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Showing posts from June, 2010

Father's Day

On Sunday, the lessons and sermon will concentrate on the Scripture message for the day, but in recognition of the fact that it’s also Father’s Day, your service leaflet will include a special insert. The insert, “The Best Advice My Father Ever Gave Me,” is a collection of quotes that your fellow parishioners of St. James’ have shared with us over the past several weeks. I hope you’ll enjoy it. I submitted two quotes from my own father. One was from a sign that hung above his desk while I was growing up: Children need models, not critics. I’d like to share, again, an image with you. Imagine, if you will, a child working in the backyard, helping his father build a mini barn. The child is doing it wrong: cutting the wood the wrong length; using the tools wrong, even dangerously. Taking too long to do the work. The father knows he’s doing it wrong. He has several ways to respond: One possibility is to ignore it, to “celebrate the child’s individuality,” to pretend there are no sta

Sympathy Cripples; Compassion Liberates

In the Gospel assigned for Sunday, Jesus is walking toward a town called Nain when he notices a funeral procession. A man who’d died was being carried out. Funerals are sad enough, but this man was his mother’s only son. Losing one’s only child is bad enough, but the dead man’s mother was already a widow. Keeping in mind that in ancient Palestine, the only “social security” one had was one’s family, the death of this woman’s only son meant that from now on, and for the rest of her life, no one would care for her, or about her. Why? The belief system of the day was misfortune of this magnitude must mean that God is punishing her…she must have done something (the thinking went) to have fallen out of God’s favor, or she wouldn’t be suffering so. Lest we think we’ve overcome that kind of bad theology: I’ll bet a fair number of people reading this believe that God rewards us human beings for good behavior and punishes us for bad behavior. That’s what’s called a “celestial Coke-machine

Breakaway Churches and the “Coach Norman Dale Approach to Confrontation”

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled in favor of our Diocese in the case of the so-called “break-away” parishes who have attempted to claim Episcopal Church property as their own. This is good news for our Diocese. In a complex world filled with nuances and shades of gray, it’s not often that a case comes along where things are fairly clear. This is one of them. I have a lot of respect for conservative parish leaders like my colleagues Tom Simmons (St. Peter’s, Purcellville) and John Sheehan (Our Redeemer, Aldie) and others throughout the country who, despite strong differences of opinion, stay in the Episcopal Church and fight for change; I have a lot of respect for my liberal colleagues who are delighted with the overall direction of the Episcopal Church and say “full steam ahead.” And worthy of even greater respect are those conservatives who decided they could no longer in good conscious remain in the Episcopal Church but who had the courage of their convictions and left