Saturday, June 1, 2019

Rachel Held Evans Funeral

Here's the original link to the service livestream:
 (I've also included the YouTube version made of it below.)

The link also includes the bulletin pdf with the participants, hymns, etc.  Liturgical participants included Nadia Bolz-Weber preaching, Sarah Bessey and Austin Channing Brown reading, Audrey Assad singing, and Winnie Varghese celebrating (I recognized her soothing voice from General Convention before I knew she was there). There were others, but those are the ones with whom I was familiar and whose presence was somehow comforting - how much more to her family and friends. I had also become familiar with Jeff Chu through that time of prayer while Rachel was sick, and his leading of the Prayers of the People was moving.

But hearing from her little sister Amanda Held Opelt both made me laugh and moved me to tears. Plenty to think about, too. One thing she said that I don't think will necessarily get quoted seems important to me: "What was most special about her was her love. She's one of the least branded people I know. We all know, she was horrible at Instagram. She was the worst. And I think while other writers were working on their image and working on their brand, Rachel was working on her relationships. She was listening, she was leaning into people's pain, she was hearing their stories, she was being changed by their stories."  She wrote a song about her sister after she'd read Rachel's Searching for Sunday - that she never sang to her - I think it's called "Bloodlines and Intercessions." Hope someone publishes the words. Maybe she'll record it... Meanwhile, you should watch the service and listen - it's somewhere around the half hour mark. Wish I could be such a good sister to mine...

From her service (1979 Book of Common Prayer via the online bulletin):

O God of grace and glory, we remember Rachel before you and thank you for giving her to us to know and to love as a companion in our pilgrimage on earth. In your compassion, console those who mourn. Give us faith to see that death has been swallowed up in the victory of Christ so that we may live in confidence and hope until, by your call, we are gathered into the company of all your saints; by the power of your Holy Spirit we pray. Amen.


Leader: You only are immortal, the creator and maker of humankind; and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth shall we return. For so did you ordain when you created me, saying, "You are dust, and to dust you shall return." All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

People: Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.

Leader: Merciful Savior, we commend Rachel to you. Receive her as a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Accept her into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of your saints.

And here's something from the BCP (p.507) that wasn't in the bulletin but that is really important. And it lines up well with what Nadia Bolz-Weber's sermon, which you simply must hear for yourself. It starts right about minute 50 on the video.

The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we too, shall be  raised.

The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present,  nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else  in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ  Jesus our Lord."

This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. The very love  we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted  by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So, while we  rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn.

So hold them all in your prayers, especially Dan, her husband, and her little ones.  And hold yourself gently if you, too, are grieving right now, as so many are. 

Peace be with you all.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

leavin' on a jet plane...

It's been a long wait, but I am finally going to get back to Haiti! It will only be for a couple of weeks, but I'll take it.

A few of you may remember that I left abruptly in 2013 - having received word that my mother had been in what ought to have been a fatal car accident, I was out the door in less than 24 hours. I am happy to report that my mother is still with us, which, in the words of more than one trauma doc, is miraculous. But that's another story. (Feel free to pray for my parents' health, however.)

Anyway, I am preparing to travel and beginning to think of the things I am looking forward to. Thanks to my phone, I have nifty little emojis for some of them. I was disappointed not to see a mango emoji, but then I realized they're not in season anyway, so I had better stop pining for a mangue francique.



Finally finishing my post... on the plane waiting for boarding to finish! Pleased to report that I understand all the announcements in Kreyol. That is encouraging. 

I hope to post a bit while there, but it remains to be seen how much internet access I will have. 

Time to go!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Of the Father's Love Begotten

John 1:1-17

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

Of the Father’s love begotten
ere the worlds began to be, He is Alpha and Omega; He the source, the ending He, of the things that are, that have been, and that future years shall see evermore and evermore! O that birth forever blessed, when a virgin, full of grace, by the Holy Ghost conceiving, bore the Savior of our race; and the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, first revealed his sacred face, evermore and evermore! O ye heights of heaven adore Him, angel hosts, His praises sing, powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King; let no tongue on earth be silent, every voice in concert ring evermore and evermore! Christ, to Thee with God the Father and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee, hymn and chant and high thanksgiving and unwearied praises be: honor, glory, and dominion, and eternal victory evermore and evermore!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Salaam (Od yavo shalom aleinu)

I went to the Shabbat service I wrote about in the previous post, and I'm so glad I did. It was good to stand in solidarity even just in a small way. We need to stick together, speak up against evil, and work towards healing and unity.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I never thought I'd need to preach about antisemitism. Oh, how naive... but I am not alone in my overoptimism. "Never again," we all say, but incidents are on the rise.

Last night was also the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht. It wasn't mentioned in the service, but it came up in conversation earlier.  There has been quite a bit on Twitter lately, so I was aware of it in a way I might not have otherwise been.

 Holocaust survivor recalls ‘Night of Broken Glass’ horrors

Interview with Miriam Ron, Witness to the Events of Kristallnacht

As a matter of fact, someone posted a story along with some old photographs from that hideous event, photos found after the death of a grandfather who had fought in WWII (The thread starts here: Difficult to see, but more than worth the read. It's pretty amazing to scroll down and find the Holocaust Museum saying - nearly live - yes, we are very interested in these.  I hesitate to call such a find a treasure, as it's of something so awful, but... lest we forget... and we are... or even deny its happening (how? but a few still do), such images need to be kept and displayed. 

I found a good article here that includes history and pictures.

And in my beloved France, antisemitism continues as well:


HOWEVER, we can and will work together to move our world into a better place. We are, actually.  And one of the hope-filled offerings in that service Friday was the opportunity to sing this song: Salaam (Od yavo shalom aleinu), which means "Peace will come to us."

Peace. We need it in so many ways, between so many different groups of people. And it needs to begin with us, to paraphrase the old song.

Rabbi Cohen sent the lyrics & translation along with a link to a site with four versions (music videos), including the original, from which comes the short description above. The words are easy to pick up, especially since the beginning of the song is slow, and then it gets faster and faster. Singing it can be good prayer, and indeed, having practiced it, I sang it all the way to the service and partway home.  I commend it to you.

Od yavo' shalom aleinu / Peace will come upon us
Od yavo' shalom aleinu / Peace will come upon us
Od yavo' shalom aleinu / Peace will come upon us
Ve al kulam (x2) /and on everyone.

Salaam (Salaam)
Aleinu ve al kol ha olam,
Salaam, Salaam (x2)

Here's the original, with cool background music.

And here's one by an a capella group, The Maccabeats. Bonus points for the group name and for the a capella version. (I loved singing in my a capella group in college.)

And the last I'm posting because I love this soloist, Adam Stotland, who is just going to town with it. Also it's with a back-up Gospel choir from Montreal - what a combination of cultures all in one, there! Which is what we need.

So sing. Sing it again. Sing it with energy and hope. Sing this prayer for peace over and over, making it your own and joining it to mine and that of so many others. By the grace and mercy of God, may peace be upon us all and upon our world. 

Salaam - Shalom - Peace - LapΓ¨ - La Paix - La Paz

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Shabbat Service of Unity

  • I'd like to share with you this invitation to a service hosted by our local synagogue in Marshfield, among whose members are people from Duxbury. I'll be participating, as Rabbi Cohen has invited several local church leaders to join him. Please consider joining us in this service in support of the community at this time of grief. We need to stand together against antisemitism and all forces of hatred - now more than ever.
Dear Friends,

Please join us at Congregation Shirat Hayam for a Shabbat of Unity Friday, November 9th at 6:45 in the shared worship space at Sanctuary Church, 185 Plain St., Marshfield, MA.

In the wake of recent racially motivated and anti-semitic murders, Rabbi Cohen, along with other local religious leaders, will lead a Sabbath service of affirmation of our shared commitment to the belief that we are all created in the image of God.

Please join us in this service of songs, prayers, readings and reflections.

For more information contact Shirat Hayam at (781) 582-2700.

I voted with William Temple

Today in the Episcopal Church we remember William Temple, an Archbishop of Canterbury in the early 20th century.

It seems to me that both his example and some of the material offered for use for the feast are appropriate to consider especially today, election day.

From his bio:

Though he never experienced poverty of any kind, he developed a passion for social justice which shaped his words and his actions. He owed this passion to a profound belief in the Incarnation. He wrote that in Jesus Christ God took flesh and dwelt among us, and as a consequence “the personality of every man and woman is sacred.” (Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 p. 442)

We, too, need to take this to heart. The church is not a social service agency - and at the same time, what we believe has definite consequences in our lives.

[So this is a little bit different from the heretical billboard near St. Louis that has fortunately been taken down... Which I am putting in here extra small because I don't want to look at it or make it the focus. Yet it is most unfortunately relevant. You will see that I am carefully not stumping for any particular candidate here. This, however, is beyond the pale.

Exodus 22:21–27
You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.

If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them. If you take your neighbour’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down; for it may be your neighbour’s only clothing to use as cover; in what else shall that person sleep? And if your neighbour cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate.

O God of light and love, you illumined your Church through the witness of your servant William Temple: Inspire us, we pray, by his teaching and example, that we may rejoice with courage, confidence, and faith in the Word made flesh, and may be led to establish that city which has justice for its foundation and love for its law; through Jesus Christ, the light of the world, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006)