From ghoulies and ghosties
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
The Archbishop of Canterbury hosted a meeting of faith leaders and faith-based and community organisations at Lambeth Palace to discuss the response of faith communities to the environmental crisis. With 40 days to go before the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit the participants have pledged to work together to raise awareness about the effects of ‘catastrophic climate change’ on the world’s poor and to take whatever action they can to "to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable practice." At the meeting a number of presentations highlighted the kind of action faith communities and faith-based organisations were already taking in the UK and with partners overseas.
In the first statement of its kind, signed by leaders from every faith community (including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Baha’i, Jain and Zoastrian) the signatories recognise "unequivocally that there is a moral imperative to tackle the causes of global warming" and that "Faith communities have a crucial role to play in pressing for changes in behaviour at every level of society and in every economic sector. We all have a responsibility to learn how to live and develop sustainably in a world of finite resources".
Loving God,You may be interested in the Episcopal Church's stand on hate crimes, particularly crimes against homosexuals. Here are some links to positions taken by our General Convention over many years:
We pray for victims of hate crimes;
for those who have been targets of violence
just because of who they are;
for their families and all who grieve for them.
We give thanks for all those who have
labored, lobbied and prayed
for inclusive federal hate crimes legislation
and for the Hate Crime Prevention Act
signed into law today.
Bless us, we pray, with the knowledge
that we are secure in your love;
that we can make a difference;
that you call us always to seek and serve Christ in all persons
and to respect the dignity of every human being.
And may the peace the world cannot give
reign in our hearts always.
Title: Decry Violence Against Homosexuals -- click HERE.
Title: Urge Congress to Enact Hate Crimes Legislation -- click HERE.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
All Saints and All Souls days merged to become special masses for martyrs and those who had died anonymously. In later centuries, the day shifted into the weeks before Advent, and the day we now call "Halloween" is actually All Hallows Eve, or the even of All Souls Day.
This year we are continuing with a tradition we began last year from the part of the world where I come: La Ofrenda, a special table in the church where we display items representing people we love who have died. La Ofrenda is a major element of El Dia de los Muertos, Mexico's "Day of the Dead," and is popular in churches throughout California and the Southwest. I've seen many over the years and all of them are powerful.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
From all points of the globe we point to the reality of climate change and to the very serious effect it is already having upon our people; from severe weather events, to prolonged droughts, major floods, loss of habitat and changing seasons. Many of our peoples no longer have access to drinkable water, many of our farmers are no longer able to grow crops, and many of our peoples suffer from diseases which in the past have not affected us in our homelands. Sadly many of our peoples are now on the move in the vain hope that they might find another place to live, given the place of their birth can no longer support them.
Our faith and our ancestors have always taught us that the earth is our mother and deserves respect; we know that this respect has not been given. We know that like a mother the earth will continue to give its all to us. However, we also know that we are now demanding more than it is able to provide. Science confirms what we already know, our human footprint is changing the face of the earth and because we come from the earth, it is changing us too. We are engaged in the process of destroying our very being. If we cannot live in harmony with the earth, we will not live in harmony with one another.
Scientists know with virtual certainty that:
- Human activities are changing the composition of Earth's atmosphere. Increasing levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere since pre-industrial times are well-documented and understood.
- The atmospheric buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is largely the result of human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels.
- An “unequivocal” warming trend of about 1.0 to 1.7°F occurred from 1906-2005. Warming occurred in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and over the oceans (IPCC, 2007).
- The major greenhouse gases emitted by human activities remain in the atmosphere for periods ranging from decades to centuries. It is therefore virtually certain that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will continue to rise over the next few decades.
- Increasing greenhouse gas concentrations tend to warm the planet.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Archbishop Rowan Williams, though embarrassed by the surprise announcement of dealings behind his back, was characteristically Williamsian and old-style Anglican, as he reacted not in anger but with patience. The Anglican communion for centuries aspired to promote “comprehension,” doing what it could to prevent heresy and schism but in a spirit of openness. The papal visit next year will occasion fresh thinking and policies.
