That Which We Have Heard & Known

Occasional thoughts of an Anglican Episcopal priest

Category: Music (page 2 of 5)

Bravo Coca-Cola – From the Daily Office – February 5, 2014

From the Book of Genesis:

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Genesis 22:15-18 (NRSV) – February 5, 2014.)

During the Super Bowl broadcast last Sunday Coca-Cola offered an advertisement featuring several people of differing ethnicities singing in a variety of languages a rendition of the song America the Beautiful. Almost immediately, the twitterverse was flooded with tweets of outrage demanding that the Coca-Cola singers “speak American,” condemning the singing of “our national anthem” in any language other than English, and threatening a boycott of Coke. (As much as I might want to, I’m not going to address the ignorance of referring to the English language as “American” or of not knowing what the national anthem of the United States actually is.)

That little tempest in a tea pot came to mind when I read God’s promise to Abraham that “by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves.” This is the mission of God’s People. Isaiah prophesied that “in days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it.” (Isa. 2:2) Psalm 72 includes the prayer for the king of Israel, “May all nations be blessed in him” (v. 17) and Psalm 87 proclaims that God will say of all people from every nation that “this one was born” in Zion (v. 6). Ben Sira refers to the promise to Abraham when he writes, “To Isaac also he gave the same assurance for the sake of his father Abraham. The blessing of all people and the covenant he made to rest on the head of Jacob.” (Ecclus. 44:22-23)

As we were reminded on Sunday morning, this mission was inherited by Christ and his church, the new Israel (as St. Paul said). Old Simeon took the infant Jesus in his arms and proclaimed that he was to be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Lk 2:32) As an adult rabbi, Jesus would instruct his disciples to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Mt 5:16) having commissioned them to be “the light of the world,” and reminding them that “a city built on a hill cannot be hid.” (v. 14)

The Puritan preacher John Winthrop took up that image when, preaching to the Massachusetts Bay colonists aboard the vessel Arbella in 1630, he admonished them to set an example of righteousness to the world. Presidents Kennedy and Reagan made use of the “shining city on the hill” metaphor in their inaugural addresses.

So I am puzzled why people who claim to be conservative, Christian, free market Americans would be upset with a successful American corporation advertising its product in a commercial in which people from all over the world extol the beauty of America . . . . the only explanation is a misunderstanding of unity and a misapprehension that uniformity of language promotes that unity. And, indeed, that is the tenor of many conversations I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter since the Super Bowl advertisement was aired. In many of those conversations, the old image of America as a “melting pot” has been invoked.

Although many of us may remember that image from grade school civics lessons, I remember a junior high school civics and history instructor who sought to disabuse us of the notion. Our society is not and never has been a melting pot, he told us. If we had been, there wouldn’t be barrios, black ghettos, Little Italies, Chinatowns, Levittowns, lace-curtain Irish neighborhoods, and all the other ethnic enclaves that have existed for decades and even centuries. We’re not a melting pot, said my civics teacher, we are a tossed salad. It is our diversity that makes us exciting and makes us strong, unity in diversity, not uniformity, which is what a melting pot creates, which is what an enforced uniformity of language would promote.

Ethnic diversity, in fact, is the biblical model. All the nations of the world receive a blessing through Abraham and his descendents, but they do not become Israel; they do not become Jews. Even as God enrolls the nations in Psalm 87 declaring their birth in Zion, they remain Rahab, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia, and all the other nations of the world. As immigrants come to be part of America, even as they may become naturalized citizens, they retain their histories and identities as Moroccan, Thai, Xosa, French, Maori, and all the rest, with cultural heritages to be honored, languages to be spoken and sung, and diversity to be celebrated. The shining city on the hill shines with diversity!

So, bravo, Coca-Cola, bravo!

====================

A request to my readers: I’m trying to build the readership of this blog and I’d very much appreciate your help in doing so. If you find something here that is of value, please share it with others. If you are on Facebook, “like” the posts on your page so others can see them. If you are following me on Twitter, please “retweet” the notices of these meditations. If you have a blog of your own, please include mine in your links (a favor I will gladly reciprocate). Many thanks!

====================

Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.

Joyful Noise – From the Daily Office – February 2, 2014

From the Psalter:

My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed;
I will sing and make melody.
Wake up, my spirit; awake, lute and harp;
I myself will waken the dawn.

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Psalm 57:7-8 (BCP Version) – February 3, 2014.)

Internet Hymns Cartoon by Dave WalkerI am neither a musician nor a singer. Years ago (in public junior high school) I took instruction on the B-flat clarinet and the bass clarinet, but then I attended a private high school which had a drum-and-bugle corps rather than a full band with woodwinds, so no further playing of the reeds. As an adult, I tried to learn to play the guitar, the piano, and the bassoon, all with the same result: I do not play any instrument.

Although, as a result of all those attempts at music instruction, I can read music, I cannot vocally reproduce what I see on the page. I am in awe of those who can look at a sheet of music and start singing a piece they’ve never heard before! My eyes, brain, and vocal cords just are not connected in that way. I have to hear a piece at least once (usually several times) in order to reproduce it in any recognizable form. And don’t ask me to sing any part other than the melody; if I try to sing something else, I will inevitably wander back to the melody line.

And yet, I love music! I love to sing. I don’t understand people who won’t sing. That tired old excuse, usually put in their heads by some cruel music teacher in grade school, “I can’t carry a tune in a bucket,” should be banned from the church. Everyone can sing! The human voice is the instrument God gave every one of us. Every human being should join the chorus.

