30 May 2010

Have you seen?

John 1: 29- 34 (NRSV)

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.' 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel." 32 And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God."

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23 May 2010

O gracious light

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.

"What I found in LOST" essay

My "What I found in LOST" essay at 
Episcopal Cafe in October of 2009

I am a big fan of the television show “Lost.” If anyone doesn’t know by now, the set-up of this show is that a jet airplane crashes on an island in the middle of the Pacific, and when no rescue happens, the passengers have to contend with surviving on an island that is increasingly dangerous, and mysterious. What begins, perhaps, as a 21st century Gilligan’s Island, develops into a far more complex, interesting, and confounding story. I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on Lost, and was very interested that in a recent Speaking of Faith broadcast on NPR, Krista Tippett discussed “Lost” among other television shows as a “Parable of our Times.”

There is one aspect in particular which has been quite instructive to me as I continue my ministry in the church. I am interested in the ways that the creators of the series have chosen to reveal the back-story of each survivor on the Island. 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. Several episodes are dedicated to tell the story of a different survivor, bouncing back and forth between the present and the past.

Of course, the world view, behavior, and attitudes of each of the characters is formed in part by their history. They are not blank slates. They each bring their history and their “baggage” with them. As the series has moved through the various seasons, the writers have also been courageous enough to allow the characters to be formed and changed by one another. The selfish thief begins to show leadership qualities, the recovering drug addict shows selfless love for his friends, and a diverse and eclectic group is transformed.

There are many ways to reflect upon this rich television show, but what I have found most helpful as I have entered into a new church community is the ways that each member of our church has many layers, and has a history that is fascinating to discover. We each have our stories which inform who we are both in ways we are proud and in ways that we are not. We all bring our gifts and our baggage with us wherever we go. Recognizing this fact can help inform the way that we treat each other and the way that we treat ourselves! Our history does not define us in total, but it certainly affects who we are.

When I have the patience to really sit and hear someone’s story I am treated to their own “backstory” which, of course, informs their world view, behavior and attitude. At times, I wish it were easier to learn these stories, but, of course it takes patience, presence and prayer to open up a space to listen. Of course, we each have our stories (including pastors and priests), and we are also formed, in part by our own history.

Like the individuals washed up on the beach, each of us enters a church for the first time as strangers, maybe sometimes feeling out of place in a strange land. At times, this feeling of being lost can also occur over and over after we experience tragedy, doubt, or grief. As people of faith, when we have the courage to listen, and to share, we are no longer “Lost” strangers on the beach, but persons in communion with God and one another. When the church is at its best, we allow people to share their stories, and we offer friendship and love both “because of” and “in spite of” our stories.

Originally posted at Episcopal Cafe

God is spirit

John 4

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’

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22 May 2010

Pentecost: Boom!

On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does any-one have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return."
~Annie Dillard~Teaching a Stone to Talk

20 May 2010

Pour out your Spirit

For Mission
God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh, and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

After You Believe, by NT Wright

Recommendation for a great book to read:

After You Believe, by NT Wright

NT Wright's book, After You Believe, is a wonderful and challenging book for all of us who strive to be Christian, and especially, after we have wondered what it is that we should do, and be, "after we believe."  This is a wonderful book that enumerates a vision of the Christian Life that takes seriously the richness and truth of our tradition, and also takes seriously the difficulty of living out our faith in our "everyday world."  Truth be told, I am still digesting this book, but I have assimilated enough to recommend it highly ... a wonderful and challenging read.  Read it.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Here is a clip of Wright talking about another of his books, "Simply Christian,"...and I hope he will soon post an interview about After You Believe...

18 May 2010

As the sun does daily rise

As the sun does daily rise,
Brightening all the morning skies,
So to You with one accord
Lift we up our hearts, O God.

Day by day provide us food,
For from You come all things good;
Strength unto our souls afford
From Your living bread, O God.

Be our guard in sin and strife;
Be the leader of our life;
Lest from You we stray abroad,
Stay our wayward feet, O God.

Quickened by the Spirit's grace
All Your holy will to trace
While we daily search Your Word,
Wisdom true impart, O God.