As takeover bids go, it cannot be said to lack ambition. In some
respects it bears more the hallmarks of a coup d’état than the
acquisition of market share. Pope Benedict’s all-but-unilateral
publication of an Apostolic Constitution to bring high church
Anglicans into full communion with the Roman Catholic church should
“in no sense at all” be seen as “an act of proselytism or aggression”
said Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, his body
language belying his soothing tone.
Yet, this head of a church that withdrew from the Catholic fold nearly
five centuries ago was not given even five days warning of the papal
decree. “I was informed of the planned announcement at a very late
stage”, he told the Anglican faithful apologetically. No one saw the
Roman tanks until they had ringed Canterbury.
[Archbishop Eliud Wabukala] added that the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams had sent letters welcoming the offer but he was essentially dealing with local England context and does not apply to other provinces.
The details are still sketchy, and much finally depends on the details, but there are clearly some trouble spots even for those Anglicans who are keen about the idea. Those clergy who were baptized and confirmed as Roman Catholics, then left Roman Catholicism for Anglicanism, were then ordained in Anglican orders, and are married, will probably find it difficult if not impossible to bring their Anglican orders into the new Roman Catholic option. In the past, married Anglican priests who were originally baptized and confirmed as Roman Catholics haven't been able to bring the orders and a wife into Rome. The issue is having a wife and a prior relationship with Rome.
Another sticking point is for married Anglican bishops who may wish to take advantage of this new option. Pending disclosure of the new rules and the small print, neither Eastern Orthodoxy nor Rome currently have married bishops, and haven't had for most of their history. Anglican bishops who are married and have no earlier sacramental relationship with Rome may only be able to take the new option as a priest.
As the Vatican is trying to wall off the “brides of Christ,” Cask of Amontillado style, it is welcoming extreme-right Anglicans into the Catholic Church — the ones who are disgruntled about female priests and openly gay bishops. Il Papa is even willing to bend Rome’s most doggedly held dogma, against married priests — as long as they’re clutching the Anglicans’ Book of Common Prayer.
“Most of the Anglicans who want to move over to the Catholic Church under this deal are people who have scorned women as priests and have scorned gay people,” [author Kenneth] Briggs said. “The Vatican doesn’t care that these people are motivated by disdain.”
The numbers of practicing Catholics in England is greater than the number of practicing Anglicans. Within a generation, there will probably be more Muslims than practicing Anglicans in the British Isles. Britain will no longer be able to endure the absurdity of the laws relating to the religion of the monarch, the Act of Settlement and Royal Marriages Act, which among other things forbid the sovereign to marry a Catholic. Or the Coronation Oath, which promises to uphold the Protestant religion.To read the full column, click HERE.
The Church of England has survived the Spanish Armada, the English Civil War and Elton John performing “Candle in the Wind” at Princess Diana’s Westminster Abbey funeral. So it will probably survive the note the Vatican issued last week, inviting disaffected Anglicans to head Romeward, and offering them an Anglo-Catholic mansion within the walls of the Roman Catholic faith.
But in making the opening to Anglicanism, Benedict also may have a deeper conflict in mind — not the parochial Western struggle between conservative and liberal believers, but Christianity’s global encounter with a resurgent Islam...
There are an awful lot of Anglicans, in England and Africa alike, who would prefer a leader who takes Benedict’s approach to the Islamic challenge. Now they can have one, if they want him.
This could be the real significance of last week’s invitation. What’s being interpreted, for now, as an intra-Christian skirmish may eventually be remembered as the first step toward a united Anglican-Catholic front — not against liberalism or atheism, but against Christianity’s most enduring and impressive foe.
Last week’s anti-Anglican salvo from Rome shows how far the Catholic leadership has fallen from the heights of Vatican II. The invitation to “disgruntled’’ members of the Church of England’s extended family to abandon the Thames for the Tiber is a rejection of contemporary human experience, a resounding response of “No!’’ The church against the modern world, after all.
More important, with the latest accommodation to Anglicans, Benedict has signaled that the standards for what it means to be Catholic -- such as the belief in the real presence of Christ in the Mass as celebrated by a validly ordained priest -- are changing or, some might argue, falling. The Vatican is in effect saying that disagreements over gay priests and female bishops are the main issues dividing Catholics and Anglicans, rather than, say, the sacraments and the papacy and infallible dogmas on the Virgin Mary, to name just a few past points of contention.
That is revolutionary -- and unexpected from a pope like Benedict. It could encourage the view, which he and other conservatives say they reject, that all Christians are pretty much the same when it comes to beliefs, and the differences are just arguments over details.
And that could be the final irony. For all the hue and cry over last week's developments, Benedict's innovations may have glossed too lightly over the really tough issues: namely, the theological differences that traditional Anglicans say have kept them from converting, as they could always do.
This week's announcement that the Roman Catholic Church will welcome disaffected Anglicans en masse is of primary interest to members of the two Christian communions. But this religious realignment is also a reminder to supporters of equality for women and gays and lesbians that they must literally preach to the converted if they are to win believers to their cause.
I am just emerging from Diocesan Convention, so this is my first chance to respond to those who have wanted to hear my thoughts on the Vatican Statement inviting disffected Anglican congregations to become Roman Catholics, but the priests can still be married and they can use Anglican liturgies.
I really think it's perfectly fine. Some disaffected Anglicans are focused on issues where they will line up better with the RC Church -- particularly those who are opposed to the ordination of women. They will have to come to terms with some of the hot button issues in the RC Church, but if they can do that, their unity with a larger group of Christians will sustain their faith, help them be financially viable, and generally promote the gospel mission. We wish them well. We wish the Roman Catholic Church well. It is a good thing.
Other disaffected Anglicans are of a more evangelical persuasion and may not find the RC Church to be a good home. That will be for them to discern and not for us to judge.
Meanwhile, we will continue to seek reconciliation and greater unity with all our fellow Christians.
Monday, October 26, 2009
KIDS IN CHURCH
A little boy was overheard praying:
"Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a real good time like I am."
After the christening of his baby brother in church, Jason sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong.
Finally, the boy replied, "That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys."
One particular four-year-old prayed, "And forgive us our trash baskets as
we forgive those who put trash in our baskets."
A Sunday school teacher asked her children as they were on the way to church service, "And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?"
One bright little girl replied, "Because people are sleeping."
A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin 5, and Ryan 3.
The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake.
Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson.
"If Jesus were sitting here, he would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait.' "
Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, "Ryan, you be Jesus !"
A father was at the beach with his children. When the four-year-old son ran up to him, he grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore where a seagull lay dead in the sand.
"Daddy, what happened to him?" the son asked.
"He died and went to Heaven," the Dad replied.
The boy thought a moment and then said, "Did God throw him back down?"
A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, "Would you like to say the blessing?"
"I wouldn't know what to say," the girl replied.
"Just say what you hear Mommy say," the wife answered.
The daughter bowed her head and said, "Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Cartoon by Dave Walker.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
It rained off and on Saturday, so we enjoyed the woods from our front porch. Sometimes a great adventure can be had without going too far.
by Mary Oliver
die for it --
or the world. People
have done so,
their small bodies be bound
to the stake,creating
fury of light. But
climbing the familiar hills
in the familiar
fabric of dawn, I thought
of China ,
and Europe , and I thought
how the sun
for everyone just
as it rises
under the lashes
of my own eyes, and I thought
I am so many!
What is my name?
