New Blogs and New Friends

21 01 2008

I’ve finally gotten around to updating my blogroll ….

Please check out to the right ….

Ship of Fools and the Wittenberg Door, two satirical sites on all things Churchy. My personal favourites are the iBelieve ipod which can be found on Ship of Fools (you can listen to Black Sabbath during Church and look very pious while doing it!) and the New Years resolutions for televangelists in the WB.

I’m also adding some blogs from those i’ve corresponded with on GCN.

Yard[D]og, a fellow Episcopalian who lives out in LA, and the radical liberal I wish I dared to be. He and I also share some common interests. Hi Sir!

Non-Metaphysical Stephen,  who’s wisdom and intelligence always leaves me dumbfounded and surprised by joy.

Anthony over at Dancertm, an aspiring Deacon in The Episcopal Church who has a warm spirit and is good at reminding me of how comprehensive our faith is. Oh, and we also have some “common interests.”

And finally, we have Martin over at Homodox, who has very insightful posts on spirituality, everyday life, and is good at giving us reality checks (eg his post on Health).


21 01 2008

From Phyllis Tickle during her interview w/ the Wittenburg Door

“Christian nation” is such an offensive term that I can hardly speak it, even. One of the biggest blows to Christianity’s vitality and legitimacy occurred on the day that Constantine made it the official religion of the Empire. Nobody in his or her right mind would want to be a member of a socially acceptable religion. It’s very dangerous for the soul. A nation is in the business of doing Caesar’s work, not God’s.


Calling and Being Called

19 01 2008

Texts: Isaiah 49:1-7; I Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1: 29-42

What is calling? What do we mean when we say vocation? Is it part of identity? Is it part of mission? Or should we speak of it in the context of a gift? When we speak of calling or vocation we usually mean a calling to ordained ministry or to religious life, such as being a monk or a nun. But in the first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul does not stop there. He refers to those who are called to be saints, and that is the entire people of God…including you and me. My good friend Pisco talks about his becoming a Christian not as a conversion, but “God was calling me to become a Christian.” St. Paul’s introduction to his letter speaks to his most fundamental convictions. We are called to be in Christ. We who carry the name of Christ are called into fellowship with each other and into a common mission. I have thought of the Church in Corinth as the Pentecostals/Charismatics of their day, for they had an abundance of spiritual gifts. But Paul, in his talk about these gifts, is more concerned about how they are used as opposed to the expression of the gifts themselves.

Our call, our vocation of being a Christian is one of fellowship. Factionalism and splintering or schism means a denial of that fellowship. All members of the community belong to the God who called them into fellowship with Christ. Where does this call come from? The beginning of our call into fellowship, like all senses of vocation is a revelation from God, a gift. In the Gospel of John, St John the Baptist say, “I did not know him then, but I know him now!” This perception of our calling as a Christian might be gradual, like a sunrise, or abrupt like a lightning bolt, but regardless of how the revelation or gift happens it does not come from reason alone, or even intuition or any human perception. It comes from God and is a gift of grace. As a result of our revelation, it gives birth to witness or mission. Our call as Christians are not meant to be private possessions, but we are to share this gift with others. Indeed, as we grow and mature as followers of Jesus, we cannot help but be living witnesses of God’s grace as we respond to his call of fellowship.

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19 01 2008

I was going through some old emails and I came across a few “overheard” comments during a retreat at an Episcopal monastery, which i passed on to my friends and thought I would share them here:


Jr Monk:  “I think I’ve been asked if we serve gruel at least once a week since I’ve been here .. ”
Sr. Monk:  “Did you direct them to the Catholic monastery up the road like we suggested?”

Visitor:  “You mean their chef was trained at the culinary institute and his wife is a pastry chef?”
Visitor #2:  “Remember, they are Episcopalians.  This is probably roughing it for them.”

Life update

19 01 2008

Back in the fall, I spoke about a particularly bad day.  I found out I was getting a bad performance review at my job, and the same day I received a letter from the diocese asking me to withdraw from the discernment process for a time. Some important updates have happened since then…

On the job front, right before Christmas when my compensation for the year had been settled (and more importantly, the check cleared!), I told my boss that I wanted to transfer to another department.   He agreed, and when I got back from vacation two weeks ago, I started interviewing for other positions in the firm.  I spoke to HR and said that regardless of what position I took, I wanted to “try it out” for a couple of weeks and if it didn’t work for whatever reason, I would go into the floating pool (which is kind of like temping but you are fully employed by the firm) until I found something that would be suitable, and they were agreeable.  After all, I have been with my firm for over 5 years and worked for my former boss for 4 of those years, and so they were willing to do what it took to keep me.

I am going to be taking a position in the Marketing/Investor Relations area of the firm where I’ll be supporting two people who help raise money for our Private Equity and Real Estate funds.  Though there will be a personal assistant-type component to the job, I’ll be responsible for doing other “real work” stuff as well that requires you to use your brain.  After a couple of weeks, if I like it (and just as important, they are happy with the quality of my work) I will stay with this group.   In the future, I will probably be attending group meetings to put in my two cents to help streamline the work flow and general how-we-get-things-done type of things.   Most importantly, it seems like a good environment, and I know some of the people in the group already, and I think it will be a very positive change.

On the discernment front, the diocese said they wanted me to get some leadership experience and they want me to see a therapist.  I have never been in therapy (except for the bar called therapy near my apartment), and the diocese likes all of their aspirants to have spent some time with a therapist on a regular basis.  On the leadership side, I’m running the new Integrity chapter in NYC, which is going well, and I have found a therapist whom I feel comfortable with and my health insurance will cover a good chunk of the cost.  I’m pulled back from some of my duties at my parish, Immaculate Contraption so I can focus more on iNYC.  I’m also in the market for a spiritual director I can see once a month or so and I believe I am close to finding one.  I’ll also be meeting with Immaculate Contraption’s discernment committee every month for a brief touch base.

The challenge, like all things in NYC, is maintaining a sense of balance between work, outside activities, and social life, as well as scheduling!

So, it’s all good things 🙂  2008 is off to a great start.  Lots of transition, but life is all about change isn’t it?

Our Identity in Baptism

16 01 2008

Text: Matthew 3: 13-17; Acts 10: 34-43; Isaiah 42: 1-9.

This past Sunday we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus, which marks the beginning of his three year ministry. Over the past few years in Church politics, we’ve heard a lot about concepts such as unity or identity. A lot of this discussion centers around questions like, “What do we call ourselves?” or perhaps more accurately, “What do we or others have the right to call ourselves?” “Are you more or less (insert label here) than me?” “You are not really (insert label here) at all!” We say we identify as Christian … or Anglican … or Progressive … or Conservative … the Muddled Middle … We say that we are white, black, Hispanic, or Arab. Regardless of all of these labels and how we identify ourselves according to ethnicity, political leanings, or styles of worship, as Christians we are all followers of Christ and we are all united to him in a virtually universal rite known as baptism.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus comes to his cousin, John the Baptist and requests to be baptized, which is an act of repentance. A natural question that we might ask is “Why would Jesus, the Son of God, insist on being baptized? After all, wasn’t he supposed to be sinless? Why would someone who is sinless participate in a rite of repentance?” The answer Jesus gives is “It is proper for us to fulfill all righteousness,” which suggests a sort of divine requirement. We can talk about the theological ramifications about this until we’re blue in the face, but one of the core things that Jesus’ baptism means is that it is one way in which it unites us to him and to God. Jesus’ baptism shows he is standing in solidarity with the human race he has come to redeem, a race that is helpless to save itself without direct and dramatic intervention from God. Indeed, in The Episcopal Church when we renew our Baptismal Covenant, we answer questions such as “Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ” and “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?” with “I will with God’s help.” We affirm that apart from God’s help, we cannot do what we are even asking of ourselves. And yet, even Jesus was baptized, and it could be argued he didn’t need any help since he was God Incarnate. However, Jesus, in this act of obedience to “fulfill all righteousness,” the Father puts his seal of approval on Jesus in the form of the Spirit descending upon him as a dove and a voice proclaiming, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

Sometimes baptism can be an outward sign of a the work God has already done in someone’s life. Our lesson from Acts this week contains a short sermon from St. Peter at the climax of the conversion of Cornelius, the first Gentile member of the fledgling Church. Peter was resistant, even reluctant to visiting Cornelius’ household and did not want to accept him into the Church as a full member (does any of this sound familiar?) but the overwhelming evidence is that God has accepted Cornelius (ahem!), so Peter can no longer protest with any real credibility. Indeed, Peter’s sermon shows a grudging acceptance that God has accepted the Gentiles into the fold. Peter and the rest of the apostles are unique figures in the history of the Church because they were living witnesses to the risen Christ….and with Cornelius, they are witnesses again, but in a way they don’t expect. Again, God seems to enjoy working by surprising his followers! Immediately after this passage, it is as if the Holy Spirit says “enough of this!” and descends upon Cornelius and his household. Peter is forced to give up his reluctance to fully embrace that God has come to the Gentiles, those thought to be inherently unclean (I’m just sayin …) . He is a witness to God’s outpouring onto the Gentiles, but he is a passive witness while God recognizes Cornelius as part of the Christian community.

What does this vignette of inclusion have to do with the Baptism of Jesus? It is a reminder that our baptism also carries with it the promise of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was baptized, he was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power. He is God’s unique agent in Creation, and this event is the start of his ministry. The Spirit of God equips Jesus and has also equipped us to be his servants. The word used in the Old Testament for the Spirit of God was ruah or wind. The book of Isaiah speaks of God’s servant as one who is empowered by the wind of God to do God’s work and blow newness into the world, a work that the world or even the Church might view as impossible. The servant of God brings justice, but not a heavy-handed justice; it is a justice that is caring, gentle, and transforming. Instead of the world’s mantra of the ends justify the means, God’s justice says that the means serve the end result. God’s servant in Isaiah is sent to do God’s purpose and his work .. a work of reconciliation and redemption, which has been God’s intention from the beginning.

Jesus’ baptism in the Jordon River is a coronation. A coronation of a God’s unique servant and agent, and also the coronation of a king, a king who rules in meekness. In our own baptism we are united to the Son of God to follow in his footsteps of servanthood. It is an ordination that is shared by each and every follower of Christ. Jesus does not only preach and teach, but acts. The miracles that Jesus performs during his ministry are nothing less than direct assaults on the power of sin and evil in the world. And so, we too must follow the path that has been blazed before us by the Son of God, to speak against injustice, to do justice and to love mercy … with God’s help.


The Confessional

14 01 2008

I have just added a chat feature to the blog on the sidebar, which i’m calling “The Confessional.”  Please feel free to say hello if you see that i’m on.

Depending on your browser settings you may or may not be able to see  me (my Personal Atheist said something about “flash player”).

I guess this means that if you can’t see The Confessional, you don’t have any sins to confess and are truly among the sainted 🙂