Tuesday, December 28, 2010


A beautiful meditation by a Jose Bosque, a remarkable young man...discerning the voice and call of God....enjoy!

I have centered my thoughts on you LORD. May your infinite knowledge guide my feet. May they not falter. May you be my steady footing. May all your ways go before my own.

May you find me a strong and fitting friend. May I find you to be my hearts true Desire. May the thoughts of the enemy fall away from mind and yours fill it with your GLORY. May I be found favorable in your court. May my contemplation be received well in your chamber.

May you guide my every step. May my every step be not my own, but yours Lord. May your will be fulfilled and not my own. May I own my actions. May I suffer the repercussions of those actions Ohh Lord. May your punishment make me a forerunner for you Ohh GOD. JEHOVA JIRA MY PROVIDER. THE GOD WHO CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH.

May you train my mind to think as your own GOD. May you show me the error of my ways. May the error of my ways show me how to Listen to your voice. May your voice guide us all. May your guidance show me how to live. May I live for you. May my life be a beacon for your name.

May your name guide me to the greatness that is your GLORY. May your GLORY BE MY LIGHT. May your light be my path. May your path be the way. FOR TRULY YOU ARE THE WAY THE TRUTH AND LIGHT.

May I make you smile for eternity. May eternity bring your GRACE TO MY LIFE!!!



Many blessings


Customs, Camels and Gnats

While helping my son and his bride to be find a venue for their upcoming wedding, I ran across an interesting complication, that although expected, confirmed a longstanding suspicion I have held; Episcopalians are, among Christians, a most curious breed!

Yes, it is true! Many Episcopal clergy will not allow weddings during Lent, and as I inquire of several, am politely reminded that this prohibition is;
“…a long standing custom in the Catholic, Orthodox and Episcopal Churches…”
Now, I respect both custom and tradition, but can not supress a gentle smile! Lent is a season where we prepare in fasting and prayer for the contemplation of the death and resurrection of our Lord, yet we all know Christ is not dying again at all. It is not a penitential season in the heavenlies even if we exclude Alleluias from our liturgy!

Even in Lent other sacraments are celebrated; Sundays are feasts of the Lord; the Eucharist, reconciliation and holy unction are always in vogue. Furthermore, I have seldom seen a priest not celebrate a special anniversary, occasion or birthday nor forgo that special trip regardless of the liturgical calendar.

Despite custom and millenary tradition held in the Catholic and Orthodox churches, we Episcopalians rightly admit women to all orders of ministry, have the first woman to be a Primate in Anglicanism as our presiding bishop, have consented to the consecration of non celibate gay and lesbian persons to the episcopate, commune children before confirmation, are known to bless same sex unions in some places and have questioned what other Christians hold dear. Many of us are proud of our broad inclusive church and our approach to dealing with difficult social issues; holding opposites in tension and pastoral accommodation are part of our tradition!

How funny is it then that we should in deference to “custom” have qualms about weddings during Lent? Really now? Should we serve sauce with that camel while a few gnats are strained for dessert?

No disrespect intended for my family of faith, just saying! It’s hard to take that too seriously in the 21st century’s Episcopal Church. We appeal to custom and tradition even as we merrily and busily overlook both in many areas of our common life… thanks be to God with no Alleluias, please!!!

In the end I trust all will work out! I have a good feeling and Episcopalians are sensible, discerning people by and large. We are, with the help of God, reaching a solution which respects both custom and necessity. I would like my son to be married as a proper Episcopalian; from the BCP, tastefully, in church...! It is hard to argue that this is not a wonderful and most sensible custom!

No camel dishes will be served during the reception to be sure, after all, it will be in Lent!



Do You Hear What I Hear....?

Do you hear what I hear? Our gospel text from St. Luke’s account of the Nativity lets some of the protagonists of this story speak to us even today. Can you hear their voices on this Christmas Eve?

