Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent Resource #Adventword

Advent Calendar 2014
Tis the season to...
Catch the Life!

This Advent, the SSJE Brothers invite you to join us in looking clearly and honestly at our lives and taking action.

There are a number of choices for how you can experience and share our beautiful, daily Advent Calendar:

Printed Advent Calendar: Give this Advent Calendar to friends and members of your congregation so they can tune into the true meaning of this Christmas season. Order more:

Digital Advent Calendar: A daily word and meditation, accompanied by a stunning image, delivered daily to your inbox. Invite friends and members of your congregation to subscribe to a daily email so they can tune into the the true meaning of this Christmas season. Subscribe:

Pinterest Advent Calendar: Each day, we will reveal a special Advent word, meditation, and beautiful image, along with instructions for how to connect online to additional meditations. In partnership with The Episcopal Church @Iamepiscopalian. Follow:

Instagram Advent Calendar: Be inspired by the daily Advent word, meditation, and beautiful image on Instagram, and create your own calendar by tagging an image that resonates with you. Tag: #adventword

Instagram/Twitter Advent Calendar:

Be inspired by the daily Advent word, meditation, and beautiful image on Instagram/Twitter, and create your own calendar by tagging an image that resonates with you. Images tagged #adventword will be included in the gallery.

Visit: #adventword

Sermon: Nov 30 (Advent I)

Sermon given at the 8 AM service...

Come, O Holy One, as the morning light after a wakeful night!
Keep us mindful that at any moment you may ask of us an accounting of our lives;
help us to love you and love one another in all we do,
and so clothe us with your light that we may bring others to love you also,
through Jesus our Savior. Amen. (Rev. Jennifer Phillips)

Thanksgiving is over and I pray yours was wonderful. The Hubers had a delightful time in New Hampshire with family. Plus 14 inches of snow to boot! A great time was had by all.

On our trip, there was a traffic sign warning us of impending road work. It kept saying, Stay alert!

Driving on a freeway, you need to stay alert or else there may be dire consequences (I think of all the fatalities they report after the holiday weekend). As we enter this holy season of Advent, as the days turn darker, we journey together in hopeful of the Coming of our Savior, in the 1st Advent - Birth of Jesus and in the 2nd Advent - The return of Jesus at the end of our days.

So what does Jesus call us to do in Advent? Stay alert!
Jesus said in today’s Gospel, “keep awake-- for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” 

Why is that? Why keep awake when the rest of the animal kingdom is storing up for a long winter's nap? Why is it now that you and I are to be awake?

In Advent, we are reminded that salvation is nearer to us, nearer to us because we are preparing for the coming of the Christ child. We are preparing for the return of Christ. We are waking up to God with us.

Our collect this morning prays that God will “give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.” But how do we wake up when our bodies are telling us to hibernate with the best of them? The darkness beckons to us, lulls us into slumber, and for some of us, even into depression. How do we do we fight all of that and put on the armor of light?
Jesus said to his disciples, "In those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see `the Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory.”
Jesus told us that he would come again, but he didn't give us a time, lay out a plan. He only told us to keep awake, be ready, he will come at an unexpected time, in a time of darkness and suffering, but when he comes there will be glory. We fight the darkness by keeping watch, bearing witness to his love and sharing the light with gratitude toward others.
Mary Chapin Carpenter is one of the most popular and enduring singer-songwriters in country and folk music. Over her 25-year career, Carpenter's 13 albums have sold millions of copies and garnered five Grammy Awards

But in 2007 it almost all came to an end. She had just finished touring and returned home to her Virginia farm when she suffered severe chest pains and terrible breathlessness. A scan revealed blood clots in her lungs. She was lucky that it was discovered in time - but Carpenter wasn't prepared for the pain, fear and depression that followed. She wrote this:

"Everything I had been looking forward to came to a screeching halt. I had to cancel my upcoming tour. I had to let my musicians and crew members go. The record company, the booking agency: I felt that I had let everyone down. But there was nothing to do but get out of the hospital, go home and get well. I tried hard to see my unexpected time off as a gift, but I would open a novel and couldn't concentrate. I would turn on the radio, then shut it off. Familiar clouds gathered above my head, and I couldn't make them go away with a pill or a movie or a walk. This unexpected time was becoming a curse . . . of the darkness that is depression.

