The Rector's Blog
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November 10, 2016, 3:28 PM

After the Election, Part Two

Well, we’ve now experienced two elections – for a new bishop and for a new president.

Things sure are exciting around here.

I’m still trying to sort out my own feelings and reactions to the local, state and national elections.  There were some real surprises – especially in the presidential race.  All the pundits thought Mrs Clinton would win, and I do mean all.  And yet, it didn’t turn out that way; instead we are looking at Mr Trump as our next leader.  I’m not going to try explaining that – obviously there were undercurrents most people missed!

But I do want to focus, for a moment, on a few thoughts:

One, some will rejoice and others will mourn the outcome.  What each of us feels is valid.  So I ask you to please honor the joy or the sorrow of your friends.  Don’t gloat and don’t throw things.

Two, some are relieved and some are frightened.  Again, what each of us feels is valid.  So I ask you to please honor both relief and worry.  Don’t crow and don’t accuse.

Three, Presiding Bishop Curry reminds us “the time will come to bind up our wounds, to overcome our differences, to reconcile with each other, to reach out to those who differ with us, and to be Americans.  One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

He also quoted from Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, to remind us to:

Share everything. 
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t hit people.
Play fair.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. 

It’s good advice. 
I would also like to honor the fear of our GLBTQ friends and neighbors, that the elevation of Gov. Pence to the vice presidency might threaten a return to the days of closets and condemnation.  We still haven’t forgotten the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  We remember his desire to move funds from HIV prevention to “conversion therapy.”  We know that he has opposed anti-discrimination measures designed to protect GLBTQ persons from losing their jobs or their homes. 

Again, these feelings and this fear is real.  I have already seen reports of suicides by GLB and Trans individuals following the election.

But Mr Trump has a different history regarding GLBTQ, than Mr Pence.  He has been much more accepting, publicly, than many Republicans, and opposed measures that would discriminate.

I would hope that these views will be clearly stated and upheld by Mr Trump.   We badly need that support. 

I’m distressed at reports of recent racist attacks on African Americans and Muslims, as conducted by some of his supporters.  I hope he will say something about that as well, because it is unacceptable

It is difficult for me to be calm and dispassionate, as I am sure it is for many of you as well this week.

Let us remember, though, what we have been told, time and again, and to do our best to live in accordance with:

Do not fear.

Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

God is the rock of our salvation; and God will save.

Breathe.  (OK, that one’s not in the Bible, but it’s still good advice!) 

Let’s remember who and whose we are, and “love one another as Christ has loved us” as best as we can.  Stand up for the lost and the least, help out where we can.




November 9, 2016, 9:00 AM

After the Election

Those who know me probably also know that I'm a Democrat. I have tried hard to keep politics out of the pulpit, but I do preach a tolerant message: that God has a preference for the poor, the marginalized, and the outcast. In light of my understanding of the Gospel - the good news of God in Christ, I offer this response for those who are sad, disappointed, or frightened today, and ask any who read it to be charitable...

Searching for the right words, the right prayers, the right response. Not sure anything is quite right, now. I'm disappointed. I'm shocked. I'm afraid - for friends, for the poor, for Americans who are Black, Muslim, Hispanic, LGBTQ, Native, female - that "civil" has become outdated and rare. That "rule of law" may become "what the corporation wants." That my retirement savings will be wiped out in the pending market crash (again). That when morning comes and the light dawns, when the waters rise and the storm clouds gather, when the pipelines break and the land shakes and the earth dies, no one will care anymore...

"Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord." 
Then I remember, these may well be *our* worst days, but we've faced "worst days" before.

Stand up. Stand up. Stand up. Be the refuge others will need. Preach the Gospel of love beyond measure, of hope beyond fear, of power beyond strength.

Do not fear to love. Do not fear to be beloved. Do not fear the power of any power on earth to harm, for God is stronger still. And the realm of heaven is within us.




October 27, 2016, 12:00 AM

Busy Season Is Upon Us!

We’re coming up on one of the church’s busiest seasons – I know that we are still decrying the fact that Christmas items are in the stores already (after all, it’s still weeks and weeks till Christmas!), but we are now in a heavy planning period. 

First up, of course, is finalizing the arrangements for this Sunday’s Mulberry Street brunch (11AM - 1PM).  I know I put this in red ink on the front page – but I will say it again:  There will only be one service on Sunday, October 30, at 9:00. 

We will actually start the service as we do at 8:00 (with no prelude and no opening hymn) and finish as if it were our 10:00 liturgy.  The choir will be with us to lead us in the Psalm, and there will also be a choir anthem.  Our greeters, readers, and servers will come from both services. 

Many thanks to Tabitha Tolbert, who has organized this community brunch, and to all those who have lent aid and food and funds to the effort!

On Monday, October 31, you are invited to join with Resurrection Lutheran, Hanover Presbyterian, Smryna-Monroe Presbyterian, and CEC at 4:30 to mark All Hallows Eve and Bless the Trick-or-Treaters. (4882 W Deputy Pike) – come in costume; bring the grandkids!

On Sunday, November 6, we will celebrate All Saints Sunday.  We would like to commemorate all those we remember with love, so please provide names of your departed loved ones to Karen in the office by Wednesday, November 1!

Looking a little further down the pike, we are working with a few other churches in our community in the run-up to Election Day to offer a “Service of Light and Prayer for the Nation” on Monday evening, November 7 (time TBD), and “Election Day Communion” on Tuesday, November 8 (6:30 PM, after the polls have closed).  

We are one country, and as Christians, we have a calling to love our neighbor as ourselves; both these occasions will provide us with a chance to remember that, and to hold onto that thought.

Finally, and not to be forgotten, we are making great strides for St Cecilia (Friday, November 18, 7:30 PM).  If you would like to help with setting up an art installation, we could use your talents!  We will feature works by Hal Davis and other local artists.  This will be our first venture into the visual arts!  (Yes, we are excited!)

Given all that is going on – whether in the life of Christ Church or in your own lives, you may wonder how to keep your balance – and I’m not always the best example, I freely admit!  But I am finding it helpful to schedule a time to get out of the office and walk, even if it’s only for ten minutes! 

And if I can find one word/image in the Scriptures to hold in my mind, this becomes a meditative and prayerful act.  Some of the words I have used are: ‘beloved,” “forgiven,” and “timeless.”  What’s your word for today?




October 13, 2016, 3:13 PM

Oh no, she’s going to ask us for money!

  I do seem to ask you for funds practically every month , in addition to the RDF donations – last month it was the floods in Louisiana (you’ll be glad to know that the last Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge closed October 5).  This month it’s Hurricane Matthew.

  And now there’s the annual funding campaign for our operating budget.

  Yes, I’m asking you to help fund the day-to-day operations of Christ Church.  Our annual budget seems like a lot of money (this year we budgeted $178,000.)  So we need to think about why we fund the church, why we fund THIS church.

  As a small church, our fundraising pool is also small.  But did you know that being a small church is also a great opportunity for the development of lay ministry?

  I can’t do it all.  I don’t know what you need if you don’t tell me; I don’t know what fulfills you if you don’t tell me; and I don’t know what to offer if you don’t tell me.  And I don’t know what you would like to offer if you don’t tell me. 

  Do you want to become a lector and read lessons in worship?  Do you want to lead a book group?  Would you like to help design art installations for the worship space?  I’m not going to think of everything, and it is hard to plan for the future of our church community without your feedback, and without your ideas or involvement.

  There is a passage in Numbers 18 requiring that 10% of one’s produce (sheep and vegetables, probably) be given to support the priests/temple.   From this passage, we have arrived at the term “tithe” (related to the word “tenth”) – the standard for financial giving to the church.  And since we aren’t producing sheep and vegetables nowadays, it has evolved into “give 10% of your income.”

  I don’t want 10% of your income.  (Well, it probably would come in handy, but that’s not the point I’m making here!)

  No.  What I do want is YOU

  In saying this, I also want you to know that I know that a lot of other people want you, too – grandchildren, parents, friends, employers, local charitable groups, activity groups…

  So the issue for you is: what does church mean to you? What does your involvement in church mean to you?

And that, my friends, is a deeply spiritual question, one that will take time for you to sort out, with prayer and thought and discernment with other Christian friends or even … me!

  I can’t answer that question for you.  But I can tell you what church – church in general and Christ Church in particular – means to me.

  Like many of you, perhaps, my personal church journey has been a bit of a mixed bag.  I spent many years as a happy atheist (or a depressed atheist, or a teen-aged atheist, which is a unique and difficult kind of atheist), until one day when I was 19, I visited a college chapel with some Episcopal friends and got bowled over by a vision of heaven.    

  Completely unexpected.  Totally mind-blowing.  Frightening and compelling.

  But that’s not why I’m in church now.  If I held onto just the one experience of that one day, I would not be the person I am now; I would not be a priest; I would not be sitting here writing this.

  No, the reason I’m in church now is because God has never let go of me, even when I left the church for years after being hurt by church people,  to such an extent that I questioned the very existence of God.

  It was really only after I came back from Moscow that I felt pushed and compelled by God – not called, not offered, not invited, but nagged – to go back to church.  I used to go past one particular Episcopal church (red door and all) while getting settled in my new house, so I decided okay, I’ll try that one. 

 The first week I was there, someone greeted me with a smile, a word of welcome, a handshake, and an invitation to coffee.  The second week, someone invited me to join the choir.  I still wasn’t any too sure about God (and rather resented being pushed by someone I wasn’t sure existed to do something I didn’t want to do), but as you know, I love to sing, so…

  I had to learn everything again.  Who is God, who is Jesus, who is Holy Spirit, what is the church for, what is the Episcopal Church for, what does it mean to be involved in a church community?

  For me, it meant, and still means, I am walking with others on a journey that each one feels to be their own, yet shares commonality and connection with everyone else’s.  God’s – and our – acceptance of our individuality, God’s – and our – appreciation for our diversity, and God’s – and our – desire for our participation in community is what keeps me going and gives me hope and fills my heart and spirit with joy.

  So yes, I’m asking for your money, but mostly I’m just asking you to be you, with us, with God, growing in the spirit, telling our stories and sharing the journey.  Can you do that?

  Thank you!
 




September 29, 2016, 12:00 AM

In the beginning everything was "tov."

O God, who created all peoples in your image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and cultures in this world. Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship, and show us your presence in those who differ most from us, until our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

BCP 840

In the Old Testament reading for last week, Jeremiah describes how he purchased land in the town of Anathoth from his cousin Hanamel.

This takes place as Babylon’s army is at the gates of Jerusalem and Jeremiah is confined in jail by King Zedekiah.  Jeremiah sees this action as desired by God, and as a sign of hope for the future, when property will once again be bought and sold in the land of the children of God.

The transfer of land from one to another is here a sacred act.  It is made in the sure knowledge God has not abandoned God’s people.

To many indigenous peoples, it is not just the transfer of land that is sacred; the land itself is sacred, and so is the water, so is the air, so is the grass, so are the trees, and everything that has breath. 

That idea is in harmony with Biblical thought.  In Genesis we hear God declare all creation “tov.”  Blogger Nathan Albert says “tov” means: Good, beautiful, working the way it is created to work.  He also writes: 

“In the beginning, everything was tov. Creation was tov.  People were tov. Humanity’s relationship with God was completely tov.  Everything in creation was working the way God intended.  It was good and beautiful.

“Yet, as we know, something happened. The tov people stopped believing God was tov.  They thought they could become like God themselves.  Eventually, they stopped living a tov life.  They no longer treated all of creation as if it was tov.  Quickly, creation started to unravel. Everything tov became very un-tov.”

(http://naytinalbert.blogspot.com/2013/01/tov-good-beautiful-working-way-its.html)

Out in North Dakota, native peoples from across the country, with support from around the world, are protesting the building of a pipeline to carry crude from the Bakken Oil Fields to Iowa and the Gulf Coast.  The pipeline route would cross the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock Reservation, which could break and destroy their water supply.

They see themselves as Water Protectors – as standing up for that which cannot speak for itself, for the sacred water of life, which all life needs to survive, thrive, and grow.

++Michael Curry agrees with them.  He visited the Sacred Stone camp of the Water Protectors this week, and delivered a powerful message of support, saying, as in the extract of Ms Cordova’s poem quoted at left, “We are children of the same Mother. We are children of the same Father.”

You can watch his statement here:

https://youtu.be/tygYLLhFVDw

More information is posted here:
http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2016/09/27/presiding-bishop-tells-standing-rock-protectors-the-way-of-jesus-honors-the-water/


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