The voice of an emperor:

Cesar Augustus issues a decree that the entire world should be taxed, and the writer of our gospel account has the whole of Judea on the move to be registered in the city of their family’s origin. Surely the motives of the emperor had nothing to do with neither religion nor the fulfillment of ancient prophecies but his will set into motion events beyond his knowledge and reach. We find parallels to this in Scripture and the history of people of faith. Despite the hardened heart of Pharaoh, the pride of Nebuchadnezzar, the greed of Herod, even the cynicism of Pontius Pilate the purposes of God have been at work. Imposing as the voices of these and other earthly rulers must have seemed to their subjects, they could not drown the proclamations of the prophetic voices nor the coming of the kingdom of God. It is indeed true as St. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans;

“For I am sure that neither… rulers…nor powers, … will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. "

There is more than one agenda for our lives and our world! There is one that is set by the very love of God which moves inexorably forward and is heard above the voice of men. Governments, rulers, politicians will say and do what they will, but beyond their plans and agendas the will of God unfolds in ways unforeseen. Cesar called for a tax….God called for his son to be born in the city of David!

The voice of the pilgrims

It is hard to imagine the scene at Bethlehem as anything but hectic on the day and night which the gospel describes. Travelers to and fro, noisy family reunions, children playing and crying, a flurry of activity at the markets and the inns full of guests. And, unnoticed among the many that had come to the town that day were a carpenter and his very pregnant wife Mary.

The Hispanic tradition of Posadas recounts that journey for nine consecutive nights before Christmas Eve. Joseph and Mary knock at the doors of many in Bethlehem but find no shelter even as the night approaches. Is there no room at a relative’s house or a nearby inn? Their voices bring us a reminder of many in our city and society for whom there seems to be no place. The poor, the homeless, the infirm, the mentally ill, the immigrant, the different, sometimes find their knocks at the door of opportunity, education, family and even religion unwilling to open. These are voices which can be easily drowned out by those of shoppers and carolers, greeters and preachers, politicians and actors.

Could it be that there are voices we do not want to hear during this season? Our gospel story does not allow us to do so, reminding us to listen, to take notice of those who call in their need, retelling the story that, once upon a time, the king of heaven’s very mother was left no place to go for shelter but to a stable

The voice of the Angels

Even as the night settles, Mary and Joseph find much needed refuge and a child is born, celestial voices call for all to hear! To shepherds guarding their flocks, to the poor, the simple, to you, me and to the whole world the angel voices bring tidings of joy! Today in the city of David is born a Savior which is Christ the Lord! Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth! It is a call to worship, to sing, to adore! The light of the heavens, the life of the world….has been born.

The book of Hebrews has a beautiful passage which has been applied to the birth of Christ, how God as he introduced his Firstborn to the world said; “adore him all you angels of God…” It is into that heavenly worship that we are invited by the voices of the angels even as it must have been on that night in Bethlehem.

Do we hear?...



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Welcome or …well, come …?

Within the last few months the Episcopal Church’s outreach to Hispanics has become more than subliminal. A new ad featuring a Latino family was broadcast in Time Square with the now iconic words….The Episcopal Church Welcomes you…in Spanish. As a Latino Episcopalian I could not have been happier, yet, I must also acknowledge a bit of frustration at times with our church of diversity and welcome for all….

Two episodes in the last couple of months, which are not at all isolated instances, bring to attention a question which Episcopalians need to answer with clarity; Do the letters in our signs spell what we truly mean? Is it a hearty welcome or the half hearted call for people to… well, come…we need more people in the pews kind of thing?

The first of these was, of all places, at a denominational conference for Latino ministers and lay people in the Episcopal Church. I will say that the organizers are people I admire, beloved people with a great sense of mission; they put a lot of effort into the conference, which was well attended and organized. The music and liturgies were reflective of the diverse cultures of Latino Episcopalians.

It is also true that, as the conference unfolded I caught myself wondering if the conference was for Latinos or vaguely about them. Though there were plenty of Latino clergy and strong lay people on hand, only at the opening service were any featured in key roles.

