Thursday, June 1, 2017

Letting it rest for a bit or maybe not

Several years back, I took my ancient  and quite beaten up Volkswagen to the dealer as a trade-in for a newer car.  This is how the conversation went..

Car Dealer rep: What kind of condition would you say your car is in?

Me:                   Terrible!

Dealer Rep:      Laughs  Well, let's see what the appraiser thinks.

        Appraiser enters the room.  Pats me sympathetically on the shoulder and says..

Appraiser:         I think it's time to let it rest.

This is the way I am feeling about this blog.  I do not believe its condition is terrible but a blog does require energy to maintain that I do not seem to have at present.. When I began the blog, St. James-Santee did not have a functional website or an e-newsletter and we now have both.   We will keep it online but won't be updating it.  If you have read it regularly, thanks!  Perhaps, we will revive it in the future.  Perhaps a Church member will be inspired to pick it up.  Who knows? Until then...

                                  Thanks again for visiting and feel free to poke around the remaining content!

                                                                        Yrs in Christ,


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dr. Greenwell's Sermon - The Transfiguration

St. James Santee Episcopal Church, 26 Feb 2017.  Christopher Greenwell, Ph.D

 The Last Sunday after the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ

Ex 24:12-18; Psalm 99; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matt 17:1-9.

 Opening Prayer:   As my mind is bent to tell of bodies changed into new forms, my God, who wrought these very changes, breathe on these my understandings, and bring down my thoughts  in unbroken strains from the world’s first beginning even unto the present time. May these be the words to say, may they be what need be heard. Amen

 Homily – The Transfiguration

      My vocation requires me to talk of Athens more often than Jerusalem, so to  speak, so such an occasion can be liberating, permitting me to speak plainly without academic neutrality. Of course, today’s readings convey the Transfiguration, a Latinized approximation of the Greek word we use in more secular circumstances: metamorphosis. Both terms apply to our Biblical readings today, but I cribbed Ovid to create the opening prayer. That may serve as a reminder that Christianity is not the only tradition to speak of a transfiguration which renders the central character radiant and visibly divine. The great Hindu epic foreshadows divine change in the form of a glistening god; Siddhartha’s face, too, shines with enlightenment and divinity. Indeed, many religious traditions possess something akin to this idea.

       Judaism may have a foundational claim. Moses would descend - twice - with the Law, glowing from standing in the proximity of a nuclear God, physically changed by the experience, a further sign of his invested power. Whatever the Biblical imagery, Moses descended from the mountain transfigured, and the sign of that metamorphosis was a physical radiance, one of objective blessing, undeniable to all who bore witness.  Whether a white-bearded Charleston Heston or Michelangelo’s Horned Moses, Western Art has sought to immortalize this visual change - to render belief secondary to the fact.

       Yet it is Christianity which has appropriated the term Transfiguration as a category, codified as a major moment in the liturgical calendar. Perhaps nowhere in the New Testament does a believer find a more direct, intentional connection with the Jewish foundations - well, maybe the dry genealogies by which some Gospels open, but few read them. In Matthew, we find Christ being identified before the three original disciples, perhaps Peter mirrors the priestly function of Moses’s Joshua. Elijah is there, too, likely because the disciples, who knew Jesus best, could not recognize Jesus as the Christ, often confusing him with the Prophet some 900 years prior. Moses’ presence in the vision establishes the foundation of the received covenantal Law of the Jews, the Torah; Elijah, in addition to underscoring that Jesus was something altogether different, represents the Prophetic tradition. Both represent the two coherent divisions of the Hebrew Bible. Origen interpreted the gathering in just such a fashion as early as the third century. In this manner, Jesus, as the unique Christ, emerges distinct, self-evident. Even Peter needed reorientation - he understood the moment of Jewish culmination in the person who had ‘fished’ him; he would not yet seem to have recognized the  Messiah- capital ‘M’. It was a revelatory moment, punctuated by a divine Voice, but an epiphany which Jesus commanded to remain secret.

      At Christ’s Baptism, we may assume the same divine Voice. “You are my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased”. Jesus hears this and enters into his forty day desert  duel with Satan. That same Voice proclaims at the Transfiguration, “This is my Beloved,  listen to him”. But when Peter, James, and John can be sufficiently comforted finally to look up from hiding their faces in terror, only Jesus remains. For the Transfiguration, the mountain is shrouded in cloud. For the Baptism, the sky is torn apart. That Greek word - skizomenous - will appear once again: when Jesus dies upon the cross at the Crucifixion, the sky again will be rent. Two identities. At the Baptism, Jesus’ human identity comprehends its divinity. At the Transfiguration, it is not the Christ who is changed, but the perception of those closest to Him.

