Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Today I go to my first University of Virginia football game. Alas, the opponent is Tommy Trojan, the University of Southern California. Ack! I pray no one ends up in a coma at the hands of Troy. And I'll be wearing my best blue-and-gold Beat 'SC items.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
by Wislawa Szymborska
The commonplace miracle:
that so many common miracles take place.
The usual miracles:
invisible dogs barking
in the dead of night.
One of many miracles:
a small and airy cloud
is able to upstage the massive moon.
Several miracles in one:
an alder is reflected in the water
and is reversed from left to right
and grows from crown to root
and never hits bottom
though the water isn't deep.
A run-of-the-mill miracle:
winds mild to moderate
turning gusty in storms.
A miracle in the first place:
cows will be cows.
Next but not least:
just this cherry orchard
from just this cherry pit.
A miracle minus top hat and tails:
fluttering white doves.
A miracle (what else can you call it):
the sun rose today at three fourteen a.m.
and will set tonight at one past eight.
A miracle that's lost on us:
the hand actually has fewer than six fingers
but still it's got more than four.
A miracle, just take a look around:
the inescapable earth.
An extra miracle, extra and ordinary:
can be thought.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
A major reason that Lori and I feel called to St. Paul’s Memorial Church is that this parish is truly multi-generational. We have been deeply impressed by the level of commitment to serving all of God’s children of every age. We especially marveled at the energy of the children at the Shrine Mont weekend in July, and I was amazed at seeing four generations standing at the baptismal font at our recent Sunday baptisms.
Yet there is much more that we can be doing to centrally involve children and young adults in every aspect of our worship and spiritual life at St. Paul’s. This fall we will launch several new programs for young people, and we will make several exciting additions to our 10 a.m. service to more fully involve children and young adults in our worship experience.
To learn more, please come to one of two informational meetings following the 10 a.m. service on Aug. 24 and Aug. 31. Here are a few highlights:
· We are launching the “Godly Play” education program for K-5 children. Godly Play is hugely successful and popular throughout the Episcopal Church, and works well in every size parish, both large and small. The goal of Godly Play is to teach children the art of entering into religious language and sacred scriptural story so that they become more fully aware of God’s presence in their life. And it is fun for children and their adult leaders. We need adult commitment and involvement to make this work. If you are interested please contact Iris Potter.
· Our teenage youth group will have its regular meetings after the 10 a.m. service each Sunday, with lunch provided. This will allow our young adults to more fully explore the themes they have experienced in our worship service, and to be more directly involved in the service itself. For more information, please contact Janet Legro.
· We are looking for teenage and young adult readers on Sunday mornings. We will have an Old Testament and an Epistle reading each Sunday and we would love to have at least one young person every Sunday read a Scripture lesson for the congregation. Please contact David Nelson or the church office to become a reader.
· The Youth Choir will be regularly featured singing an offertory anthem. To join the choir, contact Albrecht von Gaudecker.
· And stay tuned for the children’s procession and blessing on Sunday morning! More on that later!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Many years ago I had the opportunity to meet Maya Angelou and hear her read some of her poems and prayers. I've been carrying around this prayer on a yellowing piece of newsprint ever since, and so I share this with you:
Monday, August 18, 2008
Good morning, dear readers. Today I have added a list of my favorite links off to the left side of this page. Check them out when you get a chance, and please send me some of yours.
The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down,
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Lately I have been reading A Generous Orthodoxy, by Brian D. McLaren. You may recall he spoke at Lambeth and dazzled the bishops. He has a breezy, easy to read style, and he pushes the envelope on all things Christian. Here is a gem from his book (p. 293):
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Today is the feast day of Jonathan Daniels, an Episcopal seminarian murdered during the civil rights struggles of 1965. He died protecting a young black child from vigilantes. He was 26 years old when he died. This is from a very good Daily Office website:
The 1965 murder of Jonathan Daniels, a seminarian at Episcopal Divinity School and civil rights volunteer who gave his life for a Black girl named Ruby Sales in Hayneville, Alabama, galvanized the Episcopal Church, turned it away from the Establishment as “America’s First Church” and made it what it is today. He is the only seminarian ever honored with sainthood.
