July 2017 Convocation Newsletter
Most people know the story of the Road to Emmaus. Here in France there is a homeless ministry called Emmaus, and its founder, Abbé Pierre, was considered the most popular man in the country. So much for secular France…One of the attractions of today's gospel story is that Luke uses a favorite literary device of mystery novels and films. We know it’s Jesus walking with Cleopas and What’s-His-Name, but they don’t.
I didn't pay a lot of attention to St. Thomas, a.k.a., Didymus or the Twin, a.k.a., “doubting”, until I was ordained to the priesthood on his feast day, December 21, twenty-nine years ago. After my trip to Iraq just before the war, and later, as we helped to provide asylum for 1300 Iraqis threatened with death for reasons of their faith, I got to know a lot more about Thomas. The story goes that he went to the east, where he founded churches, including the Chaldean Church in what is now Iraq, and the Mar Thoma Church in India. Thomas is said to...
Eastertide often seems to get short shrift. This time of celebration for the new life granted through Jesus’ resurrection gets about a day of devotion. In many ways, Lent is an easier season to observe than Easter. For many of us, and particularly for clergy families, Holy Week is a marathon of services. As always, the time is amazing, experiencing the passion and resurrection, but come Monday, I’m exhausted. I wonder then, how I can take the joy from Easter Day and let it fuel me through the fifty days of Easter?
Easter 2014, The Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity. We have come to the culmination of what the Church calls “Holy Week,” which is actually the beginning of a second week, “Easter Week.” We have reenacted in real time the betrayal, death, and entombment of Jesus. Perhaps you were able to be with us as all of us helped strip the altar down to the bare wood on Thursday night, or Friday when we prayed in the shadow of death that Christ would put his cross between us and judgment. Or last night...
More and more Christians today, as well as Christian leaders and mystics throughout the last 2000 years, see Earth as one part of God's body. The Psalmist matter-of-factly reminds us that everything belongs to God, simply stating "The Earth is the Lord's” (Psalm 24:1). Put alternatively, none of what we have is ours; all of life is a gift. Author Walter Brueggemann has said that Jubilee justice is "finding out what belongs to whom and giving it back." Of course, to give it back we have to open our fists, release our grip on the gift.
Most of us move through Holy Week reflecting upon the final days of Jesus, his death, and incredible resurrection. But for the few, prayers also beseech toners to stay full, rollers to track the paper, and jams to stay the stuff of Smuckers. Church secretaries and volunteers have to prepare and copy about a gazillion extra bulletins this week. In addition, there are Easter lilies to order, Altar Guilds to organize, and priests to manage. For church staffs, Holy Week is tough.
[Episcopal News Service] An 'Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence' was held April 9-11 in the midwestern state of Oklahoma. The event was meant to help Episcopalians renew their commitment to the Gospel call, to make peace in a world of violence, and to “reclaim their role in society as workers for nonviolence and peace.” At an April 10 news conference, Episcopal Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori said that the gathering was about “encouraging the world to pay attention to what we believe is the gospel about the reign of God” that describes a “world where people live in peace because there is justice.”
I thought I wasn’t going to have to answer that snarly question for a few more years. But here we are today, already five minutes late and you’re standing at the back door whining in protest, coat clenched in your fist and your stubborn stocking feet kicking the mud-caked boots you refuse to put on so we can scramble into the car. Do you want my answer? Okay, this is why you have to go to church: It's good for you for to go to church -- to remember that you’re part of the Body of Christ, too, even if you’re the antsy legs that can’t sit still in the pew; it's good for our family that you go to church...
The Episcopal Church runs on the extraordinary commitment and real sacrifice of its lay and clergy leaders. Working with congregations and dioceses across our church, one thing is clear: team leadership is one of the most critical issues facing the Episcopal Church today. Many lay+clergy leadership teams at both the congregational and diocesan levels are searching for purpose, lack the structure needed to be effective, have become regulatory and administrative bodies rather than mission-focused, and I will argue that few are tapping into the true depth of gifts that lay members bring to the table.
Let’s be clear: April Fools’ Day is not a religious holiday. It does, however, trace its origins to a pope. The day began, most believe, in 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII decreed the adoption of the “Gregorian calendar” — named after himself — which moved New Year’s Day from the end of March to Jan. 1. The change was published widely, but those who didn’t get the message and continued to celebrate on April 1 “were ridiculed and called April Fools.” Even though the annual panoply of pranks may not be grounded in any ancient religious merrymaking, the notion of “holy fools” does have a long and respected place in Judeo-Christian history.