Monday, December 26, 2011

The Feast Day of St. Stephen

St. Stephen, first deacon in the early Christian ecclesia, the community of Christ.
And the first martyred for Christ.
Celebrated on the first day after Christmas Day, December 26.

To all deacons, a Happy Feast Day on the occasion of the day of your patron.
To all priests, who were ordained deacon before being priested, may we remember those vows we first took.
To the Church Universal, may we remember that Stephen forgave his murderers. "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." (Acts 7:60)
Neither hold against us our sins against one another in your name.
Blessed Stephen, pray for us.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Advent Journal 13

A few nights ago our night hospitality volunteer phoned to say that as he was locking up and checking the building before leaving for the night, he heard a noise in the downstairs kitchen. He phoned the rectory. My spouse went over and they searched together. They found a homeless man making a sleeping place for himself, in the rain, in an alcove off the back of the building against the furnace room. The loud bang had been the broken table, left outside for later pick up, that he was trying to muscle around as a roof. The man had a walker.

He was outside. He was no danger to the building. He was given food and some moving blankets and left where he was comfortable.

The following morning I saw him - the walker was the giveaway - getting ready to leave.

Now, before you raise the alarm because he wasn't invited to doss down inside the building, the primary reason is that in case of a fire, he might not be able to get out in time, nor would the fire company know there was anyone inside. The other is that some people are outside because they cannot abide closed places.

This morning I was walking the labyrinth on the parking lot. I had gotten halfway around on the first lap when I saw a man or woman, impossible to tell, talking to the building, waving arms, arguing. I didn't notice the hawks on the steeple cross until I saw the person, then one of the hawks took flight and I saw the second one up on the cross.

I watched the person apparently holding a heated conversation with the front wall of the church. After about ten minutes of just standing there in place, I left the labyrinth, walked through the small parking lot to the left, and around back toward the main parking lot, so I could see the talking person. That was when I saw the walker. The man was talking with the unhoused church sleeper guy, whose name, by the way, is Michael.

At 8:50 when I was finished walking the labyrinth, I saw Michael preparing to leave. As he headed down the two steps with the help of his walker, I watched from my distance in case anything should happen to him. Actually, he could have reached the sidewalk by taking the walkway around the steps, but he seemed adept at walkering stairs. He reached the sidewalk, took a sip from a Dunkin' Donuts cup and boarded the bus which had just reached the corner in front of the church.

In scripture, Michael is an Archangel, the one who leads the forces of God for protection.

In my mythology, hawks are signs of God's presence. Two hawks at once are, well, doubly powerful.

An hour later I was talking with my spouse on the phone and he told me that when he left for work this morning at 7 he saw Michael sleeping in front of the church doors, under the overhang. It was raining again. I said, "Good. I'm glad he's still with us."

Now, what are we going to do about this, dear reader? How are we going to greet this latest invitation from God to open our doors, spend ourselves prodigally, give ourselves away with no thought for ourselves, and make a place where an unhoused person, man or woman, able or differently abled can make a home?

"The sparrow has found her a house and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, by the side of your altars, O God of hosts, my Ruler and my God." (Psalm 84:2)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Advent Journal 12

L'heure bleu

That brief time of the morning - today it is 6:55 a.m. - when the sky turns cobalt. Those brief minutes before any light appears on the horizon. The true herald of dawn is l'heure bleu.

Dark objects are blackest black against that cobalt backdrop. The very air is blue. White objects are tinged with cobalt. My favorite shade of blue.

Even on this rainy morning, the sky is cobalt, the white garage and the water tub in the back yard are blue. And just a few minutes later, gone, as the sky lightens toward dawn.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Advent Journal 11

O Root of Jesse, you stand for an ensign of the people; before you, the rulers will shut their mouths; and for you the nations will seek: come and deliver us, and do not tarry.

Vestry meeting today after worship.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Advent Journal 10

"...the task of the church is to see what God is doing, and join in." (Thinking Anglicans : O Sapientia)

What is God doing in Norwalk?
What is God doing at Grace?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Advent Journal 9

Thursday in the week of Advent 3, December 15, 2011

I've taken up reading Jurgen Moltmann's The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology. Wow! It's a great read. Now, it's not all systematic theologians about whom a person can say that. Of course, I've been a fan of Moltmann's theology for a long time. This one is great Advent reading.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Journal 8

Tuesday December 13 2011

I have to confess, I worked well after 9:00 last night on the bulletin for Sunday, December 25, Christmas Day. I got inspired, my creativity took me over, and I completed a service of readings and carols and villancicos over which I'm looking forward to presiding. It helps that I have found a way of transporting to the bilingual bulletin the Spanish version of the bidding prayers and the Christmas blessing.

