Wednesday, February 29, 2012


My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:4

Good morning.  How’s your coffee?   It’s Wednesday at Wycliffe which means it’s a busy – but good – day.  It’s our “Sunday” together as a community – students and faculty and families.  We gather together for fellowship and Worship and Communion followed by dinner that’s crowded and loud with laughter and conversation and kids running around.  It’s a beautiful time.  But for now, in the early morning, it’s quiet, just me and my coffee in my room, up earlier than usual so that I can keep my commitment to write twice a week and re-discover the joy of writing something that isn’t a school assignment. 

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wants them to know what it is to be a Christian Community, a people group who accept God’s transformative power among them so that they can participate in God’s purpose for His creation.  Paul speaks of growing into the maturity of faith through the power of the Holy Spirit so that they may live out the good news of the Gospel.  But what does Paul mean by faith?  He wants them to understand it’s more than just stating belief in God.

Having faith means that I acknowledge, not just with my words but with the entirety of my being, that God is God.  Faith is saying that He is the Creator of the Universe.  Faith is accepting that He loves me because He is Love.  Faith is seeing everyone and everything as an interconnected part of God’s story that I won’t always understand and that will not be complete until in the fullness of time He gathers all that He has created unto Himself.  Faith is letting go of my will for His so that the Holy Spirit may transform me into the person God’ desires me to be.

This in no way, however, diminishes my responsibility or my accountability.  In fact, it gives me greater responsibility; because of my faith I am always and in every way, in everything I say, think, feel, and do, a witness, either good or bad, to the Glory and Goodness and Love of God.  When I do not reflect God who is Love and Goodness, it says something about who I am.  God is always faithful.  The Bible shows that no matter how many times people chose to do what was right in their own eyes, God continually called them, continually calls us, back to Himself. 

In today’s world, being told that we are not autonomous individuals is almost impossible for us to hear.  Our entire worldview is built on the idea that we are first and foremost individuals.  Yet we all have this need to “belong”, to connect with others.  Somehow we instinctively know what numerous scientific and psychological studies have proven, that humans thrive best in community – in relation with others.  We do our best to balance this instinctual need to be with others with our self-given autonomy by viewing our “communities” as something that is for “me”.  I belong to such-and-such a group because of what it gives to, does for, fulfills in me.  Once we no longer feel that we are getting anything out of said community, we move on. 

But what if community isn’t about “me” but about the “other”? What if it isn’t about what we get out of it but what we put into it?  What if what we put into it isn’t only about how much we “do” but our committed presence to live out the words of Galatians 6, bearing one another’s burdens and carrying our own load … no matter what?   What if putting the other first isn’t a sign of weakness but a sign of strength and courage, the courage to say that in giving up my autonomy I claim an identity that is far greater than any other: the identity of a child of God; the strength to say not my will but God’s because God is God … and I am not.  Having faith is believing in God and acknowledging our place in His plan and purpose.  

"Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

God's peace,

Saturday, February 25, 2012


I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me….   And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.  (Philippians 4:10-13, 19-20)

As I read the above passage from today’s Daily Office Lectionary, my first thought was how many people I would love to say these words to – to the folks at my home parish, to my family, to my friends at school … the list goes on.  Not that any have had to “revive” their concern for me – it has been never ending, but to let people know how grateful I am for all they do for me, just as Paul is thanking the church in Philippi for their care and concern and gifts to him. I do try to say it as often as I can.

Last weekend while I was at our diocesan council, I was standing in the reception area when a dear friend walked over and to say hello asked how I was.  I went to answer and tears began to flow, she immediately responded with “what’s wrong” and I just as quickly said nothing, everything is great, I’m just feeling overwhelmed by God’s abundance.  When I first found out about my assignment to St. John’s in McAllen, I have to admit, I was scared.  I was going somewhere not only where I don’t know anyone but somewhere far from my family and my closest friends.  Being alone frightens me, not that I feel emotionally alone – there’s the phone and the internet for keeping in touch with those I love on a daily basis – but being physically alone.  As the end of school approaches it has dawned on me that for the first time in my life I will be living by myself.  Yes, I’m almost 45 and I went from living at home to living in the dorm at college to being married to being a divorced single mom with my son to being re-married to being widowed and moving back into the dorm for my M.Div.

