Sunday, October 23, 2011

Off Again!

For the next week and a day, I shall be away at a conference.  It happens to be taking place at the beach, so all the better.  Which means that I will not be blogging, but I will be taking photographs, which I will share when I return.  

In the meantime, I leave you to ponder the greatest, and no doubt the hardest, commandment:  Love God with all your heart and mind and soul (all of all of them!) and love your neighbor (all of all of them, too!) as yourself. 

Collect for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Morning Music Video: Death Came a-Knocking

This isn't a "Halloween song," but the video images are the type one sees this time of year.  Anyway, I love this song as sung by the Duhks, a Canadian group, on their self-titled album in 2005, so I thought today would be a good day to watch it.  Enjoy!

Saturday Morning Prayer

Almighty God, kindle, we beseech thee, in every heart the 
true love of peace, and guide with thy wisdom those who 
take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquillity 
thy dominion may increase till the earth is filled with the 
knowledge of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who 
liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(BCP 207)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday architectural detail break

An angel over a door
Cathedral of St John the Diving, New York City

Morning Visual Prayer

...the earth is full of your creatures.... All of these look to you to give them food in due time.  (Ps. 104: 24b, 27)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Photo of the Day: Swimming

My son snorkeling at Buck Island Reef National Monument off St Croix, USVI.  It was a fun day.

Morning Prayer for Travelers

O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole
creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve
those who travel; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger;
and bring them in safety to their journey's end; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(BCP 831)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Camellia sasanqua

The camellia sasanqua outside my window.  Two bushes of them. 
Sadly, they're kept pruned, but what beauties.

Morning Collect: Henry Martyn

O God of the nations, you gave your faithful servant Henry Martyn a brilliant mind, a loving heart, and a gift for languages, that he might translate the Scriptures and other holy writings for the peoples of India and Persia: Inspire in us a love like his, eager to commit both life and talents to you who gave them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Freeing the Captives - A Meditation on the Feast of St Luke

We can never get too much of the message and lesson of St Luke and can never read too often the story of Jesus announcing his purpose to the world in Luke’s gospel.

Luke himself was a rather murky figure, as all the Gospel writers were. He was named as a companion of Paul, in fact Paul’s letters tell us that Luke was with him right up to the end of Paul’s story and probably his life. And how fitting,and what a blessing, to have a physician as a companion in one’s last days.

But of course, in celebrating St Luke we are reminded that the point is to celebrate his witness to Jesus. He is like a finger pointing to the moon.  Jesus himself is both evangelist and physician, a healer, God’s agent, sent to make us all whole.

Jesus says that he came to bring good news to the poor and to set the captives, the people who are oppressed, free.  He brings sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf and mobility to the lame.  In the Psalm for today, we hear about binding up the broken hearted, which Jesus adds in the parallel passage to this one in the Gospel of Mark. These are all echoes of themes in the Hebrew Bible about how salvation will be seen and understood by all when they see the lame walk and the blind see.

And we want to be made whole, ourselves. We want healing from our infirmities and and our frailties.

But see how Jesus expands the notion of healing.  It’s not just physical healing, but it’s freedom.  Freedom from all kinds of things that bind us.  

Some of us, and some of those we love, are bound by physical ailment and illness.  

But others, others whom we might not know, are bound by other things.  They are bound by mental illness, they are bound by injustice and prejudice, they are pushed down or pushed aside - maybe because they are old or ill or disabled, maybe because they lack education or don’t speak our language, maybe because they are slaves to one addiction or another, maybe because they were born in poverty and have never been able to escape it.  Maybe they are pushed aside because they are “not like us” and we despise them or we are afraid of them or we have judged and condemned them and want them out of our way.  There are many people in our world who have no one to stand up for them.

And Jesus says, I’ve come for those people.  I’ve come for the lost, I’ve come for the disheartened, I’ve come for the ones on the margins, I’ve come for the despised.  I will stand up for those no one else will stand up for.  And that's the good news.

