Thursday, December 13, 2012
Saint Hilda's House in New Haven, Connecticut.
People living in community, with the community in which they live, serving Christ who is already there.
The priest of the future?
David of Wales.
It is said of David that he would tramp about the countryside visiting each farm in his charge. When he entered a house, he went to the kitchen and sat at the table with the family. Bread from the oven and wine from the cellar were put on the table and the Eucharist, the Holy Communion, was celebrated there with everyone sitting together.
The future of the Church?
God's mission is, and has always been, the reconciliation and restoration of all people to God, one another, and creation. This means God is at work forgiving us so we can forgive one another and so we can find God in one another's faces and live together in peace.
Between these two images, Saint Hilda's House and David of Wales, the Holy Spirit of God can rebuild the church as people seeing God at work around themselves and joining God in that work.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Thursday, November 22, 2012
The doggies are playing and rolling about. They're nipping and pushing but no need to shout.
Xena will not let that pup put her down. Oh yes, there goes Mako, on his back on the ground.
Xena is standing right over that dog. And he dares keep trying to treat her like a broad.
The humans are anxious. Why are not the dogs? It's Xena's house after all. And Mako knows.
O dear, they are coming right into my room! Both dogs in the office. Newlin, lower the boom!
Mako back to his kennel. Xena back to her room. A long weekend coming. May dog friendship bloom.
Watching a video of the two of them sparring. Suddenly, Mako makes it his job to protect the property from a truck coming into the parking lot. Xena backs right off. Mako stands his ground facing the truck until it's gone. Then the two of them go into detente. And when it gets rough, in the house and back to their respective quarters.
Mako is accustomed to spending the night in his human's basement, in the crate, alone. So I feel a little better that he's in our basement with his crate. But it is cute that he lies down on the landing in front of the kitchen door to the stairs, and that Xena knows he's there and sometimes whines a little his way.
Just for the record: Xena has had Mako on his back, dominating him, at least four times now, and Mako's score is zero. He has never had her off her feet. That's my pack leader girl!
Four more nights and three days, plus the rest of today, for our sins. Pray for all four of us!
And HAPPY TURKEY DAY!
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
I imagine by the end of the weekend all will be well. I think Newlin may be dossing down in a sleeping bag in the basement with Mako who is supposed to sleep in his crate. If only I weren't a natural born worrier and instead were a positive thinker...
Photos tomorrow? We shall see.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
The Circuit of the Americas road race track is totally brilliant. It and the drivers gave the fans a show not to be forgotten. The place was packed with spectators. And the job Texas did on this track is something to be proud of as a United Statesonian. Well done, y'all.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
The new track in Austin, Texas is brilliant. The Formula 1 drivers agree it's the best of the new tracks. Bernie Ecclestone was asked, "What about a track in Mexico again?" to which he answered, "Build another track like this down there and it's a done deal!"
It's a very exciting track. Vettel is slow as dirt on the straights but he's very fast, fearlessly fast on the turns, and this is a good track for him.
Tomorrow, the race. Mi esposo will have to record it for me because I'll be presiding over the Spanish language mass at Grace for Iglesia Betania. I can't wait to see the start!
Friday, November 16, 2012
Austin Texas, a brand new 21-turn Circuit of the Americas makes its debut appearance on the SPEED Channel beginning today with practice on a track only just completed in time for the return of Formula 1 to the U.S.
Formula 1 racing made its debut in the U.S. in 1959 at Sebring, and called it a day in the U.S. with a final race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Qualifying tomorrow on SPEED at 1:00 p.m. EST.
And then, Sunday, at 1:30 p.m. EST - Turn up the sound! for the start of the Grand Prix of Texas!
And it will be some race - this new surface is a bit slippy with colder temperatures than the teams expected. So, fingers crossed!
The mind boggles.
Actually, though, Xena likes boy dogs, and both she and Xena are neutered, so this might work. I do so hope so. Xena's first play date - it's like sending your kid off to school for the first time. What will I do all day in an empty house?!
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
And there's the daily work of ministry. Sometimes there is just too much I'd like to write about and I'm stopped by not having time while the mostly-but-not-always loving demands of ministry in and with a congregation keeps unfolding through the day.
On Facebook I've discovered how to share things I find on my news feed to the church's Facebook page, so all I have to do is write a small preface, or nothing at all. I spend time twice a day, morning and evening doing that. Blogging, however, seems to me to be another matter.
I am torn. Do I need to be timely, up-to-date, pithy, and constant in blogging in case some church's search committee finds their way to my blog to find out what I write and get some insight into who I am? Or do I continue my take-it-or-leave-it approach - this is my blog and I'll use it for whatever purpose I want to use it whether or not anyone else clicks through to it and finds it immaterial - who besides me and Deanb cares how much I love Formula 1 racing?
And yet, here on this blog, if people search through the entire body of the work here, 418 posts, they will indeed get to know me - from the reason for the name of this blog, to Formula 1 racing, to my theology on marriage equality - I'm for it and for good reason.
And, I suppose, theologically speaking, all I write points to a person who sees God's love in and through everything, even the crap of life - not a God who gives us crap as part of God's big plan, but God who lives in the crap with us.
And, dear reader, make no mistake about it, God loves the thrill of the ground-pounding sound of the Formula 1 cars and the massive skill of the people who drive them! How could God not?!
Saturday, November 3, 2012
The refrain goes like this: "Well, there are three Episcopal churches in Norwalk and there are just not enough Episcopalians to go around for three churches." I first heard that refrain at my first meeting of the vestry of the church I currently serve in Norwalk. Can you spot what is the problem with that refrain?
If you said, "It assumes we are only here in order to serve people who are already Episcopalians," then you are right.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Her website has not been updated during the tour but you can click "tour" and see that today she will be at the Beverley Blues Fest, in England. This stage of the tour she's sent her band home and is performing with local bands. I hope some of my online friends in the UK have had a chance to catch her act.
My mom wanted me to become a famous opera singer. All I want to do is to chant the Exsultet at the Easter Vigil in church. My dream has come true. And my mom's dream? Kirsten rocks!
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Well, Lewis Hamilton is leaving McLaren. Next year he will drive for Mercedes. Michael Schumacher will leave Mercedes and so far we don't know what he will be doing. Perez will become McLaren's second driver, to Jensen Button.
Now I'll know whether my loyalty is to Lewis, or to the McLaren mark.
Friday, September 28, 2012
Monday, September 24, 2012
I was raised in All Saints' Episcopal Church in Millington, New Jersey. When I was 14, we moved to Lewes, Delaware and joined St. Peter's Episcopal Church, which is the subject of the above link.
