Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost: God did not make us for death but for life

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Preached by Barbi Click at Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday, June 28, 2009.

Do you remember those times when you were a kid and you had just pinched your little sister or brother, some adult leaned over and wagged a finger at you saying menacingly, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and you just stared, big eyed at the finger waving in front of your face totally unsure of what she meant? At some point, we learned that this was the Golden Rule and it basically meant Treat other people the way you want to be treated.

Scripture is not much different – Love one another. It can and often is used to chastise.

Both are so easy to ignore or just simply misunderstand. Until we work at understanding these sayings, we also run the risk of misunderstanding the word Just or even justice.

What does a “just” world look like? How do we make it just?

Because that question was an important one to me, Christian Ethics was a major part of my master’s dissertation. In that study, I learned that the Golden Rule has a big fancy name – the Ethic of Reciprocity.

This ethic of reciprocity states that not only do we all have the right to just treatment but each one of us also has the responsibility of ensuring justice for other people.

Love One Another is a lot easier to say, but it is also far too easy to address that command to others – YOU love one another..YOU do unto others…There isn’t very much ME involved in the use of that YOU.

Yet if we are charged with the responsibility of ensuring justice for others, the idea of YOU and ME has to be readjusted. What is the relationship between You and Me?

Somehow, we have to create this process of reciprocity. If we treat others the way we want to be treated hopefully that they will do the same, not just to us but to others also. Sort of like the bumper sticker Commit a Random Act of Kindness on a regular basis. This is the idea that we want to foster.

Wisdom tells us God created all things so that these might exist, regenerate and be wholesome. All of these are very good things and we, as a part of that creation, are also considered good. God created us with life and for life and for the good of life – a healthy balance between receiving and giving. We are not meant to be separated from God or each other; we are meant to be reflections of God’s love. That balance means Right Relationship.

We can too easily relate to the Church of Corinth. They are having problems. Whatever all those problems are, mainly, these cause them to draw away from each other and from others who need them. They lose their healthy balance. They fall short of their promise for monetary support for the church in Jerusalem and because of that, the church in Jerusalem has problems. Paul reminds them that their faith is evident in the abundance of their spiritual gifts and that those gifts are to share.

Their fear of not having enough causes them to hold back.

Paul tries to calm their fears by reminding them about the Israelites gathering up the quail that God sent them – those who had much did not have too much and those who had little had no need of more. By the gift, all had enough. The gift is measured by what they have rather than in what they lack.

In Mark, two stories are jammed together; the stories of Jairus and his 12 year old daughter and an unnamed woman with the flow of blood for 12 years.

Jairus appears to have much. He is a leader in the synagogue. Not one to ask favors; rather, it is more likely that others come to him seeking his favor. He is a man in high standing. Yet he lacks one thing – his 12 year old daughter is near death. When he sees Jesus, Jairus falls at his feet and begs him to lay hands on his daughter that she might be made well.

But before Jesus can follow him too far, a woman who does not even rate a name comes up behind him. She has been bleeding for 12 years. She is an outcast due to her unclean condition; destitute because she spent all she had in hopes that doctors could heal her; she struggles through the crowd so that she can come up behind Jesus and merely touch his cloak. She has no intention of asking Jesus for anything. Jesus didn’t even know she was there until after she touches his cloak. She believes so strongly that if she touches only his clothes she will be made well. And she is. Immediately. Before Jesus even sees her.

These two stories share several things – the 12 year old daughter and the 12 years of bleeding; Jairus’ daughter and the woman to whom Jesus gives the name of “daughter” but more, far more to me, these are stories of acting in faith and how the level of our faith may vary but each and every level is accepted where it is at the time. And in that acceptance, the faith becomes a gift.
Jairus’ and the woman’s faith became a gift to all around them because they shared it even though there was risk in doing so.

Jairus risks his reputation and his position as leader in the Jewish community to ask Jesus to heal his daughter. The woman is an outcast and not supposed to touch anyone yet she touches this man. The cost could have been her life but it was one she was willing to risk.

Both believe that Jesus can help them. Jesus treats them alike – with love. He knows their fear and he knows their faith. To Jairus he said, Do not fear, only believe. To the woman he gives the name, Daughter, and tells her, “Your faith has made you well.

