Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dog Heaven

Take a look at this post from the MadPriest. I am definitely thinking about introducing this Sunday afternoon service. Our Chapel of the Holy Spirit is perfect - no pews, open space. What can it hurt? I really like the part about passing the dog biscuit basket along with the offering plate. I know a few people who would love to be able to bring their dogs to church. I think St. Francis Sunday would be perfect.

And I am serious.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We Shall Overcome

DeanB replied yesterday that he would sing a chorus of "We Shall Overcome" in honor of the vigil held last night. It seems to have worked, Dean. We had a very good turnout. The gathering was orderly. Only one protest, shouted from a car as it drove by. Three people from Connecticut government were there. People came to give witness with their bodies not just locally but from New Haven and Hartford.

One speaker said, when she was growing up if you saw someone being bullied you went and stood with them. Another said, as a Christian, it's well and good to stay home and pray. It's better to get up, leave your house, and stand with those for whom you are praying.

An inspiring evening. An evening of hope - and hope is for that which is as yet unseen - peace, wholeness, unconditional love.

We live in a time when, for reasons passing understanding, false truth is being created out of lies or even nothing at all, for the purpose of fomenting fear, anxiety and anger. The TV personality Stephen Colbert calls it "truthiness", as in, I get to say what is true even if it's a lie. The people are believing it and the perpetrators' payoff is power. Stir up enough anger and fear and you become powerful.

I choose the powerfulness of Christ Jesus, who stood up to the bullies, sided with the "dangerous" ones, and chose to die for love of all.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

goldfinch revisited

Yesterday I watched as a goldfinch plucked petals off a zinnia flower to get to the immature seeds at the core. My first thought was to chase it away and save my zinnia, but I didn't. Today I think, the zinnia was serving its purpose, hard as that is for me to let it give itself up to destruction to feed another.

I'm struggling with my sermon for tomorrow. Yet another "prophetic" one instead of a comforting, send the people away feeling better about themselves sermon.

The whole of the gospel of Jesus Christ is summed up in his words to the woman bent over: "You are set free!" Just like last week's revelation that Jesus's Peace is not the peaceful rest we expect but, rather, "strife closed in the sod", bringing division, Jesus's Freedom is not even close to our political freedom, which the state giveth and can take away, or limit, closing some out and deciding who to let in. Jesus's Freedom is freedom from fear, releasing us to be as subversive, radical and scandalous as he was. His Freedom is the escape from Egypt. It is the rescue at the Red Sea.

Jesus's Freedom, given to us freely, costing us nothing but costing him his life, challenges us to expect our worship to leave us challenged to do what he did: set people free. Free from our cultural norms that say, "Hate your enemy. Fear those not like you. Shun them. Deport them. Close your borders." Jesus's Freedom challenges us to a religion that demands much of us: Release the captives, give sight to the blind, heal the lame, honor God's image in all people, love all people exactly as much as God has loved us - endlessly, giving up His life for us.

Tuesday I'm going to put my money where my mouth is. There will be a prayer vigil in support of our Muslim brothers and sisters in Fairfield County at the 1st Congregational Church in Stamford. This is not a political act. This is a gospel imperative. Jesus said, "You are set free." It behooves me to act like it. It behooves me to proclaim that freedom with my body and my actions. It behooves me to give thanks by standing up for those considered by some to be enemies.

Even if Islam were my enemy, it would still behoove me to act without fear but with the freedom bought for me by the blood of Jesus Christ, and with knowledge aforethought stand up in love with my supposed enemy. Since I do not consider Muslims, or Islam, to be my enemy, this is not a hard thing to do. The difficulty comes in how those who are my fellow Christians and friends will respond to my decision to follow my Lord into Stamford on Tuesday night.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A community of Love

I am stunned to find myself replying, "Me, too" to a comment on this thread at Episcopal Cafe. The Taize Community is celebrating its 70th year of service to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, humankind, and the Church Ecumenical.

The comment to which I replied asks if anyone else besides the commenter has longed for a Taize community here, and I found my heart saying, "Yes, me too." It was a moment of clarity.

Now I know what I want to do with a sabbatical - go to France, to experience the Taize Community firsthand. Of course, for all I know, there are already little-known or unknown communities around that fill the bill. If any readers here know of such a community, please let me know.

Monday, August 9, 2010

More flocks

Monarch butterflies are starting to flock to the zinnias. I love this time of year (except for the heat and hummidity!).

Free gold

Last Friday I looked out the rectory kitchen window and watched as a goldfinch flew in and perched for some few seconds on one of the zinnias in the kitchen garden.

This morning I saw a flit of gold outside my church office window. I watched for it to perch and it was a yellow warbler.

Enjoy. I did.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Back from Vacation

I'm back from a week of vacation with Newlin and Xena, Warrior Princess of All Norwalk. I suspect Xena will sneak in here and blog her own point of view of this past few days. For me, the time was restorative. I enjoyed the setting of the place Newlin's "handlers" rented for his this summer, on the east shore of Lake Seneca in the Watkins Glen area. The back yard falls off to a field of queen ann's lace and apple orchard. The orchard is not kept up and is all the more charming because of that. I'll cut in some photos later in the week after I'm caught up on other things.

The highlight of the week was the last day, Sunday. Xena and I left with Newlin at 5:15 a.m. for Prime Hook Beach, just south of Milford and north of Lewes Beach, Delaware. The occasion: a birthday party for my oldest brother's spouse. And it was extraordinary, for Douglas's birthday was, finally, the catalyst we were all looking for over the past several years to bring all us Thien kids together in one place again. Yes, we were all there - amazing! Along with our two nieces, one of whom is Kirsten Thien, Rock Star.

My brother had brought in a three man band and Kirsten, her partner, and her dad (the middle Thien kid) brought their guitars and we had a jammin' good time. Our next goal: Thanksgiving together in NYC, Spanish Harlem.