30 September 2017

Kneeling, by R.S. Thomas

R.S. Thomas (1913–2000)

Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for the God
To speak; the air a staircase
For silence; the sun's light
Ringing me, as though I acted
A great role. And the audiences
Still; all that close throng
Of spirits waiting, as I,
For the message.
Prompt me, God;
But not yet. When I speak,
Though it be you who speak
Through me, something is lost.
The meaning is in the waiting.

29 September 2017

The Rev. Peter M. Carey Sermon ~ Michaelmas 29 September 2017

The Rev. Peter M. Carey
Sermon ~ Michaelmas
29 September 2017

The marvelous Feast of Michael and All Angels, called Michaelmas reminds us of the many ways that God’s care watches over us, and God’s love wraps around us in real and tangible ways, even if we are are not always aware of it.   Surely, we know, when we take the time to sit, and really pray, that God’s creation is more rich and more grand than we can wrap our minds around in our everyday comings and goings.

Jesus speaks of the ways that God has been at work in the world from the very beginning, and then welcomes his hearers into the deep reality of God’s Kingdom even in their everyday lives.  Today’s gospel reminds us that Jesus was no mere wisdom teacher, and that God is not merely the one who created all things at the very beginning, but is at work caring for the world, and wrapping his love around the world, even in first century Palestine, and even today.  Jesus gives a glimpse of the deeper reality of God that is omnipresent.

“Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

God is at work in the world, and is on the side of the good. We have glimpses of the panoply of angels scattered around the Holy Scriptures.  We are not given detailed descriptions of these figures, but they are real enough for the Hebrews and for the followers of Jesus that they are mentioned throughout the Bible.  Jesus speaks of angels rejoicing over penitent sinners in Luke 15, and warns against misleading a child because the child’s angels behold the face of God (Mt 18:10)   In the Hebrew scriptures, we have stories of the messengers of God, figures who at first seem to be human, but then perhaps disappear, or are revealed to be otherwise.  

Michael (the name means "Who is like God?") is said to be the captain of the heavenly armies. He is mentioned in the Scriptures in Daniel 10:13,31; 12:1 (where he is said to be the prince of the people of Israel); in Jude 9 (where he is said to have disputed with the devil about the body of Moses); and in today’s epistle. He is generally pictured in full armor, carrying a lance, and with his foot on the neck of a dragon.

Remembering the angels remind us that we humans are not at the top of the heap of created beings.  Of course, we may live and move and think that we are at the pinnacle, however, some heavenly inspired humility is important for us.  In addition, the model of the angels who serve God, and live out God’s love is a glorious model for us.  The stories of the angels remind us that it seems that God empowers his willing servants to do good in the world on God’s behalf.  Our own call to love and to serve is in concert with these dramatic stories of the angels.

28 September 2017

Rock Point, Burlington, Vermont ~ #HolySpaceThursdays

Rock Point, Burlington, Vermont ~ #HolySpaceThursdays

For this "HolySpaceThursday" I want to give a nod to Rock Point, and Rock Point Summer Conferences from back in my youth and young adulthood, which taught me first-hand what it meant to be a holy place, and a holy space.  If the celts are right, and if there are "thin places" in this world between the everyday and the divine, between the human and the godly, and between earth and heaven, surely Rock Point is one of those places.  The people, the program, and the place of Rock Point all taught me the tangible love of God, and of the importance of prayer, of the Eucharist, and of building a beloved community.  


Rumi's The Guest House

The Guest House 

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

 ~ Rumi ~
(The Essential Rumi, version by Coleman Barks)

27 September 2017

We are all of us seeking a homeland.

We are all of us seeking a homeland,
even though we have only seen and embraced it from afar.
We are all of us strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

~Frederick Buechner

26 September 2017

Honoring the life, ministry and legacy of Octavius Valentine Catto

The Official Public Unveiling Ceremony of the 
Octavius Catto Statue on the Grounds of City Hall

There was a public unveiling of a statue erected to remember the life, ministry and legacy of Octavius Valentine Catto held at Philadelphia City Hall. The Very Rev. Martini Shaw and the Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. GutiĆ©rrez (pictured below) were present and provided a Prayer for the Ceremony and blessed the statue.

