July 2017 Convocation Newsletter
In a letter to Haim Korsia, Grand Rabbi of France, Bishop Pierre Whalon and the Very Reverend Lucinda Laird, dean of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Paris, expressed solidarity with the Jewish community in the face of growing anti-Semitism in France, and across Europe. The letter followed an incident in which the Cathedral wall along the avenue George V was defaced with anti-Jewish graffiti. “It is intolerable that anti-Semitism is rising again in our countries,” the two said. With this deplorable act, “we felt that Christians were being targeted, as well. Whoever is attacking the Jews in France is attacking us as well.” “Whether Jew, Christian or Muslim, we are all one human family and worthy of respect."
We spent a good deal of time together considering what are we communicating and how. I hope that you found this weekend to be of some use to you in your work as communicators, communication being the work of the church — communication being the church itself. You are witnesses of these things, Jesus says. Well, witnesses to what? There are four gospels and another source that tell us of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Besides the four gospels, of course, we have. . .
My Sunday School teachers made much of the Great Commission (and related pronouncements of Jesus) to "go forth" into the world. This was the late sixties in Western Canada and elements of the Anglican Church of Canada (and other mainline denominations) had begun to set aside old colonialist ideas that our task was to civilize and westernize foreign societies. One sensed rejoicing that God was present in the lives of African and Asian Christians as African and Asian people and not merely copies of a dominant culture from the West.
The most amazing and life-giving discussions have occurred at times where my mind has been elsewhere, my body tense. Yet it was when I focused myself on being present on the here and now, just for a little while, that magic happened. That God appeared. Today’s gospel reading, the story of Doubting Thomas, echoes the importance of being present. This morning, we find the disciples of Christ in a bad way. They are grieving, they are devastated, and they have locked themselves away in their house out of fear that they might receive a punishment as painful and humiliating as Jesus. Everyone is there, everyone is scared and everyone is suffering. Everyone except Thomas.
Episcopalians have a prayer that names “this fragile earth, our island home.”  We’ve been praying it for nearly 40 years, yet many are only beginning to awaken to our wanton abuse of this planet. We profess that God has planted us in a garden to care for it and for all its inhabitants, yet we have failed to love what God has given us. We continue to squander the resources of this earth, and we are damaging its ability to nourish the garden’s diverse web of life.
Twenty years ago, an American singer named Joan Osborne riled people up with a song named, “One of us.” The Canadian star, Alanis Morissette, re-issued it five years ago. . . "If God had a name what would it be? And would you call it to his face? If you were faced with him in all his glory, what would you ask if you had just one question?. . . What if God was one of us?"
One of my earliest memories is my mother giving me a bath in the kitchen sink. Yes, there was a time when I could fit in one, though I must say our home had a rather large sink. Jesus washes his disciples’ feet, doing what a servant would normally do. Feet get dusty in that part of the world. And even today, the foot is the obscene part of the body. If a Middle Easterner does this – shows his foot -- it is the equivalent of a well-known Western hand gesture. Touching feet, never mind washing them, is deeply shameful. The disciples must have been quite surprised that their beloved Teacher would stoop to do this. Well, they were grown men, too big to fit in the kitchen sink. But those feet needed washing. And they all needed to be part of Christ, for their lives’ sake. So they first needed washing, before they could be fed.
For the past 2 years, the former bus driver from Portland, Oregon, has been forced to recycle his life in Germany, a country he’d not stepped foot in for almost 60 years. He didn’t even speak the language. In 1956, when Harry was 4 years old, his mother decided they should leave their German homeland in search of a better life. One week later, America was their new home. In all that time, Harry had never sought U.S. citizenship. He never thought he would need it. But after a brush with the law, on paper and in the eyes of U.S. Immigration, Harry was German and his destiny already set. Christ the King Episcopal Church in Frankfurt helps people like Harry rebuild their lives through a ministry called Heimkehrer, which means homecomer.
Dedicated church musician sought for director of music at Christ-the-King, Frankfurt, Germany. Christ-the-King is an international, active, English-speaking Anglican-Episcopal church with a long-standing tradition for music.
One of the things that I have been involved in is the welcoming of refugees to France, principally from Iraq but now also from Syria, those refugees who are persecuted . . . threatened with death directly and personally because of their faith. Most of them are Christians, but some of them are Muslims of minority persuasion, Alawites and so forth. I want to just start today by telling you a story from one family of refugees. A couple and their children came to the Cathedral in September. They had just arrived in France, in August, from Mosul.