31 January 2010

Happy Birthday Thomas Merton

Jan 31, 1915

The Investiture of the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston and his Pastoral Address

From the Diocese of Virginia's YouTube channel and the Diocese of Virginia's website

Pastoral Address of the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston

I am deeply honored, and yet more deeply humbled, now to address you for the first time as the XIII bishop of Virginia. There is so much that could be said, so many matters that are of real importance.  Obviously, there is the stuff of new beginnings.  And, an evaluation of our overall diocesan health would seem to be very much in order.   And, while there is much anticipation about vision for the years to come, ongoing controversies press hard for attention.  With all of that–and more–on the doorstep, I’ll restrict my scope here to as much focus, specificity and clarity as we can have in the time allotted.

I do regret that some important matters in our common life will seem to be slighted or simply avoided.  But I look for us to address these thoroughly in local public forums during 2010. It is unfortunate that some of the “biggest” issues that come before us cannot be fully and justly dealt with in the very short time allowed by Annual Council.
My two and one-half years as your bishop coadjutor were carefully planned and fruitfully spent, gratefully working with my predecessor, Bishop Peter Lee, and our Bishop Suffragan David Jones.  Even so, you will understand that I could not help but feel that things had changed quite profoundly on October 1 when I became your diocesan bishop.  And in the wake of the high standards that precede me for decades and centuries (not to mention those that I set for myself), I’ve been reminded by others that I must be patient.  This is wisdom that I commend to this Council over the next couple of days and to our congregations in the year to come.  This is as much a time for patience and perspective as it is for hard work, definition and vision.

Expectations of any new episcopal ministry are a mixed bag—high, wary, hopeful, even suspicious all at the same time—and I’m sure this is the case now.  Given this inevitable reality, I have decided that the most straightforward way to proceed is for this address to respond to what hundreds of people, youth and adults, said to me as a result of the seven Town Hall meetings that were held last fall.  The purpose of these meetings was to gather input so as truly to listen and then to begin discernment for the way ahead in the Diocese of Virginia.  I’m happy to report that this purpose was well served.  The participants gave themselves entirely to the process and responded with very candid comments.  We received precisely the type of content and data that we were looking for: frank, open, honest, spirit-driven and full of personal commitment. 

Overall, the responses were surprisingly similar from meeting to meeting.  Adjusting for some variabilities, the same five priorities (albeit in slightly varying orders) topped the lists.  I’m also pleased to report that my own experience of the Diocese and ensuing discernment wholeheartedly concurs, as do the conversations I’ve had with Bishop Jones:
  • Youth & Young Adult Formation
  • Strengthen Existing Congregations
  • Evangelism/Proclamation
    • Including self-definition through media
  • Multi-Cultural/Ethnic Ministries
  • Mission Beyond Ourselves
    • Local outreach; domestic & world mission.
To begin with, notice how intertwined several of these categories are with others (such as “mission beyond ourselves” with “evangelism/proclamation” and “strengthen existing congregations” with ‘youth/young adult formation.”)  I think those interrelationships are not so much about duplication as they are encouraging signs for how we can and will get things done.  To be sure, these five priorities will be the essential reference pointsfor our mission over the next few years.

Other priorities scored high as well, such as stewardship, leadership, communications and clarity of mission.  However, I see these not so much as priorities in themselves but rather as means to an end, and so I’m using them in a different way.  We’ve come up with the “what” (youth, evangelism, etc.) but we need to specify the “how.”  We must set measurable goals and formulate strategies that will breathe real life into these priorities. Obviously, for us to do these things well and serve our common mission effectively there is no question but that pledging to the diocesan budget will have to be increased significantly. So, if these priorities sound good to you, you know what it will take to make them take wing.  Further, if the Diocese is to focus on youth and young adult formation, and multi-cultural/ethnic ministries, we must identify and recruit the right leadership.  All five priorities must meet the challenge of clarity of mission if those ministries are to have real integrity, including our use of first-rate, multi-media communications.  I’m happy to report that a major revisioning of our communications strategy and abilities is well underway. You should already be seeing some of the early results of this.

