29 November 2008

Lang may y'er lum reek

For the Scottish diaspora, 30 November is a major day. It is the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, patron saint of Scotland. As the 30th is tomorrow, I have to write about it today because Sunday is a no post day except for a sermon and Evensong.

The day is not such a huge "deal" in Scotland, though; it is mainly a day for expatriates and for those of Scottish ancestry, like me.

It is also the day that tells us when Advent arrives: Advent Sunday is the Sunday closest to St. Andrew's day.

For Episcopalians, the day should be a significant day as well. The Episcopal Church is really a daughter of the Episcopal Church of Scotland. Their bishops consecrated SamuelSeabury who was our first bishop.

We commemorate that event though our Episcopal Flag. There are nine crosses on the left upper corner of our flag. The crosses represent the original nine diocese ofTEC. The crosses are also arranged in the shape of St. Andrew's cross, and X shape.

As we talk about evangelism and how to attract new members to our church, we should remember Andrew - and invoke his help. Andrew was the first follower of Jesus, the Christ, and it was Andrew who brought his brother, Peter, to Jesus. That fact is commemorated in the hymn Jesus Calls Us:

Jesus calls us over the tumult
Of our life’s wild, restless, sea;
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
Saying, “Christian, follow Me!”

As of old Saint Andrew heard it
By the Galilean lake,
Turned from home and toil and kindred,
Leaving all for Jesus’ sake.

Being a person of major Scottish (and English) ancestry, I wish all of you a blessed St. Andrew's day.
May you have,
Walls for the wind
And a roof for the rain,
And drinks bedside the fire
Laughter to cheer you
And those you love near you,
And all that your heart may desire

And lang may y'er lum reek. (long may your chimney have smoke it it)

28 November 2008

New community of faith my not be so palatable

The Living Church, that bastion of right wing things in TEC, has an interesting article on the proposed new "province" to be announced next week.
The members of the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) and the college of primates are meeting in London this week in preparation for ACC-14, the triennial meeting of the ACC’s delegates scheduled for May in Jamaica.

Organizers of the gathering told a reporter that the “agenda is largely preparing for ACC-14 next year, and trying to build on the lessons learned from Lambeth.” The JSC is reviewing the ACC’s finances, communications and staffing needs; receiving an update on the work of the Faith and Order Commission proposed by the Windsor Continuation Group at the Lambeth Conference; and learning details of the meeting of the Anglican Covenant Design Group in Singapore in September.

The JSC meeting comes shortly after Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh announced that leaders of the Common Cause Partnership (CCP) will meet Dec. 3 in Wheaton, Ill., to endorse a draft constitution to govern the loose coalition of breakaway dioceses, congregations, and Anglican jurisdictions in the United States.

It is technically possible for a vote on a third province to come before the primates’ meeting in February in Alexandria, Egypt, and then be forwarded to ACC-14. This is unlikely, however, because the necessary constitutional work in forming a CCP-based North American province probably will not be completed. This could take as much as two years because the diocesan conventions of the four breakaway Episcopal dioceses—San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Quincy and Fort Worth—will have to endorse the constitution of the proposed province over two meetings of their conventions. CCP members also will need to ratify the constitution and amend their own governing documents so as to bring its terms into force.
I'm not so sure. I have not seen the canons and constitution of this new community of faith, but I'm going to bet two pence that the bishops of this organism are going to have Roman type bishopric powers. What the bishops say is going to be the rule in schismland.

Why do I think that? Well, examining the facts and the history. Each of the schismatic groups has a very strong willed (read egotistical) bishop. The votes to remove themselves and their people from TEC have been lead by those bishops. Those same bishops believe what ever they say is truth is, in fact, truth. They have their own sense of reality.

I cannot imagine such bishops not assuming more power for themselves. What I believe is that the new group will be like so many provinces of the AC -- bishopric rule.

Given that, the only thing necessary for this new group to come into existence is for the four bishops to click their ruby slippers together three times and say, "we are a province." No diocesan conventions necessary. I wonder if the misguided folk who are following these men understand they are marching into a monarchy.

I was going to say, "I just don't understand how people can be so brainwashed," but then, I do understand - enough hate makes one gullible enough believe any propaganda. It is the first spoonful of propaganda that is the hardest to swallow. After that, the Koolaid goes down easily.

Make sure to read the whole article.

27 November 2008

We gather together

Much is made of our Pilgrims and their "first thanksgiving." But the historical facts are, the Pilgrims were not the first to celebrate thanksgiving in the "new world". Jamestown had already done so. But, when the "myths" were created in the 19th century, the Pilgrims got the credit. Why? Because the "myth writer" was from New England. He decided the Calvinist Pilgrims should get credit instead of the Anglican Virginians. And, the rest is U.S. History.

