Saturday, September 21, 2013

Another crack in the rainbow stained glass ceiling!

Episcopal Bishops Robinson and Glasspool were part of the great cloud of witnesses celebrating the ordination of the Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin as a bishop in the Lutheran Church (ELCA) on Saturday, September 21, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Gene Robinson Returns to All Saints, Pasadena

"God Believes in Love" with Bishop Gene Robinson

We are delighted to welcome back to All Saints Church our friend, ally and partner in just-peacemaking, Bishop Gene Robinson -- recently retired as the 9th Bishop of New Hampshire. Come hear how he is continuing to live out his vocation as a prophetic voice for compassion, justice and equality as a Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress -- using his platform to make God's love tangible 24/7.

Bishop Robinson will speak in the Rector's Forum at 10:15 and preach at both the 9:00 & 11:15am services. Both the Forum and 11:15 service will be live-streamed, so if you can't be with us in person, tune in!

For more information email or call 626.796.1172

Monday, September 16, 2013

Prayer in the face of yet more gun violence

O God of Life, Creator of the universe, Sustainer of all, we come before you in sorrow and anger at the killing on our streets and in our schools, workplaces and houses of worship. We come in repentance at our own participation in the culture of violence in our land. We come in hope borne of past victories over injustice, asking for strength and clarity and fortitude, that we might bring about transformation in our laws, in the ways we resolve conflict and address fear, in our tolerance for violence, in the hearts of our leaders and our fellow Americans. May we become a people who put our trust in You, not in our weapons. By your mighty power, and in your overwhelming love, renew our vision for peace and safety in our land, beginning with us today, we pray. Amen. [source: Interfaith Council of Southwestern CT]

Sunday, September 15, 2013

"The Blue Green Hills of Earth: -- AKA Homecoming 2013 @ASCpas

Yep, it was a grand and glorious beginning to the 2013/2014 Program Year. Full church, choirs back, food and music on the lawn, the rector in the pulpit and ... well, see for yourself:

AND if you want to hear what in my considered opinion was his "best ever" Homecoming Sermon, check out Ed Bacon's "We Can Find Our Way:"

And what do we do for an encore, you might be wondering? Well, glad you asked! Next week is our Annual Celebration of Ministries Blow Out ... AND we're welcoming back our friend Bishop Gene Robinson to the pulpit and Rector's Forum.

Happy Homecoming, Everybody!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 Remembered

Eleven years ago today I celebrated for the first time at the All Saints Church altar. The occasion was the first anniversary of what has come to be known as simply "9/11" -- and this is the reflection I wrote following that service.


The candles massed in front of the altar burn in tribute to the names being read from the lectern – Naomi Leah Solomon, Daniel W. Song, Michael C. Soresse, Fabian Soto – as other names scroll above the altar projected on a video screen – John Bentley Works, William Wren, Sandra Wright, Myrna Yashkulka.

The church is silent save for the reading of the names and the careful footsteps of those who come forward to light a candle -- the gentle thud of a kneeler lowered for prayer --the quiet rustle of pages turned in a prayer book.

“American Airline Flight 11”– Anna Allison, David Lawrence Angell, Lynn Edwards Angell, Seima Aoyamma. The names began at 5:46 – the west coast moment when the first plane struck – and will continue through the morning until we gather for Eucharist at noon. The table is already set. The red frontal – blood of martyrs – covers the altar. The chalice is vested, the missal marked. The credence table is ready, too: flagons of wine, silver chalices and ciborium lined up – ready to hold the holy food and drink of new and unending life we will share here at All Saints Church.

“All Saints.” Charles’ deep voice breaks the silence as he begins reading the next segment of the list of names: “World Trade Center, continued” – Paul Riza, John Frank Rizzo, Stephen Luis Roch, Leo Roberts. I remember the ancient words of comfort from the prophet Isaiah, “I have called you by name and you are mine.” As Charles tolls the names of the dead that assurance echoes again and again in my head. These names I do not know – some I cannot even pronounce – each and every one known to God. Beloved of God.

“United Airlines Flight 93”: Christine Adams, Lorraine Berg, Todd Beamer, Alan Beaven. Gone from our sight yet gathered into God’s embrace -- seated at the heavenly banquet we can but glimpse through the sacrament we are preparing to share -- the offering of praise and thanksgiving we will present at this altar.

I look again at the ciborium massed on the credence table – the candles flickering in the polished silver – the light of lives lost reflected in the vessels holding the bread of life. It staggers the mind to consider what they represent – the magnitude of the collective loss of love, joy, hope and possibilities taken on that day a year ago with such sudden unexpectedness.

Takashi Ogawa. Albert Ogletree. Gerald Michael Olcott. The pain of death and loss mingles mysteriously in the promise of life and hope. Body and Blood. Bread and Wine. Strength for the journey and hope for the future. Hope for a world where differences enrich rather than divide. Hope for the end of wars waged in the name of the God who created us not to destroy but to love each other.

Dipti Patel. James Matthew Patrick. Sharon Christina Millan Paz. “Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on your journey of faith there is a place for you here.” Thanks be to God. Alleluia. Amen.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

#AdvancingTheDream on @MSNBC

A week or so ago I got a request from MSNBC to use a photo I tweeted as part of their “#Advancing the Dream” project … and they used it! Ad running this week on MSNBC … Check it out here!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

#NATL Project -- "Not All Like That Christians"

It's the brainchild of Dan Savage of "It Gets Better" fame -- a series of videos launched on a platform designed to give voice to Christians who keep explaining that we're "not all like that" in response to the rabid rhetoric of the religious right ... in rebuttal to the Pat Robertsons, Michele Bachmanns and Jerry Falwells.

Check out the project here ... and consider loading up your OWN witness to God's inclusive love. Seriously. We did this one in five minutes with one take. You've got your stories to tell ... and Dan Savage is giving us a platform to tell them. Ready. Set. GO!

Monday, September 02, 2013

... and it was morning and it was evening and it was a year.

It seems like it was yesterday and it seems like it was a lifetime ago.

Today as we mark the anniversary of the death of my wife, Louise Emerson Brooks, I am so deeply aware of holding in a kind of holy tension feelings of grief and gratitude; of pain and promise ... and of the profound power of hope and healing to continue to work in and through even the worst the world can do. Through cancer. Through fear and anxiety. Through loss and loneliness. Through death.

What I know more surely today than I knew a year ago today is that God IS in the roses and in the thorns. That the power working in us can absolutely do more than we can ask or imagine. And -- most importantly -- that love never dies.

In a little while I'll be heading to Santa Monica where Louise's BFF Julena will be having her annual Labor Day party. And we'll grill some burgers and drink some wine and talk about how great the Dodgers are doing and argue about what Obama should be doing (or not doing) in Syria -- (and maybe about whether Hillary will run in 2016!) And -- as I said to Julena yesterday -- where would we rather be than together making the kind of party Louise wouldn't have missed for the world?

That's really all I have to say today. Other than to thank absolutely everybody who has prayed for, reached out, supported and journeyed through this year with us -- Louise's family and friends.

Her memory continues to be blessed by all those whose "lives were closely linked" with hers -- and by your willingness to live out that great quote that she chose as her epitaph (because, being a producer, of COURSE she chose her own epitaph!): "Give all to love; obey thy heart."

Sunday, September 01, 2013

True Religion: "That which binds together people in their quest for the divine"


September 1, 2013 | All Saints Church, 1pm Service


Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our

hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all

goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our

Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and

ever. AMEN.


That is the “Collect of the Day” –

the prayer which began our worship this morning

as it does every Sunday with words

intended to summarize the themes of the lessons

appointed for this particular day.


 “True Religion” –

that’s what we just prayed for God to increase in us.

And this morning I am convinced that true religion

is a whole lot easier to pray for

than it is either to recognize or to agree on.


Here’s a confession:

I spent a number years

suffering from what I can only describe as a “religion allergy.”

That is maybe a weird admission from a priest,

but when I was a young adult

I spent a lot of time

explaining to people

that I didn’t need religion in order to be spiritual.


I also spent a lot time avoiding attending the church I grew up in

which was so full of rules and rituals,

do’s and don’ts, judgment, criticism

and cranky old people talking about the love of God and being mean to each other that there seemed to be no actual room for GOD –

which I was naïve enough to think

was supposed to be the POINT of this whole thing in the first place!


It got to the point

where religion became a roadblock in my spiritual journey –

and so I took a detour.

And because the Lord works in mysterious ways,

my detour led me back not only to the Episcopal Church of my birth

but to altar and pulpit, to Word and Sacrament –

and to All Saints Church!


I looked up the word “religion” in the dictionary and here’s what I found:

it turns out to have the same root as the word “ligament” –

that which “binds together” –

and one of its definitions is

“that which binds together people in their quest for the divine.


Not “that which insists that our way is the only way.”


Not “that which gives people license to villainize, exclude and even kill in God’s name.”


Not “that which creates enough rules and restrictions that everybody you disagree with has to stay out.”


No – the definition is:

“That which binds together people in their quest for the divine.”


And if that’s true religion then that’s something I’m willing to pray for.

To work for.

Because it turns out the allergy I had wasn’t to “religion” at all –

but to what it had become in the hands of those

who had taken what God intended as a means to draw all people TO God

and turned it into a system to hold everyone they found unacceptable

AWAY from God.

And it turns out the allergy I had was the same one Jesus had –

and acted on –

throughout the gospels

whenever he was confronted by the rule makers,

gate keepers and power brokers of his generation.

People like the synagogue leader last week

who complained that Jesus had healed a woman on the Sabbath –

like the Pharisees who gossiped

about his eating with tax collectors, sinners and outcasts –

and dozens of other examples all throughout the Bible.


“And what is the commandment of God?”

they will later ask –

in other words “what IS “true religion?”

And Jesus will tell them:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind – this is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it –love your neighbor as yourself. On these two hang ALL the law and the prophets.


There you have it: the essence of true religion –

that which binds us together in our search for the divine –

turns out to be love:

love for God and for each other.


ANYTHING else that we manage to create –

even our most beloved rituals,

most comforting routines,

most cleverly designed systems –

can become religious roadblocks if they themselves

become more important to us that this walk in love,

this quest for the divine –

this journey to God.


We risk abandoning the commandment of God and holding onto human tradition whenever we create a litmus test for inclusion that is based on anything other than these first and second commandments that our Lord calls us to honor above all others.


The “True Religion” we inherit

equips us to be the Body of Christ –

the hands and feet of Jesus

in a world in such desperate need of his healing and his love –

for as St. Teresa’s Prayer reminds us,

Christ has no body now but ours.


Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours

Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good

Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world

You are his hands, you are his feet, you are his eyes, you are his Body

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.


If we are indeed to be that Body of Christ in the World

we need ligaments of love

which will be limber enough to stretch

and include all who seek a place to be received joyously,

all who desire the food we offer as strength for the journey,

all who wish to be bound together in a community of faith

as we journey together in our quest for the divine.


Today we Claim the Blessing of True Religion

as the gift God has given us

to enable us to do the work God has given us to do –

binding us together as we work to become a place of radical hospitality –

where all are received joyously:

even those we disagree with,

even those who wish we weren’t here;

even those who would prefer

we would keep someone else out.

In a moment we will gather around this altar

and receive the holy food and drink

which will give us strength for this journey –

courage for this work –

vision for the future:

a future wonderfully described in these words I leave you with this morning – words of a 21st century saint of the church: Dr. Louie Crew:

“I pray that we can unite in loving one another as much as God does, so that we can get on with the mission of loving the world.”

That’s the blessing we claim.

That’s the True Religion we celebrate – this day and always.

Thanks be to God. Alleluia. Amen