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 - Lapè - 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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

turn, turn, turn

To everything there is a season...

This time of year everything seems to be a liminal space, that sort of golden autumn in-between when there are still a few breaths of summer hanging on alongside reminders of winter to come.

Today was one of those days.

For supper we had little tomatoes from our garden, and Sister Claire Marie's frittata was made with our zucchini as well as the basil she grows in a pot on the windowsill. Summer tastes. I am amazed that the garden is still producing.

This morning I went down by the water to pray during my meditation time. It promised to be a lovely day, but in the pre-dawn chill I needed my down coat.

As the sun rose, the gulls woke up, discovering the jumping fish, the first I've seen in some time. They attracted the attention of nearby Double-crested Cormorants, and eventually even a couple of Great Blue Herons ventured into the zone of madly wheeling birds.  No Great Egret today, though... I haven't seen one in the past week, so the one that hangs about the cove may have gone south.

On the way back to the convent for the Eucharist, near one of our guesthouses, I spotted my first snowbirds - juncos returned for the winter. Signs of things to come.

So we wait and watch.

But also we take time just to be present. Here. Now. In this space. 

I am so thankful.

Peace be with you - with us all - with our world.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

too much

Hurricane Michael just came ashore as a category 4. 

The north of Haiti is dealing with the aftermath of another earthquake - not as bad as the last one - that would be very difficult - but whole areas flattened and everyone in tents. Including people dear to some of the sisters. (Our sisters are in Port-au-Prince and doing well.)


Nasty politics. #MeToo and #IBelieveHer. The stories break my heart. And I remember stories that have been told to me by women close to me.

Various friends and family members with serious illness or injury.

And I just found a priest from my youth who made a huge difference in my life on a list of accused abusers. 

I can't even.

Obviously I'm praying, as we all are. 

But why, oh why, oh why do we continue to hurt one another like this when life is already difficult?  Yeah. I know...

Just wishing I could do something more.  So many people in pain.

Pray with me, please, for them.

And so, along with the prayer (and especially the Eucharist), I am holding to the little things today.  Tiny spots of goodness like Sr. Claire Marie's lemon-(fresh-from-our-garden-)kale salad. A laugh with a sister. A walk before Evening Prayer (I hope). Looking forward to this weekend's family wedding and the deep contentment of spending time with them all. It won't fix the world, but it will help give me strength to get in there and continue the work set before me.  

Sunday, September 23, 2018

new favorite sport

I could easily imagine my youngest sister excelling in this sport along with her gymnastics had they had such a thing in the San Diego area (that we'd known about).  This is the World Cup.

Just... wow.

Rebekah, this one's for you.

And this is simply gorgeous. Tai Chi sword. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

St. Margaret's Day 2018

Friday at 11AM we're having our annual patronal festival. It's a bit late to be posting this, but I will anyway. If you'd like to join us, the chapel is at 30 Harden Hill Road, Duxbury MA. Our Associate the Rev. Dante Tavolaro will be preaching.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Great Paschal Vespers

Please join us:

Sunday, April 8 at 4:00 pm

Great Paschal Vespers is an ancient evening service of processions, prayers, chants, and hymns offering praise to God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

St. Margaret’s Chapel
30 Harden Hill Rd
Duxbury, MA 02332

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Yom HaShoah event open to the public

Congregation Shirat Hayam to Host Holocaust Survivor

In observance of Holocaust Memorial Day
Tuesday, April 10, at 7 p.m.

open to the entire public

CSH is honored to present Susan Kadar, a survivor of the Hungarian Nazi regime and the German occupation of Hungary. Ms. Kadar will share her experiences of those terrible years.  Only Susan and her mother survived the war. Eventually, they made their way to the United States where she went on to have a very productive and important career with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  

Congregation Shirat Hayam is located at 185 Plain St. (Rte. 139), Marshfield MA in the Sanctuary Church, 185 Plain Street (Rte. 139), Marshfield MA 02050 (about 0.9 miles west of Marshfield Center). For more information about CSH please go to or call 781-582-2700.
Donations for the Boston Holocaust Memorial and the CSH Holocaust Education Fund will be gratefully accepted at the door.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

still on my mind... Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

Back in January - though it feels much more recent to me - a question was asked and a few remarks made that sparked international discussion. 

Here is one high-profile response:

In the midst of this, I read the lessons for the upcoming Sunday morning, on which I was scheduled to do supply (that is, preach and celebrate the Eucharist as a substitute for the regular priest) at a parish in the area. Apparently I am not the only one who wondered whether the president had read the lectionary in advance just to be sure he was speaking to the gospel reading at hand. 

It's still on my mind, now in Holy Week, during which we see that the Romans had a similar attitude towards the countries they were occupying and the citizens thereof. One need only consider that crucifixion was not a permitted form of death penalty for Roman citizens.  

Although I generally hesitate to share my sermons, I will share this one, as old as the topic may now be by general standards.  It's been pushed to the back burner because of more death in the news - too much death - but it seems to me that any form of attitude that makes someone "less than" is ultimately death dealing. Something to consider as Lent draws to a close, especially this week.

Epiphany 2B: What good can come out of Nazareth?
sermon for 1-14-18 

1 Samuel 3:1-10  (11-20) – call of Samuel
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 – glorify God with/in your body
John 1:43-51 – call of Philip, Nathanael under the fig tree
Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

It’s good to be back - to begin to get to know you and to feel comfortable here. I appreciate your welcome, and I look forward to talking with you at coffee hour following the service.

Meeting and getting to know each other can be both a delight and a challenge. Imagine for a moment that you’re being introduced to someone. In the United States, one of the first things people ask is “what do you do?” That has its issues – but that’s for another day. Another question we hear is “Where are you from?” Now, the question “Where are you from” has the potential to capture so much meaning, depending on how it is answered and explored. A resulting conversation could show so much of who we are in so very many directions. Such a question and response provides a window into the other person. Where we’re from is very personal. Think of the related expression, “She knows where I’m coming from.”. It’s a feeling of being understood.

But we don’t always go there. “Where are you from?” and other such introductory questions can give us the sense that we know all about someone when in fact we have very little idea. Hearing that someone is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, or from Manhattan could lead you to very different ideas – which could be far from accurate. But you know those New Yorkers… Yankees fans, the lot of them.

Too often we think we know where someone is from, box them in, and fit them into our schema of The Way Things Are, and that’s that. Even putting people in what we think are GOOD boxes can be problematic because then we aren’t seeing or hearing the actual person, but only what we expect.

Jesus had this problem. He might have been born in Bethlehem and been a toddler in Egypt, but he grew up in Nazareth in Galilee, a poor town in a poor region. On the night he was arrested, Peter was identified as one of his disciples by his accent alone.

Jesus got it from home, too. When he preached in his hometown synagogue, people got offended. As they put it,
“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ (Matthew 13:55-56)

Which is to say, “Who do you think you are?” We know where you’re from, so we know who you are, and we’ll judge you accordingly.

Now, really, generalizations are one of the ways the brain makes sense of vast quantities of information. It is when we regard them as hard and fast definitions that we run into trouble.  It’s when we decide we know enough about people to determine who they are – and we stop listening.

And that’s one of the issues we run into in today’s Gospel.

Listen again:
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
Does that sound… eerily familiar to anyone this morning?
Apparently derogatory remarks about poverty-stricken areas and the people who come from them are nothing new. Hearing it from the White House, now, that’s something else again. Worse than the profanity, to me, was the press secretary’s follow-up, which reminds me of Nathanael’s initial attitude. He spoke of (and I quote) “permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.” Which, as the New Yorker pointed out, suggested “that immigrants from places like El Salvador, Haiti, Liberia, and Sierra Leone couldn’t become productive and assimilated American citizens,” which is more than a little racist.[i]

Can anything good come from Nazareth?

In the Jesuit America Magazine, Fr James Martin explains, “Nazareth was a minuscule town of 200 to 400 people, where people lived in small stone houses, and, archaeologists say, where garbage, and excrement, was dumped in the alleyways…in other words, came from a …….. place [such as that][ii]  Elsewhere in the magazine I read, “Crumbling infrastructure, inadequate health care and crippling poverty do not make a life any less valuable.”[iii] True in Jesus’ time. True now. Pragmatically speaking, these things also do not make people less likely to work hard and contribute.

All this turmoil, mind you, was happening on the day before the anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. Furthermore, Martin Luther King Day is tomorrow. And if nothing else, the events of this past year show you that racism is still one of the biggest problems we have in this country, and we don’t seem to want to deal with it.

But we don’t need to be racist to consider this issue. Can anything good come out of Nazareth/Haiti/Africa/the Midwest/the South/California//the Middle East …. the other political party? It’s not always demonization. It can even feel perfectly affable. We just KNOW who that person is. So we don’t listen. We can’t see. We don’t try because our minds are made up.

But sometimes we know we have limited vision, and we’re more like Nathanael. “Come and see,” said Philip. And Nathanael did. With a mind sufficiently open to change. What he thought he knew was wrong and he, being without guile/deceit, didn’t hesitate to say so. And thoroughly! “Rabbi, you are the Son of God!” he exclaimed. “You are the King of Israel!”

I want you to notice something here.  What made him change his mind is that HE had been seen and known and understood when he hadn’t even noticed Jesus nearby.
“When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Being seen and known and understood can be life-changing.

Jesus may even have heard his remark about Nazareth – but it didn’t matter. He didn’t dismiss Nathanael as an ignorant so-and-so. He didn’t even wait to be introduced. And this is wonderful.

God doesn’t wait to be noticed. YHWH comes to Samuel before Samuel knows him. In Psalm 139, the poet sings, “You have searched me out and known me… when I was still in my mother’s womb…”
 God knows us already – understands us – calls us by name.

The good news is that we, too, are capable of responding to the invitation to come and see. We can also extend the invitation like Philip. We can work to see, hear, and understand others without waiting for them to do the same, refusing to dismiss people as incorrigible. God did it for us, being born among seemingly incorrigible humanity and in a poor, hick town to boot. We can work for those who are constantly facing this kind of dismissal – or worse – on a day to day basis.

And we, like Samuel, can learn to pray, over and over, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

“Where are you from?” we ask.
It’s still a good question. Just depends on what we do with it.

[i] John Cassidy, “A Racist in the Oval Office,” The New Yorker, January 12, 2018
[ii] James Martin SJ, “Father James Martin: Why we should welcome people from countries Trump just insulted,” America Magazine,

Monday, March 26, 2018

#MarchForOurLives Boston pictures

starting right in my old neighborhood... this is near Ruggles

a multigenerational movement

quote from Homer

This sign gets extra points for using Kreyol.

looking ahead down Columbus Ave.


taking a break in the cathedral, which was open as a warming center

quoting from Job; praying for lawmakers to do something

met these protesters back outside at the rally on the Boston Common

made it to the fenced-off area near the stage
no idea what it was fenced off for, however...

listening to teens speak 

repentance includes turning around