       Jesus would be the culmination of a greater tradition of God’s unveiling of Itself, the crescendo of the divine revelatory order before the designed chaos of the Crucifixion. Nativity. Baptism. Transfiguration. Crucifixion. Resurrection. Ascension. Perhaps those six stages correspond to the six days of Moses’ sojourn on Mt. Sinai before the Law was given on the seventh, enshrouded in God’s shadow; it might parallel the six days Elijah awaited the rain clouds before the horizon darkened on the seventh; Christ’s own journey towards Transfiguration culminated, too, after six days. Six days of Creation, upon the Biblical template. The magical six of so many of the ancients - the only number whose sum is identical with its product; the creative hexagon of the Star of David, two triangles superimposed, one upon another. *(explain) If six is the number of creative preparation - Nativity, Baptism, Transfiguration, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension - then Salvation must be the culminating seven.

      Peter - the great chosen rock, Pope #1, traitor, bodyguard, confidant, martyr -  Peter can begin to bring this theological heavy-lifting - a necessary meditation - to more pragmatic use. He reminds us that salvation is not of our doing. It is a gift bestowed. Augustine would echo the idea with his doctrine of grace alone. What can the story of Transfiguration mean for us, then, beyond affirmation of the unique divinity that is the Christ? If Jesus served as the paradigm for what humans were meant to become, where are we in our own “six day” peregrination? The Gospel of John assures us that Jesus was with God from the beginning, but the human hands which transcribed the divine stories are bound by fallibility and idiom - we are not Jesus, even as given in the semantically compromised Scriptural portrait.

     So what can it mean to be like Jesus? Should we aspire to be transfigured? A  butterfly was never anything but - except when it was a larva - and then a pupa. Is the woman you are today the girl you once were? Remember your youth, young man, when the greatest concern of the day was returning home with holes in your jeans - and the consequences that would bring. Our tradition teaches that the newborn baby is  somehow flawed, an accessory to an original sin committed in an Eden we cannot locate with GPS. Change cannot be described neutrally, matter-of-factly. Human transformation  must be  to  move not only  towards  God  but  also away from  our  own  nature. Perhaps it should be stated another way: we should gravitate towards God by moving towards our truer nature. Who is chronicling this metamorphosis?

     A rite of passage is a communal event. Some event occurs in life which  punctuates the ‘you’; a before and after moment by which we, the individual and the collective, are judged as ‘changed’. Apparently, simply knowing who you are proves insufficient, even for Jesus. What would the sacrifice of Christ be - from His condescension into human form to the atrocity of the crucifixion - without an audience informed of its significance? Might not God have forgiven Creation from afar, a benevolent, but mysterious, patron? Ostensibly, that response is ‘no’. Timing must matter. Witnesses are required. How else could justification be understood? The theology gets sticky, and the Early Church could be bogged down by such discussions: was there a time when Jesus was not the Christ? did He evolve to become the Son of God, identified only at Baptism? if fully aware of Himself and his Divine Purpose, why does the Voice address Him only to address his Disciples later during the Transfiguration?

    It is no simpler for us, today. What is becoming for a human? for a Christian  human? Had I shown up glowing today, your immediate thought may turn to ‘how do I get that app for my smartphone’ or ‘I thought he said he was from Charleston, not near the Robinson plant’. In my admittedly limited experience, glowing people are more suspect than sanctified. If we are not to be conformed to this world, how might we be transfigured in it? Tricky.

    There is no snapshot of you. From cradle to casket, you are you. Some of that portrait lies beyond your control - tall or short can be comparatively measured, but what is the metric for beauty? Think yourself clever? Someone is smarter. Do the people at Title Max car title loans know you by name? Would you trade the misfortune of your bank account for that of a street vendor in Somalia? Let’s update our Facebook status. Some of us become heavier - if you are lucky enough to reside in a nation where the Center for Disease Control cites obesity as one of the principal health concerns. We  move through the stages of our lives, growing older. Society paces the moments of relative import: your first dance, your first kiss, reach 16 and drive - 18 and vote, graduation, divorce, death of a parent, birth of a child, audit. We must earn some of our Faith’s recognition - baptism - but somethings happen without our full comprehension - christening. To move from stage to stage, measured by years or salary or marital status, is not to live. Time is a ruler, and lives ‘unexamined’, those of ‘quiet desperation’, do not meter the moments in a transformative fashion. But what defines you at any point on this timeline?

