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.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Always Look on the Bright Side

As we continue to generate positive vibrational energies in our church, Mary Cat delivered a good sermon on beginnings and endings. She certainly ended on time. The beginning of Advent is near, death and birth are remembered, and new Eagle scouts are applauded. Only two quibbles. First, I always thought Jeremiah was faulting the priests when he chastises the bad shepherds. After all, aren't the priests the ones with responsibility for our souls? Mary Cat seemed to imply that political officials were the bad shepherds. The politicians are just responsible for taxes, national defense and other more earthly cares. Second, is there a bright side to death? This question was answered long ago by Eric Idle in this song. Watch it by clicking on the title (turn on the speakers) or go to:

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dr. Foss vs. Dr. Dyer

It took all of the endurance referred to in Luke's gospel to get through today's diatribe. While listening to a passionate recitation of our failings, flaws, corruptions, I was kept thinking of what Dr. Wayne Dyer would say. (Actually, someone lent me an audio book of his, and I have been enduring Dr. Dyer for the past week.) It is therefore only fair to pit Dr. Dyer against Dr. Foss in today's battle of the network stars. In one corner you have Dr. Dyer with his 28 books, endless PBS shows, all arising from the idea that positive begets positive, and that there are no bad things, just opportunities for growth. In the other corner we have Charlie Foss who admits that he fears death, has to deal with death on a daily basis, and has to deal with people and all their "faults" (what Dr. Dyer might classify as educational opportunities). To Dr. Dyer, Charlie's words in his sermons betray a negative imbalance. I keep hearing the message that we are foul, greedy, prejudiced human slime.
The moment came to me today when Charlie spoke of the miracle surrounding the founding of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour. The question of how those women managed to raise the money for a church during the devastation of the reconstruction (keep your minds out of the gutter folks) is a question right up Dr. Dyer's alley. At that precise moment, the bells rang from one of our church neighbors as if to commemorate the sacrifice of our founders just as we did last week for Armistice day. It was one of those moments where Dyer say I was "in spirit." Unfortunately, this week the sermon did not stop for a moment of silence, and the feeling passed.
Dr. Dyer wins the first round. I believe that this week's sermon needed a dose of his positive vibrational energy. How can we provide these good vibes for future sermons? Starting today, I have decided to channel positive energy prayers towards Fr. Foss. During future sermons, I will no longer count the negative words and phrases. From now on I will hear words of beauty flowing from a cleansed no longer "filthy" tongue. God will no longer "spit on us", but will kiss us instead. The sanctuary will be blessed with the love of the founders of our church. The congregation will be filled with pure hearts. When Charlie looks out from the pulpit he will see Christ in us. I will pray that we all can truthfully say "We will with God's help" when we renew our Baptismal covenant as we did today in response to the question "Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons...?"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Words from Wisconsin

See what Robert S. Munday of Nashotah House Theol. Seminary is blogging about the crisis in TEC. Click on the title or try

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saved by the Bell

Today's sermon was headed in the wrong direction about the time the bells rang signalling a planned moment of silence in honor of our military vets. When I say that we were headed in the wrong direction, I mean to say we were getting a heavy dose of "don't worry about scriptures so much" because of the examples of Jesus and Job in today' readings. According to Charlie, Job was superior to his friends because Job could see beyond a scriptural interpretation of his woes and was still able to love the God of his salvation. Jesus took on the Sadducees who challenged him with the hypothetical woman (the black widow) married to seven brothers each in turn and who would be her husband in heaven. According to Charlie, Jesus looked beyond a literal interpretation of scripture. Did anyone else hear the unspoken words, "Forget all that Bible stuff and look for God in the here and now?" Totally ignored was the fact that in order to answer the Sadducee's puzzle, Jesus referenced scripture in a way that might make the liberal minded cringe. He went all the way back to Abraham for God's sake, and he brought in the other Jewish forefathers to boot. Imagine, preaching about the God of our fathers in a sermon today. Also ignored was Paul's letter to the Corinthians in which we heard Paul urge them to "stand firm" to the words and traditions he had taught.
I rather doubt that we would have worked our way back to the "three legged stool" of scripture, tradition, and reason if the bells had not interrupted the sermon. So if anyone asks you this week if you've been saved, tell them that you were saved by the bell.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Blessed are the Concise

Hold the chicken salad! Today we went into extra innings with the sermon despite the fact that the clock was ticking on the chicken salad lunch that was sitting in the parish hall (one should not leave chicken salad out > 30 minutes). I guess that's what happens when you put an agenda (raising money) into what should be a service glorifying God and remembering the souls of the Saints and the dearly departed. Seems to me that if we stick to the fundamentals of Christianity, then the money woes will take care of themselves. I did catch Charlie with at least one factual error when he said the average length of stay for hospice patients in York County was 48 hrs. I think the national average was 67 days in 2005, while here in York County the average is 46 days. Also, there are not 15 hospices in York County, I the figure is 9 licensed hospices due to a recent surge in for profit hospices (not all are active as one died peacfully from natural causes recently and some of the others are candidates for hospice care themselves).

Did anyone notice that the words for the anthem (in bold italics) actually came from Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 431-413 B.C.?

"Fix your eyes on the greatness of Athens as you have it before you day by day, fall in love with her, and when you feel her great, remember that this greatness was won by men with courage, with knowledge of their duty, and with a sense of honor in action. . . . So they gave their bodies to the commonwealth and received, each for his own memory, praise that will never die, and with it the grandest of all sepulchers, not that in which their mortal bones are laid, but a home in the minds of men, where their glory remains fresh to stir to speech or action as the occasion comes by. For the whole earth is the sepulcher of famous men; and their story is not graven only on stone over their native, but lives on far away, without visible symbol, woven into the stuff of other men's lives. For you now it remains to rival what they have done and, knowing the secret of happiness to be freedom and the secret of freedom a brave heart, not idly to stand aside from the enemy's onset." [Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 431-413 B.C.]

Now that's a sermon we won't hear at ECOOS. Too warlike.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Treasures in the Attic

This week we had the official beginning of the search for money for the capital funds campaign at COOS. What better way to start than a 20 minute stem winder tracing Charlie's life history of giving. I wonder if people were tipped off on the subject matter by the 8:00 o'clockers, because it looked like a "low Sunday" crowd for the 10:30 service. Most Church activities start with a high level of participation which gradually dwindles (witness the Eucharistic Visitor program which needed a call for volunteers today). This is the nature of Church programs. I hope the capital campaign does not follow this pattern. If it does, we will be left praying to find treasures in the attic as Charlie described today where someone found an autographed baseball worth $300,000. He was wrong about Mel Ott's signature being on that ball because he played for the Giants and not for the 1927 Yankees.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Call to Equal Sacrifice

This Sunday we did not hear a sermon, but instead heard 3 testimonials about what it means to be a member of the Church of Our Saviour, and we watched a rather slick video using a cast of 15 or so with a few choice sound bites to try to tickle our wallets out of $925,000 (note the gradual drop in the advertised goal).

