Friday, January 28, 2011

Scripture Verses: Friday Five

Songbird is at it again with the Friday Five:

Twenty years ago, I was on a Pastoral Search Committee, and one of the questions we asked the ten candidates we interviewed in the first round was to tell us their three favorite passages of scripture. I loved hearing the variety of verses quoted and even learned some that I didn't know, such as the last line of one of this week's lectionary passages:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

For today's Friday Five, list your five favorite passages/verses from the Bible and tell us something about why you love them

Songbird: That would be an unfair question to a bunch of Episcopalians. We don’t memorize Bible passages like some other traditions. I always marvel at some of my Baptist friends who can pull chapter and verse from their memory banks. But over the years I have gathered some that mean much to me:

  •  Ben Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 2:1. Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation. 2:2. Humble thy heart, and endure: incline thy ear, and receive the words of understanding: and make not haste in the time of clouds. 2:3. Wait on God with patience: join thyself to God, and endure, that thy life may be increased in the latter end. 2:4. Take all that shall be brought upon thee: and in thy sorrow endure, and in thy humiliation keep patience. 2:5. For gold and silver are tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation. 2:6. Believe God, and he will recover thee: and direct thy way, and trust in him. Keep his fear, and grow old therein. 2:7. Ye that fear the Lord, wait for his mercy: and go not aside from him lest ye fall. 2:8. Ye that fear the Lord, believe him: and your reward shall not be made void. 2:9. Ye that fear the Lord hope in him, and mercy shall come to you for your delight. 2:10. Ye that fear the Lord, love him, and your hearts shall be enlightened. 2:11. My children behold the generations of men: and know ye that no one hath hoped in the Lord, and hath been confounded. 2:12. For who hath continued in his commandment, and hath been forsaken? or who hath called upon him, and he despised him? 2:13. For God is compassionate and merciful, and will forgive sins in the day of tribulation: and he is a protector to all that seek him in truth. 2:14. Woe to them that are of a double heart and to wicked lips, and to the hands that do evil, and to the sinner that goeth on the earth two ways. 2:15. Woe to them that are fainthearted, who believe not God: and therefore they shall not be protected by him. 2:16. Woe to them that have lost patience, and that have forsaken the right ways, and have gone aside into crooked ways. 2:17. And what will they do, when the Lord shall begin to examine? 2:18. They that fear the Lord, will not be incredulous to his word: and they that love him, will keep his way. 2:19. They that fear the Lord, will seek after the things that are well pleasing to him: and they that love him, shall be filled with his law. 2:20. They that fear the Lord, will prepare their hearts, and in his sight will sanctify their souls, 2:21. They that fear the Lord, keep his commandments, and will have patience even until his visitation, 2:22. Saying: If we do not penance, we shall fall into the hands of the Lord, and not into the hands of men. 2:23. For according to his greatness, so also is his mercy with him.

This is my all time favorite chapter in the Bible. I am not especially enamored of this translation but I couldn’t find The Jerusalem Bible version on line. The Apocrypha is harder to find on line. I have found comfort and wisdom in this passage when I stand in it. This translation rightly translates the word fear, but I have always understood that as awe and respect, two words that are part of the experience of love for me. I hear in this the wise follower of God speaking to me as well as God, Creator speaking to me. So it really feels like Church is speaking. Ecclesiasticus is the Greek word for Preacher, which I love too.

  •  Philipians1: 4-9 4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

This was read at my ordination because I have found it so important to what God calls me to do. I have returned to it both in literary mode and music as a way to hear God’s message to me. Wherever I find myself anxious, I know that that anxiety is telling me that something is amiss in my life. It is usually a place of judgment or “a hah” when I know that I need to change and the possibility of change is real. This passage has called me to a fierce sense of what is honest and true for myself and for the Church I represent.

• Revelation 22: 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

This best describes my Christology.

• Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
This best describes my missiology and evangelism.

• Isaiah 42:6 "I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I  have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.