So I am unapologetic towards myself for breaching my Advent discipline. I woke feeling more joyful and positive than I have in awhile. My creative genii was still with me. I did wait until full light this morning to give it full reign. Then I proceeded to draw up the entire bulletin for New Year's Day, Sunday, January 1 - The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. Brilliant.

I did realize as I sat down to Morning Prayer that I had not read Vespers or Compline yesterday. Each day is a new start. The previous day is over. Tomorrow is not yet here. Let today be sufficient for me, O Lord my God.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Advent Journal 7

Sunday Advent 8 December 11, 2011

"What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would give a lamb.
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part.
Yet, what I can, I give Him: give my heart."
Christina Rossetti

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Advent Journal 6

December 10 2011

Today was the fourth annual Christmas Play, Pray and Learn, featuring a visit from Bishop Nicholas of Myra (died in the fourth century), the story of our Christmas customs, and the story of and veneration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is on December 12.

It was a marvelous morning. The kids were great and they had a wonderful time. Lots of adults making lunch in the kitchen. Men working out how to get the traditional Guadalupana music online for the veneration service. A great time was had by all.

If you were there helping, thank you, everyone! ¡Muchas gracias!

Oh yeh, did I say, all of the children were latinos/latinas from Iglesia Betania and San Lucas y San Pablo. 15 in all. I had a ball.

Now off to say Evening Prayer. God's Peace be with you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Advent 5

Wednesday December 7 2011

Today I observed my Advent discipline by keeping all four of the daily prayer offices. Doing pretty good about observing abstinence from working on the computer except during daylight hours.

Reading: Benjamin Franklin did not like "aliens" - non-English immigrants. Did you know that? He was especially down on the Germans, particularly those who were taking over Pennsylvania, which, he declared, was founded by the English and here come the Germans with their language and customs messing everything up.

Very interesting. So leave one country hundreds of years ago because of being treated as aliens in one's own land only to do the same to others not like oneself who come to that new land for the same reasons our English forebears did. I guess the apple really does not fall far from the tree.

I am really starting to see a theme to this Advent even in the magazine articles I read.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Advent Discipline Journal

As of today, Wednesday Dec 7 2011 I have kept most of the Daily Office since Tuesday of the First Week of Advent. Since making a vow of discipline to not do church work on the computer between dark and full light each day during Advent, and to eschew social media and my blog for that time, I have succeeded about 80%. I just have to check in to see what others are saying and doing on Facebook!

Advent has always been a mystery to me. This year is no different. I have resumed blogging in order to journal those experiences that seem to be part of something mysterious going on. And to keep track of my chosen disciplines.

It is now full dark. Buenas noches. Hasta luego.

Advent Journal 4

Wednesday December 7 2011
Today I was talking with one of the ESL teachers who has taught classes in English at the church where I serve. She hopes one day to branch out into lots of languages and to have true multiculturalism happening at this place.

Now, I ask, just what is going on here?

Advent Journal 3

Monday, December 5 2011

This afternoon I learned that twelve years ago a man from the Church Mission Society came to this church where I now serve and asked if they would welcome a multicultural center here. The Society would provide all the staff. Since the church was between pastors, they said no at that time. The man retired and moved and so there was no more said.

Advent Journal 2

Saturday December 3 2011
This morning I told The Divinity that we needed to see some money, some sign, in order to continue to work toward joining The Divinity's work here.

At lunch I learned that a woman had come into the church looking for a donation box, which we do not have. A parishioner was there and the woman handed him some folding money because she uses the parking lot often. Then she wrote a check for $25.00. She also filled out a prayer card.

Advent Journal

Thursday December 1 2011
With great authority someone said today that he/she does not believe my church is called to multicultural ministry.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Closed for Advent

Dear friends,
I am closing down for the rest of Advent. The mere thought of not blogging, not facebooking, not tweeting makes me feel so free that I have decided to do just that.

Maybe you'll see me again in January.
A blessed Advent, a happy Christmas, and a New Year filled with joy to you all.

The Word of the Day

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I commend the following link for your Advent reflections.