Saturday, September 24, 2011

St. Sergius

Tomorrow is the feast day of St. Sergius (d. 1392). Because tomorrow is Sunday, his feast will not be celebrated, so this blog celebrates him today.

The collect, that is, the prayer for this day is:
O Most Holy God, you call us to turn away from worldly wealth and to follow you in love and obedience: Give us grace to follow the example of your servant Sergius of Moscow, whose gentleness of life and faithfulness to his native Russia inspired many to commit themselves to a deeper spiritual life in the midst of troubled times; through our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sergius had a special devotion for the Holy Trinity. Thus, the icon pictured to the left of the article linked above bears in the upper left hand corner the Trinity as depicted in the icon by Rublev.

I mention Sergius today because in western Christianity, this season, autumn, the season of harvest, is also the season of stewardship for the churches.

Stewardship has come to mean time to pledge your money to the church you attend, for the spread of the word of God, to keep the building open, and to support the priest/minister and programs.

Stewardship, however, reflected in the life of St. Sergius, is so different. It was about using his gifts and talents of scholarship, poverty, love and devotion to the Trinity to draw all people to Christ Jesus. His preference was for the solitary life, but he recognized God's call when people began to be drawn to live with Sergius the life he had given to God. Hence, stewardship of his life was, for Sergius, a giving over of his desires for the sake of the Gospel.

To the churches I say, stop your pledge campaigns. You all of you know what is needed is you want your church to stay open, to have clergy, and to do whatever it is you are doing in your individual congregations to serve Christ. Therefore don't waste your time reminding one another that nothing you own is yours; it is all on loan to you by God for the work of God's mission in the world of reconciliation, restoration and transformation. Don't waste your time telling one another how much it costs to run a church so give until it hurts. All that is a waste of your time.

Instead, consider how your life is being spent. Consider how your life reflects Christ Jesus to the world. Consider how you use what God has lent you to feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned and lonely, heal and sustain the unemployed and underemployed, and restore yourself and all you know and don't yet know to wholeness with God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

And I tell you right up front: I for one fall woefully short on all counts. May God have Mercy on me, and on us all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

With a hat tip to Episcopal Cafe, Bp. Marc Andrus of California writes on his blog from the House of Bishops meeting in Quito, Ecuador about the second day of the meeting:

' The opening song had this refrain: "May we always have hearts without doors; may we always have open hands". I remembered what I learned this past spring about the Guarani people, they call themselves the people with open hands. What that means is that as they receive something - money, material possessions, emotional investment, ideas - they are thinking about how they can enhance the gift, and pass it on.

The Guarani, through several centuries of experience with colonizing Western culture have learned to call us the people of the closed hands; people who immediately invest energy in how to hold onto possessions of all kinds.'

I am particularly taken by the concept of ideas as gift, and enhancing and passing on the idea as a gift.

Bits and pieces

Monday was national "Talk like a pirate" day and I missed it. Aaaarrrgggghhhh!
A satellite is hurtling toward earth and so far no one knows where it will hit.
Yahoo!Mail went to a new, so-called updated format and it's total rubbish but it's a done deal.
We're in for at least five days of rain and Friday bears a red warning of torrential rains possible.
"Don't ask, don't tell" in the U.S. American military died yesterday, thanks be to God.

One out of five ain't bad!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Yesterday, under comment moderation, I stopped a comment from one of the blogosphere's trolls. He wrote, "Your church is pathetic...".

Now, I have no idea what he/she means by that. It is not the first time I have seen the identical comment, here in comment moderation and on other blogs who let trolls run free for a limited time until they get boring.

There are a number of ways in which the trolls mean our church, or the church, or Christianity, is pathetic. The first is the camp that adheres to the belief that satan has taken over all the churches in Christendom and we are all damned, but that we clergy still have work to do, in that we are to preach relentlessly that satan is running the churches, you are all damned, and there is absolutely no way for you and me to be saved. That's troll #1.

