Monday, May 25, 2015

A Prayer for Heroic Service

O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful
hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of
decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant
that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the
benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This
we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

BCP 839

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Come Holy Spirit

O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Sally says, it's Caturday! Let's sleep in!

Like she doesn't do that every day.

I guess every day is Caturday for Sally.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Music: Crossing Muddy Waters

Sara Watkins (of Nickel Creek), Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O'Donovan (of Crooked Still) sing Crossing Muddy Waters, a song written by John Hiatt. These three have been on a European tour together this year.

Happy Friday!


Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Music Two-fer Sarah Jarosz

Sarah Jarosz (another New England Conservatory-trained musician) is a prodigiously talented young Texan who sings, writes, and plays the mandolin, octave mandolin, banjo and guitar. She just finished up a European tour with veteran roots music divas Aoife O'Donovan (see last week's video) and Sara Watkins (of Nickel Creek).

In 2011 (when she was about 19) she was invited to be part of the BBC's musical production called the Transatlantic Sessions (based in Glasgow, Scotland) featuring bluegrass/folk/roots musicians from both sides of the Atlantic. Here is the video from that session. Sarah is playing a 6-string clawhammer banjo with the house band. The song is Annabelle Lee, based on the poem by Edgar Allan Poe, music by Jarosz and Cameron Scoggins.

Sarah's usual touring band mates are Alex Hargreaves (fiddle) and Nathaniel Smith (cello). Here they are at the Newport Folk Festival in 2013 playing a Jarosz original, Fuel the Fire.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Collect for The Ascension

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Some Thoughts About Bearing Fruit

I have just returned from a week in Iona, Scotland, that holy island where St. Columba landed with his twelve monks in the year 563 to found a center of literacy and education as well as a school for missionaries. 

There are a lot of beautiful rocks on Iona. Ask any of us who visited how many of them we brought home from the trip. Some of the rocks are 2.6 billion years old, and on the northwest end of the island great outcroppings of these beauties, hunks of gorgeous green and red striped Lewisian gneiss, jut up out of the sand and out into the Atlantic Ocean. 

Also on the island are ruins of buildings that were built much later, about 800 years ago. The ruins haven’t held up as well as the Lewisian gneiss. They stand as a testament to another time, but they (neither the buildings nor the communities that lived in them) did not last.

And so when Jesus commands us to bear fruit that will last, I think about how the rocks of the earth last, but the work of our hands often does not. 

The things we make get broken. The lives we live come to an end. How can I bear fruit that lasts when I am a mortal and limited being? The contrast between the beautiful and ancient rocky outcropping at the beach and the crumbling bricks in the village couldn’t be more obvious. 

There’s another thing I noticed on Iona, too, though. Out of the ruins of the Nunnery dandelions grow, right out of the crevices where the mortar has dissolved and fallen away. And honey-making bees buzz all over their cheerful yellow dandelion heads, and cooks and gardeners pick the leaves for salad. And one morning I watched pairs of sparrows and starlings bringing stuff in their beaks with which to make nests in the larger clefts in the now-open arches and the broken down walls. Life grows in the ruins, still, even if it is not the life that was there before.

There’s something really beautiful and creative about cooperating with God to bear good fruit. Jesus tells us that we are not only commanded to bear good fruit but that because we have been chosen by God (all of us - we are all chosen), we already have what it takes to bear good fruit. But we do not do it by ourselves. How exhausting life would be if we had to do everything ourselves. 

When I watched the birds with their nest building and admired the yellow flowers tilting their heads toward the sun, I understood that I don’t have to come upwith the perfect superhuman fruit to offer to God on my own. Instead, I can rely on God to empower me to bear good fruit with who I am, just as I am. And that I am here to build on the fruit of those who have come before and to lay groundwork for those who will come after. I cannot create Lewisian gneiss. I don’t need to create Lewisian gneiss anyway - God’s already done that. 

St. Columba died in 597, and a couple of hundred years later, after or perhaps during the time Vikings began to raid and plunder his abbey and finally burned it down, the beautiful illuminated manuscript known as the Book of Kells was finished by Iona monks. 

What fruit I bear will be faulty, mortal, and limited. But God will bring more life out of it than I ever could. God will shelter new life in the faults and chinks and bring flowers out of my ruins. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015


Sally and I are snuggling this morning. It's my birthday and we're not getting out of bed.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Music: Ain't No Grave

Crooked Still, a Boston-based string band led by Aoife O'Donovan, performs There Ain't No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down), a song written by Virginia-born Holiness preacher Claude Ely (d. 1978). Many people know this song from Johnny Cash's recording of it, released just after Cash's death in 2010. Or maybe you remember it from the movies Cool Hand Luke (starring Paul Newman) or The Apostle (starring Robert Duvall) or the HBO series True Blood.

(O'Donovan and bassist Corey DiMario are alumni of The New England Conservatory, my favorite music school.)

Enjoy your weekend!


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