Sunday, December 30, 2007


The sermon went well. It's funny, I got most of my positive comments based on something I just made up on the spot. It was good to get feedback on very specific items in the sermon, not just "good job."

It felt a little strange being up there behind that podium. I was expressing thoughts that I'd dealt with for a long time and wasn't sure if I was coming across.

Afterward, Rita, my priest, said that she wanted me to preach again at the service before our annual meeting on January 20. So I'll try it again. the good thing is that it's a combined service, so I won't have to do two sermons.

Here are the readings, I invite your comments, meditations, and stream of conscious ramblings.

Friday, December 28, 2007

First Thoughts for sermon

Here are the readings again. I'll take them one at a time and just free associate for now.

Isaiah: It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them. Something here, God works directly with us, no intermediaries. The Bible does show that God uses angels and messangers quite often, but here Isaiah assures us that the presence of God saves. This reminds me a little of how sometimes I need to just insert my presence into a situation at school to restore order or whatever, no words or admonitions, just my presence. In my experiences with contemplative prayer it is the presence that is felt, no visions or voices put a palpaple presence. This presence is very comforting, especially for sceptical people, because it can't be explained, it just is. There have been times in my own life that, when tensions are running high, the silent presence of a loved one (even the one you are fighting) is just...right.

Psalm: ecstatic poetry. At times I find this kind of praise poetry rather annoying.I usually get annoyed when I feel like my ever so difficult life is getting to me. But there are times when I am feeling like a one man praise band. This need, for me, to be a real knowing about God, not an intellectual one but a visceral felt knowing.

Epistle:it is clear that he did not come to help angels, great line. I'm no angel. This reminds me of something that Father Thomas Keating said: I find it hard to believe that Jesus rose from the dead just so I could go to heaven.

Gospel:Joseph as the main character. Being sent to Egypt. To Egypt!? The land of slavery for the Hebrew. God is sending Joseph to an unlikely place. God does this constantly, we think we might know the best for ourselves but God changes all that. We have a view from a very miopic place, it's hard to see all the variables. How can I preach on this text? It's like a car chase. I think I can identify with Joseph here. He was likely in his early 20s, new father, some astrologers had just visited, all normal. An angel comes to Joseph

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas from USSR

Secular Santa Claus was allowed I guess, that and the aspirations for space.

Saint Thomas

First sceptical Christian? I like Thomas because, for me, he shows the spectrum of the Christian experience. Read this great essay.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sandy Claus

Icon of Saint Nicholas
Saint Nick's church in Turkey
Saint Nicholas saves the innocents
Who was Saint Nicholas? Check these links to

I'm wondering why this is St. Nick's day, but it was already celebrated on Dec. 6. Anybdoy know why? Maybe this is one of those East/West breaks.

Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children, seafarers, and pawn brokers!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lectio for Tuesday Advent 3 year A

First, the Lectionary. Lectionary, Lectio, etc. all come from the latin word for reading.

The Episcopal Church reads most of the Bible in three years: Year A, B, and C. The Church all reads together in unity each Sunday. We read from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Prophets, an Epistle, and the Gospel. Every reading is optional except the Gospel, meaning the readings can be used or not, there are also alternate readign for each week. All the readings follow the Christian year and are eerily connected thematically.

The collection of readings are called the Revised Common Lectionary. The daily portion is the also part of the revised common lectionary but is called the Daily Office, which is the readings with prayers. The daily office is used by Churches for daily prayer and Eucharist celebrations. For families and individuals the daily office is for prayer, devotion, and meditation. All this can be found in the Book of Common Prayer. Perhaps this is why one doesn't find many Episcopal Devotionals, we've had one since 1549.

So wherever you go there you are when it comes to the Bible and the Episcopal Church.I find this very comforting because all the Churches are together. Also, the Bible is read in its entirety, so the people can't ignore those difficult passages such as when JC talks about making friends with dishonest wealth or that you must hate your family to follow him.