I understand that by the
Jewish roots of my faith to be how I am called to understand how the Divine began relationship with humanity. I have lived with and out of the stories of the Bible all my life. But that does not mean that God can only be understood in that way. I think that it is important for me to understand how God has manifested God’s self in all faiths and search for the truth and the touch of the Holy in those traditions as well. It is important for the future that we be about that way welcoming the Otherness of God. I am to be a Light to the nations, my Church is to be a Light to the nations, my nation is to be a Light as are other nations to be a Light or an example of how we are to live together in peace and shalom.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

RESUREXIT! Alleluia, Alleluia


Judge Grants Episcopal Parties' Motions for Summary Judgment and Orders Surrender of Diocesan Property

On Friday, January 21, 2011, the Hon. John P. Chupp of the 141st District Court, Tarrant County, Texas, granted the Local Episcopal Parties’ and The Episcopal Church’s Motions for Summary Judgments. He denied the Southern Cone parties Motion for a Partial Summary Judgment. The orders can be seen at

The Court orders provide in part that the defendants, including Bishop Jack L. Iker, “surrender all Diocesan property, as well as control of the Diocesan Corporation, to the Diocesan plaintiffs and to provide an accounting of all Diocesan assets within 60 days of this order.” Additionally, “the Court hereby orders the Defendants not to hold themselves out as leaders of the Diocese.”

The parties are ordered “to submit a more detailed declaratory order within ten days of the date of this order” or by January 31.

“We are pleased with this decision as it represents good progress in recovering property and assets of The Episcopal Church for use by Episcopalians in this diocese for ministry and mission,” said the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, provisional bishop of Fort Worth.

“The only reason we have gone to court is to protect the assets built up over 170 years in this part of Texas by generations of Episcopalians for the use of The Episcopal Church so they will be available for use by the great-great-grandchildren of those Episcopalians and for generations beyond,” he said.

Bishop Ohl continued, “We know that this litigation has been painful for both sides, and we continue to hold Bishop Iker and those who chose to leave The Episcopal Church in our prayers. We wish all the best for them.”

In November 2008, former Bishop Jack L. Iker and other diocesan leaders left The Episcopal Church and aligned themselves with another church, the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Since then they have been using the name and seal of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and occupying Episcopal Church property. The diocese reorganized in February 2009 at a special meeting of the Diocesan Convention called by the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop and primate of The Episcopal Church. The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. [Ted] Gulick Jr. was elected provisional bishop at that convention. Bishop Ohl succeeded him after being elected at the regular meeting of the Diocesan Convention in November 2009.

On April 14, 2009, The Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth filed suit in the 141st District Court seeking to recover property and other assets.

At that time, Bishop Gulick said, “The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, heir and steward of the legacy of generations of faithful Episcopalians, has this day brought suit to recover that legacy. We deeply regret that the decisions and actions of former diocesan leaders have brought us to this difficult moment. . . This litigation is designed to move quickly to confirm the historical right of Episcopalians to lead the diocese as stewards of its property as we in humility and hope continue the mission of the Episcopal Church here. . . We bid the prayers of all faithful Episcopalians and other Christians as we protect our legacy and fulfill the trust and dreams of those who have gone before.”

Other suits are pending. A case filed in the 355th District Court of Hood County, Texas, the Hon. Ralph Walton, Jr. presiding, involves the Cynthia Brants Trust and which congregation, the Episcopal St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church or the Southern Cone St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, is the beneficiary of that trust. This case is abated pending resolution of the identity issues in the Tarrant County Case.

A case filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, the Hon. Terry R. Means presiding. This case invokes the Lanham Act claims for trademark infringement and dilution of the name and seal of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. This case is stayed pending resolution of the identity issues in the Tarrant County Case.

Additionally, a suit was filed by All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, styled All Saints’ Episcopal Church v. Jack Leo Iker, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division. This case invokes Lanham Act claims for trademark infringement and dilution of the name “All Saints’ Episcopal Church” by those who left All Saints’ and formed a new Southern Cone congregation worshipping blocks away.

