I know, we’re not done until tomorrow.  And I’ll have stuff to share and work on after I’m back.  But our last case studies are being presented shortly.  And I can’t talk about content for reasons of confidentiality (what was shared stays within the group).  We have a nice dinner out tonight.  And we do communion and evaluations tomorrow.  And then we head home.  Where neither parish life nor family life has remained static in our absence. (more…)

Well, we’ve been to Philly, and I’m now sitting down in Brigantine (New Jersey).  We went to the 11 AM worhship at Christ Church this morning (home, at one time, to Ben Franklin).  It’s very much a historic church, but the people feel pretty well connected to today.  It has the old “half pew” system, numbered (I assume to denote who was originally allowed to sit in which pew) that I only remember seeing once before.  Not all that comfortable.  And it has wonderful clear glass windows behind the altar (unfortunately now viewing a rather ugly fire escape on a neighboring building).  But people were friendly, and it was a good service. (more…)

Bishop Dan writes on his blog:

A recent letter to our diocesan newsletter chided church leaders for failing to teach that homosexuality is a “sin.” I don’t want to tackle the question of whether homosexuality is a sin or not on a blog. It takes more words and more serious reflection than this medium affords. But it does raise an important question I want to ponder a little. What is a “sin”?

The letter to the editor sparks this question for me because Scripture does not define homosexual acts as sins. Only one specific homosexual act is prohibited and it is described as a ritual purity violation, which is quite a different matter. Ritual purity violations are in the category of planting two kinds of crop in one field or wearing a poly-blend suit, not the category of murder, theft, adultery, and other such moral issues having to do with justice and integrity. But if something is not defined as sin in Scripture, that doesn’t resolve the question. Scripture doesn’t say anything about “enhanced interrogation techniques” (torture), toxic waste dumping, or human trafficking – but I feel certain in my heart that those things are sins. So how do we know if something is a sin?

That’s the start of what I find to be a very interesting article.  You can find the whole thing here.

The son of a couple who attend St. George’s died about a week ago.  He was 20 years old, and it looks like it was probably an accidental drug overdose (mixing alchohol and other drugs recreationally).  I’ve been wanting to address this, and didn’t know what I wanted to say.  This is simply tragic for him, his family and his friends (of whom there are many).  There is nothing that makes it alright.  But we do have to live with it.  And we will have to move forward from here.

My sermon for last Sunday, Mother’s Day, wrote itself once I started writing about a parent’s love and God’s love.  And, although it is not really about this death, the sermon does mention his death, and is really probably what I would want to say about his death.  So it’s about love and death and even something about my core beliefs as a Christian.

If you want to hear the sermon, you can find it here.  (The week beginning May 10 it’s the video sermon on this page.  In following weeks, it should be available in the audio links to earlier sermons.)  If you would like to read the sermon, it follows below: (more…)

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…)

I’ve been thinking, of late, about my own core beliefs.  And I find that there are, perhaps, three places from which I’m inclined to begin.  The first is Jesus’ story of the two brothers and their unreasonably indulgent father.  (Luke 15:11-32.  We usually call this the parable of the prodigal son.)  The second is Jesus’ summary of the law (see Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34, and Luke 10:25-28 — but also Luke 10:29-37, usually called the parable of the good Samaritan).  The last is John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”).  You probably have to look at John 3:17-18 to give this a fuller context.  I guess I’d also have to add something about the incarnation (Jesus as fully human, not just God) and the resurrection (God’s power restore and renew even what seems lost forever) – and you can only talk about resurrection when you also talk about crucifixion.   I’m still thinking about this.  But this would form the core of my good news.

Most, if not all, of this is connected to narrative.  Which is fully appropriate.  Listening to some Christians, you might not know this.  But Jesus was a story teller, not a law giver.  Moses was the law giver.  Jesus was always trying to invite us into a story that made us think about what life with God was like.  I really like that about him.

I’ve already addressed Jesus incarnation in How God Made a Home, where I said:

God is looking for a new way to come into the world.  God is looking for a new way of working in the world.  He finds his point of entry in the person of a young woman.  We’d probably call her a girl.  My best guess is that she was 12 or 13 years old.  Marriage documents seem to have been signed between her and an older man.  I’m guessing Joseph could have been anything from about 15 to about 30.  They were living apart, with the marriage unconsumated — probably because they were giving her an extra year to grow up first.  And God sends a messanger to her (Luke 1:26-38 — our gospel reading).

God asks her to make a home for him.  God asks her to bear a child and call him Jesus.

I addressed it more directly in my Merry Christmas message, where I said:

Christmas tells us that God comes to us, not from on high, but from down below.  Jesus is born to an unknown woman from a subjugated people.  He comes to us as a baby — and there just isn’t all that much needier than a newborn baby.  Jesus comes to us from a position of dependence, not authority.  In my mind, in Jesus, God comes to invite us, even to court us, not to lord it over us.  There is an assumption of equality on God’s part that draws me into a very different relationship than it would to a God who came down from on high to make demands of me.

And that, for me, may be the most important thing there is to know about God.  God chooses to approach us by invitation.  God chooses to invite us into the beauty of holiness.  God chooses to share our condition, the human condition, and experience all the joys and trials and tribulations of our lives.

That probably says enough about my sense of the importance (centrality) of incarnation.  I’m expecting I will try to say more about other beliefs that are core beliefs for me in the near future.

Jim Richardson has shared an essay from his friend, Holly, who is actively exploring her faith.  She says:

I wonder about the term “Christian” because it seems as if it’s used a bit loosely as of late. … But what gets me thinking is this, “We all believe in the same God.” Do we really?

If you want to see the whole thing, click here.

Brain Baker (again) has an interesting link to the Presiding Bishop writing about the recent Primate’s meeting which you can find here.

Hey, nobody asked me.  But it seems crazy to allow folks to sue good samaritans acting in good faith.  Often, we’re talking life and death decisions that have to be made in the blink of an eye.  And sure, mistakes will be made.  But I would rather have someone helping me in my need than leaving me waiting for the arrival of some professional when my life was on the line.  Jesus invites us to make and care for our neighbors as we see them in need.  And it makes sense to me that we would follow his invitation, and be the one to help our neighbor in need.

I’ve started working on my sermon for Sunday.  I find the lessons pretty interesting.  In our first reading (II Samuel 7:1-11, 16) we find King David trying to use God to shore up his emerging dynasty.  David has secured his hold over both the northern and southern kingdoms, unifying them for the first time.  His personal army has also just secured Jerusalem, a new addition that had not been part of either kingdom.  David has built his house of (expensive) cedar in Jerusalem, which will become known as the city of David.  And he decides he’s like to house the ark of God, which has traveled with the people in a tent since the exodus, in a permanent temple.

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