Volume 64 Number 8
What Is Easter About?
For our sake, He made him to be sin who knew no sin,
so that in him we might become the [right relationship] of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21
According to the Interpreter’s Commentary, this statement points to the fact that God in
Christ “took on himself the sins of the world.” And thereby, “though himself not a
sinner,” became “so involved in it” that he then was able to “deal effectively with our
predicament” [of sin].
Wow! So, Jesus was made sinful so that he might fight the problem of human “sin
decay?” I don’t know…
What if we were to say instead that the Christ, the second person of the Trinity, the
Eternal one, became limited by the constraints of time (mortality) so that we mortals
might learn ourselves to be more effective agents of God? What if the complete one
(God), became human so that humanity might learn to aspire to eternity? READ MORE: SPIRE April-2018
Volume 64 Number 7
INDEED I HAVE BEEN WICKED FROM MY BIRTH,
A SINNER FROM MY MOTHER’S WOMB
In Psalm 51, also called the Miserere mei, the author lays claim to what feels like
insurmountable guilt. Tradition has it that this 51st Psalm was written by David himself after the prophet
Nathan condemned him for seducing Bathsheba and then killing her husband. David had reached a low
point in life. He had fallen short big time and now he turned (as he always had) to his God. And what did
he ask for? Mercy.
According to Professor Nancy de Claisse-Wallford, the word “mercy” here is derived from the Hebrew
noun “womb.” So, in that case, what David seeks is rebirth…new life.
A sin has been committed. David has fallen short and failed to be a decent human being. Alone, he is
hopeless. So, he seeks a new beginning, a do-over, which is something only God can grant. But David is
confident because he knows that “loving kindness” is the essence of God.
We recite this psalm, the Miserere mei, each year on Ash Wednesday. And it reminds us that although we
may be painfully wrongheaded, God will forgive the penitent and offer new birth.
It seems to me that often in this life sin leads to repentance and repentance to God’s mercy which then leads
to new birth. Even the history of the founding of Anglicanism itself began with the story of a willful and
capricious king whose descendants struggled with his bitter legacy until humility and compromise led the
English powers that be back to reliance on God, who then granted them the blessing of a new and stable
church. READ MORE: Spire March 2018 opt
Volume 64 Number 6
Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled
One of the last things that Jesus said to his disciples was “Do not let your hearts be
troubled.” And yet, we seem to specialize in troubled hearts! And actually that
state makes sense in this uncertain world. We can worry over the environment,
political divisions, day-to-day finances, health concerns, the welfare of friends and
family members… our concerns are real and certainly capable of creating troubled
hearts. So then, when he made this admonition, was Jesus oblivious? Did he not
understand life’s pressures? Was he a blind optimist? No, no, and no.
In fact Jesus tells his disciples not to be troubled as he stands at the edge of his own
passion and death. Judas has just betrayed him and Jesus knows his death is near.
This is not a time for idle conversation. His message is urgent, in the imperative:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Then he tells them why. God is trustworthy
and so is he. READ MORE: February Spire 2018 opt
Volume 65 Number 6
December 2017 – January 2018
A small handful of volunteers have been with the Ossining Food Pantry since the very beginning. The Food Pantry highlighted Aileen Hunt in its February 2018 newsletter. Aileen and her husband Bill were part of the small group of people who started the Ossining Food Pantry in 1988. For the last 30 years, Aileen has worked diligently on Friday mornings distributing food to Pantry clients. When asked about her favorite part of the work, Aileen remarked that she enjoys staying active and helping people. We all thank Aileen for her 30 years of service to the community! READ MORE: February Spire 2018 bw
Volume 64 Number 4 – 5
December 2017 – January 2018
Why Jesus? “The Scandal of Particularity” As much as I love Paris, I was born in New York. As glorious as Fez, Morocco is, I went to college in St Louis, Missouri. And as pretty as blue eyes are, mine happen to be brown. Each of us has her own particular story. In his blog, Richard Floyd says: Rather than put forth a general philosophy of religious truth…the Christian faith tells a story, and that story invites questions: Why was Israel chosen to carry the promise? Why is Mary chosen to bear Jesus? Why is Jesus the Incarnate One? This month, we gather to tell an important part of our story. We remember how a young woman said yes to an angel (even though angels are fearsome). We remember how her betrothed husband said, “Yes I will claim this child.” (again to an angel). And we remember how, together, they welcomed a baby boy into this world. In this story we come to understand that Jesus that baby, an ordinary human was also specially related to the almighty God and that somehow Jesus’ story reveals the universal nature of God. READ MORE
VOLUME 64 NUMBER 3
I sing a song of the saints of God
Faithful and brave and true.
