Monthly Archives: January 2013

Living Epistle: Andrea C

In the novel The Brothers Karamazov, there’s a scene where a very self-centered character, Mrs. Khokalov, asks a very saintly character for advice about loving other people.  She says that there are moments when she loves mankind so much that she thinks about giving up everything, abandoning her invalid teenager, and running off to kiss the sores of the suffering.  And the elder Zossima replies, “It is good that you should think of these things rather than others…but it would be very nice if you actually performed some good deed.”

Well, if you live with children, maybe you find as I do that one thing you never run out of is obvious opportunities to perform some very tangible good deed for someone else. And every time you do, you are in fact working toward an ideal of immense power and beauty—the Christian ideal of living a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us. happy family pic

Please be warned: high ideals ahead.  Low level of attainment of these ideals by the person talking about them.  Nevertheless.  Many people in this world live lives of alienation.  Alienated from God; from other people; from nature; from so many of the good gifts of this life.  But in a home where Christ is present by his Spirit, he himself can replace alienation with peace.  And so our home, and any home, can be a place of real life—of laughter and singing, prayer and praise and God’s word.  It can be a place where people matter—where the poor matter—not a place of luxury that’s bursting with stuff.  It can be a place where people who think Christians are weird are welcome to come in and join our fun, and see up close how weird we really are.

And my husband and I are cherishing an ideal for the childhood of these little people entrusted to our care, that we could give them enough of what’s true and beautiful and good while they live with us to nurture them and strengthen them for their lives ahead—and we hope that in later life whenever they come near a place of alienation, they’ll be homesick for what is true and good, for hope and charity, and in fact for Christ. 19th-century educator Charlotte Mason wrote, “Let us save Christianity for our children by bringing them into allegiance to Christ, the King. How? How did the old Cavaliers bring up sons and daughters, in passionate loyalty and reverence for not too worthy princes? Their own hearts were full of it; their lips spake it; their acts proclaimed it; the style of their clothes, the ring of their voices, the carriage of their heads––all was one proclamation of boundless devotion to their king and his cause. …  If a Stuart prince could command such measure of loyalty, what shall we say of ‘the Chief amongst ten thousand, the altogether lovely’?”

But what about bad days?  My sister had a good “bad day” story recently.  She was doing laundry, lovingly sorting and folding so that her two little girls would have clean clothes to wear, and she had stacks of folded clothes all over the living room.  And she asked her normally extremely sweet 3-year-old to take her own little stack of pajamas into her bedroom.  And her 3-year-old looked at her and said, “I’m not helping you clean up your mess!”

I have plenty of bad-day stories of my own, but mine aren’t funny, at least not to me!  But what about really bad days, that truly aren’t funny, or seasons when it seems like our high ideals are nothing but a reproach to us?  What about circumstances that range from imperfect to really very difficult—and imperfect people trying to walk by faith in those circumstances?  I think at those times, but equally at times when we think we’re doing pretty well, thank God that he loves our children, and our neighbors, and this world a lot more than we do.  As parents, we’re called to be letters from Christ to our children, but he’s the one who works in their hearts.  We actually don’t have access.  And he truly does bless our meager efforts, because it’s his letter.  I hope you’ll be as blessed as I’ve ben by the end of the elder Zossima’s words to that self-centered inquirer who wanted to learn to walk in love.

“Never be afraid of your petty selfishness when you try to achieve love, and don’t be too alarmed if you act badly on occasion.  A true act of love, unlike imaginary love, is hard and forbidding.  Imaginary love yearns for an immediate heroic act that is achieved quickly and is seen by everyone.  A true act of love, on the other hand, requires hard work and patience, and, for some, it is a whole way of life.  But I predict that at the very moment when you see despairingly that, despite all your efforts, you have not only failed to come closer to your goal but, indeed, seem even farther from it than ever—at that moment, you will have achieved your goal and will recognize the miraculous power of our Lord, who has always loved you and has secretly guided you all along.”

This reflection was originally shared by Andrea C on Sunday, January 27th at All Saints Church as part of our Living Epistle Series.

