Monday, November 23, 2009

An Open Letter to Patrick Kennedy

An Open Letter to Patrick Kennedy and Other Catholics
On the Occasion of his Excommunication



Dear Mr Kennedy et al,

According to news reports your bishop has asked you not to receive communion. I find that utterly amazing. I wouldn’t normally “but in” to a matter like this but Rome has taken it upon itself to invite Anglicans and Episcopalians to “come on over” if they find themselves uncomfortable with our stand on the ordination of women and gays within the church’s leadership. As a consequence we now find ourselves in the unpleasant posture of “butting” into each other’s pastoral bailiwick. Therefore I write to you as one parish priest from a small city in Massachusetts.

It seems to me that Jesus fed the 5000 on the hillsides of Galilee without checking anyone’s orthodoxy with regard to religious practice at the time. None of them were Catholics or even Episcopalians. Most were Jews, just like Jesus. There were very likely Samaritans and Gentiles among the crowd and Jesus did not seem to mind if all came to be fed by the bountiful Goodness of God. I cannot imagine that anyone would ask another person of faith to refrain from receiving of that very Goodness especially when trying your level best to care alike for rich and poor, black and white, male and female, gay and straight and all the other folk some will “categorize” into these convenient little pharisaical boxes. Jesus went out of his way; it seems to me, to seek out the very outcasts that “religious” folk sought to exclude.

On the matter of abortion, the Roman Church certainly has a right to maintain its point of view and to do so with all due diligence. But sincere people of faith may also find themselves differing on these matters. I, for instance, would be loathe to go back to the time when women found themselves seeking out dangerous, unclean and illicit procedures from shady characters as my mother did many years ago before this procedure became legal. Forcing women to carry children to full term is just another form of tyranny and oppression. I am told that the fellow in my mother’s case promised to love her on that night the two of them got frisky. He broke that promise when she reported to him that the proverbial rabbit died. He abandoned her. Many men do the same in similar situations today. I would speak vigorously for a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body particularly when so many seek to exploit and abuse women with impunity. We still refuse to guarantee equal pay for equal work. My mom worked in payroll back in the 50’s, and was distressed at pay inequities way back then. My dad was dead and she was our “breadwinner”. Things haven’t changed much for women since then. May God bless you for speaking up for these women and their families.

On another level, though, I am deeply concerned about Rome’s moral outrage over abortion when it does not seem to be matched by her moral outrage at the abuse of the children we already have on the planet. What of their medical needs; their hunger; their safety from the hands of those who would exploit them sexually and otherwise inside and outside the church? Where is the church’s moral outrage for the living breathing children we have right in front of our eyes. If you have to pick a single issue, why not pick advocacy on behalf of those children we need to love and care about NOW!!!

I am sorry that your bishop has asked you not to receive communion. I know that you are resourceful enough to find a priest who will be only too glad to minister to you of the Goodness of God without regard to the bishop’s directive. But now that Rome has dropped the gauntlet, allow me to simply say that EVERYONE is WELCOME at God’s table in the Episcopal Church. Period.

This comes to you with my sincerest prayers that your bishop and the bishop of Rome will rethink some of these matters. Women, gay folk and the rest of us are awaiting a “kinder, gentler” faith,


Father Paul B. Bresnahan,
Semi-retired Priest-in-Charge
St Gabriel's, Douglassville, PA


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Great sermon from David

David Bresnahan is an active member of St. John's, Bowdoin St in Boston on the backside of Beacon hill. St. John's is a small congregation...and needs honest, loving, leadership. This past week, my sermon was as they say, all right. But I thought David's was outstanding. Here it is for your review.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord… plans to give you hope and a future.You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”Amen.
Jeremiah 29:11,12


I’d like to offer some thoughts about how this community can respond to today’s Gospel mandate to “put in everything [we have] to live on.”

Our parish throughout its 126-year history has steadfastly provided leadership on social justice issues/concerns and has challenged itself to provide genuine welcome to all. Our parish included freed slaves in the late 19th century, was the first church in Boston to provide a spiritual home for people living and dying with HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s, and has advocated for women’s ministry and the rights of LGBT people within the Church and the community at-large. For many years, we provided space and support to Neighborhood Action, which provided meals and hospitality and hope and kindness for homeless and very low-income people in our community.

The parish has held a distinguished place in the liturgical, musical, artistic, and intellectual life of the Church. Everett Titcomb, one of the 20th century’s most influential, prolific composers of Anglican music, was St. John’s Organist for 50 years. Among the notables at St. John’s, T.S. Eliot was a parishioner and Desmond Tutu was a guest preacher.

Today, Saturday’s/Sunday’s Bread feeds more than 200 poor and homeless people every weekend in Clayton Hall. Our weekly free concerts provide outreach and respite for city residents and a supportive artistic home for emerging Boston musicians, many associated with the conservatories in our community. St. John’s hosts Dignity/Boston, a congregation of LGBT Roman Catholics.

As together this community emerges into healing and stability from a prolonged and complex period of internal conflict and decline, we have an opportunity for a new beginning.

It might be hard to imagine what a new beginning might look like for us. There are 25 or so of us trying to support a budget of about $250,000. It doesn’t take long to do the math and realize that it just might be a bit of a challenge for such a small number of people to realistically and consistently sustain that budget. In fact, we don’t. The fact is that we are spending down our dwindling endowment at a rate of more than $100,000 a year.

These numbers are more than discouraging. For those of us who love this community, who have been formed by this community, who have been healed within this community, who believe this community has something left to offer the broader Church, we might be terrified of what this means for our future. We are

anxious. We’re at an impasse, an uncertainty like darkness. But darkness is not the end.

I’m not usually one for self-help books, but as I’m in the middle of a job search while I’m finishing up an MBA, I’ll take all the help I can get. A friend recently leant me “Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths,” a book by Timothy Butler, who is a psychologist and Director of Career Development at the Harvard Business School.

His premise is that times of uncertainty, of impasse, of darkness provide the opportunity to create new beginnings for ourselves – that we can move from crisis to impasse and not repeat the cycle over and over again. Acknowledging that crisis is going to be a continuing, repeated reality, his argument is that at times of impasse, we have an opportunity to move ourselves to a new level at the point of impasse, so that when crisis occurs again, we have the opportunity to deal with it at a new level, with greater strength and more enriched experience – so that we don’t deal with the same issues over and over again. What he says resonated with me as having direct applicability for us as a community at this point in our life.

I’ll quote one story he used he used as a metaphor in his book, that I found particularly compelling – that of

The Black Sun[1]

“Both Greek and Celtic mythology include a mysterious image known as the “Black Sun,” which can be visualized as tremendous energy radiating from a dense and dark center. (Celtic myths sometimes place it in the center of the earth.) And it stands in contrast to the metaphoric qualities we commonly associate with the sun: The brightness of day gives life warmth. Good things must be close by when we rise to a sunny morning.

“But the idea behind the ancient Black Sun image is that energy and life radiate from darkness as well. Some kinds of energy that we need for growth and for a complete life come only from the experience of darkness. The Black Sun is a hidden resource, a font of energy that is available if we recognize it for what it is and know how to turn toward it and accept it. Being dark, its energy is hidden. We cannot explain it

in the same way we can explain things in the light of the more familiar sun. The wisdom and energy it brings are less obvious, less rational.

“Myths illuminate subtle aspects of the human condition and human development. The Black Sun tells us that there is value in slowing down and being patient when things seem dark and unclear. Do not run from such experiences, it says. Turn toward the difficult time. By just focusing on it and sticking with it we will discover power that radiates from it as surely as warming light radiates from the daytime sun.

“The Black Sun is an apt metaphor for the deep concentration and inward focus that precedes the act of writing a poem, founding a company, forming a sculpture, or jumping into a radically different role at work. In all these cases, we do not operate “in the light” or “from the light”; instead, we are going where we have not been before and are trusting an intuition that seems to rise from the depths of our selves. The successful artist and the successful businessperson alike learn how to stay with this process of being stuck in the darkness; in fact they stick with it until a new momentum emerges from the very experience of being stuck, being in the dark.

“The problem, of course, is that we are afraid of the dark. We want to move in the sunshine, walk along familiar streets, and have experiences that are sure to give us pleasure. We want to feel that most of life can be planned and that we have reasonable chance of avoiding pain. The idea of staying with things just as they are, without a plan, of suspending our model of how things work, puts us into a frontier of unknowing, which is to say at a place that is “dark” to our previous concentration of things, to our plan for ourselves and our notion of how everything works. We avoid this dim frontier, and so we stay stuck.

“[Sometimes we can’t help but see] being in the dark, being at an impasse, as failure, rather [than] as a necessary crisis in the service of a larger creative moment. There is danger of internalizing the experience of impasse as evidence of personal deficiency, as a statement about our self-worth. [We may need help to realize] that this is a tough time and not a statement of who we are in the core of our being.”

We may be in the dark – at an impasse – but it’s not the end.

After the death of her spouse, Ruth was in an uncertain, tenuous place in her life, but out of her desperation, her darkness, her open-mindedness – …she told [Naomi] “All you tell me I will do” – she became the mother of “Obed: he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.” Out of Ruth’s grief, she became a mother – David’s great-great grandmother – and a link in the family tree of Jesus.

But notice she didn’t do it alone. And neither can we. We need to grow to make this work. We need to continue to look to the community around us as a source of energy and renewal.

What does our surrounding community look like? Here’s a snapshot. Suffolk University (and several other nearby colleges), government offices (including the State House and City Hall), Boston’s Financial District, and uniquely vibrant and historic urban residential and commercial neighborhoods surround the parish. According to the Boston Indicators Project, 47.8% of neighborhood residents are between the ages of 20 and 34. While the neighborhood is one of the most affluent in the city, 10.3% of families live in poverty.

Growth for us will require continuing our tradition of genuine welcome. It will require flexibility and change. It means putting in everything we have – in terms of our collective energy and commitment – into growth.

This week I learned a great deal from Bill Traynor, a community organizer and the executive director of Lawrence Community Works 30 miles north of here in the post-industrial city of Lawrence, which has some of the highest rates of poverty in the state – where the foreclosure crisis has struck particularly hard. Crime is persistent. But Lawrence is also a vibrant community in many ways. 80% of its residents are recent immigrants. It is the youngest city in the state – out of 70-something-thousand residents, 23,000 residents are kids.

Bill has been influential in rethinking the way community organizing has been done and has written extensively on the subject and has transformed the traditional understanding of community organizing: the knock on doors, protest something, insist on change, get change, let the energy created by the efforts fizzle.

Bill prefers the concept of community building – the idea that community is not the network of relationships or connectivity of people, but is the value and the functionality that comes from that connectivity.

Lawrence Community Works is an organization of 5,000 residents of Lawrence, with a number of programs including English as a Second Language, Job Skills training, after school tutoring, first time homebuyer classes, affordable housing development, entrepreneurial resources and more. It’s a large organization, with a sizable budget

– but its organizational model seeks to provide maximum internal and external flexibility so that people have many ways to enter the organization, move within the organization between programs and become more and more engaged with the organization.

Bill shared some of the principles that allow Lawrence Community Works to thrive and that may be some good wisdom for us as we seek to grow and welcome and transform. His advice for building community, he said, is a way to avoid the entrenchment, stubbornness, and closed-mindedness that occurs when communities go through crisis – such as Lawrence certainly is (and maybe St John’s is too).

