July 2017 Convocation Newsletter
The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" The Lord replied, "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mul- berry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you. Similar sayings of Jesus in Mark’s and in Matthew’s Gospels juxtapose mustard seeds with mountains instead of mulberry trees. The phrase “faith that moves moun- tains” has found a home in our language as a figure of speech.
[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.
When I slow my pace long enough to take notice of the world around me . . . it is about paying attention and learning to live contemplatively. For some this may seem the domain of gaunt-looking saints and starry-eyed hermits. In fact, it belongs to anyone who sets out on the inward journey of seeing the world differently. It is about opening our eyes to the wonder that is present in and through all of creation. I suspect this is why Jesus said that God reigns only among children. Until we learn to see the world with the simplicity and honesty of a small child, we cannot know the fullness of God’s presence in and among us.
The camp has been called ‘the Jungle,’ an apt name considering the conditions that exist there. Thousands of refugees have gathered in the Jungle, just outside of Calais, each with a story of hardship and horror. They are trying to reach the UK by crossing the Channel. Some try to stow away in lorries headed for the Eurotunnel, others in people’s cars or even find a way to hide on the trains. Their desperation mirrors the disturbing images we have seen of migrants crossing the Mediterranean in rickety vessels. Here, too, in the Jungle some have died for their efforts, though their numbers are not to be compared to the thousands that have died at sea.
[St. Paul's Rome] Every day, hundreds of men and boys make their way to our church, descending the steps that lead into the crypt, and looking for answers and assistance in the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center. Once inside, guests may receive a nutritious breakfast, have a chance to rest in a safe place, access a supply closet with clothing items and basic necessities, and play foosball, ping pong, or chess. Many guests take advantage of services and programs like language classes (Italian, French, and English), navigation assistance (where an experienced refugee guest helps new arrivals “navigate” the various immigration, medical and legal appointments required for integration, or access the services of psychotherapists, who help guests cope with what has often been a chaotic and traumatic journey between their countries of origin and Rome. We receive daily anywhere from 100-225 guests in the JNRC, depending on the season. A growing number of dedicated volunteers give of their time and talent to help ease the burdens that accompany each guest.
Scripture says that God is endlessly involved in active, intimate love with us. According to the psalmist, God formed us in the womb and knows our every thought before we speak; we could fly to the uttermost parts of the universe, and God would still be with us. God spoke through Jeremiah: "I alone know the plans I have for you; plans for your well-being..." If God is indeed so closely involved with our lives, more intimate than a mother with her unborn child, the idea of "seeking" God seems paradoxical. Yet Scripture affirms our search for the Holy One who is even closer to us than we are to ourselves. We are created, Paul says, for the very purpose of seeking God. "If you seek me with all your heart," God says through Jeremiah, "I will let you find me."
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.
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.
La vidéo de l'attaque contre Charlie Hebdo montre l'image la plus choquante de cet abject attentat: l'exécution à bout portant du policier Ahmed Merabet. Le monde entier l'a visionnée. Touché par une balle, l'agent Merabet tombe par terre. Un des assaillants court vers lui, exprès. Merabet soulève un bras, on peut l'imaginer dire "non". Mais son meurtrier n'a aucune pitié et lui tire froidement une balle dans la tête. Et les deux lâches retournent à leur véhicule en se félicitant de leurs actes immondes.
We’ve all heard that Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America, but the problem is larger than this. According to a recent study, a white person's social network on average consists of 1% black, 1% Hispanic, 1 % Asian or Pacific Islander, 1%, and 1% other race. I’m Hispanic on my father’s side, but my current social network is pretty white. Fortunately, my pastor has been reaching out to other, diverse communities. We were invited to the march by an interfaith social justice organization called Faith in New York. As followers of Christ, we are called to go beyond our social networks.