Here we are at All Saints’ Day. It is one of the four major holidays in our tradition (along with Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost). But what is a saint? How do we define one? I would say that a saint is an individual who has demonstrated a clear and strong connection to God.
In the Roman Catholic tradition, there is a long and involved institutional process which must be followed before someone can be named saint. In the Episcopal Church, things are simpler. Names (with supporting materials) are proposed to General Convention and the convention votes.
In either case, it is my belief that many saints are overlooked. God has worked through the lives of countless people…in fact God works through each life at some time. READ MORE.
VOLUME 64 NUMBER 2
Our goal is to strengthen our relationship with God
by building our knowledge of our faith, using the tools within our
Church: the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. (The Trinity & St. Paul’s
Renewal Works Team). In the Fall, we pray a collect (page 235, BCP) in which we ask God “to preserve the
works of God’s mercy,” so that the “Church… might persevere…in the confession of
God’s Name.” Those of us who have a spiritual mind, recognize that there are things
eternal and also that we human creatures need a connection to God. But how do we
find & deepen that connection? READ MORE
VOLUME 64 NUMBER 1
WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION
“Rituals… are about transformation. The rituals …are as elaborate as they are because we associate the ritual with a major life passage…with transformation.” –Abraham Varghese
This summer brought with it some important thresholds. A wedding, a funeral, and a major move. All these moments were important enough to leave pictures in my mind.
The first was the wedding of a couple of old family friends. My former “boss” and his life partner of twenty two years, Maxwell, “tied the knot” with a simple but elegant wedding weekend in Siaconset, Nantucket. About twenty of us (family and friends) gathered on the far end of the Island to join the entire ‘Sconset family of parishioners in wishing the couple joy and good luck in the years to come. The church was packed with two hundred plus witnesses, each of whom was honored to be there. The thing that made this wedding unusual and especially uplifting is that twenty two years ago, when Carr and Maxwell met, none of us could have imagined a day in which a clergyman and a male doctor would not only be legally married in a grand social affair but would also have that occasion recorded in the New York Times! As the Chapel filled with the shining summer crowd and the grooms entered in matching white dinner jackets, I could not help but feel encouraged about a world where such a basic change of acceptance IS POSSIBLE. READ MORE
VOLUME 64 NUMBER 9
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and to prayer…all the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need… Every day they broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere heart, praising God and enjoying the favor of all people. (Acts 2: 42-47A)
My friend Margaret Gunther used to say, “Everybody has a rule of life.” To illuminate that point, she would tell us the story of a neighbor of hers. He was an older man who lived on the street. “Every morning he gets up early,” she said, “does some panhandling, has breakfast, stops in the library, then more panhandling… some drinking and sleep. He may not be a spiritual guru, but he has a rule of life.” Margaret’s point makes sense and I have come to believe that each one of us does have a rule of life, a pattern we follow. It’s the way God made us.
So, I ask, what is your rule? What patterns do you follow? Are there things you might wish to take up?
