Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sermon Free Sunday

Not unlike Radio Free Europe, we were treated to a Sermon Free Sunday today. Let us pray that the effect will be to break down the walls between us pewsters and TEC.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas From John Main 1979

“Letter Ten, December 18, 1979"
Fr John Main OSB, LETTERS FROM THE HEART (New York: Crossroad, 1988), pp. 119-20.
Christmas is a feast that can open the hearts of all of us to the presence of Christ. It puts before us the great qualities of innocence and hope that we need if we are to awaken to his light, and it fills us with confidence because it tells us that the old age has ended. The new age, indeed the new creation, has begun and our point of departure for finding it everywhere is finding it a reality in our heart.

Our journey is, then, one to our own hearts. Because all of us are invited to enter this temple and receive this newness of life, we have to recognize this time as a moment to put off everything that prevents us from embracing the mystery of our own creation and entering into the fullness of life we receive as pure gift in the father’s eternal act of creation.

The importance of the teaching of the Incarnation is that the mystery of God in his eternal creativity is not only brought closer to us but really united to us. We no longer need to objectify the mystery that has taken up his dwelling in our hearts of flesh. We now know that our awakening to his reality is an imminent possibility for each of us because the awakening is an incarnate encounter. The joyfulness to which this feast should recall us is that this awakening is not the result of our own power. We are no longer isolated in a dependency on our own inadequate resources. It is not our own power of wisdom that leads us but his love that is present as the light of the supreme reality in our hearts. The humility of the child Jesus is our guide and teacher. In his Light we have Light. In his Love we have Love. In his Truth we are made Truthful.

It is a feast full of wonder and full of hope for all of us, whoever or wherever we are. It is a new dawn for all humankind, one that begins with a faint but certain glow whose strengthening light steady transforms the sky and earth and grows in brilliance until perfect day.

Fr. John Main OSB

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Let's Steal Christmas Back (from the Grinch)

I can't wait for Christmas, how about you? No more gloom and sorrow of Advent (I didn't make that up, I think I heard it from the pulpit). Charlie's favorite Christmas story? The Grinch...and I guess that says it all. All I want for Christmas is a positive attitude, and I was robbed of that today. Please Mr. Grinch, stop bashing America, our President, our success, and us humble pew sitters. Bring us back our Christmas.

Since we didn't get a positive sermon today, I will give the same message from the other side. From Wikipedia:

"Fortasse," inquit "Laetitia diei festi ex ipsis muneribus non proficiscitur..."
"Fortasse," inquit Grinchus, "Laetitia diei festi non est res empticia, non est res quaestuosa!"

"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!"

Indeed, let us focus on the "more." When we do, we see the joy in the eyes of the merchants, shoppers, carolers, late sleepers, and all the Whos in Whovilles across our land. From whence comes this joy? It must be from above, since only God can create a light so bright and broad as to brighten the eyes of so many.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

He Who Has E-mail, Let Him Hear

Mary Cat delivered our sermon today and overall gets a good score. Her Advent message came in on time and stayed positive. I enjoyed her imaginary e-mail from Jesus, but it may have left a couple of the older members of the congregation puzzled. People who ask John's question of who is Jesus are still innumerable. The e-mail's answer is to go out there and spread the good news to those that have e-mail "ears." Mary Cat should probably not have mentioned the PB's Christmas message lest some untrained mind actually take the time to read it. "How might we begin to see that child in those around us: strangers and aliens (both Immanuel and Immigrants); wanderers (Homeless, like Mary and Joseph, for whom there was no room); widows and orphans (Social Outcasts)..." There we see that "homeless" line again. Of course Joseph and Mary had a home, they were just travelling in an age before Comfort Inns and the Salvation Army.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

This Too Shall Pass

Fr. Dunbar gave today's sermon and gets 5 stars (out of 5). What a wonderful statement of Advent as a way to think of Christian hope. He gave us the story of the angry king who was given a ring with the "This too shall pass" inscription as a means to make the king spare his people and "think positively." Bobby even brought to mind Patangali's aphorism of ripples in the lake or mind that distract from one's focus on God. With Fr. Dunbar's advice, we should look past the ripples of the past week, and look at the big picture. No matter which side of the fence you are on in the Episcopal Church, we should recognize the need to see the "big picture." It is too easy to ride the waves. It is not helpful to be a generator of waves. I long to see a peacemaker who can still the troubled waters. It looks like the way of peace for the short term may be through division. Division may not seem to be guided by scripture, but let us await the big picture or long term outcome. With God's help, truth should reign victorious.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Last Shall be First

The service today ended on a very positive note with the blessing(s)"sanctify you with the light of His blessing... steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, and constant in love...rejoice in the first Advent of our Redeemer..." This last note will help counteract the whole lot of negativity that came at us today. I have been thinking of ways to change those things into positives. For starters, what about the Great Litany? I think it is in need of some positive energy. Too much bemoaning our faults. How about a new refrain after telling God how miserable we are? Let's try "Thank you for saving us good Lord."
One thing about the power of positive thinking is that while one person stays focused on the "first shall be last" part of the lessons, us pewsters can think about the last being first. I am of course referring to the sermon where the "American Empire" term was used to chastise us Americans A.K.A. "the first." Being number one makes us a target for naysayers. If Charlie keeps putting us down, doesn't that mean we will be moved to the front of the line on judgement day? In all honesty, I just hope to be in the line heading into heaven. Last in line will be fine. Charlie did manage a few positive notes in the last few words of his sermon today. I would like to think that was the result of all the positive vibrational energy we have been producing. But the last was the best part of this service, so cycle back to the beginning, or read the article "The Intellectual Origins of America-Bashing By Lee Harris: The utopian leanings of latter-day radicalism" linked in the title.