· Encourage confident welcoming. Communities that are not sure of or confident in themselves are not welcoming to newcomers;

· Turn a “no, we can’t” attitude into a “yes, we can” attitude;

· Flexibility to change is an asset and a tool for welcoming;

· Pay attention to figurative room creation – whether the space and attitudes create a sense of staving or an attitude of feeding that every room or space or attitude has the capacity to do

o A room that starves encourages – domineering leadership, rigidity, detachment, fear of change, difference, complexity, withholding information or value;

o A space that Feeds provides – generosity, tolerance; fun, joy, creativity; mutual support, engagement; relationship building;

· Embrace community mobility. Sometimes it is best for people to move on to better things for themselves. Focus on continual change and on creating quick and easy and organic ways for people to get to know other people to make the experience of moving into a new space positive and welcoming;

· To be flexible, focus on what we’re doing rather than what “we are” or “what we’ve always been.” Avoid a structural gatekeeper mentality or an attitude of “the right way” to do things – implying of course that something new or different is “wrong.” Avoid anything that gets in they way of welcoming and of building connectivity. Build a community where you can’t necessarily tell who the leaders in the room are.

I think there are some good principles and some good lessons for us as we commit ourselves to living into uncertainty. We have had a rich history, and our present provides a jumping off point for a yet unknown, evolving, future that can involve new people, ideas, energy, hope, life…

Let’s live into the opportunities provided by the blank slate of our darkness. Let’s welcome newness and change and growth. Let’s collectively “put in everything [we have] to live on.”

With our faith, we’re never at the end. Amen.



[1] Butler, Timothy, “Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths,” 2007, Harvard Business School Press, pp. 6-7


Sunday, October 25, 2009

An Invitation to an Invlusive Church-II

This post is only slightly different than the previous one, and is the precise language I used in a sermon I gave October 25 at 8 and 19 am.

An Invitation to an Inclusive Church


The curious fellow in our Gospel lesson today Mr. Bartimaeus, was blind; he was a blind beggar and the louder he screamed for Jesus’ mercy, the more sternly he was warned to hold his tongue. There are many forms of blindness, but as I see it, the blindness of an exclusive faith is perhaps the most profound blindness of all. Thus I can hold my tongue no more than the blind beggar can, because there is something that I can see that I need to share with anyone who will listen. It is not every day that a priest gets to preach to a wider audience than his own congregation, so let me say what is on my heart today.
We have now received an invitation from Catholicism to return to the Mother Church. For those unhappy over The Anglican/Episcopal Church’s “liberal” stance on the ordination of gays and their inclusion in our leadership and membership, there is room in Rome. For those unhappy about the ordination of women, there is spiritual refuge in the purview of the Holy See. Curiously enough, the church that brings you celibacy, will allow married Anglican/Episcopal Church clergy to return as well.
I must respectfully decline that invitation. While I am only one Episcopal Priest, and retired to boot, I find it a curiosity that this invitation comes as it does at a time when it is becoming more apparent than ever that folk are just folk; whether gay or straight, male or female, rich or poor, black or white and so on. How startling that something as obvious as this would be such a matter of controversy. Alas, this is not the first time when the church has been a safe refuge for bigotry. (sorry for the harsh language; but I cannot find another word for the behavior) It is no wonder that so many people have abandoned churches of all denominations. Our squabbles seem very small-minded especially when we review all the urgent issues of the day. No wonder indeed why so many opt out of “organized religion” even at a time when spiritual hunger runs so deep.
Even in Biblical material we are “one in Christ” as the blessed Apostle put; it without respect to classification by sex, gender, orientation, class, or ethnicity. In his very own words, he put it this way, “for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28)
This is not at root a liberal/conservative issue it is a biblical one. It has its traditional dimensions as well. For instance, we figured out 600 years ago that it is a good idea to allow the clergy to marry. This is a splendid way to channel clerical libidinal energy. It is no assurance of rectitude, but the instances of clergy misconduct are far more likely to be held in check if there is a marriage within which to practice intimacy than if there is celibacy with no such outlet. Terrible things can happen to a church with celibacy as the only libidinal outlet as we well know, and the Anglican/Episcopal Church figured that out a long, long time ago.
The great question before us is this; are we a house of prayer for all people or not? Jesus made it clear by his courage in seeking out the lame, the halt, the blind (like our friend Bartimaeus), the prostitute, the tax collector, the leper and all the other outcasts that his church was to be a house of prayer for all people. This he did when he overturned the tables in the Temple in a radical revolution that continues to reverberate throughout the church.
There was a special place in his heart too for the “eunuchs” of his time. I wonder what he meant by the following startling saying; But he said to them, "Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can." (Matthew 19:11-12) You can define that term as you like, but they clearly were not a threat to folks of the opposite sex. There is considerable evidence that when the biblical material refers to “eunuchs” we were talking of folks whose interests lay with folks of the same sex. We now refer to this group as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered, LGBT for short. And isn't it interesting to note that even Jesus realized that there were those who would find this teaching a hard one to accept. The radical love of Jesus is often hard to take because it includes our enemies.
I believe that Jesus stood up for this crowd too as he stood up for us all, and I am convinced that is why they put him to death on the cross. Jesus was not a liberal. He merely loved everyone! That’s why God died. That’s why God is Risen. That’s why God will come again!
Therefore, I would like to extend an invitation to all you fine folks who have wondered all along why Rome won’t allow her priests to marry. You might find an Episcopal Church to your liking. We have bishops, priests and deacons, and the sacraments to boot, and the clergy can marry and all of us have to have background checks from an outside agency to be sure that we can comfortably call ourselves a “safe church” for children and others. We also figured out that women could take their place at the highest places of the church as bishops, priests, and deacons. Our Presiding Bishop is Katharine Jefferts Schori! Now we are more and more convinced that ordination and membership transcends sexual orientation as well. There are those who differ with us and cite passages in Leviticus and Paul that prescribe such a teaching.
I can cite passages in the Gospel, in Paul, in the Prophets that support a much more compassionate and loving interpretation on the faith tradition. Why anyone would use the bible to exclude people because of gender and orientation is puzzlement to me. But race, was used at another time to justify slavery and the bible has been used to thwart scientific advance as well. The same folks who want to exclude gays refused to look into Galileo’s telescope for about 600 years as well. Many still refuse Darwin's help in advancing us toward fuller understanding of the nature of human nature. They refuse to encourage scientific advancement in stem cell research that could help lead to important cures for so many diseases and ease human suffering. You can add to the list as your leisure.
So, by way of rejoinder to Rome, and some others who have parted company with us; allow me to invite you here; namely to the Episcopal Church; “A House of Prayer for All People”. We have lost quite a few members because of our love for the outcast. So there is plenty of room in most of our churches. More importantly there is plenty of room in God’s heart for you here too. The church has sent out too many chilly messages lately. The church has said terrible thing to gay folk and women. I thought you might like to hear one that proclaims the Good News of God in Christ...the news of a loving compassionate and inclusive church.
I would preach the Gospel today. God loves you and so do I…no exceptions. “We are a house of prayer for all People”…no exceptions, period. And so my friend Bartimaeus, I hope you can see now. Jesus said; Go in peace, your faith has made you well.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