     Though the Voice first addressed Jesus directly in the Jordan, it came from Christ Himself - as if from a Sacred Ventriloquist - at the Transfiguration. What had   changed?   Can Jesus ‘grow’ into Himself? Was the boy astounding the Rabbis in the Temple not  the man standing before Pilate? It is a quandary relevant to our own existence. Do we accumulate experiences like vocabulary words from diapers… well, to diapers… hoping to hear the Voice? Would that divine Announcement be a press-release, a heavenly endorsement fortifying our self-worth as well as validating our existence to our fellow humans? Does our election become self-evident, an aura readily visible? Or perhaps Elijah’s ‘still, small Voice’ might call to us - should we be able to distinguish it in our daily passage from small screen to smaller screen to larger screen to the television screen.

     Whether you understand Life to be a culmination of well-intentioned events, guided by Peter’s outward morality, or whether you hope to strip away the superfluousness from each living moment, unveiling that potential, fully-realized  human trying to respire beneath the ‘spirit’s mask’, it is worth remembering that this is no competition. Salvation may not lie within our power, but the God that accords it has no quota. Christ’s uniqueness lies not in his Transfiguration - that has occurred before - nor does His assumption to Heaven set him apart with complete exclusivity. However, upon being Transfigured, the stuttering Moses could be wrathful with the apostates. Elijah, unmerciful to those who defied the One True God, waited in vain for a grand  sign, finally finding God modestly, without fanfare. Christ, however, upon becoming known, with the heavens sundered as he was consecrated, as he was recognized, as he was crucified, gave himself to others with empathy and forgiveness. We can attempt to emulate those outward signs.

     Perhaps being is becoming. There is no anniversary date by which we can measure the passage of our lives, nor should we passively await an epiphany that is not ours to conjure. Thomas Merton once prayed along these lines: ‘O God, let me be employed for You, or let me be set aside by You’. Our power is limited. Yet we may embrace the metamorphosis, emerging - or unveiling - in the trust and hope that the Divine Audience will vivify our persons with the brightness which is the inclusion of all known colors. We were anointed to witness, charged with the task of learning our evolving place; we may hope to mount onto the scene and into the spotlight. Until then, we shine as we might, permitting others to see the God of torn space-time and of whispered revelation in us, out of gratitude for the life we are given. Change will come, and we can but control our perception of it: that change must be a metamorphosis towards a comprehension of God… or back to It. That bestowed perspective remains ours to embrace.

 Closing Prayer:   God, grant us the audience of Transfiguration through the pages of Scripture, in the kindness of another’s face, from the awakening earth. Where there was bare ground, life emerges heavenward. The tree, skeletal and dormant yesterday, is irrepressible today. Let us not accumulate these springs as ever-increasing anniversaries, rather let us embrace this life as a countdown to a Promise when the ultimate metamorphosis be ours. Until that moment, may we be an audience pleasing to you, rehearsing our part until we hear that Voice.  Amen.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Thoughts on Memorial Day, 2016

                                    Albert McTeer (September 23, 1920-June 25, 1943)

       Yesterday at Church, during Prayers of the People, I asked for names of those who had died in service to our country.  We remembered Albert McTeer, Alan Kohn from Columbia, and a member's two Citadel classmates. Today, Memorial Day, I find myself wanting to know more, particularly, about Albert McTeer  and, remembering at the same time, Jesus' words about counting the cost of what we undertake (Luke 14.28-32) .[1]   

        WW II cost the church family of St. James Santee,  the life of young Albert McTeer.    There is a memorial tablet to him in the Church, and it notes that he died on June 25, 1943 in North Africa.  He was a Morrison cousin which means he was related to about one half of the church membership.  Twenty-two years of age, he was a recent Clemson graduate.  His burial record (interred overseas) , photo and copy of his obituary are HERE .  Without a doubt, there were other  losses in the extended church family, but his is one that is still mourned today by his cousins.

       I recall Alan Kohn who was a high school friend and who died serving our country in Vietnam on March 26, 1968 -  a few days after his twenty-first birthday.  I did not know him well but recall that our school (it was my senior year) mourned his loss. HERE is the link to his listing on the Virtual Vietnam Veterans Wall of Faces. I looked back at our high school annual (Dreher High School in Columbia, 1965) and noted the saying by his photograph- "I have kept unsullied and untarnished that thing - a name- entrusted to my care."  Indeed, you did , Alan.

       The Vietnam conflict cost McClellanville the lives of two young African-American men.  James Henry Brown, Jr., aged 20 yrs, died on August 21, 1969,  almost one month to the date his tour began.  He is buried in the Bethel AME Cemetery.  David Lee Mitchell, aged 23, died in an accident 22 days after his tour began.  You can view their records- HERE. (You will need to plug their names into the search box at the top right).

         There were 76 Vietnam casualties from Charleston, 12 from Charleston Heights, and close to 900 from South Carolina.  It is hard to imagine the cost of nearly 900 lives to their families and communities.

