At issue was the question of what to do when prayer doesn't feel like much of anything. If sometimes you find yourself just reciting words with no particular emotional power attached to them, does it mean your prayer is not genuine? Does it mean you're a fake, that you are not really a spiritual person at all, just a person who wants to look spiritual.
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Mother Susan will be referring to this organization in her Sermon this weekend, Dec 28 & 29, 2019. https://www.puppiesbehindbars.com/
Forum leader: Kay Westmark
The forum is based on the book "Ponder These Things" by Rowan Williams. This week we pondered the Hodegetria, or Virgin Hodegetria, an iconographic depiction of the Theotokos holding the Child Jesus at her side while pointing to him as the source of salvation for humankind. The Virgin's head usually inclines towards the child, who raises his hand in a blessing gesture.
The Bible & Homosexuality
St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church Faith Forum
November 24, 2019
Presented by Daniel Payne.
What Old Testament Scripture Verses Address Same-Sex Behavior?
The Reverend Susan Sowers
Interpreting Scripture & Human Sexuality
Mother Susan's Recommended Book
Heaven, edited by Roger Ferlo
As I started preparing for an upcoming sermon next month that deals with the afterlife, I became motivated to tackle the unknown realm of “Heaven." What will it be like? How do we even begin to imagine it? Do I need to fear that I might be excluded? I feel like I am in good company at wondering about all of that... So - beyond praying and meditating upon what I would like to convey in my sermon on the 10th of Nov, I also went to this amazing book that I purchased while in Seminary. Professor Ferlo - the editor was one of my teachers and priest at seminary. I highly recommend this book. It's actually a compilation of short essays by fairly well known Episcopal priests (mostly) who help flesh out some of their own wondering. It includes essays by Barbara Brown Taylor, Phyllis Tickle, Alan Jones, Barbara Crafton, Martin Smith and Malcolm Boyd. Every one of these short essays leaves me feeling hopeful. What a great Christmas or Thanksgiving Day gift for someone who doesn't have a lot of time to read - but wants some substance and wonder in their day. This book offers hope and perspective. God is so gracious - to give us life, and more life.
Nick's book recommendation:
This Far by Grace
It's probably no surprise that after I arrived in Pensacola my family and I BY GRACE began all of the things you do to set up shop in a place: buy a house, find the grocery store, find a doctor, a dentist, an optometrist, etc. And always, there were the questions, "What brings you down here?" and "O, where do you work at?" At the time, I was surprised A Bishop's Journey by just how many people knew of St. Christopher's, the Episcopal Through Questions About Homosexuality Church, and the theological work the church at large had done in the past twenty years. For instance, in the dentist office Teresa was J. Neil Alexander speaking about St. Christopher's and then seemingly out of nowhere was asked about Gene Robinson by her hygienist! That says something to me. What I was not prepared for, however, was that folks genuinely expected our interpretation in return to their questions about the church's stance on sensitive matters such as sexuality. These kinds of conversations got me to thinking about where people are theologically in their understanding of Grace and sexuality in our parish. So, we thought it would be helpful to offer a Faith Forum that helps us think about what scripture says on the matter. I highly recommend Neil's book. In this thoughtful and timely book, as Bishop Alexander (Dean of the School of the Theology at the University of the South) explores his journey through the theological, scriptural, and pastoral aspects of the questions surrounding homosexuality and the Christian faith. As the former Bishop of Atlanta, I find his story fascinating and I hope you will too, should you be asked to give an account of the hope that is within you.
The sacrament of baptism is an opportunity for joy, power, and a deep connection with tradition. These 3 short videos follow the Gregory family as they navigate the process of preparing their young daughter, Anna, for baptism. Watch as they discover the beautiful reason why we baptize, create lifelong relationships with the community of believers on this journey with them, and connect with the ancient history of God’s presence through this outward sacrament of inner grace.
Watch the videos...
Throughout the world this past week, churches held special services for the blessing of animals. People young and old brought their pets to the service to have them prayed over and blessed. When I have had the honor to help at these services, I have blessed beloved dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, birds, fish, and even a few stuffed animals that children lovingly brought with them to church. I have friends who have blessed horses, cows, goats, rats, and snakes!
Mother Susan's Book Recommendation:
You Are the Beloved: Daily Meditations for Spiritual Living, By Henri J. M. Nouwen
This daily devotional book is a compilation of Henri Nouwen's wisdom over a life-time. Truly - it is balm for the soul.
Like Henri's "Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith," this book also contains focused nuggets of lifegiving truth. Most mornings - as I read these half-page reflections, I am not only reminded of my own Belovedness by God, but feel like Henri's given me glimpses through a compassionate lens to 'see' as God does. He speaks about faith, love and death in ways that resonate with my heart and allow me to carry a blessing into my day to share with others. This book makes a great personal companion near your Prayer Chair for daily devotions. The good news is - you can also receive these daily devotions by email for no charge at https://henrinouwen.org.
Father Nick's Book Recommendation:
Walking in Wonder: Eternal Wisdom for a Modern World by John O'Donohue
In October, St. Christopher's will be hosting a Godly Play workshop for the Southeast region of the United States. As part of our program we will feature a John O'Donohue presentation on some of the theology present in Jerome Berryman's work. Finding examples in Berryman's writings on the subject of “wonder" has proved to be a very edifying as well as pleasing experience. O'Donohue's work on the other hand, albeit an indirect analog, is quite complementary to Berryman's in a variety of ways. In particular, O'Donohue's theology of “wonder" complements Berryman so well that I felt the need to share it will all of my Godly Play friends here. O'Donohue says that "wonder has a sister and her name is compassion." I think that is such a rich theological statement and worthy, so worthy, of discussion here for the many ways you all remain compelled to "walk in love" with one another.