Tuesday, May 29, 2007


In my Pentecost sermon, I mentioned the point Jesus makes at the end of the reading from John’s Gospel. Jesus tells the disciples that the world will not see or accept the coming Spirit. Jesus is preparing them for the difficult ministry ahead, but reminds them that the Spirit is with them. They will labor, but never alone.

There are profound implications for the Church. Jesus challenges his followers telling them that the world will not see, but communicates that the Church is not an escape from the world. The Church, in this light, becomes a training ground for the development of the awareness of the Spirit. The Church is the community of people charged with the task of discerning the presence and will of the Spirit.

There is a purpose to the development of spiritual awareness. We develop and hone our eyes, ears, hearts and minds to communicate the Spirit to those that neither see nor know. In the Church, we don’t hide from the world. We seek our own development for the transformation of the world, so that the world might become the Kingdom of God.

The heart of Jesus’ message is that the Kingdom of God has come near. We struggle and work to see the Kingdom and enter it, together.

Monday, May 21, 2007

What The Bible Says

There is a great quote about the believer beginning the day with the bible and a newspaper. I wish I could recall the exact quote and the source, but alas. Anyway, I am surprised that this quote from Leviticus has not become part of the immigration debate....

20 Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction. 21 You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. 22 You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. 23 If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; 24 my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.

An Anglican Covenant

As I am sure many of you are already aware, the current solution offered to deal with division and strife within the Anglican Communion is a covenant. A draft exists that was produced by “The Covenant Design Group” that met in Nassau in January. The product is a draft that is making its way through channels, as we speak. What does this mean for Anglicanism and for us?

For the most part, the content of the draft is innocuous. It contains a good deal of verbiage about the value of the Holy Scriptures, the Catholic Creeds and our historic faith. This strikes me as well and good. Acknowledging one’s identity, from time to time, is a good thing.

The two pieces of the proposed covenant that deserve more attention are the sections related to the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates meeting. I would argue, that both are granted a new “type” of authority in the proposed covenant. It seems that the ABC would not only be the central figure within Anglicanism, but would be the convener of a Primates meeting, when certain subjective conditions are met, that pose a threat to the unity of the Communion. When a threat is perceived to the unity of the Communion, the Primates meeting, according to the proposed draft, seems to hold
judicial authority.

There are many opinions about the propriety of a covenant. Some argue that Anglicanism has never included a "confessional", and shouldn't now. Some argue that Anglicanism needs a new structure for a new day. I am open to that possibility. As Christians, we believe that revelation, in a theological sense, of the divine will is ongoing. I would like to think, that as we grow and deepen as believers, God draws us closer, transforms and directs us in ways we can’t imagine. God could certainly exercise the same with the Church.

Yet, a covenant, as a political reality, makes me very nervous. This proposal did not arise because Anglicans were, sitting around the fire, contemplating the mystery of God’s love, and the ties that bind us. This proposed covenant was developed because of conflict. The proposal seems, in no way, to address the issues (human sexuality, Bishop Gene Robinson…) that led to the conflict. It seems a little like, developing a judicial system to apply to a “crime”, that occurred before there was a law on the books.

Finally, a covenant strikes me as being the “official” acceptance of a relationship that exists. In marriage, we are sanctioning what is already there. Marriage is about faith in God and faith in one another. God’s covenants with Abraham and Moses seem to bear the same quality, the recognition of what’s there.

Can a covenant work in reverse? Will a proposed covenant create faith and trust?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

You Have to Love Flannery

"When I ask myself how I know I believe, I have no satisfactory answer at all, no assurance at all, no feeling at all. I can only say with Peter, Lord I believe, help my unbelief. All I can say about my love of God, is, Lord help me in my lack of it. I distrust pious phrases, particularly when they issue from my mouth. I try militantly never to be affected by the pious language of the faithful but it is always coming out when you least expect it. In contrast to the pious language of the faithful, the liturgy is beautifully flat," - Flannery O'Connor, in a letter to Elizabeth Hester, August 2, 1955.

Who Cares?

Surfing the web this morning, I came across this article about the current situation in Somalia. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18745786/site/newsweek/ The U.S., obviously, has a history with Somalia and not a pretty one. It is a country marked by civil war, poverty and savage strongmen. In fact, the Newsweek article discloses that Somalis fleeing Mogadishu are renting trees from farmers for the purpose of shelter.

