Thursday, November 24, 2011

A General Thanksgiving

The table is set; therefore let us keep the feast. Humble perhaps by many standards, but no lest festive than all the others. A month ago today David suffered a stroke. Thankfully it was a very tiny one. Still for a young man, age 31, it was a shock, both literally and figuratively.
We were the beneficiaries of a host of prayers, good thoughts, and benevolent vibes of all sorts .
A short month later, we are here, together as a family to celebrate Thanksgiving.
For Christian folk, Thanksgiving is not only a holiday but a way of life. The Eucharist is a word that means "Thanksgiving". The word, however is a verb, not a noun, for it is in the doing of gratitude that we find life's joy and abundance.
We celebrate the Eucharist at our birth at Baptism, at our Marriages, at times of illness, and of course at the ultimate moment of life when we enter the Blessed rest of Eternal Life. In the meantime, Sunday after Sunday and at all major Feast Days, we mark the seasons with this kind of gratitude.
It is a gratitude that expresses our Love for God by expressing our love for one another. It is no gratitude at all unless it is marked by a quest for Justice through which we strive for Peace.
Today, no less than all days we said our prayers. David said the "Grace" today. He recited with us gathered at our Table the ancient words of the General Thanksgiving that comes from the Prayer Book Tradition.
It seemed especially appropriate that we say this prayer today. It is one of David's favorite. It is among mine as well. We got to the word "preservation" before the voices broke and the tears fell, broken voices and tears of the profoundest gratitude we are capable of.
May God grant us so to live with gratitude that God's joy may be in us, and that God's joy may be complete.

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

May the Blessing of Gratitude be with you all
Fr. Paul

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Black Friday-Boycott Walmart-Occupy Walmart!

Of all the blasphemies I can possibly think of, the idea of Black Friday and Walmart stands highest and at the top of the list! A little Child is born in Bethlehem, homeless of an unwed mother, poor, cold, and destined to die for the poor and those left out in the cold. Walmart opens early for a shopping frenzy of expensive foreign made trinkets for our children. Americans stand unemployed, homes lost, and left out in the cold. And the rich count their billions and roll around in their greed snorting satisfaction.
For many of us who are unemployed, without health insurance, and having lost our homes, a boycott of Walmart will be an easy thing. Millions of us already stay away.
But what if we Occupy Walmart on Black Friday? What if we block the doorways? Pepper sprayed victims from across the country cry out for justice. The Machine is grinding us and moves against our cry for jobs at decent wages.
We'll never get good jobs from Walmart. We will never get decent wages at Walmart. We will never get health insurance from Walmart.
Boycott Walmart this Black Friday. Send a message they will feel in their pocket books. Millions more are beginning to hear your cries for justice.
Boycott Walmart! Occupy Walmart!
This is the Peace that passes understanding...Justice!
Fr. Paul

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Goodness of God

It is a funny thing about the Goodness of God. I discovered it only in the wake of my dad's death at Christmas when I was a boy. It flooded in again in the wake of my son, David's stroke in October. He's coming home Tuesday after an amazing recovery. There is much reality still to be dealt with, but there is this extraordinary thing called the Goodness of God.
I brought Communion to a Charlie today. He's a 20 something and has a pretty rugged go of it with Cancer. Still there is this thing called the Goodness of God. I cannot shake the idea. I suggested the idea of the Practice of the Presence of God. I believe in it with all my heart.
Plumbing the depths of my own heart, searching fearlessly for the Truth deep within I discover the Companionship of God. This gives me the courage to Love the God within, myself and all others I treasure. This I suggested to Charlie.
I've often watched the Pelican dive into the sea when I visited the Gulf of Mexico years and years ago. I love watching such a feat. Up s/he comes with a fish! What magnificence is life!
And so dad, I still remember you, even though you died so many years ago. It was your death that led me to priesthood. Coming up on 39 years now, countless souls blessed, baptized, married, and carried off to God. How good You are to tend my dad and all these good souls.
You are so good to look after David. That could have gone another way. There's still a very long way to go before a full recovery, but this looks so good.
Thanks too for Charlie. He could use a miracle too right about now. He's learning to spend some time with you and this is a very good thing. In then end that's all of us have; thanks for being there for my dad, my son and for Charlie.
Fr. Paul

Good and Evil; Everyone's Fundamental Choice

The problem of Good is as real as the problem of Evil. The first extant document we have of the early church is "The Didache" or "The Teachings". In it is the notion that the pathway to Death and the pathway to Life are always before us. This is true at every level of life it seems to me, personal social and historical. To be sure, large institutions like Nations and Churches have merits. But they also have stains that blot out any hope of seeing redemptive value in what they are. But there is this thought. If we say we believe in Democracy, then of necessity we must have politicians and government. If we say we believe in Justice, it follows then, that lawyers and courts become an inevitable necessity. And if we say we believe in God, then clergy and churches become yet another inevitability. Seen from this view, there is plenty of sin to go around. But there is also beaucoup redemption. The fundamental question for us is which will we choose; the pathway that leads to life or the pathway that leads to death. A ponderous question for each of us to ponder because I believe God is calling each of us to step up to the plate. Apathy only guarantees that someone worse than ourselves will take power.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

America Cracks Down on Human Rights

From Oakland to New York and around America, the crackdown has begun. Democracy; government of the people, for the people and by the people has been successfully claimed by government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich.

Had this happened in Tiananmen Square, Cairo, Libya, or Syria, we would be hearing loud and sanctimonious words decrying gross abuses of "Human Rights"!

Not so when it happens in our own back yard. Thankfully, this will only serve to spur on the demonstrations. American are waking from slumber. It is now clear that the police are merely acting at the behest of the Plutocrats who pull the economic purse strings.

What threatens them is the idea that we want a bail out too. Except we’re willing to work for it. They just wanted the money to dress their portfolios. They are robbing us of our money, our jobs, and our homes, and we want them all back.

This next Sunday is the Feast Day of Christ the King. The Gospel reading for the day is well worth reading. In it The Son of Man summons the all the nations before him and separates the sheep from the goats. The sheep are invited into the kingdom with the these ringing words; “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Of course, the righteous wonder when they did these things to Jesus. And of course the answer is; "Insofar as you have done it to one of the lease of these, you have done it to me."

The goats are then driven away into a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, because when they saw human suffering, they turned away, did nothing, and treated the “least of these” shamefully.

The question I have is this; Is America in danger of failure as a civilization? If we insist on turning our backs away from the least of these, we incur the wrath of Jesus and the long arc of history will bend toward another civilization willing to treat her poor in a kinder and gentler way.

In the meantime, I have news for Mayor Bloomberg and his minions around the country. We are not going away. We will be back in the streets, today, tomorrow and the next day. Take heart my fellow Occupiers; back to the streets!!!

We want jobs! We want justice!

I so admire the courage of these people!

Fr. Paul

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hallelujah Chorus -Quinhagak, Alaska

Notice how Jesus comes to us in the faces of the young and old of an obscure village in the Middle East long ago or in Alaska as recently as today. If we want to think about Jesus coming in the latter day, and at the end times, lets notice how Jesus is here right at this very moment.
This is because the end times are always here and now!
I do hope you have noticed that with the coming and going of one civilization after another, one constant is the command of Jesus; "Love on another".
The purpose of Advent and Christmas is not just to tell an ancient story of a faraway land. This Jesus is our story today, and the job of a people who know how to embrace winter with relish and abandon is the story of the amazing grace of humankind.
We are all kinds of people of all kinds of orientation, gender, class, race, ethnicity. Some day we will learn what Jesus has taught all along; "Love one another".
Learn from these Children.
And remember God loves you and so do I.
Fr. Paul.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Greed Cannot Inherit Heaven!

Poor folks, gay folks, illegal aliens all seem to catch it from the far Right Wing Evangelical/Republican alliance. One wonders if they've read much scripture. As we see in this passage, so we see in history; its not the poor, the gay or the illegal alien who is our problem; it is the rich, the super rich, and the multi-national corporations.
When a nation becomes an oligarchy of the rich, the few crumbs that are spent on those in need are not the problem. It is the greed that concentrates wealth in the hands of the few that is always the undoing of a civilization. When they take away our jobs, our homes and our health care, they incite the public to rise up. It is happening right before our eyes.
Wake up America!
Read this if you don't believe me;

Mark 10:17-25

The Rich Man

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.” ’ He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The People Flex Their Muscle!

Your voice has been heard. You have flexed your muscle. The Bank of America and Netflix have reversed their decisions on price gouging.
Now press on! Bank of America, give us back our jobs. You are making money hand over fist. You laid off thousands. Hire every one back.
Now that you have flexed your muscle and know that you have the power to influence and persuade power and on.
The movement is gathering steam.
Not until we achieve full employment at a fair wage with health insurance for all...not until then will we return from the streets.
The power belongs to the people. We will not rest until justice flows like a mighty stream from the mountain of God!