Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sermon, Independence Sunday 2011

Sermon

Pentecost 3

July 3, 2011

Independence Sunday Service of readings and music

There will be no sermon at Grace on Independence Sunday, July 3, 2011. The readings from various historical sources, and the Gospel of Matthew, will be let stand on their own, followed by Holy Communion. Instead, here is a meditation on the portion of Matthew appointed for that day.

Gospel: Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Three hundred years ago this nation was founded in protest against tyranny and fashioned in freedom for all men. At the same time, it was decided that the 1700’s were not the time for freedom and equality for women, or for slaves who had been imported from Africa. The matter of women’s suffrage was delayed whilst this nation took up, decades later, the matter of freedom for African slaves. This nation of freedom, liberty and justice for all, came to war over the matter.

In the readings for this morning, we heard the ending of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

In the main body of that address, Lincoln wrote this about the civil war:

“On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it. All sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war – seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war. But one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive. And the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.

“…Each [side] looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes [God’s] aid against the other…The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully…Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.” (carved on the wall inside the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC.)

Today we Christians all over the world still read the same Bible. We share the earlier scriptures with Judaism. And Islam reveres our scriptures and Jesus. We Christians, with Jews and Muslims, pray to the same God. It is in how we each read the scriptures, and how we imagine God, that draws us into coming to blows with one another, Christian with Muslim, Muslim with Jew, Christian with Christian, and on and on world without end. All of us drawing from our scriptures the right to war, and all of us drawing from our prayers the strength to go to war.

I cannot speak to how Muslims and Jews understand their scriptures or how and who they believe God is. I can speak to the Christian scriptures.

Do we Christians not believe Jesus meant it as a command to us, what we read today from Matthew’s gospel?

“I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”

And do we not hear what Jesus is really saying when he says we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us? Does he say, “Love them, pray for them, and go to war against them”? Where in these words is the warrant for war, on the world stage, within a nation, or against one another in our families, our churches, our jobs, our acquaintances?

And are we always “the righteous”? If we have enemies, are we not also someone else’s enemy? And you know the history of persecution, how those who have been persecuted so often then turn and persecute others in return.

I’m no fool. I don’t think we will see an end to war or persecution on this side of life. We humans are too invested in possessiveness and greed and even fear of one another. Without these, England might have said to the colonies, “Oh, of course. We see the injustice in what we are doing. We will make you equals in this enterprise of colony building, or maybe we will even set you free from us to build your own nation!” But no, England wanted the revenue and the resources to be had, and the power and control. And so did we.

It was the same on both sides of our nation’s Civil War. It is the same when nations war on others in order to annex territory, or to gain access to some resource or other. And of course those on the receiving end of tyranny and war have no choice but to defend themselves. And we see no alternative to war when we see others being persecuted. And so we continue.

And so Jesus weeps, while he commands us to love one another, all others, and pray for one another, all others.

I believe in God. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to make real the teachings of Jesus. I think that we would see a difference in the world if we Christians, all of us, took Jesus’s command to love and pray, without prejudice, unconditionally for our enemies and persecutors. I pray that I can be one who prays thus, “With malice toward none, with charity for all…to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Sermon June 26 2011 Pentecost 2

Sermon

Pentecost 2, June 26, 2011

Proper 8, RCL

Genesis 22:1-14; Psalm 13; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:40-42

ENGLISH

Almighty God, Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you. (from the collect for the day)

In Genesis this morning we heard that “Isaac said to his father Abraham, "Father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." He said, "The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" and Abraham said, "God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son…And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place "The LORD will provide”.”

We, Iglesia Betania and Grace, Hispanic/Latino, Caribbean, African, African/American/, European, have offered up everything in order to be a community that reflects reconciliation and restoration and transformation to this city, this diocese, this nation, this world.

How will God, then, provide for this enterprise?

What is God waiting for us to provide first?

In Psalm 13 we pray, “How long, O LORD? How long shall I have perplexity in my mind…But I put my trust in your mercy; I will sing to the LORD, for the LORD has dealt with me richly…”

What has God already provided?

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he thanks God that the congregation has “become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted…” What is that teaching?