It is a sad story. The factors that led Somalia down this path are varied and complex. Which, I suppose, is always the case.

The source of shock, I felt, came after the article in the form of comments to the article. The first post stated, in no uncertain terms, the Somalis are stupid and deserve what they have, so, who cares? Some communicated outrage at the who cares post, but several others agreed, who cares?

It would be difficult, even contradictory, to claim to be a follower of Jesus and not care.

Now let me be clear, I have never been much of a banner waver, so to speak. I believe in the value of all human life, because of the Gospel. I believe in the self-sacrificing love of God, because it is the content of the Gospel. Gospel, after all, means good news. That, for me, is the issue. Sometimes banner wavers don’t express their motivation, especially in the Church. The banner wavers often seem to adhere to some plank of a platform, rather than an explicit commitment to the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I wish we were more explicit. I wish we could and would communicate, that every mission endeavor begins because Christ instructed us to go into the world with water, food and clothing. Jesus taught that when we quench thirst, feed hunger and offer the most basic protection of clothing, we are doing so to him.

Who cares…?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ascension Day

Unless you are connected with a parish named in commemoration of the Ascension, you might well miss the gravity of this day. It is all too easy to reduce this feast to the mere exit of Jesus. We might see this as the cosmic antithesis of, what goes up must come down. This perspective is one of great theological reductionism.

The Ascension must be viewed much the way we understand the Feast of the Incarnation, Christmas. The Incarnation is God taking on the human experience, through the taking on of the very flesh humankind shares. God reaches into our realm, as one of us, in the Incarnation. In the birth of the Christ, God embraces us.

Through the life, death and resurrection of the Christ, flesh is made new and rededicated to the pursuit of relationship to God, and one another. The one another piece is critical. All flesh is imbued with divinity, not that all flesh appropriates that divinity.

The Ascension is the completion of the embrace that starts with birth and incarnation. Jesus ascends to the Father, and is received by the Father. It is God’s saying another yes to humanity, redeemed by the infusion of grace, offered through the Son.

Our Job? Appropriate the grace and divine life, which is already ours.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


The lessons, appointed for this morning, from The Acts of the Apostles and The Revelation to St. John the Divine conspired to make me think about idolatry and priorities. In the Acts Lesson, Paul and Barnabas heal a man in the presence of many. The witnesses mistake Paul and Barnabas for Gods. The Revelation reading envisions a time when God will be so present, that there will be no need for the Temple. Hence, the temple, as the place of intersection between God and people, will be irrelevant.

The point, in some sense, of both readings is the difference between being a vehicle for God and being of ultimate importance. Paul and Barnabas are workers bringing the love, health and wholeness of the Kingdom. Their power stems from God. They are not the source, but the present servants.

The Temple is an important place in Judaism. It the early days of Judaism, God dwelt in the Ark of the Covenant and the Tent of Meeting. Eventually, Solomon built a permanent place for God and humans to meet. The vision in Revelation is of a time, when no intermediary need exist and, in fact, would be a barrier, an idol.

Idols are everywhere. In numerous ways, we ascribe attention and devotion in accoutrements that cannot carry the weight, we invest in them. It is not that the symbols to which we attached are bad; it is that they simply are not worthy of our utmost attachment. Some make the Bible an idol. Some make certain familial relationships the ultimate focus. For others, it could be a particular type or element of worship. A particular mission or ministry of the Church itself could be elevated, beyond what is appropriate.

It is easy for us, to confuse the temporal and the eternal. It is easy for us to cling to the vessel, rather than seek the potter. The reality of our state is that we often accept the immediate, rather than wait for the ultimate.

We continually make the poor trade. We will hunger and thirst, as long as we accept the quick fix. It does not have to be this way. The eternal One offers us a better deal. We are offered real peace. God only requires our hearts.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Many Voices

I am passing along an excerpt from Andrew Sullivan's blog. He is a writer for The Atlantic. This is a piece of his dialogue with Sam Harris, an atheist and author of The End of Faith. In Sullivan's preamble to his response to Harris's last entry, he makes it clear, that he is no priest or theologian. That said, I find Sullivan's thought coherent and very interesting from someone, like himself, who claims little expertise and purports to not be an incredibly observant believer.

