Showing posts from December, 2018

Making room for Jesus

Steve Brown, a minister, remembers seeing a car one day while driving home that was the ugliest car he had ever seen. This car wasn't just ugly – it was ugly on top of ugly. The car’s side had a large gash; one of the doors was held together with wire; and several other body parts were almost completely rusted out. The car's muffler was so loose that with every bump, it hit the street, sending sparks flying. He couldn't tell the car’s original color. Rust had eaten away much of the paint, and so lots of the car had been painted over with so many different colors that any one of them (or none of them) could have been the original. Dirt and duct tape seemed to be holding the vehicle together. The most interesting thing about the car was a bumper sticker that read, in capital letters, "THIS IS NOT AN ABANDONED CAR." [1] The meaning of Christmas, this year and every year, is that in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth God sent a message of hope to an ugly, broken, h

Conflict, Advent and Change

A traveler arrived in a small village in the middle of winter to find an old man shivering in the cold outside the synagogue.” What are you doing here?” the traveler inquired. “I'm waiting for the coming of the Messiah.” “That must be an important job,” said the; traveler. “The community must pay you a lot of money.” “No, not at all. They just let me sit here on this bench. Once in a while someone gives me a little food.” “That must be hard. But even if they don't pay you, they must honor you for doing this; important work.” “No, not at all they think that I'm crazy.” “I don't understand. They don't pay you, they don't respect you. You sit in the cold, shivering and hungry. What kind of job is this?” “Well, it's steady work.” (Source unknown) In her 2012 Advent message, the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori, who at the time was serving as Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, asked, "What do you desire most?" Ind

Prayer Book revision and General Convention

Shortly after the Episcopal Church’s triennial General Convention (GC) adjourned this past summer, an Ethical Musings’ reader sent me this opinion on the move by GC to initiate a process to revise the Book of Common Prayer: The TFLPBR (Task Force for Liturgy and Prayer Book Revision) reminds me of the Task Force to Reimagine the Episcopal Church (TREC), which laid an egg and deservedly faded from sight. TFLPBR will take forever to get organized and the debate over its work will be endless. Even if you and I live long lives, there’s a significantly probability that 1979 will remain the official book when we will have passed on. Meanwhile, public worship in TEC is being balkanized across diocesan boundaries (and perhaps within individual dioceses) by experimentation, supplemental liturgies, etc. One has to ask whether GC and the other decision-making apparatus of TEC are utterly dysfunctional. So far, the reader’s predictions seem on target. Furthermore, congregations increa

Advent Preparations that Can Transform Your Life

In 1942, a group of football fans who were U.S. military personnel stationed in Newfoundland took a day of liberty and went fishing off the coast. As they fished, they listened to a radio broadcast of the annual Army/Navy game. Suddenly, they heard a cannon shot and turned to see a German submarine only a few hundred yards away. A German officer and several armed sailors boarded the fishing boat. The officer accused them of searching for subs and angrily declared that the Germans were going to sink the boat. Things had reached a pretty tight impasse when unexpectedly, from the radio, came the excited voice of a sports announcer: "The moment has come! The Navy is taking to the air. The Navy receivers are coming out." That was all the Germans heard. Mistaking a sports broadcast for a Navy transmission, they scurried off the fishing boat, quickly returned to their sub, and submerged. That delightful story is almost certainly apocryphal. A submarine’s best protection is re