Friday, December 28, 2012

Holy Innocents - December 28

I do Morning Prayer at our church most Fridays, it is the habit of our church to do Morning Prayer every weekday morning, and those of us who do it are committed to this practice. (one note of clarification - if the church office is closed, MP may or may not be conducted) It is usually at 9:00am, and usually in the chapel, but we tend to be a bit flexible, personal schedules and church events sometimes dictate changes (I keep hearing "the space always wins" and I wholeheartedly agree).

Today is a special day of commemoration, a day we remember someone special or an event that stands out. Today is The Holy Innocents. Most "Red Letter" days are remembering Saints or something like the annunciation, and are considered feast days, but not today. Today we remember the children that were slaughtered at the order of King Herod when he learned that the Wise men had left and did not tell him where to find the Christ child as told us in Matthew 2;

"16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

18“A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” "

You cannot feast on a day that remembers the death of the innocent. That this is two weeks after the death of 18 children does not escape me, nor does the fact that on that day after I had completed Morning Prayer, ten minutes later a nightmare was unleashed on a school that was preparing for the Christmas vacation.
On the 21st at the conclusion of Morning Prayer at 9:30 am our church bells were rung in memory of those that had died - and at each tolling I spoke aloud the name of each victim, than prepared to give out toys to parents who had applied for Toys for Tots from us. Concluding that day - the shortest day of the year and the longest night, a Homeless Memorial service was held, concluding with speaking aloud those homeless men and women that had died.

Christmas is remembered and constructed as a magical sugarplum time, where families are joyous and all is right with the world, but that is not, nor has it been the case. We miss those that died during the year more keenly at Christmas than say Labor Day. Tragedy still occurs, death, sickness or loneliness do not take a holiday. In this week alone a retired Bishop of the Episcopal church died, as did the father of a recently ordained Deacon, and a nieces' Father in Law took a turn for the worse, and these are the ones I know of. There are more I am certain.

Yet in and through this we can and do say "Alleluia, To us a child is born: Come let us adore him. Alleluia"(BCP MPII pg 80)

and I will share with you why; because Jesus is not the reason for the season.

I attended our church’s Midnight service and the Christmas Day service and heard this from Father Daniel, Jesus is not the reason for the season, Now before you call the local news stations and decry a war on Christmas at the Episcopal church, continue reading.
But first a disclaimer: this is based on Daniels sermon and I will try to identify which are his heresies and which are mine, by putting a (D) next to his statements as best as I can recall them (along with italicizing them), just so you know what to tell the Bishop when you see him next

We romanticize the nativity (D) – Mary beaming, Baby Jesus cooing, Joseph standing over keeping watch, the adoration of the shepherds. But births are far from romantic, they are messy, painful, panic filled, scary and not private – and this is in a modern hospital with Doctors, nurses, anesthetists, (with that team there is NO privacy), clean, and germ controlled. The birth of Jesus was – and I’m guessing on this part – panic filled. Where could a out of town couple stay or go to deliver this baby, talk about not finding the car keys, this couple could not find a place to stop to rest for themselves, let alone a private spot for Mary to give birth. A manager is the best they could find, and not the beautiful one represented on our mantels, closer to a dank, dark, cold, cave – hollowed out from a hillside. No doctor, no nurse and not even a midwife, just Joseph. So rethink the nativity – a teenage girl, her first child, no bed, and only Joseph to help the hours of labor and than the delivery.

So if this whole thing is scary, dangerous and not easy, why did God do it? Why would Christ come to earth in the form of a baby: homeless, in the care of a teenager and an older man. Why would God do that? Did God need us?(D)

Have you thought of that – does God need us?

Or is it the other way around, we needed God (D)

In a world where there was political corruption, roman peace (a peace that was kept with the edge of a sword), financial exploitation and human disposability, God sent His Son for us.

There are wonderful traditions that families have to remind children that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, birthday cakes to Jesus is just one and I’m not saying we should chuck them out the door with the bath water. However the true reason for the season - is you and me. (D) We are the reason God sent His Son, we needed God in the incarnate, Immanuel, God is with us. God. is. with. us: in the painful, panic filled, scary moments, in our wounded world.

Jesus chose to touch us where we hurt.(D) Did you catch that, He CHOSE to touch us where WE hurt, and in that touch is healing to our souls and hearts. In choosing to touch us we than are directed to touch others where they hurt, in their wounded world. So we give out toys to parents who have no other means of giving something to their children on Christmas day, we have a homeless memorial to remember the ones very few what to acknowledge existed, we have a food pantry and a clothing closet, we house a dental and medical clinic. That is only what we do - other churches do other services that meets the needs of their community: House of Hope, family intervention, women and children shelters, the list goes on and on and it should. We who have been touched where we are want to reach out and touch others where they are. Than we continue to pray and worship- for in prayer and worship we become grounded and revived to continue the Monday to Sunday walk.


"We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. "
-Collect of the Day: The Holy Innocents

"Alleluia, To us a child is born: Come let us adore him. Alleluia"(BCP MPII pg 80)

at the Episcopal Cafe' The Lead
http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/children/holy_innocents_and_violence_ag_1.html

Monday, December 24, 2012

Services at Christmas




Christmas Eve Services:
5:00pm Eucharist
10:30pm Chorale Prelude followed by 11:00pm Midnight Mass

Christmas Day Service;
10:30 AM Eucharist with Carols and Organ Music

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Festival Service of Lessons and Carols for Advent




A Festival Service of Nine Lessons and Carols for Advent will be held at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 35 South Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre, on Wednesday, December 12th at 6 PM. The service, St. Stephen’s annual Advent and Christmas gift to the community and region, will feature traditional hymns and carols sung by all, as well as choral selections for the season. The Reverend Daniel Cube Gunn, Rector, will serve as officiant, assisted by lay readers from among the members of the parish. St. Stephen's Choir will present special music under the direction of Canon Mark Laubach, Organist and Choirmaster, and Assisting Choirmaster Dr. Rick Hoffenberg, Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Choral Conducting at Marywood University in Scranton.

The Festival Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, a long-standing English tradition for the Advent and Christmas season, is now celebrated throughout the world. The service for Advent consists of an alternating sequence of scripture readings and music, beginning with the Old Testament prophecies of Isaiah and Zechariah. Readings from the New Testament include the angel Gabriel’s annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the familiar story of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem. Musical selections reflect upon the readings that precede them.

