March 2013


This has been my first Holy Week since I retired.  And it’s absolutely bizarre.  After some thirty years of planning and leading worship (and all the extra planning and sermons for the special services during Holy Week) I got to choose what services I participated in and where I worshiped.  I only led one (public) service all week on Palm Sunday.  I did the major offices of Matins and Vespers (mostly) at home.  I attended a Maundy Thursday service at an Episcopal Church.  I attended an Easter Vigil at a Lutheran Church.  I’ll probably say Matins in the morning at home.  It’s actually nice just to be there to worship.  Although, after some thirty years in the field, it’s pretty much automatic that you are critiquing every service you attend.

Maybe they shouldn’t let clergy attend services led by others!

But I find myself thinking that every three to five years all clergy should be required to attend someone else’s Holy Week and Christmas services.  Not everything was done the way I would have done it.  And that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing! (more…)

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This is The Lead on Episcopal Cafe today.  If you watch the video on the link, I’d be interested in your responses:

DOMA, Proposition 8 and the Easter story

John Fugelsang draws a contemporary parallel to the story of the Passion and Resurrection in this commentary. Does its analogy hold up for you?

Bishop Dan of Nevada has been engaged in an interesting conversation on how Christians are perceived.  Here’s the lead in to his post:

THE MR ROGERS POST: WHOSE FAULT IS OUR BAD REP?

Last week, I shared this Rollie Williams link in praise of Fred Rogers on my FB page: http://www.upworthy.com/the-nicest-man-in-history-had-a-shocking-secret-you-never-knew-about?c=ufb1 The basic point was that Fred Rogers was a great guy and his shocking secret was that he was a Christian. The author said Mr. Rogers’ message was the opposite of the  “lack of love and compassion” that characterizes most of Christianity. It praised Rogers for his caring, generous spirit (my words) and for keeping his faith secret (actually, he was not at all secret about his faith. See.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eliot-daley/fred-rogers_b_862976.html While proselytizing was not his ministry – and that could never have happened on publicly funded TV even if he had wanted to – Mr. Rogers’s religion was never a secret. He even concluded his acceptance speech for his Emmy, “May God be with you.”) I take the thrust of Rollie Williams’ post to mean that secularists should not despise all Christians because, although most of us are harsh, judgmental jerks, some Christians are ok – so long as they keep their relationship with Christ a secret.
Feeling my faith damned by faint praise, I shared the Williams link saying I was left perplexed. While Rollie Williams’ view of Christians is wrong on the facts, I still want to know how he came to think this of us.
If your interest is engaged, you can find his whole post here.

Well, since it’s ready, and since I don’t think anyone from the congregation in Sutter Creek follows my blog, here’s what I expect I will preach for the Second Sunday in Easter:

Imagine what it must have been like.  A week ago, Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem.  Thursday they all gathered for a special meal with Jesus.  Later that night, Jesus was arrested.  Friday morning he was tried and brutally executed while they all hid (and some of the women, braver than the rest of them, watched from a distance).  Today they were hiding, barricaded behind locked doors, waiting for the sound of footsteps which might mean that they too were being arrested …  Fear was in the air.  And that evening, suddenly, something unrecognized appeared in the room with them!

“Peace be with you,” they heard.  But they did not experience shalom.  There was no wholeness or completeness or being in harmony in their hearts. They might well have thought they were seeing a ghost. They must have been scared witless!

But Jesus, it was Jesus, showed them his wounds.  They recognized him by his wounds, (more…)

John Miller shared a post by Derek Flood on FaceBook.  I liked it enough to share some excerpts here:

God is love.
If that’s true, then Paul’s famous hymn of love in first Corinthians 13 can be read like this:
God is patient, God is kind.
God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud.

God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking,
God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. (more…)

I’ve been thinking this week about how religious traditions build on the customs and sites of those who have gone before – even when those who have gone before are of different faiths.  Christmas trees are derived from non-Christian traditions in Germany, I’m told, and Halloween is derived from Celtic druidic practices – though they have been “baptized.”  A Christmas tree is not used by Christians to worship a different deity.  All Saints’ (or all Hallow’s) Eve remembers those who have died in the faith (even with all the spooky stuff about death and spirits) and who are now alive in Christ.  For that matter, Christians take the Jewish holy writings and look at them through a new lens, and Muslins take both Jewish and Christian holy writings and look at them through a lens of their own.

And it’s not like this is something new.

In chapter 12 of Genesis, when Abram first comes into the land of Canaan, he arrives at the sacred place at Shechem and comes to the oak grove of Moreh.  It is very likely that this oak grove was already a site of worship for Canaanite deities. (more…)

Many years ago, I served as the Rector of a small congregation in rural Wyoming (St. Andrew’s in Meeteetse).  Some time before I arrived, they had opened a thrift shop for the community (population around 500).  One woman had spearheaded the project.  Her family donated the building.  And she ran the program her way.

I got to thinking about this today because I read a blog post from my friend, Joe Duggan, where he said:

I have had an epiphany in my prayer today. I am no longer going to talk about “at risk congregations”. At risk of what? At risk of dying or closing? There is nothing to fear in the death of our congregations.

Why does he say this?  Because he believes in resurrection.

That got me thinking about the thrift shop. (more…)

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