Let me tell you something of what I’ve seen and experienced around these five priorities for ministry, and what I hope for in the next two to three years.   It is fair to say that strengthening existing congregations is a source of considerable energy (even anxiety) in our diocese.  This priority ranked a very strong #2 on no fewer than five of the seven meeting tallies, tied for #1 on another and placed #3 on another.  The context here is a sharp contrast with the priority from some years ago of establishing new congregations.  Given our recent experience with many of our new congregations leaving the Diocese (having received tremendous spiritual, personal and financial support), it is obvious that many of us across the Diocese feel a deep sense of loss, grief and, yes, betrayal and thus are quite “gun-shy” about new congregations. It should be no surprise, therefore, that church planting ranked last on all but one tally, where it was next-to-last. The sense is that with resources being spread very thinly the resources could be used for more stable and proven ministry, such as for our already established congregations.  I certainly do understand this, but can you truly affirm our diocese abandoning any vision for starting new churches?  I don’t think so. I know I can’t.  Rather, I want us to learn from the past and bring our best planning and execution to the table.  And surely one way to meet several of our identified priorities, such as evangelism, multi-cultural/ethnic ministry and youth/young adult formation, is in fact to start new churches.  So, roll your sleeves up for this.

And don’t you doubt that we can do it.

The issue at hand, however—strengthening existing churches—remains a major focus for the work ahead of us.  What does it mean?  How does a diocese go about it and what is our appropriate place in such efforts?  Would diocesan guidance, programming and personnel be truly welcome locally?  Since the needs will vary from place to place, with goals that will require case by case strategies, how will we organize an effort for the organizational structures and staff resources of the Diocese of Virginia to take a lead in strengthening our local churches?  These are essential questions that must be answered before we go charging out with good intentions.  Therefore, I shall immediately begin this inquiry by taking up such questions with the regional deans and presidents.  It may prove helpful to appoint a special commission.  In any case, one goal will be to develop a proposal as to how the diocese might partner with our congregations more intentionally on their own front-lines of life and ministry.

And don’t you doubt that we can do it.

The very top priority, youth and young adult formation, ranked #1 on the list at all seven Town Hall meetings.  This unanimity arises both out of affirmation of the present diocesan youth ministries and from concern for the future of the Church itself.   There is very strong support for our camping programs at Shrine Mont and so much enthusiasm for our Parish Youth Ministries (PYM) leadership in ministries with our younger communicants.  Indeed, our youth ministries are an absolute signature of the diocese itself and they are a primary reason for diocesan support.
We can always do better, and nothing can build real strength more quickly than working from what is already strong.  We will not rest on our successes and we will not shrink from challenges to do more.  I ask you to consider that a vibrant, broad program of youth ministries is great medicine for the ills of malaise and controversy in the Church.
And don’t you doubt that we can do it.

As well as we do for our youth, we do so relatively little (and dare I say “poorly?”) for young adults.  With some notable exceptions, a great many of our churches are almost entirely lacking in “twenty-somethings.”  I believe that this is a critical shortcoming, not just for ministry opportunities today but also in leadership development for tomorrow in each and every one of our congregations.  To begin to meet this challenge, this year I’m going to convene Saturday conferences of “twenty-somethings” so that we might listen and learn as well as encourage.  It is my hope that such conferences will result in a continuing body within the diocese that will keep us on our toes and accountable for young adult formation.  In fact, our work here has begun already with a young-adult mission trip to Haiti, conceived and coordinated by young adults–Cathy Gowen and Paris Ball from my staff.  While necessarily postponed due to the earthquake there, we will (repeat, WILL) be going to Haiti as soon as they are ready for us to come.

Evangelism!  Evangelism and proclamation.  In essence, this is the theme of our Council.  “Go,” “preach,” “teach,” and “baptize” are part and parcel of the Great Commission we have straight from our Lord Himself.  This is the fundamental mission of the Church and in my judgment we need to lay hold on it more than we do.  Public data and statistics today tell us that some 60 percent of the American population is unchurched.  And it’s not just the unchurched who need to hear the proclamation of the faith and who need to be taught.  In my travels and Sunday visitations I’ve had many people (and I’m talking about full-fledged adult communicants, even leadership) confess or “joke” to me how little they actually know about the basic teachings of Christianity. Still others know more about the faith and what they value but are admittedly quite ignorant about the the Episcopal Church itself and our ways.  Surely, inadequacies of knowledge about faith and the Church are not the status quo we want to hold for our life together. I’m calling on our clergy and our educators to re-evaluate the teaching you offer and the attendance you have, primarily for our adults—that’s a good starting place in any case.  What I’m getting at is that there must be a place in church life where some ongoing and substantive “faith and Church 101” instruction is both attractive and respected.

