Tag Archives: Berkeley Divinity School

BDS Canterbury Tales: The Gift of Prayer

. . . and bathed every veyne in swich licour / of which vertu engendred is the four . . . (Canterbury Tales, lines 3-4) 

Today has been a day all about prayer. Now, yes, that is the whole point of a pilgrimage, but today I was in particular awe of the gift of prayer. 

Some of my experience of prayer is identical to that of my reflection on community. This place really is a community of prayer. Today we got to experience: morning prayer, sung Eucharist, evensong, and compline. It is a true gift to join with people from near and far to offer our prayers and praise to God. I have a sense that with each passing day I will experience more of the depth of prayer in this place. Today I was keenly aware of the thickness of prayer each and every time I stepped foot into the Quire. Throughout the day – as a result of this spiritual treasure trove – I became increasingly aware that something in my own spiritual life was being untangled. I was – and am – experiencing the important transformational aspect of Pilgrimage. 

In addition to joining in the corporate prayer life of the Cathedral, we got to experience three other profound moments of prayer. 

First, this afternoon we spent time at St. Augustine’s Abbey. A community established by Augustine of Canterbury as a contemporary with the Cathedral. Unlike the Cathedral, the Abbey is in ruins. There was something incredibly poignant about standing in the middle of rubble and looking virtually across to the street to see the Cathedral tower and the Cathedral bells rang through the silence. A remarkable happenstance of history.

The most powerful moment for me was one in which I was confronted by the realities of my vocation. To stand in front of an altar in ruins on the verge of ordination and to reflect on the countless faithful men (prior to women’s ordination) who celebrated the Sacrament at that altar was, and is, humbling and beyond words. It really puts into perspective that profound gift, honor, and privilege it is to be called to the priesthood. 

The second experience of note was our class reflection time. We have been granted permission to use All Saints’ Chapel. This is a beautiful – virtually secret – chapel. Up a narrow staircase, behind a “private” door we gathered to reflect and pray for one another. To be tucked away in an intimate setting was a tangible reminder about how important it is that we pray for each other. 

Finally, tonight after a delicious dinner at   the Deanery, the Dean took us on a candle lit tour of the Cathedral. As we walked the Dean spoke about the ethos of the Cathedral as a place of prayer for all Christians; and that we Anglicans are merely stewards of this great gift. We went from the West doors to the compass rose (currently covered due to renovations); to the Thomas Becket shrine then down to the crypt. We concluded by standing around Augustine’s throne and then moving one last time to circle around the candle which marks the spot of the original Becket shrine before it was destroyed by order of Henry VIII. Like so many things thus far, there are no words to describe what that moment was like – what the whole experience was like. All I can muster to say is, “wow.”

After telling us about the importance of the Cathedral as a space of protection and intimacy, I found the Dean’s closing prayer all the more powerful:

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifukky grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. 

In a day of profound prayer, I could not have thought of a more perfect prayer. May we all find life and leave through the Cross of Christ. 

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BDS Canterbury Tales: The Gift of Community

“Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote / The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote . . .” (Canterbury Tales, Lines 1-2) 

What a day, or should I say days! 

The Quire prior to the evening concert

We left New Haven at 4:30pm on Friday 10 March and arrived at the Canterbury Lodge at 1:15pm on Saturday 11 March. Since arrive on the Close our day has been very full. Lunch, time with the deal, Choral Evensong, dinner, and an evening concert. We certainly are making the most of it time here. 

Thus far, I have really been struck by community. The community here at Canterbury is amazing. There is a real sense that this is not just some ecclesiastical tourism destination – it is, first and foremost, a community of faith and it has been so for nearly 1000 years. It is amazing to listen to the Dean speak of the community here and how the daily schedule of worship is at the heart of everything they do. I find it truly remarkable to have a community so dedicated to maintaining the full and rich daily liturgical pattern of the Church. In some ways, it still feels like a monastic abbey. 

