Bishop Ed's Last Connection...
I love the season of Advent. Advent oozes with promises of adventure, new beginnings and the hope of great expectations soon to be fulfilled.
Charles Dickens penultimate novel featuring the heroic Pip is entitled “Great Expectations.” Pip is a rambunctious character whose grand expectations vacillate between fantasy and spot on reality. His journey is a roller coaster ride of dreams realized and dashed. In the end Pip ends up a nobler and better person for all of his persistent ups and downs; but his life’s adventure ends up in a very different place than his original “great expectation” envisioned.
And so it is with life. And so it is with the Kingdom of God. Fundamentalists who describe in precise and no uncertain detail what God’s Kingdom will look like and when it will come, scare me. Jesus coaches us to not try to know the time or the hour of the final coming of the kingdom (Mark 13:28-37).
A new day awaits the Diocese of Eau Claire. As Advent moves to Christmas, Epiphany and then on into Lent - you will ordain a seasoned and proven pastoral leader as your next bishop. Together you will begin your next great adventure as you launch into the Easter season – a season that gives resurrected reality to anticipated expectations.
You cannot know what the new diocese will look like. But what you can do is to continue to faithfully believe and trust in its continuing life-giving evolution.
The collect for the first Sunday in Advent gives good advice for this advent time of expectation. We begin Advent praying that we might “put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life.…” And then on the second Sunday of Advent you will read from the Book of Baruck: “Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God; put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting; for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven.”
Put away past attitudes of dismay and hopelessness. Put on the Gospel attitude of hopeful expectation. What you focus on will become your reality.
As you begin to live into yet another new expectation for your life’s journey, know that I will be praying expectantly that you will ever continue to be a sign of new hope to our needy world.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8
Bishop Provisional’s report to the 84th Convention
of the Diocese of Eau Claire
1. A primary thrust of the ministry that you have called me to this year has been to help prepare the Diocese live into 2011’s “Option One” – the option that called for the search of a part time bishop to guide the Diocese into becoming a Y.E.S. community that would model a new way of being a “small and alive” Diocese. To that end I called for the election of a new bishop, I worked with the Standing Committee and Executive Council to streamline our Diocesan canon 8 on the calling of a bishop, and I helped to connect the newly elected Search Committee with a search consultant, the Rev. Dr. Rob Voyle.
2. Working with our LIFT task force, we discerned a need and a theme and called the Rev. Dr. Ken Howard to lead the Diocese’s first Vision Conference which we called Starting Fresh. The spirited May conference drew over one hundred participants with representation from almost all of our congregations. Again, working with LIFT, we collaborated to have an orientation gathering in September for introducing a caring ministry called BeFrienders to the Diocese. Consequent to that gathering, a Befriender training work shop has been set up to take place at Christ Church Cathedral on February 20-24, 2013.
3. In July we welcomed our Presiding Bishop the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Shori for a three day whirlwind interaction and celebration with our Diocese. This jam-packed tour came right on the heels of a Triennial Convention in Indianapolis which gave birth to a historic initiative to restructure the Episcopal Church.
Other events worth noting are:
1. At the end of November, I will have again visited every congregation in the Diocese.
2. Work with The Rev. Derek Washington in initiating an emergent faith community in the River Falls/St. Croix Valley area.
3. Steven Burns was licensed to be the Diocese’s first canonically authorized lay preacher at St. Alban’s the Martyr in Superior.
4. Diocesan revenues exceeded expenses through November of this year.
5. I have continued to manage our Diocesan web page. Drew Lorenz from Grace Church Menomonie has begun to share some of this work in preparation for my leaving the Diocese in 2013. Drew also has given the Diocese a Facebook address.
6. Clergy Days have continued to be held at Christ Church Cathedral.
7. The re-opened Spring/Summer/Fall Christ Church Chapel has continued to grow and flourish in Bayfield.
8. I have worked with Dean Michael Greene and Missy Stepanek to work on a grant proposal for new and expanded family outreach ministry in the Wilson Building at Christ Church Cathedral.
9. The Hispanic ministry at Lugar de Reunion in Sparta continues to flourish and expand.
10. My work schedule was adjusted from one-third to one-quarter time to accommodate my need to spend more time with my family and “practice retirement.”
11. Our Diocesan financial clerk resigned, and our treasurer Bob Allen took on this ministry as a volunteer. Bob will conclude his work as Diocesan treasurer at the end of this year.
