30 September 2009

The road is hard that leads to life: Matthew 7:13-14

Matthew 7:13-14 (NRSV)

13 "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Matthew was, perhaps, speaking metaphorically about the narrow gate, and the road that is hard that leads to life. However, it is surely true that getting ourselves off the beaten path has deep spiritual benefits. I think of the highways that we drive between cities here in the United States - they are wide, they are smooth, and with my Garmin GPS leading me onward, it is pretty easy to find where I am going. Setting out into the woods to hike amidst trees and rocks and thorns and wild animals is another thing entirely. I think also of the narrow roads in Florence, Italy, where I lived for awhile and the most amazing streets were the ones with terribly bumpy cobblestones and these streets would weave in and out, often depositing the walking pilgrim into an unknown piazza (square). I know that it can be tempting to stay on the wide and easy road, but whether we like it or not, we will all traverse roads that are hard. While I cling to my GPS and the Interstate highways when I drive from state to state, I imagine that the roads that lead to life are smaller, harder, and lead through gates that are narrower. Perhaps this means I should venture off I95, perhaps this means I should take on a spiritual discipline that is difficult for me even though it is not Lent, perhaps it means I need to find my hiking boots and get into the woods!

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

28 September 2009

Sunday Lectionary Readings for October 4, 2009 - Year B - Proper 22

Proper 22 - Year B Revised Common Lectionary

Job 1:1; 2:1-10 Psalm 26 or Genesis 2:18-24 Psalm 8

Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12 Mark 10:2-16

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

24 September 2009

Psalm 146: True happiness

Psalm 146 Lauda, anima mea
Praise the LORD, O my soul! *
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
2Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
for there is no help in them.
3When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *
and in that day their thoughts perish.
4Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *
whose hope is in the LORD their God;
5Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *
who keeps his promise for ever
"Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help!
whose hope is in the LORD their God."

As often as we may read the scriptures, pray, and go to church, it can become easy to place our hope in earthly things. Of course, this is quite natural, because earthy things are all around us, the government, the corporation that helps to bring power to my house, the trees which offer me shade, the birds that sing outside my window, the people who built my car to keep my family safe as we drive the highways and byways. We are surrounded by earthly things, and we rely on them, we trust them, we even may say that we have "faith" in them.

However, earthly things do fail, and then we are left with the sense (perhaps) of our hope being rattled and shaken. The world is full of beautiful things, and yet, we are all too aware of the ways that rulers, nations, corporations, and even nature can cause suffering and be deadly.

The psalm this morning offers another way of thinking. The psalm offers a song of praise for the Lord, and reminds us as we pray it that the Lord made heaven and earth and if we truly want heavenly happiness, we are to place our hope in God. For someone who's world is jammed full with the things of the world, this may sound insane - "I can't see God," "I can't sense God," "How can I put my hope in God?" However, offering praise for God, and entering into a place where we can experience the Glory of God will, indeed, embolden our hopefulness, and will offer us true happiness.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

23 September 2009

Lantern for feet and light for paths

Your word is a lantern to my feet *
and a light upon my path.
~Psalm 119: 105

While on a hiking trip in North Carolina with Outward Bound, the first day we left the bus that brought us to the woods and after sorting through our bags and stuff we headed out to our first campsite. We left at about 8pm and were hiking until at least midnight. Luckily, I had bought both a fancy headlight and a small "lcd" flashlight. We hiked through the darkness and chatted with our new friends and tried to avoid twisting our ankles and busting our heads on low-lying branches. Luckily, I carried my flashlight which I could point down the path and I had my headlight to bring light to my feet. In darkness, having just a bit of light can make all the difference.

Likely, the writer of Psalm 119 had done his or her fair share of night walking, and knew the importance of having a lantern for one's feet, as well as a light for one's path. When walking along, we need to both see that our feet are properly set on the path, and also that we have a good sense of where we are going. Psalm 119 is a long hymn to the law and word of the Lord, which do provide a lantern to our feet and a light to our path. In the Hebrew scriptures, the law is not merely the rules and regulations for daily living, but also a great gift from God, a reminder that God's people have a particular role, and are to rely upon God - not on any human construct - for their trust and Faith.

