Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pentecost Sunday B - 31 May 2009

Pentecost Sunday B - 31 May 2009
Acts 2:1-21; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
James V. Stockton

Take this moment for a nice deep breath. A deep breath in, a deep breath out. You may feel a calmness; rest in it. You may feel energized; rejoice in it. Now notice the people around you. Turn to now to someone near to you, and speak to him, to her, just four words: say, “God’s Love, God’s Power.”

Today is special because we celebrate the Day of Pentecost. And this little exercise is what we celebrate, and why. People will often assume that the miracle of Pentecost is the gift of tongues, by which the apostles of Jesus proclaim the Gospel to foreign people they have not met, in languages that they had not known before. We’ve heard the story: the apostles are together in a room somewhere. They are in the city of Jerusalem, and the city is extra-crowded just now because people have come there to celebrate Pentecost, the Festival of Weeks.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

7 Easter - May 24, 2009

7 Easter B - Sunday after Ascension - 24 may 2009
Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:15-23; Luke 24:44-53
The Rev. Miles Brandon

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, come. Take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think with them. Take our hearts and set them on fire with love for you. In Christ's name, we ask it. Amen.

Today's in the life of the church we remember Jesus' ascension to heaven forty days after his resurrection from the dead that first Easter. This morning I want to focus, in particular, on the very important charge or mission that Jesus leaves with his disciples just before ascending to His Father in Heaven. In our lesson from Acts, Jesus says, "You [my followers] will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will he my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." This charge, this mission, to be a witness to God's love revealed in Jesus to the whole world, is not just for those people who loved and followed Jesus two thousand years ago. It remains ours as well. It is our sacred trust.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

6 Easter - May 17, 2009

Easter 6-B May 17, 2009
Acts 10: 44-48; 1John 5: 1-6; John 15: 9-17
Marie Butterbaugh

I will change your name, you shall no longer be called wounded outcast lonely or afraid. I will change your name your new name shall be joyfulness, confidence, overcoming one, faithfulness, friend of God one who seeks my face.

Joyfulness, confidence, overcoming one, faithfulness, friend of God, one who seeks my face. After experiencing the shattering collapse of a hoped for private adoption, Tim and I arrived at Camp McDowell, in Jasper Alabama for our Cursillo weekend, not knowing what to expect. What we did know was this, friends who love us are entrusting us to God’s care. They told us we would have a wonderful experience, dropped us off suitcases in hand and said they would return that Sunday to pick us up. As Greg and Doll Bennett drove away that evening, inside I cried out, “Whoa come back! Don’t leave us!”

Caution against appeasement

I caution anyone against using the state/church approach to the controversy around 'gay marriage.  The  practical effect is appeasement, and I'm doubtful that you would have  countenanced appeasement as regards slavery versus abolition.  Although it's true that the Episcopal Church did, in fact, straddle the fence on that issue, unlike the Methodist Church which declared itself plainly opposed to slavery even though it cost them popularity in the South.   In their case, spiritual and moral truths were more important than membership retention. 

In addition, please note that TEC's attempt at appeasement regarding the ordination of called persons who are women has failed miserably.  TEC admitted a 'conscience clause' to General Convention's adoption of the canonical amendment that did away with discrimination based on a person's sex.  Yet, the appeasement simply gave time for those entrenched in their bigotry, the very bigotry that GC had just rejected, to dig themselves in more deeply.  All of us are now paying the price for TEC's lack of courage regarding our convictions. 

Misogynist bigotry has only strengthened, and now fuels official homophobia in these same dioceses, except of course where the bigots have finally recognized that they need not pretend to be Episcopalian in order to serve God as they believe themselves to be called.  The bigots are following their consciences, however warped their consciences may be.  TEC should do the same, without  reservation. 

If slavery was wrong, it was wrong everywhere.  If  discrimination against gay people is wrong and is sin anywhere, it is so  everywhere.  Appeasement is not an answer.

Jim  +

Friday, May 15, 2009

Still no Reason for convenant

Still no Reason for a covenant -

He has made himself abundantly clear: the Archbishop of Canterbury is intent on imposing a covenant upon the Churches of the Anglican Communion. One can only wonder why he is intent on this end, for he has offered no real purpose for it. The sum of all his apologetic is that a covenant is an end that justifies itself. He fails to offer a genuine and theological purpose for it. On the one hand he notes that the Churches do function and serve in effective partnership with one another. On the other hand, he implies that without a covenant the Churches will not be able to continue to do so. His reliance upon a false and implied logic exemplifies a plain truth of the matter: neither he nor anyone one has yet offered a serious reason for pursuing a covenant.

Many have offered justifications for the concept of covenant per se, but no one has offered anything that approaches a compelling inspiration for this particular effort. This effort was initiated bureaucratically through the Windsor Report (even though the Primates themselves meeting at Dromantine expressed reservations toward the pursuit of a covenant) which was itself a response to the use of parliamentary bullying and the socio-politcally 'conservative' propaganda by emerging-world primates who were then and are still being funded and manipulated by hard-right American money. The Archbishop of Canterbury, apparently possessed of a curious notion of his role as somehow the head of a single global Church, now seems intent upon imposing this view of his own rights and privileges upon the wider Anglican Communion.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hand-wringing about leaving or staying

This hand-wringing over whether or not the Episcopal Church can or cannot be a place for all to be together is is unrealistic. In addition, I humbly suggest, it is based in an errant understanding of Church per se. The communion of saints is bigger than TEC. The mistake that I think many in TEC continue to make is to assume without thinking about it that TEC is the only Church in town.

We are a protestant Church, therefore it is inherent to our very being that we reject the notion that any Church can rightly claim to be the only true or single full expression of Christian faith. If we of TEC continue to straddle the fence on discrimination, a fence that is growing increasingly lonely, then we will end up with exactly what we deserve: an unprincipled community of people whose chief value and core identity has little to do with Christ Jesus and a great deal to with mediocre commitment to anything having to do with the gospel.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

5 Easter - May 10, 2009

5 Easter B - 10 May 2009
Acts 8:26-40; 1 John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8
Ryan Page

A couple of summers ago I had the unique opportunity to go on a two week canoeing trip with my boy scout troop. There was about five scouts and three adults in my crew plus a guide to help us navigate. We had a guide because we were canoeing the boundary waters of the United States and Canada.

On the trek we could only take what we needed and nothing else. We had to make sure that all of our personal equipment could fit in a waterproof bag in order to minimize space and weight. Looking at the bag that I had to put my stuff in I was worried that it wouldn’t all fit, but somehow I managed to squeeze everything in. Everything that we would take into the Canadian wilderness would be packed out, including trash.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Liberal" interest in the proposed Anglican covenant

Regarding recent efforts at offering an apologetic for the anomaly of an "Anglican Covenant," it bears repeating that the assumption that our "Anglican roots" involve "re-affirming together the essential doctrines of Christianity" is thoroughly mistaken. If our official history is correct, there are no such things as Anglican roots. Yes, there are roots in the Church of England. But, again, if history is correct in the telling, the roots of the Churches that rose from the Church of England's colonial expansion had nothing to do with a desire to create a global allegiance of independent Churches. At this juncture, it seems to me of critical importance that we reflect upon the facts, not the myth.

Clearly, the embrace of the idea of covenant among so-called 'conservatives' is driven by hope for punitive powers that they can exercise against the Episcopal Church in the U.S., the Anglican Church of Canada, and eventually even the Church of England. There's little mystery about this anymore for anyone who is paying attention. I think it serves us also, though, to examine why it is that some so-called 'liberals' are embracing the notion of a Covenant. At the risk of being overly-simplistic, I suggest that much of the motivation for the their zeal is rooted in the myth of a unity that has never really existed amongst the Churches whose roots are 'Anglican,' i.e., Churches emerging from the Church of England. Evidence that this idealized unity is indeed myth is found in the fact that there is no such thing as a singular and distinct Anglican theology, or a singular Anglican ethos, common to all the independent and autocephalous Churches of the Anglican Communion.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

4 Easter B - 3 May 2009

4 Easter B - 3 May 2009
Acts 4:5-12; 1 John 3:16-24; John 10:11-18
James V. Stockton

Given the current environment, with the flue scare, I think it especially meaningful that you are here today. I read a story about a priest who always did his best to be an excellent example and standard for those around him. The Reverend Hector Hanks is walking home one evening. Near his house he sees a number of little boys and girls sitting in a circle with a puppy in the middle of the group. “Hi, kids,” he says. “What are you doing here with the puppy?” “Aw, nothing, really,” answers one little boy named Joey. “We’re just having a contest. We’re sitting here telling lies, and whoever tells the biggest whopper gets to keep the dog.” The Rev. Hanks puffs up in his most righteously indignant manner. “What?” he exclaims. “I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked!” The children sit motionless, with their eyes and ears fixed upon the wrathful priest before them.

The image of an angry bombastic clergy person is one with which many people are familiar, maybe too many. The fictitious Elmer Gantry comes to mind, or figures from history: Jonathan Edwards, Lyman Beecher, George Finney, or Ellen White. I’ll leave it to people’s memories and imaginations to identify possible examples from more recent times. The point is not blithely to ridicule such folks, or blindly to approve of them. It is, instead, to suggest that when people consider the words and manner of such folks as these, they will notice a contrast between that image and experience and the one portrayed in the scriptures for this morning.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Matters of the Upcoming General Convention

Matters Concerning the Church
and the upcoming 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church

In the Church's seasons of controversy, taking no public position is sometimes the prudent and charitably Christian thing to do. But the Church is realizing that it is time for those who once spoke out with bold and godly clarity on behalf of others, whose voices were refused legitimacy, to lay aside polite diplomacy and speak up again. The Church has been wrestling over the past decade with discerning the time to take a clear position on the issues roiling the Church today, and freely to accept the consequences of speaking plainly the Truth of the Gospel. This is the process that we will soon witness at the Episcopal Church's General Convention in July. Here at Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, the community with whom I serve God, we are discerning ways that our own gift of hospitality has had us speaking the Gospel boldly in word and deed all along. Rightly, we may be humbly proud that this is so.

Currently, the precipitating concern over the last few General Conventions has been homosexuality, i.e. the question of what is the place, if any, of the gay person in the community of the Church? Around this controversial center, other matters of disagreement orbit: biblical interpretation and application of scripture, limits and privileges of constitutional authority, the meaning of communion in Christ, and the definition of Anglicanism. It is telling, I think, that most people concede that these other concerns are subject to legitimate differences of opinion. In addition, much could be said about what lies behind almost every controversy, namely: xenophobia (fear of difference); but homosexuality continues to orient the debate today.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Rector's Study May 2009

From the Rector's Study ~

A beautiful future is unfolding before us, this community of ECR. Our own Pentecost experience is happening right here in our midst. Not with the same sensational rush of a mighty wind, yet the same Holy Spirit, the same igniting of God’s Love and Power, the same blessing of surprise that accompanied the first Pentecost for Jesus’ first disciples are manifesting for us even now. The Episcopal Church of the Resurrection is welcoming a wider variety of voices, speaking of God’s Good News from a wider variety of backgrounds, each proclaiming the Gospel as only he or she can put it into action, can put it into words. Christ was raised for all, and here at the Church of his Resurrection, we are putting this miracle into action. This is part of how we got here:

In April of 2005, the Vestry and Ministry Leaders of ECR identified a need and claimed the desire to expand our campus with additional parking capacity and an additional building to provide more space for ministries, education, and fellowship. It has always been a priority with me as rector that our parish community would understand the reasons for such expansion, and to know that expansion for its own sake was not reason enough. This priority continues today and I am happy to note that it is a priority also amongst our Vestry and Ministry Leaders.