And the healing that Jesus wants for those he has come for is made manifest in a new way; it’s a new kind of healing.  A healing of our whole world, a restoration of those who have been pushed aside back into society where they will be loved and cared for like everyone else.  

Jesus is not just about making sick people well but about making the world whole, about freeing those society pushes down and restoring them to community because in Jesus’ view, the world is not right if there are people on the margins.  We are not whole if we do not know and love all of our sisters and brothers and desire their restoration to us.

And so you see how we can never get enough of this message because for most of us it’s a hard one.  Most of us are not on the margins and we don’t mean to be unconcerned with those who are, but our days are full and we sometimes forget.  We forget not only those who are often invisible to us but we also forget that we, too, will be free when we let go of our judgment and prejudice and fear and desire to keep the marginalized on the margins where they will not disturb us.

But Jesus doesn’t forget. Thanks be to God.

Morning Collect: St Luke

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. Amen.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Make Somebody's Day

This morning, as I was driving in to work, I saw a young girl sitting at the bus stop with her dad, watching the traffic go by.  When she spied my yellow Beetle, she smiled and as I approached, she started waving.

This is not the normal response I see as I drive by children in my "punch buggy."  More likely I get to see someone slug another someone on the arm.

What a wonderful start to my day.  I happily waved back to the little girl and she waved all the harder when she saw my response.  Which made me smile all the way to the office.

We are people in community. How wonderful that some in the community can effortlessly remind those of us with our minds firmly on the quotidian - our daily tasks - to enjoy a smile along the way, and to pass it on.

So go ahead, make somebody's day today.

Morning Collect: Ignatius of Antioch

Almighty God, we praise you for your bishop and martyr Ignatius of Antioch, who offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts that he might present to you the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept the willing tribute of our lives, and give us a share in the pure and spotless offering of your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Visual Meditation on Matthew 22:15-22

Render unto God what is God's.
(P.S. That's pretty much everything. Your money is not your money, it's God. Spend it accordingly.)

Collect for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday morning music video: Tallis Canon

This is a beautiful rendering of Thomas Tallis' Canon (also known as The Eighth Tune) by the English boy choir Libera (read about them here).

Happy Saturday!

Morning Prayer: Teresa of Avila

O God, by your Holy Spirit you moved Teresa of Avila to manifest to your Church the way of perfection: Grant us, we pray, to be nourished by her excellent teaching, and enkindle within us a keen and unquenchable longing for true holiness; through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Night Prayer

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through
the hours of this night,
so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life
may rest in your eternal changelessness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

(BCP 133)

Friday Architectural Detail Break

Inside the library at Yale....

Morning Canticle: The Song of the Redeemed

The Song of the Redeemed (Magna et mirabilia)
Revelation 15:3-4

O ruler of the universe, Lord God, great deeds are they that you have done, surpassing human understanding.  Your ways are ways of righteousness and truth, O King of all the ages.

Who can fail to do you homage, Lord, and sing the praises of your Name? For you only are the Holy One. All nations will draw near and fall down before you, because your just and holy works have been revealed.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spririt: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

(BCP 94)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Checking out a new home

I am very excited about furniture today. I ordered furniture for my new office, and my living room furniture for my condo is arriving tomorrow.

What this means is that I will soon stop feeling as if I am perching.  I will feel that I can begin to settle in.

I wonder why we need our physical props - the desk, the chair, the sofa, the table, the bed with pillows and linens - to populate the basic shelter that is unquestionably one of our basic needs.  We don't all have the same desires about those props (I don't have a TV, for example, but I do have three Apple devices; others don't eat at a table in a dedicated space for meals; and I won't name names but some of you don't really need beds with linens), but we want some items for our nests, nonetheless.

If you were moving into new space, what would you feel you needed the most to feel as if you really lived there?