In our rapidly changing post-modern world, it may seem old-fashioned or out of date, but turning to Holy Scripture as our light and lantern makes a great deal of sense. Of course, many of us are out of the practice of knowing how to read, mark, and inwardly digest the scriptures - but a great place to begin are the Psalms. The Psalms were the "prayer book of Jesus" as well as the prayer book for 20 centuries of monastics and other church mothers and fathers.

I pray that we may each find the light and lantern that God provides for us when we are in dark and rocky places. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

21 September 2009

Disturb us Lord

from Lauren Stanley's new blog/website "Go into the world"

A Prayer to be disturbed ...

Disturb us Lord, when we are too

well pleased with ourselves. When

our dreams have come true because

we dreamed too little. When we

arrive safely because we sailed

too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the

abundance of things we possess, we

have lost our thirst for the waters of

life; having fallen in love with life, we

have ceased to dream of eternity.

And in our efforts to build new earth

we have allowed our vision of the

new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,

To venture on wider seas, where

storms will show your mastery;

where losing sight of land, we shall

find the stars.

We ask you to push back the

horizons of our hopes, and to push

us into the future in strength,

courage, hope and love.


- Sir Francis Drake

Proper 21 - 27 September 2009 RCL Lectionary Readings

Proper 21
Year B

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

"Draw near to God" ...Sermon 20 Sept 2009

Sermon – 20 September 2009

Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Greenwood, VA

We are to hold fast to the things that endure, says our collect today.

A few years ago I went on an Outward Bound trip to North Carolina and the element that held the most interest for me was the rock climbing. I looked forward to the rock climbing with equal parts of excitement and dread. The day arrived for rock climbing, and somehow, I found myself upon the rock. Some cracks in the rock might be adequate for an expert climber, but for this beginner, I needed ledges and cracks that I could grasp and ones that could support me. And so, I found myself somehow moving my way up the rock, always on belay below from my trusted fellow pilgrims. I looked to the rock to find those places where I could hold fast but at times I did feel anxiety and fear – even though, I knew cognitively that if I fell, the rope would hold me. At moments my mind turned to anxiety about falling to the earth, about the unnatural place in which I had placed my body – 50 feet off the ground, 75 feet off the ground. I was not meant to be up here! And then I would feel my arms tighten, and I would feel my back tense up with fear of earthly things, fear and anxiety crept in when I forgot that I was always supported by a rope above, and my friends below. And I forgot that I was able to hold fast to this rock, this enduring rock that has crags and ledges seemingly made just for me.

And so it is for us, our minds and hearts turn to the earthly things that cause us anxiety, and of course this is totally understandable, we are concerned about our families, we are concerned about our jobs, about our environment, about the leadership of our communities, locally and nationally. We have concerns about our friends, colleagues and neighbors who are struggling, and we are concerned about our own selves, and whether we have the stamina to take on the challenges that life throw us. You see, anxiety is an understandable response – and we all have experienced it. . . more

19 September 2009

Diocese of Virginia celebrates Bishop Peter J. Lee's 25 years

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia will celebrate Bishop Peter James Lee’s 25 years of ministry on Saturday, September 19, with a silver jubilee and service of leave-taking at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia, at 10:30 a.m.

“Bishop Lee’s 25 years of ministry have been marked by a gracious wisdom and an ability to help build the church’s broad and welcoming center,” said Bishop Coadjutor Shannon S. Johnston of Virginia. “This is evident in the strength of our churches, our conference and retreat centers, the diocesan schools, and our clergy, who are marked by their diversity, both in their theological and liturgical dispositions, as well as in the breadth of their range of age and talents.”

