Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sleepers, wake!

If you listen carefully to the bass line, you can hear the watchman on the heights - pacing up and down.

Happy Advent, everybody!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We plow the fields and gather...

Artist: Camille Pissarro

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The prayer of a great bishop

Artist: Philip De Laszlo

By one of my heroes, Archbishop William Temple:

O God of love, we ask you to give us love:
love in our thinking, love in our speaking, love in our doing,
and love in the hidden places of our souls;
love of our neighbours, near and far;
love of our friends, old and new;
love of those whom we find it hard to bear with us;
love of those with whom we work,
and love of those with whom we take our ease;
love in joy, love in sorrow,
love in life and love in death;
that so at length we may be worthy to dwell with you,
who are eternal Love. Amen.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Self emptying

Artist: Marie Ellenrieder
Image from Wikimedia Commons

This, by Karen Armstrong, is so wonderfully expressed:

“Theologians in all the great faiths have devised all kinds of myths to show that this type of kenosis, of self-emptying, is found in the life of God itself. They do not do this because it sounds edifying, but because this is the way that human nature seems to work. We are most creative and sense other possibilities that transcend our ordinary experience when we leave ourselves behind.”

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tell me

Artist: Tsuji Kak├┤

I've probably already posted this somewhere but never mind. It's by that astonishing marvel of a poet, Mary Oliver, and I truly love it. She (more than any other poet writing today, I would assert) teaches us what it means to pay attention:

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down--
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Where is the promise of renewal?

Artist: Fra Angelico
Image from Wikimedia commons

I can hardly imagine how things would look myself:

“If contemporary Christians took seriously the possibility that those outside the boundaries of the church might hold the promise of renewal, if we ceased regarding ourselves as the source of salvation and the secular world as a potential threat, and if we emulated Jesus' example in accepting the faith and the courage of those who live beyond conventional standards of purity, well, I can hardly imagine how things would look.”

-- Greg Carey


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Something about preparation

Artist: Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow

Some parishes will be observing All Saints today but I want to focus on the propers for Pentecost 21.

I found the following over on Lindy Black's page:
In Palestine, young couples wouldn't go away for a week-long honeymoon, instead, they would stay at their home and would have a sort of "open house" for their friends. Everyone treated the couple as royalty, the week following their wedding ceremony was undoubtedly the best week of their lives. Before the wedding, the maidens kept the bride company outside of the groom's house as she waited for him to arrive. They'd bring lamps to use while they waited because they were not allowed in the streets at night without light. Because the groom could come at any time, even at night, they had to stay and wait. No one knew exactly when he'd arrive. They didn't print invitations and invite people to come at a precise time for the wedding, it happened whenever the bridegroom came. It could be today, it could be tomorrow or it could be next week. When the bridegroom approached, a messenger would go out into the streets and declare, "Behold, the bridegroom is coming" then the maidens would accompany the bride into the house for the wedding ceremony and the week-long celebration to follow. (Barclay 354) There was a small window of opportunity to walk through the door into the house. Once the wedding began, no one else was admitted. In other words, it wasn't possible to be too early, but it was possible to be too late, you couldn't just walk in and find a seat in the back, when the door was shut, it was shut and it wouldn't be opened again. So when Jesus told this parable, His listeners had a cultural point of reference that made it come alive to them. They immediately got his point about the importance of preparation.
And I would be remiss if I didn't share this gem with you!

Back in the days when only young men prepared for pastoral ministry, a certain Dr. Eislen, president of Garrett Seminary, preached on this parable in chapel. When he reached the climax of his message, he yelled at his seminarians, "Young men, tell me, would you rather be in the light with the wise virgins, or out in the dark with the foolish virgins?" Such laughter arose that chapel was dismissed early that day!

-- Mickey Anders

If you're not familiar with the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, please go right here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Those who have gone before

Artist: Antonello da Messina

It's All Souls Day. Yesterday was All Saints Day. On both days we think about the departed about whom we care or who have influenced us in some way and for whom we're grateful.

Here's something I found that I really, really like:
Sometimes the saint is loved not simply for his closeness to God but for his patent humanity. The saint has a temper, flies off the handle, loses his or her cool in pursuit of a great ideal. St. Jerome, the first translator of the Bible into Latin, was famously irascible, once writing that one of his detractors "walked like a tortoise." To take another example, St. Peter is beloved not only because he was a great apostle, but for his many flaws: denying Jesus three times before the crucifixion, among them. Holiness makes its home in humanity. That insight says, “They’re not perfect. Maybe I could aspire to this level of achievement.”

-- James Martin
It reminds me of that wonderful hymn I learned as a child: "I sing a song of the saints of God..." that quite wonderfully ends, "And I mean to be one too."

May it be so for each one of us.

(A tip of the hat to Kirkepiscatoid)