Saturday, September 24, 2016

Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost: Proper 21: Remember Your Good Things and Others Without

Luke 16:19-31 NRSV

Jesus said, "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.' But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.' He said, `Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house-- for I have five brothers-- that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.' Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' He said, `No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"

Blog Reflection 

The words that catch my attention in this Gospel reading are: "Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things" (Luke 16:25).

This parable is one of those that is somewhere between making no sense, to one of the scariest Jesus told thus far.  It paints a picture through words of what heaven and hell might be like.  Or are we over interpreting Jesus and not seeing what He is telling us is in front of us in the here and now?

Abraham reminds the wealthy man of the good things he was given during his lifetime.  The wealthy man's situation in Hades is now opposite of Lazarus: and Lazarus is on the other side from the now miserable former rich man.  This story sounds a lot like those amazing words found in the Magnificat.  "[God] has cast the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly.  He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty" (Book of Common Prayer, p.119).

I think that Jesus is suggesting that we remember the good things all of us are given in the here and now: while not forgetting those who barely have the necessities of life.  In our day and age of economical inequality of those with wealth and power affecting the rest of us; whether we are middle class or at the bottom of the food chain of life.  This does not only apply to the matter of economics and poverty; it also applies to how we view ourselves in light of our relationship with God, vs others who may not share our views or opinions.  
Sister Joan Chittister in her book Illumination: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light wrote,
Life is not perfect and people are not perfect. Only understanding and compassion--the ability to bear life with the rest of humanity, whatever burdens the bearing brings--perfect us.  When that concept gets lost in the name of religion, gets forgotten in the name of goodness, religion has gone awry and virtue has lost its meaning.  God is compassionate and gives us what we need.  No one can possibly be truly contemplative, truly in touch with the God-Life, truly infused by the spirit of God, who does nothing less for the sake of the other.
Contemplation is the mirror through which we come to touch the greatness of God, yes, but contemplation is also the filter through which we discern that scope of our smallness and the potential of our greatness.  The contemplative looks for perfection in nowhere but God.  The contemplative understands brokenness.  And, most of all, the contemplative realizes that it is precisely at the point of personal need that God comes to fill up the emptiness that is us.
If we are going to see clearly who God is, we must remember that we live in community with others.  Our relationship with God finds its holiness of life in our relationships with others; including and especially with those who are different from ourselves.  
I believe that Jesus is telling us this parable so that we may know that there is just as much heaven and hell for those who are poor as well as those who are rich.  What places us in heaven or hell is what we are doing with the good things we are given in the here and now.   When we remember the good things we are given, we need to remember those who are without such things and share from our abundance.
We are called to share the freedom of our lands with the immigrants who come to live here from their oppressive governments.  
We are called so seek the safety of every person who everyday face the threat of gun and racial violence.
We are called and empowered to give to LGBTQ people that piece of equality shared by those who are heterosexual, cis-gender and know who they are.
We are called to share our religious freedom with those who are in the prison of marginalization because they are Muslim, Jewish, Buddhism, Hindu and/or even atheist.  
How is God calling you to remember the good things you have, and how you can help others who are not so fortunate?
O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing
mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we,
running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of
your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who
lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for
ever and ever. Amen.  (Proper 21, The Book of Common Prayer, p.234).
Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you
all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us
to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick,
and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those
who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow
into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for
our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  (Prayer for the Poor and Neglected, The Book of Common Prayer, p.826

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost: Proper 20: Whoever A Little

Gospel Reading

Luke 16:1-13 (NRSV)

Jesus said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, `What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.' Then the manager said to himself, `What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.' So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he asked the first, `How much do you owe my master?' He answered, `A hundred jugs of olive oil.' He said to him, `Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.' Then he asked another, `And how much do you owe?' He replied, `A hundred containers of wheat.' He said to him, `Take your bill and make it eighty.' And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

"Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

Blog Reflection

Verse ten of this Gospel Reading can be summed up like this.  "If you are faithful in a little, if you are dishonest in a little, you are faithful in much and dishonest in much."

I feel drawn to how the words little in whatever the word that follows it, leads to much.   

So often we are drawn to what is huge.  It is what seems more powerful and faster that draws our attention.  While that which is little goes unnoticed.  Our attention seems focused on what is far off.  That which is here and now is too little to seem to make a difference.  The truth of the matter is, it takes a lot of what is little to become part of the larger whole.  