Beginning October 1, Lee will continue his ministry in the Episcopal Church as interim dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, the largest Episcopal cathedral on the West Coast. He and his wife, Kristy, will move to San Francisco in the coming weeks. Johnston will succeed Lee and become the 13th bishop of Virginia on October 1.

18 September 2009

Great blogs, recently added to the blogroll...

I do a good bit of blog-surfing, and there are some great ones out there that I look forward to reading...here are a few that I highly recommend...

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

"Sacred Every Day" is a blog just launched by the Rev. Dr. Pamela Cooper-White who was a colleague of mine while I was being sponsored for ordination St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. She was an adjunct priest there and was a professor at Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia. She has now moved to Georgia and teaches at Columbia Seminary. She is a great writer, wonderful soul, and has now entered the community of Episcopal bloggers. Welcome her, and check out her blog here: http://pamelacooper-white.blogspot.com

"Fig Tree Notes" is a blog written by the Rev. Jim Lewis, a priest who has been dedicated to working for gospel-inspired social justice for several decades. He is a great writer and puts his body where his views are. To top it off, he was a great lacrosse player many years ago and had been on the board of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship a decade or so before I served on that board. Check out his blog here: http://www.figtreenotes.com

"Civil War Memory" is a blog written by Kevin Levin, a history teacher and Civil War historian in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is a good historian, a good writer, and I have enjoyed learning more about the Civil War, and also about politics and history from him. Check out his blog here: http://cwmemory.com

"Christ Episcopal Church Albertville" is a blog written by the Rev. David Kendrick, a colleague of mine from seminary who is bright, thoughtful, prayerful, and a great writer. He is prolific in his biblical and theological reflections and has done a great job with this blog, as well as with an earlier one in which he reflected on the Daily Office. Check out David's blog here: http://cec-albertville.blogspot.com

"Leading Thoughts from Triangle Associates" is a blog written by educational leaders who are hired to help revision and improve the leadership of educational institutions. Their reflections are helpful for anyone in a leadership position and I have enjoyed reading their posts. Check out the blog here: http://triangleassociates.typepad.com/weblog

"Costly Grace" is a blog written by the Archer of the Forest, a priest who has an eclectic style, is a good writer, and takes on all kinds of issues. I love seeing what he might post, and read everything he posts. Check out his blog here: http://costlygrace.blogspot.com

Brian McLaren to speak at VTS


I am delighted to announce today the Commencement speaker for 2010. Brian D. McLaren has accepted the Seminary’s invitation to issue the Charge to our graduating class on Thursday May 20, 2010.

Brian McLaren is a leading light in the ‘emerging church’ movement. He is a gifted communicator, a thoughtful theologian, and an inspiring leader of a congregation. As a communicator, Brian McLaren has appeared on a range of television and radio programs, including Larry King Live and Nightline. As a theologian, he comes to questions in theology with a remarkable breath partly because of his training and teaching experience in English Literature. And as a leader of a congregation, he was one of the founding members of Cedar Ridge Community Church – a strong and dynamic community. His writings have won awards and been widely praised. He offers a substantial critique of the Church in an accessible way. Among his many writings, there are The Church on the Other Side: Doing Ministry in the Postmodern Matrix, and A Generous Orthodoxy.

We are truly honored to have
Brian McLaren as our Commencement speaker.

The Very Rev Ian Markham
Dean and President

Virginia Theological Seminary

The way of life and peace

A Collect for Fridays
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

16 September 2009

Teach me to serve you as you deserve

Dear Lord, teach me to be generous;
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To labour and not to seek reward,
Save that of knowing that I do your will.
Ignatius Loyola

15 September 2009

Sermon prep ... Proverbs 31:10-31; Psalm 1; James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a ; Mark 9:30-37 - wordle.net images

Proverbs 31:10-31

Psalm 1

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

Mark 9:30-37

The Ethicist weighs in on who should teach Sunday School

from "Religious News Service" (RNS) blog today...(and I've also reposted my comment on this question, what do you think?)