Are there things you would prefer to drop? READ THE SPIRE: SPIRE May 2017lr2
VOLUME 63 NUMBER 8
Create In Me a New, Clean Heart O God – Psalm 51
As we approach Easter this year, I find myself thinking about the Resurrection in a new way. Where formerly I had accepted this phenomenon as a form of rebirth after Jesus’ crucifixion (a bit like the phoenix rising from the ashes), I now see it as an evolution in the development of God/Jesus. Here was a mortal man who was inextricably tied to the second person of the Trinity. Something like this: The Christ (God) became man (Jesus) who died and then rose again in this limited world. And this Resurrection revealed something entirely new and unique, Jesus the Christ, an entity fully human and fully divine. It was something the world had not seen before and could not imagine…a human being who had achieved immortality…eternal life with God. And the hope which this event generated was unstoppable. The resurrected Jesus was such a powerful energy that even the Apostle Paul experienced it clearly sometime after the official Resurrection had ended at the Ascension. So what does this mean for us, today? Well, my mother used to say “you cannot do what you never imagined.” So I would say that the story of the Resurrection opens for us a gate into eternal life with God because when we take it in, we can begin to see in ourselves Resurrection potential. In John’s Gospel, Jesus calls himself the gate and he also says he is preparing a place for us with God. After the Resurrection, his disciples dared to imagine those words were true. This year, I invite you to join together with your Christian brothers and sisters at church to hear the Resurrection story once again. Put yourself in that place where you will hear this story and have it ignite your own imagination. Because if I am right, evolution is the name of the game and the evolution process begins with a spark! Easter blessings to one and all, Faithfully, Cooper +
READ THE SPIRE: SPIRE APRIL 2017
VOLUME 63 NUMBER 7
A Special Thanks – Gumbo for God, Jambalaya for Jesus, Pancakes
for All! Thanks so much everyone!!! It looked absolutely beautiful, thanks to Beth’s endless stash of lovely things and her kindness in sharing it! Thanks to all the set up angels who moved tables, chairs and then set the tables. It presented a wonderful welcome to so many hungry diners! Lisa, Sally,. Beth, Jim, Marty, Julie, Mark, Cooper. So many do-ers! I hope I did not leave anyone out.
READ MORE, including Priest in Charge’s Report on 2016 and the Warden’s Report: SPIRE march 2017opt
RenewalWorks – Forward Movement
A combined team of members from the Episcopal Churches of Ossining, St. Paul’s on the Hill and Trinity have embarked on the study of spirituality in the two congregations. Once the committee (Mark Monroe, Julie Gross, Jo McGrath from St. Paul’s and Tam Hernandez, Sally Evans, Cecilia Quintero and Ed Shultsz from Trinity and Mo. Copper) was formed, we attended an Introductory meeting with other participating parishes. The first meeting of the team was held on February 15 followed by meetings on March 18, April 8 and 29. A report will then be presented to each vestry followed by reports to the congregations. The data from the forty two completed individual inventories will be forwarded to the RenewalWorks team early this month. Once that data has been analyzed and considered the team will work to propose a plan to move forward with our spiritual growth.
For a fuller discussion, see http://stpaulsonthehill.org/worship/renewal-works/
VOLUME 63 NUMBER 6
On the front of St Paul’s bulletin every week, there is printed “you are the light of the world, a city set on a hill cannot be hid.” I am guessing that this particular quotation from Matthew was chosen because St Paul’s is actually set upon a hill…and yet for years we, as a community of worship, have struggled to be more visible, easier to find. St Paul’s was on a hill and yet it remained hid. A well kept secret.
But over the past year, some members of St Paul’s have made it a priority to make us more visible through social media, seasonal signage, and so forth. These efforts have been successful and we are all grateful for them. READ MORE SPIRE February 2017
VOLUME 63 NUMBER 4 – 5
DECEMBER 2015 –JANUARY 2016
“I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me.
Please have snow and mistletoe and gifts beneath the tree.”
Those are the opening lyrics to a song written during World War 2. It was a time when a lot of
people were separated from their families and felt that separation most keenly at the holidays.
I think that the lesson of “I’ll be home for Christmas” is that life is short and our time together
is precious. Also, although the trimmings of the holidays like mistletoe, gifts, and trees are
festive, that being home is most important. READ MORE Spire December-January 2017
VOLUME 63 NUMBER 3
I am a stranger here on earth;
Do not hide your commandments from me. (Psalm 119 v.19)
In his book, Not in God’s Name, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks stresses how important is for each of us to imagine ourselves in our neighbor’s shoes. It is what allows us to desire the best for other people and also to open ourselves in humility to God. His point is that, when we can see ourselves as a stranger on earth, we are really open to God’s will for us.
