Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tuesday

I'm going to busy prepping for a three week teaching engagement over the next few weeks, so the site may get a little quiet.  I will be posting the lesson outlines as they're completed.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Some Saturday Reverie

From the Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Saturdays:
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Saturdays had a certain magic to them when we were kids.  It was a time of innocence when you could get up at 7:00 AM, have a few bowls of your favorite sugar-packed breakfast cereal, and enjoy a few hours of Cartoons.  How things have changed from those 60's & 70's Saturday mornings.  The networks no longer air cartoons, and any parent who would deign to allow their children to eat sugared breakfast cereals are held up to a certain level of scorn.  Back then, Saturdays (along with Sundays) were a day off for a majority of Americans.  True, people worked on the day, but these would typically be those employed in the retail/food sectors, or those providing vital health & safety services.  Today, Saturday is just the day that follows Friday as our economic realities have morphed over time.  Yet for all the changes, there is one fact that has not changed, and this is the fact that today is the day before Sunday.

Saturday precedes Sunday, and though this might sound like a Captain Obvious type aphorism, it has application.  Tomorrow will be a day to worship of the Almighty for many.  Followers will gather at their respective places of worship for prayer, praise, proclamation, and to celebrate.  As an Anglican Deacon, I will be proclaiming the Gospel, leading saints into corporate prayer and public confession, and bidding those saints peace as they go forth, "rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.  All of these aforementioned things were never met to be entered into in a casual manner.  Rather, they've always have meant to be approached thoughtfully and deliberately. This is why today's Collect exhorts us as it does.

Rather than being a cryptic call to a seventh day sabbatarianism, the prayer exhorts the very opposite.  The writer is calling those who'll be in the house of the Almighty tomorrow, to take the time to prepare today.  We pray that by "putting away all earthly anxieties" (through laying or cares and burdens at the foot of the cross), that we would be prepared for the service of the sanctuary tomorrow.

This isn't the exclusive command for the clergy, far from it.  All who enter into a heart of worship tomorrow will be engaged in that "service of the Sanctuary".  Our participation in corporate worship is our service.  This is why we are called to take time today, that we might make His praise glorious tomorrow.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thursday Evening Reverie -- "Jackson's Song"

This song hit the American Airwaves in 1974 and had been considered a Christmas song since then.  Yet for me, in November 2014, the song rose again in my soul when Jackson joined us on a Saturday Evening in Stafford Hospital.  I can't listen to it without welling up or getting a lump in my throat.


Ascension Day

From the Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Today marks the Feast of the Ascension in the Western Christian Calendar.  This 40th day after Easter, is when The Christ lighted off the Mount of Olives to take His place at the right hand of the Father.  Scripture records other Ascensions, notably that of the Prophet Elijah.  But unlike those other ascensions, this one would be accompanied by the witness of Angels as recorded by Saint Luke in his Acts of the Apostles:
"9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." Acts 1:9-11 (ESV)
For the Apostles and the others, this moment was the capstone on a whirlwind 44 days and a period where they saw their Master institute a new commandment.  They saw Him arrested and die on a cruel Roman cross.  They witnessed His resurrection from the grave and along with 500 other witness, saw him repeatedly over the proceeding 40 days.  Now, on a mountaintop, they saw Him disappear from the physical realm and enter a realm outside of time and space.  They stood gobsmacked, trying to apprehend what they'd all witnessed.  Here in this moment two men, clearly Angelic, echoed the words of their Master and promised that the Christ who left their realm would someday return to it in the same dramatic fashion.

This day stands to remind us of some powerful truths.  It recalls the day when Jesus, having completed His mission to redeem fallen humanity, returned to his home realm and rightful position, seated as the Son of the Most High God.  Though Scripture doesn't explicitly state it, I suspect that all of Heaven erupted into a cry of triumphal joy.  But it doesn't end here.  There is, as the late Paul Harvey would say, a "rest of the story".

