Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

9/30/2005

Metamorphasis and Pilgrimage

At Sacramentality there is a recent post musing on the migration of Monarch Butterflies, Butterfly larvae
It brings to mind for me the concept of pilgrimage. There is little information about why Monarchs migrate or what calls them to travel such distances just to spend their winter in Mexico. It's such a mystery - which is probably why I am so fascinated by them. It is so amazing that such a tiny creature can know, even if on an instinctual level, that in order to survive and reproduce they must get moving and not stay static. More than that, they must move in a particular direction to a particular place. I wonder if we are aware of this instinct within ourselves. Do we know or recognize the call to migrate. In other words, do we recognize when it is time to move out of our current mode of being and to a new mode of being? I would contend this question is just as important to a group of people, such as a church community, as it is for an individual. If we stay static in our thinking, our way of being, our relationships, etc and refuse to hear the migration call - I suspect the process of death sets in - not just a physical death, but a process that obstructs, impedes, and deteriorates the call to be all that God has created us each to be. Monarch Butterfly larvaePilgrimage or migration can be a dangerous undertaking. I suspect many Monarchs never make it to their destination. But the alternative is certain death - at least for the Monarch.
I would contend it is for us also.

What a gift the Monarch Butterflies are to us. We can learn much from their way of life - one that responds to the call to move towards what sustains life.
Along with this theme, there is a fine sermon by The Rev. Linda McCloud, who has preached before at King of Peace. This recent sermon, God's Transforming Mercies was preached at "her" church St. Margaret of Scotland in Moultrie, Georgia.

1 Comments:

  • At 9/30/2005 9:36 AM, Blogger Thumper said…

    Interesting...I had forgotten the trip is not over after metamorphosis! Every time my car hits a butterfly, I cringe. Smile here. Then I remembered in my youth I traveled extensively as if looking for something and experiencing things. I always had to be moving, doing something different; not sitting in the same place too long. Then I found him. I married him. I settled down. Not resolved to stagnate; but travel with my partner. Interesting...

     

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9/29/2005

Power vs. Authority

A collect is a form of prayer following this pattern:

  • Address (the form of the Trinity who is being addressed)
  • Petition (the matter being asked about or requested)
  • Signature (an invocation naming a form of the Trinity)

The prayer collects several themes, often the ones from the scripture readings for the day. It is a formal prayer that comes before the readings in our worship services. The collect for this week is

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
It is both true and truly amazing that God become human in the form of Jesus of Nazareth and showed his power chiefly through showing mercy and pity. Jesus proved his power through his willingness to be powerless. This paradox is so counter to how we humans expect things to be. (Some thoughts on the paradoxical nature of Jesus' power is found on the page about "The Lamb of God" in the handout from last night's class on Revelation at http://kingofpeace.org/powerinsymbolism.pdf.) Yet, human history shows that keeping control through power only works so long. Dictators can make the trains run on time, but not forever, only as long as they exert force.

Jesus' leadership through mercy, pity and powerlessness came with authority. Our scripture tells us that those who heard him were amazed at the authority with which Jesus preached. Jesus' authority came out of the life he lived that was synonymous with the Gospel he preached.

While power can not outlive the dictator, Jesus' authority continues. The best example I know of the short-lived nature of power is the poem Ozymandias which tells of a ruler whose power was more short-lived than he had anticipated for it is only the pedestal on an empty plain through which is remembered:

Ozymandias
I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
1792-1822

The Ramaseum, a site on which the poem Ozymandias is said to be based
The photo above shows the Ramaseum—the site in Egypt on which Shelley's poem Ozymandias is said to be based.

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9/28/2005

The Grieving Widow

In his book Celtic Parables Robert Van De Weyer records the following story of Saint Comgan:

An old couple were admired by everyone in the village for the happiness of their marriage. They never quarreled, and were always loving and affectionate toward each other. Eventually the husband died, and the wife was overcome with grief. Her children and her neighbors tried to console her, but to no avail. Weeks and months passed, and still the old woman was grieving and inconsolable; tears of grief rolled down her cheeks from morning till night.

Comgan heard about her. He asked one of his wealthy friends to lend him a ring with a precious jewel set in it. He took it to the old woman, and said to her, "I want you to find a family which has no sorrows, and give that family this ring."

The woman set off in search of a family with no sorrows. She visited every home in the region and talked to every family. Finally she returned home, and gave the ring back to Comgan. Her grief had gone.
The story doubtless overstates the case as real grief would not be "gone." What happens is that the seemingly unendurable grief can be transformed into a sorrow that you can bear.

The story in my own family is of the time when my mother's family was burned out of their home, losing all but everything they owned. My grandmother was prostrate with grief for their home and possessions for quite some time. Then another family in the area had their house burn to the ground, losing some of their children to the blaze. My grandmother got up, prepared the family a meal to take over and ceased complaining about her own loss.

Knowing that others have it worse may not be the ticket out of grief, though it does help. Knowing that you are not alone in your sorrow probably matters more. It is God's healing presence within the grief that gently transforms that seemingly unendurable grief into a sorrow that you can bear.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

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9/27/2005

The Joy of the Dance

A recent post at Dancing on the Head of a Pin, the blog for St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Waynesboro, Georgia was on a talk Dr. A.L. Addington gave there on stewardship. As A.L. is known to many at King of Peace through being a supporter of this church since before there was a church (congregation or building), I thought his words might be particularly worth sharing. This is what the Rev. Steve Rice wrote about A.L.'s talk:

Most people I know (including myself) do not like stewardship messages/talks/etc. Most of the time we don't like them because the approach includes something like:

  • if we don't give more, we can't pay the bills
  • we're behind budget and we need to dig deeper
  • we want to do A, B, and C and it is going to cost us D, E, and F

The problem is we view stewardship as giving towards a campaign, paying dues, or contributing to the membership fee and not giving as a natural response of gratitude for God's goodness. The Episcopal Church has established that the biblical tithe of 10% is the norm, or minimum standard in giving. Most communicants give between $2500 and $3100 a year, which suggests two things:

  1. the average income is between $25,000 and $31,000 a year or
  2. we are not giving a tithe.

One of the things A.L. mentioned, and he is right, is that we should not be caught up in percentages and questions of pre-tax, after-tax, and the like. He called this negotiating with God. He tells the story of how he learned to dance. He learned to count, one, two, three, and four, as he moved his feet in the shape of a square as he lead his partner in the dance. Over time, as his buddies were, in his words, "whispering sweet nothings in the ears of their dates," A.L. was counting "one, two, three, and four."

In other words, A.L. was so focused on the numbers, on getting it right, that he missed the dance—the joy of the dance, the beauty of the dance, and whom he was dancing with. Giving to God should not be about counting the steps, but about enjoying the dance. How are we doing? The tithe (10%) is not meant to be a stumbling block, but as a reference to help us determine if we are truly enjoying the dance, or if we are standing by the punch bowl.

A sermon in the archives that puts this into a biblical perspective is The Story of Bread.

1 Comments:

  • At 9/27/2005 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sad to say that many do not make it as far as the punch bowl, rather "hang out" at the door, ready to run for cover instead of embracing the only true partner that we could ever have, poised on the head of the pin with HIM.

     

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9/26/2005

Hang Time

Playing Who Am I? I Am Chicken at the youth group meeting
The Camden County Episcopal Youth Group met yesterday at the Williams home for a pool party. The group is made up of youth from Christ Episcopal Church in Saint Marys and King of Peace Episcopal Church in Kingsland.BenWe had a nice mix of people from both churches yesterday. We swam, ate pizza and played games including Who Am I? I Am Chicken. The last is one I devised and created cards for where everyone has to pick either a Who Am I? card in which you answer a question that reveals something about you (two examples: If you could design heaven any way you want, what would it be like? or Tell about your earliest memory) or a I Am Chicken card which challenges you to do something silly (two examples: Hop on one foot while singing the Star Spangled Banner or Gargle while singing a song). On the second round you do the type of card you avoided the first time.

Julia dishes out pizzaThe teens put up pretty well with my dumb games like this. But what always matters most in youth group work is hang time. Just being with the teens and getting them together. Whatever is accomplished in a youth group comes out of the teens genuinely liking and trusting each other and liking and trusting the leaders, and that in turn comes more from hanging out together than anything.

Kalyn right before she got busted for playing with Auston's cell phone during the meetingThis is probably true in all areas of ministry. A retired bishop who taught theology at my seminary says, "The incarnation is not virtual reality." Jesus really came in the flesh and ministry happens when people get together. Small groups at the church formed for any purpose can become places of ministry as people get to know one another, whether they first got together to prepare the altar for worship or to have a Bible Study. There is no shortcut for getting together, getting to know one another, and then seeing what happens. Ministry occurs naturally this way, rather than being forced.

A web page is great and a blog can be interactive, but if you are not getting as much out of your church as you want to, try more hang time with folks from church in a small group of any kind. Amazing things can happen.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

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9/25/2005

Equal Work

statue of a desert monkOne of the great treasures within the Christian tradition are the sayings of the monks (male and female) who lived in the desert of Egypt during the 4th century. The teachings of these earliest of Christian monks come to us in short sayings. Here are two from collection edited by Thomas Merton called The Wisdom of the Desert.

Abbot Pastor said: if there are three monks living together, of whom one remains silent in prayer at all times, and another is ailing and gives thanks for it, and a third waits on them both with sincere good will, these three are equal, as if all were performing the same work.

He said, again: Malice will never drive out malice. But if someone does evil to you, you should do good to him, so that by your good work you may destroy his malice.

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9/24/2005

Obedience is the will of God

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable of two sons. It goes like this
A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' He answered, `I will not'; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir'; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first."
John J. Pilch of Georgetown Univeristy has written of this passage saying
parable of two sonsA Christian missionary in the Middle East used to share this parable about the two sons (only verses 28-30) with villagers that he visited and ask: "Which was the better son?"

The vast majority answered that the son who said yes to his father even though he did not go to work in the vineyard was without doubt the better son. The son's reply was honorable and respectful. It was what the father wanted to hear. That he never went to work in the vineyard is beside the point, which in the Middle East is always honor.

Remember that life in the Middle East is very public. Honor, the core value of this culture, requires such publicity. The dialogue between the father and his sons in this parable takes place not in private, just between two at a time, but rather in public, within view and earshot of many villagers. Like their modern-day descendants, the Middle Eastern villagers in this parable favor the respectful but disobedient son over the disrespectful but obedient son.

The Ideal and the Real
All cultures distinguish between the ideal and reality, but the gap between these two is greater in other cultures than in the ancient Middle East, generally speaking. Westerners generally believe that the ideal is the norm by which reality should be judged. If reality does not measure up to the ideal, it is flawed.

Some Middle Eastern cultures prefer to blur the line between the ideal and the real. Like modern Middle Eastern respondents to Jesus' parable, the ancients too would believe against reality-that giving an honorable answer is enough. In their mind, conforming to the ideal of speaking respectfully is sufficient to fulfill the commandment to "honor one's father [and mother}" (Deut 5:16).

Honor is a public claim to worth that is confirmed by public acknowledgement of that claim by others. The father gives a very public command to two sons. His claim to honor is that the sons will respond with respect. The public watches the responses. One son responds honorably, and in the judgment of the crowd the father's claim is valid and affirmed.

The other son responds shamefully, he publicly humiliates his father, and the crowd's immediate judgment would deny the father's claim to honor in this instance. It is not likely that the crowd or the father went to check on the subsequent behavior of each son.

Jesus' Challenge
Jesus did not ask which son behaved honorably. He asked: "Which of the two did the will of his father?" (v. 31).
Jesus honors obedience more than honor. This is not surprising for the one who was obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

parable of two sons

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9/23/2005

Love is the victor

If I thought that when you strip it right down to the bone, this whole religion business is really just an affirmation of the human spirit, an affirmation of moral values, an affirmation of Jesus of Nazareth as the Great Exemplar of all time and no more, then like Pilate I would wash my hands of it. The human spirit just does not impress me that much, I am afraid. And I have never been able to get very excited one way or the other about moral values. And when I have the feeling that someone is trying to set me a good example, I start edging toward the door.

Jesus raising from the deadSo what do I believe actually happened that morning on the third day after he died?

I can tell you this: that what I believe happened and what in faith and with great joy I proclaim, is that he somehow got up, with life in him again, and the glory upon him. And I speak very plainly here, very unfancifully. He got up. He said, "Don't be afraid." Rich man, poor man, child; sick man, dying; man who cannot believe, scared sick man, lost one. Young man with your life ahead of you. "Don't be afraid."

He said, "Feed my sheep," which is why, like the chief priests and the Pharisees, we try to make that tomb as secure as we can. Because this is what he always says: "Feed my sheep...my lambs." And this is what we would make ourselves secure from, knowing the terrible needs of the lambs and our abundance, knowing our own terrible needs.

He said, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."

Anxiety and fear are what we know best in this fantastic century of ours. Wars and rumors of wars. From civilization itself to what seemed the most unalterable values of the past, everything is threatened or already in ruins. We have heard so much tragic news that when the news is good we cannot hear it.

But the proclamation of Easter Day is that all is well. And as a Christian, I say this not with the easy optimism of one who has never known a time when all was not well but as one who has faced the cross in all its obscenity as well as in all its glory, who has known one way or another what it is like to live separated from God. In the end, his will, not ours, is done. Love is the victor. Death is not the end. The end is life. His life and our lives through him, in him. Existence has greater depths of beauty, mystery, and benediction than the wildest visionary has ever dared to dream. Christ our Lord has risen.
—Frederick Buechner, “The End Is Life,” from his book The Magnificent Defeat.

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9/22/2005

Apocalypse

We are working our way through the Revelation to Saint John on Wednesday evenings. I find Kathleen Norris' words on Apocalypse in her book Amazing Grace: a vocabulary of faith to be right on target.
The literature of apocalypse is scary stuff, the kind of thing that can give religion a bad name, because people so often use it as a means of controling others, instilling dread by invoking a boogeyman God. Thinking about the people who would be in church that morning, I knew many of them would very likely be survivors of such painful childhood images of God and would find the readings hard to take. So I decided to talk about what apocalyptic literature is and is not. It is not a detailed prediction of the future, or an invitation to withdraw from the concerns of the world. It is a wake-up call, one that uses intensely poetic language and imnagery to sharpen our awareness of God's presence in and promise for the world.

The word "apocalypse" comes from the Greek for "uncovering" or "revealing," which makes it a word about possibilities. And while uncovering something we'd just as soon keep hidden is a frightening prospect, the point of apocalypse is not to frighten us into submission. Although it is often criticized as "pie-in-the-sky" fantasizing, I believe its purpose is to teach us to think about "next-year-country" in a way that sanctifies our lives here and now. "Next-year-country" is a treasured idiom of the western Dakotas, an accurate description of the landscape that farmes and ranchers dwell in—next years rains will come at the right time; next year I won't get hailed out; next year winter won't set in before I have my hay hauled in for winter feeding. I don't know a single person on the land who uses the idea of "next year" as an excuse not to keep reading the earth, not to look for the signs that mean you've got to get out and do the field work when the time is right. Maybe we're meant to use apocalyptic literature in the same way: not as an allowance to indulge in an otherwordly fixation but as an injunction to pay closer attention to the world around us. When I find I am disturbed by the images of apocalypse, I find it helpful to remember the words of the fourth-century monk about the task of reading scripture as "working the earth of the heart," for it is only in disturbed, ploughed up ground that the seeds we plant for grain can grow.
You will find online the handout for our 8-week study of Revelation and the handout for last night's session.

Also in the archives are the sermons In the End, God and The Pause Before the Storm, which are both on Revelation.

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9/21/2005

The Power to Transform Lives

One of the most amazing proofs of the power of the Good News preached by Jesus of Nazareth is the ongoing power his teachings and faith in him have to transform lives. I was reminded yesterday of one life I saw transformed by that power. The newsletter arrived from Church of the Spirit, a new church start I worked with while at Virginia Theological Seminary (1997-2000). The September newsletter told of Wade Matthew's death. Wade was described in The Washington Post's obituary as
undeniably leagues beyond most bass players who chose to play rock or R&B, and his facility on electric bass was just astounding to his colleagues.
The way God transformed Wade's life is worth hearing. Here's that article from Church of the Spirit's newsletter:
Wade playing the bassIt was back as Church of the Spirit was just starting when we met Wade at a wedding for one of our friends. He played with the rest of the House of Spirit Band that day, and we asked him to return on Sunday. That started a process through which Wade both gave up cocaine and gave his life to Jesus. It began in a hospital room as doctors told Wade they might have to take off his arms. That's hard news, especially for a musician who makes his living and expresses himself through his arms and hands.

Wade said he got down on his knees and asked God to take away his need for cocaine. He felt a heat spread through his body, and when he stood up, he no longer had a craving for drugs. However, Wade had only asked God to take something away, not to give him anything in return. When we met Wade a week or two later he was feeling very empty. Wade playing the bassBut he kept coming back to services, even when we did not have him scheduled to play with the band. Not long after, he came up to Pastor Roger in tears and asked to be baptized. He has stayed with us and played for us ever since.

More recently, Wade has had to live through dialysis treatments, and been on a liver donor list. Wade's life was further complicated by being HIV positive—a product of years of intravenous drug use.

Wade MatthewsBack in 2002, Wade wrote an open letter to the congregation in which he asked for our prayers, and said, "I know that God forgives me, Jesus forgives me, and none of you will judge me. I am but a man, a weak man, but with the continued presence of all of you in my life, I will continue to grow ripe in the love of God's garden."

And so he shall, and our work in reaching out to people like Wade who are far from God will bear fruit in eternal life. RIP my brother.
I give thanks for a life changed for the better by the grace of God. "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world"—1 John 4:4

For more on Wade from his musician friends, there is a web page of memories.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

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9/20/2005

Hate these things in yourself first

Instead of loving what you think is peace, love others, and love God above all, and instead of hating the people you think are warmongers, hate the appetite and disorder in your own soul, which are also causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed—but hate these things in yourself first, not in others.
—Thomas Merton

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9/19/2005

Casual Christianity

A few years ago, George Barna, who produces polling data that is helpful in analyzing the church in modern day America, came up with some findings that were not very encouraging. In a study of "moral behavior" the sad conclusion was that for the most part Christians are very much like the world when it comes to behavior. In areas like abortion, internet pornography, lying, adultery and pre-marital sex, the church looked slightly better than the world. Statistically there was some difference, but for the most part the church looked far too much like the world.

It seems that what the church is producing today are churchgoers instead of disciples for Christ. Churchgoers could be summarized as: comfortable; convenient; casual; cultural; compromised.

Comfortable Christianity is faith without suffering. Willingness to suffer for the faith is normative in the Christian experience throughout the world. We have seen that suffering in areas like Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda and the Sudan.

Convenient Christianity has self at the center, not Christ. Churchgoers tend to worship when they want to worship, work when they want to work, give what they want to give and participate in only those programs that suit them. Sacrifice is not in the vocabulary. The disciplines of study, ministry, stewardship, prayer and witness are seen as options rather than a commitment to growing in Christ.

Casual Christianity is like the seed that was sown in the shallow soil. There may be an initial excitement about the faith, but without depth. When difficulty or other priorities come they quickly wither.

Cultural Christianity is a faith that is more influenced by the world around us than by the kingdom of God. Culture, not kingdom sets priorities. Church takes second place to the social activities on the calendar. When confronted with a choice, far too often the world wins. Only committed disciples make the choice for the eternal things of the kingdom.

Compromised Christians have lost the fire and passion of the Gospel...Many Christians want to hear what makes them feel good rather than being challenged by the Gospel....

It is through the cross that our sins are forgiven and we are brought into right relationship with God. It is through the resurrection of Jesus Christ that we are given the hope of eternal life with God. May the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ shape and transform your life that you will have a passion for the good news that God has given us in Christ Jesus our Lord.
—The Rev. William T. Luley, St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Manchester, Missouri. Quoted from The Michaelmas A.D. 2005 issue of The Anglican Digest.

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Church to Church

Worship on the grounds of Redeemer in Biloxi after the HurricaneA new blog called Church to Church seeks to connect churches in the Gulf Coast damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina with churches elsewhere in the country to partner in the rebuilding effort. Thanks to the St. John's Episcopal Church blog for this link. King of Peace had already offered to Church of the Redeemer in Biloxi (pictured here) to partner over the long term as we can. You can see a video of the Church of the Redeemer, Biloxi in the aftermath of Katrina.

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9/18/2005

God's Septic Tank

From Come Aside awhile...A Retreat with the Monks a guide written by Fr. Anthony Delisi, which was in my room during my recent retreat at the Trappist Monastery in Conyers, Georgia,
King of Peace's actual septic tank being installedOnce one settles down, there is the boredom that sets in with nothing to do. Without distractions of radiom TV, or the Internet, one begins to think of things to do to occupy one's time. Jacki, one of our staff, once commented on the number of people who trim their nails and leave these relics on the carpet. In the mist of this silence and solitude it is quite normal to have the memory become active and events of the past to replay.

I recall a Nigerian on retreat who shared with me that all the bad things he had done during his life kept coming back to him. When I shared at the orientation talk that takes place on Tuesday and Saturday morning that is a common thing to happen, he was relieved. Saint Bernard taught that the first step to knowing God is to know oneself. Ezekiel 36:31 speaks of the grace of being able to recall the past. "Remember your evil conduct and your evil actions. Your deeds were not good. Loathe yourselves for all your sins...be ashamed of who you are..."

What does one do with all of this recall which I might call "junk?" I tell retreatants to take all their junk and throw it in God's septic tank: the confessional. The time of retreat is an ideal time to make a good confession and get rid of the burden being carried. For those in AA, this would entail the fifth step. Once one has confessed all the evil of one's past life, then there is need to trust in God's forgiveness and keep living. The past is the past and there is no reliving of the past. All we can do is repent and strive to do better for the present and the future. A septic tank will not work if one keeps stirring the contents. There is need to let things settle and then the bacteria will fo the rest. In the same way there is need to confess one's sins and then simply trust in God's mercy and stop replaying the past and keep living.
In the Episcopal Church, we offer private confession with a priest as a very good way to deal with your past failings and move on. Yes, you can make your confession alone to God and be forgiven. But, I have found in my own life that there is a power in saying it out loud to God in another's presence and for that other person to be able to out loud pronounce God's forgiveness for sins truly repented of. Consider private confession if past failings are plaguing you. If it is awkward for this to happen with your current priest, any priest is willing to make arrangements for someone else to hear your confession.

peace,
Frank+

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

confessional humor

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9/17/2005

Working in the vineyard

In tomorrrow's Gospel reading Jesus tells the parable of workers in a vineyard. The workers contracted at the start of the day are promised the usual daily wage and all is well. But at the end of the day when they are paid they are furious. They are paid as promised, but in the meantime, the master of the harvest hired workers throughout the day and paid them exactly the same as those who worked throughout the long, hot day.

From Living Liturgy: Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis
for Sundays and Solemnities
grape vinesOur cultural perspective makes it difficult for us to hear this gospel because...our awareness of labor laws and our concern for wages disposes us to focus on the workers in the parable and on the manner of payment. But this is a parable about "the kingdom of heaven" (20:1), not about first century labor practices. What can we learn by focusing on the "kingdom" aspects of the parable?

First, notice that the landowner calls workers all day long. Though this may be seen simply as a plot device, it reflects the good news proclaimed by Jesus. God so desires people to share the life of the kingdom that God persistently invites people into the vineyard. In the parable it is the landowner himself—not a manager or other employee—who does the hiring. The landowner goes out five times to hire laborers, literally from "dawn" to "evening" (20:1, 8)...the kingdom is a gift which God is eager to share; indeed, more than merely eager, God is persistent in extending the invitation.

...those hired first are surprised at the landowner's generosity. But witnessing the landowner's generosity led them not to rejoice in such kindness, but to expect more for themselves. Though they agreed to their wage, they now wanted more than justice. But mercy and generosity are gifts: they are neither earned nor deserved. The mercy Jesus extends to tax-collectors and sinners who have only responded to God's call in this final hour is a gift of that mercy and generosity which characterizes God's kingdom. God deals justly with everyone, and generously with those in need.
Two items from the archives are a baptism sermon on this passage called One long day in the vineyard and the religion column How much sin is too much too forgive? on news that convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh had confessed his sins and received last rites. This story is also in our online coloring book.

1 Comments:

  • At 11/10/2013 10:26 PM, Blogger Jon Javid said…

    good work. I also really like this other perspective on the laborers in the vineyard parable. http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/the-laborers-in-the-vineyard?lang=eng it something I had never heard before but made complete sense

     

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9/16/2005

A Prayer to Forgive...

Forgiveness is almost a selfish act
because of its immense benefits to the one who forgives.
—Lawana Blackwell
My Mom shared the prayer that follows with me. It has been very helpful to her in healing past hurts. She has found as she has prayed it over time that more hurts come up, but that the first ones have been healed. She received a photocopy of a photocopy with no attribution, though it may come from Christian Healing Ministries in Jacksonville who does use the prayer. I offer this prayer as something that could be meaningful to many:

Lord, I don't know how to make forgiveness happen. I can't cleanse my heart or change my feelings. I don't know how to trust, and I'm afraid to hold me heart open. But today I'm making a choice to forgive. I know I'll have to choose again and again until you make forgiveness real and complete in me. Please God, give me the willingness and strength to perservere in choosing until forgiveness is accomplished in me by Your power.

I choose to forgive my father for...
I choose to forgive my mother for...
Forgive me for all me sinful responses.

Rembrandt's Return of the ProdigalFather, I let go of all resentments and bitterness stored up in my heart. Wash me clean. Forgive me for all the condemning judgements I have made. Give me a new and right spirit that will help enable me to hate sin but look with Your compassion and love upon sinners. Heal the wounded heart of the child within me. Pour Your love in. Bless those who wounded me.

Forgive me, Lord, for projecting childish pictures of my parents on to You, and onto others, especially those I love. Bring those pictures to death. Bring my childish ways and expectations to death. Let Your light shine into all the hidden places of my heart. Enlighten the eyes of my heart, Lord, to see You and love You as You really are, and to walk in Your ways.

In Jesus Name,
Amen.
CaptivatingWild at HeartTwo books which deal, among other things, with those wounds we can receive in our childhood are Captivating (for women) and Wild at Heart (for men).

Anger makes you smaller,
while forgiveness forces you to grow
beyond what you were.
—Cherie Carter-Scott
peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

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9/15/2005

Exorcists Convention

For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.—Ephesians 6:12
In an Oddly Enough News article Reuters news service reports
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Orthodontists have national conventions, as do lawyers and computer salespeople. So why not exorcists? At the end of his weekly general audience Wednesday Pope Benedict greeted Italian exorcists who, he disclosed, are currently holding their national convention.

The Pope encouraged them to "carry on their important work in the service of the Church."

a scene from the movie The ExorcistProblem was that until the Pope spoke few people outside the inner circle knew that a convention of Beelzebub-busters was going on, presumably in Rome.

And where were they holding it? In a church, a hotel, a graveyard?

"They try to keep these things quiet," said a Catholic professor who has dealings with exorcists...In 1999, the Vatican issued its first updated ritual for exorcism since 1614 and warned that the devil is still at work.
Read the full text of the article here.

Episcopal Exorcisms
The Book of Occasional Services of the Episcopal Church has a page on exorcisms, which says
The practice of expelling evil spirits by means of prayer and set formulas derives authority from the Lord himself who identified these acts as signs of his Messiahship.
It goes on to say that these rites were under the authority of Bishops from early times and your Bishop should be consulted if one thinks an exorcism is needed.

My only brush with exorcism is a few house blessings I have done after some very evil things had taken place. It was felt (in a very real way) that Evil still clung to the place. I can say that in those times and places the prayers proved quite effective at dispelling the residue of evil.

Church Growth through Exorcism
a scene from the movie The ExorcistWhen I was in seminary, a New Testament professor from Taiwan told me a classmate of his was growing a large church in that country through the ministry of exorcisms. It was a ministry his classmate did not even believe in until he found himself called to do an exorcism and was led by a lay person who had battled evil spirits before. The classmate could only report that while not all epileptics and persons suffering from mental illness, etc. need exorcisms, there is a need to pray ourselves of the demonic.