Morning Canticle: The Third Song of Isaiah

The Third Song of Isaiah (Surge, illuminare)
Isaiah 60:1-3, 11a, 14c, 18-19

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.
For behold, darkness covers the land;
deep gloom enshrouds the peoples.
But over you the Lord will rise,
and his glory will appear upon you.
Nations will stream to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawning.
Your gates will always be open;
by day or night they will never be shut.
They will call you, The City of the Lord,

The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
Violence will no more be heard in your land,

ruin or destruction within your borders.
You will call your walls, Salvation,
and all your portals, Praise.
The sun will no more be your light by day;
by night you will not need the brightness of the moon.
The Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.

(BCP 82)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Colorful Prayers

Morning Canticle: Jubilate

Jubilate (Psalm 100)

Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with a song.

Know this: The Lord himself is God;
he himself has made us, and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and call upon his Name.

For the Lord is good;
his mercy is everlasting;
and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

(BCP 82)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Is it Fall Yet?

I was beginning to think that we are not going to have fall any time soon.  At least, not "visual fall."  You know, the part where the trees are all gorgeously draped in oranges and reds and yellows.  (The temperatures and humidity and the high blue sky, on the other hand, have been tending toward fall for a week or so.)

And of course the grocery store is now full of pumpkins and those knobbly, weird striped and dotted and funny-shaped decorative squash for home ornamentation to show us all that, whatever it looks like outside, it's time for fall decor.

But, almost overnight, I have begun to see some changes in the foliage.  Sunday, it was summer; today it begins to look like fall.  Driving in to work this morning, and again while I was out to lunch, I noticed some yellowish blobs in the tops of some trees.  And some orange spots among the green.

This photo is from fall two years ago in Maine.  I'm looking forward to seeing, literally, what fall looks like here in Virginia.  Bring on the color and remind us again, Lord, of the unbelievable gift that Your creation is.

Morning Canticle: Venite

Venite (Psalm 95:1-7)

Come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving
and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hands are the caverns of the earth,
and the heights of the hills are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands have molded the dry land.

Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee,
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!

(BCP 82)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Columbus Day: Thoughts on moving to a new place

So, I've recently moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, after living in Atlanta, Georgia, for twenty-eight years. My, how the time flies.  I remember moving to Atlanta oh so long ago, and remember all the things I had to do to set up house there.

First, find a place to live. Then find out the details about turning on the utilities - gas and water and electricity and telephone - and discovering that one had to be at home for long periods of time for the service person to be able to access the whatever they needed to access.  A certain amount of time had to be set aside for standing in lines or being on hold on the telephone regarding these activities.

Then figure out what's in the neighborhood and where the bank and grocery store and gas stations are. And the "antique" stores where second hand furniture and art and kitchen items with personality might be picked up for not too much money.

And meet the neighbors.

And of course, at the same time, settle into a new job.

A few things have changed this time around.  For one thing, I haven't had to stay home to wait for something to be turned on (although I am waiting today - a holiday - for the FedEx delivery of my modem). Nearly everything could be done by phone or on the web without my personal presence required at either end of the transaction.  For another, no telephone (I have an office phone and a cell already) at home.

But most of them are the same.  The frustration of having to prove one's employment status/financial worthiness to get services I've taken for granted for thirty years; the trying to memorize the map of the area and learning the short-cuts and scenic routes, often by accident; the excitement and curiosity about all the new things; the sudden desire to buy lots of new things for the new nest; the new delights and the realization of things to be missed about the old place.  The feeling slightly overwhelmed at the sheer volume of new people and faces and names to learn, new neighborhood, new customs, new everything.  The gratitude towards those who offer patient explanations and warm welcomes of all sorts - gratitude for being, for the most part, surrounded with support.

And did I mention the new job?  A whole 'nother category of new everything!

All of this makes me think about those who do not have jobs, who do not have the means to prove themselves worthy of getting the electricity or the gas turned on, who do not have the support of their neighbors and/or community.  How hard, how demoralizing, how de-personalizing these kinds of tasks must be for them.

