Bob Cornner

Bob Cornner
Visting St. Andrew's Torrance

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Desperate Circumstance & Desperate People

Have you ever felt like your world was tumbling down around you?

Perhaps the ways we normally follow no longer provide us with the solutions and help we desperately need. Sometimes desperate circumstances make us feel that we are trapped between no win choices. When “what worked before don’t work no more” we may be very close to discovering the liberating presence of God in the desperate circumstances of our lives.

In our Gospel reading for this Sunday, a religious leader name Jairus comes to Jesus in a desperate attempt to save his 12 year old daughter from dying. Jesus goes with Jairus with the intention of healing the little girl. Since Jesus had been rejected in several synagogues due to what seemed to be unorthodox teachings and actions, Jairus must have truly seen Jesus as his last possible option to save his daughter’s life.

Jesus had stirred up a following of people for whom his healings, teachings, and acts of inviting the previously uninvited to God’s community and table revealed a new vision of God that they had not previously experienced. Religion for those who flocked to Jesus was about condemnation and exclusion. In fact Webster's Collegiate Dictionary traces the word for religion back to an old Latin word “religio” meaning "taboo or restraint." A deeper study discovers that the word comes from the two words “re” and “ligare.” “Re” is a prefix meaning "return," and “ligare” means "to bind;" in other words, "return to bondage.

Jesus came to offer release and redemption to people, not bondage to humanly contrived standards that create divisions and condemnations of others. St. Paul, in writing to the Galatians, spoke of this return to bondage. These human systems exclude the grace of God and so he wrote: "O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you! Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?"

This is a question that every generation of Christians must answer. Have we created standards that condemn others while binding us together in a covenant of self-satisfaction and self-righteousness that has no need for God’s love and grace?

Jesus attracted people by offering them this new way of understanding and experiencing God. This did not instantly change the crowd into a loving and forgiving community of faith and life, but it did create a curiosity and a willingness to follow Jesus to see what he would do next.

And so, it is out of this crowd that the woman emerges to reach for her last chance of being restored to the living. The taboo of blood that made this woman unclean and unworthy of being with others or to worship in community may seem odd to us today, but such taboos worked to create social cohesion and unity. Scripture was called upon to sometimes explain, but most often to insist upon these taboos.

Leviticus and other parts of Scripture contain many such taboos that are still often used to create two distinct categories of human beings: the clean and the unclean.

The crowd that surged around Jesus as he made his way to Jairus’ home on a mission to heal his daughter was made up of people who had accepted the bondage and burden of religion, but perhaps hoped for something better.

Along the way, a woman who had suffered for twelve years from what is called a continual flow of blood approached Jesus.This must have been quite a scene. By the culture and religion of the day, the woman was considered unclean due to the blood that flowed from her body. Anything she touched was also declared unclean.

She had spent all of her money seeking medical care that did not heal her, but instead left her in abject poverty. Her status as unclean meant that she was not welcome in the religious or secular community. I have wondered if her husband had divorced her because of her condition. She was truly cut off from the land of the living.

Jesus, surrounded by the large crowd, did not see the woman, but as soon as she touched the hem of his robe, he asked who had touched him. He sensed that power had flowed out of him and into someone who had reached up to touch him.

I have experienced such desperate circumstances many times in my life and have felt that horrible sense of isolation.When these times have come my way, I find that the main source of my pain and anguish comes from feeling cut off from others. Those of you have been through such times know from experience that even when you know that there are many people praying for you and wanting to be there for you, the space in which you live seems terribly lonely.

Imagine then how this woman must have felt. Jesus on the way to heal discovers a woman of such faith that she is willing to risk rejection from the last best chance she has for not being alone or feeling abandoned by God. Her faith is about trusting that the Gospel that Jesus spoke was truth. God did love her and did not see her as unclean.

Her faith was confirmed as she touched the hem of Jesus’ robe and she experienced deep within her body the touch of God.Once Jesus praised this woman’s faith as the source of her healing, he continued on with Jairus.

Can you imagine what Jairus must have been thinking and feeling as Jesus was delayed by this woman? His worst fears came true as he and Jesus approached his home. The crowd announced that his little girl was dead. Jesus again refused to accept the taboo of touching a dead or diseased body which the law said would make him unclean.

He went into the little girl’s room even as the crowd laughed at his decision to “wake her up.”He took the little girl’s hand and said: “Talitha cumi,” which means “Little girl, I say arise.” The twelve year old immediately came back to life and Jesus told her family to give her something to eat.

Here are some questions I have been asking myself as I have meditated on this week’s Gospel reading:

1. I wonder how Jairus responded to those who might have wanted him to speak against Jesus.

2. Would Jairus have invited the woman who was healed by touching Jesus’ hem to come to his home and celebrate what Jesus had done for them both?

3. When the woman heard Jesus say: “Daughter, your faith has made you well,” was she accepted by her old friends and neighbors? What became of this woman?

4. In what ways do we continue to declare people clean and unclean? Do you think God is the source of our perceptions and the authority for maintaining such human religions?

5. Are illnesses like the one the woman suffered and death like that which claimed the little girl’s life, God’s way of punishing us (individually or corporately)?

6. Read the joke delivered by Jay Leno and see how you react to the beliefs that make this joke funny:

With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?


I invite you to visit the blog for the Christ Church Bible Study of Mark's Gospel found athttp://gospelofmarkatchristrb.blogspot.com/ . The most recent post there is about Archbishop Desmond Tutu's reaction to the election of our new Presiding Bishop and his view on the particular gift of the Anglican Communion.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

SUMMARY OF GENERAL CONVENTION 2006

The following is a summary of major actions taken at the Episcopal Church’s 75th General Convention in Columbus, Ohio. Because of their significance for inter-Anglican relations, resolutions related to our response to the Windsor Report are reproduced here in their entirety. Where indicated, resolution numbers are given in brackets.


