Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The five books of the Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) start out every edition of The Holy Bible. After that though, we have differences. The Jewish Old Testament has twenty four books. Christians increase the number, but cannot agree on how or where. In most Protestant editions there are thirty nine books, again just in the Old Testament. Roman Catholic Bibles (most of them) up the number to forty six. Did I mention the Greek and Slavonic Bibles yet? Well I’m not going to, except to say that once again there are some differences.
When we get to the New Testament, there is blessedly an agreement on the number of books (twenty seven) but the sequence has varied. Bigger disagreement has been in who wrote what. Many now believe that Saint Paul only wrote some of the letters that nearly everyone used to believe he wrote.
Why am I writing this you may ask? Well there is a wonderful production, of Philemon going on here locally by the International High School drama department. I saw the show, a musical (quite good too, I should mention) and so thinking about Blessed Paul’s letter to Philemon, I was drawn to my Bible.
Reading the Bible regularly is a good thing, but exploring it is important too. I hardly ever just pick it up and read. I am always exploring and asking question and cross-referencing. How many books there are may not be important at all, but how many are aware that not all Bibles are the same? Now at least YOU do!
Monday, March 30, 2009
Forty days and forty nights – that is how long this season is supposed to be. We are of course reminded of this when we sing the popular hymn. Another one begins “The glory of these forty days, we celebrate with songs of praise.” Doesn’t it seem like it has already been forty days though?
In the church calendar, this is probably my least favorite time. It hasn’t always been that way. I think when I am busier with the work of Lent – the study groups Stations of the Cross and fish fries and extra services and all of the deprivation and penitence, then it seems to go faster. This year has been different for me though. It seems like Lent is going on forever. We still have a week to go before Palm Sunday!
Still I have hope. (It seems I ALWAYS have hope, no matter what the subject). After all we are an Easter people. We know that after this Lenten season finally comes to an end, there is always the Resurrection! I guess I should just look at Lent as a doorway to new life. Then with a truly thankful heart I can approach Easter with all of its joys.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I have been sick on and off – part of this is flu-like symptoms and part more like a bad cold. It hasn’t felt good though and I even took a day off from work. Yes, I get sick pay, but I have actually used all of my sick days, having been sick so often in the past six months!
Of course being flat broke means worrying more than you should and that is also bad for your health. I am on such a tight budget that I can’t even afford a pair of new shoes.
I felt useful this past week at my church (it really wasn’t a big deal – I helped produce two service bulletins, and also wrote some items for our parish newspaper, of which I am an editor, and I invited a ton of people to a special service and was delighted to see about a dozen of them show up). I seldom really feel useful at my church any more, so I am grateful for this feeling now. I wish I could give some money – that would really make me feel good!
I have been very concerned about my mother. At 82, her eyes are failing, and the surgery she is having in a month might not fully correct the problems. She also has leukemia and there have been many problems associated with it. I worry about her and am grateful that she has friends near her as well as my sister. Still, I wish I could do more. I’d like to visit more often (costly) and I’d really like to be able to spend some money on her. I have often thought about winning the lottery and then sending her on a cruise ship somewhere.
I don’t really mind not having much, it is the not having anything at all that is hard. Every month I get to a point where I have a day or two with nothing in my pocket and that is pretty scary. I can only imagine how hard it is for those who have lost their job or their home.
May God protect us all from our poverty and may God give us the strength to endure.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
There were numerous eulogies in the service for all four which lasted over three hours. Then, after a flag-folding ceremony by the Oakland Police Honor Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps, the flags were presented to the officers' families and "Taps" was played. A closing prayer was said by Father Jayson Landeza, OPD Chaplain. The familes of the officers are being escorted out of the Arena to the strains of "Amazing Grace" played by bagpipes. It was all very sad and very moving.
One thing I kept hearing people say is that this men wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. Some told stories of how they had made a difference. Some told of how they will continue to. It was sad, as I sad, but it was also very encouraging. They chose to do good things. They chose to make a difference in the world. Yep! Here it is again (that theme we have had all week) - choosing!
I have always wanted to make a difference myself. I shall continue trying to. I am encouraged by these four men and by their families and friends and co-workers that I saw yesterday. I am also encouraged every day by the love my mother continues to give me and to the love I get from God. It really isn't all that hard to choose to give yourself, especially when you are blanketed with so much love.
To God me the glory for ever and ever!
