July 2017 Convocation Newsletter
Bishop Pierre Whalon
One word is the topic of this Christmas sermon: "character." The first sermon I ever preached was in January 1983, and I touched on all the readings, and then some. As the years have passed, I have focused more and more, on two readings, one reading, then only a couple of verses, and tonight — just one word. If you look at the reading from the Letter to Hebrews, not by St. Paul, incidentally, you will see these words: “he is … the exact imprint of his being…” We all know that no translation can perfectly render what is said in one language into another language. The word translated as “imprint” is also “image” or “representation” in all the Romance-language Bibles I looked at. The Latin says “figure”, while the Germans always use the same word, which means “exact picture”.
[Holy Trinity, Nice, France] Today, we are celebrating, two days in advance, the festival of All Saints – all of the people who are with the Lord, past present and future. You know that we don’t have to be Anglican in order to go to heaven, though I am told that it will help a great deal to know which fork to use at the heavenly banquet! All Saints’ Day is an odd festival because all of the other festivals of the church are festivals of things past, whereas All Saints’ Day is really a festival of the future. This is the only church festival that is about the future…Whose future? Your future, my future.
Has The Episcopal Church changed its doctrine of marriage? Reading various statements during and after the 78th General Convention, it would seem that once again, that church based in America and present in sixteen other countries is threatening the fragile unity of the Anglican Communion by leaving behind the “faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). If that is straining the bonds of our Communion, it is not purely an American issue, by any means. Our church is in the same position as the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Ireland, the Church of Wales, the Church of Canada, the Church of Australia, the Church of Southern Africa, the Church of Brazil, the Church of Mexico, and the Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia. Why is The Episcopal Church singled out?
Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si, released a few days ago, certainly has stirred a great deal of comment, much of it negative. Consider, for example, the New York Times' columnist Ross Douthat's response. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The "letter" is huge, with 246 paragraphs divided among six chapters. The Pope fights on two interrelated fronts, ecological degradation and economic injustice. He proceeds from a very detailed description of the situation of humanity on our planet that is unrelentingly grim, to a bright hopeful promise that real change can happen. It will be very widely read, and due to the weight of the Roman Church's one billion Christians, and their leader's popularity, Laudato si will make an impact politically as well as upon the major environmental and economic debates of our time.
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.
The really important part of Christmas is something immensely simple. Yet it eludes us, as well — perhaps because it is so simple. In his "Mass", Leonard Bernstein has a song, "A Simple Song", which says that "God loves all things/ For God is the simplest of all." The English theologian Charles Williams called Jesus Christ "The Divine Thing." A simple thing, namely, God one of us. The Reason for it all...