Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Feast of St. Stephen ~ Views of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Middlebury, Vermont



Views of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, in my hometown, Middlebury, VT






Mourning the death of Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon


from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington:

Death of Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon

December 25, 2012

Dear Friends:

I write this Christmas Day with sad news. Bishop Jane Dixon died in her sleep early this morning after a spending a joyful Christmas Eve with her family. Her death comes as a shock to her beloved husband of 52 years, Dixie, to their children and grandchildren, and to all of us blessed to have known Jane as a friend, mentor, and colleague.

Jane was elected bishop suffragan by the people of the Diocese of Washington in 1992 and served until her retirement in August 2002. From January 2001 until June 2002, she held ecclesiastical authority for the diocese as bishop pro tempore. After her retirement, she was senior advisor for interreligious relations at the Interfaith Alliance, where she had served as board chair during her tenure as bishop. In 2011, she shared that organization’s Walter Cronkite Award with journalist Jim Lehrer.

Anglicans across the globe will remember Jane as the second woman bishop in the Episcopal Church and the third in the Anglican Communion. She claimed that distinction not for herself, but for its power to proclaim the gospel. “I am a symbol of the inclusiveness of God,” she said at a press conference on the morning of her consecration.

Jane was born in Mississippi in 1937 and, after being graduated from Vanderbilt University, spent her early life as a teacher and mother. She told a 1992 meeting of the Episcopal Women’s Caucus that she “stepped out of the kitchen into a new and different world,” at age 40 when she enrolled at Virginia Theological Seminary. She received her master of divinity in 1982 and doctor of divinity in 1993.

Jane, who was rector of St. Philip’s Church in Laurel, Maryland when she was elected bishop, was just the second woman priest in this diocese. Throughout her ministry as priest and bishop, she was a champion for reconciliation and justice.

Called to serve at a time when some refused to accept the authority of a woman bishop, Jane led with courage and conviction, and sometimes at great personal cost.  She demonstrated that same bravery and grace when she brought hope and healing to our country by officiating at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance service at Washington National Cathedral following the tragedy on 9/11.  

Jane was a fighter for equality and social justice and this led her to speak at the White House against hate crimes and to stand for inclusiveness within the Episcopal Church. 

"Jane is a person who has the courage of her convictions but the grace and humility to know that none of us can equate our ways with God's ways, our thoughts with God's thoughts,” said the late Verna Dozier, Jane’s longtime mentor, in the sermon she preached at Jane’s consecration.

Jane is survived by her husband, David McFarland Dixon, Sr., her three children, David, Jr., Edward and Mary, and her beloved grandchildren, Ed, Emma, Madeline, Mack, Rosalie, and Lucy. We are still working out plans for a religious service to celebrate Jane’s life and grieve her death, and I will contact you as soon as I have information to share.

Jane was among the first to telephone me after I had been elected bishop, and she offered to support me in any way she could. Shortly afterwards, Dixie called back and offered that same support to my husband, Paul. Like many, I consider myself blessed to count Jane Dixon as a friend and mentor.  She paved the way for us; may we walk on in her spirit.

Faithfully,

Mariann Edgar Budde
Bishop of Washington

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on trembling before God




It is very remarkable that we face the thought that God is coming so calmly, whereas previously peoples trembled at the day of God, whereas the world fell into trembling when Jesus Christ walked over the earth. That is why we find it so strange when we see the marks of God in the world so often together with the marks of human suffering.... We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God's coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God's coming should arouse in us.

We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience.

Bonhoeffer

Monday, December 24, 2012

Nativity Carol : Kings College Choir, Cambridge


Nativity Carol : Kings College Choir, Cambridge



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Leaping for Joy! 23 December 2012 ~ The Rev. Peter M. Carey Sermon




The Rev. Peter M. Carey
23 December 2012
St. Paul’s Memorial Episcopal Church

Well, congratulations! You made it through the "end of the world."  We made it through December 21st, 2012, when some interpretation of the Mayan Calendar thought that the end of the world was here. 


While we don’t dwell on it all that much, our own faith is also grounded in the sense that there is an end towards which our story is moving.  There is a final chapter. This looking at the “end times” is not usually done so much in mainline Christianity, least of all the Episcopal Church, that rational and sensible and establishment church.  However, Advent reminds us in no uncertain terms that while Jesus came into this world, he will be coming again.  Advent reminds us that God created the world, but that there will also be an end.  This is, perhaps, hard to grasp, especially as we try to reconcile Biblical theology with our scientific knowledge.


