30 August 2012

Life is short ~ prayer based on Henri Amiel's poem

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

Abundant Life! ~ A gorgeous ride to work the other day

Jesus said, "I have come so that you may have life, and have it abundantly!"

I had a gorgeous bike ride to work the other day ~ what a beautiful way to begin the day!

Here's prayers for a joyful and abundant day!

29 August 2012

Do, or do not do, there is no try...

25 August 2012 ~ Sermon ~ Abide in me, and I in them

Peter M. Carey
Sermon – 25 August 2012
St. Paul’s Memorial Church, Charlottesville, VA

In today’s gospel from John, Jesus proclaims that, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them.”

There is this somewhat old-fashioned word that crops up quite often in John’s gospel – the word is abide.  The word has a rich meaning of timelessness as John uses it.  Earlier in John’s gospel, two followers of John the Baptist approach Jesus and ask Jesus, “where do you abide?” to which Jesus answers, “Come and see.”

He sees beyond the question of where he might be staying, and reads into their heart.  He sees into their deep longing to know where they might find what Jesus has found.  He sees into their deep longing where they might find that everlasting gift that Jesus is.

Of course, their question may appear no different than the merely polite and curious question of where you may live, where your office may be, where you may be living on grounds, where you go to school.  However, Jesus did not let them off the hook, but saw that they were looking for something more timeless, everlasting, and ever-fulfilling than merely to know where he might be staying the night.

Even though they may not have known it, they were asking this deeper question, “Jesus where do you abide?  Where can we find you?  Where can we put ourselves so that we might experience the living God?  Where can we go and live abundantly?  Where can we abide with you?

I once offered a Bible study to a wonderful group of folks, and we had moved through much of the Old Testament and were choosing how we wanted to study the New Testament.  I asked them if they wanted to look  in depth at a particular Gospel, or whether they wanted to look at the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke in parallel.  Or, perhaps they wanted to dive into Paul’s letter to the Romans or that short and powerful letter to the Galatians.  We discussed many options for awhile, and then moved to discuss why we were coming to the Bible study, what were our hopes for it.  One participant in the group, far wiser than me, far more direct, said, “I am here because I want to experience the living Christ – I want to meet Jesus.   Whatever we do, we should strive to experience Jesus.”  He did not get distracted, he would not have asked where Jesus was laying his head, he wanted to know where Jesus abides.

Jesus does not often put up with the static and distractions in his interactions either.  He cuts to the chase.  Jesus is the master inviter who tells these followers to, “come and see” where I abide.  Come and see.

The place where Jesus abides is a place open to us.  Of course, the word abide is very similar to the word abode – home, household, a place of rest, refreshment, welcome, safety, hospitality, gratitude, thanksgiving, and repentance and conversion (metanoia).

To abide is to be present, to really “be” in a place, not to just pass through, but to really stay there.  As the school year begins, for us to truly receive the presence of God in our lives, we have to reside and abide in the place where we are.  To abide in a place means that we also need to abide with the folks around us.  To abide with someone is to really “be” with them. 

One of the greatest gifts available to us is the gift of another’s presence.  However, I believe that we all have quite a bit of a presence deficit disorder.  We are distracted, by our technology and by the chaotic nature of our lives.  It is a great gift to be present, however, it is increasingly challenging. 

One of the greatest gifts available to us is the gift of another’s presence.  When we are given the present of another’s presence we feel the blessing of that person, but also, through them, we can feel Christ’s presence in our lives.

Of course, to be fully present with another when they are in pain, suffering, or heartache can be quite a challenge.  Just to sit with someone in pain can be extremely spiritually challenging, and yet is also a gift as well.  Just think of those disciples who Jesus asked to “abide with me” the night before the crucifixion.  They had all received an abundance of Jesus’ own presence!  They had gotten attention from Jesus over three years! And still they could not stay awake.  We all falter at time to be present with those in need, and yet we can be there for one another.

So, the word abide signals a timeless quality of place – where Jesus abides is that timeless and eternal place where we might “come and see” the blessing that God has given us.  Abiding in a place can point to the abode where God lives – the place that is open to us, if we cultivate the awareness of God’s presence.  The word points to a sense of timeless presence, the gift of abiding alongside someone; the gift of presence to those in need, those in heartache, those in suffering.

As we eat follow Jesus’ command to “eat my flesh and drink my blood” we do “abide in him, and he in us.”  Christ has given us the gift of the real presence of him in our lives.  We partake of the “bread that came down from heaven” and “the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

Christ abides in us, and we in Christ.  Through the gift of the Eucharist we are offered the gift of God’s presence in our lives.  We are made one with God, and he is one with us.   We are made one with God, we are also made one with one another.  We also offer each other the gift of invitation, the gift of hospitality to others.  And, so we offer others the gift of presence, of healing, of caregiving, for we are one in the Spirit with God, and one in the Spirit with one another.

Those who eat my body and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.  Come and see!

27 August 2012

Blessings as UVA begins classes tomorrow!

