If you search the Internet for the words “gladden the hearts of those” you will find numerous instances of a blessing based on the words of Swiss philosopher Henri Frédéric Amiel. I readily admit to having stolen it from The Rev. Elizabeth “Liddy” Hoster.
I added “and those you love” and have used it routinely. Congregations have been highly responsive to it, so much so that people ask for copies of the blessing.
One such is attached. Peace and blessings to you!
A Pastoral Blessing
My wife and I are spending a week at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York. She calls it “summer camp for adults” – for me it is the most relaxing place I know.
We are staying at the Episcopal Cottage, a wonderful place which helps make our visit affordable. This means we are in the heart of the community. I turn left out the front door and in two blocks am at the Episcopal Chapel of the Good Shepherd. It is a tiny building, but fits right into the architecture of Chautauqua (go to www.ciweb.org for a look).
Turning right out the front door, my two-block walk takes me to the ampitheater, where daily worship is held and lectures and concerts are offered. This morning, and all this week, the preacher is John Bryson Chane, Bishop of Washington. Bishop Chane is a dynamic speaker with whose ideas I am at home. He is able to speak the truth as he sees it – not always a popular task – and God bless him for it.
The lectures of Chautauqua are only part of the fun – who can resist Jon Meacham, an articulate young man who understands how America’s relationship with religion came to be and passionately points out how the religious right has misrepresented what Meacham calls the “American Gospel.” The rest of the place is the arts in full bloom. Orchestras, dance, opera, are literally all over the place.
I am blessed to be able to be here, and to be able to relax. But I am taking advantage of the time to work on some ideas for a commission on which I serve in the Diocese of West Virginia. We are seeking to articulate a consistent way of doing ministry that, I hope, will help all our congregations – small and large – those served by full-time clergy and those who have the likes of me – to live fully into the lives God has prepared for us.
I ask your prayers for our work.
The Eve of the Feast of the Transfiguration
Andy Weeks returned to the Diocese of West Virginia this past Friday and Saturday (April 4-5, 2008) when he presented his Magnetic Church at the Memorial Church of the Good Shepherd in Parkersburg. Almost 100 persons from 31 churches registered for the session, which is remarkable for a diocese of our size. I first heard Andy two years ago, and his presentation, which was good then, has gotten better. He has an entertaining way of telling you to stop doing the things you have been doing and to start doing the things that will make your church a truly welcoming place.
You can find more information at http://www.magnetic-church.com/. I recommend Andy, who loves the Episcopal Church of which we are members, and yet remembers that Jesus called us all to be his followers. Christian first, Episcopalian second. Getting things in the right order helps!
The Charleston, West Virginia, Scottish Rite Temple invited me to provide after-dinner remarks for their annual remembrance of deceased members. Wth the event falling in the week of the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I found myself talking about how his remembrance compares to others in our lives.
Dr. King is now remembered in The Episcopal Church’s Lesser Feasts and Fasts, but I found myself remembering two saints who will never make the book, although each is remembered in her own way.
For another comment on the power of remembrance, see http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89357808&sc=emaf#share.
It is probably essential that you have some familiarity with The Screwtape Letters in order to “get” this posting, but in case you don’t have the time, understand that this is one part of a correspondence between two devils who are, in this case, trying to subvert the church.
I wrote this piece as therapy after hearing the Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh, Bob Duncan, say in a radio interview something like “They [referring, I thought, to me] seem to think that revelation is on-going.” Silly me, I didn’t realize that God had told some people that His revelation was over. It left me wondering roughtly when that happened. I was willing to settle for the century if the exact date was not readily available. Was Nicea in or out? It is my belief that “the current unpleasantness” within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion will finally be resolved when we stop judging one another. I think that’s one of the messages of the story of Eden. What a wonderful world if we did the work God wishes us to do and left the judging to Him.
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