12. Our beloved Diocesan Archdeacon and Administrator, The Rev. Jeanne Stout retired in September after serving the Diocese so faithfully for over 20 years.
13. The Standing Committee interviewed and subsequently called seminary graduate Aaron Zook to be our temporary Administrator beginning in October. This call is conditioned on the desires of our next bishop and on other congregational work that Aaron may be called to in 2013.
14. St. Margaret’s Church in Park Falls was closed in January.
15. Other clergy changes:
a. The Rev. Ellie Michaud was installed as Priest in Charge of Christ Church, Chippewa Falls.
b. The Rev. Vern Barber was installed as Priest in Charge of St. Thomas and St. John in New Richmond.
c. The Rev. Derek Washington was called (per resolution of Diocesan Convention) by the standing Committee to initiate an emergent faith community ministry in River Falls, which has been named Anam Cara.
d. The Venerable Archdeacon Jeanne Stout retired as Diocesan Administrator and Deacon at St. Alban’s, Spooner.
e. The Very Rev. Bob Rodgers retired as Priest in Charge of St. Alban’s, Spooner and St. Luke’s, Springbrook.
f. The Very Rev. Dale Klitzke retired as Priest in Charge of Grace Church, Menomonie.
g. Aaron Zook was called to be Pastor in Charge of St. Alban’s, Spooner and St. Luke’s, Springbrook.
h. The Very Rev’s Guy Usher and Art Hancock have accepted my invitation to become the Deans of The Central and Northern Convocations respectively.
i. The Rev. Nick Hill retired as Priest in Charge of St. Alban the Martyr, Superior
j. The Venerable Archdeacon Jim Wilson died, October 30, 2012.
k. Ms. Bebe Dwyer and Mr. Aaron Zook are to be ordained as Transitional Deacons at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday, December 15th at 11am.
2012 has been a full year with outcomes closely matching expectations. I am deeply grateful for the clergy, wardens, deputies, committee chairs, and for all of you who have worked so hard to give hope, vision and energy to our Diocese’s future life and ministry.
While much has been done these past two and a half years, there is obviously a great deal to be done. This new leg of the Diocese’s journey has only just begun. My love and prayers remain with you as you continue the adventure with your next bishop.
Thank you for the privilege and joy of ministering with you these past years. You have given much to me, and I am a better bishop and a better person for having been a part of your lives. As I now become a retired cleric in the neighboring Diocese of Milwaukee, I will continue to watch and pray with and for you in the years ahead. May God continue to richly bless your creative endeavors, struggles and dreams.
I end this report with this Franciscan prayer benediction which I have often prayed with you:
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
And the Blessing of God who Creates, Redeems and Sanctifies, be with you and all you love and pray for this and forever more.
Submitted by The Rt. Rev. Dr. Ed Leidel, Jr.
Fueling the “Higgs Boson Field” in Eau Claire
Last July a momentous scientific announcement was made about the existence of a subatomic particle called the Higgs Boson. The collision of billions of protons traveling in different directions in the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland finally produced visible (cloud chamber) evidence that the illusive Higgs Boson, which had been mathematically predicted, actually exists.
The reason that this discovery is important is that it begins to help us understand how energy can turn into matter. Physicists tell us that without the Higgs Boson there would be no mass or physical universe.
To my theologically attuned ears, that sounded familiar. Now, I know that theology and physics are two very different fields of study. Science tends to concern itself with the “what” and “how” of things; while theology tends to focus on the “why” or meaning of things. Science talks about the Big Bang of creation; theology talks about how creation began out of nothing (ex nihilo creation). Science talks about the Higgs Boson Field as a necessary ingredient for the Big Bang; theology talks about an ever and everywhere Presence that it calls God, who is the Creator of all things.
My point is not to equate the Higgs Boson with God (that would be like equating history with philosophy), my point is that in life, as in physics and theology...
... nothing just happens - there is always causality or intentionality.
Google “intentionality and creation” and you will get a huge list of references.
In sports there is something we call “home advantage.” The enthusiastic intentionality of the fans favorably affects the outcome of the home team’s game anywhere from 55 to 70% according to sport’s statisticians. Studies (to say nothing of personal experience) have shown that the intentionality of prayer has beneficial consequences. Even neuroscience and quantum physics now show causal connections between intention and result.
So, what are the implications of this to us and to our congregations and Diocese? I see two implications.
1. Your prayers for our upcoming bishop election are hugely important. Prayer effects the pray-er as well as what is prayed for. Pray that God’s Will - will be done. Pray that we may all come to have a common mind. Pray for the well-being of our candidates. Pray for a healthy transition process. Pray for our Convention’s elected deputies.
