Saturday, January 31, 2009

What does it all mean?

If you have been reading my blog for a while, or if you know me personally, you know I am a big fan of Saint Paul. I just took a peek at the epistle appointed for tomorrow though and this is one of his more difficult ones (I think).

In his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 8:1-13) he writes: "Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that 'all of us possess knowledge.' Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.

"Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that 'no idol in the world really exists,' and that 'there is no God but one.' Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth-- as in fact there are many gods and many lords-- yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

"It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 'Food will not bring us close to God.' We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall."

This is one I really need to study. Oh perhaps you can help. What do you think Saint Paul is saying here?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Building the Church

When I speak of building the Church, I am not talking about constructing a building for worship. The Church is the people of God. No building is really necessary. Of course you can do more if you have a meeting place, can't you?

Now just how exactly do you build the Church? How do you "create" more Christians? Is it by spreading the word (like I have been talking about)? Is it by advertising? (Is that a form of evangelism)? Is it by our deeds and our works?

Remember that song "And they'll all know we're Christians by our love"?

Folks I have mentioned this several times, your comments are welcome here! (I know that some people read this because sometimes I will get a comment via email or when I see a friend in person. Would love to have you comments right here on these pages too so that others can respond and form a discussion.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Great Commission

On Tuesday I mentioned The Great Commission in my post here. I didn't go any farther though and so t seems appropriate to say just a bit more.

The Great Commission, for those of you who may not know, is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus to his disciples, that they spread his teachings to everyone. It has become a tenet in Christian theology emphasizing mission work evangelism (the E word that I mentioned most Episcopalians stay away from).

Looking it up in your Bible? The most famous version of the Great Commission is in Saint Matthew's gospel (28:16-20), where Jesus calls on his followers to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

So my dear friends, keep spreading the word!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So, what is a Christian?

Yesterday I said I believe that Jesus should not be kept secret and that we should tell the whole world. In the past few days I have also spoken of the Episcopal Church (I even gave you all a quiz), the Apostle Paul, and various kinds of ministry. So is this what it means to be a Christian? Who came up with the word? How is being a Christian relevant?

The to begin, thefirst known usage of the term Χριστιανός (christianos) can be found in the in The Acts of The Apostles (Acts 11:26) "the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." The name Christian was first used to denote those known to be teachers or leaders of the church (saints). They were disciples and followers of Jesus, the Christ.

Today many Churches use it in their name or to describe their identity. Some say that one group is more a Christian than another. I'm not at all sure this is a good thing. But being a follower of Jesus is a very good thing.

As I have indicated several times in the past few days, I would love to hear YOUR thoughts too. What does being a Christian mean to you? How do others see Jesus in you (or do they)?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jesus is NOT supposed to be a secret!

I'm always complaining that my church, my denomination, doesn't really seem to like the E word - evangelism. It is my belief that Jesus is NOT supposed to be a secret! We should tell the whole world. (In fact, He told us so in the Great Commission, but that's a whole other post).

A friend of mine, the Rev Robyn Arnold, preached a wonderful sermon a few months ago in which she said the same kind of thing. Mother Robyn's words:

"I often think of us Episcopalians as stealth Christians. We don’t like to talk about what we believe. We can have neighbors and coworkers who have been around us for years and never know we’re Christians, because we never mention it. Or we can talk all day about Church and never give any indication of what we actually believe about God. We will readily share our thoughts on the quality of the music or how the clergy should be dressed, or whether the people should stand or kneel for corporate prayer, but we rarely discuss our personal theology or how we experience God’s grace in our lives. We don’t testify—to use a good old Protestant term."

So what can we do about this? How can we start spreading the word? To use her term, can we testify? What's holding us back? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. I really would. When Jesus asked Peter "Who do you say I am," Peter did not hesitate. Why should we hesitate to tell the whole world?

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Lunch Bunch Minus One

I am sad.

For a number of years a friend of mine has coordinated a weekly program that feeds the poor and homeless in the neighborhood. Every single homeless person for blocks and blocks in every direction knows her name. This is done as a ministry of a local church. The woman I speak of, my friend, has been having difficulties with the parish priest, and as a result will no longer be a part of this lunch bunch. The homeless will miss her. I will miss her.

I am sad.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blessed Paul the Apostle

Today is the day we remember something truly remarkable - The Conversion of Saint Paul. Here was a man who was totally against Jesus and his followers. He even helped in the stoning of Stephen. God did not give up on him though (just like God does not give up on the least of us). This is one of the stories that gives me such great hope.

Saint Paul's conversion experience is discussed in both his own letters and in Acts of the Apostles. Saint Paul never met Jesus prior to Jesus's crucifixion and was not a follower of Jesus prior to the crucifixion. He calls himself an "Apostle" of Jesus but, it is clear that Paul was not one of "The Twelve." Rather, Paul's conversion occurred after Jesus's crucifixion, and the accounts of Paul's conversion experience describe it as miraculous, supernatural, or otherwise revelatory in nature.

Today is the day the Church has set aside to remember that conversion experience. Since Saint Paul is one of my favorite saints, this is an important day to me, so naturally I had to say something here. Now because today is a Sunday, we transfer our remembrance to tomorrow. I'll be singing Evensong tomorrow night and serving at the mass that follows.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Results

This is a bit like Dancing With the Stars - you watch the show one night, votes for your favorites, and then tune in to see the results. Okay it is different in that there are correct answers to this, so how did you do in yesterday's quiz about The Episcopal Church? The answers are below.

1. FALSE - In an emergency, any baptized person is authorized to perform a baptism. (BCP, page 313); 2. FALSE - The youngest age at which a person can be ordained to the priesthood is 24. (Title III, Canon 7, Sec. 10); 3. TRUE - It is perfectly appropriate that parents be included as godparents in a baptism. (BCP, page 298); 4. FALSE - Clergy must retire on or before their 72nd birthday. (Title III, Canon 16, Sec. 5); 5. FALSE - When it comes to Suffragan bishops, two is the limit unless special permission has been granted. (Title III, Canon24, Sec. 3); 6. TRUE - The vestry does serve as legal agent for the parish. (Title I, Canon 14, Sec.2); 7. TRUE - The dates of Easter each year from 1900 to 2089 can be found in Table to Find Easter Day. (BCP, pages 882 – 883); 8. FALSE - All baptized persons are ministers of the church. (BCP, "Outline of the Faith", page 855. Also Title II, Canon I); 9. FALSE - Reconciliation of a Penitent (private confession), IS offered to all who desire it. Some parishes, like our own, actually encourage it. (BCP, page 446); 10. TRUE - A person can be consecrated a bishop as early as age 30. (Constitution, Art. II, Sec.2).

Please feel free to use this in your own church if you like. By the way, how did you do? Did you get all the correct answers?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Episcopal Church Quiz

I have mentioned here on many occasions that I belong to the Episcopal Church. Some of you readers might be Episcopalians too. How much though do you know about the Episcopal Church? Here's a handy quiz for you. Answer true or false to each question. You can't cheat because I won't post the answers until tomorrow. Good luck!

1. Only a priest or bishop can baptize.
2. No one shall be ordained priest until reaching the age of 21
3. It is perfectly appropriate that parents be included as godparents in a baptism.
4. The mandatory retirement age for clergy is 68.
5. A diocese may elect up to four Suffragan bishops.
6. The Vestry, as a body, is the legal agent for the parish in all matters concerning its corporate property and relations of the parish to the clergy.
7. The date for Easter in the year 1953 was April 5th.
8. The Ministers of the church are all people over the age of 18
9. There is no provision in the Book of Common Prayer for making a private confession to a priest.
10. No one shall be ordained and consecrated bishop until the attainment of 30 years of age.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


There are many reasons to say thank you and many ways to do it. To look at me you might not think I have much reson for being grateful about much of anything, but you would be wrong. God has been so good - blessing me with family and friends and many wonderful gifts!

This week I saw a friend who I rarely get together with anymore. He and his partner of many years took my to dinner. A simple quiet evening with friends. Thanks to them both! It was lovely.

I just received an email from a friend who noticed Iwas limping. "Had I hurt myself," she inquired. Added to that was her offer of help. How wonderful when we take the time to care about each other! Thanks!

Last Sunday I was part of an election. Some folks voted for me. Thanks!

