The Rector's Blog
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February 16, 2017, 12:00 AM

Why there has been a gap in blogging...

I don’t have to tell you that the public sphere has taken a real turn toward ugly – we see it on TV, in the news and in the comedy/talk shows, in the paper, on the Internet, even in conversations with our friends and pretty much everywhere.  It’s like a cork has been removed from an anger volcano and the world is blowing up around us!  We seem to have forgotten how to get along.

Frankly, I have simply been trying to figure out what to say that will help us all cope.  I am mostly stressing the fact that whatever our own differences may be within our own church community: we ARE a community; we ARE the church; we ARE called together to be together and to live and work together as we follow the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.  Together.

Change is always hard, but some change is harder for some, and other change is harder for others.  I think we forgot to listen, somewhere along the line; we as a people got lazy about paying attention to those who are in different circumstances.  We should have paid more attention when the Tea Party started gaining ground, as they voiced distrust and distress.  As a progressive, I must admit that I did not take their complaints kindly.  That’s my bad.

As an historian, I know, at least in theory, that there have always been some deep and bitter divides between and among “demographic groups” – however defined.  Back in the Colonial days, not everyone thought that a revolution was a good idea – it was bad for business!  The merchant class was mostly opposed; many religious leaders with feet in the Church of England were downright horrified.  Any number of folks – including some of my own ancestors – moved to Canada to avoid it.  And that’s just the beginning of the story of our country!

As a scientist, I cringe at the idea that science has become anathema – whether it’s evolution or climate change or plant genetics or vaccines, or whatever.  Science is built on observation, theorizing, testing, and disproving.  But now, we hear that science is biased and wrong.

As a lawyer, I am dismayed that basic Constitutional principles are now disposable – the right of protest, the right to practice, or not, any given religious faith, and the proper roles of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches are all up for grabs.

As a theologian, I am distressed at the idea that the God I love with all my heart is being used as some kind of weapon against political opponents, the poor, the outcast, the alien, and the sick, not to mention people of differing sexual and gender identities and expression, of differing religious beliefs, or of a different race or background.

Over and over we see in the Bible that God appeals to people and rulers alike to stop oppressing the poor and weak, and to start loving God with all they have and are, and their neighbors as themselves.    

This is what I always come back to.  This is my conviction, and it convicts me when I fail.  It comforts me when I feel afflicted, and afflicts me when I feel comfortable. 

As we work on that loving God, loving neighbor thing, let’s start with a concerted effort to look for the good around us – because it is still around us.  Those who have eyes, let them see; those who have ears, let them hear!   I pray blessings for all of you.




January 19, 2017, 12:00 AM

The Inauguration


It’s been a while since I wrote to you!  I was able to meet my cousin’s granddaughter Francesca Gail (“Frankie”) over my post-Christmas holiday, which was wonderful.  Like all babies, she is the most beautiful in all the world! 

Friday the 20th is the inauguration of the new president.  I know that some of you have voted one way, and others another, so not everyone is likely to be happy with the change, and many feel that the changes to come are going to be substantial, and perhaps not all will be welcome.  I can only assure you that God loves us all, and will give us the strength to persevere through any difficulties. 

Please remember that we are a community, called together by God, to be together and to care for one another as best we can.  We have all taken vows to “strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being, with God’s help.”  We all love our country, and want our country to be the best it can be. 

Be active in our towns and cities, be in touch with our local, state, and federal representatives, and, above all, PRAY for God’s will to be made known and to prevail.  In mutual regard and respect, we will be able to do what needs to be done.  Let us pray for one another.  May God’s blessing be with you each day.                                    

Love to all, Evelyn+




December 22, 2016, 1:12 PM

A Franciscan Christmas Blessing

Thank you for the Rector’s Gift!!   It will definitely make my winter vacation, visiting my cousins back East, more enjoyable!

The following may not be the most comfortable Christmas message we’ve ever heard, but I find it a helpful reminder of what God has empowered us to do, by giving us hearts that love, minds that think, and a spirit that reaches out to those in need.

A Franciscan Christmas Blessing for Justice and Peace

by: Education for Justice

May God bless you with discomfort...
at easy answers, hard hearts, 
half-truths, and superficial relationships. 
May God bless you
so that you may live 
from deep within your heart
where God's Spirit dwells.

May God bless you with anger...
at injustice, oppression, 
and exploitation of people.
May God bless you
so that you may 
work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears...
to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war.
May God bless you so that you
may reach out your hand 
to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

 And may God bless you with 
enough foolishness to believe
that you can make a difference 
in this world, in your neighborhood, 
so that you will courageously try 
what you don't think you can do,
but, in Jesus Christ,
you'll have all the strength necessary.

May God bless you to fearlessly
speak out about injustice, 
unjust laws, corrupt politicians,
unjust and cruel treatment of prisoners, and senseless wars, 
genocides, starvations, and poverty that is so pervasive.

May God bless you that you remember we are all called
to continue God's redemptive work
of love and healing 
in God's place,
in and through God's name,
in God's Spirit,
continually creating
and breathing new life and grace
into everything and
everyone we touch.

Source: "Troubadour: A Missionary Magazine," published by the Franciscan Missionary Society, Liverpool, UK: Spring 2005.

And, finally, I wish you all a most Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!  May your days be bright and your nights restorative.  Give thanks for those around you, for those who love you, and for those whom you love.  May the Christ Child bring you joy!




December 8, 2016, 12:00 AM

Standing Rock

Some of you will remember T.J. Freeman, as a veteran and Hanover student who discerned for the priesthood here a few years ago.  A few of us were able to attend his ordination to the diaconate in Indy, and his ordination to the priesthood in Pittsburgh not very long ago.