Beginning with Thanksgiving day, my thoughts, for the next five weeks, return to my childhood. When one's parents have escaped mortality for the life of larger freedom, I do not believe the "holidays" are the same. The older I become, the more I miss my family. This year is particularly poignant for me in that one of my cousins (one of two) with whom I have always been closest (even closer than my brothers and I -- I rarely see my brothers) is celebrating in that larger life.

This year I am thankful for all the blessings God has giving me during the past year. I am particularly thankful for IT and JCF who have taught me so much about subject matters I did not previously understand. I'm thankful for the reconnection with a long time friend, Matthew.

And I am thankful for all of you who read my poor attempt at blogging and pointing out the lunacy of the schismatics. You are all "cyber family" to me. It is strange that I can feel such a closeness and connection to people I've never met, but I do.

But most of all, I am thankful that God loves me, just as I am, warts and all.

Where ever you are I wish you a happy Thanksgiving. As you sit down to your meal, where ever and what ever it is, remember that millions of Americans do not have enough to eat, on a daily basis. Remember them in your prayers and make a donation to an organization that feeds the hungry. "... Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you not ..."

The clip I've chosen reminds me so much of my childhood; visiting my aunt and uncle who were still farmers (I was, thankfully, a "townie").

26 November 2008

Grace Church raided - Armstrong under Indictment

According to the Colorado Independent, more than 20 police officers raided Grace Church and St. Stephen’s in downtown Colorado Springs on Wednesday. This is the latest in the ongoing criminal investigation into whether the controversial Don Armstrong embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Colorado Springs Gazette also reports that the police seized financial records and computers.

More than 20 officers cordoned off the block-long church complex at 601 N. Tejon St., evicting its controversial pastor, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, who wandered the sidewalk in clerical garb, a copy of the warrant clutched in his right hand.

The development is the latest in a complex story involving Armstrong and his followers who split from the Episcopal Church and joined the Episcopalian Diocese of Nigeria, whose archbishop once supported a law imposing five-year prison terms for gays and their supporters.

Since then, Armstrong and his faction have kept physical possession of the historic Grace Church and St. Stephen’s. The Episcopal Church of Colorado wants it back, of course as it belongs to TEC.

A Video clip is here.

There must be some rather strong evidence for the police to have raided the place. Armstrong is very influential in the area.

The article concludes:

And there have been statements, and more statements, and more statements still issued by Armstrong supporters and by the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. There have been so many developments in this story that the key players are now finding themselves having to repeat efforts of the past. This week for example, the pro-Armstrong faction voted to join up with the Nigerian group. The announcement left many scratching their heads. Hey! Didn’t they already do that in March?

The saga continues. Bottom line, no matter how many times Armstrong’s followers take their latest vote, two things are clear in this sordid drama:

1. The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado wants its $17 million church building/landmark back.

2. Armstrong doesn’t want to give it up.

This link has several links to articles about the raid. What I'd like to know is, why isn't Armstrong in jail. And, I would have loved to have seen his face when the police showed up and let him know that he is not a law unto himself and fleeing to Akinola land doesn't do a blessed thing to protect his illegal activities.

Mormons to be investigated over Prop 8

The Advocate is reporting that

The California Fair Political Practices Commission will investigate the Mormon Church's allegedly unreported contributions to the campaign to eliminate marriage equality in the state.

Independent group Californians Against Hate filed with the commission after Proposition 8 was passed on November 4, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Organization leader Fred Karger charges that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not report investments in phone banking, direct mailers, transportation into California for out-of-state Mormon volunteers, commercials, video broadcasts, and a mobile speakers bureau.

Karger said this step by the commission is a good sign, since the commission takes on less than 5% of complaints. While Roman Porter, the commission's executive director, said the move isn't indicative of anything, he added that the church could be fined up to $5,000 per violation if found at fault.

Californians Against Hate calculated in October that LDS followers had contributed more than $24 million in support of gay marriage bans in California and Arizona.

25 November 2008

Venables to be disciplined?

According the The Times, Ruth Gledhill reports that there is a move afoot to discipline the Province of the Southern Cone at the next meeting of the Primates. Gledhill's actual word is "punish." I have to admit, my first response was "yeah, so what."

The deal is done and the ink is dry on the page of schism. The ACC has waited far too long to act, just as the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church waited too long to act in the depositions of bishops who clearly showed a complete contempt for the Church they took an oath to uphold.