I remember St. Peter's with great fondness. When I was there, through high school, college, and my first wedding, the organ was on the opposite side - the left of the current picture. The altar was not detached as it is now, so the priest faced the altar with his back to the people.
Father Moon was rector then. St. Peter's was "low church"; Father Moon was more anglo-catholic. Every Sunday, in low church style, he wore cassock, surplice and stole, as my priest in New Jersey had worn. But on Easter and Christmas he was "allowed", as the mother of one of my friends put it, to dress up - alb and cope up until the Eucharistic prayer, when the cope came off and was replaced by a chasuble.
And we had incense. My piano teacher was the choir director. She taught us how to not have incense interfere with our singing. She said, "Breathe it in, really breathe it in, just one time, and after that it won't bother you." It worked for me!
For a couple of weeks around Easter and Christmas I was the organist, giving Mrs. Albertson a vacation. I'm not an organist. I'm a pianist. But Fr. Moon would work with me, set up my stops for me, and I was even able to put in a pedal once in awhile.
I taught Sunday school. I played the piano for the Sunday school service. My brothers were acolytes. I wanted more than anything to be an acolyte. But I was a girl, a young woman, and it was not allowed. So I had to teach Sunday school and sing in the adult choir with my mother. Meanwhile, once in awhile, I would sneak into the priest's sacristy and read the prayers for vesting and the order of putting on the Easter and Christmas vestments. I remember, once, sitting on the floor, outside that vestry, out of sight, watching Fr. Moon pray and vest.
Now I'm a priest. Fr. Moon was still alive when I learned I was going to seminary. I was not entirely sure he approved, but he was kind.
It's a pleasure to see that photo of St. Peter's Lewes and to reflect on from where I came. The article by Fr. Mark Harris, however, makes my heart ache. St. Peter's was always open. I serve a church that is open only when there are people in it. The building is open at times all during the week, but the front doors are only open on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings and early afternoons. I want more than anything to just leave everything unlocked 24-7-365, like St. Peter's.
What would it hurt, compared to what good it could do? Vandalism? Theft? Fire? So what, compared to a sacred space, open and inviting to all comers. My church may close in the next twelve months, unless there is a miracle. Why not take a chance and throw those doors open, with a permanent sign:
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Monday, September 17, 2012
All clear. Xena can come out and meet her immediate needs. But no walk until full light. It's hard on Xena. It's hard on me - anxiety producing. That first time I saw the skunk waddling down the back yard, in April, I thought is was cute. It's not cute anymore.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Then, with Xena already in the yard, I scan the parking lot, just to make sure.
Yow! There it is, just on the other side of the chain link fence, next to the rectory garden! I shine the flashlight in its eyes, but Xena is already on it - thank God for the fence!
Then follows the drama of Xena running from one end of the fence to the other trying to control a skunk on the other side. The skunk clearly wants to get into the yard. It is its goal. Every time it retreats and we run to the other side of the garage, our blind spot outside the fence, to see it slink off, I return to the garden gate and there it is! Teeth bared, tail up, but backing away in the glare of the flashlight.
Finally, it runs, yes runs!, across the parking lot to Berkeley Street and disappears, but not before turning its butt toward us a couple of times as if its spraying.
Funny thing: I did not notice any skunk spray smell. Maybe it had already used it all up earlier. I don't know. But that much adrenalin first thing in the morning can't be good for a girl!
Clearly, this is a skunk that has taken up residence. Where, I don't know, but I do know that night before last I woke up at around 2:34 to the smell of skunk in my bedroom, just over the porch. That's not the first time, either. And its worse when I have the window open.
We'll take the full walk in the full light of day, thank you very much.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Today I tossed them all.
There was a stack of old exams, papers and handouts over two feet tall. I kept two pieces of paper.
There were 8 ring binders, most of them 3". I emptied all but two - I kept Intro to Ministry and Advanced Studies in Ministry.
In the fall of my senior year, Michaelmas Term 1996, I was the exchange student to Westcott House, one of two Church of England training colleges in Cambridge, England. Westcott House was broad church and Anglo-Catholic. The other was Ridley Hall, known as low church and evangelical. (Westcott House anglo-catholic students, when we had Federation Eucharist, with all the denominational training colleges together, and the Ridley Hall clergy were the celebrants, would genuflect before the low church priest - or, I should say, before the bread being held out for consumption, before receiving the host, to get up their evangelical noses.)
I still had my notes from the lectures I sat - Pauline Epistles with Morna Hooker, Postmodernity with Graham Cray of Ridley Hall, Hesychasm, Church History, and others, which befuddled my Westcott House tutor. He expected me to just have fun for a term. Never occurred to him that academics was, and still is, my idea of fun. I also submitted three essays - evidently unusual for an exchange student. One, "For Moltmann, How Can God be Crucified?", was read in the university as well as The House and got me a "Distinction". It was also read at my seminary, Seabury-Western in Evanston, Illinois, and got me the Casserly Prize for Contemporary Theology - a nice $25.00 check!
Today I threw it all out, including the A4 folders in which I had kept all my Westcott House stuff. Gone to be recycled.
I also threw out pocket folders with materials from a multitude of continuing ed things and workshops. Outta here. I have a slight headache from all the dust and paper mites I've stirred up.
Writing this, I'm feeling a bit mournful, like I really have walked away from those wondrous seminary years and experiences. But they still live in my core. They are still a place inside me where I can go for rest and renewal.
And quite frankly, I've internalized all that stuff I learned, much of which is even now outdated but formed the core of what The Episcopal Church has become and does.
Now, all I have to do is bag it all up for putting out on the curb next Wednesday for the recycling truck. I pale at the thought - I shall need help, I think!
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Two hours later, at 7:00, after it is full light and there is no chance of nocturnal visitors still out for that last grub before a good day's sleep, we go for the full walk together.
Let the skunks have their time. We will adjust ours for them.
Monday, September 10, 2012
So at 5:45 a.m. Xena and I went out for our walk. It was only just barely getting not dark (as opposed to getting light). The walk was successful. No challenges along the trail. We returned by the parallel street to home and encountered another dog - not a big problem.
We crossed to our side of the street and continued toward the house.
We both saw it at the same time - our now-obviously-resident adult skunk. Yikes!
Thank God it was on the other side of the street, at the corner of the across-the-street neighbor's house. It had even less interest in getting to know us than we did in it. It walked along the fence to the walkway to the kitchen stairs of the neighbor's house and looked very like it was going to go up those stairs to escape!
Xena and I did not hang around to find out. We retrieved our morning paper and went into our own house. Skunk escapade over.
But our poor neighbors - I wonder where that skunk was going to go to hole up. The neighbors have small children. The skunk is really skirting the edge of nocturnalism. We shall see what the next chapter is. Clearly, the wilderness is making the city its home. Will we have enough sense and care for life other than ours to live with the wild among us?
Friday, September 7, 2012
So, I was thinking this as I walked again to the window, and looked out at the lawn to see if there was a skunk there again this morning. There was not. What there was, however, on the other side of the fence, that runs along the right-side end of the office wing of the church, something white moving on the lawn along the asphalt path along the back of that wing, perpendicular to the rectory back fence. As I looked harder, I realized it was, yes, an adult skunk. It was very busy in the lawn at the edge of the path. Every once in awhile it would shake itself like a dog. It slowly worked its way toward the fence, then veered to my right, and disappeared.
I went outside to see if I could tell where it had gone. So far as I could tell, it had not gone over the fence and under the tarp covering the canoe in that corner of the yard. It probably climbed the little bit of retainer wall to the yard next door, at the back of the dentists' building. Good place for it.
Then I took a look at the lawn in the back of the office wing. It had done a great job of ripping up and uprooting bits of grass and digging. My best guess: grubbing for grubs. I'd call that a public service, except it made a mess of the lawn. The good news is - add to that another recent sighting of a bobcat in addition to mine in the church parking lot two months ago, and continued sightings of deer, raccoons and possums, and we can conclude wildlife is taking over the city. That should be a message to us humans: we aren't in control of anything.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
We must have had an awful lot of rain last night, and we all slept through it. The creek is full, for now, which means that the Montour waterfall will be running, at least for today. And all the little falls along the roadway.
Of course, there's a reason why the creek is a magnet for plovers, sandpipers and herons when it is shallow. These are waders, some of whom feed on the organisms in the mud at the edges. As my eyes became accustomed to the dark, I could see one of the green herons trying to stand in the middle of the now-rapidly running waters, and not being able to do so. The great blue heron had a better time of it. With much longer legs, even though it will be harder to spear the small fish it feeds on in the shallows, it stands in the running water facing the shore, waiting for a frog to come within its reach.
Blessing and curse, all in one small creek, that eventually empties into Seneca Lake. Shallow, it gives life to some. Full, it gives a different kind of life. The green herons are now huddled on the banks just at the edge of the water. While my heart fills with joy at seeing the creek full, those smaller herons, with shorter legs, will they be able to find food?
I am even more amazed at how green everything looks now. The grass and other green vegetation that makes up the lawns are no longer brown. Yesterday the only green was along the creek bank. This morning everything is green and lush - over night. It's shaping up to be a beautiful Tuesday here.
Friday, August 24, 2012
It was drying up when we arrived. Then we had several days of thunderstorms and heavy rains. It never was completely full but it looked healthy.
Now, well over a week of dry weather, not always sunny like today, but partly cloudy, with no rain at all.
Now, every morning, the dry line on the opposite "shore" (a creek, not a river) is wider and wider.
As shallow as the creek is just behind the house, it is less shallow further downstream. There are small fish and frogs. Green herons and great blue herons fish here every day, just beyond the deck. Two evenings ago, just before dusk, a pair of sandpipers - dowitchers, actually - joined the small family of killdeer - members of the plover family. Belted kingfishers also depend on this little creek.
Along the bank on this side of the creek grow joe pieweed, now in flower, purple loosestrife - an invasive invader, queen anne's lace, purple vetch, butter-and-eggs, mint plants growing wild, and one lone plant of cardinal flower in bloom. The grasses grow tall. We wear wellies walking Xena, Warrior Lab Mix Princess of all Norwalk, because she prefers to walk in that tall grass on the off chance she might be allowed to hunt and catch a frog - fat chance!
I sat on the deck this morning from just before the sun came over the mountain due east on the opposite side of the creek. I stayed there way past its rising, with Xena on a blanket beside my chair. She and I had our morning tea while I said morning prayers and read from the Apocrypha - the Wisdom of Solomon, chapters one through three on my iPhone - and from Kathleen Norris's The Cloister Walk.
There is no rain in the forecast until next week sometime, and then only thundershowers. This creek has been here for a very long time. We can assume it has seen drought before now. Herons, plovers, sandpipers, kingfishers and other wildlife have made their home on its grasses and fed on whatever is living in the water forever. Droughts and rains come and go. Life continues. The lawn grasses and weeds are so dry they crunch when we walk across them. The tall grasses and wildflowers along the bank are green and lush. They must have some source of sustenance deeper in the ground beneath them than the lawn has.
Eleven more days here. Here in paradise. Xena is asleep on the living room carpet. I'm reading Norris, Lauren f. Winner, and Agatha Christie. Tomorrow we'll go to the track and watch and enjoy the roar of high performance street cars from the top of a mountain that looks down on Seneca Lake. Unwarranted privilege. Unearned blessings. All of which I wish for everyone, everywhere.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
It was early in the morning, the dull gray light just as dark begins to give way, with thick cloud cover to boot. First I saw the crows, flying in, hanging on, trading places with other crows, on the utility wires just outside the window. Then, just to the right, on the top of the utility pole itself, perched an owl - a great horned owl.
We watched the drama for about ten minutes. The owl had to duck a couple of times but nothing served to chase it away. Finally, it just had enough and, spreading its wings, it soared off the pole, toward the house, and over and away.
Later I took Miss Xena out for her walk and found the crows mobbing around a great, tall, broad tree in the back yard. I knew the owl was there but the foliage was too dense for me to see it. A little later, on Xena's second morning walk, Newlin witnessed the route of the owl by the crows. By 9:00, as we left for our walk on the Catherine Trail, we could see and hear the crows mobbing the tree down the canal and around the bend from the house, the one into which Newlin had seen the owl escape.
The trail we took is located between the river on the right and a wide marsh on the left. Catbirds and cardinals abounded. We also saw a caspian tern, twice, on its way upriver, and then back down. Chickadees, cedar waxwings and bluejays joined a number of sparrows which were too quick for us to ID properly. We walked only 30 minutes of the trail, then turned around and came back.
The trip to Montezuma Refuge yielded four bald eagles - Montezuma never disappoints. Also a pectoral sandpiper and a lesser yellowlegs, plus a multitude of members of the sandpiper family too distant to ID. A great trip down Cayuga Lake and then back to Seneca and Montour Falls.
Friday: New Hampshire International Speedway, then a flying run back to Montour Falls for a track day at Watkins Glen on Saturday. We have Porsche, BMW and Audi clubs coming up, with a possible screaming run back to Limerock for one day with Sports Car Drivers Association, then back to WGI for the Ferraris. A spectacular vacation!
Monday, August 13, 2012
Day 1, saw Richard Petty, as close as 6 feet away! Richard Petty, retired, is what NASCAR was once all about.
Sunday, spectacular end to the NASCAR Watkins Glen 355. Once a year NASCAR goes road racing at Watkins Glen instead of the usual oval track racing. Road racing is real racing and this was a really good race this year.
The Lakes: Seneca and Cayuga - wine tastings at several vineyards, lunch and wine tasting at the Thirsty Owl overlooking Cayuga Lake. God, I love these lakes!
Monday, Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge - at the northern end of Cayuga Lake, near the home of Women's Rights, Seneca Falls. Late lunch at a diner overlooking Cayuga Lake.
About 25 years ago my partner in life and I passed through Seneca Falls and camped nearby. We went into Seneca Falls to do our laundry in a now-gone laundromat there. On the wall was a plaque noting that the place was once the site of the first meeting for women's rights. Today there's a full Women's Rights Center on that street.
Xena, Lab Mix Warrior Princess of all Norwalk goes with us everywhere. She is exhausted already after a day on the road to Montezuma and back. Meanwhile, we have photos of her guarding the grape-laden vines of the Thirsty Owl Vineyard. She looks right at home.
Tomorrow we'll walk part of the Catherine Trail, starting right in our back yard. Then Wednesday, back home to do laundry, on our way to New Hampshire for an overnight, then back to New York.
That's all for today. Maybe lunch or supper tomorrow at the Red Newt Bistro and Winery - one of our absolute favorite places, and makers of some of our favorite wines. Bye for now!
Friday, August 3, 2012
Thursday, August 2, 2012
The sound of high summer and childhood.
Today I spent the day with clergy in a parish hall in West Haven, without air conditioning. Windows open, fans on, humidity and heat climbing from 9 a.m. right through to our departure a little after 2:00.
The subject was the book by Jeffrey Sachs, The Price of Civilization. We worked in small groups: What does Sachs identify as the problem - with the economy, the working (or not!) of government and democracy, our workings with one another? What does Sachs propose as the solution? What can we, as Episcopalian clergy, do to make a difference?
On that last, after all agreeing we were dissatisfied with the second part of the book - we agree on what he says needs to be done, but he's short on how it is going to get done - the solution part, we charged ourselves with writing the second part for ourselves and committing to one action towards a more civil social discourse, a more fair economy, a more compassionate society. We came away, many of us, pledged to exercise appropriate authority as leaders in our communities to keep fairness, compassion and civility before our congregations and the communities in which we live and serve.
I'll be working on that for a long time - rewriting chapter two, and ways to fulfill the last pledge. But I can't think of a better way to spend a lazy, not-good-for-much-else hazy, hot and humid summer day, than with my fellow clergy, not trying to fix the church or worry over budgets and instead take on the bigger picture by picking over a book we have all read. Many of us would never have read that book without being invited to do so and to come together over it. And we were grateful we had read it, even with all the shortcomings we found in it.
Maybe, for me, it was such a special day and worth the time because, since it wasn't about the church and survival, we weren't our usual anxious, competitive selves. I don't know. What I do know is that for maybe the first, or at best the second time (the first being this year's clergy conference in May), I felt we were comrades in arms, companions on the journey, a band of sisters and brothers who can count on one another.
It seems to me hazy, lazy summer is the perfect time to have that encounter. The sound of katydids is the perfect finish to such a day.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
They have worked on me. There are those who wrote before and during the destruction of the two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah/Jerusalem in the south. There are those who wrote during the exile or after. The first warn of the destruction and exile to come, with promises that one day God would forgive and restore. The latter write of the destruction that will come upon those nations and peoples who were God's instruments for punishing the chosen people, Israel and Judah.
Yesterday, as I was reading the second part of The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity, by Jeffrey D. Sachs, I felt the words of the Jewish prophets laying themselves over those of Jeffrey Sachs. I saw what happened in the world, the things attributed to God by the prophets, leading up to, including, and after the destruction of the kingdoms, the exile, and the return to rebuild, and I saw them laid over top of what is happening today.
What would a pre-exilic prophet make of all this today? Climate change, which we are ignoring, the destruction of an economic system which we insist on continuing to worship as the salvation of the all, the purchase of democracy by those who can pay the most, the threat from both climate change and economic decay yoked with the buying of government, to the ability for us to feed ourselves, for the poor to ever have hope, for the common good to ever again make us human - what would those ancient prophets make of this?
And I saw God's fine hand, trying to warn us what we are doing to ourselves, to one another, to the earth. It is not God, any more than it was God in the days of ancient Judah and Israel, who is bringing destruction on us. It is we ourselves. And we seem helpless to do anything different.
Jeffrey Sachs has a game plan in his book that would reverse all this by 2050. The clinker is that it depends on us wanting to do this, unselfishly. I do not have much hope we will be willing, any of us on this planet. We are too invested in our "wants", seeing them as "needs". For this we are willing to give up our government to the highest bidder with one hand while with the other we blame and condemn those who govern us.
We, every one of us on this planet, are too invested in securing ourselves and our pieces of the planet from invaders, and we cast a large net over that word "invaders" to mean anyone, anywhere, not like us, or who threatens or is perceived to threaten us. On these two things the hope of the world and the planet will fall, taking us with it. And it will be we, ourselves, who did it.
The prophets, many of them, acted out the destruction to come. Zechariah, for instance, tends a flock of sheep, with two staffs, one labeled Favor, the other, Unity. Then he breaks his shepherd's crook Favor to symbolize the end of God's favor. Then he asks for his pay and he is given, by the powers that be, thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave. He then throws this "lordly price" into the temple treasury and breaks the staff Unity, the end of the covenant.
And everyone who saw, knew what this prophecy meant.
I took a vow at my ordination to be a wholesome example to the people I serve.
I pledge today to act out a counter-cultural prophecy. When I want to make an impulse purchase, I will stop, ponder, wonder from where comes this impulse, do I really NEED this, why do I think I need or want this. I think I shall also, then, put this impulse on a list of other wants, and if, over time, I still really want it, I will delay gratification for a time, while I save up for it.
I will not be perfect in this prophetic act. I will have times when I just cannot stop myself. Like everyone in this world, I have become addicted to consumerism. But then I will begin again.
I pledge, also, to continue in my example of giving equal time each to work, play, study, and creativity. I leave on vacation soon. I will not work on my vacation. I will work on being on vacation - I will play! As a prophetic act, this is my prayer that all work will become valued by being relieved by times of play, of study, and of creativity.
As to what happens in the future of this planet and the people on it, I do not know. We can reverse what we have done, if we all start now. It means giving up a lot. And it means taking on a lot. It means becoming responsible, once again, for one another, being appreciative of and tolerant of others, taking time to think through what we need and what we want, and maybe just turning off some of the screaming that tells we really, really NEEEEEED that impulse purchase that advertisers want you to buy to be beautiful, to fit in, to be popular, to be different (really?! like everyone else who has it?!!), to be cool.
I pledge to ignore the adverts on the computer, on Facebook, and on the television. And I pledge to spend less time every day with these things - computer, Facebook, television, putting them in their proper place, as tools, and not necessities of life.
And now, I shall take some time to laugh at myself! Because this is such an earnest piece I have written, and maybe even a little bit self-important.
If only all the rest of the world would take a laugh break, too, maybe, just maybe...who knows?
Sunday, July 22, 2012
I put on my flannel shirt for my walk. This is my kind of weather. I know people who thrive in the heat and humidity we had the past couple of weeks. I am not one of them. I'm a spring/autumn/winter girl.
At the same time, I have to say I love the lushness that the rains, even torrential rains, since last Sunday have brought to my gardens.
We've been exploring prayer this summer instead of having sermons on Sunday mornings. One of the ways we thought of prayer - "doing" as prayer - was gardening. The gardener who brought it up said that gardening is, for her, praying for the earth. I like it.
This summer instead of oral lists of prayers we have been observing silence as we write our prayers on the paper altar covering at our outdoors services. Last week the people from Iglesia Betania joined us. This was new for them. After the service they asked if it was only the sick who get their names on the covering. I said any prayers could be written there. They picked up pencils and crayons and started writing.
Our second Sunday outdoors it was so cool, and so many of our elderly women came, that we went inside and raided the chest of prayer shawls and wrapped them all up in warm prayers knitted and crocheted into those shawls. I wonder if we will need those shawls this morning! There could be worse things than a morning so cool we need to wrap one another up in prayers.
As I walked the labyrinth, at the end of my walk around the neighborhood this morning, my mind was full of all my worries. They just keep going round and round. Now, it's darned hard to walk the labyrinth without keeping your eyes on the path. But doing that contributed to my focusing on my worry-go-round. So I walked the second half, walking out, with my eyes focused on the neighborhood, the rapidly changing angle of the sun, the lush vegetation and foliage, the colors, the coolness of the air. I had 75% success in keeping my focus outward and that is a big deal - a very big deal indeed.
A blessed Sunday to you all. Peace.
Friday, July 20, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
I just had the most brilliant idea. If Joe Biden runs with you as VP again, he'll be too old in four years to be a viable candidate for President.
SOOOO...here's what y'all do.
Joe announces that he is not running as VP this year. He's retiring. Instead, Hillary Clinton will be running with you as your VP. That way the Democratic party has a viable VP to run as President four years from now!
The Rambling Rose
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
I am personally delighted! Thank you, God. Thank you, Blessed Savior. Thank you, muchas muchas gracias, Holy Spirit!
Monday, July 9, 2012
This blog supports The Episcopal Church, and this blog supports the passage of today's resolution adding, officially, gender identity and gender expression to the non-discrimination canons of TEC.
Thanks be to God!
Monday, June 25, 2012
Monday, June 18, 2012
I commend the book to you to read for yourself. I just finished chapter one, and would like to note a few things that apply to the current apparent chaos in which we in the churches believe ourselves to be.
Chapter 1 is titled "Discovering an Orderly World". It opens with Wheatley's revelation as she soaks her feet in a stream. She learns from the stream about adaptability, and the temporary state of solutions as the stream answers its overarching call to reach the ocean. She writes, "There is none of the rigid reliance on single forms, on true answers, on past practices that I have learned in business. Streams have more than one response to rocks..." "Organizations lack this kind of faith, faith that they can accomplish their purposes in various ways and that they do best when they focus on direction and vision, letting transient forms emerge and disappear. We seem fixated on structures; and we build them strong and complex because they must, we believe, hold back the dark forces that are out to destroy us." (chapter 1, page 15-16, 1992, 1994; Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, CA.)
Once, long ago, thanks to Newton and others, we came to believe the world was a machine set in motion by a clockmaker God who then left the scene. The world understanding was that every machine runs down, and therefore we had to scramble to make sure this machine kept going. "This is a universe, we feel, that cannot be trusted with growth, rejuvenation, process. If we want progress, then we must provide the energy, the momentum, to reverse decay. By sheer force of will..." (Wheatley, pg. 17)
And then she writes, "What a fearful posture this has been!" Indeed! And still is.
Wheatley then turns to Ilya Prigogine and dissipative structures in chemistry. Prigogine found that, while structures dissipate, as energy ebbs away, that very dissipation can play a constructive role in creating new structures. "Dissipation didn't lead to the demise of a system. It was part of the process by which the system let go of its present form so that it could reemerge in a form better suited to the demands of the present environment." (Wheatley, pg. 19)
We are desperately trying to control what is happening to our churches. Wheatley describes seeing a moose hiding from her behind a tiny sappling, the trunk of which only covers the moose's eyes. Yet the moose is confident it is hidden. She says that in our passion for control, we are like that moose. "As long as we stare cross-eyed at that tree, we won't see all around us the innate processes of living systems that are there to create the order we crave" (Wheatley, pg. 23).
But it's hard to step away from the tree. Wheatley would have us move away from control and embrace "dynamic connectedness". She writes, at the end of chapter 1, "I want to move into a universe I trust so much that I give up playing God. I want to stop holding things together. I want to experience such safety that the concept of 'allowing' - trusting that the appropriate forms can emerge - ceases to be scary." (Wheatley, pg. 23)
We Episcopalian Christians are in the business of trusting God. And I experience very little of that trust in myself, and see little of it in other Christians. I certainly don't see it in the way we interact with one another in this nation, nor in our government. What would it take for us to trust God? What would it take to trust Jesus, the Christ, our Lord?
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
All the stuff - cruel stuff - going on in the world.
All the stuff - stupid stuff - going on in the Anglican churches.
So many substantive articles I could write.
And I choose fireflies.
But seriously! It's almost mid-June. It's still chilly at night. Heck, it's chilly and rainy during the day.
And tonight, up out of the grass, one, then another, then more and more, fireflies.
Syria is killing her own people.
The bishops in the Church of England proclaim state legalized marriage between people (read "men" - they couldn't care a bit about women) of the same sex is one of the biggest threats the Church has faced in centuries.
The failing economy in the U.S. threatens to take down the whole world.
An accounting error (!) in my town's school budget threatens the education of children, free, high quality education being the most important thing standing between humankind and chaos.
And I choose to write about the wonder of seeing fireflies this evening, before it became dark and the playfulness of my dog, Xena trying to catch them and not understanding where that light went. It was just there, wasn't it?!
Magic. The magic of fireflies.
In the middle of that wonder, I find myself standing, suddenly, naked before God, for one blinding second. Just me. Not my job, or my thoughts, or my fears, or who I think I am. But me. And then it's gone, and I'm aware of aware again of all the stuff in my head that I think makes me, me, but I remember that one naked second. And the fireflies, flickering, disappearing, and reappearing someplace else I can't predict.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Eventually, the circuits of the labyrinth take me back to where I can see the man in the park again. He's sorting through things in the bag. It's not recycling pick-up day, when the gleaners come out early in the morning and pick out all the recyclables for which they can get money in return.
Another circuit. Yes, it is an enormous pile of recyclables. He's sorting them - plastic from glass, the only recyclables worth picking. He had to have been up and out working very early to accumulate that pile of plastic and glass bottles.
On another circuit I can see him, bent over the pile, like photos I've seen of people in the fields picking cotton. He looks just like that, bent over, sorting, picking, separating. I've gardened in that bent over position. It's really hard on the back and knees.
Work is work. He's been up early to go to work, picking, collecting, and now sorting. For how much, I wonder? I think I'll have to take some things to the recycling center at Stop and Shop where you can bring your sorted plastic and glass bottles and get money back. You're only allowed one bag of recycling per trip. That's the closest center I know, and it's quite a walk from the park across from the church. I want to know, roughly, how much he gets per bag, for all the walking he has to do around the city to gather that much recycling, sort it out, and then walk with his precious treasure up to Stop and Shop to cash it in.
Lazy? Maybe it's because you only see men like this one during the rest of the day, when they have already put in a days work trying to make some living from the stuff you and I throw away.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Wildlife was everywhere. Sometimes, I would wake up and look out at the lawn that was between the house and the woods, and there would be a fox, sleeping on a mossy hummock. We had the occasional black rat snake in the house (ick). There were three ponds. Every year some wood ducks would hang out at the ponds deciding whether or not to nest. We put up a wood duck nesting box, but wrens took it over - yes, tiny wrens, who filled up that box with twigs until it was at the right level!
When I first moved to Norwalk I missed those woods and the wildlife. We lived in a residential neighborhood where the only wildlife was birds (thank God for them!) and domestic animals.
When we moved closer to the church, in the center of town (although I have to say, it's not like any town center I've ever seen), I assumed it would be the same. Since then, we are regularly visited by skunks, possums and raccoons, as well as hawks perching in the trees in the rectory yard and on the church steeple.
Yesterday morning I took the dog, Miss Xena, Warrior Labrador-Mix Princess of all Norwalk, for her walk on the bike path a block from the house. It was six a.m. exactly. As we proceeded on the path, I saw, up ahead, two deer, on the path. Now, on one side of the path is a high, chain link fence, with a nearly perpendicular hill of trees and greenery up the short distance to the level of the route 7 connector. On the other side of the path are houses and yards. Behind us, across the street, is a small park, but certainly none of this was habitat for deer.
Where did they come from? I don't know. And they had no idea what to do about me and my dog. I turned Xena around and we went back to the beginning of the path, on the fence side, leaving the deer options for escape, because they were not going to be able to leap that fence, given the terrain. But that left them only escape through city-type back yards. One of them came our way, on the opposite side of the path, and, veering through the last yard, and between two houses, it ran across the street and took refuge in the open park. The other ran the other way and disappeared down a side street that is perpendicular to the path.
Where did they go from there? I have no idea. My first thought was will one or the other of them get hit by a car? Fortunately, none of that happened, at least not in my neighborhood. They were young - not fawns, but probably yearlings - long, leggy legs, the rest of their bodies not having caught up with their growth spurt.
Red Tail Hawks seem to have adapted to being urban hawks. Other wildlife - including coyotes - can be found in our city here and there. We destroy habitat in order to make it fit our desires. And still, the wildlife returns and tries to make peace with that - a peace we choose not to make with the wild life. We see them as pests and dangerous. Who do they think we are?
Sunday, May 13, 2012
I understand why I am having trouble retrieving words I know like the back of my hand.
I've just been watching an episode of Life (Part 2) on public broadcasting.
It's the fault of the digital age.
First, I am being referred to as a digital immigrant - someone who was later in life when the digital age came to be. I'm not ashamed of that. I proudly refer to myself as an analogue girl in a digital world.
Second, the generations that followed me are called digital natives. Suddenly, I have become a second class citizen. As if being a woman weren't second class enough in a still tenacious patriarchal culture.
Third, it is changing our brains, both native and immigrant digitals, that information and connection is constant and instantaneous.
Even when we walk away from our digital connections - take a day off from email, try not to fret about not posting a blog post for over a week, turn off the iPhone - our brain is waiting, anxiously, and in the process of stressing out, it produces cortisol which -
- yes, we know, leads to obesity, but what you may not have known, is it - shrinks the memory centers of the brain!
Well, I'll be unplugged for the next three days. I can guarantee, I won't be able to totally not know what's going on. But I'll turn my phone, not to vibrate, but to "off" for most of the day except to check in with mi esposo in the morning and at night.
And now, a real live creature, my dog, wants my attention. At least I can make eye contact with her.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
So, the tow guy is here to take it to Danbury to the Chevy dealer who took over the Saturn warranties and service when Saturn was discontinued.
My poor Saturn Astra. If you want to see one in action, watch Top Gear (the real one, the British version, because the U.S. American version is rubbish) and listen for references to the Vauxhall Astra - same car. A nice little vehicle. Quick. Reliable on the road. Nimble. Please, God, heal my car!
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Yesterday, also, in the rectory back yard the Painted Ladies were joined by fritillaries. And evidence of skunk early in the evening, around 8:30 or 9.
Today is drismal, and no one except the corvids and icterids are about. (Now those two, and the fritillaries you must look up for yourself. Take charge of your own learning!)
Monday, May 7, 2012
Early this morning, about 5:15, just in between dark and the beginning of first pre-dawn light, Xena and I were in the back yard for her first morning constitutional. She was more interested in exploring, focusing on the chainlink fence on the parking lot side of the yard.
Suddenly, she ran, hell-bent for leather, from the far back corner to the gate near the parking lot, barking. I joined her at the gate to try and see what had roused her.
There was, on the lot, a hunched figure. It was standing perfectly still. Yesterday, Sunday morning, as we went out for our 6 a.m. walk, Xena had alerted me to something not right near the church office entrance, but she would not go any nearer the entrance. When, after the walk, I returned to check out what was amiss, I found a raccoon, trapped in the long, large, deep basement window well under the office windows. A wild animal removal company took it away later that morning. But I was wondering, had the raccoon come back?
However, even though it was just barely light, I could not make the shape I saw coincide with that of a raccoon. Suddenly, it took off. It was clearly a cat, but almost twice the size of any cat I've ever seen. It was no coon. It streaked from the lot along the back fence and, as it disappeared in the blind spot in the back corner opposite the lot, it reappeared in the back yard of the dentist building next door.
I remember last year reports of a bobcat in the area, near the bike path, about a block from our house. When it was full light, I went along the outside of the back fence, to the place where it joins the railing at the back of the dentist building. There was a clear, large cat paw print. If it was a household cat, it was really big!
So, raccoons, the occasional skunk, possums, a probable bobcat, and a hatch of butterflies. Who knew that living in the city could be so - wild!
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has elected a new bishop. As part of the process, candidates were given four questions to answer. Here is the link to the questions and answers. I am particularly taken by the answer to question #4, as follows, from the now Bishop-Elect, the Reverend Dorsey W.M. McConnell:
“Of course, there are huge advantages. You will finally know who you are and why you are on this earth. You will find endless mercy, limitless grace, compassion without ceasing, love beyond bounds. You will experience real joy, again and again. You will have an abiding sense of God’s care for you, and you will never again depend on the kudos of the world. After years of trying to create your own universe and run it (which never goes very well), you will be released from the endless task of proving your self-worth. You will discover that serving Jesus Christ will use every fiber of your being, every cell of your creativity, talents you never knew you had, in pursuits you never would have imagined. In short, you will discover the grace and truth of God in this life, and in the age to come, life everlasting.”
My response? I intend to memorize this response and make it my own. What do you think?
Friday, April 20, 2012
Who out there thinks the latest changes are a good idea? If so, WHY?!
And don't give me that "it's free so why are you complaining" stuff. I still hate it.
And where the heck is my old dashboard? It worked perfectly well. Now it's gone.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Friday, April 6, 2012
Grace Episcopal Church and Iglesia Episcopal Betania (Bethany Episcopal Church) continue their life together by sitting down to supper. The tables are set up in the church, in the shape of a "T" cross. During the supper we hear the story of the Passover, from Exodus 12:1-14. After supper, we hear the gospel of John 13:1-17, 31b-35, of how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, to show them HOW we are to love one another and all people. We are to become servants of all people. We are not to behave any more highly than our master, Jesus, who, as a slave, washed the disciples' feet.
After, a child reads the words of the institution of the Last Supper from 1Corinthians 11:23-26. We say our prayers for the world, confess our sins, are forgiven, and pass the peace with one another. We hear again the story of the last supper, bless the bread and wine, and share the body and blood of Christ.
The scriptures say, of the disciples after the supper,
"Then they sang a hymn and went out to the garden to pray.
Despues de cantar los salmos, salieron al monte de los Olivos."
So the people begin to read the psalms that would have been traditional after such a supper: 113 through 118. As they pray these psalms together, in both English and Spanish, the altar guild is busy stripping the church of all ceremonial religious items. The tabernacle, in which the bread and wine is reserved for taking to the sick, is emptied - Jesus is not there. They are placed on the side chapel altar and draped. On Good Friday, at the evening service, all of these remains of consecrated bread and wine will be consumed.
On Good Friday morning, the children will come together from Iglesia Betania, Iglesia San Lucas y San Pablo Bridgeport, and Grace, for the Walk to Easter - a pageant from Palm Sunday to the Resurrection, in which all the children participate. Meanwhile, the adults will meditate on the Seven Last Words of Christ.
I wonder how many people realize what was done 2000 years ago, which we remember, which we re-member, relive, every year? It is now a cliche to say that without taking part in the Holy Week services, including the Great Vigil of Easter Saturday night, Easter Day service is just another Sunday service.
All I can say is, no adult who comes on Good Friday morning to the Walk to Easter remains unchanged as the children take up the cross, lay it on their shoulders, and together walk to the tomb. And what they see there will have to wait for another post.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Friday, March 30, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Sermon, Lent 5, March 25, 2012
The Reverend Lois Keen
Grace Episcopal Church
From The Episcopal Church web site, Archive, Latino/Hispanic Ministries, Sermones que Iluminan.
Quinto Domingo de Cuaresma Jeremías 31,31-34
Salmo 51, 11-16
Hebreos 5, 5-10
"¡Dame, oh Dios, un corazón limpio, crea en mí un espíritu nuevo!"
Durante las últimas cuatro semanas de esta Cuaresma hemos estado preparando nuestros corazones para lograr un corazón limpio y un espíritu renovado. A veces, hemos estado a punto de lograrlo; en otras ocasiones, hemos fallado miserablemente. Hemos fallado porque no es fácil cambiar de rumbo de vida sin un esfuerzo apoyado por la gracia de lo alto.
Con las mejores disposiciones, oímos la voz del profeta Jeremías que, desde un lejano pasado, nos anuncia que nosotros solos no podemos crear un corazón limpio, ni renovar el espíritu dentro de nuestro ser. Es el Señor Dios quien afirmó que iba a establecer un pacto nuevo con su pueblo, en el cual hubiera una Ley nueva y una relación con Dios nueva, que se inscribiría en los corazones. "Meteré mi Ley en su pecho, la escribiré en su corazón, yo seré su Dios y ellos serán mi pueblo" (Jr 29, 33).
Será lo equivalente a una nueva creación. Lo fundamental de esa creación nueva de Dios radica en que somos conscientes de quiénes somos, de dónde venimos, y a quién le pertenecemos. Según ese pacto, anunciado por Jeremías, tendríamos idea clara de quién es Dios y quiénes somos nosotros. Esa relación nueva nos mostraría una manera de vivir diferente, bajo la ley de Dios, amparados por un amor divino que sobrepasa todo entendimiento.
Sería un tipo de "huella" que identificaría todo nuestro ser. Así como un patito o un polluelo, nada más nacer sigue fielmente a su mamá porque hay algo en su interior que se lo dicta. Según el pacto nuevo todos sabrían que: "Yo seré su Dios y ellos serán mi pueblo".
Al leer esto, podríamos pensar: ¿Cómo sería una sociedad así? ¿Sería posible que dejáramos de idolatrar a nuestro mundo: trabajo, estado de vida, familia, propiedades? ¿Sería posible que sólo Dios fuera nuestro Dios, y nosotros su pueblo? Teniendo en cuenta que somos rebeldes y desobedientes, ¿qué tendría que cambiar para que nosotros fuéramos el pueblo perdonado que pertenece a Dios? Tendríamos que cambiar radicalmente. ¡Qué triste si nuestro actuar durante esta Cuaresma se opone a pedirle a Dios un corazón limpio y un espíritu renovado!
Tal vez actuemos movidos por la curiosidad como los griegos que se acercaron a Felipe y le dijeron: "Queremos ver a Jesús". La fama de Jesús tenía que haberse extendido por el mundo griego para que unos filósofos se sintieran picados por la curiosidad de ver a Jesús.
Felipe y Andrés comunicaron a Jesús que alguien quería verle. Jesús, como si no hubiera oído, siguió hablando de su próxima muerte. Al principio, tal actitud pudiera parecer un tanto desorientadora, pero en el fondo nos revela algo profundo. En primer lugar, desear ver a Jesús supone ya un acuciante en el corazón. Por ello, después de la entrevista no se permanecerá indiferente. Segundo, ver a Jesús no debe ser sólo motivo de curiosidad, sino de estar espoleado por preguntas de grave responsabilidad. Esto es lo que implica ver a Jesús: implica escuchar su palabra hasta conocerle. En otras palabras, implica seguirle hasta dar la vida si es necesario.
Estar en relación con Dios, tener un corazón limpio, tener un espíritu renovado, es tanto como querer ver a Jesús y quedar por él transformado.
Conocer a Jesús es decir con fe "que se haga su voluntad". Eso es lo que implica el pacto nuevo. Esa es la única relación que va a crear en nosotros un corazón limpio y un espíritu renovado. Dicho con otras palabras, es un llamado a morir para vivir. Un vivir totalmente diferente. No de este mundo. Hoy es el último domingo de Cuaresma, que Dios nos dé la gracia de ver a Jesús de una manera nueva, y el valor para abrir nuestros labios y proclamar que de la muerte viene la vida verdadera.
“Create in us clean hearts, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.”
The English version of this sermon is not a direct translation but my paraphrase of the Spanish in order for it to be in my voice.
In our various ways, we all try to prepare to receive a new heart and a renewed spirit within ourselves, especially during Lent. Sometimes we feel we are making progress. Other times we are certain we have failed miserably. It is not easy to change ourselves without the grace of God. And allowing the grace of God to change us means giving up control of how and into what we will be transformed.
Still, the prophet Jeremiah reminds us it is God alone who does this, who says “I will put my law in your chest, and write it in your heart.” It is God who establishes a new covenant, God who puts the law into our hearts, God who creates a new relationship between us and God.
This new relationship is like a new creation. The essence of this new creation is that we become aware of who we are in God, where we come from, and to whom we belong. In this new relationship we will live differently than we do now. The law written in our heart, the renew spirit in which putting love of God and love of neighbor as the basis for everything we do, will be like a fingerprint, identifying our whole being as God’s possession.
With a clean heart and a renewed spirit, we will be like baby ducklings who imprint on their mother and by instinct follow her around. Under the new covenant everyone will know that God will be their God, and they shall be God’s people.
You might ask how the world will be different under the new covenant. It’s hard to say, since no entire people has given themselves over to God to do this. So ask yourself what truly good things in this world have become idols to you? To us? Work, quality of life, property, sports, March Madness? An idol is something we put ahead of God’s will, on purpose or unconsciously. Even the Bible, or the Book of Common Prayer, or Church or family can become idols, if our use of or participation in them becomes about us and what we want, and not about God as the one and only focus of all life. We are no less stiff necked, stubborn or rebelious than the Hebrew people in the desert after escaping from Egypt. We get anxious when God seems absent and we go about, making golden calves.
Can we let God remake us? How radically would our lives change? I wonder what radical changes would be made in this world that needs those changes so badly. We may actually be living in opposition to God unless we can at least want to want to be willing to let God give us clean hearts and a renewed spirit. Our only hope, in this case, is that all people are forgiven; all people belong to God, and so do we, even though all we may have are good intentions to have God transform and renew us and our lives.
Some Greeks come to Philip and say to him, “We want to see Jesus.” Maybe they are only asking out of curiousity. Jesus’s fame has spread to the Greek speakers and it would not be unusual for the philosophers among them to be curious about him.
Whatever reasons the Greek speakers have for asking to meet Jesus, Philip and Andrew deliver the message that some people are asking for him. And how does Jesus answer?
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it...Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.”
Jesus goes on as though he hasn’t even heard Andrew and Philip. Instead, he simply continues with his gospel. This seems strange, and yet it reveals something profound for us.
We and the Greeks are curious about Jesus. We and the Greeks want to follow him. He is already pressing on our hearts. So, if we and the Greeks do get an interview with Jesus, we will not be indifferent to what he says.
And what he says tells us we must not ask to see Jesus only out of curiousity. Hearing Jesus is to be known by Jesus. And to follow him means to go where he is going, and he is going to his death.
To ask God to give us a new heart and a renewed spirit is to ask to follow Jesus, even unto death, the death of all in us that keeps us from being seed that bears fruit. To ask to meet Jesus is to ask to be transformed.
Jesus knows where he is going and the consequences, and still he says to God, “Your will be done, not mine”. This is the implication of the covenant God has made with us. We are called to die in order to live. For some of us it means to live differently. For all of us it implies living in this world but not of this world.
Next week begins Holy Week. We will walk with Jesus through the last days of his life. May I not be simply a curious spectator or a bystander. May we all be given the grace to see Jesus’s last days in a new way. May we be given the spirit to understand the great mystery of the good news of Jesus Christ, that death is the true life.