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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

St. Michael, Pray for Us.

This is the very first icon that I acquired a number of years ago.  It just so happened that it was an image of the Archangel Michael--whose name I bear.  It was written by iconographer Phil Duncan and dated 1976.  I love it.

Michaelmas and the Celestial Chivalry

Today the Church commemorates the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels otherwise referred to as "Michaelmas."  Today we remember those other heralds of God the Father, the angels.  The Anglican tradition maintains the three main archangels:Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel.  Often there is the fourth, Uriel.  Especially in the Episcopal tradition, there seems to be a fear of discussing the angelic hand of God.  Michael is my middle name and I have always had a special place in my heart for the warrior of the Father.  While I do not count angelic theology as a particular interest of mine, I know that I do not know enough about angels in heavenly chorus.  I pray this day that I may come to a greater knowledge of angels and the celestial chivalry.

Tibi, Christe, spledor Patris*

Thee, O Christ, the Father's splendour,
Life and virtue of the heart,
In the presence of the Angels
Sing we now with tuneful art;
Meetly in alternate chorus
Bearing our responsive part.

Thus we praise with veneration
All the armies of the sky;
Chiefly him, the warrior Primate
Of celestial chivalry,
Michael, who in princely virtue
Cast Abaddon from on high.

By whose watchful care repelling,
King of everlasting grace,
Every ghostly adversary,
All things evil, all things base,
Grant us of thine only goodness
In thy paradise a place.

Glory to the Father sing we
with resounding voices sweet,
Glory unto Christ our Saviour,
Glory to the Paraclete:
Standing forth, One God and Trinal,
Ere the ages; as is meet.

*The Monastic Diurnal (London:  Oxford University Press, 1963).

A Feast Day Collect

Everlasting God, who have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sermon Audio

Okay, I'm honestly not a self-promoter, but I thought this was actually a decent picture of me taken whilst preaching at St. Paul's.

Click on the link to hear my most recent sermon given at St. Paul's, Chattanooga.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Morning Prayer Reflection

Proper 20,  Daily Office Year 1
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Chapel of the Apostles
Sewanee, Tennessee

2 Kings 5:19-27
1 Cor 5:1-8

Lord David Hope, former Archbishop of York and yours truly
 outside of Halifax Parish Church, June 2009.

It was nearing the end of my time on placement from The College of the Resurrection at Halifax Parish Church in West Yorkshire.  The Parish was celebrating its patronal feast day, that of Saint John the Baptist.  It was a truly festive occasion, complete with a rare High mass set of vestments on loan from the Community of the Resurrection.  Our guest preacher that evening was Lord David Hope, the former Archbishop of York and Primate of England.  Following the peace, the Vicar invited me to stand next to him at the altar before the canon of the mass was to begin.  All ready the nerves were starting to kick in.  After the fraction and the clergy received the holy sacrament, Hilary—the vicar—handed a chalice of wine to the Archbishop and then turned to me and handed me the patten full of bread!  Now, I had several images racing in my head of a certain liturgics professor here having a mild stroke at this proposition, but I had to pull it together as the choir was in place and ready to receive.  Perhaps I was safe being a continent away!

Out came the hands.  So I did what I knew, I carefully took the wafer, made the sign of the cross and said, “the body of Christ, the bread of heaven.”  At that point, I had no earthly idea what Common Worship said about any of this, nor was I about to embarrass the vicar by asking Lord David his opinion on the matter.  Vicars in the Church of England have absolute, legal authority over their parishes.  So off I went.  One by one, I distributed the bread in the most reverent manner possible.  What struck me the most as I walked back and forth behind the altar rail was the image of one broken human being handing over the bread of wholeness to another.  The eyes, their eyes were very telling.  So much of the pain of life, the joy of life, and the hope for Christ was all bound together in their eyes.  It was palpable.      

During my hour-long bus ride back to Mirfield, I reflected on what had happened in the liturgy.  This bread, this bread of sincerity and truth was in our hands so that it could feed our souls.  Christ’s body taken, blessed, broken, and given to the world was somehow making me whole, giving me life to pursue the truth.  I, like most seminarians I’m sure, daydream of the time when as a celebrate at the table, I can proclaim to the people, “Alleluia, Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us.”  And now I find myself in the very midst of unpacking those words.  To proclaim those words is to know deeply what Paul is describing in today’s epistle.