St. Stephen's Choir will sing choral works and carol arrangements by Palestrina, Morten Lauridsen, John Tavener, Gerald Near, Herbert Murrill, Gerre Hancock, and Mack Wilberg. Hymns and carols sung by all will include “Come, thou Redeemer of the earth,” “O day of peace,” “There’s a voice in the wilderness crying,” “Sleepers, wake!”, “Ye who claim the faith of Jesus,” “On Jordan’s bank,” and “Lo! he comes, with clouds descending”. Organ music before, during, and at the end of the service will be played by Canon Laubach on the magnificent Berghaus pipe organ, containing some 4,900 pipes.

A free-will offering will be received to support the music ministry of Saint Stephen's Church. Canned goods and other non-perishable food items will be received to support the Food Pantry of St. Stephen’s. A festive reception will follow the service. The public is warmly welcome to attend. For more information, call the church office at (570)825-6653 or send e-mail inquiries to mlaubach@ststephenswb.org.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Advent poem

"The earth has grown old with its burden of care
But at Christmas it always is young,
The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair
And its soul full of music breaks the air,
When the song of angels is sung."
-- Phillips Brooks

Read more at: http://www.faithandworship.com/Advent_themes_and_resources.htm#ixzz2DceNWMgQ
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

Friday, November 23, 2012

Advent Season

Preparing for Advent

In his book Waiting for the Coming, Bishop J. Neil Alexander reminds us that spiritual growth comes when we pray and wait. He writes, "the Scriptures are punctuated with the word "wait"; a sense of active, hallowed waiting can be found on nearly every page of the texts." (p. 3) Advent is the season of waiting, and appreciating waiting for the spiritual discipline that it offers. Here are some resources to accompany you, while you enjoy the wait.

Family Devotions
The Advent Wreath at Home Candle Press


Advent Calendars
Church publishing
Liturgy Training Publications
Metropolitan Museum of Art

An online German Advent calendar with Christmas facts for each day.

The Jesse Tree
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. (Isaiah 11:1). Creating a Jesse Tree is another way to engage with the waiting of Advent. The Jesse Tree is Jesus' family tree. Each day in Advent a bible story is read and an ornament, each representing a symbol to match the story, is added to the tree.

In religious art, The Jesse Tree as an ancient depiction of the genealogy of Jesus can be found in stained glass windows and illuminated manuscripts. Jesse Tree Kit

Build Your Own Bethlehem: A Nativity Scene and Activity Book for Christmastime
Gertrud Mueller Nelson with Peter Mazar

Here are all the characters and then some for building your own nativity scene! Each figure is yours to pop loose and set up as the days of Christmas unfold. There is the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. There is the stable with scampering mice and cooing doves that sit in the rafters. There is the ox and ass and a flock of sheep accompanied by shepherds and their faithful dog. There is an angel, of course, and a star. Epiphany's three holy kings, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, are here too. And there are surprises: the gospel's "senior citizens," Anna and Simeon, who wait 40 days to meet their newborn Lord.

This beautiful, full-color activity book (the pop-out figures are found inside) suggests eight occasions, from Christmas until Candlemas— a full 40 days—for using the figures to tell a portion of the nativity gospels, like a puppet theater! The art of Gertrud Mueller Nelson and the sturdy pop-out figures truly bring the Christmas stories to life.

Building your own Bethlehem is a wonderful way to keep the spirit of Christmas alive well into the new year perfect for home or classroom, perfect for every age.


Celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas

December 6th

St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra (an area on the southern coast of current day Turkey) in the 3rd century. He grew up a devout Christian with a ministry to the sick, suffering and needy. He became the subject of many stories and legends and is known as the patron saint of children and sailors.

In some parts of the world, children celebrate his feast day by leaving their shoes by the door where Nicholas fills them with oranges, chocolates and coins.





Monday, November 12, 2012

A Service of Choral Evensong


A Service of Choral Evensong for the Feast Day of St. Cecilia, patron saint of singers, organ builders, musicians, and poets will be held at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 35 South Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre, on Sunday, November 18th at 5:00 PM. The Right Reverend Paul V. Marshall, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, will preside. The Reverend Brian Pavlac, Assisting Priest of St. Stephen’s, will serve as officiant, assisted by Larry Hickernell, cantor. The Choir of St. Stephen's will sing under the direction of Canon Mark Laubach, Organist and Choirmaster. Music for the service will include works by Gerre Hancock, Robert Wylie Lehman, Charles Villiers Stanford, Herbert Murrill, C├ęsar Franck, and Richard Strauss.

Following the service, Canon Laubach will present a 45-minute organ recital to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the church’s magnificent Berghaus pipe organ. The recital will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in F Major, BWV 540, Pastorale by the early 20th century French composer, Jean Jules Aimable Roger-Ducasse, and the Passacaglia from the 20th century American composer Leo Sowerby’s Symphony in G for organ.

An offering will be received to support St. Stephen’s “Polish the Gem” Organ Fund and Episcopal Relief and Development to provide assistance for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Canned goods and other non-perishable food items are welcome in support of the church’s food pantry, and clothing will be gratefully received for the parish clothing closet.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Month of Thanks

Thanksgiving Season 2012
from Rob McMahon
Trinity, Mount Pocono

Day #1 - Thursday, 11/1 – Thanks for Family. As you interact with your family today, take an opportunity to say a simple thank you to each family member for one thing you are grateful for. It might be something a family member has done for you, or it might be for a character quality you see in their lives.

Day #2 - Friday, 11/2
– Thank God for Silence. Due to the fast pace of our lives these days, most of us have forgotten the blessings of silence and reflection. Take a few minutes sometime today, find a quiet spot and thank God for the gift of silence and solitude. Spend some time thinking of other reasons why you are grateful to God.

Day #3 - Saturday, 11/3 – Thanksgiving Invitation. Find someone you are thankful for and invite them to your family’s Thanksgiving Day celebration. If you’re not going to be home for Thanksgiving Day, invite them over for coffee and pie sometime
around the holiday.

Day #4 - Sunday, 11/4 – Thank God for Today. The past is history. Tomorrow is uncertain. But, we have today. Thank God for giving us this day. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” —Psalm 118:24

Day #5 – Monday, 11/5 – E-Thanks. Express your thanks to someone in your life sending them a brief e-mail or text message. Or, get fancy and send a free e-card that are offered on many websites. If you aren’t into technology, just give or send a hand-written note.

Day #6 - Tuesday, 11/6 – Thanks for Freedom! Thank God for allowing us to live in a country where we are allowed to vote. Sure, we don’t live in a “perfect” country, but we can certainly be thankful for the many freedoms we enjoy that many people around the world only dream of having.

Day #7 - Wednesday, 11/7 – Thanks for the Pain? We all experience hard times, but God is with us even in the worst circumstances. Thank God for His presence, comfort and strength that has helped you get through a rough season in your life. If that painful season is now, take comfort in knowing God is with you. “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your
God will go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” —Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)

Day #8 - Thursday, 11/8 – What I Like About You… Today, take a few minutes and make a list of the things you like about your family members. Share your list with your family sometime during the day – and thank them for those things!

Day #9 - Friday, 11/9 - Thanks for Sharing Faith! Today, think of someone in your life who has helped you to know God better. Mail them a note, send them an email or tell them in person that you are thankful for their help and example of faith along the way.

Day #10 - Saturday, 11/10 – Wake Up and Smell the Coffee Day. We all get so busy that we can ignore the wonders of life all around us – like the smell of coffee when we get up, or a friend who drops by to say hello. Today, take time to notice your surroundings and thank God for the things we often take for granted.

Day #11 - Sunday, 11/11 – Give Thanks for God’s Word. Offer up thanks to God today, for giving us the Scriptures. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path.” —Psalm 119:105

Day #12 - Monday, 11/12 - Thank a Veteran Day. Brave men and women who have served their country with honor surround us.Find a veteran today, and say thank you. If you know of a World War 2 veteran, call one up to say thanks. Just five years ago, there were about 3 million WW2 vets still alive. This year, the number is expected to fall below 1.5 million. So, take advantage of saying thank you to these heroes while you still can!

Day #13 - Tuesday, 11/13 – Little Things Make a Difference. We often ignore the little things in life that make life easier and better for us. Today, make a list of ‘little things’ that you appreciate. For example, my list includes indoor plumbing, refrigerators and my iPhone.

Day #14 - Wednesday, 11/14 – Thank You Call. Today, make a phone call to someone in your life whom you wish to thank for something they’ve done. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but a verbal expression of thanks often means a lot to the person you are thanking.

Day #15 – Thursday 11/15 – Thank God for Learning! Something often overlooked in our lives is that God created us with the ability to learn. So, whether you are in school now, are learning a new hobby, or have learned a lesson from a poor decision, thank God today for the capacity to learn.

Day #16 – Friday 11/16 – Prayer-Path Day. Today, say a quick prayer of thanks for everyone who crosses your path – like the cashier at the Burger King, or the person delivering your morning paper. You get extra credit for saying thanks to these people, in person.

Day #17 - Saturday, 11/17 – Experience the Moment! Too often, we focus more on what we need to do tomorrow or next week than we do on what’s happening today. Today, live in the present and be thankful for it – from raking the leaves to planning your Thanksgiving dinner.

Day #18 - Sunday, 11/18 – Knowing Jesus. What can compare to knowing Jesus? We have been blessed beyond measure with the opportunity to know Jesus. The difference He’s made in our lives – through knowing Him as Savior and Lord – is a greater gift than silver and gold, or turkey and stuffing! Today, give thanks for knowing the Savior!

Day #19 - Monday, 11/19 – Your Top 10. Today, make a list of the 10 people in your life for who you are most thankful. Call, email, or text one or more of them and tell them they are on your top 10 list!

Day #20 - Tuesday, 11/20 – Food, Food, Food! As you begin to think about that great Thanksgiving Day meal you’ll be eating in a couple days, take some time to thank God for food and His gracious provisions. Pray for those who will go without this Thanksgiving Day. Do something for someone less fortunate than you, if you are able.

Day #21 - Wednesday, 11/21 – The Blessing of Family and Friends. Tomorrow is T-Day! Spend a few moments in prayer to thank God by name for each person you will be spending the holiday with. Tomorrow, make it your goal to tell each person why you are thankful for him or her.

Day #22 - Thursday, 11/22 – Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy your celebration! Take time to reflect on the meaning attached to this day. Perhaps you can read one of the
‘Thanksgiving Proclamations’ that were written by our past Presidents, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. They are easy to locate on the Internet, including on HomeWord.com.

Day #23 - Friday, 11/23 – Take a Trip Down Memory Lane. Take some time today with family to look at photos or videos of Thanksgiving celebrations from years
gone-by. As you remember Thanksgivings of the past, thank God for the loved ones you’ve spent these holidays with.

Day #24 - Saturday, 11/24 – Exercise! After the past few days, you’re probably in need of burning off some calories. Enjoy a walk, take a hike, or do whatever you
can do and like to do. Thank God for your physical abilities. We might not be in the best physical condition, but we can still give thanks for the capabilities we do have!

Day #25- Sunday, 11/25 – Heritage Sunday! Today, thank God for the long line of Christ-followers who have gone before us as well as those who share in and
encourage our faith these days. Their faith and faithfulness to share it with us is a tremendous heritage!

Day #26 - Monday, 11/26 – Missed You, Thank You, Love You! Call, email or text a relative or friend who was away from you on Thanksgiving Day. Thank them for their place and influence in your life.

Day #27 - Tuesday, 11/27 – Positive Thoughts Only! It’s not unusual to feel a bit melancholy the week after Thanksgiving. So, this one will take some work,
but strive today to think only positive thoughts about other people and the situations you find yourself in. Be upbeat and thankful. You’ll be amazed at how this
improves your day – and you’re likely to find how your positive attitude affects others as well!

Day #28 - Wednesday, 11/28 – Laughter Day. There’s just something about laughter that makes it easier for us to be grateful people. So, make today laughter day in your home. Tell funny stories, jokes, watch a good comedy together with your family and thank God that He gave us the gift of humor.

Day #29 - Thursday, 11/29 – God’s Work in You. It’s not uncommon to overlook the difference God is making in your own life. Take a few moments to make a list of things you appreciate about yourself. Remember, God is at work in your life – so thank Him for it! “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, you will abound in every good work.”
—2 Corinthians 9:8

Day #30 - Friday, 11/30 – Thanks for the Service! Today, make a special effort to say thank you to anyone who provides you with a service. The barista at Starbucks,
for example, might be pleasantly shocked when you tell him or her how great a job they’ve done preparing your peppermint latte.

Monday, November 5, 2012

All Hallows Eve: How do we live in the world?

All Hallows Eve: How do we live in the world?

A sermon by the Rev. Brian Pavlac
Preached at St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre
on the Feast of All Saints, two days before the election

Isaiah 25: 1-10 exalt God, made of the city a heap, strong peoples glorify ruthless nations fear; be a shelter. make a east of rich food and well-aged wines; swallow up death forever. We have waited s that he might save us. Revelation 21: 1-6 new heaven and new earth holy city new Jerusalem Death will be no more. It is done Alpha and Omega. John 11: 1-45 Lazarus “Illness not lead to death but God’s glory”

Being a historian, I am asked sometimes to talk about historical stuff. At the college I work, I have been interviewed several times on the campus radio station about the origins and history of holidays like Valentines, St. Patrick’s, or Thanksgiving. This week they called me up about Halloween.

All Hallow’s EVE, like many holidays, is obscure in how its practices came about. While it is a uniquely American holiday, its roots are in many traditions that deal with human nature. When asked about trick or treating I noted that begging is an old Christian practice as the poor try to get some wealth redistributed from the rich to themselves (and such begging is even mentioned in a Shakespeare play). When asked about costumes, I noted that in Europe people dress up in costumes at Karnival or Fat Tuesday another religious season, as a way to deal with death.

I sort of surprised myself with that comment, but I expanded on it.

We all know that we are going to die.

All Hallow’s or All Saints DAY recognizes this as still celebrated in Europe, in particular in Austria where I lived for several years, because All Hallow’s or All Saints is a serious and solemn day: people get time off from work and their loved ones who have passed on from this life, visiting the cemeteries where their physical remains lie buried and entombed.

Our Halloween, like their Karnival at a different time of year, uses fun and games and foolishness as a way to cope with our awareness of death.

We know we are going to die.

As appropriate for All Saint’s which we celebrate today, the lectionary readings are about death.

In Isaiah God appears like a great protector, a refuge to the poor, a shelter from the rainstorm.

The prophet says

7And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever.

The reading from Revelation is about the death of death itself. As the visionary writes,

Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

With the end of this age, a new heaven and a new earth everything will be different in the end times.

When we get to the gospel, of course the Lazarus story is about death, of one person, but that death is for the glory of God.

Prefiguring his own death and resurrection, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, showing us that death in this world is not the end, but there is something more.

Today, the prophets, visionaries, and miracles seem to be long gone in our weary world.

As Christians we are left to believe this message of hope, of a life beyond death, or to reject it.

And if we accept this message, the question is, how do we live in this world into a life after death in the next?

When I first looked at the readings for this Sunday I had forgotten it would be All Saints and just looked at the regular readings. We would have read the gospel from Mark 12, where in a conversation Jesus is asked what God commands us to do. I quote:

29Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

I have said before and I’ll certainly say again: here is the central message of what we as Christians are supposed to do:

love God and love our neighbor.

By doing those two things, we live into the salvation from death that Jesus has provided for us.

The Devil, however, is in the details.

What does loving God require of us to do?

What does loving our neighbor require of us to do?

For an answer, you might look at the catechism in our Book of Common Prayer which uses the Ten Commandments as a framework to organize thoughts around these issues.

But even they are vague when it comes to specifics.

We’ve got to decide ourselves, both as individuals and as members of larger communities, what to do concerning specific situations.

One such specific I’ve been paying attention to recently is the upcoming election. I’ve been reading recently, some other denominations, some other pastors have offered some specific answers about whom to vote for in this election. I’ve seen them called “non-negotiables.” They are saying, that no Christian can believe and act contrary to these “non-negotiables” and still call oneself a Christian or even be saved, they say.

What I find surprising is these beliefs are not about theological issues—the holy spirit, salvation, grace, those kind of things, but about political and social issues in this world, especially as connected to the current political campaign that ends on Tuesday.

Perhaps you’ve seen some of appeals:

Voters guides by religious groups like Wallbuilders or the Christian Coalition;

newspaper ads like Billy Graham paid for;

various youtube videos by preachers and;

commercials paid for by PACs, such as one narrated by Mike Huckabee.

They all are trying to tell Christians what the most important issues are in this election, as if the whole world depended on the right choice, really as if all of creation, heaven, and hell depended on it.

Thinking about such proposals, I ask myself what would Jesus do in this particular election?

For whom would he vote?

Let me first say, the question is anti-historical, since Jesus had no concept of voting. As a Jewish subject in the Roman Empire he had no right to cast a vote for any political office, make a choice about any ballot initiative.

Jesus asked that people respect politics, rendering unto Caesar and all that, but God was more important.

Not being involved in politics, not voting is an interesting proposition—maybe we shouldn’t at all. Many Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians avoided American politics until, ironically, one of their own, Jimmy Carter, became president, but he was too liberal for their conservative social policy.

This week I heard a lady on the radio who was very upset about one candidate, she called him a liar. You know which candidate I’m talking about right? Maybe not, since I always tell my students all politicians lie. Anyhow, then she said she wasn't going to vote except for herself and God (and she meant she was not going to the polling booth).

There's a consistency there, perhaps, but a foolish consistency in my opinion.

I believe that we are in this world to act, so how do we act as Christians in an election?

In that regard, what if the candidates are not the best choices?

An old student of mine wrote this week that we should not choose between the lesser of two evils (meaning the two candidates running from the Democratic and Republican parties for President), since to do that is cooperation with evil, which is forbidden by our Judeo-Christian tradition, natural law, and even the Declaration of Independence, somehow.

My response to him was that by his philosophy we couldn’t vote for anyone since we all, voters and candidates alike, are all sinners.

Jesus calls on us to repent of our sins, for the kingdom of heaven is near. And he calls us, again remember, to love God and love our neighbor.

So if we do vote anyhow, is it on the basis of “non-negotiables”?

I ask, though, do these “non-negotiables” help us love God and our neighbor?

By supporting only Israel’s hardline politicians and not the Palestinians who live under their power?

By regulating people’s reproductive lives, including banning almost any science-based contraception or in vitro fertilization?

By making it easier to have access to guns?

By forbidding some kinds of people to love other kinds of people, especially within a legally recognized relationship?

These are some of the “non-negotiables” that I’ve read that Christians “must” do.

