None of these sections exists in a typical Episcopal Church.
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.
Keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.The United Methodidts' General Board of Discipleship carry these thoughts on beginning Advent with apocalyptic writings:
The Christian Year begins at the endings. The good news of God's incarnation and reign in Jesus is only understandable as good news in that it marks the breakdown and end of the claim of every other reign. What the biblical writers knew, and we still know, is that every human reign is disordered, sinful, full of injustice and oppression. Those who hold the reins of power find ways to legitimate their way, to make it seem normal or even good. But those against or in spite of whom that power is exercised, often the silent or silenced ones (the poor, the sick, the dying, the outcast, the hungry, the persecuted, among others), know in their bodies and can carry in their psyches for generations the wounds and scars of these powers.King of Peace's website has some resources for how to better use the four weeks leading up to Christmas. This season of Advent runs counter to the shopping-driven message of Christmas, to ground this time of year once again in expectation of God's presence in our lives. We have our Advent page, and an Advent Wreath service, as well as a PDF file Celebrating Advent in the Home.Finally, our archives contain the reflection Prepare for a Meaningful Christmas.
Advent tunes us into their voices. Advent reminds us that the good news we seek, indeed the only really good news there is, is precisely for them, and for us in their redemption. Advent lays before us starkly their usually silenced voices, the voices of prophets who speak to them from God, and the assurance that indeed the worlds that try to keep them silenced for their own benefit have only one future—utter destruction and replacement by God's reign.
As such, Advent can—if we let it—disorient us from the dominant culture's experience and expression of "Christmastime" and its thorough domestication of the wild prophet, God's own Son, Jesus, loudspeaker and embodiment of this world's end and God's reign coming upon us.
Try this new holiday tradition—stop and listen. Stop the busy-ness of Thanksgiving and Christmas long enough to listen to the family stories you have never heard.The full text of the column is online here: Story Listening for the Holidays.
The importance of this was brought home recently at a funeral. Once again I interviewed family and friends to prepare the sermon. Once again I heard the congregation respond in the reception afterwards, “I never knew.” So many times we miss the opportunity to connect with those close to us because we don’t ask.
We take our relationships for granted and connect at a surface level. We never ask how someone get into their career, or why they moved to their current home, or what growing up was like, or any number of questions that would allow us to connect at a deeper level.
Today is the first National Listening Day. The idea is to use the time when families are already gathered together, to pause to hear the stories we never take the time to tell. The stories of your parents, grandparents and, if still living, your great grandparents are part of what made you the person you are today. Stop long enough to ask the questions that will bring the stories forward and then listen to the events and people that shaped their lives.
The Bible gives us this advice to tell our stories. Again and again, we are told in scripture to tell the stories of God to our children and our children’s children. Deuteronomy 32:7 says, “Remember the days of long ago; think about the generations past. Ask your father and he will inform you. Inquire of your elders, and they will tell you.” The day of listening is a time to do just that.
Labels: religion column
Labels: King of Peace event
Labels: King of Peace event
Violence against women and girls continues unabated in every continent, country and culture. It takes a devastating toll on women's lives, on their families, and on society as a whole. Most societies prohibit such violence—yet the reality is that too often, it is covered up or tacitly condoned.Local resource
Gracious God, like a mother hen you shelter us inder your wings. Bring your truth and love into homes where domestic violence has shattered the peace. Provide sustenance for the victims and accountability for the abusers. Send wise and courageous friends who can offer alternatives, and bring your healing power into broken relationships. May your church provide a haven of safety and peace for the abused and reach out to support all who serve the needs of the abused in our communities; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.—from the book Breaking the Silence
Labels: Episcopal Churches
Betty walked into a hospital room with a teddy bear. It wasn’t a private room, but the first bed was empty. The second bed, the one closest to the window, was surrounded by a confusing profusion of equipment, common in the cardiac unit. She stepped closer. The patient was asleep. A woman lying flat on her back, with her head slightly raised and feet elevated. It didn’t look comfortable. But the patient seemed to be in a deep asleep.The full text of the story is online here: Those Eyes.
Betty didn’t want to wake the patient, but she did want her to have the bear if the woman wanted one. She looked around the hospital room, taking in the surroundings. The chair by the bed and looked emptier than usual. So often in hospital visits she saw family or friends camped out alongside the bed. Even if no one else was in the room at the time, there were usually the tell tale signs of a bedside vigil kept the night before. But this patient didn’t seem to have any such visitors.
Betty stood holding the bear feeling indecisive. The situation looked like one that could use a little more love. But what should she do? Should she let the woman rest? Should she wake her? Should she just leave the bear without a word?
Betty looked at the patient’s wrist. The ID bracelet said the woman’s name was “Concepcion Rivera Morales.” The equipment quietly beeped and whirred. A long minute passed. She prayed for guidance, and then felt sure she should say something. This woman needed a teddy bear and she needed it now.
“Concepcion, I brought you a gift,” Betty said firmly, then paused. The equipment continued with its steady beeps. The lines moved across the screen scrawling an ongoing record of the patient’s vital signs. She watched Concepcion’s eyelids. No movement.
Betty said, “If you find yourself lonely or afraid, just give him a hug.” Then she added, “teddy bears are great huggers.”
Another long pause. She didn’t seem to hear. Perhaps the patient was unconscious. Who knew if she had even heard the words? Betty placed the teddy alongside Concepcion, on the side away from the IV tubes, so that the bear was touching her arm.
From someplace deep, Concepcion felt herself struggling toward the surface. Someone had spoken her name. There was something about a hug. She had heard that too. And then something about a bear. It didn’t make sense. Concepcion fought her way ever upward.
She wasn’t sure where she was or what was happening, but then the sounds of the hospital equipment began to orient her thoughts. She could vaguely remember passing out while cleaning yet another in the endless procession of rooms at the hotel. She could recall something of the ambulance ride and then the bright lights of what must have been the emergency room; then she remembered nothing until now.
As her eyes fluttered open, Concepcion saw the teddy bear lying alongside her. She smiled and then caught a glimpse of the person who brought her the gift. Recognition dawned on Concepcion. Those eyes. She knew those eyes. She had seen them before. When was it? Her mind, dulled as it was after having lost consciousness, couldn’t make the connection. She smiled and closed her eyes again, trying to remember.
Concepcion was aware that something had happened in the room. She heard the sharp beep. The footsteps, the shouts. Something was happening, but she didn’t know what. It was those eyes she focused on. Where had she seen them?
They looked like her great-grandmother’s eyes. Those almond brown eyes that looked on her with such love. But it couldn’t be her great-grandmother. Her Nana died long ago, even before Concepcion left Puerto Rico as a young teen. Her great-grandmother had never even visited New York City. But those were somehow those were her Nana’s eyes. It made no sense, but there was no denying it either.
The room grew more distant. Concepcion felt disconnected from the activity bustling around her. She realized she was more disinterested onlooker now than the active participant. She didn’t care. She was lost in thought, trying to remember how she knew the person who brought her the teddy bear.
The room brightened. She didn’t so much hear as feel Jesus speaking her name, “Concepcion.”
“Yes,” she replied.
“I saw the recognition in your eyes, dear child,” Jesus replied, not merely in Spanish, but in the familiar tones of home, warm and comforting as hot chocolate on an icy winter’s day.
“I know you,” she said slowly…her voice quavering a bit now.
“Don’t be afraid,” again the feeling of warmth and love filled the words and touched Concepcion’s heart. She had doubted what she was experiencing was even possible. Then thinking of her husband, she wondered if she would see Javier. Her heart quickened.
“This is not the time,” was the reply to the question left unasked.
“But I’ve been so lonely since he died,” Concepcion pleaded. “The children have moved away. They have lives of their own. I am alone.” Then after a thoughtful pause, Concepcion added angrily, “Why did you abandon me? Why have you left me?”
“I have not left you. I will not leave you,” was the strong reply, leaving no room for doubt and yet Concepcion could not agree.
“No, you did leave me,” she shot back. “You have been gone. I stopped reading the Bible, when the words brought no comfort. I still go to communion, more out of habit than anything. I leave feeling so empty,” her voice trailed off at the end. There was a pause and then her words gained force as she added, “I look for you everywhere, and you are absent. I wonder if you were ever with me at all.”
“Concepcion, I was there in the heart of the woman who brought you the teddy bear. She heard me speaking to her heart, knowing she had to visit the hospital today. I was there with Maria when she found you at the hotel so soon after your heart attack. And I am there now in the doctor who is fighting to bring you back to life. I never left you. You were just so hurt after Javier’s death that you couldn’t recognize me anymore.”
We looked at 8 to 10 activities that happy people engage in, and for each one, the people who did the activities more — visiting others, going to church, all those things — were more happy. TV was the one activity that showed a negative relationship. Unhappy people did it more, and happy people did it less.There was no cause and effect relationship established to show that turning off the TV would make you happier. But the fact remains that those of us in church today are more likely to be happy than those glued all day to the Boob Tube.
Labels: news item
The righteous will answer him, `Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, `Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'In preaching on this passage before, I told a parable Søren Kierkegaard, an important Christian philosopher of the 19th century. He considered running in to the German Reformer Martin Luther. Kierkegaard wrote,
Assume...that Luther has risen from his grave. He has been among us, though unrecognized, for several years, has watched the life we lead, has been observant of all the others, and also of me. I assume that one day he addresses me and says, "Are you a believer? Do you have faith?" Everyone who knows me as an author will recognize that I after all am the one who might come out the best from such an examination…In this parable of Kierkegaard’s, Luther is completely unimpressed with what the philosopher has written about faith or his protestations that he is a believer. What mattered most was rather in observing his life, could someone tell that he did have faith. Put differently, "When they drag you in to court for your faith in Jesus Christ, will there be enough evidence to convict you?"
“How is that,” replies Luther, “for I have not noticed anything in you, and yet I have watched your life; and you know, faith is a perturbing thing. To what effect has faith, which you say you have, perturbed you? Where have you witnessed for the truth. And where against untruth? What sacrifices have you made, what persecutions have you endured for Christianity? And at home in the family life, how has your self-sacrifice and abnegation been observable?”
My reply: “I can protest to you that I have faith.”
“Protest, protest—what sort of talk is that? With respect to having faith, no protestation is needed, if one has it (for faith is a perturbing thing which is at once observable), and no protestation is of any avail, if one does not have it.”
“Yes, but if only you will believe me, I can protest as solemnly as possible....”
“Bah, an end to this nonsense! What avails your protestation?"
“Yes, but if you would read some of my books, you will see how I describe faith, so I know therefore that I must have it.”
“I believe the fellow is mad! If it is true that you know how to describe faith, it only proves that you are a poet, and if you can do it well, it proves that you are a good poet; but this is very far from proving that you are a believer. Perhaps you can also weep in describing faith, that would prove that you are a good actor.”
Labels: Religion and Culture
Ceiling Cat iz mai sheprdThe site also offers Proofs of Ceiling Cat which is a parody of proofs of the existence of God. See the problem.
(which is funni if u knowz teh joek about herdin catz LOL.)
He givz me evrithin I need.
2 He letz me sleeps in teh sunni spot
an haz liek nice waterz r ovar thar.
3 He makez mai soul happi
an maeks sure I go teh riet wai for him.
Liek thru teh cat flap insted of out teh opin windo LOL.
4 I iz in teh valli of dogz, fearin no pooch,
bcz Ceiling Cat iz besied me rubbin' mah ears,
an it maek me so kumfy.
5 He letz me sit at teh taebl
evn when peepl who duzint liek me iz watchn.
He givz me a flea baff an so much gooshy fud
it runz out of mai bowl LOL.
6 Niec things an luck wil chase me evrydai
an I wil liv in teh Ceiling Cats houz forevr.
Labels: Religion and Culture
Labels: Religion and Culture
Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake.CNN carries the story as Group's New Christmas Message: Be good not godly and at Fox News it is 'Why Believe in a God?' Ad Campaign Launches on D.C. Buses.
This Sunday's gospel is yet another reason to get out of the habit of seeing all of Jesus' parables as allegories in which one character represents God or Jesus. That isn't what's happening here. Take a hard look at the behavior of the master: he's an absentee landlord who doesn't do any work himself, but lives off of the labor of his slaves. Take a look at the behavior this master wants of his slaves: the profit-making that the master demands would be seen in Jesus' culture would of necessity come at the expense of other more honest people; it would be seen as greedy and grasping rather than smart or virtuous. The master tells the slave whom he treats most harshly that the punishment is specifically for refusing to break God's commandment against usury (Matthew 25:27), a practice consistently condemned in both the Hebrew bible and the New Testament. And the Greek word for "talent" very specifically means a unit of money; it has no relationship whatsoever to the word for an ability, so this is NOT a parable about us being the best we can be, no matter how much our culture of achievement wants to twist it into that. There are versions of that message that can be helpful, but it just isn't what the parable is about.
So what's the message of the story, if it isn't about us using the abilities God gave us? Jesus gives it to us explicitly in verse 29: "to all who have, more will be given, but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away." In other words, "the rich get richer, and the destitute lose everything."
Is the behavior of the master in the parable something that God would commend, let alone imitate? Is this kind of behavior what Jesus expects of God's people? Heck no! If you've got any doubts of that, read what comes immediately after this story: read the prophesy (it isn't a parable) of the sheep and the goats, which tells us that when the Son of Man comes, judgment will not be on the basis of how much money we made, or for that matter on how religious we were or whether we said a "sinner's prayer," but rather on whether we saw that the least of our sisters and brothers in the human family, whether in or out of prison, had food, clothing, and health care. We serve Jesus himself to the extent that we do these things, and we neglect Jesus himself to the extent that we don't.
Labels: Gospel reading
I was talking about the Book of Numbers this past weekend with my wife and daughter. That sentence sounds a little overly pious. The pastor’s family sitting around and talking about the Old Testament may fit some sort of stereotype, but you’re not sure you actually want to invite them over for dinner.So begins today's religion column for the Tribune & Georgian on the how and why of reading the Bible for yourself. The full text of the article is online here: Twenty One Days of Love.
But the sentence is true. We were discussing the Book of Numbers the other night and the night before that we were talking about Leviticus and a couple of nights later we were discussing Deuteronomy. And I don’t get any credit for this. In fact, if I had gotten what I wanted, it wouldn’t have worked like this at all.