An Invitation to an Inclusive Church

We have now received an invitation from Catholicism to return to the Mother Church. For those unhappy over The Anglican/Episcopal Church’s “liberal” stance on the ordination of gays and their inclusion in our leadership and membership, there is room in Rome. For those unhappy about the ordination of women, there is spiritual refuge in the purview of the Holy See. Curiously enough, the church that brings you celibacy, will allow married Anglican/Episcopal Church clergy to return as well.

I must respectfully decline that invitation. While I am only one Episcopal Priest, and retired to boot, I find it a curiosity that this invitation comes as it does at a time when it is becoming more apparent than ever that folk are folk; whether gay or straight, male or female, rich or poor, black or white and so on. How startling that something as obvious as this would be such a matter of controversy. Alas, this is not the first time when the church has been a safe refuge for bigotry. (sorry for the harsh language; but I cannot find another word for the behavior)

Even in Biblical material we are “one in Christ” as the blessed Apostle put; it without respect to classification by sex, gender, orientation, class, or ethnicity. In his very own words, he put it this way, “for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28)

This is not at root a liberal/conservative issue it is a biblical one. It has its traditional dimensions as well. For instance, we figured out 600 years ago that it is a good idea to allow the clergy to marry. This is a splendid way to channel clerical libidinal energy. It is no assurance of rectitude, but the instances of clergy misconduct are far more likely to be held in check if there is a marriage within which to practice intimacy than if there is celibacy with no such outlet. Terrible things can happen to a church with celibacy as the only libidinal outlet as we well know, and the Anglican/Episcopal Church figured that out a long, long time ago.

The great question before us is this; are we a house of prayer for all people or not? Jesus made it clear by his courage in seeking out the lame, the halt, the blind, the prostitute, the tax collector, the leper and all the other outcasts that his church was to be a house of prayer for all people. This he did when he overturned the tables in the Temple in a radical revolution that continues to reverberate throughout the church.

There was a special place in his heart too for the “eunuchs” of his time. I wonder what he meant by the following startling saying; But he said to them, "Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can." (Matthew 19:11-12) You can define that term as you like, but they clearly were not a threat to folks of the opposite sex. There is considerable evidence that when the biblical material refers to “eunuchs” we were talking of folks whose interests lay with folks of the same sex. We now refer to this group as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered, LGBT for short. And isn't it interesting to note that even Jesus realized that there were those who would find this teaching a hard one to accept. The radical love of Jesus is often hard to take because it includes our enemies.

I believe that Jesus stood up for this crowd too as he stood up for us all, and I am convinced that is why they put him to death on the cross. Jesus was not a liberal. He merely loved everyone! That’s why God died. That’s why God is Risen. That’s why God will come again!

Therefore, I would like to extend an invitation to all you fine folks who have wondered all along why Rome won’t allow her priests to marry. You might find an Episcopal Church to your liking. We have bishops, priests and deacons, and the sacraments to boot, and the clergy can marry and all of us have to have background checks from an outside agency to be sure that we can comfortably call ourselves a “safe church” for children and others. We also figured out that women could take their place at the highest places of the church as bishops, priests, and deacons. Our Presiding Bishop is Katharine Jefferts Schori! Now we are more and more convinced that ordination and membership transcends sexual orientation as well. There are those who differ with us and cite passages in Leviticus and Paul that prescribe such a teaching.

I can cite passages in the Gospel, in Paul, in the Prophets that support a much more compassionate and loving interpretation on the faith tradition. Why anyone would use the bible to exclude people because of gender and orientation is puzzlement to me. But race, was used at another time to justify slavery and the bible has been used to thwart scientific advance as well. The same folks who want to exclude gays refused to look into Galileo’s telescope for about 600 years as well. Many still refuse Darwin's help in advancing us toward fuller understanding of the nature of human nature. They refuse to encourage scientific advancement in stem cell research that could help lead to important cures for so many diseases and ease human suffering. You can add to the list as your leisure.

