Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Affiliated Clergy Report

Summary of Ministry for 2015

During the year of 2015 I have officiated at the following services:

20 celebrations of Holy Communion
18 assisting at Holy Communion
1 morning/evening prayer service
15 sermons
14 lectures/seminars
2 hospital visits (for St John's Bisbee)
13 church meetings
20 community organization and interfaith meetings
17 migration and border ministries activities
3 academic conferences

St Andrew's Episcopal Church in Tucson is the congregation where I regularly worship. There, at the vicar's discretion and invitation, I preach, celebrate, assist, teach ... I co-taught (with Sheldon Curry) the 2015 Lent course on Handel's Messiah.

This Epiphany season I began working with Christina Robinson on adult spiritual formation. Our Epiphany season course is “Welcoming the Hidden Christ: Meeting the Challenge of Migration and Hospitality.” Our Lenten course introduces the practice of lectio divina (sacred reading).

In addition to these ministries, I have served as a supply priest at St John's Bisbee, taught and assisted in worship at St Michael's Tucson, and taught, spoken, and presided at Come and See services at St Philip's Tucson. I am actively involved in border and immigration ministries, with Episcopal congregations (St Philip's, St Michael's), in ecumenical and interfaith settings, and with community groups. I have worked with the migration spirituality group formed out of St Michael's and St Philip's congregations. I participated in ecumenical and interfaith gatherings including the annual Holocaust Memorial service in Reid Park and the Binational Las Posadas in Nogales. I helped organize two St Michael’s forums on a religious response to climate change, and spoke at the second on theology of care for our environment.

As a member of the American Academy of Religion I am currently co-chair of the section on psychology, culture, and religion for the western region.

The Rev. John R. Leech, D.Min.
January 26, 2016.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Are you sure?

When we were in New York last October we met a couple on their honeymoon. At their wedding, before they exchanged vows, the officiant cautioned them: "Life is long. It wasn't for our forefathers and ancestors. When they got married, they'd say, like, "We're married for life," and go for ten years and die. You guys are looking at a thirty or forty year proposition... If you stay healthy, you could be looking at each other for over fifty years. So I ask you one more time. Are you sure?"


At another wedding, in New York years ago, the preacher said this: “When two people in this crazy world are willing to commit themselves to each other for life, we’ve all got something to celebrate.”—Barbara Crafton 

You have been to some pretty good weddings I imagine – so have I. What was the most fun about them? It varied, didn’t it?

From the look of love on the groom to the bloom on the bride to the wedding guests’ hilarity and the cute little kids having a party of their own around about knee height of the grown-ups ... to the message of grace you may have received, or the grief you may have revisited, as you were recalled to past experience. But then you recover yourself – and are present to the day – and wish well with all others as the two take their vow.

But then comes as a surprise: you are asked to make a vow as well. Yes, the third vow.

Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these two in their union?

Yes, we will.

When we are guests we bless and we receive a blessing –
We witness vows and we make a vow…

“Will allow of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their marriage?”

At the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus and his companions are invited guests.

He is not the bridegroom.

He is present at the wedding – of the couple and family at Cana, as he is at the wedding of God and God’s people.

And he is a bit - disruptive...

Jesus and his boys show up when the party has been going for a while and they’ve run out of wine.

They have no wine.”
Fill the jars…”

When the guests arrived they could have expected nothing like this. Not what happened when Jesus showed up. In those days the party – the wedding celebration – typically went on for a week. It may have started as early as seven days before Jesus and his followers arrived. But when the Messiah appears — this is when the fun really begins.

A party that was about to run out of gas – embarrassing for the host, out of wine – suddenly revived. And more than revived. What was old was transformed. What was old became new.

Okay, stone jars. Big jars. Great supply of water for washing your hands. You would want to do that every once in awhile while you are eating and drinking for seven days with the whole town at a big party. But –

“Fill the jars with water.”
“Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.”

The servants drew – and they knew. And Jesus’ disciples knew. They were in on the surprise!

What was manifested was a wonderful superabundant presence – indeed, as they soon perceived it, the very presence of God. In joy and laughter, and in blessing, God was there. In the midst of life. With us.

L’chaim – to life – indeed!

What does Jesus bless?
-       This happy couple
-       This community
-       LIFE

breaks out as God’s presence
becomes manifest
as God’s glory
is revealed—
and the Jesus movement begins.

We are part of the Jesus movement. And the cause of God’s love in the world can never stop and will never be defeated. (Michael Curry)

That is what our gathering here today is about – and that is what the lesson of the gospel says. And it says more: not only will the mission continue, not only will it persevere, but it will thrive, in joyous abundance – in hilarious overflowing of the grace and love and mercy of God.

On that day in Cana, God was present – in companionship, in abundance, in overflowing joy.

God is present with us, now – in companionship, in mirthful abundance, and in overflowing joy.

So how are we to persevere in the abundant outpouring of joy that this sign presents?

How do we, his disciples, support and sustain the committed relationship of people to God?

In Baptism, Confirmation, or Reception, in every Communion, every feast, we draw on his abundance, his goodness.

We take Communion (bread and wine) not just for ourselves but for everybody in the Body of Christ – to sustain that Body…. (A Testing of Hearts, Donald Nicholl)

Just as we have been given and exercise our gifts not just for ourselves but to sustain and build up the whole body of God’s people, in relationship to God, our maker, sustainer, and redeemer.

The Spirit indeed is the chief sustainer of the faithful,
And itself divine,
A gift from heaven
And itself the giver.

Bring us to the feast, guests with you [Lord Christ]
at the marriage of the bride that is Creation,
to the holy groom God-among-us.
Guide us to the overflowing abundance
of your unexpected presence
as we ourselves are wed to Eternity.

Silent Bob Weds Gina and Terry. YouTube. Published on Sep 23, 2015.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfP66Say5Zc accessed March 27, 2016.