Bob Cornner

Bob Cornner
Visting St. Andrew's Torrance

Monday, May 29, 2006

Andy Rooney on Memorial Day

"On this Memorial Day, we should certainly honor those who have died at war, but we should dedicate this day, not so much to their memory, but to the search for a way to end the idiocy of the wars that killed them."

Last night I watched Andy Rooney deliver one of the most powerful preachments I have heard from him. Yesterday morning, we prayed for those who had served faithfully and well in our military and gave thanks for those who had given their lives in defense of this country.

O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The line in this prayer that includes, "gladly accepts (freedom's) disciplines," seems to be where Andy Rooney wants us to go. I am posting his whole commentary below.

(CBS) The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney.
It's hard to know how much time to spend remembering. Memories are more often sad than happy.

The word "memorial" itself has a sad sound to it. Those to whom we are close die, and we want to remember them. We die, and we want to be remembered, but no amount of longing can bring anyone back, so there is a limit to the value of grief.

Memorial Day was originally dedicated to the soldiers who died in the Civil War. It was called Decoration Day because people went to cemeteries and put flowers on graves. Some still do.

When I was very young in Albany, my father took me to the parade and most of the men marching were veterans of World War I. There were still a few Civil War veterans in their 80s and 90s who could make it up State Street hill.

We think of this war now in Iraq as terrible because every day we get the news that three or seven more Americans have been killed.

In the Civil War, 365,000 Northern soldiers were killed, and 133,000 soldiers from the South died.

In World War I, 116,000 American soldiers were killed. In World War II, 407,000 died, 54,000 died in Korea, 58,000 in Vietnam.

More than a million Americans have died in our wars, each one much loved by someone.

Twelve of my classmates died in World War II, but my memory of them comes at unexpected times - not on Memorial Day - and I would like to see the effort we now put into this one day redirected.

There are men in every country on earth - mostly men - who spend full time devising new ways for us to kill each other. In the United States alone, we spend seven times as much on war as on education.

There's something wrong there. On this Memorial Day, we should certainly honor those who have died at war, but we should dedicate this day, not so much to their memory, but to the search for a way to end the idiocy of the wars that killed them.

Written By Andy Rooney © MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wanted: Witnesses to the Resurrection and Historical Honesty

There is an interesting phenomenon taking place today in the Protestant Christian church movement. I grew up near the Baptist Church in Manhattan Beach just west of the tennis courts and playing fields of Mira Costa. Everyone knew that if you went to that church you were a Baptist and you shared a long history as a church within the United States and subscribed to a certain set of beliefs, values, and expressed those beliefs and values in a particular style of worship. Today that church is called Journey of Faith.

More and more churches are following this path and ridding themselves of any mention of their denominational connection. The word on the street is that denominationalism is dead. The church that flies a denominational banner is stuck with the denominational baggage that may make it less interesting or desirable.

The many “non-denominational” churches have led the way for the denominational churches to ditch their heritage. By claiming to be non-denominational a church can avoid explaining an embarrassing or messy past. But to be denominational is to have a past that can inform the decisions of the present, and create the future.

Imagine dating someone and deciding to marry them without knowing anything about their past life. In fact, imagine how you might feel if this other person intentionally withheld information about their past in order to win you over? I understand that our past can sometimes make us seem less desirable to others. If we have said we stand for certain things, but our actions show that we do not live up to that standard, others may not want to be with us as friends or as a marriage partner.

I think it is important to claim who we are. Part of pre-marital instruction includes a process whereby both parties are requested to be open and honest about their pasts. To share such information is an act of faith between two people. Most of the time, the partners have already divulged their pasts to one another and they have made the decision to marry without intentional deception. Marriage is understood in the Episcopal Church as signifying the relationship between Christ and the church. Such a relationship does not include deception about who we are and what we have done in the past. God loves us and allows us to be honest about our histories.

In our Gospel reading for this Sunday, Jesus says good-bye to his disciples and prays to God for them. This is part of a very lengthy farewell address found in John’s Gospel. It is from this original bright and brilliant sending out of the first disciples that all Christian Churches begin their history together, but the ancient church also claimed the religious history of their parents, the people of Israel.

Had the church followed the advice of today’s religious marketing specialists, they would have cut themselves off from their Jewish roots. Despite the surging popular cry to not include the Old Testament and to view the God of the Jews to be the source of evil from which Jesus came to free us, the church refused to denounce her past and she maintained the honesty and integrity of scripture that seemed contradictory to the newer revelation brought by Jesus.

Jesus did not denounce his identity as a Jew, but embraced it. In so doing, he allows us to see the way God’s love and mercy have been at work in the world despite the mistakes and messiness of every generation seeking to do God’s will.

It would be easier as an individual church to simply forget all of the history from Jesus’ last day on the earth up until the moment we open the doors to the “Just Got Here Fresh from Jesus and Without a Past Community Church,” but to do so is to deny that God is the Lord of history and to practice a form of self-delusion that cuts us off from the practical and spiritual formation that comes with an honest acceptance of who we are and where we have been and who we have followed.

The Episcopal Church is far from perfect. It has a history filled with ignorance; policies and actions that lacked the love and grace of God; conflict when peace was God’s will and peace when God called us to conflict. But it is because we are more and more seeking to be honest about our past that we can seek to draw closer and closer to God as a community of faith.

Like the story of the man or woman who repents of a life history of selfishness, ignorance, and sin to live a life that seeks to be open, honesty, and of service to God and to others, the Episcopal Church is becoming more and more transparent. Our history, our past, has brought us to this day. We will no doubt continue to fail to always do God’s will, but I hope we continue to be honest and humble in admitting our mistakes.

At our recent vestry retreat, I gave members of our vestry a book called “Those Episkopols,” by Father Dennis Maynard. I would like to conclude this week’s Gospel Reflection with a passage taken from Dennis’ book:

“If you're looking for a church that has Morality but not moralism, the Bible but not bibliolatry, Law but not legalism, Emotion but not emotionalism, Piety but not pietism, Tradition but not sentimentalism, then you're probably in the right place.

If you're looking for a church where diversity is celebrated and not condemned, where thinking is stimulated and not discouraged, where righteous living is of greater value than right talking, where being loving is more important than being right, you're in the right place.

If you're looking for a church where Jesus is central, a church that is not afraid to ask difficult questions of Him and of itself, then you're in the right place.But one word of caution.

In such a church open to the ongoing revelations of God, people will constantly be required to look at old things in new ways. Having our thoughts stimulated, asking the difficult questions about belief and doubt, examining old forms, language and customs, and casting them in new and more lively ways, are hallmarks of the Episcopal and Anglican Tradition.”(

From Those Episkopols by Father Dennis Maynard)

I have not always agreed with the actions taken by the Episcopal Church or for that matter, any church that claims to follow Jesus. However, I have found in this church a willingness to be honest about how we have failed to commend the faith and love of God that is in us to others by our thoughts, words, and deeds. This willingness to admit when our actions have injured others is the real source of unity and strength in any church.

No change of name to deny who we are or how we have sinned against each otherin the past can serve as a foundation for our witness to the resurrection or usher in the Kingdom of Heaven. The only requirement for the two candidates under consideration to take Judas’ spot on the apostolic team was that they had to have been with Jesus from his baptism until his resurrection.

And in order for them to have been present during Jesus’ ministry means that they have to be included among those who participated in Jesus’ death. Today, our witness to the resurrection as a church must include our failure to follow Jesus throughout history. If we do not accept our corporate history of failure, we can not accept the authentic role as a witness to the resurrection.

As the Episcopal Church prepares to gather for her triennial meeting in June, I pray that those whom we have chosen to be our witnesses to the resurrection and delegates will also be those who have experienced and learned from our failures.

God’s Peace in Shared History,

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Kate's Rose

In thanksgiving for Kate's contemplative vision in which we see the beauty of God's creation. Thank you Kate. See the Gospel Reflection below.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kate Kious' Photo Awarded First Place

“All Things Bright and Beautiful…”

(To hear tune go to

Refrain: All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful: the Lord God made them all.

