Thursday, March 31, 2011

Have you heard about the Episcopal Service Corps?

You should check out these programs for young adults, in their 20s (and sometimes 30s)...the website: http://www.episcopalservicecorps.org/ and here is the Facebook page for the Episcopal Service Corpshttps://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=44485742871&ref=ts

In my opinion, there should be several in every diocese of the Episcopal Church!

Below are images from and old school brochure of the program that I was a part of back in the early 90s.  And below them is an article I wrote about my experience in the Cathedral Volunteer Service Community,  founded back in 1984.



~The Rev. Peter M. Carey


Hope amidst the mess

By Peter Carey

In the midst of Episcopal Church news that includes court decisions in Virginia, inhibition of bishops, and disagreements in many congregations one might be forgiven for thinking that our church is rapidly swirling down the toilet bowl.
News Flash: It ain’t!

We don’t have too look far to see the bright spots in our church. Check out the growing network of Episcopal Internship Communities across the United States. For several decades, churches and dioceses have sponsored small groups (4-8) of young adults (18-30 years old or so) who live in community and each member works at a social service agency. There are slightly different guidelines and practices between these groups, but together they are sending thoughtful, prayerful, and dedicated young people into the Church and the world.

In 1992-1993, I had the good luck to join a community that was administered by the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. At the time, the “Cathedral Volunteer Service Community” was made up of six young adults from around the country. We hailed from Texas, North Carolina, Connecticut, Ohio and Vermont and came to the community from a variety of religious and political perspectives. We were lucky enough to have as our leader and mentor the Rev. Carole Crumley, who was then a canon of the National Cathedral (and is now a leader at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation). The CVSC was grounded in a Rule of Life that had echoes of Benedictine Spirituality. We pledged to live in intentional Christian Community, praying together daily, sharing in the work of the household, meeting once a week for theological reflection with Canon Crumley, and also pledged to live a life of simplicity. In this case, simplicity meant (in part) that we each only received $100 a month for food (which we pooled to shop for the six of us) and $100 for other expenses. That was simple living!

We were challenged to feed and entertain six people on $600 a month. We were also challenged find ways to build community across our various theological and political differences, and it was not always easy. To top it off, five of us were first-born children in our family of origin! (We had some strong personalities to manage.) Outside of our house, I had the great fortune of spending a year working at the Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington (SMGW) where I offered employment counseling to those who were homeless or at risk of being homeless. Really, I didn’t know anything about finding work (as I never really had a job before!), but I encountered people who were decidedly different than me, and while I don’t know how much help I gave, I certainly learned a great deal.
The six people in my community followed a variety of paths after leaving the community. One became a priest within a few years after our program, two others became teachers, another worked in business and then decided to follow his heart and now does work with cancer patients, another does peace and justice advocacy with another denomination.

While the Cathedral Volunteer Service Community is no longer in existence, there are several other Episcopal Internship Communities that are thriving and growing. Trinity Episcopal Church in DC now offers a program in our nation’s capital. The Rev. Jason Cox, who is a friend of mine from seminary, administers the program in the Diocese of Los Angeles (Episcopal Urban Internship Program). There are several other communities which are offering young people a way to practice their faith by working for those in need, living in intentional community, and integrating this work and community-living into their theological views and spiritual practices. This is good news indeed! It also counters the long-standing assumption that people in their twenties and thirties will leave the church and will return only when they decide to have a family.

Some Episcopal Internship Communities are sponsored by parishes, others by groups of parishes, and others by dioceses. Not only are these wonderful opportunities for young people, they are also tangible signs that our church is doing good things in the world, and that the work is connected to our belief in Jesus Christ, our hope in the Resurrection and our call to live lives of hope and compassion.

As a new priest, I am often asked: “Does the church have anything to say to the world?” It certainly does! One of the best ways to “say something to the world” is to show the world what we’re doing. These programs say that our church is engaged with the world and is developing dedicated disciples.

Can we do more? Certainly.

Can we encourage even more of these programs to develop? Absolutely.
Is our church about more than legal battles, inhibitions, schism, and disagreements? You bet!

Check out the Episcopal Internship Communities at The Episcopal Church’s website in the section on “Domestic Internships.” There is also Facebook group “I was a member of an Episcopal Internship Community,” as well – check them out!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A very healthy sense of humour





"God's got a very healthy sense of humour. Otherwise, how do you explain us?" - Stanley Hauerwas.





Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lent 3 Sermon - And he loves us anyway




Lent 3 Sermon
The Rev. Peter M. Carey
Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Greenwood, VA
In the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Jesus got hungry.  Jesus got thirsty.  Jesus was grouchy.  Jesus was human.

These are strange thoughts, perhaps.  To think of Jesus in these pedestrian ways.  Especially as we walk the way with him as he travels through the wilderness of the 40 days of Temptation.  It is customary for me to think of him as some kind of a superman, with all kinds of powers at his command, with wings on his feet, with x-ray vision like Superman, with aqua-communication skills like Aquaman, with the ability to stretch himself around corners like Mrs. Incredible, with powers of transformation like the Wonder Twins. 

Don’t we think of Jesus this way?  Well, we think of him this way, and we are also challenged by these descriptions, no?  We have these miracles of Jesus – walking on water – turning water into wine – calming the sea.  Surely, if Jesus could do all things with water, couldn’t he just conjure up something to drink?? 

You see, we all need water, we need water to live.  We can go for awhile without food, but we can only last so long without water.  Are you feeling thirsty?  I know I am. 

Good. 

Jesus got hungry.  Jesus got thirsty.  Jesus was grouchy.  Jesus was human.  We might imagine that Jesus was always whipping up some things for his disciples and for himself.  Maybe some hummus and pita, perhaps some feta cheese, some olives, and a bottle of wine.  A little picnic under a fig tree next to the Sea of Galilee.  This guy must have been great to travel with, eh?  Well, actually, it seems that Jesus was (annoyingly, perhaps) a bit discerning about whether to use these powers.  Sometimes he would raise people from the dead, or cast out some demons, or take on the religious power structure, or walk straight through a crowd that wanted to kill him.  Other times, he just hoped someone would give him a glass of water. 

The rational part of our brain has a hard time with the miracles of Jesus – and Thomas Jefferson was perhaps looking out over this valley when he famously took scissors to the Bible to remove all the miracles of our savior.  However, we are also challenged by stories in which Jesus is really quite human – born as a child in a feed trough, asking for water, walking humbly on the earth, never really calling anywhere home, hanging around with scandalous people, caring for the cursed sick, foreigners and nar-do-wels.

Jesus’ humanity is essential, however.  He is not a Zeus who comes down to be among us merely in the “form” of a human, or a swan, or whatever.  You see, Jesus becomes human, and in becoming human he also gets hungry, gets thirsty, gets grouchy, and all the rest.  Of course, we believe that Jesus was human, “as we are, but did not sin,” but being grouchy or thirsty or hungry are not sins.  Nope. So there. 

And so, in the backdrop of this story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well is the story of Moses, who famously goes out to a rock and with the help of his trusty (magical wand?) stick and the power of Yahweh, he gets water.  You see, you can get water from stone!  Moses struck the rock and water was given by God for the people.

In the story of Jesus with the woman at the well from John’s gospel we have a variety of things happening at once.  This is a story to read, mark, and inwardly digest.  Just wonderful!
It is a story of Jesus encountering a woman who is not seen as part of the community of the faithful.  So Jesus encounters this woman, who is both foreigner and is oppressed due to her gender.  Jesus encounters and engages with this person who he might have merely ignored or refused to acknowledge.  And, John recounts the story.

It is a story of teaching about the “living water” – the metaphorical messages of John’s gospel go deep and deep and deeper.  The metaphors and encircling meaning around the Johannine Jesus and his Christology are hard to unwrap – but are essential to unwrap – if we are to understand and know Jesus.

It is a story that might just leave out the most important line.  We’ll get to this in just a bit.

A Samaritan woman came to draw out water, carrying her jug for water, dirt on her feet, and clearly focused on the job at hand.  She knew better than to engage or speak with the Jew from the Davidic line at the well. She went about her business.  Then he rudely spoke “give me a drink” – he had been waiting for the disciples to bring back some food and they were late again, getting waylaid.  To me, he seems grumpy, parched, tired.  She challenged him, “who are you to ask for water from me?  You know the rules, you know the norms, come on – why are you embarrassing yourself, and me.  Let me go about my way.”  But he slipped into teaching mode, and proclaimed that “if you knew me” you would have stepped out and asked me for water, I would have given you living water. 

Huh? What’cha talking about?  You don’t even have a bucket.  But he said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but the that I give is a foretaste of the water in the kingdom.  It is the water that nourishes you deeper than your bones – for your bones it is marrow, for your blood it is fully oxegenated.  The water I give will become in them a spring of water gushing to eternal life!

Well, what are you waiting for, give me some.

Ah, not so quick, call your husband and come back.

But I have no husband.

You are right.  I know you.  I know your struggles with your five husbands.  I know your journey.  I know all about you, and yet, I am still here with you.  {I know you, and I love you.}

You sound like a prophet.  But the prophets worshipped on this mountain – where Moses struck the rock.

“But the hours is coming and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as those to worship him.”

The Woman said to him,”I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.”

Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

And she goes, proclaiming the good news as she heard it.  I met a man who knew everything about me.  {And he loved me anyway!}  This is the line that is most definitely left out.  Jesus knew her, and loved her.  Jesus knows us, and loves us. 

Thank God for this Samaritan woman, because she is us.  And We are her. WE are the ones who encounter Jesus and he asks us for something to drink.  He is the neighbor in need; he is the vulnerable in our midst; he is the prisoner alone.  We like to think about Jesus as a super hero, but the essence of Jesus is that he is super in ways quite unlike our best imaginings.

He appears to us as stranger, as a person, and asks for something to drink, and we encounter Jesus and we respond, what are you doing to talk to me.  You are wholly “Other” and you know that the God in our mist should not be talking with the likes of me!  And then, he says that he has power that will give us life abundantly, life forever.  Do we hear?  Do we really hear these words.  He has come to give us life and give it abundantly!  (John 10:10)

He blesses us, and we still question him.  Then he tells us all that we have ever done, he knows us down to our very bones {And he loves us anyway}.  Thank God for the Samaritan woman, because she is us, and we are her.  She deems herself unworthy, but Jesus encounters her as a human and as the Christ.  He asks her for something to drink, but gives her living water.  He comes to her as a person who is wholly “other” and yet when he goes, she is transformed, and cannot stop telling others about it.  Her encounter is an experience, it is felt inside, it is body as well as mind.  The gifts of God pour out for her like an abundant stream in the midst of the desert of life.  He knew all about her, and loved her anyway.  He knows all about us, and loves us as well.  The gifts of God pour out for us as an abundant stream in the midst of the desert of our lives. 

Come
Abide with me
Come to my abode
For I know you
I know everything you have ever done
I know you down to your bones
I know your deepest closets
I know what is shoved under your beds
I know your piles of dirty laundry
I know everything about you
And yet
I love you
Come
Abide with me.


Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the living water!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jesus at the well...



John 4:5-42

Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.


A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, `Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?" Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water."


Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come back." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, `I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!" The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us." Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."


Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, "What do you want?" or, "Why are you speaking with her?" Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, "Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?" They left the city and were on their way to him.


Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, "Rabbi, eat something." But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." So the disciples said to one another, "Surely no one has brought him something to eat?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, `Four months more, then comes the harvest'? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, `One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."


Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I have ever done." So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world."

Friday, March 25, 2011

UVa Men's Lacrosse getting ready for Hopkins


We are about 1/3rd of the way through the NCAA college lacrosse season, and spring has sprung here in Virginia (even if the snow hits tomorrow).  Like my young kids, I am a huge UVa fan, and am grateful for the opportunity to see so much great lacrosse in this area.

Check out the following videos of the UVa men's team as they prepare for their game against Johns Hopkins tomorrow up at Homewood Field in Baltimore!

~Peter Carey


Coach Dom Starsia considers the UVa Men's Lacrosse upcoming game at Johns Hopkins University tomorrow:



Attackman Matt White discusses the upcoming game against Johns Hopkins and reflects on the Ohio State game



Defenseman Matt Lovejoy discusses the upcoming Johns Hopkins game

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Demand structural changes that favor the reign of God

"The church is obliged by its evangelical mission to demand structural changes that favor the reign of God and a more just and comradely way of life. Unjust social structures are the roots of all violence and disturbances. … Those who benefit from obsolete structures react selfishly to any kind of change."
Archbishop Oscar Romero, November 1979. Today is the 31st anniversary of his martyrdom.

hat tip to Sojourners online

Oscar Romero


Oscar Romero



Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (August 15, 1917 – March 24, 1980), commonly known as Monseñor Romero, was a priest of the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador. He later became prelate archbishop of San Salvador.

As an archbishop, he witnessed numerous violations of human rights and began a ministry speaking out on behalf of the poor and victims of the country's civil war. His brand of political activism was denounced by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and the government of El Salvador. In 1980, he was assassinated by gunshot while consecrating the Eucharist during mass. His death finally provoked international outcry for human rights reform in El Salvador.

In 1997, a cause for beatification and canonization into sainthood was opened for Romero and Pope John Paul II bestowed upon him the title of Servant of God. The process continues. He is considered the unofficial patron saint of the Americas and El Salvador and is often referred to as "San Romero" in El Salvador. Outside of Catholicism Romero is honored by other religious denominations of Christendom, like the Church of England through its Common Worship. He is one of the ten 20th-century martyrs from across the world who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, London.

Almighty God, you called your servant Oscar Romero to be a voice for the voiceless poor, and to give his life as a seed of freedom and a sign of hope: Grant that, inspired by his sacrifice and the example of the martyrs of El Salvador, we may without fear or favor witness to your Word who abides, your Word who is Life, even Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be praise and glory now and for ever. Amen.

~From "Satucket" lectionary blog

Monday, March 21, 2011

From a single candle







“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

~ Buddha~

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Liturgy" site is back online, after the Christchurch earthquake

Bosco Peters' wonderful and helpful "Liturgy: Worship that Works" site is back online after 3 weeks away after the Christchurch earthquake.  Do go and visit him HERE, or


Also, recommend that your friends visit. Some great info on his site!

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Friday, March 18, 2011

A religious journey through NYC

I ran across this cool project to catalogue all the religious sites in New York City. http://www.nycreligion.info/

"We are exploring the postsecular city.

Join us as we travel down all 6,374.9 miles of our city's streets, every alleyway and quite a few hallways to map and photograph every religious site and to interview clergy and lay leaders at the sites.
We are a public square for the postsecular city. People of faith, people of no faith, liberals, conservatives--all are welcomed to journey together to make this city better for all people. Our warmest feelings are toward those who help the poor, the needy, and the abused."


Do check it out...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Now seniors at Boys' Latin and Notre Dame Prep, respectively, brother and sister are primed for final high school campaign

Wells and Covie Stanwick carry on family's lacrosse legacy

Now seniors at Boys' Latin and Notre Dame Prep, respectively, brother and sister are primed for final high school campaign

  • Wells and Covie Stanwick rank among the top high school seniors in the country. Inside Lacrosse rates Covie No. 1 in the girls Class of 2011. Wells ranks No. 3 among the boys and is the top pick from Maryland.
Wells and Covie Stanwick rank among the top high school seniors… (Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor)
March 16, 2011|By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun
Wells and Covie Stanwick were practically born with lacrosse sticks in their hands.
By the time they could walk, they were trying to emulate their older siblings Sheehan, Wick, Coco, Tad and Steele, who were beginning to lay the groundwork that would make the name Stanwick synonymous with Baltimore lacrosse. All five helped their high school teams win championships and went on to stellar college careers -- four as All-Americans who played in at least one Final Four.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lent 1 Sermon - "A Holy Lent"



The Rev. Peter M. Carey
1st Lent – Sermon – 13 March 2011
Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Greenwood, VA
In the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Today we pray that we might lead a holy Lent.  A holy Lent.  Holy.  Lent.  On Wednesday, I preached about the sense that holiness has to do with being whole; that to live in a whole way, we must consider our sinfulness, but also consider our blessedness.

All too often, the church has been a reminder of our sinfulness, of the ways that we don’t live up to God’s gift, of the ways that we fall down, and the church has all too often only been a source of reminding us of this sinfulness.  All too often, I find myself encountering people who are in some sense “recovering” Christians – be they Episcopalians, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians or whatever room of the great mansion they may come from.  They are, in some senses “recovering” from the baggage laid on them.

Speaking of sin is important, because it can help us to really live in such a way that we know that we can’t “do it” all on our own.  As Paul said, he “sees the good, but can’t do it.”  We may know in our hearts and minds what it might mean to live well and good and lovingly and morally, but sometimes, we just can’t quite make it happen.  Speaking of sin is important for the Church because it is a helpful antidote to arrogance and narcissism.  Speaking of sin is important, in order to help us to focus more on God and our neighbor than on our self.

