Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Message from our Presiding Bishop (On Harvey)

and from the Bishop of Texas:
Hurricane Harvey and our Mission

Let me begin by thanking all of our brothers and sisters around the world who are holding us up in prayer. We are grateful for the hope you lend us at this time of disaster and fear.

We have been in touch with many people and know that the disaster stretches across the whole southern part of our diocese. We expect the area to grow as the slow moving storm progresses across the state.

We are following the guidance of our officials and hunkering down in order to remain safe while they focus on those in the most immediate danger. Please pray for many clergy and laity who have water in their home. Pray also for those who need rescuing and are even now being rescued. We have a number of first responders and they also need our prayers as they are leaving loved ones to help with rescue operations.

We want to emphasize that we need to wait until the danger has passed to make our response so as not to complicated further the ongoing rescue operations.

Our plan for response includes the following:

1. We are in a standby mode until the storm passes.
2. We have had an effective test of our Alertmedia, our app for communicating with heads of congregations and staff in emergencies.
3. We have been in touch with many of our clergy families in the affected areas and heard from them about their situations. This afternoon we will use Alertmedia to gather more information.
4. Once the storm and danger has passed we will begin planning deployment of our Spiritual Care teams to affected areas.
5. We will are now and will continue to assess area damage as we get information from multiple sources and evaluate ways we can make an affective response.
6. An overall strategy will be developed and a coordinated response will be managed collaboratively working with our congregations. We will then implement a strategy and coordinate with resources.

As I write these words, I am very present to the sadness, fear, uncertainty, and grief that fill our minds and hearts in the wake of hurricane and tropical storm Harvey. Coastal towns along the Texas Gulf have been destroyed, and catastrophic flooding has left much of Houston underwater. Truly this storm has brought all of us to our knees, and our only recourse is to join King David in his plea for mercy: “Save me, O God, for the waters have risen up to my neck” (Psalm 69:1).

Two of the most powerful images in Scripture have Jesus Christ exercising authority over the sea. Jesus commands the stormy sea to be calm: “Who is this?” The disciples ask. “For even the winds and the sea obey him” (Matt 8:26). In a different passage, Jesus walks on the sea (Matt 14:26). The point being made by the Biblical author is clear: namely, that God’s power to save, renew, heal, and restore is infinitely greater than the sea’s power to destroy. The God we know in Jesus Christ forever sits “enthroned amidst the flood” (Psalm 29:10).

It is with this hope that we wait for healing together and, in concert with our Baptismal vows, we pledge to be conduits through whom God brings healing and renewal to others. We also commit to allowing other human beings to be vessels through whom God brings healing and renewal to us, for receiving is always its own kind of courage.

We do not know the future of Harvey or the city of Houston. But as Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matt 24:35). “I will never leave you,” says our Lord standing on the waves. “Never will I forsake you” (Heb 13:5).
My prayers, the prayers of your diocesan staff, and or global family are with you. Jesus is with you. Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy City where the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Sustain those displaced by the storm with food, drink, and all other bodily necessities of life. We especially remember before you all poor and neglected persons it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them; that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, we may ever be defended by your gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, D.D.
IX Bishop of Texas

Responding to Hurricane Harvey

There are several ways you can help (from Episcopal Relief & Development):
  • Sign for Ready to Serve to receive information about upcoming volunteer opportunities. The Ready to Serve database will be shared with leadership in the impacted areas once they're ready to begin taking volunteers.
  • Please don't send food, clothing or other items to the affected area. Affected dioceses have limited or no capacity to receive, store or distribute goods. It is more efficient and better for the local economy to make a donation. Click here for more about why cash donations are more efficient than goods donations.
  • Consider donating to the Episcopal Relief & Development's Hurricane Harvey fund in lieu of goods donations to support impacted dioceses as they meet the needs of their most vulnerable neighbors after this event.
[Other places to give include: Humane Society of the US (Disaster Relief Fund) and the Texas Diaper Bank (Disaster Relief) or

Sermon: August 27 (Proper 16)

O gracious Lord. There’s a time for healing and a time for forgiving, There’s a time for building bridges and that time is now. Take our hearts Lord, Take our minds, Take our hands, Lord, and make them one. Amen. (from St. George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem)

It is good to be back after vacation in Vermont. Sadly, we can see and feel a time of disunity in our country, a time of racism, hatred and malice in the world at large. These are not easy times. And yet, these are the times when God hast entrusted us with the message of Jesus Christ, of love and healing, forgiveness and compassion when hurricanes make devastation, when terrorists destroy the peace, when the world has seemingly gone mad and we feel unease.

This is the moment we need to remember who we are…

And I think of Norah’s favorite movie – Moana – a story about “the strong-willed daughter of a chief of a Polynesian village, who is chosen by the ocean to reunite a mystical relic with a goddess who brought life to the world. When a blight strikes her island & the waters around the island, Moana sets sail in search of Maui, a legendary demigod, in the hope of saving her people.” (mostly from Wikipedia)

Having watched it a few times with Norah, like 47 times, the story, for me, is really about knowing who you are. Each character in Moana explores that question… they sing about it. It is a tale about their life at the present moment and their connection to those who lived before them.

For to know who we are, is to remember where we came from (our ancestors). The words of the prophet Isaiah to the beleaguered Israelites tells it this way:

Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord.
Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.
Look to Abraham, your father and to Sarah, who bore you.’

To the Israelites thinking about a homeland again, considering all that has befallen them – destruction of their sacred sites, exile in a far away land– the words “look to the rock, to the quarry, to your ancestors” is a reminder of who they are. It is to live in hope like the ancestors once did – to remember them and where you are from, for as Isaiah goes on to say…

Listen to me, my people, and give heed to me… for a teaching will go out from me,
and my justice for a light to the peoples. I will bring near my deliverance swiftly.

Pursue righteousness, seek the Lord, for deliverance is close at hand.

This morning, we baptize Samuel Anthony Harris into the Body of Christ.

With his parents (Sarah & Talman) and Godparents, his family and all of us gathered here, we lift him up in prayer, and with holy water and sacred oil he is marked as Christ own forever. This day becomes for him, the day to which he can look, his day of deliverance and hope, his day of love and salvation. Look to the rock. For Samuel, his Christian journey has begun in the body of Christ. But what his and our journey will be, what temptations may come before us, what may arise that challenges our understanding of ourselves and our faith, none of us knows.

Born in what is now Poland, Helmut James von Moltke was a brilliant lawyer and a deeply committed Christian as WW II approached. He realized that the rise of Nazi power would be catastrophic for Germany. In 1935, after completing his studies in law, he refused an offer to become a judge because it would require him to join the Nazi Party. Instead, he began a private law practice in the German capital of Berlin. His firm helped Jews and other persecuted peoples emigrate from Germany. Between 1935 and 1938, while helping German émigrés in the United Kingdom, he studied British law in London and Oxford.

In September 1939, as the war in Europe escalated, von Moltke was drafted for service with the Abwehr, the German counter-intelligence service, where he served as the resident expert in international law. In that capacity, he traveled extensively and witnessed many human rights abuses in German-occupied Europe. He attempted to persuade others to cease such violence, pleading in an October 1941 letter, "[H]ow can anyone know of these things [the abuses] and walk around free?"

Von Moltke refused to be part of the failed coup to kill Hitler. He felt that the plan, if it succeeded, would make a martyr of Hitler, and if it failed, it would expose the resistance movement. Von Moltke focused instead on opportunities to undermine the Nazi apparatus from within. In his work as legal counsel for the Abwehr, he was able to give early warning to trusted friends about the true state of the war, including the Jewish extermination camps. He got Jews safely deported through legal channels. He also wrote some of the few reports on the psychological trauma suffered by German soldiers who witnessed or participated in mass killings. In his travels throughout Nazi-occupied Europe, he quietly made contact with resistance fighters. He was the guiding spirit behind the "Kreisau Circle," a group of German intellectuals, theologians and aristocrats committed to ending Hitler's rule and rebuilding Germany after the war.

In January 1944, Von Moltke was arrested for his anti-Nazi sentiments and his writings on democracy. He was executed a year later. In his farewell letter to his wife, Freya, von Moltke wrote:

"Your husband stands before [the judge] . . . as a Christian and nothing else . . . Everything which was hidden acquires its meaning in retrospect . . . the refusal to put out [Nazi] flags or to belong to the Party . . . it has all at last become comprehensible in a single hour. For this one hour the Lord took all that trouble . . . We were allowed to symbolize this fact by our shared Holy Communion, which will have been my last . . . The task for which God made me is done."
Remember who you are. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Today we bring Samuel into the fold through baptism, may we teach Samuel & Norah & all of our little ones, to remember who they are, like Von Moltke remembered. For all of us bear the marks of Christ, may these little ones grow into this rich faith & join us one day in building bridges of hope in our world, that our hearts, minds and hands may do the work of Jesus, our rock & redeemer.

Remember who you are today. Look to that water in baptism. Look to the rock. Amen.

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Hurricane Prayer

A prayer:

O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children. The Sea of Galilee obeyed your order and returned to its former quietude; you are still the Master of land and sea. We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control. During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O loving God. Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with the passing of time. Gracious Father, all the elements of nature obey your command. Calm the storms and hurricanes that threaten us and turn our fear into praise of your goodness. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.


