Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
New York Times ad notes Episcopal Church history, mission
Somewhere near you, there’s a blue-and-white sign bearing the familiar slogan: The Episcopal Church Welcomes You. It represents some 7,400 congregations that trace their beginnings in North America to a small but hopeful group of English Christians who arrived May 14, 1607 at a place they called Jamestown — the first permanent English settlement in the New World.
...Wherever you find us, you’ll find the Book of Common Prayer and a Christian faith that honors and engages the Bible, the tradition of the Church, and God-given human reason. Joined in prayer, you’ll find people with many points of view — Christians who are progressive, moderate, and conservative — yet who value the diversity of their faith community. That’s a heritage drawn from our deep roots in nearly 2,000 years of English Christianity, and shared by a worldwide Anglican Communion that unites nearly 80 million people in 164 countries through prayer and ministries committed to caring for “the least of these,” as Jesus commanded, by reducing poverty, disease, and oppression.
Episcopalians struggle with the same issues that trouble all people of faith: how to interpret an ancient faith for today… how to maintain the integrity of tradition while reaching out to a hurting world… how to disagree and yet love and respect one another. Occasionally those struggles make the news. People find they can no longer walk with us on their journey, and may be called to a different spiritual home. Some later make their way back, and find they are welcomed with open arms.
Despite the headlines, the Episcopal Church keeps moving forward in mission — in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, as well as congregations in Belgium, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Guam, Haiti, Honduras, Italy, Micronesia, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Taiwan, Venezuela, and the Virgin Islands. We’re committed to a transformed world, as Jesus taught: a world of justice, peace, wholeness, and holy living.
...Come see for yourself. Come and visit… come and explore… come and grow.
This ad which ran in the New York Times almost a year ago really caught my eye. It is a good piece which presents a picture of the church that resonates with my experience.
No uniformity here!!! Not all who grace its doors, pray the prayers, recite Creeds or kneel at its altars have the same take on life or spiritual issues! Though I agree with some and others I profoundy disagree, with all I share a bond that is beyond myself! There is a union we share by virtue of our baptism , one that grows as we share the table of the Lord, as we serve the needy in the name of Christ...! These same bonds I share with my very charismatic sisters, my very Baptist cousins, Roman Catholic aunts, my spiritual family in the CEC, friends and acquaintances throughout the years with whom I have prayed, studied, believed, hoped, argued, laughed and cried...we all call on the name of Jesus, are baptized by one Spirit into one body...pimples and all! There is also the bonds of our common humanity with all its joys, hopes and profound sorrows which Christ decided to share! These as I see it, no ammount of discussion and disagreement can destroy.
I have grown weary of the seeming pettiness that has so often intruded into my walk of faith, the demeaning or exclusion of others in the name of "truth", the push for uniformity, to exactly define, renew , reform , reinvent, retain, correct... always and to the ages of ages amen! All of these, done in the name of purity, annointing, faith, Christ, His Church... catch the attention of sincere people! It does sound inspiring but is very sobering to experience, a marvel that we, being as flawed as our neighbour, spend precious energy on the mote in the other's eye!
I need a change in scenery...and as some run from The Episcopal Church, I have felt drawn to it! There is a fascinating, perhaps unmanageable mix, catholic, protestant , liberal, conservative, unity and chaotic diversity, beauty and unatractiveness, selfishness and charity .... frustrating, wonderful, imperfect, unfinished...just like me, just like Christians, like the Church of Jesus which I have loved in its many forms for the last 30 years! I do not have to talk myself into believing it is "the One", nor "the move of God for the day", nor a "New Reformation"...it is what is is...and right now, it is quite okay by me!
I do not have the answer to the dilemmas and conflics of people in TEC, I did not in the CEC, as I do not for my own...but God, who came to us in Jesus surely must or we would all be insane! It is in Christ I put all my trust, in Him I lean, He that I follow as I come to the Episcopal Church...to see, discover, serve , hopefully grow! The rest are incidentals....!
Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner!
By CLIFFORD J. LEVY, Published: April 24, 2008, NYT
It was not long after a Methodist church put down roots here that the troubles began...
First came visits from agents of the F.S.B., a successor to the K.G.B., who evidently saw a threat in a few dozen searching souls who liked to huddle in cramped apartments to read the Bible and, perhaps, drink a little tea. Local officials then labeled the church a “sect.” Finally, last month, they shut it down.
There was a time after the fall of Communism when small Protestant congregations blossomed here in southwestern Russia, when a church was almost as easy to set up as a general store. Today, this industrial region has become emblematic of the suppression of religious freedom under President Vladimir V. Putin.
Just as the government has tightened control over political life, so, too, has it intruded in matters of faith. The Kremlin’s surrogates in many areas have turned the Russian Orthodox Church into a de facto official religion, warding off other Christian denominations that seem to offer the most significant competition for worshipers. They have all but banned proselytizing by Protestants and discouraged Protestant worship through a variety of harassing measures, according to dozens of interviews with government officials and religious leaders across Russia.
Sincere Christians looking for unity and truth often get frustrated at the seeming chaos of the American religious landscape ... and then stories like these remind us of the dangers when the interests of a particular religion and the state seem too intertwined.
No one should have the right, even in the name of "true religion" or "true church", to interfere with the spiritual pursuits of others, the free exchange of ideas and the freedom to worship with people of like mind and tastes. When the disciples of Christ attempted to forbid a certain man from casting out demons in Jesus name because he was "not one of us", the Lord himself forbade them from doing such a thing declaring that "he who is not against us is for us".
It seems we his disciples often forget this example and while claiming to adhere to absolute truth utterly defy the precepts He laid down for us. In His name we forbid, reject, demonize, set a stumbling block for others and appear in the eyes of the world more like the religious, the pharisees of Jesus's day than the disciples of He who was called meek and humble of heart, friend of sinners and publicans, a doctor for the infirm, who came to save and not condemm.
Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Well there you have it! After months of prayer, discernment, meeting with all kinds of committes for ministry and the local Episcopal bishop it looks like we will be received into The Episcopal Church this summer. Upon the announcement that this was to be so, people actually danced in the aisles at mass Sunday and, the few cradle Episcopalians among us, had tears of joy....So much for GBC!
Granted, we hold no illusions about the perfection of TEC but, in the diocese we will call home, it feels like a good fit. We will be the first Hispanic ministry in the diocese, a moderately conservative leaning community, whose clergy and bishop have been outstanding in their welcome and support. From being basically homeless, we inherit a paid for beautiful building, several dozen new members, at least 70 sister churches locally, companion dioceses in Cuba and Peru and, beyond that,the Anglican Communion. It seems a given that the wide open doors are the doing of God!
Unchanged, yet mixed with a bit of sadness, is the love and regard I and many hold for our formative years in the CEC. There are scores of memories, people we love to whom we are so deeply indebted. Yet, there is a sense that there must be a parting of the ways, that each may follow Christ according to conviction with joy. I had hoped it would take longer but... alas, life happens and news travel fast! So far all has been peaceful and positive, our CEC, bishop has heard the news and spoken like a true gentleman, the clergy who know so far have been a blessing to my soul.
May God grant us the wish of a transition full of His presence for all involved .....! We are to be received at a special service in the Cathedral early summer....that will be something! Hmmm ...how about that guest list!!!!
JERUSALEM - Dozens of Greek and Armenian priests and worshippers exchanged blows at one of Christianity's holiest shrines on Orthodox Palm Sunday, and used palm fronds to pummel police who tried to break up the brawl. The fight came amid growing rivalry over religious rights at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built over the site in Jerusalem where tradition says Jesus was buried and resurrected.It erupted when Armenian clergy kicked out a Greek priest from their midst, pushed him to the ground and kicked him, according to witnesses.
The Holy Sepulcher is shared by several Christian denominations according to a centuries-old arrangement known as the "status quo." Each denomination jealously guards its share of the basilica, and fights over rights at the church have intensified in recent years, particularly between the Armenians and Greeks.
Father Pakrad, an Armenian priest, said the presence of the Greek priest during the Armenian observances violated the status quo. "Our priests entered the tomb. They kicked the Greek monk out of the Edicule," he said, referring to the tomb area. Pakrad accused the Greek Orthodox Christians of trying to step on the Armenians' rights. "We are the weak ones, persecuted by them for many centuries." The Greek Orthodox Patriarch in the Holy Land, Theofilos III, told The Associated Press that the Armenians are pushing to change the rules, challenging what he said was the dominance of the Greek church in the Holy Land.
The Church of the Nativity in nearby Bethlehem — where Jesus is said to have been born — also falls under the status quo arrangement. Last year, pre-Christmas cleaning in that church turned ugly when robed Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests went at each other with brooms and stones.
This is difficult to imagine among followers of him who said "...by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
Lord Jesus Christ son of God have mercy in me a sinner.
As the Philadelphia Democratic primary looms ahead and the general election gets closer this very cute pic is right on for me! Honestly it is becoming a harder to pick from this set who to choose for the most thankless job on earth! Funny how qickly perceptions can change!
Friday, April 18, 2008
A crowd inside the Florida Hospital Medical Complex in Orlando snapped photos of the image apparently showing the profile of Jesus Christ crying.
"There was just a whole bunch of people putting their cell phones to the window, so I went over there and I saw a glow," witness Joel Cruzada said. "When you are standing there and there is a flurry of people talking about it, you are like, 'Wow, I'm actually here.'"
Cruzada, who was one of several viewers to send an e-mail about the image to Local6.com, said his ex-wife was recently diagnosed with stage-3 cancer. "This was just a sign for me to not worry about what is going on in my life and that everything else is under control," Cruzada said. "It was an enlightening experience."
Another Local 6 viewer, Lorna, said she saw the image and noticed that a chaplain was snapping photos and videotaping it. "I brought some people from my (hospital) unit and they saw it," Lorna said. A viewer said the image caused "a commotion" in the hallway near the prayer garden.
The hospital is calling it an unexplained image. An official said as long as the image makes people feel good, that is all that matters, Local 6's Charnel Wright said. Witnesses said after a few hours, the image vanished.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Tues., April. 8, 2008
SAINI SUNPURA, India - A baby with two faces was born in a northern Indian village, where she is doing well and is being worshipped as the reincarnation of a Hindu goddess, her father said Tuesday. The baby, Lali, apparently has an extremely rare condition known as craniofacial duplication, where a single head has two faces. Except for her ears, all of Lali's facial features are duplicated — she has two noses, two pairs of lips and two pairs of eyes.
"My daughter is fine — like any other child," said Vinod Singh, 23, a poor farm worker.
Lali has caused a sensation in the dusty village of Saini Sunpura, 25 miles east of New Delhi. When she left the hospital, eight hours after a normal delivery on March 11, she was swarmed by villagers, said Sabir Ali, the director of Saifi Hospital."She drinks milk from her two mouths and opens and shuts all the four eyes at one time," Ali said.
Rural India is deeply superstitious and the little girl is being hailed as a return of the Hindu goddess of valor, Durga, a fiery deity traditionally depicted with three eyes and many arms.Up to 100 people have been visiting Lali at her home every day to touch her feet out of respect, offer money and receive blessings, Singh told The Associated Press. "Lali is God's gift to us," said Jaipal Singh, a member of the local village council. "She has brought fame to our village."
Village chief Daulat Ram said he planned to build a temple to Durga in the village."I am writing to the state government to provide money to build the temple and help the parents look after their daughter," Ram said.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Pregnant US man defends right to have child
NEW YORK (AFP) — Thomas Beatie, a US man who was born female, underwent gender realignment surgery and is now pregnant, has sparked renewed debate in the United States about the rights of transgender individuals. Beatie, who is legally male but decided to keep his female sex organs during chest reconstruction surgery and testosterone therapy, has appeared in several magazines and on Oprah Winfrey's talkshow since revealing that he is pregnant.
"I feel it's not a male or female desire to have a child. It's a human need. I'm a person and I have the right to have a biological child," Beatie told chat show host Winfrey this week, sporting a light beard.
His unusual situation first became public when he wrote an article in the leading US gay magazine The Advocate last month, entitled "Labor of Love." "To our neighbors, my wife, Nancy, and I don't appear in the least unusual," he wrote, explaining that his wife was unable to have a child after undergoing a hysterectomy and that they had conceived by artificial insemination. "Our situation sparks legal, political, and social unknowns," Beatie wrote, adding the couple had experienced opposition from health care professionals, friends and family.
One doctor refused to treat the couple, after consulting an ethics board.
"How does it feel to be a pregnant man? Incredible. Despite the fact that my belly is growing with a new life inside me, I am stable and confident being the man that I am," Beatie wrote.
While some have come out in support of Beatie's right to bear a child, and decried the discrimination that Beatie and other transgender individuals are up against, others have been less supportive....
"It's called 'childbirth' and it is a 'female' thing -- not a 'male' thing. Period," wrote another. "If I choose to not have 'bottom' surgery and keep my original genitals intact, as far as I'm concerned I've chosen to simply present as male, not become a male," said a writer, identified as Alicia "Joey" Brite.
I am dumbstruck by the disingenuous and sensationalist language of these news! Pregnant male ...indeed! So what do you call someone with 2 X chromosomes, a uterus , ovaries ....and without a wonker who actually wants to get pregnant???? .....Certainly NOT A GUY! Why would any male, even a trangender one, want to keep female sexual organs...that defeats the purpose doesn't it? Or think about getting "pregnant" later? A crossdresser taking hormones, a person in transition as to their gender identity. ..maybe, a sincere and nice person probably.;.but a MALE...hardly!
The media must think the average American is idiotic or that if they repeat the "pregnant male" line long enough people will actually believe it! Of course Thomas is free to do as she/he chooses in this wonderful land of the free.....but by all means call things what they are.....!
Lord have Mercy on Us
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Celebrating Women: A Note from Dr. Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies,You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.
This is not the first time you have seen Hillary Clinton seemingly at her wits end, but she has always risen, always risen, much to the dismay of her adversaries and the delight of her friends. Hillary Clinton will not give up on you and all she asks of you is that you do not give up on her.
There is a world of difference between being a woman and being an old female. If you’re born a girl, grow up, and live long enough, you can become an old female. But, to become a woman is a serious matter. A woman takes responsibility for the time she takes up and the space she occupies.
Hillary Clinton is a woman. She has been there and done that and has still risen. She is in this race for the long haul. She intends to make a difference in our country. She is the prayer of every woman and man who long for fair play, healthy families, good schools, and a balanced economy.She declares she wants to see more smiles in the families, more courtesies between men and women, more honesty in the marketplace. Hillary Clinton intends to help our country to what it can become.
She means to rise!!! She means to help our country rise. Don’t give up on her, ever. In fact, if you help her to rise, you will rise with her and help her make this country a wonderful, wonderful place where every man and every woman can live freely without sanctimonious piety, without crippling fear.
Surely Mrs Clinton is not everybody's cup of tea, but there is no denying her tenacity and resilience! Not everybody can survive the most humiliating public infidelity, reinvent herself, run for the Senate and end up a contender for the presidency of the United States of America! Hillary...more power to you!