I would like to believe that Jairus was witness to this healing. Whether she knew or not, he received the gift of the woman living out of her abundance, her faith. Whether others knew it or not, they received the gift of Jairus risking all for the belief that Jesus could save his little girl.

“The one who had much did not have too much and the one who had little did not have too little.” It might seem to many that Jairus is the one that has much and the woman the one that has little. Paul tells us that our gift is acceptable according to what we have – not according to what we do not have.” Both Jairus and the woman are willing to risk everything for that belief in Jesus.

In many ways, we are all like Jairus and the woman named Daughter. Some of us appear to have much; some of us appear to have little. Yet we all have gifts to share.

Regardless of the gift we have been given – music, money, time, energy, spirit, enthusiasm, just plain old love – these are not ours to keep but to share with others so that they might in turn do the same. These gifts do not come to us out of our goodness but out of God’s good giving.

God gives us life that we might live it fully, deliberately, holding faithfully to the idea that all we have to do is seek and we will find; believe and we will be made well. By acknowledging our faith and our love, we give to others. Failure to use that abundance of gifts results in the failure to share God’s love. Just like the Corinthians, our failure to share results in the failure of others to do the same. That failure becomes our own.

This is the Ethic of Reciprocity – living with the love and faith that allows us to share these gifts, we give to others, even when we do not realize it. When we deliberately work for this good, we ensure that justice will be done and in the doing of that justice, our own just treatment will be sure.

Are these texts today about Justice? Maybe I just read justice into these because this weekend is Pride Fest. Or maybe, more to the point, these texts are about Right Relationship – that healthy balance between receiving and sharing.

I think that this Cathedral family is working on that healthy balance. Those gifts that are received from God are shared by the people of this family. My family and I are witness to that. We are the recipients of your gifts.

Most of you know that we came from a place that was not very welcoming…they did not want the gifts we had to share, nor were too many of them willing to share what they had and like the Corinthians, this was motivated by fear.

So we came here to this place. It seemed like a risk at the time – leaving all that we knew to walk into the unknown. Yet you welcomed us with open arms, not only giving but allowing us to give in return. Even when you did not realize, by accepting our gifts, you gave us so much.

This is an example of living out of your abundance. This is an example of acting in faith. This is an example of thriving in that healthy balance of right relationship.

So, yes…to me, this is working toward and for a just world – living in our space and time in faith to accept and to share the Gifts that God has so graciously given to each one of us.

This is an example of Love One Another and Do Unto Others. And I give thanks for that.


Fourth Sunday After Pentecost - Franklin Kline

Preached by Franklin Kline at Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday, June 28, 2009 (10 am service).

In the Old Testament Lesson, “The Wisdom of Solomon” tells us of God, “For he created all things so that they might exist … and made us in the image of his own eternity”. Today’s Gospel Lesson illustrates how God brings this about in and through Jesus Christ.

The two miracle stories in the 5th Chapter of Mark’s Gospel, one within the other, at a basic level illustrate the Lord’s authority over disease and death.

The woman:
She was desperate. She had suffered for 12 years. She had spent all she had on doctors, but had not been cured; she was destitute. Her sickness made her ritually unclean, and would make unclean anyone who came in contact with her. In addition to suffering from her illness, she had been an outcast for 12 years. News of his healing power had preceded him. He was a proven healer, perhaps a prophet. She was convinced that just being in his presence, just touching his garment would cure her. Because she was ashamed she hoped nobody would notice; perhaps not even Jesus himself, and she did not wish to bother the teacher. She approached Jesus from behind, in the midst of the crowd. She would just slip up to him un-noticed … She touched his cloak, and Mark tells us, “Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.”

Jesus asks, “Who touched me?” The disciples respond, “Are you kidding, you’re working a crowd!!” Jesus knows that there is a world of difference between thronging Him, and touching Him in personal faith, faith out of a deep sense of need and a conviction of his saving power. Jesus says to the woman, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; Shalom, go in peace, and be healed of your disease."

What an agonizing wait for Jairus, who had turned to Jesus hoping he would heal his ill little girl and save her from imminent death. What a contrast between the ways he and the woman approached Jesus. Jairus was a leader of the Synagogue, a devout Jew. He was an important man in the community. Here he was publicly falling on his knees and begging for help from this controversial teacher, whom some recognized as a prophet or more, and other’s suspected’ of being possessed by the devil. And, while the episode with the women goes on, messengers arrive from his home saying, “It’s too late, don’t bother the teacher to come, your daughter is already dead”. What devastating news. Now because of the delay his little girl lay dead.