So, by way of rejoinder to Rome, and some others who have parted company with us; allow me to invite you here; namely to the Episcopal Church; “A House of Prayer for All People”. We have lost quite a few members because of our love for the outcast. So there is plenty of room in most of our churches. More importantly there is plenty of room in God’s heart for you here too. The church has sent out too many chilly messages lately. The church has said terrible thing to gay folk and women. I thought you might like to hear one that proclaims the Good News of God in Christ...the news of a loving compassionate and inclusive church.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"A House of Prayer for All People" -a Biblical Base

And so the question may arise; "We call ourselves 'A House of Prayer for all people', how do you figure that means gay folks too?
The simple answer to that question is that I understand that "all" means "all". But if that does not satisfy you, lets dig a bit deeper. If we go to the 56th chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah, we will read that proclamation in the following context.
Isaiah 56
1 Thus says the Lord: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.
2 Happy is the mortal who does this, the one who holds it fast, who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it, and refrains from
doing any evil.
3 Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say, "The Lord will surely separate me from his people"; and do not let the
eunuch say, "I am just a dry tree." 4 For thus says the Lord: To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things
that please me and hold fast my covenant, 5 I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better
than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. 6 And the foreigners who join
themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath,
and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant— 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my
house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house
of prayer for all peoples.
Please note first that the main concern here of the prophet is that the maintenance of justice be uppermost in the mind of the faith community.
Secondly the concern is for the foreigner (note verse 3) who is justifiably concerned about being "separated" from the faithful. Foreigners often were separated out in the Law Codes of Israel.
Thirdly, and this I find stunning, the eunuch is concerned about the fact that his (her) lack of offspring leaves him (her) without lineage. (see verse 3). But to both the foreigner and to the eunuch Isaiah, proclaims a compassionate theme. To the eunuch first the prophet proclaims that a memorial will be established within the holy wall of God's dwelling place an everlasting name that shall never be cut off. And to the foreigner God will gather them into the mountain of God and make them joyful in God's holy house of prayer!
What a stunning proclamation! This is especially so since in the Levitical Code we have clear prescriptions against both the foreigner and the eunuch about how closely they may enter the holy place.
Foreigners are pretty straight forward. We all know who they are. Each succeeding group of them have received a mixed if not chilly or even hostile welcome here and abroad, and not for just religious reasons.
But eunuchs; who are they? Are these folks just the ones who tend the sultan's harems in the Ancient Near Eastern world? Or are they perhaps more than that. When Jesus mentioned eunuchs, he mentioned those a) born that way, b) those made that way by man, and c) those who make themselves that way for the sake of the service of God.
You can read that for yourself in Matthew 19 verse 12 and following;
"12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can."
Note that Jesus talks about eunuchs who have "been so from birth". Isn't that interesting? How many folks are there who can make that claim? I suspect that we're talking about a classification of people who transcend mere physical deformity in the genitalia. I suspect that there have always been people who have just not been interested in folks of the opposite sex, and they were that way from the beginning. Note that Jesus presses the point by pointing out that not all may be able to accept this particular teaching, when he says "Let anyone accept this who can." In other words, if you cannot accept this level of compassion, so be it; but with God, there is room for love even here.
Note too that much of the Levitical Code enumerated all kinds of folks who are simply not able to get near to the Temple. Of course, maimed people could not offer gifts. Neither could sinners, prostitutes, lepers, the unclean, tax collectors and the like. In other words, the very people that Jesus sought out to include within the embrace of God's love were the ones held at arms distance by much of the Mosaic Law.
Thus we come to the Cleansing of the Temple! AND I find it interesting that it would come to be called that by the biblical scholars.
Catch the scene if you will; Jesus enters the holy city and approaches the Temple precincts with his band of outcasts; lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, lame, halt, blind beggars, looking for the healing touch of God. And they are so excited by his approach to the holy place that they spread their garments and palm branches at his feet. They sing Hosanna in the Highest Heaven!
But when Jesus enters the Temple precincts, does he find there a place dedicated to the sanctification of those who look for justice, and the healing touch of God? No! He finds traders in pigeons and money changers. You can read for yourself what happens next;
Mt 21:12Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
Mr 11:15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves;
John 2:14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.
John 2:15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.
And with that he proclaimed with all the authority of God; "My house shall be a house of prayer for all people, but you have made it a den of robbers".
You know what happened after that. The Temple Authorities and the Government got together (as they often do) and brought about a mock trial and had then Jesus was crucified.
I submit to you that Jesus crossed the line in many ways. He healed the lame and the blind, he consorted with sinners and prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, and a whole bunch of other unsavory characters. We even have some evidence that he knew about and embraced the reality that there were foreigners and eunuchs abroad in the land and that there were those who would find it difficult to hear about that, and might prefer to stop their ears from such talk.
When I read that God's church should be a "House of Prayer for All People", I Honest to God feel as though that ought to be understood as ALL PEOPLE!!!"
In the Episcopal Church I believe that we are honestly trying to take this teaching of Jesus seriously. I realize that we are but one tiny corner of the Christian world that teaches this to include the LGBT community. We are in fact one tiny corner of the entire world of faith that teaches so.
The biblical literalists of his time had difficulty with the approach too, no doubt. For to say that you mean "ALL PEOPLE", means just all people.
To put ourselves under that degree of biblical authority may be difficult for many, but for me and my house, we embrace it with joy!
Fr. Paul



Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Salty Church: Forgiveness, Mission and Generosity

Being a Salty Presence

Today's Gospel is typical of Jesus in some ways. It is a string of disconnected sayings at least on the face of it. Read it over quickly and then lets give it a bit of thought.

John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

"If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell., And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

"For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."

A Warning & And a Challenge
Don't Pluck our your Eye but be A Salty Church!

PLEASE don't go cutting off your hand, your foot, or your eye! You know, there are those who do take the Bible seriously and I include myself in that number. But I don't take it literally. Many do. Several folks I've known over the years have actually considered such self-inflicted surgery. Thankfully, at least, among those I know, no one has actually gone through with such a drastic measure.

We live in a literal age. The power of the metaphor has been lost to many modern ears, especially in the world or Biblical Theology. In the passage above, Jesus is clearly speaking metaphorically, and is using the literary device "hyperbole"....the use of exaggeration to make a point. Here the point is; be careful how you use your body; it may cause you to stumble and to sin.

Then Jesus jumps to the treatment of his "little ones" and issues a solemn warning to those who would be the vehicles of their undoing.

Finally he goes into the notion of "saltiness"...clearly a metaphor here. To be "salty" means to be some kind of savory presence in the world. Obviously, Jesus was quite the "salty" presence. He was so "salty" that the transformation of the world that he began is still continuing. We are to be exactly that kind of presence in our own time.

