Sunday, November 29, 2015

Giving thanks.

Taking a break this week to celebrate with family.
Happy Thanksgiving 

Here’s our prayer book Collect for Thanksgiving Day:

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the
fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those
who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of
your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and
the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer, 246

Friday, November 20, 2015

from prayer to action

Last Saturday I sent a pastoral letter to our Church regarding the terrorist attacks in Paris that had occurred the day before.  My instinct was to reach out as soon as I could to the people of our diocese and our clergy who would be gathering for worship on the next day to offer words of support and spiritual guidance in a difficult time.

For those who missed it and would like to see it, here is a link to the letter:

In the letter, I called us to the Christian way of prayer.  Prayer is the first response that I know when I am faced with any number of situations, including joyful surprises, the arrival of long-anticipated events or sudden and terrible tragedies, such as last Friday’s attacks. Prayer is a religious processing “tool” that invites the wisdom and compassion of God to inform our own understanding of the world around us and demonstrates that it is through a dynamic relationship with the One Who Is that we make meaning and seek direction.  Prayer is a form of discernment that gives us a holy sense of the next right thing to do.  Prayer is the first response that often leads to action.

In the past several days, prayer has been a place of comfort for me in a political landscape that looks to be more frightening by the day.  A landscape that, across our country, sees government officials drawing tight boundaries, putting up walls in response to fear and making broad-brushstroke assumptions about an entire group of people- millions of them- who have been forced to flee from their homeland.  I am delighted that our own Governor Tom Wolf has maintained that Syrian refugees will be welcomed in Pennsylvania.

Prayer does lead to action.  Later this morning, I will be hosting a long-awaited meeting with Ms. Charlotte Fry, State Coordinator of the PA Refugee Resettlement Program and several members of our churches who are eager to learn how we can assist in the refugee cause.   I have received introductions from some of our clergy members to our Muslim brothers and sisters in Central PA and will reach out to offer words of compassion and understanding.  I have been in contact with other Muslim friends around the country and have let them know of my support in these difficult days.   In an exchange with Bishop Pierre Whalon, Episcopal Bishop for the Convocation of Churches in Europe (located in Paris), he told me this week: “…continue to pray, and let us know that you are. And we all need to promote dialogue with local Muslims. The world needs to see Christians and Muslims  holding each other in mutual respect and friendship. Daesh and others want us at each other’s throats.  Let’s confound them.”

While I know that within our Church we have a wide-ranging number of opinions and political outlooks, I am moved to respond to the events of this past week from a place that knows no party affiliation and has no modern political agenda:  I am moved by the call to compassion that is given to us by Christ and underscored in all of our gospels:

Matthew 25:35-40 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Mark 12:31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Luke 3:10-11 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you…

May God’s peace and compassion prevail.

Friday, November 13, 2015



I have been alternately disgusted and amused at the war that’s been waged on Starbucks this week in response to the introduction of their “holiday” paper cup: it’s red.  Yes, it’s red. With the (usual) green Starbucks logo.  None of the usual candy canes, snowflakes, Santa’s sleigh or even a hint of “Christmas” appears on this year’s cups.

Because I am a Face Book user, this particular hue and cry has been in my face every time I sign on, and I’ve been amused to watch it swell from the initial murmurings to, now, the appearance of Christian memes that position a chalice next to a red paper cup and declare that Jesus is to be found in one and not the other.


I can’t figure out if Starbucks was just going with a minimalistic design this year
(which I actually think is pretty clever and clean) or if we are the ones who’ve been duped, as Starbucks is now getting more attention than ever. Was there a method to their mad-minimalism?

Yesterday I stopped at the drive-through of Dunkin’ Donuts. When the server extended his arm through the window and handed me a styrofoam cup with the word “Joy” printed on it in green and red, I impulsively clapped my hand and said “Yay!!! Joy!!!” He had no idea what I was getting at.  I felt like a fool.  Starbucks has even pulled me into their marketing web… and now I’m blathering about over at their competition about how great it is that Dunkin’ Donuts has kept the Christ in Donuts… or something like that.

Here’s my small point.  Starbucks has got us talking.  Christmas, of course, is the one Christian holiday that doesn’t need much promotion.  Even the wildly secular spectacles of the feast raise the awareness- if only peripherally- that unto (some of us) a Son is born…

  I wonder if Starbucks might consider plain pink, yellow and spring green cups at Easter to get us talking about the principal feast day of our faith?

Friday, November 6, 2015

language leads action

If you’ve listened to more than one interview or sermon from our new Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, no doubt you’ve encountered this phrase: “The Jesus Movement.”
  Like every good public figure, Michael has given us a tagline, a sound bite, by which to identify his core message and mission as our new leader.

I’ve been excited by these three words… and spent some time on my morning walk trying to unpack what it is that gets me going when I hear “the Jesus Movement.”

I realized, in part, that I am attracted to the edgy, radical nature of a “movement.”  I am just old enough to be considered part of the baby boomer generation… and just young enough to have missed a full engagement with the 1960s and its provocative, sit-in-protest-Woodstock-free-love-drug-hazed-rock-and-roll- days. There were several movements in that era, carried along by our country’s young adults challenging injustice and the status quo.  I will admit that I have romanticized that era, and- in spite of having brothers in the Navy and the Army during the Vietnam war- I seem to step over the memories of the carnage of war, students killed on university campuses and riots surrounding racial justice.  I’ve clung onto the idea of a “movement” as something that sounds brave, thrilling and prophetic.  And, I think that movements are, brave, thrilling and prophetic. But they have their costs as well as their rewards.  The 1960s “movement” dubbed as “anti-authoritarian” struggled to effect change in civil rights, women’s rights and issues human sexuality. It cost lives, included no small amount of violence and strife and… it made great strides.  And, as I look around today, there’s still plenty of work to do. The Jesus Movement is not, in my mind, the next-best-plan for how to solve our on-going social ills; it is a way of life that changes us at our very core-  when we “turn and accept Jesus as our Lord, putting our whole trust in his grace and love. “(BCP pg. 301)

I wonder what Presiding Bishop Curry really means when he talks about the Jesus Movement.  It’s too early to know, but here’s what I’m hoping for:

·      A re-focusing on living our lives with the teachings of Jesus as the center point

·      Support for the actions that flow from a sharpened focus

·      A letting go of structures- institutional, physical, and hierarchical- that do not serve us as we follow Christ. A release of the need to perpetuate systems for systems’ sake.

·      The freedom to deviate from the norm for the sake of justice, joy, progress

·      The holding up of community as a necessary component for action. (A “movement’ requires group participation)

·      The exercise of that community in prayer, worship, fellowship, sharing time at table and hearth together.

·      The exploration of new ways of “being church” that dissolves boundaries and reaches into our neighborhoods… our local contexts.

That’s just a beginning…  I wonder how you imagine the Jesus Movement to look as it shapes up.

The truth is we’ve been at this Jesus Movement for a couple of thousand years.  It was kindled by a Jewish rabbi who gathered some fisherman, a tax collector, a few prostitutes and sinners and taught them God’s way of justice and peace and love.  It was catapulted into a scary, electric, compelling, risky venture at dawn on the first Easter morning when the stone was found rolled away and the tomb empty.  Since that moment, the power of Jesus the Christ, the resurrected One, has been pulling us forward, gathering steam and working to make justice, peace and love part of our common experience. We’ve added some layers, as humans are wont to do:  layers of ritual, tradition, thought and argument, buildings, corporate structure… and now…it’s time to get back- to the movement.

How will you join the Jesus Movement?  How are you already at work as one of its followers?  One of his followers?  And where do you think we’ll go, next?