Another shot rediscovered from last summer in NYC. The Human Structures sign refers to the colorful sculpture which is mostly out of the frame to the right, but I think it could also apply to the way Selfie Guy just to the left is busy using the camera on his phone to construct a version of himself and his friend. Some might question the authenticity of that endeavor, but I think meaning-making is a valid and ongoing project in all its forms, including selfie-making.
What is my life really all about? What’s most important to me? What inspires me? What do I aspire to? When you think about it, trying out answers to those questions is a big part what Facebook and Instagram are all about.
If you had to summarize, what does your Facebook wall say about you? What do you think mine tells you about me?
May 21, 2011. That was the day the world was supposed to end.
I remember it very clearly because I was in Oakland at the time vising my daughter, and Oakland is the home of Family Radio and Harold Camping, who is the man who studied the Bible very carefully and came up with that date. Family Radio spent millions to publicize it with billboards and bumper stickers, and it was all over the news while we were there.
The day came and the day went, and we’re all still here. Actually, it wasn’t the first or the last time that Camping set a date for the end of the world, for Judgment Day, and it turned out to be wrong, so God wasn’t on his page, I guess.
It’s kind of easy to make fun and to laugh, you know. You picture that old cartoon with the prophet saying repent, the end is near. But my intent really isn’t to make fun of him.
My intent is to say how easy it is to look at readings like the ones we had today, Daniel in the Old Testament, and this Gospel from Mark, and misunderstand what the message of those readings is. Jesus is talking about the terrible times ahead, and Peter, James, John, and Andrew want to know when, when is this going to happen, what are the signs.
This might look like love, but actually it’s a picture of hope. They’re hoping these photographers are worth what they’re paying for them. She’s hoping she’ll look beautiful. He’s hoping she doesn’t feel as cold as she looks (yes, that is snow on the ground). Everybody else on the bridge is hoping they’ll be finished soon so they can continue walking. The wedding guests are trying to snag some hors d’oeuvres and hoping the picture-taking will be over soon so they can sit down and start dinner. But most of all, we’re all hoping that even though they can hardly imagine it now, they’ll still be together in 30 or 40 years, and these pictures will be a reminder that love and commitment are real. And as I’ve been preaching lately, hope isn’t just a wish, it’s living as if you believe that wish is true. May their life together be a sign of love and hope to this broken world.
This letter about my retirement goes out to the parish today; it was announced in church on Sunday. “There is both joy and sadness in this for me.” A great deal of sadness, to be sure, because these have been grace-filled years. But I look forward to having more time and energy for my family, and for exploring other areas of ministry, including leading faith-enrichment programs including quiet days and evenings and adult forums. So you haven’t heard the last from me! My last Sunday as rector of Good Shepherd Church will be Feb. 24.
I write today to share with the entire parish the news that was announced in church this past Sunday morning.
After a considerable period of prayer and discernment, I’ve decided that the time has come for me to retire. There is both joy and sadness in this for me. It wasn’t an easy decision to reach, since I do love this grace-filled community and I feel blessed by my time here. However, I also am very much looking forward to having more time to spend with my growing family, and I’m confident that this is the right time for me to take this step.
I had plans: places to go, things to do. But life said no. Stop, rest; that is the gift of this day. And one of the gifts of age is obedience to these leadings. So I came home to the fireplace and the view of snow falling, falling, falling to the lawn that was yellow with leaves this morning but looks like winter now.
One of the things my sisters found when they emptied my parents’ house after my mother died was a journal my father kept during his service in the Army in Europe during World War II.
It was an introduction to a much younger version of the man I knew. My father very rarely talked to us about the war, though we did know that it had something to do with the fact that he despised Spam for the rest of his days.
He was 19 years old when he was drafted in 1943. He was sent oversees in 1944, straight into Battle of the Bulge, and he started the journal midway through that terrible winter. This is how it begins:
I am going to keep this diary so that in future years I may remember more closely the day to day events of my Army career. I especially want to remember—in the days of normal living coming again in the not too distant future—the days of hell of our present existence in combat. For, as Sherman said, war really is hell—crowded with misery, discomfort, and uncertainty—uncertainty as to whether or not you’ll be alive in the next minute.
We’re living in difficult times, and that has felt especially true this past week or so.
I don’t know about you, but I feel a little beat up by all of the campaign rhetoric as we approach Tuesday’s elections. And I still feel very deeply the shock of the of the massacre last Saturday at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Among other things. There are also the troubles and worries in our own lives. We all have them.
And it is so good to be here together today, to hold these things in community.
That is what we do when times are hard. Or even, for that matter, when times are good. We come together in community, to walk together through our difficult times. To cry together. To laugh and to celebrate together.
And today we are celebrating, we’re celebrating our community here.
This is All Saints Sunday. It’s the observance of the feast that commemorates all the saints, both known and unknown to us. God knows them all, of course.