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)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

learning to use our words...

I never imagined that I'd need to talk about antisemitism in a sermon. Naive, I know. By the time this past weekend's massacre took place, I knew enough not to be surprised, just appalled, angry, and grieving.

I still am.

Needless to say, Saturday night saw me redoing my sermon for Sunday's supply (subbing at a local church) to talk about it, because how could I not? It is far from the best sermon in the world, and it's much longer than I would normally preach, but... again... I couldn't do otherwise.

And now I need to post this, though I still wish it were better said. I still need to learn to "use my words" better - no doubt that will always be the case - but at least speaking up is a start. Next on my to-do list: figuring out what action must grow out of this.

Proper 25B 
October 28, 2018
Mark 10:46-52

Have you ever been told to shut up?  I have…  More than once.

And I don’t just mean the times I got put in the corner for talking in gym class in grade school.
I don’t like to be told to shut up.  I don’t like feeling as though people want me to shut up, though they are too polite to say so. I don’t like being told to shut up indirectly, either, or to find myself wondering if I am wearing Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.

All of us, I suspect, have had times where we felt silenced. Maybe at school, maybe at work, maybe at home.  Maybe even at church. One would hope not, but, strangely enough, the church is filled with people who need Jesus. Badly. That means us.

Turns out we have a lot in common with Bartimaeus.

Bartimaeus is sitting at the side of the road. He’s probably very familiar with the sounds and senses of that place – the dust, the noise, the footsteps... Many passers-by from Jericho would have known him, too.  You know, the blind beggar who always sits in the same spot by the road, hoping for the best…  Reminds me of the astonishingly cheerful man who regularly sits near the exit of the Boston Common Parking Garage, calling to those of us who walk by.

So picture the scene, Bartimaeus sitting wrapped in his cloak on the side of the road, a throng passing by, following Jesus, everyone probably talking as they set out on their journey from Jericho… 

When [Bartimaeus] heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Bartimaeus is determined. He has heard what Jesus has done, and he knows Jesus can give him the one thing he most needs. Think of it… If you were Bartimaeus, what would be that one need that would lend urgency to your call, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  We all have a deep need for Jesus’ healing power in our lives.

I suspect every one of us also knows what it is like to have people sternly order us to be quiet in one way or another. And we have also had moments where we are more like those in the crowd trying to hush troublesome, disruptive voices around us – or within ourselves.

Bartimaeus refuses to be silenced. He just will. Not. Shut. Up. He is going to call out to Jesus until he is heard.  And heard he is. And that makes him a good model for us. Now, I know good Episcopalians don’t do a lot of shouting, much less shouting to the Lord, much less in church – but there you have it. And Bartimaeus is operating in good biblical tradition. You may have noticed that the Psalms are full not only of praise, but also of lament and anger and questioning, of requests for healing, and of calling out evil. Just like the prophets.

Do we dare do so ourselves?

We’ve seen recently both the cost and the power of speaking up and speaking out. It comes at a price. But we’ve also seen in the #metoo movement that speaking up and sharing what you thought could never be shared empowers not only the one sharing, but also those who are encouraged by that example and freed to speak of their own stories. I remember reading a comment from a woman who said her mother-in-law shared her story of assault for the first time at 85. Eighty five. Decades of silence. Not speaking up also comes at a cost. Speaking up itself can be part of the healing process.

When Bartimaeus is heard – noticed, listened to – called – his words don’t fall into the air – they effect a change. Already.  Just being noticed and heard must have been strengthening.

Mark says, “They called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.”

Both our voices and our silences are more powerful than we imagine, and therefore the words we choose are powerful as well. How are we speaking up, either for ourselves or for others? What is the effect of our voice? It will have one. What is the effect of our silence? That, too, has an effect. This is all the more true now that the internet has given a voice to anyone with access. Which voices are the loudest?

Yesterday we were all appalled by the news of the eleven people killed in the synagogue as they were celebrating the naming of a new baby. The murderer, who shouted “All Jews must die!” had spent a lot of time on websites promoting Nazi views. The same was true of the young man who killed most of the prayer group at the church in Charleston. They listened to and participated in discussions the like of which would turn your stomach. Yesterday’s atrocity did not come out of thin air, but was encouraged by others. Some of them even wrote approvingly following yesterday’s news. This is a different set of voices -- voices that must not be allowed to spew hatred more loudly than the rest of us call out a different vision.  Hate speech must not have the last word. Truth and justice and mercy must be proclaimed more loudly than conspiracy theories. We need to call out for mercy for others as well as for ourselves. We need healing so badly as a nation, and as a world. Unfortunately, we as individuals, and historically, as a church, have a dubious track record. In the past few years, anti-Semitic incidents have been on a sharp increase. I’d heard of it from a friend at the Duxbury Interfaith Council, but I didn’t know until yesterday that they had increased over 50%.  Though Jews make up only 2% of the US population, they are the targets of 50% of the religious hate crimes.  Most of these are committed by people who call themselves Christians – and somehow have completely missed the fact that Jesus was Jewish. As were all the apostles. You all, if we are going to call ourselves disciples of Jesus, we cannot allow his family to be targeted and stand silently by while listening to voices of hate.

It’s worth praying with this gospel passage this week. We can find ourselves in all the characters at different moments.  When are we crying out for Jesus, for healing and life? When are we using our voices to silence others as the members of the crowd around Bartimaeus did? Do we have the courage to listen to voices, to stories that make us uncomfortable?  At what moment are we like those in the crowd who helped Bartimaeus get to Jesus when Jesus called out to him?  Whose voices are we amplifying?  To whom are we saying, “speak up”?

My youngest sister is a physics teacher with quite a sense of humor. She teases her students – and herself – by saying, “Use your WORDS.” It’s funny…most of the time… and it’s also something we take a lifetime to learn. Words kill and words bring to life. We have the opportunity – in fact, we have the mandate – to participate in Jesus’ ministry of healing. This growing antisemitism is something we all need to cry out about - and work towards healing this hatred and all like it.

So, in a nutshell, we need to remind ourselves from time to time to USE OUR WORDS and to use them well.

Speak up. Dare to speak up for yourself, to tell your own stories – and to speak up for others. Let others speak up, too, instead of hushing uncomfortable, even disruptive voices. Move aside as you need to, as the crowd finally did for Bartimaeus, or, better yet, amplify the voices of those in need who cry out for healing. Listen carefully, taking voices seriously. At the same time, consider whether the voices you spend time listening to are bringing healing or sowing hatred. The Lord has given us a voice and a mind and a heart to use in the ministry to which we are called. Finally, pray. Prayer is powerful. Lift up your voice to the Lord. Like Bartimaeus, call out for mercy to the Son of David for yourself and on behalf of others and of our world. And then praise God for the healing power that will have the final word through God’s gift of himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Amen.