Leadership Workshop Series 2022

Christmas Message from Bishop Singh

 

Love came down at Christmas. Love all, lovely love divine. Love was born at Christmas, star and angel gave the sign. Beautiful words from Christina Rosetti, reminding us of the beauty of Christmas which combines the deep vulnerability that God would come and become like us. 

My first experience as a priest of Christmas was in a very remote village in South India and the only place that we could meet on that dark, starlit night was in a cattle shed. And so there we were, sitting among the animals with the smells and everything that goes with being in a cattle shed. 

It reminded me of how deeply God loves us. That God would choose to become dirty and vulnerable and to communicate this love. 

The second thing that stands out for me in this love is the deep trust that God has – that we will take care of each other. God became a human being in the form of a baby entrusted to human hands: Mary’s, Joseph’s, yours, mine – that we will take care of each other, especially the vulnerable, the lonely, the elderly, the refugee, the one who doesn’t agree with us politically. Let us trust again and again, wisely, but trust again. 

And finally, it takes agency for us to actually translate these beautiful concepts of vulnerability and trust. And so I invite you to appreciate the essence of Christmas by reaching out and acting out in love, in great vulnerability, and trust so that you may be a channel of love in a real way wherever you are. 

I look forward to coming to you as your bishop provisional and wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a blessed journey that we will engage together with Jesus walking beside us and perhaps creating a new thing by the Spirit’s leading. 

In my encounters with you, I have seen you always hold your palm up and every time somebody did that to give me directions, I took that as a sign of blessing. So the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you now and always. Amen. 

 

El amor bajó en la Navidad. Ama a todos, amor divino encantador. El amor nació en la Navidad, la estrella y el ángel dieron la señal. Las hermosas palabras de Christina Rosetti, nos recuerdan la belleza de la Navidad que combina la profunda vulnerabilidad de que Dios vendría y llegaría a ser como nosotros.

Mi primera experiencia como sacerdote de la Navidad fue en un pueblo muy remoto en el sur de la India y el único lugar que pudimos encontrarnos en esa noche oscura y estrellada fue en un cobertizo de ganado. Y ahí estábamos, sentados entre los animales con los olores y todo lo que conlleva estar en un cobertizo de ganado.

Me recordó cuán profundamente Dios nos ama. Que Dios eligiera ensuciarse y volverse vulnerable y comunicar este amor.

La segunda cosa que se destaca para mí en este amor es la profunda confianza que Dios tiene: que nos cuidaremos unos a otros. Dios se convirtió en un ser humano en la forma de un bebé confiado a manos humanas: María, José, la tuya, la mía, que nos cuidaremos unos a otros, especialmente los vulnerables, los solitarios, los ancianos, los refugiados, el que no está de acuerdo con nosotros políticamente. Confiemos una y otra vez, sabiamente, pero confiemos de nuevo.

Y finalmente, se necesita de agencia para que realmente traduzcamos estos hermosos conceptos de vulnerabilidad y confianza. Y por eso los invito a apreciar la esencia de la Navidad al llegar y actuar con amor, en gran vulnerabilidad y confianza para que puedan ser un canal de amor de una forma real dondequiera que estén.

Espero venir a ustedes como su obispo provisional y les deseo una Feliz Navidad, un Próspero Año Nuevo y un bendito viaje que emprenderemos junto con Jesús caminando a nuestro lado y tal vez creando algo nuevo por la guía del Espíritu.

En mis encuentros con usted, los he visto siempre levantar la palma de la mano y cada vez que alguien hacía eso para darme instrucciones, lo tomaba como una señal de bendición. Así que la bendición de Dios Todopoderoso, el Padre, el Hijo y el Espíritu Santo, estén entre ustedes y permanezcan con ustedes ahora y siempre. Amén.

Preparing for the 80th General Convention of The Episcopal Church: An Invitation from the Deputation Chairs

The General Convention normally meets every three years and is the governing body of The Episcopal Church. It is composed of the House of Deputies, with nearly 900 clergy and lay deputies elected from the church’s 109 dioceses and area missions, and the House of Bishops, with over 200 active and retired bishops. 

Are you curious about what happens when the General Convention legislative committees hold open hearings to discuss proposed legislation affecting the entire church?

Have you ever wanted to give direct input into The Episcopal Church’s legislative process but couldn’t attend the whole convention?

Deputy Elizabeth Jordan poses for photo representing her home congregation, St. Paul’s, Flint, on the floor of the House of Deputies at the 79th General Convention in Austin, TX.

In preparation for the 80th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2022, the process has been revised to allow for greater direct participation in the legislative process from the wider church from home. 

The business of the convention take the form of resolutions that must be passed by both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops in order to be adopted. Resolutions come to the convention from the taskforces and committees that operate between conventions as well as from bishops, dioceses, provinces, and deputies. <THIS IS WHERE I”LL PLACE THE “KEEP READING” LINK>

After their initial submission, resolutions are assigned to relevant legislative committees composed of deputies and bishops. These committees study the proposed legislation and make modifications as needed. The committees also hear public testimony on all resolutions before they come to the convention for futher discussion and vote. The legislative committees are required to hold at least one public hearing on each resolution at which anyone is allowed to “testify” or provide input to the committee.

In previous years, legislative committees did not begin meeting until gathered on-site for the General Convention, requiring speakers to be physically present to provide their perspective to the committee. This time around, the process has changed such that legislative committees began meeting online in November – nine months before the official start of the 80th General Convention, July 7-14, 2022. Online public legislative hearings will begin as early as mid-February 2022. 

In addition to increasing access to the process for the wider church, by holding hearings online ahead of the convention, the time spent on the ground in Baltimore will be shorter and at a reduced cost from prior conventions. 

