Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rekindle the light

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by
a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to
think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted
the flame within us." ~ Albert Schweitzer

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

God entices us through love





God always entices us through love.

"Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change. If the mystics say that one way, they say it a thousand ways. But because most of our common religion has not been at the mystical level, we’ve been given an inferior message—that God loves me when I change (moralism). What that does is put it back on you. You’re back to “navel-gazing,” and you never succeed at that level. You are never holy enough, pure enough, refined enough, or loving enough. Whereas, when you fall into God’s mercy, when you fall into God’s great generosity, you find, seemingly from nowhere, this capacity to change. No one is more surprised than you are. You know it is a gift."

~Richard Rohr

God entices us through love




God always entices us through love.

"Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change. If the mystics say that one way, they say it a thousand ways. But because most of our common religion has not been at the mystical level, we’ve been given an inferior message—that God loves me when I change (moralism). What that does is put it back on you. You’re back to “navel-gazing,” and you never succeed at that level. You are never holy enough, pure enough, refined enough, or loving enough. Whereas, when you fall into God’s mercy, when you fall into God’s great generosity, you find, seemingly from nowhere, this capacity to change. No one is more surprised than you are. You know it is a gift."

~Richard Rohr

Monday, November 14, 2011

Do churches want transformation?

"But recalling that Jesus himself was unable to transform the Temple establishment of his day, and remembering that Paul was run out of a good many more synagogues than he was welcome in, I'm not sure that any amount of training can equip seminarians for transformation in churches that are quite happy with how they are—or were, thank you very
much."


~Brian McLaren

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's a great gift, to have a sense of the presence and the love of a personal God in your life. ~ Bishop Budde








‎"What I appreciate most about the tradition that is mine is the person of Jesus, the example of his life, the power of his teaching and the mystical presence of the risen Christ that is the spiritual foundation of Christianity. It's a great gift, to have a sense of the presence and the love of a personal God in your life."
~ Bishop Budde of the Diocese of Washington

It's a great gift, to have a sense of the presence and the love of a personal God in your life. ~ Bishop Budde






‎"What I appreciate most about the tradition that is mine is the person of Jesus, the example of his life, the power of his teaching and the mystical presence of the risen Christ that is the spiritual foundation of Christianity. It's a great gift, to have a sense of the presence and the love of a personal God in your life."
~ Bishop Budde of the Diocese of Washington

On mission - Post 2: Elizabeth Drescher

While I am working through thoughts on Mission, I thought Elizabeth Drescher's piece at Episcopal Cafe provided good food for thought, as well as the 20+ comments posted there in response.

Do we struggle with "singing a new song" in the church?  How so?  When I think of Jesus, I don't think of someone who was merely thinking about playing the "old standards"...he seemed to be pushing us beyond the same old same old.  However, we are often seeking the security of nostalgia for its own sake.  Is this what God is calling us to?  Is this what the Holy Spirit is empowering us to be?






The Church's Mission, Let's be honest
by Elizabeth Drescher posted at Episcopal Cafe

You know, I sometimes wonder whether the Israelites heard the call of the psalm we read today as I sometimes do: "Sing to the Lord a new song...? Really?"

I mean, let's be honest, even in the most literal sense, we struggle with this idea, resisting in our churches music that might nudge us even ever so slightly out of the nineteenth century. Oh, I'm not talking here about going all "U2-charist," or bringing in hip hop hymns that'll get the young folks dancing before the Lord. After all, we know that the few thriving emergent communities in our church are more likely to sing songs from the Middle Ages--a little Gregorian Chant, a remix of Hildegard of Bingen, or, to modernize just a smidge, some shape note tunes--than they are to be jamming to the spiritual stylings of Gospel Ganstaz. But they are singing those old songs in a new way--inhabiting them bodily, infusing them with a spirit that is often missing from our churches, truly "lifting every voice" in glorious praise.

Outside of these communities--the Crossing at St. Paul's Cathedral in Boston, Open Cathedral at St. Mark's in Seattle, Thad's in Los Angeles, Transmission in New York--"singing a new song" has, in the least nuanced, least metaphorical way, been something of a challenge for us.

And that makes me worry about how far along God's path we may be able to travel these days as we seek to realize the peaceable kingdom Isaiah prophesied. If we can't get the theme song down, what chance do we have to be so much as bit players in the whole new cosmic drama--the heartwarming story of true love realized across the earth that, as Paul reminds us, Jesus narrated with his life, death, and resurrection?

Of course, Paul points in his letter to the Ephesians to what throws us off tune in our efforts to sing a new, harmonious song, to live as one diverse body: barriers and the hostilities they cause among us. What do these barriers look like in our church in particular? If you've just lept in your mind to things like women's ordination or diverse opinions on human sexuality, I'm going to suggest that you guess again . . . 

Read the rest HERE

On mission - Post 2: Elizabeth Drescher

While I am working through thoughts on Mission, I thought Elizabeth Drescher's piece at Episcopal Cafe provided good food for thought, as well as the 20+ comments posted there in response.

Do we struggle with "singing a new song" in the church?  How so?  When I think of Jesus, I don't think of someone who was merely thinking about playing the "old standards"...he seemed to be pushing us beyond the same old same old.  However, we are often seeking the security of nostalgia for its own sake.  Is this what God is calling us to?  Is this what the Holy Spirit is empowering us to be?






The Church's Mission, Let's be honest
by Elizabeth Drescher posted at Episcopal Cafe

You know, I sometimes wonder whether the Israelites heard the call of the psalm we read today as I sometimes do: "Sing to the Lord a new song...? Really?"

I mean, let's be honest, even in the most literal sense, we struggle with this idea, resisting in our churches music that might nudge us even ever so slightly out of the nineteenth century. Oh, I'm not talking here about going all "U2-charist," or bringing in hip hop hymns that'll get the young folks dancing before the Lord. After all, we know that the few thriving emergent communities in our church are more likely to sing songs from the Middle Ages--a little Gregorian Chant, a remix of Hildegard of Bingen, or, to modernize just a smidge, some shape note tunes--than they are to be jamming to the spiritual stylings of Gospel Ganstaz. But they are singing those old songs in a new way--inhabiting them bodily, infusing them with a spirit that is often missing from our churches, truly "lifting every voice" in glorious praise.

Outside of these communities--the Crossing at St. Paul's Cathedral in Boston, Open Cathedral at St. Mark's in Seattle, Thad's in Los Angeles, Transmission in New York--"singing a new song" has, in the least nuanced, least metaphorical way, been something of a challenge for us.

And that makes me worry about how far along God's path we may be able to travel these days as we seek to realize the peaceable kingdom Isaiah prophesied. If we can't get the theme song down, what chance do we have to be so much as bit players in the whole new cosmic drama--the heartwarming story of true love realized across the earth that, as Paul reminds us, Jesus narrated with his life, death, and resurrection?

Of course, Paul points in his letter to the Ephesians to what throws us off tune in our efforts to sing a new, harmonious song, to live as one diverse body: barriers and the hostilities they cause among us. What do these barriers look like in our church in particular? If you've just lept in your mind to things like women's ordination or diverse opinions on human sexuality, I'm going to suggest that you guess again . . . 

Read the rest HERE

Life




"Life must be understood backwards. But it must be lived forward." -Soren Kierkegaard

Friday, November 11, 2011

My thoughts are not your thoughts


Canticle 10 The Second Song of Isaiah
Quaerite Dominum Isaiah 55:6-11

Seek the Lord while he wills to be found; *
call upon him when he draws near.

Let the wicked forsake their ways *
and the evil ones their thoughts;

And let them turn to the Lord, and he will have compassion, *
and to our God, for he will richly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, *
nor your ways my ways, says the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, *
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as rain and snow fall from the heavens *
and return not again, but water the earth,

Bringing forth life and giving growth, *
seed for sowing and bread for eating,

So is my word that goes forth from my mouth; *
it will not return to me empty;

But it will accomplish that which I have purposed, *
and prosper in that for which I sent it.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Do churches want transformation?

"But recalling that Jesus himself was unable to transform the Temple establishment of his day, and remembering that Paul was run out of a good many more synagogues than he was welcome in, I'm not sure that any amount of training can equip seminarians for transformation in churches that are quite happy with how they are—or were, thank you very
much."


~Brian McLaren

What is Mission? - post #1

We hear the word "mission" thrown around a lot. What does it mean? What is its theoretical or theological definition? What is its "working definition"?

This first post is consciously not taken from the Bible. (We'll get there.)   In part, this is because I think that the word "mission" has been used and overused by corporations, schools, organizations and teams so that the notion of having a mission tied to the higher purposes of God is one that is more quaint, and more theoretical / theological and perhaps not the "working definition" these days at all.  What are the working definitions of "mission" or "mission statement"... are we clear about what our mission is as a believer in Jesus Christ, is the church clear about her mission?  What are the competing missions?  How do vision and mission interact?

Good questions to begin to ponder, no?

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey


 Here is what Wikipedia says about mission statements:


"Mission statement


A mission statement is a statement of the purpose of a company or organization. The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, and guide decision-making. It provides "the framework or context within which the company's strategies are formulated."[1] Historically it is associated with Christian religious groups; indeed, for many years, a missionary was assumed to be a person on a specifically religious mission. The word "mission" dates from 1598, originally of Jesuits sending ("missio", Latin for "act of sending") members abroad.[2]


The vision and the mission statements are often confused with one another, and some organizations even use them interchangeably. In simple terms, the mission is the organization's reason for existence, and vision is what it wants to be."



Monday, November 07, 2011

Be the blessed! ~ All Saints Day Sermon ~ 6 November 2011 ~ The Rev. Peter M. Carey


The Rev. Peter M. Carey
6 November 2011
All Saints Day Sermon
Emmanuel Episcopal Church
Greenwood, Virginia

We are one fellowship, we are one body, we are the great multitude, we are blessed, we are the children of God.

The readings today are in the present tense.  They describe what is.  They describe the deep and abiding mystery and mystical vision of God ever breaking into this very world.  God is with us, and God abides with us, and God is present now, in this present time.  Christ has lived, and was made known in the person of Jesus in Nazareth, Galilee, and Capernaum, but Christ is alive, alive now among us, within us, enlivening us and empowering us.

It can be easy to overly intellectualize and criticize the words of scripture, and get some emotional distance from them.  “Well” we say in our authoritarian voice, the writer of the Psalms was talking about a particular moment during David’s reign.  Or, we note that the writer of 1 John was, “speaking metaphorically about the notion of us being the children of God, when surely he was merely offering pastoral care and a fanciful vision of hope to a restless community.”  We can fall into the trap of talking so much about God that we forget that God is alive, that God is amidst us God is within us and we are his holy people, a royal priesthood.  We are the saints in light.

The readings today are in the present tense in the sense that while they may be talking about times past, or times future, they are also talking about the time in the present.  The present moment is here for us, it is the only moment that we truly have.  While we hope for joy in the future, lest not our hope for the future cloud the joy amidst us in this moment – this holy moment. 

If you are anything like me, you probably find yourself spending a good deal of time in the past – past glory, past hurts, past relationships, revisiting the moments of the past and considering their goodness, and the ways that they were lacking.  You may also find yourself thinking about the future, planning, hoping, considering the stresses that may impact us in the future.  Do you do this? Does this strike a chord?  Our Bible also does this, of course.  We look to the past, to the story of creation, to the stories of figures such as David, and Ruth, and Esther, and Abraham, and all the rest.  Also, our Bible gives us visions of a future – perhaps the visions of the Psalms, or perhaps also the letters of John and also Revelation offer up visions of a future that we can barely imagine.





However, the Bible also breaks open the present, and while the past and the future are important – knowing where we have been and where we are going are key – however, if we don’t know where we are, we are lost.  We must remember that we encounter God in the present moment.  Think of Moses, walking through the wilderness, what if he didn’t turn aside in the present moment to see the burning bush, what if he was so wrapped up in the pain of the past?  What if he was so longing for the future that he forgot to be observant about God’s presence in the present?  Well, Moses had to be present for God’s presence to be seen. 

Are you ready to see God in the present?  Are we ready to see that we are truly blessed?  Are we ready to truly encounter God in this tremendous moment?  Are we ready to encounter the mystical and reality of God in our lives? 

The psalmist reminds us, “bless the Lord at all times, glory in the Lord, be radiant!”  BE RADIANT!  BE RADIANT.  Are we radiant, or are we borrowing trouble from the future. 

“Taste and see that the Lord is good, happy are those who trust in him.”  Taste and see!  TASTE AND SEE.  The psalmist does not say, “fast today so that you might lose a few pounds and God may reveal himself to you tomorrow.”  No.  “Taste and see!”  Are you tasting it, are you seeing it?  Perhaps we need to cleanse our spiritual taste buds and clear off our lenses. 

Of course, we have been promised much by God, but we also have been made children of God.  Christ has thrown open the doors.  Where the gates were closed, locked, with a passcode for solely a few, Christ has busted down the doors to the House of God.  We have been made children of God, we are ALREADY children of God.  “We are God’s children now” says the letter of 1 John.  “WE ARE GOD’s CHILDREN NOW.”  You see, we don’t need to wait, we don’t need to postpone joy.  Of course, more has been promised to us, “What we will be has not been revealed, …[but] we will be like him!” 

You see, the blessings have already begun, and are present now. Jesus knew this when he enacted what he commanded.  He became the gift that he spoke abouty.  He became the Good News that he proclaimed.  When Jesus said “Blessed are….” He was not offering a word of hope.  When Jesus said, “Blessed are…” he was not offering mere reassurance.  Nope, he was creating blessing through his words.  Remember when God created all that is, and spoke the words “let there be light” and there was light.  Jesus, too, creates through his words.  And the blessing that Jesus offers is the blessing that creates a holy people, a communion of saints, the children of God, empowered to breathe life and hope and peace into even this present moment.  A people who will not be living merely in the past, and a people that will not be borrowing trouble from the future.  In Christ’s blessing, a holy people is created who are able to live and breathe and offer hope in this present moment – and we are they.


We are the children of God.  We are the blessed.  We are to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”  We are the ones who are “happy because we trust in him.” 

And so, we are the saints of God, “patient and brave and true,” we are the ones who can and do make a difference in this world.  We are the ones who are blessed, who no longer need to worry, who no longer need to fear anything, because we fear only God (we are in awe of God), and God has blessed us, and promised us mercy and love.

We have been given “ineffable joys.”  What does this mean?  I have no idea, but it must be grand.  It must be wonderful.  We have been blessed with “ineffable joys” in our lives, do we have eyes to see.  Can we take a moment and see and “ineffable joys” granted to us?

God is with us, and God abides with us, and God is present now, in this present time.  Christ has lived, and was made known in the person of Jesus in Nazareth, Galilee, and Capernaum, but Christ is alive, alive now among us, within us, enlivening us and empowering us.

So, Be Radiant! Be the Blessed!

Aquinas on pride



Medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas said of Pride "inordinate self-love is the cause of every sin (1,77) ... the root of pride is found to consist in man not being, in some way, subject to God and His rule."

Sin of pride...

Wikipedia entry...

"Pride

Building the Tower of Babel was, for Dante, an example of pride. Painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder
In almost every list pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris, is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God). Dante's definition was "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbour." In Jacob Bidermann's medieval miracle playCenodoxus, pride is the deadliest of all the sins and leads directly to the damnation of the titulary famed Parisian doctor. In perhaps the best-known example, the story ofLucifer, pride (his desire to compete with God) was what caused his fall from Heaven, and his resultant transformation into Satan. In Dante's Divine Comedy, the penitents were forced to walk with stone slabs bearing down on their backs to induce feelings of humility."

Sunday, November 06, 2011

One communion and fellowship



Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Friday, November 04, 2011

For too long the Church has been obsessed with its own internal work­ings

From The Episcopal Cafe:


Giles Frasier writes in the Church Times about his experience when Occupy London camped out at the St. Paul's Cathedral.
THE lectionary can be a cruel mis­tress. The evensong readings set for what was my last sermon at St Paul’s gave me Luke 6: “Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. . . But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your con­solation.” 
The whole point of having a lectionary is that it obliges the preacher not to avoid the hard bits of the Bible. Were the readings up to me, I would have chosen something much safer. But that is the whole point of having a lectionary: it stops you retreating into safety. There are some things that just must stay on the agenda, however uncom­fortable. 
And uncomfortable it is. St Paul’s sits on a fault-line between the City of London — the boiler room of global capitalism — and texts such as this. It is no wonder that the presence of the protest camp has given the cathedral a great deal to think about. Issues of financial jus­tice are at the heart of the scriptures, and, like the lectionary, there is no way of avoid­ing it.
None of this is to say that the Church must be in league with any particular secular ideology. We are not the Labour Party at prayer, just as we are not the Tory Party at prayer. I have no truck with those who want to bring down capitalism. Markets create jobs and generate wealth.
. . .
My own views aside, one of the things that is clear is that the present, very difficult situation at St Paul’s is in fact a historic opportunity for the Church to reset its relationship with the marketplace (some­thing the Roman Catholic Church is much better at than we have been). 
For too long the Church has been obsessed with its own internal work­ings and with silly arguments about sex. Now is the time for a new debate and a new emphasis. For if we are not fully involved with complex dis­cussions about the relationship be­tween financial justice and the way our financial institutions work, then we might as well give up on being a proper Church and admit that we are the spiritual arm of the heritage industry.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Was Jesus leading a generational movement?



What say you church geeks?  History geeks?

I posted this on Facebook, and realize I would love to hear from others...

how much was Jesus' life and work really a conflict between generations? Pharisees...? Caiaphus? Herod? (or, do I have this really all wrong-that generations are really a modern, or post-modern 'invention' and had no reality in 1st century Palestine)...what say you church geeks...? what say you history geeks?

What are the passages that point to generational conflict?  What are the passages that point to generational peace, or status quo?  How might a notion of Jesus as a leader of a generational movement impact the way that we understand generational conflict today?

Please comment...!

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

All Souls Day

Today is All Souls Day!

Several years ago I was blessed to spend the day at Westminster Abbey on November 2nd...and I wrote about it below...

May you have a blessed All Souls Day,

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey










photo credit

Several years ago while in college, I was studying in Europe and made a trip up to England to visit a friend and to see some of the sights there.  I was excited that my friend was staying in Kent, and I would be able to go to Canterbury Cathedral to attend church and poke around in the town.  But, before going to Kent, I was in London in early November, visiting museums and churches, and doing the tourist thing.  On November 2nd, I made my way over to Westminster Abbey, where I was to meet up with one of the canons of the Abbey.  A mutual friend made the connection for me, and I was poking around the Abbey on a terribly rainy and cold day.  Not being totally keyed into the liturgical calendar, I was able to learn a bit about All Souls Day while in Westminster Abbey.  Since it was such a cold and rainy day, and since there are endless things to see and to visit, I stayed there much of the day.  Since All Souls Day is also known as the Feast of the Faithful Departed when many Christians remember all those who have died in the last year, it became a rich and deep place to observe the holiday.  In addition, just the day before, one of the elderly canons (priests in a leadership role) at the Abbey had died. So, along with the rainy day, the soulful Abbey (full of tombs!), and the occasion of the death of the canon it really was a wonderful place to learn about All Souls Day, and about the depth of our Anglican Tradition - not merely by reading about it or talking about it, but by doing it.   I entered Westminster Abbey a tourist, and left a pilgrim.

I pray that we all take time today to reflect upon All Souls Day and pray for all those who have died, and pray for us, that we might live in a way that is full, abundant, and holy.

Blessings on All Souls Day,

~The Rev. Peter M.Carey










photo credit









photo credit

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Rowan Williams on sanctorum communio





In its original Latin the Apostles' Creed announces belief in the communio sanctorum; and this could mean one of two things - or maybe both. It could be 'the sharing between holy people' or it could mean 'the sharing of holy things'. Now when the New Testament, especially St Paul, talks about 'holy people', it doesn't mean quite what we might mean by 'saint', it isn't offering a sort of verdict on a lot of spectacularly good lives. Christian people are 'holy' simply because they have been adopted by God into relationship, into that family relationship expressed in saying 'Our Father'. So the 'sharing between holy people' isn't some kind of club for the spiritually gifted; it's simply the relationship that holds together those who recognize and express their adoption by God. And so this sharing becomes tangible and visible when Christians are together just breathing the air of Christ, making real in words and actions who they are in relation to Jesus. The 'communion' that is meant here is what becomes visible when Christians are simply saying who they are.

And what does this involve? The Church is the community of those who have been 'immersed' in Jesus' life, overwhelmed by it. Those who are baptized have disappeared under the surface of Christ's love and reappeared as different people. The waters close over their heads, and then, like the old world rising out of watery chaos in the first chapter of the Bible, out comes a new world. So when the Church baptizes people, it says what it is and what sort of life its people live. Baptism is an event in which the 'sharing between holy people' comes to light and we see what the Church really is, a community in which people are constantly being brought into new life by being given a new relationship with God and each other.

It is also the community of those who are invited to eat with Jesus. Just as, in his earthly life, Jesus expressed his promise to create a new people of God by sharing meals with unlikely people, just as, after the resurrection, he shares food with his disciples as he re-calls them to their task, so it is with the whole Church. We are in the Church because we have been invited, not because we have earned our place. And so when the Church gathers to eat and drink with Jesus in Holy Communion, the Church once again says who and what it is. In baptism and Holy Communion, the nature of the Church is laid bare for us. What is the Church? It is simply those who have been immersed in, soaked in the life of Jesus, and who have been invited to eat with him and pray to the Father with him.

~ Rowan Williams, Tokens of Trust (2007)

The warning signs of defending the status quo, from Seth Godin

from Seth Godin's blog...


The warning signs of defending the status quo

When confronted with a new idea, do you:
  • Consider the cost of switching before you consider the benefits?
  • Highlight the pain to a few instead of the benefits for the many?
  • Exaggerate how good things are now in order to reduce your fear of change?
  • Undercut the credibility, authority or experience of people behind the change?
  • Grab onto the rare thing that could go wrong instead of amplifying the likely thing that will go right?
  • Focus on short-term costs instead of long-term benefits, because the short-term is more vivid for you?
  • Fight to retain benefits and status earned only through tenure and longevity?
  • Embrace an instinct to accept consistent ongoing costs instead of swallowing a one-time expense?
  • Slow implementation and decision making down instead of speeding it up?
  • Embrace sunk costs?
  • Imagine that your competition is going to be as afraid of change as you are? Even the competition that hasn't entered the market yet and has nothing to lose...
  • Emphasize emergency preparation at the expense of a chronic and degenerative condition?
  • Compare the best of what you have now with the possible worst of what a change might bring?
Calling it out when you see it might give your team the strength to make a leap.

Rowan Williams on All Saints





In its original Latin the Apostles' Creed announces belief in the communio sanctorum; and this could mean one of two things - or maybe both. It could be 'the sharing between holy people' or it could mean 'the sharing of holy things'. Now when the New Testament, especially St Paul, talks about 'holy people', it doesn't mean quite what we might mean by 'saint', it isn't offering a sort of verdict on a lot of spectacularly good lives. Christian people are 'holy' simply because they have been adopted by God into relationship, into that family relationship expressed in saying 'Our Father'. So the 'sharing between holy people' isn't some kind of club for the spiritually gifted; it's simply the relationship that holds together those who recognize and express their adoption by God. And so this sharing becomes tangible and visible when Christians are together just breathing the air of Christ, making real in words and actions who they are in relation to Jesus. The 'communion' that is meant here is what becomes visible when Christians are simply saying who they are.

And what does this involve? The Church is the community of those who have been 'immersed' in Jesus' life, overwhelmed by it. Those who are baptized have disappeared under the surface of Christ's love and reappeared as different people. The waters close over their heads, and then, like the old world rising out of watery chaos in the first chapter of the Bible, out comes a new world. So when the Church baptizes people, it says what it is and what sort of life its people live. Baptism is an event in which the 'sharing between holy people' comes to light and we see what the Church really is, a community in which people are constantly being brought into new life by being given a new relationship with God and each other.

It is also the community of those who are invited to eat with Jesus. Just as, in his earthly life, Jesus expressed his promise to create a new people of God by sharing meals with unlikely people, just as, after the resurrection, he shares food with his disciples as he re-calls them to their task, so it is with the whole Church. We are in the Church because we have been invited, not because we have earned our place. And so when the Church gathers to eat and drink with Jesus in Holy Communion, the Church once again says who and what it is. In baptism and Holy Communion, the nature of the Church is laid bare for us. What is the Church? It is simply those who have been immersed in, soaked in the life of Jesus, and who have been invited to eat with him and pray to the Father with him.

~ Rowan Williams, Tokens of Trust (2007)

All Saints Day

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. 
  -- All Saints, Holy Women, Holy Men, p. 663


hat tip to The Episcopal Church's website  ... http://ecusa.anglican.org/

An early Advent?

Emmanuel Way Newsletter Article
November 2011
The Rev. Peter M. Carey

An early Advent?     

With the Christmas decorations already in many stores and the commercial aspects of the holiday season getting into full swing even before Thanksgiving occurs, I wonder what happens to Advent in the mix of all this commercial chaos?  And so, here in the month of November, I am going to write a bit about Advent.  

My proposal is that we should really begin to focus on Advent before the “official” time that Advent begins so that we might gain some of the spiritual benefits of this rich and deep season before we are consumed by the commercialization of the season.  I have read that in medieval times, Advent was actually practiced for 7 weeks or more, instead of the four weeks that we now have for the season, so this effort is not without precedent.

Advent is a time of expectation, and a time of going deep within one’s self as we each prepare a place for God in our hearts and in our lives.  Just as we might imagine Mary and Joseph preparing a place for a baby in their own busy and chaotic lives, we also might find ways to prepare a place for Christ in our lives today.  Of course, God is with us, and Christ abides with us and in us at all times.  However, doing some clearing away some of the spiritual clutter of our lives may, in fact, provide room for Christ to enter in anew this year. 

What are some tangible things that we can do?  One is to take a look around your house and see if there are a few areas where you can open up space.  Perhaps there is a pile of books next to your comfy chair which are nice to have there, but books that you haven’t yet read, and books that don’t need to be there.  Perhaps putting the books away in order to leave open some space can be an outward and visible sign of what we are also striving to do in our hearts. 

What about if you have children and there is a plethora of toys scattered in their rooms, or in a playroom.  Perhaps in this time we could choose to put away some of the toys, to put them in a box for a time, in the attic or basement, so that some room is made clear.  Perhaps we could even have a conversation with our kids about “preparing a place” for Jesus just as the animals in the stable might have done. 

And what about our daily calendar, what about our many appointments and to do lists, what about our time that we spend online which is mere filler time, what about the time that we turn on the television and have it on in the background, just filling up the airwaves of our homes?  Could we move a few things off of our calendars?  Could we put off one or two items until January?  Could we turn off the constant banter on the radio or television? 

Jesus said repeatedly, let those with eyes see, let those with ears, hear.  Sometimes, I think that the reason some of us don’t recognize God’s presence, and God’s voice in our lives is that we pollute our vision and our hearing with a cacophony of sights and sounds.
How might you “prepare a home” for Christ in our midst?  How might you, like Mary, “ponder these things” in your heart?  I encourage you, even in this (somewhat) early month of November to begin to “practice Advent” in your lives.  Practicing Advent living may offer up deep spiritual benefits and help us to recognize Christ in this season of expectation and preparation.

(Early) Advent Blessings!

Peter+

Blessed are the cheesemakers (and all the Saints!)

Today is All Saints Day.  November 1st, and November 2nd is known as All Souls' Day.  Most often, these two days are merged together and observed on the first Sunday after All Saints.  So, next Sunday, we'll be celebrating All Saints and the gospel reading will be from the Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew 5: 1-12) - the "Blessed are the ______" reading that is quoted so often.

Of course, it is also a good time to watch Life of Brian, or at least the "Sermon on the Mount" clip from it!

Humor is good medicine,

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey