Tag Archives: Christianity

When God calls…

God has been loudly knocking on the window of my mind for about 6 months.  God is calling me to a ministry that I’ve vehemently denied answering  since I was confirmed into The Episcopal Church.

I am running for vestry. Unless  two other people runs with or against me I’ll sit on vestry for three years.  Since I already told my priest of my intentions , I cannot back out of this now. { even if I’d wanted to, which I do not}

I am apolitical & until now have *NEVER* seriously considered vestry.  But now is the time.  Although I do not wish to sound arrogant: I feel that someof my gifts will be useful on a parish { any parish} vestry.

I am— comparatively speaking– younger than the average vestryperson. Younger people tend to be more open to what the Spirit might be saying at any time. I have taught Sunday School & I work with youth currently & some of my biggest ” aha moments” have come from conversation with younger people.  Some of the children with whom I worked are much more spiritually-mature than some adults I know.

I care. I care  A LOT.

Although there is nothing wrong with ” pew sitters”{You know– people who attend church almost every Sunday but are otherwise not involved in parish life.} I’ve never been a pew sitter in my life.  The Church is my community, my OHANA. {Hawaiian for ” family”}I want to help her be the best example of Christ’s ” hands & feet” that she can be.

While I am not a ” numbers person” I feel strongly that doing God’s work & measuring how well we do ministry should NOT be calculated only by numbers on a spreadsheet.

My entire church-going life has been with small churches & it is here that I’ve felt God’s Hands at work within me the most.  Although I left the Presbyterian church, I’ve gleaned examples of what does & does not work in a small congregation.

The little church where I was baptized taught me much about doing much to BE Christ in the world regardless of limited human & monetary resources.  The Holy Spirit is working within my Small Parish now & I firmly believe that I am the sort of vestryperson needed to help her grow numerically & { much more importantly} spiritually.

Shalom.

Morning Prayer- I love it!

This morning I led Morning Prayer at Small Parish . Our priest is on vacation & I was recently certified by our Bishop to lead Morning & Evening prayer in the absence of clergy.

It went well– I remembered all the parts of the liturgy & did not falter while reading today’s Gospel Lesson.  We had four souls attend this morning’s worship. All in all:  my first experience with leading Morning Prayer by myself was good.

Alleluia!

I do not understand why some people think that we Anglicans only have ONE form of corporate worship– Eucharist. While Holy Communion is very special—I do not deny at all the importance of weekly Eucharist– our Book Of Common Prayer is full of other liturgies that are just as meaningful to me.  Many Episcopalians I know won’t stay for a mid-week Morning Prayer & I do not understand their reasoning. Worship is about giving thanks & Glory to the Triune God{ as a matter of fact, the very word ” Eucharist” is derived from a Greek word meaning ” thanksgiving”.}

I’ve never gone to church to ” get” anything: when I worship the focus is on praising GOD.  I hate to sound as cynical as to think that some people see Eucharist as a commercial commodity. But as a former Presbyterian with a Roman Catholic background{ yes} I’ve always felt that: “For where two or three are gathered in My Name, there I am in the midst of them..”{Matt. 18:2o}  constitutes worship.   Attending a worship service is not, at least to me, a means for an end.

I realize that everyone has personal preferences when it comes to worship, but we Anglicans are so blessed with many ” tried & true” liturgies.  The Daily Office, from which Morning & Evening Prayer originate, comes from  the monastic schedule for daily corporate prayer. 

This evening I am VERY grateful for the Book of Common Prayer–in its entirety.

Amen.

Is there a limit on forgiveness?

I’m a crime-show junkie. But until recently, I’ve never read a real-life case that seems to have come directly from the writers of one of the TV crime shows that I love to watch.

A teenager comes home late, has a fight with his {apparently drunken} mother.

Later, as said Mom-of-the-year sleeps on her couch, Teen Boy shoots MOTY five times in the head with a bow & arrow. { according to the facts presented in the trial documents I found online}

He was convicted of the crime, but in 1999 was given a new trial,based on the defense’s supposition that evidence was withheld during the original trial.

According to the defense, the boy suffered from extreme ” battered-child syndrome.”

The State let this boy { now a man} free .The state does not see him as a threat to society, but would you want to have this guy as your neighbor ? I sure would not want to live next door to such a person–as people usually learn nothing honorable while incarcerated.

My question is: although the state has forgiven { & even rationalized his crime} should society forgive hm? Can someone { anyone , really} with the proven capacity to turn o deadly violence be allowed another chance? Inasmuch as I want to belive that anyone can turn his or her life around regardless of circumstances I find ex-cons with records of violent crimes heinous.

Does this make me a bad person? I am open-minded–but violence ” turns my stomach”.

I’ve acted in ways that were for sure questionable–but I am not violent. We all make bad choices, but most people’s bad choices do not result in the intentional taking of another human life.

