Saturday, December 29, 2012

Living Compass: A Wellness Course During Lent


by John Clinton Bradley

The Williams Wellness Initiative invites you to begin a pilgrimage toward better health. We will offer the Living Compass course for six Saturdays during February and March. Each lesson will start at 11:00 am and end at 12:00 pm. We will meet in the parish hall.

Living Compass focuses on the interconnectedness of all aspects of our being—heart, soul, strength, and mind—because each aspect affects the others. It is also important to be mindful of your life balance, taking both proactive and preventative actions as your life pushes you to grow and change.

Living Compass is based on the belief that each individual knows what she or she needs to do to become more whole. It is also based on the belief that we cannot be whole by ourselves: our individual journeys require the support and care of others as well. This course will help you name what you probably already know (though may not be aware of) and help you to risk taking the action steps needed to make the changes you truly desire and then enlisting others for that needed support.

Course Schedule

Date

Lesson

February 9, 20131. Seeds of Faith, Fruits of Wellness
  • Introduction to the relationship between faith and wellness
  • Take the Living Compass whole-person self-assessment tool
February 16, 2013
2. Living Well With All Your Soul
  • Spirituality
  • Rest and play
February 23, 2013
3. Living Well With All Your Mind
  • Vocation

  • Organization
March 2, 2013
4. Living Well With All Your Strength
  • Care for the body
  • Stress
March 9, 20135. Living Well With All Your Heart
  • Relationships
  • Handling emotions
March 16, 20136. With Gladness and Singleness of Heart
  • Celebration
  • Next steps


The Living Compass curriculum was created by the Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner (an Episcopal priest) and his wife, Holly Hughes Stoner. Visit http://www.livingcompass.org to learn more.

I will teach the course. My bachelor’s degree is in health education and I worked for over 20 years on local, state, and federal wellness programs.

The cost of the course is $5 per person. Each participant will receive a 90-page Living Compass Faith & Wellness Workbook for use during and after the course.

There are several ways to register for Living Compass:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary: What Then Should We Do?

Sermon preached at the Church of St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene on December 16, 2012, the Third Sunday of Advent:  Isaiah 12:2-6, Philippians 4:4-7, Luke 3:7-18


            What then should we do?

            It is a very poignant question this morning, 48 hours after twenty children and six adults were murdered in their elementary school in a town, in a country, where something like that should never happen.

            I keep thinking we have jumped right over Christmas and landed on Holy Innocents Day, remembering the story of King Herods slaughter of the innocent children of Bethlehem in Matthews Gospel, and the haunting words he recalls from the prophet Jeremiah:

A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.  Jeremiah 31:35

            The Bible knows this kind of violence. The Bible knows this kind of world.  And the Bible does indeed intend for us to ask this question, in the wilderness, when we know something is wrong and we must change.

            What then should we do?

            The answer on many peoples lips this weekend is gun control, and I certainly add my voice as a religious leader that the time has come for people who favor stricter gun control to demand it.  The National Rifle Association does not run this country, and their insane interpretation of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution must no longer shape the law. It is, literally, killing our children.

            I want, however, to take this question from a spiritual angle.  That by no means signals leaving the realm of the practical.  It is, in fact, trying to unite them, because they have become so separated in this culture that when something like this happens, people of faith seem at best irrelevant and at worst completely out of touch with reality.

            I want to ask two simple questions about this tragedy:

·         Where was God in this?
·         What good news do we have to bring to this situation?

            Where was God?  It is a question that gets asked in any tragedy.  The assumption behind it is that of Mary outside of the tomb of her brother Lazarus, when she says to Jesus, Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died. (John 11:32)  If God loves us all and is, as we frequently say, Almighty, why do people suffer? Why do people die tragically?  After all, the Canticle from Isaiah we just sang says:

Surely it is God who saves me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, and he will be my Savior.

            Why does God not consistently defend and protect his children?  What good is God if he cannot be counted on to do this?  Where was God?

            One possible answer to this question is that there is no God, that, in fact, incidents like this are proof that there is no divine being protecting his followers.

            Another answer is that somebody did something wrong in order for God to choose to let this happen.  This was the stance this weekend of the spokesperson for the American Family Association.  He posed the question, Where was God?

