Monthly Archives: November 2010

Tuesday, November 30

Morning: Psalm 5, 6; Evening: Psalm 10, 11
Isa. 1:21-31; 1 Thess. 2:1-12; Luke 20:9-18

It is difficult to live in two places at once. I know; this place is our home, and this coming Sunday we are leaving for our other home–Seattle. Here, we have our house; our friends and community, school, places that have become familiar and dear. We have friends that have stepped in and become like family: taking our children in the night when we have the flu; letting us stay with them when our water pipe bursts, or other disasters that assail us. But there… there we have family. We have grandparents and siblings and cousins, our parents. We have no physical space of belonging anymore, but a relational web that wraps around us like a thick comfy sweater each time we return.

As we try and discern the details of Thomas’ vocation, and I wrestle with these questions of belonging, I have become increasingly convinced that this feeling of living in two places at once is a distinctly Christian feeling. And while I am anxious in many ways for it to pass, I am trying to live with the tensions of this moment.

How did Jesus feel, growing up with Mary and Joseph, knowing in such real and inarticulate ways that he didn’t fully belong?  When did he know that he was Other from them?  Did his understanding of his deity grow with his stature?  We know he had some sense of being more at home in the temple than in Nazareth.  How did Mary feel when he explained with child-like plainness: Didn’t you know I was in my father’s house? Did the remark sting? Was she proud of his understanding? Was she just a bit frightened with how to move forward?

House. Home. Belonging. Even as a child Jesus had a sense enough of who he was to stay behind in a place that felt like home to him. How did he live for thirty-three years with the knowledge that he was a wayfaring stranger?

And then another question that puzzles me, possibly even more difficult: when Jesus returned to the father, was he changed by his time on earth? Forty days fasting in the wilderness. Weeping at Lazarus’ death. Raising Lazarus from the dead. Knowing Lazarus was going to die again. It must have been dizzying to be God of the universe inside a human frame, to contemplate human suffering not only from our fragile perspective but simultaneously from God’s. What memory did Jesus have of Godhood while he was on earth? Was his experience of the Father then different after his time on earth?

When Jesus returns to Heaven, is it exactly as he remembered–or has Heaven changed a bit for him because of his experience on earth? Jesus returns to the Father fully God and fully human. Is his experience of Godness forever changed because of his experience of humanness?

Waiting. Longing. Caught between two worlds. We live in this place now where we are caught up in the beauty and frailty of what it means to be human–to have friendships, to love, to suffer. Jesus, when he became man, did all these things. Did he also then feel our same fear of death? Even as he knew what glory lay beyond the grave, even as he lived every day with the knowledge of where his life was heading–he spent a night weeping tears of blood begging his Father to exempt him from the hours ahead. Was it the physical suffering he wanted to skip? The spiritual agony of bearing the sins of the world? Was his humanness afraid of dying… even though he knew death was a gateway to the Father? Or was he afraid of those moments when he cried out to his Father and there would be silence echoing in return?

This Advent I have more questions than answers. And again, I am trying to live in this place without wanting something more. I am trying to imagine Jesus, fully God and fully man, living with people he loves and knowing fully that he is to die. I am trying to imagine Mary, cupping every tiny moment with her newborn in her hand and savoring it, knowing (and understanding?) that this nursing baby is God. And man. I am trying to live with the reality that our deepest longings will be met in Jesus… but not until we are with Jesus. And this Advent season, I find this reality both comforting and frightening.

-Amy Kortus

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Saint Andrew the Apostle

Saint Andrew "the first-called" (Jn. 1:35-42)

Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give us, who are called by your holy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


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The Strange Things that Christ Holds Together

Morning: Psalm 1, 2, 3; Evening: Psalm 4, 7
Isa. 1:10-20; 1 Thess. 1:1-10; Luke 20:1-8

Original artwork by Phaedra Taylor

This art piece is made from a strange family of elements: beeswax, sticks, string, a book page, some pieces of a dress pattern and gold oil pastel. In much the same way that strange events and characters combine to form the story of Christ’s birth, so these art materials form a cast of “characters.”

