11/27/2009

Giving Thanks

Those of us in the United States celebrate a day of Thanksgiving, the last Thursday in November. Much has changed since 1951, the year of my birth.

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 bless├Ęd 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.

AMEN.







11/15/2009

A Litany for Envisioning a New World

Refashion our mind, O God, to a new way of thinking, that seeing the peril of our failure to halt the human desecration of the planet and its creatures, we commit to the promise of life for all that lives.

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.

Season of Creation Week Three- Con't.

The past several weeks have really gone by quickly and I did not have a chance to follow up on the Paradise Now chatting.

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.

Resources for Humans

OK, I do not have enough to do. Therefore, I started a new blog called Resources for Humans.

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.

11/14/2009

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield

In preparing for Discipleship Bible Study, I googled the word atonment, and ended up at Rabbi Hirschfield's Blog www.windowsanddoors.com and author of You don't have to be wrong for me to be right:Finding Faith without Fanaticsm. I did not discover what I was looking for, but discovered what was intended.

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.