Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury Nails It!

The Second Presidential Address of the Archbishop of Canturbury at the Lambeth Conference:

He nails this on the head - hard words for all, not just some, and he shows he gets it. I'm not thrilled with the language of authority and covenant, but his articulation of the issues for both "sides" is spot on. I hope the conferees will get it as well - RFSJ

(photo courtesy ACNS/Gunn)

29 July 2008

'What is Lambeth '08 going to say?' is the question looming larger all the time as this final week unfolds. But before trying out any thoughts on that, I want to touch on the prior question, a question that could be expressed as 'Where is Lambeth '08 going to speak from?'. I believe if we can answer that adequately, we shall have laid some firm foundations for whatever content there will be.

And the answer, I hope, is that we speak from the centre. I don't mean speaking from the middle point between two extremes — that just creates another sort of political alignment. I mean that we should try to speak from the heart of our identity as Anglicans; and ultimately from that deepest centre which is our awareness of living in and as the Body of Christ.

We are here at all, surely, because we believe there is an Anglican identity and that it's worth investing our time and energy in it. I hope that some of the experience of this Conference will have reinforced that sense. And I hope too that we all acknowledge that the only responsible and Christian way of going on engaging with those who aren't here is by speaking from that centre in Jesus Christ where we all see our lives held and focused.

And, as I suggested in my opening address, speaking from the centre requires habits and practices and disciplines that make some demands upon everyone — not because something alien is being imposed, but because we know we shall only keep ourselves focused on the centre by attention and respect for each other — checking the natural instinct on all sides to cling to one dimension of the truth revealed. I spoke about council and covenant as the shape of the way forward as I see it. And by this I meant, first, that we needed a bit more of a structure in our international affairs to be able to give clear guidance on what would and would not be a grave and lasting divisive course of action by a local church. While at the moment the focus of this sort of question is sexual ethics, it could just as well be pressure for a new baptismal formula or the abandonment of formal reference to the Nicene Creed in a local church's formulations; it could be a degree of variance in sacramental practice — about the elements of the Eucharist or lay presidency; it could be the regular incorporation into liturgy of non-Scriptural or even non-Christian material.

Some of these questions have a pretty clear answer, but others are open for a little more discussion; and it seems obvious that a body which commands real confidence and whose authority is recognised could help us greatly. But the key points are confidence and authority. If we do develop such a capacity in our structures, we need as a Communion to agree what sort of weight its decisions will have; hence, again, the desirability of a covenantal agreement.

Some have expressed unhappiness about the 'legalism' implied in a covenant. But we should be clear that good law is about guaranteeing consistence and fairness in a community; and also that in a community like the Anglican family, it can only work when there is free acceptance. Properly understood, a covenant is an expression of mutual generosity — indeed, 'generous love', to borrow the title of the excellent document on Inter-Faith issues which was discussed yesterday. And we might recall that powerful formulation from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks — 'Covenant is the redemption of solitude'.

Mutual generosity : part of what this means is finding out what the other person or group really means and really needs. The process of this last ten days has been designed to help us to find out something of this — so that when we do address divisive issues, we have created enough of a community for an intelligent generosity to be born. It is by no means a full agreement, but it will, I hope, have strengthened the sense that we have at least a common language, born out of the conviction that Jesus Christ remains the one unique centre.

And within that conviction, what has been heard? I want now to engage in what might be a rather presumptuous exercise — and certainly feels like a risky one. I want to imagine what people on different sides of our most painful current debate hope others have heard or are beginning to hear in our time together. I want to imagine what the main messages would be, within an atmosphere of patience and charity, from those in our Communion who hold to a clear and traditional doctrinal and moral conviction, and also from those who, starting from the same centre, find fewer problems or none with some recent innovations. Although these voices are inevitably rooted in the experience of the developing world and of North America, the division runs through many other provinces internally as well.

So first : what might the traditional believer hope others have heard? 'What we seek to do in our context is faithfully to pass on what you passed on to us — Holy Scripture, apostolic ministry, sacramental discipline. But what are we to think when all these things seem to be questioned and even overturned? We want to be pastorally caring to all, to be "inclusive" as you like to say. We want to welcome everyone. Yet the gospel and the faith you passed on to us tell us that some kinds of behaviour and relationship are not blessed by God. Our love and our welcome are unreal if we don't truthfully let others know what has shaped and directed our lives — so along with welcome, we must still challenge people to change their ways. We don't see why welcoming the gay or lesbian person with love must mean blessing what they do in the Church's name or accepting them for ordination whatever their lifestyle. We seek to love them — and, all right, we don't always make a good job of it : but we can't just say that there is nothing to challenge. Isn't it like the dilemma of the early Church — welcoming soldiers, yet seeking to get them to lay down their arms?

'But please remember also that — while you may say that what you do needn't affect us — your decisions make a vast difference to us. In this world of instant communication, our neighbours know what you do, and they see us as sharing the responsibility. Imagine what that means where those neighbours are passionately traditional Christians — and what it means for our own members, who will be drawn to leave us for a "safer", more orthodox church. Imagine what it means when those neighbours are non-Christians, delighted to find a stick to beat us with. Imagine what it is to be known as the 'gay church' in a context where that spells real contempt and danger.

'Don't misunderstand us. We're not looking for safety and comfort. Some of us know quite a lot about carrying the cross. But when that cross is laid on us by fellow-Christians, it's quite a lot harder to bear. Don't be too surprised if some of us want to be at a distance from you — or if we want to support minorities in your midst who seem to us to be suffering.

'But we are here. We've taken a risk in coming, because many who think like us feel we've betrayed them just by meeting you. But we value our Communion, we want to understand you and we want you to understand us. Can you find some way of being generous that helps us believe you care about us and about the common language and belief of the Church? Can you — in plain words — step back and let us think and pray about these things without giving us the impression that the debate is over and we've lost and that doesn't matter to you?'

And then : what might the not so traditional believer hope has been heard?

'What we seek to do in our context is to bring Jesus alive in the minds and hearts of the people of our culture. Trying to speak the language of the culture and relate honestly to where people really are doesn't have to be a betrayal of Scripture and tradition. We know we're pushing the boundaries — but don't some Christians always have to do that? Doesn't the Bible itself suggest that?

