Fr. John's Blog

Posted on February 27th, 2019

The Porsche

A primer green fender, a faux snakeskin roof, a dented usable passenger door, a FM/cassette tape adapter mounted to the bottom of the dashboard, a cheap seat cover hiding the spent upholstery and an off brown/tan exterior does not sound like a Porsche, but that was her name. The list of auto infirmities is much longer, but you get the point that this 1974 Duster that my twin brother and I drove during high school was quite the status symbol.  The car was given the nickname, “The Porsche” as an ironic description but one that stuck and was well known, even said with great seriousness and solemnity.

To be fair, the Porsche did everything we needed it to do. It got us to school, practices and parties. The Porsche also gave us confidence that if we had a date, then we felt sure that she actually liked us because the car was far from attractive or fast or cool. One’s date had to get in the driver side, slide across the ragged seat cover, avoid dislocating one’s kneecap on the FM/cassette adapter all in making there way to the passenger side. 

Yet, the Porsche served us well and we did our best to treat it well. We washed it regular as though that would help anything, we changed the oil and acted as though it was just another car.  When we went to college, my mother traded it in and received $200 for it which seemed like a great deal to us.

Here, I acknowledge, that to have any car was a privilege not enjoyed by many people. So, I speak from a privileged place, but one in which the Porsche did not measure up to any expectation of a self-centered and very self-conscious teenager.

The Porsche was a mess, but given only one choice, I cherished the car and the freedom provided by having it. At some point, I realized that the nickname given was perfect and that I would embrace the responsibilities of driving the Porsche accepting all the faults, quirks and eccentricities that came with the car. After all, none of my friends’ cars had such elite and prestigious monikers. 

I suspect that we can all long and wish for a world that is not our reality. We can spend countless thoughts wondering how things might be better, cooler and more acceptable. Or we can acknowledge the imperfections of our lives and our world with a commitment to live them as they are.  Brokenness and imperfection have value for they are the windows by which the fresh air of grace enters our hearts. Brokenness and imperfection serve us well when we allow our lives to be formed from them, not because of them.  Brokenness and imperfection are not faults that keep us from growing, but places where bridges of transformation, healing and reconciliation can lead us to be more loving, more forgiving and more giving.

The Porsche was far from perfect. I am not perfect. The church is not perfect. We are, however, given a name that is called by Jesus.  Despite our faults and our failures, that name, Beloved, has integrity and purpose.  The loving God knows our dents and our quirks, yet consistently loves us as we are and as we are becoming.  Embrace the life given to you by God and invite others to journey with you. Just tell them to watch their knees. 

Peace, John+

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Posted on February 4th, 2019

State of the Union (with each other and with God)

Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Philippians 2:1-8

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.

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Posted on January 14th, 2019

My Profile Photos

Seeing your Facebook profile “then” and “now” photos has been fun and sometimes humorous.  I suspect that in posting them, folks have reflected on those 10 years. While I have not participated, I have found myself thinking about the last 10 years, and for that I appreciate the trend.

I wish that I could post the photos of all the people over the last 10 years that have influenced my life. I would post those with whom I have had disagreements for they approached the conflict with sincerity, and most often, with love. I would include those who have called me to be a better and healthier person; those who forced me to examine my life, my actions, my words and my attitudes.  I would include those that have died who shared a part of their lives with me.  I would include those who have picked me up and dusted me off when I have fallen; those who encouraged me to just show up when I didn’t want to.  I would include those who have forgiven me when forgiveness was hard; those who transformed my humiliation into grace-filled new life.  I would include those strangers who became friends, and those who have inspired from afar. I would include some giants of faith and some whose questions and doubts offered wisdom and inspiration. I would include those with calloused and dirty hands by whose labor and toil, my life was made more convenient and comfortable. I would include the vulnerable and the weak who had the courage to ask me for what they need, for they have taught me empathy and compassion.  And I would include those whom I have loved and those that have loved me; for whatever reason deservedly or not.

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Posted on November 7th, 2018

The Mission of the Church

The Mission of the Church

The Catechism (An Outline of the Faith, BCP pp. 845-862) in The Book of Common Prayer instructs us as to the mission of the Church. 

Q.  What is the mission of the Church?

A.  The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.

Q.  How does the Church pursue its mission?

A.  The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.

Q.  Through whom does the Church carry out its mission?

A.  The church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.

The mission of the church, and thus, the ministry to which all of us are expected to practice daily is timeless.  We are not called to seek unity with each other and with God now that a chaotic and rhetorically distasteful election is over. We are not called to the mission of the Church now that we enter the stewardship campaign at Holy Apostles. We are not called to the mission of the Church now that we anticipate Advent and Christmas.

The mission of the Church demands a way of life that is lived every day.  To say it demands this life of us may evoke resistance, because we do not, at least I do not, always respond well to demands. Yet, the alternative taken as an option is disunity with each other and disunity with the life God has imagined for us. To consider the mission of the Church as optional is to assert that the Gospel is irrelevant, and that justice, peace and love of neighbor has been achieved.  The demand is necessary as our human will always wrestles with tepid participation and limited commitment in embracing and following Jesus’ way of life.

The result of unity with each other and with God may be quite obvious: the end of civil strife; the absence of violence in all forms; prejudice, bigotry and hatred replaced by compassion and love; suspicion overcome by empathy; and the ability for each of us to see the face of God in every person.  Ideally, the mission of the Church is not to address or fix societal and theological problems, but to eliminate them with the love of God in Christ which is what unifies us.  We might be amazed at the power of love when love is given a fighting chance. Good deeds and good works are necessary, but they lack their full power when they are done absent the goal of those actions being unity with every person and God.

The restoration of unity with God and each other in Christ is non-negotiable for us as disciples.  While many organizations offer loving and compassion support for worthy causes, the mission of the Church is unique in reaching for the desperately idealistic goal of unity with each other.  To be certain, we will struggle to accomplish the mission. All kinds of stumbling blocks will be present themselves, and the perseverance of our faithfulness will be called into question. Yet, I believe in the mission, and I will continually invite us to strive to fulfill it. 

I hope you will join your brothers and sisters at Holy Apostles and throughout the church in committing again to our mission. This video went viral this week and seems relevant to this purpose.

https://youtu.be/PxESwegK7mo

Peace,

John+

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Posted on May 16th, 2018

The Episcopal Church and Celebrity

To say that the Episcopal Church is enjoying free publicity would be true, but would miss the greater point.  

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