Holy Spirit, let me be aware of your presence and that of countless others, as together we pray your Divine Office in love. Thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy, “I dwell in the high and holy place and also with the one who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite.”Isaiah 57:15
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Today was a feast. An amazing feast! And it began on the road early this morning.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will be answering questions live on a webcast this afternoon (Thursday Aug 7) at 2pm eastern time. You can access the webcast at the Episcopal Church page, and you can email questions to her through there. She will be discussing the Lambeth conference and related issues.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Lori found this little gem in the on-line newsletter of Trinity Episcopal Church, Bend, Ore. (Ok, we read a lot of church newsletters). I pass this along to you as a reminder to myself in the midst of our transition:
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
Lambeth is drawing to a close, and I am still reading bishops' blogs and the reactions to all that took place, all the words that were said, the angst expressed, the hopes for a Communion based not just on common English roots but following the way of Jesus. I will have more to say, but not just yet. Please let me know on this blog what you think. Archbishop Rowan Williams delivered his final address; it is long, thought-provoking, and he continues to push the idea of a "covenant." No actions were taken by the Lambeth conference, which itself may be disturbing to some, cause for relief with others. +++Rowan left the bishops -- and us -- with these words:
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Aug. 3, 2008
Genesis 32: 22-31
Matthew 14: 13-21
Good morning. In case you are wondering, I am the new guy – the new rector.
Someone sent me one of these, and I applied and, well, they gave me the job. So here I am.
They told me this is a major pulpit in the Episcopal church. But what is this?
I want to tell you a bit about myself this morning. First let me introduce you to Lori, my wife, my partner, my best friend, the one I feel most passionate about in the universe.
We are both excited and grateful to accept this call to be with you.
I want to thank you for your patience in waiting for us. I made a commitment to All Souls Parish in Berkeley, California, to be with them until they called their new rector. I am please to say I kept my commitment to them.
I believe in keeping commitments, and I believe in keeping my commitment to you to be your rector in the years ahead as we minister together by seeking to live out the gospel as a congregation where our lives, and the world around us, are touched by God's grace and love.
I am from California, you’ve probably figured that out by now. I am a fourth generation Californian. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a brief interlude for high school on the East Coast. I am graduate of UCLA and I spent the better part of my life working for newspapers in Southern and Northern California.
Lori and I have lived in Sacramento for more than 20 years, and I’ve been commuting to Berkeley for the past year. It is good to be moving north – yes, north. If you look at a map, Berkeley is actually south of Charlottesville.
I am here to tell you that every stereotype you’ve ever heard about California is absolutely true.
Palm trees really do grow everywhere; we wear Hawaiian shirts for all occasions; and, yes, you do see movie stars all the time in California, even in Sacramento, but it is not polite to stare at them when they get in the elevator with you, especially when it is the governor who is late to work.
I’ve been asked by some of you how a California guy like me could end up here in Virginia. I must admit to you, I’ve wondered that myself a few times in the last few months.
Your very able search committee showed Lori and me the possibilities where we could not have imagined, and they showed us with gentleness and patience. We owe them a great deal of thanks for their faithfulness in the possible.
It took me awhile, though, to see this place and this church as a possibility, or to be more precise, to truly discern that this is where God wants us to be and that this is truly a calling. Callings take time. I am absolutely humbled by the prayer composed by your search committee that included the line: “Ready us to receive the one you have been forming for service in this place.”
It has been a long journey getting here, over many, many years, and I hope to share my story with you in the coming months, as I want to hear your story, and as together our journey together unfolds and we write a new story together.
But for now, let me give you one detail: There was a moment when I knew this is the right place. It came during Holy Week, when the clergy of the Diocese of California assemble at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to renew their ordination vows.