Speaking of sin, however, can’t be all that the church does.  In order to help people live holy lives, in order to help people to live whole lives, we also need to constantly remind ourselves of our blessedness.  Surely the poor in Spirit need no reminders
that they are sinful, and that they “are dust and to dust they shall return.”  No, the poor in Spirit need to be reminded, and reformatted as the blessed.  Surely those who are persecuted for righteousness sake need no reminder that they are to be humble, or that they are sinful.  No, they need reminders that they are blessed, that they are children of God, despite the fact of their earthly persecution, despite their suffering.

And we too, need to be reminded of our blessing.  We too, need to be reformatted and recast, and transformed into the children of God.  To live holy lives, and to live whole lives we need both the reminder of our failings, and the reminder that we are blessed.  It is the sense that we may tell a coworker, or a student, or a friend when they have had a failure, “you are better than this.”  Being told, “you are better than this,” means that 1) yes you messed up – and there may be consequences, and you may need to pay the piper, however, 2) it also means that the promise is there for you to do much better. 

And so we are called to live a holy Lent.  I might retranslate it that we should live a “whole” Lent.  What is keeping us from living whole lives?  What is standing in the way of our reception of the blessings that God has given us?  What is keeping us from fully embracing our status as blessed children of God?  Is it even our focus upon our weaknesses and sins that stand in our way? 

As we consider entering into Lent, it is common to “give something up” such as chocolate, or alcohol, or television, or grumbling, or fried food.  Or, it is also common to “take something on” such as a reading project, or prayer or an exercise regimen.  I wonder whether these actions and these strivings bring us to greater wholeness.  I wonder whether these actions and strivings bring us to greater holiness.  Does giving up chocolate bring us closer to God and to our neighbor, or does it merely make us self-righteous and crabby.  If it does, I say eat your bon bons and be kind to your neighbor.

Does giving up television bring us to greater depth of prayer and connection with Jesus and open our hearts to a world in need, or does it merely mean we are acting “holier than thou” when Major League Baseball begins in earnest.  If it does, I say watch your television but spend some time in prayer.

Wholeness and holiness.  I pray that we might live a whole Lent, remembering our sinfulness, the sense that we are dust and to dust we shall return but also remembering that the dust we are made of is also stardust – stardust!  We are made of the same stuff as the stars.  We are dust, and yet we are also children of God, held, caressed, and blessed as his beloved babes, always.  Can we live in the place between?  Can we live in the midst of the tension between sinfulness and blessedness while we know that we are sinful, and yet we are also forgiven and blessed? Yes.  This is what it might mean to live a holy Lent, a whole Lent, embracing both our dustiness and our childlikeness.

“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church,
to the observance of a holy Lent,
by self-examination and repentance;
by prayer, fasting, and self-denial;
and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”
-Book of Common Prayer, p.265

Sunday, March 13, 2011

1st Lent 2011 Sermon by Peter M. Carey at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 13 March 2011