General Business

• Elected Bishop of Nevada Katharine Jefferts Schori as the 26th Presiding Bishop; and elected Vice President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson, of Michigan, as President of the House of Deputies.
• Added to Lesser Feasts and Fasts dates honoring Philander Chase, William Temple, Deaconess Harriet Bedell, social reformer Vida Scudder, educator and African American spokesperson Anna Julia Cooper, educator and juvenile justice reformer, Frances Joseph-Gaudet, Thurgood Marshall, Oscar Romero, Joan of Arc, James Holly, Tikon, Florence Li Tim Oi, the Martyrs of Sudan, and remembering victims of genocide.
• Established closer ties with the United Methodist Church, allowing for joint celebrations of the Eucharist.
• Authorized trial use of new liturgies for rites of passages, such as coming of age; and approved the Revised Common Lectionary as the official lectionary, replacing the current BCP lectionary.
• Confirmed that communion is limited to those baptized in the name of the Trinity; affirmed the “authority of the triune God, exercised through Scripture.”
• Sent the proposed changes to Title IV (disciplinary canons) back to a committee, made several changes to the canons affecting bishops, defined Province IX, created a more flexible timeline for those seeking ordination, and changed how clergy are received from other denominations.
• Confirmed the elections of bishops in Albany, Texas, West Texas, Eastern Michigan, California, and Northern California.
• Apologized for the Church’s complicity and participation in slavery; authorized Commissions on Racism to oversee research in every diocese to identify the ways the Church was complicit; and requested a report to the next General Convention on how amends could be made.
• Restructured the standing committees of the church by standardizing their size and composition, and endorsed the Anglican Consultative Council’s resolution that women should have equal representation in all the Councils of the Church.
• Endorsed the Millennium Development Goals by supporting the ONE campaign, which sets a goal of raising spending to 1% of all budgets and 1% additional funds in the federal budget for Millennium Development efforts; supported HIV/AIDS awareness efforts; affirmed concern about global warming and defined it as a spiritual issue; affirmed the right of workers to form and join unions; allocated funds to the Episcopal Network for Economic Justice for congregational training; and set principles for the just treatment of all immigrants.
• Increased from 10 to 15 the number of placements in the Young Adult Service Corps; encouraged dioceses to grant campus ministries mission congregation status; and provided $65,000 for a camp for children of prisoners.
• Directed General Convention to provide childcare for its 2009 meeting.
• Opposed efforts to criminalize homosexuality, to limit civil rights of homosexuals, and went on record as opposing efforts to amend state and federal constitutions to pass so-called “marriage amendments” or limit civil unions; and reiterated the Church position that gays and lesbians are “children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.”
———————
• Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention affirm that no resolution of the General Convention is intended to affect either the historic separate and independent status of the churches of the Anglican Communion or the legal identity of The Episcopal Church. [B032]
• Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report’s invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it further
Resolved, that this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion. [B 033]
• Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church reaffirm the abiding commitment of The Episcopal Church to the fellowship of churches that constitute the Anglican Communion and seek to live into the highest degree of communion possible; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm that The Episcopal Church is in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention join with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the primates, and the Anglican Consultative Council in making a commitment to the vision of interdependent life in Christ, characterized by forbearance, trust, and respect, and commend the Windsor Report and process as a means of deepening our understanding of that commitment; and be it further
Resolved, That as an expression of interdependence, the Presiding offices of both Houses work in partnership with the churches of the Anglican Communion to explore ways by which there might be inter-Anglican consultation and participation on Standing Commissions of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. [A159]
• Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, mindful of “the repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ” (Windsor Report, paragraph 134), express its regret for straining the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003 and the consequences which followed; offer its sincerest apology to those within our Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion; and ask forgiveness as we seek to live into deeper levels of communion one with another. [A160]
• Resolved, that the House of Bishops concurring, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church affirm the centrality of effective and appropriate pastoral care for all members of this church and all who come seeking the aid of this church; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention commit the Episcopal Church to the ongoing engagement of and sensitive response to the request and need of all the people of God – in particular, but not exclusively, those who agree and those who disagree with the actions of this body, those who feel isolated thereby, and gay and lesbian persons within and without this Church; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention recognize the agonizing position of those who do not feel able to receive appropriate pastoral care from their own bishops, and urges the members of the House of Bishops to seek the highest degree of communion and reconciliation within their own dioceses, using when requested in good faith the Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) process detailed in the March 2004 statement of the House of Bishops, “Caring for All the Churches”; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention urge continued maintenance of historic diocesan boundaries, the authority of the diocesan bishop, and respect for the historical relationships of the separate and autonomous Provinces of the Anglican Communion. [A163]
• Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church commend the Windsor Report “as offering a way forward for the mutual life of our Communion” (Primates’ Communiqué), and as an essential and substantive contribution to the process of living into deeper levels of communion and interdependence across the Anglican Communion; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention commit The Episcopal Church to the ongoing “Windsor Process,” a process of discernment as to the nature and unity of the Church, as we pursue a common life of dialogue, listening, and growth, formed and informed by the bonds of communion we share ; and urge all members of this church to commit themselves to the call of greater communion and interdependent life; and be it further
Resolved, that the 75th General Convention commend the “listening process” as recommended in the Windsor Report, “so that greater common understanding might be obtained on the underlying issue of same gender relationships” (Windsor Report, 135), and be it further
Resolved, that the 75th General Convention gratefully acknowledge the practical steps taken by the Anglican Communion Office to begin a formal “listening process” across the Communion, and be it further
Resolved, that the 75th General Convention commit this church to participating fully and openly in this “listening process,” both at the local level and with the rest of the Communion (ACC 13, Resolution 12) , and be it further
Resolved, that a staff person at The Episcopal Church Center be identified to forward this listening process in coordination with the cognate person for the Communion and with our Communion partners. [A165]
• Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, as a demonstration of our commitment to mutual responsibility and interdependence in the Anglican Communion, support the process of the development of an Anglican Covenant that underscores our unity in faith, order, and common life in the service of God’s mission; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention direct the International Concerns Standing Committee of the Executive Council and the Episcopal Church’s members of the Anglican Consultative Council to follow the development processes of an Anglican Covenant in the Communion, and report regularly to the Executive Council as well as to the 76th General Convention; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention report these actions supporting the Anglican Covenant development process, noting such missiological and theological resources as the Standing Commission on World Mission and the House of Bishops’ Theology Committee to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates, and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion; and that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church report the same to the Primates of the churches of the Anglican Communion. [A166]

Monday, June 26, 2006

Riding with Mary


Chris Haston lives in the Christ Church neighborhood and is a friend of our parish. He is a gifted photographer, a kind and generous person, and a theologian who writes in light.

For those who have seen the photographs that Chris took in the Christ Church sanctuary (they are hung in the narthex and side chapel prayer area) and who would like to see more of Chris' work, here is your opportunity. The show is called, "Riding with Mary."

The photograph of Mary with Los Angeles' busy streets and brightly lit buildings behind her is a powerful image of the mystery of God's continuing love and presence in the heart of the city.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Deep Waters of Our Baptism and The Wind of the Holy Spirit: Sail on Sailors

What do you do when the water fills your boat and more wind driven water surrounds you? The picture above shows Jesus asleep or just waking up to the desperate cries of his disciples. The water, boat, and human beings all seem to swirl together in this picture. The past two weeks I have tried to offer reflections on this powerful scene taken from Mark’s Gospel.

Today I would like to consider two symbols of our Christian faith: wind and water. The wind that so powerfully swept down upon the lake and sent cascading wave upon wave into the small boat occupied by the disciples captures the very nature of Christian discipleship into which we are baptized.

Seldom have we, as individuals, either been called or actually answered a call to venture into unknown and hostile lands to offer the people there a singular message of God’s grace, love, and forgiveness. But I wonder sometimes if we have not responded to this call as a church and individuals in smaller, but profound ways.

As the Episcopal Church ends its General Convention in Columbus, Ohio, we can see the direction of the church over the next three years by simply looking at the adopted budget and the corresponding resolutions. But more profoundly, we can see that something new has happened in the election of the first woman to serve as a primate of any province in the Anglican Communion world wide.

Mark’s Gospel is very clear in describing Jesus’ mission whereby he called everyone into the gracious future of God. This mission took Jesus beyond the very limited vision bound by tradition and under girded by fear.

The story of the wind and waves threatening the disciples in the boat as they set out for Gentile territory reminds us that failing to be good disciples is costly. The story reminds us that we are all too often driven by fear to remain silent in the face of injustice and oppression and violence. We most often prefer not to make the journey across the lake to those Jesus loves and who he expects us to call brothers and sisters. Sometimes going out on the limb to stand with those whom others have labeled unclean and evil is fraught with difficulties, but the real threat to our boat is not the wind and waves, but the fear that would keep us on our own side of the lake.

The Episcopal Church meeting in convention has not invented anything new, as some people have suggested and charged. The church has sought to be faithful in following where our Lord and Savior leads. Injustice and unforgiveness that target groups of people and label them as mistakes because they are different is the human tradition from which Jesus offers us all redemption and release. (Listen to the tune and read the words to the hymn O Sion Haste found at the following link http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/z/ozionhas.htm.)

To be set free from these old ways can be frightening, but it is the only path to human freedom. Jesus said: I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.

In fact, the disciples experienced the wind of the Holy Spirit and the waves of water as the problem. The real problem was their fear of doing something new; of following Jesus into enemy territory to offer the love and gifts of God. I sometimes wonder if the wind of the Holy Spirit was with them and pushing them toward Gentile territory when they decided to turn their little boat around.

The wind was not out to kill them, but to empower them and to take them to those to whom Jesus would have them go. It was their decision not to follow Jesus in this new act of creation that made them cry out and question Jesus’ care for them.

There are many who are predicting dire consequences for the Episcopal Church and even suggesting that God will be against us as we “seek and serve Christ in all people.” This is what we promised to do in our baptismal vows and I have a deep and abiding faith in God and in the mission of Jesus Christ that we are called to do. I believe the wind will be with us and the waves will gently and steadily move us toward those whom God has called us to embrace as brothers and sisters. (Listen to the tune and read the words to Lead Us, Heavenly Father found at http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/l/e/leadushf.htm)

If the wind is high and the surf is up, it will provide us with a faster passage to God’s Kingdom that lies on the other side of our fears and in the face of Jesus that we will see in the faces of those to whom we are sent.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Church as Ship

Gospel Reflection June 18, 2006

Click on this website to hear the music and see the lyrics to Eternal Father, Strong to Save which is also called The Navy Hymn. http://www.navy.mil/palib/questions/eternal.html. Notice how the lyrics underscore the connection between the God of creation and the God of the Covenant.

Now read the following prayer taken from The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer 1892 (the year Christ Church came into existence).

THOU O Lord, who stillest the raging of the sea, hear; hear us, and save us, that we perish not.
O blessed Saviour, who didst save thy disciples ready to perish in a storm, hear us, and save us, we beseech thee.

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

O Lord, hear us.
O Christ, hear us.


God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, have mercy upon us,
save us now and evermore. Amen.

This prayer reflects a time when sea travel was a much more common mode of transportation (see an artists rendering of the sinking of the Titanic). It also suggests the great perils of such travel and reminds us of the passage from the Gospel of Mark that is quoted in last week’s Gospel Reflection contained below. This is the Gospel that will be read on June 25th.

The boat in which Jesus and his disciples were traveling was about 27 feet long, 3 1/2 feet deep about 7 ½ feet wide. The Sea of Galilee sits at the bottom of some very tall mountains and often experiences terrifying winds that blow down upon the lake at incredible speeds. It is estimated that waves on this body of water could reach 30 feet in height when the winds drive down the surrounding canyons. If a wave is larger than a boat is long, the ship will be turned over backwards and the sailors would be thrown into the wild and dangerous water.

This was truly a frightening and life-threatening time in the lives of the disciples. Their skills as fishermen were worthless when such wind and waves threatened. Their cry to Jesus who was asleep in the boat seems like a strange juxtaposition of emotional states. Jesus is calm to the point of sleep while the disciples are terrified and begging him to save them. They ask if he cares about them. This question suggests that if Jesus did care about his disciples, he would not be asleep, but fully awake and seeking to save them.

Prayer is sometimes simply crying out to God when our little boats seem about to be swamped by the enormous difficulties that seem so threatening to our very existence. At times such as these, it may appear that Jesus is asleep when we need him the most and our conclusion may be the same as the disciples: doesn’t Jesus or God care that we are perishing?

The hymn and the prayer above seek to remind God of his saving acts in the past as a way of persuading him to act on our behalf in the precarious times that sometimes come our way in the present. It is as if we are saying: see here God, you did this in the past to save the disciples, now do the same for us, your humble servants. Are we telling God to wake up?

In our Gospel passage Jesus and his disciples are crossing from the Jewish side of the Lake of Galilee to the Gentile side. There are other boats on the lake when the storm hits, but only the distress of this boat is reported in the gospel passage. The Jewish mission to the Gentiles was not an altogether popular effort by the early church. The story tells us that it is the human perspective (anti-Gentile) that is threatened by the inclusive message of the Gospel and creates the tempests that threaten our human institutions. Jesus sleeps while the disciples wrestle with the question of whether to include the Gentiles in the church.

Today, as the General Convention of the Episcopal Church wrestles with the question of who should be allowed into the church, we do well to remember that the tempest we face as a church may be the direct result of being true to the powerful and loving Gospel of Christ that commands us to cross frightening and threatening seas as we follow our Lord. He sleeps not because he does not care, but because he wants us to care with the same passion and mercy that he showed upon the cross for all of his creation.

Friday, June 09, 2006

God Speed, Dick and Delberta


It was with sadness that we said good-bye to Dick and Delberta Nemitz this month. Dick and Delberta were regular members of our 8:00 AM service and usually the first ones to arrive on Sundays. Delberta got the coffee started and Dick made sure all of the candles in the church were fit to burn. Dick served on the vestry and was responsible for the grounds and buildings. He helped with the renovation of the sanctuary; the re-location of the office; multiple repairs that saved the parish a lot of money; and with Delberta, helped to trim back the many beautiful plants and flowers on the grounds. We wish Dick and Delberta the best in their New Mexico home and church.


Please continue reading the post below for this week's Gospel Reflection.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sleeping Through the Storm

Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you toss and turn, count sheep, think warm and fuzzy thoughts in order to quell the restlessness that prevents you from enjoying a deep and restorative night of sabbath? Or, do you sleep to escape from the worries and fears that surround you? Mark's Gospel tells of a time when Jesus and his disciples were in a boat headed across a large sea. Jesus falls into a deep sleep. He slept so deeply, in fact, that a sudden change in weather did not wake him up. Here is the text that will be read on June 25th:

Mark 4:35-41
When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"

Around the small fishing boat a storm raged. High winds and waves threatened to destroy the boat and all of its occupants. Disaster seemed imminent, but Jesus slept. The disciples responded by trying to wake Jesus up. Their fear is a consistent note that plays throughout their lives. It will surface again and again in their relationship with Jesus and one another and will result in their denial and abandonment of Jesus in his final days.

The storm seemed to be the externalized version of the fear that plagued them. It was chaotic, out of control, threatening, impersonal at best, God's vengeful response to their lives at worst, but Jesus slept. It is interesting to note that when Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to stay awake and watch with him on the night of his arrest, their only response was to sleep. Jesus sought their presence and companionship as he struggled through that dark night, but they slept. Here is the passage from Mark that describes that night in the garden.

Mark 14:26-42
26 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, "You will all become deserters; for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee." 29 Peter said to him, "Even though all become deserters, I will not." 30 Jesus said to him, "Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times." 31 But he said vehemently, "Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you." And all of them said the same.32 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." 33 He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34 And he said to them, "I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake." 35 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 He said, "Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want." 37 He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? 38 Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. 41 He came a third time and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand."


Next week we will continue to explore this story, but I would invite you to read these two passages from Mark over and over again. Read what comes before them and what follows them.

Consider the Following Questions

Have you ever fallen asleep in the midst of fear?

Have others you counted on for support fallen asleep when you needed them?

Does God seem to be asleep when we need him the most?

Do we fall asleep when we need to be awake to what is going on in our lives?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The First Book of Common Prayer Celebrated

The Lessons Appointed for Use on the Feast of
The First Book of Common Prayer

Observed on a weekday following the Day of Pentecost
I have posted below the lessons which will be used on Wednesday, June 7, 2006, to commemorate the first Book of Common Prayer. This first edition marked the beginning of a major change in the way laity and clergy prayed together and the spirit of that first book continues to this day throughout the Anglican Communion of which we are a small part in the United States. If you would like to read a very good article on the BCP 1549, please go to http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1549/BCP_1549.htm. I will have copies of this article at the time of our Eucharist on Wednesday or can make a copy available to those who would like one. Bob+

Preface of Pentecost

Almighty and everliving God, whose servant Thomas Cranmer, with others, restored the language of the people in the prayers of your Church: Make us always thankful for this heritage; and help us so to pray in the Spirit and with the understanding, that we may worthily magnify your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Acts 2:38-42
Peter said to the crowd, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him." And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Psalm 96 or 96:1-9 Page 725, BCP
Cantate Domino
1
Sing to the LORD a new song; *sing to the LORD, all the whole earth.
2
Sing to the LORD and bless his Name; *proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.

3
Declare his glory among the nations *and his wonders among all peoples.
4
For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; *he is more to be feared than all gods.
5
As for all the gods of the nations, they are but idols; *but it is the LORD who made the heavens.
6
Oh, the majesty and magnificence of his presence! *Oh, the power and the splendor of his sanctuary!
7
Ascribe to the LORD, you families of the peoples; *ascribe to the LORD honor and power.
8
Ascribe to the LORD the honor due his Name; *bring offerings and come into his courts.
9
Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness; *let the whole earth tremble before him.
John 4:21-24
Jesus said to the woman at the well, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."


The First Book of Common Prayer

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Larry H. Parker May Fight for You, but….

Television advertisements for attorneys “who fight for you” always remind me that our legal system is adversarial. Someone will win and someone will lose. People generally do not go to court unless they hope for justice and financial compensation for themselves. Vindication is about winning and someone else losing. In our world system, where justice usually has a price tag, we are told that there are only winners or losers.

In the divine economy of justice, however, God intends for all of his children to receive justice without death or punishment, save the one victim we know as Jesus. Larry H. Parker's skills as an attorney would not be needed in God's economy. For that reason, the Holy Spirit is referred to as our lawyer for the defense (the Advocate).

This Sunday we will celebrate the feast of Pentecost. Some have called this special day, the birthday of the church. This day is important because in our celebration we will give thanks for the coming of the Holy Spirit as our Advocate. The Nicene Creed describes the church's understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit in these words:

“We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.”


The Holy Spirit, as Advocate, is not like any other attorney and she does not work within the human legal system. The Holy Spirit defends us against ourselves, our own critical and condemning judge. As the creed says, the Holy Spirit is “the giver of life” to all creation. The Holy Spirit has a mission of bringing us life, not death; forgiveness, not despondent guilt and shame; a vision of God that is liberating, not enslaving. In short, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the mutual love and life that Jesus shares with his Father.

The Holy Spirit, as Advocate, will stand by our side and defend us against all charges made against us, whether these charges are true or false. In this defense, the Holy Spirit seeks justice, but does not demand that one person die or be punished to make things right. Rather, God seeks that deeper justice and truth in which retributive justice is replaced by life changing justice molded by the scarred hands of mercy.

The Holy Spirit, simply and universally, makes the truth of God as Advocate for each and every human being, active and irreversible in history. This advocacy on our behalf was expressed throughout Jesus’ life and ministry. As one of our prayers says: "He stretched out his arms of love on the hard wood of the cross." He reached out to all of us living under human judgment: past, present, and future. Some of us accept his gracious love. Some of us will refuse him as true God. But Jesus continues to be our Advocate having accomplished God’s justice on the cross.

From the cross, the actions taken against Jesus by the human system of justice were judged wrong. From the cross, the wind of the Holy Spirit took Jesus’ words: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” and spread them into every moment and particle of creation. Yes, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son and comes to each of us as gift, as life, as love, and as mercy. God’s advocacy for us began before the first day of creation; continued throughout the history of Israel and Israel’s prophets; took flesh and blood in Jesus; and even now is in the air we breathe.

God’s Peace in the Advocate,

Bob