God is not going to go where he is not wantedwe kicked God out of our public school system.  I think God would say to us, Hey, Ill be happy to protect your children but youve got to invite me back into your world first. Im not going to go where I am not wanted.

            That statement takes my breath away and makes me angry.  There is nothing remotely Christian in that statement.  It is wrong, wrong, wrong, and I think one of the things we should be doing is making that clear. If someone says something like that around you, you have an obligation to ask God for the courage to say, No.  I do not agree with that. That is neither the God I worship nor the God I experience in Jesus.

            I trust for consistencies sake that the American Family Association is adamantly opposed to the celebration of Christmas.  The whole message of Christmas is that God will go anywhere. There is no place, and no people, to which God will not go.

            Where was God on Friday morning in Newtown, Massachusetts? First and foremost, God was in that school, with those kids, being shot at just like they were.  He was with the dead and dying. He was with the fearful. He was with the brave teachers. He was even with Adam Lanza, weeping as Rachel at Ramah, because her children were no more.

            What good is that God, who is only with us, and not as a protector?  I say this.  If there was any love in the midst of that horror, any courage, any strength, any peace that passed understanding, God was in the thick of that.  And not a single one of those 20 children or 6 adults nor the gunman himself died alone in that building.  They died in Gods embrace.

            But we would rather have those children alive at the hands of a strong God, not dead in the arms of a weak one.

            I sympathize with that feeling. I have had it in many circumstances myself.  But the truth is that Jesus taught us that Gods purpose is to love, not to protect; to accept, not to defend; to be in absolute solidarity with the victim and not be his or her avenger.

            That is the God we get. That is the God who saves, whose mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).

            So what Good News do we have to bring to this situation?  First of all, we do so in humility and solidarity with those who have suffered such horrific loss.  We do not bring self-righteous answers or easy declarations that we know how this tragedy could have been prevented.

            No.  We say God weeps with us. That is good news. And God lifts us up when we are ready, and helps make the readiness happen.  The good news is that God is in the muck of life with us, with no worry at all about how dirty his hands are getting.  He only cares that love will prevail here and now, in this moment, with these people.

            We also examine our own lives, because change is never only about some them. It is also, always, about me.  We live in a culture soaked in violence. I think we all know that but I also suspect that it is actually worse than we thought.  If you want something to do this week, try this. Pick a day as a violence free day.  I am not going to watch violence. I am not going to speak violence. I am not going to play violence. Perhaps I am not even going to eat violence. Id love to hear the stories of your experience.

            And, finally, I think we learn as a church a fundamental truth.  The work of evangelismthe baptismal promise we make of proclaiming by word and example the good news of God in Christhas nothing directly to do with filling our churches.  We do not spread good news in order to get more people in the pews who help us keep the building in good shape, pay the clergy and keep the ministries going.  If that is a side effect of our evangelism, we will certainly, happily take it.

            So why do we do evangelism?  Sandy Hook Elementary School is why.  Do you think that gunman knew that God loved him more than he could possibly imagine?  Do you think all of those families have the spiritual support they need to get through this time of trial?  Do you think those who go to gun shows to purchase weapons especially because they are exempt from background checking are aware that the God of Jesus Christ is absolutely a God of peace, and that peace can never be and will never be achieved with violence

            Our duty is not to get people to go to church. Our duty is to offer good news, news that is good enough to live on, that requires change, yes.  We dont want totally to forget Johns call for repentance this morning.  Changewe all have to keep doing it, and a lot of it if we want to get out of this culture of violence.

            But this good news enables us to rejoice always, even in the face of extreme tragedy.  Why?  Because we are excellent at denying reality?  No. Precisely because our God has so thoroughly embraced it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving

A national day of Thanksgiving. It was not, is not, a bad idea.  Everyone pauses to say thank you.  One wonders about the miracles that might happen if they actually did.  It will be wonderful to be together with family later today, but I know that we will spend very little time saying "thank you" and a great deal of time pouring through "Black Friday" circulars and making Christmas lists.

A single day called "Thanksgiving" hardly matters, however.  For Christian people, gratitude is the beating heart of life itself.  It is the heart of what we call conversion.  The ability to be grateful may be innate to the human psyche, but it takes a back seat to many other things in the ways most of us are raised by the culture. Things having to do with self-interest come first.

Very early on in the history of those who followed Jesus, less than a hundred years after his death and resurrection, Christians began calling the sharing of bread and wine that he left them to "do in remembrance of me," "the Eucharist."  It probably came from hearing the words of what he had done over and over and over again, "He gave thanks (Greek: eucharist), gave it to them, and said ..."  It was simple. If he what he was doing was "giving thanks," then that is what they were doing as well.  And so it became "the Eucharist."

Which means, as I said earlier, gratitude becomes the beating heart of faithful living.  From it flows everything else:  faith, hope, and love (Paul's big three), joy, justice, and peace.  So if we want to work on our conversion, the deepening of our ongoing relationship with God, one another, and the world, we need to work on gratitude.  It is not any more complicated than that.

A last thought--I wonder what people would think if on our church signs we stopped using the word "Eucharist" and instead used its translation:  "10 am  Holy Thanksgiving." Would they think we had forgotten to change the sign from last November? Or would they be curious enough to ask, "I wonder what that is about?"

Happy Thanksgiving today, and every Sunday.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Make No Assumptions About the Sacred

Sermon preached on September 30, 2012 at the Church of St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene (the 188th Anniversary of the Consecration of the Church):  Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29; James 5:13-20, Mark 9:38-50


          I mainly want to do some prep work for our conversations about this worship space, but the readings we just heard from James and Mark leave a proverbial elephant in the living room that I have to say something brief about.

          These readings are a prime example of what we mean when we say we take the Bible seriously but not literally.  We do not take literally, for example, the strong implication that if we pray faithfully enough for someone, they will be healed.  But that does not mean we just dismiss the passage, because it has a very important thing to teach us.  When we are seriously ill, it is not in our best spiritual interest to do what comes naturally:  isolate.  At the very least, when you are sick call for the elders, and allow the righteous ones to pray for you.

          We also do not chop off body parts when we cause ourselves or someone else to stumble.  We know for one that Jesus was prone to hyperbole in order to get people’s attention when he seriously wanted it.  And the seriousness here is that when we cause ourselves or someone else to stumble, we need to take responsibility for it and seriously change our behavior.  No excuses like “that’s just the way I am.”  Jesus always wants us to ask the question, “Who does God call me to be?”  And there is no one who cannot change. God teaches old dogs to do new tricks every day.

          OK, now my entrée into some preparation for our conversation is Joshua and the disciples.  Both are troubled—nay, in a panic—because holiness was popping up where they did not expect.  This was not the way things worked, or so that was their assumption.

          Jesus says, “Whoever is not against us is for us.”  Now that’s an amazing statement that has not gotten enough attention in the church’s life, and I think it applies to more than the action of people.

          I think the broader application is this:  take care of how you try to define and control the sacred.  Idols are amazingly easy to build. In one sense Joshua was making an idol of Moses, trying to protect his prerogative.  Same thing with the disciples:  they were making Jesus into an idol.

          Why are idols so bad?  Why does God hate them more than just about anything else?  It is because they distract us from him.  They become the object of worship, and often they become a distraction from doing justice, making peace, and proclaiming the good news.

          In The Book of Common Prayer there is “A Litany of Thanksgiving for the Church.”  It is something that is recommended for use on the anniversary of the dedication of a church, which today happens to be for us.  The very first petition is this:

For the Church universal, of which these visible buildings are the symbol, We thank you Lord.

          That’s wrong.  This building is not the symbol of the universal Church.  At best it is a symbol, but certainly not the primary one.  What is the primary symbol of the Church universal?  You are, of course.  And not because of anything special about you by the way, but simply because God has accepted you as his People.

          There’s a great hymn, Dutch in origin, not in our hymnal:

What is this place where we are meeting?
Only a house, the earth its floor;
Walls and a roof sheltering people;
Windows for light, and open door.
Yet it becomes a body that lives
When we are gathered here,
And know our God is near.

          The only thing I ask of you in this conversation, besides absolute respect for one another, is to keep your perspective, and guard against making any tool we use for the worship of God, into God.  Do not make assumptions about where and how the sacred shows up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Blessing of the Animals

Pictures are up on our Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.453316944711734.100320.174750379235060&type=1

(You don't have to be on Facebook to view them).

Thanks to Toni Burr for the pics!

Michael

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

World Peace Prayer

My offering to you on this 11th Anniversary of the 9-11 Attacks.  It is from the website "Liturgy: Worship that works, Spirituality that connects"  http://liturgy.co.nz/
Michael


World Peace Prayer


Lead me from death to life,
from falsehood to truth;
lead me from despair to hope,
from fear to trust;
lead me from hate to love,
from war to peace.
Let peace fill our heart,
our world, our universe.

This prayer is found in A New Zealand Prayer Book/He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (p.164). 

Although it has also been credited as an adaptation by the Hindu Swami Chidananda Saraswati, it is a well known adaptation of the famous mantra from the Hindu Upanishads by Satish Kumar. Satish Kumar is a former Jain monk. Since 1973 he has lived in England, where he is married to June Mitchell and they have a son.

Jainism is a relatively small religion originating in India. It has approximately four million adherents world wide. Satish Kumar’s adaptation was designed to be able to be used by all people of all languages and beliefs.

The prayer was first publicly used in July 1981 by Mother Teresa in the Anglican Church, St. James', Piccadilly in London.

Each day at noon people of all faiths and none use this 'Universal Prayer for Peace'. This forms a wave of prayer and hope rippling each day around the globe. Hence its positioning in our Prayer Book’s Midday Prayer. There is a world peace prayer society encouraging its use.

In the Prayer Book this prayer follows an adaptation by Jim Cotter of a 1976 Buddhist litany for peace (p163). This litany originates with the famous Vietnamese  Buddhist monk Thích Nhât Hanh (Jim Cotter, Thursday, Prayer in the Day).

It has always fascinated me that these prayers of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain source sit alongside those of Jewish origin within our Prayer Book, part of the formularies to which Anglican leaders must give assent as expressing our doctrine.

There is much food for reflection here in a world of prejudice, violence, and disunity. This is an invitation to daily prayer, and a challenge for Christians to live and work together as salt, light, and leaven with people of other great faiths, and all people of goodwill.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Group Photo


Saints:

Thanks for participating in the group photo shoot this morning. A low-resolution version is on our parish website and Facebook page. If you would like to download a high-resolution version, click here.

Blessings,


John Clinton Bradley
56 Vassar St
Rochester NY 14607
585-313-1059
johnclint@me.com
http://www.johnclintonbradley.name

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Group Photo & T-Shirts

On Sunday, September 9th, immediately after the Porch Mass, John Clinton Bradley will be taking a group photo of everyone in the parish on the front steps of the church. He plans to use this photo as the “banner” image for our parish website and Facebook page.

John encourages you to wear a parish logo shirt for the photo shoot if you have one. If you don’t have a shirt, here are two options for ordering one:
  1. Click here to buy a shirt directly from our parish CafePress store. You can choose from a variety of styles and colors. Your order will shipped directly to your home. 
  2. Clicking here to pre-order a budget T-shirt. All T-shirts will have black lettering on white fabric. The approximate cost will be about $12 per shirt. John will distribute the shirts and collect your payment during Sunday services. If you cannot afford to pay, the shirt will be free.
Please contact John at johnclint@me.com or 585-313-1059 if you have any questions.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Jason & deMarco in Concert

The following article was inadvertently omitted from the September newsletter. An older article appears in its place.

All parishioners are invited to attend the concert below, which Two Saints is hosting. Jason & deMarco are a contemporary Christian music duo (and same-sex couple) who travel the country sharing God’s unconditional love through their music.

Concert Flyer

This event is proudly sponsored by:

  • The Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
  • Oasis Rochester, the LGBT Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
  • The Episcopal Church of St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene in Rochester
  • St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Rochester
  • St. Mark's & St. John's Episcopal Church in Rochester
  • Ascension Episcopal Church in Rochester
  • St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Fairport
  • Zion Episcopal Church in Palmyra
  • St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Geneseo
  • The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley

If you plan to attend, please register at http://jdrocconcert.eventbrite.com so we have an idea how many people to expect.



Saturday, July 21, 2012

195 Years & Still Breaking Down the Wall


Sermon preached on Sunday, July 15, 2012, celebrating the 195th Anniversary of the founding of St. Luke's:  Isaiah 2:2-4, Ephesians 2:13-22, Luke 10:1-11

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God…

Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' 

            These were not the regular Sunday readings.  Somehow the beheading of John the Baptist did not see quite appropriate for this Sunday as we celebrate our anniversary.  So I choose a set of readings provided by the Prayer Book called “For the Mission of the Church.”  I looked first for some readings for the Anniversary of the Founding of a Church, but no such set of readings exist.  In fact I searched high and low for resources for church anniversaries and I found a lot of them, but they all had one thing in common:  they focused on the building.

            That says something about our priorities.  And our liabilities.

            So it makes perfect sense to use readings about the church’s mission this morning, because this anniversary is not about this building, but about the people inspired to form a parish for the purpose of mission, and about the people who, over the generations, have done ministry out of their life together in this place.

            Which means that this celebration is as much about us as it is about our ancestors, and it is as much about those who will come after us as it is about ourselves.

            So what is this mission?  The readings have a common, word, one we might not expect:  peace.  Peace is the church’s mission.

            Isaiah gives it to us in an image of swords beaten into plowshares and the forgetting of how to do war.  Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians talks about peace as the overcoming of estrangement and alienation.  And Jesus says that our interaction with others in his name should begin with the declaration of peace.

            The Catechism in The Book of Common Prayer asks the questions, “What is the mission of the church?”  The answer is: “The mission of the church is to restore all people to unity with God and one another in Christ.”  The mission of the church is, in one word, reconciliation, or, peace.

            That has always been the truth, and it has always been hard. It has never been something that has come easily to those of us in the majority, in power.

Parish Register of Funerals from 1824.
            As a part of my preparation for this celebration, I looked closely at the original parish register.  I’ll confess I went looking for famous Rochester names, and I found a few:  Rochester, Culver, Andrews, Child.  But I stopped short when, in the burial records, I saw on August 15, 1892, “Nancy, colored woman belonging to Col. N. Rochester;” and later “Peter, a black child aged 9 yrs belonging to Gen Matthews.” In the marriage records there were entries like this for January 13, 1824, “Morris Alexander Butler to Jane Adams (Blacks).”  Same identifications in the register of Baptisms.

            It should not surprise any of us that this pre-Civil War church was caught up in the institution of slavery and racism.  Rather than breaking down the dividing wall between races, this parish participated in strengthening them.  It is to our ancestor’s credit that they had enough conscience to marry and bury people of color.  It seems they had some sense of the half of the church’s mission that is restoring all people to unity with God.  But as to restoring all people to unity with one another, they were not ready for that mission.

            How wonderfully ironic that more than a hundred and fifty years later, the same parish would act, with St. Simon’s Church, to break down the wall, and embrace the full mission of the church: restoring all people to unity with God and one another in Christ.

            Surely as the hand of God was in the founding of this parish, the hand of God was in the merger, and I am sure of that because of the irony, which is one of God’s more frequent fingerprints.

            So what does this mean for us and those who will come after us?  Our mission remains the same, and the dividing wall between different kinds of people must constantly be broken down, because it is, unfortunately, constantly being built and re-built: the walls between black and white and Hispanic, the walls between the poor and those both in the middle and upper classes, the divide between sexualities and gender expressions, the walls between political or theological ideologies, the wall that still exists between male and female and on and on.

            How do we break down these walls?  We break them down by mission.  Here are what are called “The Anglican Mark’s of Mission.” They were important markers at General Convention last week. The budget of the Episcopal Church over the next three years was actually structured around them.

·         To proclaim the good news of the kingdom.
·         To teach, baptize, and nurture new believers.
·         To respond to human need by loving service.
·         To transform unjust structures of society.
·         To safeguard the integrity of creation.

            This is the work of evangelism, formation, service, justice and stewardship.  They all have as their basis the fundamental stance of hospitality and gratitude. And they all result in the same thing: peace.

            So we proclaim the Good News:  “For Jesus himself is our peace.”  And we do the Good News:  With Jesus we do not depend on the law with its divisions between people, but we create with him “one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace.” 

            This passage from Ephesians could easily be something like our mission statement, and it is real to us because of our history, even the evil side of it.  So I’ll close with it, in my own paraphrase.

Through his life, death and resurrection Jesus has reduced the distances between us and between us and God to nothing.  Jesus creates peace; Jesus is peace.  In his own body he draws every group into one, breaking down every dividing wall and all the hostility that exists among us.  He even broke down the dividing wall of the law, which sought to divide people into moral and immoral, clean and unclean.  All humanity is new in Jesus and in that newness peace is made.

Jesus proclaimed peace to everyone: however near or far away they seemed, and gave them all access to God through the Spirit.  None of us are strangers; none of us aliens; we are all citizens with the saints and equal members of God’s household.

We build together a new Temple, with the prophets and apostles our foundation and Jesus himself the cornerstone, and the whole structure joined together as the dwelling place of God.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pride Parade


Thanks to everyone who participated in the parade this afternoon!

Monday, July 9, 2012

GC Day 4: Crazy Christians

The Sunday Eucharist was grand. I'm not sure how many were there, but certainly thousands.  Presiding Bishop Katharine as good. Her sermon can be found here.  Bishop Michael Curry was even better the day before, in a sermon entitled "Crazy Christians." Don't miss it.

It is great to have John with me for a couple days.  He received an award from the Episcopal Womens' Caucus yesterday and I was so proud.  He is one of the finest people I know (yes, of course, I am biased).  He has gone from being thrown off a vestry and out of a parish in the late 1980's because he "flunked" being healed of his sexuality, to being honored for his witness by a room of 300 people or so.  It's a great story in a great church.


I made my first motion on the floor of the deputies and it passed!  I asked a resolution be amended which said that youth and young adults were the "most important" subjects of our evangelism efforts.  I understand the sentiment, but we cannot be an organization that plays "most" and "least."

Friday, July 6, 2012

GC Day 2: Bob Dylan is in the House

Day 2 here in Indianapolis is over.  Probably the highlight of the day was a vote in the House of Deputies instructing the Church Center in NYC to be sold and a new, more centrally located headquarters be found.  After much debate it passed.  "The times they are a-changing."


This conversation has actually been going on for years. The NYC property is very expensive and it as been a long time since the Episcopal Church was predominantly a northeastern institution.  For me this conversation was not about property so much as getting unstuck from an old image of the church:  corporate, established, entitled.  It's time to move on.


Here's a nice picture of two of the great living saints of the church:  Bishops Barbara Harris and Steve Charleston. Bishop Harris is, of course, an old friend of Two Saints. Some will remember Bishop Charleston from the ordination of Michael Burke at Two Saints back in the 1990's. He also preached at Diocesan Convention 5 or 6 years ago.


John Bradley arrives tomorrow. It will be good to have him here for a few days.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

GC Day 1

Today is the official first day of General Convention and I thought while I was waiting for a committee meeting to start I'd write a few words. I'm monitoring the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music Committeee. As a first time deputy I do not have a committee assignment.

This morning began with the organizational sesssions of the two Houses.  Not very exciting, but not intended to be.  Then followed the opening Eucharist with the Presiding Bishop presiding and preaching.  The opening hymn was "Joyful, joyful we adore thee." Sung by a couple thousand people it is quite something!  On our calendar today we remember early 20th century proponents of the social gospel, including Rochester's own Walter Rauschenbusch.  Unfortunately, the PB just said he was from "New York."  She did, however, quote extensively from him.  The sermon is worth a look.  It's on-line at:  http://www.episcopalchurch.org/notice/general-convention-july-5-sermon-presiding-bishop-katharine-jefferts-schori

We were told this afternoon that 835 deputies had registered for this Convention. Everything here is large. This Committee I am montoring has 40 deputies and 10 bishops.  It is, as you might expect, nearly unmanageable.  And yet, the work gets done.  Kind of like the church.

I've seen old friends of Two Saints including Bishop Gayle Harris and the Rev. Michael Burke.  Bishop Steve Lane is here also, of course, with Gretchen.  Bishop Barbara Harris sends her greetings. She is as feisty as ever.  I also saw my seminary roommate for the first time in 24 years. We had completely lost touch with each other. He's a parish priest in Oklahoma.

Hope everyone in Rochester is well.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Preliminary Days: The Family Reunion

Report from the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Indianapolis, Indiana

Convention officially opens tomorrow, but some legislative committee work has already begun and people are already running around looking busy.  Mainly these couple of preliminary days are the time for family reunion.  You cannot walk more than a couple dozen steps without seeing someone you know and renewing acquaintances.  The agenda is mostly free and easy (unless the person you meet is running for something, then there are the ever-present buttons to receive with "the pitch."

Three events yesterday bear a small note.  At 5 pm, Integrity held a reception for deputies, a very nice affair with a couple hundred people present.  I was asked to speak briefly about my role as Integrity's floor leader in the House of Deputies.  I began by remarking how good it was to finally be in the House of Deputies, which got loud, sustained applause, which was very gratifying.

Second, I went to the Gala Dinner of the Union of Black Episcopalians, a very fine affair with perhaps 400 people.  It was a night to honor black women and awards were given in the name of Mattie Hopkins, Verna Dozier, Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, and Anna (Pauli) Murray.  Some of you will remember some of these folks and their valiant ministries in the Church.  Bishop Gayle Harris was on of the presenters.  It was a "we've come a long way baby" moment in that Integrity had a table at the dinner and Pauli Murray (who was the first African-American woman ordained in TEC) was spoken of in a way that made her being a lesbian seem rather matter-of-fact.  All of this would not have been possibly just ten years ago.

Third, we had our first meeting of the Consultation Steering Committee. The Consultation is a coalition of 12 peace and justice organization related to the Episcopal Church, but not in any official way.  Many of these groups have been working together since 1985 when the coalition was formed.  We worked on endorsements for elections last night, which is always hard work.  Our chairs and floor leaders, Byron Rushing and Diane Pollard, have asked me to be their deputy floor leader this year, which is both exciting and terrifying.

The Consultation produces a daily paper here called Issues. You can access it at www.theconsultation.org.

Michael


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jason & deMarco in Concert

photo of jason & demarco
Jason & deMarco
On Saturday, September 29, at 7 pm, Two Saints will host a live Jason & deMarco concert. This contemporary Christian music duo (and gay couple) has released seven albums and regularly performs at churches across the country.

Two Saints won a $1500 mission grant from the Diocese of Rochester to underwrite the concert. Several other parishes, organizations, and individuals have also contributed an additional $1250 (so far) to cover transportation, lodging, advertising, and audiovisual costs.

Admission is free. However, a love offering will be taken during the concert. You will also have the opportunity to purchase Jason & deMarco CDs.

Learn more about Jason & deMarco at http://www.jasonanddemarco.com. Register for the concert at http://jdrocconcert.eventbrite.com/.

Friday, June 22, 2012

March in the 2012 Pride Parade!

Carol Dundas and John Clinton Bradley
marching in 2011 Pride Parade
Two Saints and St. Stephen’s will be marching together in the Rochester LGBT Pride Parade on Saturday, July 14th. All parishioners are invited to participate in this outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons who may be searching for a welcoming faith community. 

Line up for the parade will begin at 2:30 pm on Brunswick and Argyle streets (between East and Park avenues). Our exact line up location will be announced on July 11th. The parade will start at 3:30 pm. We will march west on Park Avenue, then north on Goodman Street, ending at Villiage Gate Square. Click here for a map. The total distance is 1.5 miles. One or two vehicles will be part of our unit for those who need to ride rather than walk. 

We encourage all members of our parish who are participating in the the parade to wear a Two Saints T-shirt. Parish T-shirts will be available for purchase ($6 per shirt). 

If you plan to participate, please register online at http://2saintspride2012.eventbrite.com/ or contact John Clinton Bradley at johnclint@me.com or 585-313-1059. Registration will ensure that we can contact you and that there are enough T-shirts on hand.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

June Newsletter

thumbnail of june newsletter
The electronic version of The Word From Two Saints for June 2012 is now available and can be viewed by clicking the links below...
If you signed up to receive the parish newsletter electronically, remember that you will not receive a paper copy by mail; so please take a few moments to read the online version now!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lessons from St. Francis for the City

Hurrying to the next thing at the beginning of what promised to be a hectic day, I was distracted and made a turn too early and ended up on Grand St. instead of Parsells.  Getting near to Culver Rd (my destination was St. Mark's & St. John's), I thought I saw the biggest chihuahua I had ever seen crossing the road.

Then I had one of those twilight zone moments. You know the kind: when you see something totally out of context. This does not belong here.  But there it was, a fawn, clearly just a few weeks old.  If I stopped I was going to be late for an important meeting.  But I had to stop.

She was clearly lost and a bit bedraggled. One side of her head was covered in chewing gum.  I had no sense her Mama was nearby.  They'd gotten separated.  I approached her and she did not move or appear the least bit timid.  She let me pick her up and she was fine, until her instincts kicked in. She made a noise to wake the dead.  Two people ran out of their house probably thinking someone was beating a dog.

I put her in the back of my station wagon and she calmed right down.  The animal shelter on Verona Street said I had to call animal control, but to do that I had to call the city referral number: 311.  I told the person on the other end of the phone what the situation was and she told me it was dangerous to handle a wild animal.  I suppose it is, but danger had never crossed my mind.  What should I do? I said.  "Animal control won't help you with this. Just let it go right where you are."  Really? I said.  But it will get run over or a dog will kill it.  "We can't help it," she said. "Let nature take its course."

I was stunned.  Now I understand all the logic involved in that response.  But I had a living thing in the back of my car that was not going to survive on its own.  WWFD.  What would Francis do?

To make a long story short, while I went to my meeting, John called any number of people and finally found someone near Buffalo who runs a deer sanctuary and would take the fawn.  So after my meeting the fawn and I drove to Batavia and met a nice young woman who took her, assuring me I had done the right thing.

I don't know if I did or not.  Someone we had tried to reach through our dogs' vet called later in the day and scolded me because her mother could have been around or coming back.  I hope not. I hope I guessed right.

I am haunted by "Let nature take its course," as if that is always the right thing to do.  "Nature" is as beautiful and cruel as the day is long.  I have trouble treating it as if it were a sentient being.  I neither worship nor take my marching orders from "Nature," I worship and take my marching orders from God.  But, of course, even all that sounds simpler than it is.

I know that of all things I am most sentimental about animals, and sentimentality can get us (and the object of our sentimentality) in a heap of trouble.  I hope I did the right thing. I suppose that's the most you can do most days.

I'll take solace from St. Catherine of Siena:  "The reason why God's servant love God's creatures so deeply is that they realize how deeply Christ loves them. And it is the very character of love to love what is loved by those we love."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Two Saints Health Survey

This morning (Sunday, May 20, 2012), the paper version of a parish health survey was distributed during both coffee hours. If you were not there, please take a few moments to take the online version.

Below is an introduction written by Carter Williams....

In this effort to listen to all of us at Two Saints about what our health concerns and hopes are, we are doing something that was a cardinal rule with Frank. He approached others with the aim of finding what they wanted. Then his advice and help would be directed toward achieving their goals. This meant he wanted first to listen. (I wasn’t always so good at listening and on occasion he reminded me to hush, and listen to the other person.)  
After Frank’s memorial service, a friend who had been the ombudsman (resident advocate) at Monroe Community Hospital, made a point of telling me about Frank’s role in a conference that occurred when one of the residents wanted to go home. Those who were caring for her -- nurses, physical therapist and others -- felt that she could not manage at home, and listed all their reasons. It was an impressive list of all they felt she was incapable of doing. But the woman was convinced that she could live at home because of the services she could arrange, and Frank, who was then Medical Director of the hospital, said quietly and firmly that in his opinion it was perfectly possible for the woman could go home, and that was what happened. He had listened to the person. His knowledge of community resources and her fervent words, resulted in a can-do decision.
He would be hugely interested in what you say today. He would be listening intently, believing that you are the authority on your own health needs, both curative and preventive. He would be confident that together we could figure out a health-promoting plan that would serve us well.

Friday, April 27, 2012

May Newsletter

may newsletter thumbnail
The electronic version of The Word From Two Saints for May 2012 is now available and can be viewed by clicking the links below...

If you signed up to receive the parish newsletter electronically, remember that you will not receive a paper copy by mail; so please take a few moments to read the online version.