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March 2014

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.

Feast of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr, 1489-1556. Thomas Cranmer is something of an icon for the crazy-quilt nature of Anglicanism. The collect we prayed gives thanks for the beauty of his liturgical language and notes that his death was revelatory of God’s power in human weakness. His history is a striking mix of deep theological wrestling and expedient action, both personal and political. One writer describes his journey as a move “from a champion of the faith to a compromising sycophant and vows-breaker.”[1]

A review of "Revealing Heaven: The Christian Case for Near-death Experiences" (by John W. Price) Since the publication of books by Raymond Moody and Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, there has been a great deal of literature on the phenomenon of near-death experiences. There are battle lines drawn. On the one hand are mainstream scientists and other skeptics, who categorically reject these experiences as anything more than hallucinations created by a dying brain. On the other are authors like John Price, who as a chaplain has heard hundreds of these reports, and is convinced that they are authentic insights into the afterlife.

The Institution of the Rev. John Perris as Rector of Christ-the-King Church, Frankfurt, Germany. We have today a new beginning. And also another chapter in the ongoing story of Christ-the-King. It is appropriate, in a way, to institute your Rector on the first Sunday of Lent. Now I am not saying that after today Fr. John will be shoved out into the desert to be tempted of Satan! Of course, there will be moments… but we can say that the Holy Spirit has moved in the usual mysterious way to shove John and Cat and Alex into Germany.

Ash Wednesday 2014, Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Today is no feast, for sure. It is a Fast, one of two obligatory fast days for Episcopalians, the other being Good Friday, of course. How you observe your fast is up to you. Many people choose to “give something up” for Lent, beginning today. That is abstinence, not fasting. Fasting is the reduction of food consumed. The point is, either way, to mark a difference in our usual routine. This difference is...

The Rev. Jana Johnsen will serve as a member of the Presbyterian Church USA delegation to the 58th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The priority theme for this year’s session is challenges and achievements relating to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Last Epiphany 2014: Transfiguration. On this Sunday before Lent starts, the Church repeats the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus, as it is known. Big word, “transfiguration.” It is, as Paul would write in a different context, “the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The connection between God’s action in Israel’s past, shown by the great prophet of the Law, Moses, and the great wonderworker, Elijah, and the future that God is bringing about, comes through clearly.

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