An Episcopalian and member of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, Octavius Valentine Catto (1839-1871) was a celebrated student at the Institute for Colored Youth (ICY) Philadelphia's premier high school for African-American youth, now Cheyney University. A leader of the National Equal Rights League, Catto spearheaded the effort to desegregate streetcars and win the vote for black men. He was assassinated on Election Day October 10, 1871. Octavius V. Catto was remembered as a "Martyr to the cause of Constitutional Liberty."

25 September 2017

Seth Godin: On the danger of saying something for the first time

That's rare air, with no support, no foundation.
Like the coyote, running of a cliff in pursuit of the roadrunner...
What could be more important? 
When we synthesize and invent and leap, we create a rare sort of value.

22 September 2017

Draughting Theology ~ wonderful blog by the Rev. Steve Pankey


For "PayItForward" and "FollowFriday",  I highly recommend the wonderful blog, "Draughting Theology," by my old seminary friend, the Rev. Steve Pankey.  Steve is a dedicated blogger, who has blogged about the Bible for many years now.  Over these years, he has delved deeply into all sorts of questions of scripture, and has a way not only with language, but also with connecting the scriptures to everyday life.  His devotion to scripture is impressive, and his thoughtfulness is deep.  He has a large following, and it is richly deserved.  If you have not checked out his blog, I highly recommend it! 


21 September 2017

L'shana Tova

L'shana Tova

HolySpaceThursday ~ Bishop's Ranch, Healdsburg, California

For this "ThrowBackThursday," also known as "HolySpaceThursdays" I remember and recognize the wonderful Bishop's Ranch, an Episcopal Retreat Center in Sonoma County, California.  The image above is a panorama photo I took while journalling at Bishop's Ranch while I was at a CREDO Conference.  The beauty of the place is amazingly overwhelming, and my iphone photo only barely captures a glimpse of that beauty.

Check out this amazing place at their website: http://www.bishopsranch.org/


19 September 2017

Please consider giving to Episcopal Relief and Development!

Please consider giving to Episcopal Relief and Development!

Friend in Christ, just making sure you saw Rob's email. While it's difficult for many of us to understand what those affected by Hurricane Irma are going through right now, we can put our faith into action and give them the support they urgently need.

Please donate now and help Episcopal Relief & Development in the US and Caribbean to provide temporary housing, food, and urgently needed supplies.

Your gift will not only benefit people now, but in the weeks and months ahead as we remain for the longer-term recovery. Thank you for your generosity and prayers for all those affected by Hurricane Irma and other storms as we just begin this hurricane season.

*If you have already donated to the Hurricane Relief Fund, thank you. We will provide updates as our work continues.
Help us respond to Hurricane Irma — and other storms on their way
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Dear Friend in Christ,

Hurricane Irma left hundreds of thousands of people in dire need. They will require critical assistance in the weeks and months ahead. In addition, we are only at the start of what promises to be a very active hurricane season.

As we launch relief efforts in communities both in the US and the Caribbean, we urgently need your support.

Hurricane Irma's impact is truly unparalleled — leveling islands with record-breaking winds, flooding, and heavy rains. At least 47 people died as a result of the storm including at least 12 in the US, and millions continue to be without power. The devastation in the US Virgin Islands is catastrophic.
We are supporting our partners in the affected areas across the Caribbean and US, and helping them to quickly provide supplies, assess damage, and help rebuild.

The magnitude of the destruction is only beginning to be understood. With your help, we will be prepared to assist communities for the long haul — after Irma and whatever comes next.

Please make an urgent gift to our Hurricane Relief Fund and pray for the individuals and families affected. This is just the beginning of a long recovery — and our brothers and sisters in need are counting on us.
Yours faithfully,
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Episcopal Relief & Development 

P.S. As someone who gave generously to support those affected by Hurricane Harvey, I want to say thank you. We can only begin to imagine how traumatic these events can be for the families and communities involved. I hope you will consider making a special gift to help other hurricane victims, including those impacted by Irma, recover as quickly as possible and rebuild in the months ahead.
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Homily on Theodore of Tarsus ~ Archbishop of Canterbury ~ 690 ce

The Collect
Almighty God, you called your servant Theodore of Tarsus from Rome to the see of Canterbury, and gave him gifts of grace and wisdom to establish unity where there had been division, and order where there had been chaos: Create in your Church, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, such godly union and concord that it may proclaim, both by word and example, the Gospel of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2 Timothy 2:1–5,10

You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well. Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving in the army gets entangled in everyday affairs; the soldier's aim is to please the enlisting officer. And in the case of an athlete, no one is crowned without competing according to the rules. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

John 3:16–21

Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

The Rev. Peter M. Carey
Homily preached at Bishop William White Lodge, Cathedral Village, Philadelphia
Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury - 690 c.e.

John’s gospel reminds us that God is the ultimate giver, who gives us life, who gives us all we have, and who gave the world Jesus, “for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”  The gifts of God are given in love, so that the world might be transformed into the beloved community.  God constantly surprises us with his boundless love, but also with his creativity.  When John writes, “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that be saved through him. “  Those who take up the cross and follow Jesus are a part of this saving action.  

Today we remember Theodore of Tarsus who was one who took up his cross, and followed Jesus, and was quite a surprising figure in the history of the church. Theodore was a monk living in Rome when word came that there needed to be a new Archbishop of Canterbury.  The English elected the next Archbishop, Wighard, and sent him to Rome to be consecrated, but before he could be consecrated by the Pope, he died.

Pope Vitalian chose the next Archbishop, and surely surprised many by choosing a 65 year old monk from Tarsus in the Holy Land, who had not even been ordained a priest to go to England.  This surprising choice turned out to be a very good one. Theodore was "the first archbishop whom all the English obeyed" (Bede).  

“Theodore filled the vacant bishoprics and in 672 presided over the first council of the entire English Church, at Hertford. He established definite territorial boundaries for the various dioceses, and founded new dioceses where needed. He found the Church of England an unorganized missionary body, and left it a fully ordered province of the universal Church. The body of canon law drawn up under his supervision, and his structure of dioceses and parishes, survived the turmoil of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and are substantially intact today.

He also founded a school at Canterbury that trained Christians from both the Celtic and the Roman traditions, and did much to unite the two groups.”
                   (from http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/250.html )

This monk from the Holy Land, living and working in Rome, was plucked from his life to serve a particular purpose, a challenging mission to England.  God chose this surprising figure to find a way to spread the Gospel of love, and build up the Church.  God also pours out his surprising love on us, and blesses us with his surprising love.  May we each be as ready and willing as Theodore to take up God’s gospel of love, and proclaim it to the world.

17 September 2017

17 September 2017 ~ Sermon by the Rev. Peter M. Carey

The Rev. Peter M. Carey
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church ~ Cathedral Road
17 September 2017

Dealing with difficult situations is an important part of life.   As we move through the decades of life, we are presented with more and more opportunities for joy and happiness, but also there are more and more times that we are presented with difficult choices, difficult moments, difficult times.  

Jesus is sometimes characterized as a kinder and gentler sort of example of Godliness than the stories of the Old Testament.  However, Jesus did not suffer fools gladly, and was, at times sharp and harsh with his words and commands.  In today’s gospel, he pushes the envelope by challenging Peter and the disciples with the awesomely difficult challenge of forgiveness.  Consider the difficult things that you have faced, funerals of loved ones, difficult health decisions, challenging moments in school and work, physically challenging tasks.  For those who have served in the military or as a first-responder, the challenges and difficult situations are perhaps beyond even the imagination of the rest of us.  In my thinking, Jesus’ challenge to Peter and his disciples in today’s gospel is right on par with the most difficult situations we have faced.  

Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
When Jesus teaches his disciples and the throngs of people who embrace his loving message of hope and Good news, Jesus embraces the Godly action of forgiveness.  In today’s gospel, Jesus teaches his followers that they must forgive, and not merely once, but 7 times, and even 77 times ~ which was a colloquial expression in Aramaic that meant more or less what we mean when we say “I love you tons”....he tells them to forgive “tons” - “without limit”, “to the moon and back.”

