Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Lid Is On

I'll be back in the office in a few days and we can all great greet the new year this Sunday in church.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Former Student Forwards His Version Of A Christmas Card

I know that this may be found overly militaristic by some, but this is day to day reality for the men and women in Afghanistan.  That I once was in the company of people this brave and good is something that I'll never regret.  Merry Christmas and, for God's sake, may you all please come home soon.

Och, Aye [Archaeological News]

Did the Scots visit Iceland?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Why Do We Cross Ourselves?

Episcopalians cross themselves from time to time during the liturgy. This is not an unusual practice in Anglican spirituality. In fact, not crossing oneself is, globally speaking, much more unusual.

Crossing is an ancient Christian gesture, perhaps as old as the Fourth Century, in which one touches his or her forehead, heart, left shoulder, right shoulder and then back to the center of the chest. [Please note that it is Anglicans/Episcopalians who engage in that final gesture, as opposed to the form used in Roman Catholicism.]

There is also a particular way of doing so at the beginning of the reading of the Gospel. Perhaps this is something we can explore more during an adult forum or teaching liturgy.

The intent of crossing oneself is to mark the complete participation of the individual worshipper in the liturgy and in the life of the Spirit. In the gesture, we acknowledge that we engage head, heart, body, and soul. This is particularly important as Anglican/Episcopal spirituality has always advanced the total sensory experience of liturgy.  We see the cross, hear the Word, touch the bread, taste the wine, and sometimes even smell the incense. This is also why the use of liturgical colors, flowers, and Christian art [such as is found in stained glass] is of such importance in our tradition.

If you are wondering when to cross yourself, there are times when it is particularly appropriate. Certainly, as we receive the blessing from a priest or bishop, it is customary to reflect the cleric's gesticulated cross of blessing by crossing oneself. It is also customary to do so at references to the resurrection in the Nicene Creed and Prayers of the People.

Although, I did hear what I think is the final word on this subject from The Rev. Dr. Thomas Talley, the late professor of liturgics at General Seminary. When one of my classmates, who is now a bishop somewhere in the Pacific, asked Dr. Talley when it was proper to cross oneself, Talley, who was from Texas and enjoyed good stories and sippin' whiskey, smiled and said, "Whenever the [Hades] you want to."

2/21 Update: Dear students and others in New Jersey, I see from the Feedjit live traffic stream that the burning question in the state of New Jersey today was "Why do we cross ourselves?" Really? A two-month-old posting has elicited that much curiosity? I wonder if it is a Confirmation class question somewhere or something from a parochial high school's theology program.

Kids, if you quote me, remember to footnote it.

Now, Just As Christmas Is Here, They Come Out With The Perfect Gift

Shark shield protects surfers from attacks

Homo homini lepus

The other day I opened what turned out to be a Christmas present: an enormous rabbit-fur hat.  Once I put it on, the cat ran from the room in terror.  I'm concerned that there may soon be reports of a large homo lepus roaming the Roxbury green.  As you can see above, even celebrities look bizarre while wearing one.

[The title above is a parody of a Roman proverb credited to Plautus, "homo homini lupus", or "man is a wolf to his fellow man".  In my case, man is a rabbit [lepus] to his fellow man.  Or maybe his cat.  It's funnier if I don't have to explain it, isn't it?]

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Somehow, This Doesn't Surprise Me

Joy a Mystery to Scientists

Although, if any scientists come to Christ Church either tomorrow at 5pm or 11pm, or Saturday at 10am, they may get at least a partial explanation.

A Brief Word About Alternative Fund-Raising

Allow me to thank those of you who have purchased Christmas presents and other gifts from Amazon.com and its third-party vendors.  While this service is available year-round, it is particularly successful between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Due to the volume of traffic to their site, Amazon.com raised the portion of the purchase price donated to Christ Church from 4% to 6% .

Monday, December 20, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Liturgies For Christmas

Christmas Eve:
5:00 pm Celebration of the Holy Eucharist on the occasion of the Feast of the Incarnation with Carols and Hymns.

11:00 pm Festal Celebration of the Holy Eucharist, also with Carols, Hymns, and special music. [Carol Sing at 10:45pm.]

Christmas Day:
10:00 am Celebration of the Holy Eucharist with Carols.

First Sunday after Christmas:
8:00 am Celebration of the Holy Eucharist

10:00 am Festival of Lessons and Carols

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Fourth Sunday Of Advent

This week we have more lyricism from Isaiah, a sneaky letter from Paul, and the dream life of Joseph.  All this and what happens when someone shouts "Freebird" [or "Stairway To Heaven"].

