Monday, December 24, 2007

A Franciscan Christmas Blessing for Justice & Peace

I've mentioned this blessing of St. Francis before.  Episcopal Suffragan Bishop of Diocese of SE Florida, retired, often uses a part of it in his closing blessing.  I've been fond of Bishop Said for many years. He's such a wonderful preacher and has had a big influence on my life.  St. Mark's was so blessed when we got down to the last 6 weeks before our new rector arrived last Spring and Bishop Frade asked Bishop Said if he would fill in.  Of course, that got me all excited because I'm such a big fan. 
Somebody posted it to an email group in it's entirely. May it bless you as much as it has me.
A Franciscan Christmas Blessing for Justice and Peace
May God bless you with discomfort...  at easy answers, hard hearts,  half-truths ,and superficial relationships.  May God bless you so that you may live  from deep within your heart  where God’s Spirit dwells.  May God bless you with anger...  at injustice, oppression,  and exploitation of people.  May God bless you 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.  May God bless you so that you  may reach out your hand  to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.  And may God bless you with  enough foolishness  to believe that you can make a difference  in this world, in your neighborhood,  so that you will courageously try  what you don't think you can do, but,  in Jesus Christ you'll have all the strength necessary.  May God bless you to fearlessly  speak out about injustice,  unjust laws, corrupt politicians,  unjust and cruel treatment of prisoners,  and senseless wars,  genocides, starvations, and poverty that is so pervasive.  May God bless you that you remember  we are all called  to continue God’s redemptive work  of love and healing  in God’s place, in and through God’s name,  in God’s Spirit, continually creating  and breathing new life and grace  into everything and everyone we touch.  Source: "Troubadour: A Missionary Magazine," published by the Franciscan Missionary Society, Liverpool, UK: Spring 2005.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Christmas Message from Rev. Vincent Scotto, Punta Gorda, FL

The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Punta Gorda, FL
Father Vince

I was tickled when a dear church friend, Keith Duke emailed this Christmas message from Father Vince.  And I just can't blog it without appropriate commentary when it's by somebody who is really special to me.  

I received Father Vince's Christmas message when memories of Christmases past are in my thoughts and on my sleeve as well.

About a year after my mom passed away and about a year before my dad passed on, I was in Punta Gorda visiting my brother, sister-in-law and my dad.  I had invited my dad to go to church with me rather than the Salvation Army in Port Charlotte wherethey transferred to when they moved from St. Petersburg to Punta Gorda.  Dad had never been in an Episcopal Church before.  And my dad's Alzheimer's was rearing it's ugly head since my mom died. Anyway, to make a long story short the prayer bench fell down on my dad's foot and he let out a loud yelp, but let me know he was going to be okay. 

Going out of the church, dad shook Father Vince's hand and told him that the sermon was very good. 

In his kind and and jovial way, Father Vince thanked him.  The lady ass't rector had preached the sermon that Sunday morning.   

My dad constantly practiced the love Father Vince talks about in his Christmas message. Gordon Sr also had a great sense of humor and managed to smile and tell funny stories until the moment he died in the hospital in Port Charlotte in February of 1999.  I was holding one of his hands, my sister the other as we kept saying to dad, "One more breath, just take another one."  He took two more deep breaths, blew them out like a whistle and died with a smile on his face. My dad touched the lives of thousands of people both pre and post Alzheimer's diagnosis.

I hope I can handle my Alzheimers as it progresses with the grace and humor of my dad.

Larry and me went over to Punta Gorda last summer for the 4th of July to visit family and of course we made a point to get to the Church of the Good Shepherd.  It was good to see Father Vince again and sit and visit for a few minutes after the service.

I encourage any reader who visits southwest Florida to consider visiting one of the most beautiful small towns in America and attend services at Church of the Good Shepherd while visiting.

And now, a word from Father Vince:  

Let's give the greatest gift this Christmas season:  the gift of love. 





If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, 

I'm just another decorator. 