I was sitting with my friend and mentor, Don Brown, who is the retired dean of my cathedral. We stood with all of the clergy, and Bishop Marc Andrus asked us whether we would vow to serve those entrusted to our care. When I said “yes,” I thought of you.
Then it dawned on me that Marc Andrus is from Virginia. He was educated in Virginia, and went to the Virginia Theological Seminary, and later served as a rector in Middleburg. Bishop Marc had never lived west of Appalachian mountains until he became bishop of California two years ago.
It occurred to me, in that moment, that God delights in moving the pieces around, in sending us on new adventures to be with new people, and grow in ways we can not do on our own. God delights in moving the pieces around, and so I come to you.
Moving the pieces around presents an extraordinary opportunity for all of us to discover the gospel in ways we’ve never dreamed, and, more than that, to wrestle with the meaning of the gospel more intensely than we have ever done.
That, at its most basic, is what we will be doing as we journey together over the next years, as we learn together what it truly means to be God’s beloved, and to live out our lives in the fullness of God’s promise of healing and wholeness and salvation.
Make no mistake: We will have challenges. I will make mistakees. And at times it may feel as though we are wrestling with God.
We will be in good company. Wrestling with God is precisely what Jacob does on the riverbank in the Old Testament lesson today.
Jacob wrestles with God, and though he encounters pain, he comes out seeing God and understanding life in a new way.
He could not have gotten where he was going any other way.
Many of us are in the midst of some of life’s most important, and wrenching, transitions – new jobs, moving, retirements, or maybe the beginning of a new relationship, or maybe the end of a relationship, or the loss of a loved one.
Our kids will soon be faced with the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year, and new university students will soon descend upon us – we hope so. There is a lot of change going on here even without a new rector showing up.
It might be tempting to say this is “God’s plan.” But let’s avoid that. For one thing, I don’t believe for a single second that God has a single plan. I think God has an infinite number of plans. God provides many right answers. If this doesn’t work, try this, or try that. God works over and over to show us alternatives, and the way forward to a better place.
That is why we hear about Jesus feeding all of these people with a few loaves and fishes. God provides, and provides abundantly – and will keep surprising us with more food and more food.
Isn’t it amazing that the central act of our worship is a common meal?
No matter our station in life, or our differences, we come together to share the bread of life and this common cup. And Jesus never puts limits on who can share in this meal of grace, and so neither can we. All are welcome at this table where all are blessed. That is the meaning of grace.
And if you don’t quite see it yet, or taste it yet, don’t worry. You will get another meal, and another and another. God keeps showing you – and me – another way to see and taste, and keeps inviting us to discover together how to live our lives in the full promise of God’s grace.
Jesus loves to use meals to illustrate the meaning of grace, and he does it over and over. He shows up at a wedding and turns water into wine, he goes to a dinner party bringing a tax collector with him.
He dines with religious leaders and prostitutes alike with no regard to social ranking.
Jesus is always stopping somewhere to share a meal with someone on his way to share a meal with someone else.
And along the way, Jesus turns a handful of loaves into enough food to feed thousands; he heals people, brings a few back from the dead, and then on the night before he goes to the Cross, Jesus implores us to remember him – to live on with him – by sharing in his last supper of bread and wine every time we gather.
His last command to us is a dinner invitation.
For Jesus, this banquet is to be shared by all.
What will we do with a meal like that? How will we live into the full promise of that meal? Richard Hooker, possibly the preeminent Anglican theologian of all time, wrote in the 16th century that the most important question about our Communion meal is not how the bread and wine is changed into Christ’s presence.
Rather, Hooker says, the most important question is: How does the bread and wine change us? How does the bread and wine change us? How will grace enter our lives through our coming together again and again, Sunday after Sunday, at this Holy Table?
What will we do with this meal? How will this meal change us in how we live the rest of our lives?
This meal-of-grace is not a dream, but the reality of God’s kingdom right in front of us, and we get to share in it again in a few moments. And, I pray, we will share in many more meals for many years to come as we grow into God’s promise of salvation for all. Amen