Sister Joan Chittister famously said, "We are each called to go through life reclaiming the planet an inch at a time until the Garden of Eden grows green again." Reflecting on that journey -- a blog at a time -- is the focus of this site.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
So here's the Letter from Lambeth ...
I'm not sure how you "leak" a form letter to going out in bushels to anyone who writes protesting +Gene's exclusion from the Lambeth Invite List but there it is ... and here is what is getting the Stand Firmites all in a swivet.
The text is hard to read in the scan above so here it is:
'The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked me to thank you for your letter of XXXX 2007 regarding his invitation to bishops of the Anglican Communion to next year’s Lambeth Conference. The Archbishop is taking a period of study leave this summer and he has therefore asked me to respond to your letter on his behalf.
Prior to his departure, Archbishop Rowan noted carefully the level of disappointment expressed by correspondents, following his decision not to extend an invitation to Bishop Gene Robinson to attend the Lambeth Conference along with the other bishops. He stressed in his letter to the bishops that he did not take this decision lightly, but that he regarded it as appropriate in the light of the recommendations set out in the Windsor Report.
The Windsor Report counselled that in the future proper regard should be taken to the bounds of affection and interdependence between member Churches when considering the acceptability of a candidate for Episcopal appointment. While is it recognised that Bishop Robinson was duly elected and consecrated according to the canons of The Episcopal Church in view of the widespread objections to Bishop Robinson’s ministry in other Provinces of the Communion, the Windsor Report further recommend that the Archbishop ‘ exercise very considerable caution in inviting him to the councils of the Communion.
From the time of the election of Bishop Gene Robinson to See of New Hampshire, both the representatives of many Anglican Provinces and the Instruments of Communion made it clear that full recognition by the Communion could not be given to a bishop whose chosen lifestyle would, in most Provinces of the Communion, give rise to canonical impediment to his consecration as a bishop. The Archbishop has to be loyal to that widespread concern as well as bearing in mind the position of Bishop Robinson within The Episcopal Church. The Archbishop is therefore exploring inviting Bishop Robinson to the conference in another status.
Thank you once again for writing.'
So while some are (incorrectly) reporting that +Gene "has been invited to Lambeth" basically all +Rowan has said is he's still thinking about it.
Stay tuned. More on the Listening Stuff tomorrow.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Heading off to the Big Apple
See what you think!
Make A Monday Morning Minute Matter ...
Watch this video ...
... and then take action to support
the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill.
Verily I say unto you,
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these,
ye have done it unto me.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
JUST how disgusted I am at what is masquerading as democratic process in the White House these days.
JUST how irate I am that kids like mine are putting their lives on the line in Iraq (and elsewhere) to defend the Constitution Cheney and his ilk are dismantling as we speak.
JUST how ready I am to sign on to throw the bums out.
HERE'S TODAY'S EDITORIAL FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES:
White House of Mirrors
President Bush has turned the executive branch into a two-way mirror. They get to see everything Americans do: our telephone calls, e-mail, and all manner of personal information. And we get to see nothing about what they do.
Everyone knows this administration has disdained openness and accountability since its first days. That is about the only thing it does not hide. But recent weeks have produced disturbing disclosures about just how far Mr. Bush’s team is willing to go to keep lawmakers and the public in the dark.
That applies to big issues — like the C.I.A.’s secret prisons — and to things that would seem too small-bore to order up a cover-up.
Vice President Dick Cheney sets the gold standard, placing himself not just above Congress and the courts but above Mr. Bush himself. For the last four years, he has been defying a presidential order requiring executive branch agencies to account for the classified information they handle. When the agency that enforces this rule tried to do its job, Mr. Cheney proposed abolishing the agency.
Mr. Cheney, who has been at the heart of the administration’s darkest episodes, has bizarre reasons for doing that. The Times reported that the vice president does not consider himself a mere member of the executive branch. No, he decided the vice president is also a lawmaker — because he is titular president of the Senate — and does not have to answer to the executive branch. That is absurd, but if that’s how he wants it, we presume Mr. Cheney will stop claiming executive privilege to withhold information from his fellow congressmen.
Since the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Bush has tried to excuse his administration’s obsession with secrecy by saying that dangerous times require greater discretion. He rammed the Patriot Act through Congress with a promise that national security agencies would make sure the new powers were not abused.
But on June 14, The Washington Post reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation potentially broke the law or its own rules several thousand times over the past five years when it used the Patriot Act to snoop on domestic phone calls, e-mail and financial transactions of ordinary Americans.
We knew that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was not protecting anybody’s rights or America’s reputation. It turns out that John Rizzo, the man charged with safeguarding the Constitution at the Central Intelligence Agency, isn’t either. After serving as the C.I.A.’s deputy general counsel or acting general counsel for the entire Bush administration, he was nominated as general counsel more than a year ago. But the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts of Kansas, would not schedule even a pro forma confirmation hearing because the Democrats wanted documents that the C.I.A. wanted to keep, well, secret.
Last week, the committee held that hearing under Democratic leadership, and Mr. Rizzo kept insisting that he shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t give away any secrets. But he was still illuminating — in a scary way.
