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Posts Tagged ‘Love’

“He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.” -John 21:17

I wanted to share two stories that I came across yesterday about churches that, on the verge of closing, persevered, understanding their mission and commission was to do God’s work for God’s people.

St Alban’s was faced with a very public schism, as I am sure many Episcopal churches have been over the last decade. Their inspiring, and educational for all of us, experience can be found here, as can the first part of their story.

Christ Church in Biddeford Me experienced a radical transformation into the second Diocesan Jubilee Center. This story is nothing short of amazing, and embodies what I think of when I read the Gospel.

Both of these stories are inspirational in their own way. Do you have any inspirational stories about how your parish has transformed itself from parochialism to a central part of your community? Comment away!

Peace

Chris

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Another brilliant post from Fr Paul over at his blog Heaven and Earth!

A Celebration and Blessing of Civil Union
I met Andre and Kevin on Facebook. My son introduced them to me when he celebrated their engagement to his friends right there in front of God and everyone on Facebook. Being who I am, I rejoiced in the announcement. Both young men were children of the church, but their particular denominations were a bit hesitant to celebrate and bless their love. Not me! I was among the first to congratulate them.
Andre and Kevin then wondered aloud to Michael if I would travel from Boston to Chicago to perform their nuptials. They asked, and I gladly accepted. I would travel half way around the world to celebrate and bless the wedded bliss of those who wish to love one another, just as Jesus said we should. After all I am a priest of the church and this is what we do. We marry off folks, we baptize babies and adults, we bury the dead. We visit the sick. And as long as there is life in me I will do the deeds and travel far and wide for anybody asking the church’s blessing for any and all of the above sacraments.
I know that some churches are reluctant to bless folks who love one another if they happen to be of the same sex and propose to enter into covenantal relationships with one another. But I do not represent “some churches”. I represent one tiny corner of the Christian/Faith world that rejoices as I do when folks fall in love. When that love gets serious and is more than just infatuation but is of the sort that wishes to be faithful in a life long union, I’ll be the first in line to bless such a union.
There are no barriers to such a union in my church. There are no racial, ethnic, class, gender or orientation barriers in my church. We are tiny. Not all of our priests are gung-ho about such relationships, but I am. We are a scandal to much of the Communion. Our Archbishop has rattled our knuckles with his ecclesiastical ruler. But we all smiled and embraced the beloved of God and removed all barriers to Baptism, Marriage, and Burial and even ordination!
When I got home from Chicago, I put it up on Facebook that “The Deed is Done”. Scores of people expressed their joy and enthusiasm and were quite complimentary to me for being “cool”, one even called me a “dude”…a first for this cleric.
But then I was taken to task by one of my West Virginian friends. He questioned the blessing by saying that I was merely playing up to the culture and fudged on my responsibility to preach the truth of God. This he suggested was the more loving thing to do. I tried to reason with the man, alas to no avail.
I removed his posts from my Facebook page ultimately because I felt we all have a right to go to our marriage bed with delight and glee just as I did when I married my lovely bride 31 years ago. When we heterosexuals get married, we have the privilege of doing so without our loves being a matter of debate.
I have decided the same will hold true for my LGBTQ friends. My church is a “House of Prayer for All People”. PERIOD. We are not Jews and Greeks, we are not slave and free, we are not male and female in my church. We are one in Christ just as the blessed Apostle to the Gentiles said (Galatians 3:28). It follows we are not defined by race, ethnicity, class, gender or orientation. We are defined as being one in Christ. Thus I have argued before in this blog when I set forth a biblical base for the Rainbow Marriage.
Please don’t be offended when I use the name of Jesus and Christ. When I use the Name, I am not doing so to be exclusive, but to be centered. I am clearly Christ centered in the sense that I believe that Jesus is the clearest example I have seen yet of the love of God made flesh in human form. But I am not Christ exclusive. Neither was Jesus. When he fed the multitudes on the hillsides of Galilee he didn’t check church membership, or any other convenience of human classification.
The only requirement to be loved by God in the Person of Jesus, is to be human. That will suffice. Be human, that is all that Jesus requires.
And that’s all I require too. So if you want to get married, have a baby/child/adult to be baptized, have a loved one who is sick, or if there are the dead to be buried, just let me know. Or let any priest of the church know. And we will be there for you.
By the way, I am an Episcopalian, if that matters to anybody. So far that’s the only Catholic and Apostolic church around that comes right out and says such a thing.
And remember, God loves you and so do I,
Fr. Paul

 

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“Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” -Romans 14:4

“Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” -Matthew 18:21-22

The theme for our services this morning was “remember to love”. Our Gospel for today, the instruction from Jesus to Peter concerning forgiveness and the parable of the unforgiving servant, is the perfect lesson for this day. As a side note, this Scripture was chosen for this day in this Lectionary Year at least 32 years ago, if not longer. The Lord works in mysterious ways indeed.

This morning, in his daily Twitter 140-character homily, Fr James Martin, SJ tweeted the following:

Gospel: Forgiveness is hard, but it brings life. It frees you from resentments, and can allow the one forgiven to experience God’s mercy.

Yes, folks, forgiveness is hard, but God would not have sent Christ to teach us that forgiveness is required as we are forgiven by God if it was easy. We must show mercy as God has shown mercy to us. Through forgiveness we release the resentment, the anger, and the desire for retribution. Only then can we truly serve God and see the Kingdom of Heaven that is God’s love. Only then can we pave the road to peace by loving our neighbors, even if some of them are our enemies.

Early on in this stage of my journey, I recall my priest teaching us about forgiveness at a bible study. He told us plainly that when we harbor resentment, hold a grudge, you name it, we are the ones who are being punished by our own refusal to forgive. He suggested that the idea of hell is this very scenario. In C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce, Lewis portrays many interactions where those in purgatory/hell are there out of their own choosing, their own inability to forgive even when faced with the opportunity to do so and enter Heaven.

I think too often we equate forgiveness with condoning and/or forgetting the action that requires it. Too often we forget that Jesus is constantly teaching us, commanding us, to love and forgive. We somehow skip that part and we don’t realize that resentment, retaliation, retribution and the like are the weeping and gnashing of teeth. That we are the ones burning with anger, seething with rage, and locked in the Gehenna of our own making.

We must do the hard thing and take the narrow gate and forgive. If we do not forgive, we will never know what it means to love God and walk in love as Christ loved us.

Peace

Chris

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Another brilliant post from Fr Paul over at his blog Heaven and Earth.

God set a rainbow in the clouds for a sign to all humanity of a covenant between us and God. It is a thing of great beauty. All the colors of the spectrum are present in the rainbow. Many of us see it as a sign that God’s love is inclusive in ever widening circles of compassion.

Speaking of God’s love and human love, there is a teaching of Jesus about marriage that is certainly provocative. It is this:

“Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning “made them male and female”, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”?So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?’ He said to them, ‘It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but at the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.’

His disciples said to him, ‘If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.’ But he said to them, ‘Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.’” ~Matthew 19

This is one of the most interesting passages in the Gospels. Jesus teaches his disciples about marriage and divorce, and suddenly he veers off into a totally unrelated subject about eunuchs. What in the world does that have to do with marriage? Or does it?

We can only imagine. Whatever Jesus is teaching, we do know this; not everyone can accept it. This passage cannot be easily dismissed. Eunuchs are common in the ancient Near Eastern world. The practice of castration for any number of reasons is widespread.

But what of the ones who are born “that way”? And what of the ones born that way who love others born “that way”. Explain that to me.

Here it is now in black and white. Explain to me why Jesus goes to these lengths to embrace those “born that way”? Why, when he is teaching about marriage does he say that this teaching is so difficult for humanity to accept?

The fact is Jesus reaches out to all the outcasts; and specifically those distanced from the Temple by the Levitical Law code; such as prostitutes, lame, blind, tax collectors, and other unclean sorts. Leviticus specifically distances maimed sorts like eunuchs. Jesus contradicts that law code by his very life and in this particular teaching, by indicating that eunuchs can make themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. How remarkable!

Dare we say that Jesus is teaching us something about eunuchs we don’t want to hear? Jesus didn’t shy away from confrontation and controversy. So when his finds himself besieged by biblical literalists who press him for his thoughts on marriage, he describes an ethic of uncompromisingly high standards.

Then the disciples are bewildered and wonder why anyone should marry at all if these impossible standards are set in a manner that is so uncompromising.

Then, in an instant we find Jesus teaching something else difficult to accept.

Marriage is a covenantal relationship. Many heterosexual folks establish such relationships; some don’t. Many gay folks have covenantal relationships that last a lifetime, some don’t. Here is a controversy for you; when Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, do you suppose he died for those who love one another in fulfillment of Jesus’ own command of whatever orientation?

[…read more]

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Great post!!! Well worth reading, saving, and reading again!

Do aspiring or established Olympians head out to their training fields/areas, go over their routines a few times, then pack their bags for the winter olympic games? I'm guessing not. Do presidential hopefuls run a few ads, go on a tour through a couple of states, and then think they've done all they can do to win the hearts of the American people? I would certainly hope not. Neither can we who have battled or are currently battling depression giv … Read More

via The Journey is my Dream

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“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good” -Romans 12:9

Despite the overall message in this one verse (and the passage in general) this bit of Scripture is one of my least favorite.  Why?  The directive to “hate what is evil” is, in my opinion, useless and potentially destructive when interpreted incorrectly.  One only needs to look at the ludicrous activities of the Westboro Baptist Church at soldiers’ funerals to understand where I am coming from here or far, far worse, the random, brutal murders of so many because they were [insert difference that was “hated” and “evil” here].

I often wonder in prayer if St Paul has spent the last 2000 years up in Heaven saying to himself, “If I only knew what they would do with these words, I would have constructed them in a more just and righteous manner”.

It is so easy to hate.  It requires nothing more than latching onto the animal nature inside of everyone of us and doing any variety of destructive acts.  It gives us a rush of false righteousness, and then leaves us empty, so we have to hate more and it escalates.  And you better bet your bottom dollar that Screwtape or one of his minions is right there at your side, cheering you on.  Hate is destructive and Satan enjoys nothing more than when humans are destructive.

It is hard to love.  Love requires an investment of your entire being.  Love requires us to sacrifice our earthly desires in many cases in order to pursue what is right, just and divinely inspired.  Loving our neighbors requires us to be disciplined and prayerful in listening to the Holy Spirit, to be ready to face adversity, ridicule, social rejection, persecution and in some cases martyrdom.  Love requires us to give until it hurts, to serve those in need with joy and humility, and follow this directive:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” -Matthew 6:19-21

Practicing love is the most rewarding, beautiful, and Godly thing we can do.  Practicing hate is the most destructive, empty, and evil thing that we can do.

On that note I leave you with this Scripture:

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.  For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part;  but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.  And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” -The First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians 13:1-13

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