The teaching is this: that in Christ there is neither slave nor free, Jew or Greek, male or female, legal or illegal, documented or undocumented, Caribbean or European, Hispanic or African, but one body.

God has provided that we have come together in Jesus’s name. How will we build on that gift?

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me…”

Whoever you welcome is Jesus Christ. When all of us together welcome one another as equals, ready to learn from one another, none of us being more in possession of this building or this place than one another, we welcome Jesus Christ.

We have been sent here by God, each one of us. God alone has called us together. We are the gift provided by God. God may indeed provide more. In gratitude, we must provide our selves, our souls and our bodies, in the name of Jesus Christ.

IN SPANISH

Dios todopoderoso, Concédenos que estemos unidos en espíritu, de tal modo que lleguemos a ser un templo santo aceptable a ti. Amen

Hoy en el Génesis leemos:

Isaac le dijo a Abraham:

—¡Padre!

—Dime, hijo mío.

—Aquí tenemos el fuego y la leña —continuó Isaac—; pero, ¿dónde está el cordero para el holocausto?
—El cordero, hijo mío, lo proveerá Dios —le respondió Abraham.

Abraham alzó la vista y, en un matorral, vio un carnero enredado por los cuernos. Fue entonces, tomó el carnero y lo ofreció como holocausto, en lugar de su hijo. A ese sitio Abraham le puso por nombre: «El Señor provee.»

Nosotros, la Iglesia Betania, Iglesia de la Gracia, hispanos / latinos, caribeños, africanos, africanos / americanos y europeos, ofrecen a Dios todo lo que tenemos para que podamos ser una comunidad. Somos la imagen de la reconciliación, la restauración y transformación de esta ciudad, esta diócesis, a esta nación, este mundo.

¿Cómo proveyó Dios para esta empresa? Lo proveerá Dios?

¿Qué quiere Dios de nosotros?

Salmo trece:

¿Hasta cuándo, oh Señor?

¿Hasta cuándo tendré dudas en mi mente?

Mas yo en tu misericordia he confiado;

Cantaré al Señor, porque me ha hecho bien.

¿Qué ha dado Dios ya?

Romanos: San Pablo da gracias a Dios: Que ya se han sometido de corazón a la enseñanza que les fue transmitida.

¿Qué es esta enseñanza?

Esta es la enseñanza.

En Cristo no hay esclavo ni libre. En Cristo no hay Judio ni griego, no hay hombre o mujer, no legal o ilegal, no documentada o indocumentada, no el Caribe o Europa, no hispano o africano. Hay un solo cuerpo.

Dios establece que nos reunimos en el nombre de Jesús. ¿Cómo vamos a aprovechar ese regalo?

Jesús dijo: »Quien los recibe a ustedes, me recibe a mí…<<

Todo el mundo le dan la bienvenida es Jesucristo.

Cuando le damos la bienvenida unos a los otros como iguales, damos la bienvenida a Cristo.

Cuando creemos que todo propietario de este lugar juntos, damos la bienvenida a Jesucristo.

Cada uno de nosotros ha enviado aquí por Dios. Sólo Dios nos ha convocado. Somos el regalo dado por Dios. Dios puede dar más. En agradecimiento debemos ofrecer nuestras personas, nuestras almas y nuestros cuerpos en el nombre de Jesucristo.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

This blogger applauds and celebrates the legislation, passed last night and signed by Governor Cuomo after 11:00 p.m., that extends marriage to persons of the same sex in the state of New York. The bill takes effect in 30 days.

Hat tip to Episcopal Cafe for the report.

Friday, June 24, 2011

In memoriam

Peter Falk has died. He is one of my favorite actors, and not just for "Columbo". Rest in peace, Mr. Falk. I'll miss you.

Latest from mi esposo



My husband was at Watkins Glen earlier this week as photographer for a non-spectator high performance car club event. In addition to the car clubs that rent the Glen for Driver Education days, the Glen is also open on those days for Thunder Road Tours at noon and 5:00.

Anyone can sign up to be in the line of cars that get to drive around the track at Watkins Glen at about 60 MPH for two laps, a stop at the start/finish line for photo ops, and a final third lap. I did a Thunder Road tour just last summer and every second I thanked God for the Driver Education day at Lime Rock Park Newlin got for my birthday the year after cancer!

Now my husband's late father, who died over 30 years ago, was a car person. He was a white collar worker for DuPont and yet his suburban home always had more cars parked in the yard than some legendary Appalachian homesteads, just higher class. All for tinkering with.

Senior's favorite cars were Pierce-Arrows, some of which were often featured as gangster cars in old movies. So when mi esposo got into the flagger stand to shoot yesterday's 5:00 tour, he was in tears when the cars came in sight - every one of them a classic Pierce-Arrow. Here's a shot of a few of them, and then the "art" shots of a hood ornament.

Enjoy.













Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sermon, Trinity Sunday, June 26 2011

The sermon for yesterday, Trinity Sunday, was the Rublev Trinity...and its means as a window into the eternal.

Note the space between the first and third figures, down front. That is your place at the table. Welcome. Enter. Rest.

Well, so much for the Renaissance Man

This morning, according to Yahoo! news, The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in its "2011 Job Outlook" reports the five most in-demand prospective employees are those with bachelor's degrees in:
accounting
finance
engineering
computer science
or business administration

Funny, I worked for the DuPont Company for eleven years, as a credit analyst and my bachelor's was in History, and Literature (dual degree). I was told that was why I was hired: a bachelor's in the humanities gave me critical thinking skills needed in the field. Now I would be lucky to get a job at Borders. Oops, they're in bankruptcy, closing most of their stores.

Unfortunately, the priesthood is evolving into one in which those five degrees above will be more valued than the humanities. That's not to say they will be more useful; that's only to say it will be thought they will be a more useful background for studying for priesthood - entrepreneurs are what are needed now, and that's not my passion.

So, with age 66 coming up soon (thank God there's not an extra 6 in that age! - see Revelation of John 13:18) I'm becoming a dinosaur in my calling. The good news is, kids of all ages love dinosaurs!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Harry Potter countdown

I just saw the trailer for the final Harry Potter movie, "Deathly Hallows II". I think today I will re-read the last book in the series. I will definitely be at the theatre when the movie opens July 15.

Oh, wait, I'll be in Watkins Glen that week. Well, there's always the "big towns" of Horseheads or Corning! I've been waiting for this movie forever but reading the book again will hold me over.

28 days!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Priorities

I have my priorities straight - Newlin is in Watkins Glen International Speedway and today my hero, Lewis Hamilton and his Formula 1 car from last year's season are at the Glen. He and some Nascar driver are going to drive three laps on the track, and then swap cars and do another three laps.

Newlin has already seen Lewis's car - it comes in a big box, in pieces and they assemble it at the track. Newlin is a spectator for this one. He sent me a photo of the portion of the track he can see. (I can't stand that I'm not there!)

Just now he told me he has heard Lewis's car. (Oh I really can't stand it!) This is so not fair - I was advised by a parishioner to take a sick day and go to Watkins Glen. Just so you know, I have my priorities straight but I'm here in Norwalk anyway.

Tonight they'll televise the "seat swap" on the Speed Channel (74) but I'll be in Hartford for Program and Budget. Again, my priorities are straight but instead of watching the coverage on Speed, I'll be in Hartford.

I am my father's daughter. #1 priority: loud engines and speed. He crewed racing motorboats on the Hudson back in the day. My love is Formula 1 and any fast car running around a road track - Watkins Glen, Limerock Park, New Jersey Motorsports - these are my favorites. Will vacation never come?!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Word of the Lord

To the legislators in the United States, and to the churches, who think balancing budgets at the expense of the poor is a good thing, Psalm 12, verse 5 says this (according to the Episcopal Church Book of Common Prayer):

"Because the needy are oppressed,
and the poor cry out in misery,
I will rise up," says the LORD,
"and give them the help they long for."

From the psalmists lips to God's ear, since we humans are listening only to our own fears and greed.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Victory!

Wow oh wow oh wow!!! Jensen Button overtakes Vettel on the last lap to win the Canadian Grand Prix! Excellent!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

24 Hours

C'est le vingt-quatre heures du Mans.

First run in 1923, this morning began the 88th year of the 24 hour endurance race called the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The race will end tomorrow morning, Sunday.

Le Mans is a city in France. The sports car race that is the 24 Hours of Le Mans runs on the Circuit de la Sarthe, a combination of public roads and purpose built race track. The Wikipedia link will tell you all about the race.

Today there were two terrible accidents, one in daytime, only 50 minutes after the start, and the second this evening after dark. Both involved Audis. In the first, the car flew through the air, struck a wall and broke into pieces. Both drivers walked away. This leaves the Audi team with only one car left in the race.

Ernest Hemingway is quoted as having said, "There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games." I suppose because in all three of them death is sometimes a result of the sport itself.

Last week, during qualifying for the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix, a new young driver crashed into a tire wall and was badly concussed. He is all right, but he tried to drive practice yesterday for the Canadian Grand Prix and determined he's still not in good enough shape to withstand the g forces that stress drivers of Formula 1 race cars. In 2009 Felipe Massa, driving for Scuderia Ferrari, was struck in the helmet during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix by a suspension spring that had come off Rubens Barrichello's Braun. Massa crashed into the tire barrier and was life-threateningly injured. I was watching on television. It was terrifying.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Formula 1 Grand Prix series are road races. There are other road race series, run on closed tracks with chicanes, uphills, hairpin turns and esses. This is not oval track racing, which is altogether another animal and a sport in its own right. And I was watching the 2001 Daytona 500 as Dale Earnhardt drove into the wall on the last lap and died.

But road racing is what I love. I love the tracks; I love watching the really great drivers, like Lewis Hamilton, make their cars look like they're dancing. I dread the crashes. And I love the sport. There's nothing like a really masterfully performed pass on a curve.

I hope I never am watching again when someone dies driving really fast around a road course because they love to drive that way and do it publicly so I can enjoy the beauty and the thrill vicariously.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Thankful

Yesterday (Thursday, 9 June) evening we had very bad weather come through here - high winds, scary winds, really were the worst of it, and rain, with threat of a tornado. Thankfully, the tornado threat went away.

Tree limbs were waving about wildly as if they had ball bearings in their attachment to the trees. All I could think of was, "What about the baby birds in the nest over the parking lot?"

Now, if I had never seen the mama bird bringing food, and heard the baby birds set up their caterwauling demands to be first fed, I would not be worrying about baby birds in nests. But I did see them and hear them and knew they were there. So, I worried.

After the storm was over, I looked through the glasses at the nest. Its placement seemed disturbed. Maybe it was just the leaves that were disturbed, so I checked under the tree and - no baby birds, so probably okay.

This afternoon was the first I saw the mama - a Robin - bringing food to the nest, and there were the babies - little scrawny necks stretched, mouths wide open, "Me first! Me first!" baby bird noises sounding.

All is well. I hate finding baby birds dead on the ground. I thank God that Robins evolved to produce sturdy, well-attached nests.

As an aside, Mourning Doves, on the other hand, build a nest of twigs and pine needles in the crook of a tree branch and its a pretty flimsy thing. Maybe that's why they lay only two eggs at a time. A third of nests fail. No wonder they raise - or try to raise - five or six pairs of young, each pair in succession after the previous one is fledged. It's a miracle to me there are so many Mourning Doves at all!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pentecost

"Go out and look for Jesus in the ragged, in the naked, in the oppressed and sweated, in those who have lost hope,in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus. And when you see him, gird yourselves with his towel and try to wash their feet."

Frank Weston, Bishop of Zanzibar, from 1908 'til his death in 1924.

Discuss.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Thought for the Day

Psalm 145, verse 17:
You open wide your hand,* and satisfy the needs of every living creature.

Try reading this with your hand opened wide, palm up. Try reading it this way three times a day. Share here any changes you notice.

Our hands belong to God. They are on loan from God. They belong to God. Inasmuch as we open wide our hands and satisfy the needs of every living creature, our hands are doing the work for which they were made.

This is not my original idea. I give thanks to a rabbi friend for this wisdom and practice.

