Saturday, April 21, 2012

Susan Goff elected Bishop Suffragan

Bishop Ted Gulick, Susan Goff, and Bishop Shannon Johnston
photo taken at today's electing Council
FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia -- Today we made history: the election of Susan Goff as Bishop Suffragan in the Diocese of Virginia. She is the first woman so elected in our diocese, the largest domestic diocese in the Episcopal Church.

And someone can correct me on this: To my knowledge, Susan is the first woman elected bishop from a Southern diocese (if we don't count Washington D.C.).

Susan was elected from an extraordinary group of six nominees, two of whom were formed as Christians as young adults through the Canterbury program at St. Paul's Memorial Church (Hillary Smith and Randy Alexander).

I've gotten to know Susan the last couple of years in her capacity as Canon to the Ordinary. She led our Vestry retreat in January. She is prayerful and a great listener. She also knows how to get to the heart of matters without injecting her own agenda.

Today's election was held at St. George's Episcopal Church, an historic church in the center of Fredericksburg. We jammed into the old pew boxes, sang hymns, had Eucharist, listened to meditations, and cast ballots. We broke for lunch and returned for more this afternoon. Susan was elected in the fourth ballot (it takes a majority of both clergy and lay delegates to have an election).

We stood to applaud, and she addressed us from the pulpit for the first time as Bishop-elect to thank everyone, especially her fellow nominees, for the prayers and the trust.

It was my privilege to be a part of this election and to be with so many faithful people.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Don't go back to sleep

Lori found this, and I pass it along to you . . .

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The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Remembering Marla


Dear James,
Seven years ago, the world lost a passionate advocate for civilians caught in the crossfire. Today, CIVIC will have a moment of silence in remembrance of our founder Marla Ruzicka and her Iraqi colleague Faiz Ali Salim.  We’ll pause our work at 2 PM EST, and we invite you to do the same.

Marla’s life is an example of the impact one committed individual can have. We honor her legacy every day by working to make warring parties more responsible to civilians in war. We train troops to prevent civilian harm. We work with warring parties to create civilian tracking and response systems, so they learn from mistakes and know who to help. And when military intervention is considered, as it may be in Syria, we remind them of the potential civilian cost.

We invite you to honor Marla's legacy and help us continue to grow with a donation to CIVIC.

In remembrance and commitment,
The CIVIC Team
PS.  Setting up a monthly, quarterly or yearly donation is easy, secure and ensures that our work will continue.  Click here to become a sustaining supporter.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter break

Dear friends and devoted readers,

It is time for Fiat Lux to take a Spring break. Since the beginning of Advent 2011, we've had 173 posts, an average of more than one post per day, including 112 posts so far this year. Some certainly have been better than others.

According to Googlestats, readership continues to grow with an average this year of more than 500 readers per day, or 11,000 views a month. Not bad for a church blog with an outdated design (so says the Episcopal Communicators outfit).

I am very grateful to everyone who follows this blog, for your contributions of poetry and prayer, cartoons and jokes, and your comments, both here in virtual space and in-person in real space.

But all things need a time for recharging and new inspiration. So it is time for break. Thanks for reading, and please check back in a week or so, and we will pick it up again (and feel free to browse what you may have missed).

Easter blessings to all,


Photo by Bonny Bronson, at dusk at the Great Vigil of Easter, April 7, 2012
By James Richardson, Fiat Lux

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Photos from Easter Sunday

As promised yesterday, here are photos by Bonny Bronson from Sunday morning's Easter services. Enjoy!

By James Richardson, Fiat Lux

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Incense and smoke alarms

Our wonderful friend Barbara Crafton sent this missive this morning about the Great Vigil of Easter at the church in New Jersey where she is serving as interim rector. This is definitely worth a read, and see below this post for photographs from our Easter Vigil at St. Paul's from last Saturday evening...
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St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Metuchen, NJ 

Great Vigil
By Barbara Crafton

It had been some time since incense was used in this church -- so long that the charcoal had expired, it seemed, and was hard to light. Eventually Deacon Bob managed to coax a modest smolder from it, though, and we were off. Because you need incense for the Easter Vigil -- incense and darkness and candles. You can't do an Easter Vigil in a church that's lit up like a convenience store -- no, convenience has very little to do with it. There's no point doing an Easter Vigil at all if you don't want mystery -- that would be like the lady who wrote into the paper asking how she might make a pecan pie that wasn't so sweet. Just don't make a pecan pie, the cooking columnist wrote back.

Oh, it was lovely. People turned out for it, I having harped on it in the bulletin for weeks beforehand and promised strawberries and champagne to anybody still standing after it was over, and the church was respectably filled -- not packed, but respectable. Some of our best readers read the ancient stories. There were no babies to be baptized this year, so the people signed one another with the cross in holy water, their faces tender and beautiful in the candlelight: a son blessing his father, a husband blessing his wife, sisters blessing each other. And the incense was just right -- we didn't want to smoke them to death the first time out, just a gentle plume of sweet-sharp mystery to perfume the reading of the Gospel.

That's when the smoke alarm went off.

They've made huge advances in smoke detection, it seems. The alarm sent out strobes of piercing white light, and the sound of it must certainly have disturbed the repose of the beloved dead out in the memorial garden, not to mention that of our living neighbors. The mood of mystery vanished -- in a puff of smoke, as it were -- and soon firefighters in full regalia and a police officer appeared at the door. You should have been there.

It fell to me to restore reverence after the firefighters left. This would be a challenge, but it is why we study homiletics. Come here, Jesus, I said silently, and began.

What if -- what if---what if it hadn't been a false alarm? What if it had been a real fire? What if this 150-year-old building had gone up like a torch, the building and everything in it: the needlepoint kneelers, the old wooden pews, all the hangings and the purificatory and corporals and all the prayer books? We would have gotten out safely, but the walls would have blackened and then crumbled to the ground, the beams would have plunged to earth, glowing orange as the setting sun. The stained glass might have melted -- certain the lead holding it would have. I wonder if the brass would have melted? The silver would have.

Thoughts would rise in the dark: I was married here, and my kids were baptized here. My wife made the kneelers. My husband' funeral was here, and my son's confirmation. Four generations of our family, all baptized here, in the same white dress.

We would have stood out on Oak Avenue in the dark and watched the firefighters struggle to save it. But in the morning -- Easter morning! -- there would have been a smoking pile of charred wood where one of the prettiest churches you've ever seen used to be.

We would have wept at the sight. Of that I am certain.

But then what? Well, I would have to find us a new place to worship -- if the parish hall were intact, I guess we'd use that. And we'd have been on the phone to Church Insurance, to see about all that. The vestry would have begun the long process if deciding how to rebuild -- because we would rebuild. Without doubt.

Of course, the church we finally built would not be just like this one. No -- we wouldn't make a replica of it. It would be different -- first, because they don't make them like they used to in 1868 and second, because we are not who we were then. We wouldn't make the Stepford version of St. Luke's as we have it now. The church that would rise from its ashes would be different.

The resurrected Christ was different. People who had known him well didn't recognize him. How he was different, I do not know -- I wasn't there. But something about him was so powerfully changed that encountering it changed the lives of those who did, as it continues to transform those who encounter Christ today. A mystery, he was. In broad daylight.

Copyright © 2001-2012 Barbara Crafton - all rights reserved
You can read more of Barbara Crafton on her website The Geranium Farm.

Photos from the Great Vigil of Easter

Bonny Bronson took some terrific photos of the Great Vigil of Easter Saturday evening and then more photos at Sunday morning's Easter celebration.

Posted here are photos from the Great Vigil, and tomorrow I will post photos from Sunday.

Pastor Heather Warren preached one of the finest Easter Vigil sermons I have ever heard. You can hear her sermon by clicking HERE (it is about 15 minutes), or read the text HERE.

Easter blessings to all!

By James Richardson, Fiat Lux

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Monday Funnies

I hope you've had a wonderful Easter. Pat Hill and the Jokester Department have been hard at work coming up with these groaners at the expense of preachers, and a cartoon by Dave Walker.

Enjoy your week . . .
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Mike stayed out all night Saturday night playing cards, and thus fell asleep during the Sunday morning sermon.

The preacher concluded the sermon and then said in a louder voice, “Let us now join in prayer. Brother Mike, will you lead?”

Mike awakened suddenly (but apparently too slowly to gather himself) and responded, “Lead?I just dealt!”

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There's an old story about an old codger who always sat down front and always fell asleep during the sermon.

The preacher decided he was going to get Brother Jones one Sunday for it.

So at the end of his sermon he whispered, “Everyone who wants to go to heaven, stand up.”

The whole congregation stood up, except for Brother Jones.

“Sit back down.”

Then he said softly, “Everyone who wants to go to hell,” at which point he boomed, “STAND UP!”

Brother Jones leapt to his feet, then looked around. And he said, “Preacher, I don't know what we're voting on, but it seems that you and I are the only ones for it.”

