Tomorrow our church remembers Absalom Jones, the first African American ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. Jones was born into slavery in Delaware and at sixteen was sold to a shopkeeper in Philadelphia. He married at age 20, bought his wife’s freedom and then bought his own in 1784, when he was 28 years old.
Do you ever feel busy? Do you ever feel that you have more to do than you can manage to get done? Do you ever feel that your day, your week, your month, or your year is too short?
There is an amazing scene in the movie Selma where Martin Luther King Jr. phones gospel singer Mahalia Jackson in the middle of the night. It’s 1964; the 16th St. Baptist Church has been bombed by the Ku Klux Klan and four little girls killed in the explosion. The Civil Rights Movement is facing obstruction from elected leaders on key issues. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover is trying to discredit Dr. King by disrupting his marriage. Shaken and unable to sleep due to mounting pressures and stress, Dr. King calls Mahalia Jackson and asks her to sing; to “share the Lord’s voice” with him….
I have always found John the Baptist to be a fascinating person as he lived a simple life, clothed himself with what he found, and nourished himself with simple food, but most of all he didn’t mince words. In today’s vernacular, he told it like it is. He may have been...
Happy 2021! And Merry Christmas! And a Blessed Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus! We often think of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as purely secular affairs. If we haven’t already put away our decorations, we are starting to make plans to do so. All the “best of” lists have been published (something of a challenge for 2020 in all categories) and the holiday music has been shelved for another year. Maybe we are starting to commit to resolutions and look ahead to post-holiday business. The party, whatever it looked like for us this year, is over….
As we celebrate Christmas (and remember that the season lasts for twelve whole days!), and prepare for the changing of the year, it is natural to reflect back on 2020. And while the year’s awful events were unprecedented for the vast majority of us, there were also unprecedented opportunities to connect, to serve others, and to give thanks….
My grandmother was an amazing knitter. She had brilliant skill with all handicrafts, actually, and could embroider and quilt and sew clothes with the best. But when it came to knitting, she was the reigning and undisputed queen. There was nothing she didn’t know, and nothing she couldn’t create—seemingly without effort. Odds and ends of yarn would be transformed into something useful and surprisingly beautiful. She could go into a movie theater and emerge after the film with a completed pair of patterned mittens she had made, in the dark, during the show….
God in his wisdom has chosen to use human witnesses to bear witness to the light so that the world may believe. Why does God send human witnesses at all? When you think about it does God really need our help? God has chosen weak vessels to display his great power to witness to the light and to push back the darkness. That is what he did with John the Baptist. Jesus of all people, God in the flesh, did not need help but he sent John. But God in his wisdom has chosen this way. This has two implications for all of us….
Confession: all my Christmas decorations are up. Double confession: I didn’t even wait until the first Sunday in Advent. Maybe it was because my sons were home over Thanksgiving to help. Maybe it was my need to brighten up my digs post-surgery, or maybe it was just 2020. Period. I know it’s not supposed to be done, and I get why we’re supposed to wait. But no delayed gratification for me. Not this year….
During the summer of 2019, we invited the parish to read Grateful: The Subversive Practice of Giving Thanks. The author, Diana Butler Bass, wrote about the struggle she had to embrace gratitude in her life, yet also how crucial it was for her to practice being grateful. She wrote a prayer that stuck with me, and it seems like an especially appropriate prayer for Thanksgiving weekend of 2020, when many of us may be having a hard time giving thanks. I hope this slightly amended version will help!….