I know that only God can forgive our sins—but I tend to want to categorize sins into what the Roman Church calls ” Mortal ” and Venial Sins. Is it up to us to distribute forgiveness. No it is not– God alone has the power to judge ALL of our sins.

Also, are some civil crimes too horrific to be forgiven by the Church’s Sacrament of Rconciliation? { clergy friends please share your thoughts on this topic} If a convicted rapist or murderer moved next-door to YOU, how would you treat him or her?

Healing & Helping while looking towards to the future

My bishop issued a pastoral letter that was read in all churches in my diocese yesterday. He explained what had happened at General Convention and how he voted , alongside with his reasoning for the way he voted. He also told us how this resolution to allow liturgy for same-sex blessings will ” play out” here in my Diocese .

I am saddened by the actions of General Convention, as this is affecting people in my parish & diocese whom I know & love . Inasmuch as I find myself disagreeing with people who are shaken by the idea of same-sex couples now having a channel for the Church’s blessing upon their relationships, I want them to still feel loved by the changing Church. It will break my heart if I lose ANY of my sister & brother Episcopalians over what { to me} is a trivial issue. I want to minister to and with these folks, but I do not know how to proceed.

I am sad, because I want to help those who are hurt the most by he passing of this resolution but I cannot.

While I rejoice at the fact that a portion of our Church will finally be permitted to have their relationships blessed in the Church, my main concern is how this motion affects my parish & Diocese NOW. I realize that not everyone interprets Scripture & Tradition as I do & know that this passing of the same-sex blessing liturgy has shaken some people’s very faith. I pray for them & for our entire Church I pray daily that somehow God will show us how to BE Christ’s hands & feet here at this time & place .

Amen.

Days 3 & 4: ” I dream of a Church that…..”

I dream of a Church that….

… Does not forget the God of the Old Testament, but practices its communal life according to the teachings of Jesus as seen in the New Testament.

….Recognizes that both men & women are called to all levels of Holy Orders.

….A Church that is truly one catholic { “small-c”} church that is free from schism or the threat of schism.

….Where we are more focused on living the message of the Gospel & less about using Holy Scripture as a weapon against women & minorities.

….A Church where ALL have access to basic Christian education that is free from any sociopolitical slanting towards the extreme right-wing sector of the political spectrum.

… I dream of a Church where people do not wish to restrict financial giving so that our financial resources can make the most impact by spreading the Gospel in more ways & in more places.

… I dream of a Church that validates & celebrates all forms of families.

…. Church should be less about institutional government & more about ACTION in the world. We should be more concerned with feeding the hungry, helping to heal the sick, and engaging in interfaith dialog than arguing about doctrine .

What is the Church that YOU dream of How can we make that Church a reality in the near future?

Day 1: Baptism & Holy Communion.

Today the bishops & deputies will convene in Indianapolis, Indiana for the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. There is a whole list of resolutions that the Church as a whole must consider this year & some seem to be more ” hot-button” issues than most .

My big concern is the resolution put forth by someone in Oregon that the Holy Communion be totally open to all persons regardless of baptismal status.{ i.e unbaptized persons may receive the Body & Blood of our LORD if they so desire.}

As progressive as I am regarding the Church & social issues, when he subject turns to liturgy I am very traditional. Let me say ‘on record’ that if General Convention votes to change the canons to completely open Holy Communion to unbaptized persons I will be sad.

However, my strong feelings about this liturgical & theological matter will NOT cause me to abandon our Church. The Church is composed of imperfect people & we must allow our leaders to make mistakes without acting on cowardice & running away from our family of faith. If GC votes to open Holy Communion to unbaptized persons, I will quietly live with that change. I will never agree with such a radical change to my understanding of our Baptismal Covenant but I can live wth it.

While I vehemently disagree with the logic behind this resolution, I can see where the people who wish to pass it are coming from. I, too, hope & pray for an inclusive Church. But being a Christian requires some sort of statement of faith & when an unbaptized adult wishes to become a Christian I believe that baptism in necessary for a full membership in the Church.

Inasmuch as I hate to admit it: I hope that the delegates to GC77 vote to uphold our Canons as they are regarding baptism & reception of Holy Communion. There are many reasons why I feel this way.

I do not understand why someone who has never professed belief that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed God’s only begotten Son wish to partake in our sacrament? My mother is Jewish & she has absolutely no desire to come to the altar for even a blessing by the priest on the rare occasions she attends Mass with me.

I do not understand why a non-Christian would want to actively participate in something that is so central to our identities as Christ-followers. My theology of the Eucharist stems from the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ last Supper with His disciples { and yes, I * am* aware that the Last Supper was a Jewish Passover meal.}

At that particular time & place, Scripture tells us :
” Then He took a cup & after giving thanks He said ‘ Take this & divide it among ourselves, for I tell you that from now on I will not drink from the vine until the Kindom of God comes. Then He took a loaf of bread & when He had given thanks, broke it & gave to them saying ‘This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance o Me.'”. { Luke 22:17-19}

To Christians, the elements presented for a blessing at the altar become more than the sum of their parts. To us, partaking in Holy Communion is done to remember what Jesus did for s so many years ago. It is a visceral reminder that WE are Christ’s Body on Earth. While we pry that ALL may come to know about Our LORD, in my opinion baptism is something that one must prepare one’s heart & mind. Our Baptism seals us as Christ’s own forever–thing we do an ever remove us from the family of Christ one we’ve received the Christian rite of initiation at Baptism.

I am not saying that we should discourage seekers from coming to church. Quite the opposite: if a seeker comes to one of our parishes & is so moved by the Celebration of The Eucharist, he or she has an option to ask the resident priest to tell him or her more about what it means to BE a member of Christ’s Body { a Christian}

Show me a sign, dude….

{Mark 8-11-26}

Today’s Gospel lesson has Jesus frustrated. Apparently the Pharisees are doing what Pharisees do best, which is challenge Our Lord. Today we find them demanding that Jesus show them a ” sign” that He is Who He says He is{ and is the Savior that we modern Christians know Him to be}

They are coming from a huge party where this very man had turned mere water into wine AND provided enough food t feed more tan 5000 people. Most would consider feeding the multitudes a ” sign” that Jesus, son of Mary is no ordinary man But is not enough for these guys–they demand more ” proof” that this is The Christ.

Perhaps these guys felt threatened by Him & their insecurity caused them to demand that He prove himself to them. It has been my experience that people such as the Pharisees act bossy & make unreasonable demands out of feelings of their own unworthiness. These sorts of people ” pick on” others & blame others {especially those who occupy a position of trust or leadership in a community} for their problems in life.

I pray every day fo God to show me ways to be more like Jesus & less lke a Pharisee.

Amen.

You with ears–LISTEN!

Today’s Gospel lesson is the beginning of the series of parables that Our Lord teaches.

Parables are not meant to be taken literally, and I am often amazed at how many of our sister & other Christians interpret these stories

After all, in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples: “Let anyone with ears listen.” We are supposed to glean something from within the parables, bot necessarily * just* by looking at these passages at face-value.

Listen. What do these parables say to YOU.

Amen.

My Lenten discipline….

This Lenten season I shall blog about one of he readings from the Daily Office each day { except for Sundays,as Sundays are considered feast days during Lent} I wish this was an original idea , I ” borrowed”it from my rector at Small Parish. His blog { also on WordPress} can be reached at http://laydownyournets.wordpress.com .

This past Advent, I tried to stick to the discipline of blogging from ++ Katharine’s book_A Wing & A Prayer_ each day. Well– I did not make my goal of a post per day that time. Since I told my priest AND all 495 Facebook friends of my plan, I better stick to it!

In other news RIP Whitney Houston. her music defines my girlhood ideas of romance.

Stewardship is a way of life: not all about money{1-30-12}

I hate talking about finances…a a matter of fact, my loathe of all things financial is one of several reasons why I NEVER want to serve on a vestry. NO THANKS! :O)

The following statements are solely my opinion.

I agree that stewardship s more about one’s financial giving to one’s church but at the same time, when a church focuses too much on getting members to pledge more money, it can quit being ” church ” & slide into just another charitable organization.

As Christians, we are called to do Christ’s work here in our world. While this call does involve some sort of financial committment on our part, is is not all about ” the bottom dollar.”

I’ve been a member of another mainline Protestant of a church who– in a misguided effort to ” educate” members on financial stewardship, hung a hand-made poster depicting a graph of the governing body’s expectations for pledged offerings. The session{ Governing body of the denomination that I eventually came to The Episcopal Church from} listed their projected ” goal” at the top of the poster & weekly reported on the pledges received each month. This offensive poster sat in the narthex of the church building, so visitors & members alike saw it whenever they came to church for any reason. If I felt nauseated every time I saw this poster on the wall, I am sure that others who came to that church felt equally appalled.

Most of us who attend church, any church, on a regular basis know that financial stewardship is part of what God calls us to do. But seekers & new Christians who have no attended church or awhile{ or ever} might see tithing as only about money. It is not. But at the same time, an intense campaign to motivate people to tithe might be perceived as just a plea for more money. No one wants to feel guilt-tripped into giving more money. If handled inappropriately, such as a poorly done stewardship campaign will guilt people into turning away from a faith community , or even from Christianity as a whole. Although there are many reasons why I left my previous denomination, the way that the ” stewardship campaign” was handled at the church I’d left before finding Small Parish factored hugely into my decision to come to Small Parish when I did.

It is true my opinions on intense campaigns to get more people to tithe is just my opinion, I’ve arrived at this opinion based on past experiences. What might turn out as a campaign to educate people on the Biblical commandment to set aside one tenth of one’s income to the church might easily become nothing more than all about money.