Our current political campaigns are full of little stabs and jabs from one party or candidate to the other.  Many may think that small one liners aimed at another person's race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, immigration status, or is suggestive of a dangerous action are of no consequence.  It is all of the small liners rolled into one gigantic media filled mega field of sound bites that creates a stigma around any number of minorities. Each comment made that comes from each small remark, winds up affecting that which is much bigger.  Part of the goal of the campaigns, are to throw a little bit of a punch in each statement, a few dollars or more from the pockets of those who are fortunate to have the reserves in their budgets, and suddenly what was small, becomes the responsibility of the whole.  Faithfulness and dishonesty become the larger consequence of what was so small.

Each one of us contributes a small amount to the larger whole.  What we say, who we say it to, how we say it or do it, has an effect on the larger context.  Free speech is not free if it interferes with another persons freedom.  The so called "free" speech comes with a very large price tag for those who listen to, respond to or are affected by what is said.

Each of us carries a responsibility to the greater whole with what our little bit of faithfulness or dishonesty brings upon those affected.  A harmful slur about people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning, results in the loss of equal rights, and can bring on physical violence.  Just a few little things said by one man in Germany in the 1920's and 30's about Jewish people, resulted in the mass murder of over one million Jewish people.  The killing did not stop there.

If we are to seek peace and justice among all people and uphold the dignity of every human person without exception as our Baptismal Covenant calls us to: then we might want to think a bit more carefully about the little things we say and/or do.  At the same time, striving to b  faithful in the little things that help build up each other, while we support one another has the power to build and rebuild the Reign of our loving God anywhere it can reach.  Imagine what a better world we would have if we all said a little more good things to one another.  It just might be the best conversation we ever had.

What could you do a little more of to make a bigger difference in the world?



Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to
love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among
things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall
endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  (Proper 20.  The Book of Common Prayer. p. 234).

Almighty God, who created us in your image: Grant us
grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace
with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom,
help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our
communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy
Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.  (Prayer for Social Justice.  The Book of Common Prayer, p.260).

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost: Proper 19: Everyone Is Welcome to This Table

Exodus 32:7-14 (NRSV)

The Lord said to Moses, "Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, `These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'" The Lord said to Moses, "I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation."

But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, "O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, `It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, `I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'" And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

Psalm 51 (BCP., p.656)

1 Timothy 1:12-17 (NRSV)

 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-- of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Luke 15: 1-10 (NRSV)

All the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."

So he told them this parable: "Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

"Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, `Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Blog Reflection

The opportunity to share a meal with someone means a lot more than just eating.  We live in a time and society in which the important thing is to sit and eat.  If you are working, you eat your lunch as quickly as you can.  Sometimes you are fortunate to have an actual lunch break.  Other times, you may be someone who works through lunch.  Eating and working at the same time.

One of the downfalls of the electronic age of the internet, iPhones, Androids, television, iPads, etc, is that we communicate with individuals far and near.  Sometimes during meals.  I am embarrassed to say that I am all too often pulled in to doing this too.  As John Michael Talbot wrote in The Universal Monk, "We talk more in our time, but communicate less."  

When we actually sit with others (family, friends, church communities, etc) to break bread, enjoy a refreshing drink and share in good conversation; we are engaging in community living.  No longer is it just us vs. them.  In eating and drinking with others, we share what we are receiving with those who have grown, prepared and made what we are eating and drinking possible.  We are also sharing our lives and hearts with those we are eating with.

Those questioning what Jesus is doing in today's Gospel, are worried about what kind of people He is sharing the dinner table with.  They feel that there must be some kind of litmus test as to who should be seated at Jesus' table with Him and the communities that are gathering around Him.  What Jesus is doing here, is welcoming all who come to the table without labeling, stereotyping, and excluding.  The behavior of those whom Jesus has invited, might be questionable by others standards.  Jesus is not interested in standards.  Jesus came as God among us, to make a place at the table for anyone who wants to come and eat.  Jesus offers them and us in this Gospel to come as we are to find refuge and rest in God's gift of salvation with no pretenses or requirements other than to come and eat.  His happiness and the joy of Heaven is that people who often wondered if there was a place in God's loving Presence for them, find that they are warmly and eagerly welcomed.

The image of a table can also be symbolic of other opportunities to share with others who are different from ourselves.  Over these past few weeks we have been reading and hearing about the efforts to help the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota.  The potential for a pollution disaster is enormous.   Our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry calls on us to think carefully about what clean water means to all of us; and our commitment to be good stewards of this vital resource.

At the heart of this debate and issue, is the dignity of all human persons.  All too long Americans and the Church have failed to regard the Native Americans with respect and dignity.  Yet, this matter has brought together Americans from all walks of life, faiths to protect the Standing Rock Tribe's lands and rights. 

Jesus invites all of us regardless of the labels and situations in our lives to come to him and share at His table.  The Eucharist is where we share in the Goodness of God as the Real Presence of Christ is given to us in the Bread and Wine of Holy Communion.  As God is the Creator and Giver of all that is good, our sharing in the Sacrament of Christ's Presence, is a sharing God's extravagant love with one another.  

Will you accept Jesus' invitation to come to His table?

Will you help welcome others to Jesus' table?



O God, because without you we are not able to please you,
mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct
and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and
for ever. Amen.  (Proper 19.  The Book of Common Prayer, p. 233).

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen. (Prayer for the Human Family.  The Book of Common Prayer, p.815).

Thursday, August 25, 2016

An Update on My Monastic Journey

August 25, 2016

I am sure all of my regular and irregular readers of my blog (s) have been wondering why I have not written in close to a month now.  There are individuals who are friends on my Facebook timeline and in the groups I manage who must have been wondering why I have not posted updates on my formation journey with the Companions of St. Luke/Order of Saint Benedict in a very long time.  In this blog post, I am going to answer some of those concerns and/or questions.

As many of you may know, my mother passed away on November 22, 2015 after a brief illness due to vascular dementia.   Before I got the opportunity to fully grieve and heal from the loss of my mother, unfortunately the CSL decided that I was not to continue my formation with them.  The manner in which they handled giving me the news was not done very well, and was very painful.  As part of their handling my dismissal, they “asked” me to resign so that I could save myself the embarrassment of having a dismissal on my record within The Episcopal Church that a Religious Community had dismissed me.  Therefore, I did resign.   I have to be very vague in telling others why I was asked to resign.  In short, it had to do with the Communities’ inability to deal with the many challenges I have due to Asperger’s and my other mental illness issues.   The request to resign took place on March 4th, 2016 in the presence of one of my psycho therapists.  

The matter with what happened with the CSL Community left me very hurt, angry, and confused.  I have been working through the very painful grief of having lost the Community that I had grown to love so much.  It is very much akin to breaking up with someone you are dating.  The only difference is that it was the breaking up of a relationship with many people, not just one.  As part of my grief therapy and journey towards some kind of healing, I have had to cut ties with all members of the Community as was suggested by my therapists to help with the healing.   During the few months since I resigned, I have been facing feelings and emotions from all directions.  Among them are fear, anger, failure, betrayal, sadness, being lost, being completely worn out and more.  

One of the things I decided as I wrote and sent in my resignation, was that my name Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB along with my Benedictine identity, habit, etc was and is my identity.  Even though I no longer have that identity according to the CSL, I am keeping the identity, because I feel that God gave me the identity (yes through the former Abbot of the CSL at the time), and that the CSL cannot take that identity from me and my life.  They cannot take it as my identity among those who have come to know me that way, and I am free to live into that identity for as long as God gives me breath.  

The Rule of Saint Benedict has been adapted to just about every form of life throughout the centuries since it was written.   Since the dismissal, I have chosen to live what The Rule of Saint Benedict means for me as a solitary Monastic.   I have also given some thought to creating a new dispersed Benedictine Community under the name of The Contemplatives of Subiaco/The Order of Saint Benedict.  It would be a very contemplative community with a strong social justice as part of our outreach work.  I have drafted a customary that would be used to begin the Community.  I want to call others to consider becoming members of the Community, be supporters of the Community either in prayer, time or financial contributors to the creation of the Community.  I need help to make it happen.  If you are interested in helping me, I would welcome your help.  

I very much intend to remain part of The Episcopal Church and support our work of ministry.  In time, I will want the community to become a Christian Community in The Episcopal Church.  I will be talking with Priests and others about how this work is to be done.

My husband Jason and I thank you for your continued prayers and support during my formation process.  Whether a Novice or a Solemn Professed member of any Community; formation is a life-long endeavor of faith, trust and commitment to personal growth and renewal. 

I plan to begin writing blog posts on Br. Anselm Philip’s Many Thoughts until the Feast of Christ the King on Sunday, November 20th, 2016.  I will continue to write blogs in Simple Reflections for Deeper Spiritual Life during and after I discontinue my original blog.  I plan to begin writing again on Sunday, September 11, 2016.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Fifth Sunday After Pentecost: Proper 7: Orlando, Prayer and Action

Today's Scripture Reading

1 Kings 19: 1-4, 8-15a

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow." Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there.

