Shortly before Thanksgiving, I was involved in a car accident. An accident involving my bright yellow Chevy Aveo, Tweedy Bird. I am fine, the car was totaled. My insurance company decided that the cost to fix the car was more than the car was worth. To make it more insulting, the last payment on the car was made in December. So, I was a proud owner of a car not worthy of being repaired.
As I began to look around for another vehicle, purchased using the insurance check, I realized that a lot of me was linked to that bright yellow Aveo. The thought of purchasing a white, or black, brown, or black car really was making me ill.
The positive? Another chevy Aveo, a year younger with 30,000 less miles on it. I am now the owner of this car, without a sun roof, but with cruise control, something I wished I had on the old Tweedy. So, now I am riding in Tweedy Two.
The downside is that I had to finance this vehicle, even if for only 3 years. Not enough received as cash from the insurance needed to purchase another car. Since moving to the cash basis of living, I had been welcoming the thought of one less debt. Instead, though the debt is less, it is still there.
The positive? Since I had to finance a minimum amount, I was able to use the balance of the insurance check to make needed repairs to my house, pay down other debt and make last minute contributions.
The weather for the last Sunday in Advent was snowy. In fact, by the end of the day, 16 inches had fallen in my part of Delaware. I had traveled out twice the previous day, and felt that coming into church would not be a problem. That said, I did not check the website to learn that services had actually been canceled. Upon arriving, I realized that not many were in the parking lot. In fact, counting the two priests, the acolyte and myself, there were four in church.
The positive? Sitting together directly around the altar. A feeling of how the early Christians must have observed communion. The sermon, interactive, speaking directly to each other. What a gift. The bad weather continued and this gift presented itself again on Christmas morning.
The Disciple Study Group that I am a part of has had a profound affect on my way of thinking. Reviewing the history of the Jews and their relationship with God, has me understanding that God's answers to problems or crisis do not sometimes happen at that moment. I am learning to wait and see.
Hopefully, not the normal waiting period of 40 years.
There is a phrase in the Books of Esther and Jonah, "Who Knows?"
"Who Knows" when your answer will come.
Am I willing to accept that no answer is an answer?
Am I willing to accept the possibility that the answer is not something I have thought of?
Am I willing to accept that God could take away something that means so much to me only to replace it with something better?
Are we willing to accept the pain of heartache and loss and live into the hope of something new?
This video reads the exact opposite backwards as forward.
This is only a 1 minute, 44 second video and it is brilliant.
Make sure you read as well as listen...forward and backward.
This is a video that was submitted in a contest by a 20-year old. The contest was titled "u @ 5 0" by AARP.
This video won second place.
When they showed it, everyone in the room was awe-struck and broke into spontaneous applause.
So simple and yet so brilliant. Take a minute and watch it.
Once upon a time a tortoise and a hare had an argument about who was faster. They decided to settle the argument with a race. They agreed on a route and started off the race.
The hare shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the tortoise, he thought he'd sit under a tree for some time and relax before continuing the race. He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep. The tortoise plodding on overtook him and soon finished the race, emerging as the undisputed champ. The hare woke up and realized that he'd lost the race.
The moral of the story is that slow and steady wins the race.
This is the version of the story that we've all grown up with. But then recently, someone told me a more interesting version of this story. It continues.
The hare was disappointed at losing the race and he did some soul-searching. He realized that he'd lost the race only because he had been over confident, careless and relaxed.
If he had not taken things for granted, there's no way the tortoise could have beaten him. So he challenged the tortoise to another race. The tortoise agreed. This time, the hare went all out and ran without stopping from start to finish. He won by several miles.
The moral of the story ? Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady.
If you have two people in your organization, one slow, methodical and reliable, and the other fast and still reliable at what he does, the fast and reliable chap will consistently climb the organizational ladder faster than the slow, methodical chap.
It's good to be slow and steady; but it's better to be fast and reliable.
But the story doesn't end here. The tortoise did some thinking this time, and realized that there's no way he can beat the hare in a race the way it was currently formatted. He thought for a while, and then challenged the hare to another race, but on a slightly different route. The hare agreed. They started off. In keeping with his self-made commitment to be consistently fast, the hare took off and ran at top speed until he came to a broad river. The finishing line was a couple of kilometers on the other side of the river .The hare sat there wondering what to do.
In the meantime the tortoise trundled along, got into the river, swam to the opposite bank, continued walking and finished the race.
The moral of the story? First identify your core competency and then change the playing field to suit your core competency.
In an organization, if you are a good speaker, make sure you create opportunities to give presentations that enable the senior management to notice you. If your strength is analysis, make sure you do some sort of research, make report and send it upstairs. Working to your strengths will not only get you noticed, but will also create opportunities for growth and advancement.
The story still hasn't ended. The hare and the tortoise, by this time, had become pretty good friends and they did some thinking together. Both realized that the last race could have been run much better.
So they decided to do the last race again, but to run as a team this time. They started off, and this time the hare carried the tortoise till the river bank. There, the tortoise took over and swam across with the hare on his back. On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they reached the finishing line together. They both felt a greater sense of satisfaction than they'd felt earlier.
The moral of the story? It's good to be individually brilliant and to have strong core competencies; but unless you're able to work in a team and harness each other's core competencies, you'll always perform below par because there will always be situations at which you'll do poorly and someone else does well.
Teamwork is mainly about situational leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a situation take leadership.
There are more lessons to be learned from this story.
Note that neither the hare nor the tortoise gave up after failures.
The hare decided to work harder and put in more effort after his failure.
The tortoise changed his strategy because he was already working as hard as he could. In life, when faced with failure, sometimes it is appropriate to work harder and put in more effort. Sometimes it is appropriate to change strategy and try something different. And sometimes it is appropriate to do both. The hare and the tortoise also learned another vital lesson. When we stop competing against a rival and instead start competing against the situation, we perform far better.
Here is the story of the Real Life Tortoise and Hare.
When Roberto Goizueta took over as CEO of Coca-Cola in the 1980s, he was faced with intense competition from Pepsi that was eating into Coke's growth. His executives were Pepsi - focused and intent on increasing market share 0.1 per cent a time.
Goizueta decided to stop competing against Pepsi and instead compete against the situation of 0.1 per cent growth. He asked his executives what was the average fluid intake of an American per day? The answer was 14ounces.
What was Coke's share of that? Two ounces.
Goizueta said Coke needed a larger share of that market. The competitor wasn't Pepsi. It was the water, tea, coffee, milk and fruit juices that went into the remaining 12 ounces. The public should reach for a Coke whenever they felt like drinking something.
