What is Advent all about? How is Advent different than Christmas? In a BRAND NEW version of our classic video, Busted Halo explains the significance of this special season in the Church and why the experience of waiting, hope, and preparation is still so important in our lives today.
Our thanks to the staff of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church
The Rt. Rev. Carl Walter Wright is the bishop suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries.
I greet you in the Name of the Lord Jesus on this the 98th commemoration of “Veterans Day.” It used to be called “Armistice Day” in thanksgiving for the peace that was signed between the Allied and Axis powers. When President Woodrow Wilson made the second Armistice Day (11 November 1919) an official celebration, we were an optimistic people. The horribly tragic “War to End All Wars” had ended the previous year. Things were looking up. Americans had every right to expect that no civilized person would ever want to go to war again. Then, barely 20 years later, a deranged German army corporal, a veteran of that same war, set out to conquer the world and brought us into WWII. And so went the 20th century, arguably the most violent century ever.
Undoubtedly, those wars (and all subsequent ones) made us wonder what in the world can we trust. We were so hopeful that goodness and truth would come out of violence and evil; and it did not happen. Moreover, we are even now living through precarious and dangerous times – more dangerous than we have known for several generations – dangerous morally, socially, politically, etc. Upon reflection, our time bears a close resemblance to the inter-war years (1918-1938). We, too “have been through a great tribulation” (Revelation 7): ours was called the Vietnam conflict. Our whole society changed during and after the 1960s. Previous customs, values, and beliefs were all questioned or abandoned altogether.
These are times like those. Consensus has broken down. Fear is all around. There is an unspoken undercurrent of anxiety and uncertainty. We don’t know what the future holds.
But I ask you to join me in trusting in the true and living God, just as Job did, when he said, in the midst of great confusion, “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (Job 19). Let us be hopeful that the good will always eventually win out. Our veterans deserve our respect because they are the guarantors of the freedoms we enjoy. Our veterans do the bidding of politicians and diplomats, who we pray have our best interests in mind. Veterans fight to preserve our constitutional rights. Veterans die so we can live. So, on this 98th commemoration of Veterans Day, let us give thanks to God for their service keep them in our prayers.
Gathered in Fairbanks, Alaska, September 21-26, 2017
The bishops of The Episcopal Church came to Alaska to listen to the earth and its peoples as an act of prayer, solidarity and witness. We came because:
What does listening to the earth and its people mean? For us bishops, it meant:
What did we hear?
God calls us to listen to each other with increased attention. It is only with unstopped ears and open eyes that our hearts and lives will be changed. It is through the reconciling love of God in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit that we and the earth itself will be healed.
A Prayer for Our Time and for the Earth
Dear God, Creator of the earth, this sacred home we share;
Give us new eyes to see the beauty all around and to protect the wonders of creation.
Give us new arms to embrace the strangers among us and to know them as family.
Give us new ears to hear and understand those who live off the land
and to hear and understand those who extract its resources.
Give us new hearts to recognize the brokenness in our communities
and to heal the wounds we have inflicted.
Give us new hands to serve the earth and its people
and to shape beloved community.
For you are the One who seeks the lost,
binds our wounds and sets us free,
and it is in the name of Jesus the Christ we pray.
Mother Susan's Book Recommendation: Rising Strong - by Brene Brown
If you are not familiar with Brene Brown - I recommend you google her and listen to her speak. Not only is she a notable sociologist, Writer and amazing story-teller, she is also one of the hottest commodity speakers for Episcopal Bishops to invite to their gatherings. She's an Episcopalian from Houston who offers real tools ... for living a brave life - especially when it's not easy. Inevitably, all of us are going to stumble and fall. It is the rise from falling that Brown , takes as her subject in Rising Strong. As a grounded theory researcher, Brown has listened to a range of people - from Fortune 500 leaders to the military; from artists, couples in long-term relationships, teachers, and parents - who have shared their stories of being brave, falling, and getting back up.
Our stories of struggle can be big ones, like the loss of a job or the end of a relationship, or smaller ones, like a conflict with a friend or colleague. Regardless of magnitude or circumstance, the rising strong process is the same: We reckon with our emotions and get curious about what we're feeling; we rumble with our stories until we get to a place of truth; and we live this process, every day, until it becomes a practice which can truly heal and change our lives. This #1 New York Times Bestseller teaches us much about how we cultivate wholeheartedness.
Nick's Book Recommendation: What Shall We Say: Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith.
Published in 2011, Tom Long, the Bandy Professor of Preaching at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University reflects on the charged topic of “theodicy.” In this short volume Long's thesis centers on, "how believers can hold together important faith claims that seem, on the surface anyway, to be incompatible: that there is a God, that God is loving and just, that God is all powerful, and that there is undeserved suffering in the world." Many of you, no doubt, have read Rabbi Harold Kushner's book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Long's work addresses certain claims made by Kushner and I believe offers a relevant critique to be mindful of when discussing the problem of evil. For as Long states, "theodicy is not about coming up with excuses for God's behavior in a world of evil but about how faith in a loving God is plausible, given what we know and experience about suffering."
Presiding Bishop, President of House of Deputies on DACA: We stand with the Dreamers and will do all that we can to support them.
Today our hearts are with those known as the Dreamers—those young women and men who were brought to this country as children, who were raised here and whose primary cultural and country identity is American. We believe that these young people are children of God and deserve a chance to live full lives, free from fear of deportation to countries that they may have never known and whose languages they may not speak. As people of faith, our obligation is first to the most vulnerable, especially to children. In this moment, we are called by God to protect Dreamers from being punished for something they had no agency in doing.
Read the full statement
In the Faith Forum today we used the Godly Play curriculum to explore the Adam and Eve story about eating the fruit from the forbidden tree. Very interesting and illuminating.
The Godly Play curriculum is "The result of a lifetime of research and practice by theologian, author and educator The Rev. Dr. Jerome Berryman, the Godly Play® method is a curriculum of spiritual practice exploring the mystery of God’s presence in our lives. The Godly Play curriculum engages what is most exciting about religious education: God inviting us into—and pursuing us in the midst of—Scripture and spiritual experience. Godly Play practice teaches us to listen for God and to make authentic and creative responses to God’s call in our lives."
Click here to learn more about Goodly Play
Susan's Book Recommendation
Etty Hissesun - A Life Transformed, by Patrick Woodhouse
This book explores the diary writings of a 27-year old Dutch Jewish woman in enemy occupied Amsterdam, under Nazi control, beginning in 1941. Over the course of two and a half years - we gain insight into her transformed understanding of chaos, suffering and a learned spirituality of hope in the darkest period of the Twentieth Century. For years, I have gone back to this book to help gain perspective on how I might see life's tragic aspects with a deeper, mystical confidence. Perhaps the reason I was initially attracted to read this book - is that its Forward was written by the then, Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Don't miss her chapter on "Refusing to Hate."
Nick's Book Recommendation
Rowan Williams - Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer
Published in 2014, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, reflects on the fundamental aspects of our faith that have remained constant throughout our common life together. In these short erudite talks, Williams offers readers four pastoral meditations on what he considers are the basic elements of our tradition in a wonderfully thought-provoking and accessible style. As we pray for those amongst us who are readying themselves for the sacramental rites of Confirmation, Reaffirmation, and Reception it might also be a good time for us to revisit and reflect on the core elements of what Being Christian encompasses. I hope you'll join me and I look forward to our conversations.
There’s no great mystery to Ignatian prayer, but this week is a good time to review. If you want to pray in the Ignatian way, here are three ways to do it—not an exhaustive list but a good start.
1. Do the Examen.
At the end of the day, ask the Holy Spirit to guide your memory over the day’s events and conversations. Give thanks for the blessings of the day. Ask God’s forgiveness if you have wandered from Jesus’ path of truth, compassion, and kindness. Ask God’s help with any negative patterns you see in your life, or for strength and wisdom to deal with upcoming events or issues. You can do this prayer once a day, twice a day, three times a day; the important thing is to develop a pattern that’s best for you. For more about the Examen – go to the Ignatian Spirituality website:
2. Put yourself in a Gospel story.
Just choose which character you’re going to be, and walk right into the scene where Jesus heals someone, delivers a teaching, or feeds thousands. You can be a main character in the story, or you can be a bystander or friend that you simply invent for this prayer. Don’t get distracted by trying to be historically accurate—this is not about you interpreting Scripture in a scholarly way. The point is to encounter Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide this very spiritual function, the human imagination, to where you need to go.
3. Pray as though you are having a conversation across the dinner table or in your living room.
In the Spiritual Exercises, this is called a colloquy, but it’s just conversational prayer. You speak to Jesus as you would a close friend. You speak to Mary, his mother, or to God the Father/Creator, or to the Holy Spirit who is comforter, or to one of the saints, who can be part of this conversation with the Divine. Sometimes, when we pray the way we talk, it can enable us to be more honest. Probably the only danger is that we become flippant or casual, but this isn’t much of a temptation when we remember who it is we’re talking to.
by Vinita Hampton Wright