Jesus ignores the messengers, and the message. He encourages the distraught father to have faith in him. Taking only Peter and the brothers James and John Ben Zebadee with him, he goes to Jairus’s house. The household was by now in mourning. They had even already called in the professional mourners. Jesus says to them, "Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And Mark tells us they laughed at him”; The King James version says “they laughed him to scorn” -- they knew what it meant to be dead! He took the child’s parents and the three disciples and entered the room where the little girl was laid out. He took her by the hand and said, “Little girl, get up”. She immediately got up and began walking, and matter-of-factly he told them to get her something to eat.

There is something reminiscent here of the episode in John’s Gospel relating the raising of Lazarus. You will recall that after being called to Lazarus’s sickbed by the sisters Mary and Martha, Jesus delays, in this case two days. When they question his delay, Jesus tells the disciples that the delay until after Lazarus’s death is “so that you may believe”. At the tomb, Jesus tells Martha, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God”. To the woman with the issue of Blood Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well”. Hear again what Jairus asks of Jesus, “Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live." To Jairus he says, "Do not fear, only believe." . Indeed God’s time is not in the same dimension as our time. God’s delay is God’s teaching point – a lesson in faith. How often do we like Jairus, like Martha and Mary and the disciples become impatience with God’s time

The miracles of Jesus always demonstrate a deeper meaning beyond the physical act. Jesus not only heals the physical ailment of the Woman with and Issue of Blood, but also restores her from exile. The prophet Jeremiah cites Israel for being spiritually deaf and blind. Jesus’ healing of the blind and the deaf are signs that he also heals those who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear. To be deaf and blind to the presence of God which surrounds us, is this not spiritual death? The raising of the dead is a sign of the power of Jesus to overcome not only physical death, but the sleep, the blindness, the deafness of spiritual death. Do we not all need to be awakened from the sleep of spiritual death, to have our eyes and ears opened, and to be made alive by Jesus. Indeed, it is through faith and belief in him that we are made well and truly alive .

It is through faith that the outward signs of Baptism and the Eucharist bestow their inward grace. In the water of Baptism we are baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ, turned from our old lives, and reborn to new life in him. We are incorporated into his living body, the church. We pledge to, “continue in the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.” Jesus tells us, “When two or there are gathered in my name, I am in the midst of them.“ As we gather around the Lord’s Table at Eucharist we join the community of faith throughout the ages “with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven” .

There are wonderful ways in which we maintain this life of the community of faith by incorporating those who are unable to be physically present due to illness or infirmity, by intercessory prayer and by including them at the communion table through the ministry of Eucharistic Visitors. A highlight of my month is taking communion to one of the remarkable Centenarian members of our Cathedral parish. She is in a nursing home, but she is very much full of life and spirit. Every time I visit her she is working on a new jig-saw puzzle; the tough kind. You know, several hundred pieces, a red barn against red autumn maple leaves at sunset --you can’t fit the pieces together by the picture, you just have to figure out where each one fits together with each of others. She says it keeps her brain in gear – -that’s when she is not reading the daily Post Dispatch to keep up with what’s going on in the world.

And, whenever I visit her she always has across her lap, the prayer quilt we presented to her earlier this year, full of the prayers of those members of the Team who sewed it, and the prayers prayed into the knots tied by the hands of those of us who blessed it. And so in accordance with the Eucharistic Visitor’s commission, we share with our community of faith in the communion of Christ’s body and blood, enfolded by their prayers, with Christ present in the sacrament and in the assembly, “For we who are many are one body, because we all share one bread, one cup.”

It is here, in this community of faith, that we are made alive; and here we encounter God in Jesus. It is here that we are healed, enlivened, renewed, formed, nurtured, and sent out to be the Kingdom of God in the World.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Building a new home together: Re-imagining 9 o'clock worship at Christ Church Cathedral

Beginning in the fall, we will be going back to having three services on Sunday – 8, 9 and 11:15.

From a practical standpoint, it is not sustainable in terms of staff resources for us to have both a 9 and a 9:15 service -- but more than that it is not healthy for us as a congregation to be divided at that time. We need to come together, and it’s really as simple as that.