The problem with Venables (whom the schismatics insist on calling "archbishop" -- something he is not) is that he, like Akinola, Schofield, Duncan and Iker, do not care what anyone else in the Anglican world thinks. Their street gang makes all the rules for themselves and the rest of the Anglican world can simply like it or go to hell - literally - in their opinion.

Had the ACC and the HOB acted responsibly, we would not be in the midst of schism. But, instead, they capitulated to the school yard bullies and bullies only become embolden when people hand them what they want.

Of course, the crypto-Calvinists have already started the "it's not us, it's they who are the problem" rhetoric. Their argument boils down to this: "TEC has the money to force the ACC to do TEC's Bidding." The roundheads are, of course, innocent lambs being sacrificed to the pagan god of TEC by the heretic presiding bishop - the woman bishop!"

We've heard it all before and will hear it again, and again.

But if the ACC and primates do discipline Venables and the SC, it could be the best possible news for TEC. The courts will see that it is the roundheads who have left, not TEC. That might be excellent news regarding property issues.

Go read the article and tell me what you think. Keep in mind that Ruth is frequently misinformed, shall we say.

After you're read the article and commented thereupon, go read The Grapevine today. It is more than worth your time to do so.

24 November 2008

To Kill a Mockingbird -- a tale for our day

This past weekend, I watched the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. I've seen the move scores of times as it is one of my favourite movies and, in my opinion, the best performance Gregory Peck ever gave. This time as I listened to his summation to the jury, I was shocked by the parallels between what he said and what our GLBT community experiences today. Here are excerpts from the summation with additions clearly marked:
[The prosecution] has relied ... upon the testimony of two witnesses whose evidence has not only been called into serious question on cross-examination, but has been flatly contradicted by the evidence ...

[GLBT have] merely broken a rigid and time-honored code of our society, a code so severe that whoever breaks it is hounded from our midst as unfit to live with...

... But what is the evidence of the offense? ... that [they fall in love with a same-gendered person] .. something that, in our society, is unspeakable...

Confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption, the evil assumption, that all [GLBT] lie, all [GLBT] are immoral beings, all [GLBT] are not to be trusted around our [children] ... An assumption that one associates with minds of their caliber, and which is, in itself, gentlemen, a lie,which I do not need to point out to you.

And so, quiet, humble, respectable [GLBT], who [have] had the unmitigated temerity to [go against tradition] and have to be put back in their place.

IN our courts, all men are created equal. I'm no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and our jury system. That's no ideal to me. That is a living, working reality.

Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion, the evidence that you have heard, come to a clear decision and restore [their rights and their families.]

In the name of God, do your duty.

I was stuck by the way Atticus puts it: the crime was to break centuries old tradition.

The facts disprove their appeal to emotion. There is no evidence to support the H8 other than religious tradition and fear.

Tradition and fear are all that stand between California citizens and equal rights. Tradition and fear -- the only weapon in their arsenal except an obscene amount of cash at their disposal.

I was so struck by the parallels in this summation that I ordered a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird for each member of the California State Supreme Court.

There is another parallel with the movie that I noticed this time: that of the roundheads vilifying TEC and ACoC for bucking tradition. These two churches must be rooted out, banished and annihilated for breaking tradition.

Yet, one of those screaming loudest for"our" conviction, Sydney, is breaking a tradition since Apostolic times. But, since "they" are doing it, it is not really a blatant violation of tradition and canon law.

The parallel? Bigots will go to any length to justify their actions, and will go to any length to both castigate and put back in their place any uppity people who make them uncomfortable.

Watching Mockingbird made me realize that things really don't change -- only the faces of both bigots and victims change.

A wee honour and a large thank you

I had the honour of being named a "superior scribbler" for my wee work here at TTLS. To be so honoured is rather humbling. My heartfelt thanks to Leonardo who presented me the award. Leonardo blogs at Eruptions from the Volcano.

23 November 2008

Evensong and Prayer Request

Before I 'get to' Evensong, I would like to ask you to pray for Cath, a friend of JCF. Cath has been diagnosed with stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC - adenocarcinoma." It is treatable, but not curable. Pray, folks.


One of my favourite hymns is Crown Him, With Many Crowns and as this is my blog, that is the hymn I've chosen for Evensong on this feast of Christ the King. The recording is from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Evensong from the BBC is here. It was recorded in the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool. The music is really an eclectic grouping, but it works.

Pentecost XXVIII - Feast of Christ the King

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 100 or Psalm 95:1-7a; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46

“Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Today, the twenty-eighth and last Sunday after Pentecost, brings to a conclusion the great – perhaps long is a better word for it – season of time after Pentecost. For that matter, it brings to an end the entire cycle of the church year. Next week at this time, on the First Sunday of Advent, we will find ourselves in a brand-new church year.

