Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

When Will We Ever Learn?

I know Pete Seeger was not referring to environmental concerns when he wrote this refrain to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” but it certainly is a valid question today. When will we ever learn our responsibility as Christians in the preservation and conservation of all of God’s creation? In Commentary on Genesis, John Calvin wrote:
“Let everyone regard himself as the steward of God in all things which he possesses. Then he will neither conduct himself dissolutely, not corrupt by abuse those things which God requires to be preserved.”
 When will we ever learn?

“See my works, how fine and excellent they are! All that I created, I created for you. Reflect on this, and do not corrupt or desolate my world; for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you.”
                    Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13 (sixth-eighth centuries)

“Poor innocent little creatures, if you were reasoning beings and could speak, you would curse us. For we are the cause of your death, and what have you done to deserve it?”
                    Isaac the Syrian (late seventh century)

“The quality of urban air compared to the air in the deserts and the forests is like thick and turbulent water compared to pure and light water. In the cities with their tall buildings and narrow roads, the pollution that comes from their residents, their waste makes their entire air reeking and thick although no one is aware of it.”
                    Maimonides (1135-1204)

“Men will become poor because they will not have a love for trees….If you don’t love trees, you don’t love God.”
                    Nikephoros of Chios (1750-1821), A Lack of Trees Brings Poverty

“All abuse and waste of God’s creatures are spoil and robbery on the property of the Creator.”
                    Adam Clarke (1762-1832)

“When you defile the pleasant streams and the wild bird’s abiding place, you massacre a million dreams and cast your spittle in God’s face.”
                    John Drinkwater (1882-1937)

“A wrong attitude toward nature implies, somewhere, a wrong attitude toward God.”
                    T.S. Elliot (1888-1965), The Idea of a Christian Society

These quotes have given me a great deal to consider. Then I noted the dates and truly asked: When will we ever learn?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Radical Christianity

One of my favorite blog resources on faith on the internet is Speaking of Faith. It's also a radio program featured on National Pubic Radio. Today's post caught my attention as it referred to a Wall Street Journal article of a professional basketball player who just passed away. He was no ordinary athlete.

He wasn't a particularly good athlete. He averaged 2.6 points per game. More than likely, he would not have been on a professional team except for the fact that that he was 7 feet 7 inches in height and 225 pounds, being the tallest and thinnest player on the league,

So, why would I be writing about a basketball player on a church blog? Well, Manute Boi, the professional basketball player who just entered into the Church triumphant, died penniless. Not in which the way you would think.

Boi was an immigrant from Sudan, and a devout Christian. He didn't have to wear a big gold cross around his neck to proclaim his faith though. He gave away over 6 million dollars of his fortune helping Sudanese refugees and building hospitals.

He didn't stop there. When his money dried up, he moved on to raise money for charity in what most would think of as being humiliating. He agreed to be hired as a horse jockey, a boxer, and a hockey player.  He was hired as a spectacle, looking absurd as a horse jockey, or on skates, or trying to box a professional boxer, just to be a clown.  He did this not for personal gain, but for the people back in Sudan. Boi was a fool for Christ.

While doing relief work in Sudan, Boi contracted a painful skin disease which resulted in his death. And as the obituaries were being published throughout the news, he was described as a "humanitarian" in the headlines. Yet he lived and practiced his faith as what some call a "Radical Christian", who lived and gave his life for his faith.

In professional sports (and in other professions), we hear of the rampant excesses of compsumption, infidelities, and substance addictions. However, overlooked are those who do choose another path. Too often they are overlooked by the news media. Being "good" doesn't sell news.

Who are the radical Christians we know? Do they sit by us in the pew? Are they here in our church? Do they live in our community? Are we willing to be a little radical in our faith?

What can I do to be radical in my faith this week? What WILL I do?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Hymn - The Church's One Foundation

From today's Collect:
Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Yesterday I chose the clothes for my mother for her burial. A pink suit with a white blouse and earrings. She has dark skin and hair, and has always looked good in reds and pinks. My father liked color “on his women” as he used to say of my mother and me. He was very careful of his appearance and expected us to be the same.

Mother went back to work when I was two years old. This was not a choice of ego or career pursuit – or even of a passion for what she did. She worked because we needed the money. My father was a textile foreman and mother worked as a secretary in the mill office.

She was always proud of her job – proud that her skills at typing and shorthand were excellent, proud that she could spell and produce letters that were grammatically correct, proud that her files were in order and accessible for needed information. Mother is smart and she worked hard to be the best secretary she could be. She understood the value of secretaries in business – she was never just a secretary, she was a Secretary and proud of it!

All during my public school years, my mother drove me and two friends to school each day. I was aware that my mother was wearing a suit and earrings when she dropped us off, not a housedress or robe, because she was on her way to work. She always looked pretty. As a little girl, it was the earrings that were the most important for me, and in early grammar school I went through a period of sneaking earrings to school and putting them on at recess. My teachers, of course, were not pleased so that did not last long!

When I picked out her burial clothes yesterday, earrings were part of the outfit. Earrings had to be a part of it. She would not look herself to me without them. But the choosing was difficult. Mother was always so independent and self-contained. She kept her hair done and her colors matched. She would not go out her front door unkempt. Now she has no choices. Others bathe her, choose her clothes and comb her hair.

Now I am choosing for her how she will appear at the last. And I am grieving for the feisty, independent, pretty woman who wore a cherry red dress to see me married.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Saturday Work Day

Want to play in the dirt? Pull a few weeds to solve some problems of the world? Come join us tomorrow morning, June 26, at 8:30 am. You'll have a chance to work with some folks who make our grounds beautiful for us to enjoy when we are there.  Work will last about 2 hours, and it's ok to sit and rest a while.  Come join in the fellowship with other folks from St. John's!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Justification by Faith

In the lectionary this week, Paul has been speaking to me as much as those in the Church in Rome (Romans 2:12-4:25). Paul reminds me that I am unrighteous and cannot become righteous by my works. Before I can sink into hopelessness, Paul reminds me that God has provided righteousness for all people. Through grace and mercy God has justified us all by faith. A specific faith in a specific person, Jesus Christ, is the only path to righteousness before God. We are granted right-standing with God because of our trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Alleluia!

On another note, I loved the psalm appointed for Friday night. Psalm 91 is one of my favorites. I often use it during Compline. I also love “On Eagle’s Wings” which is based on this same psalm. Although written about thirty years ago, I find it so reassuring and uplifting today.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

For whom the bell tolls......

Our little carpenter gothic church includes a church bell and a cross at the top. Perhaps I could think of the bell as a single bell carillon, but that might be a bit grandiose in thinking and misleading.

Every church service, the bell rings out to call her people to worship. Perhaps years back, it was a clock for the people, to let them know to come to church, but in these days where people mostly drive to church, it symbolizes to get ready for church, as most are in the pews preparing for worship.

Over the years, it is interesting how the tone of the bell has take on the mood of the type of service in my ears. For weddings, the bell takes on a joyous mood of celebration as the bell ringer (or toller) pulls the rope which is attached to the wheel connected to the bell. For Holy Week, the bell takes on a more somber tone, as we journey through the week  experiencing the story of Christ's triumphant journey through Jerusalem, Last Supper, and crucifixion.

It rings as our loved ones pass through this life into the Church triumphant. For some, the bell will be signal an ending before a funeral. But we know that the ending is just a beginning for those that leave us as we celebrate and mourn.

Our bell calls us for our service to be a part of God's people. It calls us to be a part of community of believers, to worship together for about an hour of our time in the week. And, once our worship ends, we go through those doors, prepared for when our real service begins in the world.

For John Donne, Anglican priest, preacher and poet wrote "for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee1".  And the "thee" is me, you, and the ones we are called to bring into our fold.

When you hear the church bell, what do you hear and what does it mean to you?

1 John Donne, Mediation XVII, No Man Is An Island

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

God’s Creation is So Good

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31) I love the creation story and am moved by that repeated reminder that ‘it is good’. Who cannot gaze upon the birds, trees, flowers, animals, mountains, beaches, rivers, and all other components of this planet and not be moved? What are our responsibilities for the preservation of this creation that is so very good?

Psalm 104 is often referred to as a hymn to God the creator. It has such beautiful images of God’s care and provision for this world. We often discuss the ways God provides for us, but what about his care for all creation? I love the joy and life mirrored in this psalm. As individuals, families, congregations, what does this say about how we relate to the rest of creation?

Take a moment today and notice what is ‘good’ in God’s creation.

Let us pray:
Creator God, author of life, source of all meaning, you made a universe of infinite complexity and beauty and entrusted us humans with the care of a tiny jewel called Earth.  With the passing of time we came to believe we were owners, not fellow creature dwellers, of this bountiful planet and its extravagant web of life. We have used God’s creation without regard for the impact our rapacity had on the other creatures with whom we share our earthly home. We have acted with craven disregard for complex ecosystems we barely understand. Our self-deception has led us to assume we have the capacity to manage environments we exploit to sustain lifestyles that defy the intrinsic interdependence of all life. Now we face the consequences of our idolatry. We thought we were gods; but our recklessness has brought us to our knees, to ask for your mercy and forgiveness for the chaos we have brought about. We pray for the oceans and all the creatures that dwell in it. We pray for the forests and the abundance of life they nurture. We pray for the very air we breathe, now laden with the toxic gases we produce. We pray for our children whose earthly home we have so imperiled. Loving God, have mercy on us, grant us forgiveness and the strength to make amends. Amen.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Hymn - Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Our entrance hymn today at St. John's was "Come thou fount of every blessing, a popular hymn composed in the 18th century by the Methodist pastor and hymnist Robert Robinson (tune by Nettleton).

Here are the verses to the hymn:

Come, thou fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
here by thy great help I've come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above. 

This is a favorite hymn of so many. In this video, we hear Sufjan Stevens (better known as Cat Stevens before the name change). In hearing this hymn, how does this speak to you? Do you have a favorite verse?

Collect for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost

Collect of the Day ~ O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. -BCP

Friday, June 18, 2010

This is the summer

This is the summer of my mother’s dying.  Several times lately, that statement has come out of my mouth, and every time it has surprised me.  My mother is just a month and a few days shy of 95 years.  Already lost are her husband of 63 years, the eyesight needed by an avid reader, and the mobility to maintain her independence.  In so many ways, this world is not her home anymore.
    I spent last evening going through a trunk of her papers and magazines.  Mother tends to put the valuable in with the useless, tie it all up in a plastic bag and put that with other bags in a box.  I can never assume that the top layer of anything is indicative of what is actually there.  Among the surprising finds last night were two photographs of her that I have never seen before. 
    One is a tiny two-inch square, black and white photo of her taken probably in the ‘30’s before she married my father.  Her skin is smooth, her hair very dark, her eyes wide open and almost black, looking away from the camera.  She looks very serious, but not unhappy – as if she is simply waiting for what comes next but unsure of what it will be. 
    The other is an eight by ten, full color portrait taken just a few years ago for her church directory.  She is looking directly at the camera, her hair still mostly dark, her dark eyes are bright if a little sad, and her skin is wrinkled with her years.  She looks still, receptive, tentative, almost as if she is going to begin speaking.  Her smile is heartbreaking for me.  I have not seen that smile for a long time now.  This is the summer of my mother’s dying, and that smile is dying too.
    I sat and looked at both photos for a long time last night.  Not crying – I am not able to do that yet.  It is hard for me to realize how little I know of her beyond being my mother.  The woman was obscured by the mother and that veil was never lifted for me. I so wanted to ask the tiny photo:  what are you dreaming about?  what do you love to do?  what do you want your life to mean?  are you happy? 
    Actually, I would love to ask the same questions of the older woman in the second photo.  Part of my sadness is that I do not know the answers to these questions even now.  The veil is still in place.
    It helps to know that this world is not a permanent home for any of us.   There is mercy and grace in God’s plan for us as God’s children.  But this is the summer of my mother’s dying, and I understand much better now the phrase from the Psalm:  Yea, thought I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou are with me.  And with her also.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Daily Lectionary

I have been reading the daily lectionary readings for a year now! It has been an amazing journey and one that I will continue. Over the years I have been involved in many Bible studies including Education for Ministry , but this journey through the lectionary is more of a devotional reading of Scriptures for me.

Richard J. Foster , in Celebration of Discipline, writes:

We must understand, however, that a vast difference exists between the study of Scripture and the devotional reading of Scripture. In the study of Scripture a high priority is placed upon interpretation: what it means. In the devotional reading of Scripture a high priority is placed on application: what it means to me.
Each morning I go to my special prayer spot and begin The Daily Office with Morning Prayer including the lectionary readings for the day. I am a morning person so I do all three readings during Morning Prayer. I write some of my musings on the readings in my journal. Most days I find a particular verse or two seems to stay in the forefront of my mind and heart throughout the day. Yesterday’s special verse was from the morning psalm:

Your word is a lantern to my feet and a light upon my path.
(Psalm 119:105)

I will be writing about my journey each Thursday and hope to hear from others with your insights, thoughts, disciplines and musings. If you think you might benefit from this journey, you can find the daily readings in The Book of Common Prayer pages 936-1001. Today’s readings are listed on page 971 (Year 2, Proper 6, Thursday). Do you love reading from the computer? You can subscribe at and receive the daily readings in your email.   I am always interested to hear the inspirations received by others on particular verses.  Blessed reading!

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Light: Photo

I had gone early that morning to church as I was going to play the organ for Sunday service. It's nice to go in when all is quiet. It was a late winter morning as the light filtered into the southern windows at the altar. The light plays differently then than at any other time of the year. All of the leaves have fallen and allow light to shine through the stained glass. The position of the sun shines on the altar in a soft gentle glow.

I kept on watching the light as it traveled along the wall and altar, until I saw the golden light circling the altar book.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

“God is Great, God is Good”

God is great, God is good
Let us thank Him for our food.
By His hand, we are fed
Thank you, Lord, for our daily bread.

Does that bring back memories-memories of your own childhood or when your children were small? It does for me as this is the first blessing Scott and I taught our children. Our daughter and two grandsons (ages 4 years old and 3 weeks old) recently visited us for a week. My heart swelled at each meal when Elliott (the 4 year old) would pray his version of this blessing. After a few meals, I began to eagerly anticipate Elliott’s next prayer.

I was most anxious to discover the next thing that this four year old would say to his Lord. In Elliott’s short life, he has already developed an understanding of prayer as talking with God. Occasionally he would simply recite this blessing but usually he would include additional thoughts and words of thanks: “Jesus, come back again soon!” “You do all good things!” “Thank you for feeding us!” “Be always with us!” “Thanks for letting us be together!” There was always a little twinkle in his eyes when finished. Needless to say, we all gave a huge AMEN to these precious prayers.

I learn much from the writings, preaching and teaching of adults; HOWEVER, my greatest moments of illumination and inspiration have come from the actions and words of children. The faith of our children is our greatest legacy!

People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them no to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”
                                                                       Luke 18:15-17

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,


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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Hymn

We all know the story prompt "What we did on summer vacation" - well, this is "What we sang in church today". Many of you know we are in small church, but in that church are some folks with big hearts and voices. Today we sang as the entrance hymn "Praise my soul, the King of Heaven", which is one of my favorites, the the Episcopal church has a lovely accompaniment and descant to go along with the hymn singing. And I think our little church did quite well with it today.

However, we are not St. Paul's Cathedral in London - and this video is of the same hymn sung (albeit a different descant). We did not sing it at the same tempo as this one is sung more slowly, but for those of you who have sung in a cathedral understand that hymns usually are sung more slowly due to the nature of the large space, and to allow the sound to travel throughout the physical space.

However, without further comment, I share with you this video for your listening pleasure.