30 May 2010

Collect for the First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday

All loving and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, our Father-Mother; who with the Child and the Holy-Spirit live an reign, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

23 May 2010

Collect for the Day of Pentecost

Loving God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every people and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth, through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

22 May 2010

Third Friday Celtic Jam

As the title suggests, every third Friday of the month, there is a Celtic jam at a local music shop called 'Sonder Music'.  I have gone a couple of times and I went last night.  Only this time, I took my bodhran!  I told Mahina that I might not play it since I haven't been playing that long and playing in public is a bit un-nerving the first time out (for me, anyway).  But, I managed to get out my drum after a few moments and plaid for roughly and hour or so.  It was a great time!

The key to drumming (any type really) is to blend in.  You only accent when needed.  You don't try to drown out the other musicians. The job of the drummer is to support the other instruments, to compliment the playing, not to play over them. I have seen too many drummers make every song a drum solo and it just ruins the music.

Another aspect is to listen to the syncopation, the emphasis, and support that, to help emphasize that.  If there is a nice back beat going on, give a little emphasis there and make it stand out just a little bit more.  Another thing I have seen a lot of drummer do is not pay attention to the rhythm of the song and just play something that doesn't compliment the tune but actually distracts from it once more moving into that drum solo mentality.  Just because you can play something loud and fast doesn't mean you should.

Those are the things that I try to do when I play.  I listen, learn, and then play what I feel is appropriate to the song.  I'm always open to suggestions from the other musicians - 'play that again', or, 'not like that, more like this,' etc.  Most certainly, making music is about playing what you feel.  And if your a soloist, that's fine all the time.  But if you are playing with others, you have to try and hear all of the other instruments as well as yourself.  You have to learn to play what feels right for the tune as a whole.

If any of you are in the Norman area and like some good Celtic music, the jam is open to all so come by and take a chair or dance or bring your instrument and set in!

20 May 2010

Didache - Chapter 4

4 My Child, Remember

[4:1 My child, remember day and night him who speaks the word of God to you, and honor him as the Lord. For wherever his lordship is spoken of, there he is.]

4:2 Seek each day the faces of the saints, in order that you may be refreshed by their words.

4:3 Do not initiate divisions, but rather bring peace to those who contend against one another. Judge righteously, and do not take social status into account when reproving for transgressions.

4:4 Do not waver in your decisions.

4:5 Do not be one who opens his hands to receive, or closes them when it is time to give.

4:6 If you have anything, by your hands you should give ransom for your sins.

4:7 Do not hesitate to give, and do not complain about it. You will know in time who is the good Rewarder.

4:8 Do not turn away from one who is in want; rather, share all things with your brother, and do not say that they are your own. For if you are sharers in what is imperishable, how much more in things which perish!

4:9 Do not remove your hand from your son or daughter; teach them the fear of God from their youth.

4:10 Do not give orders to your servants when you are angry, for they hope in the same God, and they may lose the fear of God, who is over both of you. God is surely not coming to call on us according to our outward appearance or station in life, but to them whom the Spirit has prepared.

4:11 And you, servants, be subject to your masters as to God’s image, in modesty and fear.

4:12 You should hate all hypocrisy and everything which is not pleasing to the Lord.

4:13 Do not in any way neglect the commandments of the Lord, but keep what you have received, neither adding nor taking away anything.

4:14 In your gatherings, confess your transgressions, and do not come for prayer with a guilty conscience.

This is the way of life!

16 May 2010

Collect for the Seventh Sunday of Easter: The Sunday After Ascension Day

O God, our glorious Savior, you have exalted you only Child Jesus Christ with great triumph to your realm in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you an the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

12 May 2010

1John 4.7-10

1John 4.7-10. Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

This passage is quite shocking and I don’t think we really see the full impact of it. Notice that St John stated that followers of Jesus are to ‘continue to love one another’. To me, this reflects a possible issue within the church today. With so many different denominations (whether Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox), I fear that some of us have an attitude that is not that of Christ (cf. Phil.2.5-11). Perhaps we think more highly of ourselves than others. Maybe we think that we have it all figured out and others don’t. Whatever they case may be, St John seems to be warning against just this type of attitude and those to whom he wrote seem to be excelling in the way of Love. He wrote to ‘continue to love one another’. Those to whom he wrote were already loving each other and possibly all those who were followers of Christ. And, further still, probably those who were even outside of the church. They were loving like Christ loves.

Next, St John wrote something really astonishing. He stated that ‘love comes from God’ and ‘[anyone] who loves is a child of God and knows God’. Surely St John can’t mean that? 'Anyone’? What about those of different denominations? What about Catholics? What about Protestants? What about those of the Orthodox faith? St John states that if they love, they are ‘a child of God and knows God’. But what of those of other faith traditions? Or of no faith tradition? Surely they can’t be ‘of God and [know] God’ just because they love? But what if they are? What if, like the Gentiles St Paul wrote about in Romans 2, they really do have ‘God’s law...written in their hearts’? This is what I think St John is leading us to see. To see God in the lives of the ‘other’ even when it doesn’t follow our way of understanding.

Recently, some Tibetan Buddhist Monks came to our neighborhood. During the conversation, one of them stated that the only way forward for the world, as far as he could see, is that of a new humanity. ‘What the world needs is a new humanity. A humanity that puts others before themselves. A humanity that sets aside their own needs for the needs of their neighbors and the world. This is the only way our world will survive’. The Sermon on the Mount and some of the sayings of St Paul leapt into my mind. It seems to be that St John knew it as well. ‘Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.’ The only way forward is through Love. How do we do this? St John tells us in the next verses.

He states the way of Love is through giving of ourselves for others. ‘Real love’, he wrote, is the cross event. It is just like Jesus said, ‘There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (John 15.13). That is the ‘real love’ to which St John is referring. If we see this in others, we can be certain that God is within them; that they are children of God and know God.

I think that this passage is extremely relevant for our world today. Not just for the Christian family, but for the human family. Too often we look at others with suspicion. When new people move in to our neighborhoods, we don’t even go over and welcome them to the area. Most of us don’t even know our neighbors names or anything about them. We just keep to ourselves and they do the same.

Some of us make judgment calls based on the way others look. Or the color of their skin. Or their gender. Or their sexual preferences. We make assumptions based on our past experiences or on the way we were brought up. We put all people within the same group as ‘other’ and pose upon them the same falseness of what we witnessed or heard about. ‘All men are...’ Or ‘All women are...’ But what God is calling us to do, what God is calling us to be, is a new humanity, nay, a true humanity that is based on the life of Jesus; the Way of Jesus. The Way of Love. Jesus told us that there are really only two commandments, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mark 12.29-31).

So, what if we lived this passage from 1John 4? What would happen if we actually loved others as Christ loves? What if, when looking at others, we look for Christ within them? I think we will be very surprised. I think we will find Christ even in those whom we don’t think are followers. Jesus said, ‘Keep on seeking, and you will find...Everyone who seeks, finds’ (Matthew 7.7-8).

St Paul wrote, ‘Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. [Therefore] Let love be your highest goal!’ Why? Because ‘anyone who loves if a child of God and knows God’.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Jack+, LC

Norman Establishes a Buy Local / Buy Fair Philosophy

From last night's city council meeting:
WHEREAS, the City of Norman annually spends taxpayer dollars purchasing food, apparel and other goods; and 
WHEREAS, as consumers we have a responsibility to be cognizant of the impact that our consumption has on the communities that produce the goods that we purchase; and 
WHEREAS, the City of Norman has a responsibility to ensure that city funds are spent in an ethical manner that promotes local economies both domestically and abroad whenever possible; and 
WHEREAS, Fair Trade is a system that encourages fair labor practices and a healthy and safe environment and provides consumers with the opportunity to make a positive social impact in communities around the world through: providing decent working and living conditions and fair wages for workers guaranteeing producers a minimum price for their goods promoting direct, long-term trade relationships between producers and importers, allowing producers to develop competitive business strategies environmentally sustainable farming/production practices; and 
WHEREAS, locally owned businesses provide essential employment opportunities and contribute to the character and unique identity of our community; and 
WHEREAS, the City of Norman recognizes the important role that local businesses have in the diversity and sustainability of our economy and is strongly committed to developing our local business base; and 
WHEREAS, though no domestic Fair Trade certification currently exists, we recognize that supporting our local economy by purchasing locally and ethically produced goods and services is in keeping with the values of Fair Trade; and 
WHEREAS, the City of Norman recognizes and supports the efforts of local organizations working to promote and support locally owned businesses and to increase consumer and business awareness of and commitment to buying local and Fair Trade; and 
WHEREAS, the City of Norman has the opportunity to lead by example and present a model of economic, environmental, and social responsibility and sustainability for other towns to follow; therefore be it 
RESOLVED, that the City of Norman hereby establishes a Buy Local/Buy Fair philosophy to maximize purchase of locally produced and Fair Trade Certified products in the process of procuring necessary goods for the City of Norman offices when those products are available and reasonably priced; and be it further 
RESOLVED, that the month of October shall be celebrated annually as National Fair Trade Month in Norman.

10 May 2010

Remembering my Mother

This is a reprint from a post I wrote the year my Mother journeyed through the Valley of Shadows in 2006.

This is a hard post to write. I have put it off for days. It will be sporadic at best and completely discombobulated at worst. My Mom, after a long struggle with a very weird disease, passed from this dimension into the dimension of God on October 7th. She was only 60.

This has been a very weird time for me and the rest of my family, especially, and obviously, for my Dad. They have been married for over 40 years. It is a very hard time for us.

It has been said, by more than one person, that my Mom was the glue that kept the extended family together. She was the cog for the wheel. She was the 'wheel within the wheel'. And it's so true. Even when she was sick and in the hospital, she urged me and my family to go visit my Grandmother's sister ('Great Aunt'?) and her husband while they were visiting from California. (He was a famous artist.) She was a lovely person. Someone whom I miss deeply.

My relationship with my Mom was good. Not good, but great. She loved me. I know this because it was customary in my house growing up to say it all the time. But, she not only said it, she showed it. Like most moms, she was always their for me. Even when things were out of control in my life, she was there for me. She stood by me. She corrected me when I was out of line (the details of that are for another time). She made me hot chocolate when I walked home from school in the cold and snow. She hugged me and told me that everything was going to be alright. She kissed me and told me she loved me.

And not just me, she was there for my Sister as well. When my Sister was going through a very hard time in her life, my Mom would pray for her. And I mean, pray. She actually prayed that God would bring a good, solid, Christian friend to my sister. And God did. They have been friends for over 15 years.

My Mom, like me, struggled with Christianity. Not the faith, but the praxis. She saw too much. She continued to search and seek God. She went from tradition to tradition (and by this I mean the different Christian expressions) trying to find that spot where she felt at peace, where she felt a good balance in the message and walk. She finally found this in the Episcopal tradition. Like me. Some of my fondest memories are from the last few years. We used to sit out on the porch at Dad and Mom's place in Stigler and talk about God. Not only did we talk about getting our thoughts and understanding straight, but how we could and should implement that in our daily lives. But, no matter how much we griped and complained, we were certain, are certain, about one thing -- no one has seen God, but Jesus of Nazareth has revealed God. That was a very big thing for me about my Mom. Her unwavering faith. Even when things were all out of sync, even when she doubted, she still had faith. For Mom, it was not a question of 'if' but 'why'. And even then she knew that 'God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to [God's] purpose for them' (Romans 8.28) even if she didn't understand them. And when she didn't understand, she knew that the problem was with her and not God. She knew that it was because she is mortal and God is not. And if she doubted, when she doubted, even then she seemed to echo the prayer of the disciples, 'Lord, increase my faith'.

My Mom longed for balance. Like so many of us, she longed for this dimension to be put to rights. She longed to see the day when the New Creation was fully implemented. Where tears would be wiped dry. Where mourning, crying, and pain would be no more. Where death itself would be done away with. She longed for that day when the dimension of God ('heaven') would be joined with our dimension ('earth') and the two would become one (Revelation 21). Part of that longing has now been fulfilled for her. She, like those that have gone to sleep before her, are awaiting the final consummation in God's dimension. When that day comes, we will be standing in our new bodies, our resurrected bodies, our 'spiritual bodies' holding each other, laughing, hugging, and talking. It will be a glorious day. I can hardly wait!

Until then, I only hope that I can live up to the examples that my Mom set before me. She exemplified the Christian walk. Everyone I know, everyone I have ever talked to, relates how my Mom put others first. How she gave of herself for others. How she would walk that next mile. How should would take the crap people where dishing out with dignity. How she would love us to the utmost. I think I can sum up my Mom with a passage from Scripture:
'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'
I believe . . . no . . . I saw my Mom live that. I only hope that I can do the same.

In the Love of the Three in One,


09 May 2010

Collect for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

06 May 2010

National Day of Prayer

For Peace
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father-Mother; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

For our Enemies
O God, the Father-Mother of all, whose Child commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

For Peace Among the Nations
Loving God our heavenly Father-Mother, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the reign of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

For Our Country
Loving God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly ask that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will.  Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, do not let our trust in you to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority
O God our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your awe and respect; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

03 May 2010

Thoughts on The Rule of Columbanus

1.  In his section On Obedience, Abbott Columbanus quotes John 12.26, "Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also."

So then, where is Jesus?  Or, perhaps where was he while on earth?  Was he not with the "outcasts and sinners"?  Was he not with the "prostitutes and tax collectors"?  In other words, was Jesus not with those who were marginalized and all-but-fogotten in the social and religious world of his time?  I suspect that this is where we will still find him today.  And this is where we are to be as well if we say we are his followers.

2.  In the section On Silence, Abbott Columbanus quotes Isaiah 32.17, "The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust for ever."

How unrighteous I am!  I have such a long way to go to "be peace".  I struggle constantly with anger and irritation.  And "quiet" or "silence" is so hard for me.  Times of quiet are just that - times.  And those times are few and far between.

Of course I could just over-look this because I live in a different time than Columbanus.  But this will not do!  Isaiah stated that this was the "result" of righteousness!  That means that it is beyond time and seasons.  It is to be manifest in whatever time or season one finds oneself in.  If one is indeed righteous.  And, therefore, I most certainly am not.

02 May 2010

Collect for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

Loving God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Child Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Child our Savior, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.