For many years I have conducted surveys to discover what curricula were being used in churches with children, youth, and adults. Part of the survey always asked for each age level, “What types of resources or curricula would you like to see developed?” One of the major responses (especially for youth) has been in the area of human sexuality; ways to engage with all ages about the connection between one’s faith and one’s responsibility as a sexual being.
Finally, I am excited to share a new program that has been specifically designed and written for Episcopalians by Episcopalians. These Are Our Bodies: Talking Faith & Sexuality at Church & Home (by Leslie Choplin and Jenny Beaumont) will be available in August 2016, beginning with a foundation book and a program module for Middle School students (which includes a Leader Guide, Parent Book, and Participant Book). A High School program module will be available in Spring 2017. In an upcoming post I will share what the program materials for the Middle School module involve. For now, here is a taste of the foundation book for the program, which I believe will be a helpful resource for all adults in our churches – parents, clergy, youth leaders, Christian educators, and all who seek to connect our faith with our whole being, including our sexuality as children of God.
From the Introduction of the foundation book: Continue reading These Are Our Bodies: Talking Faith & Sexuality
Lent is just a week away, so hopefully your congregation has planned the programming and ordered the needed resources. But perhaps it came up on you too quickly or you are looking for a personal resource for devotion on your own.
Download these ideas I put together for Church Publishing’s In Service e-newsletter for February 2016: ChristianFormationIdeasLentYearC
Below are the resources I will personally be using this year. Brand new (for 2016), you may also want to consider them – there is still time!
Under the Fig Tree: Visual Prayers and Poems for Lent by Roger Hutchison is a short little book with an image and reflection for each day of Lent. Scripture verses are offered for each of the 40+ days also if you desire to dig deeper into the scripture that Roger focused on in creating his painting and poem. Continue reading Lent Picks for 2016
A sermon preached at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Wilton, CT on January 22, 2016: The Baptism of Our Lord (Year C: Isaiah 43:1-7, Acts 8:14-17, and Luke 3:15-17, 21-22)
I have been reading Diana Butler Bass’ latest book, Grounded: Finding God in the World — a Spiritual Revolution. I have enjoyed her previous bestselling titles, including Christianity for the Rest of Us and A People’s History of Christianity.
However, she seems to be on a new journey with this book. Beginning with earth (dirt), air (sky), and water, she weaves an engaging story of connectedness ending in the revelation of the divine in the here and now. It is a love story about the earth, and as Phyllis Tickle reviewed, is “an anthem to the sacred unity of the physical and spiritual in the formation of human faith and in the maturation of the human soul.” For me, it is her story of getting reconnected to this planet, our island home, in sacramental and environmental ways.
Perhaps it was just me, but in reading her book (I’m not finished with it yet) and reading the scriptures appointed for today I seen some parallels. From Isaiah we hear the plight of the exiles, living in a dry, if not muddy, spiritually space. They feel separated from and abandoned by God. But they have not been forgotten: “I have called you by name, you are mine.” By being named, their fear should diminish and they should look forward to the one who will redeem them. God offers a protecting hand in fire and flood. God declares a covenantal love. From the north, south, east, and west God loves “every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:5-6) Continue reading God’s Waters
A sermon preached on August 30, 2015 at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Wilton, Connecticut
The Fourteen Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 17 B
James 1:17-27 and Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
It is from the human heart
that evil intentions come. Mark 7:21
It’s not easy to talk about and acknowledge the evil that is in our world. But we see it manifested in many forms all around us.
This summer I have been reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. And exactly one week ago today, John and I were in Johannesburg retracing many of the steps Mandela took along with others in their struggle for freedom.
Knowing I was going to be preaching right after returning home from South Africa, I read today’s Gospel a few weeks ago to allow me to ruminate on it while away. The juxtaposition of Jesus chastising the Pharisees about their adamancy of following the Law while being immersed in how the laws of a country – in this case South Africa – wouldn’t leave me alone. Until recently, laws in South African centered around a formalized, systematic segregation of blacks, colored, Indians, and whites called apartheid. There were hundreds of laws about where one could live, what kind of education one could receive, who one could marry, where you could travel, what kind of job you could have, and on and on. Racism was an accepted governmental policy.
The history of how these laws came to be and where the roots of racism began started many generations ago. They were based on an interpretation of scripture paired with greed and fear by groups that began with Dutch and English colonialism. Their fear grew out of the belief that one race was superior to another as part of God’s creation. It became their tradition and way of life, and became ingrained in generations to come. Continue reading Evil and the Human Heart
It’s the beginning of February and I’ve been compiling lists of resources for Lent to be used by individuals or congregations. There are many I have ‘followed’ in recent years: Lent Madness, Episcopal Relief and Development’s Lenten devotional, the annual CPI “pick” of a book that offers a study guide alongside a calendar and/or app. But this year none of them are appealing to me.
Several years ago my mother-in-law was placed in hospice during Lent. She died during Holy Week. Lent took on a whole new meaning for me that year. This year I suspect Lent will take on quite the opposite meaning for me. See . . . my Lenten practice will be getting ready to be a grandmother.
My first grandchild is due April 13th. (“Awfully close to tax day,” says my CPA/Financial Planner husband.) So I am in the midst of planning a baby shower, figuring out what kinds of baby paraphernalia I’ll need to have around the house and other deliberations, such as “How will I be able to fit a car seat in the back of my 2005 Mustang convertible?” (You can’t.) Continue reading My 2015 Lenten Practice