The lections made be found here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ken And Sean Turn Up Trumps [Again]

The parish Christmas tree was delivered yesterday by the redoubtable Murphy father and son.  Photos will be forthcoming as soon as I buy a new camera.  [The last one didn't survive the tree lighting party at the rectory.]

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This Week In History

December 15, 1418: English pre-Reformer John Oldcastle is burned alive for his efforts to preserve and promote the cause of the Lollards (preachers who spread John Wycliffe's views). Shakespeare reportedly based his character Falstaff on Oldcastle.

December 15, 1900: Count Leo Tolstoy writes to the tsar asking him to end religious persecution in Russia.

December 17, 1917: Bolsheviks confiscate all property of the Russian Orthodox Church and abolish religious instruction in the schools. Within two decades, at least 45,000 priests were reportedly martyred in the country.

December 18, 1707: Charles Wesley, who founded Methodism with his brother John, is born in England. A celebrated and prolific hymnwriter, his "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Lo, He Comes" are widely sung this time of year.

December 18, 1865: Slavery is abolished in the United States as the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified. Many of the abolitionists who pushed for its passage were Christians seeking to make America more like the Kingdom of God.

December 18, 1957: English author Dorothy Sayers, a Christian apologist who was also the most popular mystery writer in England, dies.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

So, What Are You Reading?

I was asked that the other day and was able to answer with the title of a book about which people have actually heard.  I must be getting mainstream in my tastes

Anyway, a link to the book's listing at Amazon.com may be found below.  If you follow the link, and it takes you to your account, should you decide to buy it, or anything else sold either by Amazon or any of its third-party vendors, it will result in a donation to Christ Church representing 6% of the purchase price.

Today's T-SP Meeting

We hosted a clergy group today in Roxbury, the Tri-State Pilgrims. It's made up of rectors who have also served in significant non-parish roles.  None of those present had ever experienced Roxbury before, so after breakfast from the Market, a hike through the Land Trust, and breathing deeply of the country air, they wanted to live here.  Instead of putting them up in the rectory indefinitely, I offered to host the next meeting.

The beauty of this gathering is that clergy who get parish-bound tend to think two-dimensionally.  Because the gathering was made up of clergy who have served in parishes, schools, prisons, hospitals, and various civil service chaplaincies [not to mention in religious orders], the discussions tend to be broad ranged, interdisciplinary, and much more likely to lead to greater innovation in outreach and liturgical programs.  Certainly, that was the case today.

Anyway, I pass along their thanks and appreciation to the folks of Christ Church who enabled this meeting. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

At The Minor Library Tomorrow

Our own Jay Tunney will be speaking at the town library tomorrow afternoon at 3pm about his book that examines his father's friendship with George Bernard Shaw. If you wish to purchase a copy, please use the link below and 6% of the purchase price will be donated by Amazon.com to Christ Church.

Actually, after clicking on the link below, any item you then purchase results in a 6% donation to Christ Church.

The Third Sunday Of Advent

This week we hear the poetry of Isaiah, the sagacity of James, and of the gift of John the Baptist.  All this plus what happened at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1956.

The lections may be found here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

"She says the two were married in a pagan ceremony by a Presbyterian minister about a year before he was found dead in a Paris bathtub in 1971."

The quotation above was the most interesting part of the article linked to here.  Otherwise, it's just another story about politicians using a dead rock star to stir up some end-of-year press coverage for themselves.  After all, you can't have Santa Claus [or that Jesus guy] getting all of the attention.

I wish the reporter had told us something about this "pagan/Presbyterian" marriage ceremony, though.

Today's Weather In The Dominican Republic: 78.3 °F, Scattered Clouds; Wind: WSW at 4.0 mph

In Roxbury, it's 9 degrees Fahrenheit.  Don't you wish you were at the Episcopal/Anglican evangelism climate change conference?

In Dominican Republic, gathering explores climate justice perspectives


Deforestation, intensive storms and floods show effects of climate change in Dominican Republic

Thank heaven the leadership of the Episcopal Church has so many qualified climatologists.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Reminder

Any items purchased from Amazon.com using the link found on the right side of this posting will result in a 4% to 6% donation to Christ Church.  This means any item purchased, new or used, as long as the link to the right is used to connect to the main page of Amazon.com.