The unleavened bread, rises up, just as Our Lord rose from the tomb.  We are bound to strip away the old leaven, the leaven of sin that attempts to destroy our lives.  Just as the Corinthians read this exhortation from Paul, we hear this today as the invitation to strive for the narrow door, to remove from ourselves those things which pervert the Gospel and obscure the truth.  That way, we can say with all sincerity and truth, "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20).

The bread of life was given for freedom to live a life of conversion as God’s beloved people.  Disorder, chaos, and sickness are the results of sin.  Wholeness and health are results of the truth.  Hear what the first letter of John says, “for if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us, but if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”(1 John 1: 8-9).

So for today, seek the banquet of the lamb, the great festival of festivals, where we all have a welcomed seat ready for us.  But know this, there is no warning label attached to the Christian life, your pursuit of the truth may be dangerous, but ultimately the heavenly joy will shine down on your path as you rise up to meet Our Lord upon the road.  Therefore let us keep the feast.  Amen.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Deo Soli Gloria: An Appreciation

Icon of Saint Gregory the Great
The Brotherhood of Saint Gregory (BSG)

Deo Soli Gloria, or "to God alone the glory," is the motto of the Brotherhood of Saint Gregory the Great (BSG).  BSG is a religious order in The Episcopal Church and is celebrating this year the fortieth anniversary of their founding.  The following is from their website:
The Brotherhood of Saint Gregory is a Christian Community of the Episcopal Church, whose members follow a common rule and serve the church on parochial, diocesan, and national levels. Members--clergy and lay, without regard to marital status--live individually, in small groups, or with their families. They support themselves and the community through their secular or church-related work, making use of their God-given talents inthe world while not being of the world. The trust that all labor and life can be sanctified is summed up in the community's motto: Soli Deo Gloria, To God Alone the Glory.
The Brotherhood was founded on Holy Cross Day 1969, by Richard Thomas Biernacki, the present Minister General, after consultation with many Episcopal and Roman Catholic religious. Among the latter the Sisters of the Visitation were particularly helpful and encouraging. It was in their Riverdale, New York, monastery chapel that the first members made profession of vows to the Brotherhood's chaplain, the Rev Thomas F Pike.
Later that year, Bishop Horace W B Donegan of New York recognized the Brotherhood as a Religious Community of the Episcopal Church. Upon his retirement, his successor, Bishop Paul Moore jr, became Visitor to the brothers, whom he came to call the "Flexible Friars." He was succeeded by Bishop Walter D. Dennis, Suffragan of New York. The present Visitor is Bishop Rodney R. Michel, Suffragan of Long Island.
The icon is currently on display at Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee where one brother, Br. Ron Fender, BSG worships.  He is something of a local saint, though he would tell you that he isn't!  He is deeply engaged with the work of the homeless in Chattanooga and he is supported by our parish.  We also are blessed to have a BSG brother here at the School of Theology this year as he completes his studies for ordination.

The icon is painted on a bread board worn down over the years by working hands (double-click on the icon to enlarge it).  It was written by the founder and Minister General of the Order.  Pope Gregory the Great is shown on his cathedra as a dove of the Holy Spirit flies near his right ear for inspiration consistent with the traditional accounts of these visits of the Spirit during Gregory's sermon-writing.  The four evangelist gospel writers are depicted by their animal metaphors in the corners.

I give thanks for the Brothers of Saint Gregory for their growing witness to our world and for their labor and prayers to further the Kingdom of God.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Water-Logged, A Sermon

16th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Saint Paul's Episcopal Church
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Ritual Mass with Baptism
Psalm 1
Mark 9: 30-37

One of the greatest joys of being a father is being able to take your children to the amusement park.  Funnel cakes, ice cream, and my personal favorite, cotton candy; the amusement park is one of the great pastimes for any big-kid at heart.  It’s a place where you can lay aside any sense of decorum and let the good times roll.  It’s a place where the ride takes control of your life, twisting and turning on a path unknown.

