Monthly Archives: June 2016

A Thursday Reflection 6.30.16

At least one person has told me that no one would expect a weekly reflection this week given all the time, energy and responsibilities that are part of the preparations for my mom’s funeral.  However, I strongly believe that I would be neglecting my vows as a priest and pastor if I did not use her passing as an opportunity for reflection for each of you.

Since the wee hours of Sunday, I have spent so much time these days, over and above the expected running around that one does in the cleaning out, packing up, finalizing the legalities, setting up the repast, coordinating travel schedules, confirming our Prayer Book funeral liturgy and writing the sermon/eulogy, having too many conversations where I am trying to rebuild bridges and mend fences long broken.

I have had to rehear stories of past hurts and slights, of anger misplaced and relationships broken.  I have come to see, as I always believed, that words that escape our mouths can never be taken back.  In life, unlike Law and Order court scenes, there is no “the jury will disregard that last comment.”    Shakespeare was so right: “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”     

As believers, we place our trust in the loving mercy of a Father who seeks out the lost and welcomes back the prodigal.  But you all might take to heart that every sound you utter, every act performed, every promise you make and break will someday rebound upon your children and their children.

As Christians, I would hope that in addition to any IRA or property you plan to leave your families, you would primarily leave them the legacy of a life well lived and the example of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your life: charity, joy, peace, patience and the other virtues which St. Paul often quotes.   May people see the light of Christ shining in and through you.  When all is said and done, faith will outlast finances, and only love is greater than death.

A Thursday Reflection 6.23.16

This coming Sunday we’ll celebrate the 257th anniversary of this parish – one of the older ones in this Diocese.  How much time has gone by?

Think about this:  Since the founding of this parish, there have been 44 USA Presidents, 13 Popes (yeah Clement XIII through the current Bishop of Rome), 91 established political parties, 47 economic downturns (recessions, depressions, “panics”  – and those national financial woes were counted from 1791 not 1759 – our founding).  The “Anglican Communion” has been born of the Church of England and now extends into 39 provinces throughout the world.  We Americans have used 4 different and revised Books of Common Prayer and a number of approved hymnals.  There have been 27 Presiding Bishops of the Episcopal Church from William White of Philadelphia to the recently elected Michael Curry of North Carolina.

We have been through 13 wars (not sure if Korea is still listed as a “police action”). What was Grenada?  Did we or did we not invade Nicaragua, and what do you call Jefferson’s ordering attacks on the pirates from and into North Africa who threatened us in the early 1800’s – you know: “From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli…”

We no longer travel by foot or horse (heck, some of our kids don’t know what those appendages attached to their bodies are used for).  Families no longer live together in close proximity either geographically or inter-generationally.   We have created weapons that can obliterate the face of the earth, and we have interfered with nature in ways where once long distant microbes can hitchhike a ride on an international flight and within a week wreak havoc thousands of miles away.  The legacy of the sin of slavery still tears at us.  And yet we have also journeyed into the heavens and touched the face of God.

So much has happened in the more than two and one half centuries since ordinary Christians like you and me committed themselves to come together in prayer and make this parish – this land: with and without buildings – their spiritual home.  So much wonder and good has happened.  So much terror and sadness as well.  Science, especially medicine, has exploded.

Unfortunately, wisdom does not always follow.  Unlike our spiritual ancestors, we live in a world where God really isn’t all that “necessary” or “important.”  Can’t tell you how many people say to me on a somewhat regular basis, “I’m just so busy one Sundays,”  “Don’t have time,”  “It’s crazy!”   I have a plaque in my office that reads:  “I wonder if sometimes we give God a headache!”

So here’s my thought for the week:  Take a moment (better, come and worship with us at the special service this week) to simply thank the Lord for all that has been given to us as a community of faith throughout these years.  And think about – better, pray about – what God, who remains unimportant to others, may truly ask of you at this time in the history of this parish.   Happy anniversary to us!!!!!!!

A Thursday Reflection 6.16.16

I spent Sunday afternoon and evening with at least one eye and ear focused on the news of the Orlando shootings. I’ll let the “experts” rant on about the conversations we should be having about security, religious intolerance, radicalization of angry men, easy access to weapons, 2nd amendment rights, the so called “truth” about Islam, the failures of law enforcement, the failures of this presidency and on and on and on that talking heads and people who make a healthy living by inciting accusatory rhetoric have already begun to do.

On Sunday, I flashbacked to the summer of 1972. I was traveling through Europe, caught the wrong ferry out of Glasgow and instead of arriving in Dublin, I was deposited into that so called religious war zone known as Belfast, Northern Ireland. I eventually made my way to the smaller rail station and caught a train to the B&B in Dublin by that evening – only to learn from local TV that the area around that station had been bombed less than an hour after I left.

I was lucky. Wrong place, but right time. I lived. The victims of the mass shooting in Orlando were not: wrong place and wrong time!

I cannot by myself change the political and cultural chaos in which we live. I can (and do) preach of Jesus and His way, and that this works for me and for all who choose life in him. There is so much I cannot know, but I DO know this: in the dangerous world in which we now live, where violence can strike any woman, man or child, I need to live my life as a Child of God and I need to teach those around me to do the same. Will this “protect” me? Of course it won’t! But I live my life as if ready for the Lord to take me home and stand before Him to give an account of that time here. I don’t know when that time will end. I don’t know if I will end my pilgrimage by an act of violence. I may not be lucky again. Am I ready for my ultimate encounter with Christ? Are you?

A Thursday Reflection 6.9.16

I want to talk about a culture of Gratitude.  We can have it.  We can always improve.

The storms came rolling in Sunday evening, and the thunder was loud enough to scare our dog.  So Abby does what she always does: she runs up on to the couch, curls into me, and lets me pet, stroke, talk to and comfort her through whatever sound/light show the heavens display.  OK, so what?  Nothing new there.  This time, however, as the sound ended and the rains became a trickle, she looks up at me, (I’m a sucker for deep brown eyes) and licks my hand as if to say “thank you.”  Maybe I am anthropomorphizing the event, or maybe she was grateful for the comfort.

Many from this community work at such a clip to help this parish community in its journey.  We have folks like Paul, Stephen, Susan and Alexandra who provide music at St. Paul’s.  We have Altar Guild women and men who take time off their own hectic schedules to make liturgical services look beautiful and run smoothly.  You saw clean tablecloths on the tables at winetasting:  thank Pat.  You had an event run smoothly demanding so much hard work in preparation, and much of it done without a safety net of support:  thank Laurie.

Financial storms are real for this parish, but thank Peter, Paul, Nancy and Jim working on a plan to upright the ship, and thank Jenny, Stephen, Brian, Claudia, John, Eileen, Peter and Cynthia as wardens and vestry who will have to make all the hard decisions that must be made.  Thank Anne for coordinating liturgical ministries. We have four buildings that need TLC (and more) – thank Bill for hours here that you do not see.

My point:  We may or may not have solutions to every issue that this community has faced or will face.  We do have, within us as Christians, the mandate and the ability to display towards one another a gratitude for who the other is and what she or he does.  I would never admonish anyone in this parish for being too grateful to other parishioners for what they do here.  I wouldn’t mind overhearing the words “thank you” uttered more often.   Be an “icon” of Jesus: embody within yourself the reality of gratitude to others for especially the unseen and unnoticed good works that they do.

A Thursday Reflection 6.2.16

Last Sunday, those of you at the 9:30 liturgy witnessed a member of our parish give “witness” about the place, the role, and the power of God in his life – as he lives “out there” in a world which he admitted is “not a safe space.”  This is something that parishioners are going to be doing on the last Sunday of each month – a brief witness to the power of God in their lives.

It was striking that the notion of our being stewards of this parish, and all that “stewardship” means was a part of what he experienced as his “calling.”  What a wonderful sermon he preached (without realizing that he was doing so)!  God has called this generation of folks who call this parish their spiritual home to a quest that involves a way of life, a way to view what is important in life, and the way by which we will use the buildings we have to be the launching point from which we live the Good News of Jesus “out there” in “the world.”

You all heard a wonderful definition of “stewardship.” You will hear such a call many more times in the coming weeks, months and years.  But you may never hear it so deeply, personally and eloquently proclaimed.