The elected deputations of Eastern and Western Michigan have begun meeting monthly to build relationships with one another and monitor legislation. We will be tracking the hearings and testifying to specific areas of interest and expertise. We strongly encourage our wider diocese to take advantage of this unique access to the legislative process by observing the hearings and testifying if you wish. 

Please note that all matters of legislative committee meetings are subject to the rules established by that particular House (House of Bishops Rules and House of Deputies Rules). Prior to open legislative hearings, committee meetings remain open to non-committee members to observe. Requests must be submitted at least two business days ahead of the meeting and observers must agree to a code of conduct in order to participate.  

Several of our deputation members are serving on committees during the General Convention: 

  • The Rev. Jennifer Adams (Grace, Holland) – Chair, Ministry
  • The Rev. Brian Coleman (St. Thomas, Battle Creek) – Stewardship & Socially Responsible Investing
  • Anne Davidson (St. Mark’s, Coldwater) – Chair, Certification of Minutes
  • Bill Fleener, Jr. (St. David’s, Lansing) – Program, Budget & Finance
  • Dr. Elizabeth Jordan (St. Paul’s, Flint) – Vice Chair, Ecumenical & Interreligious Relations
  • The Rev. Pamela Lenartowicz (St. Andrew’s, Gaylord) – Rules of Order
  • Ellen McVey (St. John’s, Midland) – Sexual Harassment/Safeguarding
  • Carol Moggo (St. Francis, Grayling) – Environmental Stewardship & Care of Creation
  • The Rev. William Spaid (Kalamazoo) – Constitution and Canons
  • The Rev. Canon Michael Spencer (Dio Staff, Grand Blanc) – Dispatch of Business

As the chairs of your deputations to General Convention, we sincerely hope that you will take advantage of this unique opportunity available to the wider church to observe and participate in the legislative process.  Also, if you have questions about the process or anything else related to General Convention, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Ellen McVey (St. John’s, Midland)
Deputation Chair,
The Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan    

Bill Fleener, Jr. (St. David’s, Lansing)
Deputation Chair,
The Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan  

 

Bishop Update | Prince Singh Nomination

People of Eastern and Western Michigan,

With excitement, we announce the nomination of the Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh, Ph.D. to serve as Bishop Provisional of The Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan.

For more on the background of the canons around the selection of a bishop provisional and our own interviewing and selection process, we invite you to read the announcement and update sent last week. 

Bishop Singh comes to us with energy and enthusiasm for the work we have to do together as dioceses. For his fourteen years as the bishop diocesan of the Diocese of Rochester, Bishop Singh’s tenure was marked by three core priorities: relational welcome, nurturing and growing the beloved community; servant leadership, empowering lay and clergy leaders for the work of the church; and spiritual stewardship, considering spiritual and material resources with an eye on sustainability, generosity, and invitation.

The Rt. Rev. Prince Singh offers a word of greeting to the
Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan. 

Watch on YouTube:  Eastern MichiganWestern Michigan
Watch on Facebook:  Eastern MichiganWestern Michigan

 

Bishop Singh, born and raised in India, received degrees from Madras Christian College and Union Biblical Seminary before his ordination in the Church of South India (Anglican Communion) in 1990. He served several congregations in rural South India before further study in practical theology at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia (1994), Princeton Seminary (1995), and Drew University, where he received a Ph.D. in Religion and Society (2005). Before his election in Rochester, Bishop Singh served two congregations in the Diocese of Newark. Bishop Singh’s churchwide leadership includes membership in Bishops United Against Gun Violence, the House of Bishops theology committee, as Co-Chair of the Task Force on Theology of Social Justice, and as a coach for the College for Bishops. He has also served on a number of boards, including the Board of Directors for Episcopal Senior Life, the Board of Trustees for Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School and Hobart William Smith Colleges, and on the Board of Episcopal Relief and Development. He announced his resignation from the Diocese of Rochester in September.

If elected during Saturday’s joint session of convention, Bishop Singh would begin his time with us sometime early in the new year following his departure from his current diocese. Joining our other shared staff members, Bishop Singh would serve both Eastern and Western Michigan on a full-time basis for a period of up to 3-5 years. He would relocate to Michigan during that time.

A series of Zoom Meet & Greets will take place between now and convention late this month. All in our dioceses are encouraged to attend and especially those delegates and clergy who will take part in the voting process. Please use the provided links to RSVP for your particular Meet and Greet with Bishop Singh. We invite you to share this invitation broadly within your congregations.

All information about the upcoming Diocesan Convention is available on the diocesan websites at eastmich.org/convention and edwm.org/convention. All business sessions, as well as other offerings, will be livestreamed to the diocesan Facebook pages.

Yours in Christ,

The Standing Committee of Eastern Michigan 

Janet Huff Worvie, President
St. John’s, Otter Lake

The Rev. Brian Chace, Vice Pres.
Ret., West Branch

Gary Grinn
St. Paul’s, Gladwin

Barb Ilkka, Secretary
St. John’s, Saginaw

The Rev. Deacon Anna Leigh Kubbe
Holy Family, Blue Water

The Rev. Nancy Mayhew
St. Alban’s, Bay City

The Standing Committee of Western Michigan 

The Rev. Dr. Randall R. Warren, Pr.
St. Luke’s, Kalamazoo

Martha Bartlett, Secretary
St. James, Pentwater

The Rev. Jodi Baron
St. Philip’s, Beulah & Holy Trinity, Manistee

David Croal
St. Mark’s, Coldwater

Anne Davidson
St. Mark’s, Coldwater

The Rev. BJ Heyboer, Vice Pres.
St. Mark’s, Newaygo

The Rev. Diane M. Pike
Southwest MI Episcopal Covenant

Carole Redwine
St. Philip’s, Grand Rapids

Bishop Update | Provisional Process

Dear Friends in Christ,

As we approach our diocesan convention later this month, we write with an update on the process of selecting a bishop provisional to serve alongside our people in Eastern and Western Michigan.

As was announced in August, a special interviewing committee composed of equal members of both dioceses met several times over the last couple of months to interview a slate of candidates. Having conducted these interviews, they recommended a candidate to the Joint Standing Committee, who enthusiastically accepted the recommendation. We are now in the process of conducting background checks and other necessary steps toward public nomination.

Consistent with the canons of The Episcopal Church, the candidate is an already-consecrated bishop currently serving in another diocese. The Standing Committee is charged with selecting and nominating one candidate to the convention.

If elected, our candidate for bishop provisional will be with us for 2-4 years, throughout the period of intentional relationship and exploration between our two dioceses, as we navigate the longterm effects of the pandemic and continue to heal from the suspension of our bishop over the last year. The role of bishop provisional is akin to priest-in-charge, holding all the responsibilities of a bishop diocesan but without tenure. As a seasoned bishop, they offer our dioceses rich experience in ministry and an outsider’s perspective as we tackle the big questions about who we are called to be in this place and time. They would be a shared staff member of the dioceses, joining our Canon for Evangelism and Director of Children, Youth, and Young Adult Ministries in serving our communities from shore to shore.

The candidate is in the process of announcing their departure within their current diocese. Recognizing that these goodbyes are pastorally sensitive, they have requested that we wait to release a full announcement about the candidate until mid-October. We are excited to share their name and information with you as soon as we are able.

After the nomination is announced and before the joint diocesan convention, there will be several opportunities for Zoom “meet and greets” with the bishop for our people to hear from and interact with our nominee ahead of convention.

Please RVSP using the links provided above to receive your secure Zoom link for the meeting. We invite you to share this invitation broadly within your congregation with the understanding that these gatherings are open to all. Delegates and clergy voting in the upcoming convention are especially encouraged to attend.

We ask your prayers for the candidate, for your Standing Committees, and for one another as we enter our next season of ministry together with unceasing hope, great humor, and expectant listening to the Spirit’s leading. We look forward to sharing more information soon and to see you on Zoom and in Lansing later this month!

Yours in Christ,
The Standing Committee of Eastern Michigan

Janet Huff Worvie, President
St. John’s, Otter Lake

The Rev. Brian Chace, Vice Pres.
Ret., West Branch

Gary Grinn
St. Paul’s, Gladwin

Barb Ilkka, Secretary
St. John’s, Saginaw

The Rev. Deacon Anna Leigh Kubbe
Holy Family, Blue Water

The Rev. Nancy Mayhew
St. Alban’s, Bay City
The Standing Committee of Western Michigan

The Rev. Dr. Randall R. Warren, Pr.
St. Luke’s, Kalamazoo

Martha Bartlett, Secretary
St. James, Pentwater

The Rev. Jodi Baron
St. Philip’s, Beulah & Holy Trinity, Manistee

David Croal
St. Mark’s, Coldwater

Anne Davidson
St. Mark’s, Coldwater

The Rev. BJ Heyboer, Vice Pres.
St. Mark’s, Newaygo

The Rev. Diane M. Pike
Southwest MI Episcopal Covenant

Carole Redwine
St. Philip’s, Grand Rapids

Feast Days with Bishop Skip | St. Michael and All Angels

St. John’s, Saginaw, Michigan: Saint Michael and All Angels
September 29, 2021

From Genesis: “Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’ And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’”

Not just here, but any place in which we find ourselves, can be the gate of heaven, a place where we become open to the possibility of recognizing the joining of heaven and earth. Allow me to tell you of one of the moments in my life where God reached through the portal, and left an indelible mark on my heart and soul.

I had the privilege back in the 1990’s to spend some time working with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. I was assigned to the Dying and Destitute home, Mother Teresa’s “first love” as she called it. It is there she wanted “no one to die without knowing God loves them and knowing a loving human touch.” There were about 100 beds. 50% of the people brought in from the streets would die there. The welcomed came in with leprosy, typhoid, tuberculosis, dysentery, cholera, AIDS. They needed to be de-liced and in some cases gangrenous tissue removed. Fresh clothes were put on them, covering the wounds of the street.

Coming in the door my first day I discovered a man in the first cot had died just minutes before my arrival. A nun came to me, took my hand and said, “We need you to wash clothes, bed sheets and blankets.” So I was taken to a large room with four brick tubs in a line cemented to the floor. Piles of clothes and linens were brought to us, soiled by incontinent people. Each tub had a purpose: the first revealed a local man bearing a long heavy stick to stir and loosen what was in the fabric; the second, my tub, was for pouring in disinfectant and scrubbing using the rough walls of the sides; the third held soapy water for more washing; the fourth was there for a hoped for clear rinse. All of it was taken to the roof to be spread out in the sun to dry.

As I stood over my station at the second tub, mostly in silence, I began to be drawn to a sense of the presence of God. A doorway a few feet behind me over had a sign over it which read, “This is the doorway to heaven.” It was the morgue. As I washed and scrubbed, feeling that telltale ache in my back from leaning over, bodies on a stretcher would, on occasion, be carried by.