And what shall we do about that statistical 60 percent of the population around us?   Here, I don’t think that programming or expertise is the best answer. Of course, these things are vitally important but something more fundamental is at stake. A few years ago, a study was done that examined a ten-year period in which unchurched persons became active in a congregation and lapsed members “came back” to church.  The study showed that fully nine out of every ten people came to church simply because someone they knew or had some association with asked them.  That’s up to each and every one of us, and I hope you find it encouraging to know how much opportunity and power we have to make such a difference in someone’s life.

And don’t you doubt that we can do it.

We can also take a strong lead in evangelism and proclamation by making use of the public media, rather multi-media.  Just as it has long been said of the Episcopal Church that our liturgy is our best evangelism (and think what that says about the need to tend energetically and to our worship!) I think that self-definition to the general public could be some of our best proclamation.  In an age when the very word “Christian” is being widely used as a media code-word for narrow political and social categories we must step forward with who we are at our best—a broad community of faith spanning Left to Right, sharing a common commitment to Christ and to one another.  In these times, that all too rare witness is real evangelism and proclamation!

And don’t you doubt that we can do it.

With respect to multi-cultural/ethnic ministries, we have several exciting Latino, Asian and African American congregations and I’m proud of the witness they offer in and from the Diocese of Virginia.  We have dedicated clergy in these places who work extremely hard, usually without anything near adequate resources at hand.  Frustratingly, ordained leadership can be difficult to secure at times. So, as the movie “The Ten Commandments” put it, in many ways we’re asking these clergy and congregations to “make bricks without straw.”  Surely, we must come together to provide for and strengthen these existing churches, and just as surely here is one area where planting new churches presents energizing opportunities.  “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Pray the Lord to send laborers into His harvest.”  Whatever your own reality where you are, this is perhaps the most important and fruitful mission field for the Church now, and by the next one or two generations multi-culturalism and ethnic identity will be dominant factors in much of our diocese.  I promise our relevant committees and commissions that I will be right with you in your work, and I trust that we all know that we will have to raise the stakes and our sights considerably.
And don’t you doubt that we can do it.

My firm conviction is that ministry beyond ourselvesthrough outreach ministries and domestic and world mission is, like evangelism, at the very heart of the Gospel.  I also know that such ministries are the best ways to heal the divisions among us.  The lines we draw between one another are swept away by mission to others.  Over the past years, I’ve been mightily impressed by the really wonderful local outreach ministries offered by many of our churches.  What a difference we’re making all across the diocese.  And around the world, I doubt that any diocese of the Episcopal Church is more engaged in giving and receiving ministry in other Anglican Provinces than is Virginia.  Our many links and partnerships are towering examples of how God’s grace and power are at work in our lives as the Church in Virginia.
It is in the arena of domestic mission, however, that I’d like to see more coordinated commitment and growth.  Yes, we do have a strong number of congregations sending teams to various parts of the country (such as to the Gulf coast for Katrina relief) but our broader resources as a diocese can and should take a leading role in these ministries as well.  I’ve always been clear about the fact that I am enthusiastic about ministry with Native American peoples.  Notice I said “with” since I think one of the best things we can do in ministry with Native Americans is to learn from them.  I am aware that some of our congregations have been working on various reservations in the West, and I think it is time to expand that work.  In my view, we should begin this by bringing such ministry closer to home.  It seems likely that we can do more ministry and quite exciting things right on our own doorstep with the Native population so nearby and across the Commonwealth.

And don’t you doubt that we can do it.

