Memorial Day: as we remember may we also become committed to work for peace

Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday of May, commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service.  In observance of the holiday, many people visit cemeteries and memorials, and volunteers often place American flags on each grave site at national cemeteries.  A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time. —Dept. of Veterans Affairs

My hope this Memorial Day is that in the midst of whatever holiday fare you have planned today you will take a moment to remember the sacrifices made on our behalf. To help you here are some links I have found helpful in my spiritual journey:

Here is a short prayer shared by the Rev. Gagne in his essay. Let it be our prayer today.

 Loving God, we pray to you for people of every race, religion, langauge and nation. Help us always to respect and love each other for You have made us all. Let those who have given their lives for the sake of justice, peace and freedom be rewarded by your generous love. May their families and friends, and we who honor them today, remember them with love, now and always. Amen.

Come, Gracious Spirit

Now it is after sunset (in my patch of California). On the Eve of Pentecost I share with you this presentation of the hymn “Come, Gracious Spirit.” Enjoy (more than once) as you prepare for (or celebrate) Pentecost.

So you know: “A Christian hymn of prayer to the Holy Spirit written by Simon Browne, 1720. Sung in the video by the Altar of Praise Chorale.” [YouTube caption]

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: (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.

What about Bible reading and “Newspaper” reading?

On Sunday (5/20/12) our discussion wandered into the area of reading the Bible and reading the newspaper (well, to be 21st century, reading or watching the news on the internet). I recalled, and others nodded their heads, that Karl Barth, a great theologian and teacher, commented on that dynamic.

Here is what Barth is reported to have said:

“[Barth] recalls that 40 years ago he advised young theologians ‘to take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.’” Time, May 31, 1963

The Time article goes on to give us more of Barth’s thoughts on journalists and their place in the world: “Newspapers, he says, are so important that ‘I always pray for the sick, the poor, journalists, authorities of the state and the church – in that order. Journalists form public opinion. They hold terribly important positions. Nevertheless, a theologian should never be formed by the world around him – either East or West. He should make his vocation to show both East and West that they can live without a clash. Where the peace of God is proclaimed, there is peace on earth is implicit. Have we forgotten the Christmas message?’” —Center for Barth Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary Accessed 3 May 2011

In invite you to share as we continue this conversation:

  • Do you  “read both” (Bible and “newspaper”)?
  • In what ways do you “interpret” the news “from your Bible”?
  • How would you rephrase Barth’s advice for the 21st century?

…so I have sent YOU into the world

On Sunday, May 20th, we heard, “[Father] as you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” The speaker in each instance, of course, is Jesus. He is speaking to those who gather around him—in every age—to hear what he is saying. He is speaking to us. Today, WE are the ones sent into the world.

We prayed for each other and for all who listen for the Spirit this past Sunday: “We pray for the gifts of ministry.” Today I offer another prayer: A Litany of Women for the Church by Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine Nun living in Pennsylvania.

How are you responding to the Spirit as you go into the world as one sent by Jesus? How do you choose your way forward as one who is sent? I invite you to continue the conversation in the Comments section that follows.

What we are doing on earth—a bishop speaks

The Rev. Dr. Mariann Budde was consecrated as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Washington on 12 Nov 2011 and was “seated” in her cathedral and preached her first “episcopal sermon” on 13 Nov 2011 in the National Cathedral. You can read her entire sermon here: What we are doing on earth.

To whet your appetite for reading, I offer this tidbit from the midst of her remarks. It is a remeinder to all of us of the unique character of our Episcopal Church (firmly in the “Anglican Tradition”). Enjoy.

My friends of the Episcopal Diocese of this Washington, you have called me to serve as your bishop at a decisive moment of opportunity and challenge for us all. The opportunity is all around us. We of the Episcopal Church have been entrusted with a particular expression of Christ’s gospel that is priceless. Think of what it means to you to have a spiritual home with such an appreciation of mystery and all that is beyond our knowing and curiosity about the world as we can know it through the rigorous inquiry of science.

Think of what it means to you to have a spiritual home that lives the Via Media, the middle way among all expressions of Christianity, affirming the wholeness of faith that can only be fully experienced in the creative tension of polarities — heart and mind, Catholic and Protestant, word and sacrament, mysticism and service, contemplation and social engagement. Think of what it means to you to be part of a Church that does not ask its members to agree on matters of politics or theology or biblical interpretation, but rather to allow the grace of God to unite us at the altar of Christ in full appreciation of our differences and the God-given right of everyone to be welcome at God’s table.

Come back and leave a comment or two. Share your reaction to her sermon. What is stirred up within you? What did you learn? What did you relearn? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Photo: Episcopal News Service