"Sometimes, it's the smile of a stranger that helps. Sometimes it's a phone call from a long absent friend, checking on you. I found my lifeline at the grocery store. One morning, the young man who rang up my groceries and asked me if I wanted paper or plastic also told me to enjoy the rest of my day. I looked at him and I knew he meant it. It stopped me in my tracks. I went out and I sat in my car and cried. What I want more than ever is to appreciate that I have this day, and tomorrow and hopefully days beyond that. I am experiencing the learning curve of gratitude.

"I don't want to say 'have a nice day' like a robot. I don't want to get mad at the elderly driver in front of me. I don't want to go crazy when my Internet access is messed up. I don't want to be jealous of someone else's success. You could say that this litany of sins indicates that I don't want to be human. The learning curve of gratitude, however, is showing me exactly how human I am…Tonight I will cook dinner, tell my husband how much I love him, curl up with the dogs, watch the sun go down over the mountains and climb into bed. I will think about how uncomplicated it all is. I will wonder at how it took me my entire life to appreciate just one day." [From "The Learning Curve of Gratitude" by Mary Chapin Carpenter, from the series This I Believe, NPR, June 23, 2007.]
Throughout the Advent of our lives, we encounter the returning "master of the house": those unexpected changes and struggles, like illness, that shake us and unsettle us, reminding us how precious and limited time is and how grateful and humbled we should be for the lives we have. Advent challenges us to see our lives not as a disjointed set of experiences and circumstances but as a pilgrimage to the dwelling place of God - a journey in which every moment, every step is a new revelation of God's presence in our midst. Advent calls us to "be watchful" along the way and be attentive to the unmistakable signs of God's love and peace in our lives, to live life expectantly as a gift from God.

May we in this holy time of Advent, renew our lives by staying alert and keeping awake, living life as the gift it is, not knowing what our days will be, but remembering the gifts that God so freely gave to us and who invites us into a joyous time of preparation to remember and rejoice at Christmas, and to prepare and wait for Christ's coming again among us. Amen.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with  you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP p. 246)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Praying for Ferguson (and for all of us!)

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (For the Oppressed, BCP p. 826)

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (In Times of Conflict, p. 824)

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (For the Human Family, BCP p. 815)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sermon: November 16

Some of you know that I was able to sneak away for a quiet retreat at the Society of St. John the Evangelist, an Episcopal monastery in Cambridge, MA this week. It was a birthday gift from my wife; she had 5 kids to taxi around for 2 days!

It was a restful and refreshing retreat. Reminds me that in the hustle and bustle of his ministry, Jesus often went up the mountain by himself to pray and seemingly recharge. It is something we all need to do, one way or another to take time away and rejuvenate ourselves for our journey.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us the Parable of the Talents, a stark reminder that we each have been entrusted with various gifts/talents for the Kingdom of God. We don't all have the same gifts, but God expects us to use whatever we have been given, to not to sit on those gifts, but God wants us to use the gifts, to show our faith, for the good of others.
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” 

These words from T.S. Eliot remind me that our call to live out our faith & use our gifts, to take that first step and the next, and the next after that, is a risk, a risk that will lead us to where God calls us to go, further than we can imagine or sometimes even want to go.
Since May, the Ebola virus has devastated many countries in Western Africa. Thousands of people have died of the disease. Among the many courageous people are nurses like Josephine Finda Sellu and grave-digger Kandeh Kamara. Josephine, 42, is the deputy nurse matron at the government-run hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone. Kenema has been Sierra Leone's biggest death trap since the virus struck. Josephine is part of a select club: she is one of three surviving nurses of the original staff who did not become infected. They watched their patients die and their colleagues die, but they carried on.

Josephine thought about quitting - her family pleaded with her to quit. But she says, "There is a need for me to be around. I am a senior [nurse]. All the junior nurses look up to me." If she left, she says, "the whole thing would collapse."

In the campaign against the Ebola virus, the front line is stitched together by people like Josephine: doctors and nurses who give their lives to treat patients who will probably die; janitors who clean up lethal pools of vomit and waste so that beleaguered health centers can stay open; drivers who venture into villages overcome by illness to retrieve patients; body handlers charged with the dangerous task of keeping highly infectious corpses from sickening others.

Many of these health care workers died, some have fled - but many new recruits sign up willingly, often receiving little or no pay, sometimes giving up their homes, communities and even their families.

