Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bartholomew the Unremarkable

Once again, I am hunting for a noon office reading to go with the scripture and saint of the day and have found something to share. It seems to go well with the Gospel reading for this upcoming Sunday as well (Luke 14:1, 7-14), or at least with what I am working on in writing a sermon. Who knows, I may end up referring to this. 

St. Bartholomew icon
By Urek Meniashvili (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Following St Bartholomew's example 24-8-08 by Rosalind Brown
Like everyone else, I have been marvelling at the achievements of the Olympic athletes. We have been in a fortnight of superlatives when the commentators have run out of adjectives. Greatness is all around us. But in a few years time will we remember the names that trip off our tongues? Will there be other candidates for the title ‘greatest Olympian ever?' What makes a person memorable, even great? As we have been constantly reminded, it is not just the achievements but the years of disciplined training that contributed to their greatness.
In contrast to this month's roll call of great living people, today we remember someone from 2000 years ago whose achievements are pretty much lost to history. There's something delightfully perverse about that, but the church has never been entirely rational by the world's standards and we have a much longer memory than most institution. Great as they are, no one will remember today's Olympic medallists in 2000 years time, let alone set a day aside to celebrate them.  So today, being countercultural, we remember St Bartholomew whose only sure claim to be remembered is his appearance in the list of apostles which we heard in the second reading.
…So in this month when greatness is being defined in terms of athletic achievement, I want to put in a plea for other definitions of greatness as well. What about the greatness of radical discipleship? The greatness of staking everything on the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? That is why we celebrate Bartholomew. He may not have hit the headlines as some of the disciples did but he was one of the twelve, he was there with Jesus for about three years, he gave up everything for what he believed…
And so today we remember Bartholomew, an unremarkable disciple whose memory has outlasted that of Olympic athletes of the ancient world. As we give thanks for him, we celebrate the daily routine of ordinary discipleship, of getting on with the task in hand, perhaps rising to occasional moments of greatness but underpinning them with routine devotion - immersion in God's word, prayer, growth in God's wisdom and, when the occasion arises, being willing to go wherever we are sent, but to do so without great fanfare, just with fidelity.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

William Reed Huntington

In honor of our saint of the day, I'm posting something I just ran into while looking for a reading for the Noon Office. Seems as though not as much has changed in the church as we might think. This is only an excerpt; to read the entire essay or more, follow the link below.


Popular Misconceptions of the Episcopal Church.
By William Reed Huntington.
New York: Thomas Whittaker, 1891.

Chapter VI. That it is a House Divided against itself.
…The new consciousness beginning to dawn in the heart and mind of the Episcopal Church is the consciousness of a special call to play an intercessory and mediatorial part in the needed work of a general reconciliation. What makes it possible for an Episcopalian to take this line of remark without subjecting himself to any just charge of arrogance, is the fact that he bases his peace-making effort wholly upon historical, and not at all upon personal grounds. He does not say, "Trust us as reconcilers, because [81/82] our ecclesiastics are so much more astute, our theologians so much more profound, and our communicant members so much more devout, than yours." He simply says: "Look at the history of Anglican religion, as a history, and judge for yourselves whether it do not give evidence of a greater power of inclusiveness, a more promising facility at comprehending a large variety of types, both of character and of action, than any rival system has ever, among the people of our own race, exhibited."
But the power to assimilate types and to comprehend varieties is the very gift which we demand of the intermediary who is to help us in this task of composing our differences. The unity of which American Christians are in search is a "live and let live" unity. They perceive that the shutting-out policy is what has brought us to our present broken estate. What they are reaching after is the Church that shall be intolerant of these two things, and of only these two things--first, wickedness; secondly, the denial of what is confessedly central to the faith. Purity of character, as estimated by the ethical standards of the New Testament; purity of belief, as tested by the primitive Creeds--these are the only points upon which a united American Church would find it needful to insist.
But the overtures ventured by the Episcopal Church in the matter of unity are met with merciless ridicule, on the ground that the theological divergences and party differences within its own borders are so marked as to have become notorious. "Physician, heal thyself!" is the not unnatural rejoinder of those to whom Churchmen address their affectionate invitations to reunion.
[83] I propose to meet this rejoinder by taking the ground that it is the existence of these very divergences alleged, and the continuance of their existence within the Anglican communion, that gives to that communion its best right to make the plea it does.
…The point, however, which I am particularly anxious to make is this, namely, that in a great national Church all of these various ways of apprehending and practising religion ought to find place. A national Church wholly made up of High Churchmen, or wholly made [84/85] up of Low Churchmen, or wholly made up of Broad Churchmen, would be a misfortune, if it were not first of all an impossibility. Human nature being what it is, a Church could not become national that should begin by insisting upon all its members conforming to one or other of these three types. It has been the peculiar blessedness of the Anglican communion that in the providence of God it has escaped this lust of delimitation.
…It is because of its having gradually acquired, during a long history, this inclusive character, that the Episcopal Church is able without immodesty to volunteer its good offices in that effort to come to a better understanding which so many souls in all the communions are earnestly desirous of seeing set on foot. Such overtures would be impertinent indeed if this Church were really "a house divided against itself; "--but is it that? Come and see.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

poem for this week's juxtapositions

“Concurrence,” by Denise Levertov

Each day’s terror, almost
a form of boredom—madmen
at the wheel and
stepping on the gas and
the brakes no good—
and each day, morning-glories
faultless, blue, blue sometimes
flecked with magenta, each
lit from within with
the first sunlight


Saturday, June 18, 2016

names of Orlando shooting victims for your prayer list

Then there is Isaiah, who saw his mother killed.

The others who were there and saw it.

Those who are grieving.

Those in the hospital or recovering at home.

The first responders. God bless them.

So many people who must have massive PTSD now.

And then there are those who are afraid they will be next.

Please pray for them, for those who love them, for those trying to help them, and for those few who are full of hatred and gladness at this action, especially given its targets. Pray for those resisting changes that would be beneficial to society but bad for business or reelection. This is not the way God created us to be.

Let's live as though we really understood what it means to be made in the image of God.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Litany for Gun Violence Prevention offered for use

Candle from vigil for Orlando Victims
Duxbury, MA

Giver of Life and Love, you created all people as one family and called us to live together in harmony and peace. Surround us with your love as we face the challenges and tragedies of gun violence.
For our dear ones, for our neighbors, for strangers and aliens, and those known to you alone, Loving God,
Make us instruments of your peace.
God of Righteousness, you have given our leaders, especially Barack, our President, the members of Congress, the judges of our courts and members of our legislatures, power and responsibility to protect us and to uphold our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
For all who bear such responsibility, for all who struggle to discern what is right in the face of powerful political forces, Loving God,
Make us instruments of your peace.
God of Compassion, we give you thanks for first responders, for police officers, firefighters and EMTs, and all those whose duties bring them to the streets, the lobbies, the malls and the homes where the carnage of gun violence takes place day after day. Give them courage and sound judgment in the heat of the moment and grant them compassion for the victims.
For our brothers and sisters who risk their lives and their serenity as they rush to our aid, Loving God,
Make us instruments of your peace.
Merciful God, bind up the wounds of all who suffer from gun violence, those maimed and disfigured, those left alone and grieving, and those who struggle to get through one more day. Bless them with your presence and help them find hope.
For all whose lives are forever marked by the scourge of gun violence, Loving God,
Make us instruments of your peace.
God Who Remembers, may we not forget those who have died in the gun violence that we have allowed to become routine. Receive them into your heart and comfort us with your promise of eternal love and care.
For all who have died, those who die today, and those who will die tomorrow, Loving God,
Make us instruments of your peace.
God of Justice, help us, your church, find our voice. Empower us to change this broken world and to protest the needless deaths caused by gun violence. Give us power to rise above our fear that nothing can be done and grant us the conviction to advocate for change.
For your dream of love and harmony, Loving God,
Make us instruments of your peace.
All this we pray in the name of the One who offered his life so that we might live, Jesus the Christ.  Amen.
- by the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, Episcopal bishop of Maine - via the Episcopal News Service (you will also find a link to an entire liturgy on this page)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hingham Vigil for Orlando

Just wanted to share the announcement about another vigil tonight. I'll be at the one in Duxbury, but those of you who might be near Hingham should know of this opportunity to join the wider community in prayer.

This is the description via the Episcopal church in Hingham.

Here is the one from the UCC church's Facebook page.