But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.  He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He answered, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away."

He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He answered, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away." Then the Lord said to him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus."

Blog Reflection

The horrifying and sad events of what took place in Orlando, Florida last weekend has left us all quite depressed, frightened and shaken.  The news that one gun user was able to enter a gay nightclub with an AR-15 rifle and gunned down 50+ people, killing 56 (I do not know if this number is completely correct, but I believe I am close) has gripped us all.  If the news of what happened has not left us feeling hopeless enough; the political commentary along with the usual no further action other than "thoughts and prayers for everyone killed or injured" from elected officials and church leaders can only drive us into a deeper despair. 

The inequality for LGBT people, Latinos and other minorities continues to challenge the heart of what being an Episcopalian and Christian is about.  The further work to use the attack that took place to slander Muslims and/or divide people against one another; leads us into more problems than working towards solutions.   

Among these and many other matters is the question of how can we send a strong but gentle message that resorting to violence and hate to solve our problems is the heart of what we are confronted with here?

This morning I listened to a wonderful radio commentary about the events in Orlando, Florida on State of the Belief Radio.  The program is entitled, "In the Wake of Orlando."   As part of the program, Bishop Gene Robinson remarked about how in Christianity, Judaism and Islam we have hate messages towards LGBT people written into our most our most Sacred Texts.  Those texts are the fuel for the ammunition of hate and violence when used to encourage LGBT people to hate themselves.  They are used carelessly and recklessly to rouse up a militant response to those they condemn.  Is it any wonder why LGBTQ people are just so turned off by any form of organized religion?   What can those of us who know the loving mercy of our God who loves every person for who they are, do to "uphold the dignity of every human being"?

I am using only the text from 1 Kings today, because I think it makes an important point.   

God is in the midst of chaos and turmoil.  God is not absent from what is happening in the midst of the grief and sadness of what happened in Orlando; just as God was present to Elijah.  

Elijah had an appointment with God.  Elijah had the worst coming at him with still worse more to eventually arrive.  God wanted to speak with him.  God may have moved in the wind, earthquake and fire; but the fullness of God for Elijah was not in those.  God was in the midst of a silence through which God spoke clearly, drawing Elijah into a gentle, yet convincing way as to what God wanted Elijah to do.   It helped him find the path that God wanted for his life; and he gained the courage and faith to go in the way God planned for him.

If we are to find our way from the violence, hate and disarray in the world, the Church and for a society of peace, justice and equality for all people; we must begin with listening to what God is saying through all of life.  Even the chaos, confusion and screaming that seems to drown all other voices out.  In the midst of what is happening, we must return to that "peace which is beyond all understanding", and know in our hearts the love of God in the Person of Jesus Christ for us and for every person.   We must live into what that love means for each of us, and base our actions moving forward from this tragedy to find the path that God would take us on.  And we must understand that violence of any kind is never the will of God.  Yet, as with the terrible tragedy of what happened on Good Friday came the glorious celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Day; so we must in faith and trust move forward to all the good things God will do in this and every tragedy we encounter.

Peace be unto all who enter here.



O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your
holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom
you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  (Proper 7, The Book of Common Prayer, p.230).

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.  (Prayer for the Human Family, The Book of Common Prayer, p.815).

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn
but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the
strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that
all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of
Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and
glory, now and for ever. Amen. (Prayer for Peace, The Book of Common Prayer, p.815).

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Third Sunday After Pentecost: Proper 5: When Two Parades Cross Each Other

Today's Scripture Readings

1 Kings 17:17-24 (NRSV)

The son of the woman, the mistress of the house at Zarephath, became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. She then said to Elijah, "What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!" But he said to her, "Give me your son." He took him from her bosom, carried him up into the upper chamber where he was lodging, and laid him on his own bed. He cried out to the Lord, "O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I am staying, by killing her son?" Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried out to the Lord, "O Lord my God, let this child's life come into him again." The Lord listened to the voice of Elijah; the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. Elijah took the child, brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and gave him to his mother; then Elijah said, "See, your son is alive." So the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth."

Psalm 30  (BCP., p.621)

Galatians 1:11-24 (NRSV)

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.

Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord's brother. In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie! Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; they only heard it said, "The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy." And they glorified God because of me.

Luke 7:11-17 (NRSV)

Soon after healing the centurion's slave, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother's only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us!" and "God has looked favorably on his people!" This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

Blog Reflection

Everyone loves a good parade.  They can be festive or sorrowful.  June is the official month for pride celebrations.  There will be festivals, parades, concerts, parties of all kinds to celebrate our diversity as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning people.  Those celebrations will no doubt have their share of Christian fundamentalists out there quoting Scriptures and/or passing out Bibles. 