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He is not here! He is Risen!

Here is my Easter sermon from this morning. The reading that goes with it is John 20:1-18. You can also hear my sermon by clicking HERE.

May you have a joyous and wonderful Easter season!

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Alleluia! The Lord is Risen!



This humble peasant woman from the town of Magdela hears her name, and just like that, she knows – she knows who is standing in front of her.

She had come here to the garden in the dark to anoint his body.

She had seen him killed by the Romans on a cross. Others fled, but not her, not Mary Magdalene.

In the darkest hour, Mary finds his tomb empty, and she runs to tell the others. John the Beloved disciple arrives ahead of the others, and declares that Jesus has risen from the dead just like the Scripture foretold.

But Mary isn’t buying it, not yet. All she can think of is that grave robbers have taken his body, and her grief is all the worse. She sees someone standing in front of her, and she thinks it the gardener.

Then he says her name.


In this one instant, everything – everything – in Mary’s life snaps into focus.
Everything makes perfect sense because he knows her name.


From that moment, the story of Jesus of Nazareth would continue, written on the heart of Mary Magdalene, and on the hearts of everyone else who would follow.

Mary and these first followers of Jesus, the Risen Christ, give us this precious gift of Easter so that we may believe that there is more to life than what we see here now, that the Christ who is risen is with us still.

Centuries follow. The Church tries to make sense of this story with complicated dogmas and doctrines, philosophy and theology.

But on this first Easter morning, there is no “begotten not made,” no creeds, no catechisms, no abstractions.

There are no candlesticks, no prayer books, no cathedrals, no bishops.

No, on this first Easter morning, there is a garden, and Mary who hears her name, and she knows in her deepest heart who is calling her – the One she calls Rabbi, the One who had died: that same Jesus of Nazareth who she has followed.

And Mary Magdalene’s life – and our life – is about to change in ways that neither she, nor we, can scarcely imagine.

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Last August, Lori and I traveled to Jerusalem with a group of 29 pilgrims from the United States, Canada and Australia. We became very close.

One morning before dawn, in the cool breezy darkness, we gathered at the place where Pontius Pilate’s palace once stood.

We walked through the narrow streets where tradition holds that Jesus walked on his way to the Cross.

We paused at those places that tradition claims that Jesus stopped, the places where it is said that Jesus stumbled, where Simeon of Cyrene picked up his cross, where women like Mary Magdalene watched and weeped.

The sun rose above the rooftops; we could soon feel the heat. The Old City of Jerusalem began to wake up. People hustled past us on their way to work, some pushing clattering carts stacked with vegetables to the street markets.

The ground was wet, hosed down in the early morning hours. The smell of rotting garbage filled our nostrils. There are no sweet smells on the Way of the Cross.

Finally we reached the stony hill where Jesus was crucified – Golgotha – the place of the Skull: The place of death.

In the time of Jesus, Golgotha was an abandoned rock quarry just outside the city gates. It was a perfect location for the Romans to hang criminals and rebels – and advertise their vicious power.

The Place of the Skull is now covered by a huge basilica, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The basilica has been built and rebuilt many times since the Fourth Century. The quarry is buried beneath centuries of Christian tradition and conflict, and the Place of the Skull has not seen daylight in 1,600 years.

Church of the Holy Sepulcher,
We finished our Stations of the Cross in a sunny courtyard outside the basilica.

An African Coptic monk, clad entirely in a black robe from the top of his head to his toes, swept the courtyard as we quietly chanted a psalm.

It was here where Mary Magdalene came that first Easter morning before dawn to find the tomb empty; it was here where Peter and John came when they heard the news that his body was gone.
And it was here, in this place of suffering and pain, where Jesus called Mary by name:

“Mary” he said. Jesus knew here name, just as Jesus knows your name – every single one of us.
On this beautiful Easter morning you’ve been given the most precious gift you will ever receive:

 The promise of the Risen Christ, who knows your name, who promises to be with you no matter what, in your joys and sorrows, in your faith, and in your doubts.

This precious gift is yours, free of charge, and it is yours forever.

Take this gift, this story of Easter – it is your story. Hold it close. Live this precious story to the fullest every day of your life – this story of new life, of grace, of forgiveness, of healing.

Easter is yours forever, marked on your heart by the One who knows your name, the One who is with you on whatever path you walk, and to the end of time.

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As I stood in the courtyard of the great basilica of Jerusalem, the holiest shrine in all Christianity, I looked up at the sun glistening on the dome, the sun shining brightly on the faces of everyone standing near me, and all I could think of was this:

“He is not here! He is Risen! He is everywhere!”

Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! Alleluia!

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Icon of Mary Magdalene by Brother Robert Lentz, OFM
By James Richardson, Fiat Lux

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Give thanks for Easter. Give thanks for Resurrection. Give thanks for the presence of God incarnate in our midst

Please join us tonight at 7:30 pm for the first celebration of Easter, the most opulent-over-the-top liturgy of the year. We will light the Paschal Fire, process into the church in darkness, hear the story of God's creation and salvation, and then with bells chiming (bring bells!) we will proclaim the Resurrection and Easter!

Our celebration continues Sunday at 8 am, 9:15 am, 11:15 am and 5:30 pm (note there is no 10 am service). Please join us for as much as you can!

Here is the Easter message from our friend, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori:

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Easter 2012

One of my favorite Easter hymns is about greenness. “Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain.”

It goes on to talk about love coming again. It’s a reminder to me of how centered our Easter images are in the Northern hemisphere. We talk about greenness and new life and life springing forth from the earth when we talk about resurrection.

I often wonder what Easter images come in the Southern hemisphere, and I think that the church in the south has something to teach us about that.

I was in Japan a month or so ago, and visiting the area of Japan that was so affected by the tsunami and the aftermath of the earthquake. The earth there is — was at that point — largely colorless, brown, in the middle of winter. No greenness. But at the same time the work of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Japanese church in that part of Japan, has brought a great deal of new life, life abundant for people who have been devastated and displaced, who are still mourning their loss of loved ones, the loss of their homes and employment.

New life comes in many forms, even in seasons that seem fairly wintry.

As we began Lent, I asked you to think about the Millennium Development Goals and our work in Lent as a re-focusing of our lives. I’m delighted to be able to tell you that the U.N. report this last year has shown some significant accomplishment in a couple of those goals, particularly in terms of lowering the rates of the worst poverty, and in achieving better access to drinking water and better access to primary education. We actually might reach those goals by 2015. That leaves a number of other goals as well as what moves beyond the goals to full access for all people to abundant life.

In this Easter season I would encourage you to look at where you are finding new life and resurrection, where life abundant and love incarnate are springing up in your lives and the lives of your communities. There is indeed greenness, whatever the season.

Give thanks for Easter. Give thanks for resurrection. Give thanks for the presence of God incarnate in our midst.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Holy Saturday: The Second Day, robbing Hell of its power

Today is the second day of the Easter Triduum, perhaps the most neglected and misunderstood day of the three. OurBook of Common Prayer puts an emphasis on rest in the Collect for the Day, as if Jesus is taking a breather off stage before the big production tonight at the Easter Vigil.

But our forbearers experienced and understood Holy Saturday much differently. Today is when Jesus descends into Hell to break the gates open wide and free everyone. The old English called it the "Harrowing of Hell" -- the robbery of Hell. 

If you look closely at icons and paintings from centuries ago, that is what you will see. The artwork posted here today is from a remarkable panel of paintings at the National Gallery of Art, by Benvento di Giovanni (Sienese) painted in 1491 depicting Jesus standing on the gate of Hell and pulling people out. Note the devil crushed under the gate.

This morning I will lead a few simple prayers at 9 am in the Chapel, and Pastor Nik will offer a brief homily marking Holy Saturday. Tonight at 7:30 pm is our first opportunity to proclaim the resurrection -- tonight is the first proclamation of Easter Sunday -- but we are not there yet. 

I leave you, for now, with a simple poem by my friend, Franz Wright, and an item from theologian James Alison:

But if they were condemned to suffer
this unending torment, sooner or later
wouldn’t they become the holy?
Franz Wright, God’s Silence, 2006

“With this we can say… that Hell exists, as the Church has always maintained; nevertheless it is perfectly possible that there is nobody at all there.”
James Alison, Raising Abel, 1996

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday: Keep your eye on the far horizon

A poem by Edward Hirsch for Good Friday . . .

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Green Figs
By Edward Hirsch

I want to live like that little fig tree
that sprouted up at the beach last spring
and spread its leaves over the sandy rock.
All summer its stubborn green fruit
(tiny flowers covered with a soft skin)
ripened and grew in the bright salt spray.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good
and Evil was a fig tree, or so it is said,
but this wild figure was a wanton stray.
I need to live like that crooked tree—
solitary, bittersweet, and utterly free—
that knelt down in the hardest winds
but could not be blasted away.
It kept its eye on the far horizon
and brought honey out of the rock.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Maundy Thursday: We have feet to wash

The Great Three Days of Easter – the Easter Triduum – begins today with Holy Thursday, or in the English tradition “Maundy” Thursday. “Maundy” means “mandate,” the idea being that this is the day that Jesus “mandates” us to remember him in the Last Supper.

Today is also when the clergy are mandated to remember our call to service by renewing our ordination vows and by washing the feet of the faithful.

The invitation to have feet washed puts it this way:
“On the night before his death, Jesus set an example for his disciples by washing their feet, an act of humble service. He taught that strength and growth in the life of the Kingdom of God come not by power, authority or even miracle, but by such lowly service. All of us need to remember his example, but none stand more in need of this reminder than those whom the Lord has called to ordained ministry.”
I hope you will join us at 7:30 pm, and I hope you will come forward to have your feet washed. We will also celebrate our last Holy Eucharist of this Lenten season, and place consecrated bread in the chapel on the “Altar of Repose” until we distribute it tomorrow at our 7 pm Good Friday service.

By reserving the bread we signify that Christ is with us even as he hangs on the Cross. We will keep the chapel open tonight until midnight for those who wish to remain in silent prayer and reflection.

One other item to bring to your attention today:

In the Diocese of Virginia, the priests and deacons will gather this morning in several churches with our bishops to renew our ordination vows. For the first time in many years I will be absent, and it pains me to do that. I have a cold and I feel the need for rest rather than travel.

But I still want to renew my ordination vows, so please hear me as I do:

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My brothers and sisters, do you believe that you are truly called by God
and his Church to this priesthood?

AnswerI believe I am so called.
BishopDo you now in the presence of the Church commit
yourself to this trust and responsibility?
AnswerI do.
BishopWill you respect and be guided by the pastoral
direction and leadership of your bishop?
AnswerI will.
BishopWill you be diligent in the reading and study of the
Holy Scriptures, and in seeking the knowledge of
such things as may make you a stronger and more
able minister of Christ?
AnswerI will.
BishopWill you endeavor so to minister the Word of God
and the sacraments of the New Covenant, that the
reconciling love of Christ may be known and
AnswerI will.
BishopWill you undertake to be a faithful pastor to all
whom you are called to serve, laboring together
with them and with your fellow ministers to build
up the family of God?
AnswerI will.
BishopWill you do you best to pattern your life [and that
of your family, or household, or community] in
accordance with the teachings of Christ, so that you
may be a wholesome example to your people?
AnswerI will.
BishopWill you persevere in prayer, both in public and in
private, asking God's grace, both for yourself and for
others, offering all your labors to God, through the
mediation of Jesus Christ, and in the sanctification
of the Holy Spirit?
AnswerI will.
BishopMay the Lord who has given you the will to do these
things give you the grace and power to perform them.

By James Richardson, Fiat Lux
Painting of the foot washing by Meister des Hausbuches, circa 1475.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday in Holy Week: Do we have to “accept joyfully our suffering”?

The theme of Wednesday in Holy Week is suffering. Fasten your seatbelt:

The reading from Lamentations 2:1-9 is about the destruction of Jerusalem, “her gates have sunk into the ground.” The Apostle Paul, writing in 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11, talks of not being “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.” And Mark 12:1-11 quotes Jesus telling the rather hideous parable of the vine grower who sends his son to the vineyard where the tenants kill him.

Even the prayer for Wednesday in Holy Week underlines the theme of the day:
“Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed …”
The other day, a couple people asked me why we seem to be “descending” into Holy Week. What’s with all this suffering? Can’t we get on with it and “ascend” to the glory of Easter?

Do we really have to “accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time”?

It is true that there are branches of Christianity that glorify suffering with self-flagellation and re-enactments of the crucifixion with real nails and real blood. The readings for today seem to feed into the masochism of those traditions.

So why do we descend at all? Why not get straight to Easter?

The descending is a reminder, first, of our own mortality, and that suffering inevitably accompanies life. Paul’s letters tend be filled with advice to “toughen up.”

The biblical writers are telling something more about the mystery of death. We will get to the new life of resurrection but first we pass through the wall of death. Rather than “accepting joyfully” our suffering, we should not be so quick to glorify death as “natural.” Death sometimes comes as a relief, and death sometimes comes quickly, but there is nothing good about death. Death is the ultimate enemy to be conquered because it robs of us of seeing the life that comes next.

And there is something else at work: Jesus goes to the Cross, not be emulated by us by glorifying his suffering, but rather he goes to the Cross to stand with us in our worst suffering – to suffer with us. We don’t have to re-enact suffering – there is plenty of it in our world to go around.

He goes to the Cross in a plea with us to end the suffering, to end the torture, to end the warfare. He pleads with us to not accept joyfully the sufferings of this world, but to bring end the violence, end the injustice– and eliminate the human-made crosses that kill people and create hells on earth. The traditional icon above symbolizes that by showing Jesus rescuing Adam and Eve from the gates of Hell and bringing them out of death and into new life.

This Holy Week each of us can do something that others might suffer a little less. It may not be huge, but it will be something:

Episcopal Relief and Development is our arm around the world that brings needed help and relief in places destroyed by hurricanes, earthquakes, famines, disease, poverty and other calamities. Robert Ratdke, president of ERD will be with us April 22 at St. Paul’s and I hope you will join us to meet him. You can find out more about ERD and how you can contribute by clicking HERE.

The other organization I highly recommend: Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC). These brave souls go to the most war ravaged lands of this earth to care for refugees and those caught in the crossfire. They advocate with governments for relief, and at no small risk to themselves. Please contribute to CIVIC by clicking HERE.

May you have a blessed Holy Week, and may your walk this week bring you to a closer awareness of the divine within you.

By James Richardson, Fiat Lux

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday in Holy Week: Healing

The theme for today is healing. At our 12:15 pm Holy Eucharist, Pastor Heather Warren preached a wonderful homily about how God turns our expectations upside down so that we might experience the indwelling of God. We had prayers for healing, and I could use some of that now. I've been fighting off a throat infection since Saturday that is stealing my voice.

I went to the doc this afternoon; he said the bug is floating around Charlottesville and he's had it too. So he fixed me up with a few drugs and sent me home for rest, plenty of water and all that.

So dear readers, I am resting up. Please have a very blessed Holy Week!

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Prayer for the sick

O God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of sufferers: Mercifully accept our prayers, and grant to your servants (NAMES) the help of your power, that their sickness may be turned into health, and our sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

By James Richardson, Fiat Lux

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday in Holy Week: Praying for peace, and remembering those who have died in our wars

As we have done the last few years here at St. Paul's, we devoted Monday in Holy Week to pray for peace.

At noon sixteen of us gathering in the church to pray and take turns reading the names of all of the American soldiers, sailors, Marines and Airmen who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since Holy Week of last year.

All of them.

We read these names each Sunday during the Prayers of the People. Today we read them one more time, and in one sitting.

It was a terribly sobering experience.

The list is long, perhaps too long for a blog post. But I offer you the names anyway. I hope you might take time out of your busy life this week to sit and read each name -- out loud -- and pray for their friends and families who are enduring their loss.

And pray that we will have a Holy Week when we won't have to hear any more names of those killed in wars.

Here are the names:

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War Dead since Holy Week 2011

April 2011

Vorasack Xaysana
Donald Nichols
Brent Maher
Brandon Pickering
Jose Caraballo
Keith Buzinski
Micah Hill
John Kihm
Sonny Moses
Joel Ramirez
Charles Wren
Paul Atim
Charles Ridgely Jr.
Charles Adkins
Cynthia Taylor
Linda Pierre
Joseph Kennedy
Andrew Lara
Omar Vasquez
Antonion Stiggins
Dennis Preston
Matthew Hermanson
Adam Jones
Jonathan Villanueva
Philip Ambard
Jeffrey Ausborn
David Brodeur
Tara Brown
Frank Bryant Jr.
Raymond Estelle II
Nathan Nylander
Charles Ransom
Joe Jackson
Bradley Hughes
David Day
Benjamin Bitner
James Justice
Terry Varnadore Jr.
Dominic Ciaramitaro
Sean Callahan
Joshua McClimans
John Castro

May 2011

Robert Friese
Kevin White
Matthew Hermanson
Ronald Freeman
Demetrius Frison
Ken Hermogino
Riley Spaulding
Brandon Kirton
David Self
Bradley Melton
Lamarol Tucker
Cheziray Pressley
Brian Riley Jr.
Robert Schlote
Amaru Aguilar
Benjamin Palmer
Kevin Balduf
Clifford Beattie
Ramon Mora Jr.
Kristoffer Solesbee
Joseph Hamski
Chistopher Thibodeau ("Teh-ba-douh")
Kristofferson Lorenzo
William Blevins
Andrew Krippner
Thomas Allers

June 2011

Richard Emmons III
Peter Clore
Anthony Nunn
Aaron Blasjo
Martin Apolinar
Joseph Schultz
Adam Hamilton
John Johnson
John Runkle
Edward Mills Jr.
Ergin Osman
Thomas Bohall
Louie Valazquez
Adam Patton
Matthew England
Emilio Campo Jr.
Christopher Fishbeck
Robert Hartwick
Michael Olivieri
Michael Cook Jr.
Matthew Richard
Nicholas O'Brien
William Woitowicz
Joseph Garrison
Bradley Gaudet
Kenneth White
Devin Snyder
Christopher Bell
Joshua Powell
Robert Voakes Jr.
Paul Zanowick
Jeffrey Sherer
Glenn Sewell
Nicholas Bellard
Mark Bradley
Ryan Larson
Eric Soufrine
Jeremy Katzenberger
Sean O'Connor
Joshua McDaniels
Michael Newton
Jason Hill
Marcos Cintron
Levi Nuncio
Gurpreet Singh
Jared Verbeek
Joshua Jetton
Gustavo Rios-Ordonez
James Harvey
Joshua Ibarra
Alvin Boatwright
Edward Dixon III
Alan Snyder
Tyler Kreinz
Brian Backus
Scott Smith

July 2011

Matthew Gallagher
Russell Proctor
Dylan Johnson
Kyle Schneider
Mark Goyey
John Farias
Donald Stacy
Michael Nolen
Ralph Pate Jr.
Daniel Douville
Kevin Hilaman
Nicholas Bernier
Marion Myrie
Dimitri Del Castillo
Kelly Nigel
Nicholas Hensley
Matthew Nielson
David Van Camp
Robert Tenney Jr.
Preston Suter
Joshua Throckmorton
Jordan Schumann
Michael Garcia
James A. Waters
Steven Tamantez
Nathan Beyers
Nicholas Newby
Jeremy Summers
Aaron Ullom
Robert Greniger
Rafael Nieves Jr.
Norberton Hernandez
Paul Protzenko
Christopher Soderlund
Terry Pasker
Thomas Dudley
Nicanor Amper
Mark Cofield
Daniel Elliott
James Christen
Jacob Molina
Omar Jones
Brian Mowery
Kenneth VanGiesen
Edward Koehler
Jabari Thompson
Kenneth Elwell
Tyler Springman
Raphael Arruda
Wyatt Goldsmith
Frank Gross
Christopher Camero
Lex Lewis
Brice Scott
Dennis Kancler
Patrick Dolphin
Christopher Wrinkle
William Paniagua
Augustus Vicari
Jered Ewy
Benjamin Stevenson

August 2011

Alberto Obod Jr.
Douglas Green
Michael Roberts
Jesse Dietrich
Colby Lee Richmond
Devin Daniels
Brandon Mullins
Andrew Tobin
Timothy Steele
Travis Nelson
Douglas Cordo
Joshua Seals
Dennis Jensen
Damon Leehan
Joseph VanDreumel
Matthew Harmon
Joe Cunningham
Charles Price III
Riley Gallinger-Long
Edward Frank II
Jordan Morris
Jameel Freeman
Rueben Lopez
Patrick Lay II
Nicholas Ott
Alessando Plutino
Joshua Robinson
Adan Gonzales Jr.
Daniel Patron
Aaron Vaughn
Michael Strange
John Brown
Stephen Mills
Kevin Houston
Thomas Ratzlaff
Robert Reeves
John Faas
Brian Bill
Jason Workman
Jon Tumilson
Nicholas Spehar
Byran Nicholas
Matthew Mason
Louis Langlais
Christopher Campbell
Johnny Douangdara
Darrick Benson
Heath Robinson
Jesse Pittman
Jared Day
Kraig Vickers
Patrick Hamburger
Spencer Duncan
Daniel Zerbe
Alexander Bennett
David Carter
Andrew Harvell
Nicholas Null
Jonas Kelsall
Mark Downer
Jinsu Lee
Daniel Gurr
Anthony Peterson
Waid Ramsey
Barun Rai
Cody Baker
Gil Morales del Valle
Kirk Owen
Leon Lucas Jr.

September 2011

Brandon S. Mullins
Devin James Daniels
Colby Lee Richmond
Jesse W. Dietrich
Michael C. Roberts
Douglas J. Green
Alberto L. Obod, Jr.
Douglas Jeffries Jr.
Koran Contreras
James "Will" Coker
Christopher Scott
Mycal Prince
Michael Dutcher
Rodolfo Rodriguez Jr.
Danial Adams
Keith Rudd
Daniel Quintana
Brett Wood
Bret Isenhower
Christopher Horton
Brian Lundy
Estevan Altamirano
Terry Wright
Robert Dyas
Jakob Roelli
Timothy Sayne
Chazray Clark
Ryan Cook
Michael Hosey
Garrick Eppinger Jr.
Adrian Mills
Andy Morales
John Cagle
Ryan Lannelli
Ivan Lechowich
Steven Gutowski
David Drake
Franklin Watson
Garrett Fant
Andres Zermeno
Francisco Briseno-Alvarez Jr.
Tyler Holtz
Rafael Baez
Carlos Aparicio

October 2011

James B. Wilke
Ricardo Cerros, Jr.
Joshua S. Lawrence
Drew E. Russell
Nathan L. Wyrick
Michael R. Tatham
Scott D. Harper
Robert B. Cowdrey
James Leep Jr.
Jorge Oliveira
Raymond Border
Michael Elm
Jeremiah Sancho
Robert Cowdrey
Houston Taylor
David Robinson
Charles Shawn
Steven Shapiro
John Dunning
John Lyons
Jason Barfield
Edward Grace
Jordan Bastean
Christopher Horns
Kristoffer Domeij
Ashley White
Paul Rivera

November 2011

Christopher Gailey
Sarina Butcher
Ari Cullers
David Cabrera
Christopher Newman
James Darrough
Carlo Eugenio
Stephen Dunning
Cody Norris
Nickolas Daniels
Christopher Gailey
David Hickman
James Burnett Jr.
Matthew Colin
Sean Walsh
Jonathan McCain
Calvin Pereda
Theodore Rushing
Jackie Diener
Zachary Reiff
Adam Dobereiner
Joshua Corral

December 2011

Vincent Bell
Adam Buyes
Dennis Murray
Clark Corley Jr.
Ryan Lumley
Thomas Mayberry
Samuel Griffith
Jalfred Vaquerano
Ronald Wildrick Jr.
Christopher Muniz
Christopher Levy
Justin Whitmire
Kurt Kern
Noah Korte
Mikayla Bragg
Stacy Johnson

January 2012

Matthew Seidler
Bryan Bell
Matthew Schwartz
Chad Regelin
Pernell Herrera
Neil Turner
Michael Pyron
Dustin Napier
Jonathan Metzger
Brian Leonhardt
Robert Tauteris Jr.
Christopher Patterson
Travis Riddick
Phillip McGeath
Keith Benson
Benjamin Wise
Kenneth Cochran
Jon-Luke Bateman
David Johnson
Joshua Pairsh
Christopher Singer
Kevin Reinhard
Daniel Bartle
Jesse Stites
Nathan McHone
Joseph Logan

February 2012

Edward Dycus
William Stacey
Billy Sutton
Terence Hidner
Kyler Estrada
Osbrany Montes de Oca
Allen McKenna Jr.
Julian Scholten
Justin Wilkins
Nicholas Whitlock
Ryan Hall
Paris Pough
Jerry Reed II

March 2012

Robert Marchanti II
John Loftis
Joshua Born
Timothy Conrad Jr.
Cesar Cortez (in Iraq)
Conner Lowry
Jordan Bear
Payton Jones
Daquane Rivers
Jesse Grindey
Daniel Wilford
Daniel Wade
Edward Acosta
For the 16 villagers killed in Afghanistan, and for the soldier who is accused of these killings
Dennis Weichel Jr.
Jamie Jarboe
Ray Clovis
Francis Imlay
Joseph D'Augustine
William Wilson III
Daniel Brown
Aaron Istre

Either you will go through this door or you will not go through

Adrienne Rich, 1980
I didn't want too many more days to go by without noting the passing last week of poet and essayists Adrienne Rich at the age of 83. She opened windows and doors as a feminist and lesbian, and influenced many in the mid-20th century. Here is a poem she wrote in 1962 that I particularly like:

+ + +
Prospective Immigrants Please Note
By Adrienne Rich

Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.

If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.

Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and them happen.

If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily

to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely

but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost who knows?

The door itself
makes no promises.
It is only a door.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday: The First Day of Holy Week

We had a splendid, inspiring Palm Sunday with The Very Rev. Dr. Ian Markham, the president and dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary as our preacher. Here are a few photos by Bonny Bronson from today (except for the second to last photo of Bonny, taken by Wayne Nolen). May you have a blessed Holy Week.

By James Richardson, Fiat Lux