Therefore, today Forgiveness, Mission and Generosity are the vehicles through which I believe we are to be called to be a "salty presence". I'd like to

Forgiveness, Mission and Generosity

The Hope of the Future

When I came here to be your priest almost three years ago I was given three tasks;

  1. Help us heal the hurt
  2. Help us discern our mission
  3. Help us with stewardship

My thoughts and prayers return to these three things as we enter this new season together as a “whole new church”. Things have happened at a breakneck speed since the Bishop asked us to receive “Iglesia de San/Pedro” as part of our Spiritual family. I believe it is time for us to stop for a moment of peace and prayer and consider where we are now. As I thought and prayed about these times I returned to these goals and raise them up to you all for your thoughts and your prayers. I believe that it is in these goals that the hope of the future of our beloved parish resides.

First: I ask God’s Forgiveness and yours.

When I came here the healing and the forgiveness we needed was for something that happened in the past. Now the healing and forgiveness we need is from things that are happening in our midst now. We cannot be community, we cannot be family unless we hurt one another from time to time, by a careless or defensive comment. That hurt gets magnified when careless comments are repeated and passed around. This happens in family, at the office, in school and yes even in churches.

In Judaism you cannot have a future without the rituals of forgiveness every fall in Rosh Hashanah. In Islam you cannot have a future without the forgiveness that comes from the daily fast during the month of Ramadan. Both festivals have just passed. In our faith, we cannot come to Eucharist without asking God’s forgiveness and one another’s.

Therefore for anything and everything that I may have said or done that has hurt your feelings, I ask God’s forgiveness and yours. And for all that you have said and done to one another I ask you do the likewise. Knowing God to be who God is, I rejoice that I am forgiven. Knowing who you are, I rejoice that you forgive me and that you also forgive one another. This is the essence of the church’s ministry; the ministry of reconciliation itself.

Second: Remember our mission; “We are a house of prayer for ALL people”.

At our first vestry retreat we prayed and thought about our mission. We remembered that Jesus spent most of his time seeking out the outcasts of his time. This society has its own outcasts. When Jesus entered Jerusalem all those whom he loved received him with joy and spread palm branches at his feet. These were in many cases those who had been expelled from the Temple. So when he entered the Temple and found the money changers, he overturned their tables and said; “My house shall be a house of prayer for all people, but you have made it a den of thieves”. Thus we remembered why we are here at St. Peter’s Church. We are always to be a House of Prayer for ALL People. (Period)

Third: The Hope of our future is in Generosity.

Notice I capitalized that word “Generosity”. It is a word that needs to be capitalized. For the church to have a future, our giving is at the core of our essential being. There is an old saying that applies to Generosity; “It is not so much the amount of the gift but the amount of Love that goes into the Gift that counts.” So it is with God’s church. We are coming up upon a season of Giving. Over the next few months between now and the end of the year, the church will ask you to make a pledge. The church will be making a budget. The hope of the church rests in your hands. You will hear more. You will be aware of the need for the church and her members to crunch numbers. For now, I ask your prayers and your generous spirit to consider what you might do. The biblical standard for giving is the tithe; 10% of your income. Can you do that much? How about 5%? Can you give 5% of your income? The hope of the church rests on your answer. Here then is a proportional giving chart. Look for yourself in it and ask yourself, ask yourself, ask your partner or your spouse; “Can we give in proportion to what God has given us?” Even more important, ask this question; “Can I give with the kind of love that makes this gift sacred?” And may God prosper our generosity as, together, we make the future possible.

Forgiveness, Mission and Generosity, the hope of the future of St. Peter’s…it rests in our hands.

God bless you all,

Fr. Paul





Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Cost of Healthcare

It will cost dearly to insure everyone in the United States. There is a way to "pay as you go". Speaking as one who likes the occasional drink, and who has smokes, and indulges in salty and fatty foods, allow me to suggest that, since these habits, taken to excess, form the basis of much of our health costs, that we tax these indulgences significantly and ask those who put health at risk by using these commodities, to "pay the freight" for their use as we go along. I am in no position to calculate the level of tax, but I do imagine that a certain proportion of our illnesses can be traced to the use and misuse of the above. Why not then just plug into the price of these commodities an amount commensurate with the cost they generate by way of the costs they incur to the health care of the country.
Perhaps we can begin by saying that 50% of our heath care costs can be traced to the use/misuse of these commodities, therefore lets pay as we go by taxing their use.
There...what a simple idea.
Your thoughts?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Babel to Pentecost; Despair to Hope

Here are a few words I found helpful and hopeful as I wrote them...it has been a while since I have submitted a statement here...this one may be useful. Fr. Paul

From Babel to Pentecost

TEASER

On Good Friday this year we did the Stations of the Cross for the first time in many years at the church. We recited the ancient words of the Trisagion in seven languages. The Trisagion has been called the Thrice Holy: “Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us” When we did that, we didn’t realize how prescient we were. Just a month ago the Bishop asked us to receive an entire congregation into our parish family; a Spanish speaking congregation! We are thrilled, of course, but we are also devoutly aware of the challenges facing us as the language barrier will indeed be real. Then we began preparing for Pentecost, a time when we proclaim the Gospel in as many languages as we can find in our congregation. Again the magic number: seven! And among them is, of course, Spanish. How true to the birthday of the church, when the Spirit alighted upon the heads of the Apostles and they proclaimed the Gospel to all in a language they all understood from the four corners of the earth. As the church in her very birth preached and understood the Gospel of all races, cultures, and ethnicities, so too may we break the barriers that separate humanity by proclaiming the Good News of God to all!

THE WORD

In the lesson from Acts, it is amazing that the Pentecost event finds the disciples speaking in foreign languages in such ways as to make the Gospel absolutely clear to all hearers. Listen up! The love of God has broken all barriers between all people. God loves all, forgives all, and gives eternal life to all. It doesn’t get much better than that. God gives to us the ministry of reconciliation so that we all may be one as God and Jesus are one. The phenomenon of glossalalia is not mentioned in the account from Acts, but what is mentioned is that everyone, whatever race, ethnicity or walk of life, clearly understands the message of Jesus because it is proclaimed in terms everyone can understand. It was the birthday of the church, and it grew like wildfire, so hungry were folks then for such a message.
Paul notes that the whole creation had been groaning on under the oppressive yoke of hatred, violence, and alienation. We had lived our whole lives and our whole history as orphaned offspring of every alienated race, culture, and ethnicity under the heavens. And all the gods of all the nations were no help. They fought in heaven as humans fought on earth, and it meant only bloodshed and a hopeless existence for us. Then Jesus came and it all changed. Suddenly we were one again; all those parochial differences fell away at the gaze of God; for in Jesus God is one as all humanity is one. And thus hope was born that first Pentecost. It may have been an unseen hope, but it was no less real. Suddenly God’s love became vividly clear to all and abundantly understood.
In the Gospel passage Jesus tells us the Truth; he did not leave us comfortless, but sent the Advocate to lead us into all truth. Imagine: an Advocate with the Father, one who would plead our case to God. It was glorious news to hear. We could not bear the whole truth then at the beginning but eventually we would begin to hear what Jesus has been saying all along; namely that we are all one in Christ and all differences fall before the gaze of God.

THE WORLD

One wonders how we manage to wander so far away from the Good News. How can it be that we live in a time of ethnic cleansing, of genocide, and of holocaust? How can human hatred become so prevalent? Race has surely been a problematic for this nation in our history. Language has been problematic for Canadians. For the Irish it was our faith itself that became the occasion for death. And now we are plunged into “jihad” and “holy war” as if there is anything “holy” about killing in God’s name. The sorry chronicle of human history has been well documented, and we continue to hold our breath wondering what’s next for our human family.
In our better moments the American experience has been called a “melting pot”. I’d prefer to call it a “salad bar” in which the variegated textures of our humanity become a veritable cornucopia of delight. For in God’s eyes we are a delight to see. It was God’s idea to make us a brilliantly diverse family; a panoply of language, color, culture, and ethnicity. We are of all sorts and conditions, and yet we are all one. As the old Arabic saying puts it; “The color of God is the color of water”. And still when we hold that very droplet of water up to the prism of the created order, it is rendered a marvel of every color of the rainbow. This is God’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes. I am mindful of the Rose window at Chartres Cathedral; how beautiful it is; a kaleidoscope of God’s glory. So are we my friends. Sometimes we are fearful, sometimes prejudicial, but it is God who made the world the way it is. When our “better angels” batter our hearts, our fears are quelled and our love begins to burn for all. This is God’s way. This is God’s will

CRAFTING THE SERMON

In the biblical narrative from Genesis, it appears that there was a time when we were all of one language and we were indeed all one. Then we got it into our heads that we should build a tower that would reach to the heavens. Did we build this tower as a tribute to God or as a monument to our own glory? Scholars have debated that question and in fact find that the word Babel, in its Sumerian roots, can be rendered “Gate of God”. Whatever the case, these efforts did not please God, and we were driven away and dispersed throughout the corners of the earth and we were rendered confounded in speech. There was a “fall” from an estate of unity to confusion, from trust to suspicion, and from peace to conflict. The rest of our history has been a struggle to return to that beatific state of harmony. Unfortunately there have been many wars in the meantime, much blood has been shed, and we remain woefully suspicious, fearful and disposed toward violence.

We have made attempts to rectify this sorry state of affairs. From the founding of Parliament we have sought ways to talk to one another rather than fight. From the League of Nations to the United Nations we have postulated that talk is better than battle. We have little ear pieces given to us by the wonders of technology that makes it possible to understand one another’s speech. But still far too often our conversations break down into rage and recrimination.

It was a day of unforgettable grace for humanity then, when the church proclaimed the Gospel in every language. Everyone came to experience that Peace that passes understanding. Jesus greeted his Apostles with the ancient greeting: Peace, Shalom, Salaam. We still greet one another that way in the Middle East. And yet nowhere on earth is Peace so far away.

I see a similar phenomenon in our own historic context. The pressures of immigration, legal and otherwise, have posed significant challenges to us when waves of Irish and Italian newcomers flooded our shores. Jews and Arabs came here too. Then Hatians, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans were added to the pot for good measure. In every case, the host nation strained under the stresses of change. And now we find ourselves building a wall between the United States and Mexico. Through it all, that lovely and gracious Lady stands in New York Harbor proclaiming our welcome to the world;
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Pentecost was more than a welcome; it was a new birth of hope for humanity. Within the fellowship of the church all humanity would find that the Love of God is absolute, the forgiveness of God covers all human sin, and eternal life is a free gift for all. Best of all, the notion of reconciliation is central to our mission and therefore all humanity is embraced by the arms of God. The singular sign of all this joy was the Pentecost experience. Everyone from all the nations of the earth heard the Good News of Jesus in their own language and they marveled at the church’s grace and power.

So now it is up to us. In our case, in the church I serve, we have a brand new Spanish congregation coming to us in a few short weeks. I have been asked how long they will be here. I could not help but ask another question by way of an answer. How would any of us like it if we were told that we were welcome to come to church for a while and then, “if” it worked out we could stay a little longer?
In the church there is no “they”. There is only one family; God’s family. By all means there may be an 8 o’clock congregations that has a spoken formal service in Elizabethan English. There may be a more contemporary English language worship service with music at 10, and the Hispanic congregation may meet at noon and they will have a raucous band that rocks our church. But, when it comes to the High Holy Days of the church year, we will be one family worshipping and rejoicing in all languages and cultural idioms. Hopefully we will come to know and love one another as Christ knows and loves us.

How wonderful is Pentecost. Jesus told us that there were many things he would teach us that we could not bear at the time. The Good News is that we are beginning to understand what Jesus meant by that. As we watch all the walls that separate humanity fall, so too we see the Spirit of Christ fill the earth with the News of the Gospel.

It is a matter of some urgency that we redouble our efforts at proclaiming this news to this broken, sinful and dangerous world. With confidence in God who is the Creator, the Savior and Sanctifier of us all, let us proclaim the nearness of God. We have come full circle from Babel to Pentecost and the Kingdom is at hand!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

First Conversation with Brother Lawrence

www.PracticeGodsPresence.com
The Practice Of The Presence Of God
Brother Lawrence's Conversations and Letters
Light Heart Edition


Contents

Editor's Preface
Conversations
Letters

Editor's Preface

Brother Lawrence was born Nicholas Herman around 1610 in Herimenil, Lorraine, a Duchy of France. His birth records were destroyed in a fire at his parish church during the Thirty Years War, a war in which he fought as a young soldier. It was also the war in which he sustained a near fatal injury to his sciatic nerve. The injury left him quite crippled and in chronic pain for the rest of his life.

He was educated both at home and by his parish priest whose first name was Lawrence and who was greatly admired by the young Nicholas. He was well read and, from an early age, drawn to a spiritual life of faith and love for God.

In the years between the abrupt end of his duties as a soldier and his entry into monastic life, he spent a period of time in the wilderness living like one of the early desert fathers. Also, prior to entering the monastery, he spent some time in private service. In his characteristic, self deprecating way, he mentions that he was a "footman who was clumsy and broke everything".

At mid-life he entered a newly established monastery in Paris where he became the cook for the community which grew to over one hundred members. After fifteen years, his duties were shifted to the sandal repair shop but, even then, he often returned to the busy kitchen to help out.

In times as troubled as today, Brother Lawrence, discovered, then followed, a pure and uncomplicated way to walk continually in God's presence. For some forty years, he lived and walked with Our Father at his side. Yet, through his own words, we learn that Brother Lawrence's first ten years were full of severe trials and challenges.

A gentle man of joyful spirit, Brother Lawrence shunned attention and the limelight, knowing that outside distraction "spoils all". It was not until after his death that a few of his letters were collected. Joseph de Beaufort, counsel to the Paris archbishop, first published the letters in a small pamphlet. The following year, in a second publication which he titled, 'The Practice of the Presence of God', de Beaufort included, as introductory material, the content of four conversations he had with Brother Lawrence.

In this small book, through letters and conversations, Brother Lawrence simply and beautifully explains how to continually walk with God - not from the head but from the heart. Brother Lawrence left the gift of a way of life available to anyone who seeks to know God's peace and presence; that anyone, regardless of age or circumstance, can practice -anywhere, anytime. Brother Lawrence also left the gift of a direct approach to living in God's presence that is as practical today as it was three hundred years ago.

Brother Lawrence died in 1691, having practiced God's presence for over forty years. His quiet death was much like his monastic life where each day and each hour was a new beginning and a fresh commitment to love God with all his heart.
Light Heart
www.PracticeGodsPresence.com

Conversations

Introduction: At the time of de Beaufort's interviews, Brother Lawrence was in his late fifties. Joseph de Beaufort later commented that the crippled brother, who was then in charge of the upkeep of over one hundred pairs of sandals, was "rough in appearance but gentle in grace". This comment was originally made by another church official who had taken note of Brother Lawrence's simple and gentle approach to living in God's presence.
First Conversation: The first time I saw Brother Lawrence was on the 3rd of August, 1666. He told me that God had done him a singular favor in his conversion at the age of eighteen. During that winter, upon seeing a tree stripped of its leaves and considering that, within a little time, the leaves would be renewed and, after that, the flowers and fruit appear; Brother Lawrence received a high view of the providence and power of God which has never since been effaced from his soul. This view had perfectly set him free from the world and kindled in him such a love for God, that he could not tell whether it had increased in the forty years that he had lived since.

Brother Lawrence said he had been footman to M. Fieubert, the treasurer, and that he was a great awkward fellow who broke everything. He finally decided to enter a monastery thinking that he would there be made to smart for his awkwardness and the faults he would commit, and so he would sacrifice his life with its pleasures to God. But Brother Lawrence said that God had surprised him because he met with nothing but satisfaction in that state.

Brother Lawrence related that we should establish ourselves in a sense of God's presence by continually conversing with Him. It was a shameful thing to quit His conversation to think of trifles and fooleries. We should feed and nourish our soul with high notions of God which would yield us great joy in being devoted to Him.

He said we ought to quicken and enliven our faith. It was lamentable we had so little. Instead of taking faith for the rule of their conduct, men amused themselves with trivial devotions which changed daily. He said that faith was sufficient to bring us to a high degree of perfection. We ought to give ourselves up to God with regard both to things temporal and spiritual and seek our satisfaction only in the fulfilling of His will. Whether God led us by suffering or by consolation all would be equal to a soul truly resigned.

He said we need fidelity in those disruptions in the ebb and flow of prayer when God tries our love to Him. This was the time for a complete act of resignation, whereof one act alone could greatly promote our spiritual advancement.

He said that as far as the miseries and sins he heard of daily in the world, he was so far from wondering at them, that, on the contrary, he was surprised there were not more, considering the malice sinners were capable of. For his part, he prayed for them; but knowing that God could remedy the mischief they did when He pleased, he gave himself no further trouble.

Brother Lawrence said to arrive at such resignation as God requires, we should carefully watch over all the passions that mingle in spiritual as well as temporal things. God would give light concerning those passions to those who truly desire to serve Him.

At the end of this first conversation Brother Lawrence said that, if my purpose for the visit was to sincerely discuss how to serve God, I might come to him as often as I pleased; and without any fear of being troublesome. If this was not the case, then I ought visit him no more.