Layers of hot wax have been painted onto a board. Embedded in between these layers are bits and pieces of a dress pattern. Together they allude to the mysterious pattern that God lays out for us. His Word, symbolized by the beeswax, secretly but certainly holds all things together inside that pattern.

Sticks appear as a reminder of Jesus the Vine Dresser and the Root of Jesse. From both this Vine and this Root we receive our real sustenance. String is tied and stretched in a cruciform pattern. Pages from an old Bible re-tell four narratives. John leaping inside of Elizabeth’s womb. An account of the Ascension. The wild birth of John the Baptist. The incarnation of God in Bethlehem. These stories remind us of the fantastical elements in the events surrounding Christ’s comings and goings. All these events are incredible and, across the board, unexpected. Surely we can only expect God to enter into our lives in a similar way—mysteriously entering when we least expect him, appearing, then disappearing, leaving us open-mouthed but always disclosing his everlasting love for us. God uses such strange and wild ways to accomplish his purposes. He fills people long empty. He astonishes us, as the Gospel writers might say.

Gold marks the center of the panel. This symbolizes the kingship of Christ. It is a kingship that appears at every point that we allow him to assume a place of preeminence in our lives.

Why did I make this piece? I did it to remind myself, despite my sometimes feeble faith, that all these things are true. His mother, for example, was a young woman like me, like many, who did not expect God to come in that way and at that time. While I wait for Jesus to answer my prayers—and to answer prayers that I have yet to even pray—he is at work in all kinds of unexpected ways. If I only look for him to come in the way that I want him to, then I miss all the mysterious, beautiful ways that he is already present. I need to remember to wait for him. I need to trust that, like the string threading itself throughout this art, he holds all the strange, often puzzling parts of my life together, and the frustrating parts too. When I do trust him, I find that my heart is filled with gratitude. Some days it is filled with wonder.

Phaedra Taylor

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Sunday, November 28

Week 1: Reflections on Waiting

The theme for the first week of Advent is waiting. The Old Testament foretold of the Messiah and his certain coming to usher in a new kingdom. The Jews were waiting for him. The New Testament foretells of Christ’s coming again of which we are to remain watchful and ready. We are waiting for him. The focus of this week is to acknowledge the reality that part of being human is the experience of waiting. We are all waiting. We all want more. These are longings hard-wired into us by God to wait on him.

Morning: Psalm 146, 147; Evening: Psalm 111, 112, 113
Isa. 1:1-9; 2 Pet. 3:1-10; Matt. 25:1-13

Have you ever experienced deep longing? The kind that makes you ache to the core of your being. A longing that drives you to your knees, sometimes leaving you prostrate on the floor. A longing so specific you could draw its picture. A longing so deep that it consumes your thoughts, your conversations, and even your dreams.

Eighteen years ago, I did! It seemed that my longing for a child consumed every area of life! Because Mark and I had wanted to adopt transracially for many years, I very specifically longed for my arms, for my heart, to be filled with a Hispanic daughter. A little girl with “café con leche” skin and big brown eyes just like her Daddy. And, oh by the way, it would be wonderful if that longing were fulfilled soon, before I turned 30! Since my birthday was only six months away, and we had not even heard of a birth mother by Advent 1992, much less met someone who wanted us to be the parents to her child, it seemed like an impossibility. I could not have known that God had created, and was molding and shaping our daughter in her birth mother’s womb at that very moment. I could not have dared to imagine that she would be born a month after Christmas!

This Advent, as I recently sat praying for my beautiful brown-eyed, almost 18-year-old Mexican daughter, Julia-Scott, it occurred to me that I was very much like the Israelites two thousand years ago. Surely, they had a longing for the prophesied, promised Messiah. Surely, they had specific ideas concerning who they expected Him to be. Surely, they had a short time frame in mind; after all, they had already waited so long. Like me, they could not have known that God had created, and was molding and shaping Jesus in Mary’s womb at that very moment. They could not have dreamed that their long-awaited Messiah would be born in a stable to a virgin, with only the angels to herald His birth!