One of our fearless reporters caught the Capital Campaign committee using a coined marketing slogan, "Not equal giving, but equal sacrifice." This is not a new slogan. One web search for this phrase returned some 3.5 million hits. Our reporter questioned how to make an equal sacrifice if different people value things differently. I always think of giving blood as an equal sacrifice because a true sacrifice is made from what is needed to live. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, said “If you give what you don’t need, it isn’t giving.”

What guidance can we find from scripture? This was not touched upon at the service this Sunday. (Why bother with scripture?) I found this nice sermon on the web. John R.W. Stott in 1999 as rector emeritus of All Souls Church, Langham Place, London expounded on 2 Corinthians 8-9, highlighting 10 important principles of giving (for the full text click on the title): (1) Christian giving is an expression of the grace of God, (2) Christian giving can be a gift of the Spirit, (3) Christian giving is inspired by the cross of Christ, (4) Christian giving is proportionate giving, (5) Christian giving contributes to equality, (6) Christian giving must be carefully supervised, (7) Christian giving can be stimulated by a little friendly competition, (8) Christian giving resembles a harvest, (9) Christian giving has symbolic significance and (10) Christian giving promotes thanksgiving to God.

All this talk of sacrifice leaves me with images of Mayan priests holding the still beating hearts of their human sacrifices, and images of blood running down the steps of the pyramid.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Feast of St Luke

Read the Hymn for this Holy day.

[1096]Holy Days: St. Luke292. What thanks and praise to thee we owe L.M. [1097]Ely: Thomas Turton, 1844 William D. Maclagan, 1873

What thanks and praise to thee we owe, O Priest and Sacrifice divine,
For thy dear saint through whom we know So many a gracious word of thine;
Whom thou didst choose to tell the tale Of all thy manhood's toils and tears,
And for a moment lift the veil That hides thy boyhood's spotless years.
And still the Church through all her days Uplifts the strains that never cease,
The blessed Virgin's hymn of praise, The aged Simeon's words of peace.
O happy saint! whose sacred page, So rich in words of truth and love,
Pours on the Church from age to age This healing unction from above;
The witness of the Savior's life, The great apostle's chosen friend
Through weary years of toil and strife, And still found faithful to the end.
So grant us, Lord, like him to live,
Beloved by man, approved by thee,
Till thou at last the summons give,
And we, with him, thy face shall see

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I Don't Know How to Thank Him

Charlie's sermon today was based on Luke's story of Jesus and the 10 Lepers. All 10 were healed but only one, a Samaritan, came back to give thanks and praise to God. The sermon could have been great, but it ran too long and missed a couple of good stopping places. I was hoping for a tie in with the Baptisms scheduled for today. We got one (sort of), but it was a comment about dirty diapers, for which I am not thankful. I was thinking of how many are baptised, but probably only 1 of 10 comes back to church to give thanks and praise. I, like Charlie don't know how to thank Him, and I hope that our prayer and worship are pleasing to Him. Charlie may get the last word in because if I live long enough, I just may go to Heaven after wearing dirty diapers myself. I guess that "depends" on my degree of continence when I go. Enough verbal diarrhea, next post will be on October 18, if anyone knows what day that is.

Monday, October 08, 2007

I Can't Believe They Ate the Whole Thing

According to Bishop Henderson's blog at that is what happened to the H.O.B. report when it was ingested by the Primates.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

For the Love of God

We were blessed today by Fr. Dunbar's sermon on love. Skillfully avoiding the issues of slavery in the second part of today's reading from Luke's Gospel, Fr. Dunbar helped us to focus on God's love. He raised the interesting take on how do we love God by quoting Andrew Lloyd Webber's song of Mary Magdalene "I Don't Know How to Love Him." I think Bobby's answer was to keep working at it even if you have to go through the motions, you will eventually get it. I think it was Kathleen Norris who referred to her experience with the monastic action of daily reading or chanting of the psalms as being difficult to get initially, but with practice becoming an integral part of her spiritual development. I think part of being human is this longing for the divine but our humanity keeps us from "getting it." I thought Fr. Dunbar did an excellent job keeping his sermon concise and focused. I would have liked a mention of prayer and meditation as a practice to experience God's love, but the comments from the congregation ("marvelous"... "great"... "wonderful"...) say that I shouldn't add to the finished work.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

An 80 year Marriage

This article in the Huntsville Times caught my eye because of the untold story. It is the 80th wedding anniversary for a 97 year old man and a 94 year old woman. This scandalous marriage of 80 years must have taken place with a 14 year old bride and 17 year old groom. Today, the groom would have been tried as a sex offender, and this success story would never have had a chance to take place. It looks like this marriage was a blessed one. This makes me think of another child bride of Biblical times. Fortunately, Joseph took her in and she was not stoned by the legal system of the day, and the rest is history. I thought this piece of information might be of use when we are asked to redefine marriage. If marriage is between one man and one woman, then does it all depend on what the definition of "woman" is? If SSBs are formalized, will there be age constraints on the participants?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Go TEC and Leave the Doctrine to Us

This Sunday's lessons were a strong message to take care of those around you or be in danger of the fires of Hell. Strange that these readings were delivered to us with such emphasis when Paul's letter to the Corinthians was ignored by the H.O.B. earlier in the week. Does anyone get the impression that the party line is to try to get people in the pews to focus on good works to distract us from the burning denominational bus? The unspoken (until Charlie let it slip during the sermon) goal is to get us to not worry our little heads over "doctrine." My argument is that people must have a firm doctrinal foundation to stand upon if they are to live a life in Christ. This foundation will inevitably lead pewsters to good works. Am I wrong to say that you cannot persevere in the race without the doctrine of the Trinity, without the creeds, without wise spiritual leadership?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Do National Issues Affect Pewsters?