Friday, March 27, 2009
There is a touching scene in which the Mother Superior tells Mary about her own past and when she heard the call to become a nun. This is one of my favorite momens in he film. (By the way, I have watched this probably over 100 times). It’s the end of the movie though that touches me the most. After it is announced, to Rachel’s horror, that Mary has decided to enter the order and become a nun, the following exchange takes place. -
Reverend Mother: “She’s made a difficult and courageous decision.
Rachel: “It wasn’t her decision.”
Reverend Mother: “Yes, it was. Rachel, look at me. It was her decision. You of all people should know how strong she is. She didn’t yield, Rachel, she chose. And I’d rather have one like Mary, who chooses, than 100 who yield. You know, she has so much to give. All our sisters do, but Mary will give with joy and laughter. And defiance, I imagine. In fact, I have a feeling that someday, many people … even those in the highest places … will know that Mary Clancy came our way. She has some scathingly brilliant ideas.”
Thursday, March 26, 2009
What does he mean? Well one other way of saying this might be “Don't fit into your culture so comfortably that you're there without even thinking. Instead, say yes to God. You'll be changed from the inside out.”
Another Scripture about giving yourself to God that you may want to look at is 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. Another is Romans 6:13.
Now I don’t mean to suggest that giving is easy for all of us. As I wrote on Tuesday, Archbishop Romero gave. Yesterday I wrote how Saint Mary gave. I didn’t say it was easy for either of them. I know that if you really try to give yourself to God in all sincerity, you may be more frustrated for a time and may even think you are failing. If you do fail though, get back up and start all over again. Be obedient to the Lord and He will certainly bless your life in ways far beyond your understanding.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Here it is. One simple sentence that really sums up what today is all about. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and after the usual “Don’t be afraid” greeting, told her that she would bear a son – not just any son, but the son of God! Now not having a husband she faced the possibility of being ostracized and ridiculed, and even stoned, but she didn’t worry about that. She emptied herself of any self-importance and submitted everything about herself to God. “Let it be with me according to your word.”
The Feast of the Annunciation comes just nine months before Christmas. To put it simply, today is the day that Mary becomes pregnant. This isn’t so much a day about the child she is carrying though. Today is celebrated to show Mary’s virtue. She didn’t yield, she gave. Mary gave the most wonderful of gifts – herself. How many of us would actually do the same? How many of us are completely resigned to the will of the Lord?
Tonight (6:30pm) I will be at Grace Cathedral for that service I told you about a few days ago. Come if you can. Those of you who are not able, consider reading the Letter to the Hebrews section and the gospel text that tells this story (Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38) and reflect for a few minutes on totally giving yourself to the will of God.
“Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Last night I was at a church here in town where, during a lovely service, Archbishop Romero was remembered. There was singing and readings and a spirited homily and prayers that touched the heart. I'm really glad that people are not forgetting this remarkable man. One of the best ways I think we can continue to honor his is to commit ourselves to social justice - not just for people of groups we like, but for EVERYONE!
Want to know more? (And I really hope you do. There is so much that could be said about Archbishop Romero, but I generally try to keep these posts relatively short). Google his name though. There is a wealth of information out there! And one more thing - say a prayer. Thank God for people like Archbishop Oscar Romero. He made a difference in the world - he gave.
Monday, March 23, 2009
The above picture was taken at Eastertide. I'm not sure of the year. It was either last year or 2007.
Last week I told you about our "road trip" to Grace Cathedral this Wednesday. If you are in the San Francisco area, do come and join us at 6:30pm. If you are ever here visiting. you are welcome to come by our Fell Street building. We have daily mass in the morning and Evening Prayer is said Monday through Friday.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
We heard later on that this is the first time this many police officers had been killed in the same day, in Oakland. It was one of the worst moments in California history. These kind of tragic events are a reminder of the dangers police officers voluntarily face in their efforts to protect the community. It is also a reminder that we have grave probelms in our society! How do things like this happen? When will we see an end to violence?
As I go to church this morning, they will be on my mind and in my prayers. May their souls rest in God's eternal peace and may God give their families and friends the strength to endure.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Now I guess I have to say something about the above picture. It is of me last year when I injured my knee. I'm fine now. I just had the picture handy and thought I would use it here. (Golly, am I thinking clearly this week??)
In a couple of hours I will go and prepare service sheets for Stations of the Cross. We're taking to the streets with that too! (In addition to the mass I told you about yesterday). Stations of the Cross will be outdoors though, not in another church building.
