Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hear the Word of the Lord

I doubt if I will turn my blog into a list of lists, but following the mention of favorite nuts and then favorite hymns, I thought further about favorite Scriptures. Many people find great comfort in the words of The Bible. Some folks use Scripture as a kind of moral compass. What passages come up most often though? What part of The Bible has the most meaning to you?

I don’t know if you are one of the folks who can quote chapter and verse, but there are many who not only know the words, but know exactly where they come from. (I usually only know approximately where a passage is – usually the Book, but not he chapter and verse).
School children are usually acquainted with the Creation story or the story of The Great Flood (both from Genesis), the Birth of Jesus (from Saint Luke’s Gospel), and perhaps the Twenty-third Psalm (the only psalm that everyone seems to know). Over the years we learn more. If we listen in church, we not only hear the Scriptures, but also hear them explained a bit in the preaching. Of course there are those of us who actually pick up a Bible every now and then and who therefore are even more familiar.

Gay Christians are all too familiar with the passages that some use to say God hates us and that we are pretty sorry excuses for human beings. I won’t go into those ones. Despite anything that people may try to tell you, God is love, NOT hate.

Which gets me back to my original question: what part of The Bible has the most meaning to you? Well Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd) is on my list. The nativity story (Luke 2:1-20) is a favorite for sure. I am also quite fond of The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), The Reward of the Saints (Revelation 7:2-17), A Season for all Things (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15), and perhaps because of the song, the Valley of the Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14).

Of everything that is in The Holy Bible though, it is the writings of Saint Paul that bring me the most comfort and the most encouragement. One of those is “This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1.15)

There are way too many passages to site all of them here, but the favorite of all is from his Epistle to the Romans (8:38-39): “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hymns of praise

Yesterday: nuts. Today: hymns! WOW! What a difference! Anyway, do you have a favorite hymn?


Do you like old traditional church music or more modern tunes? I seem to like both. Gregorian Chant like I will hear at my church on Saturday evening when we do our regular Latin mass, or tratitional hymns like we will be singing on Sunday morning. I can even go for a folk mass or a hip-hop liturgy. So what about you? Leave some comments.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I'm not sure how many of you like nuts, but I was thinking about them last night. (Don't I have an odd mind? I mean who in the world thinks about nuts?)

Anyway, since I have gone on and on and on in some recent posts, it's time for a brief one. Do you have a favorite nut?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Gay faces on television

As a gay man (yeah I know, you probably forgot I'm gay because I don't talk about it much), I am aware of the lack of gay faces on television, particularly in advertising. Things are slowing changing though when it comes to gay women and that is a really good thing.

During the Super Bowl back in January, an out lesbian was one of the "faces" of AVON. Openly gay Ellen DeGeneres has starred in some of the most hilarious and memorable commercials ever produced by American Express (like the one pictured here). Rocker Melissa Ethridge and her wife Tammy Lynn Etheridge have been pitch persons for Cartier. Of course Martina Navratilova has done tv spots for years. Oh yeah and I almost forgot and out actress Jane Lynch (of Best in Show) is co-starring with Julia Louis Dryfus in a new slate of funny Healthy Choice commercials.

What about the men though? How many gay men do we see? For that matter, where are the performance in programs by gay men? Oh we have Neil Patrick Harris but that's about it.

Any thoughts??

Sunday, April 26, 2009

And then there's Maude

Yesterday I said goodbye to a friend. Later in the day, I learned of another death: Maude - Dorothy - Vera, or perhaps just Bea. I didn't know her personally, but almost felt like I did.