In addition to the present day community, there is also a powerful understanding of the community of all believes – past, present, and yet to come. As I entered the cathedral for evensong and took my place in the quire, I immediately felt the weight of prayer in this place. I was deeply moved by the rich tradition of Canterbury pilgrims that I am now apart of. No wonder I was moved to tears as the choir offer an absolutely beautiful time of prayer. Today was the perfect example of why I love evensong so much – even when it is choral evensong and not congregational evensong. What a gift to add m my own prayers to this well prayers place. 

I cannot write about the profoundness of community in this place without writing about my fellow pilgrims. There are 18 of us on this trip – 18 very different people. It is no secret that our class has not always been the most unified, but I cannot imagine being here without these 17 other people. The conversations and levels of sharing are already so deep – even on this first day. Tonight I learned things about my cohort I never had the opportunity to learn before. As our time together comes to an end, I am particularly thankful to spend this time together with my cohort. What an incredible gift. 

As a group of us walked back to the lodge tonight, we entered the courtyard and turned around to marvel at the beauty of the cathedral lit up in the hazy night sky. What a perfect end to this first day of pilgrimage. 

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Senior Sermon: Holy Cross Day

There is a great tradition at Berkeley Divinity School of the senior sermon.  Each senior is assigned a Wednesday night to preach at our community Eucharist (the principle celebration of the Eucharist for our community).  Last night (9/14/16) I had the opportunity to offer my senior sermon.  I was particularly excited to be invited to preach on Holy Cross day as it is the feast of title for my sponsoring parish.  I’m still processing the experience, and am still a little surprised at just how nervous I was.  Anyway, below is the audio recording of my sermon and a photograph of my outline.  How weird that my senior sermon is already done.  Here is a link to the readings for Holy Cross Day. 

 

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

(Collect for Holy Cross Day)

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Sermon for Berkeley Morning Prayer: 5 October 2015

The following is my sermon from this morning (5 Oct 2015) at  Berkeley Divinity School.  We follow the daily office lectionary and the sermon focuses on today’s Gospel passage – Matthew 8:28-34.  We also transferred to this morning the commemoration of St. Francis of Assisi.  The text of the sermon is copied below and you can listen to it over on SoundCloud

Lately I have been thinking a lot about evil, about demons, about sin and all the ways we fall short of the glory of God. I’ve been thinking about the shooting in Oregon and the one hundred and forty one other school shootings since Newtown. I’ve been thinking about 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, the young Syrian boy whose image will never leave my mind. I’ve been thinking about the ways we undercut one other and create unhealthy systems of competition, the ways we fail at being a community of faith, and the ways we use self-deprecation to undercut ourselves. Evil, demons, and sin come in so many shapes, sizes, and forms and it is all too easy to gloss over them, ignore them, and try to move on as quickly as possible.

demonsThis morning we hear the story of the Gadarene Demoniac. We get a glimpse of the danger and power of evil. Yet those beings so fierce that no one could pass by them quake in fear at the presence of Jesus. They know that in time they will be judged and punished harshly for their actions, and they are petrified because they think that time has come early.

I wonder if we as individuals, as a community of faith, as part of the whole human race play this game. If we recognize that we are falling short but do not have the urgency to change our actions, to repent, to make things whole again because time is not yet up? I do not know about you, but I am certainly guilty of being complacent in my own actions and the actions I witness around me. I do not know about you, but sometimes I could repent a bit more earnestly of the evil that enslaves me, the evil I have done, and the evil done on my behalf.

Luckily for us, something has happened that has saved us from the sin and death that plague the world. For God loves us so much that he sent his Son, born of a woman, to take on the very nature of our humanity, so that all who believe might not perish but have eternal life. God loves us so much that while hanging on the Cross God destroyed death once and for all. God kicked down the gates of hell rescuing every tormented soul.

In a few moments we will come to this table to share in the most holy and precious meal we could ever be apart of. We will be invited to allow the very incarnate nature of this all-powerful and all saving God to enter into the very depths of our being. We will be healed by that same presence of God that caused the fiercest of demons to cower. We will be strengthened to go out in the name of Jesus to heal this broken and hurting world.

Before us today is a profound witness of the depths of the Christian life we have been called to. We see in St. Francis francisa model for simplicity of life; for casting aside worldly goods, pleasures, and desires for the sake of the Gospel. We see in Francis an example of someone who understood what it means to go out and heal. Someone who knew what it means to sow love where there is hate, pardon where there is injury, faith where there is doubt, hope where there is despair, light where there is darkness, and joy where there is sadness. Someone who knew what it means to repent and return to the Lord.

Friends there is much work to be done and it will not be easy. But luckily we get to begin each day in this holy space. We begin each day on our knees praying for forgiveness, healing, and strength. It seems to me that we could not ask for a better posture from which to begin this work.

Amen.

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A Long Day with a Perfect Ending

It has been a long couple of days as we continue to make our way through almost 700 resolutions of this 78th General Convention.  Yesterday was a very busy day, testified to two different resolutions.  You can read my comments here and here. Today was likewise a long and busy day but for different reasons.

I want to stress one thing about today – It. Was. Long.

Here is the schedule for General Convention.  We're just a little busy

Here is the schedule for General Convention. We’re just a little busy.

Like any other day, today began with corporate worship.  Worship was followed by a joint session of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops to have a conversation around mission.  We spent two hours watching videos for each of the five marks of mission, and then as a Diocese discussing three questions per mark of mission.  To add to the conversation, the President of the House of Deputies allowed for alternates and the Episcopal Church Women to come on to the follow and join their respective diocese.  From RI we had a pretty large group – 2 bishops, 8 deputies, 2 alternates, and 3 members of ECW.  For those of you who do not know, the Five Marks of Mission are:

To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
To respond to human need by loving service
To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

I thought some of the questions were pretty good, questions like, “what is the connection between outreach and evangelism?” and “What Diocesan structures are in place that enhance or impede mission?”  Unfortunately I did not find the time particularly helpful.  I’m all for the concept of what we did, but 12 minutes for 15 people to talk about 3 questions just isn’t enough.  I could imagine that a smaller group, with a little more time, could do some wonderful things with the exercise given to us today.  After two hours that session was drawn to a close with a presentation honoring the current Presiding Bishop.

After lunch it was back to the House of Deputies to get some work done.  We were slated to have a five-hour session.  Did I mention this was a long day? After prayer, and several points of personal privilege (a personal pet peeve of mine) we got to work.  After 3 hours we made it through 3 resolutions and some more presentations – including a presentation for the 75th Anniversary for Episcopal Relief and Development.  Then it was time to move to the structure resolutions.  This is where things came to a grinding halt, or at least that is what it felt like.  There was a presentation from the Chair of the Structure Committee, and then a period of twenty minutes for questions that the HoD extended to allow for 12 more questions.  Once all the questions were answered, we moved to debate only to discover that the material had not been properly translated – or translated at all for that manner.  So we tabled the conversation and moved on only to discover that the remaining resolutions for the day also lacked a translated version.  With around an hour of our session left we adjourned for the day to allow for translations to be completed.  It was incredibly frustrating, and I am not a deputy that needs the translation.  However, ending early allowed for many deputies to get to their seminary dinners on time.

One tradition at General Convention is that each Episcopal Seminary hosts a dinner for alum and current students.  The dinners serve as a fundraising opportunity for the schools and as a time to gather with others in fellowship.  Tonight was incredibly exciting for me personally as it was my first seminary dinner.  For the previous three triennia I have watched as my clergy colleagues have gone off to their respective dinners, and for the first time I was able to join.

Pictured with The Rt. Rev Nicholas Knisely, Bishop of Rhode Island & The Very Rev. Andrew McGowan, Dean of Berkeley Divinity School.  When did I get so short?

Pictured with The Rt. Rev Nicholas Knisely, Bishop of Rhode Island & The Very Rev. Andrew McGowan, Dean of Berkeley Divinity School. When did I get so short?

