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Epiphany Reflection: “Outside-in”

How many of you have felt like an outsider at one point or another? How many of you feel like outsiders even now? My best friend growing up was my next door neighbor. We’ll call him Ernie. Ernie parent’s were from Ghana. Ernie and I had different color skin. One day we both went to the baseball card shop in the shopping plaza near our town home community. Between the two of us we had fourteen dollars. We were determined to spend all of it that day at that store. After parting ways to look around the place for our…

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For 2016: Quit Resolutions, Develop a Rule of Life

So You’ve Never Kept a Single New Year’s Resolution. Why? It began just over a month ago on Thanksgiving in November, the gorging, the loosening of the belt after dinner, the “just one more” mentality. You said to yourself, “On January 1, I’m cutting calories, reducing the number of libations I sip or switching to lite beer and going back to the gym. You said all this knowing that the feasting would continue through the month of December: Christmas parties at the office, at church and at friend’s places. This would obviously continue on Christmas Eve (especially if you’re of Italian…

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Candlelight: “O Holy Night”

The carol that has become the closing highlight of our Candlelight service is “O Holy Night.” This carol was introduced to the United States in 1855 by the Unitarian minister and music critic John Sullivan Dwight. The third verse, which I shall not sing, says, “Truly he taught us to love one another, his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, and in his name all oppression shall cease.” And in his name all oppression shall cease, not just some, or in certain parts, but all oppression shall cease….

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Prepare for the Light!

I’ve heard it said that Advent is a mini Lent. Many of the readings during this season are dark, penitential, and apocalyptic. Episcopal priest and author Fleming Rutledge writes that the season reminds us that without recognizing the darkness that we are in, there is no need for the Light. Thus, Advent begins in the the dark. But the third Sunday of Advent is different. The third Sunday is a period of respite. This Sunday is “Gaudete Sunday.”  Hence, the rose colored vestments and candle in the Advent wreath as opposed to the violet ones. Gaudete is a Latin word meaning “rejoice.”…

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9 Ways to Enrich Your Advent

Advent signals the season of longing, of expectation, of anticipation, and also signals the beginning of a new liturgical year. In the liturgical cycle, the Church awaits the coming of its King, Jesus. Historically, the season looks in two directions: it replays the original coming of Jesus into the world; and it looks forward to his coming again. Furthermore, Advent is an historic penitential season, a season of contrition. That’s one of the reasons for its original liturgical color, purple, the same as Lent (not blue which represents Mary). Therefore, while Advent awaits, longs for, expects and hopes, it is…

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Advent Reflection: Keep Awake (Though You Are Sleeping)

As Christians, Advent, is not simply the countdown to Christmas, rather it is a very serious season for us, because it enables us to reflect upon the idea of time, and that our lives are lived between two the Advents: Christ’s first Advent, born in the meekness of a manger and death upon the cross, and his second Advent, when he will come again for us in glory to judge both the living and the dead. Our Gospel reading today from Mark 13 is the climax of Jesus speaking in great detail and vividness about the end of time and…

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Ingodded through the Sacraments

“In the West, the theological thought of our day is making a great effort to return to the patristic sources of the first centuries–particularly the Greek Fathers–in order to incorporate them into a catholic synthesis.”[1] These words could not have been truer for the framers of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.[2] The emergence of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer brought with it a desire to include a more ecumenical-historical approach to Christian spirituality and liturgy. The vast array of sources[3] that the Prayer Book tapped into sought to introduce its users to forms of spirituality and liturgical traditions…

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The Ups and Downs of Scripture and Liturgy

By Fr. Matt Boulter Many people are familiar with the saying “What goes up must come down.” Fewer, however, have deeply meditated on the upward & downward motion which pervades the Christian narrative. For example, only after Christ is “lifted up” on the cross is he then is he lowered down into the depths of the earth, into Hades or Sheol, which many interpret as a kind of descent into Hell. And then, three days later, he is up again, risen victorious, for his disciples and (according to 1 Corinthians 15) a great multitude of 500 to see. Now I…

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Ways to Pray: Intercessory

By Fr. Robert Solon, Jr. 1. Find a place where you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes. You may wish to light a candle, and may have an icon or other image on which to focus. Have handy your list of those for whom you will pray. Pause for a few deep breaths. 2. Begin thus: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,…

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Ways to Pray: With Icons

By Fr. Robert Solon, Jr. For the next few weeks, Fr. Bob will be presenting three brief, practical guides on three different ways to pray.  This week: With Icons.  (Keep in mind, Christians don’t pray to icons.  That’s idolatry!  We pray through icons.  Icons are windows or doors to enter into the divine presence.) 1. Find a place where you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes. Set up your icon so it is easily viewable before you. Place your chair or cushion or whatever near enough so you can see it without straining. 2. You may wish to light a candle in front of it….

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Easter: Not Just a Single Day

By Matthew Paul Buccheri For the C & E crowd (Christmas and Easter service attendees), the “Somedays Faithful” crowd (those who show up in your congregations “some days”) and for a fair majority of Christian America (especially Protestant), Easter is a day, a single day, where you deck yourself out in your Easter best–light-colored cotton suits for men and oversized hats and flowery dresses for women–head to the neighborhood church, and soon after the service has ended, sashay to a local brunch joint.  It’s one day in three hundred and sixty-five to be “faithful.”  Even for professing Christians, Easter is simply…

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Seven Last Words: Reunion

By Rev. Jacob Smith Our sermon text for this Good Friday is the 7th word spoken from the cross which comes from Luke 23:46, where Jesus says in a loud voice, “Father into your hands I commend my Spirit.”\ One of the profound realities that we learn from the cross is that Christianity, contrary to any other belief system, is actually extremely counterintuitive.  It is as my former colleague the Rev. Nancy Hanna use to say, “Christianity is ‘Flip-flop Sense.”’ For example Good is Associated with the darkest Friday in human history, the cross a brutal instrument of execution is…

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Holy Week Reflection: Wednesday

By Fr. Robert Solon, Jr. The Triduum–the Sacred Three Days–is the most significant and solemn time of our year.   And it is nigh upon us, beginning tomorrow, Maundy Thursday, and ending after the Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday night or Sunday early. Many have said a lot about Holy Week, and you can read as much about it online or elsewhere as you wish.  There’s no dearth of words about this time.  But I’d hope and suggest this:  Don’t depend on the words.  It does no good simply to know in one’s head that Jesus entered Jerusalem in Triumph, or that his last night…