Jesus in today's Gospel Narrative, is being followed by those who saw and/or heard about Him healing the Centurion's slave.  This is only one parade that is taking place.  When Jesus healed the Centurion's slave, He stepped outside of the traditions of His time.  The Romans were considered Gentiles.  What is more, the Centurion was a guard for the empire that was bringing so much oppression to the People of Israel at the time.  So, Jesus healed the slave of a man who is the enemy.  Yet, here He is being followed by people who are just amazed at what Jesus can do.

There is another parade happening at the same time.  A woman who's only son has died.  The disgrace that would fall upon his mother as not only a widow, but now a motherless child would be cruel beyond description.

What happened when the two parades crossed each others path?   Jesus resuscitated the son and freed his mother from the fate that awaited her.  Just as Jesus had done with the Centurion's slave, He does for the widow and her son.  He saw beyond labels and cultural norms to see the dignity of each person and set them free to be who they are to the fullest of possibilities.  What was most important to Jesus was the person and including them into the community of God's people with healing and reconciliation.

We are seeing many parades colliding these days.  The presidential candidates of all parties are competing for the hearts and minds of Americans as to who can better lead the country forward.  One of them is popular by way of his wealth, fame and words that hurt and divide.  One is a woman dedicated to her country and those who are seeking opportunities to strive for a better way of life.  Another is a man who has throughout his political career stood on the side of workers, health care, seeking to address economic inequality and climate change.

In the debate about what gender can use what bathroom is the commonly accepted stereotypes such genders are to represent.  One's genitals, not one's need to relieve themselves of human waste are at the center of a debate of how things have always been (whether a good thing or not), and how things can change for the better.

Christians continue to lead parades that collide with each other over doctrine, how to interpret the Bible, women's issues, human sexuality, political affiliation the actual separation of church and state and more.

In the middle of all of these is the dignity of every human person that is at stake.  Will wealth and power determine who gets more than their share vs. "those" who are barely able to afford a studio apartment to live in?  Will the issues that continue to promote inequality over race, and out of control gun violence be addressed so that all can live in peace?  What does it take for people to rise up and be active in making efforts towards a better church and society for all people?

Jesus' actions and words in our Gospel today, provide us with some things to think about.  If we are going to see a difference in the world around us; we must begin by seeing clearly what is inside each of us that keeps us from loving God, our neighbor and ourselves with sincerity of heart.  We must ask the Holy Spirit to help us see Jesus in the marginalized and oppressed, so that we will meet Him and help Him to find healing and reconciliation in a world torn by violence, hate and cultural status.  We may even have to allow the Spirit to show us what is beyond our own beliefs, practices and traditions so that we may be led forward with a new appreciation for the presence of Jesus in those who are different from ourselves.

What might God be calling you to do when you see two parades cross each others paths?



O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your
inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by
your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our
Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.  (The Book of Common Prayer, p.229).

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.  (The Book of Common Prayer, p.815).

Saturday, May 21, 2016

First Sunday After Pentecost: Trinity Sunday: It Is About Relationships

Today's Scripture Readings

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 (NRSV)

Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
"To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.
The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth--
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world's first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race."

Canticle 13 (The Book of Common Prayer, p.90).

Romans 5:1-5 (NRSV)

Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

John 16:12-15 (NRSV)

Jesus said to the disciples, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you."

Blog Reflection

I recently had an experience on Facebook.  

Among the many posts that are appear on my feed from time to time are written to say things like, "If you love me, please copy and past this message in your status and post it.  I bet most of you won't.  If you do copy and post this message as I have asked, I will know that you love me."

I really do not like posts such as that.  Among my many reasons is that it encourages us to type and post something like that on Facebook than it is to say such things in person.  I also feel that such posts are suggestive of manipulating readers to say what the author whats to hear, rather than giving the other person the option to say something on their own.  Lastly, they often make me wonder about the genuineness of the original writer of the post and those who copy, paste and repost them.   Is it just to get it out of the way?  Is it real and heart felt?   Do we really know?   I am not so sure, nor can I be.  This is why I tend not to copy and paste them.  I will sometimes write the individual a private message to say it for real to the other person, or simply not pay much attention.