Bishop Ohl said, “From the day the former leaders left The Episcopal Church, Episcopalians across the diocese, including the people who have been displaced from their own parishes and missions, have been actively planning for reconciliation with those who currently worship in those facilities. The Episcopal Church, including its continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, welcomes everyone, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey. The mission of The Episcopal Church is to reconcile the world to God through Jesus Christ. All persons are welcome to worship in the 55 Episcopal parishes and missions of the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. “

Media contact for The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

Katie Sherrod

Director of Communication

COMMENT:  What wonderful news for the people of the Diocese of FTW.  Now we begin the hard work of reconciliation.  There will be many who have continued to attend their local church throughout the schism who just want to worship where they have committed themselves and their families for generations.  The work of the diocese will be in helping to heal the rift between TEC and the diocese that has characterized the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth since the inception of the diocese in 1983.  There are so many misconceptions about TEC that have been spread about that we have much teaching to do.  I am so thankful for the possitive attitudes by those who remained in TEC toward those who followed Iker.  There is a real desire for those who were mislead to return to the Episcopal Church.  It will be difficult but the Christian message of unity is not an easy thing.  There is a reason why the Christian symbol is the Cross.  But there is always Resurrection in Jesus Christ.  The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Books: Friday Five

Jan is trying to pad her library!! The Revgals are doing their bibliographies today on the Friday Five:

I hope some of you received books for Christmas presents; I did and have been reading ever since. Then I discovered a new author from those recommendations that pop up on Instead of buying those books, I've been checking them out at the library, which will not help Amazon's future recommendations for me at all.

So tell us what you're reading, what you would and would not recommend--five books or authors! And if you don't want to do that freestyle, here are some questions:

I didn’t get books for Christmas. I got a coffee maker (Keurig) so now I have coffee when I can read. And I am going to library, something relatively new for me when it comes to books. I am such a slow reader that I am generally overdue by the time I have read a novel. And non-fiction I can’t read at all in the 3 weeks allowed by the public library. Also, now that I am not commuting to work, I am not listening to books on CD either. But with retirement comes the luxury of TIME to read. The only problem is that I tend to go to sleep while reading. Energy is SOOOO wasted on youth!

1. What books have you recently read? Tell us your opinion of them.

I am finally getting to read all those novels I never had time to read while working.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer. a wonderful book, a kind book in an unkind time about the way people use literature to cope rather than be dominated by evil.

Body Work, Sara Paretsky. Usual Paretsky whodoneit. But I like the Chicago references

The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follet. I read this sometime ago and when it came out on TV I needed to reread it. I like the book much better than the TV series. I tried to read the sequel and found it much darker and much more disillusioned than the first book.

The Case for God, Karen Armstrong. I have not finished this but it is a wonderful history of how people have believed over the millennia. I love her writing and her integrity. I haven’t read everything she has written but a lot of her work. She helps me to recognize what I often cling to as elements of belief are rooted in arcane practices that no longer speak the faith of God to the coming generations and invites me to a FAITH that is not rooted in institutional conventions and more in the relationship with the HOLY. An amazing writer and an amazing writer.

The Organist Wore Pumps, Mark Schweizer. If you enjoy a good laugh at the expense of Episcopalians, read any of Mark Schweizers liturgical mysteries. This is a must read for Piskies, coffee-slugging Lutherans, and recovering Roman Catholics. If you can’t find his work at Amazon, go to his website—just google his name.

The Complete Father Brown Mysteries, G. K. Chesterton. I found this on the Kindle account for $1.99. So quaint and veddy early 20th century British. Fun.

2. What books are awaiting your available time to be read?

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong

Love, Above the Reach of Time: Two Stories of The Ladies of Llangollen by Anna M. Curren

A Year with the Ladies of Llangollen by Elizabeth Mavor and Thomas Bewick

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Stieg Larson.

Story of Christianity: Volume 1, The: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation by Justo L. González

3. Have any books been recently recommended?

I am waiting to see what the revgals have to say. I have found more great books on revgals over the years.  I want to read the Autobiography of Mark Twain.

