Thursday, July 29, 2010

Great Googly-Moogly!!

qui respondens ait non est bonum sumere panem filiorum et mittere canibus

Note: The full story may be found here...

OK, after scraping my brains off the ceiling and screwing my head firmly on my neck, I read the story a second time to ensure that I read it correctly the first time. Yeah, I did and the Rev. Marguerite Rea administered the Holy Sacrament to a a German Shepherd-Rhodesian Ridge-back on a Sunday in the Diocese of Toronto.

I'll avoid the requisite rage and rancor and the "blah-blah-blah... liberal clergy", etc.

Truth be told, I'm probably as big a dog lover as Father Jonathan (aka the "Mad Priest"). I've known the companionship of a family dog for my entire life, these ranging from the Kerry-Blue mix from my childhood, to the Westie and Scotty seated at my feet as I blog. They have all been gentle, noble creatures who've demonstrated a visible level of devotion, affection and something approximating Love. As they weren't created in the image of the Almighty, I don't believe that they can truly love. But that said, they've demonstrated a fidelity surpassing many people I've known. I suspect that if the Almighty owned a dog (not so far-fetched, considering He owns the cattle on ten thousand hills), He'd likely own a Scotty or a Collie.

I'm troubled by Rev Rea's misunderstanding of the nature and celebration of the Eucharist. The sacrament was born out of the final passover meal celebrated by the Master and his Disciples. Using the elements of the Seder meal, Christ Jesus lifted a loaf of unleavened bread, turned to his disciples and said "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." Following this, He lifted the Birkat Hamazon (or the Cup of Blessing) and said "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."

The meal was, is, and continues to be a sacramental feast that proclaims the new and everlasting covenant between God and His people. Elements of this feast speak to the flesh that was torn, broken and pierced to bear the punishment for the collective and individual sins of humanity. Too, in the cup there is the perfect blood that was shed, satisfying the shear, vertical requirements of the Law.

Succinctly, this is a meal served by the redeemer to those he has redeemed. You and I have need of this Redeemer, Trapper the noble (and certainly lovable mutt) has no need of a redeemer and consequently no seat at the table.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Deacon's Hymn

Its a "Oldie" as far as CCM tunes go, but this song has stuck with me from the moment I first heard it back in the CCM top 40 days.

Early on in my Deaconal formation, I read a quote from either Rosalind Brown or Ormande Plater which described Deacons as standing at the doorway and serving as a bridge between the Church and the World. The quote's originator not withstanding, those words stuck with me from early on, and was an impetus to pray that if I were to stand at the door, that I might be transparent, and not a screen.

There is so much brokenness out there. Emotional brokenness, sexual brokenness, relational brokenness; like so many hands reaching skyward in the Titanic's flotsam field on that frigid April night, desperate souls are crying out and reaching for something solid in which to raise themselves out of the icy waters. In this, I pray that they might find the strong hands of faithful Deacons and Deaconesses.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

On the Eve of Independence Day

From the Book of Common Prayer:
Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Its been 18 months since 1/20/09, the day that the so-called tyranny of the previous eight years was to be reversed by the one promising "Hope and Change". I shudder in observing that whatever supposed tyranny of that era has grown geometrically.

From a political standpoint, I'm not a Republican. The Republican Party, despite her noble roots has proven herself in this past decade to be a gaggle of spendthrift nanny-staters that would make many progressives proud. Though there was a time when I would have been proud to stand with rank and file Republicans, that changed during the Bush years after watching that party expand the limits of Governmental reach while spending like a drunken sailor.

I'm a Christian Libertarian. More specifically, a Libertarian who embraces the Judeo-Christian Consensus. As a Libertarian, I see the US Constitution as being perhaps the greatest document produced to steer and govern the conduct of a nation. Where and when necessary, its been tweaked. By and large though, it has proved to be the greatest document produced this side of Divinely inspired Scripture.