2. Believe in the good and necessary future of this Diocese. Continue to believe that we are a Diocese that is “small and alive.” Have confidence in the positive work you have done these past three years in rebuilding the Diocese. Share your affirming beliefs and confidence with others. Act on your beliefs and good intentions.
Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose a bishop for this Diocese, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; and bless the future ministry of this Diocese as our new bishop and people work together to further your mission; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
“Americans, even those of modest means, exercise more choices in a single day than some of our ancestors did in a month or perhaps even a year. From the moment we awaken, we are bombarded with choices – from what flavor of coffee to get at our favorite coffee shop, to flipping on any one of a hundred television stations as we ready the children for school, to getting our news in print, online, or via a mobile device, to what sort of spinach to buy to go with dinner (local, organic, fresh, frozen, chopped, whole leaf, bagged or bunched).”
Making good choices is an important civic and spiritual responsibility. Good choices can be life-giving; bad choices, life-taking. Today we seem to have less time to discern the value and consequences of our decisions. During the recent presidential primaries, I hear some news pundits referring to the electorate as “under-informed” and seemingly unconcerned with facts.
This November we will choose a new president for our nation and a new bishop for our Diocese. What will we base our choices on? The presidential debates and the Diocesan walk-a-bout of our episcopal candidates on October 7-12 will certainly be helpful.
Recent neuroscience of the brain indicates that we tend to use the reptilian (unconscious) part of our brain over the rational (conscious) part of our brain in most of our decision making. That flies in the face of our Anglican emphasis of reason for discernment. More research data indicates that we tend to base our decisions more on immediate short-term verses long-term consequences. There is also much data (facts) to indicate that we tend to only listen to information that agrees with our preconceived notions. These tendencies are certainly related to the new “fast and furious” kind of world in which we find ourselves today.
So, how can we adapt to become wiser, more discriminating choice makers? Last month I attended a Wisconsin Council of Churches workshop entitled, “A Season of Civility” which was based on Healing the Heart of America, a recent book by Madison author Parker Palmer. The premise of the book is hardly new; namely, it argues that diversity and pluralism are spiritually and civically healthy. Contrariwise; narrow, doctrinaire “isms” divide and ignore all reality outside of their pedant vision. As Anglicanism has always championed diversity; so too has American political history championed freedom of thought and a “check and balance” form of government. Welcoming the stranger (symbol of difference) is a pillar theological principle of our Abrahamic Scripture.
Palmer calls for us to adopt five (again, not new) “habits of the heart” as a corrective to our tendency to “shoot from the hip” in our choice and judge making processes. They are, work at increasing our…
1. …understanding that we are all in this together.
2. …appreciation of the value of “otherness.”
3. …ability to hold tension in life-giving ways.
4. …sense of personal choice and agency.
5. …capacity to create community.
If anyone is interested, I have a guide for starting a study/action circle based on Palmers five habits of the heart. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a .pdf file of the guide. This along with Palmer’s book would make an excellent Advent Study.
Episcopal author Diana Butler Bass has convincingly proposed that we are in a new Great American Awakening. We are in a time of “the beginning of the end,” and of “the end of the beginning.” I firmly believe in and will try to more consciously practice Palmer’s five habits. Perhaps if we do this together we can be heralds of the beginnings that Bass speaks of so eloquently.
August, 2012 Letter
Dear Diocesan Family,What a joy it was to have our Presiding Bishop with us last month. I just received a note from Bishop Katharine expressing her joy and gratitude for the hospitality that you all gave to her. She was clearly impressed at the creative resurgence that is going on in the Diocese. In fact, she told me that she has alerted her Communications Team to do a story on some of our Hispanic mission work sometime in the future.
Most especially, I want to express my gratitude for all of you for the work you did in preparing for the Presiding Bishop’s visit. In particular, I thank the people of Christ Church Cathedral; Christ Church, La Crosse and of St. John’s Sparta for their exceptional hospitality. And special thanks to Fr. Bob Rodgers for arranging the Bus from the North.
This summer is proving to be a time of clergy transitions. As previously noted Fr. Dale Klitzke and Archdeacon Jeanne are taking a much deserved retirement and moving outside of the Diocese to be closer to family. I have now just received notification from Fr. Rodgers of his retirement plan to move to Green Bay to be closer to family, effective September 1 of this year. What a blessing these three diocesan leaders have been to us over the years. We thank you for your devoted ministries and wish you many blessings as you venture forth into the next episode of your life’s journey. We hope to have all three of you present at our November Convention where we can sing your praises more personally and properly send you off to your new digs.