I could not help but express an opinion on Bishop Epting's comments to the parishoners of a small mission church in Louisiana this weekend. He has it all on his blog (click the link in the title). He seems to think that we should not be affected on a local level by any national shenanigans, and that we should just stick to the mission of the Church. Unfortunately, try telling that to a small struggling congregation who might have difficulty attracting newcomers to the Episcopal Church given recent decisions made by our fearless leaders in the national Church. Such leaders as Bishop Epting are part of the problem. Grumbling from the pew is not good for the community of God, but poor leadership is also unhealthy. We shall see if the Bishop apologizes. I have apologized once already today, and I will be happy to apologize again if my comments are deemed offensive.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

In Cerumen Spiritus

Today Charlie had to tackle the parable of the dishonest manager. He did not try to explain it because he admitted defeat; he couldn't do it. I have to give him points for that. He picked up a few negative points by giving us the image of "removing our spiritual earwax." This was not very appealing to me. I guess what he did was to examine Jesus' method in telling parables, how we need to be open and listen to the parables, and how we often go to great lengths to interpret them. I am glad they kept these stories we just don't get. Wouldn't the Bible be boring if it were a simple list of commandments. Maybe this parable was meant for people of a different time, and we can no longer, or are not ready to, understand it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Little Lost Sheep

Today's sermon by Mary Cat was short and stuck to the scriptures. I was amazed. I did chuckle when she tried to describe who was watching over the rest of the flock as she talked about the parable of the lost sheep. I guess she meant that when Charlie is away, we are in her hands. As our Bishops head for New Orleans, who will be watching over our clergy? What a timely parable. It makes one wonder if the upcoming Bishops' meeting in New Orleans on Sept. 20 will be a meeting of sheep or of shepherds. Or, should we go looking for them because they may be the lost sheep?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A View from Partway Across the Pond

Through the eyes of an Irish Bishop, this is an interesting look at how we may be slouching towards Gomorrah (or maybe San Francisco).

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Third World Order, or The Dobee Brothers

Today's "sermon" was provided by Fr. Michael Cassell who was visiting to drum up support for Food for the Poor. He effectively made our check books open for this charity, but I dare say he went too long. As usual, the more you speak, the more likely you are to be criticized, not just for being long winded, but you are more likely to create weaknesses in your argument. As a "3rd Order Franciscan," he should not be bashing those persons who are of a spiritual bent. He said he was tired of people talking about "how wonderfully spiritual St. Swithen's is...etc," and going on to say that people should be "doey, doey, doey," and not "talkie, talkie, talkie."
I looked for some discussion of this order and found the link in the title. Another search for spirituality and the 3rd order returned this:
Please note the following: "« Penance» as it developed in the penitential-Franciscan charism is composed of and explained by the two principal characteristic elements:
1. «continuous conversion» in the biblical sense of « metanoia», that is, a redirecting of oneself toward God, as a constant tending toward Him which implies leaving behind instinctual life which centers on self, and the undertaking of a life in which God is the center of activity and aspiration;- active and effective charity, on behalf of the brothers and sisters in Christ, an active charity extended to those who have greater need of it, a dedicating of oneself in many ways to the works of mercy both spiritual and corporal."

I think Fr. Cassell should have made the point that everything a Christian "doer" does comes first from a God/Christ/Holy Ghost centered spirituality. He came over quite strongly opposed to the mythical St. Swithen's syrupy spirituality. I think he was proposing a final solution (get out there and do!) in hopes of rallying the troopers from their comfortable pews. I don't think his method is effective in changing people's lives for long, but it is effective in raising money. If he hopes to create a master race of doers without first seeing to their spiritual development, I am afraid he is taking us down the wrong path, on a journey that no one do alone, a journey without the spirit for guidance and nourishment.
He almost went so far as to bash praying for others since that would distract from doing for others.

As I count them up, I think I heard a breaking of the "Rule" (3, 4, and 6) in this sermon.

I will pray (rule 3) for all of us to be led by the spirit (rule 6) to support these good works. I hope I am not being manipulative in my words (rule 4). For the Food for the Poor Site see:

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

War and Peace Revisited

I know that everyone wants our walls repaired, but it is going too far to sing the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" in an attempt to make the walls fall down. There is a good reason why this song is not in the Hymnal. The link in the title of this piece provides a Southern Revisionist rewrite for you diehards.

And didn't we just hear someone bashing "wrapping oneself in the flag" a week ago?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

War and Peace

I should have seen it coming. Today's music and lessons were full of things to make old hippies mad. We even sang "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." I forgot how much Charlie dislikes anything that hints of militarism. Too bad that the Bible is full of that kind of stuff, and Charlie admits that our human nature loves war. In today's sermon, we again ignored the gospel lesson for subject material. Episcopalians don't want to hear about the narrow door, not being let into the kingdom, and the first being last. Instead what we really want to hear about is "the Republicans are the party of war and the Democrats are the party of peace." At least that's what I heard. And what about "We do not come here to have our prejudices and biases blessed." Excuse me? I think I just heard a bit of blessed bias coming down on me. And then we were treated to "prayerfully consider the presidential candidates." With that kind of build up who would dare pray for one of those war mongering Republicans? This sermon was too long (22 min), too biased, and I am afraid it was too patronizing (to our Democratic congregants). I hope this sermon doesn't make it into the mainstream press (although I saw at least one member of the press in attendance). I felt like the picture on the right hand side of this blog of the solitary pewster until I heard those around me say "Amen" and "Thank God" at the sermon's close.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Discipline or the Lack Thereof

Today's sermon on "Discipline" was an example of lack of discipline. As I read ahead in our inaccurate bulletin, I saw in the New Testament readings lots of wonderful sermon opportunities. Paul's writing (Hebrews 12: 1-7, 11-14) on God disciplining those whom he loves, and "Endure trials for the sake of discipline" are true gems. Then In the Gospel reading I was hoping Charlie would expound on Luke (12:49-56) where Jesus exclaims that He has come not to bring peace to the earth but division! How more applicable to TEC can this be? I have to assume that Episcopal priests all over the country were quaking in their boots at how to preach this Sunday. This is the stuff we need to hear explained to us lowly pewsters. Instead we were treated to a literal wall spanking by the rector. I agree that our church's walls need repair, but I was afraid something might come crashing down when Charlie left the pulpit and gave the wall a whack in it's peeling panels. That's one way to start a renovation project! Then we had to endure a talk about money which Charlie admits he is not good at. As if to prove the point he claims some parishioners have not raised their giving in the 10 years he has been here.
Getting back to the title of this piece, one word "discipline" was taken out of the context of the scriptures and somehow transplanted into a sermon on our upcoming capital funds campaign. The lack of discipline I observed was the length of the sermon at 20 minutes ran well over the recommend 10-11 minutes. This is likely a consequence of not being disciplined enough to write the sermon down ahead of time.
The pewster's reporters had to help me as my brain goes on "vacare" after 12 minutes. They heard some strange things in the latter half of the sermon including something akin to "we are the government, and we are here to help you."
Please excuse me if I sound harsh, "but spare the rod and spoil the child."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Little Flock

In today's sermon Mary Cat had to deal with the Faith of Abram, Paul's definition of faith as "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen," and Jesus' words "sell your possessions, and give alms...You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." Her sermon was pleasant, but in order to do so, she had to avoid all the unpleasant implications of these scriptures. I would have liked to have seen some comment on "those things hoped for" as it pertains to the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour and the national church. I think we are focusing too much on our wants (hopes) and not our needs as we embark on this new capital fundraising campaign. Also TEC appears too focused on leadership's hopes for it's agenda, that the needs of TEC are being neglected.