This summer, I was able to take my daughter to Camden Park back in my hometown.  As a child growing up in West Virginia, the possibility of even going to Camden Park was an unbelievable treat.  And now, some twenty years later, I find myself passing through the same ticket gates now holding my daughter’s hand.  Not surprising, the same rides were still there and still working.  We started off slowly, working our way through the kiddy rides, which are pretty big to any ambitious two-year old.  The carousel, the boats, and the requisite train ride around the perimeter of the park felt as natural to me as reliving my childhood.  But, looming in the far off distance was the ubiquitous water ride called the Log Flume, a giant among rides in the Park that ends with a steep descent crashing through a monstrous wall of water.  I could see in her eyes that water plus a fun ride was surely going to equal one great time with Daddy.  I smiled.

We stepped into our boat and shoved off for the twisting turns of the deceptively calm, flowing water.  Now, just in case you have any misgivings about this giant drop at the end there is a smaller version that first tests your resolve, it prepares you for the next monumental climb coming just around the corner.  Well, after that first, tiny splash, she began to cry, “I do want to ride this anymore.”  To which I responded, “it’s too late to change your mind now.  Just hold on to daddy and close your eyes!”  The belts began to pick up our little log boat and up we climbed.  Up, up, and up still some more.  And then, of course, there’s that brief moment of levelness, a feeling that everything will be okay, and then woosh!  As our stomachs raced to our heads, we plunged down, down, down and until finally the king of all splashes hit us.  We were safe and horizontal—soaked, water-logged might be more accurate.  Her cries were fairly audible throughout the entire park, but as we came back to the starting house, there stood grandma and grandpa taking pictures and cheering us on.  The crying quickly stopped, and before you knew it, my daughter was telling her little brother how much fun she had; she passed through the water and the water forever changed her experience of fun.
Mark’s Gospel this morning continues the narrative from last week, where Jesus instructs his disciples to take up their cross and follow him, warning us that there is no profit in gaining the whole world only to forfeit life itself.  For Mark, the mystery of the cross and its implications for discipleship dominates the Gospel.  Today, the teaching takes on yet another twist:  “whoever wants to first must be last of all and servant of all.”  To illustrate the point, because the disciples in Mark never seem to understand, Jesus takes in his arms a small child.  Why a child?  Perhaps it was the nearest warm body to make his point, or perhaps that in this culture children were seen as both small and insignificant.  Fortunately, this has changed greatly over time.

In his rule for forming monastic communities, Saint Benedict urges new communities to include the young in the councils, chapters, and decision-making groups, because, he believes that more often than not, the Holy Spirit speaks through youthful souls.  Children help remind us to never let go of our sense of wonder.  Through children’s eyes we are free to regain our creative, curious nature that keeps us in awe of God’s unfolding plan of creation.  We will join and pray in a few minutes following baptism, that these newly baptized candidates receive the gift of joy and wonder in all of God’s works.  For if we dare to lose that sense, we risk losing our reverence of the great mystery of God’s sovereignty.  So Jesus’ illustration with the child is not lost:  whoever welcomes the least, the lost, and last welcomes Jesus.  Whoever welcomes people who may seem insignificant, those who live on the margins, who are powerless, who have no status in society, welcomes the Lord and Savior of the world.  So, who is the greatest among you?

In this culture of honor and shame, this was a very important question, and Jesus overturns these accepted norms using a child.  To be great in the community of Jesus is to be a servant of all; reaching out and embracing those on the fringes of our world.  The Ubuntu theology from South Africa expresses this clearly:  I am because you are.  Honoring the sacred presence of Christ in every person we encounter is the new norm—regardless of gender, orientation, ethnicity, or anything else.  These are the new norms of the Kingdom.  “The Kingdom of God has come near,” John the Baptist proclaims in the beginning of Mark, and even as the Gospel ends with the finality of the cross and empty tomb, leaving out any post-resurrection stories, the implication for us is to carry on the work of the Kingdom.  And here is where we connect with Baptism.

This morning at Saint Paul’s we’re preparing to join with these new candidates for a water ride of their own.  Baptism is the indissoluble covenant between God and us: we go down into the water, buried with Christ in his death, only to then rise up sharing in His resurrection.  Baptism is at the very heart of our common life of faith in Christ.  Baptism has shaped our Book of Common Prayer and how we witness the Gospel equal with our sisters and brothers.  For many of us who were baptized at a very early age, it is so easy to see this as a past event—all I can do is look at the photograph of my parents holding me next to the font when I was a mere three months old.  And yet, baptism is not a past event, it is a real present reality.