A summer reflection while traveling…
This past month I have been reading Parker Palmer’s in Healing the Heart of Democracy (Jossey-Bass, 2011) in preparation for a Wisconsin Council of Church’s Season of Civility work shop. Palmer reports on a friend’s observation of restored prairie during a drive through southern Minnesota. He contrasts the island of windblown grasses and wildflowers to the growing uniformity of agribusiness:
“There are more than one hundred fifty species of plants on this prairie – to say nothing of the insects, birds, and mammals they attract – just as there were before we first broke the sod and started farming. It’s beautiful of course, but that’s not the whole story. Biodiversity makes an ecosystem more creative, productive, adaptive to change, and resilient in the face of stress. The agribusiness land we’ve been driving through provides us with food and fuel. But we pay a very steep price for this kind of monoculture. It sap’s the earth’s vitality and puts the quality and sustainability of our food supply at risk. The prairie as it once was – a state to which it can be restored – has a lot to teach us about how we need to live.”
Where ever we have moved (and there have been many moves), my wife almost immediately begins to transform our yard into a park-like habitat of wildflowers, diverse bushes and trees, and other innumerable plants. That transformation begins to attract new butterflies and birds. When we move, the thing I miss the most is the unique outside environment that Ira has created. I guess that’s because it feeds my soul, just as it generates a more sustainable eco-environment.
I reflected on this as Ira and I traveled through the rich ecosystems (agricultural and human) of China; where my soul was again fed by the unexpected diversity we experienced. Diversity has a way of being both threatening and enriching. I’m learning to focus on the enriching side. Indeed, the prairie, my wife and the experience of living in diverse cultures have much to teach me about life.
Summer: a Time to Review and Rewire
I love summer: sweet, sweet, warm, relaxing, time to-get-away with family. Summer for me has always been a kind of sabbatical time – a time to let the creative juices flow to re-view and re-wire who I am and where I’m going. Mental health counselors remind us that we desperately need down time to let our brains and bodies reintegrate.
This July will be a kind of reviewing/rewiring time for the Episcopal Church as deputies from our 110 Dioceses gather in Indianapolis for General Convention, and for our Diocese as our Presiding Bishop comes among us (directly after Convention) to preach, celebrate and be in conversation with us about our corporate journey in faith.
This may be a threshold Convention as deputies seriously consider restructuring how we organize ourselves and how we minister. “Mission” and “Sustainability” will be key areas of focus. Our Presiding Bishop, with the support of her staff, is proposing a totally different way to budget our resources. Instead of trying to frantically fund projects and ministries freshly voted on at Convention, she is proposing we designate, up front, where our resources should be invested according to the theological principles of the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission which state the mission of the Christ and Christ’s Church is:
· To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
· To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
· To respond to human need by loving service
· To seek to transform unjust structures of society
· To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
The Presiding Bishop is also proposing that we seriously consider reducing the size our national staff by one-third, and that we sell our hugely expensive New York headquarter building and find a more sustainable location to house our national staff.
In addition to our Presiding Bishop’s initiatives, approximately 30 Diocese (including Eau Claire) have resolutions proposing radical changes to rekindle the Church’s ability to be more sustainable and mission focused. You can see our Eau Claire resolution on our Diocesan Web at http://dioec.sharepoint.com/Pages/GeneralConvention.aspx .
These past two years, you with your Diocesan leadership, have worked hard to re-envision our Diocese as a more sustainable and life-giving community. We have reduced staff size and hours, we have combined our Standing Committee and Executive Counsel into one unified entity, we have begun to use electronic communications more extensively and teleconferencing, we have and continue to nurture new lay ministry opportunities to increase our dependence on mutual priest-lay ministry, and we have begun to raise up part time-ordained ministry as a legitimate and sustainable option to full time ordained ministry.
As we gather with our Presiding Bishop, directly after Convention we will be able to connect our grassroots (diocesan) efforts to be more sustainable and missional, with what our National Church is proposing for a more sustainable and life-giving future. I expect this to an exciting conversation. Together, we are truly reinventing what it means to be the Church in the 21st century.
You will have two opportunities to be in conversation with our Presiding Bishop this July:
1) At Christ Church in La Crosse for a 5:30 pm catered banquet on Saturday, July 7th. Please note you must make a reservation with Christ Church before coming. A free will offering will be taken to cover expenses.
