Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Keepers of the Story

I suspect most of us see a cemetery and think about the past. We think about life lived, but mostly about life ended. A cemetery evokes a sense of finality.

Of course, this is all true, but it is just a single dimension of the cemetery. At St. Columba’s, our churchyard is a cemetery. For us it is a sign of life and hope. Here, in the midst of the Great Fifty Days of Easter we remember that death is not the end, but a mark of life changed. The empty tomb of Jesus means that our tombs will be empty as well.

Each marker in our churchyard is a life and a story. Our churchyard holds those that have gone before us. We are now keepers of their stories.

I want to thank our churchyard committee for the work they do, and share one story they are keeping.

Varick Frissell

Birth: Aug. 29, 1903
Death: Mar. 15, 1931

Motion Picture Director. The son of a wealthy banker, he grew up in New York's Upper East Side and studied at Yale. He became interested in filmaking after seeing "Nanook of the North" (1922) and meeting its director, Robert Flaherty. On the strength of two short documentaries, "The Lure of Labrador" (1926) and "The Swilin' Racket" (1928), Frissell got backing from Paramount Pictures for a feature, "The Viking,“ the first talkie to be shot entirely in Canada. The production was fraught with hardships and took up most of 1930. On March 9, 1931, Frissell, cameraman Alexander G. Penrod, and two assistants joined the crew of the Canadian sealing ship Viking and sailed from Newfoundland to complete second-unit filming. Six days later the ship exploded and sank off the coast of Horse Island, killing Frissell, Penrod, and 25 others. It was one of the worst disasters in Hollywood history. "The Viking" was completed by director George Melford. Frissell's remains were never recovered but a cenotaph was placed for him at the Berkeley Chapel Churchyard in Middletown, Rhode Island. His life and the doomed voyage of the S. S. Viking were the subject of an award-winning documentary, "White Thunder" (2002). (bio by: Robert Edwards)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Jon Meacham on National Day of Prayer

“The Founders understood this. Washington said we should give "to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance"; according to the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, ratified by the Senate and signed by John Adams, "the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." Jefferson said that his statute for religious freedom in Virginia was "meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination." There are many precedents for the National Day of Prayer, but serious believers, given the choice between a government-sanctioned religious moment and the perpetuation of a culture in which religion can take its own stand, free from the corruptions of the world, should always choose the garden of the church over the wilderness of the world. It is, after all, what Jesus did.”

Entire Entry

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Not long ago, I had a conversation with a friend about a particular situation. We talked through the issue and all the related issues. My friend ended the conversation by saying, “All we can do now is pray.”

There is something in that final line that gives me pause. It makes it sound like prayer is something that happens when all other avenues are exhausted. There is nothing else to do, so now we pray. This completely misses the heart of prayer.

Prayer is about inviting God’s presence into a situation. In this season of the resurrection, we mark that God is alive, bringing new life and active in life. Prayer is intentionally inviting God to be part of our lives, naming our needs and sharing our hopes. We pray to know God, and to allow God to know us.

In the Prayers of the People on Sundays, there are a couple of openings for individuals to offer prayers. One petition is an opportunity to name blessings. There is great power in naming something as a blessing and sharing the blessing with the community.

The other two petitions are invitations to name those that need our prayers and who have died. These petitions invite God’s presence and help, but are also signs of trust. God cares and cares for us, forever.

I hope you will consider the situations in life where you would like to invite God. I hope you will share them in worship with the community that exists to proclaim God’s presence and care. Help us know, trust and see.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Bishop

See that you all follow the Bishop, as Christ does the Father, and the presbyterium as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as a command of God. Let no one do anything connected with the Church without the Bishop. Let that be considered a certain [βεβαια, "valid"] eucharist which is under the leadership of the Bishop, or one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the Bishop appears, there let the multitude of the people be; just as where Christ Jesus is, there is the catholic church. It is not permitted with the Bishop either to baptize or to celebrate an agape; but whatever he shall approve of, that is well-pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be assured and certain [βέβαιον].

—St. Ignatius of Antioch, c. 111 AD, Letter to the Smyrneans 8

Ignatius was a bishop, apologist and architect of the Church. Ignatius’ writings are still read and studied in conjunction with the history and structure of the Church. The quote above is an often-cited endorsement of the Episcopate (bishops).

In our day, many think of bishops as administrators at the top of a hierarchy or bureaucracy. The view of the office has been diminished by consideration of mere practical function. Ignatius is saying something much bigger and more significant.

Ignatius is focused of the role of the bishop as a sign of apostolic ministry, deriving authority from Christ and dispensing authority throughout the orders of ministry, resident within the Church. Ignatius is concerned with structure and leadership, yes, but the quote from Ignatius has a strong sacramental component. Within our branch of the Church, bishops imbue the sacramental life of the Church with the apostolic authority Jesus entrusted the apostles.

Bishop Wolf will be with us Sunday. The Bishop will be with us as the principal of the diocese, but much more important, the Bishop will be with us as the embodiment of the apostolic ministry.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Tuesday

O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that we, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Monday

Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that we who celebrate with awe the Paschal feast may be found worthy to attain to everlasting joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.