Friday, November 30, 2007

Off to Diocesan Convention

Off to Riverside for the 112th Annual Meeting of the Diocese of Los Angeles. As I was printing out "stuff" yesterday for our pre-convention meeting this morning with our parish delegates I realized this will be my 20th Annual Meeting of the Diocese of Los Angeles -- my first was back in 1987 and my, my, my ... what a difference a couple of decades make!
Back then I was a lay delegate from my parish in Ventura CA (St. Paul's) and my credential read "Mrs. Anthony Russell" ... never mind that MR Anthony Russell's involvement in the work of the Diocese of Los Angeles was to show up on Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday.
It was back in the day when we didn't dare run more than one woman in any of the elections. I remember a literal coin toss between two women clergy one year about which ONE would run for General Convention Deputy because the diocese would never send TWO women! I remember when I was in the ordination process being told it wasn't a good idea to wear my red blazer (and I LOVED my red blazer!) because red was a "power color" and if I'd better lose it until I got ordained.
And I remember if we sang a hymn that wasn't in the hymnal or -- God forbid -- used a liturgy with expansive language -- there would be a queue at the microphone afterwards with dour clergymen asking for a "point of personal privilege" to express their outrage.
So yep, the church has changed in the 20 years I've been a delegate to the Annual Meeting of the Diocese of Los Angeles -- and my response to that versicle is "Thanks be to God!" There may be those who yearn for those halcyon days of yesteryear when women delegates were named "Mrs. Husband" and we knew better than to run more than one of us in any given election. But the rest of us are celebrating the steps foward this church has taken to overcome its sexism and are going to "keep on keepin' on" until we are fully the inclusive Body of Christ we are called to be.
And some of us are going to get on the road now for Riverside. Prayers invited from ya'll for my diocese as we gather in convention ... and now I've just gotta get my red blazer and I'm off!
More later ...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Poll finds more Americans believe in devil than Darwin

Poll finds more Americans believe in devil than Darwin
DALLAS (Reuters) - More Americans believe in a literal hell and the devil than Darwin's theory of evolution, according to a new Harris poll released on Thursday.

It is the latest survey to highlight America's deep level of religiosity, a cultural trait that sets it apart from much of the developed world.

It also helps explain many of its political battles which Europeans find bewildering, such as efforts to have "Intelligent Design" theory -- which holds life is too complex to have evolved by chance -- taught in schools alongside evolution.
My, my, my!
Read the rest here ...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Alternative Christmas Market

OK ... I know it's not even ADVENT yet but I want to brag on the amazingly, extraordinarily fabulous Alternative Christmas Market being offered here at All Saints Church on Sunday. It's our annual invitation for giving hope rather than "stuff" for Christmas and this year's catalogue is the BEST EVER.

Whether it's across the border through our Agua Verde ministry, across town with the Foster Care Project or around the globe through ERD, opportunities abound to reach out in the name of the One who calls us to love one another as He has loved us.

Check it out here ...and give thanks for those whose creativity and generosity inspires both amazing grace and abundant giving!

(PS - If you have trouble with this link -- which worked fine for me -- try going through the All Saints Church Website.)

Christ the King of Forgiveness

Advent looms. We're already praying together the Collect for the Day for Advent I at our daily celebration of Holy Eucharist at All Saints:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness. Easier said than done, methinks -- when darkness and division dominate the discourse within the church, violence and oppression dominate the world news and the peace on earth, goodwill to all incarnate in the One whose birth we prepare to celebrate seems further away than ever.

Which is precisely why I am so grateful for this Collect which begins our church New Year by asking God to give us the grace to cast them away in order to choose life and hope and joy instead. Because the truth is we can't possibly do it on our own. And that brings me back to last Sunday -- Christ the King Sunday (or "The Reign of Christ Sunday," if you prefer!)

Here are a couple of snaps from Sunday ... me and my kids having the rare opportunity to all sit together in a pew on a Sunday morning: the three of us out front of church ....

... and Brian with one of the great saints of All Saints -- Lydia Wilkins, who is planning her January birthday party to celebrate turning ... (wait for it) ... 104.
It was a great Sunday and what I'm thinking about this morning is Ed's sermon -- which I believe points us to exactly what we need to take on that hard work of Advent -- of casting away the works of darkness.

It points us to Jesus and it points us to forgiveness. Check it out here and let's give thanks, in these waning days of the old church year, for the gift of the One who loved us enough to become one of us in order to show us how to love -- and forgive -- each other!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Archbishop Tutu on BBC Radio Today

From Calvary to Lambeth

Tuesday 27 November 2007 20:00-20:40 (Radio 4 FM)
Repeated: Sunday 2 December 2007 17:00-17:40 (Radio 4 FM)
Michael Buerk reports on the divide over homosexuality in the worldwide Anglican Church. He talks to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who gives vent to his feelings of shame over homophobia.
Click here to listen ... I haven't "done the math" to figure out what time it is in which time zone but check it out ... back to my staff meetings!

Monday, November 26, 2007


Luna Brooks Russell
on her second birthday!


Wading back into the post-Thanksgiving blog/web/email world I was so very pleased to have the following report from the UK's Inclusive Church in my inbox.

It gives a great summation of a just-completed conference entitled "Drenched in Grace" and commmitted to the proclamation of God's inclusive love. Speakers included Sharon Moughtin-Mumby, Jenny Te Paa and Louis Weil and the link at the bottom of this post will take you to transcripts or recordings of their talks.

I had the privilege of meeting with the Inclusive Church folks when in London last month. I look forward with great enthusiasm to partnering with them to offer a global witness to the power of the Living God working in and through us to transcend our divisions and differences and call us to the only true unity: the unity of being many members of the one Body of Christ.


[26NOVEMBER] Last week, 180 people gathered in Derbyshire, England for “Drenched in Grace,” Inclusive Church’s first residential conference.

We met as Anglicans, committed to our church. We met as evangelicals and charismatics, as catholics, liberals and conservatives. We met at the Lord’s table - the unifying core of the conference. We reclaimed with confidence the orthodoxy of the inclusive Gospel we celebrate in the Anglican Communion.

We offered a model of engagement to the Communion at large. In our disagreements we acknowledged the primacy of God’s love in which we are all held together, but we did not keep silent about our differences.

