Genesis 50:15-21, Psalm 103:(1-7), 8-13, Romans 14:1-12, Matthew 18:21-35
In the 1986 movie The Mission: Rodrigo Mendoza, played by Robert De Niro, is a former slave trader and mercenary, who spends years capturing the native Guarani people of Brazil and selling them into slavery. He kills his brother in a duel over a woman and is thrown in prison where he is visited by Jesuit Father Gabriel who hears Mendoza’s confession. Rodrigo goes with Father Gabriel to start a mission to the Guarani in the remote Jungle. As his penance Rodrigo puts his armor and weapons into a large bag attached to a thick rope that he puts over his neck and shoulder and drags behind him on this mission into the mountainous jungle. Continue reading →
Ezekiel 33:7-11, Psalm 119:33-40, Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20
You know the old story: man shipwrecked on a desert island for 20 years. Finally, rescuers arrive. They ask, “How’d you survive all alone on this tiny island?” He says, Follow me! So he shows them the little hut where he lived. Then the he shows them a bigger structure and says, with great pride, this is my church! The rescuer looks across the way and says, “what’s that building over there?” “Oh, that’s the church I used to belong to, but I couldn’t stand the people!” Continue reading →
Jeremiah 15:15-21, Psalm 26:1-8, Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 16:21-28
Then Jesus told his disciples, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” Back a few years, I attended a wild weekend retreat in Essex called “An Emotional Reeducation Workshop”—recommended by my therapist at the time. The first night we did a role playing exercise to determine our emergency defense, when we are in a highly charged situation, like an argument with a spouse or a parent. We know that there are three basic strategies: fight, flight, or freeze. When the emotional poop hits the paddles, what do we do? Continue reading →
Music for this Sunday is greatly enhanced by the return of our first waddle (I looked it up – it’s a group of penguins on land) of penguins – the Parish Choir! Their anthem is Draw us in the Spirit’s Tether by 20th century church musician, Harold Friedell. This piece is apropos for our first Sunday back because it not only hearkens to Matthew’s gospel – For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them,” but also draws us all back in for another church year together, no matter who we are, or where we have come from. If the spirit is drawing you to join a choir, there is always room, too.
As you know, we have been celebrating our 150th anniversary in various ways. During the next few months, I will try to be intentional about providing music each Sunday that is from that general time period. The organ voluntaries and communion music are by French composer Leon Boellmann (1862-1897). His Suite Gothique was written in 1895 and is his best-known composition. We are going even further in the wayback machine for our “Gloria,” to an old Scottish chant that is at least 250 years old (S204). It is repetitive, known to older Episcopalians, and will be easy to learn. Our “vintage” hymn is 617 – Eternal Ruler of the ceaseless round. Although the original music for this tune is from the late 1500’s, words by John White Chadwick (1840-1904) and the harmonization by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) are from that time.
I was enjoying my time in Maine with my family when hell broke loose in Charlottesville, rattling the national psyche. How is it possible for someone to think it is a good thing to follow ideologies that enslaved human beings in the 19th century and murdered millions in death camps in the 20th? It boggles the mind how some can imagine treating others as less than human can be good for one’s soul or one’s nation. Continue reading →
Isaiah 51:1-6, Psalm 138, Romans 12:1-8, Matthew 16:13-20
Jesus says to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answers, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Friday night, Stephanie and I went to see a new movie titled “All Saints”! It’s a low budget, simple, based on a true story, movie about All Saints Church in Smyrna, Tennessee, a church that is facing imminent closure. Did I mention it is an Episcopal Church…in the Diocese of Tennessee? In the first scene we see the recently ordained priest on his first Sunday with only a handful of parishioners and orders from the bishop to close the church in 2 months, so the property can be sold. On one hand, what unfolds is not unique—I know other dying Episcopal Churches, one in Fall River, Massachusetts—with a similar story in which a tiny church decides the Kingdom Jesus proclaims means they are to invite strange people from the other side of the planet who live in their town to become a vital part of their faith community.
But it is also a timely story given the shocking events two weeks ago in Charlottesville, Virginia where angry white men and some women held a march that proclaimed their racist ideology and the supremacy of their race. I imagine a majority of the marchers would also gladly claim that they are Christians who follow Jesus Christ. Certainly most white churches in the South of my childhood loudly proclaimed that they too were followers of Jesus and just as loudly proclaimed that those with dark skin were not welcomed to be part of their church. Continue reading →
Exodus 34:29-35, Psalm 99 or 99:5-9, 2 Peter 1:13-21, Luke 9:28-36
One of my few vivid memories of Kindergarten was spilling orange juice on myself repeatedly. I learned very quickly that humiliating myself was something to be avoided at all costs, so I worked hard to make sure those kind of things never happened again. Yet, there I was, 23 years old, at the retreat in the Diocese of Atlanta to determine if I would be accepted as a Postulant for Holy Orders, when as I was finishing dinner on the first night I spilled coffee all over myself. I had to go change my pants! Talk about humiliation!
So you can imagine my surprise to hear Fr. Richard Rohr say that he prays for two or three humiliations every day! He had turned his humiliations into a spiritual practice of acceptance of who he really is while dropping the puffing up of the ego! Continue reading →
Isaiah 55:10-13, Psalm 65: (1-8), 9-14, Romans 8:1-11, Matthew 13:1-9,18-23
Imagine your favorite beach….Matthew says Jesus is sitting on the beach at the Sea of Galilee. It’s an arresting image: Jesus, doing the thing we like to do, sitting in front of a body of water and just staring off into the distance. As we’ve all experienced, this opens up the soul and calms the spirit. Neuroscience has found that staring off into empty space like this, puts the mind into alpha waves which produces that calm, peaceful sensation we all crave and need after a day of living in a mind worn out by the beta waves produced by a busy, stressful life. In other words, Jesus is centering himself in the presence of the Father after a long week of teaching, healing, and confrontation. Jesus needs a day at the beach as much as we do! Continue reading →