On Sunday the 23rd of October, Bishop Shin came to Trinity. It happened also to be the Sunday on which we read the story in Luke about the two men who come to the Temple to pray (Luke 18:9-14.) One is “virtuous” and proud while the other is a tax collector and humble. When they pray, the “virtuous” man thanks God for his way of life while the tax collector says simply, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” In the context of the story, Jesus makes it clear that the tax collector’s prayer is the stranger’s prayer and it is the effective one. This prayer reconnects the humble man with God. And that is the purpose of prayer, isn’t it? READ MORE: spire-november-2016
VOLUME 65 NUMBER 1
A prayer attributed to St Brigid
I would like to have the men of Heaven in my own house:
With vats of good cheer laid out for them.
I would like to have the three Mary’s, their fame is so great.
I would like people from every corner of Heaven;
I would like them to be cheerful in their drinking.
I would like to have Jesus too here amongst them.
I would like a Great Lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I would like to be watching Heaven’s family, drinking it through all eternity. More
VOLUME 63 NUMBER 7,8,9
JUNE, JULY, AUGUST 2016
Ever living God, strengthen and sustain Cooper, that with patience and understanding she may love and care for your people; and grant that together they may follow Jesus Christ, offering to you their gifts and talents; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
You know, before we had our Celebration of New Ministry, there was a LOT of preparation. Many details were pursued by the churches, myriad invitations went out, food menus for the Saturday and Sunday receptions were set, flowers were planned to be shared by the parishes, the Music Directors consulted, bulletins were prepared. I thought to myself “This is an awful lot of fuss.” But when all was said and done, as we stood together and Steve Pendzuk took our picture, Trinity and St Paul’s gathered on the steps before the altar at St Paul’s, I thought “Of course, we are Episcopalians; this is what we do; we mark things.” More
VOLUME 63 NUMBER 4
J. Cooper Conway
Life is short.
We do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us.
So be quick to love.
Make haste to be kind.
And the blessing of God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be upon you now and forever.
On Good Friday, a member of the congregation mentioned that it is difficult in this season to make the transition between the emotional intensity of loss which we feel on Good Friday and the relief and joy which Easter holds for us. “How does the church expect us to move from one feeling to another in two days?” she asked. I really resonated with that observation. As one who leads worship, each year I wonder how Easter will feel. More
VOL. 63, FEB. 2016
J. Cooper Conway
Christina Rosetti once wrote of Spring:
Here the sun shineth
Here is heard an echo
Of the far sea,
Though far off it be.
The word Lent is derived from the Old English word “lencten” which literally meant lengthen but came to mean Spring (presumably since the days lengthened in that season.) Indeed, as we pass through Lent, the days become perceptibly longer. It is as though the weight of winter is being lifted from us. And it is in this same season of transition that the Church turns our attention to self-preparation. The celebration of the Resurrection approaches; Christmas is past so it is time to awaken from the “long winter’s nap.” More
VOLUME 63 NUMBER 12
J. Cooper Conway
A Word from the Prodigal
I thought I would take an opportunity this month to talk a little bit about what I have learned while I was away from you. Before I applied to return here, I spent time doing some soul searching. “Why would I, a professional interim, be looking to become a priest in charge?” I asked myself. And of course there were various levels of answer to that. First, I missed you. Also, I no longer wanted to say goodbye to parish after parish because It was just getting me sad. But then, as I thought of the challenge of staying in place for three to five years, I had to consider what I could offer St Paul’s and Trinity which would help the two churches to develop spiritually. More
VOLUME 63 NUMBER
10 SEPTEMBER 2015
Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours, yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582)
The Lord God’s spirit is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. More
VOLUME 62 NUMBER 7
Lenten Conversations about Race
The last year has been a tough one for Americans of every background. Communities across the nation have been struggling to make sense of racial tensions some had hoped were things of the past. What’s our role as Christians in a world where people seem to be divided by lines of misunderstanding and mistrust rather than united by love as God intends? More
VOLUME 62 NUMBER 4 & 5
DECEMBER 2014—JANUARY 2015
In Loving Memory
Edward C. Brewster, Beloved Husband, Father, and Singer. More