All the tributes that will be lavished on Miss Arthur, who died yesterday at the age of 86, will extol her impeccable comic timing. Her ability to detonate a joke, to momentarily harness a punch line before releasing at full force, brought her Emmy-winning success in two groundbreaking sitcoms: Norman Lear's 1970s classic "Maude" and "The Golden Girls," launched in 1985 and no doubt making somebody crack up in rerun land as you're reading this. Of course there was also her role as Vera Charles in Mame, both on Broadway and in the classic Lucille Ball film version. Whereever you saw Beatice Arthur, you saw a classy performance. I'm sure you will hear Betty White and Norman Lear and Angela Lansbury and many others saw nice things about Bea - and they will all be correct. She was one of a kind. She will be missed.

If you have never seen a Beatrice Arthur performance, the last paragraph should get you motivated to go out and rent one or go to youtube and see what you might find. You will surely be entertained!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rest in peace dear friend

The day after Easter, a dear man died. To call him a friend might be misleading. I really didn't know him that well. He was a true gentelman though in every sense of the word. I knew him from my church. He was a man of great faith and a man who, at the age of 91, had a lot of wonderful stories to tell. His health has prevented him from coming to church for a while now, and I have missed him.

Today, in the church he loved so much, we will be saying goodbye to him with a lovely service he would be proud of. I will be among the participants. I will be next to the person swinging the smoking thurible of incense. The whole idea reminds me of a story he used to tell. I'm not certain it is actually true, but he used to serve as an acolyte at this very high-church parish in New York City, and the story could have actually happened.

At the time he was thurfier at Saint Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church and veteran actress Tallulah Bankhead was in the congregation. As the story goes, he was swinging his thurible, leading the procession up the center aisle, wearing his red cassock and lace cotta. Miss Bankhead leaned over and said “Love the dress dahling, but your purse is on fire.” I laughed. Today I cry.

Rest in peace dear friend.

Friday, April 24, 2009


A favorite poem of mine (especially appropriate at this time of year):

Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)

Once more I hear the everlasting sea
Breathing beneath the mountain’s fragrant breast,
Come unto Me, come unto Me,
And I will give you rest.

We have destroyed the Temple and in three days
He hath rebuilt it—all things are made new:
And hark what wild throats pour His praise
Beneath the boundless blue.

We plucked down all His altars, cried aloud
And gashed ourselves for little gods of clay!
Yon floating cloud was but a cloud,
The May no more than May.

We plucked down all His altars, left not one
Save where, perchance (and ah, the joy was fleet),
We laid our garlands in the sun
At the white Sea-born’s feet.

We plucked down all His altars, not to make
The small praise greater, but the great praise less,
We sealed all fountains where the soul could slake
Its thirst and weariness.

“Love” was too small, too human to be found
In that transcendent source whence love was born:
We talked of “forces”: heaven was crowned
With philosophic thorn.

“Your God is in your image,” we cried, but O,
‘Twas only man’s own deepest heart ye gave,
Knowing that He transcended all ye know,
While—we dug His grave.

Denied Him even the crown on our own brow,
E’en these poor symbols of His loftier reign,
Levelled His Temple with the dust, and now
He is risen, He is risen again,

Risen, like this resurrection of the year,
This grand ascension of the choral spring,
Which those harp-crowded heavens bend to hear
And meet upon the wing.

“He is dead,” we cried, and even amid that gloom
The wintry veil was rent! The new-born day
Showed us the Angel seated in the tomb
And the stone rolled away.

It is the hour! We challenge heaven above
Now, to deny our slight ephemeral breath
Joy, anguish, and that everlasting love
Which triumphs over death.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Yesterday I wrote here about loving your neighbor as Jesus taught us to do. Well it got me thinking a lot about how I act toward other people. Can people see Christ in my face because of the things I do. How do I act toward others? Do I brighten anyone’s day? Do I make a difference in anyone’s life? This is important to me folks and I really try harder every day to follow the Golden Rule.

While I was thinking about all of this I have also been reading some old letters from my mom. No, I don’t save everything she sends me, and these days we talk on the telephone much more often than we write each other. Still, I am so happy to have many of her old letters. Among other things, it provides a lovely trip down memory lane for me.

Reflecting on the past, and looking ahead to the future, and good old self-examination are all good things. I really should do it more often.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Love thy neighbor

Jesus said "love thy neighbor," but do we? We we really care about others? From some of what I have seen in the past few days, I would have to say no (sadly).

I saw so much drama on Sunday and Monday. In a seperate matter I have also started feeling very much alone. I have no spouse and no roommate and all of my relatives are out of state. Sometimes it is hard to remember that I am loved, even though I know God loves me very much. This is at the heart of the whole love thy neighbor thing. If we are really loving our neighbors, we are helping to make them feel secure - loved - part of a community. It doesn't seem like it would be that hard at all.

Jesus was summing up all the law in these two statements. If we love the Lord God with all our heart, soul and mind, loving our neighbor is the natural result. The question then is, who is our neighbor, and how do we love him or her? Well, what do YOU think? Is our neighbor more than the guy next door? Could he or she be someone in our community or almost anyone we meet? Could our enemies also be our neighbors? Jesus says that it's so. But how can we love someone who acts hatefully toward us? When we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we grow to recognize that everyone is part of His creation.

Now let me point out that nowhere does it say we have to like our neighbor!

Before you next go to bed, make a point of doing something nice for someone else. Also, see if you can bring some happiness to everyone you come in contact with - I bright cheery hello to folks is a good start. You just might be on the way to loving!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


First of all let me point out there is but ONE God. Now let's look just at those who call themselves Christians. (Yes I know you thought I was going to say something about other denominations, but not today). There was a time when the Church was one. Yes, there had been heresies, defections, and departures but, for the most part, for a thousand years there was the “one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.”

In 1054, in an event known as “The Great Schism,” the Christian Church was torn asunder and the Western Church and the Eastern Church were divorced from each other, though both continued to claim title to the “one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.”

A half millennia later, the Church was again rocked by division and the fragmentation begun in the Protestant Reformation has continued to the present time.

Today, there are some 28,000 denominations that hold, more or less, to the basic essentials of the Christian faith. The Episcopal Church, of which I am a part, is but one of them.

Last week I spoke a lot about some practices of the Roman Catholic Church and I also spoke a couple of times about a wonderful priest, who also happens to be Roman Catholic. Don't let that mislead you. I am still an Episcopalian. I don't think for a second though that "We" are right and "They" are wrong. There are many ways to worship. I am excited that so many are bringing people to God. Do not forget though the most important thing (that I said here at the beginning) - There is only ONE God.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pillars of the Community

Yesterday morning, while listening to a wonderful sermon based on the gospel of the day, the preacher at one point spoke of the plaques around the church with inscriptions “given BY so-and-so.” He pointed out that there was even one that said “refurbished by so-and-so.” There seem to be an awful lot of folks who want to be remembered. I guess we all want to leave a little something behind. I’m not saying that is necessarily a bad thing. I always hope I will make a difference for the better of others. I’m not sure I necessarily want to be remembered for that though – at least I don’t want to set up my own memorial. I’m really not a legacy kind of guy.

For me I think it is right and proper that we remember those who have gone before us – those who have done great things – those who have made a difference. But, I also think that it is okay if there turns out to be no memories of certain good folks who have done wonderful things. As it says in the book of Ecclesiasticus, “But of others there is no memory; they have perished as though they had never existed; they have become as though they had never been born, they and their children after them. But these also were godly men, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten; their offspring will continue forever, and their glory will never be blotted out.”

We call some of the most famous of these good folks pillars of the community (or of the church). Sometimes we are not quite sure who they are. Other times it is more obvious to us. Yesterday’s sermon was saying much more than this, but it really got me thinking (always a mark of a great sermon). Do the work that needs to be done, but do it because it needs to be done – do it to the praise and glory of Almighty God. Don’t do it to become rich or famous or popular. Don’t give gifts or do good works to be remembered – God will always remember, whatever it is we do!

