06 March 2010

Prayers for the Osmond family

I bid your prayers for the repose of the soul of Michael Blosil, the son of Marie Osmond. Michael chose to end his life Friday night in Los Angeles.
    Remember thy servant, O Lord, according to the favor which thou bearest unto thy people; and grant that, increasing in knowledge and love of thee, Michael may go from strength to strength in the life of perfect service in thy heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Give courage and faith to those who are bereaved, that they may have strength to meet the days ahead in the comfort of a reasonable and holy hope, in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love. Amen.

01 March 2010

United States Supreme Court rejects schismatics appeal

The Supreme Court of the United States has denied a request to hear the appeal in the case of the former congregation of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in La Crescenta, California. The action was just one of a long list of other petitions they denied.

According to Episcopal News the official publication of the Diocese of Los Angles,

The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it has denied a petition to hear an appeal from a breakaway congregation seeking claim to the property of St. Luke's Episcopal Church of La Crescenta, California. The court posted its action, together with dozens of other petitions denied, on its web site.

Meeting in conference on Feb. 26, the high court declined to hear the petition filed by St. Luke's Anglican Church of La Crescenta, whose members voted in 2006 to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The property, a landmark stone church complex at 2563 Foothill Blvd., was returned to the Diocese of Los Angeles by court order on Oct. 12, 2009, following the California State Supreme Court's Jan. 5, 2009 ruling affirming that Episcopal Church property is held in trust for the mission of the local diocese and the wider church.

The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, ordinary, said:
I thank the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court for their clarity in declining to hear an appeal regarding Episcopal Church property in La Crescenta, California, which has served local residents for more than 80 years.

Likewise, last October, the U.S. Supreme Court also declined to hear a similar case involving Episcopal Church property occupied by a breakaway congregation in Newport Beach.

This matter was decided by the California State Supreme Court in its January 5, 2009 opinion affirming that Episcopal Church property is held in trust by a local parish for the present and future ministry of the Diocese and the wider church.

We now await the California Court of Appeal ruling for enforcement of this decision -- which was requested by the Diocese before the Court on November 17, 2009 -- and the Superior Court's subsequent action that will begin an orderly transition bringing the properties in Newport Beach, Long Beach and North Hollywood into direct administration by the Diocese of Los Angeles.

I remain hopeful that it will be possible for Christian reconciliation and healing to occur in these contexts, and I look forward to an end to the costly litigation that has spanned more than five and a half years.

I ask for the diocesan community's continuing prayers with regard to these matters.
Another blow for the schismatics. Regardless of the possible Duncanite spin, this is a huge defeat for the so-called Anglican Church in North America and it's property grab scheme. Once again the SCUSA has set the tone for possible future appeals by the schismatics.

Having said that, I predict that those who say "this isn't about the property" will continue to fight one cruet stopper at a time proving that it really is only about the property.

One blog posted an article in which we find this
St. Luke’s legal representatives maintain that under longstanding law, no one can unilaterally impose a trust over someone else’s property without their permission. But California courts have now ruled that certain denominations - those that claim to be a "superior religious body or general church" - can unilaterally impose a trust on the property of spiritually affiliated but separately incorporated local churches, resulting in the local church forfeiting its property if it ever chooses to leave the denomination. These rulings in California conflict with similar rulings in other states and St. Luke’s lawyers intended to argue that California violated St. Luke’s first amendment rights by giving preferences to certain kinds of churches that claim to be hierarchical; rights that other churches and non-religious associations are not entitled.
That's very interesting. I suppose 78 years of acknowledging the hierarchical nature of the PECUSA and its trust of property mean nothing to the schismatic legal team. Their tactic is simply to rewrite historical fact to suit their own demented take on reality.

Remember to pray for the people of St. Luke's; they will need our prayers as they face reality.

Jim Naughton's post at the Episcopal Cafe is here.

28 February 2010

Lent II - Reminiscere

The Second Sunday in Lent

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35
    Introit: Remember, O Lord, Thy bowels of compassion, and Thy mercies that are from the beginning of the world, lest at any time our enemies rule over us: deliver us, O God of Israel, from all our tribulations. -- ( 24. 1, 2). To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul: in Thee, O my God, I put my trust; let me be not ashamed.

