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Striving for Excellence

Posted by Jason, January 21, 2015

I have just returned from Chicago where I attended a conference hosted at St. James' Cathedral. The title of the conference was "Cultivating Excellence in Liturgy, Music, and Preaching: A Conference for Musicians and Clergy." This concept came from an inspiring sermon delivered by The Rt. Rev. Eugene Sutton, Bishop of Maryland, last summer as part of the annual conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians. Bishop Sutton spoke of the need for the Episcopal Church to return to its identity of being known for its excellence at worship. He urged us to create a new three-legged stool for our church based on liturgy, music, and preaching. Strength in all three of these, not just one or two, but in all three, he believes, will stop our membership decline and help us reach more people with the great news of the Gospel of Jesus.

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Epiphany

Posted by John, January 14, 2015

‘Tis the time of Epiphany when we of the church are called to “show forth” or “demonstrate” the faith that is in us. The news of Jesus' birth has been revealed first to the shepherds "who proclaimed all that they had seen and heard" to those who would listen, and then to the Wise Ones who traveled such a great distance from the East to see this newborn King for themselves.

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All of Us are Grass

Posted by Ann, January 7, 2015

On the cover of Atul Gawande’s new book called Being Mortal there is a single piece of grass. If you rub your fingers over it, you can feel that it is embossed, raised off the paper. Even though the picture of the blade appears raised because you can see its shadow, it actually has dimension if you touch it. Although there is nothing overtly religious about this book, it is one of the most theological books I have read in a long time, beginning with the subtle reference to Isaiah 40:6-7 on the cover.  The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it. Surely the people are grass. This was a brilliant design metaphor. Kudos to whomever came up with it. Even though we are all grass, each of us can have dimension and dignity until we die.

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New Traditions

Posted by Chris, December 31, 2014

Here we are toward the end of “winter holidays” where school is still out, but the return is on the horizon, and new resolutions are being made. Some resolutions are the same, some are small, and some take a big mind shift. Family traditions are taking a big shift for me after this year.

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The Contradictions of Christmas

Posted by Melanie, December 24, 2014

Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is a version of the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming". Here we are, another Advent, we are just two days away from celebrating the birth of Jesus, the reason for the season as we sometimes hear it referred to. In life we go from being the children who are the recipients of much of the fuss and preparation to being the ones who do the preparing.

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The Light Shines, Even in the Darkness

Posted by Heather, December 17, 2014

The news today is full of sadness. A massacre at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. A veteran likely suffering from PTSD is suspected of killing several current and ex-family members north of Philadelphia. The aftermath of the hostage standoff in Sydney, Australia. Continued protests and prayer vigils that call for an examination of how America's criminal justice system works for, yet also fails, its citizens. And those are just the headlines of the day.

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A Little Advent Music

Posted by Jason, December 10, 2014

One of the many musical highlights for me each Advent is when I get the opportunity to play the three chorale preludes that Johann Sebastian Bach composed based on the tune Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (the tune that we know to Savior of the nations, come! Hymn #54 in The Hymnal 1982).

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Marriage and the Movies

Posted by Ann, December 3, 2014

Yesterday my husband and I saw the movie, The Theory of Everything. It is based on Jane Hawking’s book about her marriage to the physics genius, Stephen Hawking. Stephen is diagnosed with ALS in college and given two years to live, and they decide to marry anyway.  She then commits herself to enabling his life (which has lasted 50 more years) and work. They have three children together. The acting in the film is beyond glorious and little is sugar coated about the disintegration of his physical capabilities or the weight of it on her and their family. It is a beautiful and honest picture of a mature marriage, including their ability to let one another go as life proceeds.

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Praying, Listening, Hearing, and being open to the Journey

Posted by Heather, November 26, 2014

I’ve known the Very Rev. Mike Kinman, currently the dean of Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, for six years now and knew of him before that when he was a college chaplain. I have followed the work he has done with other clergy in the St. Louis area since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri this past August. Here is one of the four things he asked in particular of his clergy colleagues last week:

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Whisper Words of Wisdom

Posted by Pierce, November 19, 2014

For some time I have had the grace of a transition process leading to retirement. It has been fortifying and healing. There is so much to be thankful for. I love the New Zealand Prayer Book prayer at nightfall:

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