The lessons should serve as a call for us to put our faith and money where it is needed and will do the most good. Alas, the pewster is but one sheep in a "little flock" of Episcopalians. If Jesus is right, and the little flock follows the path that leads to "the kingdom," then we will be ready for that "unexpected hour."

The question for the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour is this, are we being led into a pasture created by our hopes and not the needs of the community? Or are we being led down a stray path by our famous "consultants."

The question for TEC is this, is the flock being shepherded into the right pasture? Is TEC ready for that unexpected hour.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Parish Survey Results

In case you have not formulated your own opinion of our parish survey, let me give you the view from the pew.

As background, this survey was done to find out if it is feasible to undertake major renovations at this time. The survey consisted of 27 personal interviews with "leadership" and 130 mailings to parishioners.
Survey respondents appear to be the people who attend 2-4 times a month.
Attendance has been flat for 5 years, but giving is up by $100,000 over 5 years (pages 3-4). My question is "Will the well be running dry soon?"
We have an amazingly high 297 potential giving units (do couples count as 2 units or 1?)38 had No giving, 131 gave < $1000. So 44% of the potential giving units are doing most of the giving. My question is "What potential is there for the 56% to increase giving substantially?

24%(Parishioners)-33% (leadership) have moderately low to very low enthusiasm about the work and programs of ECoOS. The question did not have a "neutral" option. This is one of those glass 1/3 empty or glass 2/3 full issues, but it is very worrisome to me that leadership has such low enthusiasm. (page 9)

Only 4% of leaders feel we meet our financial obligations very well. (92% note some degree of difficulty) Only 60% of Parishioners appear to recognize this difficulty. (page 10)
Then we read the unexpected finding on page 11 that only 55% of leaders feel that adequate financial information is available without asking.
So, if there is inadequate knowledge of the financial situation, this might explain why on page 14 "retiring the debt" ranked last in people's list of priorities.

Next, I have an issue with the goal of the 3 year capital stewardship program being 900,000-1,200,000. Is this because of the response of leaders and parishioners? My response is that the survey did not go low enough in the options presented, especially since the vast majority of people chose the lowest option. I was looking for a 500,000-600,000 choice so I was counted as "No Response" when I believe I penciled something in. (page 15)
Only 70 families indicated a dollar amount they might commit to this campaign. The total was 453,000 (remarkably close to the Pewster's prediction) and remarkably close to the amount needed to pay off the outstanding debt.
On page 25 one person comments "Seven hundred families should be able to support 900,000 to 1,000,000." With informed respondents like that, do you trust the results of the survey?
Charlie should have seen the Bishop wince when he announced the goal of the campaign was in the $1,200,000 range. The last time we carried that much debt we had to withhold our diocesan pledge!

For the text of the report follow the link in the title of this post by clicking the title.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

You've Got to be Kidding

Today we were blessed with Bishop Henderson's presence at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour. I give him good marks for his sermon, although I have to wonder why he struggled with today's readings. He sounded like he grappled with the notion of bargaining with God as Abraham did over just how many righteous would it take to spare the rest of the city of Sodom(Genesis 18:23)? Hmm..., now why would any leader in TEC have problems with that? I find the scripture reassuring. As long as there are a few in TEC that are righteous, perhaps the rest of us will be spared God's wrath. On a personal note, I love the Jewish humor of the story of Abraham bargaining with God, who in the end simply walks away from the bargaining table. I also like the human side of the parable of the man who does not want to get out of bed to get some bread for his neighbor (who ate all of his own instead of setting some aside for guests?). I too hate to be called at night with requests for things that should have been taken care of before bedtime. And why was the Bishop troubled by the way the man had to persist in his request for bread? If the neighbor holding onto the bread represents God, then my take on this is don't bother God after bedtime because He is a bit grumpy before He has that first cup of coffee. Bishop Henderson reminds us that God may answer, "Yes, No, or Later or in the word's of Jimmy Carter "You've got to be kidding.'"
Today's scriptures can lead us into interesting ground for discussion, so I will take the positive side of things and instead of calling them "difficult" I would label them as "learning experiences."

One more issue, and that has to do with "Abba" and the Lord's prayer. Is there a translation that uses "Abba" in place of "Father?"
And is an Aramaic version of the Lord's prayer authorized? If so, name the Aramaean who proof read it? If not, I will be happy to write one for you.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dan Brown, The Apostle to the Apostates?

I was initially turned off today by Mary Cat going into the "Da Vinci Code" mythology. I was not sure if she was spreading the Gospel according to Dan Brown or not. Today is the Sunday on the Church calender that we remember Mary Magdalene. I think we could have stuck with what the authorized Bible has to say about Mary. One can always look to the web to find Mary revisionism. In fact seems to have formed the basis of today's sermon (in case you were among the throngs absent). The fact that in today's Gospel, Mary is sent to tell the twelve of Christ not yet ascended should have provided plenty of material for a sermon on feminine leadership. As far as I know, Athanasius left the gnostic gospel of Mary out of what we in the pews should be taught, but he is currently portrayed as a bad man, who deprived us of early Christian thought. No matter, now that the gnostic gospels are on-line ( ) we may someday see their return to the pages of "The New American Revolutionary Bible" (don't even try to Google that) and we can hear about them every Sunday (The top reason for being Episcopalian).

If we had to listen to the Gospel according to Dan this week, next week I would like to hear more on the Geneaology of American Liberal-Progressive Gnosticism I doubt we will hear that one!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Top Ten Reasons for Being Episcopalian

It took a lot of will power to keep from buying this shirt that I saw at a Church store (see link to view the shirt and the original list or maybe to buy one). I had to revise the list since you can't satisfy all Episcopalians all of the time, and I wanted to be a little offensive today.