But when I read my Bible, I don’t see that Jesus talks much about that stuff.

What I do read is how Jesus calls us again and again

to avoid overvaluing our wealth,

to help the poor, and

to love each other, including loving our enemies.

These things are against the grain of our natural inclinations, certainly against the grain of our politics.

Now, I’m a political person as much as anyone, maybe more. As a citizen, I’ve written letters to the editor, had conversations about politics, even worked on a political campaign. In all these forums, I’ve argued that the political candidates and positions I support are the right ones and best for our country and its future.

Even I forget, often, or find it hard to actualize enough, devaluing my wealth, helping the poor, and loving my enemies.

But the real point of every election is to help us create a just society, that balances rights and responsibilities we have to each other and to God,

And there are no easy answers.

As you cast your ballot on Tuesday, I urge you, though, to think about devaluing your wealth, helping the poor, and loving your enemies.

Who would be the best candidates or ballot issues to fulfill God’s command in treating the poor and our enemies?

You may not have much information to go on, since our news media almost never report on poverty issues, despite 46 million Americans officially classified as poor.[1]

I hardly need to note that our media reports even less about poverty in the rest of the world, although we here know a little, at least, about the South Sudan.

And our news media usually casts our enemies, domestic or foreign, as evil, not to be sympathized with, especially because in many cases we kill them without much thought or regret.

You can tell that I reject all those “non-negotiables” I’ve mentioned as floated about by these politicized religious parties. You don’t have to agree with me.

Our Church since its beginning has included people of different political opinions. The Anglican tradition in particular has tried to avoid forcing people to violate their conscience on issues of import to them.

If we haven't been able to iron out all our religious differences, it’s not surprising that we don’t agree on all political issues.

Before elections, during them, and after them, we come together in Common Prayer and in the Eucharist.

In these moments we remember, again, how Jesus calls on us to repent of our sins for the kingdom of heaven is near. Then we love God and love our neighbor. Our reward is in salvation that has conquered death and brings us from this world to the next.

When life comes down to it, the only “non-negotiable” is death.

It comes for each one of us, in turn.

Our time in this world is brief.

We don’t even need the Bible to tell us that, but it reminds us of it often, like with today’s lectionary.

To cope with our fear of death, we may mock it at Halloween. But we need not fear death.

For we believe that God has sent Jesus who, is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

May these few words help us to embrace the eternal Word.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Episcopal Presence



The third Episcopal Presence at the Luzerne County Fair has had a phenomenal success thanks to the hard work of Helen and Jim Youells of Grace Episcopal, Kingston. This year saw growth in participation and fellowship, upwards of 40 lay and clergy from all the churches joined together to cover 45 hours in 5 days. Deacon Chris Sutton from Dallas, serving at St Marks in Moscow and Father Charlie Warwick also volunteered their time to join in this annual event.
Holy Cross Wilkes-Barre and their youth group were a shot of energy, St Martin in the Field bringing Welsh Cookies to give out, water bottles and wrist bands from Grace, and candy were some free offerings we had. Also free were the conversations, from people asking questions and inquiring about the churches, the people, the beliefs and traditions.

Friday, August 17, 2012

eshet chayil being a woman of valor and reclaiming Proverbs 31:10

"eshet chayil"

One of the goals of Rachel Held Evens with her year of biblical womanhood project is to help women take back Proverbs 31

The ancient acrostic poem celebrating the virtuous woman was never meant to be a standard women struggle to meet, but rather a blessing that celebrates the accomplishments they’ve already made. As we heard from Ahava, in Jewish culture, many men recite the poem to their wives at the Sabbath meal, and Jewish women often praise one another for accomplishments in homemaking, career, boldness, and justice by declaring “eshet chayil!”—woman of valor!

A woman of valor, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15 She arises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
18 She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the 1teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who 1afears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her the 1product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

When I first encountered Proverbs 31 - I thought holy **** what?! are you kidding me?! and promptly decided I wasn't anything like this chick and forgot it - except every year the church I attended would have this poem printed in the bulletin on Mother's Day - great -a yearly reminder of what I wasn't.
Years went by and I read it again, with different glasses, and realized that I was indeed that woman, not every letter or word but I was a woman of valor. Than I heard about Rachael's project and thought she's nuts - but looking deeper into her biblical womanhood project, I realized that she is exploring herself and other women of various faiths through the Bible. It isn't about fundamentalism, anti-feminism, or pro-patriarch. It's about celebrating those women whose stories are found in Genesis to Revelation the mothers, daughters, sisters wives, widows, queens, and prophetesses. It is also about the Women of Valor of today - our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our nieces, the queens and the mystics, the preachers, the teachers, the wives, the courageous, the quiet, the ones of song, and the ones who quietly do what no one else wants to do.
We are the Women of Valor - eshet chayil!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ode to Joy ..... flash mob


Sally Ride an inspiration

Sally Ride - the first American woman astronaut died on Monday, she was a woman of many accomplishments and achievements, part of her obituary;

"Sally was a national hero and a powerful role model. She inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars," President Barack Obama said in a statement.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, a former astronaut, said Ride "broke barriers with grace and professionalism — and literally changed the face of America's space program."
"The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers and explorers," he said in a statement.
Ride was a physicist, writer of five science books for children and president of her own company. She had also been a professor of physics at the University of California in San Diego.
She was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1978, the same year she earned her doctorate in physics from Stanford University. She beat out five women to be the first American female in space. Her first flight came two decades after the Soviets sent a woman into space"

A Doctorate in Physics, a writer, a Professor, and president of her own company. These are major accomplishments for anyone person and for a woman. She inspired young girls to go into science and mathematics when girls were routinely told; "Girls aren't smart enough for math, science why don't you become a __________ instead"

""Sally literally could have done anything with her life. She decided to devote her life to education and to inspiring young people. To me, that's such a powerful thing. It's extraordinarily admirable," said Maria Zuber, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who heads the Grail mission"

Inspire she did. She will be missed, by her friends and family and by those she did inspire.

The truly sad discussion today is not: how much she will be missed or what legacy she leaves behind in girls, now women, that are pioneers in their own fields, but the discussion today is - why didn't she tell the world she was gay? It seems to answer itself doesn't it? She wanted to keep her relationship sacred, letting that part of her life become and oasis after stressful days of "being a pioneer for women" . She chose not to become a "poster girl" for other peoples agendas and for that I admire her.
The search engines have already switched from Sally Ride obituary, Sally Ride a legacy, to Sally Ride Partner, Gay Astronauts: Sally Ride's Death Highlights LGBT People In NASA.

There will be people who choose to shout from the mountain tops what they are, and there will be those who will choose to live their lives quietly. and that is what is all boils down to - how WE choose to live - not how others want us to live.

I personally advocate rights for the LGBT community, legal, and spiritual. I am also for the individuals/couples right to choose how they live their lives in the community - quietly or loudly. No one else can make that choice for them. No one should.

Debra Kellerman

Friday, July 6, 2012

General Convention blog post from Mark Laubach

First two days of GC 2012 Indianapolis Given that I'm not serving on a legislative committee here at GC 2012, my schedule is considerably more free, allowing me some time to post to this blog. I'm happy to share my impressions of yesterday and today (so far). Even though I've been to GC before (2003 in Minneapolis and 2009 in Anaheim), the uniqueness of this gathering still strikes me! As I was walking through the exhibit hall yesterday after getting my certification as a lay deputy, I was struck by the incredible variety of exhibits and exhibitors, as well as the all the bishops, clergy, laity, and visitors walking about, shopping and schmoozing. The image that came to mind was something like "Six Flags Over Canterbury" ... or perhaps more aptly, "Six Flags Over 815"! It's really quite fascinating! My two checked bags did not arrive with me at the Indianapolis airport Tuesday night (about 10:30 PM). But happily, they were delivered to my hotel room by 1:30 AM. Obviously, that made for a late night. But fortunately, my Wednesday morning schedule was quite open, which allowed me to sleep in a bit. Our first scheduled event Wednesday was the 2 PM opening gathering of the Bishops and Deputies (clergy and lay) in the House of Deputies (HOD) hall. We heard opening addresses from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the President of the HOD, Canon Bonnie Anderson, DD. We also got to experience one of many wild sport jackets worn by the Secretary of the HOD and of GC, the Rev'd Canon Dr. Gregory Straub. Rev'd Canon Gregory Straub's July 4 Sportjacket
Canon Straub is known for his colorful jackets, a different one worn each day! (Today was plaid.) Then followed separate orientation sessions for both the House of Bishops (HOB) and HOD. After a hot walk (100 degrees plus here!) to a drug store, I returned to my room. At 7:30 PM, I attended a screening of two deeply inspiring movies, Out of the Box and Love Free or Die, presented by Integrity. Out of the Box is "a new, groundbreaking documentary about transgender persons of faith and their contributions to The Episcopal Church." Love Free or Die (a play on the state motto of New Hampshire) is "a new film about the life and ministry of Bishop Gene Robinson, including the struggles of TEC upon his election as bishop." Following the two films was a panel discussion that included four of the people featured in Out of the Box and Bishop Gene. I was deeply moved by both films and by the stories that were told in them. I HIGHLY recommend them to you! Out of the Box is easily available through Integrity (I was given a DVD of it), and Bishop Gene told us that one can visit www.lovefreeordiemovie.com and request a copy for a public screening. I'm hoping we can do this sometime soon in Wilkes-Barre. I was thrilled to meet Bishop Gene once again. My first GC in 2003 was the momentous year when we consented to his election as Bishop of New Hampshire. I was amazed, through that stressful time, by +Gene's incredible determination, reverence, poise, humility, and graciousness at a time when he was dealing with death threats and all kinds of baseless accusations, all before press people from around the world. His witness continues to inspire me, and I was deeply honored to have this picture taken with him.
Bishop Gene Robinson with me at General Convention 2012 in Indianapolis This morning began bright and early (well, maybe early!) with a legislative session at 8:00 AM. Those who know me well know that I am most definitely NOT a morning person, so this was something of a sacrificial act! This first session was essentially a pro forma organizational session. With this completed, we moved to the grand ballroom in the hotel (JW Marriott) for our Opening Eucharist, with the PB as Celebrant and Preacher. To my great delight, the music was led by another one of my heroes, Dr. Marilyn Keiser, recently retired professor of organ at Indiana University in Bloomington, a gentlelady, a brilliant organist and church musician, and one of the true icons of our sacred music profession! Marilyn's fine parish choir from Trinity Church in Bloomington led the singing, and Marilyn, at the mighty Rodgers, was joined by a fine brass quartet. The music was beautifully chosen and performed, and the whole liturgy was elegant and inspiring. This was a great relief for me, particularly after the disappointments I had regarding the liturgies of the 2009 GC in Anaheim CA. After the final organ voluntary, Canon Anne Kitch and I went to greet the musicians, including Marilyn and my good friends Dana Marsh and Michael Messina, who are also involved in the music for this Convention. Dana, Michael, and I are all graduates of the Eastman School of Music of the U. of Rochester. Dana is now the organist & choirmaster at Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis, and Michael is organist & choirmaster of Trinity Church, Indianapolis. Both are brilliant musicians and great guys. It was so good to see them both, and I look forward to catching up with them and hearing their handiwork while I'm here! (An interesting aside, proving what a small world we live in ... Michael was the organist for Anne Kitch's wedding; they too are dear friends from even more years than I've known Michael.) At the moment, legislative committees are meeting, but I have time now to post here. Our next legislative session is from 4:30 to 6:30 this afternoon, and there are more committee hearings before and after that session. My dear colleagues in the Bethlehem Deputation who serve on committees have precious little time for blogging, so I feel a special obligation to write whenever I'm able. I'll be sharing more as the days progress. I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you who have supported my presence here. I covet your prayers. It is a great privilege to be here, and to share this ministry with Bishop Paul, our two representatives to the ECW Triennial, and all my fellow deputies from the Diocese of Bethlehem. Please continue to pray for us all. Warmly yours (truly!) ... Canon Mark Laubach to follow all the deputies posts from the Diocese of Bethlehem: http://diobeth.typepad.com/diobeth_gc_deputies_blog/

Friday, June 15, 2012

Up Coming Happenings

Parish Picnic June 24 Kirby House Glen Summit, Pa Bring a salad, fruit or dish to share and don't forget your bathing suit. Royal School of Church Music is back and will be at St Stephens Wilkes-Barre July 23 to July 29 RSCM in partnership with King's College is a summer choir training course and is the largest of its kind in North America, attracting more than one hundred fifty singers of all ages from ten years and up. Music Director is Walden Moore, Organist and Choirmaster of Trinty Church on the Green, New Haven CT. for more information; www.kingscollegecourse.com Choral Services Tuesday 5:30pm Evensong 9:00pm Compline Wednesday 5:30pm Evensong 9:00pm Compline Thursday 7:30pm Staff Recital 9:00pm Compline Friday 5:30pm Evensong Saturday 9:00pm Compline Sunday 10:30am Choral Eucharist 3:30pm Festal Evensong Food 4 Kids Hunger Doesn't Take A Summer Vacation Many children who receive breakfast and lunch during the school year do not receive the same nutritional support over the summer, leaving thousands of local kids at risk of hunger and malnutrition. The Food 4 Kids Summer program served more than 40,000 meals during the summer of 2011. If you know of someone that can use these services please let them know. (note: I posted only Wilkes-Barre locations here, CEO hosts this program in 3 Counties - go to the web site of facebook page to see the full listings) If you would like to Volunteer: http://ceopeoplehelpingpeople.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={95FAAD44-DEC2-40E6-B397-75D666237895} Albright United Methodist Church Wilkes-Barre Boulevard Townhomes Wilkes-Barre Coal Street Park Wilkes-Barre Dodson Elementary8 Wilkes-Barre Huber Park Wilkes-Barre Iron Triangle Park Wilkes-Barre Kids Cafe (Heights-Murray Elementary)9 Wilkes-Barre Kistler Pool Wilkes-Barre Madison/Flood Park Wilkes-Barre McGlynn Learning Center10 Wilkes-Barre Miner Park Wilkes-Barre Mineral Springs Village Wilkes-Barre Miss Freda's House (171 Prospect Street)Wilkes-Barre Osterhout Library - South Branch Wilkes-Barre Parson's Playground Wilkes-Barre Westminister Presbyterian Church11 Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre YMCA Wilkes-Barre Nicholson Street Park Wilkes-Barre Township Eucharist Workshop : WHEN: Friday, Sept 14th (Session 1) and Saturday, Sept.15th (Sessions 2 &3) Each Session lasts approx 1hr 20mins. WHERE: St. Stephen's Pro Cathedral 35 South Franklin Street Wilkes-Barre,PA 18704 Presented by Bill Ryon (Washington D.C.) Objective: To present enough biblical,historical,and theological information (abiet in a very short time) so that the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist may be appropriated by each attendee. The data given will enable all to be lead through the Spirit,to a more inward and definitive understanding of Christ being present at the celebration of the Lord's Supper. Cost: $15.00 per person Reservation accepted with check only ! Firm Deadline: Friday, August 31st Please put in the memo section of your check.your preference of either ham,tuna,turkey or egg salad for Saturday's Lunch. At the conclusion of Friday night's session a potluck will be served

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Letter to my Niece at Confirmation

In this season of graduations, confirmations, proms, weddings and other milestones in many peoples lives I offer this as a reflection. I am attending my niece's confirmation tomorrow and I tried to decide what to get her as a gift, not jewelry, not a bible (I believe the church will present her with one), not anything big because it's not a graduation.....aahhh, I had an idea. I found a book of sayings by Mother Theresa on prayer - "It all begins with prayer" a travel journal (she is going to England and Wales in a few weeks) and than a blank journal - in which I wrote the following: "You are not done. Confirmation is not graduation. In fact - you've only just begun. Your Mom and Dad have done a wonderful job raising you and will, I imagine, will continue to do so. Confirmation is the taking on the responsibility for your own spiritual life and you are not done, and God is not done. Look at the vows of Baptism; Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?, the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?, all sinful desires that draw you from the love the God? Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?, Put your whole trust in his grace and love?, Promise to follow and obey him as your Lord? All these were said for your - I was there and vowed to do these things for you. Today June 3, 2012 you have chosen to take on this mantel of responsibility for yourself. In doing so you are, in my opinion, taking the first step into adulthood. But it is only the first step not the last. In today's covenant: Will you continue in the apostles teaching and fellowship in the breaking of bread and in the prayers? The operative word is Continue Life is a perpetual journey, physical life, mental life and spiritual life. You will continue growing physically, mentally, as you finish school and college (should you choose)and spirituality as you learn, question and grow. There will be lulls, times of seemingly no growth and that's okay. All living things have a period of dormancy: trees, flowers, birds, bears. It is in these quiet times in life that the most growth happens: roots go deeper, bears give birth, flowers gather strength to bloom again. the body and mind is resting to burst forth with renewed vibrancy and vigor, it is part of the circle of life. But I will challenge you, even in those seemingly dormant times; where ever you are, whatever you do, seek and find a church to attend. finding one that fits your schedule and "where" you are spiritually (just not a "hate preaching" church please) Because that is also a part of that covenant, to continue in fellowship and in the breaking of bread. Ask questions, but I will warn you, the answers (if there are any)will lead to more questions. Even if there are no answers you will grow and learn and that really is the point of life. The rest of these pages are blank: they are to be filled in by you- for it is now your story. Aunt Deb"