4. What genre of books are your favorite, along with some titles and/or authors you like best?

As you can see, I am a real lover of mysteries, especially British ones or those having to do with historical characters. I am very fascinated with Church and the History of Thought.

5. What have you read lately that you have a strong urge to recommend? (or to condemn?)

I have recommended several in # 1.

Anything by Alexander McCall Smith, Laurie R. King, Will Thomas, Antonia Fraser.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Five: What gets me out of bed.

 Singing Owl has written a priceless Friday Five today and added this picture:

Where I am it is dark, and it is cold, and it is snowing. I really wanted to stay in bed with the electric blanket cranked this morning. Share five things that made getting out of bed worthwhile for you today!

While it isn’t snowing here, it is dark and cold and added to Texas wind makes for a I-don’t-wanna-get-outta-bed day. But I am up and showered and have on clean clothes, with clean hair albeit without gel and am contemplating what I must do today.

1. J totaled her car last week so we must first go to the rental car company and get something other than the SUV that she is afraid to drive because it is too big and then go car shopping with what they give you from the insurance.

2. We have a 3 month old kitten who does not allow for inattention for very long in the morning if her dish is empty. It is a sad commentary on life when all that you get up for is to put food in a cat dish, but reality is often stranger than fiction.

3. I have to clean up the house before the cleaning ladies come. (I know, I know. It is a cliché, but I finally got out the winter clothes boxes and I need to get them out of the way before the ladies come.

4. Friday Five! Curling up with my heat-producing lap top and a cup of coffee with the Gals is something I look forward to each week. It is one of the ways that this old lady remembers what day it is….Thank you Singing Owl for your geriatric ministry! ;oD

5. I want to work on an article for a denominational website. Ah—the real work raises its ugly head.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Enough is Enough!

I think it's important for all leaders... not just leaders of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party... to say, look, we can't stand for this...we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the cross-hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action."

-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, March 25, 2010 

When was it that life became so violent in this nation? I grew up playing cowboys and Indians and cops and robbers and learning to fall down from charges of finger-guns because that was what I saw at the movies. I saw trailers from WWII movies with heroes giving their lives for their country. And despite the invective of the McCarthy era, and the fear of the atom bomb, we lived fairly peacefully. Yes, children died in car accidents, or drowned in boating accidents. But school, riding to town on the bus, or going to a grocery store was safe for a kid. But society turned a deaf ear to such issues as sexual predation, child, spouse or elder abuse. Those were ‘private matters.’

Far be it from me to think that the ‘50’s were Nirvana. The kind of lock-step thinking and the discrimination toward anyone who was different was the Kool-aid we drank. We were proud Americans because we had won the War. We were proud Americans because we were producing goods faster than we had ever done before. We were proud Americans because that was what the Press, our teachers, our pastors, our Scout masters taught us to be.

This was pre-JFK and I remember a civics teacher bragging that in the US we didn’t resort to such juntas and governmental over-throws that we saw in Latin America or in Africa. We had an orderly system of democratic government that made such anger and deadly removal from power unnecessary. We were civilized—we thought. But that was an era who had forgotten the issues of the McKinley assignation, and certainly in Texas we ignored the Lincoln death.

Life is not safe and Representative Giffords’ shooting is just one more instance to remind us of it. The loss of life and the injury of this event is a time to mourn but it does invoke in us a need to address the invective that we have allowed because we have been so inured to the whole political process. All too many of us turn a blind eye to the speeches of candidates or those who support them. We shake our heads and say “Ain’t it awful” or laugh at the snark and vituperative. We are unwilling to take government into our hands and say “Enough is enough!” We cannot use such fire-breathing invective in campaign rhetoric. We cannot continue to point our fingers demonizing others and still think it is just “finger-gun” play acting. There are those who cannot apprehend the difference anymore because they have grown up when access to those real guns was regular and ubiquitous.

