schedule

I’ve had a few folks as me for my supply schedule so I thought I’d oblige.

Below are all of my scheduled preaching/presiding “gigs” for the rest of the year.  I’d love to see those of you who might want to come to a church where I’ll be.  That said,  I get just a little weird about folks coming to see me – it ends up being a lot of pressure!  What if you come out to hear my preach and my sermon is terrible?? (And that is a distinct possibility!)

So please – come to church.  I’d love to see you, and I know our church communities would love to see you too.  Just come for the whole experience – and be open to loving it! My mom came to see me preach last March and has been a faithful member of Emmanuel Church in Newport since then.  So you never know…

I hope to see you around!

May 26th: Grace Church, Providence  8 & 10am

June 2, 9, 16, 23rd:  St. Matthew’s Church, Jamestown  8 & 10am

July 28th:  St. Columba’s Church, Middletown  8 & 10am

August 4th:  St. Thomas’ Church, Greenville  8 & 10am    (Aug. 3: 5:30pm – St Thomas)

August 11th:  St. Columba’s, Middletown  8 & 10am

September 8th:  St. Thomas’ Church, Greenville  8 & 10am  (Sept. 7th: 5:30pm St Thomas)

September 22ndNovember 3rd:  St Peters by the Sea, Narragansett   8 & 10am

November 10th:  St. Thomas’, Greenville  8  & 10am (Nov. 9th: 5:30 St. Thomas)

dancing in the rain

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” 

Yesterday was my sixth wedding anniversary.

Jonathan and I were married at Grace Church in Providence, and held our reception at ECC in the Pavillion.  We made a weekend out of it, because what could be more fun than a weekend with all of our friends and loved ones at camp?  Besides, May is just about the most beautiful time of year at the Episcopal Conference Center.  Just look:

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At least, that’s what it looks like in May sometimes. 

Sometimes it’s overcast and dark gray.  Sometimes it rains and the temperature drops so drastically that it still feels like February, and as fast as you’ve pulled on your t-shirts and flip flops you are running for your heavy sweatshirts and thick socks.

My wedding day was more like the latter.  I had hoped it would be a weekend like the picture above – picturesque and green and lovely.  But no.  May 19th, 2007 (and really the whole weekend) provided temperatures just above freezing and a constant, spitting rain that occasionally increased to a steady pour.  My poor friends from Virginia had to leave the airport after their arrival and go straight to Target to buy warmer clothes and Joyce almost sold out of camp sweatshirts that weekend.  Lance had to go to Home Depot the morning of the wedding to buy a thick plastic to wrap around the Pavilion so that the heat from the grill would warm up the space, making it tolerable for the 200 plus people who had agreed to spend the day celebrating with us.

It was not ideal.

Last year the weekend of our Open House at ECC was pure perfection.  In fact, that’s when the above picture was taken.  When I walked outside on the morning of May 19th I was struck dumb by the sheer beauty of the property, the bright shining sun, and the warm gentle air. In my head I knew it was my anniversary, but psychologically I couldn’t make the jump.  It was just too beautiful.

Yesterday also started out that way – bright sun and clear skies – and I found myself thinking, once again, “well it didn’t look like this on my May 19th!” That said, I was grateful for the great weather.  Once again, I was expecting over 200 guests at ECC that afternoon, and sunshine makes for better tours of the property.

And then suddenly the memory of my wedding day started to be much more clear.

As if on cue, right at 3pm when our gates were open and cars started to trickle in, so did the rain.  And all of my counselors, sporting their short sleeved staff shirts started shivering and looking at me hopefully asking if it was ok if they pulled on a sweatshirt. Umbrellas popped open as groups of folks huddled together for camp tours, and most of our guests opted for arts and crafts under the Pavilion instead of games on the field.  Again, there weren’t enough sweatshirts in the store to keep our folks warm.  We ran out almost immediately. (Side note: more have been ordered and should arrive right as the temperatures are consistently above 80 degrees.)

I admit to being a little disappointed.  I think I had more stock in nice weather yesterday than I did on my wedding day.  I love showing off our beautiful camp on a sunny day.  But the sun was long gone, the rain had settled in, and the temperature was dropping.  I ran some umbrellas out to the two young men who were on parking lot duty, and instructed them to usher our guests to the tents with the golf umbrellas, one blue and white and the other rainbow colored.  Then I walked away to tend to other things.