Dr Jenny Te Paa (St John’s College, Auckland NZ) opened the conference. In a strong speech, Te Paa reminded us “how pervasive the reach of enmity has become amongst us.” She urged us “not so much to focus too intently and singularly on the bad behaviour of the few, but rather to focus anew on the very good behaviour of the many.”

Revd Dr Sharon Moughtin-Mumby in her talk “Out of the Silence” said “I believe it is vital for us to .... refuse to skip over the difficult and challenging or awkward passages of the Bible, just as in Inclusive Church we are committed to refusing to skip over those who can be made to feel like the difficult, challenging or awkward members of the people of God.”

Revd Dr Louis Weil (Berkeley, California) spoke about the central place baptism holds in our ecclesial understanding. Speaking of the sacraments of baptism and communion, he said “our obsession with validity has weakened the boldness of the sacramental signs. This creates a low level of expectation and weakens our understanding of mission.” We are in communion with one another by God’s grace, not by any human action. “I am in communion with Peter Akinola (the Archbishop of Nigeria)” he said. “I will remain in communion with Peter Akinola until we are both on the other side.”

Canon Lucy Winkett (St Paul’s Cathedral) spoke of the need to “forge relationships on the anvil of profound disagreement.” “The worry that we have as Anglicans is that our faith can be so driven by fear that our liturgy is tedious and our public pronouncements shrill and irrelevant.” In a powerful and wide ranging address she called for engagement with others across the theological spectrum.

Mark Russell, the Chief Executive of Church Army, sent us out into the world, calling passionately for the church to unite. “Unity is not saying that we will always agree with each other, unity is a deeper spiritual concept. Unity allows me to love my brothers and sisters even when I don’t always agree with them. Love allows me to hold difference and diversity.” He challenged us to “go from here, with a renewed vision to pursue a costly unity, and a vision to bring a gospel of hope to all.”

Many present are increasingly alienated and distanced from the church which they see as home. They are being rendered spiritually homeless. A common question was – why are our episcopal friends, who value and support classical Anglican comprehensiveness, so silent? Why do they, with few exceptions, leave the field clear to those who continually seek to undermine the Communion and deny its profound unity?

We have a Gospel to proclaim in a world disenchanted by the actions of those who proclaim a message which excludes. We invite them to meet with us, so that we can together move into the world with a vision of costly unity and hope for all in Jesus Christ.

Inclusive Church is "an network of groups and individuals committed to celebrating and maintaining the Anglican tradition of diversity and welcome." Read or listen to talks from the conference on the Inclusive Church website ...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wisdom from New Westminster

Bishop Michael Ingham has urged members of his diocese to take the long view and the persistence of faith through the failures of human discipleship.
“Above all, let’s get on with the normal work of being the church,” he stated on Nov. 23 in a memorandum sent to his 125 active clergy.
His letter followed the announcement by a breakaway group, the Anglican Network, announcing in Burlington, Ontario, that it was setting up a parallel Church structure in Canada, but attempting to maintain Anglican ties through a South American Province of the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Ingham said the announcement was not surprising, for there have been signs of today’s developments for years.

At least ten years ago some groups have been laying the groundwork for separation from their national Anglican Churches, stating their intention to be in communion only with those who held their view of human sexuality, the bishop said.

For the groups to attempt now to lay blame for their departure on the Diocese of New Westminster’s actions in 2002 or the US Episcopal Church’s decisions in 2003 is “a denial of history and an avoidance of responsibility.”

“The seeds of this breakaway movement were laid long before same sex blessings were authorized in [the Diocese of] New Westminster or a partnered gay bishop was elected in New Hampshire.”

“Every effort has been made, both in New Westminister [diocese] and across the Anglican Church of Canada, to provide space for genuine differences of conviction on non-essential matters of faith,” said Bishop Ingham.

“We have recognized the difficult place in which many of those of minority opinion find themselves--and there are many minorities, not just one—and have sought to foster mutual respect and mutual support,” he said.

“The vast majority of conservative and traditional Anglicans in Canada understand and accept this, and will stay with their church. This is not a ‘conservative breakaway.’ It is a decision to leave by those who feel uncomfortable with reasonable accommodation within the body of Christ.”

“No Canadian Anglican is being compelled to act against their conscience in matters of doctrine or ethics, and so there is no need for ‘safety’ from ecclesiastical oppression,” he insisted. He advised his clergy to emphasize in their preaching and leadership the church’s mission of outreach to the community and care of parishioners—and not church “politics.”

“Challenge the false stereotypes that foster polarization,” he said, “the “heartless conservative” or the “unbiblical liberal.’ “

“Give thanks that our church, for all its messiness, is honestly and openly facing issues some other bodies cannot,” he advised.

“Take the ‘long view’ – i.e., remember the consistent triumph of the Gospel over the historic fragmentation of the church, and the persistence of faith through the failures of human discipleship.”
Lisa Fox has Bishop Ingham's letter on her blog -- My Manner of Life -- and here was my favorite bit ... (fill in "Diocese of Los Angeles" for New Westminster and "Episcopal Church" for Anglican Church of Canada and there you have it):

It has been the cry of every breakaway group that “we haven’t left them – they’ve left us.” Apart from the tiredness of the cliché, it is an attempt to avoid responsibility for personal choices. Every effort has been made, both in New Westminster and across the Anglican Church of Canada, to provide space for genuine differences of conviction on non-essential matters of faith. We have recognized the difficult place in which those of minority opinion find themselves (and there are several minorities, not just one) and have sought to foster mutual respect and mutual support.

The vast majority of conservative and traditional Anglicans in Canada understand and accept this, and will stay with their church. This is not, therefore, a conservative breakaway. It is a decision to leave by those who feel uncomfortable with reasonable accommodation within the Body of Christ.

Bravo, Bishop Ingham!

Christ the King

"Christ the King" Sunday again already! Where did the year go? I know the signs of the "end times" are all around us ... from the Christmas blend at Starbuck's to the "Reserve Your Rose Parade Parking NOW!" signs along Colorado Boulevard but still, the end of the church year has kind of snuck up on me.