These words from the Revelation of Saint John really speak to what I am saying:

I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy

This used to be Good Shepherd Sunday. That is now the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Today is (and has long been called) Low Sunday and also “Quasimodo Sunday", not the Hunchback of Notre Dame. It’s actually from the old Introit at Mass, which used to always be sung in Latin: "Quasi modo geniti infantes, rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite." As I have mentioned though a couple of times now, it is also Divine Mercy Sunday for many. Yesterday I spoke of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and I would like today to tell you a little more about it.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a Roman Catholic devotion based on the visions of Polish nun and canonized saint, Sister Mary Faustina Kowalska, whom I mentioned here yesterday. The chaplet is often said as a rosary-based prayer with the same set of rosary beads used for reciting the Holy Rosary. (Now since I am an Episcopalian, I should point out that there are two types of rosary beads and what I mean here are the standard Roman Catholic beads that some Episcopalians use, not the so called Anglican rosary beads used by others). However, the chaplet may also be said without beads at all, usually by counting prayers on the fingertips.

It can be said or sung and there are several sung versions. I mentioned that my mother prays it in front of her television. This sung version of the Chaplet, featured on the EWTN Network, was filmed live at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts - home of the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception. You can watch it by clicking HERE.

First of all, you will say The Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Apostle’s Creed.
Then: On the Our Father Beads you will say the following words:

Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
On the Hail Mary Beads you will say the following words:
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

In conclusion ThreeTimes you will recite these words:
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world

A blessed Second Sunday of Easter - Low Sunday - Divine Mercy Sunday - Quasimodo Sunday to you all! Alleluia!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Divine Mercy Sunday is tomorrow

Earlier in the week I mentioned that tomorrow is Divine Mercy Sunday. "Quasimodo Sunday," is another name, or “low Sunday.” I said I would say more about Divine Mercy and first I really should say something about Sister Faustina of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy (in Poland). In the early 1900’s, Our Lord gave many great mystical graces to her.

The message of mercy that Sister Faustina received is now being spread throughout the world; she has been recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as a "Saint" and her diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, has become the handbook for devotion to The Divine Mercy. She would not have been surprised, for she had been told that the message of God's mercy would spread through her writings for the great benefit of souls. Through Saint Faustina, we are told that Jesus also revealed special ways to live out the response to His mercy–one of which is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, as both a novena and a prayer for the three o'clock hour–the hour of His death.

Divine Mercy Sunday was instituted in the Church on the Second Sunday of Easter on April 30, 2000 and decreed on May 5th of same year. Since then, there have been many questions as to the requirements of a correct celebration of this Feast of Mercy. First and foremost, we must realize that it is a refuge for sinners and not a party for devotees. Up until the establishment of the feast in the universal Catholic Church, parishes in many parts of the world had to make separate Masses as to not “interfere” with the flow of regular Sunday Masses.

Now, as most of you know, I am an Episcopalian, not a Roman Catholic. This may be hard for some of you to believe because I have posted the past two days about a Roman Catholic priest named Father Leo. I don’t think though that everything done in the Roman Catholic church is for them and them alone. Tomorrow I will post here for you the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It is very beautiful. My mother frequently prayers it in front of her television with the congregation in another city. How wonderful!

So my friends, now you know a little more about Divine Mercy Sunday. Please remember that it is also the Second Sunday of Easter! Alleluia!

Friday, April 17, 2009

More about Father Leo

Boy did I get a lot of email yesterday about my blog! (Still nobody writes comments here and the "lot" that I mention was actually only two, but two is a lot considering that nobody usually writes). Anyway, someone wrote "there should be more priests like Father Leo." All I can say is Amen to that!

I really enjoy his weekly emailings - very newsy and very inspirational. Of course being such a food person myself, I also really enjoy his Grace Before Meals. He has started doing a weekly question and answer there and I thought this one is particularly good (even though Lent is over):

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Q: Dear Fr. Leo – One of your recipes calls for chicken broth. Is that allowed on meat-less Fridays? I've wondered about that for many years. - Janet
A: Good question. Technically you should use a non-meat broth for meatless Fridays. A great substitute is veggie broth.

This would be good of course for the ordinary Fridays during the year for those who abstain from meat and also for vegetatians. Maybe a lot of what Father Leo says is common sense - like the importance of eating together. But here is the thing: FEW PEOPLE ARE SAYING IT, AND EVEN FEWER ARE DOING IT!

So, thank God for Father Leo. May his ministry bring us all closer to each other, and closer to God! Alleluia!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

All about Father Leo

People have posted items about Father Leo before - I'm one of those who have posted. (Actually my previous mentions have really been more about Grace Before Meals, which he created). Anyway, a week ago I saw him on abc-tv's World News Tonight, and he really is an inspiration, so I am writing more.
Father Leo Patalinghug is a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Director of Pastoral Field Education at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. Prior to ordination, Father Leo graduated with degrees in political science and journalism. He taught speech and debate, assisted with music and youth ministry, and choreographed for an award winning Break Dancing Group. He is also a 3rd Degree Martial Arts instructor and award winning competitor in Tae Kwon Do He is the author of the book, “Grace Before Meals: Recipes for Family Life,” a collection of “bite-sizeable” theological essays, recipes for feast days, and even questions to engage family conversation around the dinner table. Best of all (I think) is that he is also the creator of the Grace Before Meals website and tv program (which he also hosts).
As I said at the top, I have mentioned him here before, but I really had to say something once again. It is Easter week and this is one VERY inspiring priest! You can see a little more of what I mean just by going to the Grace Before Meals website at and exploring the news there. You might also want to subscribe to his weekly emails. (And you don't even have to tell him I sent you)!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's"

This is Wednesday in Easter week. In the United States, as I mentioned yesterday, it is also Tax Day. I’m not sure if any of you have ever thought about taxes being ungodly, but just what would Gad say about paying a tax?

We can go to Scripture and find an easy answer. “The Pharisees asked Jesus a question (Matthew 22:17-21), ‘Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, ‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.’ They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar's,’ they replied. Then he said to them, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.’”

Blessed Paul the Apostle was in full agreement when he taught (Romans 13:6-7), "This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."

So, as much as we all hate paying taxes of any kind, here are reminders that it is the Cristian thing to do. In fact, Saint Paul also said (Romans 13:2), "Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Divine Mercy

At the conclusion of Easter Week, we also celebrate the Divine Mercy Sunday, one of the best ways to grow closer to God! It is often called Low Sunday too because after the Holy Week and Easter observances, many folks stay home that day and attendence is very low. We can change that! Mark your calendar and make a point of coming to church next Sunday, the 19th. In fact, why not bring a friend?

Now I will say more on Divine Mercy Sunday later on. I particularly like praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (and I'll tell you all about that too).

I am praying that your Easter continues to be wonderful, and if you're in the USA, don't forget that tomorrow is tax day!

Monday, April 13, 2009

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Some folks might try to tell you today that Easter is over. They are wrong. You might picture the Easter bunny with his feet up resting after doing all the work. Even Christians might be tempted to say it's over - especially after the hustle and bustle of Holy Week. Yesterday though was just the BEGINNING of Easter! Alleluia!

This same sort of thing happens at Christmas. The stores say it begins sometime in the summer and ends at the close of business on the 24th (or even the 25th if they should happen to be open that day). Why must we race? There are twelve days of Christmas and the 25th is just the beginning!

We are an Easter people. All of what we believe comes from this most holy season. Why rush to see it end? Rejoice in the wonder of this special time!

Christ is risen! Christus ist auferstanden! Cristo é risorto! Le Christ est ressuscité! Christos anesti! Christos vaskrese! 基督複活了!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Lord Is Risen!

Easter Day, the Sunday of the Resurrection. This day, the third since crucifixion, Christ shows up himself, and not just that, Jesus also joined his disciples on a meal! He had risen up from his tomb that was guarded by the sentries. And met his disciples to get them prepared to carry out His works in his absence. What a wonderful day this is!

I have had a glorious Holy Week my friends and the Easter Vigil that I was a part of last night was splendid. In a few hours I will take part in another Easter service. The message is the same and it is one of great joy and hope! Alleluia!

A blessed Easter to you all!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jesus is laid in the tomb

Yesterday was quite wonderful as I joined Episcopalians from a couple of different churches walking the Way of the Cross, and stopping to pray with and for people, places, and agencies which represent Jesus’ values of peace, love, and humility here in the city where I live. We also made stops at places of violence, praying for all those who have suffered in our community this year. People on the street came and joined us and it really felt like we were bringing the message of Good Friday to people who might not normally hear it.

Now we come to Holy Saturday, called Easter Eve in some churches. There are more processions likely tonight.

The common practice in many churches is to hold a vigil in the evening and to include in this the blessing and lighting of a tall Paschal candle. While blessing, five grains of incense are fixed in it, representing the five wounds of Jesus and the burial spices with which his body was anointed. The candle is lit remains at least until Ascension Day (in many churches until Pentecost). Baptisms are also common at Easter and often they are done on Holy Saturday, either at the vigil or earlier in the day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last

We all know about Good Friday. It is in fact a legal holiday in many parts of the world because of the important significance of it. This is the day on which Jesus was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, at the top of the Calvary hill.

Take a look at a crucifix in your home, or even the one pictured here. Stare at it. Meditate on it.

“We may not know, we cannot tell, what pains He had to bear. But we believe it was for us, He hung and suffered there.” These words from the popular hymn we have been bringing up the past several days. They really seem to tell the important story of this week. “He died that we might be forgiven. He died to make us good. That we might go at last to heaven, saved by His precious blood.”

Our churches are bare and stripped of any finery. The body of Jesus lies lifeless on the cross. In a few hours I will be walking The Way of the Cross with many sister and brother Episcopalians through the Mission District here in San Francisco. If you are nearby, come to the Church of Saint John the Evangelist at noon, and join us in our walk.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Do this in remembrance of me

Thursday of Holy Week, known as Maundy Thursday, is associated with the Last Supper. On this day Jesus had his supper, his last course, with his disciples. In the words of St Matthew’s Gospel “Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it , and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying," Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

The eucharist or mass which we celebrate in our churches, was instituted on this day. It is the day before crucifixion. Before we look to the wood of the cross once again, let us ponder Our Lord in the most Holy Sacrament of His precious Body and Blood.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Spy Wednesday

On Wednesday in Holy Week, the tempo certainly increases. This is the day widely known as "Spy Wednesday,” for it was this day that Judas Iscariot, a disciple turned betrayer agreed to show the chief priests where they could easily capture Jesus.

Churches tonight traditionally hold Tenebrae services. We come closer to the cross. We come closer to His agony. We come closer to that time of suffering great pain, something He freely did – FOR US! “He died that we might be forgiven. He died to make us good. That we might go at last to heaven, saved by His precious blood.”

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

He died that we might be forgiven

Now we come to Tuesday of Holy Week, the day when the famous incident between Jesus and Pharisees is thought to have taken place. This was when the churchmen tried to trap Jesus into making a blasphemous, or, anti-god remark.

This day is important also on another count. Jesus discoursed to his disciples on the Mount of Olives about the destruction of Jerusalem and the signs of the last day.

We come closer to the day of the crucifixion and even more importantly the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord from the dead. Think about the wondrous love of God. He gave His son to suffer death for our redemption from sin. How wonderful is that? “He died that we might be forgiven. He died to make us good. That we might go at last to heaven, saved by His precious blood.”

Hold this thought in your mind.

Monday, April 06, 2009

We believe it was for us, He hung and suffered there

Here we are at Monday of the Holy Week, when it is believed that the cleansing of the temple in the Holy City of Jerusalem is thought to have taken place. This was when Jesus overturned the tables of the moneychangers, saying to them: “It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; But you make it a den of robbers". (Matthew: 21:13)

As we continue our journey, let us look ahead to the cross. “We may not know, we cannot tell, what pains He had to bear. But we believe it was for us, He hung and suffered there.”

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Episcopalians love processions! Today is one of those very traditional procession days. In fact, it seems that almost any Christian gathering today might begin with a procession. Today is Palm Sunday, the day we celebrate the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, just prior to His death. (The biblical account of Palm Sunday can be found in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19). The crowds greet Jesus with waving palms, and by covering His path with palm branches. Immediately following this great time of celebration in His ministry, Jesus begins his journey to the cross.

If you read my words here regularly, you will recall that I said a couple of days ago that today is a mixed bag liturgically speaking. You might all it split personality Sunday. There is great joy as Jesus enters Jerusalem, but the same crowd that was cheering during the parade was jeering Jesus just a few days later. These are the folks who had been wowed by his sermons, healed of their diseases, fed with loaves and fishes, delivered of their demons and had been crying out Hosanna!” We can all relate to what happened next though. When the tide began to turn, so did followers of Jesus. Their cries quickly turned to shouts of “Crucify him!”

In Saint John’s account he hear “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord - the King of Israel!" There was great joy! Even though we know what happened next, we should hold fast to that joy, because the Passion of Our Lord and His crucifixion lead of course to His glorious resurrection. (More on that as we approach Good Friday and Easter). Perhaps on way to meditate on this beginning of Holy Week is to look back at the Stations of the Cross that I posted here yesterday, and walk the Way with Jesus.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Way of the Cross

The Way of the Cross (sometimes called Stations of the Cross) is a popular meditation during Holy Week. This year as we walk these stations, let us think about the world in which we live today and how we can bring Jesus to others.

Station one: Jesus is condemned to death.

Consider –
How homelessness and poverty condemn so many people to lives that are desperate

For all those who struggle to make ends meet

To work harder to relieve poverty and suffering

Station two: Jesus takes up his cross.

All those who take on the task of serving the poor

For our Civic leaders and for non-profit agencies, especially Episcopal Community Service and all who work to relive suffering

To take up my part of the burden

Station three: Jesus falls a first time.

All those struggling to find ways to combat poverty who in these tough times are tempted to give up.

For all those who feel that their limited resources need to be kept for themselves.

To give until it hurts and then give more to combat homelessness.

Station four: Jesus is met by his Mother.

Parents fighting to keep their children out of gangs and away from drugs.

For all youth tempted by easy money and longing to belong.

To love and nurture young people however threatening and ungrateful they may seem.

Station five: The Cross is laid on Simon.

All who are forced to minister to the needy because of where they live or work.

For those who reluctantly help and so do good work despite themselves.

To respond to need without being made to by guilt or coercion.

Station six: The face of Jesus is wiped by Veronica.

All those who offer random acts of kindness by giving food, shelter, love to the needy.

For all who are selfless and unselfconscious in their good works.

To take advantage of opportunities to give of ourselves for the good of others.

Station seven: Jesus falls a second time.

All those who fall back into addiction and dependency

For patience to walk with those unable to break out of the cycle of abuse.

To help create safe places for those who desire to do no harm.

Station eight: The women of Jerusalem mourn for Jesus.

All who are made angry the homeless and destitute on our streets.

That they may channel their anger into finding solutions to the problems that lead to homelessness.

To educate those we meet about homelessness and poverty.

Station nine: Jesus falls a third time.

All those who loose their home through divorce, loss of job, addiction, or crime.

For all who minister to them in their time of need.

To help and support those facing upheaval and crisis.

Station ten: Jesus is stripped of his garments.

All those who loose all that they have and then loose even their dignity in prisons or institutions.

That we may always respect the dignity of every human being.

To treat one another with the courtesy that we expect for ourselves.

Station eleven: Jesus is nailed to the Cross

All the ‘things’ that tie us down, material positions, dependencies on people or programs, routines, styles of worship.

For strength to put them aside and embrace new things.

To trust in God – and in God alone.

Station twelve: Jesus dies on the Cross

God becoming human for us, suffering with us, dying at our hands.

For forgiveness of our sins that are the cause of all this suffering and death.

To imitate the life and humility of Jesus in all that we do.

Station thirteen: Jesus is laid in the arms of his Mother

Parents who loose their children to gangs, drugs, and random acts of violence.

For all those who mourn the loss of loved ones.

To make our City a safe place for all.

Station fourteen: Jesus is laid in the Sepulcher

How we must bury ego and ambition in order to be effective instruments of change.

That we may have the courage to let go of those things that prevent us giving our all.

To do God’s will without counting the cost.

Almighty God, who’s most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Passion of Our Lord

A week from today is Good Friday. Two days from now is Palm Sunday. Our Lenten observance is drawing to a close, and this is the most important part - the last days as we approach Easter.

On Palm Sunday our Lord resolves to ride into Jerusalem and expose Himself publicly, even though He realized the dangers as the Jewish religious leaders have been clamouring for His arrest, especially after the raising of Lazarus from the dead. From the Roman Governor’s view, this was a dangerous time to keep peace and order with the impending Jewish Passover festival and the last thing the Roman authorities wanted was a riot stirred up by religious fanaticism. So when Christ enters Jerusalem the atmosphere is tense.

Our church services on Palm Sunday are a kind of mixed bag. We begin with joy but quickly move to sorrow as we preview the Passion of our Lord. Maundy Thursday (Roman Catholics call it Holy Thursday) is a similar mood. An even greater joy begins our services and then we end in solemn silence as we move in to Good Friday.

Let us all meditate of the words of Scripture in these coming days and may we seriously contemplate the meaning of Holy Week. May it being us ever closer to our God.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Any foolishness yesterday?

Yesterday, as you know was All Fool's Day (sometimes just called April Fools). Pranks and other foolishness was the order of the day. Did you get caught in any?

I usually ignore all the foolishness. It's silly and mostly for kids. Saint Paul said something about foolishness in his first letter to the Corinthians:

“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Who do YOU say I am?

In one of my favorite gospel readings, Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" Some of them respond "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." Then comes the really important part. Jesus asks "But who do you say that I am?" Peter, who is sometimes thought of as the bungler, sometimes the one who just doesn’t quite get it, this time gets it perfectly! He says to Jesus, "You are the Messiah."

Identity was important for Jesus. Identity is important for us. Who are we as individuals? Who are we as Christians? There really isn’t just one simple answer.

One of the definitions in the dictionary for the word “identity” is “The collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing (or person) is definitively recognizable or known:” Notice the word collective. Identity need not be just one word.

Earlier in the week I was talking to a friend about witnessing to others (do Episcopalians actually say “witnessing”?) and she pointed out it is easier when people come to you. Of course if you are wearing a clerical collar or a t-shirt that says I love Jesus, it is easier for the curious to be drawn to you. Anyway, I was thinking, is being a Christian part of our identity? Is this something that people can see right away?

As a gay man I am also interested in how sexual orientation plays a part in our identity. Is this something people might include when describing who it is we are? Would they include it the same way they might include eye color, gender, or heritage?

The identity of each of us is something that has evolved over time. We are not all the same. We don’t get a lot of comments here folks. Perhaps not a lot of people read this blog, but for those who do, what are your thoughts about identity? Who and what do you say you are?