         When my father died nearly three years ago, we inherited a treasure trove of family papers. Among those papers was a letter from a young cousin, Andrew Crawford Fraser, writing to his first cousin,  my great-grandmother. The letter was dated May 23, 1862, and he was killed in action seven days later, May 31, at the Battle of Seven Pines (also known as Fair Oaks)  near Henrico, Virginia.  He was 19 yrs old when he enlisted in the Boyce Guards (mostly Fairfield County)  under the command of Capt.  JN Shedd and served as a private in the 6th Regiment of the SC Volunteers, 2nd Company G. He enlisted on March 17th, 1862 and died a little more than two months later.  Prior to enlisting in 1862, he had been a Junior at South Carolina College (now University of SC).   Here is an excerpt from the letter.  Please note: there is no discussion of valor or causes - just a description of endless slogging in terrible conditions, the sounds of battle, and witnessing death. 

"We left Yorktown on a Saturday night about nine aclack [sic] and next morning at daylight we were only two miles from where we started.  The roads were in such terrible fix.  We marched  that until about three aclack [sic] in the evening when we halted about two miles this side of Williamsburg, and had hardly got off our baggage when we were ordered to fall in again, and was marched back the other side of the town, and took our position for the expected battle and had to stay there all night and it pouring down rain all the time, and what made the matter worse we were not allowed to close our eyes  after having  already lost two nights sleep.  In the morning six companies from our regiment were thrown out as skirmishers and the remaining four were ordered about two hundred yards to the right to act as a support to a battery.  When took this last position we were compelled to lie down so as to let the balls and shells pass over us which flew pretty thick.  Our position being on the left of the whole, we were not actively engaged until about two or three aclack [sic] in the evening.  I never heard the like in my life before as the firing on the right, it was one continuous roar of musketry and cannon for more than six hours, except when our  men would succeed in driving back the enemy, then the air was rent with their shouts as they charged on their retiring columns.  About three aclack [sic] in the evening we were somewhat taken by surprise by a cannon ball which came from behind us, and next thing we were ordered to go and take possession of a about half mile of so as to prevent the enemy from getting it.  We had to march the whole way through an open field, which the enemy was raking with his artillery which had by this time got into position, as we marched along Colonel Bratton noticed some of the men dodging as the balls would sing pass their ears when he said "men don't mind those things come on."  We succeeded in getting into the fort, after having some five or six men wounded, one had his leg shot off by a cannon ball and died on the feild (sic) After we got into the fort fired some five vollies [sic] at the enemy.  After remaining there for some time we received reinforcements and were out of the fort to support a North Carolina regiment in a charge on one of the enemy batteries which they succeeded in taking three different times but on account of our not {unclear} ____ a sufficient we had to leave it at last when we filed off into a piece of woods and commenced falling back to keep from being flanked by the enemy.  It now being dark we took the same position that we had in the morning.  I had no idea that the balls that the infantry of enemy fired at us came so thick but in going into the piece of woods I spoke of we had to go through an old corn field and I could hear the balls striking corn stalks just like rain.  "[2]

      He must have wondered, like so many young men over so many years,  what he was doing there and how in the world he would survive.  But, survive my long ago cousin did not.  At that battle (Seven Pines),  the Union troops noted 790 fatalities and the Confederates, 980.   Those numbers, though, pale again the total loss of nearly 690,000 lives in direct war fatalities in the American Civil War. 
     On one hand, I am wondering,  if we have lost the ability to count the cost of so much loss of life.  At present, the numbers keep adding up - 470,000 in Syria and  480,000 in Darfur - to say nothing of the cost of  extreme deprivation and profoundly disrupted lives as communities large and small are destroyed by warring factions.
      On the other hand, I am also left wondering if we realize the cost of  and treasure the gift of freedom purchased for us by the  blood of our brothers and, now, sisters.   Does our national life show any indication of gratitude for the costs paid for us?  Was the price paid so that we might enjoy endless national bickering over every imaginable thing?  Was the price paid so that our citizens might have the freedom to succumb to addictions of all sorts:  pornography, drugs,  and violence?  Was the price paid so that any modicum of civility might be drummed out of the public sphere?  Somehow, I don't think so.  So, please forgive me, if I don't wish you a Happy Memorial Day.  What I do wish for you, for me, and for us all is a thankful, thoughtful Memorial Day.

Almighty and everlasting God, in whom all souls live now and evermore, the God not of the dead but of the living:  We bless thee for all those who have faithfully lived and died in the service of their country.  As we ever hold them in grateful remembrance, do thou in thy love and mercy let light perpetual shine upon them, and bring us all at last into thine eternal kingdom of peace; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

[1] 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. (Luke 14.28-32)


[2] Clarkson-Crawford Family Papers.  Letter from AC Fraser to MRC Clarkson, dated May 23, 1862.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Last Thursday, May 14th, we marked the feast day of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  The day comes exactly forty days after the resurrection....Here is a lovely prayer from W E Scudamore (19th c. Church of England priest and scholar - Hat-tip KSH).

