What a homeless man taught me on Christmas morning

The original post appeared on The Messy Middle, January 4, 2017

When we truly “seek and serve Christ in all persons,” (see the Book of Common Prayer, 305) when we behave in a way that reveals we truly “love our neighbor as ourselves,” we open ourselves to the Christ meeting us and teaching us in ways we never expected. This is a story to make that point for you and me.

Continue reading “What a homeless man taught me on Christmas morning”

Creating a Covenant Resolution

Mosaic of the Baptism of the LordThe Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota (Bishop’s Blog) posted a short meditation on entering the new year with the Season of Epiphany on our hearts and shaping our determination to be a follower (and a revealer) of Christ.

… what it would be like to merge our New Year’s resolutions with the Season of Epiphany. What if our New Year’s resolutions were to know and make known Christ in all things? Here’s what I think it would look like: Read the resolutions put forward for consideration

Source: Creating a Covenant Resolution – Bishop’s Blog

Image: Art in the Christian Tradition (Vanderbilt Library)

Giving voice to our Baptismal Covenant

Baptized with water and the SpiritWe live by our Baptismal Covenant (Book of Common Prayer 304-305). Among the questions and promises:

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? (Our Response): I will, with God’s help.

On April 26, 2016 the bishops of North Carolina responded to recent legislation in North Carolina (HB2) that “overtly discriminates against LGBT people and goes further by cutting back on protection against discrimination for anyone in the state.” Their response comes as they fulfill their responsibilities as baptized persons and as bishops of the church. Here is the introduction to their letter. I encourage you to read their entire letter as you consider how you are to live into the promises you’ve made as a baptized person.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

In our baptismal covenant, we commit “to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” For many, this is the most difficult promise in the covenant, as it calls us to move beyond our differences, expectations, fears, prejudices and misunderstandings about other people and meet them where they are. At times, it means standing up in the world and speaking truth to power, knowing that there will be resistance. This promise takes us out of our comfort zone and into the uncharted territory of God’s grace.

In the highly polarized and political environment in which we live, we may be tempted to take sides on an issue or to back off entirely and be silent. But the issue of discrimination is not partisan, nor is it secular. The practice of discrimination by a state or institution limits, even prohibits, us from respecting the dignity of another human being. It inhibits our very capacity to care for one another and to work for the common good. This affects all people.

Read the entire letter here: North Carolina bishops issue statement regarding HB2 as reported by Episcopal News Service (ENS).

Striving for justice and peace

We post here a letter written by The Most Rev. Alan Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit to the priests and people of his diocese. We believe it reflects well the baptismal promise made, renewed and lived into by Episcopalians: “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? … ‘I will with God’s help.'”

“In light of a public proposal put forth recently to restrict the immigration of Muslims into the United States based on their religion, I thought it would be helpful to remind everyone of the Catholic teaching regarding Islam. Fifty years ago, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught that the Catholic Church treats with respect those who practice the religion of Islam. And for these past fifty years, Catholics and Muslims in southeastern Michigan have enjoyed warm relations marked by a spirit of mutual respect and esteem.

Restricting or sacrificing these religious rights and liberties out of fear – instead of defending them and protecting them in the name of mutual respect and justice – is a rationalization which fractures the very foundation of morality on which we stand.

While the Catholic Church refrains from weighing in for or against individual candidates for a particular political office, the Church does and should speak to the morality of this important and far-reaching issue of religious liberty. Especially as our political discourse addresses the very real concerns about the security of our country, our families, and our values, we need to remember that religious rights are a cornerstone of these values. Restricting or sacrificing these religious rights and liberties out of fear – instead of defending them and protecting them in the name of mutual respect and justice – is a rationalization which fractures the very foundation of morality on which we stand. This also threatens the foundation of religious liberty that makes it possible for us to freely practice our faith. These are not only Catholic sentiments on these issues; these, I believe, are the sentiments of all Americans.”

Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron,
Archbishop of Detroit
December 10, 2015

Few the letter on the Diocesan Website

Detroit archbishop denounces proposals to bar Muslims from U.S. by David Gibson on Religion News Service

Seeing beyond outward appearances

Samuel was tasked by God to anoint a new king. The tone was set in Samuel’s first ‘interview’ as “the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7

This week, we shared the story of Samuel, of David, and God that grew into the wisdom of Paul…

…we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 2 Corinthians 5:16 …

…becoming part of our Baptismal Covenant

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

May we have grace to see beyond physical appearances perceiving the integrity of the heart, God’s gift to us all.

What verses from Sunday’s (6/17/12) lessons spoke to your heart? What verses prompted questions and posed challenges? Let’s continue the conversation here.

Ever heard of the Five Marks of Mission? Well …

On Sunday, believing ourselves “sent into the world” by Jesus in his prayer—John 17:18—we looked at the “Five Marks of Mission” set before Episcopalians (and all Anglicans worldwide) in 1984 and again in 1990.

“The Mission of the Church is the mission of Christ.”

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

See: http://bit.ly/KCHAf6 (Anglican Communion)
(Bonds of Affection-1984 ACC-6 p 49,
Mission in a Broken World-1990 ACC-8 p 101)

Around the table each of us found one of the marks “hitting the mark” in our heart. For me it was the last mark “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” Men and women of faith have reached differing conclusions about “how” this ought to be undertaken, or if it should be undertaken at all.

For another the fourth mark “To seek to transform unjust structures of society” raised the question of discerning a God-given mission amidst the current political environment in America where men and women of faith who have reached different conclusions about what is an “unjust structure” of society tend to vilify and even demonize each other publicly.

It was a lively discussion. It raised more questions than it answered. It led us to pray for each other.

  • Which of the “marks” speaks most vividly to you?
  • What questions are raised in your heart as you begin to expand the summary statement of that mark?
  • How do you see these marks flowing from your Baptismal Covenant (with God and other Episcopalians)?
  • Or, do you see these marks flowing from the Baptismal Covenant at all?
  • How do you discern God’s call to you? Who or what are your guides in discernment?

Please offer a question or comment, let’s continue the conversation.

Twelfth Day of Christmas: You

You

The need is great. The opportunities to make a difference are just as great. Let the words of St. Ignatius guide your efforts in 2012: “Pray as if everything depends upon God and act as if everything depends upon you.”

January 6th is the Epiphany. The love of God, enfleshed in Jesus, is manifested to the whole world. It is our calling to continue to reveal Jesus, the Christ, to the whole world in the place we are and in the time we have.

With the Feast of Epiphany this calendar will be renamed “Opportunity Calendar” because it will present you and other viewers with the opportunity to make a difference in the life of one person or one family or one village. Choose to become involved.

 Pray. Your prayers lifted to God to comfort those in need and strengthen those sent to meet the needs are more powerful than you can imagine. Believe it; I do.

Pray and study. Increase your awareness of need and response as you pray and study. Read and listen and watch, taking it all to our God in prayer. The encounter will change you. I know.

Study and share. Raise the awareness of others by sharing information, especially stories. Write letters to your elected representatives. Become the voice of the voiceless.

Share time, talent, and treasure. Volunteer your time and love by serving others (it is the model given us by Christ). Make donations (even small donations help) to an organization that is making a difference.

Remember a promise made to you by Jesus, revealed as “Emmanuel” in this time of Christmas and Epiphany: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ~dan

The Twelve Days of Christmas Calendar in one place
About the Twelve Days of Christmas Calendar

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For further reflection

In our Baptismal Covenant we promise God and each other to act as if everything depended on us:

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?

I will with God’s help.

 Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

I will with God’s help.

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?

I will with God’s help.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

I will with God’s help.

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

I will with God’s help.

The Book of Common Prayer, pp. 304-305