith we pray, Amen.(*)

*Adapted from a prayer written by the Rev. Angela F. Shepherd (from “Women’s Uncommon Prayers)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

#connorstrong Rally Words

One love
One blood
One life
With each other
One life
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other.

Those words from the band U2, remind us that we get one life, and through our life we have the gift to help others, our sisters and brothers, for we get to carry each other.

Tonight, we hold with all the positive energy, thoughts and prayers we can muster, Connor [Scalia] and his family (Tom & Alyssa, TJ & Drew) and all those who know Connor and love him, in our hearts and minds, that his surgery tomorrow may be successful and his healing complete.

Let us carry each other & Connor – let us be strong for him and each other – for there is one life & one hope – I invite you into a prayerful silence…

Loving God, we pray that you will comfort Connor in his suffering,
lend skill to the hands of his healers, and bless the means used for his cure.
Give peace and patience to Tom & Alyssa
And all of us who watch and wait that with confidence in the power
of your grace, that even when we are afraid, love may overcome fear,
that Connor’s sickness may be turned into health, and all of our sorrow into joy.

Sermon: October 28

A priest waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend. The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump.

"Reverend," said the young man, "I'm so sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip."

The priest chuckled, "I know what you mean. It's the same in my business."
Thanks Harry for that one.

How do we get ready for that long trip?

For Moses, the map for their long trip to the promised land was on Mt. Sinai with the giving of the Ten Commandments.

In our first reading from Leviticus, we are reminded of those commandments as again the Lord speaks to Moses to have the people honor each other. “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”

In the Gospel reading, Jesus is once again challenged. Jesus is asked, “Which commandment in the law is the greatest?"

Our own Catechism (in the back of the BCP) reminds us that The Ten Commandments were given to define our relationship with God and our neighbors.

So instead of just picking one of Ten Commandments or any other, Jesus reminds us of our relationships that begin with God.
Jesus said to him, "`You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
It is an ethic of love; what matters most? Our relationship, our love of God and the love of our neighbors as ourselves, they are connected.
As Thomas Merton put it, “God does not give His joy to us for ourselves alone, and if we could possess God for ourselves alone we would not possess God at all. Any joy that does not overflow from our soul and help others to rejoice in God does not come to us from God.” 
Our love & joy that come from above, come from God & must be shared. The two commandments are connected with each other.

Bishop Dinis Sengulane spoke at convention on Friday (he will preach next Sunday here!) – and he reminded us that we are to be Jesus to each other; we are to see Jesus in others; we are God’s fragrance – that will bring love and hope and peace to our world.

What might this fragrance look like as we think about to the Gospel for today? How do we love?

Surrounded by family and friends, they exchange their wedding vows. They love each other - there's no question. Each is the other's most cherished and trusted friend. But they are understandably nervous. They know the other's quirks and flaws - and each realizes that they are not the easiest person in the world to live with, either. They also know that their dreams and hopes for their own lives will now be joined to the those of the other - and that means compromise, understanding and sacrifice. They are very much aware that loving with all your heart is a big risk . . .

She has gotten into trouble again, and again she has to be bailed out. The family has been through this before. She is deeply sorry, resolves to change, and begins to clean up her act - but quickly stumbles again. One more bad decision, one more irresponsible lapse of judgment. But her family is always there to lift her back up, to help put the pieces of her life back together. The pattern has gotten tiresome and they often resent it; helping her demands more sympathy and energy than they can manage. They have learned the risk of loving with all your soul . . .

Business has been painfully slow. His CFO advises him that people are going to have to be let go. But some of these folks have been working for him since day one. Nobody would blame him if he just closed the whole operation down; everyone knows the numbers and the market. But these are people's lives and the lives and futures of their families. So he and his management team keep at it, committed to keeping the operation going, no matter what it takes. Make no mistake, loving with one's whole mind often requires a huge risk . . .

We are not called to love the Lord our God with half a heart, part of a mind, or a smidge of spirit: To truly love our neighbor as ourselves demands that we risk ourselves. Our vocation as parents, our belonging to a family or community, the jobs we choose all require to risk all that we are and have in order to love as fully and as completely as God asks. Mistakes may be made, the results may disappoint - but what if no one is willing to risk it for the sake of transforming our world in the compassion, reconciliation and mercy of God? (from Connections)
We have been given that road map for God loves each & every one of you! May we in turn embody such love: Love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, & Love your Neighbor as yourself.

On these two commandments, hang all the law and the prophets, hang the Bible, hang life itself. May we be worthy. Amen.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Compassion & Chesed

I got this image off of a UMC website because it reminds us that when we work with, do ministry or help out the poor, those in need, both near and far, we are doing ministry with, not ministry for!
It is an important distinction because if we are doing something FOR another person, we can, and often do it without connecting WITH them as persons. From Holy Scripture, we are called to be compassionate, because God is compassionate.


When Jesus meets the widow at Nain (Gospel of Luke 7), 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.  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. 
As Meister Eckhart famously preached that "whatever God does, the first outburst is always compassion." In the Hebrew Scriptures, such compassion is linked to a Hebrew word, translated as chesed. 

Chesed rsj

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word chesed (or hesed) means loving-kindness or love.  “A statement by Rabbi Simlai in the Talmud claims that ‘The Torah begins with chesed and ends with chesed.’ This may be understood to mean that ‘the entire Torah is characterized by chesed,’ i.e. it sets forth a vision of the ideal life whose goals are behavior characterized by mercy and compassion.”

It is God who from the beginning gave us love, gave us chesed, who asks of us in our actions to give such chesed, to live such compassion & loving kindness with others, especially with those in need.

As we approach Thanksgiving, let us give thanks to God for all that God has given to us, and play our part in this world.  Offering compassion, offering chesed, to a hurting world.

Bishop Sengulane Visit

Bishop Dinis Sengulane & Helena Valói
visit November 1 -3, 2014
Saturday, November 1, 2014

6 PM – Dinner in honor of Bishop Sengulane and his wife Helena
(Mozambican dinner, with photos and conversation around the visit of Ann & Rev. Kurt to Mozambique in Feb/March)

All Saints Sunday, November 2, 2014

8 AM – Holy Eucharist I
10:15 AM – Holy Baptism & Eucharist II
Festive Coffee Hour follows
12 Noon – Pot Luck Luncheon with a Bible Study by the Bishop

Monday, November 3, 2014

Bishop Sengulane and Helena Valoi taken to JFK
to catch their flight to Johannesburg/Maputo