Saturday, June 03, 2006

PENTECOST -- Click here for the Bible readings.
Today we celebrate how a small group of frightened people received the ability to overcome their fears and go out into the world proclaiming the message of Christ in a way that could be understood by all sorts of people. They did not know and we don't know exactly how it happened so we speak of it in metaphors of tongues of fire sweeping through the community, of many languages being heard, of a seeming drunkeness of the
Spirit. Ezekiel prophecied that the "dry bones" would take on new life - and this is what happened on that Pentecost Day with the followers of Christ.
This week a valiant warrior among the disciples of Jesus died. Canon Joyce Hogg was the Director of Networks and Special Projects for Episcopal Relief and Development. The way I got to know her was as my "boss" for my work as a Diocesan Coordinator for ER-D. She asked for and received quarterly reports of our work for ER-D, made sure we were prompt with our thank you notes to our generous donors, and tenderly ministered to us even in the midst of her own struggle with cancer. Just two weeks ago she led our annual convention of coordinators. I last saw her in the Jacksonville airport as she and her beloved husband, Bill, awaited their flight home. I knew things were not good with her health but she wanted to talke about the future of the Episcopal Church, the upcoming General Convention and election of the Presiding Bishop. Her last words were "see you in Columbus." Yes, I will see you, dear friend, in Columbus - not quite in the way I had hoped but in the thousand touches of your hands in helping Episcopal Relief and Development flourish and grow, in the wonderful energetic staff whom you loved fiercely, and in our hearts as we go on without your physical presence.
This, to me, is the message of Pentecost - that our hearts are afire with the passion to change the world into what God would have and that we light a spark in others that they might catch the same fire and carry on beyond our imaging. Thanks Joyce for your passion, in the power of the Holy Spirit, that we pray will continue in us as we follow the command to love God and our neighbor as ourselves.
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Sunday, May 28, 2006

SUNDAY afternoon nap ahead --
home from Jackson Hole and 2 church services. This is Memorial Day weekend when JH has its Old West Parade or as some call it Old Wet Parade. The weather on Saturday In Jackson was rainy and cold. When I left Lander it was sunny and hot - good thing I remembered to put a jacket in the car. Driving from Jackson out to Wilson (a suburb LOL) I saw the white suburbans of VP Dick Cheney's Secret Service (well not so secret when they sit at all the intersections with flashing police lights) - so I assume he is spending the weekend at his home in the Valley. This morning it was foggy and cold as I made my way to church. No VP or spouse at church - always makes for an interesting morning when he does come - the Secret Service rings the outside of the building and sits mixed in with the congregation trying to look like parishioners. But they have that scanning look on their faces and hearing aid like devices and are extremely fit. Luckily they call ahead to let us know.
Today I expected fewer people due to the holiday, and the weather, plus it is the annual "Spring Fling" - a fundraiser for the hospital at Jackson Lake Lodge that is a big social event. People often rent rooms so they don't have to drive home after partying late. But we had a good crowd and it was fun to see old friends and new members. I was the interim assistant there for 2+ years. The web site for St. John's Episcopal Church has the sermons from Sunday every week - usually takes a few days for the latest one to appear.
After a stop to see a 90+year old friend who is now in the Living Center, I grabbed a turkey, avocado, and muenster cheese sandwich from Bagel Jax for the road. No moose or buffalo on my drive through the park - just fog and mixed rain and snow. By the time I got to Togwotee Pass - there was quite a bit of snow on the roadsides but none on the road. Tourists were out throwing snowballs at each other - enjoying the taste of winter. As I came down the mountain towards Dubois - a mountain bluebird perched on the barbwire fence post. Lifted my spirits as otherwise that part of the trip is hard with all the trees being cut down on either side and the new road cuts for the re-construction of the highway. The road needs repair and some resetting of dangerous turns but it is still heartwrenching to see. The rest of the trip across the Wind River Reservation I listened to AIROS Native Radio Network and the traditional songs and drumming woven into new creations of blues, world beat, and country tunes.

Sermon today was on the Ascension. I think it is a difficult Holy Day around which to wrap our modern minds. In the earliest days it was believed that one "ascended" through caves, then the portrayal of Jesus going up through the clouds became popular, but now we have seen the earth from outer space and we don't know quite what to do with merging the idea of an ascension and what we have seen. Perhaps that is why one does not see big celebrations of The Ascension as often. Regardless of how Jesus left us for the next stage of our life in Christ - we are called to be God's hands and heart here and now.