Please remember this as you do your on-line shopping.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's Snowing So It Must Be Time For A Global Warming Conference

And where else would you have it but somewhere tropical?

Climate justice is focus of four-day Episcopal/Anglican gathering in Dominican Republic

They can meet wherever they want, and spend diocesan travel money any way they want, but please don't lecture me about my carbon footprint anymore.

Monday, December 6, 2010

December 6, 1969: The Rolling Stones played a free festival at Altamont in California, along with Jefferson Airplane, Santana, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Crosby, Stills ,Nash & Young. While the Rolling Stones played, fan Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by Hell’s Angels who'd been hired to police the event. It’s claimed Hunter was waving a revolver. One other man drowned, two men were killed by in a hit-and-run accident and two babies were born.

December 9, 1608: English poet John Milton is born in London. Though most famous for his epic Paradise Lost, he also penned an exposition of Christian doctrine, a plan for Christian education, and various political writings.

December 9, 1840: Unable to go to China, David Livingstone sets sail from London as a missionary to southern Africa.

December 9, 1843: The first Christmas cards—actually more like postcards—are created and sold for a shilling.

December 10, 1520: German reformer Martin Luther publicly burns Pope Leo X's bull "Exsurge Domine," which had demanded that Luther recant his heresies—including justification by faith alone.

December 11, 1518: Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli becomes "people's priest" at the Old Minster Church in Zurich, a position he held for the remaining 13 years of his life. After nearly dying from the plague, he began his reforming program almost immediately, persuading the city council to judge religious issues by Scripture alone.

December 11, 1640: English Puritans introduced a petition with 15,000 signatures to Parliament, seeking to abolish the church episcopacy, "with all its dependencies, roots and branches." The House of Commons accepted what has become known as the "Roots and Branch Petition," but the House of Lords (many of whom were bishops) rejected it, and the episcopal organization of the Church of England remained.

December 11, 1792: Jacob Mohr, author of the poem "Silent Night," is born.

December 11, 1918: Russian author Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, an Orthodox believer whose works include One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago, is born. His books are credited by many scholars with "helping to bring down the last empire on earth".

December 11, 1984: The White House displays a nativity scene for the first time since courts ordered its removal in 1973.

December 12, 1189: King Richard I "the Lion Hearted" leaves England on the Third Crusade to retake Jerusalem, which had fallen to Muslim general Saladin in 1187.

December 12, 1667: The Council of Moscow deposes Russian Orthodox Patriarch Nikon. A "man of great ability and sincerity but of autocratic temper," according to one historian, his calls for liturgical reform grew into a fight over the relationship between church and state. Though deposed at the council, banished, and imprisoned for 14 years, his liturgical reforms were sanctioned. In 1681, he was recalled to Moscow by the new tsar, but he died on the way. He was buried with patriarchal honors and all decrees against him were revoked.

December 12, 1712: The colony of South Carolina requires "all persons whatsoever" to attend church each Sunday and refrain from skilled labor and travel. Violators of the "Sunday Law" could be fined 10 shillings or locked in the stocks for two hours.

December 13, 304: Lucy, one of the earliest Christian saints to achieve popularity, dies. According to legend, she renounced marriage out of devotion to Christ, but a spurned suitor convinced Roman authorities to force her into a life of prostitution. When this was unsuccessful, they tried to burn her to death, but she wouldn't catch fire. Finally, she was killed by the sword. More realistically, she was probably one of several Christians killed in the Diocletian persecution. But within a century of her death, she had a remarkable following.

December 13, 1250: Frederick II, the messianic German Emperor (1212-1250) who fought repeatedly and heatedly with popes, dies suddenly of dysentery at age 55. He called himself "lord of the world"; others either praised him as "stupor mundi" (wonder of the world) or damned him as Antichrist.

December 13, 1294: After issuing a constitution giving popes the right to quit, Pope Celestine V shocks the world by resigning. An aged, nearly incoherent hermit when he was chosen to succeed Pope Nicholas IV, Celestine was desperately unsuited for the job and served only 15 weeks before Cardinal Gaetani, masquerading as a voice from heaven, convinced him to step down. Gaetani then became the infamous Pope Boniface VIII, and he imprisoned Celestine until the old man's death.

December 13, 1835: Phillips Brooks, Episcopal bishop and author of "O Little Town of Bethlehem," is born in Boston. [Follow this link to Brooks' sermon offered at the memorial for Abraham Lincoln.]