To be harmed, insulted, physically or emotionally hurt, and then find the strength  and the courage to forgive is a tremendous challenge.  This is really tough stuff.  Whether it involves kids on a playground, teenagers in school, young professionals at work, or older adults in relationships, forgiveness is no easy task.

Every Sunday we pray the Lord’s Prayer, and we have it committed to memory, “Forgive us our trespasses and those who trespass against us.”  These words roll off the tongue easily, but they are not accomplished so easily.

In today’s Old Testament reading from Genesis, we hear a part of the story of Joseph, the end of the “Joseph and the coat of many colors” story.  Remember that Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, and through the love and power of God, he was able to rise to power in Egypt.  Years later, his brothers come to him to beg for forgiveness, because there was a great famine in all the land, and they begged  that he would help them.  I imagine that they think this request is a long-shot!  Perhaps they don’t think that he will forgive them, but they hope to at least be given food, for they and their household are starving.  

Somehow, the miracle of forgiveness happens.  Joseph find the strength in his heart to forgive them.  Though they sold him into slavery, abandoning him perhaps to death, he was able to set aside the grievance, to set aside the sin, and forgive them.  

“Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.”

What humankind meant for evil, God transformed into good!

In Paul’s letter to the Romans we are reminded that we are, ultimately, dependent on God, and that God has given us all that we have, our very life.  We are to be “accountable” to God, and not only that. In addition, Jesus died so that we would be healed, that we would be saved, and that we would be able to even more fully embrace the love that God has given us.  

“We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living . . . So then, each of us will be accountable to God.”

All we have is from God, all we are is from God…, and it is helpful to remember the first part of the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples.  We we ask forgiveness...we know we have wronged others, and God forgives us, and we are to forgive others.  Lord knows that we have screwed up, we are not perfect.  So, who are we to NOT forgive?

What humans made for ill, God turned into Good.  This is a radical notion.  Remember the story of Joseph?  … God takes the particularities of our story, and massages them into Good, the greater Good.  

God is not merely a watcher of our world, not merely a sideline observer, not merely a coach, and not merely a referee, God is a player in the world, and God does impact the world.  God is Good, and God is Love, and God’s actions move things toward the greater good.  

Of course, we have free-will, and we have the ability to do good ourselves, we have the ability to live out our “image of God”...and do good in the world, but we mess up. We mess up royally at times.  We are not perfect.  

God is able to turn the boat to the good.  God is able to tug on the rudder.  God is able to shift the wind just a bit, when we are headed wrongly, God can turn things for the good.

In the story of Joseph, God moves the heart of Joseph to look beyond his own history.  When Joseph forgives his brothers, he is activating the Love of God in his own life. His very action of forgiveness is the very action of God in his life.  

When Joseph forgives, he is doing God’s work.  Not only that, I would say that when Joseph forgives, he is doing holy and divine action.  When Jesus tells his disciples to forgive not seven times, but 77 times, he is calling them into the life of the miracle of forgiveness.  Jesus is welcoming his disciples into this holy and divine work.  

To forgive is one of the most difficult things we can attempt to do, but when we do it, we are doing divine and holy work.  God knows us, every iota, every crevass, every secret, every thought, every mistake, every error, and loves us anyway.  God loves us, and forgives us.  When we forgive, we are doing God’s work.

Recording of Sermon preached on 17 September 2017

Recording of Sermon preached on 17 September 2017

Recording of Sermon preached on 17 September 2017

15 September 2017

Dr. Stephen Cook's Blog ~ Biblische Ausbildung

For this "Pay it Forward"/#FollowFriday, I want to highlight the excellent blog of my former seminary professor, Dr. Stephen L. Cook.  Dr. Cook is a scholar of the Old Teatament / Hebrew Bible at Virginia Theological Seminary.  He is an excellent teacher, scholar, and mentor, and has taught hundreds of students in his career.  Dr. Cook's love and devotion of scripture is intertwined with a keen and incisive mind and many years of delving into the Old Testament / Holy Scriptures.  Do go check out his excellent blog, Biblische Ausbildung!



Sermons online on SoundCloud ~ The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Sermons online on SoundCloud 
The Rev. Peter M. Carey 
at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Cathedral Road