Number 10. You can handle snakes if you want, just as long as it is done in the privacy of your own home.
Number 9. You can believe in dinosaurs, just don't agree with their opinions.
Number 8. Male or Female or in between, God made them, we ordain them.
Number 7. You had better not check your brains.
Number 6. Mental gymnastics (to justify your position)
Number 5. Summer vacation from Church is God's gift to Episcopalians (in part because He needs a break).
Number 4. Free wine on Sunday's and more at supper club!
Number 3. Nobody needs to feel guilty about wearing a dress in Church.
Number 2. You can be Baptised or not, come on in the water's fine!
Number 1. No matter what you believe, you can teach it to the Church.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Via Media

Hold the phone! In today's sermon, Fr. Dunbar asks us to stick to the "via media" when facing controversy, but then goes on to talk about "liberal" Paul and his letter to the Galatians. We cannot even try to talk about a via media before our words betray our human weakness, our natural tendency to classify people, things, and ideas. A little voice in my head said, "Here we go, look out for 'conservative' bashing." Sure enough, by putting Paul in the liberal camp of Christianity many might be left thinking "I sure would hate to meet a conservative." I would like to read Paul's blog to the Church today. I wonder how he would be classified by the Internet gurus. Would he be called conservative, liberal, reasserter, reappraiser, revisionist, apologist, chauvinist, homophobic, someone with visions of Christhood, or maybe someone with a martyr complex? Once labelled, I doubt Paul would agree, but they would label him somehow. I do agree with Fr. Dunbar that the via media is the best path, unfortunately people on the left or right hand side of the road think they are already in the middle and that any sideways movement would put them off the road altogether. Hmm...W.W.P.D? He might just shake the dust off his feet at us!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Physician Assisted Suicide Bombers

Here is a new headline I dreamed up. “Physician Assisted Suicide Bombers.” Maybe Dr. K. can find a new niche.

Blame socialized medicine for the physician shortage in the UK which leads to an easier path for “radical islamic muslim terrorist doctors” to enter the country. The US should take heed as we accept more graduates from foreign medical schools to make up for fewer US graduates going into the medical profession due to decreases in reimbursement and increases in litigation and bureaucratic hassles.
Which oath takes precedence, the Hippocratic oath or the jihadist oath? Better check through the medical records of these docs to see if any patients had their souls sent to Allah before their time. At least they didn't try to blow up a hospital, I guess the Hippocratic oath held sway there.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Parish Survey

I am having trouble completing my parish survey. There is a section where I am asked for an opinion on the dollar amount of this fundraising campaign. I hesitate because none of the choices sound realistic. $500,000 is still needed to retire the debt on the leaky parish hall. Until we can retire the debt, I am not optimistic about new projects. I am glad there are people pushing us along. Dreamers have a role to play in the Church, but true visionaries are the ones capable of propelling schemes such as ours along by sheer power of will. The true visionary has the conviction of the Spirit as his/her strength. If the Holy Spirit leads us in this direction, so be it. Until then, I think I will do the typical Episcopal shrug and go on living with our peeling paneling, our moldy sanctuary, silent bell tower, and exposed portico. There are worse things to live with. We could live in New Hampshire.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Vacare Brain

After today's sermon I need a "vacatio" (per Webster, etymology: Middle English vacacioun, from Anglo-French vacacion, from Latin vacation-, vacatio, freedom, exemption). The wonderful thing about Latin is that since there are no Latins left, we can argue the meanings of their words endlessly. I think Charlie meant to say during the announcements that vacation derives from "vacare" which means lack, to be free of, as in vacant, or vacuum. Therefore, we are excused (with the Church's blessing) to take some time off and be vacant. My mind went vacant after the first 10 minutes. The rest of the time I had a nice vacation without ever leaving my pew.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tear down the Walls!

I got a call from the renovations committee the other day wanting to schedule a time for a personal interview about the planned destruction/reconstruction of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour. The Pewster does not do personal interviews, nor can I take time out from my busy schedule to meet with yet another paid consultant about this project. I offered to meet at night, but there are no after hours consultations available. Therefore, the interview process will be biased towards persons who have idle time during the day. I propose that since these persons may not be the donor pool for the 1+ million dollars requested, the results of this survey will not provide an accurate assessment. My suggestion of course is to do a free web based survey using the following questions: (feel free to add more)
1. Are you willing to pay for a new roof for the parish hall every 7 years since that seems to be what we are averaging?
2. Would you be in favor of simply replacing the peeling paneling and worn carpet?
3. Now that the breezy porticoes have been replaced with "historically accurate" porticoes, do
we still need them?
4. Will you continue to contribute if you or your parish leaves TEC?
5. Is there anything better we could do with all that money?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

New Link

I liked this site so much that I added it to the links list. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

10 years

This Sunday we celebrate Charlie's 10th year at Our Saviour. The program notes indicate that this is the longest continuous run of his career. Some one needs to tell me the average tenure of an Episcopal priest. It seems that there is a shortage of priests out there, but fortunately our new ex-governor/seminarian from New Jersey will be available in a few short years for those of you who are priestless at present. We are lucky to have Charlie and Gwen for the past 10 years. After all, he could stand up there and say that he is tired of Sunday afternoon quarterbacks like the Pewster posting comments on the Sunday sermon. Speaking of which, "brown people?" (twice) Oh well, as he said during the announcements, sometimes the wrong words come out. We should remember the good words of the anthem, "Oh my God, bestow thy tender mercy, blot out my transgressions, cleanse my sins...." While more appropriate for Lent, the Pewster will take them to heart and beg forgiveness for my transgressions. Still, I wonder what Green people think of Brown people.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Jesus Jambalaya

Holy Gumbo! Fr. Dunbar in his sermon today reminds us that Jesus was executed in part because he broke the laws that separated people and did not permit mixing, a practice we still see today. Does Judaism have discrimination built into it's core? The old laws were discriminatory, but isn't that the nature of man? As babies we automatically discriminate between faces we accept and those we reject. As children we learn the prejudices of our culture, as teens we divide into cliques, then as adults we get to write the laws. Laws by their nature discriminate between right and wrong, and they have been used to the point of creating separate water fountains, swimming pools, and schools for persons of different race, who can sleep with who, who can fight in the military, and who can vote. Jesus' message was one of inclusion except when he picked his 12 (in whom we do not exactly have the diversity of the star ship Enterprise). He picked his crew carefully. I think Fr. Dunbar's point is that there is room in the pot for a wonderful mix of peoples, of shades of belief, and the "Ya Ya" of everyone speaking at once. The end result could be a great dish. Just remember that even a good Jambalaya can be spoiled by including bad ingredients.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Fr. Dunbar reminds us that "God does not want us to be his slaves" by using the illustration of the somewhat wayward Trappist monk who lived apart from his community and engaged in the sin of excessive letter writing (only 2 per month were allowed). By breaking the rules of man, and marching to the beat of a different drummer he was disobedient, but he was not cast out completely. He still chose to follow God albeit in a different way. If as Bobby says, God has freed us, have we become like the Christians of St. Augustine "free to do what we please." In this day and age doing what we please may not be pleasing to the Lord (oops there I go being servile). Choices abound... Bobby continues, "everything flows from God," so if we jump in and swim along, will we be taken to the sea where "go the ships" and "that Leviathan whom thou hast made to play therein." Psalm 104:26. Or can we fall in like so much flotsam more by accident and wind up in the same sea as the dedicated swimmers. I recall the saying that all religions are like streams or rivers. They all head towards the same sea. It would seem that the Spirit of Pentecost has blessed the water for us Christians. So do you jump in by choice, fall in by accident, or choose to stay on the bank and watch the waters flow? Once in the river do you go with the flow, swim upstream, lose it and drown, get out and dry off, or do you try to try to slow the torrent by building dams? (Dam builders beware, the Army Corps of Engineers will tell you that eventually all dams fail) Fr. Dunbar has again provided us with food for thought, and he did it in far less time than it took for me to post this comment.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Recommended Reading

