Sixteen songs, three days,
fingers afire: guitarist
during Holy Week
Forty seven days
With no Pepsi; headache plagued
but four pounds lighter
The wafer? Okay.
But that wine? His little mouth
puckered in protest
An Anglican and firm Episcopalian meditates on the journey of faith: "O Lord, I am not proud; I have no haughty looks. I do not occupy myself with great matters, or with things that are too hard for me. But I still my soul and make it quiet, like a child upon its mother's breast; my soul is quieted within me. O Israel, wait upon the Lord, from this time forth for evermore." Psalm 131
Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.- John 19: 28-30
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
--The Apostles' Creed, BCP 96
Some-- like the great Reformer John Calvin and the modern Roman Catholic writer Hans Urs von Balthasar-- have gone so far as to say that Jesus on the cross is enduring hell itself, the experience of the final alienation from God. This is a difficult speculation, hard to state with consistency, but at least it reminds us how serious the cross is as a sign of God's willingness to accompany us through all the consequences of sin and finally bring us back from the furthest point of distance from him that we could imagine. But when the Apostles' Creed says of Jesus that he 'descended into hell,' the original meaning was not quite this. The Latin word simply meant 'the places beneath' and referred to a passage in the Letter to the Ephesians about Jesus descending to the lowest part of creation as well as ascending to the heights. 'so that he might fill all things' (Ephesians 4.10). He goes, therefore, to the underground prisons where, in the thinking of some Jewish writers of Jesus' age, the spirits of those who had died resided.
You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead; you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.- Psalm 30:3
Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the Honor of your Name. Amen.
They were at supper, and the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him. Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, and he got up from the table, removed his outer garment and, taking a towel, wrapped it around his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing.-- John 13: 2-5
The Rt. Rev. William Cox is one of two conservative bishops deposed by the House of Bishops in a continuing struggle in the Episcopal Church over biblical authority.
Cox's removal was largely symbolic; he resigned from the House of Bishops a year ago and was accepted as an assistant bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Argentina.
The other ousted bishop, however, the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, is locked in a struggle with the denomination over the control of millions of dollars of property in the Diocese of San Joaquin in Fresno, Calif. That diocese is the first full diocese to leave the Episcopal Church.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori asked the bishops assembled Wednesday in Texas "to continue to reach out" in pastoral care to Cox and Schofield, according to the Episcopal News Service.
"Abandoning the communion of this church does not mean we abandon a person as a member of the Body of Christ," she said.
Oklahoma Episcopal Bishop Edward J. Konieczny had just returned from the House of Bishops meeting and could not be reached for comment.
Cox, 87, said Thursday that he is not upset about the House of Bishops' action.
"I feel sorry that they felt they needed to do this," he said. "A more charitable thing to do would be to say, 'We recognize that you are now a member of the church in Argentina and ask God's blessing on your ministry.'
"This has no effect on me," he said. "I guess it means they want to have the last word."
Cox resigned from the House of Bishops last spring when the bishops formally charged him with violating church law by ordaining two Anglican priests in Overland Park, Kan., at the request of an African archbishop.
A trial was never held, but the House of Bishops voted him out Wednesday for abandoning the communion of the church.
"Which I did," Cox said.
Cox was assistant bishop of the Oklahoma Episcopal Diocese until he retired in 1988.
He continues to be a popular speaker and conducts baptisms and ordinations for the Archdiocese of Argentina among Anglicans in the United States who have left the Episcopal Church.
The Episcopal Church is the U.S. arm of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a fellowship of churches with roots in the Church of England.
The communion has faced threat of schism since the Episcopal Church in 2003 consecrated V. Gene Robinson, a gay man, as the bishop of New Hampshire.
in doing my homework for palm sunday and good friday, i discovered something that's turning over and over in my head. we're in the garden and judas arrives and kisses jesus. the guard pulls his sword and jesus tells him to put his sword away. then he asks "have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though i were a bandit?" the word bandit, or sometimes translated, robber, in its greek origins is actually "terrorist."
it is, when we are honest, impossible to look at the story of jesus of nazareth and not see the political life at work. he was a revolutionary, a problem for the government. had this been going on today, bush would be after him, calling him a terrorist, the very man he claims as savior. i think we must remember that all the great movements share a justice component and a spiritual one as well. martin luther king jr. led the civil rights movement that way. we could make lists for days.
what makes the biblical story different, what makes jesus different, is that the victory comes not from strength, not from taking armies into countries with guns, but by saying "put away your sword." the victory comes in the form of what the world sees as weakness.
We, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, approaching the forthcoming Lambeth Conference, are mindful of the hurt that is being experienced by so many in our own Episcopal Church, in other Provinces of our global communion, and in the world around us. While the focus of this hurt seems centered on issues of human sexuality, beneath it we believe there is a feeling of marginalization by people of differing points of view. Entering into Holy Week, our response is to name this hurt and to claim our hope that is in Christ.
As the Lambeth Conference approaches, we believe we have an enormous opportunity, in the midst of struggle, to be proud of our heritage, and to use this particular time in a holy way by affirming our rich diversity. The health of such diversity is that we are dealing openly with issues that affect the entire global community. Thus, even as we acknowledge the pain felt by many, we also affirm its holiness as we seek to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Even though we did not all support the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire, we acknowledge that he is a canonically elected and consecrated bishop in this church. We regret that he alone among bishops ministering within the territorial boundaries of their dioceses and provinces, did not receive an invitation to attend the Lambeth Conference.
Retired Diocese of Colorado Bishop William Frey will become assisting bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande.
The Standing Committee said Frey will spend 10 days a month in the diocese "providing those sacramental ministries reserved for a bishop, making visitations to parishes, and providing counsel to the Standing Committee as requested."
Frey, 78, served as bishop of the Diocese of Colorado from 1973 to 1990.
The diocese has been without a bishop since shortly after its former bishop, Jeffrey Steenson, told the House of Bishops that he wanted to resign and join the Roman Catholic Church. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori accepted Steenson's renunciation of his ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church on January 14.
In its announcement, the Standing Committee said that it was aware that many people in the diocese were concerned that a search committee to develop a list of candidates to succeed Steenson has not yet been named.
"The Standing Committee is continuing to work toward this goal with a consultant for the visioning and reconciliation process as well as with a consultant for the search process," the announcement said. "After conference calls with potential consultants, it was decided to be prudent, step back, and prayerfully consider their advice."
The Standing Committee has asked the Rev. Ann Hallisey and Suzanne Foucault to guide a visioning and screening process as part of the bishop search. The details of the process are due to be worked out in mid-April, according to the announcement.
Hallisey is the director of Cornerstone, an Episcopal Church Foundation organization meant to strengthen the personal and professional lives of people who lead Episcopal congregations. Foucault, a General Convention deputy from the Diocese of San Diego, is a consultant who specializes in team building, strategic planning, conflict management, and training design, according to the website of the San Diego Regional Training Center.
At its March 3 meeting, the Standing Committee and the deans of the diocese "committed to a long-term process of visioning and reconciliation and to the beginning of the search process in tandem."
"We believe that the processes that will be designed will meet our short-term needs for a bishop to lead the Diocese of the Rio Grande and our long-term needs to be an effective and healthy diocese capable of allowing God's work among all of us," the announcement said. "The visioning/reconciliation process is of primary importance and will be a significant factor in the selection of a bishop who will guide the continuation of the process."
The announcement noted that Steenson's predecessor, Terence Kelshaw, has been received as a bishop in the Anglican Province of Uganda and "by his choice, he will therefore not be available for Episcopal services in any congregation of the Diocese of the Rio Grande."
The diocese, based in Albuquerque, encompasses New Mexico and a portion of Southwest Texas including El Paso.
The Convert (by G. K. Chesteron)
After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white,
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead.
The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.
Poverty is a monster. It saps the will and can kill the spirit. For the nearly one in six American children who grow up in it, poverty is also a dream snatcher, oftentimes snatching the dream of a better life before it can rise above the cracked plaster ceiling.
Nearly every religion gets this. One of the Five Pillars of Islam is almsgiving aimed at helping the poor. The Hebrew Scriptures laid out an entire economic system designed to eliminate poverty: There were gleaning laws requiring that a certain amount of grain be left behind for the poor and tithing laws that provided similar sustenance. There were even laws that prohibited lenders from charging interest. So strong was the Hebrew commitment to ending poverty that every seventh year, all outstanding debts were to be forgiven. Every 50 years, land was returned to its original owners. No one could own Boardwalk or Park Place forever.
America's churches have also done their part to confront the scourge of poverty. The Salvation Army and Catholic Charities have been serving up free beds and breakfast to the poor for decades. As we speak, the National Council of Churches is in the middle of a 10-year mobilization against poverty, and the Catholic Bishops went so far in November as to instruct voters to make helping the poor a top priority during the election.
No wonder. The Bible is filled with these little gems: "Happy are those who help the poor. The Lord will help them when they are in trouble." Psalm 41:1. "When you give money to the poor, it is like lending to the Lord. The Lord will pay you back." Proverbs 19:17. Even Jesus' inaugural sermon in his hometown of Nazareth begins: "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor."
Do not be silent, O God of my praise.
For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues.
They beset me with words of hate, and attack me without cause.
In return for my love they accuse me, even while I make prayer for them.
So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.
They say, "Appoint a wicked man against him; let an accuser stand on his right.
When he is tried, let him be found guilty; let his prayer be counted as sin.
May his days be few; may another seize his position.
May his children be orphans, and his wife a widow.
May his children wander about and beg; may they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit.
May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil.
May there be no one to do him a kindness, nor anyone to pity his orphaned children.
May his posterity be cut off; may his name be blotted out in the second generation.
May the iniquity of his father be remembered before the LORD, and do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out.
Let them be before the LORD continually, and may his memory be cut off from the earth.
For he did not remember to show kindness, but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted to their death.
He loved to curse; let curses come on him. He did not like blessing; may it be far from him.
He clothed himself with cursing as his coat, may it soak into his body like water, like oil into his bones.
May it be like a garment that he wraps around himself, like a belt that he wears every day."
May that be the reward of my accusers from the LORD, of those who speak evil against my life.
But you, O LORD my Lord, act on my behalf for your name's sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me.
For I am poor and needy, and my heart is pierced within me.
I am gone like a shadow at evening; I am shaken off like a locust.
My knees are weak through fasting; my body has become gaunt.
I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads.
Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love.
Let them know that this is your hand; you, O LORD, have done it.
Let them curse, but you will bless. Let my assailants be put to shame; may your servant be glad.
May my accusers be clothed with dishonor; may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a mantle.
With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD; I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save them from those who would condemn them to death.
Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside you can defile you by going into you. Rather, it is what comes out of you that defiles you."
After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters you from the outside can defile you? For it doesn't go into your heart but into your stomach, and then out of your body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)
He went on: "What comes out of you is what defiles you. For from within, out of your hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile you."
The trial of inhibited Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. will begin June 9 in Philadelphia.
A February 29 news release posted on the diocese's website said the trial will be open to the public. The location has yet to be decided. The release outlines the procedure for the trial and its possible outcomes.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori inhibited Bennison on October 31 after the Title IV Review Committee issued a presentment for conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy against Bennison on October 28.
The two counts of the presentment center on accusations that Bennison, when he was rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Upland, California, did not respond properly after learning sometime in 1973 that his brother, John, who worked as a lay youth minister in the parish, was having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old member of the youth group. John Bennison was also married at the time, according to the presentment.
The bishop is accused of not taking any steps to end the relationship, not providing proper pastoral care to the girl, not investigating whether she needed medical care, taking three years to notify the girl's parents, not reporting his brother to anyone, not investigating whether his brother was sexually involved with any other parishioners or other children, and seeking no advice on how to proceed. The presentment says Charles Bennison reacted "passively and self-protectively."
The second count of the presentment accuses Charles Bennison of continuing to fail in his duties until the fall of 2006. John Bennison became ordained during this time and the bishop is accused of not preventing his brother's ordination, or his ultimately successful application to be reinstated as a priest after having renounced his orders in 1977, or his desire to transfer from the Diocese of Los Angeles to the Diocese of California. John Bennison was forced in 2006 to renounce his orders again when news of his abuse became public.