Rector's blog

Rev. Susan B. Taylor
      The Rev. Susan B. Taylor

The Visitation

I’m yearning right now. Maybe you are too. I want with all my heart to wake-up and find a world in which peace among all God’s creation is a reality. That’s my Christmas Day wish. That’s all I want for Christmas!

Okay, so I know it must be true that I’ve grown up some since my list writing during the pre-Christmas season unbeknownst to me at the time as Advent. As a child I could barely fall asleep with excitement and anticipation of that Christmas morning feel! What would be waiting for me under the tree? It’s no longer what, but who I want. I want Jesus.

Read more: Holy Pregnancy


labyrinth“Take a buffer day after returning from CREDO,” we were told. After a fifteen hour circuitous journey home, compliments of American Airlines, involving reticketing, new changeovers, increased layovers, mechanical problems and waiting for crew to materialize, well… I took the faculty’s advice. Stepping into a labyrinth is a vastly different faith-filled journey, unlike the series of mazes and impediments through which I had to navigate at the airports. As one clergy friend posted to my Facebook travel saga, “Once into the maw of the airport, one surrenders all autonomy.” Well I may not so easily surrender my autonomy to the airport ‘gods’ but I’m not convinced I find it any easier to surrender my will to God. How do I find ways to be still long enough to hear God’s desires?

Read more: CREDO = I give my heart to… (part two)

grieving angel

The Spirit helps us in our weakness… and intercedes for us with groaning and sighing. The God who searches our hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And it is Christ Jesus, raised from the dead who also intercedes for the us. (Ro 8:26-27)

There are moments in the life of a faith community when it feels like the walls have come tumbling down. It might feel like that time now at St. John’s. Loss comes in many forms, whether it is dear ones who have moved away who nonetheless remain part of us. Other times sickness and ill-health or aging necessitate changes, precluding the body of Christ from being rejoined on a weekly basis at God’s Table. Then a swift and sure blow such as the sudden, unexpected death of Phil Plumb comes and takes our breath away.

Read more: Sighs too deep for words

Grk. leitourgia defined in Strong’s concordance #3009 “is a sacred ministering that always serves (impacts) those who witness it.” It is also widely embraced as “the work of the people” deriving from the Greek roots laos (the people) and ergas (a work), and attributed to Massey Shepherd, 20th c. Episcopal priest and prominent American liturgical scholar, among whose books penned includes The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary (first published 1950).

The thrust of these definitions helps us to understand that liturgy is not a performance by the priest or clergy. Neither is it about individuals. As Maggie Dawn clarifies it in a blog at The Episcopal Café, “it’s work that is for the people, and transformative of the wider world. So liturgy might legitimately be said to be work for God, that transforms our world, and benefits people. But liturgy isn’t mine or yours. In short, it’s not about me.”

Read more: Liturgical Arts Design! (aka Worship Planning)

Practice before policy. Change occurs on the ground before the institution catches up. This I learned in seminary. It was true in biblical days. It remains true today. And sometimes the more rigidly constructed the institution, the harder it is to dismantle the strongholds that are strangling it. That is the process of reformation.

Jesus was a reformer of the institutions of his day, be it religious, cultural and political. Many covenants between God and the people of God have transpired throughout the pages of the Bible. Jesus came with yet one more and it was sealed through blood as was the custom. But this one was different and we call it The Lord’s Supper.

On the night before he was betrayed by a friend, into the hands of the ‘institution’ he shared a meal with his disciples. “While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:26-28; Mk 14:22-24) He blessed it, broke it, gave it.

Jesus gave the blueprint at His Table for life. Bless, break, give. The ‘take’ is the ‘give’ - of one’s life, however ‘taking up one’s cross’ is understand by each of us. Jesus practiced downward mobility, self-emptying, servanthood ministry, giving himself at the expense of his life for others. Shouldn’t the priest’s actions similarly demonstrate the same?

Read more: Why I'll Be Last

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