The Berkeley Divinity School dinner was held at a lovely hotel a half mile or so from my hotel.  We had an amazing meal, but more importantly I had the opportunity to talk with a wide variety of talented alumni.  The room was packed with bishops, priests, and laity; with alumni who graduated decades ago to current students like myself.  In every conversation about Berkeley, my Bishop, who in the interest of full disclosure is a BDS grad himself, told me of the amazing people I would study with and the amazing people I would stand in line with.  After tonight’s dinner I came to understand that in a new way.  Berkeley Divinity graduates are amongst some of the best and brightest in The Episcopal Church, all of whom are engaged in amazing things around the country and world.  It was an inspiring group to be amongst, and a humbling one as well.  In just two short years I will take my place as an alumnus of Berkeley Divinity School, there are some pretty large foot steps to follow.

Tomorrow is another day – day 7 to be exact.  There is a lot left to do.  Tomorrow’s agenda includes structure conversations, marriage debates, budget presentations to yet another joint session, and a slew of resolutions to consider.  It will be long, and I am confident that at times it will be frustrating.  But we are doing good work.

Please, please pray for us.  Pray for strength to persevere through the frustration and exhaustion.  Pray that we do not get bogged down and lose sight of what is really important.  Pray that we remember to be kind to one another.  Most importantly, pray that the may be open and receptive to how God is working in and through so that we may continue shaping and forming The Episcopal Church to go out and do the work God has given us to do.

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A Day Unlike Any Other

PBEMC
If yesterday was not exciting enough, today was another historic day.  This morning the House of Bishops voted and the House of Deputies confirmed the elected of The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry as the 28th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.  Presiding Bishop-Elect Curry is the first Presiding Bishop to be elected on the first ballot, the first African-American Presiding Bishop, and the first Presiding Bishop to graduate from Berkeley Divinity School.  This last first is particularly cool as I am a rising Middler (Second Year Student) at Berkeley Divinity School.

There are so many emotions coursing through my body.  Mostly I am thankful.  Thankful for the movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church, thankful for my time spent with Presiding Bishop-Elect Curry throughout the discernment process, and thankful for sharing in this process.  As I passed members of the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (of which I am the lay representative from Province 1) I remarked, “Today’s the day it all pays off.”  And boy, did it pay off!

Berkeley Divinity School’s motto, “In illa quae ultra sunt” means “into the regions beyond.”  In what I’ve heard from Bishop Curry, prior to this election cycle, during this discernment period, and today gives me every confidence that he is the right person in this time to lead The Episcopal Church into the regions beyond.  As I tweeted out, this is a #MandateForJesus.  The Presiding Bishop-Elect is a passionate evangelist for the Jesus Movement and a fervent support of our Anglican way of living into this movement.  We are embarking on a nine year adventure into the regions beyond following, led by Presiding Bishop-Elect Curry who walks proudly in the footsteps of Jesus.

As I rejoice in the election of Bishop Curry, I give great thanks to Bishop Tom Breidenthal – Southern Ohio, Bishop Ian Douglas – Connecticut, and Bishop Dabney Smith – South West Florida.  These three men are incredibly faithful, gifted, and wonderful Bishops who are engaged in profound ministries in their respective dioceses.  I trust that God will continue to bless them and the people of their dioceses in the ministry they share.

IMG_1416While the Bishops were locked in St. Mark’s Cathedral here in Salt Lake City, the House of Deputies celebrated the 230th anniversary of the House.  As part of that we had the opportunity to offer thanks for several past leaders of the House of Deputies.  One person we honored was the Vice President of the House of Deputies form 1973, Dr. Charles Willie.  Dr. Willie preached at the ordination of the Philadelphia Eleven and ultimately resigned as Vice President of the House of Deputies in protest of the decision to recognize the Philadelphia Eleven and the failure to authorize Women’s ordination to the priesthood.

Like I said, today was a day unlike any other.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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