O God, whose dearly beloved Son was, by thy mighty power, exalted that he might prepare a place in thy kingdom of glory for them that love thee: So lead and uphold us, O merciful Lord, that we may both follow the holy steps of his life here upon earth, and may enter with him hereafter into thy everlasting rest; that where he is, we may also be; through the merits of the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

And from Dali...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Doubting Thomas

Biola University's Lent Project looks at St. Thomas ....with a meditation  which includes the following sonnet and a wonderful painting by artist Rene Klarenbeek - Doubting Thomas (after Rembrandt)  .


St. Thomas the Apostle

By Malcolm Guite

‘We do not know . . . how can we know the way?

Courageous master of the awkward question,

You spoke the words the others dared not say

And cut through their evasion and abstraction.

O doubting Thomas, father of my faith,

You put your finger on the nub of things:

We cannot love some disembodied wraith,

But flesh and blood must be our king of kings.

Your teaching is to touch, embrace, anoint,

Feel after him and find him in the flesh.

Because he loved your awkward counterpoint,

The Word has heard and granted you your wish.

O place my hands with yours, help me divine

The wounded God whose wounds are healing mine.

For more information , please follow the link found HERE

To view a larger version of the above painting, follow the link found HERE

Monday, April 6, 2015

Annual Brick Church Service - April 12, 2015

You and Yours are Cordially Invited

to the St. James Santee Parish Episcopal Church

Annual Brick Church Service

April 12, 2015 - 11:00 am

followed by a covered dish picnic.

(Directions to the right)


Preacher and Celebrant this year: 

The Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg

Bishop of the Episcopal Church in SC

Born in Fayetteville, N.C., on July 11, 1947, Charles vonRosenberg graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with a bachelor of arts in 1969. He earned his master of divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1974. Early in his episcopate, the University of the South's School of Theology awarded him an honorary doctor of divinity.  Ordained as a priest in 1975, he served as rector/vicar of four small churches in and around Belhaven, N.C. He was vicar and rector of churches in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina from 1976 until 1989.
For many years, Bishop vonRosenberg served in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, as rector of the Church of the Resurrection in Greenwood and later as Canon to the Ordinary (assistant to the Bishop) of that diocese from 1989-1994. Later he accepted a call to be rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Wilmington, N.C.   As Third Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee from February 1999 until his retirement in June 2011, he oversaw an area of 34 counties in Tennessee and three in North Georgia, with 45 congregations and five worshiping communities and nearly 16,000 active members. Bishop vonRosenberg serves in the House of Bishops, and ex officio on the board of trustees of the University of the South. He was also was elected to the university's board of regents. In 2008 he attended the Lambeth Conference and participated with other bishops in a “Walk of Witness” through central London to draw attention to the Millennium Development Goals, which target poverty reduction around the world. He has served as Bishop Provisional of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina since a special diocesan Convention on January 26, 2013, when he was elected and invested as Bishop.
Bishop vonRosenberg and his wife, Annie, a native of Alexandria, Va., married in 1973 and they have two sons and families, including six grandchildren. The vonRosenbergs reside in the Daniel Island community of Charleston.

The Lord is Risen Indeed!!!

                                                   A Blessed Easter to You All!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Treachery of Judas - Andrey Mironov - 2009

Below is a painting which has been my companion during Lent.  I am curious about the cloaked and veiled figure in the foreground.  Who is he?  Where are you in the painting?  Below is a link to a larger version of the painting if you would like to look at it more closely (which I recommend)..

                                                          The Treachery of Judas

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Arts and Faith: Lent

This is a lovely website with a number different possibilities... Below is a sample from the Arts and Faith through Lent page.  If you click on the link below, it will take you to the main Arts and Faith page and from there to the Home Page of Loyola Press.  There are meditations for each week in Lent, Holy Week and Easter Day.  Check it Out!

Arts and Faith: Lent - Week Four

Enter into a visual prayer experience this Lent with Arts & Faith: Lent. Each week we’ll provide a video commentary about a work of art inspired by the Sunday Scriptures. Use these videos to take a new look at this season of spiritual renewal through the lens of sacred art.

