The Rector's Blog
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June 15, 2017, 2:37 PM

The Centre Cannot Hold

From the Rector

The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
the falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
the ceremony of innocence is drowned;
the best lack all conviction, while the worst
are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
when a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
a shape with lion body and the head of a man,
a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
that twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
and what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? 

We hear of something distressing and we make a leap to judgment.  Why is this so often the first thing we do? 

I probably don’t need to tell you of the all-too-predictable reactions to the shooting in Alexandria yesterday, where several [Congressional Republican] people playing baseball were injured.  Now, mind you, some reactions were a call to prayer – which is a start in the right direction – but others immediately went somewhere very different and very ugly based on political views. 

I don’t believe that shooting people is the answer to any of our political differences.

And I don’t think the answer lies in demonizing either the victims or the shooters, either.

Is it me, or does this seem to be happening with greater frequency?  Or is that just an “artifact” (as the statisticians call it) of greater access to the news cycle?  In other words, are there more shootings, or are the shootings just getting greater attention?

Because the media have long been accused of thinking “If it bleeds, it leads.”  The escalation in toxic language, I think, is real enough.  But it’s hard to tell.

More and more we are divided left and right; and the center shrinks.  Which brought me to William Butler Yeats’ poem, and the line “The centre cannot hold.” 

I’m no English major, but to my ear, the vision he describes of a terrifying power stirring in the darkness sounds very contemporary. 

I have the sense that, whatever our own political proclivities may be, we all feel to some extent threatened – by change, by the loss of what we hold dear, by the instability of economy and policy, and by general hostility in the national conversation – which is more of a shouting match with no one hearing, than a conversation.

What is to be done?  I quote a line from one of the Star Trek movies, in which the Chris Pine version of Captain Kirk says, “I have no idea what I’m supposed to do.  I only know what I can do.”

That line speaks to me so much, I have it taped to my computer screen.

Just now, I would modify it somewhat:  “I don’t know what I can do; I only know what I’m supposed to do” – and that is:

             LOVE GOD.  LOVE NEIGHBOR. 

As we struggle to find a way toward sanity and respect and care again, this is the only counsel that I can offer – and there’s nothing wrong with repeating it frequently!

Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.  (Matthew 22:37-39, adapted)

Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.   (Matthew 5:44)

Christ be within us to keep us, beside us to guard, before us to lead, behind us to protect, beneath us to support, above us to bless.  Amen.         (New Zealand Prayer Book 186)




June 1, 2017, 12:16 PM

School's Out!

School’s out!  In any idealistic sense of childhood, this should be a happy thought – and for teachers as well!  When I was young (from about age 9 thru 18), my family would set out on a lengthy camping trip across the country or into Canada.  Sometimes this took up most of the summer; other years, especially when my dad was working in the summer time to augment the family income, several weeks.  So I got to travel a lot as a child, and even though I know my brother and I bickered quite a bit, I will never really lose my love of travel and seeing new places and meeting new people.  Probably this practice, plus the fact that I was born overseas, made it inevitable that I would join the Foreign Service when the opportunity presented itself.  Plus, it’s only been 2-1/2 years since I visited the seventh continent (Antarctica). 

So when Jesus sends out the disciples to witness to the Good News of God’s love to all nations, I kind of identify with how exciting and scary that must have seemed to them.  Of course, we know that Paul went to Rome – and tried to go to Spain, although he never got that far – and wandered widely in present-day Turkey, Syria, and parts of Iraq.  We have reports that Thomas made it to South India.  Plus Philip was found in the Sinai, where he baptized the slave of the Candace (the ruler of Ethiopia).  So, given that travel in those days was slower than now, it must have seemed to them that they did pretty well in fulfilling the call.

The Roman Empire provided safe and good roads and shipping routes – they built a massive communications and transportation network for the transport of people and goods and ideas.  Greek connections provided a lingua franca

As the years went on, and the power centers of the Church settled in Constantinople and Rome, both became the object of pilgrimage and the goal of political movers and shakers. 

While the rise of Muslim rulers in the Middle East did displace Christian authorities, Christian communities and practices remained viable and even dynamic for centuries.  Early Muslim rulers actually hired Christian monks as their administrative clerks, who were tasked with translating the great works of Greek philosophy, history, mathematics, and what passed for science of the day into Arabic – with the result that when the Moors captured Spain in the 8th to 10th centuries, many of these works that were lost at the hands Christian rulers in Europe were re-discovered and translated into Latin, engendering – along with other factors – the so-called 12th century renaissance, and contributing to the rise of the first great universities and teachers such as Abelard. 

There is good evidence that Christians made it into the Far East – and were found in the Great Mongol Khan’s court (Marco Polo found them there); and there are even hints that Christians made it to Japan during the Middle Ages, although I don’t think that’s a completely settled question.  Most of the Asian Christians we know about appear to have been Arian Christians, rather than the Trinitarians that the Church in the West and the Orthodox Churches became.  Arians date back to the time of Constantine, and were branded heretics by the winners at the conferences that brought us the Nicene Creed (325 and 381) because they believed that Jesus Christ was begotten of the Father at a particular point in time – i.e., not “eternally” – and was therefore subordinate to and not co-equal with the Father.

If you’re looking for something to do in the summer months, I encourage taking a trip to a place you’ve never been before – even just a day away, if that’s what you can manage – and see what you can learn that you never knew before!

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)




May 18, 2017, 10:26 AM

Easter, Acts, Call

We’re winding down Easter Season; and as soon as we get past Pentecost Sunday, I will stop chanting the Eucharistic Prayer intro (the “sursum corda” or “Lift your hearts”) again.  It’s been fun! 

One of the things of which I have taken particular notice this Eastertide has been the Scriptural emphasis on death and resurrection.  I don’t remember being struck so strongly by this focus in prior years, but I am trying to look farther ahead in the lectionary readings than I usually find time to do, and I see this coming up again and again.

We only read the Book of Acts during Easter Season, on Epiphany, and on a few particular Feast Days.  This means we skip a whole lot of the book – and since this is the earliest history of the church, that’s a shame.  So… as I look ahead to actually offering Bible Study again, the next class will be on the entire Book of Acts.

I would like to offer two sessions – one would reclaim the 10:30 Monday morning timeslot we had previously (until my fall last year); the other will be held in the evenings – the choices are Tuesdays (except Vestry meetings on the 3rd Tuesday of each month), and Thursdays.  Please let me know which night works better for you!

Classes will start on Monday, June 5.

Now, I don’t have to tell you that our country is in turmoil – with accusations of illegal activity, questionable activity, cover-ups, over-looks, and leaks at the highest levels – and now a “special counsel.”  Please remember that our call is to “Love God and Love Neighbor.  We may not agree about politics, or social issues, or much of anything, but we are all ONE IN CHRIST.  No matter what.  Always and forever.  And do please pray for the Nation!  Thank you.

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the mist of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and resp3ect, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.            (BCP 824)




May 4, 2017, 2:19 PM

A Thank You from Bp Jennifer; A Reflection from Mother Evelyn


Our New Bishop

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows has issued an initial statement of thanks:

I've been searching all day for the words of gratitude to express how thankful I am to everyone who has prayed, worked, journeyed to Clowes Hall or watched online, offered musical leadership, baked, cooked, preached, gave of their creative gifts and participated in any way over this past weekend--and I come up short. I'm utterly overwhelmed by the love and generosity shown to me and my family.  The list of those I want to thank is long and I look forward to delivering proper thanks in the days to come.  So many made sacrifices of time away from work and family for months on end to make this glorious consecration weekend possible.  As preacher extraordinaire, Jeffrey Lee noted, Hoosier hospitality is a thing---and so is our music, liturgy, artistry, design, and community partnership. You not only showed the world what you can do but you showed them who you ARE. There could not be a more amazing start to our new ministry together.

This from Mother Evelyn:

It was such a privilege to be able to participate in the festivities surrounding the retirement of Bishop Cate and the ordination of Bishop Jennifer, even though I had no official “role” to play.  It’s too bad the weather was so foul on Saturday that those parishioners who hoped to join us were unable to travel safely to Indianapolis!  Fortunately, the events were streamed online and can be
found on YouTube.

There was almost enough singing for my taste! There were tears and cheers, clergy-dancing (a special class of awkward), brass, drums, handbells, and enough bishops to fill a small country, plus over a thousand other joyful watchers.  If you’ve been on Facebook, I’ve been posting links to articles and news broadcasts (I will put some of these on the website also) so you can get to know +Jennifer a little better. 

Bishop Cate has retired, and will be spending a month or so on vacation in the Caribbean; then, she says, she and Larry will be staying in Indianapolis, and maybe even visiting churches around the diocese – who knows, we may see her again!  Meanwhile, she will remain as one of the advisors to the Anglican Centre in Rome, and of course, she remains in the House of Bishops.

Bishop Jennifer will be spending quite a bit of time in listening and discernment in the Diocese – more on that as information comes available.  We haven’t seen her full official visitation schedule yet, although she will be confirming folks in Columbus on May 13, and she will be joining us for the Ulster Evensong on July 19.

The diocese of Indianapolis has made history in her election; now we will make history in our time together!




March 30, 2017, 10:33 AM

The Pilgrimage -


Q&A

So…what was the pilgrimage like?

NOTE:  The Epistle contains photos, so you'll want to check that out.  

In one word – fantastic!  Yes, I’d been to Canterbury before, on my seminary senior class trip back in 2011, so I knew more or less what to expect in terms of the layout of the place and the scenery, but this trip was even better – perhaps familiarity played a role in this, or maybe it was because of my growth in faith and ministry.  Either way, I felt the presence of God in many moments, especially during worship (you know I’m a sucker for worship, right?).  I posted quite a few photos on my Facebook page, and am sorting and adding some photos to the website as well.  I also am giving thought to offering a presentation of the trip, but of course, right now is the run-up to Holy Week and Easter, and things are a bit … busy. 

So here are a few “snaps” as a “teaser”. 

This gravestone is one of several hundred in a small church yard at St Martin’s parish – an active worshiping community since at least the year 597, when Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine of Canterbury to bring the gospel to the “English” – while the Romans and the Britons were Christians, the Angles and Saxon invaders were not.  Augustine’s mission was to bring them into the fold.  In this he was aided by the fact that the King of Kent, Ethelbert, had married a Christian Frankish princess, Bertha, who insisted as a condition of the marriage that she remain Christian. 

The view from my window was a daily source of inspiration – you can see the tower, called “Bell Harry” that stands above the transept – one gets a fine view of the city environs from the roof, though I didn’t climb it this time around!

We generally attended evensong in the “quire” – at the eastern end of the church, in the raised sanctuary space – and enjoyed the soaring voices of the men-and-boys choir.  Canterbury has recently added a men-and-girls choir as well, and I did get to hear them sing as well.

The Cathedral itself has a Norman-era undercroft (11th-13th century) , while the “upstairs” was extensively reworked in the Gothic period – eventually resulting in a nave built in the so-called “English perpendicular” style. 

The Cathedral is fortunate to have preserved some of the stain glass from the earliest period despite the efforts of the Reformation authorities to destroy all visual art, and the veneration of saints.  Canterbury was the site of the assassination of Thomas Becket in 1170, because he put God and the Church ahead of his friend, King Henry II.  During Henry VIII’s reign and thereafter, the monasteries were closed and the churches stripped.  Many of the windows presented stories of various healings attributed to Thomas’ intercession; others showed the ancestors of Christ and life-events of the Savior; and many were destroyed for that reason.

The site of the martyrdom is adorned with a sculpture of two swords, and the point of a (much larger) third, indicating the means of Thomas’ death.  An annual play recounts the event.

 


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