We are already living in the end times, we are already grounded in the sense that our individual lives are finite, but also the world itself is finite.  But we also rest in the notion that God is already wrapping us up in loving arms, is hovering over us as a mother hen, is already caring for us as a shepherd, is already caring for us deeply.  This ever-present and ever-flowing love of God does not begin at some point, rather, it is eternal, and it is now and forever. 


How do we notice the ways that God is already “breaking” into the world?  How do we open ourselves up to this reality?  It seems to me that we have to make some room for God.  Not that God “needs” us to make room, but that we need to make room so that we can increase our awareness of God’s presence in our lives.  John the Baptist preached those lines from Isaiah when he said, “prepare the way of the Lord,” and we can prepare ourselves so that we can embrace God’s presence in our lives.  Opening a space in our calendars means setting other things aside, and creating time for God.  We can also create spaces in our homes and workplaces that remind us to notice God in our midst.  In a sense, the preparation and expectation of Advent are qualities of our entire spiritual lives.


We can create time and space where we might pray and allow God to enter into our lives.  “To pray is to take notice of the wonder and to regain a sense of the mystery that animates all beings, the divine margin in all attainments.  Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living.” Abraham Joshua Heschel


Certainly, Mary was open to the wonder that was around her. Certainly, Mary was open to the mystery and surprise.  With this sense of wonder, mystery and surprise, she visited her cousin Elizabeth, and the baby in her womb leaped for joy!


Leaping for Joy! How often do we leap for Joy?  However, this portion of Luke’s story of Jesus’ birth is quite telling.  The child of Elizabeth, the child who would become John the Baptist, recognizes his cousin from the womb!  Recognizes Jesus, recognizes God with us, Emmanuel!  The child of Elizabeth leaps with joy!  And what of us, are we open to the Joy that is constantly breaking into the midst of our world?  Are we open to the Joy that is breaking into the dark and dismal days of our lives?  Are we open to the Joy that even comes in the midst of disappointment and desolation?

The Joy that God provides is a deeper Joy than even the womb of our imagination can contain; the Joy that God provides.  The gift of God’s Joy is beyond our thinking, our dreaming, and our understanding.  We may not think that we will leap for joy like we once could, but the Joy that God provides is that which lifts us beyond our dreams, even in the midst of this world, God’s Word becomes realized in our world, as Joy that cannot be contained by the womb of our imagination.


"Awe before Isaiah's God refreshes our reverence. It submerges the ego, paving the way for owning up to our frailty. It turns us outward from concern with self to the need and suffering for others, especially the poor and peripheral. As we repose ever more deeply in God's mystery, the Lord who is absolutely sufficient for our succor increasingly works through us to relieve others' brokenness. Simultaneously, the Holy transforms us into ever more reverent advocates of the natural world." ~Stephen Cook

When we recognize the ways that God is already breaking into the world, is already surrounding us and caring for us, we see the world differently.  When Mary received the news that she was the God-bearer, her view of the world changed, and she sang of the ways that God’s kingdom was becoming real.  She sang of the impossible becoming possible.  The impossible Joy of God on earth led her to see that everything was being turned on its head.  The Song of Mary, the Magnificat, gives us a clear vision of how God breaks into the world, and also how we are called to help usher in this kingdom.  She sings of justice, of love for all, of a turning around of the powers of the world.  She proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and recognizes the joyful impossibility of  God looking with favor upon her.  She sees that he will “scatter the proud,” “cast down the mighty,” and “lifted up the lowly.”  “Filled the hungry with good things,” and “ the rich he has sent away empty.”  Mary saw that God’s presence in the world is grounded in justice and mercy, and the profound joy of God in our midst – Emmanuel.


The Joy that God provides is a deeper Joy than even the womb of our imagination can contain.  The gift of God’s Joy is beyond our thinking, our dreaming, and our understanding.  However, God has given us clues about this joyful kingdom in the words sung by Mary, who inspires us to get busy, to work for change, to work for justice, to work with Joy to help usher in God’s loving kingdom.


My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *
    for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: *
    the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him *
    in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, *
    he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
    and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, *
    and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, *
    for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers, *
    to Abraham and his children for ever.

Nativity scene from "Life of Brian"



"Thanks a lot for the gold and frankincense, but don't worry mind next time about the myrrh"


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rowan Williams: "if all you have is a gun, everything is a target"





Archbishop's Thought for the Day: 'if all you have is a gun, everything is a target'

Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Saturday 22nd December 2012
In his final Thought for the Day this morning on BBC Radio 4, the Archbishop of Canterbury talks about the recent killings in Connecticut and discounts the argument often put forward that "it's not guns that kill, it's people", saying:

BBC Radio 4"People use guns. But in a sense guns use people, too. When we have the technology for violence easily to hand, our choices are skewed and we are more vulnerable to being manipulated into violent action."
He acknowledges that "control of the arms trade, whether for individuals or for nations, won't in itself stop the impulse to violence and slaughter" but argues that:
"If all you have is a gun, everything looks like a target. If all you have is the child's openness and willingness to be loved, everything looks like a promise. Control of the weapons trade is a start. But what will really make the difference is dealing with fear and the pressure to release our anxiety and tension at the expense of others. A new heart, a new spirit, as the Bible says; so that peace on earth won't be an empty hope."
Listen to an audio recording, or read the full text of the Archbishop's message below:
A week after the horrific killings of the schoolchildren of Sandy Hook in Connecticut, most of us are still struggling to get our minds around such a nightmare.  And how do we say and sing the words of this joyful season while we think of lives cut so brutally short and of the unimaginable loss and trauma suffered by parents?
Nearly 6,000 children and teenagers were killed by firearms in the USA in just two years.  And we’d better not be complacent about the issues of gun and knife crime affecting young people in our own cities here.  In the UK, the question is how we push back against gang culture by giving young people the acceptance and respect they deserve, so that they don’t look for it in destructive places.  In the US, the question is, of course, about gun laws, one of the most polarising issues in American politics.
And there is one thing often said by defenders of the American gun laws that ought to make us think about wider questions.  ‘It’s not guns that kill, it’s people.’  Well, yes, in a sense.  But it makes a difference to people what weapons are at hand for them to use – and, even more, what happens to people in a climate where fear is rampant and the default response to frightening or unsettling situations or personal tensions is violence and the threat of violence.  If all you have is a hammer, it’s sometimes said, everything looks like a nail.  If all you have is a gun, everything looks like a target.
People use guns.  But in a sense guns use people, too.  When we have the technology for violence easily to hand, our choices are skewed and we are more vulnerable to being manipulated into violent action. 
Perhaps that’s why, in a passage often heard in church around this time of year, the Bible imagines a world where swords are beaten into ploughshares.  In the new world which the newborn child of Christmas brings into being, weapons are not left to hang on the wall, suggesting all the time that the right thing to do might after all be to use them.  They are decommissioned, knocked out of shape, put to work for something totally different.
Control of the arms trade, whether for individuals or for nations, won’t in itself stop the impulse to violence and slaughter.  But it’s a start in changing what’s taken for granted.  The good news of Christmas is that the atmosphere of fear and hostility isn’t the natural climate for human beings, and it can be changed.
If all you have is a gun, everything looks like a target.  But if all you have is the child’s openness and willingness to be loved, everything looks like a promise.  Control of the weapons trade is a start.  But what will really make the difference is dealing with fear and the pressure to release our anxiety and tension at the expense of others.  A new heart, a new spirit, as the Bible says; so that peace on earth won’t be an empty hope. 
© Rowan Williams 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Johnny Cash ~ The Man Comes Around

Another "end of the world" song...based on the book of Revelation! By the musical genius, Johnny Cash.


Gimme Shelter ~ Rolling Stones



It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine - REM

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine - REM

When the world ends...Dave Matthews Band!

When the world ends...Dave Matthews Band!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My thoughts are not your thoughts ~ Advent 2012




From Isaiah 55

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 was,
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.

Let's be honest.  God is different than us.  We are the created and God is the creator.  We are in need of redemption and God the Christ is the redeemer.  We are in need of sanctification and God is the sanctifier.  We are absolutely contingent upon God.  We are absolutely reliant upon God.

While we think that we are the center of existence, we are not, and even our thoughts of this supposed fact are really just because God has granted us the "image of God" in our very selves, our very bones, our very souls.  We are not the center of existence.  No.  We are reliant upon the good grace of God.

I heard Desmond Tutu preach a most wonderful sermon in which he described the way that we are ever being held in the hands of God, and if God chose it we would cease to be, but God chooses not.  Rather, we are ever being embraced by the hands of God, ever resting in the hands of God, both while we live and when we die and enter the greater life given by God.

I have long used this image in preaching, writing, and also in pastoral care.  God cares for us, but this caring is not as we care for one another.  God cares for us for God created us, and God is in the center of our very being.  We rest in God, and God rests in us.  We abide in God and God abides in us.

