Friday, December 18, 2009

The 4th Sorrowful Mystery


The Way of the Cross

How does it feel to be walking towards certain death? Even for the bravest it has to be unsettling! It is the facing of an inexorable and possible painful end, coming face to face with mortality, with the unknown, the sundering of body and spirit, the termination of life as we have known it, a change in the very essence of our humanity. For some death is a plunge into the blackness of non existence, for us through the eyes of faith it is a passage, albeit uncomfortable, from life to life.

The fourth sorrowful mystery invites us to contemplate Jesus carrying his cross, followed by the crowds to the place of the skull, where pain and death awaited. Little is written about his inner struggles that day, though he paused to comfort the grieving women of Jerusalem. His mother and a few loved ones surely followed, in sorrow and disbelief that their beloved and with him the dream of the kingdom of God as they had thought was being destroyed.

Sometimes we forget we too are walking to an end that is certain. This is not a scenario of our own choosing; we do not know the time or the hour. In our distress, we ignore, deny, and distract ourselves from the reality that we too, carrying our cross head to the place of unknown!

May Christ, his mother, angels and saints pray for us that our journey be marked by grace, dignity and peace.

Blessings

seraph

Monday, November 9, 2009

Prayers for All Souls


















Father of all, we pray to you for those we love, but see no longer: Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and, in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Almighty God, with whom still live the spirits of those who die in the Lord, and with whom the souls of the faithful are in joy and felicity: We give you heartfelt thanks for the good examples of all your servants, who, having finished their course in faith, now find rest and refreshment. May we, with all who have died in the true faith of your holy Name, have perfect fulfillment and bliss in your eternal and everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, 1979

Friday, October 30, 2009

Woman to Lead German Protestants

The Evangelical Church in Germany, the country's main Protestant umbrella body, Wednesday elected a female bishop as its leader. Bishop Margot Kaessmann, 51 is the first woman to lead Germany's 25 million Protestants. She takes over from Wolfgang Huber, 67, who is retiring.

The charismatic Kaessmann, who has been bishop in Hanover for more than 10 years, received 132 out of 142 votes at a meeting of the church in Ulm.

She said after her election that she wanted to work for more social justice and draw more people to the faith with a contemporary church.

Kaessmann made headlines in 2007 when she filed for divorce from her husband of 26 years.


A woman and divorced....Paul is rolling over in his grave!!! Or ...we have truly come a long way in our understanding of grace, ministry and human dignity.

Blessings

Seraph

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

El Papa y el Padre Alberto...

My Personal Reaction to Vatican Announcement: Reaching Out to Anglicans Who Are Unhappy in Their Church...
Just 5 months ago… When I was received in the Episcopal Church (Anglican Communion) some members of the Catholic media (for example EWTN and ACIPRENSA) highlighted the “great differences” between Episcopalians and Roman Catholics in matters of Theology and doctrine. Others even claimed that I “changed religions” - something which I consider absurd – since we profess the same creed and share the same Apostolic roots and tradition. Now, with this latest Vatican announcement, the Roman Catholic Church is saying that Anglicans who unite to Rome can maintain their “distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony”.

Furthermore, if celibacy is such an important aspect of the Roman Catholic priesthood in the Latin Rite, why does the church accept married priests from other churches, but does not allow its own priests to be married?

I would ask the Vatican: Are we (Episcopalians/Anglicans) heretics and schismatic or are we good guys? Please make up your mind. Does not accepting gays and women in the clergy put you in communion with the Roman Catholic Church?

A lot to reflect on…
Father Albert

Hace solo 5 meses atrás... Cuando yo fui recibido en la Iglesia Episcopal (Comunión Anglicana) algunos de los mismos medios Católicos Romanos (por ejemplo ACI PRENSA y EWTN) resaltaban lo lejos que estábamos de Roma en doctrina y teología. Otros, incluso llegaron a decir que yo había “cambiado de religión” – cosa que considero absurda – ya que profesamos el mismo credo y tenemos las mismas raíces apostólicas. Ahora, con el anuncio del Vaticano, ellos mismo dicen que los Anglicanos que se unan a Roma "mantienen su gran herencia espiritual y litúrgica" y que son bienvenidos. Además, si el celibato es tan importante para los sacerdotes católicos romanos del rito latino, ¿Por qué entonces se aceptan sacerdotes y ministros de otras iglesias con sus esposas y familias, pero el mismo clero católico no tiene opción de casarse?

Yo le preguntaría al Vaticano:Los Anglicanos somos “herejes y cismáticos”… ¿O somos buena gente? Que se pongan de acuerdo. ¿El no aceptar a los homosexuales y a las mujeres en el clero lo pone a uno en comunión automática con la Iglesia Católica Romana?

Esta decisión deja mucho que pensar…

http://www.padrealberto.net/

P. Alberto
Just a few months ago, Archbishop Favalora of the Catholic Archdiocese in Miami chided bishop Frade of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida for receiving Padre Alberto as an Episcopalian without first consulting with him. Clearly, his superiors in Rome have no qualms at all about inviting scores of Anglican clergy and laity to become Catholics. Respectfully,I wonder how much ecumenical consultation went into that decision?

It also makes me think! Being a celibate priest is not as important as believing that gays and women should be excluded from the clergy? So then what is the celibacy rule fuzz all about?...Let your own priests marry! That is an uncescapable if maybe unintended message in this announcement. Padre Alberto's insightful questions are spot on here.

Blessings

Seraph.

Benedict Opens Arms to Anglicans



















The number of married Catholic priests could grow sharply as the result of the Vatican's epochal decision to welcome thousands of disaffected Anglicans and Episcopalians into the Catholic church.

At press conferences in Rome and London on Tuesday, Vatican officials announced that the church would set up a special canonical structure that will ease the conversion of members of the Anglican Communion without them having to give up what the Vatican called "the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony." That means not only a body of prayers and hymns, but also a tradition of married priests and bishops.

"It's a stunning turn of events," says Lawrence Cunningham, theology professor at Notre Dame University. "This decision will allow for many more married clergy in Western churches, and that's going to raise anew the question, 'If they can do it, why can't the priests of Rome?'" says Cunningham.

But the arrangement with the Anglican Communion goes much further. Cardinal William Levada, the Vatican's top doctrinal official, announced in Rome that the church would set up a personal ordinariate -- in essence a diocese defined not by geography, but by function, like the division that serves Catholics in the military -- for converted Anglicans.

The move comes after years of discord within the Anglican Communion, which unites 77 million Anglicans and Episcopalians under the loose authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. The church has been racked by schisms over the ordination of women and its stance toward homosexuality. Some Anglicans believe the Vatican's move will deepen those divisions.


NO comment ...but its kind of funny!

Blessings

Seraph

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

St. MIchael and All The Angels

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in praelio. Contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur. Tuque princeps militiae caelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo divina virtute in infernum detrude. Amen.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Church Discounts...?














South Florida synagogues entice new members with savings

AS THE HIGH HOLY DAYS BEGIN, TEMPLES ARE HELPING THEIR FINANCIALLY STRUGGLING FLOCKS BY OFFERING DISCOUNT SERVICES AND MEMBERSHIPS.
JKALEEM@MIAMIHERALD.COM

With slow business at his motorcycle store, Michael Levin was unsure if he could afford the $200 ticket to services for the High Holidays, which begin Friday after sundown with Rosh Hashana. Yet, last week, he got tickets to services at Bet Shira Congregation and a year-long membership -- worth up to $2,000 -- for free. ``Nowhere I'd rather be than with my family at the synagogue for the holidays,'' said Levin, 41, of Pinecrest. ``It's tradition . . . you reflect on the year and look forward to what we can do in the one coming up.''

As the economy has taken a toll on families, a handful of South Florida synagogues -- which, unlike churches, rely on annual memberships and fees -- are taking the unprecedented move of advertising free services and even scrapping membership dues altogether. ``We've never done this before,'' said Cantor Mark Kula of Bet Shira, the 664-member Conservative synagogue in Pinecrest where a ``membership marathon'' last week netted 119 of those members. Anybody who showed up during a four-hour window Wednesday got a free one-year membership.

``People were uncomfortable saying `I can't afford it' and may have stayed on the periphery, so we got one step ahead of them and offered the deal ourselves,'' Kula said.
Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year, and services that begin Friday night and continue through Sunday include the blowing of the shofar -- a traditional instrument made from a ram's horn -- extended prayer and a focus on repentence.

The High Holidays, which end Sept. 28 with Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, are also when annual synagogue membership -- $250 to $2,000, depending on a person's age and marital status -- begins its cycle. This year, synagogues are banking on keeping the flock by offering enticing deals.


Well that is an interesting idea...not the discounts but the fees!!! Churches typically provide services at no cost relying on the good will offerings, tithes or pledges of attendees, which often are inadecuate for the expenses.

Maybe there is a bit of wisdom in this interesting practice... If you are interested you pay the membership fees like you do in any other organization whose services and gatherings are of interest or benefit to you. It sure would make budgeting easier every year...

Now if only the vestry would catch the vision....lol! Just think of it discounted tickets to the Christmas Eve Mass and the Easter Vigil, at a mere $50-$150...a boost for the budget!

Blessings

Seraph

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fresh from Bishop Frade!














For a long time in the life of the Episcopal Church we have been dealing with the realities of human sexuality. We have wrestled with who’s in and who’s out, who can be ordained and who can’t, which relationships are to be blessed and which are not.

With the passage of Resolution C056 at the 76th General Convention in July, we opened the door a little bit to permit our clergy to respond pastorally to same-sex couples who have been legally married in jurisdictions where such civil marriages are permitted.

Accordingly, I intend to authorize the clergy of this diocese to bless the unions of same-sex couples who have been legally married in states or countries where this is possible. This authorization will not apply to civil unions, domestic partnerships or any other legally recognized status other than marriage; this is no more nor less than we do for heterosexual couples who wish to have their unions blessed by the Church—they must be married.

I would emphasize two points: First, our General Convention did not authorize Episcopal clergy to perform same-sex marriages, and consequently, I am not authorizing any clergy to perform same-sex marriage in this diocese; and second, no priest in this diocese is ever under any obligation to perform any marriage he or she feels is inappropriate.

I have appointed a representative committee of diocesan clergy, chaired by Dean Douglas McCaleb of Trinity Cathedral, to develop some liturgical guidelines for proposed same-sex blessing services. I anticipate that these guidelines will be ready in four to six weeks for any clergy who request them.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at bishopfrade@aol.com.

+Leo Frade

This just in from one of the Episcopal Church's few Cuban American Bishops. I wonder how this will play in the home front even as as his diocese's revamps outreach to South Florida's Hispanics who are in general of a conservative bent.

This application of the Episcopal Church's resolution C056 by Bishop Frade seems to be based principle rather than on demand, given the limited scope of those who would benefit and the potential for fueling controversy. Since Florida law does not recognize same sex marriages his pastoral generosity probably goes beyond the intent of C025 which spoke to contexts where same sex marriages and civil unions are a matter of law.

Bishop Frade comes to the Episcopal Church from a from a relatively conservative Methodist background yet has consistently taken progressive positions on social issues, this is no exception. Some in his diocese are sure to see this as a sign of hope and a tribute to charity and justice long denied. Others are sure to be dismayed by what they see as a departure from traditional ideas of family and marriage! It is sure to be an interesting fall season!

Señor cuidanos y guianos en tu camino y enseñanos a hacer tu voluntad! Virgen de la Caridad....pray for us!

Blessings

Seraph

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Padre Alberto...What I Did For Love!

Just two months after the tabloids exposed Father Cutié and Ruhama's relationship, the couple wed in the Episcopal church, where Father Cutié is now a priest. "It's a really funny thing that you spend 15 years marrying people, and then all of a sudden you're getting married," he says.

"There's nothing worse than hiding something that's good. And if God is love and God calls us to love and the best life you can live is to live a life full of love, why hide it?"

As a married man, Father Cutié says he can now serve God in a different way. "My vocation to priesthood and the fact that I'm now married are not two different things. I think they complement each other," he says.

"God is a big boy. When we face him, when we look at him face-to-face, the question he's going to ask is, 'Did you do it out of love?' ... And I believe I did everything I've done out of love. "


Many blessings to Fr. Cutie and Rohama.

Seraph

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Divine Revelation.... or Seeking Attention?

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) -- A 44-year-old former drug addict and alcoholic who now works as a minister was the sole person responsible for the brief hijacking Wednesday of a commercial jetliner, a Mexican official said.

The suspect, Josmar Flores Pereira, told authorities he hijacked the jet on Wednesday because the date -- September 9, 2009, or 9/9/9 and 666 reversed -- held some significance for him, said Genaro Garcia Luna, the secretary for public safety. "He said that because of that divine reference, he wanted to alert Mexico City of an earthquake," Flanked by two police officers, the suspect was paraded in front of the news media wearing a white shirt and blue jeans. Chewing gum, he smiled. "Christ is coming soon," he told reporters before being escorted off.

Flores' wife, speaking with CNN by telephone from their home in the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca, said her husband had been looking for a way to get his message about God to the news media. "He never wanted to hurt anyone," said Elisa Melgar, 38, the mother of their three sons and his wife of 18 years. "As his wife, I support him," she said, adding that her husband had not touched alcohol or drugs for the past 17 years. "He's a man who was transformed by the power of God

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Bishop in Jacksonville

Neil Lebhar will lead 5,000 conservative Anglicans in the area.
By Jeff Brumley

“….A Jacksonville priest who led thousands from the Episcopal Church has been elected the first bishop of a new diocese that will oversee about 5,000 conservative Anglicans in North Florida and South Georgia. The Rev. Neil Lebhar was elected Saturday by clergy and lay leaders in what will be called the Gulf Atlantic Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America.

The Anglican Church in North America itself is a new American denomination, having been formed in June largely by those who left the Episcopal Church after an openly gay priest became bishop in New Hampshire in 2003. Lebhar said he's eager to lead but also glad the position has a seven-year term limit.

"I think the greatest impact for the kingdom takes place through the ministry of local Christian communities," Lebhar said. "So my heart has been, and always will be, for the parish." Lebhar was elected by the new diocese's clergy and lay leaders, who chose him over the Rev. Jim Hobby of Thomasville, Ga….”

My congratulations to the Rev. Neil Lehbar on his election to the episcopate. He is by all accounts a committed Christian and an accomplished clergyman. For the Episcopal diocese of Florida and the Anglican family of Christians in the region, it adds a new page to a rather complicated history.

A few weeks ago, at the ordination of a friend, two very dear people tried to explain to a mutual acquaintance about their church affiliation. One proudly stated she was an Anglican, the other with a confused look in her face said, “…so am I , aren’t you Episcopalian? Episcopalians have always been Anglican!...” . It was an awkward moment between two very fine ladies who now find themselves on what seem opposite sides of the fence.

For me, as a new Episcopalian, the divide here is a bit difficult to understand. I absolutely agree with bishop elect Lebhar in his conviction that; “…the greatest impact for the kingdom takes place in the local Christian community…”. It was in part that conviction that led me and others into the diocese of Florida, despite the controversies within the Episcopal Church.

So far, it has not been my impression that this local expression of the church has been a hotbed of liberalism! There are dedicated clergy and lay leaders, inspiring and boring preachers, faithful parishioners, Christmas and Easter folks, the very holy as well sinners in need of love and redemption, Charismatics, Evangelicals, the frozen chosen, a love of Christ, the Church and sacraments, apathy and fervor…no different from any other church I have had the privilege of attending! I have encountered a diversity of political ideologies and opinions on a host of topics, but overall, around here, there seems to be very little difference between my Episcopalian friends, and the new non-Episcopalian Anglicans.

Though others see it differently, to me, it feels like one of those family disagreements that come to hurtful division and separation; a sad affair! There are friendships that have been strained, bonds broken and relationships long in the making been put to the test; not a good scenario in our own families, much less the family of God!

I would hope that Bishop elect Lebhar, now charged to guard the unity of the church, would be a voice for reconciliation and understanding among disaffected Christians in this diocese! After all, beyond denominations and ideologies, past conflicts and hurts, we are inescapably bound to one another if we are Christians. We have been baptized into one body, have been given to drink of the same Spirit, and are members of the body of Christ!

As for my Anglican and Episcopalian friends, they seemed to get past the moment! The evening saw them “eat of the same bread…drink of the same cup” and later share stories over coffee and flan! Hope springs eternal….

Blessings

Seraph

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Socialized Medicine and All That Jazz

Did you hear they are going to do away with private insurance? What are you going to do when they socialize medicine doc? Whatever will happen if they implement universal health care?

It seems I get these types of questions all the time now as the health care debate continues. I have been hesitant to answer not sure of the particulars of all the plans being thrown around....but upon further thought here it is; When there is health coverage for all ... I will hang my stethoscope and take a day off!

Many health care providers, in cooperation with medical societies, churches and other civic organizations throughout our nation volunteer their time and skills to care for people who fall into the category of uninsured. One such charitable venture is the Oasis clinic, founded by my wife, a concerned nurse. It began over 15 years ago, hosted by our local parish, served by wonderful volunteers throughout the years, a place where countless people who are needy and ill have been treated for free. While it is always a blessing to serve others in the name of Christ, this experience has been quite an eye opener!

The uninsured are not some sort of invisible plague, or a mythical class invoked by liberals in Congress, they are real people for whom the system has failed! Many that we treat in our little clinic work and pay taxes, but are unable to purchase insurance because of prohibitive cost! Even for those who are fortunate enough to work where insurance is offered, the choice is often between health are coverage and food or paying their utilities; no choice at all! Because of this lack of affordable access to even basic care, people often wait despite concerning symptoms, and come to clinic with advanced problems. Some wait until there is no choice but to seek help at a hospital Emergency Room.

Even as we commend all who volunteer, we must acknowledge that the care they are able to offer, though given with competence and caring, is not nearly enough to meet the many needs! While politicians, the rich , the lucky, the elderly and very poor complain about the coverage they do have, our unwillingness to extend that right to others stands out as a stain on our society. The status quo we have lived with keeps people at risk, abuses the good will of people of faith and enables inaction!!!

I am all for choice in healthcare! Choose your hospitals, have choice for your medications choose your doctor..choose me! However, as I see it, that is hardly the issue in our health care fiasco! The issue is that many have no choice at all; it can not get any worse for them! As far as doctors and others who take of their own time, talent and treasure to help the uninsured, it can only improve!

Maybe, when there is universal health care in our country, doctors can actually get paid for the countless hours of free work, that now goes unpaid and unnoticed! And ...just maybe when I am not working I will not have to give up a well deserved day off!!!

Blessings

Seraph

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lutherans Allow Gays...












Same-sex unions accepted by Evangelical Lutherans
By Christopher Quinn

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The nation’s largest Lutheran denomination previously allowed pastors to be gay, but only if celibate. Delegates also approved a resolution which will allow but not require pastors to bless same-sex unions.

The moves were welcomed by advocates of full gay inclusion, but traditionalists were dismayed. Many traditionalists speaking at the Churchwide Assembly predicted it would split the denomination, much as more conservative Episcopal congregations have left that denomination after the installation of a gay bishop.

The Rev. Bradley Schmeling of St. John’s Lutheran in Druid Hills and Bob Gibeling of Atlanta have lobbied for the changes.

Schmeling is gay, has been in a relationship and the denomination removed him from the list of approved pastors in 2007. However, the church kept him as pastor and the denomination took no action against St. John’s.

“This is certainly an important step in the process that I’ve been looking forward to and praying for for a very long time,” he said from Minneapolis.

The wording of the resolution will not require a pastor to perform the blessing, but will allow congregations comfortable doing so to act. The denomination has yet to work out details of how the ceremony must take place.

Gibeling said: “I’ve been a life-long member at Redeemer Lutheran Church, and I was never comfortable asking my church to bless my relationship. This offers great hope to me that when I find a future life-long partner, my own beloved congregation will want to bless that union.”

The Episcopal Church has accepted gay pastors in recent years. Other mainline and evangelical Protestant churches, including conservative Lutherans such as the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, do not affirm gay leaders or relationships.


It looks that Lutherans went beyond Episcopalians in their decision today to move toward the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church. Time will tell what the fallout from todays's vote will turn out to be. For now prayer seems the best idea of all!

"...Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth, with all peace. Where it is corrupt,purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.


Blessings

Seraph

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Guy in the Glass

"...When you get what you want in your struggle for self and the world makes you king for a day, just go to a mirror and look at yourself and see what that guy has to say.

It isnt your father or mother or spouse whose judgement upon you must pass, the fellow whose verdict counts most in your life is the one staring back from the glass.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years and get pats on the back as you pass, but your final reward will be heartache and tears if you've cheated the guy in the glass .

He's the person to please never mind all the rest for he's with you clear up to the end, and you've passed your most dangerous test if the man in the glass is your friend!..."

Dale Wimbrow, first published in The American Magazine in 1934.

A friend game me this, written on a scratch piece of paper when I was going through a very difficult time! At first I thought it cheesy and selfish, not at all what I needed to hear, yet it turned out to be very helpful even to this day! Who can love others who does not love the person God is making them to be? Who can have mercy, compassion, forbearance who has none for himself? Who can be a friend to others who has not learned to be a friend to self? Dont forget every day to hear what that guy has to say...!

Blessings

Seraph

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Who Are You Dude...?











It can be a scary thing to let others see you as you see yourself, as you feel you truly are....kinda like the feeling of waking up naked or in uncool underwear in a public place! For one thing ...the fear of being rejected, unliked, shunned, makes slaves even of the freest of men. It is with good reason the "Good Book" cautions against being too concerned about the opinions and approval of others.

Then, there is also the interesting detail that our perception of who we are in often in a state of flux. I never just am.....I am becoming. This is an inherent handicap in my interaction with others ....I self reveal only a changing canvas an incomplete work. And just what will eventually be is known only to God..." We do not know yet what we will become..." are true words of John, beloved friend of Jesus.

Just as we think we know, we have realized who we truly are ..usually in a delusional stage of our teenage years .... comes the growing realization we are "molting" and do not fit into that skin. Suddenly, it seems the image we so carefully cultivated and defended becomes just an outdated set of clothes, or worse a skeleton to be hidden away for none to see. To make it more interesting ....it can happen again....before all is said and done !

So....then "I" is written in pencil, with large erasers and God must have a sense of humor and lots of grace!!!. It also means that patience is crucial to our understanding of ourselves and others, our friendships and relationships. I am not exactly the same as yesterday and thankfully can be better, more interesting, loving, compassionate or maybe just less of a jerk tomorrow!

Who am I dude? Well... a work in progress, messy at times, clay in the hands of the potter, one that hopefully, in the eyes of the artist, will turn out better than expected!

Blessings

Seraph

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Future Full of Hope...


Well this is certainly true!!!

When looking for confort and hope as we face the difficulties, complications and sometimes dissapointments of life the idea these words convey do come in handy, like a breath of fresh air, or a sudden ray of light in a dark room!

A reading of Scripture would clearly illustrate this concept, and some in the "cloud of witnessess" the Bible talks about, would certainly have colorful stories to tell. Surely St. Dimas, Mary the Magdalene, Zaccheus, Sampson or Rahab could make the tabloids with their tales yet be poweful reminders that all can change, hearts can be healed, sinners can end up as saints!

"...Such were some of you".. are the words of Paul referencing the less than virtuous past of some of the disciples at Corinth but ..." you were washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God..".

Even as the past escapes us with every second that passes, the future is as close as our next breath! Sanctifying grace as near as a thought that leads us to heaven, the whispered name of Jesus, the sign of the cross traced on our forehead, the warm embrace as we share God's peace, the prayer of humble access, the Amen as we take the cup of salvation to our lips! God has made it so it is impossible for us to live in the past but are continuously moving towards a future where we will inevitably see Him face to face!

Yes every saint has a past and fortunately every sinner a future, a tomorrow, a new beginning, a second chance...!!! May it be so!!!!!

May these words, and GOD's promises be fullfilled in me, those I love, the people and clergy of the Episcopal Church, all that call on the name of Christ...

I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans for good and not for evil to give you a future full of hope Jer 29:11

blessings

seraph

Sunday, August 9, 2009

El Sincretismo Religioso

Noticias recientes nos informan de un sacerdote episcopal que dice practicar la religión musulmana y de un candidato al obispado en una diócesis estadounidense que recibe una ordenación laica en una de las ramas del budismo. ¿Qué ocurre? ¿Será ésta una nueva ola de tolerancia o simplemente manifestaciones modernas de un sincretismo religioso?

El sincretismo se ha definido como una simbiosis, amalgamación o mezcla de conceptos, prácticas y ritos provenientes de diversas tradiciones religiosas. Laura Rossi en Relativismo e sincretismo expresa que: "El sincretismo es la fusión de elementos tomados de formas religiosas diferentes y no siempre convergentes…".

No hay duda que las religiones en su desarrollo se han influenciado unas a otras y eso no es ajeno al contexto hispano. Como dijera Leonardo Boff "no hay Cristianismo puro, el sincretismo es lo normal". La cantante cubana Maricela Verena hace alusión al fenómeno del sincretismo religioso a nivel popular en su cultura, declarando en una de sus canciones que: "A nosotros los cubanos, el papa nos bautiza, y nos bendice Yemaya" (diosa del mar en el panteón de la religión Yoruba).

Estoy seguro de que no faltarían las historias entre creyentes episcopales de personas devotas, por una parte, de los ritos de la Iglesia pero a la vez con creencias ajenas a la fe cristiana y a su pacto bautismal. "Sí, soy cristiano pero..." quizás sea devoto del espiritismo, de la santería; o creyente ferviente en la reencarnación, o quizás acepte elementos tomados de diferentes tradiciones religiosas para formar un mosaico pintoresco, una religión con sabor de mi preferencia personal.

No hay nada de nuevo ni de moderno en el sincretismo religioso. Ya en las primeras páginas de la Biblia se encuentran ejemplos de ello. El pueblo de Dios rinde culto a un becerro de oro, a los dioses de la tierra donde habitan; sus mujeres presentan panes dulces en honor a la diosa "reina del cielo", lloran por la muerte del dios Tamuz incluso a las afueras del templo a Yahvé. Los atenienses, leemos en los Hechos de los Apóstoles, por respeto a todas las deidades tenían hasta un altar al dios no conocido.

Lejos de aplaudir o recomendar prácticas sincretistas, los autores de las Escrituras instan a la adoración del único Dios verdadero. "Oye Israel el Señor nuestro Dios es el único Señor", es la fe proclamada por los profetas. Frente a la pluralidad de deidades presentadas en los altares de Atenas, Pablo insta a adorar al Dios creador que no necesita de templos hechos por manos humanas y está cerca de cada ser humano. En la Primera Carta a los Corintios aclara que aunque en este mundo hay muchos llamados dioses, para nosotros hay "un solo Dios y un solo Señor Jesucristo" (1 Corintios 8,5). "No pueden participar de la copa del Señor y la copa de los demonios"(1Corintios 10, 21), son sus duras palabras para aquellos que se acercaban a la Eucaristía a la vez que a celebraciones en honor a otros dioses.

La Iglesia Episcopal, al igual que otras confesiones cristianas, no deja de reconocer que hay elementos de verdad y luz en otras religiones. La Iglesia Católica Romana, a raíz del Concilio Vaticano II (1962-65) en la declaración Nostra Aetate sobre la "Iglesia Católica y las Religiones no Cristianas", dice que en toda religión hay "un destello de aquella Verdad que ilumina a todos los hombres". A la vez, debemos de reconocer que hay verdades en la religión cristiana que son completamente incompatibles con las creencias de otras religiones. Los misterios de la Trinidad, la Encarnación, la Eucaristía y otros básicos a nuestra fe, serían incomprensibles en otros contextos religiosos. Monseñor Boza Masvidal en su carta pastoral sobre el sincretismo religioso y la santería dice lo siguiente: "No se pueden reconciliar el Cristianismo y la santería…el Cristianismo es monoteísta, la santería cree en muchos dioses…". De igual manera, no puede haber sacerdotes episco-musulmanes ni obispos episco-budistas. Cristo es - para el cristiano - Dios encarnado, algo explícitamente negado por el Islam y un concepto ajeno a la filosofía del Budismo.

Es esta época, caracterizada por una mayor apertura, tolerancia y diálogo interreligioso, es menester que el cristiano sepa dar razón de su fe respetuosamente, sin caer en los extremos del fundamentalismo o del sincretismo. En uno se absolutizan los valores religiosos de manera rígida, en el otro se relativizan de tal manera que pierden su verdadero sentido.

Muchas bendiciones

Serafin

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Major Meltdown
















By Shelby Lin Erdman
CNN Radio

US. scientists monitoring shrinking glaciers in Washington and Alaska reported this week that a major meltdown is under way.

The Gulcana glacier in Alaska is one of three glaciers considered a benchmark by the U.S. Geological Survey. A 50-year government study found that the world's glaciers are melting at a rapid and alarming rate. The ongoing study is the latest in a series of reports that found glaciers worldwide are melting faster than anyone had predicted they would just a few years ago. It offers a clear indication of an accelerating climate change and warming earth, according to the authors. "We feel it's definitely the signature of global change and climate warming," Josberger said.

The melt of glaciers is resulting in higher sea levels and affecting ecosystems and the rivers that emanate from these glaciers, Josberger said. "In terms of water supply available for people, Anchorage is fed by two glacially fed lakes. There are some very strong impacts that could happen."

"We've been using this 50-year record to interpret the changes or the response of glaciers to climate change," Josberger said. "Basically, in the past 10, 15 or 20 years these three glaciers are wasting away. The melting has far exceeded the amount of snow that falls on them in the winter, so they're retreating far up valley. And this retreat is taking place all over the Pacific Northwest and Alaska."

Glacier melt will likely continue and, as it does, sea levels around the world are expected to continue rising. And that could affect people in low-lying coastal communities, forcing them from their homes and further inland, experts say.

This sounds a bit alarming!Maybe that beach condo is not such a good idea after all!!!! Wonderful inspiration for late weekend movie choices though! Waterworld and Day after Tomorrow, a nice Cabernet, tres leches , and a blankie for a bit of perspective! Now where did I put those floaties?

Blessings

Seraph

Common Prayer ..That is Enough!














We Pray Together..That is Enough

By W. Nicholas Knisely

A few months ago one of the staff here at the Cathedral forwarded an email to me with a request that I answer the question it posed as he had no idea what he should say. The email was very simple. It was from a person in the community who was looking for a new church home. But, before he would consider a congregation, it was very important for him to know where we stood on the question of blessing same-sex couples.

There wasn’t any hint in the email about whether or not the sender wanted us to say we were for blessing same-sex couples or opposed. Just that it was critically important to him that we give the right answer so that he wouldn’t waste his time unnecessarily.

I get letters or questions like this quite commonly. I think most Episcopal clergy do these days. It’s the BIG question that seems to be used as a way to sort through congregations and dioceses so that we can determine which ones are right-thinking and therefore worthy of support and which ones are wrong and worthy of nothing. What was different about this letter though was that I simply couldn’t figure out what the person wanted me to say.

So rather than trying to be pastoral and sensitive in trying to respond to the question behind the question (as is my wont), I decided to be bluntly honest.

“There are people in this congregation who are fully supportive of the Church’s blessing of same-gender unions. There are people in this congregation who are opposed to the Church’s blessing of same-gender unions. While the Episcopal Church as a denomination is on record as calling for equal protection under the law for all citizens, if you’re looking for a congregation that is of one mind on this issue, you’re going to be disappointed with this one. We don’t have agreement internally on this particular - or many - issues. Instead, we just agree to pray and worship together”

We don’t agree with each other. We pray together.

Friends of mine who are involved in the church growth movement offer me their sympathy every three years or so following our denomination’s General Convention. “It must be really hard to grow a church that spends so much time fighting” they say. In the past I’ve agreed with them. But I think I’ve decided that it’s time we as Episcopalians tell the truth about who we are though in a way that tries to explain to others why our struggles are not a “bug” - they’re a “feature”!

The Elizabethan Settlement, which for me is modeled at every Eucharist when I present the host to a communicant with the paradoxical words (to a person of Tudor England) “the body of Christ, the bread of Heaven”, is fundamental to our identity as Anglicans. We are willing to be in relationship with people who will gather with us around Jesus; whether they by free or slave, man or women, Jew or Greek. We are the anti-puritans caring less about clarity of theological categories than we do about loving relationship. “If you will pray to Jesus with me, I will pray to Jesus with you.”

At least we try to when we’re at our best. Which isn’t always that often admittedly.

In my mind, as an Episcopalian of catholic leanings and ecumenical enthusiasm, if there’s one thing that argues for the continued existence of an Anglican witness in the Universal Church - it’s our charism of holding firm to praying with those with whom we disagree no matter how hard that is to do.

Eusebius writes that in the latter days of his life, St. John the Evangelist would respond to repeated requests of visitors to “tell of us of Jesus” by only repeating again and again “Little children, love one another.” When asked by those caring for him why he would only say that he is supposed to have responded “Because if they do only that, it is enough.”

Episcopalians don’t agree to agree. We pray with each other. Because if we can manage to just do that, it seems to me, that we will have done enough.



I really like this post , it is insightful yet speaks to the heart. I specially love the idea of a charism of "holding firm to praying", even with those we disagree. It speaks to the reality of where we all are as Christians!!! For me this is no theory! When you come from a 21 st century Hispanic family where Roman Catholics, Baptists, Charismatics of several stripes and Episcopalians share your life, laugh, love argue, disagree, and pray together, the wisdom of this words really resonate. Often all we can do is pray together and that has always been enough!

Blessings

Seraph

Wise Latina In Supreme Court

By Julie Hirschfeld Davis
Associated Press







WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate has confirmed Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court.

Falling well into the anticipated range, Thursday's vote was 68-31 for Sotomayor as President Barack Obama's first high court nominee. She becomes the 111th justice and just the third woman to serve.

Democrats praised the 55-year-old Sotomayor as a mainstream moderate. But most Republicans voted against her, saying she'd bring personal bias and a liberal agenda to the bench.

Nevertheless, several Republicans broke the GOP ranks during Thursday's vote.

Senators took the rare step of assembling at their desks on the Senate floor for the historic occasion, rising from their seats to cast their votes.

Sotomayor replaces retiring Justice David Souter, a liberal named by a Republican president, and she is not expected to alter the court's ideological split.

Still, the battle over her nomination highlighted profound philosophical disagreements that will shape future battles over the court's makeup as Obama looks to another likely vacancy — perhaps more than one — while he's in the White House.



Blessings

Seraph

Gay to Stay...?

There is no firm evidence that sexual orientation can be changed through therapy, so mental health professionals should not tell conflicted gay clients that they can become heterosexual with such treatments, the American Psychological Association declared today.

In adopting a resolution, the APA's governing council said some research suggests such "reparative therapy" could induce depression or suicidal tendencies.

A task force recommended that mental health professionals "avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts when providing assistance to people distressed about their own or others' sexual orientation," usually as a result of religious doctrine.

Here's what Judith Glassgold, chair of the task force, said in a statement:

"Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation. Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims of SOCE [sexual orientation change efforts] practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions.

"At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex."

The APA urged therapists to consider multiple options — celibacy or switching churches, for instance — for helping clients live spiritually rewarding lives in instances where their sexual orientation and religious faith conflict.


No surprises here!

Blessings

Seraph

Friday, August 7, 2009

Episcopalians grow Hispanic Ministry


The Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard, eighth Episcopal Bishop of Florida, will receive the Revs. Monica Bosque and Janssen Gutierrez as deacons in the Episcopal Church during a 5 p.m. Sunday service at St. Luke's Episcopal Church on University Boulevard, Jacksonville. Bosque will assist in serving the Hispanic congregation at St. Luke's, also known as Iglesia de San Lucas, where Sunday services are held at 10a.m. in English and at noon in Spanish.

The Rev. Janssen Gutierrez will be ordained priest at that same service and will serve the growing Hispanic congregation at St. Francis in the Field located off of highway 210 in Palm Valley. The Rev. Michael Ellis and the congregation of St. Francis in the Field have supported and encouraged this fledgling congregation. Sunday services at St. Francis in the Field are at 10 a.m. in English and at 5 p.m. in Spanish.

The Rev. Miguel Rosada, who is the rector of St. Luke's/Iglesia de San Lucas was the first Hispanic priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Florida to offer services in both English and Spanish, and he will be coordinating the ministries of the new clergy. "All of us in the Episcopal Diocese of Florida rejoice in the ministries of Deacon Bosque and of Father Gutierrez," said Bishop Howard "and we celebrate our rapidly growing ministry among those for whom Spanish is a first language. St. Luke's/San Lucas with its dual English-Spanish ministries has created a pattern for what true bilingual worship will look like in the future."

http://www.staugustine.com/stories/080709/religion_1822104.shtml

Sunday, May 10, 2009


By MYRIAM MARQUEZ
mmarquez@MiamiHerald.com

Padre Alberto's fall from Roman Catholic grace has all the makings of a TV movie and, unfortunately, all the trappings of a circus.

Alberto Cutié, the charismatic 40-year-old priest and book author, was captured frolicking on a Florida beach with a woman -- their pictures on the cover of a Mexican magazine sold here. He has stepped down from his Miami Beach church, immediately apologizing for his misbehavior but vowing to keep serving the Lord.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Miami, which has rightly come under fire for years for taking its sweet time to investigate allegations of child abuse among pedophile priests, worked quickly to strip Cutié of his duties while he prays and contemplates his future.

For the most part, Miami's Spanish-language talk radio and TV shows have been sympathetic, recalling all his good works and lamenting that the Catholic church requires celibacy of the clergy. Over and over again, callers have said: He may be a priest, but he's still a man. The church rule is the problem, not the priest. Maybe so, but what happened to personal responsibility? Had Padre Alberto gone to his bishop as soon as he felt like straying from his vows, he would have been honest with himself, God and the church.

Padre Alberto long had championed celibacy as an option, not a requirement.

In truth, it's not church dogma, such as the divinity of Jesus Christ or the Holy Trinity. It's a rule required centuries ago, in part because the Vatican worried that the priests' widows and children were taking riches from the church.It's an outdated requirement in a church that is scrambling for priests and nuns, who also are to remain chaste.

While Catholics struggle with this latest scandal, Padre Alberto surely has options.

He can become an Episcopalian priest, for instance, where men and women -- yes, they allow women to lead churches, Praise Jesus! -- can go to the beach and cuddle up and not be castigated because they can marry. Episcopalian Bishop Leo Frade, who oversees the Southeast Florida Diocese of almost 300 priests (including five former Catholic priests) told me Thursday that he would welcome Padre Alberto with open arms...The apostle Peter, after all, was married.

The idea of celibacy is that a single man can devote his entire life to his flock.

''I say, sure, he or she will have more time, but a single person will have to spend a lot more time than our clergy turning away God's gifts, suppressing their sexuality,'' Frade said. ``We have chaste priests. That's OK. That's their prerogative.''


For many years this Cuban American priest has been the poster boy for South Florida Hispanic Catholicism. He is handsome, well spoken and very down to earth! His many virtues and work in the favor the church have gained him the admiration of many in and out of the Catholic Church.

My prayers for padre Alberto, his relationship with God and his family. One should not have to choose between the priesthood and love, both are gifts and callings of God.

The Episcopal Church has married priests, he certainly would be welcome...and it appears bishop Frade is wasting no time in extending the invitation!

Padre Alberto la Iglesia Episcopal te da la Bienvenida!

Blessings

Seraph

Friday, May 1, 2009

'Etiquette guide' for Thai monks













A Buddhist preacher in Thailand has announced plans for new guidelines aimed at curbing the flamboyant behaviour of gay and transgender monks.

The "good manners" curriculum - the country's first - is being introduced in the northern province of Chiang Rai. The senior monk told the BBC he was particularly concerned by effeminate activities among novices such as the wearing of make-up and tight robes.

Senior monk Phra Maha Wudhijaya Vajiramedhi told the BBC he would address issues like smoking, drinking alcohol, walking and going to the toilet properly, which are all detailed in the traditional 75 Dharma principles of Buddhism, and the 227 precepts for monks. He was especially concerned, he said, by the flamboyant behaviour of gay and transgender monks, who can often be seen wearing revealingly tight robes, carrying pink purses and having effeminately-shaped eyebrows.

Thailand has a very large and visible population of transgender men, and Phra Vajiramedhi acknowledged that it was difficult to exclude them from the monkhood but he hoped his course could at least persuade them to curb their more extrovert habits. If successful, the "good manners" course, at the Novice Demonstration School, would be replicated at other Buddhist monasteries and seminaries, he said.


Hmmm and I though Episcopalians were having troubles...

Blessings

Seraph

Do Unto Others...?

The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified -- more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

The analysis is based on a Pew Research Center survey of 742 American adults conducted April 14-21. It did not include analysis of groups other than white evangelicals, white non-Hispanic Catholics, white mainline Protestants and the religiously unaffiliated, because the sample size was too small.

The survey asked: "Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?" Roughly half of all respondents -- 49 percent -- said it is often or sometimes justified. A quarter said it never is.

The religious group most likely to say torture is never justified was Protestant denominations -- such as Episcopalians, Lutherans and Presbyterians -- categorized as "mainline" Protestants, in contrast to evangelicals. Just over three in 10 of them said torture is never justified. A quarter of the religiously unaffiliated said the same, compared with two in 10 white non-Hispanic Catholics and one in eight evangelicals.


Speechless

Seraph

Friday, March 13, 2009

Less Christian...More Honest?

America is a less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago, and Christianity is not losing out to other religions, but primarily to a rejection of religion altogether, a survey published Monday found. Seventy-five percent of Americans call themselves Christian, according to the American Religious Identification Survey from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1990, the figure was 86 percent.

William Donohue, president of the Catholic League said he thinks a radical shift towards individualism over the last quarter-century has a lot to do it. "The three most dreaded words are thou shalt not," he told Lou Dobbs. "Notice they are not atheists -- they are saying I don't want to be told what to do with my life."

The survey also found that "born-again" or "evangelical" Christianity is on the rise, while the percentage who belong to "mainline" congregations such as the Episcopal or Lutheran churches has fallen. One in three Americans consider themselves evangelical, and the number of people associated with mega-churches has skyrocketed...

The rise in evangelical Christianity is contributing to the rejection of religion altogether by some Americans, said Mark Silk of Trinity College. "In the 1990s, it really sunk in on the American public generally that there was a long-lasting 'religious right' connected to a political party, and that turned a lot of people the other way," he said of the link between the Republican Party and groups such as the Moral Majority and Focus on the Family. In an earlier time, people who would have been content to say, 'Well, I'm some kind of a Protestant,' now say 'Hell no, I won't go,'" he told CNN.

As I read this, it seems to be good news for evangelical and non-denominational churches experiencing significant growth, Catholics, despite all the bad publicity of late, are holding steady, classical Protestants are in freefall.

Religions whose adherents do not seem to have the wherewithal for their faith to survive the political cycles of our society really should re-examine their message and methods. Christianity, after all is about Christ and his message! Political persuasion and activism is very peripheral, minor even, when compared to the daily commitment to love and follow Christ, serving Him and our neighbor with courage, gladness and singleness of heart.

From another perspective, to be perfectly honest, “I am some kind of Protestant” sounds like a profession of faith most pastors pray their parishioners do not grow up into!The kind of devotion that seems unable to give a more clear explanation of faith and denominational affiliation is definitely not what churches aspire for in their congregants. In my opinion, when it comes to faith, clarity is a lot better than ambiguity.

Maybe more Americans are finally to a point of greater honesty! With increasing social acceptance of the non-religious, why is it necessary to be a member of churches whose basic tenets you reject, or claim to be followers of a teacher whose teachings are objectionable?

I fail to see how that is a bad situation at all. America may be no less Christian, just more honest!

Blessings

Seraph

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wednesday of Ashes


Ash Wednesday has come and gone, and this year, despite good attendance and wonderful fellowship it seemed at times the service would go to ashes…!

It began even as I entered the narthex amidst more chatter than usual in the sanctuary. Then came the news that one of the choir members had fallen ill! The lector for the day would have to take him home and would not be back on time for the reading! How unfortunate, thought I, scrambling to replace the lector seconds before the service !

As the processional hymn started all seemed well until the solemn Kyrie, great at rehearsal, was disrupted by what seemed to be a malfunction with the keyboard; it would not play and then would not stay in key so that the musician had to stop and start the song again…! That was awkward…and no fun for the cantor, but things happen…was my thought! Just then the brass processional cross came tumbling down on the communion rail, as the altar boy and deacon rushed to replace it! The cell phone rings coinciding with the crash gave the whole scene a B comedy movie feel …give me a break!!!!! Poltergeist? Coincidence? A comedy of errors ?

I fought the temptation of throwing in the towel on the service and quietly exiting via the sacristy into my getaway vehicle…but realized the escape route was blocked by a cadre of giggling altar boys! Distracted, and a bit frustrated, I decided to pray, aware that it can be a little awkward to do certain kinds of prayers in a formal Episcopal service. Fortunately, by that time, there probably was little left to lose as far as the aesthetics of the service and besides…the devil was going to be mentioned in the gospel anyway! Our common extemporaneous prayer did get the service back on track somewhat. It flowed well through the imposition of ashes, litany, communion to the final prayers, though not without distraction.

As the day has evolved, all the happenings on the Wednesday of ashes service seem to have a lesson about life and Lent we would be wise to heed. Spirituality can not always be tastefully choreographed into neat disturbance free slots nor a flawless dance of liturgy, readings and song….things happen!

Lent presents us with the challenge of prayer, study, works of mercy , closeness to Christ, all while balancing family, chaotic schedules, bills, work, home situations, crying children, sick loved ones, none of which lends itself to a picture perfect, flowing day of spirituality! Israel’s trek for 40 years to the promised land was certainly not a tasteful affair and Jesus own 40 days in the wilderness were marked by hunger, thirst and a non heavenly spiritual visitation!

Can I still find God, love and serve him without the mood music, bells and smells, solemnity, and the other trappings we associate with things spiritual in our tradition? Is my faith mature enough to see God past inconvenience, distraction and humanity? Is it God or those things I associate with worship which are a comfort to my soul?

These are all good questions for Lent prompted by our Wednesday of Ashes!

Blessings

Seraph

Monday, February 23, 2009

Shhhhh...















“Preach the Gospel always, if necessary, use words”.

This quote widely attributed to St. Francis seems to be very popular among Christians, usually in the context of how we do not have to be preachy or say much about our faith! We preach by example not by words! There is wisdom in these words, as long as we remember never to be silent when it is necessary to speak!

This message was powerfully conveyed at St. Luke’s celebration of the feast of Absalom Jones, the first black American Episcopal priest. A liturgical dance piece set to excerpts from sermons by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. touched on the serious problem of silence. In the end; said he , “we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends”.

Can I sit silently as those I love are suffering, confused , lost and hopeless? Can I silently watch prejudice and injustice? Can I sit idly without a word as a teenager is led astray ? Can I be silent when a child goes hungry, is abused or neglected? Can I say nothing as the unborn are killed?

Our command from Christ to bring “good news" the Spirit 's anointing for us to proclaim..."liberty to the captives”, our baptismal covenant urging us to “strive for justice", make it a necessity for our voice to be heard in prayer, in counsel, in protest, in objection , in question, in invitation.

Yes by all means...

Preach the gospel always...just don't forget to use words!!

Blessings

Seraph

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Old...New Friends

It can be so exciting to meet up with a friend you have not seen in long time, especially one with whom you have shared a lot of laughter and tears. It usually brings out the best of memories and the best of times, yet there is a note of caution when we rekindle an old friendship or perhaps rethink an old romance!

It should be obvious, neither of you is the person each remembers! Catching up just where you left off years ago is fine, for a momentary illusion, but is not the stuff conducive to long lasting relationship. Time, distance, different experiences good and bad times, have shaped the person you have become and are becoming …you are no longer the same, nor is your friend!

Some things are plain to see; those funny bifocals now replaced by tinted contacts, the mop of hair you fondly remember close cropped or styled, the change in perfume or the few extra pounds. There are other changes as well, less obvious, much more important to keep in mind! When we expect or imagine all to be the same, disappointment is seldom far away!

“Well he really turned into a *&%$..”, “she sure has changed"…are often the postludes to high school and college reunions or other occasion of encounter with those we once hung with, valued or loved.

Whatever happened ?...Life did! The boy crazy coed has become a mom to 4 girls, heaven help us! The party boi found religion after one too many heartbreaks, the boozer survived thanks to AA, career, responsibilities, children, bankruptcy, wealth, illness , death of loved ones, divorce, middle age, illusions and disappointments, survival and success… God…”all things are made new”…the stuff of living!

Successful friendships demand we take this truth into account and, even as we reminisce about good old days, make room to get to know the familiar stranger we call friend! Chances are we will discover a new friend in an old one …or prolong the illusion and risk losing them both.

Blessings

Seraph

Friday, February 6, 2009

God at Work?














+Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

Many years ago I lived in a town where there was a very active church indeed. Outside this church was an enormous noticeboard. It seemed every moment of the week was taken up by activity and I have no doubt it was a very good church ...and loving parish. And yet that notice board used to worry me and it still does. It seems to me it speaks of an idea of the church which supposes that the church is about human beings doing things. When you looked at that church you would have thought, what a lot of things they do there. But I'm still wondering if anyone ever asked, does God do things here? It seemed to be just a slight risk that there was hardly any room in the week for God to find his way in among all these activities.

...When you come through that door … perhaps it should not be with the thought, what must I do. First be the thought what is Jesus doing here, how do I become part of it. Perhaps we should come into this church as we step into the sea or a swimming pool. Here I step into the ocean of Jesus praying, Jesus alive, Jesus mediating with the Father. Perhaps just as I learned to swim I can be carried along by the depth of the prayer with Jesus...

...We go out having listened to the word and celebrated the sacrament and we begin to hear something else in the world, we being to hear the words and the prayer of Jesus, we begin to see the love of Jesus around us. And we ask the same question we ask when we come through that door, how do I join in. How in he world around how do I cast myself into the flood of action that is Jesus' life and work with him in the world.

Who knows whether we will make a success of it or not. And yet that prayer that life goes on. St Paul is very realistic about this. He knows that some of what we build will not be worth saving in God's eyes. Some of it is in gold and silver and some of it is in hay and straw. Yet God's work goes on and God's foundation is never destroyed.

My hope and my prayer for this church and congregation is this: may it be a place about which people say, Jesus is alive there. ..And may the notice board outside never be too crowded. I know some of you want to fill this good activity for the sake of God. But I know too that you will want to leave space for God to work himself and God to be honored !


This is certainly food for thought as we approach Lent. It does seem to go against the grain! Many people would judge a church's sucess by numbers and activities offered forgeting that it is the activity of God's Holy Spirit which produces change and gives life! That is not as easy to quantify, nor post in an activities board.

Help us Lord not to be so busy that we schedule you out of our lives, hearts and your church!

Blessings

Seaph

Thursday, January 29, 2009

World gets first gay head of state


Independent: ANDY MCSMITH
SYNDICATED COLUMNIST

Iceland is set to appoint the world’s first lesbian prime minister – a former flight attendant who rose through the political ranks to become a cabinet minister.

Johanna Sigurdardottir, the 66-year-old social affairs minister, has been picked by her Social Democratic Alliance party to lead an interim government after the country’s conservative-led government collapsed.

Ms Sigurdardottir’s appointment is expected to be confirmed within days by the new ruling coalition of the Alliance party and the Left-Green movement. She would lead Iceland until general elections, expected in May.

Environment Minister Thorunn Sveinbjarnardottir said: “She is respected and loved by all of Iceland.


That this is news at all shows we have a long way to go as a prejudice free society. Why should people's sexual orientation be newsworthy?

As to claims she is "the first one"! Well, who is to say?...The first one we know about maybe! Or, the fist in a society where its not that important.

Blessings

Seraph

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Son Cubanos...
















Not many of the Cuban- Americans I know voted for Obama…”por ese no, que va”. Even less made any comments about Michelle’s fashion sense during her appearances in the campaign trail!!! However, as inauguration day flashed on, in my house, that of relatives and friends in the small Cuban American community of the city where we live, the chatter was all about the inauguration’s more visible…..Cubans!

With a touch of pride, a friend noted that, the very morning of the inauguration, Mrs. Obama wore a yellow gown designed for her by “una cubana”, the New York based designer Isabel Toledo. “…The color is somewhat strange, but the design, le queda bien- it suits her…”

Cuban Episcopalians were quick to remind me that, at the traditional early morning prayer service on Inauguration day, the Obama’s were welcomed to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square by the Rector, the Rev. Dr. Luis León, a Cuban.

Though for many in this community Obama was not the first choice, I could not help a chuckle at all the gossip and smiles generated by pictures like this one… “Oye chico, did you know that Cubans dressed and blessed…the Obamas? ” , “Of course, claro que si, la costurera y el cura…Son Cubanos!”

Blessings

Seraph

A Short Honeymoon










The day after the Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and the annual March for Life our new president once again extended funding for family Planning groups that perform and promote abortion overseas. I guess that the touted “change we can believe in” slogans did not include a change of heart, changes in the direction of respect for life, nor protection for the most innocent…That was a short honeymoon!!!

It surely seems as a sad foretaste of things to come, barring divine influence! This executive order, signed without much fanfare, is yet another reminder why, for the committed Christian, for the serious Episcopalian it always seems a risk to vote for a politician who is not decidedly pro-life. It is our baptismal covenant that demands we uphold the dignity of every human being, how can we ignore the most vulnerable?

Surely there are other issues where our newly elected president will make choices we will applaud, and others we will disagree with, but none more fundamental as this one. No right can be really protected when the right to life is denied, nor the dignity of all upheld when the dignity of the most vulnerable and innocent is trampled.

These words of Rev. Luke J. Robinson of Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church in Frederick, Md., an African-American, uttered at the 2009 March for Life, speak truth to the new power in Washington;

"I am praying that God's hand will lead him in righteousness and justice…. Today, Thursday, Jan. 22, we come here to deal with some unfinished business as it relates to the dream. We need change now more than ever….We are calling on the president of change to be an agent of change as it relates to the lives of more than 1 million children who will be slaughtered in his first year as president of the United States by a horrible injustice called abortion”

May it be so….

Blessings

Seraph

The Promise of Obama

















I am not one easily impressed by rhetoric or show, but must admit inauguration day had very inspirational moments.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the mere image of a young African American taking the oath for the highest office of the land communicates volumes! No less touching are pictures of the first family.

For the black community, dragged down by a history of enforced enslavement, exclusion and prejudice, Barak , Michelle and their family embody a hope, inspiration and pride which goes beyond words. Immigrants as well, find in a son of one like them, who has achieved the American dream, a validation of their own aspirations for a better life.

I liked his speech, despite the pundits! It had a good mix of sobering realities and the inspirational, even a sprinkling of Scripture….

“….We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness…”

From this perch, there was nothing not to like in the sounds images of the day! A promise and dream fulfilled, seemingly a vision of what could be in a world where race, class or ideas are no longer instruments or determinants for exclusion in society.

Now comes the reality, how will Barak govern? Will it be from his higher convictions or from the base of his party’s own ideology? Will his be a post partisan, post racial, no politics as usual administration or just more of the same in an attractive photogenic package? Time will surely tell.

For now I plan to pray daily for our new president, for his family for our nation. The words of Rick Warren seem appropriate…

“…Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity…”

Blessings

Seraph

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A New Deity?

I do not plan to invoke the name of Jesus at all...pray to the God of our many understandings".

These are words uttered by the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire in an interview with NPR just a few days ago. He has been chosen to lead prayer at the opening event of the presidential inauguration this Sunday and wanted to make sure people felt included in his invocation of deity.

Some may applaud his attempt at inclusiveness, for me it was dissapointing! A Christian bishop who specifically excludes the name "Above all Names", the name to which "Every Knee Shall Bow..." and "...every tongue confess ..." ?

What deity is the God of our many understandings? One defined by what we think?

God is in no sense defined by our comprehension nor mental constructs which often distort the divine image! These are mere idols! Religious leaders worth their salt should point us beyond these, to the reality and awesomeness of the Divine person....not allow us to be content with our petty imaginations!


I wonder, given this and other statements in the media by bishop Gene, if he sees his ministry more as that of a bishop or a GLBT advocate? He sure spends a lot of time and is very clear on his message of inclusion but sounds quite dissapointing as an spokesperson for the One who is Lord!

Blessings

Seraph