1. Each little flower that opens, each little bird that sings, God made their glowing colors, and made their tiny wings. (Refrain)

2. The purple-headed mountains, the river running by, the sunset and the morning that brightens up the sky. (Refrain)

3. The cold wind in the winter, the pleasant summer sun, the ripe fruits in the garden: God made them every one. (Refrain)

4. God gave us eyes to see them, and lips that we might tell how great is God Almighty, who has made all things well. (Refrain)

I was delighted to receive word this week that Kate Kious, one of our Christ Church members and one of our fine young acolytes, was awarded first place in a photography contest (see story photo above).

The story about the contest can be read at the conclusion of this page and the photograph Kate took can be seen this Sunday at Christ Church. I would like to take this opportunity to share a note I sent to Kate today in recognition of her wonderful news. RWC+

Dear Kate:

Your photograph of a rose in bloom is magnificent and awe-inspiring. Your gift to see the beauty that is all around us is truly a gift from God. You captured the goodness of creation in the contemplative lens of your camera and have now shared that moment of goodness with all who see it.When you were baptized, we prayed a special prayer over you just after the water was poured onto your head. The last line of the prayer is particularly appropriate to your gift of seeing beauty and goodness around you.

Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon this your servant the forgiveness of sin, and have raised her to the new life of grace. Sustain her, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give her an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.

On behalf of the Christ Church family, I am delighted to give thanks for you and for the many gifts of God that you so freely share with us.

God's Peace in the Eyes that See All Things Bright and Beautiful,

Kate’s gift of seeing beauty in creation reminds me of the story of creation, particularly the third day of creation described below:

Genesis 1: 9And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. 12The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

Notice the bolded line in which it says God saw the vegetation of the earth and declared it good. This is a very important message for us to hear as we wrestle with environmental issues, but also with our own spiritual health and growth within the human family. Last week I wrote that having the love of and for God allows us to love God “in all things and above all things.”

Kate’s young eyes saw in the beautiful rose she photographed what God beheld on the third day of creation. It is by the grace-filled gift of God that Kate is loving God “in all things and above all things.” The collect for this Sunday asks God to pour (not shake) this love that creates and declares the goodness of creation into our hearts in order for us to enjoy creation, but also so that we might see one another as God see us and love one as God loves each and every one of us (no exceptions).

The Gospel and Epistle attributed to John that we have been reading remind us that we can not say that we love God (whom we can not see) if we hate our brothers and sisters (whom we can see). Jesus prays that we abide in him and he in us. Living in God and having God live in us does not shut us off from the created world. In truth, it opens our eyes to see the goodness and love that creates, redeems, and makes all things holy.

Spend some time looking around the world in which we live. May God so pour his love into our hearts that we come more and more to love God “in all things and above all things.”


Press Release from California Federation of Women's Clubs:

The Neptunian Woman's Club of Manhattan Beach, Arts Chairman Sabine Birkenfeld presents Kate Kious, MBMS 6th Grader with the California Federation of Women's Clubs, Student Photography Contest First Place Award.Kate's photo of a rose in bloom was awarded 1st place photography grades 7-9, this image won the top award in the CFWC state competition.

Link to CFWC website

Friday, May 12, 2006

Did You See That? - Only with the eyes of love

Easter is about people seeing things that had never been seen before.

It raises a serious and important question about how we perceive things in our world. Can we really claim to see, and more broadly, experience everything that is going on around us at any given moment?

The collect (prayer) appointed for May 21 is an amazing invitation to expand our ability to see, hear, touch, taste and smell those good things that God has prepared for those who love the One who is the giver of all good things.

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Why are we so limited in our capacity to perceive what is going on around us and particularly to experience those good things God is giving to us?

This ancient collect offers us, not a step-by-step process to expand our sensory functions, but suggests rather strongly that what we need is a transfusion of a passionate love of and for God directly into our hearts.

This love of and for God needs to be so strong that it makes it possible for us to see God “in all things and above all things.” Perhaps you have experienced this through a deep friendship or marriage. When we love someone, we begin to wish that we could experience all of the beauty of creation with that person. In fact, sunsets and sunrises are particularly striking to us under the influence of love. We even begin to perceive our love for that special person in everything we say, hear, see, touch, taste and smell.

So it is, that a passionate love for the One who creates all that our senses can experience allows us to more deeply and completely prepare for receiving those things that are beyond our ability to even desire and therefore which remain invisible to us. Even in the visible world, we often fail to see the love of God in the simple things that are all around us. Our blindness is not a lack of vision, hearing, touching, tasting, or smelling, but a lack of love and gratitude for the One who showers us with the gifts that we do see.

What I have offered above are the beginnings of my preparation for the sermon I will offer on May 21. I would like for you to read the two readings with which I will be working and see if you find any connections between these readings and what I have offered above.

Please send me any of your thoughts, questions, observations, or other contributions that your engagement with these readings stir up in you. You can reach me at I truly believe that your participation in this process will result in some surprising and welcome insights for you and for me.

1 John 5:1-6

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples, "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another."


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Ego Eimi

Jesus’ claim: "I am the good shepherd..." that we will hear read this Sunday has deep meaning. "Ego Eimi" are the Greek words that translate, "I am." There is some history to these words that may make what Jesus was saying somewhat clearer when we gather for worship on Sunday.

When Moses was receiving his mission to go back into Egypt and free his people from the yoke of slavery, he asked the divine voice that spoke to him from the fire-filled bush for the name of the power that was sending him on such a dangerous and clearly doomed to fail mission. The voice told Moses to answer any question of who sent him with the following:

"Tell them, I am eternally, sent you."

The Greek translation (known as the Septuagint) of this Hebrew text uses "Ego Eimi." Ego is "I" and eimi translates eternally "existing."

"I am" is the name of Yaweh, the Hebrew God that Jesus affectionately called Daddy. In John's Gospel, Jesus uses the expression, I am, many times and in very interesting ways.

Jesus says:

"Ego eimi the bread of life." (6:35, 48)
I am eternally the bread of life.

"Ego eimi the living bread that came down from heaven." (6:51)
I am eternally the living bread that came down from heaven.

"Ego eimi the light of the world." (8:12)
I am eternally the light of the world.

"Ego eimi the gate for the sheep." (10:7)
I am eternally the gate for the sheep.

"Ego eimi the good shepherd" (10:11, 14)
I am eternally the good shepherd.

"Ego eimi the resurrection and the life." (11:20)
I am eternally the resurrection and the life.

"Ego eimi the way, and the truth, and the life." (14:6)
I am eternally the way, and the truth, and the life.

"Ego eimi the true vine." (15:1)
I am eternally the true vine.

Jesus’ words are provocative. They call up a deep memory within each one of us of our original connection to this God who is eternally present.
Rather than considering Jesus to be some sort of an ego maniac or a narcissistic personality type, we can hear in his words that he is in communion with the Eternal I.

Jesus declares that it is God who is always present in the bread that nourishes us through and through.

It is God who is always and everywhere the Eternal light in an otherwise dark world.

It is God who is the gate that leads into a community of love and compassion for sheep who will always need a sense of belonging.

It is God who is the good shepherd who leads us along the path that takes us away from where other not-so-loving shepherds might lead us.

It is God who is forgiveness and new life to those who are lost in resentments, bitterness, conflict, loneliness and despair.

It is God who is the true north for those who seek the truth about ourselves and the God who creates us.

And finally God is an eternal vine of joy that sustains the human branches connected to the Eternal I.

As you can see from these “I am” statements, Jesus’ claim is really a call for us to embrace a different understanding of “the one in whom we live, and move, and have our being.”

This past Wednesday, as we celebrated the Feast of St. James and St. Phillip at our 7:00 PM Holy Eucharist, we read from John’s Gospel about an encounter between Jesus and Phillip who asked Jesus to “show us the Father.” Jesus response was simple and to the point:

"Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

The Father for whom Phillip was looking was perhaps less loving, less forgiving, less merciful, less inclusive, less vital and unable to create life from nothing and to share life with the whole creation than the God whom Jesus called Father. Perhaps Phillip saw the leaders and institutions of his day as the mediators of God. Perhaps we feel that way as well.

To Phillip and to all of the disciples, past, present, and yet to come, this will be the Gospel message we share together:

“I am the good Shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

God’s Peace in the One who is Eternally for Us,