Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Seventh Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

LORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. Romans 6:19-23 (ESV)

I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Gospel. St. Mark 8:1-9 (ESV)

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thoughts on the Blessings of a Christian Community

[N.B., I missed posting the propers for Trinity VI due to a very busy day, part of which contributed to the subject about which I write below. I regret any inconvenience. --DC+]

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles." --Acts 2:42-43 (ESV)

It surprises some who know me to learn that I have never been an Episcopalian. I was born into a long line of members of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (the old "Southern Presbyterian Church" -- its initial name had been the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America and members of my family were members of it throughout its existence), amalgamated against my will into the Presbyterian Church (USA) just before my 13th Birthday, where I remained until shortly before going to seminary when I went under care and was eventually licensed by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After being drawn into the Anglican way of Reformed Catholicism I joined and was eventually ordained by the Reformed Episcopal Church, where I remain canonically resident today. When the Anglican Church in North America was formed in 2009, the REC was a key part; I was privileged to be at the Inaugural Assembly (my thoughts about which can be read here).

I provide this ecclesiastical mini-biography with apologies for its length to provide context for my observations regarding Christian community because it has been my blessing for the past two years to serve as assisting clergy at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston, South Carolina on a part-time, non-stipendary and somewhat limited (I don't celebrate Holy Communion) basis while remaining chaplain for an area hospice. After determining that it was time to resign from the Reformed Episcopal parish where I was blessed to serve as Assisting Presbyter for nearly four years I suddenly found myself a parishless hospice chaplain. While I visited several local parishes I found myself most often attending the Cathedral for several reasons: the fairly high liturgy and the evangelical ethos resonated with me; I found the preaching of the Very Rev'd William McKeachie, the then-Dean edifying; the choral music was great; and the people were friendly. Shortly after Easter 2008 Dean McKeachie suggested the possibility of my periodically assisting and I was happy when I began doing so. Assisting became more regular -- eventually a regular affair when I wasn't doing supply work elsewhere.

Dean McKeachie retired in 2009 and the Rev'd Peet Dickenson, a priest whom I'd known only vaguely during the time he was on the staff of St. Michael's Church in Charleston, was called as Dean. As is done in such cases, I offered to resign and was happy when the proffered resignation was not accepted. He's officially been there for just over a year and I have begun to do some work with the youth, do some pastoral care, and have continued worship leadership and occasional preaching all while continuing to work as a hospice chaplain.

As I write this it's very early in the morning on 12 July 2010. On 13 July I'll celebrate my 40th birthday. This evening a number of friends from the Cathedral surprised me with a party that was arranged, in complete contravention of my directive, by Dean Dickenson's lovely wife Jenny. It was a truly humbling experience to have so many people care enough to want to honor your birthday, to be toasted, given gag gifts (hopefully the Fixodent won't be needed for some time) and some not-so-gag gifts (a very talented artist who serves on the vestry will paint a piece for me, I was given some really nice cigars, and some other great gifts). I was toasted and, in turn, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to toast LTC John Scott Nelson, who was a year ahead of me at Georgia Military College and has just redeployed from Iraq commanding 1-4 Cavalry; he returned with all of the troopers that he took with him -- no small accomplishment!

Due to obligations elsewhere (helping to charter a new chapter of the Order of St. Vincent one week, doing supply work on two others), I've been away from the Cathedral for three Sundays in a row (I will, however, be preaching at all three services on 18 July) and I have dearly missed it. A community is being built around common faith, warm fellowship, and prayer and I am blessed to be a part of it. My hope for my fellow Christians is that they too will find a church where the same is happening!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day.

[July 4.]

The Collect.

OETERNAL God, through whose mighty power our fathers won their liberties of old; Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Fifth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

OETERNAL God, through whose mighty power our fathers won their liberties of old; Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Epistle. Deuteronomy 10:17-21 (ESV)

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen.

The Gospel. St. Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.