When he was asked his view of the administration’s infamous decision to define torture so narrowly that it allowed widespread abuse of prisoners, he merely said the policy was “overbroad” for the circumstances, raising the troubling question of when he thinks it would not be overbroad to torture prisoners. Mr. Rizzo also refused to say whether the United States had ever sent a prisoner to another country knowing he would be tortured. He made it sound like he was safeguarding secrets, but we suspect the real reason was that the answer is “yes.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Rizzo, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and the rest of the administration are still stonewalling about the existence of C.I.A. prisons. Earlier this month, the Council of Europe, a 46-nation human rights group, provided new, persuasive evidence of secret American prisons in Eastern Europe where prisoners were kept naked in cramped cells, subjected to hot or freezing blasts of air and subjected to water-boarding, or simulated drowning. American rights groups released a list of 39 men they say disappeared into secret prisons.
Incredibly, the lies and secrecy shrouding this administration are not enough for Mr. Rizzo. Sounding an awful lot like Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, he told the senators, “Far too many people know far too much.”
Governments have to keep secrets. But this administration has grossly abused that trust, routinely using claims of national security to hide policies that are immoral and almost certainly illegal, to avoid embarrassment, and to pursue Mr. Bush’s dreams of an imperial presidency.
AND HERE'S MAUREEN DOWD:
A Vice President Without Borders, Bordering on Lunacy
By MAUREEN DOWD in the New York Times
It’s hard to imagine how Dick Cheney could get more dastardly, unless J. K. Rowling has him knock off Harry Potter next month.
Harry’s cloak of invisibility would be no match for Vice’s culture of invisibility.
I’ve always thought Cheney was way out there — the most Voldemort-like official I’ve run across. But even in my harshest musings about the vice president, I never imagined that he would declare himself not only above the law, not only above the president, but actually his own dark planet — a separate entity from the White House.
I guess a man who can wait 14 hours before he lets it dribble out that he shot his friend in the face has no limit on what he thinks he can keep secret. Still, it’s quite a leap to go from hiding in a secure, undisclosed location in the capital to hiding in a secure, undisclosed location in the Constitution.
Dr. No used to just blow off the public and Congress as he cooked up his shady schemes. Now, in a breathtaking act of arrant arrogance, he’s blowing off his own administration.
Henry Waxman, the California congressman who looks like an accountant and bites like a pit bull, is making the most of Congress’s ability, at long last, to scrutinize Cheney’s chicanery.
On Thursday, Mr. Waxman revealed that after four years of refusing to cooperate with the government unit that oversees classified documents, the vice president tried to shut down the unit rather than comply with the law ensuring that sensitive data is protected. The National Archives appealed to the Justice Department, but who knows how much justice there is at Justice, now that the White House has so blatantly politicized it?
Cheney’s office denied doing anything wrong, but Cheney’s office is also denying it’s an office. Tricky Dick Deuce declared himself exempt from a rule that applies to everyone else in the executive branch, instructing the National Archives that the Office of the Vice President is not an “entity within the executive branch” and therefore is not subject to presidential executive orders.
“It’s absurd, reflecting his view from the first day he got into office that laws don’t apply to him,” Representative Waxman told me. “The irony is, he’s taking the position that he’s not part of the executive branch.”
Ah, if only that were true. Then maybe W. would be able to close Gitmo, which Vice has insisted he not do. And Condi wouldn’t have to worry every night that she’ll wake up to find crazy Dick bombing Iran, whispering to W. that they have to do it before that weak sister Hillary takes over.
“Your decision to exempt your office from the president’s order is problematic because it could place national security secrets at risk,” Mr. Waxman, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote to Cheney.
Of course, it’s doubtful, now that Vice has done so much to put our national security at risk, that he’ll suddenly listen to reason.
Cheney and Cheney’s Cheney, David Addington, his equally belligerent, ideological and shadowy lawyer and chief of staff, have no shame. After claiming executive privilege to withhold the energy task force names and protect Scooter Libby, they now act outraged that Vice should be seen as part of the executive branch.
Cheney, they argue, is the president of the Senate, so he’s also part of the legislative branch. Vice is casting himself as a constitutional chimera, an extralegal creature with the body of a snake and the head of a sea monster. It’s a new level of gall, to avoid accountability by saying you’re part of a legislative branch that you’ve spent six years trying to weaken.
But gall is the specialty of Addington, who has done his best to give his boss the powers of a king. He was the main author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects, and he helped stonewall the 9/11 commission. He led the fights supporting holding terrorism suspects without access to courts and against giving Congress and environmentalists access to information about the energy industry big shots who secretly advised Cheney on energy policy.
Dana Perino, a White House press spokeswoman, had to go out on Friday and defend Cheney’s bizarre contention that he is his own government. “This is an interesting constitutional question that legal scholars can debate,” she said.
I love that Cheney was able to bully Colin Powell, Pentagon generals and George Tenet when drumming up his fake case for war, but when he tried to push around the little guys, the National Archive data collectors — I’m visualizing dedicated “We the People” wonky types with glasses and pocket protectors — they pushed back.
Archivists are the new macho heroes of Washington.
... for those who continue the struggle in the Canadian Anglican Church toward the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ. Today's razor-thin defeat of a resolution to permit the blessing of same-sex unions is a deep disappointment. Yet given the extraordinary international pressure put to bear on the deliberations of the the General Synod the fact that the margin was indeed as small as it was gives hope to those committed to "laboring on."
May God bless them in their work and in their witness!
"Holy God, you promised Abraham and Sarah that you would bless them so that their descendants would be a blessing to all humankind. As Jacob wrestled with you throughout the night, refusing to let you go until you blessed him, grant each of us the courage to claim your blessing as our baptismal birthright. Open our ears so that we can hear what your Holy Spirit is saying to the church. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen."