While we all read together we are far from unity on interpretation of the Scriptures. This is good.

Chaplain in Baghdad

Monday, December 17, 2007

Found my Obit!

Wow, just when you thought you were living.

Today's Lectio

I'm focusing my thoughts and stream of consciousness on the gospel reading for today.

Yesterday's reading is a good intro to this text.

Kinda scary. Funny, I was just thinking about how revelation is so hard to read and how the Scaremongers need to pull in so many other texts to make sense of it and here we have JC himself talking about the crazy stuff that is to come "as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel."

Now, many dwell on the violence of the second coming, two in the field, one will be left, etc. I think when some people constantly describe this manner of second coming they reveal themselves and their theology as essentially violent and judgement based.

Enough of that. What I'm focusing on the unknown aspect of the second coming. Jesus warns plainly of this. The second coming will not be what we expect or can think of. Kinda like the Nativity. What do all the prophecy end times people think when they read: Take note, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, “Look! He is in the wilderness”, do not go out. If they say, “Look! He is in the inner rooms”, do not believe it. God is the God surprises and the unexpected. For more on this read the Bible, especially Moses, Abraham, David, Jesus, Paul, John, and the history of Christianity.

One thing that keeps bothering me is the idea that we have our ideas and we find what we want in the scriptures. It's the same for Jack VanImpe as for me. More to come on this...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Coming Schism(?) part deux

So what is the fuss? What is causing the strife in the Church? I guess the big issue was the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire a few years ago. I'm learning more about this. I've started here, check out the external links there. More to follow. I think it would be fair to say that the Church and its Bishops has decided to allow for full inclusion of gay and lesbian people, so they can be lay people, deacons, priests, and bishops. There are some in the Church who think this is a mistake. Still the less conservative but less progressive think the Church is moving a little to fast and leaving some behind. People feeling left by the church came to me during my lay discernment commitee time, so I've developed some compassion for these people, while my former answer would have been, "get with it old timers!"

So, I'm going to post more on this later and I want to focus on many of the other schism worthy "problems" in the church in reverse chronological order 1.) Gene Robinson and gay inclusion, 2.)the "New" prayer book 3.)Female ordination.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Third Sunday of Advent


11:7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind?

11:8 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces.

11:9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

What are you looking for? If you go to church, meditate, pray, go to the Lodge, then you are looking for something. I've only listed activities that are considered positive, I didn't mention drinking, drugs, toxic relationships, etc. So everybody is looking for something. Why do you go to church etc? Are you looking for confirmation of what you already know, are you looking to be surprised and challenged?
Alan Watts talks about the role of the guru in hindu searching, a guru is someone who picks your pocket then sells you back your own watch.

Reading for my preaching day

I'm open to suggestions...

Isaiah 63:7-9
63:7 I will recount the gracious deeds of the LORD, the praiseworthy acts of the LORD, because of all that the LORD has done for us, and the great favor to the house of Israel that he has shown them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

63:8 For he said, "Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely"; and he became their savior

63:9 in all their distress. It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

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Psalm 148
148:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!

148:2 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!

148:3 Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!

148:4 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!

148:5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.

148:6 He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

148:7 Praise the LORD from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps,

148:8 fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!

148:9 Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!

148:10 Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!

148:11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!

148:12 Young men and women alike, old and young together!

148:13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.

148:14 He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the LORD!

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Hebrews 2:10-18
2:10 It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

2:11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters,

2:12 saying, "I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you."

2:13 And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Here am I and the children whom God has given me."

2:14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,

2:15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.

2:16 For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham.

2:17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people.

2:18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

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Matthew 2:13-23
2:13 Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."

2:14 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt,

2:15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, "Out of Egypt I have called my son."

2:16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.

2:17 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

2:18 "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more."

2:19 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said,

2:20 "Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child's life are dead."

2:21 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.

2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee.