Words: Unknown; trs. by J. Masters;
adpt by Horatio Nelson (19thC)
Music: Innocents; harmony William Henry Monk (19thC)

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16 May 2010

7 Easter Sermon - One love

Emmanuel Church
Sermon – The Rev. Peter M. Carey
16 May 2010

Setting out on a journey, we pack our bags.  Carefully assessing what to bring with us and weighing the merits of bringing another capilene insulated shirt against the added ounces in our bag.  Surely we will need to pack crampons to help us stay affixed to the ground when it becomes icy and snowy.  Likewise, we will need to pack poles so that we might save some percentage of weight upon our knees when we climb, and especially, when we descend from the monastery high in the mountains.  Shall we bring extra fuel, in case the nights get colder than predicted?  Shall we pack an extra hat in case of storms that will leave us wet and cold?  

Packing for such a journey is but the beginning.  We get ourselves ready for the climb and we trust that we are ready in body, in soul, and in mind – and we trust that we have packed what we need, and that among our fellow travelers we will be able to offer comfort and receive help when needed.  Our fellowship with one another is our true and tangible strength, and it is a visible and outward sign of the fellowship offered to us by God in Christ.  We are one with one another.  We begin the journey through the green and moist foothills.  When one needs to stop, all stop.  When we feel the urge to move more quickly, all must be of one mind and heart and legs before we tromp with greater urgency.  When we lose our way, we all have gone astray, but trust that with compass and map we will return to the path.  We each are needed for our gifts, and even our weaknesses.  When one falls, we stop to help, when another sees a better pathway, we all follow and benefit.  The work is strenuous, but there are also adequate breaks.  As we trudge along, we have time for talking, and time for silence, time to joke and laugh, and time for bittersweet reflection upon where we have been and where we are going.

While we walk, hike, traverse, and climb, the pre-eminent preposition is not “on” as in “on the mountain,” but rather “in.”  We are “in” this together, “in” fellowship with one another, we have entered “into” a world of very simple actions – putting one foot in front of another.  Eating food for fuel; concentrating on the person ahead; and beginning to see that the group has become “one” with one another and we are most definitely “in” this together.

After a long and arduous journey we round a bend and see the monastery that awaits us.  There in the high mountains, with a simple stone gate around it, with a large wooden door, we see a large simple knocker.  After a bit of water for each one of us, we knock, and wait.  A monk in a brown robe comes to the door, opens it, and beckons us to enter. We enter a courtyard with brick in the center, and beautiful plantings of boxwoods, and forest flowers and ferns, and we sit.  After many days of climbing and hiking, we no longer are used to sitting on chairs, and we sit down on the ground, and we sip on water bottles, and we hold our prayer beads in our fingers.  Glorious silence falls upon us and we wait.  Not the impatient waiting in an auto repair waiting room with CNN blaring.  Not the anxious waiting of so many hospital waiting rooms.  But something like the waiting for a new birth.  Something like the waiting for our beloved  …  We are waiting there among these others who are now us; we are waiting there among so many individuals who have been transformed into “one.”

At some point, we realize that another monk has joined us, and is praying, or perhaps chanting, or perhaps singing, or is it merely in our minds and hearts.

read the rest HERE

14 May 2010

Soul that walks in love

The soul that walks in love
neither tires others nor grows tired.
~Saint John of the Cross

12 May 2010

Pour into our hearts

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

09 May 2010

Yeardley Reynolds Love Women’s Lacrosse Endowed Scholarship

The Virginia Lacrosse Alumni Network in conjunction with the Virginia Athletics Foundation has established the Yeardley Reynolds Love Women’s Lacrosse Endowed Scholarship, which will annually provide a full scholarship for a member of the women’s lacrosse team. This scholarship will forever honor the legacy of Yeardley and her contributions as a student, athlete and friend at the University of Virginia. To make a donation, call the VAF at 800.626.8723 or HERE

08 May 2010

Julian of Norwich

Lord God, in your compassion you granted to the Lady Julian many revelations of your nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek you above all things, for in giving us yourself you give us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

....and this fine quote from Speaking to the Soul at Episcopal Cafe today...