My mom is ALWAYS doing wonderful thinks for me and also for my friends. She has very littlein the way of material things, but somehow always finds money, time, resources to give to me, my sister and to others. Thanks Mom!

I have even heard people saying thinks to each other more than usual these days. That is so encouraging. (Lovely dress! Thanks! - Here's a book I think you will enjoy. Thanks! - I'd be happy to work your shift tomorrow. Thanks!)

To God be thanks forever and ever!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nobody's Perfect

Yesterday morning I was watching (along with the rest of the world) the wonderful ceremonies in Washington. The moment that I thought would choke me up did not, but only because of a few flubs.

The 47-year-old brand new President was sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Michelle Obama, his wife, carefully held Lincoln’s Bible, which hasn’t been used since Lincoln took the oath of office in 1861.

But Obama stopped abruptly when Roberts reversed some of the words of the 35-word oath that is prescribed by the Constitution. The oath includes the phrase "that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States," but Roberts misplaced the word "faithfully," saying it only after he said "president of the United States." Obama appeared to realize something wasn't right and stopped at the word "execute." Roberts then repeated the phrase, putting "faithfully" in the right place but without repeating "execute." Obama then repeated Roberts's original, incorrect version putting the word "faithfully" after president of the United States. They continued on from there. Oh well. Nobody's perfect!

The speech that followed I thought was wonderful. If I was looking for jokes or a "sound bite," I didn't get one. Still it was wonderful.

It was a day filled with the bright happiness of hope. To God be thanks and glory.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Praising Obama AND Bush

Today we will see the 44th US President take the oath of office. He of course is the first African-American to do so. He is also the first in many other areas. He has done great things already and he is not yet (as I write this) even President. It is right for us to give him praise. But it is also right to give praise to Mr. Bush.

From the very start, at least half of the country opposed George W. Bush. Some of this was right of course, but I think many of us were blinded and ignored the good in him. (And yes folks, there IS good - there ALWAYS is good in ALL people).

I think that Bush in many ways helped make the Obama election possible. Eight years ago, when George W. Bush took office, I don't think it would have been possible for a black person to be elected president of the US. President Bush chose Colin Powell to be his secretary of state. In his second term, Bush replaced Powell with Condoleezza Rice. Both are African-Americans. Bush also appointed high ranking Hispanics. Seeing non-whites operating at the highest level of government, I think a lot of the racists in our country stopped thinking about their race, even if just for a while. Whatever bad things you might want to say about President Bush, I don't think you can honestly call him a racist.

Now I know many who say Bush was the worst US President in history, but in my humble opinion, I don't think that's the way it will play out in time. It may be said though that in his generation, he was president during the worst of times.

In the hours ahead I will be watching the swearing in and all the ceremony, including the parade. The senior senator from my state will be in charge of it all and watching her is always a pleasure. I will be watching with folks from all around the world. I offer my prayers for our new President and I thank God for the service of George and Laura Bush as well.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Busy Week!

Yesterday I posted about Saint Peter. I also said it was going to be a busy week. Indeed! Today it the day we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. Tomorrow is the day we swear in the first African-American President of the USA. WOW! Think about that for a moment.

The Freedom Train comes up to San Francisco this morning from San Jose and the march begins right next to my workplace. I television I will be watching various MLK celebrations as well as all the Obama-Binden excitement from Washington, DC.

Let us thank God for King and for Obama!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Peter the Apostle

In the Roman Catholic Church today would be called the Veneration of the Precious Chains of the Holy and All-Glorious Apostle Peter—commemorating both the chains which Saint Luke says miraculously fell from him (Acts 12:1-11), and the chains which he was held before his marytydom by Nero. The Anglican Church also honors Blessed Peter today, but with a different name - The Confession of Saint Peter.

In Saint Matthew's gospel, Jesus asks Peter "Who do you say that I am?" After telling who others say, Simon Peter finally answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." (In art we often see Saint Peter with keys).

According to tradition, Saint Peter was the first pope, but in reality, the monarchical episcopate of a single bishop ruling over a diocese doesn't seem to have developed until the second century. In the Apostle's days the Roman church was controlled by a body of presbyter-bishops who worked together. But that's another story for another time.

Today being a Sunday, most will transfer this observance to tomorrow when we will be doing many things, so I wanted to mention it today. Saint Peter, generally said to be first among the Apostles and an important figure for Christians.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Say a little prayer for me

Sometimes I can get rather hot under the collar. Sometimes I can really be pigheaded. Always though I want to do what is right. Tommorrow is my parish's Annual Meeting and I am running for two different elected offices. I sure to get one, perhaps both. The thing is, I can sometimes be a bit hard to get along with, because I am passionate. I really don't hold back my opinion. Sometimes this isn't the best thing to do. Tommorrow's meeting may be a difficult one. Say a little prayer for me.

Oh and tonight is one of our Latin Chant masses. Come if you can - it's at 5pm.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Say Grace

Father Leo Patalinghug says "the kitchen has always been a great place to connect with friends and family, and over the past few years, I’ve met thousands who feel as passionately about this as I do." And so, he created Grace Before Meals. (Yes, I have mentioned it here before, but it was a long time ago and so I thought I would mention it again. Well worth checking out)! Grace Before Meals is centered on one fundamental concept: the simple act of creating and sharing a meal can strengthen all kinds of relationships. It's a fun website too - tons of recipes, prayers for mealtime (including ones in Latin!), photos, videos, and much more. You can also sign up for a weekly inspirational newsletter that Father Leo sends out.

Did I mention there is a cookbook too? Indeed! Grace Before Meals: Recipes for Family Life, is actually more than just a typical cookbook – it offers families recipes for building more meaningful lives and each chapter reflects on a variety of topics related to personal milestones, family holidays and faith observances. There are short essays that offer practical wisdom and ideas, so parents can create a comfortable environment for honest communication and a “real life” approach to discussing important spiritual themes that impact the life of a growing child. It costs $15.95 I believe and you can probably find it in your faovorite bookstore or at in addition to the GBM site.

Oh yeah and you can spead the word too. This is a website that really has something for everyone, regardless of your faith tradition. Again, that's

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Grace From Above

When you here the words Grace From Above, what comes to mind? Think about that for a moment or two, and then focus on the picture to the left. It is looking down from the high ceiling of Grace Cathedral here in San Francisco. The font is at the extreme top of the picture. You're probably wondering why I posted it.

I just think it is an awsome shot.

Grace Cathedral is pretty awsome too.

And so is our God.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More Bad Pictures of Michael Fullam

How on earth can one person take so many bad pictures? (I'm talking about me folks, not any of you).

These pictures are just the most recent examples (see also my entry from Monday). Maybe I need a stylist!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just One Week!

I just woke up and have to quickly get ready for work (but am not feeling any better yet), but as I was getting out of bed, I suddenly thought, in one week we will have a new President! That's right. All the festivities are next Tuesday. Of course I cannot head to Washington, DC (I'm having difficulty just heading to work) but I'll be watching as much as I can on tv. Be sure to tune in to see Barack Obama raise his hand and swear the oath.

How about the rest of you? What will you be doing on this historic day?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Baby Pictures

On facebook today I said I wished I had a better profile picture. Someone suggested that I use the earliest picture I have of me. Seems reasonable. How about this one?

There are probably already way too many pictures of Michael Fullam on the net anyway! Oh and by the way . . . this isn't really me. This technology didn't exist waaaaaay back when I was in the womb!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sick again!

Remember just after Thanksgiving when I was sick in bed? Remember me moaning and groaning about how yucky I felt? Well I could do it once again, but I'll spare you. I did call in sick Friday and have spent most of the past few days in bed. Your prayers are welcome.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Happy Sunday!

Have you noticed that all of my posts lately have had the word happy? Well I really do hope you all have a happy Sunday! I'm certain mine will be.

Last night I was with my Franciscan brothers and friends at the friary where Brother Jude celebrated mass. This afternoon it will be Christmas once more as I go to Grace Cathedral for a service of Lessons and Carols.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

A really nice New Year's Eve with friends last night. Right now I am thinking of my friend Jeff (in the picture with me) who moved back east a few months ago. I'll add him to my prayers when I go to mass at noon today. I'll call my mom in a few hours and also most likely watch some of the parades on tv. No big plans other than that, but am certain this will be a nice day. Hope it is for you too!