We may not all be able, like David or like those talented sight-readers, to “sing and make melody,” but we can all “waken the dawn.” God’s commandment about vocal praise is not “sing beautiful on-key harmonizations pleasing to your neighbor’s ear;” the commandment is “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!” (Ps. 100:1, KJV) We can all make noise! In the narthex (entryway) of my last parish we hung a sign reading, “If you can’t sing good, sing LOUD!” Mark a joyful noise!

====================

A request to my readers: I’m trying to build the readership of this blog and I’d very much appreciate your help in doing so. If you find something here that is of value, please share it with others. If you are on Facebook, “like” the posts on your page so others can see them. If you are following me on Twitter, please “retweet” the notices of these meditations. If you have a blog of your own, please include mine in your links (a favor I will gladly reciprocate). Many thanks!

====================

Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.

Gimmicks Distract – From the Daily Office – January 11, 2014

From the Psalter:

Hallelujah!
Praise God in his holy temple;
praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts;
praise him for his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the blast of the ram’s-horn; *
praise him with lyre and harp.
Praise him with timbrel and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe.
Praise him with resounding cymbals;
praise him with loud-clanging cymbals.
Let everything that has breath
praise the Lord.
Hallelujah!

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Psalme 150 (BCP Version) – January 11, 2014.)

Clown Presiding at CommunionThe musical Godspell debuted in 1971 (my junior year in college); in it, Christ is portrayed as a clown. Whether it was an expression of or the catalyst for the phenomenon of offering clown eucharists as an edgy, avant-garde presentation of the Christian Mysteries, I really don’t know. The two are inextricably linked in my memory.

And . . . to be honest, I never cared for either. And . . . being further honest, that may be because I have never like clowns. I find them creepy. On the other hand, a bishop of whom I was very fond and for whom I had great respect, loved Clown Eucharists. He had a set of clown-decorated vestments made; he offered a clown eucharist at least once each year (often at diocesan convention) throughout his episcopate. They may have resonated for him because, unlike me, he loved clowns.

But I didn’t (and don’t) and so the clown eucharist was, for me, a distraction. I couldn’t get passed the gimmick, the clown images and the circus music, to the Christ at the center of mass. The clown gimmick, not the foolishness of God to which it was supposedly pointing, took over and seemed to be the point of the whole thing.

Some years later, when the music of U2 became popular and new generation were finding spiritual meaning in the band’s lyrics, someone put together a celebration of the Holy Mysteries in which that music played a part — the major part — it was the only music — and promoted the event as a U2charist.

“Right,” I thought. “The clown eucharist in a new guise.” Again, for me, the gimmick (the U2 music) distracts from the principal focus. I attended a U2charist and, for me, all I heard was the band’s music; I didn’t hear the gospel. That’s not to say it wasn’t there; it may have been. I just couldn’t hear it through the distraction of the soundtrack.

Since then I have heard of (but not attended) celebrations of Holy Communion in which the music was all from the Beatles canon, or all “oldies” from the 1960s, or all Broadway show tunes . . . and I wouldn’t be surprised if there have been other similar “thematic” eucharists. All, I think, the descendants of the clown masses of the 1970s — attempts to package the Christian Mysteries in edgy and avant-garde ways to present them to a target audience, to sneak the gospel message in under the guise of entertainment.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Let me hasten to say that I think entertainment is fine. If clowns float your boat, go the circus! If you like the music of U2 (and I do), listen to it! If you like Broadway musicals (and I do), go to the theater! And if you find something of spiritual import in those entertainments (and I do), great! Make use of it in your spiritual life and, even, in church services and celebrations.

The last of the psalms encourages the people of God to make use of many forms of entertainment, symbolized by musical instruments — trumpets and horns (the ram’s horn), stringed instruments, percussion, wood winds — and dance, in their worship. So I believe it’s fine to make use of clowns, to use of U2’s music, to sing the Beatles’ lyrics, to offer the tunes from Broadway shows as part of the liturgy.

But when these things become the reason for the service, when we name the service for the clowns or the bands or the theater district, the tool meant to be used for praising God has become the object of praise. The psalm says, “Praise God with strings and pipe,” not “Praise the strings and pipe;” “Praise God with resounding cymbals,” not “Praise the cymbals.”

Others, I am quite certain, will have found the U2charists a path to God. Other, I know, will have found in the Beatles mass and in the Broadway eucharists the truth of the gospel. After all, that bishop whom I really did love found Christ in clowns no matter how creepy I may have found them!

But for me, these feel “gimmicky” — one or two Beatles songs might be used to good effect, but nothing but Beatles music through the whole service? Not so much. U2’s Gloria could certainly stand as a liturgical piece, but all U2 music throughout the mass? Too much of a good thing. I’m not sure that I can say anything positive about clowns . . . but someone might, perhaps. My point is that themed eucharists like these, in which the theme predominates, feel like gimmicks. It feels to me like we have stopped praising God with the clowns and have started praising the clowns; the gimmick distracts. Praise God with the gimmick, but don’t praise the gimmick!

====================

A request to my readers: I’m trying to build the readership of this blog and I’d very much appreciate your help in doing so. If you find something here that is of value, please share it with others. If you are on Facebook, “like” the posts on your page so others can see them. If you are following me on Twitter, please “retweet” the notices of these meditations. If you have a blog of your own, please include mine in your links (a favor I will gladly reciprocate). Many thanks!

====================

Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.

River of Words – From the Daily Office – January 6, 2013

From the Psalter:

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Psalm 46:5 (BCP Version) – January 6, 2014.)

A River in the Desert

Two poems about rivers . . . first from the Malaysian poet John Tiong Chunghoo who is known best for his haiku, a work entitled Part of God:

created in his likeness
the anger – thunder
the warning – lightning
the tears – rain
the smile – the breeze
the punishment – earthquake
lesson – the echo, memory
the trees, birds,
sea, clouds and sky
his pictorial poetry
in his likeness
i paint them
with words
that run
like a river
reflecting their beauty in me
styling them in realism
on a calm day
impressionism
on a breezy one
as the river
dances with light
modernism
when the river
shakes the
inquisitive mind
of the mysteries of life
all the blocks and angles
the river registers
as it unfolds a scroll
of god’s law
surrealism
mistfilled
a river scene
i did to run away from
a mind that torments
a world that begs for
an answer to everything

I am intrigued by Chunghoo’s image of poetry as a river, of words as flowing water. I grew up in the desert of southern Nevada and, as an adult, enjoyed recreational backpacking down the valley of the Virgin River, a tributary of the Colorado that now makes up the northern branch of Lake Mead. In the desert, a river is a source of life. Around it the ground is parched, dry, and apparently lifeless, but immediately next to it and in it there is abundance of life. Words, Chunghoo seems to suggest, are like that; they are more than mere devices of communication — they are sources of life in a world that “begs for an answer to everything.”

That’s a biblical image! Genesis: “Then God said, ‘Let there be . . . .'” John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word . . . . ” God’s words are life-giving. Human words can be, too! Communication sustains the life of community. The river of words makes glad the city.

The second poem, read together with Chunghoo’s, read in the light of the image of a river of communication, is an old hymn given new meaning:

Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide for ever flowing
by the throne of God?
Gather at the river!
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river,
Yes well gather at the river
that flows by the throne of God.
Shall we gather? Shall we gather at the river?

Shall we gather at the river of words? Shall we give life to one another with our communication and our conversation? Is there any other way?

Interestingly, Robert Lowry, the Baptist minister who wrote the hymn, was also a professor of literature. I wonder what he might have thought of a “river of words” . . . .

====================

A request to my readers: I’m trying to build the readership of this blog and I’d very much appreciate your help in doing so. If you find something here that is of value, please share it with others. If you are on Facebook, “like” the posts on your page so others can see them. If you are following me on Twitter, please “retweet” the notices of these meditations. If you have a blog of your own, please include mine in your links (a favor I will gladly reciprocate). Many thanks!

====================

Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.

The Logos Became Meat – Sermon for the First Sunday of Christmas – December 29, 2013

====================

This sermon was preached on the First Sunday of Christmas, December 29, 2013, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio, where Fr. Funston is rector.

(The Revised Common Lectionary, Christmas 1A: Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Psalm 147:13-21; Galatians 3:23-25;4:4-7; and John 1:1-18. These lessons can be read at The Lectionary Page.)

====================

Selection of Raw MeatsOne of my favorite Christmas hymns is O Come, All Ye Faithful. The last verse of the hymn is:

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

The last line is derived from our Gospel lesson this morning, from prologue to the Fourth Gospel:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. * * * And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” These verses from the prologue to the Fourth Gospel are among the most beautiful, the most familiar, and the most abstract sentences in Scripture.

Although tradition tells us that the Fourth Gospel was written by the Apostle John, it’s actually highly unlikely that this is true. There are two basic reasons for this.

First of all, the development of the New Testament. A briefly sketched timeline of it would be something like this:

AD 30-33: Jesus is crucified and buried; he rises form the dead, appears to many over a period of about seven weeks; he ascends. The story of this is spread by word of mouth for several years and the “Jesus movement” grows as a sect within Judaism.

AD 35-40: Saul, a Pharisee, becomes a persecutor of the church, but is later converted and becomes Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles, founding churches in several Gentile communities.

AD 45-60: Paul produces the first written materials of what becomes the New Testament, his epistles (letters) to the various churches. These are written basically to solve problems that have arisen in the new Christian congregations.

AD 60-70: As those who personally knew Jesus begin to die, preservation of the story becomes important and the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are produced; Mark is probably the first one written. In addition, more letters (the Catholic epistles of Jude, James, 1-3 John, the “letter” to the Hebrews, and so forth) begin to be produced.

AD 85-100: The Fourth Gospel is written.

Now let’s just think about this. Sometime during the third decade of the Christian era, Jesus called James and John, the sons of Zebedee, to be among his disciples. They were working men, possibly as young as 16, more likely in their early 20s, not too much different in age from Jesus himself. This would mean that by the time the Fourth Gospel was written, John would have been about 80 years old! That would have been more than uncommon in that day and age. It is very unlikely that he lived that long. I know that Christian tradition insists that John was the youngest of the disciples and lived to the ripe, old age of 98, but there is truly no evidence of that.

I believe the tradition may be accurate that the Fourth Gospel is based on the memories of John the Apostle, perhaps told (and possibly re-told) to someone who then built the Fourth Gospel from them, but I’m not convinced that John actually wrote this book.

The second reason for disbelieving the traditional attribution of the Fourth Gospel to the Apostle John is its literary style and erudition. Like all of the New Testament, it was written Greek, the common trade and international language of the First Century Roman Empire. Its Greek and its theology are surprisingly sophisticated; this prologue, which the lectionary makes our Gospel Lesson not only for today but also includes in one of the three sets of readings that can be used on Christmas, sets the tone. Its initial verse is probably the most abstract piece of prose in the whole of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. It is a philosophical statement worthy of the greats of Greek philosophy. John the Apostle was a simple Galilean fisherman! It’s possible that he became a scholar of Greek philosophy and an abstract theologian in later life, but somehow . . . I just don’t think that likely.