Furthermore, here is an arena of ministry that gives our diocese an excellent opportunity to work with the other Virginia dioceses, since we share this checkered history with Native Americans and have such promising prospects for renewed and renewing common relationships.  It is certainly my view that the three Episcopal dioceses in Virginia should work more closely together, and I can’t think of a better way to start.  I’ve already conferred with both Bishop Hollerith of the Southern diocese and Bishop Powell of the Southwestern diocese and they are just as enthused about the possibilities here.  For other possibilities, and branching out farther afield, I’ve also spoken to my friend the Rt. Rev. Ed Kornieczny, the bishop of Oklahoma, about his diocese being able to host us in mission with Native populations there, and he graciously affirms the possibilities.

As I said, these five priorities will be the touchstone for our common mission for the next few years.  Naturally, we must continue to develop the vision for current ministries of ongoing importance, such as for our centers at Shrine Mont and Roslyn.  I see these places as key to our ability to live into our priorities. I could not be happier in my relationships with these great centers for diocesan life.  Under Kevin Moomaw, Shrine Mont is taking great strides for securing its future, updating and improving facilities and maintaining its excellence as a host for programming.  As for Roslyn, with director Kass Lawrence and a committed Board of Trustees and Directors, we have been working hard to produce a new vision for ministry there.  The exciting news is not yet ready for full publication, but I can announce that we will be creating a ministry at Roslyn that seriously and substantively aims at being the premiere resource center for personal spirituality and congregational best-practices in the mid-Atlantic.

And don’t you doubt that we can do it.

Stay tuned for more on that development in the very near future.

If mission is the “life-blood” of the Church then its heartbeat is surely worship.  As your bishop I can say nothing with more urgency and conviction.  I implore this diocese to re-commit to the defining importance of the Sunday service. Simply put, Christians are not people who get up on Sunday and try to decide whether or not to go to worship.  Being at worship on Sunday is at the very essence of what makes us who we are as those baptized in Christ.

I emphasize this because I am rather shocked by what the numbers tell us.   Since 1990, although the number of our communicants in good standinghas grown from 53,000 to 64,000 (nearly 21 percent), our average Sunday attendance (the most telling statistic in the Church’s ongoing life) has actually decreased by 19 percent.  In other words, we’re growing with people who support the Church but fewer and fewer people are actually attending worship with regularity.  With a current Sunday attendance average of 24,200 and a “good-standing” communicant strength of 63,900, we show a discouraging 37 percent of our people at worship on the Lord’s Day.  This is not mere bean counting because we’re actually talking about prioritizing worship, and that goes to the heart of our discipleship of Jesus.

These figures suggest to me that we are, as the Diocese of Virginia, something of a sleeping giant. The encouraging thing about that idea is that we can wake up!  Consider that season ticket holders of sports and artistic events surely do much better attending what they are committed to.  Well, don’t forget that as a disciple of Jesus Christ you have a “season ticket” and it’s called eternal life.  Don’t neglect to show up for it!  I love you and this diocese too much, and my responsibility as a bishop is too pointed, not to tell you that how we’re doing now in attendance at worship is alarming and should be unacceptable to us all.  Addressing this reality must be a major piece of the work we do together to strengthen existing congregations. To start, I call on our clergy and vestries to set a three-year goal of having 50 percent of communicant strength at worship on Sundays.

And don’t you doubt that we can do it.

Those statistics are in strange contrast to what I’ve encountered in my Sunday visitations.  I have to say that what I’ve experienced on Sundays is really most impressive.  From one end of this diocese to another, there is true devotion to Jesus Christ that shows up in lives.  Large church or small, there is an extraordinary love for the Episcopal Church that is absolutely palpable.  I’ve seen a commitment to ministry and to one another that is inspiring, and I have been so warmly greeted and richly hosted everywhere I’ve been.  When I get home on late Sunday afternoons I am utterly exhilarated.  Thank you so much for that, one and all.

I am often asked what I think the mission of the Diocese of Virginia is, or even “why” the diocese exists.  So I conclude by telling you what I’ve seen and come to understand after nearly three years here as a bishop:  The mission of the Diocese of Virginia is to worship our Lord Jesus Christ, building up our unity even in diversity, and to serve the world in the power of the Gospel as a part of the Holy Catholic Church.

The Diocese of Virginia looks like the Church as it exists across this country and, yes, the whole world.  I hope that we continue to build a diocese that looks like the entirety of the Episcopal Church in our Anglican tradition, and Anglicanism in its historic norms is a microcosm of the whole of Christianity–Protestant and Catholic, liberal and conservative, low church and high-church, traditional and modernist, evangelical and tempered.  This is messy, and it is both good and not-so-good.  Encouraging in its catholicity, it is nonetheless a recipe that makes for discomfort.  It is not likely to be someone’s personal notion of the “ideal Church.”  But this is who we are and I believe that we should strive to maintain and build upon it.  Unquestionably, such comprehensiveness means that we have something unique and invaluable to offer as part of the Body of Christ.  Let’s do it.

And don’t you doubt that we can do it!


Snowpocalypse Virginia '10

A beautiful winter morning!

24 January 2010

17 January 2010 Sermon

The Rev. Peter M. Carey
Emmanuel Episcopal Church
17 January 2010

In this season of Epiphany, we might turn our attention to all the ways that we can understand gift in our lives.  Of course, the story of the wise men bearing gifts sets off the season of Epiphany, and we might reflect for a time upon their action of giving to the baby Jesus.  Broadening and deepening our focus upon “Gift” as a theme for Epiphany.

There are a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit.  These words roll off the tongue so easily, for they resonate through the teachings of Jesus, and the theology of St. Paul.  Variety of gifts, but activated by the same Spirit.  These are beautiful words, and yet, the deep sense that in the Kingdom of God there are varieties of gifts, and varieties of peoples, can be a difficult gospel to hear.  Our tendency may be to go the other way, “if only people saw things my way.”  “If only you knew what I knew.”  “If only people were as _____ (fill in the adjective) – bright, organized, dedicated, diligent, intuitive, … as me.”  

Paul is reminding us that all the gifts are activated by the one and the same Spirit, and that these gifts are allotted, they are allotted (given) by the spirit to each one individually as the Spirit chooses.  Not us, not you, not me, but the Spirit.  We are not the same, we are not going to understand everything the same way, we are not going to do things the same way, but this is not only just tolerable. This is not only just ok.  This is not only just acceptable.  No.  This is quite beautiful, and it is an inbreaking of the Kingdom .  .  .

Read the rest HERE

Image of DaVinci's Adoration of the Magi was found HERE

The Pope says Roman Catholic priests should blog

I wonder if he's been reading all the Anglican priests' blogs...hmmmm...

Pope’s Message to Priests: We Must Blog

Pope Benedict XVI has a message for priests of the Catholic Church: they must proclaim the gospel by not only having a website, but by blogging and utilizing new web communication tools.
The 265th Pope of the Catholic Church has been an unexpectedly strong proponent of social media. Last year, helaunched a YouTube channel, and six months ago, he released Facebook and iPhone apps to spread the Church’s message. It looks like that he hopes Catholic priests will follow his digital example.
In his message, the Pope acknowledges that priests face new challenges due to cultural shifts that have brought the conversation online. Thus, priests must do more than just take the Word of the gospel to the web.
Here’s a small excerpt from the entire message from the Pope:
“The spread of multimedia communications and its rich “menu of options” might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different “voices” provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.”

RCL Readings for 31January10

Revised Coffee Lectionary on Monday, 25 January 2010
Readings for 31 January 2010 – 4th Sunday of Epiphany

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10
The word of the LORD came to me saying,
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy." But the LORD said to me,
"Do not say, 'I am only a boy';
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you,
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the LORD."
Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the LORD said to me,
"Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant."

Psalm 71:1-6 Page 683, BCP
In te, Domine, speravi
In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge; *
let me never be ashamed.

In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; *
incline your ear to me and save me.

Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe; *
you are my crag and my stronghold.

Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, *
from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor.

For you are my hope, O Lord GOD, *
my confidence since I was young.

I have been sustained by you ever since I was born;
from my mother's womb you have been my strength; *
my praise shall be always of you.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Luke 4:21-30
In the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus read from the book of the prophet Isaiah, and began to say, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" He said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Doctor, cure yourself!' And you will say, 'Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'" And he said, "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian." When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

17 January 2010

The idea of compassion

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another. 

