Sunday, June 28, 2009

4th Sunday after Pentecost - June 28, 2009

4th Sunday after Pentecost Proper 8 B - 28 June, 2009
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15, Mark 5:21-43
Marie Butterbaugh

It’s a beautiful, cloudless spring day in Austin, Texas. The thermometer surges to one hundred degrees. It’s hot. Like many people I seek shelter inside where it’s cooler and settle in to check out the evening news only to find things that are deeply distressing. A television commercial that turns an innocent children’s cartoon into a gyrating free for all. Square “hot pants” on beautiful young girls. A carpenter’s square dispatched by “the king of burgers” to see if things measure up to his standards. Sponge Bob Square pants apparently gone mad!

News reports blare on. Commentators argue about the state of our nation and the world reminding us of the sad fact that our economy is in a mess. General Motors filing bankruptcy, billions of dollars are being allotted for war, potential conflict with North Korea and uncertain elections in Iran. You and I live in a world that often makes no sense.

What we have ALL declared?

What baffles me, with all due respect, is how people can continue to claim that "We have stated as a church that ALL God's people, regardless of orientation, are eligible to participate fully in the life of the church at all levels" and that "The Episcopal Church at a national level has a very open, supportive stand with regard to GLBT issues." Neither claim is true. Both are simply false.

I pray that people would lift their eyes, their hearts, their ears from the insular experience of the community of their self-contained 'liberal' local congregations. Rather than celebrate how wonderfully everyone there seems to get along with one another, because, as they will tyypically describe, everyone there seems to have entered into a tacit agreement not to discus 'issues' around which real disagreement may emerge. I urge them instead to sacrifice their own experience of beatitude in order to participate in the experience of those to whom beatitude continues to be denied by the Episcopal Church.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

3rd Sunday after Pentecost - 21 June 2009

3rd Sunday after Pentecost - 21 June 2009 - Proper 7 B
1 Samuel 17: (1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41
James V. Stockton

I read a story. It the tale of some hardy folks, and rowdy, too: a farmer and three sons, Jimmy, Johnny, and Joe-Bob. None of them ever goes to church. None ever takes time to inquire after the things of God. They do speak God’s name once in a while, but not in any way that is reverent or respectful. The priest of the nearby church has been trying for years to draw Pa and the boys to God and to the people of God. The members of the church have done the same, but it seems their efforts have proven futile. Jimmy, Johnny, Joe-Bob and Pa are content to manage their lives, their joys, and their challenges, without benefit of God’s presence, help, or blessings.

The story of David and Goliath is a story that says much about adversity and how people face it. The story is well-known, at least in the broad strokes. As recently as the NBA match up between the Los Angles Lakers and the Orlando Magic, the drama of a sports team that starts the season with low expectations all around, then working its way into contention for the championship is characterized as a ‘David vs. Goliath’ match-up. In their struggles to defy their government’s repressive ban on media, the people of Iran are using cell phones, Twitter, and You Tube to get out the truth to the world around them. Their efforts are being written of as “a cyber David doing battle with a theocratic Goliath.”

Sunday, June 14, 2009

2nd Sunday after Pentecost - 14 June 2009

2nd Sunday after Pentecost - 14 June 2009 - Proper 6 B
1 Samuel 15:34-16:13; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 [11-13] 14-17; Mark 4:26-34
James V. Stockton

“Our lives are lived at warp speed.” So claims author Mark Thornton in his book titled Meditation in a New York Minute. He goes on to note that: “Our hectic schedules are crammed with crises, to-do lists, issues marked urgent and overflowing in trays, unpaid bills, a sea of unread email, and deadlines with due dates close to last Christmas.” I hear this and I think that somehow this fellow must be following me around. “Our agendas,” he writes, “have everything [written] in them but [the word], ‘relax’.” I daresay many people would identify with the author’s observations if only they had time to read them. So, because we are here this morning, let us breathe deeply and meditate upon that calmness of God that surpasses all distress.

An elderly and experienced priest with whose ministry I was blessed for a time as my spiritual director once suggested to me that “Inner Peace is over-rated.” And I wholeheartedly agree. The Inner Peace that has become an industry of self-indulgence for the economic middle and upper-middle class has, I suggest, little to do with the Peace of God which is often the calm in the midst of the storm, but never intended as an escape from it altogether. After all, how can Inner Peace become constant in one who is constantly seeking it?

I think I finally get it!

At long last, I think I understand. Let's just keep wringing our hands and maybe opening our checkbooks, but not our hearts or our doors, to the f*gs and queers. And while we're at it, since there is still no consensus among the WWAC about chicks in collars, let's dump them from Holy Orders, too. With all those folks out there prayerfully disagreeing about it, we have clearly moved far too quickly on that. And after, all they're only broads.

And let's also clear out all those others who have come in lately (people of minority 'tint'), since they make far too many of the regular folks just plain nervous. A few are okay, of course, as long as they know their place. And no more of these mixed marriages, either, not racially for sure, and not even religiously or denominationally. And certainly no one divorced, and no one in their second marriage, much less their third or more. Those people just set up a bad example. After all, moral right or wrong don't enter into it.

We simply need to get rid of everyone who is not acceptable to the 'mainstream' majority. Goodness knows we don't want to upset anyone by challenging systemic bigotry. Shallow pastorally but politically astute, that's the ticket. If we're going to upset someone in the name of Jesus, let's just disturb those folks who can do 'us' the least political harm. Yep, I'm convinced. Until we have near unanimity, anything with political implication, let's stay the heck away from it.

Whew! We dodged a bullet there, didn't we?
Jim +

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rector’s Study - June 2009

From the Rector’s Study~ June 2009

Order is a gift of God. Long ago, when I was in seminary, a fine priest of much experience enlightened me to an important he fact of life. “For many of the people in our churches,” he said, “the one thing that they can count on in any given week is the familiarity of the service of worship service in their parish church on Sunday.” If change was something attractive to us neophytes who were about to graduate and then ‘fix’ all the faults of the Church, regular order was a tremendous blessing to all those whom we hoped to serve.

In the messy zeal of the first decades of the Church, Christians needed to know this. For example, the city of Corinth was, at the time, a center of cosmopolitan chaos. The Christians there were accustomed to it. The Apostle Paul, himself familiar with some exciting events in the lives of the communities of the Church that he had helped to nurture, recognized that, for the Corinthians, community life and worship had become not only exciting, but also competitive and even contentious. So Paul reminded them that “…God is a God not of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33) and that “…all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40). These first-generation Christians needed to know that order is a gift from God. Christians today need to know it, too.