The next meaning is directed specifically at The Episcopal Church, in that we are pathetic because we have abandoned scripture by embracing gay, lesbian, transgendered, bisexual and other people as beloved children of God, with a claim on salvation equal to that of those of us who are heterosexual and that we find it in our hearts to bless same sex unions and even marriages. For this troll we are pathetic because we delude ourselves into thinking TEC will grow when actually the trolls' job is to demoralize us into believing that our embrace of all people including gays and lesbians and heterosexuals will cause everyone to abandon us until we disappear completely from the earth.

A third troll is a subset of the second. Our embrace of all people, this troll shouts (yes, it is possible to shout even with the written word!) is a lie, that we are uniformly lily white and European and we don't really want people of any other culture or race in our churches and no one of another culture or race would want to be in our lily white churches. To which the congregation I serve would express great surprise, especially those from Caribbean countries and Africa and Central and South America who not worship with Europeans but continually shape and change who and what we are as Christians.

A fourth troll is the kind that believes individual churches are pathetic - ie the church I serve. For this troll we are wasting our time trying to keep our doors open for the sake of - well, anything. Hence, this troll feels nothing but scorn.

And the fifth troll scorns Christianity as a whole as delusional and even dangerous as well as a waste of time.

From the word "pathos", meaning "a quality, as of an experience, that arouses feelings of pity, sympathy, tenderness, sorrow, or compassion, or the feeling itself, so aroused".

Thanks be to God my church is pathetic. May we continue to grow in pathos all the days of our life, as we continue to ask ourselves what God is doing here and how we can join God in that ongoing work.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Holy Cross Day

According to one article on this feast of the church, a day to celebrate the cross was established on this day, September 14, the date in 335 a.d. of the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built by Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine, over the sites identified as those of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Good Friday being a day of mourning, a separate day for joyful celebration seems fitting.

Almighty God, our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross to draw the whole world to you: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow Jesus; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thought for the day

"Patriotism is not enough...I must have no hatred in my heart."
Edith Cavell, executed as a British spy by the Germans, 1915.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Peace on earth. Good will toward all people.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Prodigal Returns

I have just returned from a four day Cursillo renewal weekend. Exhausted and at the same time glad I went.

I feel a bit squeamish saying I am a Cursillista and greeting people with "De Colores". I don't care for insider language. This Cursillo was the first entirely Hispanic Cursillo in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. I was the only English speaking person there. It was wonderful. So, since Cursillo is a Spanish word and was begun in Spain, in Spanish, and I serve, along with English speaking parishioners, a Spanish speaking congregation, I guess it's not so weird to say, "I am a Cursillista." It's what people who complete the four day weekend are called. So, there you have it.

High point: The Director of the weekend, who came up from Puerto Rico, thanked me tearfully at the end of the closing worship for embracing and opening my heart and my congregation to people from her culture and language and for standing with them. I was overwhelmed.

Friday, September 2, 2011

De Colores

Today I begin to attend the first Spanish Cursillo in the Diocese of Connecticut. The entire weekend will be in Spanish. My kindergarten level Spanish will be taxed to the max and I expect to not understand more than half of what I hear. For me it's not about the content. It's about being vulnerable. It's about giving myself up to the culture I have been called to serve and through that giving myself up to God.

I'll be honest. I have not made a Cursillo with English speaking people ever. In the expressions I have been exposed to, it felt too exclusive. I remember a diocesan bishop not being allowed to celebrate the closing Eucharist because he had not made his Cursillo. The church doesn't need exclusive societies.

The Latino community in Connecticut has seen fit to adopt me. There is no sense of exclusivity in the year of preparing for this Cursillo to which I have been privy. There is openness and joy. And so, this weekend I attend Cursillo.

Cursillo means "short courses". There are short lessons on the Christian life followed by discussion. The hope is to encounter the living Christ. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:31) So keep me, and all my friends from Iglesia Betania and other Latino congregations in Connecticut who are making our Cursillo together this weekend.