“If I don’t volunteer, who can do this work?” asked Kandeh, one of about 20 young men doing one of the dirtiest jobs in the campaign: finding and burying corpses across eastern Sierra Leone.

When the outbreak started months ago, Kandeh, 21, went to the health center in Kailahun and offered to help. When officials there said they could not pay him, he accepted anyway.

“There are no other people to do it, so we decided to do it just to help save our country,” he said of himself and the other young men. They call themselves “the burial boys.” Doctors Without Borders trained them to wear protective equipment and to safely clear out bodies potentially infected with Ebola.

Often family members and neighbors will not let health care works return to their homes and villages, terrified that they carry Ebola virus with them. Josephine even had to quell a revolt among her nurses who, at one point, threatened her if another nurse died. That's when her children pleaded with her not to go back to the hospital.

"It has been a nightmare for me," Josephine says. "Since the whole thing started I have cried a lot . . . It came to a time when I was thinking of quitting this job. It was too much for me . . . [But] you have no options. You have to go and save others. You see your colleagues dying, and you still go to work.

Josephine finds some reason for optimism, though. She has seen the flood of Ebola patients diminish. And she and her nurses are no longer alone in the fight. As she put on her protective suit and prepared for work. “By the grace of God, it will end,” she said.

"There are times when I say, 'Oh my God, I should have chosen secretarial,'" but her job as a healer, Josephine says, "is a call from God." [From "Those Who Serve Ebola Victims Soldier On" by Adam Nossiter and Ben C. Solomon, The New York Times, August 23, 2014.]
The parable of the talents focuses on the critical question of not what we possess in terms of talent and ability but our willingness to use our gifts to make the kingdom of God a reality here and now. We may have the skills to be a brilliant surgeon - or we may be able to bring healing to others by our simple but under-appreciated ability to listen to them in their pain; we may have the opportunity to influence the lives of many people - or we may be a good mom or dad to our own children; we may have the skills to manage big organizations that accomplish much good - or we may take a regular turn at the local soup kitchen. We may be a nurse providing care for the victims of a terrible disease or a burial boy helping clear infected bodies from the streets.

The Spirit of God prompts us to use our "talents" for the common good, to bring healing to the broken, to establish the Kingdom of God in our time and place. Such an investment is demanding sacrificial work, as Josephine and Kandeh well know. Whatever we can do, whatever our skills and resources enable us to do, the challenge of the Gospel is to be ready and willing to respond to the opportunities we have to give of ourselves generously for the sake of the Kingdom.

Let us use our gifts, taking steps, taking risks, using our talents so that God’s glory may be made manifest through what we do today. So then at the last, we may hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant of God; enter into the joy of your master.” Amen.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Our Scottish Roots

This is from a blogpost by the Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth, the Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow (Scotland):
Two hundred and twenty five years ago today, something special happened in Aberdeen.

Two hundred and twenty five years ago today, Anglicanism in the USA was set ablaze with the consecration of the Rt Rev Samuel Seabury, their first bishop.

The fact that the consecration took place in Aberdeen is one of those quirks of church history which has shaped, and continues to shape the church of today.

The short version of the story is that the American church needed to have a bishop and elected one of their own and sent him across the Atlantic to be consecrated by the Church of England. The Church of England in its turn was having none of it, frightened off appearing to offer support to revolutionary tendencies in the United States. Frightened of promoting revolution.

Seabury had come a long way to be made a bishop and needed to look elsewhere. He had previously studied medicine in Edinburgh and perhaps we can presume that his thoughts turned back to Scotland because he had previously been north of the border. He made the the trip up to Aberdeen where he was consecrated by Robert Kilgour of Aberdeen (who was the Primus), along with two other Scottish bishops, Arthur Petrie (who had connections with my own congregation here in Glasgow) and John Skinner.

The deal was that they would consecrate Seabury so long as he took back the Scottish Liturgy to the American church and work for it to be adopted on the other side of the Atlantic. When you are in the know about matters liturgical, you can still see the similarities between the liturgies from our two churches.

The particular thing that the Scottish Rite had was the Epiclesis a prayer invoking the holy spirit over the communion elements. The Church of England didn’t have it thought they’ve come close to adopting it since. Here in Scotland, that prayer is part of who we are and was part of our gift to America. Any true Episcopalian on either side of the Atlantic knows that the Scottish Episcopalians didn’t just hold up their hands to consecrate a bishop, but blessed the American church with something else that was holy too. And along the way, of course, we helped to kick what was to become the Anglican Communion into being. One sometimes feels that the C of E has never entirely caught up with the implications of that in the years since.