And a prayer for those already affected by Harvey:

Lord, you who calmed the storm at sea, quiet the fears, ease the pain, tend the grief, and light the darkness of your children affected by Harvey. In stunned silence, be their voice. In rages against the night, be their balm. In bewilderment, be their hope. Lead rescuers to the lost, shelter the waiting. Sustain those who work to make life's necessities spring forth in this desert of gloom. Blanket the weary with your tender touch. Shake us from our comforts to share out sisters and brothers' sorrow and burden and assist and pray them into new life. We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus, who suffered and was raised to new life. Amen.

(both adapted from different sources)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Message to the Episcopal Church from the Presiding Bishop

In this moment – when the stain of bigotry has once again covered our land, and when hope, frankly, sometimes seems far away, when we must now remember new martyrs of the way of love like young Heather Heyer – it may help to remember the deep wisdom of the martyrs who have gone before.

The year was 1967. It was a time not unlike this one in America. Then there were riots in our streets, poverty and unbridled racism in our midst, and a war far away tearing us apart at home. In that moment, the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a book, his last one, with a message that rings poignant today. It was titled, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”

One of his insights then was that a moment of crisis is always a moment of decision. It was true then and is true now. Where do we go from here? Chaos? Indifference? Avoidance? Business as usual? Or Beloved Community?

I’m a follower of Jesus of Nazareth because I believe the teachings, the Spirit, the Person, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus have shown us the way through the chaos to true community as God has intended from the beginning.

Through the way of love, he has shown us the way to be right and reconciled with the God and Creator of us all. Through his way of love, he has shown us the way to be right and reconciled with each other as children of God, and as brothers and sisters. In so doing, Jesus has shown us the way to become the Beloved Community of God. St. Paul said it this way: “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself” and now he has entrusted us with “the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

I know too well that talk of Beloved Community, which Jesus was describing when he spoke of the kingdom of God in our midst, can be dismissed as nice but naive, idealistic yet unrealistic. I know that.

But I also know this. The way of Beloved Community is our only hope. In this most recent unveiling of hatred, bigotry, and cruelty, as Neo-Nazis marched and chanted, “The Jews will not replace us,” we have seen the alternative to God’s Beloved Community. And that alternative is simply unthinkable. It is nothing short of the nightmare of human self-destruction and the destruction of God’s creation. And that is unthinkable, too.

We who follow Jesus have made a choice to walk a different way: the way of disciplined, intentional, passionate, compassionate, mobilized, organized love intent on creating God’s Beloved Community on earth.

Maybe it is not an accident that the Bible readings for the Holy Eucharist this Sunday (Genesis 45:1-15; Isaiah 56:1,6-8; Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; and Matthew 15:21-28) all point toward and bear a message of God’s passionate desire and dream to create the Beloved Community in the human family and all of the creation.

This Sunday and in the days and weeks to come, as we gather in community to worship God and then move about in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, social circles and more, we will be faced with a choice. I ask and invite us as congregations and individuals who are together the Episcopal Church of the Jesus Movement to intentionally, purposely, and liturgically rededicate ourselves to the way of Jesus, the work of racial reconciliation, the work of healing and dismantling everything that wounds and divides us, the work of becoming God’s Beloved Community.

Resources that can assist us in doing this work are included with this message (see next post), including an adapted version of the Becoming Beloved Community vision that our church’s key leaders shared this spring. I urge you to spend time reflecting with them individually and in your churches.

Where do we go from here? Maybe the venerable slave songs from our American past can help us. In the midst of their suffering, they used to sing …

Walk together children
And don’t you get weary.
Cause there’s a great camp meeting
In the promised land.

We will walk there … together. We will make this soil on which we live more and more like God’s own Promised Land. So God love you. God bless you. And let’s all keep the faith.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

An Episcopal Response: Chaos or Community?

For more details & articles, look here:

Updated Resources | Episcopal Church


And if you dare to go a little deeper:


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Taking a Stand

There has been much in the news lately regarding those who are Transgender (the T in LGBTQ) and the government both state and federal response to such individuals.

Our presiding bishop and leadership have been taking a stand for such individuals, news reports:

National Episcopal Church urges defeat of Texas "bathroom bill"

Episcopal Church leaders oppose Trump’s ban on transgender people in military

If you want to go deeper than these news reports:

Presiding Bishop responds to Trump’s transgender military ban

Presiding Bishop Curry Offers Theological Reflection on Transgender Rights

and even deeper:

The Divine Call to Be Myself: Anglican Transgender Women and Prayer

Remembering the Victims of Human Trafficking in our World

This prayer is by Fr. Mike Marsh:

Almighty and gracious God, you heard the cries of your people enslaved in Egypt, you empowered Moses and Aaron to speak boldly to Pharaoh on their behalf, and you delivered them from their bondage.