The uniqueness of Julian’s writings includes her incredible optimism in the face of the cultural chaos and confusion of her day, and her ability to transcend that confusion. Her phrase “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well” is not a Pollyanna-esque blindness to reality, but the result of a deep faith that God is indeed in control of all, even in the midst of apparent evil. Julian repeatedly states that there is no wrath or anger in God, a proposition that is upsetting to Puritans and biblical literalists. And preceding modern psychology by centuries, she points out that the wrath we think we see in God is really in ourselves.

Julian may be most famous for her unapologetic treatment of Christ as Mother, no doubt the finest and most sophisticated treatment of the subject in all of Christian literature. What is absolutely unique in Julian is her protestation that it is not that Christ is like a mother, but that all mothers are like Christ: Christ is the protomother and all earthly motherhood is an imitation and reflection of Him.

Sin, which so absorbs so many ecclesiastical writers of her day, is given short shrift by Julian when she declares with the Scholastics that sin has “no manner of essence nor any portion of being,” that it is “no deed,” but is rather an absence of goodness. She declares that all human beings have a “godly will” within them which “never consented to sin nor ever shall” and “is so good that it can never will evil, but always good.” She frequently uses “blindness” as the analogy for human weakness.

As great a spiritual master as Thomas Merton has written: “Julian is without doubt one of the most wonderful of all Christian voices. She gets greater and greater in my eyes as I grow older.”

From Stars in a Dark World: Stories of the Saints and Holy Days of the Liturgy, with Supplementary Readings according to the use of The Order of Julian of Norwich by Fr. John-Julian, OJN (Outskirts Press, 2009).

06 May 2010

Keep watch, dear Lord

Keep watch, dear Lord, 

with those who work, 

or watch, 

or weep this night,

and give your angels charge over those who sleep.

Tend the sick, Lord Christ;

 give rest to the weary, 

bless the dying, 

soothe the suffering, 

pity the afflicted, 

shield the joyous; 

and all for your love's sake. 


Prayers for family and friends of Yeardley Love and the entire UVA Community

photo from the DailyProgress online

Make haste to help me

Psalm 70 
1Be pleased, O God, to deliver me; *
O LORD, make haste to help me.
2Let those who seek my life be ashamed
and altogether dismayed; *
let those who take pleasure in my misfortune
draw back and be disgraced.
3Let those who say to me "Aha!" and gloat over me turn back, *
because they are ashamed.
4Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; *
let those who love your salvation say for ever,
"Great is the LORD!"
5But as for me, I am poor and needy; *
come to me speedily, O God.
6You are my helper and my deliverer; *
O LORD, do not tarry.

I remember Thomas Merton once saying in one of his lectures that real prayer is when you are hanging by a strand of hair over an abyss, and I remember someone saying that real prayer could just be crying out "help" to God.  In psalm 70, from today's Daily Office (the daily Morning Prayer), we are given a glimpse of this kind of prayer.  The words are spoken from a place of great danger, of great need.  Three times in the prayer God is asked to come with "haste," "speedily" and "do not tarry."  In the midst of our own need and poverty we cry out to God, asking God to bring the real sense of Grace and Peace in times that feel neither grace-filled nor peaceful.  God is asked to find pleasure in helping us, "be pleased to deliver me," and God is asked to stand between us and our troubles.  Of course, God is already there, God is already in the midst of all our trouble, and in many ways our prayers are as much prayers for us to sense God's presence, to feel God's love, and to experience God's grace in our lives - especially in these times of need and poverty.

We all have been there.  We all have been in the midst of the muck and the gloom.  If you find yourself in this kind of place, may God shine upon you and may you feel his grace and presence!

You are my helper and deliverer, do not tarry, O my Lord!

May God make haste to help us and may we have eyes and ears and hearts to feel it,

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

04 May 2010

Prayers for the UVA community

My prayers go out to the entire University of Virginia community as they mourn the murder of Yeardley Love and also cope with the reality that another student was her killer.

My heart is heavy and my compassion goes out to Yeardley's family and friends in this horrible time.

So tragic, so sad.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

01 May 2010

Philip and James

Almighty God, who gave to your apostles Philip and James grace and strength to bear witness to the truth: Grant that we, being mindful of their victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.