It'll be an unusual Sunday for me. It's a "weekend away" and the last few days have been knee deep in family in general and sons home for Thanksgiving in particular -- which has given a much needed break from "As the Anglican World Turns." And this morning I'll be in the pew with my kids at 11:15 rather than a typical "working" Sunday of all-church-all day ... and it's still hard to believe it's "Christ the King" already!
Awhile back, someone asked me what we "did" about Christ the King at All Saints Church since we weren't "allowed" to use male images or pronouns. (Just for the record, we are -- and we baptize in the name of the Trinity, too!) Anyway, it cause me to reflect a little on the nature of Christ's kingship and this sermon was the result. Here's a snippet:

The rule of God—the kingship of Christ—is not about earthly power or political authority, revenge or judgment; it’s about wholeness, it’s about restoring creation to the fullness of peace and justice, truth and love that God intended. It’s about all lands—ALL people—not just a chosen few. It’s about the primary moral value of prizing the interconnectedness of all humanity—of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

The kingship of Jesus is AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN vastly different from a worldly kingship. When we celebrate Christ the King, we’re holding up a king who is, first and foremost, a reconciler, a redeemer, a servant. This is a king who comes to show us how to live as a people of God in the kingdom of God—a shepherd willing to lay down his life for his sheep.

Read the rest here if you're so inclined -- and as we give thanks for kids home for holidays and the blessings of family, time off and leftover turkey -- let's give thanks for the Kingship of Christ as well as the Motherhood of God!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Our friend Giles Fraser posts from Pittsburgh

Couldn't resist this illustration for Giles Fraser's latest Church Times piece on Anglicans in America: an 1892 lithograph subtitled "In Puritan Massachusetts, religious nonconformists suffered this fate -- and much worse."

Happy to read Giles' conclusions that their 21st century ideological descendants will ultimately fail in their efforts to impose their narrow dogmatism in Pittsburgh -- but let's not discount the collateral damage inflicted by the schsimatics in the meantime.


"I believe the new puritans will fail"
by Giles Fraser, Vicar of Putney

This week’s stop (my final one) on my American adventure is Pittsburgh, the belly of the beast. The good people of Calvary Church have been looking after me and sharing their fears.

These are not radicals or revolutionaries, just puzzled suit-and-tie churchgoers doing their best to follow God’s call. What are they to do when their Bishop, the Rt Revd Robert Duncan, wants to lead their whole diocese out of the Episcopal Church because he does not like its theology?

How did Pittsburgh diocese get so bad? The answer has something to do with the establishment of the reactionary Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in the diocese back in 1976. This school saw itself as a bridgehead for ridding the Church of progressive theology. It has been feeding clergy into churches all over south-west Pennsylvania, dramatically changing the complexion of the diocese.
In the world of business, it would be called a hostile takeover. For those who worry about the intentions of Wycliffe Hall, now that it has been claimed in an anti-liberal putsch, there is a lesson here for all those who have ears.

Will Bishop Duncan really lead his diocese out of the Church, taking its property into the bargain? I doubt it. I reckon he might not be around as an Episcopalian bishop too much longer. The Presiding Bishop, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori — whom Bishop Duncan has ordered his clergy not to pray for — has warned him of impending disciplinary action.

“Abandonment of communion” is an offence against the canons of the Episcopal Church. And if a disciplinary process gets him up before the House of Bishops on a charge, they will surely kick him out. They are sick and tired of his behaviour.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu preached about inclusion here at Calvary Church recently. Bishop Duncan squirmed through the sermon with a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp.

All the world’s religions have dangerous and arrogant people who think they are the only ones with the truth. Anglicanism has generally had a more modest and generous view, allowing various viewpoints to co-exist. But these new puritans have taken advantage of Anglican theological hospitality to mount a raid on the soul of the Church. They want to close down the very openness that allowed them space to flourish in the beginning.

They will fail. The only thing that keeps this conspiracy of conservatives together is what they are against. And it will be people from churches such as Calvary that will have to pick up the pieces and put things back together again.

Focus on the Family

My family, that would be.

Or at least most of it. Here we are ... post Turkey Feast for the "official" Thanksgiving photo: Mother, Brother, Boys & Niece ... (Louise gets the photo credit!) ... wishing you and YOUR familes the gift of gratitude for God's many blessings and much Joy in the coming season of preparation for the birth of the Prince of Peace!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Over the river and through the hills ...

... (and the city and the freeways and the traffic!) we go to have Thanksgiving with family, including both sons flying in from points far away and my mother, here from Minnesota. (Ya, sure, you betcha!)

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, everybody! And may the God of love fill you and your families with love enough to share with those who do not yet know that God's love includes them and gratitude enough to reach out to those in need of hope or help this holiday and always!

P.S. And please remember to pray for those still in harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan and for those families not yet able to give thanks for the safe return of their sons and daughters, as we are giving thanks for Jamie's presence with us this Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Episcopal Life focus on church blogosphere

Sean O'Connell offers "Church blogosphere: fresh air or rhetorical smog?" in Episcopal Life Online. I don't know if I buy the "monks of old" thing but it's an honor to be mentioned with the august blogging likes of Fr. Jake, Canon Harmon and other luminaries! Thanks, Sean!

[Episcopal Life] They're like monks of old, scribing texts on Scripture and theology, prayer and meditation, church governance and liturgics -- topics that resonate with them and their experiences of faith in the current day.

They're bloggers -- writers of Internet weblogs ("blogs," for short) -- whose readers respond with comments for posting online.

Together they populate the "blogosphere," a communication environment that, spiritually speaking, includes content that comes as fresh air to some and rhetorical smog to others.
But an informal sampling of blogs shows that Episcopalians, for the most part, blog to build Christian community. Mainly, these blogs are virtual locations for gathering groups of people who love their church and express that love in diverse ways. A few writers may sow discord, yet most work to widen connections and collegiality that might otherwise remain untapped.

Read the rest here ...