Today, on this anniversary, I want to celebrate the US Based Episcopal Church. I wish they hadn’t tried to change their name to The Episcopal Church a few years ago, as it is downright confusing, but they’ve done so much good that I try to forget about that as much as I can.

In the various disputes within the Anglican Communion in modern times, we must never forget that the Scottish Episcopal Church was the Church that liked to say, “Yes”.

May it ever be so.

The US church received the Epiclesis from Scotland.

They’ve been using it well ever since.

God Bless America and God Bless the US-based Episcopal Church today.

Thank you Provost Holdsworth!  We love Scotland too!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Reflection on (Remembering &) Thanksgiving

(2) As we remember and give thanks to our Veterans on Veterans Day, our Thanksgiving holiday just a few weeks away, beckons us to give thanks to God for the past year of our lives and all the gifts we have received. As that wonderful Thanksgiving hymn tells us:
We thank thee, then, O Father,
for all things bright and good,
the seed-time and the harvest,
our life, our health, our food.
Accept the gifts we offer
for all your love imparts,
with what we know you long for:
our humble, thankful hearts.
All good gifts around us
are sent from heaven above;
then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
for all his love.
Such gratefulness is rooted in our understanding that our lives are meant to be lived as thanksgiving. And yet life is too often in our society treated as a possession that can be taken from us, damaged or lost, and then our lives become filled with fear causing us to cling and protect them from others.

“The antidote to this fear,” as the author Richard Beck puts it, “is gratitude, viewing life--the whole of life--not as a possession to be defended but as a gift to be shared. Think of everything you possess, everything that is yours in life. How can we live with these things in a way that doesn't entangle us? In a way that isn't sinful?” Beck says…

“Receive them as gifts. When we handle the things of the world as gifts they become holy, consecrated and sanctified…Thankfulness sanctifies the world because thankfulness creates the capacity to use things--by letting them go or sharing them--in holy ways.” (
This week, you will receive in the mail our annual stewardship pledge drive materials. I invite you to see your pledge as a way of living your life in thanksgiving, an offering, a gift of thanksgiving for all that you have received this year. A gift you offer as disciples of Jesus in this place.

You can turn in the pledge sheet next Sunday. If you haven’t made a pledge for this year, I invite you to begin your pledge for 2015, next Sunday. This year, you can set up your contributions online (monthly, twice a month or one-time) through our partner FaithStreet giving. It is safe and secure and easy to set up.

In whatever way, in whatever amount you decide, remember, that all good gifts around us are sent from heaven above; and by what we share out of gratefulness, our lives will be thanksgiving, for the goodness of the Lord. Amen.

Reflection on Remembering (& Thanksgiving)

(1) Veterans Day is this Tuesday. In the news:

· This past Thursday, 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing was awarded the Medal of Honor, 151 years after his death next to the artillery guns he refused to leave in the Battle of Gettysburg during the CW.

· The 2nd Battle of Fallujah, the deadliest battle of the War in Iraq began 10 years ago Friday.

· This year marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War, World War I. (1914)

· This next year marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of our ground war in Vietnam. (1965)

We need to remember and mark Veterans Day for all those who served during war time and for those who served during peace time. But it goes beyond just remembering, just saying a few thank you’s to those whose served.

Bishop Jay Magness, who is Bishop Suffragan for Federal Ministries of The Episcopal Church, who is responsible for the pastoral care and oversight for our armed forces chaplains, military personnel and families (as well as oversight of federal hospitals, prisons, and correctional facilities chaplains), put it this way a few days ago:
“While remembrance is important, the act of remembering is insufficient. We have among us a significant number of combat veterans, many of whom have invisible though enduring wounds, which must be recognized and healed. It is not enough to thank a veteran for her or his service as though we were wishing them a 'good day.' It is incumbent upon each of us to engage in ongoing care for veterans and to ensure that we provide meaningful assistance in rebuilding their lives and their futures. Providing shelter for the homeless, medical care for the ailing, spiritual care for those who have lost hope, and jobs for those who are unemployed are the responsibilities of a grateful nation to those who have stood the lonely watches, born the heavy burdens and carry the wounds of war for each of us.” (
So let us pray and remember the prayer calls us to act too:
O gracious God, we pray for those who have served our nation, who laid down their lives to protect and defend our freedom. We pray for all those who have fought & for those who suffered, our wounded warriors, whose spirits and bodies are scarred by war and whose nights are haunted by memories too painful for the light of day. We pray for those who serve us now, especially for those in harm's way: shield them from danger and bring them home, soon. Turn the hearts and minds of our leaders and our enemies to the work of justice and a harvest of peace. May the peace you left us, the peace you gave us, be the peace that sustains us, the peace that saves us. O Lord Jesus, hear our prayer for our Veterans & their families, for those who heard the call in yesteryear and for those who serve today, that we may reach forth our hands in love and gratefully serve their needs even as we pray for a lasting peace throughout the world. Amen. (adapted from the Concord Pastor)