    Collect: O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from thy ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of thy Word, Jesus Christ thy Son; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

    Gospel:Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, "Go away, leave here, for (A)Herod wants to kill You." And He said to them, "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.' "Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem."O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! "Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

As Jesus says in today’s reading from Luke, “I must be on my way.”

We Americans are a restless and mobile lot.

Ask around your parish community some Sunday morning at coffee hour, and you are likely as not to find fellow parishioners who are transplants from down the road and across the country. Some will have found their way to this community for work; others, for marriage or retirement. Still others may even now be charting their next family or career transition and the move it will entail. Home for many of us today is at best a loose and elusive geographical term: here today, there tomorrow.

In many societies life is far different.

In such cultures, home is where you are born; and home is where you die. The span between birth and death is often spent in familiar village or countryside settings, raising a family, plying a trade, and working the fields. The land itself is home – and it does not change all that much from one generation to the next. After all, land is not exactly exportable. Home is permanent, fixed, and local.

In the ancient world, the gift of land from king or ruler was itself the gift of home – of identity and belonging. It was certainly so for the ancient Israelites, who traced their ultimate origins to Abram’s epic journey from a place far away, to the land which the Lord promised to give him. “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans,” the Lord tells Abram in our first reading today, “to give you this land to possess.” In taking possession of the land and inhabiting it, Abram – later Abraham – and his descendants become the Lord’s own people.

Jesus treads this same land centuries later, “casting out demons and performing cures,” as he reminds the Pharisees and Herod, and by extension us, in our gospel account. He makes his way from his home in Nazareth – where he is rejected by his own townspeople – to the holy city of Jerusalem. In some sense, his passage serves to remind us of Abram’s journey centuries before. But the land promised to those who will heed Jesus’ voice does not consist of acres and square footage but of the very kingdom of heaven.

Abram marks the Lord’s covenant with him and his descendants by a sacrifice of heifer, goat, ram, turtledove, and pigeon. The Lord, present in “smoking fire pot and flaming torch,” passes solemnly among Abram’s gifts and once again affirms his covenant and the gift of land – of home. But the sacrifice that marks our Lord’s new covenant and the gift of the kingdom is not that of young, unblemished animals, but his own death.

“Today, tomorrow, and the next day, I must be on my way,” says Jesus in recognition of the fate awaiting him in Jerusalem. Not even the warnings of presumably friendly Pharisees that “Herod wants to kill you” can dissuade him from his work and mission. His poignant pronouncement over Jerusalem, “the city that kills the prophets,” becomes prophecy of his own death on the cross. “On the third day,” concludes Jesus, “I finish my work.” His journey comes to its end. But his death and resurrection mark also the beginning of faith and redemption for us as his people.

Lent is our annual reminder of this reality – of the lasting covenant that has been forged with us at the cross and of the “land” that has been given to us as our heavenly home. As Paul tells us in our second reading from his Letter to the Philippians, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Abram’s faith in God’s promise was reckoned “to him as righteousness.” Today, our faith in God’s word and promise is reckoned to us as sign and assurance of our true citizenship in heaven.

Whether we are inveterate homebodies or weary road-warriors, our Christian faith nevertheless calls us away from places of comfort and the familiar – just as the Lord’s word millennia ago called Abram forth from his home in “Ur of the Chaldeans.” Like Abram, we too must be on our way. As followers of Christ, our journey is a sharing in the way of sacrifice, in the way of the cross.

Our first reading begins: “The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, 'Do not be afraid.'" The same words are spoken to us. We have nothing to fear. “As a hen gathers her brood under her wings,” so our Lord has gathered us, his people. We are the Lord’s own people, and our heavenly citizenship makes us all “brothers and sisters” to one another.

In Christ, we are at last home.


The Rev. Dr. Frank Hegedus is interim minister at “The Episcopal Church in Almaden” in San Jose, California.