Today is the celebration of Columbus Day.  Of course, we now acknowledge that Christopher Columbus didn't "discover" America in 1492 (there were people already here who already knew about it), and the holiday is used by different groups in different places in different ways.  One of those ways is to recognize the value and importance of someone from another country in the history of our country.

So as I wait for the FedEx delivery person to arrive, I give thanks for people who have made my moving easier and I empathize with those for whom the details of moving are demoralizing and I remember that ours is a country filled with people who originally came from somewhere else.

Morning Canticle: A Song of Praise

A Song of Praise (Benedictus es, Domine)
Song of the Three Young Men, 29-34

Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers;
you are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

Glory to you in the splendor of your temple;
on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

Glory to you, beholding the depths,
in the high vault of heaven, glory to you.
Glory to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

(BCP 90)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A sermon about breathing over teeth gnashing

Proper 23/Pentecost 17
I don’t know if y’all know this or not, but there is a fire extinguisher up here, right down next to my feet.

And also a flashlight within arm’s reach.

I can only imagine what for.  Perhaps someone was worried that the preaching might catch somebody on fire.  Perhaps these candles have been known to run amok and the fire extinguisher is here to put them out and the flashlight is here to step in for them.  Perhaps I could use the flashlight like a laser pointer to identify just who it is I’m using as an example in my sermon. Perhaps someone was anticipating the time when the preacher will need to be able to find her way out, through the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Perhaps they are here in case something bad happens.

Ah, the mysteries.  What would church be without them?

And, for that matter, what would the Bible be without mystery?  We certainly have a mystery here in Matthew’s Gospel, this story of the wedding banquet. 
What kind of story is this? What does it mean? To whom is this story directed? Why does the king launch a war while dinner is being put on the table? Why does the guy get thrown out of the banquet? Is it really because of his clothing choice? What kind of God do we have, if this king is supposed to represent God in the story? And, perhaps most urgently, what is up with the weeping and gnashing of teeth?

I could tell you about Matthew’s context, about how so many stories in Matthew seem to set up an “us against them” confrontation because Matthew’s own community was in the process of being separated, probably not amicably, from the Jewish community from which it came. I could tell you that Matthew’s focus is often on how his community’s interpretation of the Jesus story and the workings of salvation is the right interpretation over against the interpretation of the religious leadership of the dominant community, the chief priests and the Pharisees.  And that, as a result, there are many stories of people being thrown out of this place or that one in this Gospel.  Sometimes it’s Matthew’s people being thrown out and sometimes their rivals are the ones being thrown out - getting what’s coming to them in a “don’t worry they’ll get theirs” vengeful sort of way.  

I could tell you that this story is an allegory, which we know because of the improbabilities we are supposed to accept without question, such as the aforementioned issue about making war while dinner is served; as well as the oddity about one person not having the right clothes when everybody was brought in with no notice; and that Matthew’s point is theological, not historical or cultural or even factual.

I could tell you that even though the text says the man was “speechless” in response to the king’s question about how he got in without proper attire - which I, too, might be at such a question when the king was the one who invited me in the first place - other translations more properly use the phrase “was silent.” As in, the man didn’t have an answer - nor an excuse - to the king’s question.

I could tell you that the parable was told to, and aimed at, the Pharisees and the chief priests, which we know from the end of the previous passage, and that the destruction of the city points back to the first destruction of Jerusalem six hundred years before.
And I could tell you that there are all kinds of wonderful things to see in the middle of the story, things to do with inclusiveness and generosity and overflowing abundance.  The kinds of things I really like to talk about when I’m talking about God and God’s ways.

But we all know that when a Bible reading ends with someone being cast into a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, everything else that came before those words flies right out the window.  When we hear about the man suddenly and without warning being thrown into the outer darkness, our deepest fears leap like deer to the fore. We freeze.  We get real quiet.  Maybe we get sweaty, hold our breath, tense up -- we do what we do to get ready for the blow.  