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Last Friday's "The Ethicist" column in The New York Times posed an interesting question.

"B.J.," a Catholic Sunday school teacher from Washington, asks Randy Cohen, the Times' resident ethicist, whether one must always teach what the church teaches, even if one disagrees with the church on the matter.

Cohen answers: "Your church asked you to teach a class in Catholic doctrine, not one in B. J.'s views of Catholic doctrine, a reasonable, if personally inhibiting, request. But to give students a real understanding of both this doctrine and the state of the modern church, you may - you should - provide some context. It is a matter of fact, and not a trivial one, that many Catholics differ with their church on all sorts of things.... To note that opinions differ within your religious community would be to convey something objectively true, pertinent to the discussion and informative for the students. You would not be offering your personal views, which are beside the point in this setting. Indeed, a Jew or a Muslim, a Hindu or an atheist, could honorably teach this class using these guidelines, giving the students a rich understanding of the subject without broaching the teacher's personal beliefs."

I'd be interested in hearing people's reactions to that last line. Can an atheist, within Cohen's guidelines, really teach Catholic Sunday school?


I think this answer hinges on Cohen’s definition of “honorably teach” - that is, could a non-believer teach the tenets of a particular faith “honorably.” I guess I agree, from one perspective, (as a teacher for over 15 years) that a good teacher could teach material, whether or not they ascribed to it (as in, one could teach about fascism, evolution, Christianity or any topic) without necessarily believing in it.

On the other hand, when a church (or other body of faith) has people teaching others about the faith, my thinking is that we would like people to be able to speak from the heart - to relate the “material” to one’s life (full disclosure, I am an Episcopal Priest). There may be different opinions (for instance) on interpretation of scripture, and a good teacher may lay out the various approaches - and would (ideally) also offer their own approach and the ways that scripture informs their life.

If someone cares deeply about the subject matter, and if one’s life is spiritually and intellectually shaped by their faith, I believe the teaching would be all the better…

Peter Carey+

14 September 2009

Prayer: The Five-Finger Prayer


1. Your thumb is nearest you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C. S. Lewis once said, a "sweet duty."

2. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.

3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.

4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.

5. And lastly comes our little finger - the smallest finger of all which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, "The least shall be the greatest among you." Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

from HERE

Lectionary Readings for Sunday 20 September 2009 - Proper 20 Year B

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 1 Page 585, BCP

Beatus vir qui non abiit

Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, *
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seats of the scornful!
Their delight is in the law of the LORD, *
and they meditate on his law day and night.
They are like trees planted by streams of water,
bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither; *
everything they do shall prosper.
It is not so with the wicked; *
they are like chaff which the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes, *
nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.
For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, *
but the way of the wicked is doomed.

Proverbs 31:10-31

A capable wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant,
she brings her food from far away.
She rises while it is still night
and provides food for her household
and tasks for her servant girls.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength,
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor,
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid for her household when it snows,
for all her household are clothed in crimson.
She makes herself coverings;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the city gates,
taking his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she supplies the merchant with sashes.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her happy;
her husband too, and he praises her:
"Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a share in the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the city gates.

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

Mark 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again." But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."

13 September 2009

Proper 19: Year B (RCL) - September 13, 2009 Lectionary Readings via wordle.net

O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Here are the readings

Wisdom of Solomon 7:26-8:1

Psalm 19

James 3:1-12

Mark 8: 27-38

12 September 2009

Personal Jesus; the Presiding Bishop, Johnny Cash, and Depeche Mode

Johnny Cash's take:

Depeche Mode's take:

Congrats to Scott Benhase, Bishop-Elect for the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia

[from www.georgiabishopsearch.org and Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Scott Benhase was elected September 12 as tenth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

Benhase, 52, rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. (Diocese of Washington), was elected on the second ballot out of a field of six nominees. He received 76 votes of 146 cast in the lay order and 58 of 103 cast in the clergy order. An election on that ballot required 74 in the lay order and 53 in the clergy order.