2) At Christ Church Cathedral in Eau Claire at 9:00 am, Sunday, July 8th for an Adult Forum, and at 10am for Festive Eucharist. A coffee hour with refreshment will follow the Eucharist.
Do keep our Presiding Bishop, +Katharine, in your prayers along with our Diocesan Deputies to General Convention.
Almighty and everlasting Father, you have given the Holy Spirit to abide with us forever: Bless, we pray, with his grace and presence, the bishops and the other clergy and the laity here (or now, or soon to be) assembled in your Name, that your Church, being preserved in true faith and godly discipline, may fulfill all the mind of him who loved it andgave himself for it, your Son Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one
God, now and for ever. Amen +Ed
Getting dis-connected can be a painful experience.
My first significantly memorable experience of getting dis-connected occurred when as an eighth grader living in Milwaukee, a friend and I decided to take the interurban train to Chicago to visit the Allied Radio store in Chicago. In those days Allied Radio was akin to today’s Apple stores – a mecca for techy enthusiasts. Up to this point in my life, I had never traveled without my parents beyond Milwaukee. Once in Chicago we had to board the “L” to get to the store. Just as my friend (who knew how to get around the city) boarded the L, the door slammed shut and I was left stranded. “My God,” I thought “I am hopelessly lost!” I began thinking of the Kingston Trio ballad about Charlie who was “Lost on the MTA” forever.
Watching the finale episode of Dancing with the Stars, one could not help from feeling for the wrenching dis-connects that those who were asked to step aside must experience. Jesus talks about the shepherd who is dis-connected from his lost sheep, the woman from her lost coin, and the father from his wayward son. Perhaps the greatest dis-connect is experienced in the death of a loved one.
We live an age of increasing disconnections. A recent survey indicated that compared to 25 years ago, one-third of all Americans have fewer intimate friends today, and one-quarter have no intimate friends at all. Michael Roizen has written in Real Age that men who are happily married, who have a number of good friends and who are active in social groups reduce their “real age” to 46 from their chronological age of 55; and those who do none of these connections, increase their chronological age of 55 to 63.
We were made to be connected to one another. Nic Marcus who wrote the Happiness Manifesto, has said the most essential means to gaining happiness is staying connected to others. In our Prayer Book Catechism, we define the basic ministry of laity, deacons, priests and bishops is to be reconcilers; that is to re-connect ourselves, and others to one another and to God. The most basic of all Christian doctrines is that of atonement; the principle that calls us to work at “at-ONE-ment.” Our present season of Pentecost focuses on the Spirit’s power to unite our diversities. Scripture’s Great Commandment calls us to love one another, especially those who we deem as our enemies.
And yet today we are experiencing powerful forces that are increasing the gaps between the rich and the poor; between progressives and conservatives. Our present re-election campaigns in Wisconsin are a case in point. In a recent TV episode of “What’s On Your Mind,” interviewed Wisconsinites were quoted as saying how they were irreparably disconnected from many of their friends and neighbors because of differing political views. Something is clearly amiss.
Last week thirty-six religious leaders in Wisconsin, including myself and our other Episcopal bishops in Wisconsin, issued a statement called, ACall for a season of Civility. In it we said:
“Politics in a democracy is not a zero-sum game or a winner-take-all contest. Rather, it is a joint effort to reach a workable consensus on how to advance the common good. But our ability to cooperate to solve common problems and achieve shared goals is now undermined by rampant disrespect, disinformation, distrust, and disregard for the interests and ideas of others…. Our congregations must be places where civility is taught and practiced as together we seek to learn what our faith calls us to do and be in the world.”
- The full statement can be found on our Diocesan Web Page.
Staying connected, and getting re-connected is hard work. Good marriages don’t just happen. They require constant nurturing with acts of ongoing kindness and mutual offerings of forgiveness. Raising kids is hard work; just as being a kid in a trusting and open relationship with one’s parents, takes intentionality. In order to maintain one’s line of work and to grow in it, ongoing training in today’s workplace is essential.
Likewise, being a healthy and life-giving citizen in a healthy democracy requires hard work. Discounting, ignoring and demonizing our political opponents minimizes the effectiveness of our precious and vulnerable democracy.
Our Anglican heritage has heralded our task to be a “bridge church,” to be a means to bring separated religious bodies together. Perhaps we can also become a place where political tolerance and respect is taught and practiced. I am working hard on this for myself; I invite you to join the effort.
It’s Seeding Time
I’ve got spring fever. Symptomatic of this passion is the magnetic draw that internet ads for seeds and gardening have on my awareness. Last week I got hooked on one and ordered my very own garden bed from Sears. Ira is our yard’s dominant gardener, so I decided to stake out my own special space to grow - I’m not just sure what yet. The idea of planting, nurturing, growing and harvesting is somehow latent in our DNA. Weren’t we made to do this? My adrenaline is running, and I can’t wait until my garden box arrives.
It’s pure joy just to ponder all the possibilities: new trees, vegetables, flowers. Ira is totally redoing our front yard with new bushes and flowers, so I’m thinking of planting vegies – maybe, tomatoes and asparagus.
What seeds are you yearning to plant this spring?
Of course this idea of seeding and planting has other possibilities. As Mother Earth comes back to life, how can we not but connect the “coming back to life” we are experiencing in our Diocese? As a Y.E.S. people we continue to live into our L.I.F.E. Diocesan Vision Narrative.
What seeds are you yearning to plant into the LIFE of your local congregation?
Perhaps you are thinking of connecting with your local ELCA congregation in doing some new needed ministry in your neighborhood. Or, perhaps you are yearning to bring new vigor to your congregation by doing your own VIVA workshops. Or perhaps you are ready to experiment with lively new ways to do worship and music. Or maybe you are wanting to focus on developing new lay ministry training opportunities to bolster the leadership needs you are experiencing
I have the perfect fertilizer to help you get started on your spring project! I’m talking about our Diocese’s first Vision Gathering at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday, May 19. Author and conference leader, Father Ken Howard working with a team of our own Diocesan leaders is going to lead teams from each of our congregations in a process of discovery; a process to discern just what seeds you need to plant in your congregation. Ken is an inspiring and creative “planter.”
Do you have congregational spring fever? If so, talk to your clergy or warden and join your congregation’s team that will be coming to our May 19th “Starting Fresh” gathering.
I’ll be there to welcome you. Let’s gather and check notes and exchange ideas about the kind of congregational gardens we are planting in our Diocese as we prepare to call a new bishop in November. I wonder what kind of fruit we will harvest.
Don’t you just love spring?
Living in Miraculous Expectation
Fresh asparagus! I love it! It has to be one of God’s greatest creations!
You can talk forever about how good asparagus is. But, the talk is just "talk" until you actually taste asparagus and then know from experience that asparagus really is mouth watering good.
Easter is like that. Talk about "death being swallowed up in the victory of Jesus' Resurrection" is just "talk," until you actually taste, or see, or touch the reality of that basic truth about life.
Naturalist Loren Eiseley in The Judgment of Birds, writes of a time when he suddenly, unexpectantly witnessed an enormous and formidable raven kill and consume a birdling before its helpless parents. Eiseley watched in tortuous agony as dozens of other birds began to gather in instinctive common misery and raise a chaotic complaint. Suddenly, the miracle occurred.
The complaint turned to an awkward silence. There arose a single, hesitant, fluttering but crystal clear note of sweetness. Others joined in a symphonic declaration that burst forth the truth that "life is sweet," and "the sun is beautiful." The birds now "sang because, as birds, they were singers of life and not of death."
Long ago the disciples of Jesus were crushed by the violent intrusion of Crucifixion - just as we today are crushed by death's dark shadows, which are imposed upon us in many forms.
Long ago in the night of the disciple's despair, God wrote new music and lyrics to the song of life and death. Easter’s original "Alleluia" still lingers in the darkness of our Good Fridays, waiting for us to give voice to its notes and words.
Like Eiseley’s amazing birds, let us become the singers of Life. In the midst of this world's starvation for bread and hope, let us come together, empowered by the Risen Christ, and be-come the singers of Life.
Easter is about a new way of living – a new way of expecting. Easter is about living out of an attitude of “miraculous expectation.” Easter gives us permission to bet our life on God’s presence with us in our deepest hungers and in our deepest despairs.
On May 19th approximately 100 of you representing our twenty congregations will gather for a vision conference at our Cathedral to discern where God is present and ministering in our local congregations. We will be in conversation about our miraculous expectations for our future life together. We will be seeking God’s Spirit to empower us to become his “singers of Life.”
For those of you who will not be at the conference, we ask your prayers and your support that God will open our eyes, and give conviction to our hearts to lead the congregations of our reborn diocese with confidence into the new millennium.