20 December 2008

Again each year.....

I'm not a "Santa" person. What has happened to Christmas because of the secular person is a travisty. But this clip made me laugh. Perhaps you need a laugh today too. The caption "Alle Jahre Wieder" means "Each year again" and is one of Germany's most beloved Christmas songs.

19 December 2008

Schismatics win round one in Virgini

Given the state of affairs in Virginia, it will come as no surpirse taht the judge who has continually ruled in favour of the schismatics has once again ruled in their favour.

The final rulings in this case concerned whether four parcels of property owned by the Anglican congregations were covered by the congregations' Division petitions. +Marty Minns, the propaganda creating spokespeople for the schismatic group said

We welcome these final, favorable rulings in this case. This has been a long process and we are grateful that the court has agreed with us. ... It is gratifying to see the court recognize that the true owner of The Historic Falls Church is The Falls Church's congregation, not the denomination, and that the building is protected by the Division Statute. The Falls Church has held and cared for this property for over 200 years.

We hope that The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia will realize that it is time to stop this legal battle. In these economic times, we should be focused on helping our communities and spreading the Gospel, not spending millions of dollars on ongoing legal battles. The money we have been forced to spend to keep our property from being forcibly taken away from us is money that could have been spent in more productive ways.

This should come as no surprise, and I, at least, was expecting this ruling. So now, the appeal comes and the case is removed from the biased "local" courts and into a more balance-viewed venue.

If they had really been concerned about the amount of money they've had to spend, they would have walked away from the buildings and used the money to further their schismatic cause. But they are seeking some type of legitimacy and for them, the buildings create that illusion.

But it's not all good news - the courts made the following ruling that is clearly in favour of the diocese:

The Fairfax County Circuit Court today affirmed that petitions filed by the CANA congregations do not include the endowment fund of The Falls Church (Episcopal) in Falls Church, Va. As a result, the endowment fund was not subject to the congregational vote and the following legal action taken by the CANA congregations seeking to take this property.


18 December 2008

Schofield and the Roman Catholic Press - more propaganda

Yesterday must be a slow news day as even the Roman Catholic press can't keep their reporters from dealing in propaganda where the Episcopal Church is concerned.

An article appeared in the California Catholic Daily on 17 December by an unnamed journalist. Of course, the article praised David Schofield, a bishop who forfeited his right to exercise episcopal authority when he renounced the church that gave him that authority,and was subsequently deposed by the house of bishops.

And guess who the "reporter's" chief source is? I'll give you two guesses and one isn't Schofield himself. It's David Virtue via his blog. The second source is Mr. Ron Parry, "pastor" of St. Luke's in Merced. Parry states
The current presiding bishop, Katherine Schori, got [Mr] Schofield deposed, which violates our canons.
The first questions is, "whose canon?" The Episcopal Church of the Southern Cone which has no provision for Schofield and his camp-follows?

The second question I have is, "Why is it that these people cannot have the common courtesy to use the proper name for the Presiding Bishop?" Her name s Jefferts Schori. By refusing to use her legal name, they show how low they are themselves.

The third question is, "why would a journalist interview people only on one side of an issue if they intend to write an honest article? The answer, of course is, the journalist didn't intend to write a balanced article. The journalist was writing propaganda.

And of course, we hear the sad story of persecution:
[Gene Robinson's ordination] was the straw that broke the camel's back, to make a man living in an openly homosexual relationship outside of marriage a bishop. Things had been going on for years--problems with the authority of scripture, the nature of Christ, the historic faith. People in authority, all the way back to Bishop Pike, denied the tenets of the faith, but they were never disciplined.

Bishops Jefferts Schori, when she was pressed as to whether Jesus Christ is 'the way, the truth and the life,' responded, 'For us, He is.' There are bishops who don't believe in the resurrection or the incarnation. The whole notion of the atonement is under question. But Gene Robinson's ordination made it absolutely clear that this was not going to turn around.
Well, if they are making a list of bishops who aren't sure Jesus Christ is the only way, they must include the current bishop of Rome, Benedict on that list. But they aren't making a list they are promulgating factoid and fiction. They continue to make Robinson the whipping boy, the mask to hide their fundamentalist membership in the flat earth society. But they forgot to mention Spong. All the other propaganda is there.

