Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Only One Thing

The Rev. Matthew Hanisian
I am a list maker, which goes against every fiber of my being. I think of myself as able to accomplish every task that comes my way efficiently…taking things as they happen, working on projects that I find interesting and challenging. The reality is that sometimes I manage to find a whole lot of ways to not work on those projects that need to be accomplished. To a degree I enjoy crossing things off of my daily list, but often at the end of the day I find that the list which started off being 12 items long somehow exploded to include 21 things to accomplish (usually with four or five of the original tasks still not crossed off). How very Martha of me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Holy Curiosity

The Rev. Becky Zartman
“Did you ever notice that Rebekah had a nose ring?” Sarah Lefton of G-dcast asked the crowd at e-Formation in June. I felt a little foolish. I hadn’t noticed that Rebekah had a nose ring, and my name is Rebecca. Yikes. “When you read to illustrate a story, you read scripture at another level. You see details in an entirely new way.” And seeing details in an entirely new way is kind of what Sarah Lefton does. It changed her life. 

During Sarah Lefton’s talk, we heard about her transformation from religious illiteracy to being the founder of G-dcast. Her story goes like this: Sarah was raised Jewish, but while at a Shabbat dinner at a friend’s, she was asked to comment on the story of Joseph and his brothers, and she found that despite her years at Hebrew School, she didn’t know the story. This troubled her, so she set out to learn more, and her curiosity snowballed from a series of “What if’s?” and “Why not’s?” to a passion for religious education. Now she produces animated shorts based on the Torah and the Talmud, and games to help children and adults learn more about their faith. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The World Cup as an Example of Christ’s Teaching

Michael Neal
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…
Matthew 28:19, New International Version of the Bible

The FIFA World Cup 2014 has delighted and saddened fans all across the world, but prior to reaching its global stature; contemporary association football (soccer) had its origins in 1863 England. According to FIFA, that year saw the formation of the first Football Association in England, which became the sport’s first governing body. There is little doubt that the future spread of soccer throughout the world was partially facilitated by the British Empire and its expansion

Today, as the FIFA World Cup has demonstrated, soccer remains immensely popular throughout the world. In the United States, viewership of the 2014 World Cup will set a record. Meanwhile, more than 70 countries host one or more professional men’s soccer leagues. In contrast, professional basketball is played in close to 40 unique countries (the United States and Canada as represented by the National Basketball Association are counted as individual countries), around 15 countries host a  professional baseball league (the United States and Canada as represented by Major League Baseball are counted as individual countries),  while about 15 unique countries host a  professional rugby league or rugby union, slightly more than nine countries are home to professional cricket leagues, and four countries host a professional gridiron football (American football) league. Clearly soccer, above other sports, has been spread across the world.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Wrestling with Scripture in The Episcopal Church

Sheila McJilton
Recently, as I thought about the texts for that upcoming Sunday, I realized one of them was Genesis 22. Somehow, in 15 years of ordained ministry, I had dodged that difficult text in preaching—the gospel was always easier. Besides, how do children hear such a primitive, terrifying text? (Yes, some of them may be happily coloring pictures during the sermon, but parents have told me they hear more than one might think!) But this year, I decided it was time to wrestle with that theological alligator, thanking God that I had saved class notes from Dr. Ellen Davis’ Old Testament class years ago.

When one of the teenagers at St. Philip’s saw the lessons that morning, he said to his mother, “Mother Sheila won’t preach on that passage. She’s going to avoid it.” His mom replied, “Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure about that.” Later, she said she elbowed him when I began preaching. At the end, he said softly, “But she still didn’t answer my questions.” His mom replied, “Of course she didn’t.”

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Remembering D-Day

The Rev. Joan Beilstein
In June, I traveled to France and England during my sabbatical. I was moved by the D-Day observances held by both countries, in remembrance of the 70th anniversary of the allied victory. On June 6, 1944, during WWII, the combined forces of the United States, Great Britain, and Canada invaded the beaches of Normandy and turned the tide of the war by their advance into Europe, which resulted in the defeat of Germany, Hitler, and Nazi domination on the continent.

Examples….the Normandy beaches were filled with military re-enactors, current military personnel, WWII veterans, and world leaders and dignitaries. As I visited these beaches, I felt like I was there, surrounded by the uniforms, military camps, tanks, jeeps, and surviving boats, which landed the soldiers on the beaches to face deadly enemy fire from the hills and cliffs above.