The Story We Tell

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David-Romanik sized for blog

A few days ago, I had occasion to take the commuter train from New York to Trenton. I was looking forward to the trip: I had just attended a fascinating and challenging lecture, and I always find that train rides are conducive to deep thought. Moreover, I was looking forward to rereading The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis, in preparation for the author’s visit to Redeemer in a few weeks.

These plans were disrupted, however, when a woman stepped on the train just before it pulled away and sat down immediately in front of me. Continue reading

Dress for Life

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Jo Ann Jones sized for blogTake off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on for ever the beauty of the glory from God. Baruch 5:1

“Dress for the weather.” That was the advice, in truth, the command that my mother would give to me whenever I would seek her advice about wardrobe selection. And as we hurtle towards winter, with the days growing colder and more blustery, I am more apt to heed these words first, rather than the more heartwarming and life giving words of Baruch as we move through this season of Advent. Continue reading

For That We Yearn

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Peter Vanderveen sized for blogWith the death of George H. W. Bush, commentators have been busy reviewing his life. Almost all of their accounts have been highly complementary. He seems, now, not only to be an individual whose accomplishments can be noted and praised; he is also taken to represent an age that is passing away and a style of life and leadership that has been rather abruptly and rudely outmoded. Much of what has been written feels wistful in remembering a time that, even amid significant disruption and change, seemed kinder and gentler because he, in this way and by his personality, defined it. Continue reading

The Reign of Christ

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David-Romanik-croppedThis past Sunday, the Episcopal Church, along with several other denominations, commemorated the Feast of the Reign of Christ. Unlike the majority of Sunday observances, “Christ the King Sunday,” or “The Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe,” as it is formally known in the Roman Catholic Church, is not a particularly ancient feast. As a matter of fact, it was only established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. In Quas Primas, the encyclical establishing the commemoration, the Pope wrote: “If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth…it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire.” To our ears, there is something bizarre, even offensive about referring to the “empire” of Jesus Christ. Indeed, even in 1925, this would have been an anachronistic claim. After all, it had only been seven years since the end of the First World War, which resulted in the dissolution of several empires. It would seem that the time was ripe for the Church to adopt new imagery to describe the role of Jesus Christ in the life of the world. Continue reading

Giving Thanks

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Jo Ann Jones FBBy The Rev. Jo Ann B. Jones, Associate Rector

On Thursday of this week, many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving with our families and friends. We will give thanks for these relationships and particular blessings or occasions of the past year. Some families have a tradition of naming that for which each feels most thankful. Continue reading

Hallowed

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Peter VanderveenBy Peter T. Vanderveen, Rector

The opening lines of the Lord’s Prayer are often recited as if they were just a bit of ground-clearing; they announce, in a completely routine manner, a few things that are basic about God. God is heavenly, and, therefore, God is to be hallowed. This is common language within religious circles, and, thus, it is rarely subjected to much reflection or examination. To “hallow” suggests a mode of respect, something perhaps as easy as holding in high regard — at least in the actual moment of prayer. It can feel, however, like the kind of complement one offers just to receive a hearing, or, more cynically, to curry favor. And, once this is spoken, it can easily be forgotten. Continue reading

An Election Day Parable

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David-Romanik-croppedBy David F. Romanik, Associate Rector

About fifteen years ago, I worked for a State Representative race in my hometown of Hartford, Connecticut. On Election Day, I was coordinating volunteers and giving people rides to the polls. At around 7:45 in the evening, an older woman called our campaign headquarters to request a ride. The polls closed at 8:00. I was tempted to refuse; I couldn’t imagine I would be able to get her to her polling place in time. Besides, what difference could one vote possibly make? With my soft spot for older ladies, however, I raced to her house, and got her to the nearly deserted polling place with a few minutes to spare. When the returns came back, my candidate won that precinct by a single vote. As it turns out, the woman I had driven to the polls made more of a difference than I could have imagined. Continue reading

What To Do?

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JoAnnJonesFBcroppedbwBy Jo Ann B. Jones, Associate Rector

On October 23, the Church celebrated the Feast Day of James of Jerusalem, bishop and martyr. He was referred to in the New Testament as the brother of Jesus. For many years, James was the leader of the early Christian congregation in Jerusalem. During this time in the early Church there were divergent approaches to how a Jew could become a Christian. The traditionalist sect of the early Church required converts to follow the Law of Moses, including, e.g., circumcision and keeping the dietary laws. This requirement proved a barrier to the Gentiles. What to do? The potential for the early Church to falter at this point was great. Continue reading

Open to Transformation and Fulfillment

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Vanderveenbw1By Peter T. Vanderveen, Rector

As never before, we are inundated with words. Consequently, I have found that my former voracious appetite for reading has been sated. I just don’t have the mental space for scanning through all the media available looking for whatever might be interesting. What used to be fascinating by its sheer breadth of scope now seems exhausting—in part because very little of what we browse through makes a permanent imprint. All those words have almost no real effect.

This realization came to me when, inexplicably, I started to think through each of the statements within the Lord’s Prayer. I was out walking late at night, and the quiet stillness of the neighborhood and the dark of the houses and the sky seemed to invite mulling over the phrases that most of us know too well. We can recite them without pondering them. They roll off the tongue with a kind of automatic indifference. Continue reading

A Faithful Remnant

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David-headshotby The Rev. David F. Romanik, Associate Rector

On Monday night, the Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees in Game Three of the American League Division Series. Actually, at the risk of sounding uncharitable, I should clarify that the Boston Red Sox routed the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the ALDS. By the end of the fourth inning, Boston had a ten-run lead. This led many New York fans, particularly those in the “premier” seats, to cut their losses and leave the ballpark instead of watching their team lose to their archrivals in the postseason. One can hardly blame them. Even the fans that remained were uncharacteristically quiet through the remainder of the contest. And the game only got worse for the Bronx Bombers. Yankee pitching, which was dominant throughout the regular season, struggled to get outs, and the Red Sox continued to increase their lead. Finally, in the top of the ninth inning, Aaron Boone, the manager of the Yankees, decided not to wear out any more of the arms in his bullpen for a lost cause and asked a position player to pitch: Austin Romine, who had not pitched since he was in high school more than a decade ago. Continue reading