Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dioces of Texas next to 'Leave'?

Is the Diocese of Texas next in line for 'leaving' TEC?

I am sad to report that some of the prominent drivers of the latest effort to divide and conquer the Episcopal Church from within, namely the Communion Partners, are based here in the Diocese of Texas. I am also sad to report, but also hopeful in the long run, that the Diocese of Texas seems primed to address a motion to 'dissociate' from the Episcopal Church. Our retiring bishop (thanks be to God for mandatory retirement rules!) has signed his name to yet another divisive and utterly foolish bit of un-Anglican word-smithing.

Our new bishop, currently bishop coadjutor, is said by the "Rector of the Communion Partners rectors" to be another Communion Partners bishop. Certainly, he has openly identified himself as sympathetic to the Gafcon bishops' communiqué issued alternatively to the Report of the last Lambeth Conference. He has clearly allied himself to the self-proclaimed 'conservatives' declaring that he will never allow clergy in this diocese to bless same-sex unions or gay persons who are either partnered or dating to function in the diocese as clergy.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Last Epiphany B - 22 February 2009

Last Epiphany B - 22 February 2009
2 Kings 2:1-12; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Mark 9:2-9
James V. Stockton

“All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.” It was said by 18th century Irish philosopher and politician Edmund Burke. I think in his day many people lived, as they live now, with the assumption that evil must work deliberately and hard, to overcome the inherent goodness of humankind. But Burke’s observation is insightful and persuasive, isn’t it? ‘For evil to gain ground, all that is needed is that good people do nothing.’

During World War 1, Martin Niemöller was a commander of a German submarine. So committed was he to the cause, he even commanded his crew not to rescue the sailors of a ship that he had torpedoed, but to let them drown instead. After the war, Niemöller began studying theology. But at least until the mid-1930s, he remained a typical Christian anti-Semite. In 1931 Niemöller became a pastor in the German Evangelical Church. This is the denomination known in our country as the Lutheran Church. Initially, Niemöller supported the rising dictator, Adolph Hitler. But as the Nazis increasingly interfered in the affairs of the Church, Niemöller began to oppose them more and more. Because of his outspoken sermons Niemöller was arrested in 1937 and imprisoned first in Sachsenhausen concentration camp; then moved in 1941 to the death camp at Dachau.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

5 Epiphany B - 8 February 2009

5 Epiphany B - 8 February 2009
Isaiah 40:21-31; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39
James V. Stockton

Most of our Adult Education Classes on Sundays, and our Wednesday noontime scripture study, begin with a prayer; and the prayer always includes thanks to God for the gift of curiosity. In one of my favorite movies, Inherit the Wind, based on the play of the same name by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, two attorneys are squaring off against one another. Ostensibly a trial around a school teacher who violated a law against teaching human evolution, the drama is deeper than that. One attorney, Matthew Harrison Brady is cross-examined by his counterpart, Henry Drummond. “We must not abandon faith!” declares Brady. “Faith,” he says, “is the most important thing!” “Then why did God plague us with the capacity to think?” asks Henry Drummond. “Why do you deny the one thing,” he goes on, that sets human being above the other animals?”

It’s an interesting point. Over the years, many of you have heard me claim that the most theological question that a person can ask is, ‘Why?’ In the play, it is not merely the ability to think that raises the anxiety of the protagonists. It is the ability to follow one’s thought even to the point of questioning, to the point of wondering ‘how is it so,’ ‘why is it so,’ ‘why must it be so?’ I believe ‘Why’ lies at the heart of God’s blessing to us, of the gift of curiosity. Do you want to know why?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Rector's Study February 2009

From the Rector’s Study ~ (from the Rector’s Annual Report for 2008)

What matters to me most is the community of ECR. More than building, more than parking lots, more than lights and even more than the beautiful new windows in our chapel and our nave doors, the community is what matters most to me. And I pray always that this is true also for all of us here at ECR.

In our community, the year 2008 saw the wedding of Diane and Duke Dutiel and their departure for his job at the cathedral in Washington D.C. Werner and Dorothy Pankratz were wed in May. I had the privilege of blessing the marriage of Paul and Bailey Johnson, formerly Bailey Neville, who grew up here at ECR. I was further blessed to join in matrimony Amanda and Doyle Motes here in August. I was blessed also to do the same for Ricky and Zanterria Carpenter, our sexton’s son and new daughter-in-law. And ECR held our first Quinceañera last year in October, for Marissa Galvez. I had a lot of fun, and I hope we’ll have occasion for more such celebrations in the near future.

4 Epiphany B - 1 February 2009

4 Epiphany B - 1 February 2009
Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28
James V. Stockton

I disagree with you. I’m sure of it. I’m sure that there is some issue, some matter, some concern around which I have an opinion that disagrees with yours. And so, now what are we going to do? The people of the city of Austin are being asked to choose their mayor from among three prominent candidates with a fourth likely to join the race. In another year the state of Texas will be electing a new governor and major candidates are already staking out their positions on the major issues in contrast to those of their competitors. Diocesan Council is coming up in a couple weeks and the Church’s triennial General Convention is meeting later this year. And automatically, all of these events in the lives of their respective communities will bring to the surface things around which people will disagree. And in each instance, the question is: what are people going to do about it?

There’s a story about two groups of people all them member of the same church congregation. One group is sure that the best way to end their prayers in church is to say, “In Jesus’ Name...” The other groups is just as certain that the best way for them all to close their prayers is to say, “In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…” And the two groups, each just as sure as the other, argue themselves to a standoff. What are they going to do, now?