The election took place during the diocese's 188th annual convention at the Dubose Porter Center, a business and training center in Dublin, Georgia.

Under the canons of the Episcopal Church (III.11.4), a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan Standing Committees must consent to Benhase's ordination as bishop within 120 days of receiving notice of the election.

Providing he receives the required consents, Benhase will succeed Georgia's ninth bishop, Henry I. Louttit, who has served the diocese since January 1995. The ordination and consecration is set for January 23, 2010 at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.

Benhase, who graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary, served congregations in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia before being called to St. Alban's in 2006. He is married to Kelly Jones Benhase and they have three children, John, 21; Charley, 18 and Mary Grace, 16.

More information about Benhase, including a video presentation and answers to the search committee's questions, is available here.

Also look http://www.georgiabishopsearch.org/ for more

11 September 2009

Life is short, 9/11/01

All too often we are reminded that life is short. On this day, September 11th, most of us in my generation (and probably the generation older and younger), who were too young to remember Pearl Harbor, will most definitely remember this day 8 years ago. I remember well that I was speaking to the Middle School chapel at Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia and I was speaking about the power of prayer. A good friend of mine has a father who attributes the healing of his inoperable tumor to the prayers of those around him. I was offering this testimony as a way for students to think deeper than their usual skepticism and agnosticism about the power of God in our lives today.

As the chapel ended, the Upper School entered the chapel along with the Head of School and other teachers, and then announcement was made about the World Trade Center, the Airplane in Western Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon. The chapel was an appropriate place to be, and I am grateful that I taught at a school where the chapel was where we gathered for celebration, for worship, and for mourning. We took time for prayer and offered support to our students and faculty - some of whom had relatives who worked in the World Trade Center.

I remember well the strangely quiet, clear skies above Philadelphia on those days when we all looked to one another, flew flags in support of our common loss, and looked to find meaning in what appeared to be a hopeless time. May we remember the unity that we felt in those hours, and may we remember that life is short, so that we may Choose Life!

Life is short,
And we do not have much time
To gladden the hearts of those
Who travel the way with us.
So be swift to be kind,
And as we go,
May the blessing, the love,
the joy, and the peace
Of the Holy One
Who is in the midst of us
Be among you and remain with you

(adapted from the French Poet Henri Amiel)

Remembering 911

from Episcopal Cafe:

Remembering 911

Today is the 8th anniversery on the attacks of Sept. 11th. A number of congregations and community groups will be marking the passing around the country. Prof. Deirdre Good writes of what will be happening in Manhattan:

"Friday's commemoration at
Ground Zero includes a reading of all the victims' names and a moment of silence to mark the impact of the two hijacked planes and the collapse of the towers. Beams pointing skyward will be lit at night from Ground Zero."

10 September 2009

Todays stories at the Episcopal Cafe

Today was my first day doing the "news blogging" at the Episcopal Cafe. If you don't know about Episcopal Cafe, it is an online news, opinion, and art blog sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. Every day the Episcopal Cafe has an opinion/reflection essay from a wide variety of writers who write "The Daily Episcopalian," there are also news stories posted at "The Lead" each day, there is a daily reflection on the saints and feasts of the church, "Speaking to the Soul," and there are also periodic videos and art posted on the site.

My role today was to find and post news stories in the "Lead" section of the Cafe. It was good fun, and I am excited to be working with some great folks who are the other newsblogging editors.

Here is a roundup of what's been going on at The Episcopal Cafe today, and if you don't read it daily, you really should!