When I came back to the parking lot area a little while later I checked in with my team under the welcome tent.  They were looking into the parking lot and laughing.  “Look,” they said to me, pointing, “Caleb and Justin have been out there dancing and swinging the umbrellas.”

Sure enough, there were my 17 year old Jr. Counselors, spinning in circles in the parking lot, kicking up their heels, turning towards the welcome tent and smiling widely.  When a car would pull in they would wave their umbrellas and leap over puddles with finesse to reach the people in the car.  They were ridiculous.   And they were hysterical.

I turned to look towards the road and saw that yet another set of my counselors – the ones stationed at the entrance to wave cars into the property – were also being terrific sports about their assignments.  They shared their umbrella, but were also spinning and jumping and dancing, enthusiastically waving and welcoming the cars that drove by, whether or not the cars were pulling into our driveway.

I couldn’t help but laugh, and my shoulders loosened some.  Leave it to my staff to remind me that our Open House wasn’t about how pretty the property looked, and whether or not the sun was shining.  Our Open House is about showing people our spirit, our joy, and our community at ECC.  They showed that so clearly – all the staff did – as they danced in the parking lot, laughed through the tours, and played sports in the field while the rain soaked their shirts.

I found myself remembering my wedding day again.  Despite the weather, it was one of the most fabulous parties I have ever attended.  We pulled on our sweatshirts and sneakers and we danced, and danced, and danced.  I’ve had countless friends reminisce about what a great time we had, remembering the joy and laughter and fun we shared dancing in the plastic-covered pavilion under the cold, dark skies.  I have to credit ECC with some of the fun.  I think that same joyful spirit was there even though it wasn’t a camp event.  And I think Jonathan and I – both products of ECC ourselves – had learned over and over again how to shrug off bad weather and party on.

We had a wonderful Open House yesterday.  New friends and old joined us for tours, games, a Pentecost Eucharist, and a cook out.  I can think of no better way to have spent my anniversary than back at the place I love so dearly, surrounded by a joyful community that knows how to dance in the rain.

May 19th, 2013:

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church and caritas

I confess to being surprised just now when I realized I haven’t written a blog post since March 2nd.  Two months?? Wow time flies when you are having fun.  Or working your tail off. Or both.

One of the things I’ve been working on lately is our recent Happening weekend.  Dozens of youth from around the Diocese gathered at ECC for a youth retreat that was full of love, spirit, and the depth and breadth of God’s love.  There were lots of truly wonderful things about the weekend, but for me the most remarkable was a talk that was given by one of the young adults that helped out with the weekend.  I’ve asked her if I could share it with you, and she said yes.

So that’s right – my first blog post in two months isn’t even mine.  I wish it were – I wish I could tell the story of why church matters with the same grace and wisdom this young woman has.  And yet maybe it is more satisfying and more meaningful to hear these words from someone who doesn’t work for the church.  It certainly was more meaningful for me.

I’ve got lots of blog posts in my head these days.  I’ll make an effort to get them out soon.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this talk.

As a side note, this is an excellent argument for the importance of a good church website…

Church and Caritas

Church and Caritas have taught me a lot about God’s love.

I was in elementary school volunteering at a food pantry the first time I remember experiencing God’s love. I carted the frozen bread from the back freezer to the front for people to take home. One day, a classmate of mine, Josh, came in. I wasn’t a fan of Josh. He was mean to me. He was mean to my friends. At the end of the day, I remember saying to my dad, “Dad, I know that kid Josh and my friends are not going to believe he has to go to a food pantry.”

My father sat me down and gave me my first memorable lesson about human dignity and about respecting human dignity – especially when people are vulnerable. I tried to fight back with him, “No, dad – you don’t understand, you don’t know Josh. If you knew him, you would know he’s mean, he’s a trouble maker.” My father replied, “Josh is of great worth, he is very valuable and he is loved by God. He doesn’t have to earn or deserve God’s love… by simply being alive, he receives it.”

As a 5th grader, his words shook me. Josh came to that pantry for years and I gave him bread. I gave him respect.

