Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A truly English Service of Readings and Carols

Fr. Jonathan has posted a truly different, beautiful and moving Lessons and Carols at St. Laika's. You don't have to wait until this Sunday. Christ is born. Come, let us worship.

Then, this Sunday we will be celebrating Christmas Lessons and Carols at Grace Episcopal Church in Norwalk, Connecticut. The season of celebrating the birth of our savior is not yet ended - Come, let us worship!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Here comes the snow!!!

The snow was forecast to begin at 10:00 a.m. and at 10:00 a.m. exactly, just as we began the first hymn, it started to snow.

But we still have over 40 people, which is not bad for a snow-phobic people like Norwalkers. And the service was joyous. Wonderful. And we had lunch after - hopping john, salad, jello with fruit, clementines, brownies Mexican style - mmmmmm - coffee and juice. What a great bunch of folk.
Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Happy New Year! Feliz Año Nuevo!

Enjoy the snow.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Feast of the Incarnation

While all things were in quiet silence, and that night was in the midst of its swift course, your almighty Word, O God, leaped down out of your royal throne, Alleluia.

Ernest F. Rotermund, September 18, 1920-December 20, 2010

A Celebration of the Life of
Ernest F. Rotermund (Ernie)
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Homily: The Reverend Lois Keen

Occasionally you may meet someone who is beloved by everyone, unconditionally.

Seldom do you meet, however, someone who seems to have nothing in him except love for everyone. Someone through whom the love of Christ shines. That was, and still is, Ernie Rotermund.

During World War II, Ernie served with the Army Aviation Engineers building runways in advance of the fliers. It was said of him that he was trying to win the war single handed. He was the first one on the ground and the first one to start to get to work. He was always on the front line. When I heard this story this week, I heard it as evidence of Ernie’s love. And I wondered why, until yesterday when I thought, well of course. Ernie was the kind of man who would do all he could to get the war over as soon as possible so the world could go back to trying to love one another.

No one can engender the kind of unconditional love that people have expressed about Ernie, without being a loving soul himself. His family say he was kind to everyone. Everyone who knew him said he was a sweet man. My own experience of Ernie was that you could only respond to him with love.

Betty is Ernie’s first love. Flowers are his second love, one he shared with Betty and their family. There was the greenhouse, and then the florist shop. And even after they were sold, there were still the relationships with the flower growing community. Ernie continued to make floral creations, especially for Grace Church, and the whole family came here to deck the church in poinsettias at Christmas, and with lilies at Easter.

Ernie once said to me that he thought of himself as an artist, one whose paints were his flowers. I agreed with him; he was an artist. It takes a certain kind of love to be able to create what Ernie did with flowers. Especially to create art that is as fleeting as the lives of flowers.

Ernie loved to build stone walls. This love sent Ernie, Jr. this week to reflect that his father was both the keystone and the cornerstone of their family. The keystone is the stone in an arch that takes the weight of the other stones. The cornerstone is the first stone laid, from which the rest of the edifice grows. Ernie, with Betty, built a great family, and accumulated an enormous edifice of friendship. All the family leaned on Ernie, bringing their questions and hard decisions to him.

The memories remain. The friends and family remain. The love remains.

And so does the keystone and cornerstone. For although Ernie is not here, his love and strength were reflections of our Savior, Jesus the Christ.

Jesus said, “Do not be troubled. Trust in me.” When his family leaned on Ernie, they were leaning on Christ. What Ernie’s and Betty’s family and friendships have become, were built on the foundation that is Christ.

Ernie has been raised to new life in Christ. It is for us the living to lean now on Jesus, to trust Jesus, and to not be troubled.

There is a golden cedar in Riverside cemetery. Ernie used to take care of that tree, trim and prune it, and, yes, take cuttings from it to use in arrangements and decorations. The final resting place of his body is in sight of that golden cedar, chosen for Ernie on purpose. Here is a place he can be remembered.

But Ernie himself lives on, in the church where he was a lifelong member, in this place where he and Betty sat together for worship faithfully week after week, in the memories of those he loved and in the hearts of those who love him still.

Love never dies. Ernie still lives. He is with God. He sees Christ face to face. But so long as there is even one here who loves him, he will also always be with you.

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”

I like to think that those who have gone before us are helping Jesus prepare our places in heaven. With his love for building walls and making art with flowers, I believe the places Ernie is helping to prepare will be some of the most beautiful of all.

Almighty God, our Father in heaven, before whom live all who die in the Lord: Receive now our brother Ernie into the courts of your heavenly dwelling place. Let his heart and soul now ring out in joy to you, O Lord, the living God, and the God of those who live. This we ask through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Eve of the Feast of the Incarnation

O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be?*
For neither before you was there any seen like you, nor shall there be after.
Daughters of Jerusalem, why do you marvel at me? The thing which you behold is a divine mystery.

Alleluia, our Savior is at hand:
O come, let us worship, alleluia.

O God, you come into our darkness to shine with the brightness of the one true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy the Light of Christ perfectly in heaven; through the One who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2nd Day Before the Feast of the Incarnation

O Emmanuel,* our Sovereign and Lawgiver, the desire of all nations and their Saviour: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

3rd Day Before the Feast of the Incarnation

O King of the nations,* and their desire, the corner-stone making both one: Come and save us, whom you formed from the dust.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

4th Day Before the Feast of the Incarnation

O Dayspring,* splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Monday, December 20, 2010

In Memorium

Ernest (Ernie) Rotermund
September 18, 1920 - December 20, 2010

Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and my light perpetual shine upon him.
May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.


The Advent Question

"Advent asks the question, what is it for which you are spending your life? What is the star you are following now?"
--Joan ChittisterThe Liturgical YearThomas Nelson, publisher (November 3, 2009)more here

Sermons and bone marrow donations

Yesterday in my sermon I concluded with the current status of a child in Norwalk, CT who needs a bone marrow donor in order to survive the leukemia that has returned stronger than ever after rounds of chemo and radiation. His name is Sebastian and he lives on hope - and his beautiful smile.

After worship and the Vestry meeting, our Deacon and I went down to St. Thomas the Apostle Parish gymnasium to get swabbed and be entered in the national bone marrow register, only to find that you have to be within the age span of 18 to 55 to be a donor. I am 65. I was very disappointed, to say the least.

But then the very kind information volunteer told me that they were taking donations of $1 on the other side of the gym. Well, at least this was something I could do at my aged stage of life so Deacon and I went over and put money in the big, clear, plexiglass cube on the donation desk. I put in all the "1's" I had. They volunteers smiled - grinned, actually - and thanked us and then one of them blew a horn and other took of noise-makers and the entire gymnasium erupted into applause that went on and one until we were out the door! Now that's the way to greet a voluntary donation! I really felt I had been useful after all. Thank you, God.

This morning the Norwalk newspaper, The Hour, reports that over 300 people registered yesterday with the bone marrow bank. Hallelujah. May there be a match there for 7 year old Sebastian.

"Now hope hat is seen is not hope. For who hopes/awaits for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." (Romans 8:24b-25)

For what do you hope this last week of Advent? Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

5th Day Before the Feast of the Incarnation

O Key of David,* and sceptre of the house of Israel, who opens and no one can shut, who shuts and no one can open: Come and bring the prisoners from the prison house, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

6th Day Before the Feast of the Incarnation

O Root of Jesse,* standing as a sign to the people, before whom kings shall shut their mouths and whom the nations shall seek: Come and deliver us and do not delay.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

7th Day Before the Feast of the Incarnation

O Adonai,* and leader of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

Friday, December 17, 2010

8th Day Before the Feast of the Incarnation

O Wisdom,* coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, and reaching mightily from one end of the earth to the other, ordering all things well: Come and teach us the way of prudence.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Advent 3 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

This is the first Advent for Iglesia Episcopal Betania as congregation in residence at Grace Norwalk. This year on December 4 the youth worked to turn the Grace side chapel, dedicated to the Holy Spirit, into a shrine in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the month of December.

Our Lady the Virgin Mary appeared to a mestizo, Juan Diego, in Mexico on December 12, 1531. Mestizos, those of both Aztec and Spanish birth, were reviled by both cultures. The miracle of this apparition of the Virgin Mary is that she did not appear as a white, European Mary, as in other latino countries, nor did she appear as a native person, an Aztec. She took the form of the most reviled - a mestizo. She called the mestizos "mis hijos", my children. Unheard of. And her miracle - roses in a season when flowers did not bloom - turned the Spanish bishop's heart.

Today La Virgen de Guadalupe is known not only as the Virgin of Mexico; she is celebrated as Our Lady of All the Americas.

On the day of her feast, last Sunday December 12, Iglesia Betania held a mass in her honor and the people kept vigil at her shrine at Grace after the service. It was very moving to see the effect of being given space for this shrine, and the presence of the Virgin herself with them, on the people of Betania.

But the latinos are not the only ones who are being effected by her presence with us. People can sense Our Lady is truly there. I will not presume to speak for them. But I can speak for myself. When I knelt to pray before her image, I began merely being polite, and faithful to another peoples' tradition. In an instant I knew and felt differently and found myself crying as I asked her to help us, to soften hearts where they need to be softened, especially toward the latino people among us not only at Grace but in all Norwalk, and to strengthen and stir up those who need to catch the fire that is Christ with us.

The Holy Spirit side chapel at Grace will remain dedicated to Our Lady, the Virgin of Guadalupe, through New Year's Day. I have a feeling this will make a difference in the life that takes place at 1 Union Park in Norwalk, Connecticut. I don't know how; I only know that as I knelt before her, I knew I had been heard, and that my prayer mattered.

One and a half weeks of Advent remain. Make time for silence. Make time to stop, wait, ponder. Something is coming. We may think we know what it is. But be prepared to be surprised.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent 2 2010

A light in the darkness: Sula after the fashion of John Singer Sargent