So I don’t believe this Gospel was written by John the Apostle, the hot-tempered son of a Galilean fisherman. Instead, I believe it was written by an educated and erudite man, possibly a Greek-speaking Jew of the diaspora familiar with the traditions and texts of Greek philosophy. And from the pen of this man we have this beautiful but abstract explanation of the incarnation of God:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. * * * And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”

The first verse could very easily have been written by a Greek philosopher living 500 or 600 years earlier. The concept of “the Word” or “the Logos” (to use the original Greek) was first introduced into Greek philosophy by Heraclitus in the Sixth Century BC. In his writings, the Logos seems to be a sort of independent, universal and ideal wisdom according to which all things come to pass, but to which humans cannot attain despite their best efforts. He wrote, “This Logos holds always but humans always prove unable to understand it, both before hearing it and when they have first heard it. For though all things come to be in accordance with this Logos, humans are like the inexperienced when they experience such words and deeds….”

For Aristotle, the Logos is a universal reason or rationality, movement toward which is the optimum activity of the human soul and should be the aim of all deliberate human action. Not long after Aristotle, the Stoic philosophers, starting with Zino of Citium, conceived of the Logos as an active reason pervading and animating the universe; they spoke of a logos spermatikos, the generative principle of the Universe which creates and takes back all things. They seem to have equated it with a psyche kosmou or “soul of the world,” and believed it to be the only vital force in the universe.

The author of the Fourth Gospel apparently knew of this Greek philosophical tradition and reaches into it to explain how it is that God became incarnate (I’ll come back to that word, incarnation, in a moment). It’s as if he’s consciously building a bridge between the philosophical world of the Greeks and the theological world of the Jews. There was precedent for doing so; the Greek-speaking Jews of the diaspora had used the term Logos in translating the Hebrew Scripture’s description of God’s creative activity, as for example in Psalm 33: “By the word (logos) of the LORD were the heavens made. . . .” (v. 6a) The Septuagint’s translators had used, but not expounded upon, the concept of the Logos, and — truth be told — the Greek and Jewish uses and understandings of the word were different.

For the Greeks there was a sharp distinction between the ideal, spiritual world and the mundane, physical world (Plato and Socrates with the “theory of forms,” which taught that there were unattainable ideal forms for every thing and every idea of which the things and ideas in the material world are only “shadows,” are perhaps the extreme case of this). The idea that the Logos, the creative force in the universe, might dirty itself with the material world, was unthinkable; the Logos might communicate directly with human beings, but entering the material world was out of the question. For the Jews, on the other hand, it was no problem to think that God might involve himself in the physical world, after all the Garden of Eden story portrait God as working with dust and clay, molding it with his own hands and breathing life into it from his own lips. For them, the direct communication was a problem! God spoke to humankind through intermediaries, through angels or through specially chosen people (Moses and the prophets); regular folks didn’t talk to God face to face. If a human heard the Logos of God directly, that human would die!

The Fourth Gospel takes on both and builds a bridge between them in this prologue:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. * * * And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”

In the second of these verses, the author of John’s Gospel asserts (scandalously for the Greeks) that the ideal, the Logos, “became flesh,” sullied itself by taking on earthly form, and (scandalously for the Jews) “lived among us,” as one of us, someone anyone could talk to face to face, a man named Jesus.

The Greek translated as “became flesh” is rather more graphic than our lovely Jacobean archaic translation preserved through the centuries would suggest. Since the King James Version’s translation of these words as “the Word was made flesh” that (or the even more sterile “became human”) has been the typical English rendering of the Greek Kai ho logos sarx egeneto. The important word here is sarx. It might better be translated as “meat,” which would actually be how a speaker of Jacobean English would have understood the term “flesh,” as Strong’s New Testament Lexicon puts it, “the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood,” the part used as food. Meat!

Today is the fifth day of Christmas . . . what should you have received from your “true love” today? Five gold rings! There is a legend that the song from which that is take, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” was a catechetical device used by Roman Catholics in England and Ireland at a time when their religion was illegal; each of the days and each of the gifts is said to represent in code a particular lesson. A partridge in a pear tree represents Jesus; two turtle doves, the Old and New Testaments; three french hens, the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity; four colley birds, the four gospels; five golden rings, the five books of Moses – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Nice legend, not true! I recently read a musicological analysis of the song suggesting that, instead, the song is all about feasting and partying, and identifying the gifts as the dishes or entertainments that would be offered at a Christmas banquet. According to that author, the five golden rings are the rings on the neck of an English pheasant! The song is all about the meat served at the feast honoring the birth of the God who becomes meat. . . .