Commentary is by Daniella Zsupan-Jerome, assistant professor of liturgy, catechesis, and evangelization at Loyola University New Orleans. She holds a bachelor’s degree in theology from the University of Notre Dame, a master’s degree in liturgy from St. John’s University in Collegeville, a master’s degree in religion and the arts from Yale Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in theology and education from Boston College. Her unique background in faith and art brings to life a new way of observing Lent and understanding the season on a more personal level

Monday, March 2, 2015

Lenten Thoughts on Giving Up

The following is an excerpt from an essay by the Rev. Dan Heishman, head of the National Association  of  Episcopal Schools..I appreciate his take on "giving up."

We often associate this season of Lent with giving things up—some indulgence, some bad habit—and we often view the activity of giving something up for Lent as an exercise in self-denial. While it certainly can be that, and there can be real value in self-denial, this process also turns out to be an exercise in the much larger task of giving up in life. A small act of giving up turns out to be a testing ground, a spiritual preparation for one of the great surprises of adulthood—just how much we will be about relinquishing things, illusions, or self-destructive activities.

I also thought about one of the hardest things for a mature school community (substitute, church family) to accept, that it cannot do all or be all things for all people. Fewer prospects are more difficult for a school (church) to bear than having to consider ways in which it occasionally must give up on the seductive activity of constantly taking on one more project, program, or expectation. As with all forms of giving up, we worry that it is a sign of defeat.  (Emphasis mine).

One of my favorite writers used to talk about Lent as being “Easter in disguise.” Faced with the sobering task of having to give up on something, we do not in turn face a diminished future. In fact, the process of giving the entry point to a new and much fuller life.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Confused About ISIS? Read This!

             © Provided by National Journal Syrian Kurds Battle IS To Retain Control Of Kobani

What is the Islamic State?

Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State's appeal. "We have not defeated the idea," he said. "We do not even understand the idea." In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as "not Islamic" and as al-Qaeda's "jayvee team," statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.

The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.

To continue reading ...  Click Here

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Way of Thinking and Talking

What follows is a thoughtful piece on a way of being.The author is the Rev. Dr. Daniel Heishmann, Director of the Natl. Assoc. of Episcopal Schools....

In Ian McEwan’s new novel, The Children’s Act, Fiona May is a British High Court judge who must rule on a difficult case regarding a 17-year old boy who faces likely death if he does not receive immediate blood transfusions. The boy and his parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religious group that forbids the use of such medical assistance. In a high-pitched legal battle, the hospital where the boy was being treated was asking that the Judge put the interests of the boy’s health ahead of the religious convictions of the family. As Fiona hears the case, and weighs the competing claims and intense passions of each party, she determines that a ruling cannot come until she pays a visit to the boy in hospital, in an effort to determine if he is fully aware of what may happen to him, as well as whether or not he had arrived at his desire not to receive blood in a free and rational fashion.

Ultimately, she determines that the boy’s best interests are served by allowing the hospital to pursue the necessary medical treatments.

Months later, the boy, now in full recovery, pays a surprise visit to Fiona. He also pays her a great tribute, referring to the manner in which she went about her work in spite of the intensive crossfire of accusation and counter-accusation that had infected this case. As he told her:

You were calm, you listened, you asked questions, you made some comments. That was the point. It’s this thing you have…A way of thinking and talking…It was like a grown-up had come into a room full of kids who are making each other miserable and said, Come on, stop all of this nonsense, it’s teatime! You were the grown up. You knew all along but didn’t say. You just asked questions and listened.

Our school communities, our nation, our world, can feel at times like brittle and intense places of crossfire where judgment comes quickly. In the midst of such contention, it is important to remind ourselves of the power of the person who simply, calmly asks questions and listens. It is that person who is most likely to discover what lies beneath all of the shouting and conflict—real, decent human beings on both sides who are hurting and holding on to deep convictions rarely understood by those who oppose them. What’s more, in modeling this way of thinking and talking we provide both sides with the type of example—that of the grown up—most needed at such times. The muted courage of the grown-up, so to speak, is what is most lasting and potentially healing.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy Second Day of Christmas!

Today is the Feast Day of St. Stephen, Deacon.  In many quarters it is also known as Boxing Day and is a day to remember those less fortunate.

One song associated with this day is Good King Wenceslas!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Eve, 2014

                                                        Nativity by Gerard von Honhorst

You and yours are most warmly invited
to the celebration of 
 Christmas Eve
6:30 pm
St. James Santee Episcopal Church
Oak and Church Streets
McClellanville, SC
Carols, Nativity, Eucharist, Hammered Dulcimer


Friday, October 31, 2014

Why Were the Saints Saints?

    All Saints Day is tomorrow - Nov. 1, 2014.  Here is a little saying my Grandfather kept on his dresser mirror.
Why Were The Saints Saints?
Because they were cheerful
when it was difficult to be cheerful;
when it was difficult to be patient;
and because they pushed on
when they wanted to stand still;
And kept silent
When they wanted to talk;
And were agreeable
When they wanted to be disagreeable.
That was all.
It was quite simple
and always will be.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Love Thy Neighbor

Almighty and most merciful God, who hast given us a new commandment that we should love one another: Give us also grace that we may fulfill it. Make us gentle, courteous, and forbearing. Direct our lives so that we may look to the good of others in word and deed. And hallow all our friendships by the blessing of thy Spirit; for his sake who loved us and gave himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord.
B.F.Wescott- HT to Kendall   

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Rock of Ages

      After the death of my father last year and my mother's move to a retirement community this year, our family have been sorting through my parents' library.  In some cases this has meant also sorting through books that belonged to their parents.  One such book, from my maternal grandfather, was a little book published in 1934 by General Mills no less. How he came by it is unknown to me.   Entitled The Story of Fifty Hymns, it has write-ups of many familiar hymns. 

     Amazon has this description of the book "The Story of Fifty Hymns published by the millers of Gold Medal "Kitchen-tested" Flour Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Copyrighted by General Mills, Inc. in 1934 and 1939.  This booklet was presented through the courtesy of General Mills in commemoration of the 6th Annual Marshall County Church of Bible School Day featuring "Hymns of All Churches Parade", June 26, 1940, Marshalltown, Iowa.  It has a Preface about a group of artists and musicians headed by Joe Emerson, a nationally known figure in radio in 1934, who started a program of morning hymns with every faith represented, and Gold Medal "Kitchen-tested" Flour was the sponsor of the radio show. "

Here is the text concerning Rock of Ages which we sing at Church tomorrow.

"In the 31st Psalm, we read these words:  'Be thou a strong rock...a house of defense to save me...' This is the thought of the hymn, 'Rock of Ages,' familiar to many churches,  It was written in 1776 by Augustus M. Toplady, priest of the Church of England.   An interesting sidelight on the steadfast faith expressed in the hymn is found in the words of the writer as he lay dying, "I cannot tell you the comforts I feel in my soul; they are past expression.  My prayers are all converted to praise..."  On the one hundredth anniversary of the writing of 'Rock of Ages', more than ten thousand people gathered at the place where it is supposed to have been written, to pay homage to this great symbol of faith expressed in song."

Of this hymn Wikipedia says "Traditionally, it is held that Toplady drew his inspiration from an incident in the gorge of  the Mendip Hills in England. Toplady, a preacher in the nearby village of Blagdon, was travelling along the gorge when he was caught in a storm. Finding shelter in a gap in the gorge, he was struck by the title and scribbled down the initial lyrics.
The fissure that is believed to have sheltered Toplady is now marked as the "Rock of Ages", both on the rock itself and on some maps, and is also reflected in the name of a nearby tea shop.

See below for a nice rendition of this hymn.  It is interesting to compare our hymnal version with The Rev. Toplady's text. 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Feast Day of St. Teresa of Avila- 1582

Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (28 March 1515 – 4 October 1582), was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun, an author of the Counter Reformation and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be a founder of the Discalced Carmelites along with John of the Cross.
In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV and on 27 September 1970, was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI. Her books, which include her autobiography (The Life of Teresa of Jesus) and her seminal work El Castillo Interior (trans.: The Interior Castle) are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices as she entails in her other important work, Camino de Perfección (trans.: The Way of Perfection).  (Wikipedia)

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Ocean of His Goodness

Should we fall into a sin, let us humble ourselves sorrowfully in his presence, and then, with an act of unbounded confidence, let us throw ourselves into the ocean of his goodness, where every failing will be cancelled and anxiety turned into love.
St. Paul of the Cross

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Prayer for Today

O God, whose love we cannot measure, nor even number thy blessings: We bless and praise thee for all thy goodness, who in our weakness art our strength, in our darkness, light, in our sorrows, comfort and peace, and from everlasting to everlasting art our God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pop Nihilism and the Allure of ISIS

A thoughtful article from John Stonestreet

What’s with all these stories of Western defections to Islamic radicalism? Well, the answer may be more over here than over there.