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Living Epistle: Brendan Case on Eagles’ Nest and ESL

During the season of Epiphany we are featuring Living Epistles during our Sunday morning worship. Epiphany is a season in which we explore how Jesus is revealed as the saviour of the world and how we can join in and participate in God’s saving work. It is a season to marvel at the mission of God and to intentionally think about how we can be on mission with our God. Our vision for these 5 Living Epistles is to highlight ways that we can allow the light of Christ to shine through us so that Christ may be revealed to the world.

St. Paul uses the language of living epistle in 2 Corinthians chapter 3:

You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

When God gets a hold of us he writes upon our hearts –  he gives us new hearts – he gives us HIS heart for the world. We are living epistles. We may be the only Bible people read. We may be the only church people ever experience. We are called to live our faith and proclaim, demonstrate, and embody the gospel of Jesus! We are called to reveal Jesus to others. However, as we seek to meet real needs and share the good news of Jesus, the great mystery is that we encounter Jesus and he is revealed to us more fully

The Living Epistle yesterday was given by Brendan Case.

Brendan and Alissa Case

Brendan and Alissa Case

Here is what he said:

When we came to All Saints’ in July 2010, we quickly encountered another community: Oak Creek Village, the vast apartment complex abutting our little church. Oak Creek is overwhelmingly home to recent Latino immigrants, but also to a growing number of international refugees – Vietnamese, Nepalese, Iraqi, and others – placed by World Relief. This is a community struggling with language barriers and education gaps, many of them anxious and undocumented, mostly impoverished, but deeply hopeful.

I first got to know Oak Creek by volunteering with Eagle’s Nest, an after-school tutoring program for students from Oak Creek Elementary. These effortlessly bi-lingual children are suspended between two worlds, between their parents and school, between chiles rellenos and hamburgers, between Los Tres Reyes and Santa Claus. I worked with Alex and Eduardo, who were both reading well below grade level, and who both thought our time better spent playing under the table than working at it. Eduardo, who had a flair for the grotesque, did love the lessons when I would let him write an alternate ending to a story we had read, once transforming a heart-warming tale about a lost train rescued by a friendly helicopter into an explosive cataclysm in which all tragically perished.

When my class schedule kept me from working with Eagle’s Nest, I volunteered instead with a recently-inaugurated ESL program that meets at the Church of the Good Shepherd, hardly a mile west of here on Garrett Road. The students were about half Latino – many of them Eagle’s Nest parents – and about half World Relief refugees. Needless to say, my class, a welter of Vietnamese, Nepalese, and Spanish, was primed for hilarity, and I wasted no time in stepping in it. My second week of volunteering, I arrived to find an older Vietnamese man who hadn’t yet attended class sitting at one of the tables; naturally, I walked over to introduce myself: “I’m Brendan, what’s your name?”

I took it as an ill omen when he responded, “I’m new.”

“Yes, I know you’re new,” I answered, “but what’s your name?

“I’m new,” he persisted, the last syllable emphatic.

Name?” I intoned like a spell. “New!” he said, tapping his chest.

I gave up and turned to Prem, a Nepalese man whom I knew had a little English already: “Prem, do you know his name?”

Prem grinned broadly, and nodded towards the chuckling newcomer – the two had about five words in common, but I could see they were sharing a joke. “His name,” Prem said, pausing for effect, “is Mr. Ngu – N-g-u.”

Later, I learned that Mr. Ngu, who at this point was in his seventies, had fought for the South Vietnamese during the war, and, after Saigon fell to the Vietcong, was held as a political prisoner for twenty five years. After he was released, he was eventually brought to Durham by WorldRelief, without family or friends, his speech meaningless to almost everyone he met. And yet Mr. Ngu was relentlessly sunny, even as he struggled to understand why he could say “Three sheep,” but not, “three cat.”

I hope that I was helpful to the Oak Creek residents I spent time with, that I was encouraging, and perhaps in some fragmentary way displayed the love of Christ. But, I am certain about a few things. I know that my time with these immigrants and refugees taught me more about living in exile than has anything else in my short life. “Here we have no continuing city,” says the Epistle to the Hebrews, “but we seek one which is to come.” Mr. Ngu necessarily – tragically – has far fewer illusions than I do about the permanence of our earthly homes; the immigrants of Oak Creek know far better than I do the sorrow of singing the Lord’s songs in a strange land.

I am also certain that because we once were aliens and strangers to God’s covenant (Eph. 2:12), but have now been “transferred from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of his Beloved Son” (Col. 1:13), we are called in turn to welcome the stranger in our midst. I am certain that whatever hospitality we can offer these our neighbors is a service to Christ, himself born a refugee (Lk 2:4-7), who will say to the righteous on judgment day, “I was a stranger, and you took me in” (Mt. 25:38).

Please consider how you might welcome and learn from the community of Oak Creek.

For more information about volunteering with Eagles’ Nest or the ESL program we sponsor please email Thomas Kortus:  thomas@allsaints-chd.org

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Filed under Community, Discipleship, Eagles' Nest, English and a Second Language, Epiphany, Evangelism, Local Missions, Oak Creek Village Partnership, Social Justice, World Relief

An Important Announcement for our Church Family

flower

Please pray for our Pastor, the Rt. Rev. Terrell Glenn and his family, as they mourn the loss of his mother, Louise Owens Glenn who passed away yesterday morning.

Grant, O Lord, to all who are bereaved the spirit of faith and courage, that they may have strength to meet the days to come with steadfastness and patience; not sorrowing as those without hope, but in thankful remembrance of your great goodness, and in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love.  And this we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Louise Owens Glenn COLUMBIA – Louise Owens Glenn, widow of Terrell Lyles Glenn, Sr., died January 19, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina. Mrs. Glenn was born May 7, 1933 in Columbia, South Carolina, the youngest daughter of former Columbia Mayor and State Senator Dr. Francis Capers Owens and Ida Hand Owens. She was proud of having attended A.C. Moore Elementary where she joined her two sisters in being named May Queen. She also attended Hand Junior High School. Mrs. Glenn graduated from Columbia High School in the class of 1951 having been voted Most Studious and Most Dependable, two traits she continued to exhibit in all of her endeavors for her entire life. In 1955 Mrs. Glenn graduated cum laude with a B.S. in Business from the University of South Carolina. She was an active Carolina undergraduate, serving as president of the Beta Zeta chapter of Kappa Delta Sorority and Managing Editor of the Garnet and Black, among numerous other activities. Mrs. Glenn delighted in recalling many happy and humorous memories from her years at USC. In recent years she was elected and served on the University’s Alumni Board of Advisors and she remained an avid Gamecock fan, attending most home football and basketball games as long as her health allowed. A lifelong, active, and devoted member of Trinity Cathedral, Mrs. Glenn served in many capacities including the Altar Guild, Daughters of the Holy Cross, Chair of the Trinity Bazaar, and as a member of the Vestry. Mrs. Glenn was also committed to the betterment of Columbia. For decades she was an active member of the Junior League of Columbia, including having served as its President in 1970-71. She participated in many community efforts focused upon the improvement of Columbia’s public schools. In addition, she was a constant presence with her husband in their pursuit to elevate appreciation for the arts and the quality of life for others, regardless of their station in life. Despite the many hours she dedicated to her church and community she also found time to engage in the lives of her children as Cub Scout den mother, home room mother, carpool driver and enthusiastic spectator for the countless athletics events, choir practices, plays, recitals, and concerts in which her children were involved. For most of her life as wife and mother, she was the first to rise and the last to sleep, making sure the needs of her family were all met before she rested. In her earlier years Mrs. Glenn was employed by Somerset’s in Five Points and in more recent years she enjoyed working at Non(e)Such on Devine Street. Mrs. Glenn’s family and friends will remember her as loyal and devoted to those she loved, as well as a lady who was always diligent, dependable, and honest. She observed impeccable attention to detail and was a valued member of any team or committee of which she was a part. Her home cooked meals were a delight to all who enjoyed them and she was especially known for her artichoke relish, chutney, and home baked cinnamon raisin bread. She loved music and loved to dance, even until her final days. Mrs. Glenn is survived by her children and their spouses who include John Lyles Glenn, IV and his wife Melanie MacMillan Glenn of Columbia; Terrell Lyles Glenn, Jr. and his wife Teresa deBorde Glenn of Durham, N.C.; Rebecca Glenn Long and her husband Stuart McKenzie Long, Sr. of Mount Pleasant, S.C.; and, Louise Glenn Ballard and her husband Michael Douglas Ballard of Mount Pleasant, S.C. Mrs. Glenn is also survived by seven grandchildren, including Frances Owens Glenn, Hunter MacMillan Glenn, Terrell Lyles Glenn, III, Ellison Capers Glenn, Cecilia deBorde Glenn, Sarah Lyles Long, Stuart McKenzie Long, Jr, Chalmers Glenn Ballard, Michael Douglas Ballard, Jr, and William Capers Ballard. In addition to her parents and husband, Mrs. Glenn was predeceased by her sisters, Frances Owens Turner and Vivian Owens Wilson. Mrs. Glenn’s family is grateful for the devoted care and friendship offered to their mother for more than 40 years from Dianna Corbett, as well as in her final years from Oneida Allen and the staffs of Still Hopes and Palmetto Health Hospice. A funeral service will be held at Trinity Cathedral on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at1:00 pm. Burial will follow in the Trinity Churchyard. The family will receive friends on Tuesday, from 4 pm to 6 pm at 1428 Heatherwood Road in Columbia. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: The Frank C. Owens Scholarship at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, c/o USC Educational Foundation, 1600 Hampton Street, Columbia, SC 29208; or, the Trinity Cathedral Foundation, 1100 Sumter Street, Columbia, SC, 29201.