Monday, June 6, 2011

30th anniversary of AIDS

Here is a link to Episcopal Cafe for links on the 30th Anniversary of the reporting of the first case of HIV/AIDS.

I remember a sermon, preached by a physician, at the Cathedral Church of St. John in Wilmington, Delaware in the 1980's. By that time the Cathedral was holding an annual HIV/AIDS memorial day and Evensong. The physician said that the virus has been around for centuries, probably millenia. The miracle is that it didn't become epidemic among humans until a time when it was possible to identify it and find treatments for it. Since that sermon, the treatments have been developed that can extend life of those with HIV/AIDS.

However, we are forgetting. It is still here. It is still global. Yesterday, during our church's annual fundraiser luncheon for the school we sponsor in Waterloo, Sierra Leone, the poet who was part of the program included a poem on the "blue stick". In African countries it is used to diagnose HIV/AIDS. The point poignantly draws us to listen to a woman who is monogamous and yet is infected because, in a patriarchal society, she has no choice about having intercourse with her spouse or whether that intercourse is protected sex or not.

On this week of the 30th anniversary of the recognition of HIV/AIDS, please pray. And if there is something you can do, do it.

From the sublime to the ridiculous

I know, just yesterday a vision of the Ascension of Christ. Today a kvetch on spam.

I've been noticing for about three months now the latest attempt to get us to open dangerous attachments under the guise of the benign.

I routinely receive notices that say they are from UPS, or DHL, or FedEx, with an attachment. The first one, months ago, was from FedEx. My husband gets occasional deliveries through them so I opened the email. It instructed me to open the attachment to get the details of a delivery. I called mi esposo - the carriers had never used attachments before. He said he was not expecting anything, so I deleted the file.

Now I receive these things daily - yesterday all three of them in one day! and another this morning. These are not from the actual carriers. They are spam. Sometimes I'd love to find out what's behind that closed door, the attachment. But I know better.

I wonder if there's something theological in this? No, there's just badly behaved people doing badly behaved things in order to create chaos and disaster in the lives of other people they don't even know, and this latest attempt is hiding behind actual legitimate businesses so there's a high chance people are getting spam blowing up in their faces. Enough.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ascensiontide

Yes, Ascensiontide.

From Easter Day until the Feast of the Ascension 40 days later, the season is known as Eastertide. Two days ago, Thursday, was the Feast of the Ascension. So now instead of Eastertide, the remaining ten days until the Feast of Pentecost is called Ascensiontide, a season presided over by the ascension of Jesus into heaven to sit eternally at the right hand of God the Father.

Depictions of the Ascension can be a little silly - from Jesus piously looking up into heaven hovering a little above the ground, with the disciples huddled below on the hilltop, to depictions in which all we see of the Savior are his feet dangling from a cloud, soon, too, to disappear from sight.

And yet...

...the preferred collect, or prayer collecting our hopes and thoughts, for the Ascension reads, "Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages;...Amen."

The emphasis on "that he might fill all things" is mine. This is because when Bishop Laura Ahrens read that collect on Thursday noon in worship, I suddenly heard those words for the first time: Jesus "ascended far above the heavens that...he might fill all things". Aha! At last, at 26 days short of yet another birthday (well over 60!) I get the Ascension.

Yes, in Jesus's day people's understanding of the universe was that one could ascend into the sky and disappear, to come out in a stable place with land and thrones and throngs of angels and such. We have been up there. We know that is (most likely) not true. So why do we continue this farce of "the ascension"?

On Thursday noon I got it: whatever happened to the disciples after the crucifixion, that lead to an empty tomb and a belief in the bodily resurrection accompanied by bodily post-death experiences of Jesus present with them in the flesh, at some point Jesus did cease to be with them - he ascended. He returned to The Father. But not without promising to send a "comforter" - a strengthener, one to strengthen them in the time to come. When Bp. Laura read that collect, I suddenly saw Jesus, as the disciples realized he was no longer with them fixed in time and space, filling the entire universe, the world, the sky, the universe, all things.

So it is the "sitting at the right hand of God" that is fanciful. The right hand of God is anyplace Jesus is, and Jesus is in every atom and molecule and breath and depth of the entire universe. He is now present for and in all things.

Now, I'm sure I have been told that, and I have thought that, but on Thursday was the first time I knew that, in fact, I saw it. In a flash, I saw Jesus fillling all things.

And then it was gone. But not forgotten.

In ten days we will celebrate Pentecost, a Jewish festival during which, according to St. Luke in the book of The Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit of Jesus was sent as a great wind among the disciples, men and women alike, and descended on them as tongues of fire, filling them with the spirit of Jesus. Filling all things. Seen and yet unseen.

"Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, Jesus abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages..." Not only his Church on earth, but with all things at all times and in all places, on earth and throughout the universe, for all time. Amen.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The week that was

It feels like I've already lived a full seven day week.

Late Monday night, early Tuesday morning, at 1:45 a.m., Miss Xena, Labrador Mix Warrior Princess of all Norwalk, jumped up from a sound sleep barking. Not just any bark, her "we have to go downstairs and check something dodgy out" bark, her "danger Will Robinson bark", her "let me at 'em" bark.

I got up and tried to calm her. At the same time, I heard this "dinging" sound. I wondered where it was coming from. Maybe that what woke Xena up. I opened the bedroom door to let her out onto the stairs landing and then I heard it - someone was ringing the doorbell, over and over and over.

I told Newlin and he got up and got dressed, and he and Xena went downstairs. As I crept down after them, I saw Newlin crack the door open, and then he said, "No. Go away. We can't help you" and Xena started barking again. I thought it was over. But the person started ringing the doorbell again. Newlin cracked the door open again and told the guy if he didn't stop, we were going to call the police, and the guy started to push the door open. He got his hand in as Newlin was closing the door again, so Newlin couldn't close it all the way.

That was when he told me to phone the police.

I called the police, and the whole time I'm giving 911 the information I'm thinking, "Does he have a gun? Can he shoot through the metal front door? Is it really metal?" But the man on the 911 phone told me they were sending someone right away, and to phone back if the man left before the police got there.

He didn't leave. He kept talking through the crack in the door, not shouting but in a seductive sort of voice, like the "candy gram" shark in the old Saturday Night Live routine, except it wasn't funny. It was creepy. "Let me in. This is my house. Let me in." I could smell the alcohol all the way into the house.

Thank God, the police came very promptly. They pulled the guy away from the door and Newlin closed it. They talked to the guy a lot. Then they asked us if we wanted to press charges. I didn't know what to do - what would the charges be, I wondered. Then I said, "I don't know - I just want to make sure he's not going to come back here." They assured me they were taking him away whether or not we pressed charges so we let it go at that.

Of course there was so much adrenalin running through our systems it was hard to get back to sleep. Then the terror hit me. The feeling of violation, of assault. I dozed on and off until the alarm went off at 5. Then I got up.

I had to. I had a conference for the next two days and I had to leave at 7:30. Sleep deprived. So I went. The conference was brilliant even as tired as I was, but finally it was time to go to bed. I was looking forward to a good night's sleep - the hotel is one I know for really great beds. I thought, "At least no one is going to come to the door and ring the doorbell over and over again..." and I was back at 1:45 in the morning feeling the same fear, the same terror, the same sense of being invaded.

I turned on the television, set it for "sleep" and did indeed fall asleep and slept well. Here it is, Thursday, and I still feel creeped out by the whole thing. It was the voice, you see, and that hand, those fingers, gripping the open edge of the door and not letting go, Newlin leaning into the door because the man was trying to push his way in. And you know why he was there? He wanted to see his girlfriend. The cops said her name was Wendy and he thought ours was her house.

The conference went from 9 a.m. Tuesday to 2:30 Wednesday and it was brilliant and exhausting. Then I stayed in Hartford because I had a diocesan council meeting Wednesday night which went from 5:30 to 9:00. I drove home and got there at 10:30 p.m.

Then I couldn't get to sleep. At best I slept four hours last night. And today I had a deanery clergy meeting with the bishop to go to. So I'm so tired I don't even want to eat. I'm just waiting for Newlin, and maybe for the sun to go down, so I can make it official. Thank God tomorrow is my day off!