29 May 2010

A Presidential Proclamation of importance

The President of the United States, Barack Obama, has issued a Presidential Proclamation regarding "Gay Pride." Included in that proclamation is the following:
Much work remains to fulfill our Nation's promise of equal justice under law for LGBT Americans. That is why we must give committed gay couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple, and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. We must protect the rights of LGBT families by securing their adoption rights, ending employment discrimination against LGBT Americans, and ensuring Federal employees receive equal benefits. We must create safer schools so all our children may learn in a supportive environment. I am also committed to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" so patriotic LGBT Americans can serve openly in our military, and I am working with the Congress and our military leadership to accomplish that goal.
Well and good Mr. president - so issue an Executive Order and end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the same way Harry Truman ended segregation in the US Military. Truman didn't need Congress to move out of 1850 into the 1950s. He acted over the objections (screams and cries) of both Congress and the military leaders. You don't need Congress or the military leadership to do the right thing - you can do it. And why not stop your administration's defense of DOMA.

The president ends his proclamation with the following:
As we honor the LGBT Americans who have given so much to our Nation, let us remember that if one of us is unable to realize full equality, we all fall short of our founding principles. Our Nation draws its strength from our diversity, with each of us contributing to the greater whole. By affirming these rights and values, each American benefits from the further advancement of liberty and justice for all.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2010 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.
As Martin Luther King, Jr., said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." But then, I suppose being allowed to stand in the back of the bus is better than being forced to walk behind it.

Read it all here.

27 May 2010

Duncan forcing the ABC to act?

In an interesting news item this morning, Changing Attitudes is reporting that, in Christianity Today, the Homosexuality Church is inviting Church of England clergy to come and minister to the so called American organization.
ACNA said the clergy swap would be an opportunity for Church of England parishes and clergy to express their solidarity and friendship with ACNA churches.

Participating clergy will be matched to churches with similar preaching and ministry styles and serve.
And to once again prove that this whole new schismatic organization is founded on homosexuality, we have the following to present.
Institutionally the [Church of England] seems to be sitting on the fence. The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the consecration of Mary Glasspool in TEC is 'regrettable'; yet the [Church of England] has not fully embraced ACNA.

An important contribution at this stage will be for parishes and clergy to express solidarity and friendship with clergy and parishes in ACNA.”
CA submits
Chris Sugden and Paul Perkin’s letter to C of E clergy invites them to disobey the rule which expressly does not allow ACNA clergy to exercise ministry in parishes in this country. Anglican Mainstream and ACNA want a free-for-all in the Anglican Communion, having advocated the crossing of Provincial boundaries for some years, and now telling priests to ignore the will of General Synod

So, this is how Duncan is going to get in the backdoor of the Anglican Communion - or so he thinks. But the big question is, What will Rowan do? What will he do?" I don't know what he will do (probably nothing) but I can be he wishes Duncan was roasting in hell right now.

Prayers for Karen requested

I have been fortunate to have many good friends throughout my life. A few of the truly golden friends are those I've had since I was in grammar school. One of these golden friends is Karen.

I bid your prayers for "Elaine". She has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a minor surgery Monday and will have a more invasive surgery on Tuesday. Please pray for her, the doctors and her family (her youngest just graduated 8th grade).

UPDATE 18 June 2010: Karen will require both chemo and radiation.

25 May 2010

Dunkirk 70-years later

It was seventy years ago today that the British evacuated Dunkirk. The Admiralty called for any person with sailing experience and a boat to help with the evacuation.

Sadly, there are no "skippers" left who participated in the heroic acts on 25 May 1940.

    We waited wearily, waist high in the sea
    The miracle unfolding before us gave us hope
    We'd expected ships but these were boats, small boats
    But they floated somehow
    Men clambered aboard

    I eyed them enviously
    Watched them turn and go back out to sea
    Heading home to dear old Blighty
    Patiently we shuffled forward
    Legs numb, teeth chattering
    Hopefully my turn would come soon

    A Stuka strafed the beach again
    Cries from men hit reached our ears
    The eyes of the human pier followed the raider
    We sighed gratefully as it turned inland
    No one had the energy to scatter
    To try and escape the pilot's cruel bullets
    So we stood, staring seaward

    A dot grew into a battered boat
    The volunteer owner smiled weakly
    By now I was so weak, so hungry, so cold
    I could barely haul myself onboard

    The skipper helped my mates and me
    We worried that the boat would capsize
    He crammed as many men on as he dare
    "I'll be back." He shouted to the remaining men
    They waved us off

    Such relief filled us as we got under way
    A boy's head appeared from below deck
    He looked hollow eyed and shocked by his exploits
    I'll never forget him

    He scooped mugs of hot tea from a bucket
    Handing them round to us
    Apologising for the crude container
    Explaining that he'd dropped the teapot overboard

    He'd been bailing out seawater in a previous trip
    A German Patrol boat had attacked them
    They were still shipping water
    Hesitantly he asked
    Could we help after we'd drunk our tea?