If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family,

I'm just another cook. 


If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family,

it profits me nothing. 


If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ,

I have missed the point.


Love stops the cooking to hug the child.  Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.  Love is kind, though harried and tired.  Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.  Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way,

but is thankful they are there to be in the way. 


Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 


Love never fails.  Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but

giving the gift of love will endure.


Merry Christmas and lots of love to you and yours!

The Holy Holy Family: Advent thoughts from Rev. Susan Russell

The Rev. Susan Russell's Advent message was shared with the Integrity News group and on Rev. Susan's wonderful "Inch at a Time" blog.  I like this picture of Rev. Susan because I like her smile.
When searching for a picture of the Holy Family to use for this blog entry, I about gave up.  About 90% of the artwork found reflected a very white Holy Family. They don't look like anybody from the middle east. I was about to settle for a stained glass window depiction, when I came across this lovely painting by Michelangelo. The family looks like the folk from the middle east like they are supposed to.
It is worth sharing:
Holy Family Values
Advent 4A – December 23, 2007 – All Saints Church Isaiah 7:10-16; Matthew 1:18-25
We’re running out of Advent. The season that began a few short weeks ago with “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and the lighting of the first candle on the Advent wreath is drawing to a close. The Christmas cards are sent – mostly; the packages are wrapped – well, some of them, anyway! And this morning -- as we see around us the beginnings of the halls decked with boughs of holly -- we light that fourth and final Advent candle that lights our way to that stable in Bethlehem and Little Lord Jesus Asleep on the Hay. When my boys were little, lighting those Advent candles on the dining room table was a really big deal. I'd like to think it was because they had grasped the significance of the holiness of this Advent season as a time of spiritual preparation for the coming of our Lord. However, I'm sure it was because if the Advent Wreath was there, the tree and presents couldn't be far behind! And it was a tradition that “stuck” in our family long after they had outgrown many others. I’m remembering this morning a particular evening in Advent. The boys would have been about twelve and fifteen. It was after I had come out and their father and I had separated and while we were working away at what my therapist called “reconfiguring the family on the other side of the marriage.” We were at the dinner table together with the Advent wreath in the middle and -- that particular night -- my younger son, Brian, was on about something he couldn’t live without and his father and I were ruining his life by not getting it for him. I think it was a dirt bike. He didn’t want to hear reasoned explanations that dirt bikes were not in the budget for newly ordained parish priests. “So how long do we have to wait until there’s some money in this family?” he asked. “What about those big jobs at those fancy churches? Why don’t you go be in charge of one of those?” And I must have run out of patience at that point for I remember saying, “You have be ordained longer than I have been to get those jobs, Brian – and besides, they usually go to the straight, white men.” “Well, so much for that idea!” he said. And then, unable to resist one last parting shot added “I just hope you know I always expected my mom to be straight!” And his father, without missing a beat, piped in, “So did I!” And we all laughed … and Brian did NOT get the dirt bike. Another thing Brian did not get was the family he expected – but that didn’t mean we quit being family to each other. And that’s because the values that made us family to each other transcended even the expectations we had for each other. And the icon of what that family looks like for me is my mental picture of the year both of my sons and their father joined my partner Louise in the pew here at All Saints Church on Christmas morning – after a Christmas Eve dinner of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding the night before! I looked out at them from the chancel with deep gratitude for the family we had become. We may not be a family James Dobson focuses on but that doesn’t make us any less family. And it doesn’t make the values that bind us together any less holy. Joseph didn’t get the family he expected, either – and today’s Gospel according to Matthew tells us that his first reaction to the “unexpected” was to dismiss