31 October 2011

A four-fold Franciscan blessing

I use an adaptation of this blessing often at the end of the Holy Eucharist, but was so glad to finally find the original (I am assuming it is the original) version and also a citation for the writer of it!

I love this one, and have it pasted in the back of my Book of Common Prayer...

by Sr. Ruth Fox, OSB (1985)

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator,
Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Saviour,
and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide,
be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore.

Mary Poppins' "bird woman" evicted from St. Paul's Cathedral?

Would St. Paul's Cathedral get rid of the "bird woman" from the "steps of St. Paul's" from Mary Poppins...

What a bunch of scrooges; or worse!

28 October 2011

"Halloween is Christian, wonderfully so!" ~Bishop Shannon Johnston

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 next Sunday, November 6 when we celebrate All Saints Day!

~ The 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 HALLOWEENnot 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 feastThe 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,

27 October 2011

Gandhi's seven sins

So, put up against Gandhi's report card...how are we doing?

Politics without principle,
pleasure without conscience,
wealth without work,
knowledge without character
business without morality, 
science without humanity,
worship without sacrifice.

26 October 2011

Lord, it is night

Lord it is night.
The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.
It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done.
Let it be.
The night is dark
Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.
The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace.
The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.
In your name we pray..

25 October 2011

Moustache growing season

From LiveStrong blog...I am embarking on this project, to grow a moustache to raise money for the Headstrong foundation...pictures to be posted, soon.

I can still recall the day a few years ago our CEO, 3-time cancer survivor Doug Ulman, returned from Australia and told me, “Hey, I’d like you to see about us getting involved with this organization called Movember.” OK, I said, tell me about them.  He went on to say they were this enthusiastic group of guys who wanted to bring back the moustache (a Mo in Aussie slang) in November, hence:Movember. And in the process they’d spread the word about men’s health, raise some funds, have a lot of fun and a then throw big party afterwards.  Sounds good, I said – but just how big is it, we’re talking growing moustaches, after all?
Well, in 2003 it was really more of a fun, party thing with just 30 guys participating.  In 2004 450 “Mo Bros” joined up and they raised $54,000 for the Australian Prostate Cancer Foundation, at that time the largest single donation that organization had ever received.  And then things got really interesting. To date, more than 1.1 Million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas have participated with formal campaigns in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa and Ireland, raising over $147 million dollars for the fight against cancer! An amazing accomplishment in the fight against cancer.
And that brings us to 2011 and about a week before the campaign begins. The beauty of Movember – aside from the styling moustache guys can grow and women support – is that participation is key, and fundraising something more organic.  Look at the goals they’ve got and you’ll see why:
Awareness and educationThrough our annual campaign and funded programs we will significantly increase the understanding of the health risk that men face and encourage men to act on that knowledge.
SurvivorshipWe will fund survivorship initiatives that provide information and support for men and their families affected by prostate and other male cancers that helps them make informed decisions and improves their quality of life.
Prostate cancer researchWe will fund catalytic research and clinical trials infrastructure that leads to significantly improved diagnostic and prognostic tests and treatments to reduce the burden of prostate cancer.
Influencing change in men’s healthWe will fund research that helps to inform health policy and knowledge translation that accelerates improved health outcomes for men.
And so this basic idea for a fun 30 days in Movember has blossomed into a global men’s health campaign.  We here at LIVESTRONG are proud partners with our Mo Bros and Sistas and hope that you’ll join in as well.  Sign up atMovember.com, form a team, hold an event, but most importantly talk about the issues and realities surrounding men’s health to those you know and love – you never know whose life you might change in the process. 

The Monastery, from 2005 on the BBC

Quite good...

24 October 2011

We are meant to shine

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

~Marianne Williamson

23 October 2011

Beautiful evening with our church youth group!

23 October 2011 ~ Sermon ~ "prophets of a future not our own"

The Rev. Peter M. Carey
Sermon at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Greenwood, Virginia
23 October 2011

Comings and goings.  Beginnings and Endings.  Birth and death.  Gains and losses.

Our lives are full of them.  Just when we think things are moving quite well, that the status quo is a pretty good thing, we encounter a bump in the road, a twist of fate, a rough patch.  Just when we think we have a handle on something, a new challenge emerges.  Remember when you were young, and you moved your way through elementary school, and you reached the top grade in your school?  You were the big dogs.  You were the ones that others had to look up to?  And then, you moved on to Junior High, or Middle School, and all of a sudden, you were at the bottom again.  And then this pattern happened over and over.  You were the top in the band, and then you were moved up to High School Band.  You were the captain of your team, and then you were moved to Varsity.   You were All-State, and then you were “riding the pine” at college. 

It continues in our lives, we get comfortable, we get to thinking that we have a handle on things, and then the handles change, and we have trouble holding on.  Recently I was reminded by a wise mentor that we are often moved by God into places and spaces that are over our heads.  We like to think that we move from one place to another while relying on our strengths and gifts, and that our acquisition of “skill sets” will lead us to new challenges that we are prepared for. 

Alas, we are most often NOT prepared for what we are about to be confronted with.  Who is really prepared for parenting? Who is really prepared for a new job?  Who is really prepared for that new stage in our lives?  Who is really prepared to say goodbye? 

We gain experience, and we gain skills, but most often we are pushed beyond our “comfort zones,” and we are put into positions in which we are over our heads.  So, where to turn?  What might these situations be teaching us? Where do we turn in these situations?  

If you think you might have it bad, just think about the Israelites.  They had labored through 40 years in the wilderness under the strong and wise leadership of Moses.  Moses, who had seen God “face to face” back when he was walking along and a burning bush started talking to him.  Moses had seen God “face to face” and was the only person ever to see God in this way, and live.  Not only that, Moses had ascended the Mount, to return with the Law of God in the form of the 10 commandments.  Moses had actually spent time talking with God, and was most definitely a “man of God” and, even, perhaps a “friend of God,” or at least about as close as a person could ever be a friend of God.

Well, as bad as it had gotten out there in the wilderness, God was still with his people, and the most sure sign of God’s presence was that Moses lead the people with a firm hand, a compassionate heart, and a strong will – while also doing it with what he claimed himself was not a gift of speech. 

But now, now Moses was dying.  Moses could see the Promised Land toward which they had travelled all these many years, but he would not go there, and though he was 120 years old, God would not grant him any more years, and not even a few more days to live to see the Promised Land.  Just when the people were finally being given the goal toward which they had worked all these many years, they were losing their guide, their leader, their mentor, their wise and strong captain along the way.  How would they go on at this point?

Here we see that God is moving the people to a place in which they are over their heads.  The leadership and wisdom of Moses would not be replaced, it couldn’t be.  Moses was the only one who would “see God face to face,” and his leadership was one of a kind.  However, the true guide, the true leader, the true captain in the journey, of course, was not Moses – even as great as he was – but the true guide is God. 

Here, the people, these wandering, intermittently holy people of God, were hopefully reminded that their journey does not rest on Moses’ goodness, or his holiness, or his unique experience of God.   Their journey rests in God’s hands, and God’s promises precede any work by Moses, and God’s promises are deeper than any presence of Moses among the people. 

It is a hard reality to remember, that when things are going well, we often, ironically, find ourselves put into situations that test us not at our points of strength, but at our points of weakness.  This is a kind of humility that is not mere rhetorical modesty.  “Oh, I am not so good at that.”  Rather, this humility is the humility where we are driven to the place where we cannot any longer rely on our experience, our skills, and our strengths.  We are brought to a place where true prayer begins – we are brought to a place where we truly ask for God’s help.  For we cannot do it ourselves.  Often, we can rely on a kind of functional atheism, for we believe (most of the hours of the day) that success depends on our effort.  However, our lives are full of times when we are pushed to the place where we cry out, “help.”  The place where true prayer begins.

The Israelites had lost their earthly guide, but were pushed into the “deep water” where they had to find not only inner strength, but had to turn, ultimately, to God in order to find the strength to go on.  

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a small fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about: We plant the seeds that will one day grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing  that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects  far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense  of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it well. It may be incomplete but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador (1917–1980)

Morning has broken...

...like the first morning...

20 October 2011

Go deeper

Every time you close another door--be it the door of immediate satisfaction, the door of distracting entertainment, the door of busyness, the door of guilt and worry, or the door of self-rejection--you commit yourself to go deeper into your heart and thus deeper into the heart of God.

This is a movement toward full incarnation. It leads you to become what you already are--a child of God; it lets you embody more and more the truth of your being; it makes you claim the God within you.

Henri Nouwen ~ The Inner Voice of Love