AN EASTER MESSAGE from PRESIDING BISHOP CURRY

The Rt. Reverend Barbara Harris was the first woman ordained and consecrated a bishop in The Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion. In her memoir, entitled Hallelujah, Anyhow! [she] quotes an old Gospel hymn that says it this way:

Hallelujah anyhow
Never let your troubles get you down
When your troubles come your way
Hold your hands up high and say
Hallelujah anyhow!

When I get to Heaven, I want to meet one person, and her name is Mary Magdalene. Because if ever there was another Hallelujah, Anyhow sister, it was Mary Magdalene. And her life, and her example, tells us what it means to follow in the way of Jesus, in the Way of Love.

Bishop Goff's Holy Week Message

Jesus said, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you." John 12:35

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Holy Week is the longest walk of the year. We begin the walk on the outskirts of Jerusalem, near the Mount of Olives, where the disciples throw their cloaks over a colt and Jesus climbs on. It is a ludicrous sight - a grown man on a colt, his feet dangling to the ground. Everyone knows that real kings ride great stallions, not donkeys. But Jesus chooses to be a living parable, a parable of humility. Jesus chooses to embrace seeming foolishness to reveal God's wisdom, seeming weakness to show us real strength.

Weekly Message

Should the Bible be taken literally?

 On a recent episode of a slightly irreverent show I enjoy on HBO, “Crashing”, the main character is a man of faith trying to make his way in the world of stand-up comedy.

 This largely autobiographical program shows how Pete tries to navigate the comedy circuit without violating his faith.  Several episodes focus on his participation in the “Good Faith” tour around the country.  He is paid well and he travels with other performers of different types who all focus on “clean” acts that are intended not to offend the audiences who mostly gather at churches and other places of faith to see the tour.

The Gift of Love

This Sunday draws our attention toward the peculiar nature of Christian sacrifice as the “place” where true joy is to be found.

In particular we witness the sacrifice of Mary of Bethany who anoints Jesus with a large amount of very expensive ointment, drawing the scorn of Judas. (John 12:1-8). Jesus tells us that Mary’s sacrifice is directly related to his sacrifice.

How might Mary’s sacrifice help us understand Jesus’ sacrifice? Our inclination is to make cost the most critical factor in sacrifice. Thus Judas criticizes Mary’s sacrifice for its cost, because the money might have been better used to relieve the suffering of the poor. Jesus, however focuses on Mary’s attentiveness toward him. He focuses on her love.

Responding faithfully to God's call to mission

This week I am going to a conference on global mission, which has me reflecting on how I define mission and how the local church can participate in God’s mission. Since I am also teaching the confirmation class, I am regularly in contact with the catechism of the Episcopal Church, which defines the mission of the Church as “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” (BCP p.855). We get this mission from God, as Paul writes in the second letter to the Corinthian church. I wondered how the word “restore” related to the word “reconcile” and what that means for responding faithfully to God’s call to mission. If Christ is asking me to reconcile others to him, and the church is asking me to restore the world to him, how are the two related, and how do I get myself up for such a huge task? How do I get ready and then join the mission of Christ?

Prayer

No one in the little Iowa town recognized the young family, escorted by the groom’s brother, as they walked toward the front of the chapel.  Entering the pew they immediately knelt in prayer.  After the wedding, one of the guests was overheard inquiring about the very religious family from out of town.

I grew up in a Methodist home, the eldest daughter of faith-filled parents who in the early 1960’s helped plant a still thriving Methodist church near Annapolis, MD.  I prayed the prayers of childhood. I recited grace before meals. I joined the congregation in prayers during services.  As a child I believed that prayers were poems I memorized to say at the appropriate time.

Reclaiming Jesus:
A Call to Prayer, Fasting, and Action

As the elders who wrote the declaration “Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis,” to which 5 million people responded, we now issue “A Call to Prayer and Fasting.” We urge Christians to remain steadfast in their faith and engage with the deepening challenges our nation faces.

 In 1863, at the height of the Civil War—the most divided time in American history—Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national “day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer.” Today, we also believe our national crisis calls for prayer, fasting, humility, and repentance. With the season of Lent before us, we ask how we can apply Lenten spiritual practices to our lives and to the dangers facing our democracy.

Jesus is God's invitation to everyone to come to God's table. 

Recently the Special Conference of the Methodist Church voted to adopt the Traditional Plan that declares homosexuality incompatible with scripture and is designed to expedite trial and deposition of clergy who are GLBTQ. This conference was, as you might expect, very painful for members of the UMC GLBTQ community, which is a large group within the UMC.  This may mean some Methodists show up at our doors to explore whether the Episcopal Church offers hospitable place for them to worship while the UMC continues to sort out its next steps.  The Rev. Chris Agnew, longtime ecumenical officer of the Diocese of Virginia, has recommended these reflections by Fr. David Simmons on Welcoming Methodists, and I commend them to you.

Seeing God's Glory and Unveiling It

The story of Christ’s transfiguration, when his face shone with the glory of his divine nature, is one of my favorites. I think it is the best expression of what grace is doing in humans, shining us up so that we glow with the glory of God whose image we share. The apostle Paul clearly felt it was a good example too, because he uses the image of Moses speaking with God and having to veil his shining face as an example of how those who are closest to the revelation of God sometimes cover it up for the comfort of others, and how that is no longer the way that the truth of God is to be shared. He makes the contrast with himself and other Christian witnesses, who like Peter, James and John experience the glory of God in Christ, and are instructed by Jesus not to cover it with a tent. The grace of God in Christ is for everyone, but it makes some of us very uncomfortable. What if other people aren’t as together as we are and we bring them into our joy only to have to deal with their problems? What if they aren’t following God’s way the way we think they should? What if we need a tent to keep our God contained in?

Weekly Message

There is a popular movement floating around these days by Marie Kondo that suggests that when organizing your space you should look at your “stuff” and decide if it brings you “joy”.  If something does not spark “joy” then you should get rid of it and keep the items that truly make you feel happy.  I would argue that church involvement should be looked at in much the same fashion.  After more than 25 years of participation in a wide range of activities at St. Luke’s, I have found my “joy” through being a lector and chalice minister.