Archive | Vicar’s Voice

Vicar’s Voice – The Crown

February 17, 2017

Dear St. Stephen’s Family and Friends,
Are you a television watcher these days?  Do you binge at all?  Well I confess that I am and I do.  Lately my enjoyment has been the series The Crown, which looks at the life of Queen Elizabeth from before her coronation forward in time.  The first series ends in the 1950’s and the world was certainly a different place then.  My curiosity about this series was particularly high because of the incredible ratings it has received and the acclaim from the Golden Globe Awards.  My curiosity was also piqued because I’m an Episcopalian/Anglican.  So armed with expectation I took the plunge and have been on a fantastic historical, insightful, interesting, emotional ride ever since.

This series captures many of the challenges of humanity, human behavior and relationships.  We experience the loneliness of Elizabeth as she the crownchooses to live as the monarch more than as herself.  We see the sacrifice of personal love in search of a perceived cultural expectation or greater good.  The watcher also witnesses the courage of leadership, the futility of aging, and the pleasure found in order and discipline.  I’m reminded in this series of the challenges we all have to be authentic and reduce hypocrisy.  Hypocrisy is simply the gap between what we know ourselves to be on the inside and what we present on the outside.  We’re all hypocritical:  the question centers on how wide is the gap.   We all are in need of grace; even more so those in positions of authority and influence.  And episode 9, which explores in depth Winston Churchill turning 80, is simply some of the best historical drama on television.  As the snow and cold continue to keep us waiting for spring, treat yourself to some good history and entertainment for the entire family on Netflix.

See you at the Variety Show on Saturday.  And see you in Church on Sunday.

Love and blessings,

Al+

Vicar’s Voice – “We Plan, God Laughs”

February 10, 2017

Dear St. Stephen’s Family and Friends,

We plan, God laughs.  And God’s been laughing a lot in my life the past several weeks.  But now thanks to the gifts of prayer, healing, rest and modern medicine it’s time to get back to work and to St. Stephen’s.  Fr. Denny will be here this coming Sunday and I’m planning to return to Erie on Tuesday, February 14.  We have many wonderful tasks and opportunities before us and I’m chomping at the bit to get underway.

First up will be the beginning of Lent with Mardi Gras on Tuesday, February 28 followed by Ash Wednesday on March 1. The schedule of services for that day is still in the works but look for details next week.  Second up will be our two strategy sessions with our Bishop’s Committee as we explore the next steps in our life as a community.  We will all engage in an ongoing conversation over the next three months as we narrow our focus and channel our resources in the directions that God intends, the people desire, and our history invites.  And before we know it Holy Week and Easter will be upon us.

New people are continuing to explore our community.  Significant outreach is taking place that is changing the world.  And soon we will enjoy several good laughs at our Variety Show on February 18.  Keep an eye on your calendar.  Please read your mail.  Please be present.

Thanks for your prayers for healing.  I’m grateful.

Love and blessings,

Alvin+

Vicar’s Voice – St. Stephen

January 27, 2017

Dear St. Stephen’s Family and Friends,

St. Stephen!  Stephen’s feast day is the day after Christmas.  The choice of that date was intentional.  After the joy of celebrating Jesus’ birth, we quickly transcend into the martyrdom of Stephen and the reminder of the challenges of believing and acting on our beliefs.  He was stoned to death for his belief in Jesus.  Since his feast day comes right on the heels of Christmas, he is easily overlooked.  This coming Sunday, the Sunday of our Annual Meeting, we will commemorate St. Stephen at our services.  The color of vestments will be red because he was martyred.  The lessons will tell a bit of the story of his life.  The power of his life will be translated into our lives, as we are an ongoing part of his story.

stephenWe learn in the Book of Acts that the needs of the people became so great that the Apostles no longer had time for other matters of faith.  They took counsel and believed God called them to appoint seven deacons of which Stephen was one.  It so happened, historically, that this appointment also paralleled a time of persecution of Christians perhaps stemming from the time of Nero, not to mention the persecution from the local community.  Stephen called the local leaders “stiff-necked people” for not believing in Jesus and that was the tipping point.  The authorities proceeded to stone him to death.  As he died he prayed that Jesus would receive his spirit.

Stephen reminds us that the key values of a Christian life are service, sacrifice, action and belief.  Those values struggle against our predisposition towards entitlement.  Churches grow on service and sacrifice; they grow on taking action and acting on beliefs.  That’s what will help our Church to grow also.  Let’s dig in and live our name’s sake.  Blessed Stephen.

Love and blessings,

Alvin+

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