This week, I learned the T.J. is (was?) on his way to Standing Rock to join the ‘deployment’ that two or more thousand veterans planned to stand in support of the Sioux nation in their struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline.  He is going in a triple role: veteran, Episcopal priest, and trauma chaplain.  As I write this (on Tuesday), he is holed up in a hotel in a small town between Fargo and Bismarck due to a blizzard, along with two other people who all met at the car rental counter when their flight to Bismarck was re-routed to Fargo.

I thought you’d like to know about this, so you can say a prayer for T.J., that he stays safe and warm, and that in the time he spends at Standing Rock he will be able to provide moral and spiritual support to any who can benefit.

I asked T.J. if he had anything he’d like to tell us and this is what he sent:

On one level I am very disappointed that I have been unable to make it to the camps. I truly felt called as a priest and a veteran to be there with the tribes and the veterans. On the other I give thanks for the work of the chaplains that were able to gather. They traveled from across the nation to support these people and that is inspirational. And I give thanks for the decision by the Obama administration and the Army Corps of Engineers, with the change coming in January this fight is far from over.

The SSJE word for the day was really fitting. "Be - People in trauma need our presence and our prayer rather than our preaching. We will bear a much more comforting witness to someone facing deep loss by simply being with them, and in so doing, representing God Emmanuel – God with us – by our being with them. Not by our words, but by our presence. -Br. Curtis Almquist"

I was never going to "fix" this situation but being with is enough.  And it is holy and precious and what God asks of us. Keep praying; it matters. In the coming months they will need our prayers and support and presence more than ever.

The decision of the Army Corps of Engineers he mentions is that the ACE has refused to grant an easement for the pipeline company to cross the Missouri River in the location they had planned, just a couple miles north of the reservation border, and in defiance of the wishes of the Native people who call that area home, and sacred ground.  The ACE plans further consultations, and has indicated it will be looking at other possible routes. 

Meanwhile Energy Transfer Partners (the pipeline company) has publicly stated that they regard the ACE decision as temporary and politically-motivated – and they fully expect to be able to complete the pipeline right where they are. 

Please do keep this situation in your prayers.  I also ask that you keep an eye and ear out for other places where greed and distrust may bring suffering and sorrow, and seek ways to bring God’s grace into those situations.

Yet when they were diminished and brought low,
   through stress and adversity and
   sorrow,
He lifted up the poor out of misery
   and multiplied their families like flocks
   of sheep.
The upright will see this and rejoice,
   but all wickedness will shut its mouth.

  Ps 107: 39,41-42

TJ’s final message on Wednesday (Dec 7):

“Well friends... I finally made it to Bismarck, unfortunately road conditions are still not great and I will not be making it to Standing Rock. This has been a long and complicated trip, I am trying to remind myself that making the journey is sometimes as important as reaching your destination. I am thankful for new friends made, old friends seen, and the conversations that I have been a part of: with water protectors, members of the sheriff’s department, Vietnam veterans, pipeline workers, real estate agents, and insurance adjusters.

“The world is a lovely place full of hope and beauty and love if we just take the time to experience it. God willing and the flight isn't cancelled I will be home tomorrow afternoon. Thank you for all of your love, support, and prayers throughout this journey.

“The fight for clean water and respect for native peoples is far from over.  Keep praying, keep paying attention, and keep pressuring your representatives.

“May Christ whose second coming in power and great glory we await make us steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, and constant in love.  Amen.”

 




November 24, 2016, 5:29 PM

Thanksgiving


Many of us will be spending Thanksgiving Day with family or friends, sharing a good meal, and, one hopes, remembering all the things one has to be grateful for. 

If we are fortunate, we will have more than is probably good for us (I know I usually do!). 

Others will be serving or delivering meals to those who are less fortunate.

Others will be hungry, cold, or discouraged.

Some will likely be standing out in freezing weather protesting a new oil pipeline slated to cross the Missouri River in North Dakota.  Some will be trying to end those demonstrations and maintain order. 

Some will be making plans for a new administration that takes office in January, while others will be wondering how to make their own views heard.

An annual harvest festival held in a country when only 391 counties in the United States are regarded as “farming dependent” (according to the USDA) seems rather quaint.  Yet Norman Rockwell’s classic painting is the popular image: everyone smiling, laughing, and talking together.

May we all enjoy such fellowship and delight this week.

And while we’re being grateful for the bounty of food and fellowship we share on Thanksgiving Day, let us not forget to offer thanks for all the blessings in our lives: for those who have loved us, for those who will; for those who have worked hard for the rights of all - those who opposed slavery, those who battled for workers’ fair treatment and pay, those who have gone to war against tyranny and terror, those who have striven for justice for all, and those who continue to strive that all may breathe free, without hindrance or fear.  Let us be grateful for those who have taught us, even those who have taught us when we go wrong; let us be grateful for those whom we have harmed who have forgiven us.

Let us remember as well that we are all beloved of God, as are our neighbors, and all people, whoever and wherever they are.  Let us be grateful that the God who created all that is, is always ready to reach out in love and forgiveness and mercy, to teach us how to love and forgive and be merciful, and to show us why that is so important.

Let us remember that we are part of the Body of Christ – and will shortly be joined by a new member, Mary Jane, Fleurette Laughlin.  Pray for her, and the members and friends of Christ Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, and the Episcopal Church at large.

Let us recall the words of our Savior Jesus Christ, in his last conversation with his disciples: “Abide in me as I in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. … My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."

 


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