cairns me home

being still in God's big world

Category: 2012 (page 1 of 3)

Unbelievable

This is my Christmas sermon. Preached Christmas morning at 10AM… 30 minutes after discovering my car had a flat tire… but that is a story for another post. This is my sermon inspired by John 1.

———

Several years ago there was a television series called, “Kids say the darndest things.” The premise of the show was that the host would interview children and simply record their candid answers to the questions posed. The entire program was just a half hour of the host interviewing children about their lives and waiting for them to say funny things. If you’ve ever been around children than you know that you never had to wait very long before the children would say something outlandish causing the live studio audience to burst into laughter. This is why the expression “out of the mouths of babes” exists: Children are utterly honest. Children are a mirror we hold up to the world to see its truest reflection. But children are also among the most vulnerable in our world. Children are not inherently in a position of power; they need caring adults to ensure their safety and to listen to them. When children are in the most danger is when they are living in a situation where their voices cannot be heard.
God had sent prophets and angels into the world to speak to the people in the past. And still the people turned away. God spoke to Moses in the burning bush and sent the commandments down from Sinai, but still the people did not follow. God needed to turn the entire world around and to do this God had to do something completely unexpected. So God sent God’s self into the world as a little child to lead them all.
Unbelievable, and yet, here we sit on this Christmas morning two-thousand years after that night in the stable in Bethlehem. Unbelievable.
We need something to believe in. We are living in dark times. The Advent season this year was particularly dark. Last week a man was in so much pain in his own life that he chose to walk into a school and take the lives of the most innocent among us. Unbelievable, yet it’s true. We need a light to break into our darkness. And this morning, our light has come.
I’ve always loved being outside at night in the winter because the stars we see in the winter shine even more clearly than they do the rest of the year. I know there are scientific reasons for all of this, but for me, it’s just really pretty. I grew up in the woods, and I used to love to lie in our backyard hammock, wrapped in a comforter, to look at the stars on cold winter nights. The feeling of my face catching a bitter chill while the rest of my body was warmly nestled in my cocoon is one of my favorite sensations. The irony of this is: I am also terrified of the dark.
There were no street lights out where I grew up. It was truly pitch-black at night, which is what made it possible to see the full brilliance of the night sky. I rarely ventured out to the hammock because of my fear. When I did go out, I’d run on my tiptoes as quietly as I could. I’d often leap the last step and land in the hammock nearly capsizing into the snow. I didn’t feel safe until I was fully wrapped up from head to toe. I guess that is why my image of God is one of a fluffy down comforter. From the safety of my comforter I could experience the wonder of the night sky. The safety of my comforter allowed me to experience the light in the darkness.
I think that is what God realized when God sent us Jesus. God knew that we felt safely wrapped in God’s love but we’d become complacent. We needed help to see that there was more available to us: more love, more peace, more mission, more forgiveness, more living to do if only we could see beyond the horizon and into the possibilities beyond our own backyard hammocks.
CS Lewis wrote: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
This morning the sun rose and with that dawning of a new day the bells of Christmas also tolled. There is a beautiful Christmas truth to CS Lewis’ message. There are days when it feels impossible to believe and on those days we have to look outside of our selves for evidence of God in the world around us. I believe that Jesus Christ is born because I look out and see Christ looking back at me in all of the faces here this Christmas morning. There is darkness in this world, that is true; but there is also a beautiful and indescribable light. A light that comes from the peace that passes all understanding gifted to us by our Savior Jesus Christ.
So go forward today and hug your family members. Look at the faces of the children beaming as they skip down the street. Smile at the other drivers on the road. Reach out to a neighbor who might not have folks to visit with them this year. Be a light in the darkness to all you encounter. Because this morning Jesus broke into our world and your act of love and kindness might be the light in the darkness for those who seek God.
Good morning! Happy Christmas!
Amen.

We are called

I planned our Blue Advent service for Epiphany this year. After the bulletins went to print we learned of the shooting in Newtown. It was immediately apparent that we needed to add an element to the service for them. I was hoping that Maya Angelou would do me a solid and write a poem in a timely manner… that was not the case. Here is what I came up with after hours of prayer, tears, and hope.

We Are Called – A Meditation for Newtown 


We are called
here tonight
to be witnesses in the darkness.
We are called
to give our pain, our joy, our sadness,
our laughter, and our agony
to the same One
for whom we wait.
We are called
to see the Christ child
in all twenty-eight
children of God
rushed from this earth
in a chaotic blare.
We are called
to see the Christ child
in every tear that is shed
in every corner of this world.
We are called
to see the Christ child
in every act of love and bravery.
We are called
to view this, and all tragedies
through the eyes of the One
who made us.
We are called
to be stronger than the individual
and to unite as one –
one body in Christ –
one hope, one faith, one baptism –
One God, who is Mother and Father to us all.
We are called
to invite you into our darkness.
and tonight, O God,
We call out to you.
We are broken and tired,
and we feel so alone.
And right now, dear Lord,
if only for a moment,
we need to call out to you,
before answering our call.
We are called
to be witnesses of your love.
We are called
to shake off this darkness
with incarnational light.
We are called
to be witnesses in this season
of resurrection’s might.
But for now,
As we begin the long walk
to Bethlehem,
we pray for you to
send your Holy Spirit to
sing into our darkness
and to comfort our hearts,
Because, dear Lord,
we are called.

Lesson Plan for Tragedy

Below is a lesson plan I’ve designed for the Parish of the Epiphany’s middle school and high school classes for tomorrow morning incase the youth need a safe space to process the news coming out of Newtown, Connecticut. Please use it if it is helpful to you. Please excuse any grammatical errors you might find.
Alternative Lesson for Middle School and High School Sunday School Class
Newton Elementary Shooting
December 15, 2012
1)    Open in prayer either extemporaneously or you can use the following:
Holy God, we pray for your guidance and presence. Surround the people of Newtown, Connecticut, as they respond to this horrible tragedy. Receive into your heavenly kingdom the children and adults who died this morning, give them unending joy. Bless and uphold their families and loved ones who grieve. And, finally, in your mercy give us wisdom and insight from this senseless violence, that we will do everything in our power to protect and nurture our children, in whom you make yourself especially known. We ask this in the friendship of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, and in the embrace of your Holy Spirit, who breathes upon us a peace which passes understanding. Amen.
2)    Ask the youth what they know about the shooting. I would control the conversation so it doesn’t get out of hand. Some kids might know more about it than others. Our job here is to gage what they know and correct misinformation: we are not supplying additional news details.

     We need to respect that some parents may want to share more information with their children than others. Especially with the 5th/6th grade students this will be the case. If the youth want more information direct them to their parents: we are not there to give the information we are there to help them see how their faith can inform their coping.

3)    I would next ask what they think God feels/thinks about the shooting. This is hard because it will get into the question of “why God allows bad things to happen” but helping them to know that God remains loving and did not cause this will be vital.
Relating it to the nativity: ie this is why God came to breathe new life into the broken places of the world… will be good. (This may likely be where your teens want to stop. They may want to just keep talking and that is okay, but engaging them in a creative activity for expression would also be a very healthy thing especially for those kids who are not verbal processors.)
I know it is difficult even for us as adults to see where God is in all of this. I find the words of The Rev. Kathleen Adams Shepherd, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown, CT helpful here. At the candlelight vigil yesterday evening said: “God was in the acts of love and bravery today.” God was in the principal who ran toward the gunman to shield the children. God was in the first responders who used their gifts from God to treat the injured. God is in the people around the world who cry in solidarity with the pain of those affected. God is present in the love. God is present in the tears. This is what Jesus went to the cross to save us from.
In an interview granted by Robbie Parker, father of one of the victims, Mr. Parker said, “‘I’d like to offer our deepest condolences to all the families who were directly affected. It’s a horrific tragedy, and our hearts go out to them. This includes the family of the shooter, and I want you to know that our love and support go out to you as well.” Mr. Parker went on to say that he is not angry. Hurt and devastated, yes, but he knows the shooter had the same free will granted by God that he himself enjoys. He said it is tragic that the shooter used his freewill for such a horrific act, but that he plans to use his free will to love.

The shooter was a human being created in God’s image. We would all do well to take a page from Mr. Parker’s book to remember that Adam (the accused shooter) was a son, brother, friend, and broken human being like us all. What he did was horrible. But those who loved him are grieving as well. Help the youth to know that demonizing the troubled young man who committed this crime may seem easier but it does not solve the hurt and confusion we feel. We are called to pray for him and his family as well.
Love conquers death. We are an Easter people and we believe that God conquered the clutches of death in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. 
4)    As an activity, invite the youth to make cards or write letters/prayers for the children and teens at Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown, CT. Sending cards and letters is a hands-on way we can engage our faith and help our brothers and sisters in Christ as they cope with this tragedy.
5)    Close in prayer. It is Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means “Rejoice.” It’s important that we end this lesson with the message of Easter promise and permission to go forward rejoicing in thanksgiving for all of the blessings God has given us as we prepare for the coming of the Christ child. Open the prayer and then pass it around the room so each youth has the opportunity to voice his or her prayers as well. 

Additional Resources:

http://episcoforma.org/resources-for-dealing-with-tragedy/

http://www.buildfaith.org/2012/12/15/another-tragedy/

http://www.leaderresources.org/downloads/free_downloads/talking_about_violence.pdf


becoming the person I pin

I love pintrest. For those who do not know what Pintrest is I will describe: pintrest is an online bulletin board system. Basically, you see something on the internet that you like and you “pin it” to one of your boards so you can find it later. I have several boards… most of which I use to organize craft projects I dream of creating. The flip side is: I never make the time to complete the projects that I pin. This is a theme in my life. I spend all of my time working or recovering from work which means I neglect really important and nourishing past times. That is why I am taking a page from my friend Shivaun’s book and making my New Year’s resolution to “become the person I pin.”

The person I pin is creative. The person I pin is artistic. The person I pin is balanced. The person I pin is healthy. In summary: the person I pin is AMAZING. I want to be more like her. So my New Year’s resolution… which I deliberately make to correspond with the new church year (because I am a nerd) started on Sunday.

First step towards becoming the person I pin:

This weekend after the above is closer to being a reality I am going to make and install floating wall shelves:

And my dream for after Christmas is to make a headboard for my bed like Marshall and Lily’s on How I met you mother. I found instructions online and I’ve secured an old door from my grandparents.

Stay tuned for updates or follow the creativity on Pintrest: http://pinterest.com/episcoaudrey/

Living in the in-between

Sermon for Advent 1 Year C
“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” –Hamilton Wright Mabie
I was watching a moving this weekend with one of my dear, dear friends. Her husband, my classmate, was ordained to the priesthood the night before and despite all our good intentions neither Kristin nor myself could get any work done the day after the ordination. We succumbed to our recovery needs by lying on her couch watching the final two Harry Potter movies. (Yes, that is 6 hours of Harry Potter movie goodness, don’t judge.) There is a scene towards the end of the final movie when the battle of good vs. evil comes to a climax and then, all of a sudden all of the sound is sucked out of the air and Harry is left in a room of dazzling, blinding white. All of the stress of the preceding scene vanishes in a flash as Harry is left in unearthly silence in the midst of what can only be described as a blank canvas, ready for his imagination to illustrate at will. What I thought in that moment was: “Wow, I wish I could spend Advent there.” I wish I could spend Advent inside a completely blank canvas with no sound and no distractions. I wish I could spend all of Advent alone with my prayers and watching for the Light of Christ while I paint my own prayerful preparations all around me.
Advent is the beginning of the church year. It comes as we prepare for one of the most important feast days of our faith and it comes when everything outside of church is happening at a sprint. Our challenge as people of faith is to slow down our hearts so we can fully live into this season of hopeful anticipation.
We are invited to live in the passage we heard this morning from Jeremiah during Advent. We live in the promise of the days that are coming. We live in the hope. Jeremiah is speaking to the people in a time of tragedy and pain. They are at war and there has been much destruction and devastation. The people of Judah and Israel are feeling hopeless. They are feeling abandoned by God. They are feeling as though the covenant has been broken and that they are left to fend for themselves. But Jeremiah’s prophecy tells the people to keep heart: despite all that is broken around them, hope is coming – God has not forgotten God’s people. 
Advent is a season of expectant waiting. We are waiting for God who was born, is born, and will be born. We are waiting for God who is the messiah sent as a branch on David’s own tree. But, what is more, I believe God is also waiting for us. God is waiting for us to use all that we’ve been given to further God’s message of love and hope in this broken world. God is waiting for us, the humans created in God’s own imagine, to live into our potential to be an extension of God’s incarnate Love in the world. We are given the season of Advent in which we can choose to be active seekers of the kingdom of God in the here and now.
Unlike waiting for a bus or waiting in a check out line, Advent is a season of waiting that invites us to do things to prepare our lives for the arrival of our Lord. We can pray. We can choose to keep our hearts open for the coming of the messiah. We can help those who may be in pain this season. We can love others deeply. We can feed the hungry and clothe the naked. We can wait, actively. Waiting in our modern day Western world is often seen as a negative thing. When we have to stand in the check out line too long we tap our feet impatiently and glare at the man who is writing a check instead of swiping his card. We look scathingly at the cashier as if to say, “hurry up and stop wasting our time.” There is the old phrase “Good things come to those who wait” but it is used to pacify people who are already frustrated with the delay in the gratification they seek. But this season of Advent proves that old adage by allowing us to celebrate the birth of our Savior with even more joy when our active waiting clears space in our hearts to fully embrace the miracle of the Christ Child.
Advent can be an exceedingly stressful time of year because it falls at the time when all of the outside influences start beating down our doors and tell us we must prepare for Christmas NOW, we must decorate NOW, we must be merry NOW: we must, we must, we must. Sometimes it can feel like life is falling apart when the pressures mount in this way; but when that happens we are being invited to stop, allow all of the sound to be sucked out of the room, and -if only for a moment- to live in that in-between space of dazzling white. That place where the only interruptions come from the voice on our heart, and if we listen closely enough we will find that voice comes not from within ourselves, but from the Spirit of God who is singing into our silence.
Living in that in-between space is living on a blank canvas just waiting for the wonder and colors that we will bring to it with the help of the Living God. Living in that in-between space is trusting that if we delay our celebration until the appointed time, it will be even more joyous than if we’d jumped ahead. So I invite you to slow down and listen with me. Listen as all of the raucous shouts and confused noises die down. Watch as all of the bold colors and chaotic swirls of pattern fade away and leave you with a canvas of dazzling white. Let’s make a decision to actively and intentionally seek the Christ child in our everyday lives and in our every interaction. I’ll bet, if we try hard enough, we will discover the Christ waiting for us in some of the most peculiar places.  

Reflections on my first 14-hours-in-a-collar-day

Man alive. Boy, I’m tired. I love my job. Where is my bed?

the end.

This is my job…

All Saints Pumpkin carved
at this week’s youth group.

Tonight I got to officiate at our All Saints’ Day service of choral evensong. I was very anxious. I’ve never officiated at evensong and I’ve only attended evensong a few times in my life. But rather than going into all of the preparation, I will simply focus on tonight.

Tonight I was moved to tears by the beauty of our choir’s singing and by the sheer thought of what it is I am called to do. I feel so very small so much of the time and when I stop to consider the magnitude of what my hands are called to do I am in awe. My hands will be called upon to bless and sanctify, to hold and comfort, to bury and to wed, to baptize and to feed. My hands alone are far too small and weak to do any of those things. And that is what moves me to tears.

The realization of my total and complete dependence on God and the blessing that I feel knowing that God will support me in the midst of all of this and even in those things of which I cannot yet conceive gives me joy which passes all understanding. A joy that results in tears from emotions  so large my heart cannot contain them all.

I am in awe: this is my job.

A year of firsts

Last Friday I had the distinct honor of officiating my first funeral. The preceding Tuesday Thomas came into my office and asked if I could do the funeral on Friday. I internally freaked out which obviously (obvious for those who know me) means my terror probably read loudly on my face. He explained that it was a “perfect” first funeral. The gentleman who had passed away was in his nineties, a WWII war hero – in short, a lovely man with a great family. Neither Thomas nor myself had had the chance to meet him. I agreed, but was definitely scared. Thomas was great and we talked through the service and some pointers and then it was in my court.
I met with the man’s daughters and they were amazing. Really incredible women who helped me get to know their dad through stories and anecdotes. I also had the advantage of watching a video that the local paper shot 3 years ago when they were writing a story about his life, focusing on his service in WWII. I got to hear him tell his own story and that was a gift beyond measure. At home as I prayed about the readings and how they would work with the homily it I felt the Holy Spirit dancing through the stories his daughters had told me as they wove so effortlessly in with the text.
When Friday arrived I was terribly nervous. I am easily influenced by the emotions of people around me and I wanted to make sure I was going to embody the clergyperson this family needed me to be. It was my prayer to be invisible in an odd way. That liturgy – any liturgy – is not about the officiant. The officiant is there to lead the people in prayer and to offer those prayers to God. That morning I prayed to be a container that could hold the prayers of God’s people just long enough to join them with my own prayers before releasing them up to God.
Something strange happened during that service: sometime after I stopped stuttering and tripping on my cassock I began feeling confident. I was still nervous, but I knew I could do it and what’s more than that: I knew I was meant to do it. At the close of the burial service at the cemetery, I said the dismissal and then walked through the crowd. Just then the army corps bugler began playing taps. I turned around and watched the crowd standing there in silence as the autumn leaves showered the family and danced around in the wind. In that moment I was grateful for the beauty of the day and the gift God has given me in the form of this calling to priesthood. I was so glad that this family had a positive experience with this liturgy and that in some small way I was able to be with them in their grief. This period of transitional diaconate is an awkward liminal time but the gift of moments like these help me to focus my eyes on the horizon and to realize what an odd and fabulous vocation I have.

called to teach

This is the sermon I preached at Epiphany on Sunday. I happened to have planned my teacher training for the same day and as I prayed over the scriptures for the day -which all seemed to focus on wisdom vs. knowledge, in someway or another- this is what came to me. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t thank one Dr. Tricia Lyons for her friendship and expert editing hand. It really took shape with the prayerful support she offered. It was my first sermon preached to the “whole” Epiphany congregation since folks were back from summer break. I was really pleased with it. The audio can be found here. Here is the written:
Perhaps I should have reviewed the lectionary for the day prior to planning the Sunday school teacher training to coincide with this particular passage from the Epistle of James.
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”  
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that this verse is a warning… when really it is a reminder of our vocation, blessing and communion. Lest I hear many of you tell me at the ministry fair, “James’ Epistle said I shouldn’t teach Sunday School,” I thought we might dive a little deeper into this warning against the power of words.
Who hasn’t been there: you are having a conversation with some acquaintances and a charged topic comes up. You try to contribute to the conversation only to offend half of the people standing around you. I know I have been there. I’ve said something that was intended to be harmless only to insight debate or, worse, anger. After leaving the situation, I stew over the interaction for days. How could I have said it differently? Did I need to speak up at all?
This week we learned about the horrible attack against the American ambassador in Libya resulting in the death of four Americans; including one man who grew up right here in Winchester. At this point, it appears that the attacks were carried out by Islamic radicals who are angered by an anti-Islam film made here in the US. 
The Freedom of Speech is protected in the United States, but exercising that freedom carries consequences – not just legal, but personal. Our Freedom of Speech comes with a responsibility to our brothers and sisters around the world.  That does not mean we should be silent, but it does suggest we show mindfulness in the words we choose. Our words have the potential to get us into trouble just as they have the potential to bring about justice. The tongue is a powerful instrument: As we heard in James 3:4, the tongue is like the rudder of a ship it steers our whole course.
While many of us have the luxury of waiting to engage subjects, in the case of teachers – they must speak when asked. It is the job of our teachers to share knowledge with their students. But in the case of teachers who pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit, they do more than share knowledge: they share wisdom.  As Matthew’s Gospel tells us, we need not fear what we are going to say because “it is the Spirit of God who speaks through us.” (Matthew 10:20)
When I was in high school I was terrible at math. It was difficult for me and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t seem to wrap my mind around the concepts. I resigned myself to getting low marks in my math classes because, I thought, “I must not be capable of more.” That was until I was assigned to Ms. Strickland’s algebra 2 class.
You knew how to find Ms. Strickland’s room because you could hear the sounds of Bob Marley, or other great musicians, floating down the hallway between periods. When you entered the room you immediately noticed the painted ceiling tiles and colorful posters on the walls. From first glance, the environment told you something was different about this class. Ms. Strickland had standing time after school, just about every day, when students could drop in for extra help. She put her home phone number on the syllabus in case you were working on your homework and needed to ask a question. She was serious about her vocation and her passion showed. I learned that the ceiling tiles were painted by students for extra credit: I painted two while I was there. She loved art, and music, and respected the different learning styles of her students.
I got high marks while studying with Ms. Strickland. But what I really took from those classes was confidence. I learned that it was possible for me to understand challenging subjects when I was instructed with care, when my teacher understood my learning needs, and when I put in the extra work needed to succeed.
When James writes his warning to those who might consider teaching he does so because those who teach have the power to form or deform the confidence and joy of all who listen. As any good teacher can tell you, they encounter situations on a daily basis that require expertise in areas far beyond their particular subject.  When a young student has a difficult time at home because his parents are fighting he will talk to his teacher because she is a safe person who has shown him love. When a college student is facing the challenge of balancing her course load, part-time job, and living on her own for the first time she is likely to talk to her favorite professor about the juggling act. When a nineteen year old recent high school graduate with great promise for the future is gunned down in the street while walking his dog at dinner time (like Jorge Fuentes – the counselor from BSAFE– was this week) students who knew him and students who simply live in that neighborhood and fear the same fate will bring their fear, hurt, and sorrow to school where their teachers will have to choose either to address that pain, or to ignore it because of the dangers inherent in choosing our words.
The calling to teach is one that carries great responsibility… and the potential for eternal impact. Here at Epiphany the calling to teach Sunday school or to lead youth group is the calling to help our children build a foundation of faith and to dare them to believe that they are loved unconditionally by God. The goal of Christian Formation is not to indoctrinate the learner, but to share the vital aspects of our faith in preparation for a season, or perhaps even a lifetime, of searching for truth. If we are able to share wisdom AND LOVE with our children and youth they will be better prepared to explore the world with a Trinitarian foundation. And what is a Trinitarian foundation?  It is the rock solid conviction of our faith that God is, at heart, in a relationship of acceptance and love forever.  We are all called to take our part in this eternal Trinity of acceptance and love, through the power of Christ.  Living in the trinity is not just our future, through faith and the church, it can be our present. 
Christian formation is the process of helping souls of all ages to realize and seize this invitation, made possible through Christ, to enter the very life and love of God.
If, in our teaching, we engage the difficult questions related to social justice, world religions, and our own Christian faith, we prepare our children and youth to enter into the world as critical thinkers. Life is never black and white and we do ourselves a disservice if we approach teaching Christian Formation as if it had simple answers to match our complex questions.
One of the things I love about the Episcopal Church is that we are a thinking church. We engage difficult subjects and live in a tension between certainty and mystery. The world we live in wants us to have all of the answers; we can do a lot of good if we can teach our children that the process of arriving at a solution is oftentimes more important than the solution itself.  Like the road to Emmaus, Christ can walk beside us in our confusion and doubt, and even is “ever present in times of trouble.”
Ms. Strickland’s math classes were lessons in formation. She taught us to be serious when necessary and to laugh often. She taught us to challenge ourselves and to think creatively in search of solutions. She taught me that I am only limited by my own fears and uncertainties. Ms. Strickland shared her wisdom and love in addition to her knowledge.
James’ Epistle warns about teaching because it is much easier for us to criticize those who teach than challenge ourselves to become teachers. But it is important to note that we cannot experience the tremendous rewards of teaching if we do not try to teach.  The Letter to James reminds us that teaching is a ministry of the Holy Spirit and therefore has the power to change minds, hearts and souls.  The sculpting of souls is perhaps the highest calling of humanity.  BUT GUESS WHAT?  We are all called to teach.  Remember your Baptismal vows?  Either you or someone on your behalf answered yes to this question at the moment of your baptism: “Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?”
So don’t think you can avoid the warning in the Letter to James about teaching the faith.  He is not talking to a select group of teachers… through our baptismal vows, his reminder to teach in the power of the Holy Spirit is actually a call to all of us. Don’t be afraid of what James says… he is speaking to us all. 
So let’s all figure out how to respond… as individuals, as families, as friends and as the family of Christ in our Church.
Close your eyes. I want you to call to mind the image of a beloved teacher from your past. Perhaps it is someone who taught you in a formal setting like school, university, or Christian Formation programming. Perhaps it was an informal setting like a family relationship, a colleague, or a mentor. What keeps that person fresh in your mind? Now, I want you to consider how your life would have been different had they shied away from the task of teaching. — okay, you can open them again.
I’m not saying it will be easy – but I can promise that teaching others, in any context, has the potential to change lives; your life, and the lives of those you teach. So, what do you say? Are you willing to change a life?  Through Baptism, we are already empowered to change our life and the lives of others.  As the Paul writes to Timothy, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”  The only thing left to do is start teaching.
After all, we are all called by St. Paul, to “be prepared to give an answer for the hope that [we] have.”  (1 Peter 3:15)
The world is starving for hope.  Christ is our paschal feast.  Take part in that feast today and pray about how YOU can teach our faith to the world.

send me

Today our reading for Morning Prayer was from the Gospel of John. The reading focused on Jesus questioning those who were going to stone him. As the reading goes on Jesus points out that he has only done what God sent him to do. This reading has always struck me because of it’s poignant truth: Jesus was killed for doing what he was sent to do. Some might even argue that Jesus was killed because the scriptures foretold the event. In the Hebrew Scriptures we hear again and again of the messiah who will die. I found this an apt reading for Sept. 11th. On this anniversary of the terrible attacks in 2001 I go back to the theodicy question again and again.
I did not plan anything in advance of Morning Prayer today; but I was grateful to the Holy Spirit that the reading of the day so adequately spoke to my heart’s meditations. On Sept. 11, 2001 I went to class at Wheelock College. After class I was heading back to my dorm when two of the theatre employees told me to go turn on the television because something terrible had happened. My dorm room was directly across the hall from a girl whose father was a NYC fire fighter. She watched in horror as the events unfolded. I can remember thinking that those brave men and women ran into the buildings because it was their job: it was what they were called to do.
As I meditated, out loud with the 7 folks who came to Morning Prayer today, I found myself connecting the plight of the rescue personnel in New York on that crisp September morning to that of our Savior who died for us.
We all have a calling to answer. For some of us that calling will lead us into dark and painful places. For some of us, our calling will lead us to death. So where, one of the people in chapel contemplated, was God on that morning or in those terrifying moments in our lives?
We discussed the presence of evil in the world. We considered the important work of groups like the Daughters of Abraham who work on Muslim, Christian, and Jewish relations. We thought about the reality that our choice in this life is to follow our calling from God or to say no to God. And we asked ourselves, is it really a choice when the only options we have at the end of the day are to say yes or no to God?
My ordination stole made by my grandma’s
amazing friend. These crosses hide on the
bottom, inside, corner. 
It was a holy morning. When I woke up today I did not remember the date. I watched a few minutes of the daily news on which they were interviewing an actor about his new sitcom starting tonight. I came to work and opened the lectionary. I selected the reading for the day. Then I noticed the date. This date will never be “normal” again. It will always cause me to pause. But I suppose, upon further reflection, this is to become a date for which I am ultimately grateful. That may seem like a cruel or callused thing to say –I assure you it is not because I am glad the attacks took place. Rather, I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful for the reminder to pause and to pray and to reflect upon the life of God as it relates to the world. I am grateful for a mind that is able to struggle with the difficult questions in life. And, most of all, I am grateful to be called into a vocation which requires this type of reflection from me.
My application for priesthood is due in our diocesan offices at the end of this week and I have struggled with the application more than I anticipated. This has been a very difficult week. It has been a week when I ask God: “Are you sure this is what you want me to do?” I know that I am called to be a priest; but that reality is humbling and terrifying. The sacrifice that Jesus gave when he laid down his life for the world only makes my vocational calling more daunting. But, when I stop to consider my classmate’s father, who was called to be a firefighter and who selflessly ran into the twin towers eleven years ago today, I realize that there is only one answer to give to God. That answer is: “Here I am, send me.”

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