~Thomas Merton

12 January 2010

Praying for the people of Haiti after the huge earthquake

From the Episcopal Cafe:

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has been struck with a devastating earthquake this evening. According to initial reports, the 7+ magnitude quake and aftershocks have toppled buildings including hospitals and hotels through out the country's capital region.
The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti is, numerically speaking, the largest of the dioceses of the Episcopal Church.
We're monitoring developments overnight on the Cafe´. A number of Episcopal dioceses have ongoing partnership relationships with the Diocese of Haiti and are starting to post reports about what they're hearing from their friends.
You can follow CNN's Twitter page on the Haiti quake here. Most communications to Haiti have been cut off but text messages are still getting out for the time being.
The Rev. Lauren Stanley, an appointed missionary to Haiti who is home in Virginia tonight writes to us at the Cafe:
Also, please to know that we have three missionaries there right now. The Rev. Canon Oge Beauvoir is the Dean of the Theological Seminary; Ms. Mallory Holding and Mr. Jude Harmon are both Young Adult Service Corps missionaries. All three live in downtown Port au Prince, quite close to the Presidential Palace, which we understand is damaged if not destroyed.
There are reports of terrible devastation. But cell phones are out at the moment, and we don't know about the Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Jean Zache Duracin, or any of our people. The quake was apparently centered quite close to where I live in Petion Ville.

The two YASC volunteers have blogs here and here - though neither of them has been updated with news of the earthquake.

According to Stanley:

Oge is canonically resident in Long Island. Mallory is from the Diocese of Chicago.
Jude is from the Diocese of Massachusetts. Mallory's mom is the new canon to the ordinary in San Diego.

11 January 2010

09 January 2010

Psalm 121

One of my faves!

Psalm 121 Levavi oculos

1I lift up my eyes to the hills; *
from where is my help to come?
2My help comes from the LORD, *
the maker of heaven and earth.
3He will not let your foot be moved *
and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.
4Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel *
shall neither slumber nor sleep;
5The LORD himself watches over you; *
the LORD is your shade at your right hand,
6So that the sun shall not strike you by day, *
nor the moon by night.
7The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; *
it is he who shall keep you safe.
8The LORD shall watch over your going out and your coming in, *
from this time forth for evermore.

07 January 2010

T.S. Eliot's "The Journey of the Magi"

The Journey of the Magi 

"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The was deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires gong out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

T.S. Eliot

06 January 2010

Stanley Hauerwas discusses leadership

Theologian Stanley Hauerwas discusses the term leadership and how he prepares his students to provide it.

Leadership cant be abstracted from the communities that make it possible, says Stanley Hauerwas, a Duke Divinity School professor considered to be one of the nations most influential theologians.

Happy Epiphany...have you seen this movie?

What would have happened if the wise men went to the wrong address?

Answer courtesy of Monty Python in "Life of Brian"

Happy Epiphany: Matthew 2:1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together allthe chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'" Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offerred him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

02 January 2010

To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of creation

To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of creation.

When we do it knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament.

When we do it ignorantly, greedily, destructively, it is a desecration.

- Wendell Berry
The Gift of Good Land

01 January 2010

The Archbishop's New Year Message 2010

The Archbishop's New Year Message 2010

The holy name

The Holy Name - January 1

The Feast of the Holy Name falls today, the 1st of January, eight days after Christmas, and it commemorates the circumcision of the child Jesus, as recounted in Luke's Gospel, 2:21, "After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb."

While we don't know much about the early years of Jesus, between his birth and when he begins his ministry nearly 30 years later, it is helpful to reflect upon Jesus' upbringing as a Jewish boy in an occupied land, learning and observing the traditions of his parents.  So, on this 8th day of Christmas, continue to celebrate the birth of God in human form, in the specific human form of a child, and the radical implications of this reality.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Numbers 6:22-27 
Galatians 4:4-7 
or Philippians 2:5-11
Luke 2:15-21 
Psalm 8

Numbers 6:22-27

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them,
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.

Luke 2:15-21

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.