    We gulped down the warm beverage
    Ignoring the hint of oil in it
    To me it tasted like nectar
    Sweet and warm

    The sea grew choppy
    We busily bailed with the boy
    Someone started to whistle
    Another sang the words
    Pretty soon we were all singing

    I asked the Skipper a question
    How the folks at home viewed our defeat
    He eyed a French soldier in our midst
    "No one blames the BEF," He whispered
    "Everyone knows you did your bit."

    Someone distracted us with a cheer
    A welcome sight greeted us
    Looming out of the mist
    The white cliffs of Dover

    "Welcome home boys!" He grinned toothlessly
    I glanced at the other battle hardened men
    My tears weren't the only ones being shed….

    © Christine L. Coles — July 2001
    Dedicated to my Uncle - George Jones a Dunkirk Veteran

24 May 2010

So long, Dottie; from a grateful country

I don't follow sports, but this news item is something I need to post.

When she was 17-years old, Dorothy Hinson Kamenshek, was persuaded to play baseball by a scout from the All-American Girls Baseball League.

Though her cinematic alter-ego quit after a season, the real-life pioneer was a star of the Rockford Peaches from 1943 to '51 and then again in 1953, leading her team to four league championships.

Hinson-Kamenshek was called ''the fanciest-fielding first-baseman I've ever seen, man or woman'' by Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp, Kamenshek was named to seven all-star teams before retiring after the 1953 season.

Dottie died today. Thank you, Dottie for helping to keep the American spirit up during the Second World War and proving women can play baseball as well, if not better, than men.

A little roll on the organ

My parish is fortunate to have a young man, Mr. Cactus Harris, who was our organist for two years. He came to us when we were without an organist and, because he played the piano, was given the job of playing our 1862 Stevens' organ.

Mr. Harris has just completed his freshman year at college where he is majoring in music. On Sunday he won the collegiate competition of the San Joaquin Valley American Guild of Organists.

Congratulation, Cactus! The photograph is of Cactus sitting at our Ancient and Honourable 1862 Stevens organ. To see Cactus in his every-day duds, you'd know he is a major cowboy. Not the typical organist-type.

23 May 2010

The Day of Pentecost - Whitsunday

The Day of Pentecost
Spiritus Domini

Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:25-35, 37;
Romans 8:14-17; John 14:8-17

    Introit: The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world, alleluia; and that which containeth all things hath knowledge of the voice, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. -- (Ps. 67. 1). Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered: and let them that hate Him flee from before His face.

    O God, who on this day didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
The promise of Pentecost is baptism. “The one coming after me,” the Baptist promised, “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

This Pentecostal promise speaks not of some infantile christening, the dribbling of water across the crown, water wiped away with delicate embroidered cloths. Nor does this promise speak of the lighting of a candle with safe flame, or the rubbing of an oily cross on the forehead.

Rather, this Pentecostal promise threatens full immersion. Full immersion, as in inundation, the element of water encases you in its tomb. You could drown, or perhaps burn, for the Holy Spirit entombs you in explosion, and conflagration. Flames of God’s power lap inexhaustibly skyward – with your soul as fuel.

Baptism by fire is soulful, like the first baptism. “As I went down in the river to pray …” The line of pilgrims snaking upward from the shore, grasses blowing at heels. Person after person stepping tentatively into the water, with promise as soap to cleanse.

Hope to change: regeneration by element. But water is dangerous, fire is dangerous, baptism is dangerous, and the Holy Spirit is dangerous – an unshucked atom. But John the wild-Baptist promised this type of Pentecostal baptism.

“The One coming after me will baptize you with Spirit and Fire,” not water on the head, drip by dribble, but fire.

Now “you have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer you who lives, but Christ who lives in you.” You are “Christ’s own forever.”

In February, NASA launched the space shuttle Endeavour, in what was billed as the last nighttime liftoff. Originally, launch STS-130 was scheduled for 4:39, a.m., February 7.

They say a space shuttle launch is dangerous. Not just to the astronauts, but to spectators. Liquid hydrogen, 423 degrees below zero, is combined with liquid oxygen to inaugurate an explosive thrust of 37 million horsepower. The explosion consumes so much fuel that, were it water in a swimming pool, the pool would drain in 25 seconds.

The closest non-NASA spectators must watch from six miles away, across water. Even the raw explosive sound would kill you if you were located much closer than a football field from the launch.

On February 7, Florida was cold: forty-two degrees, and the sky was crystal. The Big Dipper and the North Star were imprinted into the nighttime sky above the launch pad. Spectators lined the shore of the Banana River. They huddled with friends for hours, in blankets to keep warm.

About one hour before the launch, a bank of low-ceiling clouds rolled in, threatening the launch. NASA actually needs to see a shuttle visually to 5,000 feet.

Undaunted by the cloudbank, NASA continued the countdown. The clouds were also tenacious, and at T-minus nine minutes, NASA scrubbed the launch.

It was rescheduled for the same time the next night, but few spectators returned. What were the chances, when the same cloudbank still hung low that second night?

About thirty minutes before launch, the cloud bank slid off to the side, a few stars appeared, and this time, the countdown passed T-minus nine.

Finally, into seconds, and then, 10-9-8-7-6 … At four, the liquid hydrogen explosively combined with the liquid oxygen, the sky lit instantly, and the shuttle, like an old man rising from an armchair, lifted.

Only it was no old man; it was, as someone remarked, “instant sunrise,” for the fireball lit the sky and clouds and horizon. The cloudbank turned orange; the water, too, and the fish in the Banana River, the frogs at water’s edge, alligators and egrets, all paused to catch incredulous breath at the extraordinary sight, and finally, the roar.

The single most beautiful element of launch is the rumbling roar speeding low across water, far slower than the speed of light.

At five seconds per mile, the sound reached the spectators at thirty seconds after liftoff, bathing them at last in extraordinary spirit.

Jesus’ followers heard sound first, before they saw the flame, the sound of spirit traveling faster than light, not slower.

Before now, they had been incarnational believers. Jesus was alive, physically, and they had thrust their fingers into his hands and their fists into his pierced side. They had believed with their bodies. However, the internal radiance of Moses and the indefatigable power of Elijah thus far, had eluded them. The illuminating essence of Divine, Jesus at Transfiguration, was absent. Perhaps essence was their hope, but it was not yet their reality.

Now, today, the prepossessing roar of Spirit as at creation, the same breath of God, ruach [roo-ach] expressed across the deep – like oxygen fanning flame – the sound itself baptized these neophyte Christians by Holy Spirit and translation!

Translated life, for once they were lost, but now they are found, once they were dead wood, but now they are the fuel of lapping Spirit, a fire kindled deep inside.

Jesus had written them into his Last Will and Testament: “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” The very peace of God as fire in them imploded, changing them forever. Estate settled.

Perhaps you received the Holy Spirit in some civilized ceremony, with droplets of water falling onto your head, and the polite sign of the cross pressed into your forehead. On that day, the church ladies smiled. They nodded to one another, and observed, “How sweet.” Neither they, nor you, realized the power transmitted by liquid drops of hydrogen and oxygen onto your head. An unshucked atom. The very Spirit of God in you is still unshucked.

You are Jesus’ heir, and you don’t even know it.

Perhaps the Pentecostals get it better than we do. They celebrate the Holy Spirit in a ritual of fiery baptism, dancing and shouting and speaking in tongues. They engage the atomic power of God’s Spirit, while we Episcopalians act like the Father has invited us to afternoon tea and crumpets. In the process, could it be that we deny the Holy Spirit?

You have received the Spirit of God, the power of peace within, and without. Perhaps it is time for you and me to shuck the atom, to unleash the power.

There are any number of ways to unleash the power.
  • Advocate: The Holy Spirit prays on your behalf, interceding regularly for you, and through you, for others. God as creator jumps to answer these prayers, but do you pray boldly?
  • Guide: The Holy Spirit will guide you, but the compass-power of God is located in the silence. How can you possibly hear above the internal cacophony?
  • Interpreter of Scripture: The Holy Spirit will interpret Scripture for you, will open your mind like that of the disciples to see the Word of God lurking behind the black letters on the page. How will you discover God in Scripture if you never crack the book?
  • Healer: The Holy Spirit heals, sometimes physically and emotionally, if you can believe it, and always spiritually. How will you be healed if you won’t forgive those who have wronged you?
There is so much more, and it is all explosive, all the conflagration of God. The promise of Pentecost, uttered by the Baptist, is not impotent, but potent. Not weak, but strong.

It is time for us to become Pentecostal believers, and tap into the explosion of God’s Spirit.

“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me.”

Christ in living Technicolor, and instant sunrise.

-- The Rev. Rob Gieselmann is the rector of Christ Church in Sausalito, California. Originally from the Diocese of East Tennessee (serving at St. Luke's, Cleveland), he has also served in the Diocese of Easton (St. Paul's Church, Chestertown). Before entering the ministry, Rob practiced law for ten years. Rob is the author of "The Episcopal Call to Love" (Apocryphile Press, 2008), and is the father of two wonderful children.