From March 14, 2007 The Undiscovered Country

You argued a while back that my notion of God "doesn't have much in the way of specific content (apart from love)." I have indeed held back a little (although God-as-love is no small idea; it is an immense idea). What you have been driving at - rather effectively - is my refusal to say outright that because I believe that Jesus was and is the Son of God, the tenets of other faiths - Islam, Buddhism, Judaism - must be logically false. Mine, you insist, is a solid truth-claim that requires being addressed, especially because these mutually contradicting truth-claims are the source of so much conflict and dissension. You're right, I think, to judge me "a little evasive" on this score.

So let me get less evasive. As a Christian, I do deny Islam's claim that Jesus was not actually divine. I deny Judaism's claim that the Messiah has not yet come. I deny any other number of truth-claims held by people of other faiths. And you rightly point out that the nature of the phenomenon we're discussing - faith - has no universal rubric upon which to rationally decide one claim over another. You want me to engage instead in a discourse about the meaning of the universe that is based on more solid ground - the "real science" of cosmology, biology, chemistry, and ultimately neuroscience - as the key to understanding reality. Or you want me to be more consistent and take the gloves off and start pounding at the Muslims and Jews (and atheists, for that matter) for being so wrong about the most important issue we face as humans.

What is my answer to this? My first is to insist that spiritual humility and the limits of human wisdom should and do temper my own convictions on matters of faith. I am very much aware that humans have no common rubric by which to judge these religious truth-claims except their internal coherence, their congruence with historical data, their longevity, and one's own conscience. The last of these is dispositive to my mind, because of the irrational and deeply personal nature of the phenomenon we're discussing. So I defer to others' consciences and I'm a reluctant proselytizer. I'm also aware of the hideous human toll over the centuries of excessive religious certainty and intolerance. I've read my Locke, and I spent years studying European religious history. I'm not going back to the Inquisition or indeed to the rigidity and certainty of much of modern Islam. This is both a pragmatic and a religious move - pragmatic because I want to live in a peaceful world (I like my iPod and my civil society), and religious because the violence such certainty provokes violates the very teachings of the God I worship. I'm tolerant because I am a Christian.

My second reply is that all these alternative modes of understanding - science, history, etc - are as contingent in the human mind as faith itself. There are small leaps of faith that are necessary for these other modes of understanding to kick in. And all human knowledge is definitionally contingent. You agreed in part but countered that, while contingency is something both religion and science share, some avenues of knowledge are less contingent than others. And you have a point there. The question soon becomes one of relative contingencies. Is scientific thought less contingent than theology?

I think it probably is, which is why I'm fascinated by new research into the brain, evolution, biology, cosmology and the rest. I was intrigued, as I'm sure you were, by the recent piece, "Darwin's God," in the New York Times Magazine, that posited an evolutionary origin or a neurological accident for the universal human tendency to believe that something is "out there" when, empirically, it isn't.

So let me discuss that article and see if it helps our dialogue. One non-religious argument for the resilience of religion is that in our evolutionary past, it was more conducive to survival to suspect a threat behind a rustling bush than to dismiss it. So we developed an innate capacity to believe in things that are not there. Another theory suggests that religious faith emerged from the fact that, as social animals, we often have to assume the existence of others' minds and intentions even when we have no direct evidence for them:

"The process begins with positing the existence of minds, our own and others', that we cannot see or feel. This leaves us open, almost instinctively, to belief in the separation of the body (the visible) and the mind (the invisible). If you can posit minds in other people that you cannot verify empirically, suggests Paul Bloom, it is a short step to positing minds that do not have to be anchored to a body. And from there, he said, it is another short step to positing an immaterial soul and a transcendent God."

For much of human history, the theories run, we filled in the gaps in our empirical or scientific knowledge by attributing the inexplicable to magic or superstition or fickle gods. As magic declined and gods became less fickle, monotheistic religion grew. But magic never completely left us (we still do cross our fingers for luck). And as science has grown, monotheism should have surely declined. But it hasn't. And science - good old science! - offers an answer: our minds may have rationally out-thought religion, but our brains haven't out-grown it.

We are evolutionarily programmed for faith. Hence the fact that we know of almost no civilizations without religion; and even when religion did decline - in, say, Europe in the twentieth century - pseudo-religions emerged to replace it. Those pseudo-religions, I don't need to remind you, killed many more than the actual ones. Even in post-modern America, in those places where traditional faith has evaporated, the new age is always dawning.