Read, Mark, Learn & Inwardly Digest

Just a quick blurb in the middle of a VERY busy day to point to the lessons we've been mulling all week at Noonday Eucharist as worth "inwardly digesting" as sources of sustenance in these days of challenge and turmoil.
A Reading from Jeremiah (23:1–6)
“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” says the Lord. Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done. So I will attend to you for your evil doings. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.
I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing,” says the Lord. “The days are surely coming when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, who shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord our righteousness.’”
A Reading from Colossians (1:11–20)

By the might of God’s glory you will be endowed with the strength needed to stand fast and endure joyfully whatever may happen. Thanks be to God for having made you worthy to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light! God rescued us from the authority of darkness and brought us into the reign of Jesus, God’s Only Begotten. It is through Jesus that we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Christ is the image of the unseen God and the firstborn of all creation, for in Christ all things were created in heaven and on earth: everything visible and invisible, Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers – all things were created through Christ and for Christ.
Before anything was created, Christ existed, and all things hold together in Christ. The church is the body; Christ is its head. Christ is the Beginning, the firstborn from the dead, and so Christ is first in every way. God wanted all perfection to be found in Christ, and all things to be reconciled to God through Christ – everything in heaven and everything on earth – when Christ made peace by dying on the cross.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Episcopal leader seeks to mend church rift

Feature article in today's Los Angeles Times:

In the face of defection threats, the bishop urges members to look beyond divisive issues and focus on helping people in need
By Rebecca Trounson,
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
November 19, 2007
SAN JOSE -- Anxiety crept into the priest's voice as he addressed the leader of his unsettled church. Was she finding a way to bridge the widening rifts in the Episcopal Church and its parent Anglican Communion? he asked. Or was it an impasse?
Standing recently in the airy sanctuary of a small San Jose church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori was direct, her low voice calm, as she offered her own, more nuanced view to the priests and lay leaders before her.
"I'm not sure it is a stalemate," she said. "I think this church and others may just be becoming clearer about who they are."
And she reminded her audience that small groups of believers had previously left both the Episcopal Church and the global Anglican fellowship, and both entities survived.
Read the rest here ... and give thanks for the ministry of new Bishop of El Camino Real, Mary Gray-Reeves, pictured above at her November 10th consecration. (Photo credit: Tony Avelar/Associated Press)

TUTU: Time for Williams to take on homophobia

Ekklesia reports: Nobel Peace Laureate and South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu says that Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams should be tackling homophobia in the church and making it a welcoming place for lesbian and gay people.

In a BBC radio interview to be broadcast next Tuesday, 27 November 2007, Archbishop Tutu says that he is depressed by the Church's "obsession" with the issue of gay priests, and believes that its Gospel message is being undermined by "extreme homophobia".

Tutu says Christians should instead be focusing on global problems such as combatting prejudice, poverty, AIDS/HIV and the environment.
"Our world is facing problems - poverty, HIV and Aids - a devastating pandemic, and conflict," said the archbishop, who is now aged 76 and has survived ill health to continue his work for a more just world.

"God must be weeping looking at some of the atrocities that we commit against one another. In the face of all of that, our Church, especially the Anglican Church, at this time is almost obsessed with questions of human sexuality."

Read the rest here.
And here is the link to the BBC News article and here is the link to the BBC4 site where you should be able to listen to the interview on Nov 27th.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Giles Fraser: California: where the giving is cheerful

"For Christians, stinginess is not understandable prudence taken a little too far. It is a lack of faith."

MOST DAYS, the Revd J. Edwin Bacon Jr rises at 4 a.m. for his prayers. He is in the gym at 5 a.m. Church meetings begin at 7 a.m. All Saints’, Pasadena, is Anglicanism on steroids: more than 2000 people in church on Sundays, an impressive and committed staff team of dozens, and an annual budget of several million dollars. They praise the Lord, feed the poor, include everyone, and speak the truth to power. This is what confident, progressive Anglicanism looks like, California-style.

The first day I arrived here, a film crew was on All Saints’ Campus — yes, campus — making the latest Hollywood blockbuster. (As it happens, the church has its own film crew to capture Sunday worship for those who cannot make it.) Clint Eastwood’s trailer was parked behind Mr Bacon’s office. And was that Angelina Jolie who just walked past me in church? Of course, it was.

I tried hard to look nonchalant and unimpressed. But there is a huge amount to be impressed about around here. It is not just the super-size-me facilities. People take their faith very seriously in these parts. It makes a difference to their lives. Not least, it makes a difference to what they do with their money.
We Brits are often terribly stingy — at least, the richer among us commonly are. Though there are many people who practise sacrificial giving — and most of those are probably from the Evangelical tradition — many more of us make do with offering back to God the money that has fallen down behind the sofa. We don’t even like discussing money. '

In the United States, generosity is preached about, expected, and received. Parishioners are challenged to tithe. I was slack-jawed as Mr Bacon came back from lunch after what he described as a “$15-million ask”.

It is not the number of zeros on the end of the cheque that impresses me, it is the confidence of the whole thing: the confidence of asking for it, and the confidence of giving it. I now see that, for Christians, stinginess is not understandable prudence taken a little too far. It is a lack of faith.

We tell ourselves self-justifying stories about the greed of US tele-evangelists or the administration costs of charities. It helps us keep our wealth to ourselves and within our families. What sort of way is that to respond to the love of God that freely overflows into creation for the benefit of all?

Our mistake might be to speak too much of “sacrificial giving”. That makes it sound like something one would rather not do. In contrast, the people here think of giving as a joy.


From the 16 November CHURCH TIMES
The Revd Dr Giles Fraser is Team Rector of Putney.
Photo credit: Anthony Parker

In case you missed the News from Niagara ...

From the Anglican Journal:

Niagara diocese approves blessings for gay couples
The southern Ontario diocese of Niagara, meeting at its annual synod, on Nov. 17 voted to allow civilly-married gay couples, “where at least one party is baptized,” to receive a church blessing.

Bishop Ralph Spence, who had refused to implement a similar vote three years ago, this time gave his assent, making Niagara the third diocese since the June General Synod convention to accept same-sex blessings.

Read the rest here.

We do SO have fall in California!

It has come to my attention that there are those who think we don't do "seasons" in Southern California. Au contraire!! It's a little like those who think liberals don't do theology or progressives don't do Jesus. The difference is, this misapprehension is easier to refute.

Exhibit A:
The house across the street from me.
Exhibit B:
My front yard.
Exhibit C:
Pot Roast & a nice bottle of Barbera for supper
(Yes, that's a dog with his eye on the pot roast in the background.)
Here endeth "Fall: Southern California Style." Maybe we'll do theology and Jesus next week!

Taking Out the Trash

If you've missed Mark Harris' reflecting on "Taking Out the Trash" it's highly recommended reading.

Here are some candidates for trash to be taken out at the end of the day in Anglican-land. (see my previous blog "The limits of Provisionality.")

Bishop Schofield's remarks (please note, not the Bishop. He is not trash, he is a child of God):

He said this,
"This enables us:
1) to receive the protection contemplated by the Primates in Dar Es Salaam that was originally agreed to by the Presiding bishop, but later rejected by the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church;
2) to remain a diocese with full membership within the Anglican communion where the orders of our clergy are recognized; and,
3) to assure that we remain within the Anglican Communion through a Province in full communion with the See of Canterbury.
According to well-informed sources, the Archbishop of Canterbury has been fully informed of the invitation of the Province of the Southern Cone and described it as a "sensible way forward." Indeed, it is the sensible way forward and a decision by the Diocese to move in this direction is by no means irrevocable as was seen during the 1860's when the Dioceses of the Southern States left the Episcopal Church and at the conclusion of the Civil War returned to the Episcopal Church without punitive action.
As the Southern Cone invitation makes clear, the Diocese may return to full communion with the Episcopal Church when circumstances change and the Episcopal Church repents and adheres to the theological, moral and pastoral norms of the Anglican Communion, and when effective and acceptable alternative primatial oversight becomes available."

This is trash on several counts:
section 2…the diocese is already a 'full member within the Anglican Communion' and even if the Episcopal Church were bounced that would not mean orders would not be recognized;
section 3…moving on to the Southern Cone does not assure that they remain within the Anglican Communion.
The deposed bishop of Recife went to the Southern Cone with his followers and is not invited to Lambeth. The riff about the dioceses in the Southern States is bogus and an unhelpful example. What makes the bishop think that "dioceses may return to full communion with the Episcopal Church" on the clarity of something said by the Province of the Southern Cone? And, as icing on the cake, the notion that repentance by the Episcopal Church and effective and acceptable alternative primatial oversight becomes available are linked as both being needed, is absurd.
"...Our plan is not only to disassociate, then, from the Episcopal Church, but to officially, constitutionally re-affiliate with an existing orthodox province of the communion that does not ordain women to the priesthood. These conversations are very far along but cannot be announced until the province that is considering our appeal has made their final decision public."
The deal is, the Diocese of Fort Worth did not affiliate with the Episcopal Church, as if it were shopping around for a convenient place to land, it was created by act of General Convention on the recommendation of the Diocese of Dallas. So it can't "re-affiliate." No matter that conversations with the Southern Cone are in progress, no matter that the bishop and many if not most people are prepared to move on. The Diocese of Fort Worth is a diocese in the Episcopal Church and is not up for bid, re-affiliation or unilateral whatever.

Religious Earthquakes

This article by my rector, Ed Bacon, is from the cover of this week's "Saints Alive" -- the weekly newsletter of All Saints Church, Pasadena. I hope it's helpful in expanding on my push-back on language of violence in some of the recent comments on this blog.

Religious Earthquakes
by the Reverend J. Edwin Bacon
September 11, 2001 was a wake up call for religion.

On that day, religiously motivated people highjacked both a religion and four passenger airplanes, using them as missiles against the United States in the name of Allah.

The President responded to those crimes against humanity not by leveraging the phenomenal international sympathy for us to employ the rule of law, but by declaring a War on Terrorism. Using religious imagery, he called it a “crusade” and divided the world into us versus the “evildoers.” He employed the rule of war, not the rule of law. Across the world, religious people engaged in escalated levels of violence calling it holy even when it was clear to so many that to do so was suicidal.

Suddenly it was clear that to be religious in the 21st century was to be interreligious. As Karl Rahner had earlier put it, “Today everyone is the next-door neighbor and spiritual neighbor of everyone else in the world.”

The 20th century assumption that religion had become irrelevant to everyday life was proved false. At the beginning of this new century, to quote James Carroll, “The centrality of religion to life on earth, for better and for worse, had made itself very clear in a very short time.”

We felt we were in the midst of religious earthquakes. We saw the tectonic plates shifting daily underneath our feet--not only in Christianity, but in Judaism, Islam and other religions as well. Many of us began to see that no longer could we practice religion as usual, as though nothing had happened. Because of our sense of this new interreligious era we had to begin asking very important questions.

What is the impact of certain beliefs on those who do not share them? Hasn’t the time passed for religion to cease and desist from teaching in any way that violence is sacred? The writings of James Carroll became a seminar for many across this country and beyond, myself included, who want the church to be much more about inspiration than institutional preservation, and who want religion to be rational and compassionate rather than the fuel for wildfires of religious extremism, violence, discrimination, and injustice.

Several months ago at All Saints we began critiquing those Christian theologies which claim that God cannot forgive persons without a sacrificial penalty being paid by Jesus on the cross. That became our first tectonic shift. There have been others.
Now James Carroll returns to All Saints as a continuing resource of this project of calling Christianity back to its essence. He is writing a book on the new church that is emerging and will be with us Sunday in the Rector’s Forum for a conversation about this liberating venture. Come to learn; come with questions; come to be both shaken and empowered.
More about James Carroll to come. Here's one of his earlier presentations at All Saints -- Iraq, Faith & Self-Criticism

Saturday, November 17, 2007

And another thing ...

Lots of comments on +Katharine "standing firm" in response to those trying to abandon the faith and discipline of the Episcopal Church for points more theologically congruent with their own perspective while insisting they get to take the assets belonging to the Episcopal parish or diocese they're abandoning with them. Here's a great analogy, shared with permission, from HoB/D colleague Tom Woodward:

Isn't it the same as someone in a United Way office who leaves to work in the Salvation Army?

The United Way member/employee, in leaving, cannot take furniture or bank accounts or office building on his or her way to the Salvation Army -- no matter what the reason for leaving. Nor can that employee kick and scream that the United Way officials are mean spirited because they won't negotiate over the building, bank accounts and furniture!

If people want to leave the Episcopal Church for any reason whatsoever, let them leave -- but it is unseemly and irresponsible for them to demand a "negotiation" over assets they are abandoning in their leaving.

It is also irresponsible to toss around charges of "threatening" and "intimidation" when our Presiding Bishop explains the consequences of the actions being threatened by bishops like Duncan, Iker, Schofield and others.

In the real world, when an executive informs others about the likely consequences of the actions they are contemplating against the organization, that is called "common courtesy."

Precisely. Couldn't have said it better myself! So please consider this my response to those commenting on the "Say What?" post from yesterday.

And while the plot of "The Anglican World Turns" continues to thicken this weekend, we're taking a break from things-Anglican and heading off to a Presidential Forum on Global Warming being held here in L.A. this afternoon.

I understand it's "full up" but if you're interested you can watch it online here beginning at 2pm Pacific.

All for now. Later, alligators!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Say WHAT??????????

OK ... even given that The Washington Times has the same reputation for "fair and balanced" that Fox News has and even though reporter Julia Duin has a well deserved reputation for twisting the facts on the ground to fit the story in her head, today's article on the Virginia property disputes hit a new low for everyone involved.

Bishop says she made diocese
sue 11 churches
screamed the headline.

"Wow!" I thought. "How'd she "make" them do that????"

And then I read the actual quote from the deposition our Presiding Bishop gave in regard to the matter under dispute:

"I told Bishop Lee I could not support negotiations for sale if the congregations intended to set up as other parts of the Anglican Communion," Bishop Jefferts Schori said, referring to the 77 million-member worldwide body of which the Episcopal Church is a part.

So I've got the same question EpiScope is asking: Can someone explain how you get from "I told Bishop Lee I could not support" to "says she forced"?

While we're waiting for the answer, let's focus on what +Katharine actually DID say:

Bishop Jefferts Schori defended her actions "as a means to preserve assets of the Episcopal Church for ministry and the mission of the Episcopal Church." Efforts by overseas archbishops to set up competing churches for disenfranchised conservatives "violates our integrity as a church," she said.

And let's give thanks for a Presiding Bishop hanging tough when she needs to.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Update on SW Florida

The conversation continues about the sad news that the Bishop of Southwest Florida has "uninvited" the Bishop of New Hampshire to speak at Saint Boniface Episcopal, Sarasota in January.

Fr Jake offers this new button to add to your collection ...

... along with contact information for the Bishop of Southwest Florida:
The Rt. Rev. Dabney T. Smith can be contacted at:
7313 Merchant Court
Sarasota, FL 34240
(941) 556-0315
Toll-free: (800) 992-7699
Fax: (941) 556-0321
... and Fr. Jake also offers this this reminder: Remember to show respect for the office by being courteous.
And may I just say: AMEN!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

So Much for "Listening!"

Not sure where you even GET a t-shirt like this but I'm thinking we need to all chip in a buy a crate or two and send them to the Diocese of Southwest Florida.

"Why?" you ask. Because they're not. Listening, that is. Not only NOT listening but not even going to be "allowed" to have the OPPORTUNITY to listen.

Here's what's being reported on Louie Crew's blog:


For weeks this announcement has circulated in a flier:

Bishop Robinson to be
2008 Boniface Speaker

Saint Boniface Episcopal Church, Sarasota, is pleased to announce that the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire has accepted the invitation to be our guest and speaker January 16-20, 2008. We are especially grateful to
Assistant Rector Wes Wasdyke for helping invite Bishop Robinson. Wes is canonically resident in the Diocese of New Hampshire where he served the church and medical communities for many years.

Bishop Robinson is an astute speaker and spiritual leader with a passion for shared ministry and well known for his pastoral support of clergy and congregations in New Hampshire. While he is the focus of much attention in the Anglican Communion, his visit to us is a personal one where he will be able to share his own journey of faith and encourage each of us in ours.

As is always the case in the visit of a bishop from another jurisdiction, The Rt. Rev. Dabney Smith, Bishop of Southwest Florida, was consulted, and has given permission for Bishop Robinson to be our speaker in residence. Bishop Smith has encouraged us by describing this visit as an important part of the listening process which is key to the Windsor and Lambeth recommendations for the Anglican Communion.

The Boniface Speaker series was created to bring the brightest and best in religion to this parish and community. Bishop Robinson will speak at a community wide forum Thursday evening January 17, a clergy study morning Friday January 18, and at the parish services and forum Sunday January 20. Saint Boniface Church is at 5615 Midnight Pass Road on Siesta Key in Sarasota.
The Rev. Canon Edward M. Copland, Rector http://www.boniface/.
The flier was replaced today after Bishop Dabney Smith asked Bishop Robinson to decline the parish's invitation, with this new memo:
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
To: Boniface Parish Leaders, and other interested friends
Re: Cancellation of planned visit of Bishop Robinson
From: Ted Copland

Bishop Dabney Smith just called to tell me that he has contacted Bishop Gene Robinson again and asked him to decline the invitation to speak here in January. Bishop Smith said he took this action because of all the heat he is getting. Previously Bishop Smith had given his permission for the visit and said it was not a problem for him although he anticipated a reaction. He told me that it has been more of a reaction than he anticipated. Bishop Robinson is on sabbatical and is out of the country (he was in New Zealand when they talked). I anticipate that we will hear from his office in New Hampshire to confirm this.

Many people will be disappointed about this but we can choose to see this as an opportunity to continue the conversation about what it means to be the Episcopal Church in the 21st century. I believe it may be important for Bishop Smith to hear from people who thought that Bishop Robinson's visit would have furthered the conversation called for throughout the Anglican Communion.
Ted Copland


Here are Louie's comments:

You know opposition is losing when opposition resorts to the tyranny of ideas, afraid to allow anyone even to listen to a point of view not approved by the one in power.

This country was built on strong advocacy for the right -- even the obligation -- of persons to expose themselves to all points of view before holding a point of view themselves.

Probably Bishop Smith is thoroughly within his rights as a bishop to cancel any presentation if doing so helps him save his skin. I hope that he can sleep in that skin.

When you want to know why most young people don't give the church the time of day, you need look no farther. Bishop Smith's cowardice gives me the creeps and makes me embarrassed to be an Episcopalian.

Here are my comments:
What Louie said.

On the Saddling Up of One's Horse

Don't miss Ain't Done Crashin' Yet -- a reflection by Marvin Long from the Diocese of Fort Worth posted yesterday to Katie Sherrod's blog Desert's Child.
And after you've checked it out, wander over to Fr. Jake and check out his reflections and the comments thereupon.
And give thanks for the courageous witness of those who are virtual icons of speaking truth to power and -- in spite of the spiritual & emotional cost -- finding hope rather than succumbing to despair. As Marvin says so poignantly in his concluding words:
The bright side is that there is support for ECUSA here. Although I am saddened by the current state of affairs, I hopefully look for the national church to reassert itself. Come soon. I'm still on my horse.
WE are "the national church" folks. The ones who elected the deputies who elected the President of the House of Deputies, elected the bishops who elected the Presiding Bishop, selected our Executive Council members and who have a voice in this messy, democratic, representative system we call Episcopal Polity.
What can WE do to reach out to those who are "voices in the wilderness?" What can WE do to give voice to the voiceless?
Well, we can post their voices to our blogs ... like Katie and Jake and Elizabeth and now me. (Forgiveness begged if there are others I've missed ... I'm writing this on my lunch break and only have time to check so many blogs!)
We can express our support by contacting the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies and offering our strongest support for their strongest suppost of the Marvin Longs and Katie Sherrods in Fort Worth and elsewhere.
We can express our outrage by communicating with the Bishop of Fort Worth.
We can express our solidarity by inviting the wider Anglican Communion into this conversation and making sure those working on Lambeth Conference and others with influence at Lambeth Palace hear the voices of those who are the collateral damage in this "rush toward schism."
We may not have horses to saddle up but we do have the power of our collective witnesses to offer. And I'm thinking it's time to head 'em up and move 'em out!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We're loving Giles Fraser at All Saints Church!

So we've had our own little "British Invasion" here at All Saints this last week or so as we've been blessed with the presence of the Reverend Dr. Giles Fraser (Vicar of Putney) here in Pasadena whilst on sabbatical leave. (Warning: If you hang around with an Englishman long enough, you find that you start using words like "whilst!")

Anyway, he preached for us on Sunday ... "Salvation and Democracy" (now up online on video) and then we had quite the lovely post-Evensong reception ...

Here's us looking very Anglican in our cassocks, don'tcha think?

Ed Bacon & Giles Fraser: The Dynamic Duo

And a good time was had by all ...

... including Giles ...

... who here surveys our efforts to "British-up the place" in his honor.
Happily, we'll be at the same conference next month at Seabury-Western, working with allies to continue to move the church forward on in the inclusion of all the baptized into the Body of Christ. And I know there are moves afoot to get him back for another bit to All Saints Church.
So stay tuned ... and bon voyage, Vicar! Safe travels back and blessings on you and your global witness to God's inclusive love!

Speaking of Pittsburgh ...

Here's a voice of sanity speaking FROM Pittsburgh ...

The Sunday Post-Gazette ,to be specific, where this op-ed ran on 11/11/07:

Conservative activist JERRY BOWYER takes issue with the conservatives' split from the Episcopal Church, finding no support for it in biblical or Christian tradition

My wife is a reader at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in McKeesport. This means that she sometimes leads the people in prayer, including a prayer "for Katharine, our presiding bishop; Robert and Henry, our bishops; and Jay, our priest." These are our leaders. Katharine Jefferts Schori is the elected head of the U.S. branch of the church. Robert Duncan along with his assistant, Henry Scriven, leads the diocese, and Jay Geisler is the priest at St. Stephen's in McKeesport.

This past summer, Bishop Duncan instructed my wife and hundreds of other readers in the diocese to omit the prayer for Katharine. Katharine Jefferts Schori has been a frequent target for conservatives in the U.S. church ever since she was elected presiding bishop in 2006. Coming on the heels of the installation of an active and outspoken homosexual bishop, the elevation of a woman of liberal sympathies seemed a bridge too far for many conservatives.
It appeared at the time that omitting the prayer for Katharine was a steppingstone to where the bishop was really trying to take us -- outside of the Episcopal Church. You see, to include Katharine in the prayers was to acknowledge her office, and to acknowledge her office was to acknowledge our obligation to her.

Our suspicions were confirmed on Nov. 2, when the Diocese of Pittsburgh voted overwhelmingly to change its constitution to permit separation from the Episcopal Church USA.

When my wife, Susan, asked me for advice about the prayer directive, I told her that Katharine was elected lawfully under the standards of the Episcopal Church. Robert was using his authority to tell her to disregard Katharine's authority. When there is a disruption in the chain of authority, I said, "look to the highest authority." He said, "Love your enemies, pray for those who despitefully use you." If you should pray for your enemies, should you not pray even more for friends with whom you disagree?

I am not a liberal. I think the Episcopal Church made a terrible mistake when it installed Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in 2004. It did the church no favors when it trod the historic standards of Anglicanism under foot in a rush to make some sort of political point. It did Father Robinson no good to turn this deeply wounded man into a cause celebre with no thought to the pressure it would impose (driving him eventually into rehab). It did the world no favor to turn the church into an echo of the sexual revolution rather than a beacon out of it. Many commandments were broken, most notably that "they should be one, Father, even as You and I are one."

But the solution does not lie in breaking more commandments. The priests who voted overwhelmingly for secession this month had taken an oath of loyalty to the Episcopal Church at the time of their ordination. That oath holds whether our guys win every battle or not.

I know Republicans who simply refused to acknowledge Bill Clinton as president in the 1990s. I know Democrats who did the same regarding George W. Bush. But both presidents were elected under the rules laid out in our national Constitution.

The same thing has happened in our church. My side lost on the Gene Robinson issue. It was bitter, but it was fair.

Secession is not the biblical pattern of resistance to flawed authority. Young David served under a tyrannical and apostate King named Saul. David submitted to Saul's authority and he resisted the urge to revolt or secede. He remained faithful to Israel and Saul until the end, and then, because of his patience, became king himself.

David's great (28 times) grandson, Jesus, was a reader in the synagogue despite its shortcomings. He worshipped in the temple despite its corruption and oppression. King Herod was a murderous crook and the temple priesthood were his hired cronies and yet Mary and Joseph and Jesus were there year after year, making offerings, saying prayers, talking with rabbis.

When St. Paul was beaten by the high priest he showed him deference, not contempt. "You salute the rank," as they say in the military, "not the man."
That's because the authority of a priest or bishop doesn't come from him; it comes from God. The failings of the man, or woman, don't erase that authority. Saul would regularly try to murder David. He disregarded God and took on the responsibility to offer sacrifices himself. He murdered faithful priests. Through all of this, David saluted the office long after the man had outlived his merit.

On Oct. 31., the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA sent a letter to the bishop of Pittsburgh, directing him not to split the diocese from the denomination. Bishop Duncan replied by quoting Martin Luther, "Here I stand. I can do no other."

It's a powerful quote, but a misuse of history. Martin Luther didn't leave the Roman Catholic Church; he was kicked out. He decided to "stand" and fight. It's ironic that Bishop Duncan quoted Luther's pledge to "stand" in order to justify his intention to "walk."

Are my fellow conservatives fully aware of the biblical and patristic teachings on schism? How do they justify a break with the Episcopal Church to which they have literally sworn loyalty? How do they justify taking Episcopal property with them? Given Paul's command to the first-century Corinthian Church not to address church issues in secular courts, how do they justify the inevitable legal battles that accompany a schism? How much will the litigation cost? Will the money come from our offerings?

There are moral questions, too. If we break with the Episcopal Church in America over gay priests, how can we then align ourselves with African bishops who tolerate polygamist priests? Paul says that a church leader is to be "the husband of one wife." Do we think that the word "husband" is inerrant but the word "one" is not?

If the Episcopal Church really has become apostate and its current leaders really are enemies of God, then how can we justify leaving the church, its resources and its sheep in their care? If not, how can we justify this separation?
Yes, there are times when it's necessary to leave one authority for another. When the New Testament writers were forced to deal with this issue, they concluded that they were compelled to obey higher authority at all times, except when it commanded them to disobey God. Roman Emperors were monstrous beasts. The church preached against them and prayed for them to repent, but Christians still obeyed the law. It wasn't until Rome ordered them to stop preaching the gospel and to offer sacrifices to Caesar that the early church was forced to disobey.

By analogy, New Hampshire can install a whole pride of gay bishops, but we don't break our oath of loyalty to the Episcopal Church until they order us to start installing them here.

Until then, the pattern of David and Jesus holds: Be faithful. Be patient. Be active in good works. And be in prayer for all in authority ... "for Katharine, our presiding bishop; Robert and Henry, our bishops; and Jay, our priest, I pray. Lord, hear our prayer."
Jerry Bowyer is an Episcopal vestryman, a financial journalist and the chairman of Bowyer Media (

Monday, November 12, 2007

Belated Blog on Veteran's Day

Yesterday was not a day that lent itself to blogging so here I am today.

Yesterday we prayed, at our morning services: "On this Veterans Day, bless all those men and women who, for devotion to their country and to the common good have offered themselves in service to our nation."

And last night we heard, at Evensong, a moving meditation from Giles Fraser on what the Brits call "Remembrance Day" about "The Lies of War & The Lies of Peace." (Wish there was a text to post but there is not. You'll have to take my word for it that it was great.)

And then, this morning, I finally got to yesterday's papers and saw Frank Rich's Op-ed -- The Coup at Home -- which is a must-read for anybody concerned about the soul of this nation and for anybody committed to preserving what is best about this nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal.

On Veteran's Day, the day we remember and honor those who risked their lives to preserve freedom and democracy, Rich calls us ALL to account for our complicity in the undermining of the foundational American values our veterans have served. An excerpt:

In the six years of compromising our principles since 9/11, our democracy has so steadily been defined down that it now can resemble the supposedly aspiring democracies we've propped up in places like Islamabad. Time has taken its toll. We've become inured to democracy-lite.

To believe that this corruption will simply evaporate when the Bush presidency is done is to underestimate the permanent erosion inflicted over the past six years. What was once shocking and unacceptable in America has now been internalized as the new normal.

We are a people in clinical depression. Americans know that the ideals that once set our nation apart from the world have been vandalized, and no matter which party they belong to, they do not see a restoration anytime soon.

Veteran's Day IS a time to honor and a time to remember ... AND a time to strengthen our resolve to nurture peace and hope in our hearts.

May it also be a time for us to speak truth to the powers that vandalize our values, to refuse to allow torture to be committed in our name and to refuse to allow the sacrifices our veterans have made to be squandered by those by subverting the rule of law and selling out the Constitution they pledged their lives to defend against all enemies, foreign AND domestic.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bits & Pieces

Bits & Pieces that struck me as I wandered about the web this evening procrastinating getting my notes together for my 7:30 a.m. sermon for tomorrow. (Giles Fraser is preaching at 9 & 11:15 but as he's on sabbatical I'm taking the early shift.)


The Bishop-elect of Chicago as quoted in the Chicago Tribune: When asked about his stance on gays in the church, Lee said he supported full inclusion."I believe God is calling us to full inclusion of gays and lesbians in ministry of this church. . . . There is a place for everyone in the church, and the church has to catch up with God's vision," he said.


Irene Monroe in the Concord Monitor: While many would like to believe that the financial crisis in the Episcopal Church is brought on by secessionist congregations battling with liberal bishops endorsing sodomy, the church's coffers were bare prior to Robinson's consecration. The reason? Decline in its membership over four decades; the rise of its Third World bishops from countries in Africa, South America, and Asia; and its egregious act of inhospitality and exclusion of its lesbian and gay population.


Tobias Haller writes: We gather at the table because of what each of us brings to the table, and what we derive from that gathering: no one comes empty-handed, but all are given more than they can ask or imagine when they are open to the multiplication of gifts. It is not for any of us to tell any others to leave the table because we might not like their gift.


Finally, my own reflections on "Soundbites and Sadducees."
Reflecing on Sunday's gospel -- Luke 20:27-38 -- here's what's striking me most about Jesus' response to "some Sadducees ... who say there is no resurrection [when they] came to Jesus and asked him a question:"

Maybe it's because some of our work this week was about media and messaging but I am finding myself struck by how media savvy Jesus was. Long before "Crossfire" & "Point Counterpoint," media trainers and soundbite queens, Jesus had mastered the art of reframing the question.

In Sunday's gospel he turns his "Meet the Sadducees" appearance into an opportunity to once again "stay on message" -- eluding their "gotcha" line of questioning about whose wife the hapless seven-times-widow would be in heaven. Insead, Jesus reframes the question and offers a testimony to the greatness of God -- the God of the living, not the dead -- so compelling that it ends up in all three synpotic gospels.

That was his core message: The Good News of a God who loved us enough to become one of us and then called us to walk in love with each other.

Maybe if we think of Jesus as not only our Lord and Savior but our "media trainer" we can go and do likewise. Following his example we can reframe the debates that threaten to sideline the mission and ministry of the church back TO the mission and ministry of the church: to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor -- bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind and to let the oppressed go free.

Jesus stayed on message and so can we.

Here endeth the "bits & pieces."