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.