Slowly, a transformation occurred. As I looked into that dark, smelly water, I saw the world. The clothes and bed sheets became sacraments—outward and visible signs of God’s people, dead and alive. In that scummy water I saw the pain, the victims, the injustice, the humiliation, the degradation, the betrayal. It was Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, in a washtub. Then, and I assure you I am not a person given to hearing things, out of somewhere even as I could not locate it, I heard, I heard!, alleluias being sung. The glorious reign of God breaking in!

And it continued to break in as I reached into the muck below the surface of the water. In my disinfectant tub I felt something in the corner of a blanket that had been folded over, a strategy used by the residents to save for later rice and bread they had been fed, fearful no more was to be provided. This time, however, I lifted something to the surface. Breaking through the meniscus to the light of day, in my hand was a cheap 25 cent plastic crucifix attached to the beads of a rosary. There was Christ on the Cross as a profound sense of peace came over me as I experienced being embraced fully and completely by the love of God. I was renewing my baptismal vows in the holy water stained by the hurt and pain of God’s people.

“Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it.” I learned just last week from our Presiding Bishop that Jewish scholars, commenting on the story of Jacob at Bethel, note that when Jacob says, the word “I,” in the Hebrew it indicates a stutter, as in “I-I-I did not know it!” It is a stutter/exclamation of awe, of worship, of awareness of being on holy ground.

The Genesis reading invites us into that great story of Jacob’s dream at Bethel. It was believed in that time that oracles from God could be received by sleeping in a holy place. Jacob was wondering what the future held and in his dream he receives assurance that God will abide with him and his people, and that God had not abandoned them. There’s a promise to hold onto in 2021! The image of assurance is a compelling one: a “ladder” between heaven and earth, or better translated from the Hebrew, a “stairway” to heaven—see Led Zeppelin actually had it right.

An evening such as this, gathered in a magnificent place of worship to see and hear God’s people committing themselves to the way of Jesus, is a perfect time to be
reminded that God is always renewing God’s promise to us. Sure, many of us come tonight to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop to renew baptismal promises, but what carries the day is God’s promise to us. Our promises can be as fleeting as the wind, yes? We gather now and every time to re-member the truth that heaven and earth are forever linked. Jesus affirms Jacob’s Genesis vision when he says to Nathanael, “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” God’s promise to Jacob, indeed, God’s promise to you and to me, is fulfilled in Jesus.

As you move through this time of transition as a Diocese, perhaps wondering what the future may hold, know that every moment contains in it the God-possibility of renewal and promise. Our call now is to be a people, a Church, that looks and acts like Jesus. Tonight’s promise is that God is in this work of ministry with us. Heaven and earth are joined. Jacob saw it. Nathanael experienced it. I saw it in Calcutta. I see it in you. Even now, heaven and earth have come together in Jesus, and with the Angels, Archangels, and all the company of heaven, we worship. Do you see it?

Bishop Skip

 


 

De Génesis:  “Jacobo se despertó de su sueño y dijo: ‘¡Ciertamente el Señor está en este lugar, y yo no lo sabía!’ Y tenía miedo y dijo: ‘¡Qué increíble es este lugar! Esta no es otra que la casa de Dios, y esta es la puerta del cielo’”.

No solo aquí, sino cualquier lugar en el que nos encontremos, puede ser la puerta del cielo, un lugar donde nos abrimos a la posibilidad de reconocer la unión del cielo y la tierra. Permítanme contarles uno de los momentos de mi vida en el que Dios llegó a través del portal y dejó una huella indeleble en mi corazón y en mi alma.

En la década de 1990 tuve el privilegio de pasar algún tiempo trabajando con la Madre Teresa en Calcuta, India. Me asignaron al hogar de moribundos e indigentes, el “primer amor” de la Madre Teresa, como ella lo llamaba. Allí quiso que “nadie muriera sin saber que Dios le ama y sin conocer un toque humano de amor”. Había unas 100 camas. El 50% de la gente traída de las calles moriría allí. Los acogidos llegaron con lepra, tifus, tuberculosis, disentería, cólera, SIDA. Había que despiezarlos y, en algunos casos, eliminar el tejido gangrenoso. Se les puso ropa fresca que cubría las heridas de la calle.

Al entrar por la puerta el primer día descubrí que un hombre en la primera cuna había muerto minutos antes de mi llegada. Una monja se acercó a mí, me cogió la mano y me dijo: “Necesitamos que laves la ropa, las sábanas y las mantas”. Así que me llevaron a una habitación grande con cuatro bañeras de ladrillo en una línea cementada al suelo. Nos trajeron montones de ropa y ropa de cama, manchados por personas incontinentes. Cada bañera tenía un propósito: la primera revelaba a un lugareño que llevaba un palo largo y pesado para remover y aflojar lo que había en la tela; la segunda, mi bañera, era para verter desinfectante y fregar usando las paredes ásperas de los lados; la tercera contenía agua jabonosa para más lavado; la cuarta estaba allí para una esperada clara enjuague. Todo fue llevado al techo para esparcirlo al sol y secarlo.

Cuando me paré sobre mi estación en la segunda bañera, sobre todo en silencio, empecé a sentirme atraído por la presencia de Dios. Una puerta a unos metros detrás de mí tenía un cartel que decía: “Esta es la puerta del cielo”. Fue en la morgue. Mientras lavaba y fregaba, sintiendo ese dolor revelador en la espalda por estar inclinado, a veces pasaban cuerpos en una camilla.

Poco a poco, se produjo una transformación. Mientras miraba en el agua oscura y maloliente, vi el mundo. La ropa y las sábanas se convirtieron en sacramentos, signos visibles y exteriores del pueblo de Dios, vivo y muerto.  En esa agua sucia vi el dolor, las víctimas, la injusticia, la humillación, la degradación, la traición. Era el Gólgota, el lugar de la calavera, en una bañera. Entonces, y os aseguro que no soy una persona dada a oír cosas, de algún lugar aunque no lo pudiera localizar, ¡oí, ¡oí!, que se cantaban aleluyas. ¡El glorioso reino de Dios irrumpiendo!

Y continuó irrumpiendo cuando alcancé el lodo debajo de la superficie del agua. En mi bañera de desinfección sentí algo en la esquina de una manta que había sido doblada, una estrategia utilizada por los residentes para guardar para más tarde el arroz y el pan con el que se les había alimentado, temiendo que no se les proporcionara más. Esta vez, sin embargo, he sacado algo a la superficie. Rompiendo el menisco a la luz del día, en mi mano había un crucifijo de plástico barato de 25 centavos unido a las cuentas de un rosario. Estaba Cristo en la Cruz cuando una profunda sensación de paz me invadía al experimentar que el amor de Dios me abrazaba plena y completamente. Renovaba mis votos bautismales en el agua bendita manchada por el dolor y el dolor del pueblo de Dios.

“Seguramente el Señor está en este lugar y yo no lo sabía”. La semana pasada me enteré por nuestro Obispo Presidente que los eruditos judíos, al comentar la historia de Jacob en Betel, señalan que cuando Jacob dice, la palabra “yo”, en el hebreo indica un tartamudeo, como en “¡no lo sabía!”. Es una tartamudez o exclamación de asombro, de adoración, de conciencia de estar en tierra santa.

La lectura del Génesis nos invita a entrar en esa gran historia del sueño de Jacob en Betel.  En ese tiempo se creía que los oráculos de Dios podían ser recibidos durmiendo en un lugar sagrado. Jacob se preguntaba qué le deparaba el futuro y en su sueño recibe la seguridad de que Dios permanecerá con él y con su pueblo, y que Dios no los había abandonado. ¡Hay una promesa a la que aferrarse en 2021! La imagen de la seguridad es convincente: una “escalera” entre el cielo y la tierra, o mejor traducido del hebreo, una “escalera” hacia el cielo; en realidad Led Zeppelin lo tenía claro.

Una velada como esta, reunida en un magnífico lugar de culto para ver y escuchar al pueblo de Dios comprometerse con el camino de Jesús, es el momento perfecto para recordar que Dios siempre está renovando la promesa de Dios para nosotros. Ciertamente, muchos de nosotros venimos esta noche a recibir la imposición de manos del obispo para renovar las promesas bautismales, pero lo que lleva el día es la promesa de Dios para nosotros. Nuestras promesas pueden ser tan fugaces como el viento, ¿sí? Nos reunimos ahora y cada vez para recordar la verdad de que el cielo y la tierra están unidos para siempre. Jesús afirma la visión del Génesis de Jacob cuando le dice a Natanael: “Verás el cielo abierto y a los ángeles de Dios subiendo y bajando sobre el Hijo del Hombre.”  La promesa de Dios a Jacob, de hecho, la promesa de Dios para ti y para mí, se cumple en Jesús.

Al pasar por este tiempo de transición como diócesis, quizá preguntándote qué depara el futuro, sepa que cada momento contiene en él la posibilidad de renovación y promesa de Dios. Nuestro llamamiento ahora es ser un pueblo, una Iglesia, que se parezca y actúe como Jesús. La promesa de esta noche es que Dios está en esta obra de ministerio con nosotros. El cielo y la tierra están unidos. Jacob lo vio. Nathanael lo experimentó. Lo vi en Calcuta. Lo veo en ti. Incluso ahora, el cielo y la tierra se han unido en Jesús, y con los ángeles, los arcángeles y toda la compañía del cielo, adoramos. ¿Lo ves?

 

Feast Days with Bishop Skip | St. Matthew the Apostle

We remember and celebrate this day the call of Matthew by Jesus. In Matthew 9:9 we read, “Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth.”  Perhaps the most startling words in the entire account are those that indicate Jesus “saw him.”

Are we appropriately surprised by the unlikelihood of this call? It would have been easy for Jesus not to see Matthew.  It would have been more efficient to walk on by and not bother.  After all Matthew was a tax collector: a collaborator with the Roman government and understood as an extortionist who was getting rich off of his own people.  Furthermore, we know that tax collectors were abhorred by the most pious of Jewish groups, the Pharisees.  Yet, Jesus did see Matthew and dared to call him into his circle of disciples in order that he might follow.

Whom do we not see?  For whom would it be easy to walk on by, not recognize or acknowledge?  Whom do we choose not to value?  Often when disasters strike such as in pandemics, hurricanes, or even in our difficult national conversations regarding displacement and immigration, it is precisely those who are the unseen that are suddenly exposed. This is especially true of the poor and other vulnerable populations.  It is my hope that in our faith communities we are working very hard to see as clearly as Jesus sees, and draw into his circle of care those to whom we need to respond, in word and in action.  

As Matthew 9:13 reminds us, quoting Hosea, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” The law of love takes precedence even over our desire for personal freedom. Our religious devotion and our life as a Church mean little to nothing unless we are willing to love as Jesus loves, with mercy, as we respect the dignity of every human being and create a world where hope is born. 

Bishop Skip

 

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Recordamos y celebramos este día el llamado de Mateo por Jesús. En Mateo 9:9 leemos: “Jesús vio a un hombre llamado Mateo sentado en el puesto de los recaudadores de impuestos”.  Quizá las palabras más sorprendentes de todo el relato son las que indican que Jesús “lo vio”.

¿Nos sorprende apropiadamente la improbabilidad de esta llamada? Hubiera sido fácil para Jesús no ver a Mateo.  Hubiera sido más eficiente caminar y no molestarse.  Al fin y al cabo Mateo era un recaudador de impuestos: un colaborador del gobierno romano y  un extorsionador que se enriquecía a costa de su propio pueblo.  Además, sabemos que los grupos judíos más piadosos, los fariseos, aborrecieron a los recaudadores de impuestos.  Sin embargo, Jesús vio a Mateo y se atrevió a llamarlo a su círculo de discípulos para que pudiera seguirlo.

¿A quién no vemos?  ¿Para quién sería fácil pasar de largo, no reconocer ni reconocer?  ¿A quién elegimos no valorar?  A menudo, cuando se producen catástrofes como pandemias, huracanes o incluso en nuestras difíciles conversaciones nacionales sobre desplazamientos e inmigración, son precisamente los que no se ven los que quedan repentinamente expuestos. Esto resulta especialmente cierto en el caso de los pobres y otras poblaciones vulnerables.  Espero que en nuestras comunidades de fe estemos trabajando muy duro para ver tan claramente como Jesús ve y atraer a su círculo de atención a aquellos a quienes tenemos que responder, de palabra y de acción.  

Como nos recuerda Mateo 9:13, citando a Oseas: “Misericordia quiero, no sacrificios”. La ley del amor prevalece incluso sobre nuestro deseo de libertad personal. Nuestra devoción religiosa y nuestra vida como Iglesia significan poco o nada si no estamos dispuestos a amar como ama Jesús, con misericordia, respetando la dignidad de cada ser humano y creando un mundo donde nazca la esperanza. 

Obispo Skip

FEAST DAYS WITH BISHOP SKIP | HOLY CROSS DAY


“And I, when I am lifted up, will draw all people to myself.”  John 12:32

John’s Gospel understands Jesus’ self-offering on the cross as his exaltation.  Thus he is “lifted up” as on a throne.  An instrument of death that was meant to be a political statement of Rome’s power, that was meant to humiliate and destroy, becomes in the hands of God an invitation of total love, mercy and forgiveness.

Today’s feast presents us with an opportunity.  We can, once again, claim our center as we are reawakened to the glory of the cross.  It is there we discover the definitive statement of who God is in his very nature—the desire to draw all people to himself.  In that act on the trash dump of Golgotha of all places, is a proclamation of pure love.

Do not mistake this for a passive God who is waiting for us to find him.  Jesus taught us of a God who will not stop searching until we are found.  God’s passion is you.  Too often in history the Church has done a lot of grumbling about “sinners.”  Nothing new there. Welcome to humanity.  God’s emphasis, however, seems to be unmitigated joy by partying with us as we are found.  So it is that we celebrate Eucharist.

The cross-event reveals with stark clarity the very nature of the activity of the divine love and manifests its character as directed to the welcome of all people.  No exceptions.  It is through the cross that we learn that God is love.  The Letter to the Philippians, as it echoes Isaiah, understands the cross as the reclaiming of the universe to God’s sovereignty and glory.  It is for the healing of the nations.  It is also the vindication of Jesus who refused to regard equality with God a thing to be exploited, placing himself at the divine disposition.

As in Jesus, so it is our call to give ourselves to the obedience of God’s self-offering, demonstrating our willingness as God’s people to empty ourselves, take on the form of a servant, lay down our life in order to give life, all out of a deeply developed and tended existence flowing from a relationship with the living Christ.  The cross shows us that the way to God is the way of self-giving love.   The way of God’s love is the way of the cross, drawing all people to God’s very self.

Bishop Skip

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“Y yo, si soy levantado de la tierra, atraeré a todos a mí mismo”.  Juan 12:32

El Evangelio de Juan entiende la autooferta de Jesús en la cruz como su exaltación.  Así, es “elevado” como en un trono.  Un instrumento de muerte que debía ser una declaración política del poder de Roma, que debía humillar y destruir, se convierte en manos de Dios en una invitación al amor total, a la misericordia y al perdón.

La fiesta de hoy nos presenta una oportunidad.  Podemos, una vez más, reclamar nuestro centro mientras nos despertamos de nuevo a la gloria de la cruz.  Allí descubrimos la declaración definitiva de quién es Dios en su propia naturaleza: el deseo de atraer a todas las personas hacia sí mismo. En ese acto en el basurero del Gólgota de todos los lugares, hay una proclamación de amor puro.

No confundas esto con un Dios pasivo que está esperando a que lo encontremos.  Jesús nos enseñó a un Dios que no dejará de buscar hasta que nos encuentren.  Tú eres la pasión de Dios.  Con demasiada frecuencia en la historia la Iglesia ha refunfuñado sobre los “pecadores”.  No hay nada nuevo ahí. Bienvenido a la humanidad.  Sin embargo, el énfasis de Dios parece ser una alegría sin mitigar al festejar con nosotros mientras nos encontramos.  Así que celebramos la Eucaristía.

El acontecimiento de la cruz revela con toda claridad la naturaleza misma de la actividad del amor divino y manifiesta su carácter dirigido a la acogida de todos los hombres.  Sin excepciones.  Es a través de la cruz que aprendemos que Dios es amor.  La Carta a los filipenses, tal como se hace eco de Isaías, entiende la cruz como la recuperación del universo a la soberanía y gloria de Dios.  Es para sanar a las naciones.  Es también la reivindicación de Jesús, que se negó a considerar la igualdad con Dios como algo a explotar, poniéndose a disposición divina.

Como en Jesús, así es nuestro llamado a entregarnos a la obediencia de la autooferta de Dios, demostrando nuestra voluntad como pueblo de Dios de vaciarnos, adoptar la forma de un siervo, poner nuestra vida para dar vida, todo a partir de una existencia profundamente desarrollada y tendida que fluye de una relación con el Cristo vivo.  La cruz nos muestra que el camino a Dios es el camino del amor autoentregado.   El camino del amor de Dios es el camino de la cruz, que atrae a todas las personas hacia Dios.

Obispo Skip

FEAST DAYS WITH BISHOP SKIP | SAINT BARTHOLOMEW THE APOSTLE

He is on the list of twelve. Not much more can be said about Bartholomew. Three of the Gospels and the book of Acts mention him as one of the apostles, but beyond that we know almost nothing. Interesting conjecture poses the possibility that Bartholomew and Nathanael were the same person. There are other traditions that arose over the years that cannot be proven. Even the word “patronymic” comes up – do look it up. So what do we do with this known yet unknown figure?

Perhaps by not knowing details we are free to play. In contrast to similar stories in Mark and Matthew of friction amongst the disciples over authority and who will get the best seat, the context of Luke 22 is a time of transition from Jesus’ impending death and his expectations of faithful leadership in the continuation of the ministry he initiated. We can then apply to this day Luke’s perspective in his Gospel of the call of Jesus for the disciples and therefore the call of all who will follow through the millennia.

Too often in the Church we get hung up in institutional minutia. The preservation of buildings and other infrastructure tend to become the main thing and have us focus on survival as we take our eye off of the reason we exist. Notice that Jesus is not preparing the way for institutional preservation. In this last will and testament, he is saying to the disciples and therefore to us that the kingdom for which he is preparing is one for which we must be preparing. We do so by living in a manner that creates the greatest possibility for it to break in and break through: “I assign to you, as my Father has assigned to me, a kingdom…” (Luke 22:29).

Jesus has shown in his life and death the very essence of whom God is. The only reason for the Church to exist, and I would add the only reason for a Christian faith community to exist, is so that through our worship of God we might find the reality of the reign of God taking shape in the lives of the people who gather, in the Church we love, and then in our mission whereby we seek to establish God’s reign of peace and justice in the world. A bishop friend says very clearly that the Church does not have a mission. God has a mission and a Church through which to carry out that mission. He does, I believe, have a point. Our purpose is God’s mission as presented by Jesus.

Today’s celebration of the person of Bartholomew, in his historical role and witness, calls us once again to ask the question of ourselves and of the faith communities of which we are a part – why do we exist? What is our purpose of being? Along the way, may we find that we, in the words of the collect for the day, ”…love what he believed and preach what he taught.”

Bishop Skip

 

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Él está en la lista de los doce.  No se puede decir mucho más sobre Bartolomé.  Tres de los Evangelios y el libro de Hechos lo mencionan como uno de los apóstoles, pero más allá de eso no sabemos casi nada.  Una conjetura interesante plantea la posibilidad de que Bartolomé y Natanael fueran la misma persona. Hay otras tradiciones que surgieron a lo largo de los años que no se pueden probar.  Incluso aparece la palabra “patronímico”, búsquelo.  Entonces, ¿qué hacemos con esta figura conocida pero desconocida?

Quizá al no conocer los detalles se nos da la libertad de jugar.  A diferencia de los relatos similares de Marcos y Mateo sobre las fricciones entre los discípulos en torno a la autoridad y a quién le tocará el mejor asiento, el contexto de Lucas 22 es un momento de transición de la muerte inminente de Jesús y sus expectativas de liderazgo fiel en la continuación del ministerio que inició.  Podemos entonces aplicar a este día la perspectiva de Lucas en su Evangelio de la llamada de Jesús para los discípulos y por lo tanto la llamada de todos los que seguirán a través de los milenios.

Con demasiada frecuencia, en la Iglesia nos obsesionamos con las minucias institucionales. La preservación de los edificios y otras infraestructuras tiende a convertirse en lo principal y nos hace centrarnos en la supervivencia mientras apartamos la vista de la razón por la que existimos.  Nótese que Jesús no está preparando el camino para la preservación institucional.  En esta última voluntad y testamento, le está diciendo a los discípulos y, por tanto, a nosotros, que el reino para el que se está preparando es uno para el que nosotros debemos prepararnos.  Lo hacemos viviendo de una forma que crea la mayor posibilidad de entrar y abrirse paso:  “Os asigno, como mi Padre me ha asignado, un reino…” (Lucas 22:29).  

Jesús ha mostrado en su vida y muerte la esencia misma de quién es Dios.  La única razón de ser de la Iglesia, y yo añadiría la única razón de ser de una comunidad de fe cristiana, es que a través de nuestro culto a Dios podamos encontrar la realidad del reino de Dios tomando forma en las vidas de las personas que se reúnen, en la Iglesia que amamos, y luego en nuestra misión por la que buscamos establecer el reino de Dios de paz y justicia en el mundo.  Un amigo obispo dice muy claramente que la Iglesia no tiene una misión.  Dios tiene una misión y una Iglesia a través de la cual llevar a cabo esa misión.  Y creo que tiene razón.  Nuestro propósito es la misión de Dios tal como la presenta Jesús.  

La celebración de hoy de la persona de Bartolomé, en su papel histórico y su testimonio, nos llama una vez más a preguntarnos y a las comunidades de fe de las que formamos parte: ¿por qué existimos?  ¿Cuál es nuestro propósito de ser?  A lo largo del camino, que encontremos que, en palabras de la colecta del día, “…amamos lo que él creía y predicamos lo que él enseñaba”.