Sermon - November 9

Amos challenges us to look beyond what we do now, for our offerings are not enough if we do not live into God’s justice. In the letter to Thessalonians, we are called upon to encourage one another, that death does not have the final word.

So we are challenged to do justice, to share encouragement. In the Gospel, the parable of the ten bridesmaids that Jesus gives us today, is a story about living into hope & the encouragement to stick with it even when we have to wait.

As Jesus tells it, 10 bridesmaids were given the honor to meet the bridegroom. 5 were wise and prepared (extra oil) 5 were foolish and had only oil in their lamp. The Bridegroom was delayed and all 10 slept. When he finally arrived the foolish ran to get more oil because their lamps grew dim but were not welcomed back when they returned.

It would be as if you had cleared security and gotten in the crowd to see the victorious candidate on Tuesday night, waiting all day with your camera and when the elected candidate arrives you realize your battery is dead and you did not bring a spare, you run out to get a battery but by the time you return, you cannot get back in.

Now Jesus tells us that this parable is how the Kingdom of Heaven will be like, so Keep awake says Jesus, be prepared, for you know neither the day nor the hour when the kingdom will come, for the bridegroom in the story is Jesus. And he is looking at our lives, and seeing how unprepared we are to live, how we don’t have that hope oozing through us, we don’t have that extra oil to be ready for what delays may come.

“Readiness in the Gospel of Matthew is all about living the quality of life described in the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes. Many can do this for a short while; but when the kingdom is delayed, the problems arise. Being a peacemaker for a day is not as demanding as being a peacemaker year after year when the hostility breaks out again and again, and the bridegroom is delayed…” (New Interpreters Bible) I think of the stories Bishop Sengulane shared with us last week about trying to keep peace before the eyes of the warring parties in Mozambique, year after year after year.

In the Jewish tradition having oil was often connected to one’s good deeds. Let me illustrate the parable with this true story:
A Washington, D.C., executive often would go to the noon Eucharist at a downtown church. One bitterly cold, windy day in February, he entered the church and took a seat. He noticed a few pews in front of him a man shaking uncontrollably. The man was undoubtedly homeless and had come into the church to get warm.

The executive began thinking about what he could do. How should he help this person who was in such obvious need? He knew the Gospel response would be to give the man his own coat - and he had an old frayed coat hanging in his closet at home that he would give to the poor man without hesitation. But today, the executive was wearing his very best dress coat, the one he had traded up to. And he was thinking how much easier it would be to deal with the issue if he were only wearing his old coat instead of his new one. But he had a whole afternoon of meetings and appointments and needed a coat.

The executive, a good man, could not decide what to do. He couldn't focus on the liturgy; he was totally obsessed with what he should do. He even considered giving the man money to buy a coat.

Finally, at the end of the service, totally transfixed on the plight of the poor man, the executive knew that he needed to give him his coat. So he went up to the man and he tapped him on the shoulder. He started to offer him his coat, but the man looked at him and thanked him and said, "Well, that's very kind of you, but that other man who was sitting over there gave me his coat."

And the executive wept. He was ashamed at the struggle that he had just gone through. He knew all along what was the right thing to do. And he failed. But he also wept in gratitude that someone was moved enough to follow Christ, to share from the abundance with which he had been given. [Adapted from a homily by the Rev. Canon Jan Naylor Cope, Washington National Cathedral, November 16, 2011. Used with permission.]
A Washington executive realizes an opportunity lost: to bring the light and love of Christ the Bridegroom into another's life. The parable of the ten bridesmaids illustrates the precariousness and the preciousness of the time we are given to live lives that matter. We have only so many opportunities to become part of Jesus' work of mercy and reconciliation; we only have so much oil in our lamps to illuminate the love of God in our lives and to encourage others.

There is so much we want to do with our lives - but the many demands on our time to make a living derail us from making a life, a life that is centered in the love of family and friends, in an awareness of God's loving presence in our midst, in a yearning to contribute to the greater good of all. Christ warns us not to fall into the trap of the five "foolish" bridesmaids who squander their time before the Bridegroom's arrival, but to embrace the wisdom of the five "wise" bridesmaids, trimming our "lamps" with the "oil" of justice, compassion, generosity and forgiveness in the precious time we have until Christ's coming. To live those good works so all may come to see Christ in our midst. Amen.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ola Paz! - The Words of Bishop Dinis Sengulane

"Dinis Salomão Sengulane (born 5 March 1946) is a Mozambican Anglican priest. He was the Anglican Bishop of Lebombo, Maputo, Mozambique, from 1976 to 2014. He had an important role in the end of the Mozambican Civil War in 1992 and helped with the surrender of 600,000 weapons that were converted into art. He was amongst the longest serving Anglican bishops." (from Wikipedia)

Bishop Sengulane was in Connecticut with his wife Lena to visit with retired Bishop Jim Curry, to be the keynote speaker at his retirement banquet and to visit several churches who have a relationship with Mozambique (including St. Peter's Church!).  Here are some of his words:
We are not only messengers, we are messages of peace. Ola Paz! (Hello peace!) 
We are to be Jesus Christ to others. We are to see Jesus Christ in them. We are to be God's fragrance.

We are called to peace makers. O God help us to pacify the earth. Begin with me.

Tragedy is not the last word. Gods hope. Peace to each other, in our hearts, from God.
"Beloved we are God's children now."

I am God's child now (say this in a mirror)

God smiles on you.

You are called to be a saint.

To point to God. And follow him.

"I have decided to follow Jesus no turning back."
"Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD; let us exalt his Name together."
God must be smiling.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cross of Bullets

The Cross of Bullets was designed by Kester, a Mozambican artist known for his Throne of Weapons and Tree of Life, both of which are in the British Museum.
"Bishop Dinis Sengulane's idea which led to the creation of an organization called "Transformacao de Armas em Enxadas" or "Transforming Arms into Tools". Bishop Sengulane was one of the people credited for creating the opportunity for peace following the Mozambique Civil War.  The "Transforming Arms into Tools" organization supplied the decommissioned weapons to the artists and his group for this and many other related pieces of sculpture. " (from wikipedia)
At the request of Bishop Jim Curry, Kester, who is as part of a co-operative called Associação Núcleo de Arte in Maputo, created the cross from the remnant bullets that were decomissioned after the civil war.  It was presented to me as a present.  It reminds me that we need to rid ourselves of these weapons and seek peace in our world.  For upon the cross, Christ has taken all the violence, all the weapons, and bore the pain and suffering.  He will redeem us all and lead us down the path of peace.

Bishop Dinis Sengulane and his wife Helena (and me!)

The Fear of Ebola

Can we not understand where it is & where it isn't?

Please see this image.

Kenya does not have ebola.

Mozambique does not have ebola.

We need to calm down and worry about the infections that are around us (i.e., flu).

This story is very sad.  We cannot let fear ruin lives.

Teacher told to stay away after trip to Africa

By DYLAN LOVAN, 11/6/2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Catholic school teacher was told to take a leave of absence for 21 days when she returned from a mission trip to Kenya, even though the country is thousands of miles from the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak.

The school, St. Margaret Mary in Louisville, told religion teacher Susan Sherman to take mandatory leave when she returned Oct. 26 because several parents were worried about the Ebola outbreak, said Sherman's husband, Paul, who had also been to Kenya.

On Thursday, Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz acknowledged that was "not the right judgment."

"I know that the parish itself and the school made some very prudent judgments in the midst of an awful lot of confusion at the time," Kurtz said. "And certainly we regret any pain that has been caused to the Sherman family."

Susan Sherman resigned last week.

"She did not know about the leave of absence until we returned" from Kenya, Paul Sherman said.

They couple spent nine days there, working with Kenya Relief, an organization that provides health care, food and water and builds churches and distributes Bibles. Susan Sherman has worked as a nurse and Paul Sherman is a retired orthopedic surgeon.