The Devil and the Seminarian
As another seminary professor related, "A Baptist committee was interviewing a new seminary graduate with an eye toward ordination. A committee member skeptical of book-learned religion asked the seminarian, 'What do you think of the Devil?' He replied, The Devil is not real, if that's what you are asking. He's just a mental construct to help us put words to our understanding of Evil.' Later as the committee deliberated, several persons cited that answer as a reason not to ordain as you can't have a minister who doesn't believe in the Devil. An retired pastor who had been quiet until this juncture spoke up and said, 'Go ahead and ordain him. Within a few weeks at his first church he'll meet the Devil in person and that'll straighten out his theology.'"

Can there be angels without demons
What do you think of this? Today we Christians and the culture in general tend to treat the demonic with a great deal of skepticism. Yet we want to allow for the ministry of angels. Can you be open to the angelic without the demonic? Or have we closed ourselves off to part of the deeper reality of our world?

That evening many demon-possessed people
were brought to Jesus.
All the spirits fled when he commanded them to leave;
and he healed all the sick.
—Matthew 8:16
peace,
Frank+

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

2 Comments:

  • At 9/15/2005 11:20 AM, Blogger Emmanuel said…

    I am very interested in this topic and am a big fan of Phil Rickman who has written a series of mysteries involving a female Anglican priest, Merrilee Watkins, employed in The Church of England's "Deliverance Ministry" (excorcism). I agree that I do not know how we can believe in good angel spirits without believing in bad demon spirits. Perhaps we are repelled by the idea due to the misuse or unkind use of the concept by some segments of Christianity, not to mention the obsession with demons seen in some forms of mental illness. Whatever the case, I believe people and places can be either annoyed by or fully possessed by demons and wonder if ECUSA has a published liturgy for exorcism.

     
  • At 9/15/2005 1:32 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    The only published statement is the one I quote in the post above. There are no approved, published liturgies for exorcism.

     

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9/14/2005

Keeping a Sense of Humor

Thanks to Cathy at St. John's Episcopal Church in Bainbridge, I found the Katrina Response Blog, which describes itself as being created by a Methodist minister and a Presbyterian attorney setting up a website while supplying aid to South Mississippi. Here's a recent entry:

a found cross photo from the Katrina Response blogAmongst all this, people have kept their sense of humor. It is a remarkable human gift to make light of what can’t be changed. Here are some examples:

  • We were driving down Highway 90 to Biloxi and saw the local goofy golf, Fun Time USA, and still standing was Humpty Dumpty, still on his wall.
  • In Biloxi, the Ronald McDonald statute still stands and welcomes people, but the building is just beams and strewn about bricks.
  • One torn up house has a sign in front: "Extreme Home Makeover".
  • A Dodge Ram truck with a large tree imbedded across it has a sign, "Ram tough, not Katrina tough."
  • A sign in front of one house has " Coast 0, Katrina 1, 1st half."
  • One store had a sign that said, " No shoes, No shirt, No-rmal."
  • We have borrowed the garden club sign that says "Yard of the Month" and are sticking it in front of friends houses and taking pictures of the sign in front of a damaged house, trees down, and piles of debris. We will frame and present them later.
  • As we were making deliveries one day, our church van sputtered and spat and turned over and over with out starting. One of the ministers put his hands together like prayer and it turned over, then they laughed and laughed.
As we continue to pray for those caught up in the midst of the tragedy, we can also give thanks for the small moments that can brighten even so dark a day.

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9/13/2005

Peace, Love and Happiness

The latest in the endless procession of quizzes is the Personality Defect Quiz. This oone confirms the earlier Which Saint Are You? Quiz, which said I am St. Julian of Norwich and described me as a Closet Hippie. Now this quiz wants to bring me out of the closet proclaiming that I am a:

Hippie

You are 28% Rational, 71% Extroverted, 28% Brutal, and 42% Arrogant.
You are the Hippie! Characterized by a strong sense of extroversion, irrationality, gentleness, and humility, you no doubt frolic through fields preaching peace and love to all!
You are probably either very spiritual or needlessly paranoid about "the man", like most hippies, as a result of your focus on intuition and feelings over cold, brutal logic. You are also very, very social. And like any hippie, who would have no qualms about hitchiking across the country just to meet some interesting people, you too love to interact with others, even complete strangers. Because we know most any hippie is peace-loving and humble, it stands to reason that you, as well, are terribly gentle and humble, almost to the point of revulsion. Your carefree attitude of peace and harmony is probably very, very sickening to realists or cynics or anyone who isn't a hippie, to tell the truth. In short, your personality is defective because you are overly emotional, extroverted, gentle, and humble--thus making you an annoying hippie.

To put it less negatively:
1. You are more INTUITIVE than rational.
2. You are more EXTROVERTED than introverted.
3. You are more GENTLE than brutal.
4. You are more HUMBLE than arrogant.

Compatibility:
Your exact opposite is the Sociopath.
Other personalities you would probably get along with are the Hand-Raiser, the Televangelist, and the Robot.

Take the test yourself:
The Personality Defect Test

But before you take this quiz, which wants to name your personality defects, remember
"Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes."—Ephesians 1:4
God desires for each of us to be made perfect in him, through an ongoing process the church calls sanctification, which simply means conforming your life to be more like Jesus' life. It's a slow process, and one greatly aided by reading the Bible, praying, and worshipping together each week with fellow Christians. In the archives, you will find a religion column Salvation is only the beginning which goes into this more. There is also the audio for a sermon called Pop Tarts and Pickels.

Perhaps, this process will work my hippiness out of me. Or will everyone else become more of a Hippie?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

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9/12/2005

Who Am I?

A pagan at 12, a complete agnostic at 16, G.K. Chesterton described himself writing, "I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before," to describe how to his surprise all the questions he had about the way of the world were answered in Christianity. In his book Orthodoxy, Chesterton wrote of an essential problem we all face at some point,
We have all read in scientific books, and, indeed, in all romances, the story of the man who has forgotten his name. This man walks about the streets and can see and appreciate everything; only he cannot remember who he is. Well, every man is that man in the story. Every man has forgotten who he is. One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God; but thou shalt not know thyself. We are all under the same mental calamity; we have all forgotten our names. We have all forgotten who we really are.
The problem is that we go to the wrong sources to discover who we are. It is in the eyes of The Beloved that you learn who you are, for it is the God who made you and who was willing to die to redeem you who knows you by name and wants you not to call upon "The Great High God," as in some unknown diety but to call upon "Abba," or "Daddy," who knows you like no other, loves you just as you are, and wants something better for you as you conform your life more to the life and teachings of Jesus.

In the archives is the sermon Abba, Father which tells of your secret identity.

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9/11/2005

Making connections



Sgt. Tommy CarterLast month, after tragedy struck the Georgia National Guard units serving in Iraq, students from King of Peace Episcopal Day School created artwork for soldiers serving in Charlie Company of the Georgia National Guard's 48th infantry. The church also sent some phone cards, DVDs and other small gifts as visible signs of our prayers and concern.

On September 8, Tommy Carter, a Sergeant in that unit who was home in Folkston for a brief break, came by The Preschool to say thanks in person. The kids mobbed him, happy to put a face with the idea of creating art to send halfway around the world. Making connections between the world of a child's experience and the things they study is part of what education is all about. For example, our students had worked on a unit on geography in the summer and learned about different countries, then they had this opportunity to send packages to Iraq and finally meet someone in person who came to thank them for the gifts. Sergeant Carter is back in the Middle East and our kids now have a connection with a soldier serving our nation, as some of their father's serve on submarines.

Sgt. Tommy CarterMaking connections is also what Christianity is all about. For in getting connected to God, we can't help but be drawn closer to the others whom God loves (and that's everybody). We learn that that which connects us is greater than that which seems to separate us. It is natural for Christians to care about soldiers serving in Iraq and families suffering in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and anyone else in need of God's loving care.

In the archives is a religion column Support our troops with more than ribbons and a sermon Koinonia—a deeper connectedness.

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9/10/2005

How many times should we forgive?

1800s version of the return of the Prodigal Son
In tomorrow's Gospel reading, we read the following exchange,
Peter came and said to Jesus, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
Then there is the parable Jesus tells of a man who owes 10,000 talents to his master. This is a phenomenal number as a talent is the largest monetary unit and was equal to the wages of a manual laborer for fifteen years. The annual tax income for all of Herod the Great's territories was 900 talents per year. So the debt is one beyond measure. Yet, all is forgiven. Then the servant who was forgiven is merciless with someone who owes him 100 days wages.

One idea about how to view this passage is to understand that Jesus is amplifying the point he makes elsewhere that we who have been forgiven by God are to also forgive others as generously as God has dealt with us. Then instead of asking, "How many times should one forgive?" We should begin by asking God the question. "God, how many times are you willing to forgive me?"

Jesus' parable suggests that God would forgive again and again to an amount greater than the national debt for those who truly turn their lives around and want to be forgiven.

A couple of items in the King of Peace archives are the religion column
Forgive others and unlock your heart
and another called
How much sin is too much too forgive?
and the sermon
Create in me a clean heart

1 Comments:

  • At 10/23/2008 10:42 PM, Blogger Travis said…

    I have taken this and strive to apply it to my daily life! There is no love sweeter than forgiveness. We are commanded to love others as God loves us... I believe that this brings that into reality.

    Our God is an AWESOME God! Why shouldn't I forgive my neighbor as God has forgiven me?

    --Travis

     

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9/09/2005

Katrina aftermath update

The slab foundation is all that remains of St. Marks, Gulfport, MSThis post may be a little long, but it does contain some information you are not likely to get elsewhere and I feel it will be worth a read.

First, as I was away on a retreat, King of Peace Church and its Day School successfully delivered supplies to those suffering from the effects of the Hurricane. Here is a note from our Preschool Director, Gillian Butler, who took the supplies:
Father Frank,
Just to let you know we arrived safely and with gas in the tank,all though that was a challenge. All the donations were delivered to The First Baptist Church of Theodore for delivery,on Monday, to Bayou La Batre, Al. It is a completely destroyed town on the Gulf coast, close to the Mississippi State line. This town was shown by the media (CNN, FOX) with all the large shrimp boats piled up in streets and in the woods. Relief is just starting to reach them and everyone is extremely grateful to forward this delivery to people in need.

A personal thank you to the many people, who helped with this journey and to the wonderful people whom I met in receiving all these items. They included;

170 gallons of water
10 gallons of bleach
numerous baby products and diapers
hygiene products
5 cases of toilet tissue
10 grocery bags full of canned goods
batteries
blankets and pillows
clothing,
all monetary donations are going to the purchase of baby formula, food and diapers.

Thank you for your prayers
~Gillian

The Diocese of Mississippi notes at their website: The coastal area is not prepared to recieve individuals without prior clearance through LESM, the Diocese of Mississippi or another FEMA approved agency.

Offers to House Refugees
Worship service at St. Marks, on their slabThe Diocese of Mississippi has been inundated with offers to house persons all over the nation. They are working to connect refugees with those willing to house them...it's going to take a few more days to get all the necessary support structure in place. email your willingness to assist in this way to HOUSING@DIOMS.ORG . This account has been set up so that helpers here in our office can sort and begin responding in a more timely fashion. We are asking people to include in their email offers COMPLETE contact information, number of persons they are willing to house, etc.

Going to assist
Episcopal Flag in front of St. Marks
Additionally, the offers to come in and help are numerous. We don't want to turn people away - but we are still trying to rescue, recover and figure out how to support volunteers in an area with NO REMAINING INFRASTRUCTURE. Remain energetic! The more self-sufficient your plans are, the faster the Diocese of Mississippi can use you. Email willingness to go work to RELIEF@DIOMS.ORG

For more information on how the Episcopal Churches of the Gulf Coast are doing and what the Episcopal Church is doing to respond to this crisis, you will find the following links useful:

Episcopal Relief and Development
Episcopal Migration Ministries
Episcopal News Service
Diocese of Louisiana
Diocese of Western Louisiana
Diocese of Mississippi
Diocese of Alabama
Diocese of Central Gulf Coast
The Office of the Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies

Missing Persons Search
http://www.lycos.com/katrina/
http://boards.news.yahoo.com/boards/

Not in the news
Finally this from the EMS news service. It is from a report filed by two paramedics in New Orleans for a conference when the Hurricane struck,
We also suspect the media will have been inundated with "hero" images of the National Guard, the troops and the police struggling to help the "victims" of the Hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed,were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans. The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers, who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, "stealing" boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hot-wire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the City. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded.

Most of these workers had lost their homes, and had not heard from members of their families, yet they stayed and provided the only infrastructure for the 20% of New Orleans that was not under water.
They all need our prayers and our support and will continue be in need for quite a while. As I have more information, it will be added to this blog.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

1 Comments:

  • At 9/09/2005 1:57 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    From an Episcopal Communion News service article: "You are St. Mark's Church," said the Very Rev James Bo Roberts, rector, as he addressed the congregation. "You are the spirit of St. Mark's Church. It's you who have to stand for Jesus. It's you who will bring us back as we once were."

    Built in 1846, St. Mark's is the oldest Episcopal church on the Mississippi coast and one of six that were completely destroyed after Katrina hit August 29.

    "Although the church is not standing physically," Bishop Duncan Gray III of Mississippi explained, "spiritually the church continues to stand and we will continue to do the work that God has called us to do."

     

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9/08/2005

Give your angels charge...


The latest exhibit from Episcopal Church and the Visual Arts is online and King of Peace is well represented with three photos, two by me and the one above, by my daughter Griffin (no, I'm not proud one bit). The exhibit illustrates the services of Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline from the Book of Common Prayer. Griffin's photo and a statement are here and my two are A great king above all gods and The light of revelation.

peace,

Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

1 Comments:

  • At 9/08/2005 10:54 PM, Blogger Cathy said…

    Thank you for sharing this web site - a wonderful little oasis on the Internet - the artwork is inspiring.

    Your posts continue to offer many of the best of the best on the Web!
    Cathy

     

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9/01/2005

Retreat

I will be away on spiritual retreat for a week and there will be no blog entries.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

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Not death, but life

This letter is from Duncan Gray III, Bishop of Mississippi and was released Wednesday, August 31 at 4:05 p.m.

Hurricane Katrina

Our state has experienced a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions. Long time residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast have noted that the damage and facilities from the storm will far exceed that of Hurricane Camille in 1969.

Thousands have lost their homes and those holy places of worship to which they have instinctively gone in times of crisis. Unconfirmed reports have indicated that at least six Episcopal Churches have been totally destroyed with serious damage to many others. It is a time of deep shock and grief and tears.

And it is a time of hope. Hundreds of Episcopalians from throughout this country have called offering help in many forms. Episcopal Relief and Development has provided immediate financial assistance. Our short and long term relief efforts will be coordinated through our newly formed Lutheran-Episcopal Services of Mississippi. Relief staging areas are being set up at Ascension Lutheran in Jackson and Church of the Ascension (Episcopal) in Hattiesburg. And yet there is a deeper foundation of hope. As Christians, we understand the power of death. The devastation of Hurricane Katrina brings us face to face with the reality of death and the despair when hope seems crushed. But we are a people of both the Cross and the Resurrection.

The last word from God is not death, but life. God uses the open hearts, minds and lives of faithful souls to renew, restore and redeem that which seems beyond hope.

We will work hand in hand with the people of the Gulf Coast to rebuild their homes and their churches. We will walk with them as bearers of hope through the work of our Crucified Lord. He has borne our grief, brought our sorrows into His heart and has become for us the vehicle and means for life and hope.

We are His witnesses. We shall be faithful.
The damage report for the Diocese at that point said:

STRUCTURES LOST:
St. Peter's, Gulfport
St. Mark's, Gulfport
Redeemer, Biloxi
Christ, Bay St. Louis
Trinity, Pass Christian
St. Patrick's, Long Beach

STRUCTURES INTACT:
St. Thomas, Diamondhead
Mediator/Redeemer, McComb/Magnolia

NOT REPORTING:
St. Pierre's, Gautier
St. Paul's, Picayune
St. John's, Pascagoula
St. John's, Ocean Springs
St. Stephen's, Columbia

The report on coastal clergy noted two priests whose homes were destroyed. Their congregations will have suffered similarly. No similar update is currently available from the Diocese of Louisiana.

The Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, in an August 31 message to all bishops, clergy and congregations, called for "a community united in prayer and service during this time."

Griswold said, "At this time let us be exceedingly mindful that bearing one another's burdens and sharing one another's suffering is integral to being members of Christ's body. I call upon every member of our church to reach out in prayer and tangible support to our brothers and sisters as they live through these overwhelming days of loss and begin to face the difficult challenges of the future."

Episcopal Relief and Development sent immediate aid in the form of $50,000 to the Diocese of Louisiana, $20,000 to the Diocese of Central Gulf Coast, and $7,500 to the Diocese of Western Louisiana. Other funds will be sent to the Diocese of Mississippi.

An article on what the Episcopal Church is doing to respond is found online here. Donations may be made through Episcopal Relief and Development.

Donate to assist Hurricane Katrina victims

2 Comments:

  • At 9/01/2005 7:11 AM, Blogger Cathy said…

    Thanks for sharing - I have forwarded your blog address to many who will find this posting informative. Thanks for continuing to offer the most timely and interesting blog entries.
    Cathy

     
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