What is the name
of the deep breath I would take
over and over
for all of us? Call it
whatever you want, it is
happiness, it is another one
of the ways to enter
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
The Green Team at St. Paul's will be joining other faith communities across the nation in a campaign to ring their church bells 350 times to spread the call to action, in conjunction with 350.org founded by environmentalist and author Bill McKibben.
The bell at St. Paul's Memorial Church was installed in 1957 and has been rung every Sunday morning since to call the faithful to worship – and has also been rung to celebrate joyful occasions such as weddings or to signal attention during times of national crisis such as 9/11.
While ringing the bell, parishioners will be encouraged to write Congressional representatives and the White House to urge support for reductions that will meet the target goal for 350 ppm carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
St. Paul's is a member of Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, a non-profit initiative working for a more just, sustainable and healthier creation by reducing global warming. It is a part of a network of Interfaith Power and Light programs across the country and offers concrete opportunities for congregations and individuals to protect the planet.
You might have already heard that the chosen issue was interpretive services. It was a landslide, not just because Church of the Incarnation had over 120 people there, more than half of them Hispanic. Many other congregations joined them. I believe it's because this is a very tangible justice issue, and we believe the research committee can find an achievable goal for the Nehemiah Action [the meeting in the Spring where public officials are invited and IMPACT presents proposals].
A quick background on the Interpretive Services issue - from the house meetings, they gathered the following problem areas:
- Lack of translation services in court system for Spanish and other languages spoken by the refugee population;
- Not enough Spanish language translation available in courts, police, emergency services, jail;
- Police discrimination: refusal of translation;
- Lack of translation materials sent home from school;
- And as we heard in the testimony: children are often compelled to translate for parents in situations where young people should not be required to participate (police, courts, family services).
Kay Lancaster was kind enough to send along this link indicating the LEP (Limited English Proficient) services available in our community. You can find the link by clicking HERE.
Now it will be the job of the research committees to find out where IMPACT can have the greatest effect in making sure that these services are sufficient or sufficiently utilized.
Which leads to the next steps: if anyone is interested in participating in either the pre-school education or the interpretive services research groups, please let me know. IMPACT has restructured the research committees, and will be leveraging a trained facilitator. This will ensure that the meetings are run effectively, including compilation and communication of meeting minutes and results.
And on a personal note, I am extremely excited about working with Vickie Johnson-Williams as co-president of IMPACT this coming year. Vickie is a warm, hard-working member of IMPACT, and I am blessed to have her as a partner. I am confident that IMPACT will continue to bring in new congregations, but I am equally committed to deepening IMPACT's roots in the existing membership. And, as an organization, we are still relatively young - so there's lots to learn. I look forward to getting input from all of you - please share your thoughts, ideas, dreams.
Thanks again for your continued interest in this important ministry.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Waiting in Line
by Nick Penna, fifth grade
When you listen you reach
into dark corners and
pull out your wonders.
When you listen your
ideas come in and out
like they were waiting in line.
Your ears don’t always listen.
It can be your brain, your
fingers, your toes.
You can listen anywhere.
Your mind might not want to go.
If you can listen you can find
answers to questions you didn’t know.
If you have listened, truly
listened, you don’t find your
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Our prayer leads us to help people find and discover their own vocations. We use our work of prayer to do the work of discernment with others. We are guides along the way listening with people as they seek to discern their own unique calling into ministry. Our prayers for the poor, widowed, sick, homeless in Christ bridges the chasm between us and sends us out, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to work for healing and reconciliation, forgiveness and restoration.
Our prayers lead us to be the voices of those who have no voices. Our prayers bring the work of companionship with the oppressed and the deprived into a stark reality. And the Holy Spirit sends us out to be the very real human resources who offer dignity and love to those people who believe they are lost and without God's love. Furthermore, prayer will lead us to stand up and act on behalf of those who are abused.
If we are to follow Jesus we are to work at prayer. If we are to follow Jesus prayer will originate our work. In one we come to know our place within the community of God, by the other God's community roots itself on earth.
Monday, October 19, 2009
We have a few groaners to start your Monday. Welcome to the Monday Funnies, with the usual cartoon by Dave Walker...
Years ago, the chaplain of the football team at Notre Dame was a beloved old Irish priest. At confession one day, a football player told the priest that he had acted in an unsportsmanlike manner at a recent football game.
"I lost my temper and said some bad words to one of my opponents," he confessed.
"Ahhh, that's a terrible thing for a Notre Dame lad to be doin'," the
priest said. He took a piece of chalk and drew a mark across the sleeve of
"That's not all, Father." said the confessor. "I got mad and punched
one of my opponents."
"Saints preserve us!" the priest said, making another chalk mark.
"There's more. As I got out of a pileup, I kicked two of the other
team's players in the... in a sensitive area."
"Oh, goodness me!" the priest wailed, making two more chalk marks on
his sleeve. "Who in the world were we playin' when you did these awful
"Ah, well," said the priest, wiping his sleeve clean, "boys will be
* * *
A collector of rare books ran into an acquaintance who told him he had
just thrown away an old Bible that he found in a dusty, old box. He
happened to mention that Guten-somebody-or-other had printed it.
"Not Gutenberg?" gasped the collector.
"Yes, that was it!"
"You idiot! You've thrown away one of the first books ever printed. A copy recently sold at auction for half a million dollars!"
"Oh, I don't think this book would have been worth anything close to
that much," replied the man. "It was scribbled all over in the margins by
some clown named Martin Luther."
Sunday, October 18, 2009
By now, most of you are aware that the Episcopal Church has been mired in a contentious battle that was sparked by the ordination of Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. Gene is gay, and his elevation to bishop prompted a number of parishes to leave the Episcopal Church.
There was another fight before that. A decade earlier, when the Episcopal Church began ordaining women, some parishes left in protest. A few years before that, when the Episcopal Church changed the prayer book, some didn’t like that very well, and so they left.
A generation before that, the Episcopal Church decided to repeal a ban on divorce, and that prompted some to leave in protest over that.
A century earlier, the Episcopal Church split over the question of slavery. Episcopalians fought and killed each other in the Civil War.
And before that, the Anglican Communion, of which we are a part, split apart over how to worship. At issue was music and vestments, and mission work in the world. The Wesley brothers, John and Charles, had a vision for a reformed Anglican church. But those in control of the church did not share their vision, and so Wesley’s followers split to become the Methodists.
Or go back before that, to the Protestant Reformation. The Church of England, a vital arm of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, went its own way, as did the followers of Martin Luther and John Calvin elsewhere in Europe.
And before that, around the turn of the Millennium: in 1054, the Eastern Orthodox church split from the Western Catholic church, the last straw a fight over a single line in the Nicene Creed.
And before that, in the fourth century, there were sects of Christians known as Pelegianists and Donatists and Athenasians and Arians – none of them agreed about much of anything. The Nicene Creed was a document forged from those controversies to put an end to those controversies. Not all signed on at the time or after.
Go back another 200 years. The Christians could not agree on the nature of Jesus. Some said he was fully human, others said he was fully spirit, and some said he was fully both.
Or go back to the first followers of Jesus, the ones we hear about in today’s gospel lesson. This long march through church schisms I have described this morning begins right here, with this group of crabby disciples, jealous of each other and squabbling over who should sit where at the side of Jesus.
Since then, Christians have been arguing and splitting, building new churches that they believe are the purist form of Christianity. And when the newest in this pantheon falls short, someone takes up the newest call for purity, splits and builds another, and another, and another. The drive for purity trumps all else.
That tendency, of course, is not confined to Christians. There are dozens of sects of Jewish, Muslim, and Hindus, each claiming to be the true and greatest guardians of the faith. That seems to be a very human tendency, and I would suggest, a very human sin.
Jesus walks right into the middle of this in today’s gospel. He has a very direct, simple answer to those who claim to be greatest: “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant.”
The greatest among you is the one who serves.
The greatest is not the one who gets their doctrine right.
The greatest is not the one who lives a pure unblemished life.
The greatest is not the one who writes the most learned theological books, or has risen to the most exalted rank in the church or the world.
The greatest is the one who serves.
As Martin Luther King once said, in perhaps his greatest sermon, all of us can be great because all of us can serve.
All of us can be great because all of us can serve.
Each of us can be servants – in the church, in the classroom, in our homes, in our work. We can serve boldly whether it is in a jail, or with one other person in a hospital room, or on the streets. All of us can be great because all of us can serve each other.
You do no need me to tell you that we live in an uncertain time. Unemployment is stubbornly high, the economy is sluggish, the world remains a dangerous place with our country immersed in two wars, and threats to peace looming elsewhere.
And it is precisely in times like these when the greatest opportunities to serve come.
All of us can be great because all of us can serve.
Each of us is called to be servants to each other and the world in which we live.
Servants are great because they are good listeners, and are open to people no matter their station in life, or where they come from, or how they look or how much money and education they have, or don’t have.
Those who serve are slow to anger, quick to forgive, and are patient, kind and generous. Servants do not seek to control, but seek to open their hands and hearts to others. That is a very high standard of servanthood, but that is what it means to be great.
Rather than striving to build a pure church, let’s strive to build a church that is a place where people can come with their wounds and their questions, and their doubts, and not be judged for being, well, human.
That kind of church will not look very neat or pure, and it might even look a little messy; it will have contradictions aplenty, and people will be more important than doctrine. But a church like this will be brimming with people.
And Jesus will be right in the midst of us while we build this church, bringing heaven to earth.
Bringing heaven to earth is about serving.
Thy will be done, on heaven as it is on earth.
All of us can be great because all of us can serve. AMEN
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Sunday, October 18 at the 10:00 am service: The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., Senior Minister Emeritus of The Riverside Church in New York City, will be our guest preacher. A reception honoring the Rev. Forbes will be held in the Parish Hall following the service.
The Rev. Forbes will also be the speaker for the local United Nation Association Chapter Meeting later in the day at 3:00 p.m. at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, Unitarian Universalist, 717 Rugby Rd.
Friday, October 16, 2009
air misty but not raining,
seeing this land from a boat on a lake
or a broad slow river,
The path comes down along a lowland stream
slips behind boulders and leafy hardwoods,reappears in a pine grove,
no farms around, just tidy cottages and shelters,
gateways, rest stops, roofed but unwalled work space,
—a warm damp climate;
a trail of climbing stairsteps forks upstream.
Big ranges lurk behind these rugged little outcrops—
these spits of low ground rocky uplifts
layered pinnacles aslant,
flurries of brushy cliffs receding,
far back and high above, vague peaks.
A man hunched over, sitting on a log
another stands above him, lifts a staff,
a third, with a roll of mats or a lute, looks on;
a bit offshore two people in a boat.
The trail goes far inland,
somewhere back around a bay,
lost in distant foothill slopes
& back again
at a village on the beach, and someone's fishing.
Rider and walker cross a bridgeabove a frothy braided torrent
that descends from a flurry of roofs like flowers
temples tucked between cliffs,
a side trail goes there;
a jumble of cliffs above,
ridge tops edged with bushes,
valley fog below a hazy canyon.
A man with a shoulder load leans into the grade.
Another horse and a hiker,
the trail goes up along cascading streambed
no bridge in sight—comes back through chinquapin or
liquidambars; another group of travelers.
Trail's end at the edge of an inlet
below a heavy set of dark rock hills.
Two moored boats with basket roofing,
a boatman in the bow looks
lost in thought.
Hills beyond rivers, willows in a swamp,
a gentle valley reaching far inland.
The watching boat has floated off the page.