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Failure

Image
This is a picture of a fragment of the World Trade Center.It was found in this cross-shape on September 13, 2001, right at the beginning of the recovery efforts at Ground Zero. It was prominently displayed throughout the clean-up and is now part of the exhibit in the 9/11 Memorial Museum.I first saw this cross when I visited Ground Zero in January 2002, while visiting General Theological Seminary. I was awed that this found relic presided over the somber activities in “the Pit,” as the recovery workers called it.And yet it made absolute sense. The cross is one of the most recognizable symbols of Christianity, and yet it signifies utter failure.Jesus was executed by the state for treason, even though he was innocent.Our faith proclaims that through the willing sacrifice of his life, Jesus shows us the way to eternal life.But that doesn’t negate the fact that the cross is a mechanism of death, and a cruel death at that. On Good Friday, we reflect on Jesus’s passion and his death on the…

Being a Good Steward (a.k.a. Adulting)

As a member of “Gen X” (i.e. those born between 1965 and 1980), when I first heard the term “adulting,” I just laughed.  Since I enjoy etymology, I found out that this term was named the 2016 “Word of the Year,” basically because of its overuse by Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996).  Essentially “adulting” means acting like an adult, being responsible for ALL the things adults are to be responsible for like going to work, paying bills ON TIME, perhaps even living in one’s own space (rather than with one’s parents!).  While for generations the transition from adolescence into adulthood seemed to be the natural progression of life, for some that step seemed too steep to navigate. 
And to be honest, there are days when I would rather not “adult.”I would love for someone to take care of me and not have to worry about cooking, cleaning, laundry, bills, or all the other minutia that makes up life. But I know that isn’t going to happen.I could be overwhelmed with all that needs …

Change

As a child, I was the ideal Episcopalian.I hated change.I wanted everything to stay the same – predicable, expected, easy.I knew would happen and I knew how to respond.Essentially, I didn’t have to think and I wasn’t challenged, which was fine by me.Life was hard enough and there were so many things I had no control over, so keeping church the same was perfect.
And then, when I was in fifth grade, our priest decided that he would change the long-held tradition of kids waiting until Confirmation (which was done in 6th grade) to receive communion and instruct my cohort to receive communion BEFORE we were Confirmation (a whole year early).I was not happy.I didn’t want to participate because it was different, and not for any grand theological reason but because it was a change!Even after I heard the explanation that Baptism was full initiation into the Christian faith and that I was (essentially) eligible to receive communion since I was 3 months old, I still didn’t like it.But I was tol…

Expanding Our Understanding of God

What do you think of when you hear the word, “God”?Does it conjure up an image or a feeling?Do you think of a human-like entity?If so, what gender would you say that entity is?
For centuries, most of the images portrayed as “God” depict an old, white man, and as a result, many people have engraved that image on their hearts and minds when thinking about who and what God is. This forced limitation stops our creative imaginations about how we encounter, and even interact, with God depending on our interactions with other old, white men.
The unfortunate reality is that many people have negative associations with men who have held positions of authority over them, and as a result, picturing God as such is a difficult, even traumatic, experience, and hence something to be avoided. The institutional church has been complicit in this approach by only allowing men to have authority for centuries – even though there was a biblical precedent counter to that.
At the same time, we do acknowledg…

The Feast of St. Mary (aka “The Assumption)

August 15th is a Feast Day honoring St. Mary, mother of our Lord. In the Roman Catholic tradition, it is a holy day of obligation (meaning the expectation is that the faithful go church).While we don’t have that tradition in the Episcopal Church (nor, unfortunately, did we at St. Barnabas have a service), Mary is absolutely worth our recognition and glorification.
I wrote a lot about Mary in my blog post before Christmas which you can read here. She is NOT a meek and mild character to be dotted upon and then disregarded.She is fierce and should be regarded as such, even emulated.
Beyond Mary’s saying, “Yes,” to Jesus’s birth and watching her son die on the cross, she bore witness to Jesus’s ministry, even pushing him at times, like any good mother would. “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’…

The Way of Love

A little more than 3 months ago, our Presiding Bishop, The Most Reverend Michael Curry, offered a stirring reflection on love that was seen by millions of people.  The occasion was the wedding of Price Harry and Meghan Markle, and the Bishop Curry still claims he has no idea how he got that “gig.”  However he got there, Bishop Curry used that platform to remind the world of the power of love, and if that power was ever harnessed as Jesus intended it to be, the world would be set on fire!
That is all well and good – go out and love!Seems easy enough.Those of us who attend church on a regular basis know the great commandments of loving God, loving our neighbors and loving ourselves.And yet we also know how difficult this can be. We can love God, but it can feel that that love is not reciprocated if we haven’t developed a relationship with God.Loving our neighbors can be “tricky,” especially if we disagree with them.And our secular culture continually reminds us of how imperfect we ourse…

What I Learned at the 79th General Convention

For the third time, I was blessed to be a deputy from the Diocese of New Jersey to the democratic legislative body of the Episcopal Church known as General Convention (GC).Once every three years, this Church gathers from across the world to reflect to our branch of the Jesus Movement and discern if we are doing what God is calling us to do.We do this in good order through a legislative process that may seem confining, and yet allows for many ideas and voices to be heard.
This GC had a record number of resolutions – almost 500 were acted on by either Concurrence (both the House of Bishops and House of Deputies passed it with the same wording), Rejection (did not pass one house with a majority vote), Referring to an Interim Body (sent to a Committee or Commission established by the Executive Council), or Take No Further Action (usually means it was dealt with by another resolution).
Several of the Resolutions were of significant importance, especially A068, which deals with Prayer Boo…