Thursday, September 24, 2015

Seeing the Unseen


Sermon preached for Proper 21 B at St. Mary's Manor, Jesus and the children


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What Do You Think You Are Doing?


Sermon preached at Lord of the Streets Church at the celebration of new ministry for the Rev. Steve Capper. 


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Monday, September 14, 2015

From An Acute Care Church to a Palliative Care Church


Sermon preached at St. Francis, Tyler, Tx, Proper 19B Mark 8.27ff


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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Seminary Will Not Prepare You


Matriculation service at Seminary of the Southwest, 2015


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Building the Reign of God with Legos


Proper 18, 2015 preached at St. Julian's


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Monday, September 7, 2015

Refugee and Immigrant Crisis: What Can I Do?

Sunday's reading from Proverbs 22:1ff:

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.
The rich and the poor have this in common:
the Lord is the maker of them all.
Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
and the rod of anger will fail.
Those who are generous are blessed,
for they share their bread with the poor. Do not rob the poor because they are poor,
or crush the afflicted at the gate; for the Lord pleads their cause
and despoils of life those who despoil them.

Here what the Spirit is saying to the church.

As we listened on Sunday to this lesson, we well might have wondered what we could do about the refugee and migration crisis that will have a real, tangible impact. It is the largest migration and refugee event since World War II. The impact of which will have a global effect for generations. What do we do as a people and as a church? We can move from mindfulness to action. Here is an exercise to begin your reflections on how you can make a global difference by acting locally.

Prayer and Mindfulness
The first thing to begin with is mindfulness and prayer. As Christians we pray. So here is a list to pray daily for during the next few days, weeks, and months. You might even print the list and put it on your refrigerator or at the dinning room table or someplace where you will see it regularly.

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. We remember especially the refugees and migrants in our midst and far away, who are looking for your face of love. Help us to be mindful of all those who are in need of care and those who are seeking to help. Heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. 
Pray for the people of Syria - and an end to the violence in the middle east, an end to unjust governments, and for the care of those who are without a country. 
Pray for the 10.8 million refugees. Invite God to speak to you and your church about how you can help offer hospitality to the stranger.
Pray for children of the refugees, the God may give them strength to hold their faith, and to keep alive their joy in this time of crisis, feed them and clothe them from the riches of God's people.
Pray for the Anglican Church in Canada who is taking a three-fold approach to the crisis: raising money, lobbying politicians to demand easier access to the country for Syrian refugees, and committing to provide 10,000 resettlement places for government-assisted refugees; and pray for Anglicans to contribute to the Province’s relief agency. 
Pray for Australia and New Zealand who are calling on their governments to increase quotas and calling on each church to sponsor a family.
Pray for the Church in Egypt and Jerusalem who are providing food, helping to restore churches, including the Holy Family Anglican Church which serves refugees in the Ethiopian town of Dima, and are helping with funds for the towns of Tiergol and Matar.
Pray for the ten Anglican Churches in the Pinyudo area of Sudan where a new camp will house 75,000 people. 
Pray for those working with Episcopal Migration Ministries as they seek to respond on our behalf and help those in need.
Pray for the Anglican Churches in and across Europe as they seek to help settle refugees.
Pray: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth.
Pray: Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace.
Pray: Heavenly Father, you are the source of all goodness, generosity and love. We thank you for opening the hearts of many to those who are fleeing for their lives. Help us now to open our arms in welcome, and reach out our hands in support; that the desperate may find new hope, and lives torn apart be restored. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ Your Son, Our Lord, who fled persecution at His birth and at His last, triumphed over death. Amen
(Read more here about the Anglican response to the global crisis.)

Educate Yourself
It is important to have the facts about what is actually happening globally. In a world where there are a lot of memes and news blips, it is easy to believe you know what is going on. Know the facts. Thanks to Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) you can find these articles helpful in understanding exactly what is happening.

EMM writes, "Media are publishing articles on a daily basis chronicling the most recent events and statistics. This crisis is complex geopolitically and historically. The terminology can also be confusing."

Here is a selection of articles that may be helpful:
Archbishop of Canterbury wrote an impassioned statement about the refugee crisis; it begins, 'This is a hugely complex and wicked crisis'.

Violence Has Forced 60 Million People From Their Homes, The Atlantic 
Exodus of Syrians Highlights Political Failure of the West, New York Times 
'Refugee' or 'migrant' - Which is right?, UNHCR 
Crossings of Mediterranean Sea exceed 300,000, including 200,000 to Greece, UNHCR 
One Syrian Boy's Plea, Al Jazeera America
Donate
One of the easiest ways to help is to donate. Every relief organization is overwhelmed by this crisis. However, I urge you to not stop here, but also do some of the hard things as well. Here are some great places to donate:

Compass Rose Society Go to the site and roll the bar over to immigrant crisis in Europe. Then make your gift. All Dollars will go to Joel Nafuma Refugee Center in Rome, and to the Churches in Europe and organizations doing direct work with Refugees through the office of The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon.
Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, Anglican Refugee Center in Rome 
UNHCR Syria appeal 
World Food Program Syrian emergency fund 
Unicef for Syria
Mennonite Central Committee 
World Relief (donate to provide backpacks for resettled children here - one of my favorite sites) 
World Vision 
Samaritan’s Purse 
Doctors Without Borders: Has three rescue ships in the Mediterranean, on Tuesday alone they rescued 1,658 people
Hand in Hand for Syria: Working within Syrian borders to provide aid. Donations are made via British currency but these are easily converted from US donations during the transaction.
The Southern Baptists who do a very good job at combining service with donation. Take a look at their site here. It includes a text link for donations.
Project: “Save a Life”
Donor: Individual Donors
Major Goal: “Save a Life” humanitarian campaign, aimed at providing support to Syrian Refugees, who escaped the war in Aleppo and moved to Lebanon, to obtain one-way ticket to travel to Armenia. In response to this large-scale humanitarian project initiated by “ALEPPO” CCO, people worldwide continuously raise funds in support of Syrian Refugees. Over 800 Syrian Refugees are registered in the lists of Aid Applicants. On account of funds raised it became possible to obtain one-way ticket for 70 Syrian Refugees. Many refugees were already moved from Lebanon to Armenia. The others will move in upcoming weeks and months if Funds become available!


It is worth to note, that the one-way ticket fee required for relocation of each person from Lebanon to Armenia amounts to:
•           360 – 380$ (one-way ticket for MEA Aircraft from Lebanon to Armenia, including 30kg baggage); or
•           285$ (one-way ticket for FlyDubai Aircraft destination Lebanon, Dubai, Armenia, including 30kg baggage); or
•           265$ (one-way ticket for FlyDubai Aircraft destination Lebanon, Dubai, Armenia, including 20kg baggage).
Including these in-country transfer expenses:
•           50$ (transfer cost per person, including 2 suitcases, by bus):
•           17$ (fee for Exit Visa to cross the border),
•           20$ (taxi cost to reach the Lebanon Airport);
•           8$ (transfer cost from Yerevan Airport).
•           25$ (other costs that should be provided to a traveling person).
The Total amount per person is 488$. This calculation is made taking into account that 1$=290 Syrian Liras.

Each Sponsor will be given a contact information of Sponsored person.
We have already received approximately $40,000 in donations which will be sent to ALEPPO CCO in Yerevan. Donations are being sent as received. We urgently need your help before it is too late. If you want to add your name and HELP, NOW is the time to act:

1) one person ($ 488);
2) one couple ($ 976);
3) one Family with two children ($ 1,952)
4) Any other amount to cover several Families

Please send your check accordingly to ST KEVORK ARMENIAN CHURCH - MEMO : S.O.S. Aleppo - Yerevan. All your donations will be Tax deductible.