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Living Epistles: WORLD RELIEF

kids world relief

During the season of Epiphany we are featuring Living Epistles during our Sunday morning worship. Epiphany is a season in which we explore how Jesus is revealed as the saviour of the world and how we can join in and participate in God’s saving work. It is a season to marvel at the mission of God and to intentionally think about how we can be on mission with our God. Our vision for these 5 Living Epistles is to highlight ways that we can allow the light of Christ to shine through us so that Christ may be revealed to the world.

Basic RGB

Yesterday morning we told the story of World Relief. World Relief is an international organization with a thriving office in Durham. They are committed to standing with the most vulnerable people in our world- immigrants and refugees. In Durham they help resettle international refugees. (Website: http://worldreliefdurham.org/)

These refugees come from all over the world (Burma, Sudan, Congo, Vietnam, Iraq, Somalia, ect.), but they have one ting in common – they have been victims of violence, oppression, or injustice as a result of their ethnicity, religion, or political affiliation. They have all applied to the United Nations for political refugee status and have cleared extensive background checks and interviewing. The UN then works with the US state depart who in term contracts with local organizations to help resettle these individuals and families. World Relief is one of these organizations and it happens to be an evangelical Christian organization that is committed to equipping the church to reach out to these families and individuals!

Here is a link to a short video that tells the story of a refugee family that has been settled to Oak Creek Village by World Relief: http://worldreliefdurham.org/text-to-give-3/

Volunteering through World Relief an amazing way to love and serve an individual or family. These famiies and individuals are dry sponges in great need of friendship and practical help. Consider how you could get involved! This is a great fit for families, small groups, two families to partner together and spend time with a family. It is a great way to teach our kids what it looks like to reach out and love our neighbors!

Here is our experience with World Relief 

Eleven years ago Amy and I volunteered through World Relief to be conversational English tutors for a young Iraqi family that actually flew here on September 11th, 2001. Their plane was rerouted to Canada, but eventually they made their way to Chicago with their two young children. They were a hardworking couple who had a thriving business in north Iraq. He owned his own gas station and car repair shop at the age of 23. One day some individuals from the government came and told him if he wanted to stay alive he must abandon his home and business and never come back. They were being discriminated because they were Kurdish – a oppressed minority group in Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. It is the largest people group in the world that does name have its own country.

photo-9

This young family fled to Syria where they lived for 3 years before being granted refugee stats and coming to the Chicago area. Amy and I were introduced to them by their World Relief case manager began meeting with this young family once a week. We quickly fell in love with them, their two young children, and their food! They knew no English, but were eager to learn. The wife cooked for us often, we read their mail, took them shopping, helped them get a car, taught them to speak the language, sat with them, and laughed and cried with them.