Our deepest fear takes over, our lizard brain takes over, and all we want to know is this: 
Does this mean that I’m going to hell?

There it is. The 64 Trillion Dollar question. Even though I’m here in church, have I unwittingly done something that is going to cause God to pull the rug out from under me and send me into the outer darkness, too?

If we are serious about our life of faith, we have to find the courage to wrestle with hard questions.  And I mean wrestle, not find a way to set them aside, to explain them away, to excise them from our canon.  Sometimes such wrestling convicts us and invites us to repentance.

And sometimes such wrestling helps us gain a new understanding not only about who we are (which is our usual concern) but also who God is.  Remember that our lizard brain blinds us to all but our fears; only when we can put aside our fears about ourselves, we might be free to become curious about God.

Curiosity is a wonderful thing. Curiosity invites us to investigate, to poke around, to boldly go with split infinitives and without fear to whatever places our questions might lead us.  
So, let us let go of the Me question (is God going to throw me into the outer darkness?) and move on to the God question (who is God, what is God like?).  

The thing about God is that God can’t be apprehended through one story.  One paragraph does not describe God in God’s otherness and wonderfulness and infiniteness.  The Bible is full of stories about God and God’s activities and God’s ways.   And so curiosity calls us to look further, to find those other stories and see what they say, too.

In fact, let’s look at the story from Exodus today.  Here the people get themselves into all kinds of trouble with God because they, in their anxiety about the fact that their God is not able to be seen and the real possibility that their human leader has died or deserted them, create an idol that they can see and worship.  Not surprisingly, God gets really angry at this transgression and threatens destruction.  But Moses, like Abraham before him, stands before God and reminds God of God’s promises of care and salvation and relationship - of God’s own righteousness - and the Divine Mind is changed.  There is no destruction.

A few weeks ago, we heard the story of Jonah, who was sent by God to Nineveh to call the people to repentance, the old threat to turn or burn, and the people do repent, and God does not destroy them after all.  (Which, I might add, totally ticks Jonah off.)

The prophet Ezekiel, not known to be one of our more warm and fuzzy Biblical guys, speaks these words of God to the people of God: I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord.

And remember what we heard last week: Jesus asks about what will happen to the wicked tenants who have ruined the vineyard and killed the vineyard owner’s son. The people say that they should be destroyed, but Jesus does not say so. As Chris said, Jesus takes away the part about the miserable death and promises that the kingdom belongs to those who bear fruit.

We want to be saved. And we want that so badly that we hear every possibility that we might not be saved so loudly it drowns out everything else. It drowns out the yearning of God for people to re-orient themselves toward God and away from meanness and cruelty and war and greed that we people find ourselves drawn into.  Our fear about our own salvation drowns out God’s compassion for us while we chase after worthless things, which God knows we can hardly help doing.  Our fears keep us from hearing about God’s generous nature because it seems, ironically, “safer” to believe in a punishing, scary God. We don’t want to be wrong and mistake a lion for a lamb and get eaten alive.

But from the beginning of our story as God’s people, God has made promises to us, and the Scriptures attest to that fact over and over again.  God is faithful.  God is merciful. God stretches forth a mighty arm to save even the grumpy and the hapless.

So, if we’re all breathing now, let’s go back to the story from Matthew. Originally, the elite are invited to the divine banquet; eventually, everyone, good and bad, rich and poor, popular and unpopular, is brought in. The banquet is for everyone, not just for some. But just showing up turns out not to be all that is required of us.  There’s more, the part about bearing fruit, and God is supposed to be able to see that fruit when God looks at us.  We may instead choose not to enter into conversation with God about that.  We may disappoint God.  People have done it before. People like King David, or Simon Peter.

But let’s don’t stop there.  Let’s remember all the other things we also know about God, that God invites everyone, that God gives away everything to us whether we deserve it or not, that God may indeed be disappointed in us, may be frustrated with us, but God also made promises and God keeps those promises.  Because God is that good.

