Friday, April 30, 2010

Resurrection continues

Remember this post? About the sage plant?

Soon after that post, I read that if a sage plant doesn't like where it is, it means the place will not be good for the humans.

Well, I have good, resurrection news! The plant is spindly, yes, but it is alive, it has several branches with leaves, and it is going to bloom!

Now, true, there are only four buds on the whole plant. But there are four buds!

I noticed them this morning, and this same morning one of the Grace Hawks was again perched on the tip of the steeple cross. Now I call that good news.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Read this from The Lead

Go to this link and make sure you read the fifth comment, from JC Fisher, who writes, "The church isn't ours to lose: Christ has already won!"

Happy Eastertide!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Easter 4 when we realize the dogwoods are about 2 weeks early

I'm seriously overdue for a post. C'est la vie.

This afternoon was the monthy Open Air Chapel service. Beginning Easter Day we moved the location of that outdoor worship to the sidewalk leading up to the front steps of the church. Today was our second service at that location.

Inside the church, L'Eglise Baptiste Haitienne was in full swing of worship. Outside, at the bottom of the steps up into the church we had our little portable altar (really a food service cart - how appropriate!) and a hardy band of five, in very chilly, gray, cloudy, threatening weather, out under the sky, saying Eucharist together.

Across the street, in the park, a man on a bench watched from a distance. As we were getting ready to begin, a man and a woman walked up and asked us about what we were doing. We invited them to stay but they declined, saying they were just interested.

Cars came down the hill of Bedford St., and around the corner of Mott avenue, some of them slowing down to catch a glimpse of what was going on.

As the worship leader, I was aware of competing with the sound of traffic, but not fazed by it.

And I thought, "Remember the vision that brought you into ordained ministry in the first place?"

The vision was of an orange peel, turned inside out. As I reflected on that vision over the years, much like Julian of Norwich reflected for twenty years on her initial visions, I came to understand this as a metaphor of what I was being called to midwife the church to be.

At one point I even fleshed out that inside-out orange peel: It is as if the baptized people gather inside a church building only for the purpose of gathering to leave together. They say a prayer for the endeavor, line up behind the cross, and then, all of them, clergy, laity, everyone, singing some hymn or other, begin to process behind the cross, down the aisle of the church, out the doors, and into the community, where, on the front lawn, or in front of the courthouse, or in a park or wherever outside, they make Eucharist in public.

I came to understand that we need to get outside of our buildings, literally. We need to be focused on the community around us, outside our church building walls, and we need to be taking our worship out into that community every Sunday.

Lots of people, mostly clergy types, have tried to tell me that this vision is just a metaphor for the people going out into the world after worship to live what we have done inside the building. I disagree about that meaning for this vision.

We have been inside our buildings for eons now. For a long time we could just sit there and expect people to come in the doors, making church inside buildings possible. In some places this is still happening, and good for those people.

However, between that vision and the places I've been called to serve in my short eleven years as a priest, in those places, those communities in which people are not flocking to churches, it is time to literally get outside of ourselves and outside of our buildings. Take it to the streets. All of us. I wonder, if we did that, every Sunday, if the baptized would realize what it means to take the gospel out of worship and into their daily lives. I wonder if we made a vision, a metaphor, concrete, it would deepen spiritual lives.

I wonder if, when we finally realize God has no interest in saving dying churches nor in saving institutions, but rather in gathering us into parthership with Him/Her in the mission of reconciling love in the world, we might truly become living images of Jesus's words to the disciples: "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."
(John 12:32)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Hawks of Grace

This morning, Sunday April 18, Xena, Warrior Princess of All Norwalk, and I walked out on the deck. Suddenly Xena stopped, and looked up slowly. I followed her eyes and there, in the top of the tall, spindly pine tree, was a hawk. It plucked - yes broke off - a large twig, and flew away with it in its beak. Must be nest - building time.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Just think. All those wonderful services during Holy Week, the presence of the Latino congregation of Iglesia Episcopal Betania with us most of that time, potluck supper together on Maundy Thursday IN THE CHURCH!, Padre Jose washing the feet of the newest born member, Emanuela, born just six days before, so many young people's feet washed, Good Friday with over 30 children plus adults, so many it took three processional crosses to enable every child to have the opportunity of carrying a cross to the "tomb". What a Holy Week. The Vigil was wonderful. The lilies arrived in time and were all over the church.

All this leading up to the grand festival of the Easter Day services.

It's 7:30 a.m. on Easter Day. Newlin is in front of the church putting up the pop-up tent over the sidewalk announcing the 2:00 p.m. Open Air Chapel service to follow the main 10:00 a.m. service. He has just sighted one of the red tailed hawks on the crossbar of the steeple cross. I take the dog on her leash out to see what he's doing and see an osprey sailing over the property. Miss Xena Warrior Princess Labrador of all Norwalk greets her "dad" and I decide to run her back to the rectory.

And down I go, on my face, wrecking my shoulder, bleeding from a cut over my eye, messing up my left knee. I drop the leash sometime during the fall. Miraculously, Xena stays put. Newlin doesn't even know I've fallen until I see that my glasses are twisted out of shape and he hears me shout something about "my glasses!" He grabs Xena. I can't get up. He helps me into the house and grabs bags of peas and corn from the freezer to put on my eye and my knee.

We spend Easter Day in the Emergency Room, mostly because I react badly to the narcotic painkiller they give me and my blood pressure goes down through the floor. All that work of love to get to Easter Day - and I missed it. Missed it more than I ever thought I would, considering my favorite Easter service is the vigil.

Where is the resurrection? Well it's not what you think. We live in the resurrection. Every bit of our lives is lived in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yes there are those "little" resurrections - love out of the ashes of loneliness, peace out of despair, joy discovered in the midst of pain - and Easter Day was not without its miracles.

Pastor Paul, retired priest of the Haitian Episcopal Church in Stamford, was in the congregation when it was announced I had been hurt and wouldn't be there. He got up, went into the sacristy, vested and volunteered to take the service. So, Eucharist instead of Morning Prayer. And John, the Senior Warden, said, "I have an old Easter sermon" and dug it out and preached. The church was "packed" according to one email I got wishing me well. Barb administered the sacrament of Laying on of Hands for Healing and saw to it that Pastor Paul (Pere Paul) had everything he needed as celebrant. Barb and Carol took the Open Air Chapel service. And people were reminded once more, resurrection is here, now, always, everywhere.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed. Alleluia!
Thanks be to God.