I'm greatly concerned this Independence Day 2010, as I watch an out of control Executive Branch in a full on power grab. Several constitutional articles, along amendments enumerated within the Bill of Rights and following amendments are being ignored outright. I fear the results as Congress, in a feeding frenzy, spends (or writes a string on bum checks) funds that aren't there. This current administration has set on a course that will only lead to constitutional and fiscal disaster if allowed to proceed on unchecked.

Tomorrow, Conservative, Liberal, or Libertarian; in the midst of your celebrations, stop for a moment of prayer. Remember the admonition of the Psalmist:
"Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain."

There will be no perfect government this side of Eternity. However, we Americans enjoy the best, most blessed nation in human history.

Going Home -- Reflections

Two Friday's ago, I was on Strode Ave, preparing to turn east onto Lincoln Highway. Looking east, and taking in the full vista of Coatesville, I was filled with a sadness.
"How lonely sits the city that was full of people! She has become like a widow who was once great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a forced laborer. She weeps bitterly in the night and her tears are on her cheeks; She has none to comfort her among all her lovers. All her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her enemies." Lamentations 1:1-2

We traveled east on Lincoln Highway, crossing Brandywine creek and heading into town. My eyes were met with decay and dirt. A block of shops in the town center were replaced by a gaping dirt patch. Across the street, folk were sitting idly outside of a laundromat. Further on, my eyes met the crumbling bronzework on the steeple of the church that was once First Baptist. As we continued, there was a growing "Bizarro-World" feel to things. The buildings were, for the most part, the same. Yet, they were occupied with other activities. Gibney's, Teti's, Sante's were all still "there", but were occupied by different businesses.

Stirling Street offered the next bit of shock. I alluded to the fact in a previous post that everything seems smaller than the way it appears in Memory; the 800th block of Stirling ST is no exception. Looking end to end at strip of pavement well less than 1,000 feet, it was stunning to apprehend the fact that the first 8 years of my life was played out on such a small stage. But for all the change and entropy, there sat Holly and Ginger Chenger out on their front porch. It was for a moment, like stepping back into a late spring afternoon in 1970.

* * * *
Since returning home, the city has experienced another tragedy as two young men, mired in thuggery and hip-hop culture, had their showdown at Sixth and Lincoln Hwy. In the end game, a 16 year-old lay mortally wounded and a 23 year-old effectively ended his life.

So what's the future hold for Coatesville? Is she doomed to become Pennsylvania's Camden, or Chester County's Beruit? Is she resigned to end her death spin into the ground as a burnt out carcass of what she once was? I don't believe that this is the foregone conclusion. But what's to be done? Coatesville is in dire need of Divine intervention, and must set out on a path of repentance, reconstitution, revitalization, and revival.

I call every Priest, Pastor, Rabbi, and Evangelist between the Checker and Caln bridges to call a solemn convocation. Every person of faith must gather in tears, fasting and ashes, to repent and intercede for their beloved city. Until the hand of providence moves on behalf of Coatesville, she'll remain mired in fatal inertia.

Coatesville must reconstitute as a community. Recalling her history as a station on the underground railroad, she must embrace a post-racial view where divisions are cast aside and a emergent sense of unity is fostered. The city must become a "hyphen-free" zone where the citizens apprehend the truth that regardless of race or ethnicity, they're all citizens of the same city; they stand and fall together. Once this worldview is embraced, they can begin to aggressively take on crime, and blight.

The citizens need to vote out any city leader who has failed in their promises to bring about change. Too, in opposition to Barry Soetoro's Freudian slip, these individuals aren't there to "rule", they've been placed in office to represent their constituents. These leaders should be pushed and required to create a climate where business and industry can once again thrive. As the local economy stabilizes and expands, unemployment rates will dive, deficits will evaporate and quality of life will swing upward.

Municipal and cultural revival will be the end result. This is hard and it will be hard. Yet, its attainable for a community that rises up to say that "We ARE Coatesville, and we're through with the status quo of the past 35 years."