And if we can remember God’s promises, can remember that through Jesus our salvation is assured, maybe we can let go of our anxiety-ridden fixation on our own selves and our fears about our own salvation.  Maybe we can spend our time being generous and inviting and inclusive towards others as modeled by our creator. 

Maybe we can instead spend our time and our energy bearing fruit ourselves.

Collect for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Architectural Detail Break

Happy Friday! For you long time Partiers, Friday is a photography theme day.  We've had the Friday afternoon fountain break, the waterfall break, the fountain-waterfall breaks, and sandcastle breaks.  Starting today, for something completely different, and until Advent, I'll be featuring a series of photos of architectural details on Fridays.

This is from the Carrie Tower on the campus of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. (You can read about the clock tower here.) "Carrie" was Caroline Mathilde Brown, granddaughter of the man for whom the university is named, and the clock tower was built as a memorial to her by her husband.

Morning Prayer for Our Country

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our
heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove
ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.
Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and
pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;
from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend
our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes
brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue
with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust
the authority of government, that there may be justice and
peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we
may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.
In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness,
and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail;
all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(BCP 820)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Photo of the Day

My lunchtime companion: St Fiacre, patron saint of gardeners.

Morning Collect: William Tyndale

Almighty God, you planted in the heart of your servant William Tyndale a consuming passion to bring the Scriptures to people in their native tongue, and endowed him with the gift of powerful and graceful expression and with strength to persevere against all obstacles: Reveal to us your saving Word, as we read and study the Scriptures, and hear them calling us to repentance and life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: The horse next door

This is what I saw when I parked my car at the office this morning.

Morning Collect for Grace

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have 
brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your 
mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome 
by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of 
your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(BCP 100)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Memory Lane

I have been on the road a lot over the past few weeks.  Mostly driving back and forth between Georgia and Virginia, with stops in North Carolina.  It's familiar territory, for the most part.  I've been driving on various parts of the route since I owned my first 1972 Volkswagen Beetle.

On one trip between Atlanta and Williamsburg, I decided not to listen to music, or NPR, or anything but to just enjoy the silence. There has been so much going on in my life that it seemed as if silence, even for hours and hours, would be a wonderful respite from all the busy-busy and noisy noise.  I hoped the extended silence would give room for my brain and my heart to circle around and around at leisure the things that were on my mind and in my heart.

I also expected that my mind would play over my own history, that I would recognize and remember all sorts of things as I drove.  And I did.

Interestingly, though, I found that names and faces of people who were mostly incidental fellow-travelers on the avenues on my life's walk were what came into focus.  Not the major players or the life-changing events, but folks and things I had not thought about for decades.  I remembered a woman my mother always called "Bird" because she was so tiny and her movements reminded Mom of a bird. "Bird" has been dead for thirty years and I don't remember her real name, if I ever knew it, and I don't remember if I ever had a conversation with her, but an image of her swam before my eyes as I passed the exit for Haw River, N.C.

I remembered the whole name, and the long black hair and pert nose as well, of a girl in college who was the roommate of the girlfriend of a friend my my home town.  I really didn't know her - I think I may have spent ten hours in her presence at most.  But she rose up in my memory, too, out of the blue.

I remembered a rest stop that I'd visited once, some time in the late 1970's, and the little dog that an older man was letting run around in the grass.

At some point somewhere in Virginia, I wondered why I was recalling these people and places.  Why them? Why now?  What was it about those people that made it into my memory banks when so many of the other people I have encountered (probably) did not?  Have I been carrying memories of these people around with me for forty years? Who knows? But it was interesting, and the experience made me think that I'd like to be more intentional about being present to those with whom I spend even a few minutes of my life.  I want to pay attention to them, to the moments of no special import and to the people who may be simply passing through, just because.

Morning Collect: Francis of Assisi

Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, October 3, 2011


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