Please indicate your first and last Name; your organization if any; your e-mail address; your phone number and your City of residence.


Give Specifically

Help Syrians stranded on the Greek Island of Lesvos, send items from the list below, and mail to:
Hellenic Postal Office of Mythymna
℅ The Captain’s Table
Molyvos 81108, Lesvos, Greece
ITEMS TO SEND for SYRIAN REFUGEES on GREEK ISLAND OF LESVOS:
  • Sneakers, gym shoes for men, women and children (all sizes) are a HIGH PRIORITY
  • Sweatpants of all sizes.
  • Briefs/underwear for men, women and children (all sizes)
  • Men’s trousers (small, medium and large) and shoes
  • Baby powder milk
  • Any non-perishables like nut butters or other long-lasting foods.
  • Diapers
  • Feminine products
  • Sleeping bags
  • Plastic to cover the floor/for shade
  • Tents/tarpaulin
  • Mats (camping or yoga mats)
  • Hats and caps for sunshade (adults and children/light colours because of the sun)
  • Electric Plug for multiple devices (european voltage)

Spread the Word
Everyone who has a Facebook page and twitter account can share these links. Share solid information.

You can Follow Episcopal Migration Ministries on Facebook and Twitter. Share news articles and stories online and through your social media networks. Generate discussions in your community about the issues refugees are facing.

If you're a teacher, use UNHCR's toolkit for teaching young people about migration and refugees.

If you are in a congregation, use the Prayer for Syria or the prayers above as part of your Sunday or daily worship.

You can also Tweet a photo of yourself holding a sign saying “Refugees Welcome” and tag your government and or your government representative #refugeecrisis; #refugeeswelcomehere (This idea comes from Ann Voskamp's website at Holy Experience here.)

You can also copy and share the links and ideas from this article and help get the word out about how to give or share your time.


Get Personally Involved
In 2015, the United States will welcome 70,000 refugees to our country as new Americans. You can get involved in two ways. First by signing up and participating in sponsoring and helping to resettle a family.

EMM works in partnership with its affiliate network, including the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, among other dioceses, faith communities and volunteers, welcoming refugees from conflict zones across the globe. Your local resettlement agency is always preparing for arriving families and in need of support, resources and volunteers. Contact an Episcopal Migration Ministries affiliate near you. If you are in Texas, you can work with Refugee Services of Texas and Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston. Both are local partners of Episcopal Migration Ministries. the links are: Refugee Services of Texas, http://www.rstx.org/, which is in Austin, and Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, https://imgh.org/.

You can personally sponsor a refugee or their family at these other sites too:
Americans, sign home to a Christian refugee family fleeing from ISIS  
Canadians, sponsor a Syrian refugee family to come to Canada through Missionary Christian Alliance 
Canadians, sponsor a Syrian refugee family to come to Canada through MCC 
Americans, Use this US map to find an agency near you and offer to support a newly arrived refugee family. There are 9 Voluntary Agencies in the US that sponsor refugees to come the the United States and build their own local networks to resettle refugees — where is one close to you
Help someone in Germany cover costs in opening up their homes to more than 800,000 refugees 
Americans, help RefugeeOne meet needs of refugees already settled who may have seasonal needs, etc.
The second thing that you can do is be an advocate. EMM writes, "As a global leader in refugee resettlement, the US can and must do all that it can to welcome Syrians to the United States." Reach out to your Senators, Representatives, and the White House and ask them to support a robust refugee resettlement program and significant increase in Syrian resettlement:

Find your elected official (http://bit.ly/1udq4mT) and ask them to continue the United States tradition of accepting at least half of all UNHCR referrals for any given population and resettle at least 65,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years.

Join the Episcopal Public Policy Network to receive updates and policy action alerts to your inbox. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.



Quotes

  • "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
  • "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
  • "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
  • "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
  • "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
  • "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
  • "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball