31 October 2009

Congrats to Brian Prior the bishop-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Congrats to the Rev. Brian Prior and blessings on him and his family, and on all candidates who stood for election.
brian prior photo slight crop
~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

From the Diocese of Minnesota website:

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota is pleased to announce that the Rev. Brian Prior has been elected IX Bishop of Minnesota.

Prior has been the Rector of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Spokane, Washington since 1996. Among the many boards and committees on which he serves, Rev. Prior is the Vice President of the House of Deputies of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. He received his M.Div. from Church Divinity of the Pacific in Berkeley, California in 1987. Rev. Prior has been married to Staci Hubbard Prior for 21 years. They have two teenage sons.


All Hallows Eve, prayers and reflections

Prayers (Collects) from the "Service for All Hallow's Eve" Book of Occasional Services:
Almighty and everliving God, you have made all things in your wisdom and established the boundaries of life and death:  Grant that we may obey your voice in this world, and in the world to come may enjoy that rest and peace which you have appointed for your people; through Jesus Christ who is Resurrection and Life, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.
You, O Lord have made us from the dust of the earth and to dust our bodies shall return; yet you have also breathed your Spirit upon us and called us to new life in you:  Have mercy upon us, now and at the hour of our death; through Jesus Christ, our mediator and advocate.  Amen.
O God, you have called your people to your service from age to age.  Do not give us over to death, but raise us up to serve you, to praise you, and to glorify your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
O most merciful and mighty God, your son Jesus Christ was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary to bring us salvation and to establish your kingdom on earth:  Grant that Michael and all your angels may defend your people against Satan and every evil foe, and that at the last we may come to that heavenly country, where your sants for ever sing your praise; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Within our Christian Tradition, this weekend is one of the "big holidays" of All Saints Day.  In some sense, this holiday recognizes All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day.  On the 31st of October, we celebrate the "Eve" of All Saints and within the tradition it has been a day to recognize that there are often "thin places" and "thin times" between the living and the dead.  The tradition of dressing up as scary figures has its roots in the idea that on this eve of All Saints people would dress up to scare away any minor dark spirits that might be thought to be wandering around.  The reality is that the power of God and the victory of Christ obliterates and makes insignificant any minor devilish spirits in the world.  God's goodness and Christ's work and the Holy Spirit's presence are all enough to drive away even the thought of these minor demons.  Dressing up in silly and scary costumes recognizes the fact that God has secured the victory.

All Saints Day is the day when we recognize all the saints and pray that we might join in the heavenly banquet, so that "we may come to that heavenly country where your saints for ever sing" the praises of God.  Following All Saints Day is All Souls Day, the commemoration of the faithful departed, when the church has traditionally prayed for those who have died over the course of the last year, praying for their entry into that heavenly country.  This day is also celebrates as the Dia de los Muertes, "Day of the Dead" and there are some incredible festivals and celebrations in Hispanic cultures.  Lately, in many churches, this recognition of the "saints" who have died in the last year has moved into the Sunday service of All Saints, and we can recognize all the saints who have gone on before us.

But, today is All Hallows Eve when we have fun dressing up, recognizing the power of God over any other powers in the world, celebrating that victory and goodness.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

30 October 2009

"What I found in "Lost"" posted at Episcopal Cafe

My most recent Daily Episcopalian essay was posted over at Episcopal Cafe this week:  "What I found in Lost" is a reflection on finding some wisdom for the church in this rich television show.

Here's an excerpt:

"At first, the viewer is merely observant of behavior and dialogue of characters stuck on this island. However, as time goes by, like an onion being peeled, we are treated to see the stories of each of these characters. The viewer sees how one character ends up in the custody of a federal marshal, how another character becomes a priest without ordination, how another loses, and regains, use of his legs, and how another becomes a multi-millionaire."

Check it out HERE...

~The Rev. Peter M Carey

He stooped and heard my cry, Psalm 40

Psalm 40: 1-3, 17-19

I waited patiently upon the LORD; *
he stooped to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay; *
he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure.

He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God; *
many shall see, and stand in awe,
and put their trust in the LORD.

Let all who seek you rejoice in you and be glad; *
let those who love your salvation continually say,
"Great is the LORD!"

Though I am poor and afflicted, *
the Lord will have regard for me.

You are my helper and my deliverer; *
do not tarry, O my God.

The psalmist reminds us that within the Old Testament tradition the Lord was counted on to "stoop" down to us, and to hear our cry.  When the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, the Lord heard their cries and gave them a deliverer - an unlikely leader, one who was slow in speech, a murderer on the run - Moses.  God heard their cries, and stooped down to them, and offered them a deliverer, aided ably by his brother Aaron and so began that central story of the Exodus which has inspired so many people to rise up against slavery and injustice.

The psalmist reminds us that there is a long story of redemption, of giving freedom and new life to people through the actions of a loving God who is active and generous.  In Jesus we have another deliverer, one writ large upon the canvas of the universe.  In Jesus we have an even more unlikely deliverer, an even more unlikely redeemer.  In Jesus, God stoops down not only to hear and rescue, but stoops down to become human, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us - but in doing this work of Incarnation, God has written a new story, a new story of redemption, of delivering us to new life, of sparking the onset of the Kingdom of God.

The psalmist reminds us that this "stooping" by God is in God's nature, that God is loving and merciful and that we will not live in the mire of the pit for long.  God hears our cries, and has already provided a way out.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

28 October 2009

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

Canticle 15 The Song of Mary
Magnificat Luke 1:46-55
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.
Have you read this prayer?  Have you heard this prayer sung?  How many times?  This prayer, this "Song of Mary," otherwise known as the Magnificat, has been set to music and is said often in Evensong in a great variety of churches.  I would say, however, that we probably need to visit it again, to attempt to see it with new eyes, to hear it with new ears, and to experience it as if we had never experienced it before.  This Song of Mary is a prayer sung to God with the awareness that God has lifted up the lowly, that God does care about the hungry, that God has remembered his promise of mercy, and that God will remember this promise to the children of Abraham for ever!  This is a song of praise and thanksgiving in awareness of God's glory, and God's compassion for all those in need, all those in turmoil, all those who suffer.  This Song of Mary is a song sung to God by a young woman who has very little materially, and this woman will suffer and will see her son suffer.  This young woman is aware of the sufferings of the world but also has had a great window opened in her awareness of God's and God's love for all God's people. The transformation of the world has begun, and Mary is aware of this illumination, this metamorphosis, this radical change that God is doing in the world.

Have you read this prayer recently?

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

Phyllis Tickel interviewed ...

Phyllis  Tickel is a leading figure in the Emerging Church movement.  She is a thoughtful writer and speaker on the church, and on the ways that some "new" forms of practicing our faith actually have their roots in "old" ancient forms of Christianity.  She was recently interviewed after speaking at a conference, and speaks with great humor and wisdom about our Christian Faith.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

27 October 2009

O Gracious Light, Phos hilaron

 O Gracious Light, Phos hilaron
O gracious light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of Life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

"Episcopalians: We are..." singers and musicians

I am beginning a new series of posts, "Episcopalians: We are __________"

Here's the first, Episcopalians: We are singers and musicians:

More to come,

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Faithfulness, a two-way street


Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with a song.

Know this: The Lord himself is God;
he himself has made us, and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and call upon his Name.

For the Lord is good;
his mercy is everlasting;
and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

It wasn't until rather recently that I became aware of the way that faith (and faithfulness) works like a two-way street.  I had really always thought that faith was something that "we had" in God, or in something else.  For example, we have faith (or trust, really) that the earth will continue to rotate causing us to see "the sun come up" each day.  We, in the church, make claims all the time about having faith in God and the benefits when we "have" this attribute.

The other lane of this two-way street is what is mentioned in the Jubilate, which is a prayer/hymn that we often say during Morning Prayer.  In it, we pray and we affirm that "the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his faithfulness endures from age to age."  Here, it is God's faithfulness that endures.  Here is it God's faithfulness that gives us hope and joy.  "Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands."  This is a recognition of the active and dynamic way that the scriptures describe God, God is not merely a figure sitting on some holy throne far away, rather, God is being faithful.  God is being faithful to us, to God's own promises, to God's love for the world and all her peoples.  In John's gospel, we learn that God is love, and one could say that God's faithfulness to His love for us is central and is a bedrock of our own faith as well.

We should find great comfort in the fact that the God in whom we put our trust, the God in whom we have faith, also is faithful to us, and is faithful to us to the end.  "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."  God is ever faithful to us.  Now, that is something that can rouse me from my spiritual slumber on this rainy Fall day!

"the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his faithfulness endures from age to age."

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

26 October 2009

Yes Halloween is Christian, wonderfully so - said Bishop Shannon Johston in 2005

The bishop of Virginia, the Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston, wrote a great article back in 2005 about his understanding of, and his support of, Halloween. I am posting the entire article here as it is a wonderful argument for why Christians can support Halloween in good conscience. So dress up, have a great day, and be sure to also go to church this Sunday on All Saints Day!

~ Rev. Peter M. Carey

The Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston (written before he was consecrated bishop and posted on October 26, 2005)

When I was a child, I loved Halloween. All of my family participated enthusiastically, decorating our house with witches, devils, black cats, and ghosts. It was innocent fun, filled with imagination and creativity. Looking back, what made Halloween so great for this child was its contrast of silliness and fright, the supernatural and the known, the permitted and the forbidden, the secretive and the public. Halloween was unique; no other occasion was anything like it.

 As an adult––and as a priest––I still love Halloween. And I do mean HALLOWEEN, not a “Fall Festival” or the like. Every year, I carve two pumpkins–one playfully smiling and the other “very scary.” I love seeing the children’s costumes and making a big fuss over them. How sad now that Halloween is being spoiled and even taken away from us by the absolutely outrageous ideas that it is “satanic,” pagan, or of the occult. Such notions are poorly informed, terribly misguided, and absolutely untrue. There are many materials circulating these days, all pretending some sort of scholarly knowledge and/or religious authority, that strive to show that Halloween is “really” celebrating the powers of darkness. In response, I must be absolutely clear: pretenses of authority notwithstanding, these materials are at great odds with centuries of commonly accepted theology, not to mention scholarship with proven accreditation. The so-called “exposure” of Halloween is nothing more than a skewed, self-serving agenda from various churches that make up only a tiny minority of Christianity, indeed a minority within Protestantism.

Of course I am aware that satanists, Wiccans, and other occult groups are indeed active on October 31. It is also true that some pseudo-spiritualists and some plain ole’ nut-cases use Halloween as an excuse to act out. NONE OF THIS CHANGES WHAT HALLOWEEN ACTUALLY IS OR WHAT IT MEANS IN THE CHURCH’S LIFE AND WITNESS.Much of the occult association with the day arose long after the Church’s observances began in the mid 300's. Our answer to those Christians who bristle at the celebration of Halloween is that we will not allow occultists to steal it away from God’s Church. Moreover, several Christian observances have pre-Christian ancestry or pagan parallels (the date of Christmas, for example).  Whatever the case, the fact is that the Christian truths proclaimed on such days are not affected.

A big part of the problem here comes from the people who do not understand the Liturgical Year because their churches do not follow it. It’s hard to keep a clear perspective on something so rooted in history and tradition if you belong to a church that has no such roots, or to one that rejects as irrelevant or “suspect” the ancient practices from the earliest Christian centuries.

The bottom line is Halloween’s relationship to All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1), one of the Church’s seven “Principal Feasts.” The celebration of any Principal Feast may begin on the evening before––thus, Christmas Eve, Twelfth Night (before Epiphany), Easter Eve (the Great Vigil), etc. Halloween is simply the eve of All Saints’ Day, which is also a baptismal feast. The great truth behind Halloween’s revels is that which we declare at every baptism: “YOU ARE SEALED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT IN BAPTISM AND ARE MARKED AS CHRIST’S OWN FOREVER.”

The most important thing to remember is this: Halloween is the time when Christians proclaim and celebrate the fact that Satan and the occult have no power over us and cannot disrupt our relationship with our Lord and Redeemer, as long as we live faithfully to Christ. We show this by making fun of such pretenders, lampooning them in their face. This is why our costumes and decorations certainly should be witches, devils, and ghosts. In the victory of Christ, Christians are privileged to do this and we must not be timid about it!

Ours is not a fearful faith, cowering from the prospect of falling unawares into Satan’s grasp. In God’s grace and your faithfulness, you ARE Christ’s own forever. Nothing supersedes that fact.  Halloween is therefore one of the boldest Christian witnesses, precisely because of its highly public, graphic, and lampooning nature. Personally, I suspect that those who cannot embrace this are living a fear-driven and even insecure faith. If so, they have bigger problems than the highjinks of Halloween.

In Christ,

William Temple

The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.
~William Temple

O God, who by your Holy Spirit give to some the word of wisdom, to others the word of knowledge, and to others the word of faith: We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested in your servant William Temple, and we pray that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

from James Keifer:
William Temple, October 27, 1944

Temple's admirers have called him "a philosopher, theologian, social teacher, educational reformer, and the leader of the ecumenical movement of his generation," "the most significant Anglican churchman of the twentieth century," "the most renowned Primate in the Church of England since the English Reformation," "Anglican's most creative and comprehensive contribution to the theological enterprise of the West." One of his biographers lists him (along with Richard Hooker, Joseph Butler, and Frederick Denison Maurice) as one of the Four Great Doctors of the Anglican Communion.
Ronald Knox described him thus:
A man so broad, to some he seem'd to be
Not one, but all Mankind in Effigy.
Who, brisk in Term, a Whirlwind in the Long,
Did everything by turns, and nothing wrong.
Bill'd at each Lecture-Hall from Thames to Tyne,
As Thinker, Usher, Statesman, or Divine.
George Bernard Shaw called him, "a realized impossibility."
Who was this remarkable person?

William Temple, 98th Archbishop of Canterbury, was born in 1881, the second son of Frederick Temple (born 1821, priest 1847, headmaster of Rugby 1857, Bishop of Exeter 1869, Bishop of London 1884, Archbishop of Canterbury 1897, died 1902). At the age of two, he had the first attack of the gout that would be with him throughout life and eventually kill him. His eyesight was bad, and a cataract, present from infancy, left him completely blind in the right eye when he was 40. However, he was an avid reader, with a near-photographic memory, and once he had read a book, it was his. He was a passionate lover of the music of Bach. In literature, his special enthusiasms were poetry (Browning and Shelley), drama (the Greeks and Shakespeare), and a few novels, especially The Brothers Karamazov. He believed that theological ideas were often explored most effectively by writers who were not explicitly writing theology.

Read more HERE 

image from wikipedia

God animates our lives

The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.
Habakkuk 2:20

Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.  
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.Alleluia. The earth is the Lord's for he made it: Come let us adore him. Alleluia.

In the morning prayer service this morning, I noted the transition between "let all earth keep silence before him," and "Lord, open our lips."  I don't know what your household is like in the morning, but here, the "whole earth is not keeping silence before him," unless I drag my backside out of bed at 5 am before the kids and spouse awake.  Here, we are involved in the holy (and sometimes unholy) chaos of washing, dressing, feeding, packing up lunches, (maybe a bit of cleaning), and then out the door.

I've been feeling a pull towards silence, but it can be hard to find it amidst the crazy swirl of this life.  However, when I can take a moment (as I did a few minutes ago) to read Morning Prayer, and have a few minutes of reflection with Bach's Cello Suites on in the background, I can tap into the great river of the Holy Spirit that is around us always.

I think the transition from the opening sentence from Habakkuk, and the Invitatory "Lord Open Our Lips" is quite good.  The reality is that what happens between these two is the confession, where we turn our hearts to ponder the things that we have done and the things which we have not done which we are not so happy about, and are things that take us away from the awareness of God in our lives.  Sin is a heavy topic, and theologians can write tomes about it, but we all know that we are not so happy about some of our actions, words, and even thoughts.  Luckily, we have the opportunity to praise God and then to offer our confession, and then to ask that the "Lord open our lips"...out of silence we care called into speaking, out of sleep, we are called into action, and it is helpful to remember that God animates us and all that we do.

Peace and Blessings on this Monday,

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

All Saints Day - Lectionary Readings - RCL Year B

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.

24 October 2009

Proper 25 - Year B - RCL readings for 25October2009

Image courtesy of wordle.net

Pleiades and Orion, Amos 5:8

Seek him who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning, and darkens the day into night; who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth: The Lord is his name.

Amos 5:8

Some people find the Bible to be a boring book, it can seem so old (and odd), it can seem to be addressing things of a bygone era that has not much relevance to today...on the other hand, I think that one of the real mistakes is to think that the Bible is entirely made up of one thing alone.  Have you read Amos recently?  Have you read Amos at all? I encourage you to take a look, and before you do, do a bit of background - heck, read the wikipedia page on Amos, or any brief introduction.  Even better, take a look at the VTS (Virginia Theological Seminary) "Bible Brief" on Amos, which you can find HERE.  Amos is an unlikely prophet, a "nonprofessional" prophet who has much to say about the political and social structures of his time.  He is willing to "call a spade a spade," in all sorts of ways.  Beyond all this, there is great beauty in this prophetic book of the Bible, as evidenced by the above quote.

Seek him who made the Pleiades and Orion, 
and turns deep darkness into the morning, and darkens the day into night; 
who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth: 
The Lord is his name.

It may sound old fashioned, it may sound crazy, but we would do well to pick up the Bible and read!  And, check out Amos!

In the name of Christ and the Lord who made the Pleades and Orion,

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey  

Congrats to Ian Douglas, bishop-elect of Connecticut

The Rev. Dr. Ian T. Douglas

From Rev. Dr. Douglas's page at EDS

The Rev. Dr. Ian T. Douglas is a passionate educator and activist for the worldwide mission of God. A recognized leader in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, Professor Douglas is a member of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, member of the Design Group for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and member-elect of the Anglican Consultative Council as a priest representing The Episcopal Church.

When not in the classroom at EDS, Professor Douglas travels extensively around the world pursuing activities dedicated to promoting reconciliation in the Anglican Communion. He is widely published in missiology, the mission history of The Episcopal Church, and postcolonial perspectives on Anglican ecclesiology. His most recent book is Understanding the Windsor Report: Two Leaders in the American Church Speak Across the Divide, with Paul Zahl (Church Publishing). Professor Douglas is currently engaged as one of four co-editors of the ground-breaking worldwide study: Oxford University Press Handbook of Anglican Studies. Dedicated to helping The Episcopal Church live faithfully into God's mission through the Millennium Development Goals, Professor Douglas is co-founder and vice chair of the Board of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation. Sought after widely as a speaker and mission organizer, Professor Douglas has been quoted in almost every major syndicated newspaper in the United States including The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, and The San Francisco Examiner, as well as appearing on The ABC Evening News, PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, CNN, and the BBC.

Hat tip to twitter, and Episcopal Cafe...


"Douglas has accepted. I am humbled, I am honored, and I accept." #epct

Second Ballot:
NEEDED: 144 clergy; 121 lay.
Curry, C:79;L:73
Delcuze, C:23;L:17
Douglas, C:169 L:150
Fain, C:2; L:0

Visit Dr. Douglas's page on the diocese's bishop search site, or at Episcopal Divinity School, where he is Angus Dun Professor of Mission and World Christianity.

A suggestion from Facebook

I wonder if I should be worried?

I guess I need to pray.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

23 October 2009

Humility and contrition, Isaiah 57:15

Thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy, "I dwell in the high and holy place and also with the one who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite." Isaiah 57:15

From Isaiah we hear the words of the Lord, lifting up the spirits of the humble, and giving life to the heart of the contrite.  Humility and contrition are not big buzz-words out there in the media or popular culture, but we are most often impressed when we encounter someone who genuinely is humble and who lives that life.  Recently, I had the opportunity to work with such a person on a project and it was a gift indeed.  This person worked hard, and yet deflected attention away from herself to the other people in the group and through her actions and her presence we all began to adopt some aspect of her spirit of humility.  Instead of worrying about who would get credit, or be anxious about status, we concentrated on completing the tasks, and also on lifting each other up along the way.  

To be contrite is to long for atonement, to recognize and feel sorrow for what we have done wrong.  Like humility, this is something that needs to grow from within us.  Or, put better, this needs to be planted in us by the Spirit and then we have to somehow recognize it and allow it to grow.  When many people talk about being humble and contrite it can sound like "fire and brimstone" and people can use guilt to inspire them.  It is far better to open up the possibility that there is a blessed landscape open to us when we recognize that being humble (however hard that can be), and being contrite (even if it does not come naturally to us) are gifts to us.

In the Episcopal Church, we say the confession of sin in our worship.  While many people get hung up on the topic of sin (and sin itself!) because of bad theology and bad preaching, the reality is that taking the time to reflect upon our lives and our failings is an important part of the spiritual life.  Getting hung up on sin without recognizing God's gift of forgiveness is not helpful, but without going deep into "what we have done and what we have left undone" will not prove as fruitful or helpful.

In today's Daily Office this morning posted online (HERE) there was a longer confession of sin which is quite good, I've reposted it below.  I pray that we all might cultivate humility and contrition so that we might be able to accept fully God's gift of the Kingdom of God.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.
Most holy and merciful Father:
We confess to you and to one another,
and to the whole communion of saints
in heaven and on earth,
that we have sinned by our own fault
in thought, word, and deed;
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, Lord.
We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, Lord.
We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to you, Lord.
Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people,
We confess to you, Lord.
Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.
Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,
We confess to you, Lord.
Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.
Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.
For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.
For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.
Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.
Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.
By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life. Amen.

22 October 2009

"Lions and Tigers and Bears and former Anglicans becoming Roman Catholic, oh my!"

Lots of ink, and plenty of digital code, has been spent on the actions by the Vatican to reach out to some former Anglicans and allow them a way to become Roman Catholic.  Is this a big deal, or not?  Is this a major historical moment, or a move of pastoral and ecclesial care for a few (very few, it seems) people without a denominational home?  Is this a way to get a toe in the door in favor of doing away with the celibate Roman priesthood?  Is this a move by the Pope to drive a wedge into the Anglican Communion?  Time will tell.

I tend to agree with Diana Butler Bass, who is not so surprised by the move and who blogged about it at her BeliefNet blog. "Vatican Woos Conservative Anglicans: This is News?"

Here were my  responses to this announcement....[warning!  humor!  warning! attempts at humor! warning!]
~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

My first response, was (warning, lame attempt at humor!):

Apropos of some people thinking the Pope has to invite us to Rome...

(I love Audrey Hepburn!)

My second response was an image I lifted from Wikipedia along with this comment:  Are some of the lines on this image now coming together?  Some thinkers have been writing about "post-denominationalism"...is this move by the Vatican one of the major first moves of that process, or is this event not much at all?  ... hard to know.

Third... response was that I was left a bit confused that the Archbishop of Canterbury seemed surprised and amazingly restrained in his response to the Vatican announcement in the video that I've posted below.  Watch it, and then think what he REALLY wanted to say, he gives some hints, I think.