The Rev. Peter M. Carey
1st Lent – Sermon – 13 March 2011
Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Greenwood, VA
In the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
Today we pray that we might lead a holy Lent.  A holy Lent.  Holy.  Lent.  On Wednesday, I preached about the sense that holiness has to do with being whole; that to live in a whole way, we must consider our sinfulness, but also consider our blessedness.
All too often, the church has been a reminder of our sinfulness, of the ways that we don’t live up to God’s gift, of the ways that we fall down, and the church has all too often only been a source of reminding us of this sinfulness.  All too often, I find myself encountering people who are in some sense “recovering” Christians – be they Episcopalians, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians or whatever room of the great mansion they may come from.  They are, in some senses “recovering” from the baggage laid on them.
Speaking of sin is important, because it can help us to really live in such a way that we know that we can’t “do it” all on our own.  As Paul said, he “sees the good, but can’t do it.”  We may know in our hearts and minds what it might mean to live well and good and lovingly and morally, but sometimes, we just can’t quite make it happen.  Speaking of sin is important for the Church because it is a helpful antidote to arrogance and narcissism.  Speaking of sin is important, in order to help us to focus more on God and our neighbor than on our self.
Speaking of sin, however, can’t be all that the church does.  In order to help people live holy lives, in order to help people to live whole lives, we also need to constantly remind ourselves of our blessedness.  Surely the poor in Spirit need no reminders
that they are sinful, and that they “are dust and to dust they shall return.”  No, the poor in Spirit need to be reminded, and reformatted as the blessed.  Surely those who are persecuted for righteousness sake need no reminder that they are to be humble, or that they are sinful.  No, they need reminders that they are blessed, that they are children of God, despite the fact of their earthly persecution, despite their suffering.
And we too, need to be reminded of our blessing.  We too, need to be reformatted and recast, and transformed into the children of God.  To live holy lives, and to live whole lives we need both the reminder of our failings, and the reminder that we are blessed.  It is the sense that we may tell a coworker, or a student, or a friend when they have had a failure, “you are better than this.”  Being told, “you are better than this,” means that 1) yes you messed up – and there may be consequences, and you may need to pay the piper, however, 2) it also means that the promise is there for you to do much better.
And so we are called to live a holy Lent.  I might retranslate it that we should live a “whole” Lent.  What is keeping us from living whole lives?  What is standing in the way of our reception of the blessings that God has given us?  What is keeping us from fully embracing our status as blessed children of God?  Is it even our focus upon our weaknesses and sins that stand in our way?
As we consider entering into Lent, it is common to “give something up” such as chocolate, or alcohol, or television, or grumbling, or fried food.  Or, it is also common to “take something on” such as a reading project, or prayer or an exercise regimen.  I wonder whether these actions and these strivings bring us to greater wholeness.  I wonder whether these actions and strivings bring us to greater holiness.  Does giving up chocolate bring us closer to God and to our neighbor, or does it merely make us self-righteous and crabby.  If it does, I say eat your bon bons and be kind to your neighbor.
Does giving up television bring us to greater depth of prayer and connection with Jesus and open our hearts to a world in need, or does it merely mean we are acting “holier than thou” when Major League Baseball begins in earnest.  If it does, I say watch your television but spend some time in prayer.
Wholeness and holiness.  I pray that we might live a whole Lent, remembering our sinfulness, the sense that we are dust and to dust we shall return but also remembering that the dust we are made of is also stardust – stardust!  We are made of the same stuff as the stars.  We are dust, and yet we are also children of God, held, caressed, and blessed as his beloved babes, always.  Can we live in the place between?  Can we live in the midst of the tension between sinfulness and blessedness while we know that we are sinful, and yet we are also forgiven and blessed? Yes.  This is what it might mean to live a holy Lent, a whole Lent, embracing both our dustiness and our childlikeness.
“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church,
to the observance of a holy Lent,
by self-examination and repentance;
by prayer, fasting, and self-denial;
and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”
-Book of Common Prayer, p.265

Let the beauty we love be what we do. ~Rumi



Let the beauty we love be what we do. ~Rumi

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Jedi craves not these things



Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained. A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless. ~Yoda

Lent, by George Herbert



Lent
Welcome deare feast of Lent: who loves not thee,
He loves not Temperance, or Authoritie,
But is compos’d of passion.
The Scriptures bid us fast; the Church sayes, now:
Give to thy Mother, what thou wouldst allow
To ev’ry Corporation.

The humble soul compos’d of love and fear
Begins at home, and layes the burden there,
When doctrines disagree.
He sayes, in things which use hath justly got,
I am a scandall to the Church, and not
The Church is so to me.

True Christians should be glad of an occasion
To use their temperance, seeking no evasion,
When good is seasonable;
Unlesse Authoritie, which should increase
The obligation in us, make it lesse,
And Power it self disable.

Besides the cleannesse of sweet abstinence,
Quick thoughts and motions at a small expense,
A face not fearing light:
Whereas in fulnesse there are sluttish1 fumes,
Sowre exhalations, and dishonest rheumes,2
Revenging the delight.

Then those same pendant profits, which the spring
And Easter intimate, enlarge the thing,
And goodnesse of the deed.
Neither ought other mens abuse of Lent
Spoil the good use; lest by that argument
We forfeit all our Creed.

It ‘s true, we cannot reach Christ’s fortieth day;
Yet to go part of that religious way,
Is better than to rest:
We cannot reach our Savior’s purity;
Yet are bid, Be holy ev’n as he.
In both let’s do our best.

Who goeth in the way which Christ hath gone,
Is much more sure to meet with him, than one
That travelleth by-ways:
Perhaps my God, though he be far before,
May turn, and take me by the hand, and more
May strengthen my decays.

Yet Lord instruct us to improve our fast
By starving sin and taking such repast
As may our faults control:
That ev’ry man may revel at his door,
Not in his parlor; banqueting the poor,
And among those his soul.

~George Herbert