Those who speak a little Spanish will be familiar with the word carne, as in carne asada (which means “grilled meat”). Remember that when you think of the “in – carne – tion.” And remember that this incarnate God would later take a loaf of bread and say, “This is my body” of which we are instructed to eat. John’s Gospel, from these very first words in the prologue, is eucharistic in emphasis, insisting that the irruption of the Logos is for our nourishment. An absolute scandal to both Jews and Greeks! (The author of John seems intent on living up to Paul’s assertion that the Gospel is “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” [1 Cor. 1:23])

And then there is that notion that this God who becomes flesh “lived among us,” a very weak translation of the original Greek which means something on the order of “and pitched his tent among us.” Here, the author is reaching back into Jewish history, in to the story of the Exodus. During those forty years in the desert, God was present with the Hebrews in the form of a pillar of fire and cloud which went before them to show them the way, occasionally behind them to guard them from harm, and when they would stop the pillar would stop and rest over the Ark of the Covenant. They were instructed to build a tent to house the Ark, a very elaborate tent but still, just a tent. When they encamped, they were to set it up and place the Ark inside of it. Once it was so housed, only Moses or his brother Aaron the high priest could approach it. Now, however, this enfleshed God was pitching his own tent and living among his people as one of them, someone to whom anyone had access, a man named Jesus.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. * * * And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”

The prologue to the Fourth Gospel tells us that the Word was the light of creation shining in the darkness, that the Word became flesh that that light might be kindled in all people. There are bible scholars who assert that John was drawing on the wisdom tradition in the Hebrew Scriptures in which Wisdom is personified and portrayed as working with God in the Creation:

When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.
(Proverbs 8:27-31)

I think the prophet Zephaniah might have been drawing on that wisdom image, as well, when he wrote, “He will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zeph. 3:17b)

And I wonder if the author of the Fourth Gospel might have alternatively used that image . . . or maybe he just left it for us to do. Could we not paraphrase the prologue:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the song of all people. The song sings in the silence, and the silence did not overcome it.

And could we not say, “And the Word was made flesh, and sang his song among us?” Someone with whom anyone might sing along, a man named Jesus.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. * * * And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”

Two short, simply-stated verses from the prologue to the Fourth Gospel, perhaps the most abstract, meaning-laden of verses. I don’t think a simple fisherman from Galilee wrote them, though perhaps he did. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter who wrote them. If we believe they were inspired by God and preserved by the church in the canon of Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then we must take them seriously and seek to understand them. No amount of exposition in a sermon can unlock them for you, but I offer you these bits and pieces of information about their background with the encouragement to ponder them, to contemplate them, to pray and meditate about them. In them there is the reason for and the promise of the birth we celebrate in this season.

And it is a season! Despite the fact that the stores started their “after Christmas” sales on December 26, despite the fact that the radio stations are no longer playing Christmas carols, despite the fact that there are no more holiday movies playing on television, it is still Christmas. As I said, this is the fifth day of Christmas, the first of two Sundays in the season!

But I will give the stores and the broadcasters their way for a moment and close with a poem about Christmas being over, a poem by Howard Thurman, sometime dean of the chapels at both Boston University and Howard University, and an honorary canon of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. It is entitled The Work of Christmas:

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.

“To make music in the heart.” Do you ever sing to yourself? I do that a lot. I don’t sing out loud much, but when I’m driving or vacuuming, shoveling snow or doing yard work, I often sing to myself, inside my own head, in my own heart. And I don’t just hum tunes, I sing the words. I sing of the Word incarnate: “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing. O come, let us adore him.”

As you contemplate the Word made flesh, the light shining in the darkness, the song singing in the silence, pitching his tent and singing his song among us, may your heart be filled with song and may that song empower you to do the work of Christmas. Amen.

====================

A request to my readers: I’m trying to build the readership of this blog and I’d very much appreciate your help in doing so. If you find something here that is of value, please share it with others. If you are on Facebook, “like” the posts on your page so others can see them. If you are following me on Twitter, please “retweet” the notices of these meditations. If you have a blog of your own, please include mine in your links (a favor I will gladly reciprocate). Many thanks!

====================

Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.

What a Long, Strange Trip – From the Daily Office – June 10, 2013

From the Second Letter to the Corinthians:

Look at what is before your eyes.

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – 2 Corinthians 10:7a (NRSV) – June 10, 2013.)

Road to the Desert HorizonDo we ever really know what is “before our eyes”?

I’ve been saying the Daily Office and reading the associated lessons of the two-year-cycle lectionary for the better part of 40 years and never before has this short sentence jumped out at me like it does today!

30 years ago tonight, my wife and I made the short trip from our small bungalow in East San Diego, where we had lived while I attended law school, to Sharp Hospital in Kearney Mesa where she would, early the next morning, give birth to our son, Aidan Patrick. If anyone had said to us, “Look at what is before your eyes,” we would have described a life of law practice and stability in our home state of Nevada. We had it pretty definitely planned out. We were very definitely wrong!

As I thought about the last three decades, a line from a song kept popping into my head. I’d like to be all religious and spiritual and pretend it is a line from a hymn . . . but it’s not. The words are, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” From Truckin’ by the Grateful Dead. Now that song is an ear-worm which probably will eat away at me all day. What it’s definitely done is taken over this meditation.

So rather than write some other words, I give you the lyrics to Truckin’:

Truckin’ got my chips cashed in.
Keep truckin’, like the do-dah man
Together, more or less in line, just keep truckin’ on.

Arrows of neon and flashing marquees out on Main Street.
Chicago, New York, Detroit and it’s all on the same street.
Your typical city involved in a typical daydream
Hang it up and see what tomorrow brings.

Dallas, got a soft machine; Houston, too close to New Orleans;
New York’s got the ways and means; but just won’t let you be.

Most of the cats that you meet on the streets speak of true love,
Most of the time they’re sittin’ and cryin’ at home.
One of these days they know they gotta get goin’
Out of the door and down on the streets all alone.

Truckin’, like the do-dah man.
Once told me “You got to play your hand,”
Sometimes your cards ain’t worth a damn, if you don’t lay ’em down,

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me
What a long, strange trip it’s been.

What in the world ever became of sweet Jane?
She lost her sparkle, you know she isn’t the same
Livin’ on reds, vitamin C, and cocaine,
All a friend can say is “Ain’t it a shame?”

Truckin’, up to Buffalo. Been thinkin’, you got to mellow slow
Takes time, you pick a place to go, and just keep truckin’ on.

Sittin’ and starin’ out of the hotel window.
Got a tip they’re gonna kick the door in again
I’d like to get some sleep before I travel,
But if you got a warrant, I guess you’re gonna come in.

Busted, down on Bourbon Street, Set up, like a bowling pin.
Knocked down, it get’s to wearin’ thin. They just won’t let you be.

You’re sick of hanging around and you’d like to travel;
Get tired of traveling and you want to settle down.
I guess they can’t revoke your soul for tryin’,
Get out of the door and light out and look all around.

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me, What a long strange trip it’s been.

Truckin’, I’m a goin’ home,
Whoa whoa baby, back where I belong,
Back home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin’ home.

Now that I sing it through, I realize this is a song that’s all spiritual and religious. It occurs to me that life is a trip and, despite Paul’s admonition, no matter how careful we scope it out, we really can’t see what is before our eyes. We always end up looking back and saying, “What a long, strange trip it’s been!”

Strange and wonderful. Thanks be to God!

====================

A request to my readers: I’m trying to build the readership of this blog and I’d very much appreciate your help in doing so. If you find something here that is of value, please share it with others. If you are on Facebook, “like” the posts on your page so others can see them. If you are following me on Twitter, please “retweet” the notices of these meditations. If you have a blog of your own, please include mine in your links (a favor I will gladly reciprocate). Many thanks!

====================

Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.

God’s Annoying Accent – From the Daily Office – March 13, 2013

From the Prophet Jeremiah:

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Jeremiah 18:1-11 (NRSV) – March 13, 2013.)

Potters Hands at WheelYears ago, my wife and I were active in the Cursillo community in another state. In fact, we met through that community, so it was very important to us. We participated in the three-day weekends; we took part in the reunions; we even had the “De Colores” bumper-stickers on our cars. At that time, folk masses and simple guitar-accompanied choruses were also popular in the Episcopal Church and a lot of the music used in the Cursillo movement spilled over into church on Sundays and at other times. A favorite of many people was a tune which mixed Jeremiah’s potter metaphor with some of Jesus’ language from the Gospels:

Abba, Abba Father
You are the potter
And we are the clay,
The work of your hands
Mold us, mold us and
Fashion us,
Into the image,
Of Jesus your Son
Of Jesus your Son.
Father, may we be one in you,
May we be one in you,
As he is in you,
And you are in him
Glory, glory and praise to you
Glory and praise to you
Forever amen….

I remember sitting with my table groups during the Cursillo weekends and at nearly every one one of the speakers would ask that we sing this song, and then would talk about how God molds each individual into a Christ-like figure. But that isn’t what the song says, at all! Nor is it what Jeremiah prophesies in this pericope! This isn’t about individuals.

The song, following Jeremiah’s lead, speaks of a group being molded: “Mold us . . . Fashion us.” Us not me. God the potter in Jeremiah’s prophecy molds “the house of Israel,” a nation, a kingdom, not the individual residents of that house or nation. Certainly, as a part of that group each member may be, must be changed, but the emphasis is on and the prophecy is about systemic, group-wide change, not individual transformation.

When a potter molds a pot, a drinking vessel, a piece of sculpture, he works with a mass of clay. The mass is made up of molecules, but the potter does not concern himself with these small, constituent bits. He does not work with each molecule. He pushes this way and that on the mass, and the individual molecules, most of which are never directly manipulated by the potter, move and change as the mass moves; most are shoved about not by the potter but by their neighbors. The potter may, from time to time, work with smaller bits, but always with the intention that that bit will add to the value or beauty of the whole. His concern is with the larger work.

Of course, Jesus was concerned about individual people. He loved the one lost sheep separated from the ninety-nine; he searched for the one of ten coins that was missing. His reason for doing so, however, was restoration of the community. The ninety-nine were incomplete without the missing lamb; the “round ten” were not round without the missing coin. He sent the Samaritan women at the well back into her city (John 4); he rescued the woman caught in adultery from being stoned, but sent her back into her community, saying “Go your way” (John 8); he raised a little girl from death, restoring her to her family whom he instructed to nourish her (Mark 5).

Jesus was concerned about individuals, but he was committed to the ideal of community in which there would be a close relationship between members. His disciples were related not just individually to him, but also to one another. He formed them into a group that would give itself mutual support, a community that would reach out to others and invite them in. Yes, he said, the first commandment is to love God, but there is a second, equal commandment — Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt. 22:37-39 NRSV)

St. Paul used the metaphor of “the body of Christ” to describe the church: “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Cor. 12:27 NRSV) God the potter molds the church and each of us get shoved into our proper place as the potter works. At times, the potter may work with an individual bit, but the potter’s attention is on the whole. God the potter’s concern was with “the house of Israel;” God the potter’s concern is with the Body of Christ, the church.

It’s too bad modern English doesn’t have a clearly plural form of the pronoun you. That used to be the plural pronoun and thou was the singular. Perhaps we should create a new plural form or borrow one to use in translating Scripture. We could render God the potter as sounding like a Southerner: ” Can I not do with y’all just as this potter has done?” Or like a Pittsburgher: “Can I not do with youse just as this potter has done?” We might find God’s accent annoying, but at least we would understand what was meant!

====================

A request to my readers: I’m trying to build the readership of this blog and I’d very much appreciate your help in doing so. If you find something here that is of value, please share it with others. If you are on Facebook, “like” the posts on your page so others can see them. If you are following me on Twitter, please “retweet” the notices of these meditations. If you have a blog of your own, please include mine in your links (a favor I will gladly reciprocate). Many thanks!

====================

Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.

Fanfare for the Common Man – From the Daily Office – March 12, 2013

From the Paul’s Letter to the Romans:

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Romans 7:15-25 (NRSV) – March 12, 2013.)

Trumpet FanfareSt. Paul wrote some great stuff. He’s treatise on love in the thirteenth chapter of the first letter to the church in Corinth is brilliant! He wrote (or, at least, is blamed for) some incredibly stupid stuff, too: telling women to be silent in the very next chapter of First Corinthians, for example, or sending Onesimus back to Philemon without clearly denouncing the institution of slavery.

But I think nothing may have been as damaging to Christian spirituality and theology than this little bit from the letter to the church in Rome. We don’t know what Paul’s personal problem was – an addiction, a sexual dysfunction, OCD, who knows? – but whatever it may have been he attributes it to his own sinfulness and then (here’s the really damaging thing) he universalizes his experience. He claims that everyone is like him, that every single human being who ever lived and everyone who will come after him has been, is, and will be “captive to the law of sin” and completely unable to do anything about it.

Find something like that in the Gospels! Read every word of the four Gospels and see if there is anything like that coming from Jesus’ mouth! There isn’t. Sure, Jesus suggested that we are all sinners (particularly when he breaks up the execution party and prevents the woman taken in adultery from being stoned in John 7:53-8:11), but he never suggests that we have no power to do anything about our sinful behavior. In fact, quite the opposite. Jesus makes it clear that we have the ability to choose to do good, and again and again he commends that choice to us.

Today is the 70th anniversary of the premier of one of my favorite pieces of music, Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. It was commissioned in 1942 by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and its conductor Eugene Goossens as one of eighteen fanfares to begin the next year’s concert performances as an orchestral support for and tribute to the United States effort in World War II. Copland named to piece after a line in a speech by Vice-President Henry A. Wallace proclaiming the arrival of “the century of the Common Man.” Goossens was surprised by the title and wrote to Copland, “Its title is as original as its music, and I think it is so telling that it deserves a special occasion for its performance. If it is agreeable to you, we will premiere it 12 March 1943 at income tax time”. Copland replied, “I [am] all for honoring the common man at income tax time.”

I find the Fanfare to be stirring and uplifting and full of affirmation of the goodness of everyday human beings, a great musical antidote to Paul’s dreary, pessimistic, and almost self-defeating assessment of his (and everyone else’s) inner nature.

Lent is a time of self-evaluation and, sure, we all have our dysfunctions to be honest about and to work on. But I find it impossible to believe that (as the collect for the third Sunday in Lent puts it, paraphrasing Paul) “we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves.” (BCP 1979, page 218). We do have that power; what we don’t have is the strength of will or the stick-to-itiveness to sustain the effort. That’s how I understand that prayer, not that we asking for some sort of magic pill to give us something we lack, but rather that we are seeking support and help to keep us going through the darkest of times. It’s not simply that we shrug our shoulders and say, “We can’t do this. You take care of it, God.” Instead, we are asking that our own power be supplemented and strengthened by the power, the presence, and the pardon of God, our God who “saw everything that he had made [including humankind], and indeed, it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31)

I, for one, find no help in Paul’s words to the Romans in today’s lesson. But on this anniversary of the first performance of the soaring strains of Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, I find in that music the voice of hope, the voice of God urging me on.

====================

A request to my readers: I’m trying to build the readership of this blog and I’d very much appreciate your help in doing so. If you find something here that is of value, please share it with others. If you are on Facebook, “like” the posts on your page so others can see them. If you are following me on Twitter, please “retweet” the notices of these meditations. If you have a blog of your own, please include mine in your links (a favor I will gladly reciprocate). Many thanks!

====================

Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.

Take Your Best Shot, Don’t Blow It – From the Daily Office – February 22, 2013

From the Letter to the Hebrews:

Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Hebrews 4:14-16 (NRSV) – February 22, 2013.)

“Let us approach the throne of grace with boldness”! These are among my favorite words in all of Scripture.

Boldly Approach the Throne of GraceSome years ago, my wife and I were members of a congregation in Southern California where the assistant priest was a military chaplain originally from Georgia. He was normally rather soft-spoken, but when he would introduce the traditional (Jacobean English) version of the Lord’s Prayer using the words from The Book of Common Prayer he would emphasize one word: “And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are BO-WULD to say . . . .”

When I read these words from the Letter to the Hebrews, I find myself reading them with his voice and his inflection, “Let us approach . . . with BO-WULDness!” And I actually believe that the author of this letter would approve of that.

Over the years I’ve read a lot of commentaries on this letter and on this particular passage, and it seems to me that when most commentators read verse 16 they lose their focus. A lot of what I have read analyzes the term “throne of grace” and goes off on tangents about the relationship of this image to other depictions of God’s throne in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. That’s all well and good, but the subject of this verse is “us”! It’s an admonition to “us” to come before God’s throne (whatever it may be called) with confidence, with self-assurance, maybe even with a little brashness, with some chutzpah!

About twenty years ago, when I was just starting in my first independent pastorate in a tiny country church (after a two-year curacy in a major metropolitan parish), I read a business management book entitled Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. The authors, James Collins and Jerry Porras, postulated that what made companies truly successful was their adoption of a long-term vision of their future, a vision that is “clear and compelling, serves as a unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit.” They called this vision a “BHAG” (pronounced “BEE-hag”) or “Big Hairy Audacious Goal.” The book made sense to me and to the members of my vestry, and we engaged in a visioning process that established a BHAG for the congregation. It worked, for a while . . . we grew the church from an average attendance of 35 to nearly 150 on a Sunday; our Sunday School attendance increased five-fold; we added a larger parish hall, a couple of offices, and some classrooms to the church building. Sometimes, though, timidity can rear its head and advances can be lost.

In any event, when I read the Letter to the Hebrews telling us to approach God’s thrown with chutzpah I think of BHAGs; let us approach the Lord with big hairy audacious visions, with big hair audacious prayers. While I love the old hymn Before thy throne, O God, we kneel, I think its sentiment of pain and shame is exactly not what this epistle champions. This letter says, “Stand up on your feet! Hold your head high! Take your best shot with God!” In fact, when I read this letter, I think of a song by the rock group Styx:

You’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it.
You’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe it.
Get up, get back on your feet;
You’re the one they can’t beat and you know it!
Come on, let’s see what you’ve got!
Just take your best shot and don’t blow it!

So then I ask myself, “Why is this epistle in the Lectionary for this time of year? Is this a Lenten sentiment?” Lent is a season in which we take time to rediscover just how much we are loved by God. Knowing that we are loved gives us confidence; it gives us courage for self-reflection and honest self-appraisal. We have the courage to change our minds, to change our hearts. This change, in Greek called metanoia, literally “change of mind” but theologically “repentance”, works an interior change in us to gain freedom from the things that bind us and the actions that diminish us. True repentance gives us the capacity and the confidence to boldly approach the throne of God where we receive what the Father wants to give us – grace and mercy to help in time of need. So, yes, this is a Lenten sentiment.

Approach the throne of grace, take your best shot, and don’t blow it!

====================

A request to my readers: I’m trying to build the readership of this blog and I’d very much appreciate your help in doing so. If you find something here that is of value, please share it with others. If you are on Facebook, “like” the posts on your page so others can see them. If you are following me on Twitter, please “retweet” the notices of these meditations. If you have a blog of your own, please include mine in your links (a favor I will gladly reciprocate). Many thanks!

====================

Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.

Do I Indulge Some Unknown Sin? – From the Daily Office – February 21, 2013

From the Psalms:

The law of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul; *
the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the innocent.
The statutes of the Lord are just and rejoice the heart; *
the commandment of the Lord is clear and gives light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever; *
the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold, *
sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb.
By them also is your servant enlightened, *
and in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can tell how often he offends? *
cleanse me from my secret faults.

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Psalm 19:7-12 (BCP Version) – February 21, 2013.)

"Original Sin" - Artist UnknownEvery time I recite Psalm 19 with its words of praise for the Law, I am caught up short by verse 12. In verses 7-11 we read that the Law is perfect and just, that it provides wisdom and rejoicing, that it is more desirable than gold or honey, and that in keeping it there is enlightenment and reward. Then comes the kicker, “Who can tell how often he offends? Cleanse me from my secret faults.” In other words, despite all the grandeur and wonder of the Law, no one can actually keep it!

The Prayer Book translation of the second part of verse 12 is rather poor. The Hebrew word translated here as “secret” is cathar. A better translation would be “hidden” because the subject is not my faults that I keep secret from others, but rather my offenses of which I am unmindful. The petition of this Psalm is to be cleansed from the sins I commit unawares.

Interestingly, the general confessions in the services of the Episcopal Church make no reference to unknown sins. We confess “things done” and “things left undone”; we confess sins of thought, word, and deed; but we do not confess that there may be (certainly, there are) sins of which we are guilty but of which we have no knowledge, that there are “secret faults.” Perhaps this is a “secret fault” in The Book of Common Prayer. If it is, it is one that can be remedied by recourse to other prayer books and devotionals.

In 1852, a Presbyterian pastor named Elisha Yale (no relation to Yale University), with the assistance of his colleague the Rev. Samuel Cozzens, compiled a devotional entitled, A Select Verse System: For the Use of Individuals, Families and Schools. Fifty-two chapters or “lessons”, one for each week of the year, provided Bible verses to be read each day, and one or more hymns, nearly all by Isaac Watts, to be learnt and sung. Lesson XIX is entitled Examining Ourselves and includes this verse from a two-verse hymn by Dr. Watts:

Lord, search my soul, try every thought;
Though my own heart accuse me not
Of walking in a false disguise,
I beg the trial of thine eyes.

The second verse of the hymn, found in the 1845 Canadian Congregationalist hymnal Church Psalmody: Hymns for Public Worship, is equally instructive.

Doth secret mischief lurk within?
Do I indulge some unknown sin?
O turn my feet whene’er I stray,
And lead me in thy perfect way.

We are encouraged by the Prayer Book to observe “a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance,” but no amount of self-examination will disclose those “secret sins” which are hidden from ourselves. Our repentance must always include “begging the trial of God’s eyes” and asking, “Do I indulge some unknown sin?” Because the answer is undoubtedly, “Yes.”

====================

A request to my readers: I’m trying to build the readership of this blog and I’d very much appreciate your help in doing so. If you find something here that is of value, please share it with others. If you are on Facebook, “like” the posts on your page so others can see them. If you are following me on Twitter, please “retweet” the notices of these meditations. If you have a blog of your own, please include mine in your links (a favor I will gladly reciprocate). Many thanks!

====================

Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.

Older posts Newer posts