Obispo Skip

Feast Days with Bishop Skip | Saint Mary the Virgin

“O higher than the cherubim, more glorious than the seraphim, lead their praises, Alleluia!”  Many do not realize that these words beginning the second verse of hymn 618 in The Hymnal 1982 refer to Mary, the mother of Jesus.  The verse continues, “Thou bearer of the eternal Word, most gracious, magnify the Lord…”  This magnificent hymn names all the company of heaven joined in praise to God as we are invited to join the chorus.  Mary is the choir director.

Jim was the choir director in my home parish when I was in high school.  It was he who invited me to consider the possibility of a life lived in Christ at a time when I was searching and not sure about anything related to the entire God conversation.  I became willing to consider the possibility because I saw in him an authenticity reflected in pure joy as he led the youth and adult choirs of the parish.  He was real.  His life was an act of praise to God.  Each choir practice was an adventure of praise and thanksgiving as Jim gave voice to our song and we were invited to consider the God-possibility in each of us.  Life for me was never the same again.

I often say that one of the purposes of liturgy is to create a space in which we can fall in love with God.  In Mary’s great hymn of response to God’s invitation that we know as the “Magnificat,” we are drawn into a vision for God’s people that is radical and transformative:  “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” I remember my liturgics professor saying of this Song of Mary that of course she sung it as there is no renewal without music. As we hear in Mary the echoes of Hannah’s prayer from I Samuel, we learn that the renewed heart’s first responsibility is the worship of God which bears the fruit of a life lived in gratefulness.

Then comes a more radical turn as we find that a grateful heart leads to radical living.  Mary sings a vision of God that turns everything upside down.  Perhaps as she came to realize her own life was being turned topsy-turvy, she was able to align her own voice with a God who scatters the proud, puts down the mighty, exalts the lowly and sends the rich away empty.  And we wonder where Jesus got some of his ideas?  Just look at Mom.

The choir director is telling us that those we marginalize God glorifies.  Think of the 22 million refugees of the world fleeing the violence of their homelands.  See the homeless in our cities, many of whom are teenagers and a large number are mentally ill. Ponder those who are disabled in any way.  Consider those oppressed and ostracized for no other reason than for being who God created them to be.  Walk into a prison.  We could do no better than each day taking Mary’s lead and joining in the song she leads.  Sing that song each day and see what happens.  Perhaps by joining her choir we will find our lives renewed and conformed more closely to the One she bore and raised.  Here lies a hope that even our generation will call her blessed.

 

“¡Oh, más alto que los querubines, más glorioso que los serafines, dirige sus alabanzas, Aleluya!”  Muchos no se percatan que estas palabras que comienzan el segundo verso del himno 618 en El himno 1982 se refieren a María, la madre de Jesús.  El versículo continúa: “Tú, portador de la Palabra eterna, misericordioso, magnifica al Señor…”.  Este magnífico himno nombra a toda la compañía del cielo unida en la alabanza a Dios mientras se nos invita a unirnos al coro.  Mary es la directora del coro.

Jim era el director del coro de mi parroquia de casa cuando estaba en el instituto. Fue él quien me invitó a considerar la posibilidad de una vida vivida en Cristo en un momento en que estaba buscando y no estaba seguro de nada relacionado con toda la conversación de Dios.  Quedé dispuesto a considerar la posibilidad porque vi en él una autenticidad reflejada en pura alegría mientras dirigía los coros juveniles y adultos de la parroquia.  Era real.  Su vida fue un acto de alabanza a Dios.  Cada ensayo del coro era una aventura de alabanza y acción de gracias mientras Jim daba voz a nuestro canto y nos invitaba a considerar la posibilidad de Dios en cada uno de nosotros.  La vida para mí nunca volvió a ser la misma.

A menudo menciono que uno de los propósitos de la liturgia es crear un espacio en el que podamos enamorarnos de Dios.  En el gran himno de respuesta de María a la invitación de Dios, que conocemos como el “Magnificat”, se nos presenta una visión del pueblo de Dios que es radical y transformadora:  “Mi alma engrandece al Señor, y mi espíritu se alegra en Dios, mi salvador”. Recuerdo que mi profesor de liturgia decía de este Canto de María que por supuesto lo cantaba ya que no hay renovación sin música. Al escuchar en María los ecos de la oración de Hannah de I Samuel, aprendemos que la primera responsabilidad del corazón renovado es la adoración a Dios, que da fruto de una vida vivida en agradecimiento.

Luego viene un giro más radical, ya que descubrimos que un corazón agradecido conduce a una vida radical.  María canta una visión de Dios que lo pone todo al revés.  Tal vez cuando se dio cuenta que su propia vida se estaba volviendo turbulenta, fue capaz de alinear su propia voz con un Dios que dispersa a los orgullosos, baja a los poderosos, exalta a los humildes y envía a los ricos vacíos.  Y nos preguntamos de dónde sacó Jesús algunas de sus ideas.  Mira a mamá.

El director del coro nos dice que los que marginamos Dios glorifica.  Piensa en los 22 millones de refugiados del mundo que huyen de la violencia de su patria.  Observa a las personas sin hogar en nuestras ciudades, muchas de las cuales son adolescentes y un gran número de enfermos mentales. Reflexiona sobre los discapacitados de cualquier manera.  Considera a los oprimidos y condenados al ostracismo sin otra razón que por ser quienes Dios los creó para ser.  Entra en una prisión.  No podríamos hacer nada mejor que tomar cada día la dirección de María y unirnos a la canción que ella dirige.  Canta esa canción todos los días y ve qué pasa.  Tal vez al unirnos a su coro encontraremos nuestras vidas renovadas y conformadas más de cerca a la que ella dio y crió.  Aquí yace la esperanza de que incluso nuestra generación la llame bendita.