The unregulated world of the post-Reagan era meant we are free. But free to kill ourselves with stupidity? The pre-Regan era knew that there were limits to our freedom. There were limits to consumerism; there were limits to what a society can absorb and what it could not. And it always lagged behind the younger generation. But at least we were safe to go to the polls. We were safe to go to school, to the grocery store to meet a candidate.

In the Church for the past 10 years we have been a part of the same kind of destroying rhetoric. We have heard definitions of what it means to be a follower of Christ that makes our hair stand on end. Westboro Baptist Church does not have a corner on hate. (Although, they seem to manufacture it for the most bizarre reasons) We Episcopalians have done our bit. I am heartened by my bishop’s call to inclusion and welcome to those who have left on Iker’s bandwagon. I am filled with hope that those who have been excluded from the arms of TEC for so many years here will be able to embrace what it means to be Anglican in its truest sense.

In one sense, after 10 years of quarrelling, I am tired. I am tired of the name-calling and the vituperative. I a weary of people who want to be known as Christians or Americans who can only abide with those who think as they do.  We must be willing to come together and work on issues so that we are not hitting each other over the head with our rhetoric whether from the pulpit or the stump. The time has come! And the time is NOW!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Defenders of the Faith

I must admit that I am not an Anglophile who hangs on the British monarch’s every word. I generally do not pay any attention to them. But because of the recent events in the Church of England that readily affect the Anglican Communion, I have been paying a bit more attention. I caught the Queen’s Christmas message and then noted the similar discussion from the Archbishop of Canterbury in his New Year’s message and in combination it created a deep sadness.   The sadness came from the sense that these messages were more about keeping the secular kingdom intact rather than about the life of a living God incarnate in our midst.

Her Majesty began her message recalling the nearly 400 years of the King James Version of the Bible. I guess if one of my forbearers had be a part of the endeavor of producing the first really accessible Bible in English I would give it a plug too, but that is not the point of a Christmas message. Would not the ‘Defender of the Faith’ want to convey to her people the importance of the Christ event? Granted, she must speak to a diverse population, but it IS a Christmas message. One must stand within one’s own faith in order to speak of faith and I got no inkling from her speech that she had any relationship with Christ at all.

Dr. Williams’ New Year’s message was also about the KJV—a whole year before the 400th anniversary of the translation in 2012. He talks of the “big picture” of life that the KJV gives. As we get closer to this anniversary of the KJV I am sure that both the advantages and the disadvantages of this version will be discussed. But Bishop Williams never mentions Christ in his message at all. His message seems to be crafted so as not to offend anyone of any or no religious affiliation. And perhaps as Archbishop of Canterbury he must do that in a pluralistic society. But as the leader of the Anglican Communion I would have expected that a statement supporting the KJV would come from a deeper place of faith. Both the Queen and the ABC seemed fearful of offending , and in that fear, I found them offending in their complacency and dusty in their dutifulness.

If we, as people of faith, are going to be able to be truly accommodating to those of different or even no faith, we must be willing to stand steadfastly within our own faith welcoming others to do the same in theirs. We can only respect in another what we already know in ourselves. We do nothing but trivialize our own faith if we water down our own experience of God and/or Church in order to make space for another’s. In other words, if I am going to respect another faith experience, I need to be able to articulate my own so that I can respect the encounter of the holy that another faith might bring.

Part of the charisma of Anglicanism has been its ability to accept such a wideness of faith experience: low to high, Catholic and Protestant, congregational and hierarchical at one time. But it has always done this by being clear about teaching a deeply committed life in Jesus Christ. As a faithful Christian I have more in common with a faithful Muslim, a faithful Buddhist or a faithful Hindu because we all understand the importance of the Holy in our lives. It allows us to live in greater peace when we can know God’s love however it is mediated to us.

The Queen and the ABC both have faith. I know that and most of their subjects know that. But whoever is writing their scripts are fearful of that faith. The British fear of giving offence is winning rather than the clear Gospel message that God is in charge. The Holy conquers fear. This is the message of Christmas and the New Year no matter our faith. The Holy is in our midst.