2:23 There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He will be called a Nazorean."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Mother Rita assigned me to preach on Dec. 30, 2007. Oh boy. Never preached before, stay tuned.

The Coming Schism (?)

My kindred spirit and deep friend Coop, recently posted that he was heartbroken over the coming schism in the episcopal church.

I'd like to respond to his post and hopefully elicit lots of conversation.

The potential schism is between two camps within the Church, one liberal and one conservative, sound familiar?

First off, it's important and instructive to show what makes up the Anglican ethos, in which the Episcopal Church was born and lives and breathes. The church is a three legged stool:reason, scripture, and tradition.

By contrast the Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions are based more in Tradition and Scripture, with an emphasis on Tradition. Here tradition has a much deeper meaning than tradition in the way that we use it. Tradition as a living conversation that goes beyond time and space.

Now the Baptist Church and most Evangelical churches rely on the Scriptures only. This is called Sola Scriptura. Everything is seen through the lens of the Scriptures and the rest is a distortion, an illusion.

So the Anglican perspective is seen three ways and they dance together. Sometimes the dance gets rough. More on this later...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Another Yes

Met with the Comission on Ministry. They are priests and Lay People who help with discernment and deployment. We met for about 45 minutes. They had great questions. One in particular was : Being raised as a Baptist, what will you bring from your upbringing to the Church? I said I'd bring the Bible because I think that the Episcopal Church has been remiss in imparting this wonderful, weird book to its people. The liberals have let the conservatives run off with our book and have religated any real knowledge of it to literalists. The funny thing was that while I was saying all this the priest next to me kept saying "Amen" and "Halleluiah!" This was a surprise, it was like being in a true southern church, I liked it. It was a great way to show support, I think I'll do more of it.

ANyway they supoortedmy call and officially inviteed me to attend seminary. They also got real honest about seminary saying which ones where off limits (General) and which ones they recommended (the one's they went to). I think it's a good sign that they recommended the seminaries they attended. The priests also made no secret of their critiques of the other seminaries.

Continue to pray for us! Amen.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Altar Bread

As a member of the Altar Guild I have the opportunity to make the bread for the Eucharist, or Communion, or the Lord's Supper as I learned it growing up.

I'm making the bread for December, which means all of Advent and Christmas.

Interesting to think about the Eucharist while awaiting the Coming Lord. This is one thing I love so much about Liturgical worship, it is non-linear. Time is played with during the year. Yes, we follow the year and passion of Jesus. But we always center our worship, temporaliy, on the Eucharist, the Jesus Meal, as N.T. Wright calls it.

During the Eucharist as the story of the Last Supper, or was it the first(?), is told, Jesus says:Do this in rememberence of me. But the original Greek uses the word animnesis which means remember again, pretty much rememberence but it's more. Language is born in culture, so this word animnesis means more than recollection, more than a psychic souvenir.

Amimnesis is a greek word of a Jewish notion, it means to recall in the grandest sense. Recall in the way the Jews recall the Passover. At Passover the Exodus is retold in the first person, we, us. At Passover the meal is for the freed Hebrews, right there at the meal. Animnesis is about collapsing the artificial bonds of time to call the past to the present, the present to the past and wrap it all in the promise of God's future.

When we celebrate Eucharist, we are with Jesus and his disciples, and they are with us. There, at the Table, the Kingdom is Come.


Here's what St. John Chrysostom says: "Remembering, therefore, this command of the Saviour [i.e., to eat and drink in remembrance of him] and all that came to pass for our sake, the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the enthronement at the right hand of the Father and the second, glorious coming..." This is the anemnisis from the Divine Liturgy.

And here's a rather dry definition from the Episcopal dictionary:

Anamnesis:This memorial prayer of remembrance recalls for the worshiping community past events in their tradition of faith that are formative for their identity and self-understanding. The prayers of anamnesis in the various eucharistic prayers emphasize and make present the saving events of Jesus' death and resurrection.