Longing. This Advent season, do I ache for Jesus? Is it a longing that drives me to my knees? Is it specific and consuming? Am I waiting for Him with expectation and anticipation? “Come, Thou long expected Jesus!”

Come, Thou long expected Jesus; Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us; Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation; Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation; Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver; Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever; Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit; Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit; Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

-by Charles Wesley

-Robin Dawson

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A Prayer as We Begin Advent

A Prayer by St. John Chrysostom (347-407)

I am not Worthy
I am not worthy, Master and Lord,
that you should come
beneath the roof of my soul;
Yet, since you in your love for all people
wish to dwell within me,
In boldness I come before you.
You command “Open the gates!”
Gates you alone have forged;
And you will come in
with love toward all, as is your nature.
You will come in and enlighten my dark reasoning.
I believe you will do this,
for you did not send away
the harlot who came to you with tears,
nor cast out the repenting publican,
nor reject the thief
who acknowledged your kingdom.
You did not forsake the repentant persecutor,
the apostle Paul, even as he was.
But all who came to you in repentance,
you counted in the band of your friends;
You, who alone lives in glory forever,
now and unto the endless ages.


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Happy New Year, Church!

No, it’s not the January-December calendar, or your employer’s fiscal calendar, or even the Discordian calendar.  It’s the liturgical calendar, and today, the first day of the season of Advent, is the Church’s New Year.  Even if you’ve never paid any attention to the church calendar in years past, today can be the day that you step aboard for what can truly be a blessed ride.

The word ‘Advent’ comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “arrival” or “coming.”  As a season, it spans the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day.  The color for the season is purple, signifying preparation, and you can see this from the art of the historic Church…

…to the Advent candles you’ll see being lit during worship throughout the coming weeks:

The preparatory purpose of Advent is two-fold: (1) to prepare for Christmas as we remember Christ’s coming in the Incarnation and (2) to prepare for his promised return.

By looking ahead to the future and remembering the past, Advent has a remarkable way of revealing the reality of the present.  If we are honest, we must acknowledge our very real needs for rescue and redemption now.  The exile is not over.  The road through the desert is not paved.  War and violence still abound.  The devastation of poverty still plagues our world. Injustice still goes unnoticed.  Disease still ravages our bodies.  We long for the Lord to come and make all things new and to wipe away every tear from our eyes. The Advent cry is,“Come, Lord Jesus, come!”

That’s a whole lot to wrap our minds and hearts around in four short weeks, even without all the busyness that our lives tend to get crowded with during this time of the year.  This Advent, to help us as a church to really enter into this time of preparation, All Saints once again is working to create an atmosphere of stillness, so that we can wait upon the Lord expectantly.

In this first week of Advent, we will be blessed with a Service of Confirmation (this Thursday, December 2, at 7pm), followed by a Friday night to Saturday afternoon Discipleship Weekend with Bishop Thad Barnum (contact Fr. David Hyman to register, and do it today).

Finally, here is the wonderful and ancient Advent hymn to prepare our hearts for what God wants to do in our midst, a version of which we used this morning as our Gradual–O Come, O Come, Emmanuel:

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Advent Devotions Begin Today!!!

Our annual Advent Devotional guide is now online. We create a devotional every Advent to draw our communal prayers and Scripture readings together for these next four weeks. We’re especially excited about this year’s edition. Not only does it contain the Scripture readings from the Daily Office (and if you do it online, you can just click the link to the day’s Daily Office in ESV to the left of this page) for every day from the First Sunday of Advent through Christmas Day, it also contains personal reflections and Advent art from members of All Saints Church.