'We are often hurt, angry and bewildered at the way many others in the Communion see us and treat us these days — as if we were spiritual lepers or traitors to every aspect of Christian belief. We know that no-one is the best judge in their own case, but we see in our church life at least some marks of the Spirit's gifts. And part of that is acknowledging the gifts we've seen in gay and lesbian believers. They will certainly be likely to feel that the restraint you ask for is a betrayal. Please try to see why this is such a dilemma for many of us. You may not see it, but they're still at risk in our society, still vulnerable to murderous violence. And we have to say to some of you that we long for you to speak up for your gay and lesbian neighbours in situations where they are subject to appalling discrimination. There have been Lambeth Resolutions about that too, remember.

'A lot of the time, we feel we're being made scapegoats. Other provinces have acute moral and disciplinary problems, or else they more or less successfully refuse to admit the realities in their midst. But those of us who have faced the complex issues around gay relationships in what we feel to be an open and prayerful way are stigmatised and demonised.

'Not all of us, of course, supported or took part in the actions that have caused so much trouble. Some of us remain strongly opposed, many of us want to find ways of strengthening our bonds with you. But even those who don't stand with the majority on innovations will often feel that the life of a whole church, a life that is varied and complex but often deeply and creatively faithful to Christ and the Scriptures, is being wrongly and unjustly seen by you and some of your friends.

'We want to be generous, and we are hurt that some throw back in our faces both the experience and the resources we long to share. Can you try and see us as fellow-believers struggling to proclaim the same Christ, and to be patient with us?'

Two sets of feelings and perceptions, two appeals for generosity. For the first speaker, the cost of generosity may be accusation of compromise : you've been bought, you've been deceived by airy talk into tolerating unscriptural and unfaithful policies. For the second speaker, the cost of generosity may be accusations of sacrificing the needs of an oppressed group for the sake of a false or delusional unity, giving up a precious Anglican principle for the sake of a dangerous centralisation. But there is the challenge. If both were able to hear and to respond generously, perhaps we could have something more like a conversation of equals — even something more like a Church.

At Dar-es-Salaam, the primates tried to find a way of inviting different groups to take a step forward simultaneously towards each other. It didn't happen, and each group was content to blame the other. But the last 18 months don't suggest that this was a good outcome. Can this Conference now put the same kind of challenge? To the innovator, can we say, 'Don't isolate yourself; don't create facts on the ground that make the invitation to debate ring a bit hollow'? Can we say to the traditionalist, 'Don't invest everything in a church of pure and likeminded souls; try to understand the pastoral and human and theological issues that are urgent for those you are opposing, even if you think them deeply wrong'?

I think we perhaps can, if and only if we are captured by the vision of the true Centre, the heart of God out of which flows the impulse of an eternal generosity which creates and heals and promises. It is this generosity which sustains our mission and service in Our Lord's name. And it is this we are called to show to each other.

At the moment, we seem often to be threatening death to each other, not offering life. What some see as confused or reckless innovation in some provinces is felt as a body-blow to the integrity of mission and a matter of literal physical risk to Christians. The reaction to this is in turn felt as an annihilating judgement on a whole local church, undermining its legitimacy and pouring scorn on its witness. We need to speak life to each other; and that means change. I've made no secret of what I think that change should be — a Covenant that recognizes the need to grow towards each other (and also recognizes that not all may choose that way). I find it hard at present to see another way forward that would avoid further disintegration. But whatever your views on this, at least ask the question : 'Having heard the other person, the other group, as fully and fairly as I can, what generous initiative can I take to break through into a new and transformed relation of communion in Christ?'--Posted By Integrity USA to Walking With Integrity at 7/29/2008 06:49:00 PM


Monday, July 28, 2008

Shades of my college days....

Last evening I was invited by parishioners to attend a performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night by a local dramatic troupe up in Warwick, New York, at the Warwick Valley Winery. It was an outdoor performance on an open-air stage. We brought lawn chairs and were able to buy food and drink from the winery's store. (The Chardonnay is very good, by the way!) It was very civilized, even though our intermission was brought forward a few scenes due to a rain squall. We all had a great time.

I was really intrigued to see this performance, for several reasons. Shakespeare in the Park is big in New York at Central Park in the summer, and all sorts of good actors take part. Consequently, tickets, although free, are very hard to get. So it was great to get a great seat and see what I thought was a fine performance with period dress and even a harpist playing Renaissance music beforehand. Reminds me of the performances of Shakespeare in the Park in Columbus that I went to as well. They did Shakespeare as well as musicals. I rememer seeing the Scottish play, King Lear, and several other ones as well, as well as the musical Camelot.

What was more interesting to me was the incredible fact that I actually played Sir Toby Belch in Capital University's production of Twelfth Night about twenty years ago, and I couldn't remember very many of my lines at all! Now I can recall almost all the music I sang with the Chapel Choir from the same period - we memorized our music, so I had to drill it as much as I did my lines as Sir Toby. But still, I had to confess that I didn't even remember how the play went except very broadly. And to not remember my lines. Admittedly, I'm not much used to Elizabethan English, and so the cadences don't lend themselves to sinking in like lyrics in sacred music. But still. I played the part in four or five performances and God knows how many rehearsals!

I'll get over it. But it's still a little weird.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Proper of the Day: The 11th Sunday After Pentecost

It's continually a joy for me to come together with Christians on Sundays to encounter Jesus in Word and Sacrament, and today was no exception. This Feast of Our Lord, like all Sundays, is the 11th Sunday after Pentecost. We've settled in to Genesis, Romans, and Matthew for the summer. I like the opportunity to skip back and forth between texts; if I don't hit a good point in one Sunday, I can refer to it in another one, because of the continuity we get (more or less) from the assigned readings. I'm not usually one to attempt tying together all the lessons, especially since in this season after Pentecost they aren't designed to do so, but today was a bit of an exception. (Once again, my sermon is in bullet form; I guess I'm taking a little time off this summer, too. I've been told people like it better when I don't preach from a text, but I still prefer it. I'll keep up this experiement for a bit and see how it goes.)

(The pictures are a triptych by James B. Janknegt called Treasurefield #1: Find the Treasure; Treasurefield #2: Sell Everything; and Treasurefield #3: Buy the Field.