In some church circles, the season of time after Pentecost that we have just concluded is called “ordinary time,” perhaps to distinguish it from the string of extra-ordinary events in the life of Christ and the Church recounted in the liturgical calendar from Advent to Pentecost. After all, not much seems to happen during the time after Pentecost. There are few, if any, great feasts or fasts of the Church. And the liturgical color remains standard-issue green for months on end.

But the time after Pentecost has traditionally been a good opportunity for study and reflection in the life of the Church. And that in itself is significant. For while folks sometimes tease that Episcopalians do not read or study the Bible, the reality is that our worship is firmly grounded in scripture, and perhaps never more so than in the time after Pentecost. This past year, for instance, in our Sunday lessons we have been reading the Gospel of Matthew pretty much straight through. Ditto for several other books of the Bible, including Paul’s Letter to the Romans, one of the seminal works of the New Testament and our Christian faith. So while these long months of time after Pentecost are sometimes thought of as down time at Church, they are anything but.

Ordinary time may have another sense to it as well when we consider that we are today still living in the time after Pentecost – quite literally. Let’s see. If the original Pentecost occurred about the year AD 33, give or take, that would make about one thousand nine hundred and seventy-five years of Sundays after Pentecost. So, if the math is right, we have already surpassed the one hundred thousandth Sunday after Pentecost. That is a lot of ordinary time in the ordinary lives of ordinary people like all of us.

But that is also a lot of sanctification. Some pretty extraordinary things have happened during these ordinary times. Great saints have inspired us with their learning and holiness. Bishops, rectors, priests, and deacons have come and gone at thousands of cathedrals and churches near and far. Important movements and reforms have arisen in the Church and brought people closer to Christ.

And we have been born, baptized, fed at the Lord’s Table, and lived out our lives and common faith together. We have fed the hungry – if we have heeded today’s gospel account from Matthew. We have given drink to the thirsty, and clothing to the naked. We have tended the sick and visited the prisoner. We have helped others on their journeys and in their struggles. Not once or twice, but day in and day out. Not bad – for being ordinary people in ordinary times.

Truth is: nothing is ever really ordinary about God’s plan for us. Not our birth. Not our life. Not our work. Not our family or friends. And certainly not our death. As humorist Garrison Keillor might say, “We are all above average in the eyes of God,” every last one of us. For in everything we are and do, we share in the very life of God. And that is pretty extraordinary. Just ask anyone.

As we now bring to a close our liturgical ordinary time, listen carefully to the story of God’s extraordinary love for us as recounted in scripture and in our prayers and hymns. Celebrate the extraordinary in your own life, and know that the uncommon gift of God’s love is yours in every ordinary moment of time.

For when God’s amazing work of salvation is over, and when the last star has dimmed, God’s love will persevere, and our faith and deeds in this time and place will remain forever extraordinary and real. And from eternity, as our Gospel account assures us, “The king will say … ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”

-- The Rev. Dr. Frank Hegedus is interim rector of the extraordinary Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar, California. He welcomes your comments at frankhegedus@hotmail.com.

Prayers for JCF's friend, Cath and Fred's friend, Jerry

UPDATE 16 December:

Positive News

I had my six-week follow-up with the oncologist today and the news was positive: My lab results are all within normal limits and the chest X-Ray showed no tumor growth or other progression. My lungs look pretty clear otherwise.

Relieved and happy? Yes, for sure.

I'll have another follow-up visit, labs, and CT scan in six weeks.

Thank you for your prayers, thoughts, ceremonies, and everything. YOU are POWERFUL Women and Men and I am so grateful to have you on my side for this.

JCF's friend, Cath, has just received a diagnosis of Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer, NSCLC (adenocarcinoma). "Treatable, not curable."

Cath is a lifelong NON-smoker (who's never been much around smokers).

Cath, like so many other reasonable people, is incredibly alienated from the Roman Catholicism of her upbringing. As a fan of Xena, the Warrior, Cath says whe will invision the Warrior Princess and Battling Bard (that's Xena and Gabrielle) going on the attack against the cancer, as she begins chemo.

Cath has also been a very strong influence in JCF's life for many reasons.

Please remember Cath in your prayers, my friend. Pray for her health and for her faith, too.

Fred asks us to pray for his friend, Jerry.

Jerry has been diagnosed with lung cancer -- a 30 millimeter spot on his lungs. This after her fought off esophagial(sp?) cancer. Had his esophagus removed and his stomach, at least a portion, was converted into an esophagus. He is my best friend and has been through so very much. His excellent health going into this whole mess is what has kept him going -- along with an outlook that won't give up.