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Way to Emmaus Concert

The Way to Emmaus by Jaromir Weinberger concert by soprano Croa Gamelin and organist Mark Laubach. on Friday May 11th at 7:30pm listen to the interview by Erika Funke here: a http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wvia/local-wvia-1011173.mp3 (if you cannot click on the above link directly - copy and paste into your web browser)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Genocide Remembrance Today in the church's proposed calendar we remember those who have died and who have been hurt by acts of genocide. Genocide is "the systematic and intentional destruction of a people by death, by the imposition of severe mental or physical abuse, by the forced displacement of children, or by other atrocities designed to destroy the lives and human dignity of large groups of people." (Holy Women, Holy Men, p. 342) Yesterday President Obama visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial and Museum with Elie Weisel. Reports of their visit were moving. I am encouraged that last year the President established the Atrocities Prevention Board and announced a policy to make the prevention of atrocities a key focus for the U.S. There is now a structured way to monitor and report on current and potential acts of genocide. Too often our attention has been narrowed only by focus on our own vital interests. Genocide happens when the world averts its eyes and turns away. I tend to be one who favors diplomatic and police responses to international threats. I opposed the Iraq war from the outset. Yet I also tend to be one who wishes the U.S. would lead more prompt military responses in situations of genocide. I thought President Clinton was slow to respond to the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. The success of that U.N. operation to stop the systemic murders is a reminder that the world can act to prevent and to stop genocide. I wonder how many lives might be saved if the U.S. and U.N. would act now with significant force to save the people of Darfur, South Kordofan and Nuba Mountains, and the Blue Nile from the atrocities and systematic attacks that have killed hundreds of thousands and displaced more than a million people. I am particularly proud of Dr. Sam Totten of Fayetteville for his tireless work and advocacy to prevent genocide, especially in and around Sudan. The prevention of genocide seems to me to be one of the few compelling arguments for military action. Can a criminal like Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir be that immune from superior military power? Elie Weisel reminded us that the civilized world failed to speak up and take measures to prevent the Holocaust of Nazi Germany, and he shown a light on the threats that Syria's Bashar al-Assad and Iran's leadership pose to the Middle East. Lower on the world's radar is the systemic cultural genocide that China pursues against the Tibetan and Uyghur peoples. I'm proud of the University of Arkansas' oral history project to capture the stories and memories of Tibetan refugees who recall their country before the Chinese invasion. And so today, we remember and we pray. Almighty God, our Refuge and our Rock, your loving care knows no bounds and embraces all the peoples of the earth: Defend and protect those who fall victim to the forces of evil, and as we remember this day those who endured depredation and death because of who they were, not because of what they had done or failed to do, give us the courage to stand against hatred and oppression, and to seek the dignity and well-being of all for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, in whom you have reconciled the world to yourself; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (from Holy Women, Holy Men) by Lowell Grisham on April 24, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fifth Annual Bowl Painting


Next Sunday after the 10:30 service is our 5th annual Bowl Painting. Join us as we paint bowls and a few weeks later we will auction them off - money raised will benefit the Food Pantry at Reach of St Stephens

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


HOLY WEEK SERVICES
Palm Sunday 8:00 am and 10:30 am both starting in the Parish Hall and processing into the Nave.
Monday 6:00pm Eucharist
Tuesday 6:00pm Eucharist
Wednesday - Tenebrae 6:00pm
Maundy Thursday - 6:00pm Eucharist and footwashing followed by
Agape meal than stripping of the alter and
beginning of Minor Vigil
Good Friday -12:00pm ecumenical service
6:00pm
Saturday - 9:00am prayer service
7:00pm Great Vigil of Easter

Easter Sunday morning
8:00 am Choral Eucharist Rite I
10:15am music
10:30am Choral Eucharist Rite II Bishop John Croneberger
with Baptisms and Confirmations

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Evil vs Hatred

What is the difference? This is a question I've been wrestling with for a few weeks now, ever since seeing the movie 'Attack on Darfur' part of the Lenten movie series,Evil in Film, we are watching. Hatred is easy to define; feelings or passionate dislike for someone or something, detest, loathe. I dislike canned peas, but I have no desire to eradicate them from the planet. Is that what evil is, acting on the hatred? Can evil exist without the hatred? Evil; profoundly immoral, malevolent, vicious, sinister.
Subsequent movies have not been helpful in my questioning: 'Dominion:Prequel to the Exorcist' and 'Devil's Advocate', both Hollywood depictions -one worse than the other to be sure (okay okay very campy). Both seem to maintain that Evil just is and we are to resist it. However humans seem to be able to do much evil to and for each other without bothering to resist.
I haven't found any answers, maybe I'm not ment to. Wrestling with the question is more to the point, if we don't question than we are just accepting what is and not willing to change it, or ourselves in the process.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

So why Valentines Day?

The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni, one a priest, one a Bishop, both martyred around 300AD, nothing is known about them except one was buried on February 14.
There are legends, about Valentine marrying soldiers against the Emperors orders that young men stay single, believing that married men did not make good soldiers, but that's a legend.

Today Valentine's Day is fraught with minefields: singles avoiding the couple scene, couples under pressure to live up to the commercial hype (flowers, romantic dinner, great gifts, etc....) and when they don't live up to what we have imagined our emotions go into a different turmoil.

"I may speak in different languages of people or even angels. But if I do not have love, I am only a noisy bell or a crashing cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy. I may understand all the secret things of God and have all knowledge, and I may have faith so great I can move mountains. But even with all these things, if I do not have love, then I am nothing. I may give away everything I have, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing if I do not have love.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures.Love never ends." 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a


We are created by God and God loves, we need to be loved. We want to be told how much we are loved and needed. To be loved means we are to show love not just to our spouses or to our romantic partners but to everyone we meet, the grocery check out clerk, the person we pass on the street, our next door neighbors, fellow parishioners and those that walk through our doors. Patience and kindness are not easy, love is not easy. It is not ment to be.
The love that is often spoken of in the Bible and quoted in the above passage is not the romantic love of cupids and hearts, it is the selfless love that God has for us and we are to demonstrate to others.
Isn't good to know that the love of God never ends?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Working Poor

A recent article on Huffington Post (full Article here; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/31/working-poor-liquid-asset-poverty_n_1243152.html) reports that more Americans are liquid-asset poor, meaning that they have nothing to fall back on, no savings, no back-up funds. Only one paycheck away from being in middle class, to poor.
A major car repair needed, a medical emergency, a sudden house repair. Think of it: a transmission replacement, a needed water heater, or an emergency appendectomy and you need to apply for SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) but with new guidelines, having a car can eliminate you from receiving that assistance - but you need it for work. Having a 401K no matter the amount and you are to "rich" for help.

At the Food Pantry I see both. People that never expected to have to get free food. Husbands that lost their jobs, or received a major pay cut or layoff. A mom who was once a second income that is now the only income. Those that are desperately trying to make ends meet, just getting food in their homes and for their children. I listened to a 3rd grader tell me that her father had been in the hospital and could not work for several months, that there was no food in the house. A third grader - 8 years old and she knew her families needs, and what they did not have.

The 'Self declaration of Need Form' that our clients fill out has them state what their income level is. (the form is supplied by CEO and is required by the Dept of Agriculture for Food Pantry service) If you are single than your income base is $314.00/week, six in the family the amount is $865.00/week $3,749.00/month. Many that I have had assisted in the pantry wish they could make/receive that much per week.

Where am I going with this - I can't say. What are we to do about this- still no true clue. It can be overwhelming, and easy to give up because it is so much to do for so many. But than again:

“If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”
- Mother Teresa