As I’ve talked about this move, the image I have used is when a couple comes to me wanting to get married, I encourage them not to move into one person’s house or the other but to find a new home together. I urge that because it prevents one person from feeling like they are the guest, that the home isn’t really theirs … but also because building a home together can be a wonderful experience of loving and learning about one another. For many couples the new home is the first incarnation of the new creation that is not one or the other but both of them.

That’s what we’re doing at 9 am. We’re all building a new home together. So what does that look like? Very briefly, it looks like this:

*Over the summer we’ll have at least three open forums. The first was June 21, the next two will be July 12 and August 16. The guiding question for these gatherings will be “What do we want this liturgy to communicate about the life of Christ at Christ Church Cathedral?” These gatherings are open to everyone!

*Renee, as canon liturgist, and I as provost, will be putting a small design team together for the 9 am liturgy. The primary job of that team will be to craft a liturgy that accurately reflects the values expressed in the forums. A piece of that will necessarily be that we are an Episcopal congregation and bound by the canons of the church. (Particularly as a Cathedral, this is a non-negotiable element not just with the bishop but with me.)

*It is possible that, particularly in the last two weeks of August and the first week of September, we will “test drive” some liturgical ideas that have come from our forums during the 10 am service.

*This team will develop a liturgy that will be used from Celebration Sunday through Christ the King Sunday (the last Sunday before Advent). During that time, there will be several opportunities for anyone interested to gather and share what their experience of God in this worship has been. These conversations will always be framed by the same questions: “What do we want this liturgy to communicate about the life of Christ at Christ Church Cathedral?” and “How are we doing at building a liturgy that communicates those things with excellence?”

*It is possible that we will tweak some things here and there, but more than likely we are going to stick with the basic liturgy for the three months. Why? Because it takes a while when we move into a new home for us to distinguish between what just feels exciting or uncomfortable because it’s new and what really is reflective of what we want or don’t want this home to be.

*There will be an ongoing process, probably at least through Christmas, 2010, of occasional but regular feedback and looking at adjusting the liturgy. This will be done by the calendar of the seasons of the liturgical year and will also allow us to make changes to express those seasons.

At our first community forum (called “Re-imagining 9 o'clock worship”) last Sunday, I identified four things that we all need to covenant to for this process to work:

1. Prayer
2. Honest, loving communication
3. Deep, loving listening
4. Trust

The 30+ people gathered there covenanted to these things with a hearty “we will with God’s help!” If we all as a Cathedral community can do likewise, this cannot help but be wonderful because whatever happens we will be doing it together.

Also at that gathering, we had everyone write down their hopes & dreams as well as their anxieties & fears about this process and the new liturgy. You can download those answers in a document by clicking here.

Please feel free to come to me with any questions. I look forward to seeing you for the next forum at 9 am on Sunday, July 12!

Warmly, your friend,


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Third Sunday after Pentecost: When God doesn't meet our expectations

Preached by the Rev. John M. Good at Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday, June 21.

A couple of weeks ago I was playing golf with some good friends at Eagle Springs Golf Club in North County, when we saw lighting flashing out of a black cloud to the south of the course. Normally I would have high tailed it to the clubhouse, but I was having a particularly good round, and, like the Bishop in the movie Caddyshack, I was determined to finish. After just missing a birdie putt on fourteen and hitting my second shot to the green on fifteen, the black cloud moved overhead. It brought with it a lightening and thunderstorm that was at least as severe as that storm the disciples and Jesus encountered on the Sea of Galilee. If the local TV stations weren’t breaking into regular programming to warn folks about this storm, they should have. Rain was coming sideways in sheets. Gusts of wind were blowing small branches from the trees. Lightening was firing bolts everywhere and thunder was shaking our bones. My friends and I took shelter, such as it was, in a small grove of trees off the fifteenth fairway, and I began to pray for the storm to let up so I could finish my round. But Jesus was taking a nap in the back of the boat, and he didn’t wake up!

I probably should give Jesus credit for keeping the lightening away from that grove of trees, but he still did not stop the storm so I could play the last three holes. I didn’t get too upset because I really do not expect God to cater to my whims whenever I ask. Every time I see that earnest young preacher tell me to call on Jesus when I want something in his TV commercials, I want to tell him that Jesus is not some kind of heavenly bell boy who jumps to help everytime I yell "Front!." At the same time I know many people call on Jesus when they have desperate, often life or death, needs, and his failure to answer as they wish plunges them into inconsolable sorrow. Quite often their disappointment turns them against God and his church because God did not respond as they expected. They shake their fist at Jesus, and walk away. Given the bill of goods that some churches have sold them in this era of consumer religion, I can’t say I blame them.

Their response is much like the response of a scholar who was interviewed on public radio not long ago. Forgive me for forgetting his name. He reported that he had begun his academic study of scripture as a devout Christian, but after years of research he now is, at most, an agnostic, because he cannot reconcile the concept of a just and loving God with all of the personal misery that occurs on earth.

That is the kind of response we might have expected from Job. As you know, he suffered calamity upon calamity because God made a bet with Satan that he would remain faithful through any adversity. Given what happened to him, none of us would have blamed Job if God lost his bet. Job did remain faithful, but he did not endure his afflictions in quiet resignation. The bulk of the book is his argument with three friends who came to "comfort" him. In case you are looking for names to give your unborn child or grandchild, their names were Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. They all said that Job’s sins must have been monstrous for God to punish him this way. Job protested that he did not deserve this kind of treatment. Throughout these conversations, he calls on God again and again to vindicate him.

For thirty-four chapters God doesn’t offer so much as a peep in Job’s defense. Finally he confronts Job with the words of our first lesson: "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know!" Job had kept faith all those thirty-four chapters because he expected God to vindicate him in the end. But when God finally does show up, it is not to justify Job, but to justify himself. "I’m God, and you’re not!" God says out of the whirlwind. "How dare you base your faith on your expectations of who I am supposed to be."

Isn’t that the answer to all of those folks, scholarly or not, who give up on God because he did not fulfill their expectations? Whenever we let our preconceptions of who God is supposed to be determine our faith, our faith is on shaky ground. God often does not meet our expectations just as he did not meet Job’s. If that torpedoes our trust in God, we have based our trust on our own opinion of who God is instead of on who he is revealed to be in scripture.

Sometimes scripture reveals that God exceeds our expectations, as Jesus did when he stilled the storm. His disciples, who knew Jesus as a friend and mentor, were not expecting their friend to have supernatural powers to tame nature. When he calmed the wind and the waves, they were left wondering, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"

Thank God that he refuses to be defined by our expectations! How many of us would have expected God to change history without using overwhelming coercive power to reward and punish. How many of us would have expected God to subject himself to all of the limitations and vulnerabilities of being human. How many of us would have expected God to suffer the outrage and savage pain of a ghastly execution to reveal his love for us. Historically, human beings have expected their gods to reveal themselves by using force. No one was looking for a God who would reveal himself by being vulnerable to worldly evils. That is why I am convinced that the gospels are not fiction. No one in those days (or ours) expected God to be anything like the one revealed in those writings.

The gospels challenge the conventional wisdom of what we can expect from God. But if we trust the revelations contained in gospels, we are less likely to dismiss God because he does not meet our expectations. On the contrary, we are able to look beyond our expectations to see where God is truly at work in our world. And we are prepared to be astonished when God exceeds what we expect.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Second Sunday After Pentecost: Telling the Whole Story

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Preached by the Very Rev. Mike Kinman at Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday, June 14

Over the last 10 years, I spent a lot of time as a guest preacher on very specific topics. And I have to admit you can kind of get in a groove … and it’s all too easy to kind of go into autopilot sometime. In my case, I got to the point where I could take any text in the Bible and turn it into a sermon about either the importance of campus ministry or the Millennium Development Goals.

I felt that impulse creeping up this week with the reading from Samuel. It’s a great story. God tells Samuel to go to Jesse’s house to look for a new king because Saul has displeased him. And so Samuel goes and Jesse presents all the sons he thinks might fit the bill, but God doesn’t want any of them. Finally, Samuel says, “are you sure this is everyone?” And Jesse says, “well, I do have one more, but he’s just a little kid. He couldn’t possibly be what you’re looking for.” But of course that child is precisely who God is looking for. That child is David. David, the youngest, David, the tossed aside. David becomes the great king of Israel.

And I could feel this impulse as the sermon was almost writing itself. God choosing the one we least expect, in this case the youngest. What an easy sermon on really valuing our youth, especially on a Sunday where we’re trying out this new family space for our worship.

But then I was going over the readings with a friend of mine, Emery Washington. And Emery asked a question.

Why did Israel need a new king? What did Saul do that was so terrible that God rejected him?

It’s a good question. And if you only read the lectionary, you’ll never know the answer? Anybody know the answer?

You've got to turn to the beginning of Chapter 15. There were these people called the Amalekites, and God wanted to punish them for opposing the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. So God told Saul to wipe them out. I mean completely, not one person, not one piece of livestock left.

And so Saul did what he was told. He wiped out the Amalekites, but at the last moment he had a change of heart. And he had mercy on the king of the Amalekites, and spared him along with the best of all their livestock. He let them live.

Saul did what I as a follower of Jesus Christ would have hoped he would do. He had mercy. But God didn’t see it that way. God said, “that’s it for you, Saul. You will no longer be king over Israel.” And then for good measure, Samuel went and took Agag, the king of the Amalekites whom Saul had spared … and cut him into little pieces.

We don’t read that in church. Probably because it’s incredibly hard to wrestle with. It doesn’t mesh with who we think God is. But it’s there. It’s part of our story. It’s part of who we are. I don’t know what to tell you about a God who would reject Saul for sparing a life and embrace Samuel for butchering him. I’d like to think that Jesus brings us to a different understanding of God where Saul could catch a little slack.

But what I do know is that this is part of our story – like it or not. And what we shouldn’t do is just ignore it because it’s uncomfortable or because we don’t have an easy answer for it. Because if our faith is only about those things we have easy answer for, I don’t think it’s going to be worth that much. We’ve got to tell the whole story.

And so it got me thinking about our story here at the Cathedral. There is so much we are proud of and rightfully so. But that’s never the whole story? How do I know? Because we’re human. And are stories are never that simple. They’re always more interesting than that.

I’ve been doing some reading.

You all know about Henry Shaw, philanthropist, botanist, parishioner and pillar of Christ Church Cathedral. If it wasn’t for Henry Shaw, we wouldn’t have the Missouri Botanical Gardens, St. Luke’s Hospital, Tower Grove Park, the Missouri Historical Society, the Missouri School for the Blind and given the financial straits he helped this Cathedral out of, very possibly without Henry Shaw we wouldn’t have Christ Church Cathedral.

Henry Shaw was a slaveowner. He had a slave named Esther who tried to escape across the river to Illinois where she was captured and returned – because that was the law under the Fugitive Slave Act. And as punishment Shaw, contracted with St. Louis’ largest slave dealer, Bernard Lynch, owner of a place called Lynch’s Slave Pen, sold her – but not her children, down the river to a plantation in Vicksburg, MS. Shaw was a leader and a prime contributor to this congregation. His legacy is not separate from ours.

We have one of the most racially diverse congregations in the Diocese of Missouri. But this week our tour guide extraordinaire Ron Thompson was telling me, that until the 1940s people of color weren’t allowed in the nave of this Cathedral … only in Bofinger Chapel. In fact, most were encouraged to go to All Saints Church, a church specifically founded for what the church called “Negro Work”

We have our own varied story around violence and war.

Montgomery Schulyer, first dean of this Cathedral, had people – parishioners, friends – shun him on the street and not speak to him because he visited both Union and Confederate soldiers in the hospital.

Carroll Davis, dean of this Cathedral a hundred years ago, took a leave of absence to serve in the U.S. Army in France in World War I.

Bishop Will Scarlett preached incessantly for peace in this very room leading up to and through World War II, and only reluctantly supported the war because it “will determine who will reshape the world.” And give us a chance to “build a world structure in which so far as it is humanly possible the major causes out of which wars arise are overcome.”

For Will Scarlett, the only acceptable rationale for a war was that it might actually be a war to end all wars.

And yet, men and women from this congregation have served in wars, and this Cathedral has been a haven for servicemen and women. The first Sunday after Pearl Harbor, December 14, 1941, the Sunday evening program was converted into a program for servicemen and women … the swimming pool was open, a jukebox provided and clergy were always present to give such counsel as might be asked. And that program ran past the end of the Korean War.

On the other hand, in June, 1972, women from many women's organizations - including Bella Abzug - met at Christ Church Cathedral for a public hearing on U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. Following a day of testimony, participants at the meeting demanded an immediate end to the Vietnam War. And yet we had people from this Cathedral who fought in that war and indeed have people who sit with us today who were a part of that war.

We have a rich history. It is full of the wonderful and the terrible. We need to be honest about the parts of our story that are disturbing, that are conflicted, that are even shameful. We can’t just whitewash and tell the good parts. Because it’s the total package that makes it real.

You see, it’s all of a piece. How we deal with the terrible, conflicting, pieces of our history and how we deal with the terrible or conflicting pieces of our present.

I’ve never understood when people tell me we shouldn’t talk about political things in church. Because politics literally means “the things that concern the people!” Things like what happens when we get sick and the schools we send our kids to. Things like whether we’re safe walking to our cars or even in our homes. Things like whether we are going to send our children off to war, and when if ever that is justified, and how do we deal with it when we disagree about that?

I think we’re hesitant to do it for the same reason that chapter about Saul and the Amelkites isn’t in the lectionary. Because it makes us uncomfortable. Because maybe it creates conflict. Because it’s definitely easier not to.

But, you see, I’ve gotta believe Jesus has got something to say about these things. I’ve gotta believe that Jesus has something to say about health care and Jesus has something to say about education. I’ve got to believe Jesus has something to say about violence and guns and homelessness. I’ve gotta believe that Jesus has something to say about war. And I’ve gotta believe that we’re supposed to talk through and pray through and wrestle through what that might be. Because if Jesus doesn’t speak to the things that concern us – what use is he? And if we’re not bringing Jesus into the conversation about the things that concern us and the world – what use are we?

We need to tell the whole story – our whole story in scripture and our whole history as a Cathedral. We need to tell the whole story because each one of us and all of us together have a story right now that isn’t all neat and tidy.

And if we can somehow be honest about and deal with the whole story of our past, then maybe we can do the same for our story of the present.

Maybe we can talk honestly and unashamedly about our own spiritual doubts, about losing our jobs, about our kids who are having trouble in school, about our fear of not being able to pay our bills. About how we can bring health care to people who don’t have it. About what Jesus would do in Iraq or Afghanistan. Maybe we can have the conversations that aren’t the easy ones but that are the real ones.

If we can learn to tell the story of Saul along with the story of David, maybe we can be a people who can share our whole stories, too, and together see what Jesus has to say to help us.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer "Coffee & Conversation" with the Provost

Over the next two months, we'll be offering 10 different opportunities for 8-10 people to meet in parishioners' homes for 90-minute "Coffee & Conversation" with Mike. The gatherings are being offered at different times and locations around the city with a couple designed especially for families with children.

Sign-up sheets will be available on Sunday morning and starting next week you'll also be able to sign up online. Here are the times and places so you can decide which one to attend (but remember, because space is limited, please only sign up for one!).

Tuesday, June 23 - 7:30-9:00 pm - Don Fisher & Don Thompson, 3705 Humphrey St.

Wednesday, June 24 - 7:30-9:00 pm - Karen and Steve Barney, 400 So. 14th St. #1211

Tuesday, June 30 - 7:30-9:00 pm - Tom Manche, 7478 Stratford Ave.

Thursday, July 2 - 7:30-9:00 pm Sarah and Jim Kinney, 1805 Park Ave. #2D

Wednesday, July 8 -9:00-10:30 am - Carol Riddell, 725 So. Skinker #9C

Wednesday, July 8 -730-9:00 pm - Robin and Mike Kinman, 6209 Pershing Avenue

Saturday, July 11, 4:00-5:30 pm - Robin and Mike Kinman, 6209 Pershing Avenue - parents with children particularly invited to this one (kids can play with Schroedter and Hayden - or take part in the conversation if they like).

Tuesday, July 14, 8:00-9:30 am - location TBA

Sunday, July 19, 4:00-5:30 pm Robin and Mike Kinman, 6209 Pershing Avenue - parents with children particularly invited.

Wednesday, July 22 9:00-10:30 am - Kathy and Tom Rogers, 118 So. Gore Ave.

Sign up on Sunday!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Waters of Hope rolls into Christ Church Cathedral!

Our own Beth Felice put together this great video coverage of the Waters of Hope Finale at Christ Church Cathedral on Pentecost Sunday, May 31. You can find out more about Waters of Hope at

Waters of Hope final stage 2009: Arrival at Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis from Episcopal Diocese of Missouri on Vimeo.