In a moment known only by the Godhead, Christ will once again rise from His throne and enter back into our sphere.  As the historic creeds remind us:
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.
I invite you to reflect today.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Blog Worth a Visit

When I have the opportunity, I like to point out and plug blog sites that I enjoy visiting.  Let me introduce you to The Six Chix, the site of six very talented artists, and a comic that's regularly shared on my Facebook feed.  From their "about" page, here's a bit about the blog:
"Six Chix is a unique daily comic strip. It is created by six women cartoonists who each draw a day of the week and then rotate the Sunday strips. Isabella Bannerman draws Mondays; Martha Gradisher draws Tuesdays; Susan Camilleri Konar draws Wednesdays; Mary Lawton draws Thursdays; Benita Epstein draws Fridays; and Stephanie Piro draws Saturdays. Each cartoonist writes and draws with her own style and perspective. In any given week, you might find gags about the economy, technology, zombies, pirates or health care — and the main characters will be female and funny."
You can find the Six Chix Blog here. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Musings

So its the weekend and a time when we should be decompressing after the workweek.  Easy to do, but the peanut between the ears doesn't take a day off.  For the past two days, i was putting Siri, my iPhone AI Digital Assistant through her paces with interesting results.  In all, she is purposely coy and cool as a cucumber.  But as I was asking her a battery of questions, my mind traveled back to 1981 and Jeff Lynne's release of the Time.  

The track, "Your's truly, 2095" seemed to look towards Siri and Alexa.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Going Home -- Reflections

(Blogger's Note:  This essay was composed back in 2010, after running up to Coatesville following my Dad's emergency Gall Bladder surgery.)


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! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave. 2 She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has none to comfort her; 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, people were sitting idly outside of a laundromat. Further on, my eyes met the crumbling bronze work 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 Street is no exception. Looking end to end at a strip of pavement less than 1,000 feet from end to end, I was stunned in apprehending the fact that the first 8 years of my life were played out on this small stage. But for all the change and decline, there sat Holly and Ginger Chenger 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 culture of violence, 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 Beirut? 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 a 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'm calling on every Priest, Pastor, Rabbi, and Evangelist between the Checker and Caln bridges to call a solemn convocation. Every person of faith needs to 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 an 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 civic leader who has failed in their promises to bring about change. Too, these leaders must never loose sight of the truth, that they aren't there to "rule", they've been placed in office to represent their constituents. These leaders should be held accountable, 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."

Monday, April 23, 2018

April 23rd, and the End of Days?

"The Rapture", or specifically,  the secret snatching away of the Church before the epoch-ending events described in the apocalyptic writings in Scripture is a relatively new innovation in Biblical thought.  This doctrine was first taught in the 1830's by John Nelson Darby, a founding leader of the Plymouth Brethren, a breakaway group from the Anglican Church.  In the 18 centuries prior, there was no such doctrine.  I don't believe any reasonable person would consider this teaching to be heresy, but the majority of the Christian Tradition holds a different view.

The Christian Faith (Roman, Eastern, and Protestant Traditions) have viewed the actual return of The Lord as a matter of settled doctrine, and it is affirmed in the Historic Creeds of the Church ("He shall return to judge the living and the dead...") What becomes issue is the idea if "date setting", especially in the light of Christ's own words.  The Master declared that "No one knows the day and the hour that the Son of Man will return."  Perhaps more importantly, this statement was preceded by the exhortation to "Watch and Pray" that the hearer would be prepared and not caught unaware when the Master manifests himself.

"We need not fear the fictitious Planet X. But we need to admit the reality that we are one day closer to eternity than ever before. And we have only today to be ready". -- Jim Denison
Commentator and author, Jim Denison,shares his thoughts on this latest Rapture prediction in today's Denison Report, which is linked here.

My personal thoughts on this are pretty simple.  Each Sunday I, along with millions of my best friends, affirm the truth of Christ's return.  There is nothing to stop that return on any given day and the nanosecond the Father commands it, the event will be set into motion.  And, given the fragility of human life, an accident, sickness, or sudden medical mishap could irrevocably propel me into His presence.  For me, this is the "watching" part of the exhortation, which is why, in-turn, I pray to be found faithful in each new day. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tuesday Morning

From the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A beauty in praying the Liturgical Hours is their ability  give us a sort of lay line in charting the direction of our day.  And for me, I see the Office Morning Prayer as a sort of Laying the Keel of the ship that will take us on through to the nighttime.  The particular Collect seemed to jump from the pages this morning, especially in light the past Sunday's "Taste of Heaven" Gathering.  I'm tying this Collect to the recent gathering as it was Pastor Tony Addinall of All Nation's Church of God who captured this truth in his opening invocation.

The prayer opens with the declaration that the Almighty has created for Himself, a species (if you'll have it), of one blood.  He then at the appointed time sent his very expression, His son, to bring redemption to this fallen people who were of one blood.  Apprehending this truth is the beginning of the demolition of the false barriers which divide us.  Its the wrecking ball that demolishes the barriers of ignorance, fear, mistrust and hatred.

