Structure – Globally and Locally

I just returned from Baltimore, MD, where I attended a meeting for The Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Governance, Structure, Constitution and Canons. If you haven’t fallen asleep or clicked on another page, thank you.  Yes, the topic seems dry, perhaps even boring, and yet I am invigorated by the conversations we had and hopeful that what this group is engaged in will indeed support the work of the Spirit in every congregation.
Structure is a helpful as it makes our common life have order.Jesus organized his ministry with 12 apostles and the sending out of least 70 others in pairs. He established a pattern of repentance (turn), study, prayer, worship, support, work and rest that calls his followers into a deeper relationship with God as our foundation and source of well-being.
Over the last two centuries, the Church has continued to develop structures, most of which are to support its ministry of reconciliation.And yet, as society changes, so to must the Church, which does…


In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he tells them to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16b-18) In one short sentence, he invites the Church into a closer relationship with God through prayer and practice of seeking the good, the positive in life. Part of the human condition (for some of us!) is to see only the negative, the difficulties, the failures.  That is not helpful because it diminishes our ability to imagine, be creative and hope. 
Even (or maybe especially) in the more difficult circumstances, we need to pray to seek God’s presence and peace – the peace that passes all understanding.If we let the chaos around us overtake us, we loose part of ourselves.Rather, we need to take a moment to breathe and seek God’s wisdom, and we may even be surprised by finding an opportunity to be thankful in the midst of difficulty.
As Father Hubbard reminded us this weekend, faith…

A Blessed All Hallow’s Eve

The American tradition of Halloween finds its origins in the Christian tradition of All Saint’s (those people that are considered holy, or hallowed) Day, which is on November 1st.Since many religious celebrations begin at sundown the night before, on the eve of the day, October 31st became All Hallow’s Eve. During the time when this tradition started (as early as the 4th century), superstition was much more prevalent than science. Many people feared talking about the dead because many thought the dead would come back as ghosts and haunt those who talked of them.It didn’t take much to prove people’s fears, especially during a time of year when it is dark and cold in the northern hemisphere.
The Irish brought the tradition of carving pumpkins into Jack O'Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O'Lantern was not a pumpkin. Pumpkins did not exist in Ireland. Ancient Celtic cultures in Ireland carved turnips on All Hallow's Eve, and placed an ember in them, to ward off evil …

THUG - The Hate U Give

It is probably not a surprise that I don’t listen to rap or hip-hop music.  (Of course, I also don’t listen to country or punk music, so don’t judge my musical tastes to harshly.)  Because of my limited knowledge and exposure to hip-hop, I don’t know much about the artists and musicians of the genre, expect for some big names like Will Smith, Run-D.M.C., & TLC.  I am sure I heard the name Tupac Shakur, but I couldn’t tell you any songs he sang.  However, I recently found out he was 2 years older than I and was killed 2 days after my birthday in 1996 at the age of 25. 
I don’t recall if I heard much about Tupac’s death when it happened.I realize now what a tragic loss his death was, mostly after reading Angie Thomas’ novel The Hate U Give. In the book, the character Khalil explains that Tupac’s motto “THUG LIFE” is an acronym meaning, “the hate you give little infants f**ks everyone.”Yes, the language is crude, but the message is painfully true – the cruelty people inflict on othe…

Physician, Heal Thyself

The title of this blog is probably familiar even if you haven’t read the Bible recently.  With so many medical dramas on TV, this quote gets used at least once a season! This is the King James Version of Luke 4:23. Jesus has returned to Nazareth after his time of temptation to begin his ministry.  He goes to the temple and reads from the prophet Isaiah, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ (61:1) After he finishes reading and proclaims that the words of the prophet have been fulfilled, and those around him, who think they know him best, believe he is delusional.
I find it interesting that Jesus then quotes a Greek proverb from an ancient play by Aeschylus entitled Prometheus Bound. Translated into English, the line is: Like some inferior doctor who's become ill / Yo…

Transforming Generosity

I am grateful for the resources of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS) and their resources as we focus attention on our stewardship practices.  This year the TENS theme is “Transforming Generosity,” which is an intriguing idea. Our relationship with Jesus invites us into a new way of life where we are transformed – changed from living for ourselves to being for God. In the chapter entitled “What Would Jesus Have Me Do?” in Peter Gomes’ bookThe Scandalous Gospel of Jesus, he writes: Our situation would be easier if Jesus were less clear about the priorities he sets for us. At the heart of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” “All these things” refers to such things as food, clothing and other fundamental necessities of life, plus security, safety and moral clarity. The priority that Jesus asks us to seek is God’s kingdom, God’s righteousness, the firs…

Reconciliation (Part 2)

This blog post is a continuation of the reflections I started last week after attending a conference called “Racial reconciliation and discipleship in the missionary church.”
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we promise to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.Our cultural context has fallen quite short of tenet.My England ancestors established a strict understanding of social standing from royalty to the commoner, with the royals holding all the prestige and privilege.Those standards were exported with English expansion around the world and imposed on people and places that had much different world views or approaches to living. Whether by force, coercion or subterfuge, the European standards for social standing became the standard in many places, including the United States.
As a result of this influence, those who were forcibly brought to the United States as indentured servants and slaves were treated as less worthy than their fellow inhabitants.Those who lived in this land a…