St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, Vernon
Proper 12A RCL 2008
Gen 29:15-28; Ps 105:1-11,45B; Rom 8:26-39; Matt 13:31-33; 44-52
The Rev. R. F. Solon, Jr., Vicar

In the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, Amen.

1. Went to Cross Roads Summer Camp this week as Visiting Chaplain
a. Saw kids, opportunity to proclaim Good News – Mary M as example of the 1st to proclaim the GN
b. Example of both Mustard Seed and Yeast
i. Doubled because it’s very important
c. Nothing can separate us from the Love of God in CJ

2. First Lesson – story of how Laban got Jacob to marry twice
a. [tell story]
b. Might have been because Laban thought Leah would be married before Rachel was
c. Kinda turns the tables on Jacob – remember he tricked Esau out of his birthright
d. Parable of the Net and of the Weeds and the Wheat
i. Righteous and unrighteous will get thiers, in God’s good time, not ours
ii. Doubled because its’ very important
iii. All sorts of people are instrumental in God’s Economy – God uses the most obnoxious, even despicable, to do God’s will
iv. Not for us to judge
v. Nothing can separate us from the Love of God in CJ

3. Visiting NYC on Friday and Saturday
a. Got my car window bashed in
i. Oddly, pretty calm about it
ii. Always checked on it in the past, never expected
iii. Going for my GPS or satellite radio, didn’t get either
iv. Probably won’t drive in to NYC any more, although the train is a bit more expensive and time consuming
v. Already got quote, too – not terribly expensive, thank God
vi. Would have had to figure out a way to pay pretty much no matter what
vii. Lot’s of things in this economy that we have to pay for
1. Health Care
2. Housing
3. Food - Gas
viii. Parable of the Really Expensive Pearl and the Treasure in the Field
ix. What would you be willing to sell for salvation? What price would you be willing to pay?
x. Paradox in God’s Economy is that although salvation is more valuable than anything, it’s completely free
xi. Doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost – God expects us to live out our salvation by emnulating Jesus - teaching, healing, and reconciling.
xii. We live in this economy and and in God’s economy. Because we live in both, we cannot ignore the costs of this economy. We will need to take wise counsel for the financial future of this community so we can continue to be a teach, heal, and reconcile as Jesus did.
xiii. Even so, Nothing can separate us from the love of God in JC!

4. We’ve gotten glimpses over the past three weeks of God’ economy – K of Heaven in Matthew’s words. Always a lot to digest and think about. But although Mattew describes the K – God’s economy – obliquely, St. Paul in the Letter to the Romans doesn’t:

5. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor annoying family members, nor things present, nor things to come, nor bashed in windows, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor financial challenges, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!


O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Proper of Yesterday: St. James the Apostle

Yesterday we remembered St. James the Apostle, Martyr. This is James the fisherman, brother of John and son of Zebedee, and part of the "inner three" that included Peter and his brother. (I wonder in passing why is was three and why Andrew, Peter's brother and the first Apostle, was not included. ) James the apostle is not the same as James, brother of Our Lord, either. This is the James whose mother asked Jesus to put her sons on thrones to his right and to his left. We remember him in parituclar because he was the first Christian martyr. His death is recorded in Acts ch. 12 and was basically a political stunt on the part of Herod Antipas.

I thought the Collect was particularly apt, given that most of the bishops in the Anglican Communion are gathered at the Lambeth Conference. I wonder if they prayer the same prayer and were reminded that true Christian leadership is the leadership of service and not exaltation?

O gracious God, we remember before you today your servant and apostle James, first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the Name of Jesus Christ; and we pray that you will pour out upon the leaders of your Church that spirit of self-denying service by which alone they may have true authority among your people; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Father Jake Stops The World Has Morphed....

Many folks are readers of Father J Stops The World, who covered the various goings-on in the Episcopal Church and the WorldWide Anglican Communion. He has been named the Evangelism Officer of The Episcopal Church and has started a new blog, Father Tim Listens To the World. Check it out. We Christians have Good News to share, and Fr. Tim's job is to help us share it.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Proper of the Day: Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

Today the Church celebrates the Major Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, from whom seven demons had been cast out. She is one of the womean who provided for the Lord Jesus and the male disciples out of her own resources. Perhaps more importantly, she is one of the undisputed witnesses to the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and is considered the Apostle to the Apostles because of here role in Luke and John of being the one to announce the Resurrection to the Disciples.

While at Cross Roads this week, I can’t help but thinking of the campers who are here, some of whom are part of a program for children whose parents are incarcerated. At worship, I can tell that many, perhaps most, of the campers know very little of the Good News of the love of God in Jesus Christ. I think the program does a good job of sowing the seeds of the Gospel. The staff here are apostles – ones who are sent to tell the Good News. And that news comes not only in the words that are spoken and the songs that are sung here, but more importantly in the love that counselors show every moment to every camper. It’s the love that is shown for the food on the table, of which there is enough for seconds for all who ask. It’s shown in the respect that the camp insists is the right of every camper, a respect that some campers here have perhaps never felt before. The work that Cross Roads is doing is hard work – it’s really difficult to be “on” nearly 24 hours a day for an entire week, knowing that even one slip can be devastating to a child. I remember my own counselor days, and I frankly don’t know how I did it, with no time for myself sometimes little time to even think. But I think it was the community formed by the senior staff during staff training, and the communities we tried to form among our own cabins for the week or two we would be with our campers, that actually kept me uplifted and more or less sane. We’re working on that here, too, and that’s what Christina communities are doing all over, hopefully in more intentional rather than haphazard ways.

Mary Magdalene announced the Good News to the disciples. Her spirit – the spirit of a transformed life lived out so that others may also be transformed – lives on here in the lives and hearts of the counselors and staff and board and benefactors.

Chantblog has some nice music for today.

Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and of mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed from all our infirmities and know you in the power of his unending life; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Monday, July 21, 2008

The Proper of Yesterday: The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Weeds by Ian Polluck

Yesterday we at St. Thomas's gathered as Christians do on the Lord's Day for Word and Sacrament. We're trying a Summer Schedule of 1 service at 9 AM with less music rather than our usual schedule of 2 services at 8 and 10. Seems to be so far, so good, but I haven't really gotten any feedback yet. But I had to pack and get out to Cross Roads Camp and Conference Center, where I am serving as Visiting Chaplain this week. So here's my sermon notes from yesterday. My continued apologies for the bulleting - I will try to work on it later.

St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, Vernon
Proper 11A RCL 2008
Gen 28:10-19a; Ps 139:1-11, 22-23; Romans 8:12-25; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
The Rev. R. F. Solon, Jr., Vicar

May these words be in the Name of Him who knows both the weeds and the wheat in all of us, Amen!

· Bread
o A basic human necessity in the West.
o All kinds – white, wheat, rye, various artisan breads
o My fave is sourdough, by the way
o It smells great when it’s baked
o Can add all kinds of things to it – raisins, nuts, fruit, (then it’s fruitcake and lasts forever)
o Amazing how we figured out about bread
o Ever stop to think about food and how it came about….

· Bread made from wheat, usually, but can be made from potatoes and stuff too

· Obviously important in Jesus’ day, here’s another parable about it.
o Last week the seeds were not really named, just implicitly valuable.
o This week it’s clearly about wheat
o (recount the parable)
· Parables are meant to point away from themselves

· In this case something about the Kingdom of Heaven – pretty explicit, J says so

· All of chapter 13 is about why not everyone is rushing to hear and accept the Good News.

· Last week we discovered that even then the Word is spread about like seed before the wind, not everyone receives it.

· This week it’s about judgement – how long will things go on?
o Definite end – “the end of the age”
o Sorting of the weeds and wheat
o Pretty harsh language about those who are seem to be weeds
o Barns for the wheat, the furnace of fire for the weeds

· Two ideas here
o We’re not doing the sorting – God is!
§ Not to judge ourselves, God will do that
o Time is not determined – when the harvest is ripe

· We are not to be the sorters!
o We may be wheat, or we may be weeds, but the parable is explicit about letting them grow up together
o Not the best farming practice, but then J was a carpenter, after all!

· But what about this Judgment? Is this Hell?

· Lots of different ideas about this
o I don’t usually talk about Hell
o J doesn’t much either, but in Matthew he does
· This is a passage that really suggests that there will be some sort of time after sorting that is nasty to the weeds and good to the wheat

· This is where I’m supposed to ask you whether you are weeds are wheat. Except I’m not going to.

· Here’s what I believe, which I think is consistent with all of Scripture and of what I know and understand to be God’s will for us in Jesus:

· Sorting – judgment, if you will, happens in an ongoing way, by individuals who decide they do not want to be art of God’s economy and so disconnect themselves from God.

· God, as far as we can see, is putting off the assertion of his own omni-ness in creation for some indeterminate time. That’s why the end of the age hasn’t come yet. Perhaps – and we’ll never know – he’s waiting for us to get our acts together.

· In the meantime, each of us are indeed called to be wheat – to be fruit of 30, 60, or 100x.

· Mission of the Church is to reconcile all to God and each other in JC – that’s what being wheat is about – to proclaim God’s love we already know to the world.

· We already know people respond differently. We know now it isn’t up to us in or out of the church to judge how people respond or not. Our job is to concentrate on living out our lives as faithful followers of JC.

· Does not mean, btw, that anything goes
o Addiction, violence, destructive behanvior to self or others or the community – must always confront that
o Respect the dignity of human being in the process (Bapt. Cov.)
o The Commandment is still in force - Love one another as Christ loves us

· So rather than ask if you’re weeds or wheat, my questions are:
o Where is the wheat in your life? The weeds?
o Do you find yourself judging others? That’s God’s job after all

· We know how important wheat is. What are you doing to cultivate the wheat in yourselves, and get rid of the weeds?

· We don’t need to worry about others – remember logs and motes in eyes? Concentrate on ourselves – let God take care of everyone else in God’s own good time.

· Let’s concentrate on treating others as wheat - better to err on the side of caution than try to overstep our own bounds and get stuck in the weeds.

Bread is the staff of life. We eat the Bread of Heaven every Sunday. We are the wheat, mixed with the weeds. Tjhere is both weed and wheat in each of us, after all! Let each of us be the Bread of Heaven which gives life to the world around us, not just now, in the walls of St Ts, but when we walk outside this place as well. The world is hungry for the bread we provide. How can you be that bread this week?


Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Amazing Grace

No, I'm not preaching on that exact topic, and in fact, I should be working on my sermon for tomorrow. But I ran across this while dilly-dallying on Facebook:

They're called DuoVector and they have some other videos up here.


Saturday Funnies

I still have some problems uploading some of my funnies, so this isn't all of them. You're probably saying, "Whew - glad I don't have to deal with *that!*"

Anyway, why shouldn't there be a PB-fish?

Very philosophical, these ATMS are getting...,

This is exactly what should happen, right, parents? Haven't you ever said, Gosh, that looks fun! I wanna play too!

Dumb, but I got a snicker anyway.....

I am going to camp next week, but fortunately not any of these.....

Do you suppose I'd need to get one of those heavy-metal Christian bands instead of my organist and choir?


Friday, July 18, 2008

The Lambeth Conference Has Opened

I have purposely avoided blogging about this, since there is so much other coverage already. The Lambeth Conference is a gathering of (nearly) all the Anglican and Episcopalian bishops in the world. It happens once every ten years at the University of Kent, in England. Its convenor is The Archbishop of Canterbury, and its main purpose this year is to rebuild community among the worldwide college of bishops. It's being held over three weeks, and it began on Wednesday. Bishop Beckwith, our Bishop, is there, along with all other American bishops except for Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire. He was not invited as a sop to the conservative bishops who think it's a sin that an openly gay bishop was consecrated, even though it apparently is not a sin that we've always had gay bishops and priests, but it was OK as long as they were in the closet. Honesty is apparently the real sin here.

In any case, there are plenty of resources covering the Lambeth Conference:

Here's the official Lambeth Conference website.

The reports from the excellent site Thinking Anglicans is here.

Integrity's blog at Lambeth is here.

Many of the blogs listed in All Sorts and Conditions are blogging live from Lambeth or about Lambeth. You can check them out at the sidebar. I personally think that as long as the Archbishop does not allow his agenda to get hijacked by the reasserter bishops, then we'll have nonews or pronouncements from Lambeth, and that will be fine. In 1998 the Conference was much different - it was more of a legispaltive body that passed resolutions about various items of interest to the WorldWide Anglican Communion. (The Lambeth Conferecen site has links to the past resolutions.) The most famous of the 1998 resolutions - Resolution 1.10 - was one that was rammed through with the support of the then Archbishop of Canterbury which said many things, some of which are quite good:

Lambeth Conference 1998: Resolution 1.10 Human Sexuality

This Conference:

1. commends to the Church the subsection report on human sexuality;

2. in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage;

3. recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;

4. while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex;

5. cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions;

6. requests the Primates and the ACC to establish a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion and to share statements and resources among us;

7. notes the significance of the Kuala Lumpur Statement on Human Sexuality and the concerns expressed in resolutions IV.26, V.1, V.10, V.23 and V.35 on the authority of Scripture in matters of marriage and sexuality and asks the Primates and the ACC to include them in their monitoring process.

The reasserters have crowed about the first part of Item 4 for ten years now, while reappraisers have wondered where the listening process of Item 3 and the declaration that all people are beloved by God in Item 3 went.

Of course, the Lambeth Conference was never meant to be legislative, but only consultative. In other words, each Province in the Communion has its own polity and governance. The Lambeth Conference is not a synod which can legislate for the whole communion, and so it sresolutions are only advisory at best. Only the General Convention of The Episocopal Church can legislate for Episcopalians in the US; whatever is said or done at Lambeth is worth noting and repsecting, but is not binding. Many of us continually forget that.

This Lambeth, if all goes as planned, there won't be any new resolutions. And that will be fine.

However, what is very significant and very worthwhile is the Lambeth Bible Study. the Bishops are doing a three-week study of the Gospel of John, and the Conference Planning Group has published a 7-part Bible Study that groups or individuals can use on their own to be in solidarity with the Lambeth attendees. Signs on the Way - A Bible Study Series (scroll down a bit to see it), is available on the Resources page here of the Conference website. I lvoe the Gospel of John - it's my favorite, and so I'm going to be using it next week for my private study while at Crossroads as Visiting Chaplain. I encourage you to take a look at it as well. I may blog my reflections as I go, but as internet acceess is limited at camp, I may not get much opportunity, in which case I'll post them, when I return.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Baseball Update - All-Star Edition

Well, the All-Star Break is now over and we start the second half of the year. The AL beat the NL for the 11th straight year in the 15th innin by a score of 4-3. It was disappoinitng, as I'm an NL fan. But that's the way it is.

RFSJuniors is not doing well at all - 9th of 12 at the break. Essentially, I have terrible hitting. (Performance is a combination of both hitting and pitching numbers, accumulated fromt he players I "own" and then compared to the other teams in the league.) Although my team's batting average is second highest in the league, I am dead last in home runs and stolen bases. It really hurt when both Chipper Jones and Albert Puhols got injured in May and June. I made one trade to get a stolen base guy - Jacob Ellsbury of Boston, but that didn't help at all.
My plan is to wait through August and then probably have a fire sale. I would like to finish in the top half of the league if at all possible, but I don't see that happening barring a miracle in hitting. There just aren't any power hitters out there. Well Barry Bonds may be activated, but I wouldn't want him - I actually owned him last year and he was a bust. The trading deadline is August 10, so I need to make some decisions in short order.
Oh well. Hope springs eternal!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Buddhism May Be Dieing in Japan

OGA, Japan — The Japanese have long taken an easygoing, buffetlike approach to religion, ringing out the old year at Buddhist temples and welcoming the new year, several hours later, at Shinto shrines. Weddings hew to Shinto rituals or, just as easily, to Christian ones.

When it comes to funerals, though, the Japanese have traditionally been inflexibly Buddhist — so much so that Buddhism in Japan is often called “funeral Buddhism,” a reference to the religion’s former near-monopoly on the elaborate, and lucrative, ceremonies surrounding deaths and memorial services.

Read it all here. Substitute "Mainline Christianity" for "Buddhism" and "the US" for "Japan" and you get a remarkable coincidence.


The Proper of Yesterday: The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Van Gogh, Sower with Setting Sun

Yesterday the community of St. Thomas's in Vernon gathered as one body at 9 AM, as we inaugurated our Summer Schedule. We heard the story of Esau and Jacob and some stew (it must have been really good!) and from St. Paul as he explains, in language that we have to be careful of today, about spirit and flesh. And we began a miniseries from Jesus on the Kingdom in the first of several exceprts from what many consider the central discourse of Matthew's Gospel, Ch. 13. There's a lot of agricultural imagery coming up in the next few weeks!

I wrote my sermon in note form this week, so it will likely be a bit choppy. If I have time later I will try to fix the bullets.

St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, Vernon
Proper 10A RCL 2008
Genesis 25:19-34; Psalm 119:105-112; Romans 8:1-11; Matthew 13:1-9,18-23
The Rev. R. F. Solon, Jr., Vicar

May these words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. Amen.

· Distractions
o In the world – Times Square, ads
o In our lives – family, job, the economy, all sorts of things
o I often get distracted by the Internet, or by baseball, by my own finances,
o Things trivial and important distract us from what we’re meant to be
· Distractions throughout today’s Scriptures
o Esau distracted by his hunger
o Paul talks about the flesh vs. the spirit – really talking about whatever is of the world
o Jesus in the Parable of the Seeds
§ The Path – no soil at all = no understanding of the Word
§ Rocky Ground – no depth
§ Thorns – Weeds, choked the Word out
§ Good Soil
o Distractions there are the Rocky Ground and especially the Thorns

· Point of the Parable is clear
o Earlier, in Ch 10, we received some instructions on how to live in God’s kingdom, God’s economy, if you will.
o Last week Jesus invited us to take off the burdens of the world and out on his backpath
o All of Ch. 13 is about earthy images
o It’s about God’s Kingdom and how the world will react to it
o One of the only parables clearly spelled out
o Each of us is a type of Ground that the Word – the Seed - falls on
o The parable attempts to explain why not everyone is getting the Good News
o Of course, we’re meant to be the Good Soil, that produces 30, 60, or 100x
o I think most of us are mixtures of soil though….
§ We want to be Good Soil, but we often find Thorns – Distractions – in our lives that keep us from acting out the Good News
§ Sometimes we’re even Rocky ground – not so much depth to our trust in God
o We can cultivate better soil within ourselves – don’t have to assume we’re stuck
§ Get rid of some rocks
§ Pull some weeds
o How?
§ Coming here to St. T’s - best way to get the Water for growth
§ Often not enough though – distractions are with us 24/7 when we aren’t here
§ Pray – start by saying grace at every meal
§ Read the Bible – Forward in Faith, Daily Office, even Random Access
§ Do some service – the Hostel, some gardening, Harvest House
§ Make some quiet time each day
§ Talk with others – get a spiritual director even
§ Read a good book about spirituality or spiritual practices
o Staying rock free and weed free is hard – lots to distract us
o What’s your soil like right now? What can you do to get rid of the rocks and the weeds? Do you feel like you can produce 30, 60, or a hundredfold in your life? God does. So do I.
o How about here at St. Ts? What kind of soil are we in right now as a community?
o Each of us can live up to our potential, live the life God intends for each of us to live and in this community.
o We don’t simply have to accept the kind of soil we are. Get out those hoes and wheelbarrows and trowels and Round-up!
o Distractions will always be with us – our job is to make our spiritual soil as productive as we can, so that we can [read the collect]


O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Jus the Facts, Please

I just discovered FactCheck.org, a non-partisan website run out of the Annenberg School of Public Policy that seeks to double-check and verify the "factual" claims that candidates make about themselves and each other. From their website:

We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit, "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

The Annenberg Political Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg in 1994 to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state, and federal levels.

The APPC accepts NO funding from business corporations, labor unions, political parties, lobbying organizations or individuals. It is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation.

Inform yourself. Did Obama really vote for a tax increase on people making less than $32,000? Is the McCain campaign really funded by lobbyists and PACs? Check them out to see some real facts, rather than the spin from the candidates.


Saturday Funnies

Yikes! I just realized I haven't posted in the last few days. Didja miss me? I did accumulate a lot of funnies, as always, likc on any image to enjoy.

The General Theolgoical Seminary owned a Gutenburg Bible, but sold it stupidly in the 1970s....

I hear this is the way it is: We Americans have no sense of endurance any more. I guess $4 per gallon gas is our pain point. In all of Europe gas is much more expensive - in US dollars - per gallon.

I haven't seen a Zot! in Wizard of Id in ages and ages!

OK, this one is part of a much longer story line, but I love the idea of a pigeon learning Shakespeare from performances in the park! they had them in Columbus and they were wonderful - NYC, too, but I've never been able to get a ticket.

Do they still have those Build-a-bear stores or whatever they're called?

Well, yeah - white is just boring!

Exactly. Sigh.
It took me a while to get it.....

Hmm, speaking of judicial activism..

Amen and Amen!

We took thos picture's at RFSJ's birthday party, of course!

4 woofs indeed!!!!!

Unfortunate, but seemingly true.
This batch had a lot of political cartoons. In this election season, don't be surprised to see more!

Happy Saturday,


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Blog from the time of Jesus

JERUSALEM — A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days.

If such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.

Read the whole article here and see what you think. I don't think necessarily that just because others might have had thoughts like this means that Jesus's death and resurrection are somehow suspect. I mean, the article itself references the Book of Daniel's images of the Son of Man, a title Jesus uses explicitly in the Gospels. So there are all kinds of imagery already running through the culture. I'm not sure how a three-days-dead-and-then-rising motif that's already present in some sense (and the article implies the artifact isn't exactly clear on that) is any different from a Son-of-Man-appearing-before-the-throne-of-God motif that is suggested by Daniel and is also already present in the milieu.

Am I missing something here?


Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Proper of the Day: The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Sarah and Rebecca, Virtual Israel Bible Museum

It was a good day at St. Thomas's Episcopal Church. We gathered as we do every Sunday to encounter the Word in Scritpure and Sacrament and to celebrate God's presence among us. Today we heard the story of how Rebecca came to be Isaac's wife, heard St. Paul lament about how no matter how he tries he can't seem to do thre right things, and heard Jesus give the amazing invitation to come to hom, all who are heavy laden. Here's what I offerred at the pulpit of St. Thomas's. As always, I welcome your feedback and comments!

St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, Vernon
Proper 9A RCL 2008
Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67; Psalm 45:11-18; Romans 7:15-25a; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
The Rev. R. F. Solon, Jr., Vicar

May these words be in the Name of Him whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. Amen.

Each generation, it seems, has an invention or device that defines the generation and what it stands for. We’re in the Internet Age now. We use the Internet and computers for all kinds of time and money and people savings. America and the whole world could not exist as we do today without the help that computers give us. A lot of it is invisible, but those computers are still there, running quietly, doing what they have been designed to do. Remember the Year 2000 scare of ten years ago? Predictions of the near collapse of civilization didn’t come to pass, of course, but they seemed very understandable. We’ve come to depend on computers in nearly every aspect of our lives. It’s like that in every age. At various stages of human history, various labor-saving devices have been invented to make life easier, often in the area of transportation or construction. In the 20th Century it was the automobile and airplane. In the 19th Century it was the train and the steam engine. Earlier ages saw widespread use of wagons and carriages and sophisticated sailing vessels. Before trains and for indeed thousands of years it was the horse and other beasts of burden that were the principal means of transport. We could harness multiple animals together with a yoke – a beam of wood that fit across the shoulders of mules or other animals that forced them to walk together. The advantage was two animals tired out less quickly and could plow tough ground more easily. The yoke was possible the first labor saving device after the domestication of animals themselves.

That’s not the yoke that Jesus is talking about in today’s Gospel though. The yoke he is talking about – and this is separate from yolk, too, which is the yellow part of an egg – is similar to the animal yoke, but used for people. People, after all, were the very first transportation mechanisms. At first, we dragged or carried stuff. Some bright person figured out that if we put a beam across our own shoulders and hung stuff on either end, we could stand upright, using the natural strength of our backs and hips and shoulders to help us carry burdens longer and with more ease. So a yoke was a device to make people carry heavy things. To “lay down the yoke” was to subjugate a conquered people and make them slaves. To “take on the yoke” meant the same thing, to become slaves to otherwise take on forced labor. It wasn’t a complimentary thing. A yoke was something used to make it possible to carry and move heavier things than one could do alone.

But there’s another way to look at what a yoke was and does. A yoke is used to make a heavy burden easier to carry, but what if that burden is something you want to take on? Then it’s not a negative thing, but a positive one. It becomes not a subjugator, but a liberator. A yoke then becomes something willingly taken on, to help with a willing burden.

There’s a modern day version of such a yoke that many of us have seen. The backpacks that our thru-hiker guests use are very sophisticated pieces of equipment. I tried one on the other evening with the hiker’s permission and I could tell how well it fit and worked. They’re designed to distribute the weight of one’s hiking supplies across the shoulders and hips in a way that allows one to travel many miles a day without too much strain – as long as you’re in reasonable shape! But the point is, a thru hike is something one presumably does willingly. I mean, walking 2,174 miles is a very long way! And so you’d better have good supplies and a way to carry them all. A hikers’ backpack, a yoke, if you will, helps with that in the very best sense.

Today’s Gospel is an amazing testimony to Jesus and what he does. In this passage Jesus issues a unique invitation to his hearers then and to us now. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

What Jesus is inviting us to do is put down the yokes that other people have put on our backs, as well as the yokes and heavy burdens that we ourselves have placed on our own backs. I’m talking about the burdens of hurt and pride and envy and distrust and all the other stuff we carry in our hearts and in our souls. Jesus is inviting all of us this very moment to look at ourselves and feel the backpacks we’re carrying. And Jesus says, there’s no need for that. Take those packs off. You don’t have to carry them around any longer. Those backpacks filled with enmity and self-pity and anger toward each other and our own selves – life’s too long to have carry them, far longer than the 2100 plus miles of the Appalachian Trail. Even our own stuff is too heavy. Look at St. Paul. He admits in today’s reading from Romans’ that there are times even he can’t seem to stopping sinning no matter how hard he tries. We’re all like that. Jesus says, Take all that off. Instead, take on his yoke. It’s light – far lighter than any of those other ones you’ve been carrying for all this time. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. My yoke, Jesus says, is not one of those heavy yokes imposed by others. My yoke is designed to carry easily the burden I offer. That burden is simply to live life as God’s loved and forgiven children. Love God by loving your neighbor and yourself. That’s all. No one comes to the Father except the son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Guess what? Jesus says, I choose to reveal God to anyone and everyone at all who seeks me and him! That’s the burden I offer. And the yoke I give to make it even easier is the gift of my very presence. You actually don’t have to carry very much at all. I’ll do most of the work.

Once you put down all those other burdens, you will find rest for your souls, and really for your whole self. You don’t have to hold on to your anger or pride or embarrassment or anything else that’s wearing you down. Because you are a loved and forgiven child of God, you don’t have to worry about what others think or say or do. You can act like a loving and forgiving person toward all those around you. Your relationship with God who loves you can never be bent, can never be broken. You can then practice extending that assurance to those around you. You never have to pick up the heavy backpacks of other peoples’ expectations or desires or ill will or hurt. You can leave them on the ground. You don’t need them anyway. You have all you need in the backpack Jesus wants to give you. It’s an easy backpack, too. Let go of that other stuff. Just put it down and walk away from it.

My friends, that’s the essence of the Good News itself. It’s the Lord himself who extends this most sublime invitation. We can, if we choose, take up the yoke of society’s expectations; of all the things we think we need to do to be happy, healthy, and wealthy. Jesus says we don’t need to, and it’s actually a mistake to do so. The values of society are false ones, Jesus says. They are heavy burdens, burdens so heavy we don’t even know that we aren’t walking, but that we’re really only crawling along at best, suffering under the values and expectations of a society that does not really want us to walk upright and secure in the trust in God’s love and forgiveness. Don’t listen to that stuff, Jesus says. Learn from me instead. For my yoke is easy, not like the yoke of the world. My burden is light, not like the crushing backpacks of the weight of the world. You can’t find rest with those backpacks on, but you will find rest for your souls with my backpack.

Today each of us has the opportunity to put down our burdens of sin and take up the oh-so-light burden of God’s love. And the yoke he places across our shoulders is not the heavy kind of yoke, the kind that slaves wore. The yoke Jesus gives is the kind of yoke, like a modern hikers’ backpack, that helps us with the weight we carry. And that yoke is his very self, the self we encounter every Sunday at the Communion rail in his own Body and Blood. He gives us of himself first. He makes it possible to easily shoulder the not-very-heavy weight of the forgiveness we have as God’s sons and daughters. Not much of a burden at all. A burden each of us carries with joy and hope rather than despair and doubt.

That backpack I tried on last evening wasn’t very heavy – possibly 20 pounds at the most, because it was partially unpacked. The hiker told me that full weight for her was around 30 pounds or so. It’s a good thing it wasn’t full, too, because I’m actually a bit sore in my back, and I had that thing on for maybe two or three minutes at most. Can you imagine how tired and sore your spirit is from carrying around all those backpacks containing the world’s burdens, burdens you didn’t even ask for? You don’t need that. I don’t need that. Jesus doesn’t want to us to have to deal with that. Jesus says to let it go. And you and I and all who wish it will indeed find rest, true rest, for our souls. Amen.

And the appropriate selection from The Messiah:

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Out of Office Replies You Might Get

With the long weekend and summer high upon us (even if people are having "staycations"), don't be surprised at receiving one of the following replies to your email note (courtesy of my friend Chris Thomas):

1. I am currently out of the office at a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position. Please be prepared for my mood.

2. You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, chances are you wouldn't have received anything at all.

3. Sorry to have missed you, but I'm at the doctor's having my brain and heart removed so I can be promoted to our management team.

4. I will be unable to delete all the e-mails you send me until I return from vacation. Please be patient, and your mail will be deleted in the order it was received.

5. Thank you for your e-mail. Your credit card has been charged $5.99 for the first 10 words and $1.99 for each additional word in your message.

6. The e-mail server is unable to verify your server connection. Your message has not been delivered. Please restart your computer and try sending again. (The beauty of this is that when you return, you can see who did this over and over and over....)

7. Thank you for your message, which has been added to a queuing system.
You are currently in 352nd place, and can expect to receive a reply in approximately 19 weeks.

8. Hi, I'm thinking about what you've just sent me. Please wait by your PC for my response.

9. I've run away to join a different circus.

10. I will be out of the office for the next two weeks for medical
reasons. When I return, please refer to me as Lucille instead of Steve.



Friday, July 4, 2008

The Proper of the Day: Independence Day

On this day the Episcopal Church observes Independence Day with the rank of a Major Feast. We didn't do so until the 1928 BCP, interestingly, but I think it's a good thing to pause in the midst of our burgers, brats, and fireworks to remember Who is the source of true freedom.

Today's Gospel is surely an odd one for Independence Day. It's the command toe love one's enemies, to pray for those who persecute you. In any context, those are difficult words to hear. We are to pray for those who hate us, who wish ill on us, who might even want us dead? I honestly think it would be diificult to publicly pray for Al Quada or the Taliban in any church in this country, but I suspect that's what Jesus really means. The enemies of the community at that time were the Jewish authorities and the Roman overlords. It can't have been easy for the Christians of Matthew's day to hear that either. But prayer is never about changing God's mind and heart, but about changing our minds and hearts. When we pray, even for our enemies, we open ourselves up to the mind of Christ. I do not know what God's will is for terrorists, much less for me some days, but I know that the mere acting of naming people in prayer helps us remember them. This is hard stuff. I don't particularly want to remember my enemies and those who persecute me! And to be reminded to do so on this particular day, when we rightly celebrate what's good and wonderful about our country, draws me up somewhat short. Maybe it does for you too.

Here's an apt musical selection for today, The Last Words of David, by Randall Thompson, and sung by the Rutgers University Choir.

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

So I feel sorry for Saul

In the Daily Office we're reading from I Samuel in the Evening Office. Tonight we read how King Saul was disowned by God because he offered sacrifice to God before the big battle with the Philistines without waiting for Samuel to come and do it. Of course, the army was deserting and the Philistines were advancing quickly. Now I completely understand that this is a story (not as awful as the story of the sacrifice of Isaac which I preached on last Sunday) that demonstrates that it's important to trust in God no matter what the apparent circumstances, but still. Consider:

I Samuel 9: 23 And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion I gave you, the one I asked you to put aside.” 24 The cook took up the thigh and what went with it and set them before Saul. Samuel said, “See, what was kept is set before you. Eat; for it is set before you at the appointed time, so that you might eat with the guests.”

Now you have to know that this phraseology indicated that the portion reserved for Saul would normally be reserved the the priest for after the sacrifice.

Here's another:

I Samuel 10: 3 Then you [Samuel is speaking to Saul just after he has anointed him king of Israel] shall go on from there further and come to the oak of Tabor; three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three kids, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. 4 They will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from them.

Again, it's not something you might know, but the bread was the bread of the "elevation offering" which again was normally reserved for the priest to receive. So Samuel was telling Saul that we would be treated in some sense as a priest.

OK one more:

I Samuel 10: 10 When they were going from therej to Gibeah,k a band of prophets met him; and the spirit of God possessed him, and he fell into a prophetic frenzy along with them.

So now Saul is prophesying, just like a priest would do.

BTW, this is not my idea; these are notes in the Harper-Collins NRSV version. I imagine the Rabbis have already put this together, but still, it kind of stands to reason that King Saul, who was treated like a priest at least three times, would feel under great distress that Samuel, God's prophet, wasn't around. So is it so unreasonable that he would undertake the sacrifice - reserved for only the priest to perform - when he had been so treated three times before?

Saul doesn't even get one chapter before he's rejected by God in favor of David. Now, I fully accept the omnipotence and the omni-knowledge of God. So how Saul fits in to the plan of salvation is beyond me. Perhaps Saul represents the earlier remnant of a dynasty before David in Israelite prehistory? I mean, it's just chapter 10 that he's rejected by God but it takes him to chapter 31 to finally die. And there is a lot of good stuff there. So as we move through July we'll get all of that, but in the meantime we get to deal with a God who apparently leads Saul on and then, when he does the seemingly natural thing, says he's wrong and that he will die and somebody else will be Kinf over Israel. I know there's more here, but that's what strikes me this evening.

Here's a scene from the G.F. Handel opera Saul:


Wednesday, July 2, 2008


This is just cute!


GQ Profiles Bishop Gene Robinson!

Even before he could speak, he knew it and felt it: knew he would never be separated from it; felt it in the form of light and heat. actually, light and heat belittled what he felt. They were just words, and words were small, man’s way of knowing; words could point and suggest, but never apprehend. When he was old enough to search for better ways to convey what he felt when the love of God came upon him, he would tell his mother and father and minister and anyone else in Nicholasville, Kentucky, that it was like butter, liquid-warm, luminous, drizzled atop his head and descending over and through him in a seamless golden coat to his feet.

As a child, he prayed the way he breathed, and for the same reason. His Sunday-school attendance record was unblemished, from toddlerhood to the time he left for college. One Sunday morning, he woke feeling that his insides were being dry-baked. “Nothing’s wrong,” he told his mother when she saw the color of his face. “Let’s go to church!” So off they went, where he passed his measles on to every student in his Sunday-school class. Weighed against the prospect of not getting his Sunday fill of Jesus, the reprobation that came from being a Patient Zero was a small price to pay.

Gentleman's Quarterly has done an excellent profile on the Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson. Bishop Robinson is the only bishop in the entire worldwide Anglican Communion to not be invited to the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference of anglican bishops, hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury in England. (The ++ABC, as he's called in shorthand, is considered "first among equals" in the Communion because of his role as Primate of All England. He chairs the Lambeth Conference and the once-a-year-or-so Primates Meeting, and is President of the Anglican Consultative Council. See more about him here.)

The reason Bishop Robinson was not invited to Lambeth? He is gay and has lived openly with his partner for decades.

Read the GQ article here. You will get a fine sense of the love of God and the holiness of Bishop Robinson, whom I've had the privelege to meet personally an several occasions.


I [Heart] MTA!

This piece in the NYT about a family's pleasures of the NYC subway system just made my day.


A Green Solution to Cord Proliferation?

I'm finally getting around to going through my boxes and bags of computer cords and stuff. Turns out I have probably 30 telephone cables of various lengths (back when dial-up was king and then DSL) and lots of other assorted extension cords, cables for video monitors and printers, etc. I don't want to just throw them out. Any one know how to recycle these? I'd even be willing to ship them.


PS - the picture is not of my stuff, but you get the idea!