Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How Does God Encounter Us?

How, then, does the wholly-other God encounter us? 
In the text, when carefully read?
In Jesus, when humbly contemplated?
In prayer, when surrender is the heart of it?
In worship, that seeks nothing for the self?
in life, that is moved by compassion?
In death, when we encounter the absolute limits of self?
in eternity, when we encounter the absolute infinity of God's love?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Growing and Eating Your Own Carrots - by Bob Orr

By Bob Orr

It was just this morning, early, about 7 am.  I made my usual trek to my twenty-four square foot garden to cut some red zinnias for our living room, do a little watering and pull one carrot.  I've waited since late May for this time of the year - the beginning of the carrot harvest.  Since they're not all ready at the same time, I need to peek down and around green twenty inch  bushy tops to examine the point where top gives way to root.  Do I see a little bit of carrot above ground?  That's a good sign.  My gardening book says  I can carefully push the soil away coming at the carrot from the side and test it's size and if not ready then replace the dirt.   I'm not good at this procedure.  This morning I got a good one!  Bright orange, plump with a characteristic wide top and medium taper to the tip.  After washing it off in the hose and cutting off the top, slowly I take the first bite.  The crunch and flavor is a little fourth of July.  This is not  the carrot you bring home from the grocery - how long since picking?, where grown and packed?, how transported?  No, this is a carrot grown lovingly and organically since May.  This is a carrot not a minute out of it's earthy home.  I crunch it up into little pieces and hold them in my mouth just to savor the flavor.   It was eleven months ago since I had my last home grown carrot.    I tickled the earth with a seed this Spring and here's my reward.  It's worth the wait. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Howard L Rice Dies

The church of Jesus Christ has lost an eminent scholar and a man of great heart.

Rev. Dr. Howard Leland Rice, San Francisco Theological Seminary chaplain and professor of ministry from 1969-97, died on Sunday, Aug. 8, in Claremont, Calif., at the age of 78. For more than 50 years, Rice served the larger Presbyterian Church as one of its most respected spiritual leaders.
Rice was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis prior to his appointment at SFTS and spent his time on the San Anselmo campus either on crutches or confined to a wheelchair. After Rice’s retirement, his diagnosis was changed from MS to spinal cord damage. Last spring he battled a stubborn bone infection for weeks, resulting in his decision to accept hospice care. He passed away peacefully surrounded by his family.
A memorial service honoring Rice’s life will take place Aug. 20 at 2:30 p.m. at Claremont Presbyterian Church. 
In the early 1970s, when one of his students gave him a copy of Morton T. Kelsey’s The Other Side of Silence, Rice realized he needed to feed not only his mind, but also his soul. By the mid-1970s, Rice recruited other pastors and scholars in the Bay Area to help him lead spiritual retreats for local pastors.
For the next 20 years he helped Presbyterians and other Protestants discover spirituality within the Protestant-Reformed tradition. An expert in Presbyterian Polity, Rice was elected moderator of the 191st General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A. in 1979. During his year as moderator, he organized three spirituality retreats throughout the country and encouraged each presbytery to send one delegate. 
Rice was instrumental in supporting the establishment of “Companions on the Inner Way,” a retreat/conference that has served hundreds of pastors and lay persons. Rice played a significant role in developing SFTS’s pioneering program in spirituality. This led to the creation of the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction and the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Formation programs, which in turn prepared a cadre of spiritual directors within the Reformed Tradition.
“Howard had a huge heart for people, for ministry, and for the Church that he served so long and well,” said Dr. Elizabeth Liebert, SFTS dean and professor of spiritual life. “Always standing with the underdog, he was persistent to the point of stubbornness in defending them. He is beloved by hundreds of students, pastors and church folk, whose hopes and struggles he held dear. We mourn the loss of mentor, colleague, spiritual adviser, friend and consummate pastor.”
In 1991, Rice published the landmark book, Reformed Spirituality: An Introduction to Believers, and it continues to be widely read in seminaries throughout the United States. Rice was a man of great faith and possessed an enormous heart. His former students, colleagues, family and friends will always remember his thoughtful way and gentle words which conveyed “the living sense of God’s presence in daily life.”
To honor his retirement from SFTS in 1997, Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey presented a tribute to Rice before the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2007, SFTS trustee and alumna, Rev. Jackie Leonard, made a first gift to the seminary toward the Rice Family Chair in Christian Spirituality. In endowing this chair, Leonard sought to honor Rice and his wife Nancy, the late Rev. Wendy Rice Dreitcer and her husband, Dr. Andrew Deeter Dreitcer, and their longstanding contributions to the spiritual nurture of students, church leaders and congregations.
Rice graduated from Carroll College (Waukesha, Wis.) with a BA in history in 1953. He entered McCormick Theological Seminary in 1953, having just married Nancy Lee Zoerb. He graduated from McCormick with a BD in 1956. Rice and his wife had two children, Wendy and Amanda, both born after his seminary years. (Wendy, who earned a Master of Divinity from SFTS in 1983, died in 2004 from a brain tumor.)
Rice was ordained by the Presbytery of Winnebago on Aug. 20, 1956. His first call was as pastor of the House of Faith Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, where he remained through 1961. He served as pastor to Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Chicago from 1961-68.
Rice received a number of honors in his long and distinguished ministerial and teaching career, including honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from Whitworth College (1978) and from his alma mater Carroll College (1980). In 1986 he was the recipient of the McCormick Theological Seminary Distinguished Alumnus Award. The SFTS board of trustees conferred on him the title of Professor of Ministry, Emeritus upon his retirement. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

August 8, 2010 - Prayers of the Day

O LORD our God,
We thank you for the ceaseless compassion that guides our steps through life … in the worst of times, and in the best of times, your grace is sufficient unto the needs of the day.

In our sorrows, LORD,
And in our fear.
In our confusion and in our frustration.
You are God, and to you we belong.

Though we are frequently lost, you find us.
Though death is the dark shadow upon our souls, Christ is the light of the world.
And to him, O God, we turn.
In his cross, we find comfort.
In his resurrection, we find hope.
In his ascension, we find promise.

O God, help us, this day, to be deeply and wonderfully centered in our Savior.
In a land where so many folks are weary of religion.
Tired of the ranting and raving of poorly trained preachers.
Tired of the lies that religion has to tell to stay in business.

Help us to be joyfully about the truth.
The truth of Jesus and his love.
Help us, we pray, to lean on the everlasting arms.

And for the Holy Spirit we continue to pray.
And with the Spirit, we trust.
Trust that you are at work in all things for good.
That in life and in death, we belong to you.

And by the Spirit, dear God, we choose the best and the brightest.

We will walk with Christ.
We will shine light in the darkness.
We will open doors and welcome one another.
We will speak kindly and live peaceably as much as possible.

And when we fail, we’ll admit it.
When we speak harshly, we’ll seek forgiveness.

And we’ll keep on learning, LORD.
Keep on loving.
Keep on hoping.
Because that’s your way.
You do not give up on us, O God.
And we will not give up on one another.

Because of the Holy Spirit.
And for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done …

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An Email Sent to the Congregation

Dear Readers,

As you probably know by now, Prop 8 has been overturned.

The Session (governing body) of Covenant Presbyterian Church, agreed to oppose Proposition 8, and when California voters narrowly approved it, the Session came out in favor of overturning it.

While the Session is sensitive to religions questions on the matter, the Session is clear that we're dealing here with a question of equality, something Judge Vaughn Walker affirmed in his decision. 

To read a review of Walker's decision, check out a "Faith and Reason" column by clicking HERE.

Covenant Church has a long and proud history of affirming civil rights. When California voters overturned a legislative decision (The Rumford Fair Housing Act, 1963)) and approved Prop 14 (1964) to retain housing covenants (restrictions on selling a home to minorities), Covenant's Session rose to the occasion and agreed that such covenants were simply wrong. Ultimately, the courts of California (1966), and the US Supreme Court (1967), ruled that housing covenants were unconstitutional. 

I am personally grateful for Judge Walker's decision, and I am confident that America is at its best when opening doors and windows of freedom and equality. To read my personal reflections about the decision and the quick response of the Mormon and Roman Catholic Churches to the ruling, click HERE.

Blessings and Peace.


Overturning of Prop 8

We live in democracy, not a theocracy. Right now, Mormon and Roman Catholic leadership is walking the plank on this one. Their position is irrational and biblically and theological flawed. Ultimately, their LGBT members will be heard, and America's basic sense of fairness will prevail. 

I want to live in a land of freedom, freedom for Mormons and Roman Catholics to manage their own households as they please, so that I can manage my own household, too.

America is always at its best when expanding freedom and equality. There are always those factions who see freedom and equality as a threat, and they cry wolf again and again, or like Chicken Little, run around shouting about the sky falling.

The ruling in Iowa by a conservative judiciary is a harbinger of the future. When and if Prop 8 goes to the Supreme Court, I'm confident that even the most conservative judges will see it as Judge Vaughn Walker does, though Justices Scalia and Thomas will likely dissent.

The overturning of Prop 8 is a good day for the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Catholic Workers Hospitality Kitchen, Los Angeles - August 3, 2010

Here are some pics from today, August 3, 2010
Greetings from one of the courtyard critters!

Lots of Bagles to cut ...

Courtyard cheer ...

Taking a break ...

Clean up ...

A Servant of the Lord ...

For more information, click HERE.