We hold before you the lives and cries of all enslaved and trafficked people. Open our eyes to see each victim as a human being created in your image and according to your likeness. Emboldened us to speak to the Pharaohs of the world your words of justice, human dignity, and freedom, not only with our lips but in our lives. Fill us with your holy anger at the many ways men, women, and children have become commodities for another’s profit. Give us the will and courage to work for justice, freedom, and dignity for all people. Enlarge our hearts to love one another as you have loved us.

Bestow upon all victims of human trafficking your healing, peace, and hope that their lives may be made whole. Soften and turn the hearts of traffickers that there may be repentance and conversion in their lives. Strengthen the resolve of our nation, political leaders, and all who work for the well being of others that we may establish equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all people.

All this we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen.

In 90 Days - Read the Whole New Testament

Are you looking for a reading challenge with the Bible?

This is from Richard Beck's blogpost:

I recently discovered a Bible reading plan from the Eastern Orthodox tradition. This plan has you reading through the entire New Testament in 89 days.

The idea is simple. Each day read one chapter from the gospels, starting in Matthew 1 all the way through John 21. It'll take you 89 days to do this.

For the epistles, read two chapters each day, starting with Acts 1 all the way through Revelation 22. Two chapters from the epistles each day gets you through them all in 86 days.

So that's the plan. Each day, one chapter from the gospels and two from the epistles for 89 days.

I added a day because there will always be at least one day when things don't go according to plan.

Good luck!

July 30 Sermon (12 A)

O Lord, we pray that you would lead us to discover your hidden treasure in the field and awaken our hearts that we may have the eyes to see you, and be surprised by joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

I had a great time at Camp Washington. The theme for the week was Hospitality & Communion. We explored the Gospels and Jesus interactions with others in places of hospitality and meals. We also explored the communion of saints and their presence in our lives and at camp.

Today’s Gospel explores the idea of the Kingdom of God. Jesus used parables to talk about the kingdom of God…

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Finding the treasure, which is the Kingdom of God, is what our discipleship as Christians is about. When you are a parent, you often think about the seeds we plant in our kids. If you are absent because of work or service, how will they know what is important? Will they find the true treasure?

She is the mother of two boys and serves in the U.S. Army. When on deployment she does her best to stay in touch with her family through e-mail, Skype and cards. Still, she realized that she was missing out on the little day-to-day moments parents have with their kids: the funny things you find out about them, the way they think about stuff, the small discoveries that lead to profound wisdom.

Then she read about the "key jar." A teacher created a jar of questions. Every day the class would spend time drawing a question and sharing their answers. The questions were designed to "jump start" their thinking and "unlock" the values of their hearts - hence the name, "key jar."

So this Army mom created such a "key jar" for her family. The questions and answers made for interesting and revealing conversations around their dinner table:

If you were an inventor, what would you invent, and why? What do you want to accomplish by your next birthday? Who in your class makes you smile? What's something that is hard for you? How were you a helper today? If somebody from another planet came to Earth, what would he or she think of our world?

Many of the boys' answers were funny, but as many were thoughtful and sweet. This mom had a glimpse inside her sons' hearts and was proud and moved by what she saw and heard. [From "Key Jar" by Ashley Allen, Guideposts, May 2016, and Erin Waters, writing in momastery.com.]

Their "key jar" enables this mom and her boys to discover the pearls of great value they seek, the treasures within themselves and one another, the many discoveries and lessons they collect in the seeds planted each day. Sometimes we're surprised at the treasure we take for granted, the pearl in our midst that we overlook - and at other times, we realize that the hidden treasure we gave our all to obtain left us impoverished, the fine pearl we moved heaven and earth to possess cost us dearly.

As this family comes to understand in their taking on the questions in their "key jar," the hidden treasures and pearls of good value are the things of God’s kingdom: the love of family and friends, the support found in being part of a community, the sense of joy and fulfillment found in serving and giving for the sake of one other.

What happened at Camp Washington this past week was finding such treasure...

And I am not just talking about my role. As chaplain I did lead the worship, both the morning formation period and the compline that ended each night. And we looked for the pearl of great value, the Kingdom of God in our midst.

But the staff, through the love and compassion they shared with each camper, the fun times and the free play they engaged in. To the activities that each child signed up for, led by a staff member whose gifts helped them enjoy their activity. All that went on, even the space of Camp Washington helped them enjoy themselves in the beauty of God’s creation. What a joy it was to see such ministry going on!

Many seeds of life were planted this week, seeds of God’s love and understanding one’s self in God’s creation. We found the treasure, we found God in our midst, and we offered it to one another with hospitality.

It is about the Kingdom of God right now breaking forth…

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
~ The Bright Field by R. S. Thomas ~