While at Council, I was able to meet a good bunch of folks from St. John’s and they were amazingly welcoming and warm and I know that I’ll feel at home there in no time at all.  I am blessed and privileged to continue to learn how to lead a parish under the guidance of Fr. Jim.  And, God placed another gift in my lap while there – a lovely little house that fits all my needs to make it my home, a home that I hope I will be able to make warm and welcoming to all who enter its doors.  It’s funny how just having a picture of the place I will be living is helping me to wrap my head around living by myself.  God knew what I needed to turn my fear into excitement, and he gave it in abundance. 

Standing in the lobby of the conference center, I said to my friend, Judy, “I wonder if I’ll ever get used to the abundance of God’s answers.” She replied, “I hope not.” I hope not, as well. 

And may God meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

God’s peace,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


“…for where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
For my thesis I’ve done a bit of reading on Christian ethics and the formation of Christian character.  Part of the biblical foundation for the formation of Christian character that I’m using is the Sermon on the Mount.   As I read the Gospel lesson for Ash Wednesday (the lectionary has Matthew 6:5-6, 16-21 but I encourage you to read all of chapter 6 to get a better picture … in fact, read all of Matthew 5-7 and get the whole sermon, but I digress..) the verse above really struck me.  We so often think that we do the things we do because of the person we are but do we ever stop to consider that it goes both ways, we are the person we are because of the things we do?  Now, don’t think I’m heading down the heretical path of works righteousness; don’t make the leap from what I just said to earning our way into heaven.  It is only because of God’s grace and love, by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are made heirs to God’s kingdom. 
But in this sermon, Jesus is talking about the things we do here on earth as visible, physical manifestations of God’s love and the way what we do and who we are becoming is inseparable. In the language of ethics we’d use the terms practices and habits.  The things we do as Christians – serving others, prayer, fasting, proclaiming the gospel, behaving compassionately and humbly and lovingly – at first we may have to do them consciously and as we practice them more and more they become habits.  We acknowledge all along that it is only by God’s divine power that we are given what we need to live a godly life and are enabled to participate in his divine nature (when you finish reading the Sermon on the Mount, pour yourself another cup of coffee and read 2 Peter). 

So, I consider this morning, where is my treasure – what is it that I value and allow to shape who I am becoming?  Will my behavior today bring me closer to God?  During Lent, what habits can I practice that will build up the body of Christ? 

“Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

God’s peace,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Writing for Lent: a blog reawakening

Happy Shrove Tuesday, Folks.  It’s the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent (once again I recommend this site for basic information on church seasons).  It’s hard to believe.  It’s also hard to believe that the last time I wrote for this blog was September … sorry about that.  I said I’d keep you posted on how my last year is going and that year is almost over.   I’ve never quite shaken the mood that all I’m doing is for “the last time’ but I’ve taken that thought and tried to stay focused and present in all that I’ve done so that I (hopefully) don’t take any interaction for granted so it’s been a good exercise in abiding in the time I’m in. 
One of the highlights for me for the Fall Term was getting to meet and talk with Fleming Rutledge ( .  I shared with her my passion for writing (a passion taken over by writing for school assignments lately) and she asked if I had a blog.  I told her yes but I didn’t write for it as much as I’d like.  Her advice to me was to take it more seriously and write for it regularly.  That has stayed with me and I’ve made several pseudo-starts in the past months.  There are a number of half begun postings in the “blog” folder on my laptop.  As I was praying and meditating over how I would observe Lent, this is what kept coming to mind.  So, my Lenten discipline this year will be writing for my blog.  And, I don’t mean discipline as punishment but as a practice that will help shape my character and deepen my relationship with God (and perhaps give you a nugget or two to think about).  I commit to at a minimum twice a week - Wednesday s and Saturdays.  And I ask you to help keep me accountable to this commitment. 
In other news: my ordination date has been set.  God willing and the people consenting, I’ll be ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church of the United States on June 11 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in San Antonio.  I also know my first assignment.  As of July 1, I’ll be the Assistant to the Rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church in McAllen, Texas.  This past weekend at our annual Diocesan Council, I was able to spend time with the Rector and some of the folks from St. John’s and I look forward to being a part of that community.  God’s grace and abundance continue to overwhelm me.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God , and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, evermore. Amen.