Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Sunday, August 01, 2010
In the July 30, 2010 newsletter penned by the Rev. Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council, the July 18 visit of Bishop Gene Robinson to Foundry United Methodist Church was summarized in this way: "Bishop Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire preached at Foundry United Methodist church in Washington, DC, and urged them to 'get in trouble' by conducting same-sex marriages to show 'God's limitless, boundless and unimaginable love.'"
Again, this is not what Gene said - what he said was, ""When I ordain deacons, I tell them that I expect them to get into some Gospel trouble. If they're not in trouble, I wonder if it is the Gospel that they are preaching." This misrepresentation of his remarks perpetuates the incorrect information floating around. I can only assume at this point that those in the AAC don't have any interest at all in knowing the facts; it seems that all that is important to them is what THEY think, and facts be damned...
Friday, July 30, 2010
While reading The Episcopal Church in Crisis, by Frank Kirkpatrick, I ran across the following quote first spoken by the Right Reverend Simon Chiwanga, retired Bishop of Mpwapwa Diocese in the Anglican Province of Tanzania: "Forcing your point of view by excluding from your circle those who disagree with you, or by compelling acceptance, is to usurp the place of God."
That line is worded in such a way as it could be used on both sides of the current debate within the Anglican Communion, but I can't help but wonder how many people in can honestly say they are taking those words to heart? Since 2003, how many people - particularly on the side of the more conservative folks who have broken away from the Episcopal Church and are now aligned with the Southern Cone bishops - have stopped for one moment to think that they are trying to stand in God's shoes?
Conservative Anglicans are quick to claim that the rulings which come out of the once-a-decade Lambeth Conferences should be acknowledged as "law" by the 38 global provinces. The recommendations on such things as the prohibition on further consecration of gay or lesbian bishops should be viewed as gospel until such time as the entire Communion approves such moves, or only after consideration is given to the potential impact on the worldwide Church.
In looking at some previous Lambeth and Anglican Consultative Council statements, I can't see where the entire Anglican Communion is living up to the statements to which many feel we should all strictly adhere. Some examples: (1) Lambeth 1948 - attendees affirmed that Scripture "should be continually interpreted in the context of the Church's life; (2) Lambeth 1988 - attendees reaffirmed the "historical position of respect for diocesan boundaries and the authority of bishops within those boundaries"; (3) Anglican Consultative Council 1993 - affirmed that it "would be inappropriate to any bishop to exercise episcopal authority within a diocese without first securing permission from the resident bishop." (The last quote is on page 47 of the Kirkpatrick book.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
"Second, I must take issue with your understanding of the situation in the ECUSA where 'congregations, priests and members are fleeing in droves.' Of the 7,100 individual parishes in the ECUSA, 83 have left - that's 1.1 percent.
"In the comment above, Undergroundpewster refers to feeling that Bishop Robinson has discovered truth and is operating under self-delusion. I would contend that it is not delusion or the discovery of truth, but an understanding of the Bible as he has arrived at it. One of the marvelous things about any Christian denomination is that, for millennia, Christians have engaged in deep study of the Bible and n the area of scriptural interpretation. Just as you and I may disagree over whether the Bible is literally the word of God or rather man's understanding of God's word, our understanding of the Bible and the meaning that we get may also differ. I'm confident that Undergroundpewster would be offended if someone felt that his understanding of the Bible was wrong and called him deluded. No matter our differences of opinion, any debate - in the realm of theology or anywhere else - should always be tempered with respect. My wife and I have differences of opinion from time to time on church issues, but we view each other's opinions - and always those of others - with respect.
"Finally, with regard to your last paragraph, a listening of the complete sermon would clarify the use of Acts 3. I agree completely that God healed the man through Peter and John, but it was not God that allowed the newly-healed man into the Temple - it was that he finally met the rules of man that finally allowed him into the Temple. It was not just healing, however, but a new view of this person by the Temple officials - just as the view of the ECUSA towards ALL of our brothers and sisters has changed and they are being welcomed.
"The sign which hangs outside of each Episcopal parish reads, "The Episcopal Church welcomes you" - there are no asterisks, no conditions, and no requirements. I believe that we are living into that promise through the inclusion of everyone in the various aspects of life in the church.
"Again, thanks for providing a place for this debate."
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
The Bishop's sermon was based on the two readings he had selected for today: Acts 3:1-10, which tells of the healing of the lame man at the Temple by Peter and John; and Luke 4:16-30, which tells of the first time Jesus spoke at the synagogue in Nazareth and was both admired for his ability to preach and reviled because he pointed out that Elijah and Elisha were sent by God not to the Jews, but to Zarephath in Sidon and Namaan the Syrian. He told all of us that the passage from Acts should be the one that speaks to everyone in the LGBT community - just as the lame man was prohibited from entering the Temple because of his infirmity, the LGBT community knows what is like to be barred at the door and prohibited from entering the sanctuary. And just as the man was healed by Peter and John and allowed at that point to walk into the Temple ("dancing in the temple"), those who have been discriminated against by many in today's world have also heard the call of God and now know what it means to celebrate in the center of the church.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
My soul is silent before God. Like the infant who is nursed and becomes calmed at its mother's breast and finds all its wishes fulfilled here, like the young boy who is speechless gazing upon his hero and leader, like the crying child that yearns for its mother to lay her gentle hand upon its brow and dispel and silence all its cares, like the young girl who quietly reflects on the prospect of one day becoming a mother, like the man who finds all his passion and restlessness clamed by the gaze of his beloved woman, like the person who becomes quiet before the eyes of a loyal friend, like a sick person who is calmed by the physician, like the old person who becomes calm before the face of death, like all of us who are silenced in reverence and awe at the heart of nature, under the starry heavens - just so should the soul be calmed from all the restlessness and chaos and haste, before the eyes of God.
During his introduction of Jack Lew as the next director of the Office of Management and Budget, President Obama made the comment (and I am paraphrasing) that members of both parties are in agreement that we do not want to endure another financial crisis the same as the one that we just went through. Naturally, that jumped out at me – with his choice of words (or those of his speechwriter, I should say), we were in essence being told that the financial crisis was over.
But is it? Unemployment is still at 9.5%. Millions of Americans are still out of work, with a significant number of that group losing their unemployment benefits due to the 99-week maximum having been reached. A report I read today said that for every one job opening in this country there are five potential applicants. And the Senate, locked in its ongoing struggle over extending benefits while trying to find a way to pay for them without increasing our national debt, has not taken any action.
Does that seem like the end of the financial crisis? The banks and lending institutions may be in better shape, and the stock market may be on the rebound, but that means nothing to the 50-year-old husband and father who has been out of work for two years and cannot find a job, or the single parent whose company downsized and left them uncertain about how they will support their children.
A friend of mine – someone I respect a great deal – questioned whether 99 weeks isn’t long enough. If it isn’t, he wondered, how many years are enough?
Immediately, my mind turned to the traveler on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho – the subject of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. And I began to wonder: are we a nation of priests, a nation of Levites, or a nation of Samaritans?
I understand very well how much money the government spends each year in supporting unemployed men and women throughout the United States – those who are looking for work, those who have given up, and those who never intended to look to begin with. I understand the need for fiscal restraint and the importance of getting our national books back in balance.
More than that, though, I understand what in mind is a moral obligation to be the friend of those who need help – the Samaritan to the man who was beaten and robbed. If Congress does not extend the benefits, how will we react in the face of situation which will become even worse? Community organizations, relief agencies, and churches can only do so much.
Assuming benefits are not extended, millions more families may become homeless. The roll of those seeking help with increase dramatically. The suffering experienced by so many in this country – the stress, the depression, the uncertainty, the hopelessness – will be compounded more than we can imagine.
What will we do?
Will we be a nation of priests, who come upon the scene and move to the other side of the road to avoid what we find? Will we be a nation of Levites who react in the exact same manner?
Or will we be a nation of Samaritans who stop, offer aid, bandage their wounds, take them to safety, and see things through to the end?
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Is it strong enough that you could confidently make a decision to leave a job to return to your home, knowing that you might never be able to leave that home ever again?
Is it strong enough that you would willingly take a course of action in a certain situation that you knew could in all likelihood end with your death?
Having just completed the new biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas and read with great interest how this simple, unassuming pastor, theologian and martyr dealt with these very same issues, these questions have been on my mind quite a bit. Much of my contemplation of his life has centered on trying to put myself in his shoes to see how I would react.
While visiting and studying in New York City in the late 1930s (his second visit there during that decade), Bonhoeffer - against the advice and pleading of many of his close friends - gave up what would have been a safe and secure teaching position in the United States to return home to Germany and confront Hitler's tyranny from the front lines. In the early 1940s, he joined a conspiracy of high ranking military officers, aristocrats, ministers and other other opponents in an effort to assassinate Hitler (culminating in the July 20, 1944 attempt). In both of these instances - indeed, throughout much of his life between 1932 and 1945 - Bonhoeffer acted out of principle and love for his country, but even more out of a sense that what he referred to as "cheap grace" would not be enough.
"Cheap grace," as Bonhoeffer writes in his book Discipleship, "is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate." Bonhoeffer's objective for himself and for all mankind was "costly grace," which as he writes "is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man’ will gladly go and self all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him."
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.
May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.
Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.
May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us
and for all Israel; and say, Amen.
He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Several years ago, a good friend of mine (who is a priest in the Episcopal Church and godmother to our youngest daughter) and I were wandering through the bookshop at Washington National Cathedral when she picked up a copy of Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith and said, "You should really read Anne Lamott. She's great." This friend had never steered me wrong before - despite our spirited political discussions, which we approach from opposite ends of the spectrum - and so I cracked open the book. One paragraph into the first page, the thought "What the hell?!?" flashed through my mind, for there in stark black-and-white I was greeted with, "Better to go out by our own hands than to endure slow by scolding at the hands of the Bush administration."
My friend - the friend who had never steered me wrong - had put in my hands a book by a Bush-basher!
Giving her the benefit of the doubt, however, I purchased it, along with a few others, and took them home for a read. It was a struggle for me, however; I couldn't, no matter how hard I tried, get past her political musings. I was angry with Ms. Lamott, that much was certain. And I wasn't going to be very forgiving.
It was then I found the other Anne Lamott: the single mother, the recovering alcoholic and drug addict, the woman who in the midst of one of her darkest moments felt the presence of Jesus as he knelt by her in the corner. The self-professed flawed Christian who said, "You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." THIS was the Anne Lamott to whom I could relate, the woman you wanted to hug and tell that everything would be alright, and that people loved her as much as Jesus loved her.