Didn't I say I was going to write all about me? Not enough time left. Maybe tomorrow - or some time soon.
Friday, March 20, 2009
In Christianity, the Annunciation is the revelation to Mary, the mother of Jesus by Gabriel the angel, that she would conceive a child to be born the Son of God. Many churches celebrate this with the Feast of Annunciation on March 25th (nine months before Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus).
It is for this feast that we go to the larger Chapel of Grace with our clergy, acolytes, musicians, ushers, and entire congregation next Wednesday night at 6:30pm. Do join us on our road trip if you are able!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day's journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety." He said to them, "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. - Luke 2:41-52
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The Bible says that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
The Bible also says that we are all sinners. I know that I have done bad things. I know that I am not perfect. Still my mom always loves me - despite any bad that might be there. Is this the same kind of thing with God?
Spend a few moments today thinking about God's love.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
You may recall that I have told you about other websites before. The Grace Before Meals site is my favorite. There is also the listserve that I set up for lgbt Anglicans. This one is different though.
By the way, this is just something I stumbled across. I do not know Dave and have no financial stake in his website. So go already! It really is a fun place!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Yesterday at church was nice. The whole past week has been nice. But now the long coffee break is over!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
As you may recall, I went for mass last Saturday night for the Society of Saint Francis. There was great joy and I spoke of that, particularly in the music. I went again last night and it was again very joyous, but there was a different joy earlier in the day.
Yesterday I was invloved in many church events, including a wonderful presentation on ministry to the homeless, and a splendid organ recital. I began however with a eucharist. In the Episcopal Church, we are relatively quiet in church, which sometimes dismays me. Yesterday's gospel was the parable of The Prodigal Son.
Now for those of you who don't know, the Prodigal Son, also known as the Lost Son, is one of the best known parables of Jesus. It appears only in Saint Luke's Gospel, It is the third and final member of a trilogy, following the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Parable of the Lost Coin. It is a wonderful story of a son who was lost, but who comes back into the family fold. Hearing it yesterday morning I wanted to scream out with a loud Amen or even the other "A" word (but we don't say that in Lent).
Why don't we show more joy in church? Jesus is so wonderful we should be shouting from the rooftops!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
For example, how many know which three disciples went with Jesus to the mount of the transfiguration? Who appeared to them at the mount?
Jesus quoted the following words: "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?" What book was he quoting? Any idea? How many of you know the meaning of the word Golgotha? It isn't quite as easy if it isn't multiple choice, is it?
Of course knowing all the answers, does not mean you know Jesus. How many of you truly know Jesus?
Friday, March 13, 2009
Last Sunday I wrote about music and got a rare comment: "I love it when people's singing reflects the nature of what they're singing. Amazing Grace has EXCLAMATION POINTS if you sing it like it's real! Same with the other songs in church - it's crazy to me when people sing songs about salvation and redemption and restoration and joy... but sound like they're mourning. Don't get me wrong, I love some reverence, too. But I think the folk services you were referring to must've been pretty cool. :)"
Dear reader, I do so agree! In fact (and I added this to the reader's comment) Scripture says "make a joyful noise," yet sometimes as you say, we seem to be in mourning. As I wrote on both Sunday and Monday, music can really touch you - it did me. And yes folks, it is okay to be joyful in church!
Yesterday I went to Grace Cathedral for Evensong - talk about beautiful music! WOW!
A friend of mine just started a new blog, The Silence of the Word. Check it out!
Now those quiz results, and if you like the quiz, share it with a friend!
answers to the 14 questions
1. the rocks
2. Jesus wept bitterly
3. a rooster would crow twice
8. Simon the Cyrenian
10. the moon turned red
11. Joseph of Arimathea
12. His disciples stole the body at night
13. Mary Magdalene
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I had thought that I might find someone I know who had a spare minute or two and we could have lunch together or even breakfast. (Being on vacation, I can do those things this week, whereas I normally cannot). I had though about how lovely it would be to get together with an old friend who I seldom get to see. I had thought about how nice it would be to go to a museum or a movie or shopping or anywhere with someone else during the day, when I am normally in work. Things don’t always go the way you might wish.
About a week ago I finished work and walked to a little place in Hayes Valley for a delicious plate of chicken in a special dish, available only there. Somehow signals got crossed because when I got there, my reserved plate had vanished and there was no food left! Things don’t always go the way you might wish.
Yes, it is quite true that things don't always go the way we might wish - the Prop 8 vote last November is another example, but that doesn't mean there is nothing we can do. We need to speak up sometimes. We need to pray. We need to never give up ourselves or allow ourselves to be too disappointed. Life goes on and it is a good life, even when things don’t always go the way you might wish.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
1. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem (on Palm Sunday), what did He say would
cry out if His disciples didn't? (Luke 19:40)
2. Which of these things did NOT happen at the Lord's Supper?
The disciples sang a hymn
Jesus washed the disciple's feet
Judas left to betray Jesus
Jesus wept bitterly
3. What was the sign that Jesus gave Peter in stating that he would deny Him? (Mark 14:30)
the sun would rise
a rooster would crow twice
someone would build a fire
darkness would cover the land
4. Who was the chief priest who had Jesus arrested? (John 18:28)
5. Which of these people did NOT question Jesus after he was arrested? (Matthew 26:57, Luke 23: 1, 7)
6. On what charge did the court sentence Jesus to death? (John 19:7)
7. What was the name of the prisoner the people wanted released instead of Jesus? (Matthew 27:15)
Lee Harvey Oswald
8. Who was told to carry Jesus' cross for him? (Matthew 27:32)
Joseph of Arimathea
Simon the Cyrenian
John of the Cross
9. Where was Jesus crucified? (Matthew 27:33-35)
The Mount of Olives
The Hinnom Valley
10. Which of these things did NOT happen when Jesus died? (Matthew 27:51-53)
the veil of the temple was torn in two
many saints were raised from the dead
the moon turned red
11. Who owned the tomb where Jesus was buried? (Luke 23:50-53)
Joseph of Arimathea
Simon the Cyrenian
12. What were the soldiers told to say regarding the missing body of Jesus? (Matthew 28:12-13)
His body fell into a crevice created by the earthquake
His mother moved the body to a different tomb
His disciples stole the body at night
He wasn't really dead - just unconscious
13. To who did Jesus first appear after his resurrection? (Mark 16:9)
His mother Mary
14. Which disciple said he would not believe Jesus had risen unless he could see the nail marks in his hands? (John 20:24-28)
The Answers will not appear here until Friday, to give you a chance to think about it.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Let me ask a question: Is the Episcopal Church dying? I don't think so. It isn't the biggest denomination, but it has a rich history.
Did you know that more than a quarter (26%) of US Presidents have been Episcopalian. The list includes George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush. (Leaders of all kinds have been part of the Episcopal Church).
The current US Presiding Bishop, The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, is the first woman to hold that position. The Bishop of New Hampshire was the first openly gay person to be consecrated a bishop. (It’s never too late to be the first).
The Episcopal Church has more than 2.4 million members in 7,679 congregations in 110 dioceses (and one similar geographic convocation) situated in 15 countries plus the United States. A majority of Episcopal parishes and missions (56%) were founded before 1901. Only 3.3% of all Episcopal churches were started after 1990.
The Episcopal Church can grow once again and can attract new members and can preach the gospel of our Lord – I have seen proof of this fact myself. Why don’t we all work for this? It really doesn't matter about denomination though - it is not a competition. Jesus told us to spread the Word. He didn't tell us to bring everyone in to the Episcopal Church.
Monday, March 09, 2009
After the service, Brian Swager, organist at Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist in San Francisco gave a recital. The organ recital was not the end of the evening either. A lovely reception followed.
It was truly a wonderful afternoon of worship and community. Thanks be to God!
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Last night I was at a very small mass – I think there were only nine or ten of us, but we sang with joy. The mass setting was not familiar to me, but it didn’t matter. The fact that the priest was not familiar with English and sang often off key was also no problem. We had a superb cantor, and as I said, we had a lot of joy!
Afterward at dinner we all gathered around and sang while one of those present played the guitar. I broke into a lot of old songs like The Wedding Banquet, Edelweiss, and I Am The Bread of Life. The traditional music at mass this morning just won’t seem the same!
Since I am on vacation, I am going to a different church this morning and perhaps the music will be different. I have heard good things about the all volunteer choir and the new music director where I am going.
This afternoon there will be more music for me as I head to Berkeley to an interfaith service followed by an organ recital. (Yes, I DO like organ too)!