A healing service held the second day of the conference was led by a very spiritual, well intentioned, Spanish speaking Anglo clergywoman…the healing prayers were read from a screen or a little piece of paper in the prayer minister’s hands. Mayhem nearly ensued when one of the prayers ministers was “slain in the Spirit”. Looking around the room, at Latino clergy, for whom these kinds of services are often second nature, I began to wonder about the wisdom of the choice. As the week unfolded, it appeared that, most of the Latinos who were featured in the sessions I attended, spoke better English than Spanish, and; to end on a salsa note, the closing Eucharist was led by two young, very nice, articulate Anglo clergywomen who spoke Spanish almost as fluent as the native speakers which filled the room. The sermon was in English with Spanish translation available.

I could not help asking myself uncomfortable questions even as I enjoyed time with colleagues, new and old friends; Is this just an oversight? Are these really the Latinos in the Episcopal Church? Are the more visible ones those that non- Latino Episcopalians are comfortable with? Is there a bit of sanitizing of our image? Are we indulging on a bit of wishful thinking about how we think we could or should be? Predictably, these and similar questions were echoed by others attending the meeting and its sessions

The second moment was at an annual event held in our city. For the last couple of years our parish has been invited to participate in a Las Posadas service at our cathedral. This year, despite the good efforts of many it was not as well organized, but beyond that it felt rather odd! Just imagine, Latino Episcopalians invited to a traditional Hispanic devotion, where; the “Mexican” food was delicious but hardly authentic, the event itself devoid of any element which could remotely be associated with either the original festival, Latino spirituality or the immigrant experience…. Huh?

Imagine inviting an Anglo family for a traditional American Thanksgiving and then serving them Chinese food, or black beans and rice with guacamole or chimichurri sauce and no pumpkin pie; Delicious to be sure, good intentions maybe but open to a diverse array of interpretations and questions.

What is our message then? ….Welcome… or well, come… to our stuff? These do not have equivalent meanings despite having all the same letters!!! Welcome and inclusion mean a lot more than just asking or allowing people to be present in our events or churches. It also means allowing them the space and room to be and to speak from their own culture and context!

Latino Episcopalians have their own voices!!! Sometimes they will sound a bit loud, may have unfamiliar and heavy accents, liturgies may run a little longer, with more spontaneity or chaos depending on your perspective! Healing services in Latino parishes are seldom neatly scripted or predictable…nor do they feature read prayers…ever! Advent services are joyful, full of devotion and song, spontaneous, seem less orderly at times, but are seldom haphazard.

Someone encountering Latino Episcopalians for the first time would not have learned these things from either of the events I experienced! Sorry to break the mood, with no offense intended ….that just will not do! The perception that we would be relegated to being silent guests at a function, will never work for Latinos, no matter what the words in our signs seem to spell or how nice the commercial ads look! There is much we feel we have to contribute to the conversation, life and spirituality of the Episcopal Church.

We Episcopalians have to be clear about what we want and about what we mean!! If what we want and need are people to populate our conferences, come to our services and be at our things we are doing a good job of conveying that message! If what we want to convey is welcome and inclusion, methinks we have a lot of work to do….



Friday, December 3, 2010

Otra Mirada a Josue

Hace poco un clerigo hispano de la Iglesia Episcopal, refiriendose al libro de Josue en el Antiguo Testamento de las Escrituras, entre otros, hace el siguiente comentario;
”...Hay que reconocer que el libro de Josué no es muy llamativo para leer y menos aún para intentar encontrar en él un buen mensaje...”
Despues de considerar sus palabras y darle el debido credito por su erudita explicación del genesis de dicho libro, pense en las muchas veces que he leido y encontrado inspiracion en sus paginas. Aqui solo unos pocos episodios en Josue que han sido interesantes e inspiradores a mi y otros en la comunidad hispana Episcopal donde sirvo.

El llamado a Josue

“…Ya te lo he ordenado: ¡Sé fuerte y valiente! ¡No tengas miedo ni te desanimes! Porque el SEÑOR tu Dios te acompañará dondequiera que vayas…” . Josue 1:9

Estas palabras de Dios a Josue justo al comienzo de su labor, despues de la muerte de Moises han sido para inmumerables creyentes fuente de fortaleza e inspiración al enfrentarse a duras tareas y retos en sus vidas. La fuente de valor y de animo para Josue lo era la presencia de Dios mismo que le promete su compañia dondequiera que fuere. Dios estuvo con Moises prometio su presencia a Josue, y nos incluye a cada uno de nostros. Eco de esta promesa los son las palabras de Jesus a los suyos, Id, yo estare con ustedes todos los dias hasta el fin.

Rahab la Prostituta

Vaya una historia interesante llena de intriga y colorido. Nos presentan a una mujer, no del pueblo Israelita pero si sensitiva al poder del Dios que ellos servian. “….Yo se que el Dios de ustedes es Dios de dioses en el cielo y en la tierra”. Una mujer de morales dudosas pero que demuestra respeto a Dios, amor por su familia y valor para hacer lo que cree justo. Es esta Rahab que se menciona como una de las mujeres en la linea de antepasados del mismo Jesucristo y a ella la menciona el autor de Hebreos como un ejemplo de fe. Ilustra ademas que el ser humano no es definido solo por su pasado y sus condiciones.

Las Piedras del Jordan

El arca del pacto cargada por los sacerdotes detiene las aguas del rio Jordan similar al cruce del pueblo a travez del mar rojo. Doce piedras tomadas del rio por orden de Dios servirian como monumentos para que el pueblo recordara la grandiose obra de Dios a su favor. Cuantas veces ha hecho el pueblo de Dios cosas similares para recordar un evento o una respuesta a la oracion? La cruz, vitrales, velas, iconos, capillas memoriales, quizas todas estas tambien son una ayuda a recordar algo de lo que Dios ha hecho como sucede en este interesante recuento.

El Comandante del Ejercito del Señor

“…Es usted de los nuestros, o del enemigo? —¡De ninguno! —respondió—. Me presento ante ti como comandante del ejército del SEÑOR….”

Este encuentro tan hermoso, en un libro donde con frecuencia se presenta a Dios como partidario de los Israelitas, nos trae la luz de que Dios no toma bandos en los conflictos de la gente, su ejercito es otro, el ejercito de Dios. Asi se anticipa hasta cierto punto la idea de que Dios es Dios de todos los pueblos, no solo de algun pueblo escogido sino de todas las naciones.

Los Muros de Jerico

Me cantaban una cancioncita acerca de la caida de los muros cuando era niño que todavia impresiona al visualizar con la imaginacion infantil la caida estrepitosa de la muralla de Jerico! Importan poco los detalles factuales o arqueologicos para la leccion espiritual. La obediencia a Dios, la alabanza a El hace caer lasmurallas de la ciudad enemiga. No hay puerta tan cerrada, nu ciudad tan fortificada, ni obstaculo tan grande para los hijos de Dios que no puedan ser vencidos por el poder de El.

La despedida de Josue

Josue ya viejo y cansado despues de toda una vida de peregrinacion y guerra se despide del pueblo con estas hermosas palabras recordandoles acerca de las buenas promesas y fidelidad de Dios…”Ustedes bien saben que ninguna de las buenas promesas del SEÑOR su Dios ha dejado de cumplirse…”. Eso y una advertencia a la fidelidad siempre son buenas cosas para recordar en nuestro transitar a travez de la vida. Pedro recuerda a sus lectores que Dios les habia dado “grandes y maravillosas promesas” para que por medio de ellas “llegaran a ser participes de la naturaleza divina”.

Estoy seguro que muchos lectores de la Escritura podrian hacer referencia a esta y otras porciones de la Escritura que han sido utiles o quizas instrumentales en su vida de fe. No se trata de dar a estos textos una interpretación fundamentalista sino reconocer que, como dijera el Apostol Pablo; toda la Escritura es inspirada por Dios y util…”.

Es valioso para nuestro conocimiento e interpretacion de la Biblia el recurrir a metodos criticos, pero tambien el recordar que el mensaje que la Escritura contiene va mas alla de esas realidades. En esas historias de conflicto, dramas, incredulidad y fe, a veces vemos reflejos de nuestras propias vidas, luchas, temores y problemas y reconocemos a Dios en medio de todo llamandonos a la fe , el compromiso y la reconciliacion.

Muchas bendiciones