We can't affect this in our own.  It is only by the power and agency of the Almighty that humanity might be moved to seek God, and be drawn to Him. Yet in this, He has called us to be the transmission medium for His call to go forward and be heard by a world that's not intuitively listening for this call of the one God to His one people. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Reflecting on A Taste of Heaven 2018

"A Taste of Heaven", a vision of the Prince William County Ministerial Association, conceived twenty years ago, gathers churches from across Prince William to worship together under one roof for one Sunday.  It takes a venue like the Hylton Memorial Chapel to effectively host a gathering of this size.  Its a morning of inspired worship, powerful praise, and challenging messages as a few thousand followers of the Christ come together in one heart and one spirit.  Anglicans, Baptists, Charismatic, and Non-Denominational believers set aside their own distinctive liturgies as Christ is elevated, seeds of unity & reconciliation are sown, and friendships are made/reinforced.   In some ways, it was reminiscent of Camp Meeting from back in the day, minus the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes.  But best of all, it was two hours where the saints came together to desegregate the most segregated hour of the week in America.

There was a great takeaway for those attending yesterday's gathering in that "Unity is not Uniformity".  Our Devotion, our Worship, our unique traditions all aim to lift high the name of the Almighty.  We are one body that can find its unity in its diversity.

Its my hope and prayer that events like this would spread all across the commonwealth and our nation.  Too, I'd pray that this "taste" would leave saints desiring more.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Morning

From the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Each morning is a new opportunity to strive to "Get it right".  Irrespective of what we did, or failed to do yesterday, today is a blank page waiting to be written. Even so, the desires and direction of our hearts will strongly influence the trajectory of our lives in this new day.  This is why seeking the Lord first in our day's is essential spiritual life habit to our walking in victory.

May our Lord guide your every step today.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Morning in Suburbia Majora

From the Book of Common Prayer:

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Praying for Children

Do you pray for children?  Let me qualify this; do you pray for children who're not your own, or ones who are not a part of your greater family?

Since becoming a parent nearly 35 years ago, like most of you, I've prayed daily for my sons for a myriad of concerns.  And when nieces, a nephew and grandchildren came on the scene, they too were added to the daily prayer roster.  Last summer, another subset of children were added to the daily prayers.  In the interest of their privacy, I'll simply refer to these ones as "The Five" (with apologies to Mr. Gutfeld & company).

Who are The Five?  The Five are a group of elementary school-aged kids whom I had the blessing of teaching during last year's Community Vacation Bible School (CVBS).   CVBS is a revolutionary concept in implementing Vacation Bible School.  For years, churches throughout communities across America would hold VBS at their local facility, effectively reaching a small number of children, with most of these already being associated with that particular church.  CVBS broke that mold by launching VBS out into homes, parks, community centers, etc. across the County allowing for the reach to children who might not ever come in contact with a local church.  Its a true Gospel multiplier.  Where historically, a church might share the Good News with dozens of children, CVBS can effectively reach hundreds of young people.  It was in this venue where I met The Five.

It's been a joy to lift these three girls and two guys up in prayer daily, asking the Almighty to commend them to the care of His Guardian Angels for their watching and protection.  That joy is multiplied when you're suddenly afforded the opportunity to serve one of them during the Eucharist, then seeing their face light up when they learn that they've been prayed for. 

All of us want the very best for the children around us, and prayer for these little people works towards that end.  Let me encourage you consider some non-familial children whom you could include in your daily prayers, and prepare to be amazed.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Thoughts on Holy Saturday

From this morning's Gospel Reading:
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. 
The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, `After three days I will rise again.' Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, `He has been raised from the dead,' and the last deception would be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can." So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
Yesterday was a day like none other.  Outside the city walls of Jerusalem, a cosmic collision of the temporal and eternal took place, affixed to a cruel Roman cross. In the eyes of some, it may have appeared as the death of a desperate hope of throwing off the yoke of Imperial Rome. To others, it represented the messy death of a wide-eyed troublemaker. Still to others, it appeared as the timely demise of a troublesome meddler who was bent on usurping a culture and religious system. Irrespective a body, now still and lifeless, hung between heaven and earth. The eyes that stare in from outside of our timeline saw something completely apart. To these eyes, there on Golgotha's hill hung the only propitiatory offering that could satisfy a Holy and Just God. Just moments prior, this God-man suspended above the earth cried out "Tetelestai"! The debt for sins ancient and future were paid. The God-man then stepped out of our timeline and willingly yielding his life back into the hands of the Father. 

Those follower of the master, who hadn't abandoned him, now had approximately three hours to see to the matter and in doing so, would render themselves ceremonially unclean for the coming feast Yet in their devotion, they sought the body of Jesus who might have otherwise been cast into the burning garbage dump outside of the city walls, gehenna. Instead of becoming food for carrion, the remains of the Christ were lovingly laid in Joseph, a leading Sadducee's tomb.

A day later, the Jewish priestly aristocracy was nervous. They knew that in spite of the Christ's resounding declaration, that this was far from over. With the Roman governor's approval, the tomb was sealed with the signet of Imperial Rome. This seal was a dire warning to would be hoaxers that should they attempt to steal Christ's remains, they would suffer the same fate as the one lying on the other side of the stone.

From the standpoint of the Apostolic band, this had to be a crushing day. One of their own had handed Jesus over to the authorities and was now dead by his own hands. Their "class president" made a profanity-laced denial of their Master and was now living with the disgrace. The rest were hiding somewhere in the city, for fear that perhaps after the feast, they would be next.



Yet, we soon learn just how one day changes everything.

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Good Friday Meditation

This evening at All Saint's, we observed the solemnity of Good Friday in the worship service that is known as "Solemn Collects and Reflections", with the reflections being given by our Priests and Deacons.  I was asked to offer a reflection through the eyes of the Centurion who was present and overseeing the crucifixion of the Christ and the two thieves that afternoon.  This is a first person reflection, but offered as if the Centurion was speaking in the form of a letter that was written to his father, who himself was a retired Centurion.  Some license was taken as Scripture provides no "back story" on this man.


#  #  #  

  Gaius Longines, a Centurion in the service of Tiberius, and the citizens of Rome.  I greet you Crasius on a day that has been like none other since my cohort was posted to this dour corner of the Empire.

  As you’ve long known, I accepted a commission as a Centurion in civic duty, desiring to serve the greater glory of Rome.  In my heart I had always dreamt of driving out the barbarians as you did, from our far frontiers.  instead, my cohort was posted to the Tenth Legion in Judea.  Rather than expanding the frontier, my cohort now works to maintain the tenuous peace between Governor Pilate and this rabble population.  I have found myself to be far more an executioner of common criminals than a soldier, combating worthy adversaries.  Yet today is difficult to understand, which is why I write you, my esteemed father.

  Over the past few days, Jerusalem has been groaning as Jews from throughout the province have been converging on the city in preparation for one of their observances.  Along with their faithful, thieves and other criminals arrived to prey on the unsuspecting.  Two such culprits, along with an insurrectionist named Barabbas were placed in our custody to await execution. Yet this morning, temple leaders delivered up a fourth man, one allegedly claiming to be the King of the Jews.  Pilate took an interest in this man and determining that he’d committed no capital crime, ordered him beaten for being a nuisance.  Yet those religious leaders insisted that he’d be put to death, and demanded clemency for the insurrectionist.  Pilate, being a shrewd man, acquiesced to their demands, fearing a riot.

  A short time later, the three were delivered to my custody for execution and seeing this “king”, I drew back with a deep horror.  He wasn’t simply beaten, one member of the cohort whipped him with the flagrum while another severely wounded his head with those dreaded capparis spinosa thorns, leaving him a seething walking wound.  I’ve seen the horrors of battle, yet this churned my constitution and I was compelled to avert my gaze. Beaten and bruised, I was amazed to see him standing silently, without a sound.  It became clear after setting off for the execution site that this wretch would die enroute, so I compelled an onlooker to carry this “king’s” cross.

  On the brow of the hill, each had a placard affixed to their cross, according to Roman law, stating their name and crime.  As the day wore on, it was punctuated by cries, curses and the jeering contempt of passersby; it wasn’t so with this “king”.  I’m acquainted with the language of Jerusalem, and what this Nazarene was saying intrigued me.  He was asking forgiveness for my century who crucified him.  He offered comfort to a thief and later, let out an emotional cry to his god. 

  The afternoon progressed as a gathering darkness seemed to encircle and swallow Jerusalem.  The man spoke of his thirst.  I’ve never considered myself a compassionate man, yet I ordered the soldiers to share a drink of their beverage.  This seemed to revive him as he raised his head spoke once more, then expired before us.  In my heart, I was struck.  An innocent man was executed today, but he was much more than one not guilty of any crime.  He was as a son of the gods, or perhaps the very Son of God.

  At any case, his remains now lie in a sealed tomb A Guard mount is watching over it to see that no mischief occurs or his body disturbed.

  

Saturday, February 24, 2018

As the Sixth Year Begins

Morning by Morning new mercies I see
Five years ago, the Lord of all of our stories was turning the page from a chapter and onto a blank sheet where He was about to place His pen to paper to write a new chapter.  It was a cold, damp day, the kind of February day where the dampness penetrates one's body, chilling them to the core.  But the dampness that day seemed to also have a soul-chilling effect in light of how a life's chapter had come to an inexorable, but sudden end.  This end was like watching an automobile accident where one who is powerless to affect the outcome, can only brace for the impact.  The impact did occur, and it struck like a spiritual punch that was directly in the center of my sternum.  But like a rogue wave, it strikes once and quickly becomes a memory.  Then, the Lord of the Story put down His pen to turn the page.

There would be one more unpleasant postscript to the former chapter and once that was confronted, we could move forward.

This weekend marks the beginning of Robin & my sixth year with the Anglican parish of All Saint's Church, Woodbridge Virginia.  Thinking about this, I'm drawn to the memories of pulling into the parking lot of the white church on Gideon Drive.  We chose to attend the second of three Eucharistic celebrations which took place each Sunday. Though we would try out both the 7:15 and 11:15 celebrations, the 8:45 time slot suited us best.  Nothing in our appearance or demeanor gave off any hint that an Anglican clergy couple was visiting the parish.  In a polo and kakis, I looked to be just another graying, goateed denizen of Northern Virginia, indistinguishable from a million other 50-something guys.  Even so, members of the newcomers ministry team met us in the atrium as if we were both distinguished visitors.  Not only were we greeted by members of the ministry team, but by  parishioners as well.  The old saying states that first impressions are lasting ones, ad it was there in the Atrium that plenty of good seeds were sown.

The next thing to make an impression were the dual calibers of both word and worship.  The worship was diverse which included both classical Anglican hymnody, and contemporary songs.  It was apparent that the worship team took their ministry seriously and devoted time for practice and preparation.  The preaching would prove to be equally impressive.  The Rector and his two associates were faithful men of God who were wellsprings of God's word.  This is a trait of those who are also voracious consumers of that word.  Soon, we began to notice that the only ones aggrandized in these messages were God the Father and Christ Jesus the Son.

The next six months served as a sabbatical where Robin and I were allowed to heal.  It was an opportunity to live out the motto of All Saint's, which is captured in the words "Love, Grow, Serve".  Each week, new relationships were forged and developed.  Spiritual bruises began to fade, and the joy of being a child of God was being restored and strengthened.  So after encountering, and embracing the Saints of All Saint's, it would become a moment of great joy to vest and serve them at the end of that sabbatical.

The late great Paul Harvey, broadcaster and storyteller, was known to refer to "The rest of the story" in his memorable radio broadcasts.  Five years later, here is the "rest of the story" to date.

+   +   +   +   +

I've been a Vocational Deacon now for over nine years.  Thirty three months were spent at my first parish, and sixty months here at All Saints.  Taking Christ's parable of the sower into view, it is truly amazing how much growth can occur when a plant is planted in good, healthy soil.  In retrospect, its clear to see where the Lord has taken us from those first days in February 2013.  Time hear has provided great clarity in allowing me to see who I am as a sinner who was saved by grace, a child of the Almighty God, and as a man under Holy Orders.  It has empowered me to escape the bondage of being a "fixer", the one who is compelled to fix everyone's problems.

Some years ago, I was quoted in a Seminarian's paper in describing the work of a Deacon.  I had said that in some ways, "The Deacon is that one at the end of the grand parade with the cart and broom".  Admittedly, this is tongue in cheek, but there was a subtle seriousness to it, which was born out of being a novice Deacon thrust into an environment as spiritually toxic as was Chernobyl.  No, today, I don't see the Deacon as being outside the parade, following and cleaning up the mess, but being fully part of that grand procession.

Today, my Diaconal service extends beyond the relative quiet of the nave and chancel.  Where once, I was confined to the Gospel reading and the setting of the Eucharistic Banquet, the call now takes me out to the highways and hedgerows to serve those on the margins, those who would have been tagged as #TheLeastofThese.

These past five years at All Saint's have been a blessing beyond compare and I'm deeply grateful for Bishop John Guernsey's discernment in placing me with this Parish.  And now, onto the continuing journey.  To the Glory of the Almighty.