News broke recently of two beautiful teenage girls from Austria, aged 15 and 16, who became burka-wearing recruiters for the terror group known as ISIS, or the Islamic State. And their journey to radicalism is not an isolated case.  In my own state of Colorado, a 19-year-old female just pled guilty to trying to join ISIS, too. And then there are the two young American men who died in Syria fighting for ISIS.
Why are young 21st-century Westerners converting to a brutal form of Islam? Why would young people, with seemingly so much to live for, leave the West for terrorism?
This question came up last month in a panel discussion with radio hosts Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager, as well as Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute and myself. We all agreed that the answer was not the radicalism of Islam, but the current emptiness of Western materialism.
The idea that matter is all that matters pervades everything young people see and hear these days. They hear it in science class, from the new Cosmos television series, and even, and as I added especially, in advertising and other media messages. Nearly every commercial message tells us that we’re born to be consumers, that stuff will make us happy and save us from our misery, and that there’s nothing beyond the immediate gratification of this world to live for.
As Dennis Prager said that night, “Secular society produces a lot of bored people . . . Secular society is a curse because ultimately life is meaningless if there’s no God.” The materialistic salvation sold to us promises to fill what Pascal called the God-shaped hole in our hearts … with stuff. But many see the meaningless of secular salvation, and they become bored; others become angry, even murderous.
Remember Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, who killed 13 people at Columbine High School? They weren’t Muslims. Then there’s T.J. Lane, a 19-year-old serving three life sentences for shooting to death three high school students in 2012. At his sentencing, in which he taunted his victims’ families with expletives, Lane opened his blue dress shirt to reveal a T-shirt on which he had scrawled the word “killer.”
We’ve always had young murderers, but the nihilism of today is different. Writing in Time several years ago, Harvard’s student body president called it the “Rude Boy” culture. The tough guy of the ‘60s and ‘70s, he observed, would say, “I’m better than you, I can beat you up”—but the tough guy today says, “I flip you off; you don’t matter and neither do I.”
And that’s a whole new level of brokenness. That’s the cultural shift toward nihilism. A few years ago, the rock band Switchfoot hit the nail on the head when they sang, “We were meant to live for so much more. But we lost ourselves.”
This sort of empty pop-nihilism, to borrow a term from Baylor’s Thomas Hibbs, makes even the evil radicalism of extremist Islam look attractive to some. And parasitic ideologies like these find folks in despair easy prey.
Might it be that ISIS finds this shallow ground as fertile soil from which to harvest young souls for its deadly agenda?
Decades ago, even before the Internet and social media took over so much of our lives, Aldous Huxley warned of the capacity of the media to exploit “man's almost infinite appetite for distraction.” Could it be that even ISIS looks attractive to those who, after having their fill, still feel empty inside?
Wait a minute, you say, that’s just a small minority. Not every kid flees to ISIS or thinks of murder as a way to meaning. Well, true, but how many others are living shriveled up lives of perpetual boredom? What addictions and distractions are they fleeing to in pursuit of meaning and purpose? How can Christians point our culture to the One we were made for?
Well, the panel discussion I mentioned earlier can start that discussion. Come to to find out how to watch or listen to my conversation with Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, and Steve Meyer on this and other topics relating to God and culture.

For more from Breakpoint on this topic , click HERE

Friday, July 18, 2014

Some Great News from TWO of our Mission Partners

LAMB in Honduras and Water Missions International...

From Susan Keller, LAMB Board Chair

Dear LAMB family,

I am so very happy to tell you that this week we signed the Water Missions International (WMI) project agreement for the water project and sent our first check.  WMI has ordered supplies and their team has arrived at San Buenaventura to begin mobilizing for Phase 1 of the project! WMI engineer, Selvin is pictured here with Amanda Scott, LAMB volunteer coordinator.


WMI anticipates that Phases 1, 2 and half of 3 will be completed by the end of December.
See the Water for LAMB page for the description of phases.

There has been some good tweaking of the original plan and the final numbers are coming in at approximately $233,000.   We have sent the requested amount for this part of the work which was $147,543.  We have raised to date $179,546.   So we lack around $53,000.

This is another day closer to the day we will have water flowing from our own well.   Thank you, Lord, for all the work that has been done by many, many people…beginning with Wheeler Conkling and David Gradiz back in 2007, continuing on with John McKinnon and David over the next many years studying, praying, planning…on to today with many months of work done by our great friends at WMI.

Please pray with us that God continue to lead and guide the work, protect the workers, bring complete success for this part of the project and provide for the remainder of the total cost.

With joy overflowing in the Lord,

Susan C. Keller
LAMB Board Chair
PO Box 20488
Charleston, SC  29413

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 2, 2014 Newsletter - VBS 2014 and More!

Village VBS 2014 !

Registration- This Coming Monday Morning

8:30 am!

At McClellanville Methodist Church

July 7-11, 9-12 noon - and Celebration Cookout -Friday Evening

Please sign up  your kids, grand-kids, neighbor children 

and anyone K-5th grade.

You may register by phone at 843-887-3814

Sponsored by McClellanville Methodist, New Wappetaw 

Presbyterian, St. James-Santee Episcopal Church,  Seacoast 

Church-McClellanville; and Five Fathom Baptist Church.

Check out the rest of the news by clicking below: