Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
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.
A BLESSED AND JOYOUS CHRISTMAS ..Vince & Kathleen
I CORINTHIANS 13 A CHRISTMAS VERSION
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!
Monday, December 17, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 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:
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.
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.