The Daily Episcopalian today was a wonderful piece written by Daniel Schell, who tells of his participation in a peace witness in Basque:

"We’d just arrived in the Basque country for a visit with my daughter when an ETA car bomb killed Eduardo Puelles Garcia, a Spanish police anti-terrorism investigator in Bilbao. Patxi Lopez, newly elected president of Spain’s Basque autonomous region (Uskadi/Communidad Autonoma Vasca) called for a peace witness, and my daughter and her partner asked if we wanted to join them in the march, which is how we found ourselves marching with 60,000 secular and Catholic Basques and Spaniards to reclaim their city and community of for peace.

Half an hour before the witness was scheduled to begin we joined the growing crowd outside government offices by the Plaza Sagrado Corazon. A police line diverted traffic from the Gran Via de Diego Lopez, a broad two kilometer long boulevard across the city, and though the anti-terrorism squad had taped garbage cans and bins shut, I wondered what we were risking - were we and the Basque President making ourselves targets? Was it too easy to join this crowd? No random searches. Not even any evident perimeter security or observation."

The Lead had the following stories today:

Protecting oneself in worship, weapons or helmets?

"On Faith" at the Washington Post/Newsweek blog notes that some worshipers are bringing weapons to worship in order to protect themselves.

"Some New York-area rabbis are planning to bring weapons to High Holy Day services this month to guard against terrorist threats. In June, a Kentucky pastor invited his congregation members to bring their firearms to church to celebrate the Second Amendment."

Angel in the airport

NPR online

Chester Cook knows he can always find a lost soul at the re-ticketing counter in Terminal A at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. So he goes there each day, plants himself near the line and scans faces.
"I'm normally looking for someone who's having a meltdown," Cook says.

Bishops care about health care

From Episcopal News Service

A group of Episcopal bishops plan to travel to Washington, D.C., the week of September 14 to lobby on Capitol Hill in support of health-care reform.

Anglican imaginations run wild
After yesterday's Daily Episcopalian essay by Frank M. Turner, the blog-landscape was buzzing with responses, applauds, critiques, hand-wringing, and much good thought, all in all.

Women targeted by religious leaders

Many Women Targeted by Faith Leaders, Survey Says
By Jacqueline L. Salmon writing in The Washington Post's "On Faith" blog

One in every 33 women who attend worship services regularly has been the target of sexual advances by a religious leader, a survey released Wednesday says.

Obama preaches the moral we

"Episcopalian Diana Butler Bass notes that President Obama urged the nation to see health care through the lens of the "moral we"

"Tonight was about the moral "we." President Obama delivered a hope-filled speech that called us to stop being part of a camp--and instead see our "camp" as the wider American family. Those of us who are rich, who are poor, who are in-between, those who are ill, who are healthy, who one day may be infirm. We are in this together. He made the case that we need each other, that we have a common purpose of caring for each other and making a better future together. He did it inclusively--inclusive in his ethical reach, inclusive in his political reach, inclusive in his reach toward civility."

Unintended alliances

In The Guardian (UK), Episcopal Cafe Senior Editor Jim Naughton writes a response to the Question of the Week, "What is the future for Anglican conservatives?"

...if Rowan Williams succeeds in his misguided effort to establish a single-issue magisterium that determines a church's influence within the communion, a significant risk remains. That risk is run not by the Anglican left, which has nothing practical to lose, nor by the Anglican right, whose leaders embarrass less easily than Donald Trump and don't fear public opprobrium. Rather, the parties at risk are the Church of England and the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which may find themselves at the head of a communion synonymous with the agenda of the American right.

The Video section is running a fine youtube video of the Rev. Frank Wade speaking about the theology of General Convention:

"God speaks through every level of the Church, and we cannot be confident of God's direction until we have heard from all the levels," says the Rev. Frank Wade.