his pregnant fiancé … an act which would fallen firmly within the bounds of the traditional family values of his day – and would have made Mary and her child outcasts. Instead, Joseph did as the angel commanded and took Mary as his wife and named the child Jesus – and the rest is Holy Family History. The Christ Child made the Holy Family holy – what made them a family were the values that bound them together as an icon of God’s love for the whole human family. Those values have nothing to do with either the gender or the genetics of those who make up a family and everything to do with the inclusive love of the God whose deepest desire is for this human race – created in God’s image – to become the human family it was meant to be. Sadly, one of the things that has far too often gotten in the way of proclaiming that love to all people is the very thing that was created in order to proclaim that love to all people – and that thing would be The Church. A case in point this morning is this story from the blog of a young Florida man who writes, “I was kicked out of the church when I was 16 for coming out. The pastor and youth minister both called me the devil and said I wasn’t welcome and my parents and family all used religion as a weapon against me … saying I was going to hell.” Not surprisingly he ended up with what he describes as “… a negative view of religion in general and Christians in particular. I found them to be disingenuous, non-thinking sheep at best and hate-filled, bigoted extremists at worst. That is," he says ... "until I met Bishop Robinson.” Describing his experience of +Gene when he spoke recently to a forum in Ft. Lauderdale, the young man goes onto say: “ … my views on religious people have shifted dramatically. Sure there are still the hate-filled bigots who use religion as a weapon. But that doesn’t represent them all.
. There are people like Bishop Robinson who simply want to use the lessons of God to make true change in the world. Honestly, he forced this jaded gay man to try and accept religious folks, or at least not write them off completely. If he can do that, I have every confidence that he can open the eyes of the world …” This young man didn’t get the family he expected OR the church he expected – and rejected by both he rejected them in return. Yet Gene Robinson’s witness changed that – or at lease “budged” it. And if he can do that, I too have every confidence that he can open the eyes of the world. Yes, the schism du jour presents challenges to both the Episcopal Church and our wider Anglican family. It is rare to pick up a paper or open your email and not find yet-another plot development in what I’ve come to think of as the real-life reality-show: “As the Anglican World Turns.” And yet they are also times of great opportunity. We are surrounded by people who didn’t get the family they expected or the church they expected … and who have not yet heard about a church where Holy Family Values have nothing to do with gender or genetics and everything to do with grace and the good news of God’s inclusive love available to all. Did you see the ad placed by the national Episcopal Church in the Los Angeles Times yesterday? It read in part: The Episcopal Church is emerging stronger for its insistence that all are welcome and full participants in Christ’s body. If this Christmas you are seeking a faith community that welcomes diversity of opinion and room for many voices building on more than four centuries of history, please consider visiting an Episcopal Church congregation near you. No, God is not yet finished with the Episcopal Church. In fact, I think God has her work cut out for her in the weeks and months ahead getting the Episcopal Church to the point where “all are welcome and full participants in Christ’s Body” is not just ad copy but reality. But I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that we can open the eyes of the world – or at least of the worldwide Anglican Communion. I’m hopeful that just as Brian had to get over not having the family he expected in order to embrace the family he had, the rest of the Communion can get over not having the uniformity it expected – and can embrace those in the American and Canadian churches celebrating the Holy Family Values being lived out in the lives and witness of the gay and lesbian faithful. Maybe it’s my own lived experience of reconfiguring a family on the other side of a marriage that gives me the hope we can also reconfigure a church on the other side of a schism. Or maybe it’s because, as we prepare to welcome again the Prince of Peace into this war torn world, we prepare to glimpse again in that baby in the manger the hope of all humanity for relationships restored, creation fulfilled and God’s love so alive and so real we can reach out and touch it – love described in these words from John Shelby Spong’s “Christpower:”

