Several years ago I noticed a trend in our country. It was April, and in the church we were celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. In our country, however, cries of grief and anger followed the sounds of violence that had erupted in some locations.
That particular year saw the massacre at Virginia Tech. I checked some history, and found that April also included Columbine, Oklahoma City, and several other acts of terrorism. I remarked to my congregation that it seemed that evil was working overtime to counter our proclamation of new life and resurrection.
click here to continue reading at our April Epistle
We’ve all heard the phrase “got lost in the translation.” We’re usually referring to words or phrases whose meaning do not have a precise corollary in our own language. Holy Scripture is filled with words like that, and an annotated translation will often indicate this with a footnote stating “original unclear,” whether it’s Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. Sometimes even the sound of the original language helps to understand the term, and that definitely gets lost in translation.
We have familiar words and phrases that mean something completely different in our usage than they did way back then. For instance, the word hosanna most often sounds like a “yay God” moment in the way we use it. But the Hebrew word comes from Psalm 118:25 in its most familiar passage: “Hosanna! Send us success” is what we’ll read on Palm Sunday. The original meaning, however, is “save us, we beseech you, O Lord.” When translations were made into Greek, then Latin and English, the translators used words they thought were implied because they didn’t know the original meaning… . . . .”
click here to continue reading at our March Epistle
I think that many of us had hoped for a kindler, gentler year after 2020 finally ended. If Janu-ary is any indication, buckle up. It could be a bumpy ride. In light of that, I want to address briefly some of the back story of current events, especially since part of it seems to be based on theological issues.
When the Puritans set sail on the Mayflower, a minister preached a sermon before they de-parted where he mentioned building “a shining city on a hill.” That was their imagined purpose. We are taught that they came seeking religious freedom, but that came after the Puritans gained control of England, beheaded King Charles I, and Oliver Cromwell became head of state. One of their complaints was that the Church of England resembled too much of the Roman Catholic Church by burning candles, wearing vestments, and so on.. . . . .”
click here to continue reading at our February Epistle
As I write this, Christmas dinner is in the oven. In between preparing different parts of my meal, I’ve done a few loads of laundry, emptied the dishwasher and washed a few oth-er dishes as I finished with them. The sun has set, and all-in-all it’s been a fairly quiet day in the neighborhood. The neighborhood cat that seems to live on my front porch is doing okay, as long as I replace the ice in its bowl with water. It won’t let me get close enough to touch it, and it’s so jumpy I’ve named him or her “Spazz.”
Spazz has seemingly had a rough life or two. There are scars, no doubt from some of the other neighborhood cats that don’t seem to play well together. And its tail is about an inch or two shorter than normal. Today, it’s bitterly cold and windy, and Spazz has huddled into the padded shelter I placed under a chair several weeks ago. That and the regular help-ings of cat food seem to have helped Spazz feel right at home. All God’s critters need a help-ing hand now and then. And I’ve noticed that the distance he or she keeps from me isn’t as great as it once was.
click here to continue reading at our January Epistle
Here we go again. It’s December, and we could see it coming as leaves turn brown and fall to the ground. The cold winds from the northwest arrive and blow all those leaves to Piqua, unless they get caught in our basement stairwell. Folks start talking about holidays, and try to decide whether or how to have them safely. Frenzied shoppers try to do too much in a short time, making it dangerous to walk to your vehicle in any parking lot.
In the church, December is mostly dedicated to the Advent season. Our consumer mentality has led many to work as if that means getting ready for Christmas. But the truth of the matter is that Advent only turns toward the first coming of Jesus during those final few days, with the fourth Sunday. The others try, often without effect, to orient us toward looking for how Jesus comes to us both now and in the future.”
click here to continue reading at our December Epistle
It’s November again. Traditionally, we would be talking about holiday plans, looking at sale brochures, planning menus, and all that. While some of that may be happening, it seems more likely that our traditions are being upended this year, and we’re looking more at non-traditional ways of observing the time.
Big family gatherings may be postponed with a “we’ll try again next year” response. But, as holidays tend to do, let’s take a look instead at some of the ways we might refocus our attention, and find meaning in what we can do rather than lament what we can’t do.. . . . .”
click here to continue reading at our November Epistle
Our bishop has approved our return to the celebration of Holy Eucharist on October 18. At that time, it will have been just over seven months since we last joined together in this liturgy. On that date, we will once again vest the altar and place flowers on the reredos. And, in order to maintain some degree of safety, a few changes will be necessary in how we celebrate and receive Holy Communion.
We will continue to receive offerings as we have over the past several months. Offering plates will be on tables near the entrances to the nave. This means that the communion offerings of bread and wine will be on placed on the Credence table be-fore the service begins, and will not be brought forward at the Offertory. And, for the time being, the prayers and responses dur-ing the Great Thanksgiving will be spoken. We may learn some of the older chants in the hymnal to facilitate singing responses without an accompanist. . . . .”
click here to continue reading at our October Epistle
Shortly before the service began on Sunday, August 9, I learned that my father had died. I visited him on the Friday before, and knew it was just a matter of time as I listened to how my Mom was processing his impending death. But it was still a bit of a shock, as I learned about Dad’s death while attaching my iPad to a tripod to stream the morning service. The notification appeared as I put the iPad in its holder.
I write this as I’m also working on planning Dad’s funeral service. It will be a short, graveside service outside Charleston, West Virginia, and I will officiate. I have enough of the stoic in me to make it through, something I learned from my dad. Actually, the point on Sunday where I had to stop talking for a moment came during the Prayer of Confession, where we say “Forgive, restore, and strengthen us, that we may abide in your love . . . .”
click here to continue reading at our September Epistle
Is it really August already? Although the thermometer has been telling us it feels like August for several weeks, many of the usual events that occupy Summer months have not happened. It feels like we’re in a holding pattern, much like sitting on an airplane that arrived at an unscheduled time, waiting for an open jetway.
There hasn’t been a lot of that, either, as air travel is greatly diminished during what some Episcopalians have dubbed Covidtide. But the calendar tells us it’s August, so we’ll go with that and keep moving ahead.
click here to continue reading at our August Epistle
GOING FORWARD TO NORMAL
We usually ask when things are going to get back to normal. As we have been hearing, back is most likely the wrong direction. That’s nothing new. Even Jesus said something about not looking over our shoulders to find the kingdom of God.
For the time being, we will continue to use Morning Prayer on Sundays. While investigations are ongoing to find ways to make the celebration of Holy Eucharist a safe place again, so far nothing seems to fit the requirements. New cases of COVID-19 hold steady in Darke County at between one to three a day, with active cases ranging from 50-55. We’ve read announcements about local events being canceled, and it remains to be seen whether the fall football season will occur
click here to continue reading at our July Epistle
COMING HOME AGAIN
Do you remember the first time you left your family home for an extended period, and then after several weeks, maybe months or years, you returned? My first such time was when I went away to graduate school in 1979. I commuted to college for four years, then was admitted to a program in New Jersey. All I knew about New Jersey at that time was that my mom’s sister married a man from there, and it took us quite a while to understand him because he talked so fast.
Anyway, we had a Fall break, which was when the school choirs toured and performed. I wasn’t in a choir that semester, so I drove back to West Virginia on the Monday of break week. It was a cloudy, rainy October day, until I began climbing the hill that stood at the border between Maryland and West Virginia. As I passed under the welcome sign that marked the border, the clouds parted and the sun shone on the other side of the mountain. I smile now, but that really did happen.
click here to continue reading at our June Epistle
The Church Picnic, originally slated for Sunday, June 14, has been postponed. We will try to reschedule it for early Fall.
There’s an old joke you’ll probably recognize. “How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer: “Change?” There are a lot of variations to it, but the premise remains the same. As a group, we’re resistant to change.
When you think about it, it seems a bit odd. The only real constant in life is that it constantly changes. Sure, we have our habits, and we repeat a lot of things without really thinking about them. But insert a slight change, and suddenly everything seems different.
click here to continue reading at our May Epistle