December 14, 872: Pope Adrian (or Hadrian) II dies. Adrian twice refused the papacy (in 855 and 858) before reluctantly accepting in 867. Weak and vacillating, he sought support from, of all people, the antipope Anastasius.

December 14, 1363: French ecclesiastical statesman and writer Jean Gerson is born. Eager to end the Great Schism of 1378-1414, he was influential in calling the Council of Pisa and the Council of Constance (which eventually ended the dual papacy). In defense of the Council of Pisa, Gerson wrote a tract promoting counciliar theory—the idea that a council can supersede the pope.

December 14, 1591: Spanish poet John of the Cross, one of the greatest Christian mystics, dies. His "Dark Night of the Soul" is one of the era's best known religious poems, and his treatises have profoundly influenced both Catholic and Protestant thought.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

One Strand Only

It might be difficult to see, but this morning one strand of lights remains ignited on the green's Christmas [and Holiday!] tree.

Click to enlarge.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Random Scenes From Roxbury

It's a busy weekend with many, many events taking place.  Below are some photos of the re-naming ceremony that took place yesterday along with a couple of scenes from today's Holiday Vendor Fair taking place in the parish house.

The Second Sunday Of Advent [Not Lent]

This week we hear of the "other": he who did not, could not, and would not fit in the common, flat spirituality of First Century culture. In his "otherness", he cleared the path to righteousness for his community and for all the "others" who brave the rite of initiation.  After all, "who will ride the thunder?"

The readings for tomorrow may be found here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Creche Is Up

Now it really seems like Advent.  Many thanks to Ken and Sean and the guys, and to Dudley for letting them loose from work for a morning.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

An Urban Tale [Now Somewhat Dated]

My first job out of college was as an English teacher in an inner-city high school.  My students were not anywhere near wealthy, but they were driven to excel, mainly because our school overlooked a valley of steel mills that cut through the middle of Cleveland, separating the east side from the west.  They would often joke about how the effulgence of American manufacturing tainted every breath one took; even turning the laundry hanging in back yards a marvelous shade of orange.  While their parents had found employment and stability in those mills and factories, my students planned for something more white-collar than orange-collar.  There wasn't one who didn't know that education was the only way out. 

One of my students, Benny, lived in my neighborhood and stopped by my cinder-block apartment building one Saturday to turn in a late term paper.  He was amazed that my living room had books in it.  His didn't, he informed me, although they did have a color TV.  This he noted while looking at my rather sad 19-inch black and white portable.  We spoke for awhile about books and stories, fiction and non-fiction.  He told me he always wanted to read The Count of Monte Cristo, as he had seen a version of it on television and, as he said, "Man, that's just got to be something in words."  I let him borrow my Penguin paperback copy.

Later in the week, he gave the book back to me at the end of class.  I asked him if he had read it; he said "no".  I asked if he wanted to keep it longer; he said "no".  I'm sure I gave him a puzzled look.  His response I'll never forget.

"I ain't never owned no book before.  Seems like a book this good I'm gonna want to read more than once.  Should have my own copy, I'm figurin'.  See, Mr. Clements?"  He took a Penguin paperback, similar to mine, but far more used and worn, from his back pocket.  "Got it at the First Baptist thrift shop for five cents.  What'd you pay for yours?  Ninety-five cents?  You'll never be a businessman, Mr. Clements."  We laughed about it and the day, and days, went on.

By the time he graduated from high school, Benny owned over forty books; books of all sorts, from things that interested him to things he knew nothing about.  He would go to college and become a businessman, owning a commercial carpet cleaning company that bears his name.  His daughter is in medical school. 

I thought of this while reading the story linked to below.  I know that times are changing [I mean, I own a Kindle, for heaven's sake], and I know that it was Benny's drive and ambition that got him out of the orange-tinted valley.  But, I know that a battered, five-cent paperback of a 19th century French adventure story also had something to do with it.  I wonder if the same thing can happen through a school library with no books, or when stories from long ago and far away can no longer be carried in a back pocket.  Electronic impulses traveling through the ether seem almost too liminal for the wealth of human wisdom.

High School Library Ousts Books, Re-Opens as Coffee Shop

I Surrender To My Masters At Fender Guitars

We made some dandy and original guitars for the Nashville musicians, but this one is Olympian.  Check it:

A Fender Esquire Made with Flood Water

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Celtic Prayer [Rather Similar To The Lorica]

God to enfold me,
God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking.
God in my sleeping,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping.
God in my life,
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.
God in my sufficing,
God in my slumber,
God in mine ever-living soul,
God in mine eternity.