Set On A Sure Foundation
June 24, 2007 ~ Proper 7C ~ Susan Russell
Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 8:26-39
When my son Brian was about seven years old it was “the summer of The Lion King” – and there was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide from the relentless promotion of the MUST SEE movie of the summer. From beach towels to billboards to Happy Meals we were bombarded by images from the film and he was DYING to see it and -- given the relentless, persistent, dogged ways of a seven-year-old “dying” for something – there would be no peace until he did.
And so one hot, muggy summer afternoon I girded my loins and set off for the local multiplex with a station wagon full of small people – Brian and his neighborhood entourage – for a Lion King matinee. We settled in and the film began, you will remember, with the birth of a new prince to the First Family of the Jungle – and as the music to “The Circle of Life” swelled to its climax the spiritual leader of the animal kingdom cracked open a coconut, wiped the brow of the baby lion with the juice and held him up for the community gathered to receive as one of their own.
And as I was sitting there wondering who thought casting a baboon in the role of spiritual leader was a good idea, Brian piped up in his loud “yes-he-inherited-it-from-me” voice and said, “They baptized the LION!!!” I was torn by embarrassment as the heads swiveled in the crowded theater to see where the big mouth was and delight at a seven-year old who recognized a sacramental moment when he saw one. It may have been a baboon and a coconut shell instead of a priest and a baptismal font – but Brian recognized in those opening moments of “The Lion King” a ritual he was familiar with – the ritual of incorporating a new member into the circle of community life.
And it is that same ritual we celebrate here at All Saints Church – the one with the priest and the baptismal font – as we incorporate today 39 new members into the All Saints Community – 3 through baptism and 36 by registering their baptisms as new members – welcomed by these words from the rector, “May we so live our lives in an imitation of Christ that we honor our baptismal covenant with Christ and one another and the world for which Christ died.” That baptismal covenant consists of the promises we make – or were made for us – at the time of our baptism. Promises that frame how we live our lives in relationship with God and with each other. Promises that take us out into the world as Christ’s Body in the world.
It’s a high calling – this baptismal covenant stuff – which is why you’ll note the response to each of the questions is not just a simple “yes” but “I will with God’s help” – because we need God’s help to even ATTEMPT these promises we make:
Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?
Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
Remember that this is what we promise – this is what we aspire to “with God’s help” – the next time you read somewhere that the Episcopal Church is an “anything goes” church – the next time you hear that we have abandoned the faith received through the ages. Remember when you are asked to put your faith into action that at All Saints Church it is our faith that inspires our action – and that this baptismal covenant is the sure foundation upon which that faith is set.
In the month of July we’ll have the chance during the Sunday Adult Education hour to explore each of these promises together – to reflect on the theology and on the ethical values we claim when we affirm or reaffirm those baptismal promises. I hope that many of you will join me for that series of classes – I’m looking forward to them – and looking forward to the opportunity to engage in the kind of questioning together that I believe deepens all our faith.
Here’s how a recent Harvard grad named Erin White described her journey of faith: “When I embraced doubt instead of fearing its effects I found a greater understanding of my own beliefs. I did not casually discard long held convictions but was able to evaluate them in a new light. To move through the discomfort into a deeper, more meaningful faith life. I became more confident in that faith. Questioning is not easy. C.S. Lewis makes this point with his typical wry wit in Mere Christianity: "If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth- only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair."
Erin goes on to conclude, “I prefer the vibrant faith life to the soft soap.”*
It is that vibrant faith our baptismal covenant calls us to. It is that vibrant faith we celebrate in this morning’s Collect of the Day: O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness. Note that the sure foundation we are set upon is not uniformity of belief or experience or opinion – it is not a creed or a doctrine or a theory of atonement – and it certainly isn’t a Convention Resolution or a Windsor Report a Tanzania Communiqué. Instead, it is the sure foundation of GOD’S LOVING-KINDNESS available to absolutely everybody – for as today’s Epistle – Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians – tells us: “All are one in Christ Jesus.”
Paul’s point is not that there should be no distinctions among us, but rather that there can be no superiority of one over another or exclusion of one by the other. Male or female; rich or poor; young or old; educated or unschooled; – as Archbishop Tutu put it – clever and “not so clever”; black, white, brown, red, or yellow; gay or straight -- racism, culturalism, sexism, and nationalism have no place among the values of God. This truth is rooted in the fact that each individual has been restored to unity with God by the loving, self-giving action of Christ. In so being restored to God, we can be restored to unity with one another in Christ. **
Which brings me to Luke – who tells us story after story of how Jesus encounters someone who lives outside the covenant community, removes what separates them and then sends them back home where they’ve longed to be – walking in love with God and with each other. In Luke’s accounts, Jesus often ministers along the margins of society. There he finds the lepers hiding, the blind begging, the possessed raging and the sinful cowering. The gift Jesus brings to those on the margins is to take away the things that separate them and restore them to the heart of the community.***
“Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on the journey of faith there is a place for you here.” Many have come to All Saints Church and wept as they heard those words of invitation – as they heard the voice of Jesus calling them from the margins into the heart of the community – to this rail, to this altar. The words we recite may be attributed to George of Regas but they are rooted in the gospel according to Jesus of Nazareth.