When you have the time, digest this view of the state of TEC.
I enjoyed the historical perspective as well as the explanation of TEC's schizophrenic appearing thought processes.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ascension Sunday (the abridged version)

"Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief."~William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Although I applaud Charlie for attempting to create a new holiday tradition with the Feast of the Ascension, I don't think people will line up if the sermon runs too long.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


The richest part of today's service was not the sermon where we wallowed in our sinful and "perverted" ways. I thought the reading from Revelation was like hearing some one's dream of Heaven. (Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5) There was just this one unsettling part of the scripture. "But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life." I think Charlie was trying to say that we repent of our sins, are forgiven, and when we repeat the sin, God will forgive us over and over again. So, will we humans ever be clean enough to enter the Holy City? What kind of abominable practice keeps a person out? Can a person rewrite the "Lamb's book of life?" Today's Baptism would have been a good segue to help explain this scripture to us poor pewsters. At least for an hour I was cleansed of sin. Now, here I go again..........

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Oct 18 Feast of St. Luke

Read the Hymn for this Holy day.

[1096]Holy Days: St. Luke292. What thanks and praise to thee we owe L.M. [1097]Ely: Thomas Turton, 1844 William D. Maclagan, 1873

What thanks and praise to thee we owe, O Priest and Sacrifice divine,
For thy dear saint through whom we know So many a gracious word of thine;
Whom thou didst choose to tell the tale Of all thy manhood's toils and tears,
And for a moment lift the veil That hides thy boyhood's spotless years.
And still the Church through all her days Uplifts the strains that never cease,
The blessed Virgin's hymn of praise, The aged Simeon's words of peace.
O happy saint! whose sacred page, So rich in words of truth and love,
Pours on the Church from age to age This healing unction from above;
The witness of the Savior's life, The great apostle's chosen friend
Through weary years of toil and strife, And still found faithful to the end.
So grant us, Lord, like him to live,
Beloved by man, approved by thee,
Till thou at last the summons give,
And we, with him, thy face shall see

Flying Solo

She had to wing it today as a solo priest, but Mary Cat gave a nice sermon sticking to the Gospel. Jesus' final commandment was that we love each other with "agape" type love. We have touched on this theme before. I think this is the hardest commandment to follow on a daily basis. People always seem to get in the way, making it hard to see the Holy in them (sometimes all we can see is the ...hole in them). Of course, we have Jesus' example to guide us, but we have to work at it. If we don't listen to Him, we run the danger of becoming like Linus Van Pelt saying, "I love mankind, it's people I can't stand."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Don't Leave the Episcopal Church! (It is just too much fun!)

The lunatics are running the asylum. The PB must be one if this article is true Oh sure, the rest of the world will catch up to the ECUSA in 50 years. Can she even imagine that 50 years from now the Church might turn in yet another direction? In 1957 America, who was the Jules Verne who predicted this day? The day where a divorced homosexual male Bishop of New Hampshire is going to get married to a man as soon as possible. The disgraced formerly married then outed homosexual, scandalized Governor of New Jersey wants to be an Episcopal priest? I will put on my "Man who Invented the Future" thinking cap and give it a whirl.
Dateline 2057: Wicca Priestess in the running for Episcopal Presiding Bishop. "Because of her love for all of nature, her deep understanding of the relationship between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom, and her "commitment" to the mission of the ECUSA she is considered to be a leading candidate for Presiding Bishop. The only questions being raised center around the possible resumption of ritual animal sacrifice. This may not be an issue as the ECUSA has as it's mission to include all of God's creatures under it's roof. This is often interpreted as all "living" creatures, but is argued by some to include those recently dead or soon to be sacrificed creatures as well.
Current Presiding Bishop Smith welcomes the nominee saying "This is in the great tradition of the Episcopal Church. My many wives and I are in support of this candidate."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bobby Google?

This day we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Bobby Dunbar's Ordination. I thought Charlie did a great job with the 10:30 sermon when he went into his Fr. Dunbar stories. It is reassuring to know that we can always count on Bobby's wisdom. In fact, when the computer is down, just "Google" him. Why would anybody go into the priesthood in 1967 anyway? In particular, why would anyone in that age be interested in "tradition." Wasn't that a time of rebellion, a time to reject the values of a "failed" elder generation and to "join the revolution?" The best of the past becomes the best for the present when what we value is based on ultimate truth. A simple celebration can only give us a glimpse of you, and this blog cannot do justice to the value in you. You have been a big part of the spiritual development of so many. Today, this lowly pewster saw God's reflection in the faces of the people you have touched these past 40 years. Thank you Bobby for your ministry.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

150 years, will we see 150 more?

It was fun today, what with the guests, the covered dish meal, and a guest preacher in the pulpit. I enjoyed the invocation of Episcopalians past, and present, but I missed the future part. God may know the future, the rest of us have to trust in Him for how it will work out. Or is it up to us to invent the future? I remember reading a biography of Jules Verne entitled "The Man Who Invented the Future." How do Episcopalians shape their future? The AoC is in favor of cautious deliberations. The PB and the Primates (sounds like a BBC Comedy) want action now! The Lord does move in mysterious ways. Let us look up into the depths of the old rafters of the Church of Our Saviour and savor the mystery Rev. Greeley experienced as a child. Invoke the ancient spirits and hear their advice on the current controversies in Episcopaldom. And if you hear their voices, will you listen? Where have you gone Jules Verne?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Meaning of Life

Turn on our speakers when you follow the link in the Title. Charlie tried to explain "through believing you may have life in his name.." Apparantly the meaning of "life" is not clear. Now we will have to bring our Greek/English dictionary to Church. Zoe! Zoi! Bios! I guess Jesus did not speak Greek but rather spoke Aramaic. So his word was probably something close to the meaning of Zoe whichever meaning you choose. If you remain confused, just how do you think Bible translators feel. If only we had the honest to God literal truth like the Koran; which is not supposed to be translated from the "original" Arabic. (Although the Pewster has an illegal English translation All this makes my head spin. But I have to remember that we are "standing on a planet that's evolving and revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned... So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure, How amazingly unlikely is your birth, And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space, 'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth."