Here in this life we glimpse that immortal invisible most blessed most glorious almighty life-giving force of this universe in startling completeness in a single person. Men and women tasted the power that was in him and they were made whole by it. They entered a new freedom, a new being. They knew resurrection and what it means to live in the Eternal Now. So they became agents of that power, sharing those gifts from generation to generation, creating and re-creating, transforming, redeeming, making all things new.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel – make us agents of the power to live in the Eternal Now and give us grace to live your Holy Family Values all the days of our lives. And may the God of hope fill us -- those we love, serve and challenge -- with all joy and peace in believing, these last days of Advent and always. Amen.

Here We Come a Wassailling at St. Mark's Episcopal Church

Waissail is a contraction of the Old English toast, "wæs þu hæl, or "be thou hale!" (i.e., "be in good health").
In the old days in England, carolers would take their waisailling door to door, singing and sometimes rather tipsy and they wouldn't leave a resident's doorstep until they were given money to leave.
Last Sunday evening we celebrated our annual Wassail Party at St. Mark's. The Waissal is citris based and has no alcohol. The food was good, too!

St. Mark's School Collection for the Children of Iraq

Last Sunday a staff sergeant from the U.S.A.F.  presented St. Mark's Episcopal School with a beautiful American Flag and certificate of appreciation for the students at the school. The kids took up a huge collection of badly needed items for the children of the war.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Archbishop Apologizes For Persecution of Gays

This was on BBC Manchester tonight

MANCHESTER, December 17, 2007  –  Archbishop Desmond Tutu has apologised to gay people all around the world for the way they have been treated by the Church.

The Archbishop recently criticised the church for being ‘obsessed’ with homosexuality but speaking on the only gay programme on the BBC he goes further and says he’s ‘sorry’.

The Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner says “sorry” to the worldwide LGBT community in an exclusive recorded interview with Ashley Byrne, presenter of Gay Hour, to be transmitted tonight (December 17) on BBC Radio Manchester.

“I want to apologise to you and to all those who we in the church have persecuted,” Archbishop Tutu says in the interview.

“I’m sorry that we have been part of the persecution of a particular group.  For me that is quite un-Christ like and, for that reason, it is unacceptable.

“May be, even as a retired Archbishop, I probably have, to some extent, a kind of authority but apart from anything let me say for myself and anyone who might want to align themselves with me, I’m sorry.

“I’m sorry for the hurt, for the rejection, for the anguish that we have caused to such as yourselves.”

The interview is something of a “scoop” for BBC Radio Manchester, a local radio station whos  Gay Hour – officially LGBT Citizen Manchester – is broadcast every Monday.

This programme can be heard via BBC Manchester's 'audio on demand' until 8pm on December 24 by clicking HERE.  The 22-minute interview starts after approx 16 minutes.. 

It will also be permanently available on the Canal Street website from tomorrow.

LGBT Citizen Manchester is produced for BBC Radio Manchester by Made in Manchester Production.


Archbishop Tutu Gives Hope for Gays and Lesbians, by Andy Harley. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said homophobia is, to him, as “totally unacceptable and unjust as Apartheid ever was.”  (UK Gay News, February 6, 2004)