You could still argue that this is an inherent tragedy of human evolution and that we should still try to resist this pull of the irrational, just as we resist and constrain the evolutionary pull to disseminate our DNA as widely as possible. But in matters of ultimate truth, this isn't the only option. Let me borrow the words of one scientist of evolution, Justin Barrett, who still has faith:

"Christian theology teaches that people were crafted by God to be in a loving relationship with him and other people. Why wouldn't God, then, design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite natural? Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me - should I then stop believing that she does?"

Even if science were to come up with a convincing and exhaustive non-religious explanation of the reason for our continuing to be religious as a species, it would still be unable to account for the enduring, subjective experience of that religion. Faith survives - and it is integral to the human experience. It is as integral to being human as the difficulty of believing, in any serious way, that one day, I won't exist. That is why, I think, religion is best understood, at its core, as an experiential response to the simple fact of our own death. Once a human being has asked himself, as Hamlet did, "To be or not to be?" a human being has become religious, whether he likes it or not. Death is a place from whose bourne no traveler returns, right? (Except Jesus and Lazarus, of course, but let's postpone miracles and the resurrection for another exchange, can we?)

Maybe religion is best understood not as The Answer to The Question, but as the only human response to the most pressing human fact - our own death. Oakeshott places religious life in the mode of practice, not in the mode of philosophy. I have struggled with this argument for a long time, but the older I get, the wiser it seems.

You and I will both die. To the question of what becomes of us then, science has a simple answer. We decompose and rot and eventually become dust. But the human mind, because it is human, resists that as the final answer to the question of our destiny. We find it very hard to think of ourselves as not being. That resistance is always there. There is no escaping it. I predict you will feel it at the hour of your death, if you have any time to contemplate it. This resistance to our own extinction is part of science and part of our genetic impulse to survive - but also why we feel ourselves connected to something eternal.

Is this sense of an after-life an illusion? We cannot know for sure. But death isn't an illusion. And when death is nearest, faith emerges most strongly. You can either see this as a reason to pity people of faith - they're too weak to look mortality in the face and deal with it. Or you can see this as part of the wisdom of people of faith: we know what we are, and we have reached a way of dealing with it as humans, full humans, not just arguments without minds and bodies. Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.

My own faith came alive most fully when I believed I was going to die young. It came alive as I watched one of my closest friends die in front of me at the age of 31. During that "positive hour," to quote Eliot, I also experienced religious visions, I heard a voice inside of me with a distinct tone that seemed to me divine, I experienced a moment of terrible doubt followed by a moment of complete, unsought-for relief. Maybe all this was a function of fear and existential panic. Maybe it was all a coping mechanism. Maybe it was grief, wrapped up in shame. But I am far from the only person to have experienced such things. Maybe these psychological and spiritual experiences are simply the best way that humans have devised through countless millennia for coping with their own conscious knowledge of their own mortality.

But what that really means is: we have learned how to be human through religion. And how can we not be human? And who would want not to be human? What you are asking for, as I have argued before, is salvation by reason. But even after you have been saved by reason, you will die, Sam. And what will save you then?


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Sad, But True

The article below is from another blog called, Church Redone. I included this, because it points to some of the obvious issues churches face. Most of us have probably considered many of the author's points, but there are also some surprises included.

I love the focus on being able to, honestly and confidently, articulate our beliefs. Considering what we would say about Christianity, the Episcopal Church and St. Columba's could be a very useful exercise. Consideration and thoughtful reflection about the meaning of our religion, denomination and local community might even inspire us to tell someone.

10 Ways to Keep Me from Discovering Your Church
Posted March 10, 2007
I’m now a few weeks into looking for a new fellowship body and I’ve come up against many barriers that churches have in place to keep me from easily finding or connecting with them. There are a couple local churches that have completely vexed my efforts to learn more about them and after 2 weeks and several hours of effort, I’ve stopped trying to reach them. The reality is most people, myself included, are probably not going to attend your church if they can’t find any information about it beforehand. Other churches I’ve managed to find and attend, only to be thwarted in my efforts to learn more or get connected. This is all part of what I call church discoverability, which includes initially hearing about a church, learning more, first attending and initial connecting.

So if your church’s goal is to make it painfully difficult to be discovered by new people, here are 10 real ways I’ve experienced that churches keep from being discovered:

Don’t have a website : This is the information age, even 107 year old women have blogs, but not your church. No church website, no blog, no flickr account, and don’t podcast your sermons. Knowledge is power and providing me easy access to information about your church might empower me to learn more or even visit. So even if you must have a website, make sure it is poorly designed, lacking in information, hard to navigate, out of date and doesn’t have an rss feed to make things even remotely easy for me.
Be completely inactive in the community : If you’re not doing anything in the community then no one will talk about your church. That makes it a lot harder for me to accidentally find out anything useful. So don’t serve the community or partner with other churches or non-profits. In fact it’s really just best if you stay completely inward-focused and don’t do anything missional in your city.
Don’t answer your phone : Regardless of what time I call (weekday, weekend, morning, afternoon, evening) don’t answer the phone and don’t have an answering machine or voice mail for me to leave a message or prayer request. If you do have voice mail, don’t include your website address, service times or directions to your church on your message, and don’t ever answer the phone on Sunday mornings. That way when I’m lost en route to service, I’ll have no choice but to drive around aimlessly until I give up and go home.
Allow misinformation : Sometimes you just can’t prevent denominations or directories from listing information about your church. When contact information changes, don’t tell them about the update. You can save time by providing them incorrect information initially and for added confusion make sure each directory lists different information about your church, all of it wrong.
Lack clear signage : Even if I’m determined to visit your church, you have several on site options to discourage me. The first is to play hide and seek. Is your church in a nondescript building or on a street with several other churches? Have absolutely no signage; none, whatsoever. Except maybe on the mailbox, where you abbreviate things beyond comprehension. If you run a Christian school, put up a 10′ x 14′ sign just for it, so I’ll be led to believe the building is only a school.
Have insufficient parking/seating : Other discouraging on-site options are lack of adequate parking and seating. Does your church seat 200? Only have 30 parking spaces. Been running at capacity for weeks or months? Don’t start another service, so that there will be standing room only. Have visitors’ parking? Put it in the corner of the lot away from the entrance. Have adequate parking? Don’t stripe the lot or have parking attendants; chaos is best. Have adequate seating? Make it as uncomfortable as possible.
Ignore Visitors : Despite your best efforts I have found and attended your church. In fact, I even filled out a visitor’s card requesting more information. Don’t acknowledge my visit in any way. Don’t call me, don’t send me a thank you card, don’t answer any of my questions or give me any information about how to become involved or learn more about Jesus. Also don’t have any literature available to provide visitors and don’t train your volunteers to be courteous or helpful in anyway.
Respond half-heartedly to inquiries : If responding to information requests at all, do so extremely slowly and only partially. Wait 1 week or more to return emails or phone calls and if I ask several questions, don’t answer them all. Instead just tell me I should come to a service to find out more. That saves you a couple minutes of response time and makes you look very busy and important. Whatever you do, do not start a dialogue with me.
Be evasive about your beliefs : When I ask a direct question about the church’s beliefs, ignore the question or act like you don’t understand and then start telling me about your denomination or church programs. For “What We Believe”, only include the Nicene Creed on your website or literature. If I’m adamant about wanting positional clarity, instead tell me about the love of Jesus and how Christianity isn’t about division. For those times you do answer my questions, act offended that I would even ask, then try and make me feel stupid or sinful for questioning you.
Lie to me : When all else fails, simply lie to me about your church. You might just get a few weeks of attendance out of me before I learn the truth. Are you denominationally affiliated? Don’t mention it ever and talk about how independent you are when I find out. Being on mission is important to me, so make it sound like all 500 of your members are actively involved in serving the city, even though you don’t give a single cent to local missions and never talk about it from the pulpit, because you actually hate the city and it’s sinful people. Lastly, spend a lot of time telling me how you are distinctive from other churches, even though you’re not.
There are certainly other ways to keep me from discovering your church, but these have proven quite effective over recent weeks. I assure you, that if you implement these 10 things, you will manage to keep just about everyone from finding or connecting with your church.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Near And Far

The Christian life is marked by remarkable experiences of God. At times, God seems so near, and we feel so connected. There are also moments, when we feel utterly alone.

Theologians sometimes describe this in terms of God's immanence and transcendence. God is capable of both self-revelation and indescribable otherness. Knowing and naming, our spiritual experience, can be of some practical use.

It is in God's immanence, we feel on the right track. Through the nearer presence of God, we open ourselves to be led. During these stages, the journey of faith is very comfortable and affirming.

Transcendence can be comfortable as well. God can be close, but experienced as wholly other. To put it another way, this could be the knowing of God as holy in quality. Of course, transcendence also implies distance. When we know ourselves to be journeying in the desert, there is precious treasure to be mined.

In the desert, we feel the need we have for God. We recognize that we are not whole by ourselves. Above all, in the desert, we become open.

The task for us is the same. Our call is to be attentive to the work of God in our lives. Near or Far, God works.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Bible Study

At St. Columba's, we have a study group that meets to engage the Gospel for the upcoming Sunday. We meet early on Wednesday mornings at 6:30. I make much about the insanity of the hour, but I am there most of the time. The opportunity to study the lessons for Sunday with the people that will hear my sermon is invaluable. Knowing the questions, that some have, is very useful for sermon preparation.

This morning, we grappled with John 13:31-35. It is the text where Jesus speaks of his glorification in betrayal, and commands the disciples to love one another, as He loves them. It is a foundational text for the Church, and it should be the music playing in the background to all we do.

This morning after the Bible study, I had a funny thought. Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure. He is reminding them, that the heart of the Gospel and the coming Kingdom are bound up in agape:love. The Gospel according to John is, obviously, written after the life, death, resurrection and ascension. So, the material preserved is shaped by the past and present of the Christian community. They remember how and what Jesus said to encourage them, and form them as his disciples to make it through his exit. Yet, they remember, principally, to live and follow forever.
Every time we gather around the Bible, we remember. Yet, we remember to live now and forever.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Reading the Scriptures

Below is a quote from the Larkin Stuart Lecture given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. The lecture addresses the Church's engagement with the Bible. This quote captures the dymanic quality of that engagement in a useful and beautiful fashion. If you want to read the full text, it is available at archbishopofcanterbury.org. It is well worth the time.

A written text inevitably has about it a dual character. It comes before the reader/hearer as a finished product, and so as something that can in some ways be treated as an object. If we are not careful its written character can be misused by working with the text as if it were passive. In contrast to the event of a voice speaking, it can be abstracted from the single occasion when the hearer has no control over what comes to her or him from outside. At the same time, a written text requires re-reading; it is never read for the last time, and it continuously generates new events of interpretation. It is fruitful of renewed communication in a way that the spoken word alone cannot be. So to identify a written text as sacred is to claim that the continuous possibility of re-reading, the impossibility of reading for the last time, is a continuous openness to the intention of God to communicate. Just as the text itself contains re-reading, is almost constituted by re-reading, so that it repeatedly recreates a movement towards conversion (towards the cross of Jesus, in Christian terms), so the eternal possibility of ‘reading again’ stands as a warning against ignoring the active ‘restlessness’ of the text in summoning the reader to change. The writtenness of the text is from one point of view risky as a strategy of communication: it risks the appearance of passivity, and the re-readability of the text risks the appearance of indeterminacy. Yet from another point of view it can be seen as inseparable from the risk of the communication it itself describes as well as enacts – a divine communication that is never without human speech and narrative, never just an interruption of the created continuum but a pressure upon it that opens up to the divine by the character of its internal relations and connections, the shifting, penitent perspective of a story enacted in time. The writtenness of the text is like the sheer factuality of the historical past as the vehicle of revelation: it is something irreversibly done, but for that very reason continuously inviting or demanding.

Philip and James, Apostles

May 1st is a red letter day on the Episcopal Calendar. It is the day we remember Philip and James, both apostles of Jesus. History records little about the two. Most everything we know about them comes from the Gospels.

James is, mainly, distinguished from the other followers of Jesus that bear the same name. Yet, this James is found at the foot of the cross at the crucifixion. Philip is known by the questions he posed throughout the ministry of Jesus. Philip strikes me much the way Thomas does. He has pragmatic concerns, and dares to speak them aloud.

Philip calls his friend Nathaniel to come and see. Philip expresses concern about Jesus' ability to feed the multitude. Philip insists, in the Gospel according to John, that Jesus show them the Father.

In my experience, you need persons of all temperaments. You need the low-key individuals that vote with their feet, and serve simply by being present. This seems like James. You also need those that will speak up for themselves. Those individuals are, probably, asking the questions that others have, but don't articulate. This sounds like Philip.

Today we remember Philip and James. We give thanks for their witness, but particularly for the different temperaments they represent. Pray that we might honor our different ways of being and seeing.