But there is one interesting bit in this article:

The split was also driven by concerns about who would lead them in the future. 'The mandatory retirement age for a bishop is 72 and our bishop (Schofield is 70). In order for us to have any chance of ever getting [a fundamentalist] bishop again, we felt that we had to step away on a temporary basis.
There is it in black and white -- Schofield not wanting to relinquish the total authority he has accumulated over the past two decades. Power greedy people do not step aside in favour of others. The power hungry leaders of the diocese do not want to relinquish their power, either. They had to leave TEC to retain power when Schfield relinquishes power which, in my opinon, will be sometime after he is embalmed.

But the really interesting bit is the last; "we felt that we had to step away on a temporary basis." As a friend's son says, "Say what?" It sounds as if they plan to return to the Episcopal Church at some future date. What about the "province in waiting"? What about the apostasy of TEC?

And then the article turns to another odd bit:
According to the canons and constitution of our church, we have a right to leave. But the mindset of the Episcopal Church is that parishes and dioceses cannot leave. Only individuals can leave. The problem is that the parishes that left took their property with them, so we are all being sued.
What church? Whose canons and constitution? Neither TEC, nor the Southern Cone nor Schofield's dominion allow parishes to take property when they leave. Mr. Parry is not familiar with the canons and constitution of any of the organizations involved.

Of interest are the comments left on the web site. I left a wee comment
Well, the article isn't exactly correct and it's obvious that the reporter didn't check the facts. But the most egregious bit is that the presiding bishop illegally deposed Schofield. He left the Episcopal Church -- he quit. The deposition came after he had quit and joined another church.
A comment following mine said:
James, once again you've denoted the most conscience rattling information of the millennium. your insight is near godlike
I'm not sure if that was a compliment or an insult. The best comment is from "Dave N."
Schofield's remarks and actions seem a bit disingenuous. First, the Episcopal church has been appointing barely closeted gay suffragan bishops for decades and certainly openly gay priests for the same amount of time. Yet when the people ELECT a gay bishop (bishops are elected in the Episcopal church) suddenly it's an issue. And I say "suddenly" with some irony since it took Schofiled et al. almost four years to leave in spite of the fact there was clearly no way Bp. Robinson's election would be overturned, even if the church wanted to (and they did not.) If you have democracy in the church, you'd better be prepared to live with whomever gets voted in. And this "got him deposed" business is more than just poor English, it's a canard, as James observes, again pointing to Schofield's lack of sincerity in the matter. It's the blind leading the blind basically--the whole lot is headed for the pit. So if you think that democracy might be the eventual solution to our own egregious bishop problems, you might want to reconsider
He is absolutely correct, of course. Most Episcopalians who are even slightly involved at a diocesan level can name at least two dozen gay bishops. And of course the smoke around Schofield has been rising for forty years or more. But it is the "outness" that gave the schismatics their moment in the sun and seize it they did. The problem is, things aren't going as the Chapman memo told them it would go.

Dave brings up the central issue in the whole schism: "
If you have democracy in the church, you'd better be prepared to live with whomever gets voted in." The schismatics don't want democracy, the want monarchical rule in the guise of theocracy. Oh, they will give it just enough "voting" to make is look like a democracy. But as in San Joaquin, anyone who was involved in the diocesan process knows, it was a monarchy and it still is a monarchy.

Almost all the comments sound as if they come from schismatic supporters. One wonders if the comments come from Romans or former Episcopalians.

If you want a good read, and a few good laughs, check out the article.

17 December 2008

Christmas Trees and pigs

I probably won't post much on the state of the Anglican Communion for the rest of this year unless something really amazing happens.

Instead, I'm going to post a series of Christmas memories. The posts will be just for me, but that's the privilege of having one's own blog - right?

It's getting close to the time to put up the tree. For me, any day after Luciadag is acceptable, but I prefer to put it up on Christmas Eve. Putting the tree up always makes me think of Christmases past and of people long departed this life.

One of the reasons I like to decorate the tree is because each thing on my tree has a very significant history and meaning. I even have a wee broken porcelain pig. It was given to me by Marie Waller an elderly Swedish friend.

When Marie was a little girl her next door neighbour was an old Swede whose son had died when he was only three years old. That pig had been his favourite toy. When the woman was near death, she asked Marie to keep the pig for her and her son.

And Marie did for the next seventy-four years. One Christmas tide I commented on that pig and how cute it was. Marie told me the story and said,
Jim, I've been wondering for years who would take care of that little boy's pig -- my family will throw everything away and they don't care about old things or dead people.
She took the pig off the tree and gave it to me and asked me to keep it for the boy, his mom, and for her. Each year I put the pig on my tree and say a prayer for the unknown boy and his unknown mother. And for the past two years, for Marie, too, who is now in the Church Triumphant.

I wonder why Christmas makes us more lonesome for times past and people no longer with us. At Easter I don't miss those people; even Thanksgiving doesn't stir the emotional cauldron like Christmas does. But for some reason, each Christmastide, I want to be a child again and have all those wonderful people (and even the not-so-wonderful people) around like it used to be. What is that poem --- Oh, yes, Rock Me To Sleep:

Backward, turn backward, O Time in thy flight
Make me a child again, just for tonight
Mother, come back from the echo less shore
Take me again to your heart as of yore.

Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair
Over my slumber your loving watch keep, ---
Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep

Mother dear mother the years have been long
Since I last hushed to your lullaby song
Sing them and unto my sole it shall seep
[All of the years are like just a dream]

Backward, oh backward, Time in your flight
Make me a child again, just for tonight.
Come from the silence so long and so deep,
Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep

I cut out the most morbid parts of the poem. Perhaps the Christmas memories are so strong and vivid because we have erased the bad memories, and focus only on the good things. "The good old days" that weren't so good, really, when people sat around and talked about "the good old days."

I guess it's time watch "A Christmas Story" and remember the good and forget the bad like the time I stuck plugged in power cord into an apple and took a bite of it apple. Knocked me across the living room floor on my rear! Scared the HELL out of my mom and dad. I wonder, how did THEY survive my growing up!?

Ah, yes, the good old days.

PS I have a LOT of silver strands in my hair, you just don't know it because I've been dying it for about ten years. Who says men aren't vain?

16 December 2008

Do Prayers work?

We have received news from Cath, JCF's friend. Prayers do work friends. I'm just reporting the facts.
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.
Fred sends us an update concerning Jerry:
Jerry's white count is now at 35. I am told that is good. I believe it allows the chemo to continue.
Lynn reports that Lee's condition has improved slightly.

Deo gratias! Let's all sing a Te Deum for this good news.

14 December 2008


I really miss the good old days when almost every Sunday of the year had a cool Latin name like "Quasi modi genite" and "Oculi" and "Misericordiae".

In those old days today was known as Gaudate Sunday. Gaudate is Latin for rejoice. It takes it's name from the opening antiphon: 'Rejoice in the Lord, again I say rejoice, the Lord is near.' Rose coloured vestments were used. That's why we have a rose coloured candle in the Advent wreath for this Sunday.

Today marks the midpoint of Advent. Yes,
the days are hastening on by prophet, seer, foretold.....

Today's BBC Evensong is from St. Edmundsbury Cathedral. Evensong is here. For evensong from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, click here. You can chose broadband or dial-up.

I've chosen "Gaudate" for the Evensong post. I chose it for it's medieval character and because it is from the wonderful group "Enjoy!

The Saviour draws neigh! O, come let us adore him! (You have to be and oldie to get that one.)

Advent III

The Third Sunday in Advent

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm 126
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

A Sunday school teacher in Kansas reports this conversation in her class:

“If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into Heaven?” she asked the children in her Sunday school class.

“No!” the children all answered.

“If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into Heaven?”

Again, the answer was, “No!”

“Well, then, if I was kind to animals and gave candy to all the children, and loved my neighbor, would that get me into Heaven?” she asked them again.

Again, they all answered, “No!”

“Well,” she continued, “then how can I get into Heaven?”

A five-year-old boy shouted out, “You gotta be dead!”

These Advent lessons lead us to think about such things as salvation and mission. And we may as well admit it, we tend to think in terms of such questions as: From what are we being saved? God’s punishment? The Devil? Our own Sins? Death? All of which tends to make us think of salvation in terms of “getting into heaven.”

Such thinking inevitably leads us to see mission as the work of getting as many people into heaven as possible. Further, such thinking makes us ask questions like “Who will be saved?” Or “Who will be in heaven?” And underneath it all is the little boy’s assumption that the single prerequisite for salvation and heaven is death.

Along come Isaiah and John. Isaiah is a poet. John, in today’s rendering is “a man sent from God” who came “as a witness.” Both Isaiah and John have something to say about salvation. What they both seem to be saying is that salvation is not about another place or time. Both Isaiah and John announce that salvation is the reality of this world as it should be.

Isaiah offers a vision of just what salvation looks like: we are to turn our attention to those named as recipients of God’s Good News – the poor, the oppressed, the brokenhearted, captives, prisoners, the mournful, and the faint of spirit. Our mission to, with, and among them defines God’s people as those people who exist for the sake of others.

Further, Isaiah the poet says we will know we are involved in God’s saving mission work when others, “the nations of the world,” notice that God’s people live differently – that is, we live for God and for others, all others. Earlier in Isaiah 49:6 the poet says, “I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

Enter “The Light” from before time and forever. In the first chapter of the Gospel According to John (which would be John the Evangelist, not John the Baptist) one is immediately struck by the fact that he is not named “John the baptizer” as he is in Mark, or “John the Baptist” as he is in Matthew, or even “John the son of Zechariah” as we find in Luke. John is simply “a man sent from God … as a witness to testify to the Light.”

The Light, of course, is “the Word,” or logos, which has been with God and is God since before creation, and as it says in the first chapter of John, through Him “all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” This same Word or Light, we are told, “became flesh and dwelt among us – pitched his tent to tent among us.”

As God’s Word, God’s Light grew up and lived in our midst, he would one day read Isaiah chapter 61 in his hometown synagogue and declare, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” That is, the time is now to begin living out the vision of salvation and mission Isaiah proclaimed. It is time for salvation as the reality of this world as it should be! It is this vision of salvation and mission John was sent to witness. John is a witness, in Greek he is a martyria, from which we get the word “martyr.” Witnesses say what they have seen or heard or attest to the truth of another’s testimony.

John’s role is to recognize the true Light that has come into the world – a light that the darkness has not overcome – and to call attention to this Light so that others might recognize it and believe. Belief in this sense means to recognize, trust, and commit ourselves to the Light – the Light which is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision.

This in turn means to commit ourselves to the kind of salvation and mission that Isaiah proclaims, that John recognizes, that Jesus lives, and that both John and Jesus call us to follow so that our lives might become “a light to the nations.”

John was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. John did not come to decorate everyone and everything for Christmas. John did not come to announce the beginning of the Christmas sale season. He did not come to stir us into a frenzy of shopping and spending. He came to remind us and to bear witness to all who will listen that the darkest forces of the world are not as powerful as they claim or appear to be.

We begin this Third Sunday of Advent by praying, “Stir up your power, O Lord, and with Great Might come among us.” Will we take the time this Advent to allow God to stir things up within us and within our parishes and throughout the Church, so that we might become more like John, “a man sent from God?” For that is, in fact, who we really are – men and women sent from God as witnesses to testify to the Light, so that all might believe through him.

And maybe, just maybe, as we testify, bear witness to, and proclaim the glory of the Light, we will embody the Light and become those who reveal the life of Christ anew in the world – a world that increasingly is desperate to see and know the Light.

As it says in John, in the Light is “life, and the life was the light of all people.” All people look to us to see the Light. When all that we say and all that we do bears witness to the Light, heaven and salvation will be understood not as a time and place after death, but rather the world as it should be, here and now.

-- The Rev. Kirk Alan Kubicek is rector of St. Peter's Church in Ellicott City, MD, a parish in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. He also travels throughout the church leading stewardship events for parishes, dioceses, clergy conferences, and diocesan conventions. He has long been involved in the work of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS), and the Ministry of Money. He frequently uses music and storytelling in his proclamation of the Word. E-mail: kkub@aol.com.