I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, *
for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
and to those who turn their hearts to him.
in the Book of Common Prayer
Yesterday, August 14th, the Episcopal Church remembered Jonathan Myrick Daniels, a seminarian killed in Alabama during the Civil Rights marches in 1965. Jonathan struggled with God’s call. He wondered to what (kind of ministry, place of ministry, people to serve with) God was calling him. He returned to seminary:
Conviction of his calling [to ordained ministry] was deepened at Evening Prayer during the singing of the Magnificat: “ ‘He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things.’ I knew that I must go to Selma. The Virgin’s song was to grow more and more dear to me in the weeks ahead.”
Today, August 15th, the Episcopal Church commemorates Saint Mary the Virgin (a Holy Day in the Episcopal Church celebrated every August 15th). Together, her “Yes” to God and Jonathan’s “Yes” to God have the power to inspire our own “Yes” to God. What an amazing mystery it is to share God’s story in our own lives, even as Mary and, much later, Jonathan did.
“Yes” the chimes sound; “Yes” again and again
What do you hear?
“Jesus said, ‘Recognize what is in your sight, and that which is hidden from you will become plain to you. For there is nothing hidden which will not become manifest.’”
The Gospel of Thomas (c. 60-175 A.D.)
in A New New Testament
Are you ready to be stretched a little? A lot? Is it possible that other ancient texts can lead to a deeper understanding of the ‘official’ biblical texts used by Christians of various denominations? A council of scholars and teachers came together under the leadership of Hal Taussig to produce A New New Testament:
Is the New Testament missing a few books? In a move that may seem heretical to some Christians, a group of scholars and religious leaders has added 10 new texts to the Christian canon.
The work, A New New Testament, was released nationwide in March in an attempt to add a different historical and spiritual context to the Christian scripture.
Some of the 10 additional texts—which have come to light over the past century—date back to the earliest days of Christianity and include some works that were rejected by the early church.
The 19-member council that compiled the texts consisted of biblical scholars, leaders in several Christian denominations—Episcopal, Roman Catholic, United Methodist, United Church of Christ and Lutheran—two rabbis and an expert in Eastern religions and yoga.
The article points out that “not surprisingly not everyone admires the project.” Read the article, read all (or parts) of A New New Testament and let us know what you think. Continue the conversation here.
There’s a restless, searching, rhythm in the chimes today.
What do you hear?
“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. … For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Galatians 5:1, 13-14
Read on Sunday, June 30, 2013
The Revised Common Lectionary provided a very rich fare on Sunday, June 30th. I bring the wind chimes out of storage to keep the music (of the Spirit) going into this new week. Here is a sample of a commentary on Sunday’s reading from Galatians (Chapter 5, verses 1 and 13-25):
Paul makes the strongest possible emphasis on the “you” plural address. Again he frames the sentence with words describing the addressees: “You all,” “brothers,” “You all have been chosen for freedom.” He repeats the confident assertion of 5:1 by making personal and direct and clear, that “you all” have been chosen for freedom indeed, but Paul moves on very quickly to define the freedom.
It is not a wild, abstract freedom from restraint. Paul’s freedom does not create the culture we have become — at least not in his mind or on purpose. Paul proclaims the freedom with the passive voice of having been chosen by an implied agent, God. To be chosen by God for freedom, to have been freed by Christ is to have been freed from the dire results of life lived apart from God. It is also a call into freedom that in some ways mirrors God’s own, that is a freedom dedicated to serving others in love.
“The spirit of Christ must be the soul of all real social reconstruction.”
Toyohiko Kagawa (1888 – 1960)
Since 2009 the Episcopal Church has been exploring a revised Liturgical Calendar titled Holy Women, Holy Men. Stories of women and men living exemplary lives are finding a wider audience. The stories call forth the best in us and pose questions for us who continue our journey on the Way. Today, April 23rd, the church remembers Toyohiko Kagawa a “Prophetic Witness in Japan.”
Toyohiko Kagawa was a
“Japanese Christian social reformer. He came of a wealthy family and received his early education in a Buddhist monastery. After conversion to Christianity and disinheritance by his family, he studied at the *Presbyterian seminary at Kobe from 1905 to 1908. Here he became acutely conscious of Christian responsibility in the face of existing social evils and spent several years among the poor in the bad slums of Shinkawa. In 1914 he went to Princeton, USA, to study modern social techniques, and after returning to Japan in 1917 devoted himself entirely to the improvement of social conditions.”
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
Within the political rhetoric of our country today, we who follow Christ, who follow the Way (of Love) can best love our neighbor if we can hold fast to that ancient truth discovered and lived by Toyohiko Kagawa: “The spirit of Christ must be the soul of all real social reconstruction.”
There’s a peaceful rhythm to sounds in the chimes today. The melody is simple: have the Spirit of Christ … have the Spirit of Christ …have the Spirit of Christ
What do you hear?
Diana Butler Bass is a favorite author, writer, speaker, and teacher. In early March she posted this to her Facebook Page:
Was asked by an evangelical friend who has found his way to an Episcopal Church WHY the congregation likes scholars like Dom Crossan. Here’s part of my answer:
“Since I wasn’t at Dom’s presentations at the church you mention, I can’t speak directly to them. But I can speak to the ethos of the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church understands itself as a big room, a community bound together by prayer and enacting justice, not a particular way of understanding scripture or theology. It is a comprehensive church, one that prides itself on holding a wide variety of views, and always open to new ways of engaging the ancient stories. Thus, as a denomination, everyone is really, truly welcome—and that includes Dom Crossan to Rowan Williams and Marcus Borg to NT Wright! But, of course, not everyone is comfortable with such an ethos. But it does mean that we listen to a wide swath of Christian thinkers — it is NOT unusual at all for a single Episcopal congregation to read books ranging from Crossan to CS Lewis. Or to hear Mary Daly and Phil Yancey quoted in a sermon.”
Every Sunday (at 9 am) we gather at St. Margaret’s in our Sunday Morning Forum. We definitely represent “a wide swath” of Christian thinking and believing. Either before (8 am) or after (10 am) the Forum we worship together and take communion together. Come join us for a wide-ranging discussion, prayers, and communion.
It is a beautiful spectrum of sounds and rhythms from the chimes today.
What do you hear?
The Epistle for Proper 8 Year B read on July 1, 2012: 7 Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you —so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. 8 I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something— 11 now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. 12 For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. 13 I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between 14 your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. 15 As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.” 2 Corinthians 8:7-15
How believers use their resources — time, money, talents, and attention — is a reflection of what they believe about God and God’s actions in the world. Furthermore, how those resources are used preaches a message to others. Paul wants the Corinthians’ actions to be a reflection of the gospel in which they believe.
This passage fits in a larger section of 2 Corinthians (8:1-9:15) that is chiefly concerned with Paul’s collection for the Jerusalem church.…
In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul gets more mileage out of the Macedonian success story by shaming the Corinthian church into acting.…
Before he resorts to shaming them directly, he reminds the believers that their actions to support the Jerusalem poor demonstrate the earnestness of their faith (2 Corinthians 8:8). Paul reframes the whole collection as the gospel enacted. In 2 Corinthians 8:9, Paul retells the good news through the lens of generosity. Christ gave up extraordinary riches so that others might receive the abundant wealth of God’s grace.
A July 25 nighttime fire has destroyed St. James’ Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, North Dakota.
Sioux County, where Cannon Ball is located, is one of the poorest counties in North Dakota and among the top ten poorest in the nation
“At 10 p.m. Central Time a parishioner who lives across the road from St. James’ saw that there was smoke and fire coming from the church,” said the Rev. Canon John Floberg, who has served as St. James’ rector for 21 years and is canon missioner for native ministry in the Diocese of North Dakota. “Flames spread quickly through the parish hall to the church itself, and by quarter of eleven the whole structure was engulfed in flames. It’s all ash today.” Read more: NORTH DAKOTA: Fire destroys St. James’ Episcopal Church
I propose that we take up a collection in the Sunday Morning Forum for the people of St. James Episcopal Church. With the Apostle and the with the Professor I believe that how we use our resources tells a lot about what we believe about God and God’s actions in the world.
The Episcopal church has named July 28 as a day to remember three composers who were influential in the development of Western church music (and Western music in general)–Henry Purcell (1659-1695), George Frederic Handel (1685-1759), and Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).
Over the next few days, I’ll be reflecting a bit on who these men were, how they studied, where they lived, what their music is like, and why it is important. I look forward to the potential for a discussion regarding your feelings on their work, how it has or hasn’t affected you, and whether you’d like to hear more or less of it in church today.