Elections in the Episcopal Church & The Parish

As we prepare for our Annual Meeting this Sunday it is helpful to look back at the history of the Episcopal Church and give thanks for the institution it is today. Some of us have been enjoying studying this history in recent Adult Education classes. I certainly found it helpful in realizing the distinctiveness of the Episcopal Church within the family of churches which make up the Anglican Communion....

A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

God’s word says (Galatians 3:26-29) “You are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus, {27} for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. {28} There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. {29} If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” We live in a world that reams with in inequality based on religion, race, gender, social status. The result is social injustice, racism, discrimination, wars and genocide. This is not God’s kingdom. God’s Kingdom is coming and when it fully arrives there will be no inequality in it. In God’s Kingdom there is social justice and equality for all. It’s the dream that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw and spoke so articulately. It’s the dream that like followers of Christ share. That is why they persistently and continually pray and ask God for His Kingdom to come.....

As Christmas Ends…Epiphany Begins

Today (January 5) is the Twelfth Day of Christmas and tomorrow (January 6) is the Feast of the Epiphany (we will keep it on Sunday). The Epiphany or to give it its alternative name, The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, is the second of the Feasts of Light that illuminate the darkness of Winter. Christmas, Epiphany and Candlemas (the Feast of the Presentation on February 2) all celebrate the Light of Christ which scatters the darkness of sin, evil and death. I can remember so clearly my first Northern winter in England in the early Seventies when I experienced these three festivals in their traditional setting....

Don’t Forget to Say “Merry Christmas!”

Merry Christmas! How many times have you heard that greeting since December 26? My bet is not very often. I recently read an article about how the idea that there was a “war on Christmas” got started in conservative evangelical Christian circles. As I read, I was reminded that those who exhort us to “say Merry Christmas again” don’t appear to be very interested in the theological meaning and liturgical timing of Christmas! Instead they are much more focused on the trappings, on consumerism and materialism (presents, lights, decorations, prominent Christmas-only displays), and starting as early in the year as possible -- way before Advent, way before Halloween, in fact....

Marking Time & Holy Days

...There is a sort of happy routine linked to the passing of time which is comforting in a funny sort of way. Holy Apostles produces a calendar each year using the Episcopal Church Calendar. Not only does this calendar give you the date but it each day is color-coded to the Season of the Church’s year. Looking at my calendar today I noticed (not for the first time to be sure) that the Christmas white (for Christmas Day) is surrounded by lots of red days (depicting martyrdom). These red days mark St Thomas the Apostle (Doubting Thomas) on December 21; St Stephen the Deacon and Protomartyr on December 26; and the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem on December 28. Christmas, as we all enjoy it, is a magic time, full of tidings of peace and joy; focusing on the birth of the baby Jesus in Bethlehem long ago. We all enjoy the romance, the beauty and the good feelings which the nativity story brings. After all there is nothing quite like a new birth in a family to give pleasure, joy and a sense of a hopeful new beginning. We associate all those elements with the Christmas story. But the Christmas story is so much more than a beautiful birth story. The angels tell the shepherds “To you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” In other words, the new baby whose birth they are to witness is the One, God’s One, who is to save the world through his life, death and resurrection. The infant Christ if you like contains the total story of God’s Saving Love.....

Are You Ready To Be One of the People Who Light The World?

Christmas is just one week away and I want to draw your attention to the significance of the Incarnation, the word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. The greatest rescue mission, if you will, the world has known. “The light of the world.” In Sunday’s Gospel, God sends John as a witness to testify to the light. So, the question is, why does God send humans witnesses at all? Does He need our help? He has chosen weak vessels to display his great power to witness to the light and to push back the darkness. That is what He did with John the Baptist....

“Ye holy angels bright” & Richard Baxter

As Anglicans and Episcopalians, we tend to think that not a great deal positive happened in English church history during the English Civil War and the period known as the Interregnum between the reigns of the beheaded Charles the First and the monarch of the Restoration in 1660, Charles the Second when the Church of England with its bishops was suspended. However, today, December 8, in our church calendar, we commemorate Richard Baxter (1615-1691), a Puritan divine and theologian, whose hymn “Ye holy angels bright” we happily enjoy singing....

Advent A Time Of Preparation

This Sunday we begin the season of Advent, the time of preparation for both the feast of Christmas and the final coming of Christ in power and glory, as well as the start of the new liturgical year. The calendar this year gives us a short Advent season, just three full weeks, since the fourth Sunday of Advent falls on Christmas Eve....

Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart!

In the spirit of yesterday’s holiday, I am deeply aware of the importance of thanksgiving not only as the theme of the favorite national holiday but as an integral part of the Christian life. After all our main act of worship, the Eucharist, simply means thanksgiving: thanksgiving for all God has done for us and especially in and through his Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible and Prayer book offer many resources for giving thanks to God, which is one of the four basic forms of prayer (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication – ACTS)....

The Re-Imagining of the Parable of the Talents

We are all familiar with the story of the master who summoned his slaves before going on a journey and entrusted them with his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, each according to his ability. “For the person who uses what he is given will be given more. But the person who is unfaithful, God will take those things away from them.” Let’s look at a story I found and perhaps better understand this parable....