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We are still good friends 11 years later. They now live in the Boston area, just bought a house, and just had  another child. He is a manager of a repair shop and fixes cars up on the side and she is a CNA at the hospital and works nights. The husband’s first job in the states was working for a repossession agency. Needless to say he learned quick when it came to the colorful aspects of the English language!

photo-10

We shared our lives with them and they shared their lives with us. They know that we love them and they know that we love Jesus.

Consider how you could get invovled relationally with a refugee. World Relief is a great organization that All Saints has financially support for the past 3 years and we hope to stengthen our partnership with them with regards to volunteers. 

World Relief is currently resettling about 25 people a month! Many volunteers are need! The need is great. The opportunity to shine the light of Christ is huge! Is the Spirit calling you to get invovled?

Visit the World Releif Website for more information!

Talk to me (Thomas Kortus) for more information!

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Filed under Discipleship, Epiphany, Evangelism, In the News, Local Missions, Oak Creek Village Partnership, Social Justice, Uncategorized, World Relief

The Feast of the Epiphany – an explanation and a poem

these three arrive and bring us with them

these three arrive and bring us with them

The following post and Sonnet come from Malcolm Guite 

The Feast of the Epiphany, which celebrates the arrival of the three wise men at the manger in Bethlehem has a special mystery and joy to it. Until now the story of the coming Messiah has been confined to Israel, the covenant people, but here suddenly, mysteriously, are three Gentiles who have intuited that his birth is good new for them too. Here is an Epiphany, a revelation, that the birth of Christ is not  one small step for a local religion but a great leap  for all mankind. I love the way that traditionally the three wise men (or kings) are shown as representing the different races and cultures and languages of the world. I love the combination in their character of diligence and joy. They ‘seek diligently’, but they ‘rejoice with exceeding great joy’! I love the way they loved and followed a star, but didn’t stop at the star, but rather let the star lead them to something beyond itself. Surely that is a pattern for all wise contemplation of nature whether in art or science.

One can return constantly to the mystery of the Epiphany and always find more but here is a little sonnet which particularly focuses on the way their arrival on the scene suddenly includes us as Gentiles into what has been, up to this point an exclusively Jewish story. The last line of this poem is a little nod in the direction of Tennyson’s great poem Ulysses

As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears, or by clicking on the title of the poem which will take you to the audioboo page.

Epiphany

It might have been just someone else’s story,
Some chosen people get a special king.
We leave them to their own peculiar glory,
We don’t belong, it doesn’t mean a thing.
But when these three arrive they bring us with them,
Gentiles like us, their wisdom might be ours;
A steady step that finds an inner rhythm,
A  pilgrim’s eye that sees beyond the stars.
They did not know his name but still they sought him,
They came from otherwhere but still they found;
In temples they found those who sold and bought him,
But in the filthy stable, hallowed ground.
Their courage gives our questing hearts a voice
To seek, to find, to worship, to rejoice.

Postscript:

Now the Feast of the Epiphany is both the end of Christmas and the beginning of the Church’s Epiphany Season which she keeps until the Feast of the Presentation (or Candlemas), on February 2nd. On the Sundays of this Epiphany season it is traditional to move from the this first great ‘epiphany’ or manifestation of glory to the Gentiles, to contemplate the other ‘epiphanies’ that mark the beginning of Christ’s Ministry; the Heaven’s opening at his baptism, the Calling of his disciples, especially the ‘epiphany moment’ granted to Nathanael, and promised to all of us, and then finally the first of his miracles, his ‘signs whereby he manifested his glory’; the Miracle at Cana in Galilee.

So the Sonnet I have given above is the first in a sequence of  Epiphany Sonnets, drawn from my newly published book Sounding the Seasons, which is available from Amazon etc or by order from your local bookshop, should you be lucky enough to have one.  I shall post the others in time for the various Sundays of Epiphany. The image below is courtesy of Margot Krebs Neal.

margot-epiphany

About malcolmguite

Malcolm Guite is a poet and singer-songwriter living in Cambridge. He is a priest, chaplain, teacher and author of various essays and articles and a book about contemporary Christianity. He also plays in Cambridge rock band Mystery Train, and lectures widely in England and USA on poetry and theology.

Find his blog here: http://malcolmguite.wordpress.com/author/malcolmguite/

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