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Is Holy Week too much? Ray Mohrmann on Maundy Thursday suggested we need to wash more feet, Mary Cat on Saturday night was short and sweet, and Charlie on Easter Sunday will take some heat for coming out with "verisimilitude" (although the pronunciation sounded more like "versimilitude"). What I found in all these services was my answer to Mary Cat's question "Why are we here on a Saturday night?" The wrong answer would be that this is Rock Hill, and there was nothing else happening on Saturday night. My answer is that the whole of Lent and Holy Week is about "service." Maybe Episcopalians aren't going to cure Aids, reduce poverty, or be of any help in those Millennium development goals. Maybe we should stick to what we do best, and that is putting on a great service. This is the way we serve the Lord. If we keep at it, we just might find that our life "inside" merges with our daily life "outside," and we will find ourselves seeing and serving Christ in every single human interaction. No, Holy Week is not too much. It's just that too many sermons are too much for me.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Heaven on Earth

Pardon the irreverent link in the title. Fr. Dunbar served up another masterful sermon. It takes a great mind to delve deeper than the usual read of the story of the 2 criminals on the cross and to explain this so eloquently. He was even able to make the connection with the unexpected consequences of God's love we have been analyzing lately. In fact his sermon hammered home the point (pardon the reference to the passion), and he reminded me to slow down and do a little more Lectio Divina. That was one for the books Bobby!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Sermon Named Desire

I thought Fr. Dunbar gave a wonderful sermon today. He had to handle Paul's desire for "the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus" without making it sound like the death wish of the "becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead" part of the reading. Indeed, how do we living creatures reconcile this desire to become God-like with our desires for life and earthly things? Those who dwell on the former do not lose the latter. Instead, they will get "Heaven with the Earth thrown in" (C.S. Lewis). Those who dwell on the latter will lose the former. Alas, too often most of us never give spiritual matters a "passing" thought. If people would strive for balance of mind, body, and spirit then we might be better able to serve the Eternal and the mortal together. Is this impossible?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Today's Old Testament Lesson

In todays lectionary link we read the words of the prophet, but do we listen?

23Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. 2Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. 3Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord

Monday, March 19, 2007

2 Sermons in One

Follow the title to the ERD site for the MDGs. Which one of these goals will your group be assigned to tackle? Eliminating extreme poverty, reducing child mortality, or curing malaria? My fear has always been that if you suddenly reduce child mortality (these goals are meant to be reached quickly), then you will create a sudden rise in population causing new suffering through hunger, violence, and other unintended consequences of your well meant intentions. I think the goals are just and true, but it is the attempt to whip us into a frenzy of action that dooms the project. These problems are so built into the human condition that there is no simple quick "solution." And what does this have to do with the story of the prodigal son? I did not hear Mary Cat give us a link, so I will create one. The story tells us how the good son felt. I think he felt the wayward son should have been beaten, or rejected, and justice was not served. To us, the open arms and celebration of the father gives us hope as we daily return from our sinful ways to a loving God. This type of justice is the unexpected consequence of God's love. For our goals, let us try to follow Jesus' command that we love one another, and make our MDG to seek justice for all. After that is established, the most wonderful unexpected consequences may follow. For one wild comparison of the Christian and Buddhist prodigal son parables check out

Friday, March 16, 2007

Presiding Bishop Schori Goes After South Carolina

Now let me get this straight. She votes for Bishop Robinson, and now she blocks the Rev. Mr. Mark Lawrence. And all we hear about in the news is how President Bush is in trouble for wanting his guys as Federal Attorneys. Seems to me that a congressional hearing will need to be called so we can read the P.B.'s e-mails to see her true nature.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Thanks be to I AM

Please turn on your speakers and click on the title. I always love that line. One of I AM's all time greatest hits. All of the Old and New Testament lessons about towers falling down on us and punishing us sinners make one wonder about the nature of God. Wrathful/loving/omnipotent/omnipresent/all knowing/all seeing. Forget all that and just reflect on I AM, or as I like to quiet it down to the small voice "I am." This is the voice of presence. When listening for God, this is all we ever need to hear.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Crawling to Easter

Charlie's sermon: "Let's not rush to Easter." Indeed, slow down and prayerfully consider each painful step. If you crawl, the pain may be great, but the gain will be proportionately greater. Is this the principle that should be applied to the great rift in the Anglican Communion? From my island, I can survey the combatants and their opposing battle fleets eager to race to war. But both navies appear to be listing and under questionable command. These people claim to be the people of God for heaven's sake! They do seem to be in a hurry to engage in conflict. Is there a human counselor who can forge a peace? Where have you gone Henry Kissinger?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Archbishop Arches His Back?

Probably just his eyebrows. The title contains a link to AoC Rowan Williams' comments about the ongoing rumblings. I had the misfortune of listening to some of our PBs web cast yesterday( After hearing her speak and answer prescreened questions from the audience, the pewster is not optimistic about TEC sharing communion with the worldwide Anglican Community. In my opinion, if people were honestly caring about the "Church" and not themselves, then the controversial bishop Gene Robinson would resign saying that he does not want to be a cause for conflict, and he could return to work as a humble priest for whichever congregation finds him appealing. This act might help the PB to rethink her agenda. I am not optimistic because I feel everyone is being self centered rather than God centered.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Trouble in Tanzania

From the pulpit today Mary Cat, and Charlie from the aisle tried a little brainwashing. All designed to make it appear that the ECUSA has it right while the rest of the world has it all wrong. Through self discipline you too can immunize yourself against brainwashing. Here is my take on the impending battle for your soul. First, I predict the African Bishops will be tarred and feathered as homophobic thick heads because of their Schori snub. Listening to our clergy I thought, "Uh oh, now we are starting to hear the talking points to be used against the current worldview that the ECUSA has turned into an apostate sect." When the African Bishops refused to share communion with Ms. Schori, they lost any moral high ground they may have held. (see link in this title). By demonstrating such unchristian behavior, they strengthened her position. Of course she will never be able to take the moral high ground as long as she remains intransigent herself. It looks like two rudderless ships trying to ram each other. I think I will watch the fray from my little island, with the Good Book, BCP, Hymnal, blog, a bottle of wine, a loaf of bread and thou. It seems this lowly pewster is left without worldly leadership at present.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Not Fit for Public Consumption

At the joint Grace Lutheran/Episcopal Church of Our Saviour Ash Wednesday Service Charlie gave the homily. We somehow went from the scriptures telling us to keep our fasting secret to his turning his head away from couples necking in public (or what is currently called PDA ,public display of affection) and also not looking when actors and actresses do the PDA thing on film or TV. He rightly believes such displays are "not for public consumption" because love is a holy thing. Of course he was preaching to the choir since Episcopalians are well known for being cold and less than touchy feely. As we all sat there with smudged foreheads, being careful not to come into any bodily contact with the beings seated near us, I was thinking we should hurry and wash the ashes off before anyone could see an outward sign of devotion. I guess we should also not wear the cross where anyone can see it, nor should priests wear those funny collars. This must have been a good Ash Wednesday because I was left feeling incredibly guilty.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Could this be Agape?

I enjoyed the reading from the King James Version of 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13. I have grown too accustomed to hearing the modern translation of agape as love. to hear it again as "charity" makes you slow down and think. "Charity" was dropped probably because of its current implications of giving to the poor and so called charitable organizations. "Love" may need to be dropped because it is too generic and in such common use that people have taken Paul's letter as if it were meant for the marriage of man and wife. "Agape" has a different meaning to the pewster. I think of it as a word that describes both the intellectual and the emotional/spiritual sides of the God-man relationship. Agape is something that flows from God. Thanks to God this agape will also show in our interpersonal relationships. The results of agape are ultimately good, although intellectually we know things will not always seem to be done by a loving God. I may not be able to channel agape through my hands like Charlie, but if I keep working at it, I may in time see "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Breezy Porticos

The link above has a couple of appropriately titled songs. Architectural firms always give you more than what you ask for. Unfortunately, you are usually "wowed" by the presentation and don't think to question the extras. Parish meetings always give you something to think about. Unfortunately, these thoughts usually come up after the meeting. I agree with Cato about the "portico." I would like to see the elevation drawings for the altar. This could be provided by the architectural firm via an electronic walkthrough accesible over the web. We have several avenues through which we may voice our concerns. Ideally, an electronic forum should be available for all parishoners to discuss issues of the day. Alas this was dismantled by the last Vestry and all that remains is this lonely outpost. Alternatively, we must lobby the committee chair (who says she will take the punishment) and approach the new Vestry to take up these concerns. One can also stand up during the announcements on Sunday and raise awareness amongst the sheep. With today's sermon we were blessed by having Fr. Dunbar expound on the Gospel of Luke. This is the pewster's favorite gospel. Now what would Luke say about the renovation project?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Did Jesus Use Sonar?

The link in the title will take you to an unusual site showing that God has an ultrasound machine Go to stations 10, 12 and 13. Anyway, how did Jesus find those fish? In the words of the anthem "Disperse the mists of sin, celestial Light, and unto us reveal the things of God invisible to mortal sight." Do fish count as invisible to mortal sight? Does the bare brick behind the rotten paneling in the church count? What I am getting at is the things of God invisible to us are things we may call either good or bad, but they are still God's. Charlie did a good job with the sermon, but went long on his report at the annual parish meeting (no sonar needed to find the good and bad there). Counting the votes for the new vestry took too long. I propose holding the election first to give time for counting those pesky hanging chads.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

52 Postings in Under a Year

Take one down and pass it around... or so the song goes. The good thing about a weekly sermon review is I don't get "Blog Ennui." Today's sermon/skit was a little hard to follow due to lack of amplification for the kids voices. I got the message. To me the message is this, we would like to throw them from from city walls after they speak in Church, but we might be making a big mistake. Most of us would be in the angry crowd after hearing the voice of prophesy. We are trapped by the layers of "knowledge" we have placed over our inner selves and we cannot sense the truth especially when spoken by another earthly creature. I may not have liked the "skit" today, but it reminds me to keep an open heart and quiet mind. I will need to better develop these things if I am to return next year on youth Sunday.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Fear of Flying (Click Here)

Mary Kat's skiing accident was described today as an attempt at flight. So now we have a flying Priest. I have heard that taking off is easy, but landing is the hard part. The national Church has been taking us for a ride lately. New blood in the form of new clergy is being installed on the fly. Will the Episcopal Church stick a landing like a gymnast, or will we fall and break apart? I say, make God my pilot, Jesus my flight attendant, and the Holy Spirit the propulsion to keep me aloft and I will be fine. But if you put the P.B., the Clergy, or you and I at the controls we will crash and burn.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Triple Play

I was fortunate to be able to attend the triple ordination at the cathedral in Columbia today. It was a very moving service, although it slowed down during the sermon quite a bit. I think we were meant to inwardly digest e...v...e...r...y... word. Mama always said to chew your food well before swallowing. It was a good sermon as far as content goes. It must be difficult giving a sermon to 3 new priests and to be speaking in the presence of so many of your peers.
We had good representation from Our Saviour with acolytes, choir, friends, Church family, and even a special guest as Reader. I thought Mary Kat was resplendent in her neon pink cast. None of the other ordinands could match that cast. Her accident makes me think that we must remember that today was not about the person we call Mary Kat. This was the day the Lord made, and the Mary Kat we see will be continually remade by God into a new creation just as the new bone growing in her leg will be constantly remodelled by her body, even after the initial healing, the bone will be changing daily. I am also reminded that when we put things in God's hands, he tends to throw a curve ball to let us know who is in control.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Signs or Miracles?

This Sunday's sermon by Fr. Dunbar was an excellent example of why we have sermons more than 4 times a year. His emphasis on "signs" vs "miracles" and the importance of "Charity" was enlightening. And what about the miracle of a 10:30 service sans organ? How about Beethoven for an anthem with the choir not masked by the organ? The only thing I can't understand is when we put MLK II right up there with the Virgin Mary and Wulfstan of Worcester (patron Saint of vegetarians) (see link in title). While not yet granted sainthood, we should remember MLK II for applying part of Gandhi's teaching, that is the principle of nonviolence, in bringing equality of civil rights to all Americans. Perhaps MLK's nonviolent leadership is a miracle worthy of consideration. Remember no miracle or sign ever occurs in the absence of God. Gandhi said "Nonviolence is a power which can be wielded equally by all-children, young men and women or grown up people, provided they have a living faith in the God of Love and have therefore equal love for all mankind. When nonviolence is accepted as the law of life it must pervade the whole being and not be applied to isolated acts." For more on MLK II and Gandhi see:

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Cat Call

I have to give Mary Cat a well done on her sermon today. She appropriately answered the question, "why did you decide to...." by allowing God to lead her, through the opening of her heart, mind, body, and soul to God (I am putting words into her mouth again). Let us pray that her discernment process never ends. (see link in title). It was also a perfect time for us to renew our Baptismal vows. I don't know about you, but I was ready to be immersed.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Meditation Bell

For those of you who want to meditate , use this timer on your computer or portable listening device. (click on the title of this post)