July 2009

Today is William Reed Huntington Day in the calendar of Lesser Feasts and Fasts for the Episcopal Church.  And I have, once again, started using Sam Portaro’s “Brightest and Best:  A Companion to the Lesser Feasts and Fasts” for a supplemental reading following Morning Prayer (or “Matins” as it is called in “The Saint Helena Brevary” that I started using late last month).  I was reminded (again) of how thought provoking his writing is.  He addresses the divisions and unity of our church this way in today’s reading:

… this dynamic tension between foundational principles and necessary change lies at the heart of all life.  When Jesus offers prayer for unity, his embrace is inclusive:  “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word” (John 17:20).  Jesus prays for everyone on all sides of every issue.  The oneness for which Jesus prayes is not a unity to be achieved, but a unity already extablished.  Not our ending place, but our beginning place; not what we work for, but what we already are.  In the acknowledgment of our essential oneness, we are freed to move into our respective differences.  The loving unity for which Jesus prays is the loving unity of siblings who grow up in the profound knowledge of their essential union with one another, a union that does not confine, but rather encourages and allows them to be the very different people they are …

Our Deacon, Bob Olsen, gave a very nice sermon to commemorate the 8th aniversary of his ordination this past Sunday (and you can hear it here).  I had forgotten he was preaching (I knew it, but I had forgotten to put it on my calendar).  So I also prepared a sermon, addressing how God supplies our needs, as found in John’s account of the feeding of the 5,000, as we ourselves face difficult times.  That sermon follows: (more…)

Jim Richardson, on his blog, posts the following, which might be considered somewhat difinitive:

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson jointly signed this letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in the wake of our General Convention.

The letter makes abundantly clear that we wish to remain engaged with the Anglican Communion, asks for respect for our governance and a recognition of all of the baptized members of our church including gays and lesbians. Here is the letter, followed by a second letter from Bishop Katharine.

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Williams
Lambeth Palace

Dear Archbishop Williams,

We are writing to you as the Presiding Officers of the two Houses of The General Convention of The Episcopal Church. As your friends in Christ, we remain deeply grateful to you for your gracious presence among us recently during our 76th General Convention in Anaheim.

As you know, The General Convention voted this week to adopt Resolution D025, “Commitment and Witness to the Anglican Communion”—a multilayered resolution that addresses a range of important issues in the life of The Episcopal Church that clearly have implications for our relationships within the Anglican Communion. Because this action is already being variously interpreted by different individuals and groups, we want to offer our perspective to you with the hope that some background, context, and information will be helpful in understanding this action of our General Convention. If you have not already had an opportunity to read it, a copy of the resolution is attached. We understand Resolution D025 to be more descriptive than prescriptive in nature—a statement that reaffirms commitments already made by The Episcopal Church and that acknowledges certain realities of our common life. Nothing in the Resolution goes beyond what has already been provided under our Constitution and Canons for many years. In reading the resolution, you will note its key points, that: (more…)

Dean Baker had a somewhat different take on convention.  In his blog, he said:

I just arrived home.  General Convention was absolutely exhausting, and exhilarating.   If you haven’t heard, this morning we passed the resolution that will open the door for same-sex blessings/marriages.  A few days ago we passed the resolution that will allow us to ordain gay or lesbian bishops.  Both of these resolutions passed by huge majorities. (more…)

Bishop Dan wrote the following to his flock in his blog (about what was done at General Convention with regard to inclusion of the GLTBI community):

Some people want to interpret the resolutions one way; some, another. There is some ambiguity that is open to interpretation. We are after all Anglicans and that’s how Anglicans talk. But there are reasonable limits on fair interpretation. I want to tell you how I see these resolutions. You may want them to be a great step forward. I do not want you to be disappointed if they do not live up to raised expectations. You may think they are the worst thing we’ve done ever. I do not want you to be more distressed than necessary. These are definitely resolutions intended to affirm and include gay and lesbian persons, but I do not believe they are as great a change as they appear in the newspapers, let alone the blogs. So let me tell you about these two resolutions.

