Tuesday, July 29, 2008


When our children were little, I called them "puffins" because they were cute and puffy and had mysterious eyes just like puffins....now it appears that the puffin population in the North Sea is endangered. There is a wonderful set of photos in a recent Guardian article that takes a good look at one of the more beautiful and charming creatures on the planet. Behold the puffin. Click the link above on the title to this article or cut and paste this link into you browser.


Thankfully the population of puffins in Maine is still strong and growing after a period of dangerous delcine.

Gotta love those puffins.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shots of the Governor's Visit

Several pics of the Governor's visit to the church are as follows.

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St. Peter's, Salem

Here are some nice shots of the interior of St. Peter's Church, Salem, Massachusetts

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Alcibiades at age two

Here then is Alcibiades, a good two years old now, waxing strong as the Good Book says. Al is especially fond of Joshua, a squeaky plastic toy or a ball, treats and ice cubes. He loves going down to the batting cage at Palmer Cove and fetching his toy, but has yet to master the art of returning it to his master. To call Joshua or me a "master" in this context is still something of a misnomer. Al, like many of us, has an independent turn of mind.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Readings for July 20th

The readings for the coming Sunday include the famous story of Jacob's wrestling with the Angel of God.
The Psalm celebrates God's intimate knowledge of each of us entirely as we are in our humanity.
Paul continues his discussion of our living out our lives in the flesh versus our life in the spirit. He concludes that the sufferings we now endure bear no comparison with the Glory that shall be reavealed...a notion worth considering!
And Jesus presents the parable of the wheat and the tares.
Now, I ask you how shall a preacher attack those three readings???
Any ideas???
Fr. Paul

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Genesis 28:10-19a
Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the LORD stood beside him and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place-- and I did not know it!" And he was afraid, and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."
So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel.

Psalm 139: 1-11, 22-23 Page 794, BCP
Domine, probasti
LORD, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
but you, O LORD, know it altogether.
You press upon me behind and before *
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.
Where can I go then from your Spirit? *
where can I flee from your presence?
If I climb up to heaven, you are there; *
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
If I take the wings of the morning *
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there your hand will lead me *
and your right hand hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will cover me, *
and the light around me turn to night,"
Darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day; *
darkness and light to you are both alike.
Search me out, O God, and know my heart; *
try me and know my restless thoughts.
Look well whether there be any wickedness in me *
and lead me in the way that is everlasting.

Romans 8:12-25
Brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ-- if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Matthew 13:24-30,36-43
Jesus put before the crowd another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, `Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' He answered, `An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, `Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he replied, `No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field." He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!"

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Invitation to Governor Patrick

The following language articulates the invitation I extended to the Governor last night...a bit florid I'll grant you, but still....of the sort one would expect from a "state occasion". Here too is a nice shot of the Governor signing a copy of the invitation we extended to him to occupy the "Governor's Pew
Fr. Paul

The Governor’s Pew

During the American Revolution, when it became dangerous for the British Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to govern or live in Boston, the Colonial government was relocated to Salem and assembled nearby on Essex Street.

During that time, St. Peter’s Church became the “official” State Church of the British Crown, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Governor’s Pew was then dedicated and decorated with the British Coat of Arms and the British Flag. There was of course some uneasiness and some American Patriots attempted to disrupt worship by spitting on the loyalists, smashing windows and the like.

We were then under the British Crown. There was enmity between brothers and sisters because of religious conviction. Slavery was commonly practiced and slaves were permitted only in the balcony of this church for a time.

In succeeding years, in the crucible of history we have enshrined the idea of the separation of Church and State in the Constitution. We have abolished slavery and have worked diligently for the cause of Civil Rights. This Church has also striven for equality and human rights for all without regard to race, ethnicity, gender or orientation.

And now in honor of this congregation’s 275th Anniversary we, the Priest, Wardens and Vestry of St. Peter’s Church, Salem invite you, The Honorable Deval Patrick, Governor of the Free and Sovereign Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to occupy the “Governor’s Pew” as a sign of the universal freedoms for which a free people stand.

Governor Patrick Visits St. Peter's

The following article appears on the front page of today's Salem Evening News.

What a wonderful day for St. Peter's.

Governor's visit to venerable St. Peter's makes history

By Chris Cassidy
Staff writer

SALEM — The last time a governor walked into St. Peter's Episcopal Church, he faced the threat of being spit on.

Yesterday, a much friendlier assembly greeted Gov. Deval Patrick, who paid a visit to this downtown church celebrating its 275th anniversary.

"This crowd wouldn't do a thing like that," the Rev. Paul Bresnahan told Patrick after he shook hands with the 25 or so parishioners at the church.

Patrick walked inside to discover he had his very own pew waiting for him — The State Pew — at one time occupied by one of the region's least-popular governors.

It's a seat with a lot of history.

In 1774, tensions in Boston ignited to the point where the royal governor, Gen. Thomas Gage, fled to Salem for his own safety. While in Salem, Gage attended church services at St. Peter's, and his seat became known as The State Pew.

But St. Peter's was affiliated with the Church of England, making it a popular target for the rebels who wanted the British out.

"We were on the wrong side of the Revolutionary War," said lifelong parishioner Virginia Lavoie.

It grew so bad that a church member was assigned to keep an eye on the balcony, where patriots would spit on parishioners during worship.

Its British emblem still intact, the pew has never been occupied by another governor until Patrick visited yesterday.

"It wouldn't do to ask you to update the coat of arms?" Patrick joked.

Bresnahan invited Patrick to the church to commemorate its 275th anniversary, and Patrick spent about 15 minutes here before hosting a town hall-style meeting at Armory Park.

"It really shows (Bresnahan) has been aggressively trying to increase the visibility of the church," parishioner Robert McHugh said. "He's a tireless guy, and we're quite thrilled."

"It's wonderful," said Heidi Milman, a parishioner for more than 40 years. "It's a lot of recognition for the church. ... We're very proud of our anniversary."

Staff writer Chris Cassidy can be reached at ccassidy@salemnews.com.


Gov. Deval Patrick listens as Rev. Paul Bresnahan explains the history of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Salem during the governor's visit to the church yesterday afternoon. Patrick is the first governor to visit the church since before the Revolutionary War, when England's royal governor occupied what became known as The State Pew. Matt Viglianti/Staff photo (Click for larger image)

Gov. Deval Patrick says hello to Nathan Grimes, 1, of Salem, and Nathan's mother, Michele Myrie-Grimes, during Patrick's visit to St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Salem. Also shown are Stephanie Myrie, Michele's sister, center, and Pamela Myrie, their mother. Matt Viglianti/Staff photo (Click for larger image)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A Sower Went Our to Sow

Next week, July 13, the following readings will meet us on Sunday morning. Perhaps we can learn together what it means for God's Word to be a "lantern unto our feet"...as the sower goes out to sow...

Collect of the Day for July 13, 2008

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Genesis 25:19-34
These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her; and she said, "If it is to be this way, why do I live?" So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her,
"Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples born of you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the elder shall serve the younger."
When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!" (Therefore he was called Edom.) Jacob said, "First sell me your birthright." Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?" Jacob said, "Swear to me first." So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Psalm 119:105-112 Page 772, BCP

Your word is a lantern to my feet *
and a light upon my path.
I have sworn and am determined *
to keep your righteous judgments.
I am deeply troubled; *
preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word.
Accept, O LORD, the willing tribute of my lips, *
and teach me your judgments.
My life is always in my hand, *
yet I do not forget your law.
The wicked have set a trap for me, *
but I have not strayed from your commandments.
Your decrees are my inheritance for ever; *
truly, they are the joy of my heart.
I have applied my heart to fulfill your statutes *
for ever and to the end.

Romans 8:1-11
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law-- indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Matthew 13:1-9,18-23
Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: "Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!"
"Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."

A Sower Went Out to Sow
Note here the role of “The Word (Logos) of God. For as the sower goes out to sow, so the word of God finds a home in the human heart. Likewise, as in the psalter, the Word of God becomes a lantern to our feet. In Romans Paul understands that because we live in the spirit we are no longer in the flesh, in a sense and so we come no longer under the law, but under the authority of the Word of God. The story of Jacob and Esau and the selling of the birthright (or pledge of “word”) between two brothers…is of great interest Thus next week we are invited by the lectionary to consider the Word of God…and our word to one another as central to the ordering of our common life.

I came across a few thoughts with regard to "the word". I shared them on Sunday and several folk asked for copies of what I said; Here then, a few simple thoughts:

Illustrations #1

God spoke and it was so. God spoke simply: Let there be light. Let us make humankind. Jesus spoke with similar simplicity; “Love one another”. It really is as simple as that. Churchill summarizes well, the power of a single word: “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom; justice; honor; duty; mercy; hope”

Illustration #2

Years ago I heard an old saying that has stuck with me through the years. It is one of those sayings that takes the same words, and rearranges them slightly to make an unforgettable point: the one to which I refer is; “I shall not live till I have seen God, and when I have seen God I shall never die!”

Illustration #3

Some say God is silent! Not so.
The Scripture is the Word of God, and has much to say. In the prologue to John’s great Gospel, Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, and Jesus is a never ending word of love in my heart. And according to Meister Eckhart: “Every creature is a Word of God”.
What a marvel that God is so articulate when so often so many cannot hear a word of God.