Saturday, May 19, 2018

Baptism on Pentecost 2018

What does it mean to be baptized? How many of us even remember the occasion? If we don't we are blessed if there are some around us who do: who can say to us later, we remember when you were baptized and this is what we undertook. Not only to remind you of your baptism, of your Christianity, but to remind you of your humanity. Baptism is an occasion to call each one of us and all of us to our best selves - in the presence of Christ. It is a call, as we will find when we recite four baptismal promises, to become fully ourselves in several ways, not as individuals only or tribal members but as human beings. Alone and together we are all in the image of God. In baptism we are called to remember this solidarity - and this individuality. Will you - on behalf of the newly baptized and as members of the house of faith, recall the devotion expressed in the body and bread, the cup and the blood, the oil, the water, the story, and the people, that mediate grace to you - that bridge you between sacred and simple? These little things - these words, these actions, these tastes, and touches - draw us near to the holy - and nearer to being fully ourselves. So go now and prepare - for a life of joy and sorrow, of hope and faith - of hope beyond any surrender, and of faith in what is beyond imagining but abundant in each of us - the enduring presence of a gracious and faithful - and loving - God.

welcome diner

Yesterday at the Welcome Diner I sat at the counter alongside four women, all of whom had got up early to watch the royal wedding. He preached about love, they said, and he quoted Martin Luther King. Two of them introduced themselves to me as mother and daughter. What are you doing? Talking to you... and working in alumni relations at the university. The other said, I'm a labor nurse. The one said to the other, I could never do what you do. And the other said to the first, I could never do what you do. Different gifts. 

And the same spirit. 

And yes that is what Pentecost is about. A celebration of love, love of God in each other, exhibited in different gifts, all expressing one common spirit. A spirit of love. And of welcome, at a feast. 

The feast we celebrate today - what is on the menu at this place of welcome - is no less than the feast of the first Eucharist: the Thanksgiving Dinner of the Lamb of God. We welcome each other and are welcomed, we celebrate in each other our different gifts - and the one gift we all share - as we come together at the Lord's Feast. The supper of the Lamb, the Lord's supper. The Eucharist. 

And from here we go, and are sent, to spread that love. The message we preach is simple. The words may be different from the royal wedding sermon, but the lesson is the same. God loves you. Jesus proves it. Let's go live it.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

the freehearted hospitality of God

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? 
Can such faith save them? 
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food [and water]. 
If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed, [drink up!]” 
but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
James 2:14-17 [areas in brackets my own interpolations]

People leave their homes and travel north because they have to, not because they want to. 
War, civil strife, natural disaster; poverty, hunger, and fear drive them.

(In his own remarks, later in the program, the mayor pointed out that people come north 
for many reasons - but for none of them does anyone deserve to die in the desert of thirst.)

And sometimes they are welcomed home in a place they have never been before. 
We drink from others’ wells - we all do. 
Let us remember as we bless these trucks with holy water and pious words 
that they carry to others the lifegiving water for which we all share the need.

Bless the drivers; keep them safe.
Bless the trucks; keep them running.
Bless the travelers - bring them safe across the desert to a place they do [may] not know.

And to the people they may never meet, may this work today be a witness 
to the freehearted hospitality of God.


Remarks prepared for the blessing of the fleet of water trucks at Humane Borders,
Tucson, Arizona.

Humane Borders
Participants in the Blessing of the Fleet, 2018, April 15

The Rev. Dr. John Leech,
Priest of the Episcopal Church

Rev. Mateo Chavez
Pastor of Lutheran Spanish Language congregation,
San Juan Bautista

Fr. John Erickson,
Orthodox Church of America,
Professor Emeritus, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

Mayor, Jonathan Rothschild
(earlier President of Temple Emanu-el) Rabbi Aaron is in Poland.

Abbot Ajahn Sarayut Amanta
Tucson Buddhist Meditation Center and Wat Buddhametta

Dan Abbot/Norm Baker (Volunteers with Humane Borders)

Rev. Ailsa Gonzalez
First Christian Church
On whose property Humane Borders was born

Dinah Bear
Chair of Board of Directors, Humane Borders

Moderator: Rev. John Hoelter, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

parishioner portal

Parishioner Portal Login: Access Denied.

Hey there fellow pastors! Tired of those pesky people from your parish who ask questions and want to talk about God and stuff? Here's a solution. Crabbed from our fellow professionals in the medical industry: online portal communication.

Instead of returning (or God help you, initiating) telephone calls, simply refer the worried well (and the not so well) to your website, and ask them to create a login and password for their very own Parishioner Portal (TM) (R) you heard it here 1st.

Comments? Please log in to my website, on your portal page. Use the link in the email I didn't send you.

great shame

Could the Irish famine have been averted or ameliorated by government action?

"In November 1845 [Daniel ("The Liberator")] O'Connell, in receipt of awful intelligence from Repeal branches all over the country, went with a delegation to visit Lord Lieutenant Heytesbury in Dublin Castle. O'Connell pleaded for a suspension of the export of the annual approximately 1,600,000,000 pounds weight of Irish grain and provisions, and a prohibition on distilling and brewing from grain.

He also urged Heytesbury that the ports be opened to the free import of rice and Indian corn from British colonies. For Irish ports were not open now, but subject to the special provisions of the Corn Laws, laws designed to peg the price of local grain at the highest possible level and to keep out other, cheaper grain until the entire British crop had been sold at that artificially pegged price.

The Liberator also asked that paid labor be provided on public works for those whose staple food had rotted before their eyes.

If these things were not done, said O'Connell, millions would have nothing to eat throughout the winter except decomposed potatoes, seedling eyes cut out of the diseased tubers, and family pigs.

The Liberator wrote to Smith O'Brien of 'the frightful certainty of an approaching famine; and you know pestilence always follows famine, the prospect is really frightful.'"

Keneally, Thomas. The Great Shame and the Triumph of the Irish in the English-Speaking World. New York: Nan A. Talese. 1998. 104-105.

Daniel O'Connell, M.P. ("The Liberator")
William Smith O'Brien, M.P.

Monday, January 22, 2018

speaking out

One of the first things anyone said to me here, at Saint Michael and All Angels, when I was elected rector of a church north of Seattle, was Peter Schmidt's comment on its patron saint - Alban - "he was the Protomartyr of Britain."

The saint we remember today, Vincent of Saragossa, was first among the martyrs of Spain - and not many years later. Alban was martyred in the middle of the second century in the Roman British town of Verulamium, after speaking up boldly for the Christian faith in the presence of an imperial magistrate. “I worship and adore the true and living God,” he declared, “who created all things.” That was enough for Alban - to receive his crown of martyrdom forthwith.

Vincent had more to say. He was on trial together with the bishop he served as deacon. The bishop was one of those people we'd mention at the Blessing of Throats at Candlemas. He, Valerius, had a speech impediment. Vincent often preached in his stead. And so he charged Vincent to speak before the governor, for both of them, in defense of the faith.

This was during the persecution of Diocletian and Maximian, in 304. Dacian was governor of Spain. And Dacian was so outraged by Vincent's impassioned and intemperate outspoken declaration of faith that he ordered him tortured.

Valerius was simply exiled. But, as Augustine of Hippo reports, Vincent the Deacon endured many pains. All for the faith. Vincent of Saragossa. Deacon and Martyr. 304.

Eight years later came the conversion of Constantine, the battle at the Mylvian bridge, and the subsequent edict of toleration. Christianity became legal - for the most part - within the Roman empire.

Since that time many Christians have been punished for speaking up for their faith, some on behalf of their bishop, some as bishops - Oscar Romero, Janani Luwum - and some unheralded and unknown except to God.

These are all among those "robed in white" we remember on the feasts of martyrs - and all of them are guided to "springs of the water of life." (22 jan 18).

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Climate Change Forum IV Prayers


May this day be holy, good, and peaceful.
May the creative spirit of the universe
enliven us with hope.
May the nurturing spirit of the universe
compel us to care for creation - and each other.
May the valiant spirit of the universe
imbue us with the fortitude
to see the truth,
and the wisdom
to act upon it.

Followed by Song of the Three Young Men, Introduction and Part 1, Book of Common Prayer, 1979, 88-89.

Closing Prayer

Creator of science and of creativity itself,
we praise you and thank you for the insights of science.
Guide us into all truth and lead us in compassionate action.
Challenge us when we need to change our way of thinking - and of living.

For the sake of those facing rising temperatures, drought, and water shortages,
Creator, in your mercy,
restore and renew the world.

For the sake of those facing extreme weather events, disrupted seasons, and failed crops,
Creator, in your mercy,
restore and renew the world.

For the sake of those facing flooding, land loss, and salination of vital water supplies,
Creator, in your mercy,
restore and renew the world.

For the sake of all those who fear the changing climate,
Creator, in your mercy,
restore and renew the world.

For the poor, the vulnerable, and the refugee,
Creator, in your mercy,
restore and renew the world.

For the sake of us all, Creator, in your mercy,
re-create our hearts, that we might work together - to
restore and renew the world.

Climate-Change Forum IV – Credibility, Urgency & Caution
a continuation of “A Religious Response to Climate Change”
St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Tucson, Arizona
Smith Parish Center, 13 January 2018