Saturday, December 26, 2009

Peace on Earth this New Year

Peace on Earth this New Year

As I complete this article on the first Sunday of Advent, I just read the headline that our nation is about to commit another 30,000 or more troops to Afghanistan. Personally, I think this is a bad idea based on what I learned during my study in Southeast Asia, but I am not going to spend this column trying to convince you of my opinion. Rather, I view this as just one more example of how every Advent begins the same--with an apocalyptic tale of destruction.

We hear it every Advent with messages from the Gospels like: "on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world." These are Jesus’ words according to the evangelist Luke. One might almost think Jesus is telling his disciples to be afraid—be very afraid. But if that’s all you hear in Jesus’ message this Advent then you are missing the point.

Advent does begin every year with a message of chaos, a message of trouble at hand. Yet if you pay close attention over the next few Sundays of Advent (for that you’ll have to attend the services) you will hear that the messages get more and more positive. I have said it time after time; Advent is a time of pregnancy. It is not intended to be a mini-Lent. Advent is that time of anticipation and expectation. We are intended to think in terms of, "Yes, things are bad now, but they are going to get better. Our Messiah will come!"

As Christians our faith amounts to nothing if it is not lived in hope. When we hear of wars and rumors of wars, trouble and strife, look up. Your redemption draws nigh. Lift up your eyes to the hills from where your help will come. This is the meaning of our journey through Advent, and when lived in faith it brings all the more meaning to Christmas.

Finally, though unconnected from the above message, let me remind you of the words of Gandhi, "If we all care enough, and we all share enough, then everyone will have enough."

Happy New (Liturgical) Year, and have a blessed Advent as you prepare your heart and home for the coming of the Christ-child.


Peace On Earth This New Year
Rector's Message
Written by The Rev'd Daniel C. Gunn
Monday, 07 December 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Deacon Ordinations

God was willing and the creeks didn't rise, so on Monday night December 21st
Brian Pavloc was ordained into the order of Deacons.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Advent Lessons and Carols

Wednesday December 16 at 6:00 pm

On behalf of all the people of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral, We are pleased to invite you to our annual Festival Service of Lessons and Carols for Advent.

Fr. Daniel Gunn, Rector of St. Stephen’s, will officiate at this service. The Choir of St. Stephen’s will sing choral music by Palestrina, Mendelssohn, Herbert Howells, Paul Manz, Edgar Pettman, and Paul Edwards. Organ voluntaries will feature works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Marcel Dupré, and David Briggs. All present will join in the singing of stirring hymns for the season of Advent. Nine lessons from the Old and New Testaments will be read by parishioners, staff, and clergy of St. Stephen’s.

A festive reception hosted by parishioners will be held in the Auditorium immediately following the conclusion of the service.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I Am Episcopalian Because.......

Can you say why you are an Episcopalian in less than 140 characters?

On the micro-blogging/social media site Twitter, there is an interesting series of posts this week in which all sorts of people are answering the question "I am Episcopalian Because..."

Here are a few excerpts:

"When my church says that everyone is welcome and has a home here, they mean it."

"I'm Episcopalian because you can have the beauty of ritual and the freedom of an open mind in one place"

"Advent I Collect: "give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armor of light""

"I became Episcopalian because I liked the music, I stayed because the Jesus of the Gospel readings sang quietly to me of peace and justice."

"you aren't expected to park your brain at the door. Debate with your neighbor, then receive communion together."

"I am Episcopalian Because we're serious about the longing for God-incarnate that's embodied in Advent."

"I am Episcopalian Because that's where God lead me."

"I am Episcopalian Because Leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu"

"I am Episcopalian Because Incarnational Theology, Liturgical Tradition and a willingness to be in the mystery without being compelled to solve it"

Also check out #LaughedInChurch for some good laughs.

Tip of the hat to Cafe news editor Torey Lightcap who started the #LaughedInChurch hashtag on Twitter!
Posted by Peter Carey on December 3, 2009 2:30 PM

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Readings for Advent Two

The Saturday after Advent Sunday
December 5, 2009
Copyright © 2009 Anne E. Kitch
My soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
Psalm 130:6

“Where does the term ‘discipline of yearning’ come from, is it yours?” I text my friend. He used it in his sermon, and the phrase has been intriguing me all week.

“Wow, you are scary. Discipline of yearning, did I say that?” There is a pause in our texting as he looks up his sermon notes to see if this phrase is perhaps something he quoted from another source.

“It seems that particular quote is mine though I don’t remember saying it. You can have it if you like.”

“You still get credit for saying it.”

“Must be Holy Spirit credit.”

Sermons are always like that. There is the one that is preached, and the several other versions that are heard. I definitely heard “discipline of yearning.” What would such a discipline look like? This is what I have been pondering all week. I think of yearning as something that enters into my psyche without invitation or intentionality. If I take on yearning as a discipline, I must choose to scrutinize what it is I wait for anxiously. An examination of yearning leads me into those spaces unfulfilled hopes and dreams inhabit. Such a discipline would have me engage with the ache of longing rather than dancing around it. Yep. Exactly.

Last Sunday I was struck by my friend’s caution that we do not so immerse ourselves in the familiar and comfortable spirituality of our Advent rituals that we forget that this season calls us into a discipline of yearning. It is still on my mind. “Vocation of yearning, was that the quote?” I text.

Anne E. Kitch, Canon for Formation in the Christian Faith
Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem
333 Wyandotte St., Bethlehem PA 18015