The healing grace that called the man in Luke’s gospel from the margins to the center is the same healing grace that continues to be poured out – measure upon measure – as the Holy Spirit of the Living God lives and acts through those called to be the Body of Christ in the world and through the bread and wine made holy we receive as strength for the journey God sends us on.
And just for the record, that “us” is not just those of us who might get played by a baboon someday and who stand up here in front on Sunday mornings … that “us” is each and everyone of ALL ya’ll as members of this circle of life, this community of faith, as outward and visible signs of the inward and spiritual grace present in each and every beloved member of God’s human family. For while the second half of this morning’s gospel story may lack some of the drama of pigs off cliffs and cast out demons it has another very specific message for “us” this morning.
At the end of the story, the man who sat at Jesus’ feet and who learned from him wants to go with them. He is standing on the beach with Jesus, with the disciples in the boat in front of him and the townsfolk who banished him to the graveyard at his back. He wants to go with the one who healed him, the one who wasn’t afraid to come near him, who didn’t walk on the other side of the street. He wants to go with his new teacher and Lord and learn more about the kingdom of God. He’s ready to follow Jesus. But Jesus says no. To others along the way Jesus issues the invitation, "Come, follow me,” but to this one he says, "Go back home and tell everyone what God has done for you."
This turns out to be not only the story of one man’s healing, but also the story of one man’s calling. Jesus does ask the man to follow, but in this case the following involves staying rather than leaving. “Go and tell” Jesus tells him. And he does.***
Who will you “go and tell?” Some of you will go back to work tomorrow and have the chance to answer the question, “So whatja do this weekend?” Will that be a chance to “go and tell” about a community of faith they might be yearning for and don’t know would welcome them? It could happen!
Some of us will go this week to New York City and meet with representatives from the Anglican Communion “Listening Process” – and I really understand the temptation to climb in the boat with Jesus rather than “go and tell” ONE MORE TIME -- to witness ONCE AGAIN to the power of God’s inclusive love transforming lives to those who seem not at all interested in listening to us.
What I’m wondering this morning is if maybe the Episcopal Church is being sent by Jesus back to the Anglican Communion to “go and tell everyone what God has done for you.” Go and tell about the demons of homophobia and bigotry that continue to be cast out – go and tell about the fruits of the Spirit present in the relationships and vocations of those Jesus has brought from the margins and restored to the heart of the community.
Maybe what we’re supposed to notice this morning is that Jesus didn’t promise the Garasene formerly known as demoniac that anybody would LISTEN – he just told him to go and tell. And maybe what we’re called to do is to go and do likewise.
In spite of our been-there-done-that attitude. In spite of our doubts. In spite of our fears.
I’m thinking that the faithful response to “will you go back home and tell everyone what God has done for you?” is the same as the response to all the other promises we make today: “I will with God’s help.”
With God’s help – and set on the sure foundation of God’s loving-kindness. And that, my brothers and sisters, is a very sure foundation indeed!
Now ... go and tell! Amen.
*Erin White, Post-traumatic Faith Disorder
**Ken Kesselus, http://www.episcopalchurch.org/sermons_that_work_86677_ENG_HTM.htm
***Mary Anderson in a 1998 reflection in “Christian Century” Magazine; http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=645
Saturday, June 23, 2007
A Tale of Two Churches
Friday, June 22, 2007
Survivor: The Canadian Primate Version
One email correspondent gleefully announced "It's A Boy!" ... and in digging around the web for some background came across this great video bit ... ENJOY!
Meanwhile, Fr. Jake, as usual, is right on top of the Canadian election ... and the folks over in Stand Firm Land are not pleased ... while Mark Harris is recommending a round of Molson in celebration.Finally, tomorrow is the vote on the blessing of same-sex unions in the General Synod. Here's a Canadian TV news story on the background of the upcoming vote that features Integrity Canada quite prominently. Stay tuned!
Happy Friday, Everybody!
Just for the record...
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Quick Bits ...
- Don't miss Louie Crew's wonderful piece over at Episcopal Majority: The Bible Tells Me So
- Not to late to jump on the CONGRATULATIONS Band Wagon to the Diocese of El Camino Real and their bishop-elect Mary Gray-Reeves ... a former clergy colleague of mine here in the Diocese of Los Angeles and a fabulous priest.
- Bill Moyers' interview with +Katharine Jefferts Schori continues to have "legs" ... much food for thought there.
- Prayers continue to ascend for our Canadian brothers and sisters meeting in their General Synod this week. Kenneth Kearon has been quoted saying that there is "no scenario" that would result in the booting of the Canadian Anglicans from the Anglican Island by the Anglican Tribal Council. Good news for many ... not so good in titusonenineland.
- Finally, if anyone has anything to say about the Gerasene Demoniac send it my way.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Letters to Lambeth
All Saints Church, Pasadena is offering an online opportunity to drop a note to the Archbishop of Canterbury regarding his exclusion of the Bishop of New Hampshire from the invite list for Lambeth 2008.
These "online actions" are new for us so check it out and see how it works ....
Hillary Clinton "Sings Soprano"
Yes, I know I'm supposed to be working on my sermon but since I'm in "Sopranos Withdrawal" I couldn't resist posting this!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Here are some photos ... the Good News of God in Christ Jesus AND the Episcopal Church parading down Santa Monica Boulevard:
And here's the sermon from the Eucharist celebrated on the street prior to the parade by preacher-du-jour Kay Sylvester ... way to go, Kay!
Both our lesson from Hebrew Scripture and our Gospel today are actually the second episode in two-part stories. Before Elijah resuscitates the son of the widow of Zarephath, he has visited them at the command of God, and God has miraculously sustained their jar of meal and jug of oil through a severe drought.
Before Jesus has a similar encounter with a widow who has lost her son, he has healed the slave of a centurion from a distance. The stories we hear today are episodes in a series of events with the same theme. It seems that God does a lot of this sort of thing.
When we first meet the widow of Zeraphath, she is gathering sticks for what she imagines to be the final fire she will ever build, on which she will cook the last meal that she and her son will ever eat. She is without resources; her meal jar is down to the crumbs, her jug of oil is down to a little dribble; and, because she is a widow, she has no status, economically or socially. The man of God who shows up asks her to share her tiny meal with him, and miraculously, her life is not over.
In the second encounter, the widow berates the prophet for, as she sees it, calling God’s attention to her by his presence, and therefore causing God to punish her. But Elijah acts immediately to bring the power of God to bear on her heartbreak, and her son is brought to life.
The widow who Jesus meets in the Gospel has probably had an equally difficult life. Now she has lost the male head of her household, not only her economic bedrock, but also her source of status in the culture she lives in. She has just been impoverished financially and personally.
What is God up to in these stories? From the nearly bankrupt resources of the life of the widow of Zeraphath, God brings sustenance. From death, God brings life.
These stories, and many like them, build up a body of evidence for a strong case that God is perhaps most interested, most able, most desirous, of bringing healing and transformation to those who are outsiders: society’s burdens, castoffs, those who are on the outside because of race, gender, or economic status. The liberation theologians call this God’s “preferential option for the poor.”
We may not really understand what it was like to be a widow in the 1st century, or a widow several centuries before that. It’s hard for us to imagine an existence that comes down to the last meal in the jar or the last drop of oil in the jug. But most of us here today can readily understand “outsider” status, because we are gay or lesbian or transgendered. Some of us, like the widow of Zeraphath, have multiple perspectives on being outsiders because of race or language or economic status. Some of us have certainly felt that we were at the end of our rope, felt like all that was left to do was to prepare to die. It is safe, I think, for us to identify with the widows in these stories.
And that means that their good news can be ours, too. If God ignores the rules about who is in and who is out in these stories, God will ignore the rules to reach out to us, too. If God can bring sustenance from the dregs in these stories, God can work with the bits of our lives that we think are useless leftovers to bring abundance.
But I expect you know all this. You are at this gathering today because some person of God reached out to you and showed you, somehow, that God’s love, God’s grace, God’s power to heal and bring new life is for YOU. You have felt that healing touch, experienced new life, been renewed and changed.
As a result, you and I are called to change our status from widowhood – outsider status – to personhood based on our status as forgive, healed, and renewed; to emulate Christ.
And that is why we are here today. Santa Monica Boulevard will be lined today with the 21st-century equivalent of the widow of Zeraphath – those who understand themselves to be outsiders, without status, without hope. There are people here today who have no idea that the good news of God in the person of Jesus of Nazareth is for them; there are people here who reject the Good News because in their experience, those who claim to have the good news have proven to be, instead, excellent wall-builders, accomplished agents of the border patrol. Let’s be clear today: God is always in the business of breaking down boundaries that divide us from one another, and the boundaries that divide us from God. God’s love is for everyone, but most especially, perhaps, for those who have not been loved or respected by others.
Today, we are not only the grateful recipients of God’s grace; we are its messengers. The good news we have to share today is not about the current politics of any church; it’s not about gay clergy; it’s not about blessing of unions; the good news we have to share today is that God reaches past all boundaries to offer healing, abundance, even resurrection. The good news we have to share is that God’s grace sneaks past every checkpoint, over every wall. God’s love ignores every effort made to place some sort of limits on who is eligible to receive it; there are no merit badges, purity tests, advanced placement exams, lab work, no DMV with long lines. Nothing – and no one – can separate us from the love of God. That is the good news we are here to proclaim.
Someone shared that good news with you. When your life was empty, God came to you in some way, through someone, and reminded you that God’s love is for you. Now it’s your turn to pass on that gift.
As Paul tells the church in Corinth: we are ambassadors for Christ. God knows, if we act as ambassadors for anything or anyone less – our denomination, our political position, our theology – we will end up in conflict with someone. But we are ambassadors for Christ. In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for we all are one in Christ Jesus.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
Monday, June 18, 2007
A Year Ago Today ...
Sunday, June 17, 2007
George and Louie and Bill: Reflections on Father's Day
We had a Father's Day Double Header at All Saints Church today featuring two great spiritual fathers -- George Regas and Louie Crew: George+ in the pulpit and Louie in the Rector's Forum. George Regas -- our rector emeritus and long-time champion of peace & justice in the Episcopal Church and beyond -- was celebrating the 50th anniversary of his priesthood and shared that journey in a moving sermon to standing ovations at both principal services. And Louie packed the Forum with his reflections on 30+ years in the Episcopal Church -- including memories of his own father's love as an icon of the love of the Father who is the Source of Love itself.
It was a rich, full day ... and one that has caused me to reflect on the memories I have of my own father ... who I was shocked to realize today (math never having been my strong suit) left us 20 years ago now ... in the summer of 1987.
My dad -- Bill Brown -- was born in 1913 in Atlantic City ... the seventh of seven children ... into a family context that Daddy described as "episodically privileged." His father ran "legitimate theaters" and at 16 -- as the Depression gripped the nation -- young Bill left school to make it on his own as an usher in "Roxie's Army" at the Radio City Music Hall.
A few years later he headed west and ended up at the Los Angeles Theater in downtown L.A. ... one of the great old movie palaces ... where he became the manager in the late 1930's ... and where he was working when, as he told it, the Japanese had the gall to bomb Pearl Harbor on his 28th birthday and so he signed up.
He served in the army in Burma, India and China as newsreel photographer and then returned to the L.A. and "theater biz" after the war ... where he met my mom ... who had come west from Minnesota (ya sure you betcha!) and was the head usherette at the grand old theater.
So here we are -- the official vacation photo circa 1960 ... it's one of the ways I remember my dad best ... he loved that trailer and getting out exploring with us ...
... a break from the suit-and-tie part of this life which was his 30+ year career managing theaters in L.A. and then Santa Barbara -- back in the day when a theater manager stood in the lobby and greeted patrons. Daddy never saw a room he couldn't work ... never met someone he wasn't interested in talking to ... and he modeled a deep respect and curiosity about people and places that was one of his great legacies. That and a great tolerance for differences -- respectfully offered -- that was a hallmark of my growing up.
Daddy was a "Goldwater Republican" with strongly held opinions -- and as I turned out to have some pretty strong opinions of my own we had lots of "spirited conversations." I remember friends in college being amazed that I could actually go toe-to-toe with my dad about ... well, George McGovern comes to mind! ... but Daddy was convinced that encouraging us to think for ourselves was part of his job. Love and acceptance in my family wasn't conditioned on agreeing with each other ... and I think maybe that's one of the greatest gifts he gave us.
Here's another picture that is sort of quintessential Bill ... a camera around his neck and a drink in his hand.
Friday, June 08, 2007
PS ... Note from Harvey & Luna: In her concerted effort to actually "be" on vacation, our mom isn't posting on this blog but is sending us pictures from Hawai'i you can check out over at OUR blogspot ... creatively entitled "Harvey and Luna."
More From Oahu
Just Another Day in Paradise
Surfing, Sightseeing and Luau-ing
Onion Rings in Paradise
Sun & Surf & Sea Turtles!
News Actually WORTH Noting ...
Howard Anderson's moving reflection on the life and witness of +Jim Kelsey -- the Bishop of Northern Michigan tragically killed in an auto accident last week: Jim Kelsey: A voice that will not be stilled:
Jim Kelsey dared to dream of the Church that Christ calls each one of us to help create. He did justice, loved mercy and walked humbly with his God. He will be dreadfully missed, but he inspired others by the dozens to be partners in carrying out God’s dream for the Church. His voice will not be silenced. We must not let it be silenced.
Desmond Tutu addressed comments to the G8 Summit yesterday saying in part:
"We can survive only together, we can be free only together, we can be prosperous only together, we can be human only together," said the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town to lively applause at a rally during the Kirchentag, the once-every-two-years German Protestant convention, meeting this year in Cologne.
On Tuesday I missed noting the the California Assembly once again passed same-sex union legislation which the L.A. Times reports ".... passed after a respectful debate, in stark contrast to rancorous exchanges on the same issue two years ago." The "Governator" is likely to veto it if it passes the State Senate ... although perhaps he'll have a change of heart now that he's not up for re-election again!
And General Peter Pace, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff whose homophobic rhetoric drew fire back in March when he opined, “I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts” is O-U-T "out." The AP report notes that "a grim faced" Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the announcement today that Pace would not be reappointed. (I did like Hillary Clinton's comment through a spokesperson "When it comes to Iraq it's not enough for President Bush to change the cast, he must also change their script." AMEN!)
Live Blogging on "All-Paris-All-The-Time"
But the Paris Hilton will-she-or-won't-she end up back in the slammer on her probation violation saga ...
... which is holding the media captive ...
Thursday, June 07, 2007
50,000 and counting ...
Canterbury Makes It Clear
You can listen to the interview here ...
read "Keeping the Faith" here ...
and "Saving Grace" here
Here's the part that got me:
Quoth the Archbishop: Regarding Robinson, one thing I've tried to make clear is that my worry about his election was that the Episcopal Church hadn't made a general principled decision about the blessing of same-sex unions or the ordination of people in public same-sex partnerships. I would think it better had the church actually taken a view on that before moving to the individual case. As it is, someone living in a relationship not theologically officially approved by the church is elected to a bishop — I find that bizarre and puzzling.
How very ... British ... of His Grace "to make clear" that his "worry" over +Gene's election wasn't that he's homosexual but that he's honest.
I mean, REALLY!
Perhaps as this "listening process" evolves I shall have the chance to share with His Grace the list of things I find bizarre and puzzling about the church on HIS side of the Pond. Or perhaps not.
The Wit & Wisdom of Walter Righter
God willing and the people consenting ...
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
News for a Wednesday Afternoon
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
So let me put it this way: +Iker's reflections show a stunningly arrogant disregard for even the most basic level of ethical journalism. They are to blogging are what Fox News is to "fair and balanced." To call this kind of blatant manipulation of reality disingenuous would be generous ... but since I'm too tired to actually be feeling very generous I think I'll just leave it at that and go home and hit the hay. Tomorrow is another day ... and la lucha continua!
It's time for ...
One of my fabulous bishops, Sergio Carranza, has again his the nail on the head with his reflection "The Soul of Anglicanism" -- originally distributed in our clergy newsletter and now making the rounds on the blogs. "If the Archbishop of Canterbury allows the conspirators to have their way, they will not only validate an American schism, but alienate the other 21st century Anglican Provinces, and, in effect, render asunder the Anglican Communion by erecting their own ecclesial body where his primacy and moral authority will become superfluous." And let the people say: BINGO!
Meanwhile, Irene Monroe has been busy being brilliant again: "By pitting marginalized groups like gays and Africans against each other, the Church masks the geopolitics of race and power while bating homophobia." Don't miss her piece "Anglican Communion Fall Guy"
The Global Center has issued quite a strong statement for holding the Communion together in spite of itself calling the Communion to "the participatory and tolerant character that Anglicanism has always offered as the middle way within Christianity"... Good for them!
Meanwhile Ephraim My-Way-or-the-Highway/IRD Board Member Radner has written a LENGTHY treatise (which I do not recommend) continues to play his role in attempting to convene the Anglican Tribal Council and challenge them to -- ONCE AND FOR ALL! -- vote the Episcopal Church off the Anglican Island. "TEC’s behavior has been so brazenly destructive of the Communion’s conciliar life on a number of levels, that the entire American church’s college of bishops should not be invited to Lambeth at all." Looks like just because that dog won't hunt doesn't mean he's going to quit taking it out for a walk!
Fr. Jake has a very thorough overview of "As The Anglican World Turns" -- great for catching up if you've been out of town or dozed off for a few episodes.
Speaking of the IRD ... which I was above in reference to Brother Radner ... Elizabeth Kaeton has done quite a lovely expose on their recent attack on civil unions in New Hampshire as (stop me if you've heard this before!) the last straw attack-on-marriage-and-the-family-as-we-know-it-with-western-civilization-soon-to-fall-behind-it. Don't miss it ... includes illustrations ... and welcome back Elizabeth to Blogland.
(And may I just say in my decade-plus of parish ministry I've counseled lots of folks with troubled marriages and not a SINGLE DARNED ONE OF THEM ever sat in my office and said, "The trouble with our marriage is the gay couple down the street." Not a single one. I'd have remembered.)
Finally, the cool news at All Saints Church is that we now have sermons up on itunes ... I'm still trying to figure it all -- someone told me yesterday I needed to just rent a ninth grader for the day and that would get me all set up ... but it seems like a great thing and probably more about that later.
And now ... off to vestry meeting.
Monday, June 04, 2007
On the Anglican Covenant
The Reverend Susan Russell
President, Integrity USA
Do you think an Anglican Covenant is necessary and/or will help to strengthen the interdependent life of the Anglican Communion? Why or why not?
I do not think an Anglican Covenant is “necessary.” While I do think we are all called to the ministry of strengthening the interdependent life of the Anglican Communion I understand that strengthening to be in the service of Gospel we have been given to proclaim – not in the service of preserving the structures of the institutional church. To the degree that the “draft” Covenant under consideration would transform the bonds of affection that have historically united us as a people of God into shackles of theological uniformity antithetical to classical Anglicanism I reject it.
How closely does this view of communion accord with your understanding of the development and vocation of the Anglican Communion?
Not so much. It strikes me as arrogant and imperialistic. It reminds me of nothing so much as the myth of the “Great Melting Pot” I grew up with as the icon of all that’s best about America … an “all that’s best” that turned out only applies to those who can or will “melt” and sacrifice the gift of their particularity on the altar of conformity.
Is this a sufficient rationale for entering into a Covenant? Why or why not?
No. While I resonate with the goals stated in the preamble I believe they can be better achieved without an Anglican Covenant – certainly without this Anglican Covenant. Those goals would be better served if we were willing to spend as much time celebrating the diversity of our beliefs within our common faith as we are trying homogenize them through an artificial Covenant process.
Do these six affirmations adequately describe The Episcopal Church’s understanding of “common catholicity, apostolicity, and confession of faith”? Why or why not?
No. Among my concerns are that the language in #2 naming Holy Scripture " … as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith" pushes us too far in the sola scriptura direction and #5 completely excludes the first order of ministry in the church: the laity.
The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (of the Church of England) are not currently authoritative documents for The Episcopal Church. Do you think they should be? Why or why not?
No. That was then, this is now. Articles of Religion and a Book of Common Prayer penned in 1662 are important historical documents and to be read, studied and inwardly digested. They are not to be swallowed whole. Making such archaic documents “authoritative” for The Episcopal Church means making authoritative documents which do not reflect the experience of women, people of color, gay and lesbian people or even the experience of anyone not from “That Sceptered Isle.” It would be to return this church to being the univocal expression of the faith of the British Imperialist Patriarchy. It would be a really big mistake.
Is each of these commitments clear and understandable with respect to what is being asked of the member churches and are they consistent with statements and actions made by the Episcopal Church in the General Convention? Why or why not?
# 1 problematically holds up the Bible as the ultimate source of moral values when I believe we are called to include our tradition and our reason in those conversations as well and #3 holds up bishops and synods as the ultimate interpreters of what the Bible says disenfranchising, again, the laity from any authoritative voice.
Is the mission vision offered here helpful in advancing a common life of the Anglican Communion and does this need to be a part of the Draft Covenant? Why or why not?
This is arguably the baby that should be preserved when the rest of the bathwater gets thrown out.
Does this section adequately describe your understanding of the history and respective roles of the “Four Instruments of Communion”? Why or why not?
No. I reject the description in #3 of the primates' meeting as being responsible for resolving doctrinal matters – we do not give that power solely to our own bishops – why would we give it to others? And reducing the Anglican Consultative Council to little more than a programmatic agency once again disenfranchises the only representative body in the Communion including all orders of ministry.
Do you think there needs to be an executive or judicial body for resolving disagreements or disputes in the Anglican Communion? If so, do you think it should be the Primates Meeting as recommended by the Draft Covenant? Explain.
No. I believe the desire for such a body – “executive” and “judicial” – flies in the face of the nature of communion and collaborative process. It succumbs to the pressure from those who want to convene what amounts to an Anglican Tribal Council with the power to vote non-conformists off the Anglican Island. And if there WERE such a body the Primates would be the last bunch I would give that authority to. Better it should go to the Anglican Women’s Network who seem far more capable of celebrating difference and collaborating on Gospel goals.
What does the phrase “a common mind about matters of essential concern. . .” mean to you?
It means to me that those with power to define which are “matters of essential concern” would also have the power to decide when we had come to common mind about them. It would mean that we would still be waiting for the ordination of women, for desegregation of our churches and for the full inclusion of the gay and lesbian baptized into the Body of Christ.
Can you affirm the “fundamental shape” of the Draft Covenant? Why or why not?
No. In its seeming intension to impose theological conformity on the Anglican Communion it confuses unity with uniformity and I believe leads us into an ecclesiology neither Cranmer nor Seabury would recognize.
What do you think are the consequences of signing such a Covenant as proposed in the Draft?
The end of Anglicanism as we know it.
Having read the Draft Covenant as a whole do you agree with the CDG’s assertion that “nothing which is commended in the draft text of the Covenant can be said to be ‘new’”? Why or why not?
No. This Covenant gives extraordinary power and authority to Primates in particular and bishops in general and takes a giant step toward embracing the "scripture only" position of radical Protestantism. Only in the category of “everything old is new again” could these innovations be considered anything other than radical revisionism. If adopted they would reduce Anglican comprehensiveness to a footnote in the history of the Church of God.
In general, what is your response to the Draft Covenant taken as a whole? What is helpful in the draft? What is not-helpful? What is missing? Additional comments?
In general: I urge its rejection. We can and must do better.
Subject: From England
Please allow a priest from England who has looked at your site to give you some support in the present dreadful situation in the Anglican communion. I am 57, and had hoped before I die to see gays celebrated in the Church as a vital and colourful part of the Christian family. Never in my worst nightmares could I have imagined the descent into biblical fundamentalism, unreason and sheer bigotry which we have now. Of course, for the fundamentalists this really is a last ditch situation. If their literalist abuse of scripture is rejected, they are finished. But once again it is gays, their families and friends, who are made to suffer while this goes on.
Many of us had dared to have reasonable hopes for movement forward with the appointment of Rowan Williams to Canterbury. He has failed us dismally, prepared to pander to the homophobic bullies at every turn. Never can an Archbishop have squandered so much goodwill so quickly. We hoped for a Churchill and got a Chamberlain. The Lambeth Conference invitations affair is the last straw. I hope so much that the Episcopal bishops from the States will refuse to come unless Gene Robinson is invited as a full member of the Conference.
Do encourage people to send protests to Canterbury - and not to be TOO polite about it! But I fear that Williams will hear little of such comments. Over here it is a constant complaint now that he is surrounded by "minders" at Lambeth who feed him what they want him to hear and prevent almost anyone from having easy access to him. Whether or not this is literally the case,
it is the perception.
Above all, let us pray for each other.
Sad News from Northern Michigan
As reported yesterday by Episcopal News Service and noted on Walking With Integrity, the church lost a shining star in Bishop Jim Kelsey who was tragically killed in an automobile accident returning from an episcopal visitation on Sunday.
+Jim's visionary ministry advocating for the full inclusion of all the baptized into the Body of Christ touched lives far beyond his Diocese of Northern Michigan and witnessed the deep authenticity of his commitment to TOTAL Ministry. We grieve his loss today as we give thanks for the blessing of his life and witness and for his companionship on the journey.
May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the. mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen
Sunday, June 03, 2007
And the winner is ...
Just watched the Democratic Debate from New Hampshire with an audience of two ... one Obama leaner and one Clinton supporter ... and we both say Hillary won hands down!
Best one-liner: " ... and then sometimes they send Dick Cheney which certainly isn't very diplomatic!"
Time is running out to offer your two cents on the Anglican Covenant process as requested by Executive Council ... which meets the week of June 11th in New Jersey. Here's the "tick tock" part:
Responses are due TOMORROW ... as in JUNE 4th
AND ... as my brother blogger, Mark Harris, put it:
YOU CAN DO THIS. Read the Study Guide on the Draft Covenant write down your thoughts and send them in. What good is the opportunity to comment on the Covenant if it is not taken up?
Please send your responses by June 4, 2007 to:
Response to Draft Anglican Covenant
The Office of the General Convention
The Episcopal Church Center
815 Second Ave, New York, NY 10017
FAX: (212) 972-9322
Or respond by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Nothing like a deadline to inspire creativity ... ready, set, GO!
PS - No, I haven't done mine yet ... stay tuned! :)