July 2017 Convocation Newsletter
It is a great pleasure to be back here in Wiesbaden at St Augustine of Canterbury. Today is a new chapter in the life of this congregation with the inauguration of the rectorship of the Rev. Christopher Easthill. Christopher has received my letter of institution, and he is charged with seeing that the Word is preached, the Sacraments are faithfully celebrated, the Faith is taught and that you are cared for in the name of Jesus Christ. Today’s Gospel is a very famous gospel with the gathering swine running off of the cliff and drowning in the water. I believe in Britain there is an expression that if you say something is gathering, it is a blind rush. This is a very peculiar gospel story. It is about an exorcism. The church has a rite of exorcism. It is found in the book of occasional services, which contains among other things the blessing of a home, the consecration of an altar . . .
Ring, ring. Sorry to disturb you presiding bishop, but I am calling from All Saints’ Church Waterloo, Belgium. Today we had a visit from Bishop Pierre. Something very strange happened that we felt that we had to report to you. A woman came running into the church. She fell at his feet. She began kissing his feet while she wept, and after she got his feet good and wet, she wiped them off with her hair. Then, she got out some perfume! Well. . .what would you think if such a thing had actually happened at today's service? In today's reading, Luke 7: 36 - 8: 3, we find one of those incredibly dramatic moments found in the gospel, and it’s full of things that ordinarily we don’t quite understand. There is this town -- it is not really named, and then there is this fellow named Simon -- there are nine Simons in the New Testament -- who invites Jesus to his home. There, Jesus encounters this woman. . .
There is an old story about the Trinity that goes like this. There was a man who never came to church except on Trinity Sunday. Finally, the head usher approached him and asked him why the parish only saw him on Trinity Sunday. What it for work reasons? “No,” he replied. “Family issues, perhaps?” said the usher. “No, nothing like that.” “Well, what then?” “I like to come to hear how the rector will try to explain the Trinity one more time.” Well, today your Rector is off the hook. The Bishop will now explain the Trinity to you. But first, think about quantum physics. The Danish physicist who threw down the bases for it said, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum physics does not understand it.” If quantum physics is so hard to understand, which is only about atoms and their components, why should we be surprised that the nature of God is not understood?
At the heart of Christian prayer is the Holy Eucharist. It rightfully holds a central place in the gathering of Christians, as it declares our identity more than any pre-set prayer or creedal statement ever will. It is not just something that we do; it is who we are. We are Eucharist. We are bread that has been taken, blessed, broken and then given for the life of the world. And the more deeply that we live into this awareness, we become participants in what God is doing to renew the earth and to restore creation to its original beauty.
[St. Columban’s, Karlsruhe, Germany] “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14: 23-29 One of our confirmands said yesterday that she has trouble believing in a god “up there.” It has been a long time since people believed that God was actually “up”.
It is a great joy to be among the parish of St. Paul’s within the Walls, Rome. The Gospel that was just read to us was traditionally used on Maundy Thursday when Jesus instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. And the Latin “mandatum novum” or a “new commandment” is where the word Maundy comes from — a kind of contraction. “A new commandment I give you that you love one another as I have loved you.” It is rather strange to be ordered to love. What does this mean?
What a wonderful treat it is to be back in Munich at the Church of the Ascension, on a glorious day when we are going to baptize four people and celebrate the sacraments. My name is Pierre Whalon, and I am bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, of which Ascension is one of the crown jewels. There are many little children in the room, so before I begin my sermon, I would like to share a story. When my daughter was about two years old, I was a priest at a parish in the Diocese of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. One of our best friends there -- a Roman Catholic priest –had just lost his mother.
[Brussels, Belgium] It has been a week for killings. I don’t imagine that the Brussels killers made any connection to Holy Week as they unleashed their terror, but many Christians will not have missed the irony. This is a week of killings, a week of conspiracy, murder and fear, a week to mourn the violent death of our friend and brother, Jesus the Nazarene. He was innocent of any wrongdoing. He did nothing deserving of death. But none of that matters when dark forces come together to accomplish their hateful task. The innocent die: like a young woman seeing off her relatives at the airport, a university student going on holiday or a worker taking the Metro to the office. Innocence doesn’t count when the executioner is doing his job.
Last night, at Harty church, on the tip of Sheppey, with the wind howling, lit by candles, warmed by one another, we celebrated the light of Christ that, full of joy and hope, we carry into a world of fear and darkness. In the shadow of Brussels, with the memory of Srebeniza, hope can seem far far away. People here will feel hope has faded because of illness, bereavement, unemployment, money worries, family breakdown. When hope fails, fear draws close, and whispers sly deceits in our minds. On Easter Day hope decisively overcame fear and Christians are called to be witnesses to the hope that is found only in Jesus Christ.
[Emmanuel Church, Genève] « … là où est l'Esprit du Seigneur, là est la liberté » (II Cor. 3.17) “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Let’s begin with this big word, transfiguration. It is little used outside Christianity. But there is what is called esthetic transfiguration, among Romantic writers, like Victor Hugo . . . Commençons par ce grand mot, transfiguration. Ça s’emploie très peu en dehors du christianisme. Mais on parle de la transfiguration esthétique, chez les auteurs romantiques, tels que Victor Hugo. Son grand personnage Quasimodo est laid, brutal, monstrueux, mais l’histoire concerne la révélation de sa noblesse, de sa beauté.