Tag Archives: liturgical year

Blue blue Christmas

According to the liturgical calendar:today was supposed to be a Sunday of rejoicing.

No one at Small Parish felt like rejoicing this morning. :o/

Due to the recent events happening in the nation, today was not a day to celebrate. At Small Parish, we grieved & remembered the victims of the Newtown school shooting. We started the Mass with reading responsively the Great Litany. After the Lessons were read, our priest helped us address the sadness that we collectively feel about what happened on Friday morning.

We also prayed for the victims by name . That was really hard for me, as I’ve spent some time working in a public school system & many years working with and among children & youth of the Church. I noticed that the fellow & sister educators of m parish are especially affected by this tragedy. We never thought about a scenario such as this when I was working at an elementary school.

As I’ve already said, these things just should not happen.

I keep thinking about the families of the slain kids & the Christmas that won’t happen for so many people in & around the Newtown, Connecticut area. :O(

Years ago, my Presbyterian minister offered a ” Blue Christmas” service in December for anyone & everyone who might be grieving during this ” most wonderful time of the year”. I’d lost my beloved paternal grandfather that August, so I went to church on that designated Sunday evening. It was a time for we Christians to grieve in community & it was very cathartic.

This morning’s Mass at Small Parish had the same cathartic effect for me{ and probably for others in attendance , too} Grieving in community is healthy , both for the mind & soul.

Today I am grateful for the Church Universal’s gift of ” presence” & community.

Amen.

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Tikkun Olam

 Shalom Shabbat, y’all.

Coming from an interfaith family– I am a huge fam of both Christmas & Hanukkah. Naturally Christmas means more to me, but my Jewish heritage is a gift–and one that I have never taken for granted.

Anyhow, I came across a Hebrew term this evening that I had not known until now. It is : ” Tikkun Olam” & it is { very loosely} translated as ” to fix what is broken”.

As Christ-followers, we have a responsibility to fix what is broken in our world.  The Advent/Hanukkah/Christmas season is the perfect time to reach out to our sister & fellow humans who are suffering in mind, body or spirit.  Instead of focusing on materialism, we should take time to help another person { or people} who are needy.

Although helping to provide basic needs is a great way to start, sometimes people who ” seem” to not need help are the neediest.  There are many lonely souls in the world : & I know from experience that the loneliness amplifies itself tenfold during the holidays. Reach out to someone who is struggling emotionally or spiritually this Advent. Give to your local food bank. Visit an elderly person who might not get may visitors. Donate toys to a shelter for homeless families.

 

Spread shalom this holiday season.

Rejoice, Again I say REJOICE! { Phil 4:1-9}

The season of Lent is traditionally a season of quiet reflection. From Ash Wednesday all the way through Easter Sunday, we are in a period of waiting for the inevitable paradox that is Holy Week.  we know that OUR LORD is on His way to His death & there is nothing that His diciples back then could do to stop this fate. But, unlike the first-century disciples, we modern Christ-followers know” the rest of the story”.  We know that Christ dies, but He will be risen from the dead three days later. ristians can rejoice in our faith of God’s Agape love for humanity.

” For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”

Yes, Lent is a time for quiet reflection. Yet, we can REJOICE in the knowledge of how this story will end—in that Our Lord conquered death on a cross so that WE ma also have eternal life.

Amen.

Epiphany 2012

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night. On this day, we liturgical Christians celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men from the East. These astrologers were commissioned to seek out the Christ Child & then report to King Herod. But, warned in a dream, they saw th Christ child, brought Him expensive gifts , and returned home” another way.”

My question to myself this day is: How must I find “another way” to come closer to Our LORD? What is God asking ME to bring to His Son, Christ, this year? We are called to offer Him our best, as did the tree astrologers whose visit to the Christ Child we commemorate today. If I am not physically the healthiest I can be, than I am not offering my best to Our Lord & Savior.

Throughout most of my adult life I’ve been very ‘ wishy-washy’ at bet & downright lazy at worse regarding my attitude towards my bodily health. I’ve been skinny all of my life & have used my titanium-infused back to steer away from honest cardiovascular & strength training. Over the Christmas season, I’ve realized that I am NOT getting any younger & that if I do not start seriously tending to my physical body, later in life I will not be healthy enough to serve God & my community with my best. Being my best includes fitness in four areas, Physical, Emotional, Intellectual , and Spiritual. In the past I’ve ben faithfully working on 3 out of the four aforementioned areas. This year, however, I am making a HUGE change in my health & fitness routine.

I’ve had an Epiphany: I need to focus on becoming STRONG, NOT SKINNY”

I’ve come to the conclusion that , in order to present myself as a living offering to Our LORD, I must be as healthy as possible. My committment to my exercise program is not in order to compete against other ‘gym rats’ such as myself. I committed myself to improving my physical countenance so that I may better serve Christ. Our bodies are given to us on loan from God , and it is an act of good stewardship to tend to one’s physical health. I don’t go to the gym every day to show off{ and ayhow, I’m a neophyte in the world of ” gym rats”} I wake up & go excercise every day. It isn’t easy to get out of my warm bed, eat m oatmeal, drink my coffee, get dressed & meet ether Dad or LPC for my gym time.

It isn’t easy, but it is so worth it! I can already feel an increase in my stamina & general well-being in the short time I’ve been on my fitness regiment.

Advent with ++KJS Day 10 ” God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions”

God loves ALL, No Exceptions

I am proud to be Irish-American. Dad’s people came to western Pennsylvania in the early 1800’s. I’ve grown up among my Irish American kin & identify strongly as an Irish-American.

But there is also some English on Dad’s Mom’s side of the family, relatives about whom my brother & I did not know about until I was 9 years of age. The woman I still call ” Grandma” is actually my father’s stepmother.

Pap’s first wife & mother of my dad & his older brother, died of polio when my father was a baby. My brother & I still do not know our English kin {they live in upstate New York}. I recall that at first it disturbed me that the woman I know as ” Grandma” isn’t my blood-relative. I felt betrayed by Dad for his withholding this vital piece of my genealogy from me. When I went through three weeks of two back surgeries at Pittsburgh’s Childrens’ Hospital & saw Grandma tend to my medcial & emotional needs I knew she loves me regardless of our lack of a DNA connection. Anne IS my grandmother. She raised Dad like a biological son. She loves me.

Mom’s kin came to America from Russia & are Jewish. Her parents moved to south Florida hen I was very young & we only sw them but for once per year. However, Mom did make a point to teach us about the feasts & fasts { along with a bit of storytelling from the Hebrew Scriptures} of her Ashkenazic Jewish heritage.

My mixed heritage has been a gift : I can appreciate diversities within even our own Christian faith . Sometimes it is hard for me to understand other people’s point of view, but my unique heritage is a constant reminder that God loves EVERYONE. God isn’t partial to any one part of humanity…and Christ died for the sins of humanity. God loves those whom we can’t like & even those groups or individuas who ate us simply for being whowe are & our way of life.

It is not right for those of us in the majority to target certain ethnic groups as ” outiders’. This can mean ethnic or religious groups, but the poor, the disabled, { occasionally the elderly} & homosexuals.

Bishop Katharine says” God’s presence among us in human flesh is a Gift to all the nations.” May we remember this as we wait for Immanuel, **God with us** to arrive.

In the Name of The Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Feast of St John of The Cross
2011

Advent with ++KJS Day 7 ” City of God”

++ Katharine & Me , May 2009.

This week is Advent 3, 2011 in the Church Year.

During yesterday morning’s homily my priest talked about how the third Sunday in Advent has been known as ” Rose Sunday. Contrary to popular belief, this nickname has nothing to do with the Blessed Virgin Mary–rather it marks the ” halfway” part of Advent. This was pertinent in the Early Church because Advent had been more of a penitential season{ more like Lent than Christmastide or Pentecost}.

On the Third Sunday of Advent, we who use the Rite One form of the do not recite The Prayer of Humble Access & we do not say a corporate Confession. The pink { or rose-colored, if you must} candle on the Advent Wrath was lit yesterday during Mass. Some clergy own colors of a pinkish hue which are worn on this particular Sunday in Advent.

I read yesterday’s lesson from my Advent study with Bishop Katharine’s first book this morning. Appropriately for this season of hope, she talks about the origin of the word ” Shalom”.

Generally we think of SHALOM as meaning merely ” peace be with you”. Bishop Katharine reminds us that the meaning of the root word describes a peace that is describes in some parts of Scripture as “a city of God”. Shalom isn’t a place which can ben found using a Global Positioning System.

This City Of God that our Presiding Bishop discusses is a place where all who hunger are fed, all have adequate clothing & shelter & no one is without needed medical care. This City is a place where there is no racism, sexism, heterosexism, ect. It is a place where humans see interact with each other based on the quality of character & NOT on any extrinsic differences.

As baptized Christians, part of our responsibility is working with each other to further this image of Shalom. If we are truly acting out our baptismal covenant, we should focus more on feeding the poor, ect. No matter what our economic situation, there is always something we can do for or give to someone else in need. We can educate ourselves about other races or religions as part of working towards total Shalom.

No one is useless .. { My Pap always said that ‘ God don’t make no junk.’}but many Christians do not see themselves as possessing any gifts that the Church could { and would use to work to further Shalom. I spent many years thinking that my physical differences excluded me from serving God in the best way I can. It is only through prayer, work, reading that spiritual maturity is worked towards. When we dedicate ourselves to serving God through serving others, we are both furthering Shalom & becoming more mature in our personal yet metaphorical walks with Our Lord.

Shalom, y’all. Amen.

Advent 2: Waiting for the { vocational} Light

It was a full morning in the day of Small Parish. We had ONE Mass at 9 in the morning Central Standard Time, followed by our Annual Parish Meeting. At this meeting we elect vestry members { who serve a three-year term} plus three lay delegates to the annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast. These past two years I’ve served as a lay delegate from my parish, but travel time with Best Dude preclude my ability to go to Convention. I’m plenty happy with these arrangements , as we have some fine parishioners who will represent the congregation. {along with our Rector & our Vocational Deacon}

This is a very important service to our parish and our Church, as some policies passed during General Convention 2009 and the Central Gulf Coast’s Convention from last year will be ratified.

Last Convention , I was part of the delegation who voted on lay & ordained delegates to the tri-annual General Convention of The Episcopal Church.That was exciting & I am very pleased with MOST of the delegates who will represent our Diocese in the summer of 2012.

On of the many things about Convention that I will miss is the chance to worship & socialize with my Episco-peeps throughout the Diocese. My last two trips as a delegate to Convention , plus my weekend as a pilgrim at Cursillio has made me more aware that the Church stretches far beyond the walls & neighborhoods served by Small Parish. We are one holy, catholic Church, overseen by one area Bishop.

An aside from my original point: Shortly after I was confirmed into TEC, my then-rector gave me an opportunity to meet & be present at a Mass said by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori when she made a stop in my Diocese. This was by far one of those ” mountaintop experiences” that priests & other Christian clergy like to tell us about.Meeting her was awesome beyond words & I will never forget that day for as long as I live. From what I’ve read in her books, her vocational journey was { and IS} anything but easy or ordinary.

I’m still trying my hardest to make this world a better place & to spread the Gospel to all people. In order to accomplish this task, I remind myself every day to be the sort of Christian I would want to meet if I were an unBeliever. Bishop Katharine inspires me to reach folks where they are in this life, be it active churchgoing Christians,seekers who wish to know more about my faith, or those who claim to believe in nothing but what we can sense with our bodies.

Another challenge I face in this upcoming new year is to prayerfully continue to ask God to show me what God wants me to do with my life. In January, I’ll begin preparing for becoming a licensed Worship Leader in my Diocese. Currently we’ve only on such person at Small Parish. I find my ministery shifting at a crossroads right now & this is exciting a somewhat nerve-wracking feeling. Best Dude, or anyone who knows me well, knows that I do not like surprises & prefer to know ahead of time if a big change will occur in my life or in the life of my community. { People with Autism do not adapt to change well at all– it causes our already misfiring neurons to fizzle into overdrive} Yet, by the grace of God, I am learning that change is essential for spiritual growth. No one I respects wants to stay stagnant & neither do I.

Amen

~2 Advent 2011

Advent 1: Stay Awake & Be The Light in the World

It is Advent One…and the beginning of our liturgical year in my Anglican tradition. My rector greeted us with ” Happy New Year” this morning.

The picture above was on the front cover of today’s bulletin at Small Parish. Every week during Advent, there is a different work of art printed on the bulletin cover. The cover art for this Sunday depicts a famous painting by William Holman Hunt entitled ” The Light of The World’

What strikes YOU when you gaze at this picture? My eyes are drawn to the lantern .

You’ll see that the figure in the painting is knocking on a closed door while holding a brightly lit lantern in his other hand. The figures in the painting are dark & shadowy—but the lantern glows almost blindingly bright.

We Christians are called to bring Light{ The Gospel of Christ’s message of salvation} to the many places in our society that are full of metaphorical *darkness* There are many reasons why someone’s heart might be closed to the Gospel & it is up to you & me to gently ” knock on their door bearing the Gospel Light”. Many people I meet who are nominal Christians, agnostics & athiests tel me that they were{ mistakenly} taught that there is no room for “_______ people” in the Christian community.

Several of my friends who profess to be atheists do so because they don’t see Christ’s message as one of inclusion. In their opinions, so I’ve been told, all we Christ-followers are judgemental towards each other and especially towards those who are not like us. { the poor, people who speak other languages, gays , lesbians, bisexual & transgendered persons, the disabled…ect ect ect} based on what I hear out of the mouths of my well-meaning but unenlightened Christian sisters & brothers, I can understand why so many unchurched people close their metaphorical doors & refuse to let in the Gospel Light.

Look for opportunities in everyday life to ” be the Light of Christ” to a dark & rather frightening world. Share this Light with a stranger, preferably someone who is different from the societal norm.

In the Name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit, Amen

*****First Sunday of Advent 2011*****

Its ” MERRY CHRISTMAS”

It is day 2 in Atlanta. Today I’ll spend the day with my sister-in-law. My brother has to work & the parents are going out to Roswell, Georgia to visit our great-uncle & then see a high school classmate of Mom’s whom I never met. SIL & I will probably take Chloe{ their little dog} over to her parents’ house in Jonesboro, Georgia for the day. I’m looking forward to today, as I don’t get much ” Girls’ Time with my SIL.

At any rate, the issue I wanted to address today deals with the fact that the far-LEFT seems o want to eradicate the words ” Merry Christmas”from the lexicon. Now I am totally accepting & understanding of folks whose relgious beliefs don’t subscribe to the Christian part of the Christmas season, but nonetheless, it isn’t ” The Holidays” One of my pet peeves is when folks wish me ” happy Holidays” when I know darn well that they are{ or at least claim to be} Christian.

We Christians should claim the holiday as what it originally intended it to be: a celebration of our Lord & Savior’s birth.

Stores everywhere bring out the red & green decor on the first of November{ which, by the way, is All Saints’ Day} but individuals need not fall for the overdone commercialization of what politically-correct super liberals call ” The Holidays”. Catholic Christians know that there is a four week time of preparation before Christmas & we call it Advent.

Now I am aware that may popular Christmas images & smbols come from a very pagen source.Thats ine with me, but these symbols & traditions are not known as ” Yuletide” symbols. Even my most agnostic family members call a Christmas tree a CHRISTMAS tree. I think I remember President Obama wanting to call the White House Christmas Tree the ” Holiday Tree” Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

I hate how the super-PC left trie to ruin the two most sacred days on the Christian calendar. Of course I respect folks’ right to worship{ or to not worship} as they please, but I do resent the movement to negate Christmas and Advent to “The Holidays”

HAPPY ADVENT!

Obligatory ” Thankful List”

Since this is November and everyone has holiday shopping on their minds I will write my ” Thankful List” tonight. 

{Btw, it is not even Christ The King Sunday for another two weeks—at least.  Any liturgically-correct person won’t say ” Merry Christmas” until Dec 26}

MY GRATEFUL LIST 2011

~ My family…all of them.

~ Two pets: a dog & a betta fish

 ~The BEST boyfriend ever.

~I live in a nation that allows women basic civil rights.

~ Church,Diocese & parish

~Plenty of food

~Friends.

~Shelter and a place to call home.

~Quiet storm season in the Atlantic.

~Medical care.

~Women, who in the tradition of Deborah in the Hebrew Scriptres, that are not afraid to take contol & be strong in adverse conditions