A Christmas Message from Cindy

Christmas Market, Huddersfield, England
( my mom's from the hills above the town centre)    gjb
I received the following from my niece, Cindy in Ohio.   It's a Christmas message about the gifts within us that are ours to give to others if we open ourselves up to those perceived as being the least among us. Anyway, with Cindy's approval I have posted it here.         gjb. 
Hello Fam and friends,
Christmas Greetings. These days I am learning that it takes all kinds to make the world turn. Maybe we don't like the way the world turns but it turns never-the-less. In the last 6 months I have moved into a very eclectic and diverse neighborhood. I have always said everyone should experience time on a psych ward and time in jail. Now I have added one more to the list of things we all should do in order to better understand those we share this world with......I have added that everyone should live in 'the hood' at least for a little while. I find it exhilarating, curious, infuriating at times, and interesting to say the least. I live in a small apartment complex of about 30 apt.s. I am one of the few white and employed people here. Once I was found approachable, it seems I had a steady stream of people knocking on my door asking for 'just one dollar' or 'do you have any cigarettes' or can I borrow your car'? The traffic has since died down since the answer became no to all of the above.The people are friendly for the most part. The ones who aren't are basically trying to keep the white girl from noticing their illegal activity which doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out. Speaking of illegal activity.... well the neighborhood is cleaning up with a new land lord but prostitution and drug deals are one ways some of the unemployed here make their money. I know the ones involved because they have cars way better than I will ever see in a life time. lol. I just nod, say hi and keep on going. The local drunk @ times causes a stir but usually he stays inside during the winter. He loves my dogs though so in the summer we had long senseless talks as he waxed on about his great talent with animals and I wondered how he can even stand with the amount of beer he drinks continually. It's probably been years since he's been sober.And gun that hasn't been a problem....there's an unspoken rule that this neighborhood doesn't harm or snitch on each other. Of course occasionally there's drama involving girl friends/boyfriends. And when that occurs there's loud fighting, glass shattering, tires squealing, language that would make your ears fall off the side of your head. And I don't bother to turn my stereo on cause everyone else's is loud enough for all of us. Rap and hip hop is a running theme drifting from one apt. to another. And drugs????? I may now have wacky weed in my system because I smell it so often. I guess its one of the main food groups up in here cause I smell it so often. Yeah, from time to time I have called the police...that's usually when my sleep is being disturbed and we know how much I love my sleep.   I just didn't take too kindly to the neighbors ex girlfriend throwing gasoline on the front porch. This white girl came out and gave them all a piece of my mind!!! Then I went straight to the pound and adopted the biggest dog I felt I could handle. Now when you have a big earn respect. I think often of the bible verse be in the world and not of the world. It's going to take time to make friendships and earn trust but I hope that somehow over the months and into next summer I can get through race barriers and economic barriers to establish a type of relationship with the people 'in the hood'. Alot of the younger ones call me mama. I at first was offended as it was a reference to a fact that i don't want to accept and that is I am growing older. However I am learning that it's a sign of respect and the African American community is big on respecting at least I've got one thing going for me. I am compelled to love these people I call my neighbors because of the great grace and love that Jesus has shown me over the years. I may not be smooth and eloquent at this thing called spirituality and godliness but I know who I believe in and I know that He compels me to pass that love on. I MUST because He has given it so generously to me. In the midst of my unbelief, bitterness, and confusion He has blessed me with the knowledge of His love and presence in my life. I can do no less than pass it on to those around me with no judgment passed on with it. Some in my family were asked to write a verse that meant alot to them and submit it. I struggled with what 'string of words to come up with'. How do you narrow a year long of lessons into a few short words...and I don't mean to be disrespectful of the Word. Well, as I submit this e-mail I guess the verse just somehow intertwined into it so now I am immensely relieved that I can be a part of the requested verse assignment.
What will next year bring? I'm not sure. I do know that I will become a grandma which will be another life-changing event that I am so looking forward to. And maybe this will be the year I gain financial independence. lol. Maybe I'll decide to go to school. Maybe I'll be able to forgive those I haven't yet. Maybe I will lose weight. and Maybe, in the end I will sit on my front porch talk of my kids and grand kids with my with the prostitute and the drunk next door and work on the fine line between being in the world and not of the world     whatever that means.
I wish you all good times, much peace, and wisdom how to live joyfully and effectively in a crazy world
 Love, Cindy

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Jesus Wept and the Bigotry Continues

I hope some American Bishops stand with Bishop Robinson and boycott Lambeth next summer. But I doubt if more than two or three do this. Wearing their purple outfits and hearing the English accent which makes them croon is much more important than social justice or rebelling against a fellow bishop being treated so shabbily. 
Believe it or not, the Archbishop of Canterbury described in the article below is the one and same Archbishop of Canterbury who recently held a special Eucharist for G/B/L/T Anglican church members but thought it best that the service be done in secret so as to not upset those opposed to such a service. Can you imagine? A group of Christians meeting in a church and it has to be a freaking secret?
At any rate, it didn't stay secret for long.  Titus Online and Stand Firm found out about it almost immediately.  So if Anglicans on both sides of the issue are confused, they have every right to be. 
Some say that Archbishop Rowan Williams doesn't know what he believes. I disagree. I've read some of his papers. I find them boring and difficult to comprehend as he doesn't use English in the same manner most ordinary people in England, Canada, Australia or the U.S. do. I bet that even my Oxford grad grandpa, may he rest in peace would have found reading his theological treatises a challenge. But I'm confident in my opinion that he believes that the institution is more important than baptized Christians. 
The Archbishop is an intellectual giant. He just doesn't know what the heck he's doing!
The Guardian
Friday December 14, 2007

Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) - The archbishop of Canterbury said Friday he will not reverse his decision to exclude a gay U.S. bishop from joining other bishops at a global Anglican gathering next year.

The office of Archbishop Rowan Williams said he also had not changed his mind about refusing an invitation to Martyn Minns, a traditionalist U.S. priest who was consecrated as a bishop in the Anglican Church of Nigeria to minister to disaffected Episcopalians in the U.S.

Williams, spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans, said he has recruited professional mediators in trying to reach greater understanding between the U.S. Episcopal Church and its critics both at home and abroad.

The Anglican Communion is a 77-million-member fellowship of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England. The Episcopal Church, the Anglican body in the U.S., caused an uproar in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Anglicans are now on the brink of schism, and attendance at next year's assembly, called the Lambeth Conference, has become a focus of the tension. Theological conservatives and liberals have separately threatened to boycott the meeting because of who was and wasn't invited.

Williams dedicated his Advent message to the crisis. He said that just under half of world Anglican leaders have not accepted the pledges by the Episcopal Church that it won't confirm any more gay bishops for now or approve official prayers for same-sex unions.

``We simply cannot pretend that there is now a ready-made consensus on the future of relationships between (the Episcopal Church) and other provinces,'' said Williams, who does not have the direct authority to force a compromise. ``Much work remains to be done.''

Statements by individual U.S. bishops that seem to deviate from their church's declarations have complicated the situation, the archbishop said.

He said that interpreting the Bible cannot be done ``in isolation by one part of the family'' and that ``radical change'' in understanding Scripture ``cannot be determined by one group or tradition alone.''

Williams also had stern words for Anglican leaders who have threatened not to attend the Lambeth Conference, held every 10 years and scheduled for July in Canterbury.

``I have said that the refusal to meet can be a refusal of the cross - and so of the Resurrection,'' Williams said. ``We are being asked to see our handling of conflict and potential division as part of our maturing both as pastors and as disciples. I do not think this is either an incidental matter or an evasion of more basic questions.''

There was no immediate comment from Robinson, who was on sabbatical, or Minns, who was traveling.

Williams called for professionally facilitated conversations between the leadership of the Episcopal Church ``and those with whom they are most in dispute, internally and externally, to see if we can generate any better level of mutual understanding.''

A week ago, the conservative Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, in Fresno, Calif., voted to secede from the national church - the first full diocese to do so. Separately, about 55 Episcopal parishes out of more than 7,000 nationwide have split from the denomination, with some aligning directly with like-minded Anglican provinces overseas. Lawsuits over church property are already in the courts in some states and more litigation is expected.

Canon Kendall Harmon, a traditionalist leader in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, said he was encouraged that the letter called the consecration of a partnered gay man ``a new understanding of Scripture.''

Episcopal leaders ``have done an action that undermines the trust of the communion and they have not done enough to clear that trust,'' Harmon said.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, leader of the Episcopal Church, said in a statement that she has ``repeatedly offered to engage in dialogue with those who are most unhappy,'' but her offer ``has not yet been seriously engaged.''


On the Net:

Archbishop's letter:

My Favorite Christmas Carol: Once in Royal David's City

Watch and listen to St. Paul's, London sing this beautiful carol on You Tube: Copy & Paste if link doesn't work.

Cecil Frances Humphreys Alexander


Born: Early April 1818, Redcross, County Wicklow, Ireland.

Died: October 12, 1895, Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Buried: City Cemetery, Lodonderry, Northern Ireland.

Music:  Henry J. Gauntlett

Born: July 9, 1805, Wellington, Shropshire, Eng land.

Died: Feb ru a ry 21, 1876, London, England.

Buried: Kensal Green Cemetery, London, England.

For many years. Once in Royal David's City has been my favorite Christmas Carol.  Long before adopting the Anglican brand of Christian worship, this song has touched my heart.

During the Advent and Christmas season of 2005, I not been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. However, my neurologist had told me he strongly suspected that this was at the root of my memory lapses and I would have to wait and get the rest of the tests completed to know for sure.

During that holiday season, I played Once in Royal David's City over and over.  It is a hymn of comfort and always reminded me that Jesus was with me and walking with me through this entirely frightening journey.  And that's why I didn't stay upset over my diagnosis and why I am able to view it as an adventure God is taking me on.

Really read and listen to the words of this hymn.  Although Cecil was a writer of children's hymns, her lyrics are rich in the knowledge of God and rich in Anglican theology.

It's hard for me not to hear this carol without getting teary eyed in gratitude and love for God.

Below is a little bit of history about Sister Cecil. What a wonderful and brave Christian lady she was. And it wasn't easy being an Anglican in Ireland back then.

Since 1919, the King's College Chapel, Cambridge has begun their Christmas Eve service with "Once in Royal David's City" as the processional.The first verse is sung by a member of the  as a solo. The second verse is sung by the choir, and in the third verse the congregation joins. Excluding the first verse, the hymn is accompanied by the organ It is estimated that there are millions of listeners worldwide who tune in to this service.

Cecil Frances Humphreys was born in Dublin, but spent a good part of her later life in Londonderry and Strabane; her husband, William Alexander, himself a Derry man, was appointed Church of Ireland bishop of that city in 1867. He later became Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

She was the second daughter of Major John Humphreys of Miltown House, County Tyrone, Ireland. She and William Alexander, archbishop and primate of the Anglican church for all of Ireland were married for 45 years. 

She engaged herself in parish duties and charity work. Her husband said of her, “From one poor home to another she went. Christ was ever with her, and all felt her influence.” Mrs. Alexander had been active before her marriage in the Sunday school movement, and her love of children and interest in their spiritual instruction never diminished. Almost all of the 400 poems and hymns that she wrote were prompted by this concern.

Cecil Frances was a keen supporter of the Oxford Movement, and in 1848 published Hymns For Little Children, which include three of the most popular hymns in the English language: "Once in Royal David's City," "All Things Bright and Beautiful" and "There is a Green Hill Far Away." Charles Gounod, the composer of Faust, said that some of her lyrics "seemed to set themselves to music."

A further selection of her works - hymns, tracts and poems - was published a year after her death.

The lyrics:

1.Once in royal David’s city

 Stood a lowly cattle shed, 

Where a mother laid her Baby 

In a manger for His bed: 

Mary was that mother mild, 

Jesus Christ her little Child.

2. He came down to earth from Heaven, 

Who is God and Lord of all, 

And His shelter was a stable, 

And His cradle was a stall; 

With the poor, and mean, and lowly, 

Lived on earth our Savior holy.

3. And, through all His wondrous childhood,

 He would honor and obey, 

Love and watch the lowly maiden, 

In whose gentle arms He lay: 

Christian children all must be Mild, 

obedient, good as He.

4. For He is our childhood’s pattern; 

Day by day, like us He grew; 

He was little, weak and helpless, 

Tears and smiles like us He knew; 

And He feeleth for our sadness, 

And He shareth in our gladness.

5. And our eyes at last shall see Him, 

Through His own redeeming love, 

For that Child so dear and gentle Is

 our Lord in Heav’n above, 

And He leads His children on 

To the place where He is gone.

6. Not in that poor lowly stable, 

With the oxen standing by, 

We shall see Him; but in Heaven, 

Set at God’s right hand on high; 

Where like stars His children crowned 

All in white shall wait around.