This year’s devotional focuses on 4 themes: Waiting, Repentance and Purity, Joy, and Light. The written reflections and original artwork interact with these themes.

As you journey through Advent, use this devotional as a way to direct and discipline your times of prayer, meditation, and Scripture reading.  Each day create some time to be be quiet, slow down and pray the collect for the week (printed in the bulletin on each Sunday or available by going here).  Then, read a psalm (designated by morning and evening). Read the Scriptures for the day. Then, read the personal reflection, noticing the images. Be attentive to the presence of God in your life.  Journal and pray in order to chew and digest well.

In this hurried season, this is a chance to choose to live differently. Take your time. Remember that others are taking this journey with you, and invite people you know into conversations about what God speaks through your time with this devotional. Know that God is indeed Emmanuel, God with us.

It is the prayer of the church staff and the many who have crafted reflections and art for this year’s edition that this devotional will bless you and our community.  We encourage you to make this guide your own – read it through your RSS feed reader on your laptop or smartphone everyday, send a friend toward a particular post, Facebook or Tweet phrases that strike a chord.

Or, if you know you’ll get distracted if you don’t read it on paper, download the 2010 All Saints Advent Devotional in its entirety.  Right click here and save the file to your computer.  (It’s a large file, so it might take a few moments.)

Many thanks to all of our contributors and especially to Lisa Harrington for her countless hours designing and laying out this year’s guide. For questions, please contact Rev David Hyman.

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Thanksgiving Day

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them.  Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provisions of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.  (1979 BCP, p. 246)

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St. Clement of Rome

St. Clement’s works are among the earliest extant orthodox Christian texts outside the New Testament, and his own Letter to the Corinthian Church (now most often referred to as 1 Clement) was read in Christian churches alongside the books of the New Testament.  Along with a number of Christian teachers and leaders from this time period (the tradition remembers Clement being ordained by Peter and working alongside Paul), Clement is known as an Apostolic Father.

But I’ll let him speak for himself, from 1 Clement 24 (this translation):

Let us consider, dear friends, how the Master continually points out to us the coming resurrection of which he made the Lord Jesus Christ the firstfruit when he raised him from the dead.  Let us observe, dear friends, the resurrection that regularly occurs.  Day and night show us the resurrection: the night falls asleep, and day arises; the day departs, and night returns.  Let us take the crops: how and in what manner does the sowing take place?  “The sower went forth,” and cast into the earth each of the seeds.  These seeds, falling to the earth dry and bare, decay; but then out of their decay the majesty of the Master’s providence raises them up, and from the one seed grow and bear fruit.

Some more decent info on him is here, and you can read some of his works here.  But now, a prayer (“Of a Pastor,” BCP, p. 248):

Heavenly Father, Shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Clement, who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock; and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life, we may by your grace grow into the stature of the fullness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Related post: “I Believe in…the Communion of Saints

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Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963)

C.S. Lewis’ best work was not his poetry, but he wrote some great poems anyway, and in remembering his life and death as a Christian saint and teacher, it seems fitting to share this brief piece.

After Prayers, Lie Cold

Arise my body, my small body, we have striven
Enough, and He is merciful; we are forgiven.
Arise small body, puppet-like and pale, and go,
White as the bed-clothes into bed, and cold as snow,
Undress with small, cold fingers and put out the light,
And be alone, hush’d mortal, in the sacred night,
-A meadow whipt flat with the rain, a cup
Emptied and clean, a garment washed and folded up,
Faded in colour, thinned almost to raggedness
By dirt and by the washing of that dirtiness.
Be not too quickly warm again. Lie cold; consent
To weariness’ and pardon’s watery element.
Drink up the bitter water, breathe the chilly death;
Soon enough comes the riot of our blood and breath.

Almighty God, you gave to your servant, Clive Staples Lewis, special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus: Grant that by this teaching we may know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

(1979 BCP, “Of a Theologian and Teacher,” p. 249)

related post: “I Believe in…the Communion of Saints”

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