I continued to be actively engaged in Church. I continued to learn about God’s love in that community. But, during high school, church was just… inconvenient. I played soccer and worked on Saturdays. The last thing I wanted to do was wake up early and give away some of my hard-earned money. My church was full of old people. They smelled bad and pinched my cheeks.

My worst nightmare in church was a baptism. They were so long, babies cried and if someone threw water at me one more time there was going to be a throw down. I kept my composure by counting down the songs left in the service and I braided the colorful tassels on the bookmarks in the Book of Common Prayer.

At that time, I thought that I didn’t need church. I saw God in the ocean, I saw God in the trees and I saw God in people. I didn’t need to reluctantly mosey into a run down building every Sunday to prove my relationship with God.

So, I continued to build my relationship with God away from the church. I became interested in activism, advocacy and fundraising to change in the world. I taught myself about human rights, social justice and movement building.

I was lucky enough to get a job working for an international healthcare organization bringing quality care to the poorest of the poor around the world. I was surrounded by passionate and interesting people.

I thought, “This is where God is. This is my community. This is the community I’ve been searching for since high school”. At that time, a day behind my desk working 9-5 was more meaningful than any Sunday I had ever sat in a pew.

As I continued to get to know my coworkers, I learned that we weren’t as similar as I had imagined. It became apparent that people do their jobs for very different reasons. Maybe they were interested in medical research, supply chains or the pharmaceutical industry. Maybe they were influenced by the World Health Organization, the World Bank or the United Nations.

As for me, I did my work because in 5th grade I learned that a kid that I did not like deserved to be loved. I realized that there are under-loved, underserved people all around the world that need to be lifted up and shown that they are of great value and of great worth.

Then, I thought, “Where are you going to find a group of like-minded people?” It was then that I realized that I wanted to go back to church.

Thereafter, I Googled churches in my area, compared websites, picked one and walked over one Sunday. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping. I arrived to read a sign, “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” and I was kindly greeted. The exterior of the church was beautiful and interior was gorgeous and I sat down feeling peaceful, adventurous, calm.

Then, I picked up my bulletin and read the big, bold words at the top: “Holy Baptism”. Just as I did in high school, I looked at my watch and began leafing through the bulletin to see how many songs were left in the service.

However, after this Baptism, I never looked at a church or God’s love the same ever again. This time, I didn’t gloss over the usual hand gestures and the words did not bounce off of my ears. For the first time, I understood what it meant to be part of a church community.

It was at these words that I became emotional:

“Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”

I saw a room full of family, friends, strangers crowded around a little child… promising, committing, being accountable to raising that life to know God’s love. I thought back to my baptism, although I don’t remember it, I know that a community of strangers made that promise to me. They vowed to create experiences for me so that I would understand the importance of working towards the peace, justice and human dignity of every human being. Furthermore, I can’t help but recognize those words as the golden thread that’s woven through the fabric of who I am today.

If that is the power of church and God’s love, then that’s something I want to be a part of. That’s something I want to learn about every day.

I still see God in the ocean. I see God in the trees and I see God in people. I have a personal relationship with God. But, I now know that I was missing something extraordinary when I was simply doing that alone.

Being part of a community, for me, helps me understand, as a person of faith, how to face this world. Yes, it is beautiful and it is inspiring. But, it is also downright stressful, scary, and abrasive. In 2013, how do I face homophobia? As a Christian, how do I face Islamophobia? What can I do to help those suffering from financial hardship? What are my options when I am faced with financial hardship? How do I bring people together to minimize the stigma of diseases like HIV and AIDs. How do we make sure people do not die senseless deaths from preventable diseases?

What does, or would be, being a part of the church community mean to you?

Being part of a church/the church connects you to support that comes from a much wider community that spreads across the world and thousands of years of human experience.

It connects you to caritas. Caritas is love. Caritas is charity. It is prayer. It is service. It is not earned or deserved. It is a free gift.

And that is what you are in the middle of experiencing right now… at Happening.

Throughout this weekend, you may find God’s love, caritas – a note, a hug, a song, a high five, Eucharist, dancing, etc. I hope that it is a way for you to open your hearts and minds to re-imagine that person you see in the mirror everyday as extraordinary and truly believe that God Loves You and So Do I.

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