The Episcopal Church embodies this in the form of the Baptismal Covenant, a reminder at every baptism that we all are presently sharing in the work of the Kingdom.  If baptism is the great equalizer for the Kingdom of God, then our Baptismal Covenant names before God our commitment to proclaim by Word and Deed the Good news to everyone, to seek and serve Christ in all persons, striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being.  This is our bond, this is our obligation to the Kingdom!  It is always before us. And we cannot do this alone; we must share in the Apostle’s teaching and fellowship, accomplished only within the community of faith.  It is done by dying to ourselves and truly taking the plunge down the steep waterfalls in our lives, so that we can honestly say, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

The bonds forged by God in the waters completely and forever change our whole world.  With Christ alive inside of us, we are like trees planted firmly in the ground, with strong, hearty roots feed by deep streams of water.  With Christ alive inside of us, we bear fruit for the Kingdom, we can weather the turbulent storms in our lives and not be blown away.  With Christ alive inside of us, we can, as our Collect this morning says, hold fast to the heavenly things that endure.  We cannot pass through the walls of water and hope to emerge the same person.  We, who are baptized, are bound and beckoned to be the hands of Christ, the voice of Christ, and the love of Christ yesterday, today, and forever.  Life in Christ floods everything that we do:  how we choose to spend our money, where we spend our time, and ultimately which god we worship in the center of our being.

So we rejoice today as our household continues to grow and be flooded with the Holy Spirit.  May that same spirit flood our souls and continue to burn that celestial spark where Christ lives and moves and grounds us.  Amen.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Preaching to the world

Photo:  The nave and high altar of St. Paul's, Chattanooga.
St. Paul's is a vibrant, large urban parish filled with the Holy Spirit.  
 A gem in the Diocese of East Tennessee that makes you feel blessed to be an Episcopalian.

Tomorrow, live at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time), yours truly will be preaching at my field education parish, Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. You can hear a live stream of the service, which will include five baptisms, via the parish's website or you can go directly to the radio station's site.  Both links are posted below.

If you can't spend that much time listening tomorrow, the sermon will be archived in a few days on the parish website, click below to go there now.  I'll be posting the text on the blog tomorrow as well.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church website

To listen to the service tomorrow, go directly to Talk Radio 102.3 fm in Chattanooga where the service is broadcast live, simply click on the "Listen Live" button at the top of the webpage.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Little Eucharists

Thank God for little eucharists. They come at unexpected times and usually in unexpected ways. It's so easy for me to bury myself into the work of the day to forget these thanksgivings, these God-given and Spirit-filled moments of pure joy. It's like a pinprick of light bursting through the grayness, or like a drop of water flooding your soul. Refreshing and invigorating, no doubt; they pick you up when you really need the warm hug of love.

It doesn't have to be big, in fact sometimes it's the smaller ones that really hit home. Whether it's a friendly smile, a short e-mail from a friend, or even just the ability to breathe a little, I thank God for little eucharists.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

St. Hildegard, Abbess of Bingen and Mystic

A Collect for St. Hildegard (from Lesser Feasts and Fasts)
God of all times and seasons:  Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation, and show forth your glory not only with our lips but in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Poem: Water-logged

Help!  I'm soaked to the bone.
There's no sun, nothing to dry my body,
nor heat to warm my soul.
It just keeps pouring, and flooding,
and driving me away.
I can't even clear my eyes to see!
Help me Lord!
Give me something, some dry land,
some foothold in this world.
Subdue the waters and give me your
Please help me!  I fear I can't tread
the waters much longer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Art: The Burning Bush

[Moses] led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Exodus 3: 1a-2a.

The Burning Bush, by Julie Carson, 2009.
Oil on canvas.

I came across this image in The Christian Century in the Spring 2008 and was stunned by the brilliance of the color and the feeling of the Divine that the painting evokes.  I took it to a close family friend and talented artist, Julie Carson, to see if I could commission her for this work.  Double-click on the painting to enlarge the image.

