Bob Cornner

Bob Cornner
Visting St. Andrew's Torrance

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I watched The Kennedy Center Awards this evening with Madelyn. It was a great show with wonderful entertainers being honored. One of those entertainers was Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Brian was a local boy. He grew up in Hawthorne and attended Hawthorne High School. As I watched Brian stand to the applause of the gathered stars and celebrities, including President George Bush, I was overwhelmed with sadness. Brian has suffered from mental illness for many years. Brian seemed absent from the moment. He stood to acknowledge applause, but with very little expression on his face.

The man who wrote joyful and moving lyrics and music just stood stone faced as people rose to celebrate his career and the happy sounds to which America has danced for over 40 years. The final song performed by a boy's choir from England was called Love and Mercy. The words are simple and the hope of shalom, God's peace, is summed up in the line, "So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight."

For all of those who this night after Christmas Day are seeking a God of love and mercy, may you find him. Merry Christmas and God's Shalom.

Love And Mercy

Time: 2:52 Beach Bum Music BMI/Beachead Music, Inc. ASCAP
Producer: Brian Wilson/Russ Titelman
Engineered by Jim Linker and Rob Klohs at Dolphin Sound in Honolulu
Mixed by Hugh Padgham assisted by Bob Vogt at A & M Recording Studios
Brian Wilson/Eugene Landy

I was sittin' in a crummy movie with my hands on my chin
Oh the violence that occurs seems like we never win

Love and mercy that's what you need tonight
So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

I was lyin' in my room and the news came on T.V.
A lotta people out there hurtin' and it really scares me

Love and mercy that's what you need tonight
So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

I was standin' in a bar and watchin' all the people there
Oh the lonliness in this world well it's just not fair


Hey love and mercy that's what you need tonight
So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

Love and mercy that's what you need tonight
Love and mercy tonight

Love and mercy

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I love to take photographs around the church and neighborhood. I look for how light from the sun and moon paint many different visions of our common worship space and beyond. I look to the cast colors of our stained glass windows against the old dark wood of the sanctuary as a way of understanding how our lives can be seen very differently with a change in the colors and intensity of light and shadows. These photos are some of my favorites from this Christmas. I have included a photo of the brightly lit Pringle home with the moon shining brightly above it.

The Chapel Service leaders line up for the 5:00 PM Christmas Eve Family Service. All of the leaders did an outstanding job of processing the cross, Gospel, Jesus icon, and special Christmas banners and reading the lessons, prayers, passing the chalice.

Father Bill leads the Chapel leaders in a prayer before the service.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Revenge as Restorative Forgiveness

NOTE: The following reflection was written in a Pasadena book store this afternoon.

This week's sermon (Advent IIIA), I hope to reflect on the complete reversal of our ideas about revenge. I have chosen not to change words such as vengence and revenge, because such words are about getting back to the beginning of things. Getting even does not require that another person has to suffer to make the previously injured person whole again.


The power of God that we pray may be stirred up is expressed in terms of mercy rather than divine fire power. If truth be told, and I think it has been, God could blow this little experiment of his to smithereens.

God could clearly direct his heavenly thunderbolts and wrath towards those he/she deemed wicked, evil, or unclean. So, a partial elimination of such human defectives might give those of us who survive a sense that God has answered our prayers, complaints, and calls for justice and peace.

But, this does not seem to be the sort of power play that most Christians either ask for or receive. We have modified our prayers over time. We have come to believe that our human dilemma can not finally be solved with violence and destruction of our enemies.

Our beliefs have been modified from the old primitive religion of sacred violence to a very risky and precarious dependence upon a God whose ways are very different from ours. We seek a world, a culture, a city whose way of creating and maintaining peace and unity is achieved without violence on behalf of the good against the evil and all in the name of god.

And so we pray for God to stir up his power, his true and everlasting power which is love applied as mercy (loving kindness). We admit that we, not some other person, nation, or race are “sorely hindered by our sins.” It is we who admit our separation, our exclusiveness as sin.

It is we, who beg God for his power to be stirred up in us and among us so that we might “see, hear, and move” onto a different, divine, and holy highway. Of course, the old primitive sacred still holds out promise of peace, unity, and concord, so long as we are willing to sacrifice someone else, not of our group.

John the Baptist was a great prophet. Jesus says he was the greatest born of woman. But John was still tied to this hold religion of vengeance spoken of by Isaiah and the psalmists, and even, Jesus’ mother, Mary.

It was left to Jesus to receive the nod from the prophet, John, as the next step that God took towards us. John says he baptized with water, but the Christ would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.

In a remarkable turn, Jesus offers salvation of the whole creation rather than just a select few. The very ones the poor have seen as their enemy and oppressors are going to be turned into the ones who are the bringers of the good news to the poor. Of course, the poor are messengers of the good news too. Shepherds and kings make their way into the kingdom together.

The ones who have been blind to God’s presence in their enemies, their victims, the least of Jesus’ brothers and sisters, will be converted to those who can finally see the face of God in those they have hated and treated with contempt.

Vengeance from God is restorative forgiveness and grace which turns the hearts of the blind, deaf, and paralyzed—those of us who are “sorely hindered by our sins.” Vengeance is, after all, an attempt to get even, to even the score. As human beings seek to gain vengeance, they set off yet another cycle of revenge.

God’s vengeance is a leveling, a getting us all even through the forgiveness that is eye-opening, ear opening, and a freedom of movement that brings us together. Isaiah sings of the valleys being exalted and the mountains being brought low as a way of speaking of God’s restorative justice coming into the world.

We know the difference between God’s vengeance of restorative forgiveness and our human cycles of vengeance. We can feel and know the difference because we have been exposed to the Gospel and it is changing our human DNA from a dream, a vision of peace and unity without violence to a reality.

God has stirred up his power among us. AMEN!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Living in the Hope

Christmas 2007

Dear Christ Church Family:

Preparing for the coming of Jesus is a yearly reminder that God is with us at every moment of our lives, from our birth to our death. Are we people of hope or have we become disillusioned because of the daily events that seem to deny any possibility that God exists or cares what happens to us?

After sixty-one years of Advent waiting and preparing for the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, I remain full of hope.

This Christmas is like the first Christmas to me. I sometimes feel like one of those shepherds who on a cold and dark winter night heard the great news that God will always be with us and bring in a time of peace the likes of which the world has never seen. Week after week, throughout the year we hear the stories from scripture that offered promise and hope to the people of Israel. They struggled with what it meant to choose a God who is not a threatening and vengeful creature of human religion.

It was not easy to give up the human heresy that God favors one group of his children over another group. It was not easy to accept that to be a blessing to the whole world meant being a servant to the nations rather than a master over them. While the rulers, kings, and emperors of Rome and all other empires use violence to build their wealth and power and to maintain peace and order, Jesus offers us the path of peace that takes us down a different way of being human beings. While Augustus Caesar claimed to be the Son of God and Savior of the world, the Gospels claimed those titles for Jesus.

My hope comes from a growing intimacy with Jesus that we share in our common worship. My hope comes from a decision of faith that can finally only claim for Jesus, our brother and servant, the titles of Son of God, Messiah, and Savior of the world. It is Jesus, born to lead us through humble and gentle love that will make the ways of Caesar and all human substitutions for the true God finally a memory of the past.

Our hope will never be realized through the unjust and unforgiving ethics of the Caesars of our world. Power that does not embrace all of the children of the world in love is counterfeit. Jesus is Israel's gift to us so that we too might come to know God's infinite love and humble presence among us. The only true God is the one who claims us all as children. Will we claim God as the One in whom we trust?

Come to the manger. Look at the child born for us. Celebrate with the shepherds and the angels of heaven the coming of the servant king. I hope you will find time in the busyness of this season to make the life-giving journey of faith to the manger of God. The manger is the gate that leads into the Kingdom of Heaven.

God’s Peace and Love,



Christmas Eve Services

Family Holy Eucharist at 5:00 PM
Choral Holy Eucharist at 10:00 PM

Christmas Day Service

Holy Eucharist (said) at 10:00 AM