Be still before the Lord, Psalm 37

Psalm 37:1-7

Part I

Noli aemulari

Do not fret yourself because of evildoers; *
do not be jealous of those who do wrong.

For they shall soon wither like the grass, *
and like the green grass fade away.

Put your trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and feed on its riches.

Take delight in the Lord, *
and he shall give you your heart's desire.

Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him, *
and he will bring it to pass.

He will make your righteousness as clear as the light*
and your just dealing as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord *
and wait patiently for him.

Arrrrg!  Again with the patience!  Clearly, these psalms keep coming back and smacking me on the head wiht the reminder that "being still" and "waiting patiently" is what we (I) must do more often.  After four weeks of reading Job in the Sunday lectionary and now these reminders about patience and waiting and silence, I suppose I need to listen.

But, it is hard to be patient, as I wrote last week. It is hard for me to be patient.  The world (and my heart and mind) tell me that I must act if something is going to happen, and then I also fall into the trap of thinking that things need to happen on my own timetable.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.  Hmmmm.  

And, really, this is a gift, the gift of waiting, of being still, of being silent.  Many of us can carve out some stillness, some waiting, and some silence in our days.  Perhaps I could shut off the car radio.  Perhaps I could stop on the way to work for 5 minutes and enjoy the view.  Perhaps I could take more time to sit and cultivate patience through meditation and prayer.  The "off" button is sometimes hard to find, but it is there for each of us, even in small moments.   And once we get used to pushing the "off" button, we may find that we experience God more fully alive in our lives.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.
~Habakkuk 2:20

21 October 2009

We don't need no stinkin' invitation to go to Rome!

Apropos of some people thinking the Pope has to invite us to Rome...

I will tell you a mystery,1 Corinthians 15:51-58

1 Corinthians 15:51-58 (NRSV)

51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
"Death has been swallowed up in victory."
55 "Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

A central hope of the Christian Faith is the hope of the resurrection, and here Paul lays out the promise of the life eternal. These lines are embedded in my own memory within Handel's Messiah, and perhaps hearing them sung is a marvelous way to let them become one with us. It can be difficult to hear words of hope in the style of an argument, but can richer set to to the musical creation of a genius such as Handel. Here in these hopeful and beautiful words, Paul is making the audacious and hopeful claim that the goodness of God, and the richness of the life eternal will blot out any sting that death may have for us. 

 The life eternal is a life that is lived within the Kingdom of God, enlivened by the Spirit of Faith and Hope and Love. The life eternal does include what happens "after" death, but in the life of God this life eternal is already (and has been already) breaking into the world, in ways large and small and to do God's work is to hasten the Kingdom now in our lives today in this moment and in this place. In the reading from today's Morning Prayer, Paul ends his song of hope in the resurrection with a plea that people continue to do the good work to which God has called us. Our work today can be concordant and resonant with the great symphony that God has created, and is continuing to direct, today, tomorrow, and forever.

"...thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, 
because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

"Episcopal Church: Who we are? 2.0" - well worth 3 minutes!

This video, "The Episcopal Church: Who we are?" has been making the rounds, and it really is quite good...funny, with some bits of wisdom, check out this "2.0" version of the video with some good updates. 2000 people have viewed the earlier version in only 36 hours, definitely worth 3 minutes of your time!

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

"This is an updated version of the viral video that gives a humurous look into The Episcopal Church from a loving perspective. We love our denomination without taking anything from our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ."

20 October 2009

Yoked to abundant life, Matthew 11:25-30

Matthew 11:25-30 (NRSV)

25 At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Long have I prayed and read this scripture about "take my yoke upon you...for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" for it is one of the readings of the night service of Compline. The image of the yoke reminds me of those wooden yokes that harness two cattle together to pull a wagon or do other heavy work in areas where tractors are not used. The yoke bonds one to another in common work and common purpose, and also connotes a sense of service to a higher master.