Today, this magnificent work hangs above the fireplace mantle in our living room.  It is very, very special to us and represents Julie's gift from God to paint and to express herself through this medium.  The camera does not even come close to catching the brilliant colors.  The texture of the oils, combined with the illuminating essence of the metaphor is quite striking!  I fully expect to see Julie's work progress in the years to come, who knows, she could be the next household name in oil painting.  Thank you Julie for this heartfelt gift of joy and wonder!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Icons in Progress

I wanted to show my readers some of the latest iconography that is currently in progress.  Double-click on the image to enlarge the photograph.  Note:  the camera does not do justice to the colors.

This is the second icon that I've written of Our Lady of Walsingham.  The size is 11.5 in. x 21.5 in., acrylic on wood.  It debuted this past Friday at the Sewanee Taize service at St. Luke's Chapel.  It adorns my prayer desk and never fails to move me into contemplation.  What strikes me are the eyes; a mother looks with tender love into those of her own son, knowing in her heart that his path will take him away from her.  The compassion and loving expression gets me, which is why I adore this particular icon of Our Lady.

I begun work at our recent Seminary Quiet day on Saint Edward the Confessor, whose shrine adorns the royal peculiar of Westminster Abbey in London.  St. Edward is a continuation of my desire to restore the images of British saints from the past--which now includes icons of Chad of Lichfield, Hugh of Lincoln, and King Charles the Martyr.  Future icons in this series will include St. Alban the Protomartyr and Edmund, King and Martyr.  This icon is 12 in. x 16 in., acrylic on wood.

In a pleasant break from the norm, I have also begun work on a Coptic-style icon of Christ enthroned.  The style is different and I am joyful with my progress so far (in fact, this was all done yesterday!).  You can also see the icon on the right which is the model.  Size is 10 in. x 17 in., acrylic on wood.

The Feast of the Exultation of the Cross

The Calvary Garden, The Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield

V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

"Don't romance the tragic," screamed my moral theology professor to us in class. The very thing that we have turned into jewelry, stickers, car magnets, and generally anything else that consumers will buy has not only romanced the tragic but anesthetized us from the real horror of the cross. The cross was a Roman torture device used for traitors and rebels of the Empire. I can envision hillsides littered with corpses and fallen crosses. It was the supreme statement of Rome to anyone who dared to defy her imperial power: we will hang you by the tree in the most humiliating death possible! The cross was cruel, the very shape intended to pull the body apart by means of a slow and certain death.

Today marks the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross (September 14th) and I cannot help but think of these things every year that we remember this day. I am afraid that so many of us Christians have softened the cross too much, glorifying it to the point of taking away its power.My doctrine professor says it quite succinctly, "there is only one cross that we glorify." Have we taken away it's efficacy? Has the meaning of the cross been dulled over time and by capitalism?

The versicle/response at the beginning is used at the start of each station during the Stations of the Cross. It is a clear reminder that by one cross and one Lord, the whole world was redeemed. Jesus the Son of God came into the world to teach us how to live, love, and forgive. His gospel was too radical for the established powers and principalities, overturning the balance of power in favor of the least, the lost, and the last. And we nailed him to the cross because of it, thereby God showing us the extremity and depths of true forgiveness and love.

A prayer from Saint Francis [paraphrased by BOB]:

"O Lord, may I feel in my body as much as possible the pain and suffering you endured on the cross. But even more, Lord, may I feel and know in my heart the love that brought you there." Amen.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sweet Caroline

I found a new use for the maniple, and my model was my precious girl, Caroline. You can catch a glimpse of my latest icon of Our Lady of Walsingham in the background above my prayer desk.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Prayer

“Fierce and Friendly Lord, we feel alone, but even here in school and in this class we discover friends we did not know we had. The discovery that we are not alone both gladdens and frightens us. Sharing life threatens loss of self. Give us the grace to learn that we have no life not shared. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, make us in your image that we might be worthy witnesses of the joy that comes from your claiming us as friends. Amen.[1]

[1] Stanley Hauerwas, Prayers Plainly Spoken (InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 55.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Missale Anglicanum

I've blown my book budget this semester! But, I'm also now the proud owner of the Missale Anglicanum, The English Missal. This is a faithful translation of the Missale Romanum and tends to be popular amongst Anglo-Papists. Known as the "Knott Missal," the book has undergone several editions and now through Canterbury Press, one can order the most recent. Knott and Sons was the original publisher of the Missal.

I snagged a Third Edition of the Altar Missal published in 1934, complete in leather binding and with gilt-edged pages. It was sleeping in a small bookshop in England and will hopefully be airlifted to Sewanee in due time.

Didn't someone say blessed are the poor? I am now in that category...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Missale Romanum

Last night I ordered an old copy of the Missale Romanum, the Altar Missal for use with the Tridentine Rite Mass. No, I'm not swimming the Tiber--I've already done that and washed back up in the Thames. My fascination with Altar Missals began this summer whilst perusing the bookshops in Walsingham. It was in a smallish, but fantastic theological bookshop, where I came across a magnificent copy of the "Altar Missal," which was published in the late 1800s by the Society of Saint John the Evangelist. Complete with old leather tabs and gilded pages, the missal includes the Sarum Rite, the South African Rite, and parts of the Roman Canon. You should have seen how I traveled with it back to the States from England!

Now, I've added a few more altar missals to my collection: the 1928 Altar Services (The BCP), the 1979 Altar Book (current edition), and the Anglican Service Book Altar Missal (which I believe has since gone out of print).

So now, I'm adding one of the famous Benzinger Brothers edition, Pre-Vatican II Altar Missal to my collection. The etching above is one of the many illustrations to be found within the Missal. I cannot wait.......I'm a liturgy geek.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Old Mirfield

The College of the Resurrection at Mass.
Lower Church, The Monastery of the
Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield.

Needless to say, if you were to walk into "Lower Church" today at Mirfield, you would not find the worship space oriented in this direction. Much less, that crucifix, I believe, currently resides in the upstairs sacristry. The good old days....

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Charles Gore, CR

The tomb of The Rt. Rev. Chares Gore, CR
The Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield, West Yorkshire

I like Charles Gore. I dig his theology--catholic and ardent Anglican. In our Doctrine courses, we are asked to select a theologian and then argue the various church doctrines through that theologian's words. I, of course, chose Gore. I even keep an old photograph of him on my desk in my study. A bit over the top? Nah.

I venerated the tomb of Blessed Charles when I stayed at Mirfield. I suspect that he's turned over and over in his grave with the rise of Anglo-Papists in the seminary college. I join with him in weeping for the Church of England. Pray for the Church!

The Altar at the foot of the Tomb of Gore.

Living Trees

Photo Credit: Mary Krouse
Mirfield, West Yorkshire
May 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Prosperous Blessings

“Prosper them with your blessing…”
From the CR’s Office of Compline

What is a blessing?
Is it always packaged nicely?
Does it sing sweetly?
Or can it sting?

I’ve discovered that prosperous blessings
are all that and more.
Abundant? Perhaps.
Graceful? Sometimes.
Painful? Most always.

They can feel as gentle as a late Spring rain,
or smell as a sweet as a Yorkshire rose.
Always, they reveal truth and always imparting
God’s healing grace.

So I’ll take mine with a smile and a tear.

Why I Chose the Episcopal Church

The challenge: in 150 words or less, describe why you chose the Episcopal Church. This was the challenge that The Forward Movement gave to seminarians in anticipation of publishing a new booklet. Below is what I wrote and submitted.

Heralds and Prophets
Submitted by Chad M. Krouse

“No other church heralds the Kingdom of God quite like the Episcopal Church. Our Church lives on the margins, where our Lord’s ministry heralds us and where the Kingdom stirs. I am an Episcopalian to stand among other prophets calling for the freedom of the Kingdom today, living an open Gospel witnessing Christ’s love to every one, everywhere. We struggle openly with the dangers of prophecy in our contemporary world, yet always honoring our history of truth and justice. I cannot sit idly by and ignore the pain and brokenness walking about; I am an Episcopalian to live as both herald and prophet of this Kingdom, working to bring about equality, healing, and peace.”

Windows Into Heaven

These are photographs that I took at Manchester Cathedral this summer. The windows were absolutely amazing and strikingly modern.