April 2009


 

Brian Baker, in his blog, writes something I think is on target and informative:

Recently I received an email from a man I had never met.  Somebody had recommended Trinity Cathedral to him.  He went to our website searching for a “statement of faith.”  Many religious bodies provide a clear list of their beliefs, such as “we believe the inerrancy of the Bible.”   He could find no such statement on Trinity’s site so he emailed me.  He wanted to know if we had a Statement of Faith.  Here’s what I wrote:

You are asking a great question.  Most Episcopal churches don’t have a Statement of Faith.  This isn’t because faith is unimportant to us.  It is just that uniformity of doctrine is not what unifies us.  What unifies us is common prayer and gathering around the altar of Christ.  There are Episcopalians who believe a wide range of things.  We consider ourselves comprehensive of a wide range of Christian beliefs.  There are catholic, evangelical, charismatic, etc. Episcopalians.  There are Episcopalians who are pro-life and those who are pro-choice.  There are Episcopalians who read the Bible quite literally, and those who don’t.  Our views on social as well as doctrinal issues are comprehensive of the spectrum of beliefs of Christians.  [For the whole article, click here]

Well, our community garden at St. George’s opened the day before Easter.  That’s when we began assigning plots and gave the go ahead for folks to work them.  In this first phase, we have 24 (15 foot by 15 foot) plots.  If we get to all three phases, I believe we would have 74 plots.  That’s a long ways off.  Anyway, about 10 of the plots are being actively worked already.  About 20 people have asked to have plots (but not everyone has read the draft rules, signed their waivers and put down the $50 we are asking to help cover the cost of watering their gardens).  I’m pretty sure we’ll be full sometime in May.  If we’re not, there is a neighboring community garden with a three year waiting list. (more…)

Well, I’ve been on call twice.  And twice I’ve been called in.  This most recent time, I gave last rites to a 92 year old gentleman — who may have eventually recovered, I don’t know.  The regular chaplain follows up with this.  Anyway, he had pnuemonia after two surgeries (and seemed totally unaware that I was there).  His wife and family, however, were appreciative. (more…)

Brian Baker posted a piece from bishop elect Thew Forrester from the diocese of Northern Michigan.  There is organized opposition to confirming him as a bishop because of his ties with Zen Buddhists — I guess they think he doesn’t have a strong enough sense of who Jesus is.  So I wanted to excerpt a bit from the piece Brian posted (“Our Lives in Christ” by Thew).  Judge for yourselves.  And if you want to see the whole thing after reading the excerpt, click here.

Because Jesus receives everything and gratefully returns everything – his heart, his soul, his mind, his strength –   he is empty of everything except the Presence of God. This is a Christology of utterkenosis. Jesus in his Transfiguration is fully revealed as he always is – the Christ, empty of everything but the Spirit. We, as disciples, are called to the same life of transfiguration, so that through and through, in the end, it is only Christ who lives in us and we are dead to all else. This transfiguration, I believe, is our baptismal life: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” In the end, we come face-to-face with God and know that it is no longer “I,” but God who lives in me holding us forever as one-in-Christ, Life-giving salvation.

I was reading Brother Adam again tonight and I enjoyed this:

In the course of teaching Bible and early monasticism over the years I have become aware, as I suppose is inevitable, that modern readers come to these texts with our own presuppositions. This is not exactly news. But it is also not always obvious to us when we are reading. We aren’t usually conscious of the biases of our own culture until we have something to compare it to (more…)

On a personal level, I’ve been on vacation, recovering, since Easter.  One way or another, I suspect that’s what most clergy do.  Certainly in the Episcopal Church, Holy Week/Easter is our busiest time of the year.  We need time to lie fallow, and that’s what I’ve had.  I’m starting to feel like I might want to do something again.  I went down to our Community Garden today, which we officially opened and assigned plots for the day before Easter.  I watered the two half rows of corn my wife planted in her plot.  (It’s her plot.  I’m the designated water boy.  She picked the plot nearest my office to “encourage” this.)

(more…)

I also had a wedding Saturday — fortunately after the funeral (with a break between them).  A young woman who grew up at St. George’s married her childhood sweetheart, when they got back together again a few years later.  I had a brief homily for them, and if you are interested, it follows: (more…)

I said goodbye to a friend Saturday, at least in a matter of speaking.  Vin died earlier, but we held his service then.  In many ways, I think we’d been saying goodbye for some time.  He’d been dealing with some kind of dementia.  Dealing well — it wasn’t obvious at first.  And he was an interesting and caring man, even as he faded.  Then his wife, Goldie, his anchor, died.  And he was a bit more adrift.  And he had health problems, which wiped him out physically.  So we watched him fade both mentally and physically.  I think it was hardest on his daughter.  It was an ugly process.  Death, when it came, was a release for all of us, including Vin.

But I find myself wanting to honor his life.  He raised his family.  He served his country.  He traveled the world, sorting out production problems for his company, and meeting and understanding and caring for people.  He understood racism.  He knew it was a festering evil (though I don’t believe he’d ever use those words).  And he shared his experiences and wisdom.  He was solid and unassuming.  As far as I can tell, he was good at all the things he did.  I found him to be a blessing in my life.  It was incredibly sad to see him failing physically and mentally before he died.  It was an honor and a privilege to know him.

I don’t think I’m saying all this very well.  But there was real value in his life.  What he did made a real difference in many people’s lives.  And it would be enough, I think, simply that he had lived.

I happen to believe that he lives a new life, whole and complete again, with the God who loves him.  And I imagine him with his beloved Goldie.  Our burial office takes its meaning from Easter, from Jesus’ death and resurrection.  My sorrow (and even anger) at his death (and how he lost so much before he died) is real.  But I really do take solace from the fact that I believe he is now safely in God’s hands.

Simply, I find myself wanting to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Fare well.