Today in our Episcopal calendar we remember James Otis Sargent Huntington, a priest and monk who died in 1935. He is best known for founding the Order of the Holy Cross, a Benedictine order for men. Huntington began the orders’ ministry in some of the poorest areas of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. After a stint in rural Maryland, Holy Cross found its current home in 1902 in West Park, NY, near Poughkeepsie. The monastery was the first building built for an Anglican monastic order since King Henry VIII! Huntington went on to help found various other institutions, including Kent School in Kent, CT, where Mother Anna was chaplain….
Our particular branch of Christianity is called The Episcopal Church because we are a church with bishops. The word Episcopal comes from the Greek episkopos, which means “overseer,” and the Latin episcopus, which means “bishop.” To say that we are a church with bishops is also to say we are a hierarchical church. Bishops have oversight in their diocese. They serve as chief pastors to both clergy and laity there, and they have responsibility for the doctrine, discipline and worship within their dioceses.
In short, they are the boss(es). At our ordinations, Bob, Susan and I, like all priests and deacons, vowed to respect and be guided by the pastoral direction and leadership of our bishop. By extension, the churches we serve do the same….
We live in a world that is unpredictable, a world which is worrisome to us, a world in which we never thought we would experience.
What do we do when trouble tries to bury us? Do we trust God even when we can’t see His plan? Somehow we seem to think God needs to explain what he is doing. Trust God? Be calm? Have patience?…
One of the best parts of living in New York City is the option to get from one place to another on foot. Even if only for part of our travels, walking is embedded in how we negotiate our days. And the more we walk, the better we get at all the little shortcuts at streetcorners. We start to anticipate when the lights will change and move forward accordingly. And, if no cars are coming toward us and all is clear, we might cross the street even if the red hand is still solidly telling us to stay put.
As you are no doubt aware, Monday is one of the biggest American holidays – Halloween. But you may not know or remember that Halloween began as All Hallow’s Eve, the vigil that takes place the evening before the church’s celebration of All Saints’ Day on November 1. The All Hallow’s observance itself came out of the pre-Christian Celtic celebration of Samhain (pronounced “Sow-en”, where sow rhymes with cow), which marked the beginning of winter and the first day of the new year. Going into winter must have felt like an apt time to reflect on human mortality, and so on this evening the souls of the dead were said to visit their homes. (This tradition is of course also related to the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico and beyond.) Since evil spirits might be out and about as well, bonfires were set on hilltops to scare them away, as well as to remember the light of the sun when the days were the shortest….
As many of you know, we have been discussing The Social Justice Bible Challenge in our Adult Forum on Sundays. Each gathering includes some of the most beautiful, provocative and (sometimes) unsettling passages in Scripture. As an offshoot of our conversations about our longing for justice and our individual discernment about how best to live that longing…
When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?
This is perhaps a disturbing question in Scripture. It comes at the close of a parable encouraging faith and being persistent in prayer. God answers prayers, but what if a day comes when people no longer pray or have faith? A few countries are already there.
The picture below was taken in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. A parishioner forwarded it to me after telling me how moved she was to see a town crosswalk painted with the rainbow flag. This image is beautiful in several ways. First, the expression of solidarity is clear, bold and impossible to ignore. Second, the sign of welcome is integrated into the life of the community (everyone uses roads, most people use crosswalks). And third, the flag is painted in an area defined by motion—indicating that inclusion is assumed. If we are to move from one place to another, that process is sustained by diversity….
This fall, our Adult Christian Education Forum series will focus on scripture that reminds us of God’s emphasis on justice and inspires us to take action as individuals and as a community in the world. The material we’ll use is drawn from a book called The Social Justice Bible Challenge, edited by Marek P. Zabriskie.
In the book’s introduction, Zabriskie observes that there are many Christians who do not connect the Bible with the pursuit of social justice. On the one hand, there are those who enjoy studying scripture and perhaps applying it to their own personal lives. But these folks often stop short of taking action in the wider world to advocate for justice and equality for all. On the other hand, there are Christians who devote themselves to outreach and social action in their community. But they may be less comfortable grounding and sustaining themselves and their mission in scripture….
As you have all heard me announcing endlessly (and are still hearing, in reading this!), Bishop Dietsche will be with us this Sunday to preach, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and confirm two of our congregants. I have wanted to publicize the Bishop’s time at Holy Apostles, of course. And I have been repeating this announcement more than is usual because—just for one Sunday—we are changing the time of our worship to 4:00 pm. There will be no morning services on September 25, as we are hoping that everyone who feels comfortable worshipping in person will gather in community to greet Bishop Dietsche later in the afternoon….