The Proof of Easter: A Reflection for the Second Week of Easter

The glory of Easter Day is beyond description.  Perfect music.  Perfect liturgy.  Perfect sermon.  Perfect flowers.  Perfect vestments.  Perfectly full church.  Perfect.  The second Sunday of Easter, though, is the opposite of perfect.  All the perfect is gone.  Still, that’s where the proof of it all is. 

The story for the second Sunday of Easter is about the apostle we usually call Doubting Thomas.  He is the one who demanded proof. 

A Reflection for Easter: Gloria in Excelsis

I attended a glorious Easter Day celebration at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.  It was full to overflowing.  The music was outstanding.  Judy Collins sang.  Paul Winter played.  A thought-provoking sermon was preached.  The body and blood of Christ were received. 

All of that, to tell you the truth, I expected, although it may actually have exceeded my already high expectations.  And although those things hinted at the glory of Jesus’ triumph over death, the full glory of Easter came for me in the procession at the beginning of the service.

Maybe the Arc of the Moral Universe Isn’t an Arc at All: A Reflection for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is credited (perhaps incorrectly) with the words “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”  I have begun to wonder if he was right.  I look around and see a growing disparity between rich and poor.  I see racist language, which I thought was long since discarded, reappear.  And this week, I am disheartened to note that no less than the President of the United States referred to whole countries of non-white people as shitholes.  We seem to be taking steps backward, giant ones.  I am no longer so sure that the arc of the moral universe does indeed bend toward justice.  In fact, it seems to me we’ve been bending toward a different direction altogether.   

It’s All in the Name: A Reflection for the Feasts of the Holy Name, Epiphany, and Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ

In my journey into grandparenting I’m learning all the things that are new since I became a parent.  When we came along infants slept on their stomachs.  Now its strictly on their backs.  Swaddling is the order of the day.  Not for us as new parents.  The cutest difference, though, is the “gender reveal,” the big announcement, often accompanied by a party, of the to-be baby’s gender and name.  

Since family was scattered all over the place, my son and daughter-in-law came up with a video gender reveal on the afternoon they found out from the doctor.  My son had his gray Converses on the coffee table.  My daughter-in-law had her pink ones at the other end.  In the middle was an unopened box and a balloon question mark.  With great fanfare they opened the box to reveal a tiny pink pair of Converses and then introduced us to Sophie Lynn Sauls.  

In the Midst of Death; In the Midst of Life: An Advent Reflection

These weeks leading up to Advent have been difficult ones for me on a personal level.  Death has intervened in these last days.

A few weeks ago, a dear friend, the wife of one of my closest bishop friends, was taken to the hospital in critical condition.  She had been ill for some time.  Still, this development took us all be surprise.  She lingered at the door between life and death for nearly two weeks, finally entering eternity in what I’m certain was an act of courage and compassion for her family the day before Thanksgiving.  God grant you peace, Anne.

Thankfulness Must Act: A Reflection for Thanksgiving Day

My college chaplain, who was a moral giant, once wrote a column for the newspaper about Thanksgiving.  I have always admired it.  In it he observed the obscenity of celebrating a feat of thankfulness in a world where people were starving for the lack of the very thing for which we were giving thanks.  I thought he made a lot of moral sense.  Not everyone took to his prophetic words happily.  I remember one student, amidst with tears, complaining that he had ruined Thanksgiving that year.

A Reflection for All Saints

It is the week of All Saints.  All Hallows’ Eve is Tuesday.  All Saints’ Day is Wednesday.  All Souls’ Day is Thursday.  Most of us will celebrate on Sunday.  It began for me, though, when Sophie Lynn Sauls, child of God and Ginger’s and my first grandchild, made her anxiously-awaited entrance into the world yesterday. 

In Anglican tradition All Saints Day is properly a baptismal day.  With that in mind and with loving thoughts of the entry of this new saint into the world, I share with you a poem a good friend shared with me on the day of Sophie’s birth.

Waiting for Sophie: A Reflection for the Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost

Shortly before I left for a planned trip for a trip to see my son Andrew and daughter-in-law Jessica in Lexington last Wednesday, I received some very welcome news.  My wife Ginger, who was already in Lexington, called to say that Jessica was in labor.  I literally wept at the thought that the long-awaited granddaughter might be there by the time I landed or at least soon afterward.  Not yet it turns out.  False alarm. 

So we continue to wait.  It is hard on Ginger and me, but it is a thousand times harder on Jessica and Andrew.  Waiting.  Patience.  These are things I’ve never been good at.  Sophie is already teaching me to see them in a new way.  For one thing, I have come to see Moses in a new way.

Jeanne and Unexpected Messiahs: A Reflection for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

I like it when my cousin Jeanne comes to visit.  She is an awfully creative person to begin with, and New York brings it out gloriously.  Just to wake up in New York gets the creative juices flowing, and it is awfully fun to watch her get excited about all the city has to offer.  You can just see it all stirring inside her from morning to night, breathing it all in.

Not surprisingly, Jeanne loves New York, too.  But she does not love the subway.  She is from a small town.  It is a small down where both she and I learned Southern manners, things like always standing and offering your seat to a lady.  It was also a small town where just coming to New York at all is considered a dangerous enough thing to do without going down into the ground with God knows who to catch a train heading off into a tunnel.  In fact, before we moved here, Jeanne avoided the subway altogether, opting instead for cabs and an occasional bus.  Since coming to visit us, though, Jeanne has ventured, albeit somewhat reluctantly, into the subway.  After all, her New York cousin knows the ropes.

Understanding Idolatry: A Reflection for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

I grew up being taught that Catholics were idolatrous.  Why?  Because they had statues in their churches.  That was enough.  To tell you the truth, I think it was mostly a defense mechanism to being in the religious minority, Methodist in an overwhelmingly Catholic community.  Methodists do not have statues in their churches.   

And then, lo and behold, I became an idolater, too, at least partly.  I became an Episcopalian, which seemed to my family an awful lot like Catholic.  It is not even uncommon to find statues in our churches.  I think my family had to resort to distinguishing between statuary in good taste (by which they meant English in nature) and statuary in poor taste (by which they meant inexpensive).