This past week, I did a whole 80 degree turn on one particular post.  The post read, "If you call yourself my family hit the like button and copy this on your status and when I see your name I'll know who my real family is, blood or not... Here we go!!😀"  Why I chose to pay attention to his and have opinions and ignore the others is as much a mystery to me as it is to you.  Well, I copied and pasted the message.  I got many really nice comments to the post on my own timeline.  One individual was quick-witted  enough to make a comment about how he does not copy and past such things followed by an emoticon with a winking eye.  My response to him was that I agreed and understood, but that this was one of those moments when I decided to do differently.  Then came one comment by someone I have rubbed shoulders with on any number of occasions.  The individual held nothing against me, but simply told me that she considers me part of her family.   Well, let me just say that that response put this Benedictine in my place as to how much I have to learn about humility.  It also provided me with an opportunity to do some genuine but tearful reconciliation with the other individual.  Something I did that was different than what I would normally do, became a catalyst for the Holy Spirit to bring about some forgiveness, healing and reconciliation for both of us.  It is something that I cannot adequately put into words, nor completely understand.  I can only write the experience of what happened; then hope that others understand what I am writing.

The great mystery of the Holy Trinity can be talked about, but can never be explained adequately or logically.  The Trinity of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit; or Mother, Child and Comforter or any other name is simply beyond our human limitations.  They are also incomplete and inadequate names.  We celebrate this great mystery every time we celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism.  The Priest and congregants make the sign of the Cross with the Name of the Persons of the Trinity at various points in our worship.  Theologians of the past, present and undoubtedly in the future will write books, internet presentations, and just like me; write blog posts to meditate on this incredible part of our faith.  There are those who believe in the Trinity and what it means.  There are those who are not so sure.  Still, there are others who just do not and cannot believe in such a strange concept as one God in Three Persons.

There is one matter about the Trinity that is not written about anywhere near as much.  The Holy Trinity is more about relationships than it is about theology.   It is more about how God relates to God's Self and everyone of us.  As with many pieces of our Christian Faith which we confess in our many creeds and prayers, if we do not live into those mysteries with love and compassion for each other, the Trinity is just hogwash talk.  It is the ministry and mission of Christians to bring forth the presence of God the Holy Trinity, by living in reverence and consciousness of God's presence on others who are different from ourselves.

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit "will lead you into all truth."  Jesus did not say that we would be given a truth that is once for all, stagnant and ever left in Church History and ancient Tradition.  Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit will (and does) lead us beyond our intellectual or theological dogmas, to a living reality of the God-Head present in every place and every person we encounter.  Each place, culture, person will show us a different view of God that we never understood before.  Every opportunity whether it coincides with our status quo or planned steps or not; is a moment for the Holy Trinity to live God's full reality as we allow ourselves to be led into one truth and another.

In recent weeks and days, our media is inundated with the debate about who should use which public restroom based on one's gender identity/expression.  The debate and those using transgender people as their scapegoat to demean and denigrate them; is based on ignorance and fear.   The news that one Christianist organization has been sending men into a women's restroom to help create a fear about sexual assault is just outrageously wrong.  It is fear mongering and the invasion of a transgender person's dignity, simply to make a statement as to what genitalia should be relieving themselves in what restroom. 

Honestly, do we really think the Triune God cares that much about such things?  I think the Holy Trinity is more interested in what we are saying about God when we marginalize and stereotype any person by the way of spiritual malpractice and doctrinal abuse.  Is it any wonder why people shrug their shoulders at any form of organized religion?

Maybe as we meditate on who God is in the Holy Trinity and how God is moving on our hearts with regards to our relationships with each other, we might discover our true selves.  Perhaps we might hear the Holy Spirit leading us into new truths that we would have never thought about before.  Maybe, just maybe we might receive the Holy Spirit's conversion in our hearts to learn to live into the Mystery of the Triune God-Head and make God known by love and compassion.  Maybe, the world would be a better place, and Christians will give Jesus Christ a good Name.

What do you hear the Holy Trinity saying to you?



Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us
your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to
acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the
power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep
us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to
see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with
the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen.  (The Book of Common Prayer, p.228).

Almighty God, you have revealed to your Church your eternal
Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in
Trinity of Persons: Give us grace to continue steadfast in the
confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of you,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for you live and reign, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.  (The Book of Common Prayer, p.251).

Almighty Father, whose blessed Son before his passion prayed
for his disciples that they might be one, as you and he are one:
Grant that your Church, being bound together in love and
obedience to you, may be united in one body by the one Spirit,
that the world may believe in him whom you have sent, your
Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in
the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.  (The Book of Common Prayer, p.255).