Kenya is on Africa's east coast; the Ebola outbreak has been concentrated in West Africa in countries including Liberia. Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, is about 3,300 miles from Kenya's capital, Nairobi. By comparison, Los Angeles is about 3,100 miles from Atlanta.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that only people at the highest risk — those who've had direct contact with an Ebola patient's body fluids, for example — avoid commercial travel or large public gatherings for 21 days.

Concerns over an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. have prompted some officials to take extra precautions with Americans who have traveled to Africa. Last month, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced tougher protocols than the federal government has imposed. As a result, a nurse who had worked in Sierra Leone who said she did not have symptoms was quarantined in Newark.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I Sing a Song of the Saints of God

At the parish I grew up at (St. James Episcopal Church, Birmingham, MI), their children's chapel had beautiful stained glass windows of this hymn by Lesbia Scott and first published in 1929 (the windows as I remember them in parenthesis):

I sing a song of the saints of God,
Patient and brave and true,
Who toiled and fought and lived and died
For the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, (Albert Schweitzer)
and one was a queen, (Queen Elizabeth)
And one was a shepherdess on the green; (Joan of Arc)
They were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.

They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
And his love made them strong;
And they followed the right for Jesus' sake
The whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier,  (George Washington)
and one was a priest, (?)
And one was slain by a fierce wild beast; (Dietrich Bonehoeffer)
And there's not any reason, no, not the least,
Why I shouldn't be one too.

They lived not only in ages past,
There are hundreds of thousands still.
The world is bright with the joyous saints
Who love to do Jesus' will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
In church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
For the saints of God are just folk like me,
And I mean to be one too.

A hymn to remind us that we are called to be saints too!

("Teach by works more than by words. We must all try to be preachers through our deeds." ~ St. Teresa of Avila.)

The stained glass window above is from All Saints Episcopal Church, Detroit.

A Post Election Prayer

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. Lord, keep this nation under your care.

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. Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

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.
Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To the Judges and officers of our Courts give understanding
and integrity, that human rights may be safeguarded and
justice served. Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

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.

(For Sound Government - BCP)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Election Day

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your  purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This is a good week to unpack Nelson Mandela’s succinct description of what his jail cell allowed him to do and of what true leadership really is. Let’s examine ourselves by these simple words. And let’s ask these questions of both ourselves and of our political leaders — especially as we go to vote. ~  Jim Wallis
Read more on this here:

Mandela's Words:
“The cell is an ideal place to know yourself. People tend to measure themselves by external accomplishments, but jail allows a person to focus on internal ones, such as honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, generosity and an absence of variety. You learn to look into yourself.”

Last thought on the Autumn Triduum

This ‘November Triduum’ of All Hallows’ Even, All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days hold for us the same stark reality as does the Easter Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter: that death is real. It may come in the guise of cute children dressed up in all manner of costumes, begging candy from you or threatening tricks, but our pre-Christian and Christian ancestors in the faith would recognize Hallowe’en as that night when you stared at, and stared down, death.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death between your judgment and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and  grace to the living; pardon and rest to the dead; to your holy Church peace and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life
and glory; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP)

Almighty God, in whom is no darkness at all:
Grant me your light perpetually,
and when I cannot see the way before me,
may I continue to put my trust in you;
that so, being guided and guarded by your love,
I may be kept from falling,
this day and all my days,
through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

-William Knight (Printed in Prayers for all Occasions, Forward Movement)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

All Souls 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. The following day, in the commemoration of All Saints, 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 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”

The Commemoration of All Faithful Departed:

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 Poem for All Souls (by Wendell Berry):

I tremble with gratitude
for my children and their children
who take pleasure in one another.

At our dinners together, the dead
enter and pass among us
in living love and in memory.

And so the young are taught.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

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. The following day, in the commemoration of All Saints, we gave witness to the victory of incarnate goodness embodied in the remarkable deeds and doers triumphing over the misanthropy of darkness and devils.” – The Rev. Sam Portaro from “Brightest and Best”

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.

A Hymn for All Saints'

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
who thee by faith before the world confessed,
thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the apostles' glorious company,
who bearing forth the cross o'er land and sea,
shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
is fair and fruitful, be thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
and seeing, grasped it, thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
and win, with them the victor's crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
we feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
all are one in thee, for all are thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
the saints triumphant rise in bright array;
the King of glory passes on his way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
and singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!