Every Wednesday! A message on our YouTube channel from our Rector or Priest Associate!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxgGx-hGWWY&t=4s



June 29, 2020

One of the great mysteries of our faith is posed by the age-old question, “Why does God permit us to suffer?”  Given there seems to be no obvious answer, then perhaps a corollary question, also a mystery, arises:  “How can we still hope?”

I have always found the simple practice of contemplation helps me when I need to try to get my head around life’s challenges and existential suffering.  Recently I read an excellent, pithy excerpt from Richard Rohr’s little book, “Just This,” concerning “hope and suffering,” which I find conveys much helpful wisdom:

“The virtue of hope, with great irony, is the fruit of a learned capacity to suffer wisely, calmly, and generously.  The ego demands successes to survive; the soul needs only meaning to thrive.  Somehow hope provides its own kind of meaning, in a most mysterious way.

“The Gospel gives our suffering both personal and cosmic meaning by connecting our pain to the pain of others and, finally, by connecting us to the very pain of God.  Did you ever think of God as suffering?  Most people don’t—but Jesus came to change all of that.

“Any form of contemplation is a gradual sinking into this divine fullness where hope lives.  Contemplation is living in a unified field that produces in people a deep, largely non-rational, and yet calmly certain hope, which is always a surprise.

“A life of inner union, a contemplative life, is practicing for heaven now.  God allows us to bring “on earth what is in heaven” (see Matthew 6:10) every time we can allow, receive, and forgive the conflicts of the moment and can sit in some degree of contentment—despite all the warring evidence.

“God alone, it seems to me, can hold together all the seeming opposites and contradictions of life.  In and with God, we can actually do the same.  But we are not the Doer.” 

Yours in faith, Father Chip+    

June 22, 2020

One of the many things I do enjoy, being an American citizen, is the chance to make my opinions known, and to take action, political or otherwise, which is given much protection in our constitutional democracy.  And, of course, in my role as rector of our beloved congregation, I frequently need to walk a fine line between “going off” and spouting about my own personal opinions about politics and government and justice and all those things, and making sure that I respect those who come to pray, and worship, and experience God, together—allowing them to draw their own conclusions from Scripture, and my well-intentioned ramblings about them, in the context of that day and in our times, which our Jewish rabbis refer to as “teachings.” 

The problem with that approach of course (although I’m not saying there really is some sort of problem about it, at least today), is that my approach may not satisfy everyone.  Indeed, I am constantly aware (as my friend and sometimes mentor, retired clergyperson and beloved parishioner Dick Fenn told me), that you often have to choose one position or another, or you risk ticking-off not only one side or another, but EVERYONE!

In an article by Wes Granberg-Michaelson titled, “From Mysticism to Politics,” the author takes aim at something he believes has infiltrated our way of doing things in our institutional way of worshiping God.

“Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics,” he wrote, quoting Charles Peguy (1873—1914), “a French poet and writer who lived in solidarity with workers and peasants and became deeply influenced by Catholic faith in the last years of his life.”

According to the author, “this provocative quote identifies the foundational starting point for how faith and politics should relate.” But he then states, “usually, however, we get it backward.  Our temptation is to begin with politics and then try to figure out how religion can fit in.  We start with the accepted parameters of political debate and, whether we find ourselves on the left or the right, we use religion to justify and bolster our existing commitments.”

But he says, “what if we make [our] inward journey our starting point?  What if we recognize that our engagement in politics should be rooted in our participation in the Trinitarian flow of God’s love? Then everything changes….we are invited to participate in the transforming power of this love.  There we discover the ground of our being, centering all our life and action.”

When I read these words, I realized I am instinctively adopting this approach in the way I go about my inner and outer prayer life, my contemplation AND action, my ‘faith’ and my ‘works’. 

And, as it turns out, perhaps even unconsciously, in my teachings (my sermons and homilies).

Our lives are not earned.  They are given us. 

Can we connect the divine within us with all, and everyone, else?  Can we learn to live ‘non-dualistically’?

Perhaps living into that holy way of life, that eternal space, without time, we will find our true selves, real and enduring life, and learn to become love.    

Yours in faith,

Father Chip+

June 17, 2020

One of the seemingly myriad hoops I had to jump through in order to become an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church was to submit to psychiatric testing and counseling, which took place over a course of days.  (Honestly, I found it sort of ironic, since everyone knows that those of us who discern a calling, a true vocation, are a little ‘different’ than everyone else!)

Anyway, I remember toward the end, during one of my personal sessions with the psychiatrist, he asked a question that completely surprised me.  “What is your deepest aim?,” he asked.  “And what do you believe is the deepest aim of humanity?”  (Talk about good questions for a philosophy major living in the world that bridges philosophy and faith!)

And I distinctly remember I had, after only a moment or two of reflection, a ready answer, one I think I might have said again this very day, more than twenty years later, were I asked:  “Freedom,” I said.  “I think it’s most important that we all find our freedom, and know what it is to be free.”

I thought of that response again yesterday, when I was reading one of Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations (you, too, can read them daily, or whenever you like, by clicking on https://cac.org/#gsc.tab=0 ), and he was quoting James Finley, who had studied with Thomas Merton.  “Our deepest freedom rests not in our freedom to do what we want to do but rather in our freedom to become who God wills us to be.  This person, this ultimate self God wills us to be, is not a predetermined, static mold to which we must conform.  Rather, it is an infinite possibility of growth.  It is our true self: that is, a secret self hidden in and one with the divine freedom.  In obeying God, in turning to do God’s will, we find God willing us to be free.  God created us for freedom; that is to say, God created us for God’s self.”

This is what I truly believe about us.  I believe we all share, at our deepest level, an infinite possibility of growth. 

Now look at this:  this is what our Episcopal “Answer Key” (our Catechism, on page 845 of the Prayer Book) holds for us as to this question, of what it means to be human:

Q:      What are we by nature?

A:      We are part of God’s creation, made in the image of God.

Q:      What does it mean to be created in the image of God?

A:      It means that we are free to make choices:  to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and with God.

Q:      Why then do we live apart from God and out of harmony with creation?

A:      From the beginning, human beings have misused their freedom and made wrong choices.

Q:      Why do we not use our freedom as we should?

A:      Because we rebel against God, and we put ourselves in the place of God.

Q:      What help is there for us?

A:      Our help is in God.

Indeed, we ARE free.   

In order to enjoy it, there is only one place to look:

In a real relationship, with our God, one in three persons. 

Help us, O Lord, to become one with our divine freedom.

Yours in faith,

Father Chip+

For Mr. George Floyd

(1974—2020)

Grant us your mercy, O God

especially now

when the images of hateful and hurtful murder

have imbued themselves onto our memory

and made us sick with the stark realization of our sickness.

Grant us your love, O God of hope

to help us to feel this moment, truly feel it

So that we may never forget

Amid the sea of forgetfulness and apathy

That have plagued the privileged and powerful

For far, far too long

A convenient forgetting

That proves deadly not only for one, or for far, far too many

But a death for every one of us.

Grant us your wisdom, O God of wonder

that we may all see and know

once and for ever

that we are all indeed ONE,

brothers and sisters and children under the sun

born of your love, to bring about love

and to be loved

in a life without fear

without oppression, without hatred, without selfishness

with hearts filled with concern and care for all your children

and a willingness to see that we all hurt

when any single one of your children

are hurting

And grant us your courage, O Lord of this great and mysterious universe,

And this nation of laws,

To roll up our sleeves and work,

And work…

And work…

diligently, patiently, and honestly

To see each other, no matter who…

As you see us, every one

So that our life may find the peaceful ordering of all life

That only your love can bring:

A love that requires the oppressor to learn how to love the oppressed

A love that requires us to work from love, to find a better way

A love that demands justice in all forms and for all people

And a love that moves us to make sacrifices

as you yourself have shown us

WE MUST DO

in the life of your Holy Son, Jesus, the Christ

Help us to glorify you by loving you, O Lord of peace

respecting and caring for every one of your children

loving our very selves

and glorifying all that you have made 

Grant us all mercy now, Lord.

May it be so.

Change us forever, Lord.

MAY IT BE SO.  

Chip+

May 25, 2020

In the face of so much upheaval and change, even in this season of new life, Easter, and the coming season of Pentecost (which to me impart hope and the promise of eternal life and love), there is one thing in particular that persists in nagging at my soul.

In the face of so much upheaval and change, even in this season of new life, Easter, and the coming season of Pentecost (which to me impart hope and the promise of eternal life and love), there is one thing in particular that persists in nagging at my soul.

It’s the apparent murder of the young, 26-year old Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia, the case I’m sure so many of you know about:  a person of color out jogging, when two white guys show up in a truck with guns, track him down for God knows what reason, and they end up shooting him dead.

And when I hear these things, I now always think:  I just can’t take it anymore.

Now I know I’m not in control of that particular scenario, or even the whole existing fabric of racism that runs through our national identity, but I know this:  I must do my part.  As Martin Luther King Jr wrote (in his 1963 masterpiece Letter from Birmingham Jail), injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  I’ve even taken the point of view of Ibram Kendi, who asserted in a recent (fine) book, “How to Be an Antiracist,” that we all are in either of two categories:  either a racist, or an antiracist.  There is no gray area, nothing in between. 

Where do I see myself?

In God’s realm, the age to come, here on earth, where God dwells with us and in us, in the life of the world to come, racism no longer exists, in any form.  It does not take up any space in our human thoughts, expressions, ideas, and actions.  It is not even a forgotten memory of a distant past.  Instead, people are loved always, just because we value them for who they are.  Every one of us is equally loved by God, and we will have learned to love everyone just like we love ourselves.  Freedom is not just another word.  It is Shalom, a place of security and freedom from fear.  God’s peace.  And not a pipe dream.

We all know that true Freedom requires true Responsibility.  Racism is learned somewhere.  God don’t make no junk.

A few weeks ago, I was reading an article by a college professor in Memphis named Earl Johnson.  He was talking about the stoning of Stephen, legendary first martyr of our Christian faith. 

He painted the image of Paul there, before his conversion, watching the whole thing, holding the coats of the people stoning Stephen, who was standing up for love, for truth, for justice, for faith in a God who loves us into being and continues to do so even while we don’t know it.  Forever.

And that is all Paul did.  He held the coats.

What am I doing?

What are we all doing?                 

Grace and peace,

Chip+

April, 2020

Dear St Andrew’s Church family and friends,

The lilies, daffodils, and forsythia are blooming, the birds are singing, and the light green buds on the trees and plants all around are peeking out from the hard, seemingly lifeless, surfaces of the gray-brown sticks, and the once-frozen earth.  There is life!  And here is life again!

It is my deepest hope and prayer this Easter 2020 that you continue to reach out and find ways to connect, and re-connect, with others, as we all remain determined to get through this pandemic that has forced us to distance ourselves from each other.  Although there appears to be many things we might learn from this current challenge, my prayer above all others is that we all realize, and remember, just how much we all mean to each other, and how important it is to make our time on earth count.  If we try to keep that in mind as we resume some semblance of “normal life”, we might find we’d rather resume life in a different way, one that invites us to focus on our relationships with each other.  Journey home by another way.  And perhaps remember we really don’t have “all the time in the world.”

As Christians, our own notion of God is all about relationships with others, and indeed, with God.  God appeared as one of us in the Christ child at Christmas, God shared our life with us while Jesus was among us in human form, and now God, at Easter, assures us that God will not leave us when we die.  For those of us who choose to enter into the life of faith, into the body of the cosmic Christ, we shall have new life, a timeless life, the sort of life that does not perish. Having done some thinking and work to “die to our old selves,” moving into a life “in Christ” will promise us a lifetime of new things, renewals, conversions, and resurrections.  We will be with God.

One critical way to do this, of course, is to renew your life, and commitment, to our common life in Christ as St Andrew’s Church.  Please, just come.  Come and be with us.  Come and enjoy the presence of the living God, who loves us and pulls us ever more deeply into the great mystery of the Great Love.

I can promise you one thing:  WE will be renewed by the Spirit of God within you.  And I pray that YOU, too, will be nourished by our sharing the God within us, with you.

I wish you and yours all good things in this season of new life and renewal—The Great Fifty Days of Easter—and pray that we may see you soon at our little jewel of a church, St Andrew’s.

And may God continue to bless us—every one.

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+