Being yoked is not immediately so attractive to us today, cultural norms put a preference on freedom and individuality and choice, not on being bound up with one another in service to a master. However, no matter how much we resist authority and obedience, we do obey some master - be it the marketplace, the "cult" of busy-ness, or the rat-race. The statement by Jesus reminds his followers that we can take up the yoke of Christ, which is a light burden because Jesus has already done the heavy lifting. The hope of the resurrection means that we no longer need to feel that it all depends on us. Surely, we can still yoke ourselves to the rat race, however, as Williams Sloane Coffin, Jr. once said, "the thing about the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat!" Jesus came so that we might "have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10), and so, the yoke does not dehumanize or demean us, but lifts us to Joy, and Hope, and Peace in the life abundant.

19 October 2009

"Turn to Me", Psalm 25

Psalm 25 Ad te, Domine, levavi

The LORD is a friend to those who fear him *
and will show them his covenant.

My eyes are ever looking to the LORD, *
for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.

Turn to me and have pity on me, *
for I am left alone and in misery.

The sorrows of my heart have increased; *
bring me out of my troubles.

Look upon my adversity and misery *
and forgive me all my sin.

Look upon my enemies, for they are many, *
and they bear a violent hatred against me.

Protect my life and deliver me; *
let me not be put to shame, for I have trusted in you.

Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, *
for my hope has been in you.

Deliver Israel, O God, *
out of all his troubles.

The psalmist is under seige, and is calling out to God for protection. In the midst of trouble, the writer "turns to God," and asks God to "turn to me." The psalmist is not without hope, even in the midst of misery and trouble because the psalmist knows that humans can turn to God, and that God will also turn to us. So, what is it to turn to God, how do we discern how to turn to God? How to we discern whether we are turning in the right direction?

In my understanding, I think that there are many ways we might turn to God - many ways that we might pray and cultivate our relationship with God. From walking prayer to singing prayer to intercessory prayer to contemplative prayer to lectio divina, and so many other forms of prayer can cultivate our relationship with God. The Christian Tradition is rich with practices of prayer and worship, and there is a great deal of work being done on the "practices" of the Christian Life which can offer us resources and ideas. However, as Thomas Merton once wrote, the point is not to write, talk (blog?) about prayer...the point is to pray. The point is not to philosophize and talk about a relationship with God -- no, the point is to have a relationship with God.

So I will quit typing and go and pray!

18 October 2009

Sermon "God's restoration project"

The Rev. Peter M. Carey
Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Greenwood, VA
18 October 2009 – Sermon
Job – Hebrews - Mark

While in Italy during college, I had the amazing fortune to take a class on Michelangelo taught by one of the main scholars of the Florentine genius. One of a dozen or so highlights of the class was when we were given a private tour of the Sistine Chapel. When I was there, the restoration project was going on and part of the ceiling was covered by a mechanized scaffold in the middle of the ceiling while on one side there was a rather dark and subdued depiction of the Biblical scenes. On the other side of the scaffold, the ceiling glowed with bright color, the figures seemed to pop off the ceiling as if they were sculptures rather than painting. The paintings were a wonder to be seen, and most scholarship on the ceiling had to be revised after experts saw the results of the wonderful (albeit controversial) restoration project.

This theme of restoration moves through our readings today.

Job’s problem looks easy enough to figure out, on the surface, he’s gotten whacked, smacked, and rejected. He’s a blessed man, a man of integrity, and yet he’s gotten beat up. He is angry, and rightfully so. After first responding to his wife (which we discussed two weeks ago) by saying, “should we receive the good at the hand of God and not receive the bad,” he then goes into a long dialogue within himself, with his friends, and finally with God. Job’s problem seems easy enough to figure out, on the surface, but in reality, his problem is that he’s seeing things all wrong. So God responds to him. God speaks from the whirlwind and says that he will answer Job’s questions if Job can prove his worthiness.

Read the rest HERE >>>>>