To this end, Coke put up vending machines at every street corner. Sales took a quantum jump and Pepsi has never quite caught up since.
To sum up, the story of the hare and tortoise teaches us many things. Chief among them are :
That fast and consistent will always beat slow and steady;
Work to your competencies;
Pooling resources and working as a team will always beat individual performers;
Never give up when faced with failure; and,
Finally, compete against the situation - not against a rival.
I remembered grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins coming to visit. I remember the Macy's Day Thanksgiving parade. I remember getting to decorate the house, inside and out following that Thursday. I remember Thanksgiving Day church services and singing songs we only sang once a year, such as Now Thank We All Our God and We Gather Together.
We Gather Together was written in the Netherlands in 1597 by Adrianus Valerius to celebrate the Dutch victory over the Spanish forces in the Battle of Turnhout.
Now Thank We All Our God was written by Lutheran minister, Martin Rinkart, around 1636. Rev. Rinkart had moved to Eilenburg, Saxony at the beginning of The Thirty Years War (1618-1648). The war started out as a conflict between Protestants and Catholics and Eilenburg became a refuge for political and military fugitives. Massive over crowding led to pestilence and famine. The song was song and used as grace at the Battle of Westfalia in 1648.
Today, my family is scattered or passed on, so I celebrated with my daughter, her boyfriend and his little boy. My sister travels to her husbands family in Daytona Beach. My step-father celebrates with his sister-in-law in Fort Myers.
Kathryn, Matt and Nicholas were not interested in watching the parade. Too much commentary has been interspersed with the floats and marching bands.
Church services are now mostly preceding Thanksgiving Day and usually ecumenical. (A Good Thing.)
The meal became a shared experienced. I shopped, Kathryn cooked and Matt? Well, Matt and Nicholas hung out together. Kathryn is an excellent cook and loves to do it.
Thanks be to God.
Football games have become a tradition on Thanksgiving, but I am not interested in football, so I spent my time digging out the Christmas decorations, giving thanks for no rain.
On Wednesday, I awoke not even a little sore following a car accident that I had Tuesday evening heading to church. My little yellow car, Tweedy, cannot say the same thing. Her front is smashed in, hopefully not too bad to be fixed, since my last car loan payment is made this month. I am driving, until 3 PM, a pick-up truck.
I am thankful to be safe, to have had car insurance, and to be in a vehicle to drive.
I am sitting in Borders, using it as a free internet cafe. No longer do I have to pay $5 for about two hours of internet access. I still find it much better to get computer work completed out of the house.
So, I am thankful for this warm, dry space, that connects me to my friends, FREE.
I am thankful for having a job this season, considering all those that do not. And, I am especially thankful for working for the people of God at the Bishop's office for the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware. And, thankful for all those I work with day by day.
I am thankful for my good health, remembering those who do not.
I am thankful for having a roof over my head and that it is large enough to provide shelter to Kathryn, Matt and Chris.
I am thankful for my family at Sts. Andrew and Matthew, a place and community that nourishes my faith and pushes my limits in my mission.
I am thankful for the Disciple Bible Study group, a new community that meets every Tuesday evening.
I am thankful for my continued mission to and for the people of Sudan. I am grateful for having God provide an extension of my ministry by providing me with serving on the Board of AFRECS (American Friends of the Episcopal Church in Sudan.)
For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve, we thank you Lord.
Now Thank We All Our God (lyrics)
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
Reconcile our hearts to one another across all boundaries, that human diversity may be experienced as enrichment, and differences honored as leading to wiser action.
Sensitize the governments of the world to the folly of violent conquest, that has led all of history's adventures in empire to ultimate decadence and demise. And teach all who aspire to leadership of nations the enduring wisdom of collaboration and servant-hood.
Strengthen the movement for nonviolence that has emerged in our time, that human ingenuity may be turned to the preservation of the earth, and that our economies be reordered to the urgent needs of the human family.
Kindle in each of us a resolve to dismantle our own private arsenals of violence: our greed and thanklessness, our rage and grievances, our hatreds and all our shifting of blame.
Enliven the faith communities of the world with a rebirth of welcome for all sorts and conditions of humanity, moving us to reorder our lives and our loves to such simplicity and goodwill as to preserve the earth and make for peace.
Here are some of the phrases that I wrote down listening to Mark.
Jesus Lived Simply, Loved Well and walked in the Garden with his friends. So, take the Garden seriously.
Everything we need for paradise has been given to us now in creation.
In ancient Persia, paradise was described as a lush walled garden. Eden.
Eden, the paradise that God provided so that he could walk unfettered with his friends.
Humans are basically large mouths seeking to devour everything.
The human family lives on the promise of hope.
Live simply so that others can simply live.
This is an out flow of overseeing Human Resources for the Diocese of Delaware. I have included lots of useful links, and will be posting articles.
Do you have a topic you want to see addressed? Let me know.
In the meantime, enjoy.
Fort Hood Shooting: Compassion First, Questions Second
Friday November 6, 2009
Categories: News, Politics, Religion
With 13 dead, 30 wounded and an Army psychiatrist who shouted 'Allahu Akbar' as he opened fire on them, we must do three things: first, most importantly, we must care for the injured, support their families, and comfort the mourners. Second, we must fight all efforts to use this tragedy to cast aspersions upon an entire tradition and all of its followers. And third, we, and more importantly those followers, must ask probing questions about the relationship between the faith which the shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, followed and the actions which he took.
The human issues really are job one. And the test of that commitment will be in the way which people not only reach out to the families of the victims, but also to the Hasan family as well. They too, by all accounts, are victims. There is no evidence that they supported Maj. Hasan in his terrorist attack, and they are among the most vulnerable to any potential backlash which may occur. While the military and the FBI will certainly continue to investigate all aspects of this case, including Hasan's family, until we know otherwise, they too deserve our compassion and concern.
We must also resist the temptation to extrapolate from this act and the role which faith seemed to play in it, to the effects of that faith in general. Ironically, those who will use this event to disparage all Muslims or Islam in general, even to the point of violence, will prove themselves no different from those they oppose. In fact, they will prove how much they share with Mr. Hasan. Such generalized hatred is precisely the animating approach of anyone who opens fire on a collection of individuals who pose them no immediate threat.
All this having been said however, when a man commits mass murder and shouts 'God is great' as he does so, hard questions must be asked. And the place they must be asked the most, is where they seemed to be asked least i.e. the community from which the murderer came. It's not enough to say that this was the work of a lone madman, or that this "has nothing to do with Islam". None of us operates in a vacuum and clearly for Maj. Hasan it did.
Collective guilt is never appropriate, but collective responsibility always is. In fact, it is the hallmark of any ethical community. Today is Friday, the Muslim Sabbath, and in every Mosque across this nation communities will come together. I wonder what sermons will be preached.
Will they simply be calls for understanding, condemnations of the murder without any soul-searching about the culture of the murderer, or will there be Muslim leaders with the courage to mourn publically the fact that once again Americans are burying their dead, people who died hearing 'Allahu Akbar' as they did so? I wonder.
I do know that if the rest of us do not play our part by taking care of steps one and two, there is no possibility of Muslims taking care of step three. We all have work ahead of us, today and in the weeks ahead, in order to both heal and help assure that such tragedies never occur in the future. I hope that we settle down, overcome our respective fears, take real responsibility, and do that much needed work. So much for an easy weekend, whether in Fort Hood or across the nation.
I take refuge in God, and so should you!!!!!
Mark cautioned us, Episcopalians, to be careful about speaking for the Whole Human Family. Why?
There are roughly 7 Billion of us in the Human Family.
There are roughly 2 Billion "Christians."
There are roughly 70 Million Anglicans, and 3% of them are Episcopalians.
Do the math.
Mark had requested that an excerpt from the play Paradise Now, performed in the 1960's at The Living Theatre in NYC.
Founded in 1947 as an imaginative alternative to the commercial theater by Judith Malina, the German-born student of Erwin Piscator, and Julian Beck, an abstract expressionist painter of the New York School, The Living Theatre has staged nearly a hundred productions performed in eight languages in 28 countries on five continents - a unique body of work that has influenced theater the world over. Find more information about the Living Theatre at www.livingtheatre.org Here is a picture of their production of Frankenstein.
In Paradise Now, there are numerous actors on the stage one of which has the part of a pole, around which all the other actors revolve, similar to a solar system, each actor representing a part of the human family. Each actor does not memorize text but responds to questions or stimuli. At times members of the audience become entwined in the action.
So here is the question: What do you want? Simple, right?
Here are some of the responses:
To make the world glow with creation. To make life irresistible.
To feed all the people. To change the demonic forces into the celestial.
To remove the causes of violence. To do useful work.
To work for the love of it and not for the money. To live without the police.
To change myself. To get rid of the class system.
To re-invent love. To make each moment creative.
To be free of the force of the State. To be free to create.
To get rid of a life of material greed.
To free all the energy wasted in financial transactions.
To cut all the bureaucratic wasted time out of life.
To free humanity from armies.
To stop distorting the mind of the people.
To stop crippling the human body with frustration.
To learn how to breathe. To live longer than we do.
To supply what we need. To seek what we desire.
To stop wasting the planet. To stop dying of competition.
To break down the walls that alienate.
To get to know God in all of God's madness.
To make the destination clear.
At this point the pole asks... What is the destination?
The actors spell out ANARCHISM. The pole asks... What is anarchism?
The actors respond.. PARADISE, and then continue chanting Now, Now, Now...
Every year beginning in October, my church the Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew and Matthew in Wilmington DE, celebrates the Season of Creation for seven Sundays. Each week the theme is different, the music is different and the readings are different.
This past Sunday the theme was The Planet Earth and second reading was from the 1854 Treaty Oration of Chief Seattle. The next paragraph is from the Home page of the website devoted to Chief Seattle , www.chiefseattle.com.
Although we call him “Chief” Seattle, there were no hereditary chiefs among the Puget Sound Indians. Strong leaders arose in each village from time to time who, distinguishing themselves by the actions or particular skills, were respected and followed. For instance, there were fishing leaders, peacetime leaders, and leaders in times of crisis. Chief Seattle was one of those. In addition to his leadership skills and his ability to understand what the white settler's intentions were, he was also a noted orator in his native language. At the presentation of the treaty proposals in 1854, Chief Seattle delivered a magnificent speech, which is widely remembered today. It is the speech of a man who has seen his world turned upside down in his own lifetime: as a boy, he had seen Vancouver’s ships, and when he died the treaty protests were still going on.Here is an excerpt from his oration:
Every part of this earth is sacred to my people.
Every shiny pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect
All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.
We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood the courses through our veins. We are a part of the earth and it is part of us.
The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers.
The rocky crests, the juices in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and humanity, all belong to the same family.
The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children.
So you must give to the rivers the kindness you would give to any brother.
The air is very precious to us, the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his firs breath, also receives his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life.
Will you teach your children what we have taught our children?
That the earth is our mother?
The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth.
All things are connected like the blood that unites us all.
Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
We ended with this prayer.
O Loving Creator, you have nourished us from the grain and from the vine, the bread and cup of Christ: Now send us forth prompted by your Spirit to listen for the Earth's many cries for justice, and to stand with you in the world as instruments for the healing of our planet: we pray in Christ's most sacred name.
Second, I love having a connection with Islam through this man.
Third, I love seeing the arab language written. I wish that I could do so.
So, here is what he sent me.
Assakamualaikum. (May Peace be upon you)
I came across this beautiful succinct advice of the great companion of the
Messenger (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) and the third Caliph of Islam, 'Ali
(Radiallahu 'anh). Let us spend some moments extracting the underlying
wisdom this statement offers:
*لا تخف إلا ذنبك ، ولا ترج إلا ربك ، ولا يستحي الذي لا يعلم أن يسأل حتى يعلم
، ولا يستحي من يسأل عما لا يعلم أن يقول : لا أعلم.*
*"Don't fear (anything) except your sin, and don't desire (anything) except
your Lord (Rabb). Let not the one, who doesn't know, feel shy to ask (about
it) till he comes to know it. And let not the one, who is asked about
something he doesn't know, feel shy to say : I don't know." *
2/55. Excerpted from "Risalatul-Mustarshidin" of Abu al-Harith al-Muhasibi]
May Allah bless us all.
And from me, Peace, Shalom, Salam.
It is very cold in Delaware and further north it is colder still. Watching TV and seeing baseball players in earmuff hats and head warmers is really strange. Keith Olberman's blog at www.mlb.com comments on the effect this has on the players.
Are mittens far behind?
A little over a week ago, I was elected to the Board of AFRECS, the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan. You can now link to their website from my blog. I think you will be amazed at the connections Episcopalians have with their sisters and brothers in Sudan.
(Yankees up by one.)
I cannot begin to describe what an honor this is for me. What God has given me by introducing me to Sudan is unexplainable.
The American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, founded in 2005, is a network of individuals, churches, dioceses, and other organizations that seeks to focus attention on the needs and priorities of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) and enable American friends to assist the ECS in meeting the needs of the Sudanese people.
For those of you reading in the States, you will recognize someone in the following picture. Now our lives are connected in another way. I believe that this might be taken at his church in old Alexandria, VA.
In fact, the photo is labeled "Oran" photo.
Well done friend.
Why was everyone speaking about accounting?
CPA= Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005.
I have added the link to the website of the Episcopal Church in the Sudan.
If you link or copy this site, you will find the text of a statement issued this week by Juba-based Church leaders, including Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, on the state of Sudan at present and especially on the current implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA): The Archbishop urges those of you involved in advocacy work for Sudanese peace on behalf of the ECS to use this statement to its utmost effect in your efforts.
Bishop Wright received this email from Mitch Edmunds, a physician and member of Christ Church, Milford ...raising his concern about the national debate over health care reform. He/I am sharing it today with his permission. The Bishop's response is below the letter.
Dear Bishop Wright:
For the past few months, we all have watched the debate over health care reform unfold. While many of our leaders have recognized the urgent need for high quality, affordable healthcare, the discussion on how to fulfill this need has turned acrimonious. Partisans have not merely staked out their positions, but have deliberately distorted the views and efforts of others who do not share their opinions. Lawmakers have erred, both by fanning the flames of anger in their need to “Be right”, and by shirking their duty to confront fear and irrational behavior with reasoned discourse and compromise. The result is a stalemate that threatens to undermine the reform that our nation so sorely needs.
In moments like these, we need to turn to God to help us to find our way. I am asking that you consider declaring October 18, the Feast of St. Luke the Healer, a day of prayer for health care reform. Just as I, as a physician, cannot heal without God’s help, so do our politicians need the hand of God to help them see beyond their differences to achieve the greater good. The faith of the country is being put to the test, and it is time to ask for God’s grace and love to help see our nation through this battle.
Thank you for your attention.
Mitch Edmondson, M.D.
The coming Feast of St. Luke the Healer is a special opportunity for each of us to teach, preach, and pray for God’s grace and guiding as the national debate over health care reform continues. As citizens and as a church this is an important contribution each of us can make. I hope that you will join me in doing this.
Below are two prayers that I believe are especially appropriate.
Collect for St. Luke’s Day (October 18) - Book of Common Prayer, page 244
Almighty God, who inspired your servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of your Son: Graciously continue in your Church this love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
In Times of Conflict - Book of Common Prayer, page 824
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forebearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bishop of Delaware
For me being on the train is very relaxing and allows the opportunity for random thoughts to come to the surface. There have been numerous times over the past several weeks that I jotted down thoughts or inspirations that should have moved me toward typing. However, they did not. My beloved Yankees are moving toward playing in the World Series and I am preoccupied. And, I am at the beginning of several new projects.
But first a couple of my in-frequent thoughts.
Fall or Autumn is fast approaching in the northeast and mid-Atlantic states. Several times in the early evening, the sun setting earlier and earlier, I have caught a whiff of a smoke from a home fireplace. A smell that transports me to sweaters and socks, flannel sheets and cats sleeping around my legs. Other times, I in looking up the blue sky and white clouds are the perfect example of the opening clips of The Simpson's blue sky.
These days my spare day light hours are filled with closing up the pool, pulling up summer annuals, re-ordering the flower beds and cutting the grass for one of the last times. This weekend, I will decorate the inside and outside of the house for fall and Halloween, one of my favorite non-holidays.
This past week, I began a 34 week Disciple Bible Study course. Including myself, there are 14 in the group. I am the facilitator and not teacher. The participants are eager and excited, lots of energy. The differences in the group should add to its dynamics: Southern Baptists, Episcopalians, Quakers, young and not so young, men, women.
While typing, I am hearing the recitation of scripture as two men, Jews, are studying as they head to a funeral in Queens. I took the liberty of asking if the yarmulke they wore was to remind them of God, and the answer is to remind them that there is something above or higher than they. They are receiving phone calls and speak a mixture of Yiddish and English. Wonderful for the ears. Seeing how the younger man reveres the older, I think he must be a rabbi. He is reading and teaching.
Believe it or not they asked abo ut the trials within the Episcopal Church.
Arriving at Penn Station, I wait in the taxi line, oblivious to time. God will get me where I need to be in time. My driver is offered a $20 to get me to The Roosevelt and the conference by 1:15. He is Haitian and as is my usual custom we discuss when he came to the states, etc. He arrived in 1984, attended Brooklyn College graduating with a degree in Biology. He has been driving a cab since 1990. He is an expert on the Haitian history as it relates to the US. On his days off he goes to museums and soaks up everything. Oh to continue this conversation. But off I go.
I arrive in the room at 1:22. David is not far along. Video has been watched. Success and off to get a room, register and head to workshops.
I Love this City.
I Am a Christian
And need CHRIST to be my guide.
When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong
I'm professing that I was weak and
Need HIS strength to carry on.
When I Say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not braggin of success
I'm admitting I have failed and
Need GOD to clean up my mess '
When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect, My flaws are far too
Visible but. GOD believes I'm worth it'
When I say, "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain;
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon HIS name.
When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou
I'm just a simPle sinner
Who received God's good grace, somehow'
Plus ca change
By Lauren R. Stanley
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti – I’ve been in Haiti for just a few days now, and already, I am being bombarded with questions: How is it? Is it really different from Sudan?
After serving as a missionary for four years to the Episcopal Diocese of Renk in the northernmost part of South Sudan, I now am discovering the joys – and differences – of living and moving and having my being in the West Indies. Every day, I see something that reminds me of Sudan; every day, I encounter the differences as well. Intellectually, I know I am in a new and different place. Emotionally, I am learning to adjust. Spiritually, I never moved.
The main differences begin with the languages , of course. Here, the people speak French and Creole, instead of Arabic and Dinka and Nuer and Murle and all those other tribal languages spoken in Renk. Here, no one says Salaam aleikum. Instead, we greet each other with Bonjou or Bonswa. And the manner in which we greet each other differs greatly, too: In Sudan, we shake hands – endlessly, it sometimes seems. In Haiti, we hug and kiss on the cheek – something unheard of in my previous posting.
But even more startling than the languages, which I am learning slowly (Creole) or recovering after 30 years (French), with 10 other languages in between, is the freedom, the absolute freedom that you find in Haiti. This nation is very Caribbean in its flavor; the mode of dress alone is enough to startle the eye. But there’s freedom here that is not experienced in Sudan: Freedom to do, freedom to be, freedom to believe. In the portion of Sudan where I lived, there were few overt signs of Christianity. Yes, you could see churches and crosses atop mud huts and some signs, but that was it. Sudan is a land where religion still very much divides the people.
But in Haiti? God is everywhere, openly proclaimed. Churches proliferate. Churches bells ring. Christianity is the main religion, and no one hesitates to proclaim it, no one hides it. Even the tap-taps, the pickup trucks converted into public transportation, are covered in calls to God: Grace be with us; Immanuel; Son of God; Holy Trinity; Saint (fill in the blank with whatever name you wish). Even one of the lotteries played in this country invokes God’s presence and blessing.
And as startling for me is the freedom of the women. They can dress however they like, go wherever they like and seemingly do whatever they like. This is a nation with a female prime minister, Michele Pierre-Louis. At the hardware store yesterday, searching for plumbing parts to fix a recalcitrant shower, the person with whom I consulted, the manager, who knew more than anyone else in the store about plumbing and what I needed, was a woman! This simply is not the case in Sudan, and even though I am an American, I’ve lived overseas for a long time and am very adapted to the subservient role women take in many places. To be in Haiti, to see such leadership and freedom enjoyed by women, is both thrilling and a bit unsettling; it is something to which I will have to become – joyfully – adjusted.
But setting aside those major differences (there are others – various customs and foods come to mind), there are even greater similarities. The people are, for the most part, dirt poor here. But they try – they scramble every day – to get through the day. They work however they can; they take their children to school; they gather to talk and debate. I’m not foolish enough to say the people are happy; I am discerning enough to see the small joys they find in life and to hear their laughter. I see an intense devotion to and trust in God; an intense desire to not only survive for another day but to get ahead, even just a little bit; an incredible hunger for education.
Yes, I have moved thousands of miles, from the largest nation in Africa to one of the smallest in the world. I’m changing cultures and languages and even foods. But I am still living in the fields of the Lord, still serving God’s beloved children, still astounded at God’s grace and how it is received and displayed. Much has changed, but through the love of God, even more has joyfully remained the same.
The Rev. Lauren R. Stanley is an appointed missionary of The Episcopal Church, serving in the Diocese of Haiti in the West Indies. She began her new ministry there last week..
When I left Sudan last summer, Robin Denny began her ministry as the next Missioner to Sudan working as an Agricultural Consultant to the Province.
Here is her latest musings.
"I sing a song of the saints of God, patient and brave and true, who toiled and fought and lived and
died for the Lord they loved and knew."
In mission work, in life in general I suppose, there is always juxtaposition of states of being:
joy and sorrow, hope and despair, love and fear, beauty and horror. They exist side by side,
often in the same situations. The tension then is trying to hold these separate experiences of the
world at the same time, and recognizing the presence of God there in the midst of it.
In the last few weeks, the Episcopal Church of Sudan has suffered two terrible attacks. One in the diocese of Ezo
(on the border with Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic), and one in the diocese of
Twic East (northern Jonglei state). In Ezo, there has been a renewed ferocity of attacks by the LRA
(rebels/terrorists of northern Uganda) in the last few weeks. People have fled to the town center of
Ezo for protection, but even there the LRA attacked. The bishop, the diocesan staff and 12 of their parishes
are currently displaced. On August 12-13 there was an attack on Ezo town by the LRA. The ECS church was
attacked, a lay reader was killed, and 8 Sunday school children were abducted by the LRA. The LRA are known
for forcing children to become soldiers, and the torture of those they kill or abduct.
In Twic East diocese there was an attack by approximately a thousand heavily armed militia on the
village of Wernyol and the surrounding area, on August 29. More than 40 people were killed in the area,
and the ECS Archdeacon Joseph Mabior Garang, was among the dead. He was killed in the church in
Wernyol while leading morning prayer.
More than two thousand have died in south Sudan in increasing internal conflict since April. See
Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul´s appeal regarding these recent events: http://sudan.anglican.org/jongleiappeal.php
I received the news of these two attacks after returning from a wonderful trip to two dioceses on the border with
northern Sudan last Saturday. The news, devastating in itself, also adds to the growing despair people here feel
about the instability of the peace. Where is God in all this? How can we reconcile these events with the image
of our loving God? And why is it that I back to this question after asking it so many times in the past?
In the last 25 years, more than two and a half million people died in the war in south Sudan. The Church in Sudan
is not a stranger to suffering and death, imprisonment and martyrdom. And yet many of the bishops and leaders
in the church who I know are people full of a deep and contagious joy. Despite the existence of such horror and
despair in the past and present, joy, peace, love, and hope are very much alive in the hearts of these men and
women. I am learning from them that a heart full of this mysterious joy, is something that cannot be taught, but
must be gained through prayer and experience. In the journey of our lives, each discovery redemption, each
experience of the presence of hope in the face of despair, love in the face of fear, joy in the face of pain,
teaches us about God. Here God is, in the joy and hope of those wise souls who have gone and continue to
go before us, walking with God in humility and patience. have much to learn from these saints of God.
"The world is bright with the joyous saints who love to do Jesus will".
We are each a part of the body of Christ alive in the world today. How will we live into that calling today?
Perhaps we should start by finishing the song.... "The saints of God are just folk like me, and I mean to be one too!"
Peace and joy to you my friends,
Here is The Associated Press article on wearing pants in public:
KHARTOUM, Sudan — A woman journalist was convicted Monday of public indecency for wearing trousers, but was spared a sentence of flogging. A defiant Lubna Hussein said she would not pay a $200 fine and would take a month in prison instead to protest Sudan's draconian morality laws.
The 43-year old journalist has set out to challenge the police and courts since her arrest in July by insisting the case go to trial, aiming to embarrass the Khartoum government with the publicity. Her prosecution — and the prospect that she could get the full sentence of 40 lashes — drew an international outcry.
The judge's decision to impose a fine equivalent to $200 appeared to be an attempt to curb the criticism.
"I will not pay a penny," Hussein, who during the court session wore the same trousers that sparked her arrest, told The Associated Press after the ruling.
During the session, police rounded up about 40 women protesting outside the courthouse in support of Hussein, some of them wearing trousers as well in a sign of solidarity.
Sudan's government implements a conservative version of Islamic law in the north. Under public indecency laws, anyone committing an act or wearing clothing deemed indecent can be punished with a flogging or a fine, but lawyers and human rights groups say the law is too vague and arbitrary. In the capital the "public order" police enforce the laws, breaking up parties and scolding men and women who mingle in public.
In mostly Muslim northern Sudan, many women wear traditional flowing robes that also cover their hair, but it is also not uncommon for women to wear trousers, even though conservatives consider it immodest.
Public order police arrested Hussein along with around a dozen other women in a Khartoum public cafe. Ten of the women received a quick, closed-door trial and were flogged soon afterward, avoiding the social stigma associated with a public trial on morality charges.
Hussein, however, insisted on a public court and even resigned from her job in the U.N.'s public information office because it gave her immunity.
After a three-hour session Monday, the judge ruled Hussein's outfit indecent and imposed the fine. He said her clothes violated traditions that a woman should only "adorn themselves" for their husbands and not in public, Hussein's lawyer said.
Lawyers said Hussein would be taken to a jail in Omdurman, on the outskirts of Khartoum, after she refused the fine.
Galal al-Sayed, Hussein's lawyer, called the ruling "incorrect" because the judge ignored his request to present defense witnesses and based his decision on contradictory statements from the prosecution witnesses. Al-Sayed said he would appeal the conviction.
He said the judge had apparently opted for a fine, not flogging, to avoid international criticism. "There is a general sentiment in the world that flogging is humiliating."
Even before the ruling, Hussein said she would refuse any fine. "I won't pay, as a matter of principle," she said. "I would spend a month in jail. It is a chance to explore the conditions in jail."
It is not the first time Sudanese courts have raised an outcry. In 2007, a British teacher was charged with insulting Islam after she allowed her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad in a class project, which some radical clerics called an insult to Islam's prophet. She was convicted and sentenced to 15 days in prison, though not the possible sentence of 40 lashes — again, an apparent move to avoid worsening international criticism. She then received a presidential pardon and returned to Britain.
Hussein's case has raised a string of condemnations by international human rights groups, and Hussein has sought to draw attention to Sudan's morality laws.
Amnesty International called on the Sudanese government to withdraw the charges against Hussein and repeal the law which justifies such "abhorrent" penalties. The London-based group said Friday that the law allowing flogging is state-sanctioned torture.
It pointed to an incident in 2003 when eight women were flogged in public with plastic and wire whips, reportedly leaving permanent scars on the women. The women had been picnicking with male friends.
Human rights and political groups in Sudan say the law is in violation of the 2005 constitution drafted after a peace deal ended two decades of war between the predominantly Muslim north and the Christian and animist south Sudan.
In a column Friday in the British daily Guardian, Hussein said her case is not an isolated one but is emblematic of repressive laws in a country with a long history of civil conflicts.
"When I think of my trial, I pray that my daughters will never live in fear of these police," she wrote.
Hussein said she would take the issue all the way to Sudan's Constitutional Court necessary, but that if the court rules against her and orders the flogging, she's ready "to receive (even) 40,000 lashes" if that what it takes to abolish the law. "We will only be secure once the police protect us and these laws are repealed," she wrote.
Government spokesman Rabie Abdel Attie said Monday that "this is not a way to change the law."
"Changing the laws goes through officials, and it is a continuous matter looked into by the parliament," he said.
Abdel Attie said many women in Sudan wear trousers in government offices and institutions. He said there may be other issues surrounding Hussein's case that led to her arrest, but he refused to elaborate on what they might be.
"These courts are not convened without a crime. Lubna was convicted and she should respect the law," he said.
I have discovered that after working with computers all day, the best intentions go astray when I enter the house.
Rather than a place of continued work, the house becomes a place to play, whether by puttering around in the garden, watching a Yankees baseball game, Keith Olberman on Countdown, sitting in the pool reading book, reading the Sunday Times, playing with the cats, or (God forbid) cleaning.
I cannot tell you the number of times that I have actually written out lists of things to do
Finishing filing my 2008 Income Taxes.
Writing on the blog.
Working on the raffle for Sudan.
Planning for Disciple Bible Study beginning this fall.
Maybe I am channeling Lee Iaccoca, though I in no way think that I am in the shape that Chrysler was in.
That said, maybe I am channeling someone. Possibly Jim. It appears that I can work very well sitting in Borders, as I am now.
Okay. I do remember why I loved being in Borders. It is people watching, something I know I share with my sister.
There is one male employee that walks around with pink hair. Then, there is this man in the corner that has pen to paper and writes and then looks up to his right. Continually. This man either has a tick or is drawing the woman sitting on his right with her back to him. It is very odd. If he had a focusing problem, it might have his head turned right but staring straight ahead at me. YIKES.
I love this place. However, since putting myself on a strict budget, I can only afford coffee, no books. It is like an addiction with me, the purchase, want, need of something new to read, a book to own.
Can I say library?
OK, mystery solved. He is drawing. I think his coffee cup. And yes, I have kept staring.
No tick, no fascination with the woman's back, no off-kilter sight.
Speaking of sight. Today, I am a woman with a new eye.
On Thursday, I had my right lens replaced due to a cataract. I can see well (20/30) as of yesterday. And it is bright and clear and white is white and not dingy yellow white. It is like having a blue white light bulb instead of a yellow white light bulb. I will have the left one corrected on October 6.
It is truly a miracle, the way science, medicine and technology have come along. Just years ago, this operation would have required stitches, more recovery time. Now, there is a small incision, old lens broken up and removed and a new one inserted like a ship in a bottle. And, I would have been driving that same day, if the anesthesia I had received did not prohibit it.
So now all that I will eventually need is a pair of $5.99 readers out of the local drugstore.
Of course, this could all lead to a discourse on perceptions. Mine vs yours vs theirs.
In the US, the big topic leading to so perceptions, read opinions, is Healthcare Reform. It is enough to make us all dizzy.
Just one page in the proposal, 435, is a point in fact. For a funny, strange not haha, example of this, log on to www.comedycentral.com and watch Thursday's episode of The Daily Show. It went on for so long, that they had to add the balance of the interview to internet viewing only. The show was heading out for their August vacation.
One person reads and fixates on the phrase life sustaining. Another reads the same sentence and fixates on the phrase shall report.
I read the entire sentence and I am sure that there are others that do the same thing and still come up with different observations or conclusions.
It is the same with Christians and our Bible, Jews and their Bible, Muslims and their Koran. Take the same story and you will get at least two interpretations, two reasons for why the story is being told.
This should make everyone excited, that another reader can bring their experience, their needs and wants to a reading and provide us with another insight.
This fall I am facilitating a weekly course on Disciple Bible Study. I use the term facilitate because I am not the teacher. I am another pupil/participant. However, someone has to arrange for the meeting space, start and end the meeting, arrange for and play the video, start the discourse.
My energy will come from hearing the many variations on the same story. To nurture each other. To be respectful of each others point of view.
For me, as I learn how to do this praying and listening and evolving around Bible study, one of my goals is that I will be able to do this around politics and other life issues.
From John 8:31:
If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples.
Imagine “a church focused on addressing the”why” questions of God's purposes before engaging the “how to” questions of church practices.
Imagine “the members of the body of Christ shaped by a shared knowledge and understanding of the whole biblical story and its connection to their story.
“The nature of discipleship, Jesus says, is like the lifetime of labor it takes to establish a place of growth and nurture, refuge and redemption, trust and hope.”
Finally, I have come upon a quote that has rapidly become a favorite of mine. It is a quote on religion by a stand-up comedian, William Melvin “Bill” Hicks (12/16/61 – 2/26/94). Mr. Hicks wrote this on February 7, nineteen days before his death. Mr. Hicks was introduced to me this past February 26 by Keith Olberman on Countdown. Mr. Olberman has a segment on his show that highlights something that took place in history on each particular day. I look forward to this part of the show because I almost always learn something new. Or I get really excited when I can say (yell) I knew that.
Here is the quote:
“I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.”
Not any more. For some of my family or friends, warning, I will probably annoy you.
One of the tenants of my faith is the forgiveness that is abundantly given to all of us. We humans who make mistakes. Often. Some rather large. Some repeatedly.
My faith in this forgiveness comes from the teaching of Jesus, out of the Christian books of the New Testament.
It is therefore difficult for me to hear "Christians" not willing to allow human mistakes be forgiven, rather to be calling for strict punishment. Once again, my fellow "Christians", whose faith appears to be grounded in the Old Testament with a little of Jesus thrown in, separate themselves from me.
There are consequences for our actions, but what is the sense of welcoming Jesus, who proclaimed a new way of looking at the world, of relating to each other, of caring for each other, if every time a challenge comes along, Jesus is forgotten or pushed aside.
Why is there so much clamoring for a pound of flesh?
Why the emphasis on the negative?
This anti-Christ crap? The birthers?
I am astonished to hear the furor over the release of the two journalists recently held in North Korea. Rewards for bad behavior is what John Bolton has said.
This was not a case of not eating your vegetables and still getting dessert. This was hard labor, wives and mothers separated from husbands and child. Rewards?
If the case for saving was to have been deserving where would we all be?
Remember Jesus talking about separating us into two groups, those welcomed into heaven and those not? Remember him preaching that by taking care of the least of them, feeding the least of them, welcoming the stranger,that by doing so, we did it to him? He never said that the qualification for assistance was that the receiver believe in anything that the giver did.
Working towards caring for all of our citizens by reforming health care?
Nah, Jesus didn't mention health care. Or, why should I care about "them". Or, I work hard for what I have, let "them" do the same. I have mine, let them get theirs.
The time to live up to this is now. Step up to the plate.
Just do it.
On a personal note, my mother did not have health insurance in the latter part of her life until she could get on Medicare. At 64, she could not afford a policy.
She would have liked to have had an option, any option, that she could have afforded.
At 65, she died.
What about your mother, or his, or hers, or theirs?
What about your sister, or his, or hers, or theirs?
Father, brother, cousins, friends.
What about them?
Just get on with it.
During the summer, schools are closed and therefore, students, parents and teachers are not traveling on the roadways. Without buses and all those extra cars on the road I can take the shorter distance, travel the same speed, and get to work much quicker.
(God forbid Americans would design public transportation to take the majority of travelers where they need to go. Delaware should design a high speed rail line up the middle of I-95 as well as providing adequate bus or train lines in the southern part of the state. But, I digress.)
Each morning I am reminded about a particular story in Matthew's Gospel. Each morning those of us exiting at Concord Pike gather in a long line.
When I was younger I would drive as far as I could up the middle lane, then cut to the right when there was a break in the line.
At other times, those waiting in line endured those that cut their waiting time by driving up on the right shoulder. At those times, several of us would move to the right straddling both lanes taking away this short cut. So self righteous.
Then, I changed my driving habits. I tended to get in line, travel up slowly and take in the view of the river and woods along the Brandywine River. However, I would seethe at those that still maneuvered their way at high speeds, cutting in or driving up the right.
All in a hurry to get there first. My way was the right way, the correct way to get off the exit.
Eventually, all of those traveling get off the exit. No matter which way we travel, we all get off the exit. Slow or fast. Left, center or right lanes. We all get there.
I do not know when it happened, but I came to care not about when I got off the exit.
Rather, I came to care that I got off the exit.
The last shall be first, the first last. But, they all enter.
Mountain View Life Coaching Newsletter
40 Years Ago...
JULY 29, 2009
Hard to believe, but it's true. Forty years ago I (barely) graduated from Ossining High School.
The "barely" part is another story...
This weekend I will spend a few short hours with a handful of my amazing graduating class of over 300 "kids".
Not long ago, I realized that my experience "growing up" with my classmates (and the classes of '66, '67, '68 and '70) is one of the greatest gifts of my lives. I feel as though we raised ourselves and each other. I think we did a pretty good job. No one else was paying attention to my struggles and angst, at least not that I noticed. I can't speak for my classmates or anyone else of this "era".
Perhaps this is not unique to the Class of '69, but we truly "went though a lot" together, the best of times and the worst of times.
Coming from five small racially, ethnically and economically diverse elementary schools into one over-crowded junior high school, 7th and 8th grade, which adjoined the high school, we were on double session for two years while a new "middle" school was built. We went to school from 7 to Noon one year, Noon to 5 the other. It was weird. We didn't really have any activities except to find our classrooms on time (which could be under the stage or next door at the church) and the rush to get there early to claim one of the limited number of desks and chairs. Never mind the books....
We learned to sit wherever and share. Made us close.
We were the beginning of the peak of the baby boomers and our town and school did not plan ahead.
We lost our beloved President Kennedy when we were only 12 years old. Our hearts were broken, but our young spirits were not dampened. We still believed we could save the world.
We entered high school in the same complex of buildings, as the "middle schoolers" left us and headed to their new school. We had "toughed it out" and got to spread out and relax a bit in our roomier old school and annex. We finally had dances, played sports together (well, the boys, this was pre-Title 9 after all, the girls watched or were cheerleaders). We went to the town library at night to study (or at least that's what we told our parents). We skipped school and took the train down the Hudson River to NY City and learned how to get to the Greenwich Village on the subway and back, and off the train before dismissal.
We lost Dr. King and Senator Kennedy. We were in shock and pain as the racial tension in our school escalated to the breaking point. Police lined our corridors for weeks as we made our way to class.
We worked together in our senior year in our shared desire to heal.
We broke the dress code. Yes, the girls wore skirts that had to touch the floor when we got on our knees in the dean's office, and the boys had to wear jacket and tie on Fridays. Now we all wore jeans, or at least we could.
We experienced the "sexual revolution" in our own young way, having heard reports of the "Summer of Love" in 1967 Haight-Ashbury. Some of us experimented with drugs. We watched the war in Vietnam on the evening news, watched it escalate and worried about the draft. We partied when our parents were away. Our parents remained oblivious, or so we thought, until some of us "got caught".
That summer, many of us planned for college, entered the work force or Armed Service, and some of us bought our tickets and looked forward to The Woodstock Festival in August (more next time), as we marveled at men walking on the moon.
Back to today -- My boxes for our move are mostly packed and I am fleeing my home and my adoring, understanding husband, to see my homegirls and homeboys for a few short hours of laughs and shared memories.
We share experiences that have bonded us in ways that I barely understand, if not because of the "times", than at least because we were and are who we are.
Unlike previous reunions (I made the 25th and 35th), I don't care if I have a manicure or something new to wear. I won't and I don't. I don't care that I didn't lose a few pounds just for the occasion. I am who I am. Happy to be able to attend and hug my classmates!
Including my years in junior and senior high school, I have spent many years trying to morph into something I'm not.
I finally like myself for who I am.
Funny thing is, this group of old friends, brothers and sisters of my soul, always appreciated me for me. It's taken all this time for me to "get it" -- that I'm okay and totally lovable, just as I am.
If you would benefit from support, a guide to help you find the path back to your birthright of worthiness and self-acceptance, call me. From my training, personal experience and the experience of my clients, I know that from this place of wholeness, your gifts will unfold with ease. The world is waiting for your gifts. Why wait another moment?
Call me for a complimentary conversation.
Certified Integrative Coach Professional
Trained by The Ford Institute of Integrative Coaching at JFK University
Workshop Facilitator and Leader
After August 6th -- (518)882-9880
My first encounter with Bishop Steven Charleston was at the Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew and Matthew. Each year, the Rev. Canon Lloyd Casson would invite Bishop Charleston to participate in the three Hour Good Friday service at SsAM's. What started out being a one year treat turned into seven.
Imagine looking forward to Good Friday, an afternoon spent praying, crying, laughing and being in community.
Since then, I have encountered Bishop Charleston at CODE, EBAC and other conferences. To know that he will speak is to know that I will be challenged and refreshed.
Here is a synopsis of what he had to say this week during the noon time Eucharist. from Episcopal News Service.
Future generations will look back on the Episcopal Church aghast that it spent 30 years talking about human sexuality and largely ignoring the ecological disaster affecting the world, said Bishop Steven Charleston in his July 15 sermon during a General Convention Eucharist that celebrated creation care.
“For years now the environmental movement has told us that there is a clock ticking, a clock, ticking, a great organic ecological clock that is ticking away the time of our lives to that when we no longer will be able to reverse the damage that we have done to this planet through our own greed, negligence and ignorance,” said Charleston, assistant bishop of California and provost of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.
Charleston continued: "Why is it that we do not hear that? Why is it that around this world of ours, though there are good men and women all seeking to help save the earth, that there is not this huge outpouring of sudden activity as the bell rings in our ears to save the earth?"
It is because, he said, "we have been distracted."In addition to being distracted by discussions on human sexuality, the church has been worrying about its institutional survival; its relationships in the Anglican Communion; money, budget sheets and head counts, Charleston said.
“I am here to tell you that unless we recognize that there is a higher, deeper calling that lies behind all of these needs … none of our hopes and dreams, whether they come from conservative hearts or liberal minds, will sustain the day on anything we have been discussing, for all will be for naught, all will be for naught lest we wake up and pay attention to the underlying great issue of our day.”
"The day will come when the future will look back on what we have been doing here and see in our discussions -- though they appear to us in this moment, so fraught with importance -- issues as antique as the concern as to whether or not women could have the right to vote and whether we should stop the practice of child labor," said Charleston.
"And yet they will consider our folly on a planet that is but a burnt cinder, compared to the garden that has allowed us the luxury to have these self same debates. They will live in a world in which wars over water will make ours over oil pale in comparison."
But, he said, it doesn't have to be so. As the history of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion have shown, people can live in peace even when they disagree and people are capable of living in harmony with the natural world.
"In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I call upon the presence of the Holy Spirit … the spirit of the very earth itself and ask that that spirit come into this room and touch each and every one of you who is listening to me now," Charleston concluded. "Let your mind be opened to the truth of what I have spoken here today, let your heart be set on fire … be not afraid Episcopal Church, but stand proud and tall into this great commission of God.
"This is our moment, this is our time, this is our call and under an anointing of the spirit of God we will not fail in that call, but be in the vanguard of a change that will resound around the world full of hope and grace to renew humanity itself through the hope and power of Jesus in whose name I have preached and in whose name I have prayed."
And the crowd of hundreds took to its feet in applause.
At the end of each session the chaplain closes with prayers and incorporates prayers for the concerns of Deputies and others attending. This morning was different.
A little history first.
Most of you know that I spent time last summer in Khartoum, Sudan. Khartoum is a predominately Arabic speaking Muslim city. Each day, the many calls to prayer reminded all within earshot to turn to God and pray.
As a child growing up in Westchester County, New York, I attended many Saturday services at Temple.
This day, my past and present were woven together when three men, one Christian - The Rev. Peter Hood, one Muslim, Mu'athin Ben Yousef, and one Jewish - Cantor Mark Saltzman, sang an Abrahamic Blessing. The co-mingling of these three voices were music to my ears. Shutting my eyes, I heard the history of the praising of God in one.
The sons of Abraham blessing together.
To read more about this in the Convention Daily go on line to http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/08Daily_071509.pdf If this does not work, paste it into your browser address bar. While there read more editions that contain wonderful articles and pictures.