Sunday, March 30, 2014

Praise for the strengthening of marriage

My March 29, 2014, article for the Grand Haven Tribune, Praise for the strengthening of marriage
Recently, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down our state’s ban on gay marriage. 
Attorney General Bill Schuette has asked a federal appeals court to freeze Judge Friedman’s decision so that he can appeal the ruling, insisting that this ban was the will of 59 percent of voters when it was added to the state constitution in 2004. While no one can say for sure what the final result will be, I would be shocked if Attorney General Schuette won on appeal.

This case raises a key question about the nature of law and rights in our society. Does the majority have a right to enforce their views upon a minority? Was the decision made by over half of the voters in our state almost ten years ago a decision that should stand — or was it one that is in violation of our nation’s higher principles of justice as enshrined in the United States Constitution.
Read more at the Tribune's website here.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Elevator Pitches and Gettin' Saved

The Acts 8 Moment group has posted a great question for this week's blogforce, they have asked people to write a 250-word "elevator pitch" for the Episcopal church. As Fr. Simmons describes it,
A standard marketing tool is the “Elevator Pitch.”  The scenario behind this tool is that you step into an elevator with someone who is a possible client.  You have the time between when the elevator doors close and when they open at the destination floor to make your pitch.  You don’t have to get all the information across in the pitch – just enough to pique the interest of the person so you can then exchange information and follow up later.  Salesmen and consultants write, memorize, and rehearse their elevator pitch so that when the time comes, they are ready to deliver it. 
This is the sort of thing every Christian should be able to do—state clearly, succinctly, and quickly about why you follow Jesus in the tradition you have chosen. So, in the hopes of also encouraging other to give it a shot (perhaps even some of the great folks at St. John's in Grand Haven), here is mine...

One Elevator Pitch
Around ten years ago, I was hungry to follow Christ but finding the Christianity that surrounded me increasingly… insufficient.

Then I found the Episcopal Church.

I discovered a tradition that was concerned with more than the most recent fad in worship or spirituality. They prayed from a book! But the prayers in that book were rich and full, strained through hundreds of years of Christian experience. They believed God actually showed up—actually showed up!—in water and bread and wine. And they believed structure was not just a necessary means to an end. They believed structure could be a way for the Spirit to move.

That is, they believed God actually showed up in God’s people. Though they clearly adored much that was old and beautiful, they knew that those rich traditions could not contain the God of Abraham & Sarah, the God of countless fearless martyrs and broken sinners that spanned thousands of years.

So when they saw God in gay and lesbian relationships, they were willing to acknowledge that those GLBT Christians actually had the Spirit. It made that young former-evangelical feel uncomfortable for a while… but then I spent time around some of those GLBT Christians and saw godliness.

I decided to stay. Not just because I liked old and ancient things. Not just because I thought it was important to listen to God’s voice. But because I knew that the Episcopal Church could help me see a God who was still saving me.

Alright, what's your elevator pitch?

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Ashes to Go: A Difficult Invitation to Holiness

My March 3, 2014, article for "Tracts for These Times" theSCP blog, Ashes to Go: A Difficult Invitation to Holiness
As we approach another Lenten season, many priests around the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada are considering whether or not to adopt a relatively new Ash Wednesday practice. I’m speaking, of course, of the trend of offering “Ashes to Go.”

If you are not familiar with this new practice, “Ashes to Go” refers to a practice wherein clergy, sometimes accompanied by laypeople, go into the streets of their local community to offer the imposition of ashes for those going by. It is often practiced in urban areas at train stops or busy intersections.

The actual form of the offering varies rather significantly from church to church. In some churches people dress in street clothes and in others they wear full vestments. Some churches primarily and solely apply the ashes, others have crafted some sort of small liturgy that gives at least a bit of the Ash Wednesday experience to those who pass by.
Read more at the SCP website here.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

No More Killing, No More Death

My March 2, 2014, article for the Grand Haven Tribune, No More Killing, No More Death
Earlier this month, federal prosecutors announced that they will be seeking the death penalty in the case of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
When prosecutors made this announcement, they said it was because Tsarnaev acted in “an especially heinous, cruel and depraved manner” — and because did not show remorse for his alleged actions on April 15, 2013, when three people were killed and 250 more were injured in the bombings.

The death penalty is not a legal form of punishment in state courts in Massachusetts; but because Tsarnaev will be charged and tried in federal courts, prosecutors are able to argue for its use.
Read more at the Tribune's website here.