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Harvey worked for more than fifty years for abc Radio. Long time huh? He had been forced off the air for several months in 2001 because of a virus that weakened a vocal cord. But he returned to work in Chicago and was still active as he passed his 90th birthday.
He was known not only for his resonant voice, but also for his trademark delivery of "The Rest of the Story," and for "Good day" close and his "Stand by for news!" He was credited with inventing or popularizing terms such as "skyjacker," "Reaganomics" and "guesstimate."
His death came less than a year after that of his wife and longtime producer, Lynne Cooper whom he always called Angel.
I can tell you how much I always enjoyed hearing him on the radio. In recent years I have listened less and less, as I spend more time getting news from other sources, but I will always remember him.
Today at a Presbyterian church in Chicago, his body will lie in state and then at a public funeral service, family and friends will offer prayers and memories of this great man. May he rest in peace
Friday, March 06, 2009
Now I'm not going to be on vacation from my blog, so never fear! I will still be writing something here most of the time. Does anyone actually read this stuff?? Maybe I'll even write something about you!
Have a great weekend folks!
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Afterward I walked up to Market Street, where the march was already underway. I began walking alongside the many others. There were thousands! The police even closed down the streets to traffic there were so many people. On we went to City Hall, where I ran in to several friends (Richard Jonathan, SSF among them). There was music and speeches and cheering, and even though I was dead tired, I was so very happy. At one point I had tears streaming down my face.
Now today, in a three-hour hearing here in San Francisco, the State Supreme Court will consider challenges to Proposition 8. (Less than six months earlier, it was that same court of course that had declared that gays and lesbians had a constitutional right to marry).
The issue this time is different: not whether the marriage limitation is discriminatory or intrudes on personal freedom, but whether a majority of the voters, by amending the state Constitution, can eliminate minority rights that the court has recognized.
The hearing today starts at 9am and is expected to last three hours. The arguments will be carried on the California Channel, which is carried on Comcast cable systems in the Bay Area. The channel number varies from city to city, so check local listings. A live Webcast will be available at www.calchannel.com. The arguments will be shown on a JumboTron in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza, too. There will also be webcasts on many of the San Francisco television stations.
We will not know anything today. A ruling is due within 90 days.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
As you probably already know, the California Supreme Court revisits same-sex marriage this week. In cities all across this state there will be candlelight marches. One will begin here in San Francisco at 6pm at Market and Castro (arrive between 5:30 and 6). I would also like you to know that I will NOT be at Market and Castro tonight as the march begins. Rather, I will be on my knees asking God to watch over all of us and for the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of all of those who think our love is not valid.
I will be officiating at Evening Prayer in my church at 6pm (which is the same time the march begins), but since my church here in San Francisco is just two blocks away from Civic Center, I can leave after the service and still catch the march and be present for the program in front of the state building. I’m certain many of the folks who come to the service will be offering silent prayers before the service begins, for their spouses, for the Supreme Court justices, for social justice, and for God’s blessing on ALL of God’s people.
You are certainly welcome to join us. Evening Prayer begins at 6pm at Advent of Christ the King, 261 Fell Street (between Franklin and Gough) in San Francisco. Note that there is no coffee hour or other social gathering afterward because, as I noted, I and others will be leaving immediately afterward for the march.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Yesterday I was looking for prayers that would be significant to gay men an women. From time to time I have written petitions that are appropriate for various lgbt events. I really don’t have all the answers of “how” we pray - these are just a few thoughts. It is certain to me though that prayer is important. Saint Paul reminds us of that when in his first letter to the Thessalonians,
he says “Pray continually.”
So do you have a favorite prayer? The Lord’s Prayer - called the Our Father by some, is a favorite of many. I mentioned here recently a favorite of mine - the Prayer of Humble Access. How about the rest of you - any thoughts?
Monday, March 02, 2009
I could talk about the rain (there seems to be an AWFUL lot of it lately). I could tell you how much more I would prefer the sun or even snow! That's not saying much about me though. Maybe I'm just not that good at talking about myself. Perhaps some of you could ask questions.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
The Teutonic word Lent, which we use to denote the forty days fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season. Imagine that! Still it has been used from the Anglo-Saxon period to translate the more significant Latin term quadragesima, meaning the "forty days", or more literally the "fortieth day". One of the hymn we sing is Forty Days and Forty Nights.
Just how Lent is observed varies by location and by individual. Perhaps if you would like to add a comment here, you could tell us about your Lenten observance.