From The Hook: Mending fences: Sullivan tells all

Mending fences: And losing weight, Sullivan tells all

In her first press conference since her triumphant June 26 reinstatement as the University of Virginia president, Teresa Sullivan met with reporters in Carr's Hill, the presidential mansion, to herald the new academic year and take questions about the recent turmoil. The August 22 get-together touched on such big topics as governance, professor replacement, and even the burning question of the president's appearance, part of a recent Hookstory on the potential of appearance-based bullying.
In contrast to her foil, Rector Helen Dragas– who, after giving the media just three minutes one Sunday afternoon, began relying on statements from Hill & Knowlton word-crafters– the president replied to all questions, even commenting on the search for a new chief operating officer. The last one, Michael Strine, resigned in early August after the release of emails showing him to be currying favor with the Rector.
"It's been quite clear that, contractually, that person reports to the president," said Sullivan. "I'll make it even more clear if it needs to be."
The president launched her press conference, however, with an exaltation of the arriving class of 2016.
"Every new class gets to enjoy being the strongest class in school history for exactly one year," said a smiling Sullivan. "That's until the next class arrives with stronger credentials."
In response to a question, she remarked that Governor Bob McDonnell called her the Friday before reinstatement to say he'd been told that the ouster decision had been "unanimous," a further blow to the credibility of Rector Dragas, who although having engineered the president's removal, went on to win the governor's blessing for a second term on the governing board.
"What happened here was unique, but the issues that surfaced during the controversy are not unique," said Sullivan. "They're the same issues that face every university in America but particularly public universities.
"Our progress over the next two years," she continued, "will be a bellwether for all of public higher education in America, and it's a mistake not to think everyone's watching."
How much convincing did she need to resume the reins? 
"I was not very hard to persuade. I felt that I had a lot of work to do."

Does she now feel "bullet-proof"? 
"No one should ever feel bullet-proof."
How were donations after reinstatement?
"After June 26, there was a remarkable boost."
On the recently-announced Coursera online partnership:
"That's an experiment, not a business plan." 
On her newfound rock-star status: 
"I will be going to New York City the first week in September, and we sent out an email, and all the seats filled in 10 minutes. We had to get a second venue, and there will be live-streaming."
Is she losing weight?
"Summer is a wonderful time for health– there are lots of good healthy fruits and vegetables, especially here. We've been blessed here at the University with several gymnasia where I am known to work out."
Why did her prepared remarks at the June 26 BOV meeting presume reinstatement?
"I had two speeches with me."
This story is a part of the President Sullivan retakes the reins special.

Good Morning! Morning Has Broken

Morning has Broken!

I've always loved this hymn, of course, cemented into my brain in the Cat Stevens version...

Good morning!  

"mine is the morning, born of the one light Eden saw play"

"God's re-creation of the new day!"

25 August 2012

Sermon preview - 26 August 2012 - "abide in me"

Here's a word cloud of my sermon for tomorrow...courtesy of the awesome site, www.wordle.net -- check it out!

See you in the morning!

Also, welcome to all UVA students, parents, faculty, staff and everyone!

A hearty welcome to all UVA students, faculty and staff - St. Paul's Memorial Welcomes You!

A hearty welcome to all UVA students, faculty and staff - St. Paul's Memorial Welcomes You!

See you today (Saturday) for snacks on our "front porch"!

Visit us on Facebook, HERE or at https://www.facebook.com/StPaulsMemorialChurch

Follow us on Twitter, HERE, or at https://twitter.com/StPaulsMemorial, @StPaulsMemorial

22 August 2012

For the Care of Children from the Book of Common Prayer

For the Care of Children from the Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God, heavenly Father, you have blessed us with the joy and care of children: Give us calm strength and patient wisdom as we bring them up, that we may teach them to love whatever is just and true and good, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

21 August 2012

Blessings on the beginning of a new school year! ~ For young persons, from the Book of Common Prayer

Blessings on the beginning of a new school year! ~ For young persons, from the Book of Common Prayer

For Young Persons

God our Father, you see your children growing up in an
unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways
give more life than the ways of the world, and that following
you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to
take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance
for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you,
and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

Theology of Parish Ministry - "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down"

My theology of parish ministry is, in part, informed by Mary Poppins' dictum that a "Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down."  Surely, we can take ourselves far too seriously in our liturgy, formation, outreach and mission - we need, from time to time, some good fun!

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

19 August 2012

Backpack blessing at St. Paul's Memorial Church today

A great time was had by all, as we send our students and teachers of all ages forth into the new academic year for great successes, great challenges, some struggles, and a lot of learning!


~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

18 August 2012

Dedication today at Charlottesville's new Habitat Project

I was privileged, on behalf of the Episcopal Churches in Region XV, to offer a blessing at the dedication today at Charlottesville's new Habitat Project, Sunrise Park.  It was a powerful occasion, and got to see the result of so much incredible generosity and work.

~ The Rev. Peter M. Carey