The Speaking to the Soul was a reflection on Alexander Crummell, here is a bit of it:

Daily Reading for September 10 • Alexander Crummell, 1898

"So the man groped for light; all this was not Life,--it was the world-wandering of a soul in search of itself, the striving of one who vainly sought his place in the world, ever haunted by the shadow of a death that is more than death,--the passing of a soul that has missed its duty. Twenty years he wandered,--twenty years and more; and yet the hard rasping question kept gnawing within him, “What, in God’s name, am I on earth for?” In the narrow New York parish his soul seemed cramped and smothered. In the fine old air of the English University he heard the millions wailing over the sea. In the wild fever-cursed swamps of West Africa he stood helpless and alone. . . .The Valley of the Shadow of Death gives few of its pilgrims back to the world."

The Art Blog is running art about "dissolving barriers" as a part of the Ubuntu art project:

"The new exhibition opening at Episcopal Church & Visual Arts this week is titled 'Art as Public Narrative: ECVA Imaging Ubuntu.' Designed as a visual collaboration with the work of TEC's Executive Council, the show's call challenged artists around the country to submit work that illustrated the Zulu concept of Ubuntu."

The miracles of the church, from Willa Cather

The miracles of the church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.

~Willa Cather in Death Comes for the Archbishop

hat tip to Sarah at "My Wonderings" blog

September 10 - Feast of Alexander Crummell, Priest, Missionary, and Educator

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Alexander Crummell, whom you called to preach the Gospel to those who were far off and to those who were near. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Read more at the Episcopal Cafe:

"I can see his face still, dark and heavy-lined beneath his snowy hair; lighting and shading, now with inspiration for the future, now in innocent pain at some human wickedness, now with sorrow at some hard memory from the past. The more I met Alexander Crummell, the more I felt how much that world was losing which knew so little of him. In another age he might have sat among the elders of the land in purple-bordered toga; in another country mothers might have sung him to the cradles.

He did his work,--he did it nobly and well; and yet I sorrow that here he worked alone, with so little human sympathy. His name to-day, in this broad land, means little, and comes to fifty million ears laden with no incense of memory or emulation. And herein lies the tragedy of the age: not that men are poor,--all men know something of poverty; not that men are wicked,--who is good? not that men are ignorant,-- what is Truth? Nay, but that men know so little of men."

From “Of Alexander Crummell” in The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois (1903).

And, at Padre Mickey:

"Today is the feast of Alexander Crummell. He was an African-American and fought racism all of his life. He was born on March 3, 1819, in New York City. His father, Boston Crummell, was a former slave, while his mother, Charity Hicks, was a freeborn black woman. Both of his parents were very active in the Abolition Movement, and the first black newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, was published in their home. Their values guided him throughout his life. His father told him stories of his life back in Africa before he was captured, and these stories created a sense of unity with the people in Africa, as well as with those of African heritage in the Americas and throughout the world. He was also educated in Abolitionism by working with the American Anti-Slavery Society in New York during his youth. He was an intelligent person and one who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. His tenacity and perseverance were important parts of his personality and were instrumental in his success."

09 September 2009

Leave some gaps

This is just the kind of "nonsense" that I needed to read...!

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence, there would be no rhythm. If we strive to be happy by filling in the silences of life with sound, productive by turning all life’s leisure into work, and real by turning all our being into doing, we will only succeed in producing a hell on earth. If we have not silence, God is not heard in our music. If we have not rest, God does not bless our work. If we twist our lives out of shape in order to fill every corner of them with action and experience, God will seem silently to withdraw from our hearts and leave us empty.

Thomas Merton, Through the Year With Thomas Merton

The Need for Creeds - from Speaking of Faith

Jeroslav Pelikan on "The Need for Creeds"

This is a must-listen, for all those who would like to abolish, rewrite, or otherwise obliterate the creeds from our worship experience.

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son*].
With the Father and the Son
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Masai Creed

We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created man and wanted man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the earth. We have known this High God in the darkness, and now we know him in the light. God promised in the book of his word, the Bible, that he would save the world and all nations and tribes.

We believe that God made good his promise by sending his son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left his home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing that the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He was buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, he rose from that grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through him. All who have faith in him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love, and share the bread together in love, to announce the good news to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.