He had much more to say about the nuances of what was done and the breadth of what was done at convention.  You can see the whole thing here.

Roshi posted this poem of his, which he read at a service for House of All Sinners and Saints:

one perfect day (mark 6:53-56)

i walk into intensive care

and see my sister lying under
crisp white sheets.
a dozen beeping monitors gathered
closely around her bed. (more…)

Saw this on on Ian Mobsby’s site (my first time there):

Last Wednesday, Jon Oliver, (author and training Ordinand for Pioneer Ministry on placement with Moot) led our Quest Evening, designed to explore biblical texts and open them up as Stanley Hauerwas says to ‘an interpretative community’.  Well we looked at John 4:1-42 and the Samaritan Woman at the well.

This text is always challenging and beautiful.  It expresses the mission of God to blur boundaries of the sacred in the secular, challenging cultural taboos, and gives us a palpable foretaste of the Kingdom of God.

If you want to see more, look here.

The following meditation was written by David G Mullen, retired bishop and pastor of the ELCA:

 Christ, why this cannibalism?  Do I really have to eat you?  Your words are offensive and disgusting: eating your flesh, drinking your blood.


I confess that my inclination is to spiritualize what you ask for.  Let’s make this about believing the right things about you, or about the pursuit of some sort of warm religious experience of union and bliss.  Show me a pathway away from your flesh and blood.  Show me an escape from the human condition you entered.  Show me how to avoid the sweaty, stinky, bad-breathed, farting, hard-faced, arm-crossed chests of the people who are your body.  Show me a way to escape from the homeless with their signs at the freeway exits; the gangsters driving their booming cars; this aging body; the moldering grave; the death of those I love and those I fear; the horror and brutality of the murderous human condition: from your tortured corpus on the Cross.


But, you say, “I am the bread of life.”  You call me to open the mouth of mind and heart wide, to take in and chew on the realities of the human condition you entered and loved and saved.  Eat my flesh!  Take all this in, swallow it, digest it, excrete that which is mere waste, and live on the rest.


Christ, if the only escape from you and all that you entered is soul death, then give me the grace and courage to eat–your flesh, the flesh of us all.  Eating you, I chew on eternal life.   

I started something new today.  I participated in a small writers group for clergy.  We did timed periods of free writing (this period was on anything that came to mind after hearing several passages of scripture).  It’s not finished writing, but this is what I produced:

What is it like to be hungry?

I think that’s hard for us to imagine.

Back in seminary, one of the neighboring seminaries had a day to remember those who were hungry.  And they invited their students to fast until dinner that day.

I remember, I can’t remember why, being in an informal worship gathering with some of these students after dinner.  And one young woman went on and on about how, now that she knew what it meant to be hungry, she could stand in solidarity with those around the world in their hunger.

And I remember thinking, she was a naïve fool.  To imagine that some 10 or 20 hours without food gave her any real sense of what it meant to go chronically hungry.  I’d fasted for 5 days before, and I knew that didn’t begin to give me any real sense of identification with their plight.

To begin with, it wasn’t so much about the feeling of hunger.  That mostly went away after a while.  Though I remember feeling ravenously hungry upon my return from a 3 day backpacking trip on which we forgot to bring the food.

No, what we did was both brief and voluntary.  True hunger is about chronic malnutrition.  It’s about not having enough food for your body to develop properly or resist disease.  It’s about life and death – simply finding enough to survive until the morning.

We used to have a companion parish in Uganda.  They knew about this.  They knew if the harvest was bad, their friends and neighbors would die.

Well, there was news on a number of fronts from General Convention in my inbox this morning.  There was a Eucharist themed to domestic poverty.  There will be an effort, if it’s funded, to evangelize Latinos/Hispanics.  And the ordination of gays and lesbians has been approved by the House of Bishops.  Episcopal Life says: (more…)

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