When Jesus was born, the rough and crude shepherds rushed to see him.  They rushed to see him because they recognized God was nearby.  When Jesus was born, the Magi from the East rushed to follow a star to see the baby where he lay.  They recognized that only God would cause a star to rush across the sky.  The kingdom of God is not of this word.  The thoughts of God are not our thoughts.  The ways of God are not our ways.  We are contingent upon God.  However, we are blessed that this God is a God of love, of compassion, of forgiveness.

God loves us, created us, cares for us, and is ever, EVER!, holding us in his loving embrace.

Now, go tell someone!

~Peter+

Loving God, help me remember that you both created us, and redeem us and sanctify us, and that you are ever holding us in your loving embrace, and help me to share this Good News with everyone I meet.  Amen.







Better Together ~ Jack Johnson's truism

I've become a big fan of the singer-songwriter Jack Johnson.  I love his song, "Better Together," and I believe he's happened upon an important truism to life.  "It's always better when we're together."

I pray that we can find more ways to be "together" in this holiday season!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Prayers for those in the Armed Forces



As we move toward Christmas, I am praying for those in the armed forces of our country:



For Those in the Armed Forces of Our Country
Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



Monday, December 17, 2012

Continued prayers for Newtown, CT! : A Family Business in a Small Town Named Newtown

My folks grew up in Newtown, Connecticut, and my uncle married a Honan.  The Honans are pillars of the community in Newtown and have run the Honan Funeral Home in Newtown for over a century. While I am not a Honan in the literal sense, I consider myself a Honan because they are faithful, compassionate, loving people who are only a degree or two of separation from my own family.  I have shared many many important family events with the Honans, and I feel humbled to know that they are doing God's work as they help to care for the community of Newtown in this tragic and terrible time.

My cousins' cousin wrote the following blog entry today about her family, the Honans.  It is well worth a read!

Blessing and prayers for everyone in Newtown today,

~Peter Carey+

from Neil Callahan at http://neilcallanan.posterous.com/a-family-business-in-a-small-town-named-newto


A Family Business in a Small Town Named Newtown.

Honan_funeral_home
My mother and her many (7) siblings were raised by my grandparents on Main Street in Newtown, CT.
Just down the street from the town general store and the picturesque flag pole you’ve seen on the news. The home is not unlike other homes on the street, and not probably not all that unlike grandparents’ homes around the country. What distinguishes our family home is not that it is next door to the family business at 58 Main, but that our family business happens to be the Honan Funeral Home. The sole funeral home in Newtown, CT. 
Founded in 1903 by my great grandfather, William Sr. and taken over by my grandfather William Jr in 1966, the business has been run by my uncle Daniel since his passing. The Honan Funeral Home has been a big part of our family for more than a century. The unqiueness of it was a part our our lives in both bigger, and smaller ways than you might expect. The famously casual nature in which my grandfather could discuss his work was seemingly balanced by the heaviness of being part of a family who handle their own calling hours and funeral services when a family member left us. 
My grandfather’s (and now my uncle’s) day-to-day was very different from you or I. The topics of his consultations and mine could not be more distinct. But in ways I’ve been thinking about more and more over the last few days the way my grandfather ran things serves as a model for who and what I’d like to be in many ways and especially in business.
My uncle is faced with a work week that is unimaginable, but he’ll look to all those years working side-by-side with my grandfather to help guide him through serving those who have just experienced unknowable tragedy. 
--
He’ll be a familiar face to those in need; because just like my grandfather, Dan is incredibly active in the Newtown community.
--
He’ll both give and receive support from the St. Rose of Lima Church community; because like my grandfather, he is active in his church community during both good and bad times. 
--
He’ll rely on his colleagues from around the state to help provide the support and service the many families in need that would otherwise be impossible with a staff of just two; because like my grandfather, he understands the value of relationships within his industry. 
--
And when he is able to walk those families through the unbearable experience they’ll face this week with confidence and compassion, he’ll being doing his job; because like my grandfather learned from his father, Dan knows that it is his job to use the 100+ years of experience passed down to him to make things a bit less awful for those who’ve lost so much. And by attempting to do just that, he makes our whole family proud to be Honans from Newtown. 

"Be joyful though you have considered all the facts" - Wendell Berry


Manifesto:
The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.

Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.

Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.

Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.

Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.

Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" from The Country of Marriage, copyright © 1973 by Wendell Berry

Sunday, December 16, 2012

16 December 2012 ~ Advent 3 ~ "Our hearts are in Newtown, today"



The Rev. Peter M. Carey
16 December 2012
Advent 3 – 8am – Sermon
St. Paul’s Memorial Church - Charlottesville
We are all in Newtown

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be always acceptable O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen.

On this day we all are in Newtown, Connecticut.

We grieve for the loss of these wonderful people, we are angry, scared, frustrated, sad, confused….

Our hearts are with those in Newtown, today, and our prayers go out to them.

My own heart is with all those in Newtown today, and when they sometimes say, “this hit close to home,” I would say that is this case, Newtown is one of the places of home for me.  I spent some significant time in Newtown, where both of my parents grew up, and my mom went to Sandy Hook Elementary School.  My aunts and uncles were married, where many thanksgiving meals were eaten, where I used to bake with my grandmother and hike with my granddad.  Newtown is also where I mourned the death of my grandparents, and where I led the funerals for them both.

Newtown, for me is a place of warm Thanksgivings, of joyous Christmases, of kickball games behind my grandparents house, of games with cousins, of marvelous 4th of July parades, and of God’s love pouring out through the love and life of family.  Saturday mornings were full of granola and fresh donuts that Granddad would go and buy in the wee hours of the mornings.  For me, Newtown was one of the places where God’s love was made manifest in the lives of family and friends.  My grandmother, before she began to decline, was the quintessential “church lady” and I was really thinking about what she would be doing today.  I have a feeling that she would know these families, and she would be out serving them. 

My own heart and mind are having trouble catching up with the news of the last two days.  Images of warmth and love and kindness are in conflict with images of pain and evil and death.  My own heart is broken with grief for all those who have died, and for those families whose hearts must also be broken.

I have trouble finding a way to wrap my mind and my heart around these events.  And I’m sure I’m not alone.  However, the sadness, grief and anger are real, and I have a knot in my stomach about all of this.

In the midst of this event, our hearts are broken, and we mourn for all those who have died.  We turn to our loved ones and we hug our families and friends.  We also  reflect on all that we have, and on all of those who we love.  Our hearts are broken, broken open.  One thing about a broken heart is that we become vulnerable, and even if we tend that open heart we can be open to one another’s pain and suffering.  A broken heart, when it heals, the question will it become hardened, with scar tissue? Will it become hardened (like Pharoah’s), or will it be open, soft, supple, vulnerable?

I began to think about responses to this event, and of course I thought about my own kids.  I think about the ways that we are vulnerable to folks who slip into extreme mental illness and get their hands on guns.  We know that we cannot stop every evil, but there is much that we can do.  Surely we need to have a serious discussion about guns in our society, and about access to mental health treatment.  Will this prevent all these tragedies from happening?  Probably not.  But we do need to get busy.  There is much we can do, and that we should do.  As Christians, we have a specific call to remind the world that we are called to create a world of love, compassion and reconciliation, even in the midst of tragedy.

On this day, we are all in Newtown, Connecticut, and our hearts are broken, broken open.

We can allow our hearts to be broken open, so we can respond to a world in need. 

In this time, we turn to God so that we can be reminded of that wonderful sentiment from William Sloan Coffin who said “Hope is a state of mind independent of the state of the world.”  We cannot allow what we see around us to determine our hope, for our hope is in God; is in Christ.  We can embody this audacious hope, hope, even in the midst of sorrow and pain.  This audacious hope.  Hope that things will change, especially when we turn our open hearts to one another and to God, and when we get busy.  As Dave Matthews sang in concert here in Charlottesville on Friday, “We gotta do much more than believe, if we’re going to change things.” And obviously we have to begin with our belief, and our hope, but then get busy.

We are not alone, as we approach Christmas, we are reminded of the audacious hope given to us in Jesus.  As God became human, as a vulnerable child, God showed his love for us.  The love of a daddy; the love of a mommy, for the likes of us.  God entered this world. Jesus entered into this world, this world of tragedy and turmoil, this world of sorrow and pain, but also this world of hope and love, despite all the odds.

My own mind and heart are still trying to wrap around the events of Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.  But I do feel that we have a call to let our hearts be broken, and let them be open to one another, and find ways to get busy, and keep our hearts supple and vulnerable, even and especially, in this difficult time.

Almighty God, we thank you that in your great love you have fed us with the spiritual food and drink of the body and blood of your Son, Jesus Christ, and you have given us a foretaste of your heavenly banquet Grant that we may receive this as a comfort in affliction and a pledge of our inheritance in that kingdom where there is no death neither nor crying and the fullness of joy with all your saints, through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen