July 2017 Convocation Newsletter
It is a great pleasure and privilege to be here today at the Church of the Ascension in Munich, one of the crown jewels of the Episcopal Churches in Europe. It wonderful thing, in particular, to confirm these six excellent young people and to watch them as they make their profession of faith, accepting their vows of baptism on their own behalf, and sending them forth in the power of the Holy Spirit to love and to serve God, and people for the rest of their lives.
The invisibility of wind - the ordinary insubstantiality of air - is contrasted to its ability to affect and change the environment. It bends trees, shapes landscape and casts the water up into waves. Jesus used the image once to good effect with Nicodemus. The wind has its own origins. It rises unbidden. It changes direction. It blows where it will.
A group of about fifteen pilgrims visited several sites of particular interest concerning the lives of Francis and Clare and reflected daily on the theme of Franciscan spirituality. The group was drawn from several churches of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe as well as Episcopal dioceses in the United States and the Church of England. “Pilgrimage is as much about the inner journey as it is the outer one,” commented Fr Mark Barwick...
[Christ Church, Greenwich, CT] "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers." Anyone who has attended an Episcopal Church, whether here or in Italy or in Taiwan, recognizes this quote from the Book of Acts. In the liturgy for Baptism, it appears right after the Apostles' Creed in what is called "the Baptismal Covenant." This Covenant is practically unique to our Church — though the Church of England added it as an option in their new rite of Baptism found in Common Worship. We repeat it at every Baptism and Confirmation, as well.
The imagery of sheep and shepherds would not have been lost on those who first heard these words of Jesus. Not only was it a common figure of speech in the Hebrew scriptures - there were also a lot of sheep around. The way that sheep and shepherds relate to one another is indeed an appropriate comparison to make with the relationship that Christ has with his people. There is, in fact, a close bond that is shared between sheep and their human caretakers. You may know that in many parts of the world, where sheep are an important part…
As more abductions of schoolgirls occurred today in Nigeria, I call upon our congregations in Europe and all people of good faith to pray for the recovery safe and sound of all these children, for their families who are suffering terribly, and for the leaders of Nigeria and the world to act swiftly and effectively to secure their rapid return home.
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.