Engaging the Spirit in Haiti

9086270301_7477a4c15c_zImagine, if you will, a multicultural, multigenerational gathering for worship, fun and fellowship…hard to resist right?! Well, consider yourself invited.

This Saturday, January 31st, in a wonderful collaborative partnership between the Mission Opportunity 2015 and the ECMN Children’s Ministry cohort, an incredible gathering has been planned!

The Carnaval and Worship will take place at St. Mark’s Cathedral from 2-6pm or so. Join fellow Episcopalians and friends from around Minnesota and Haiti to commemorate the 5-year anniversary of the earthquake, celebrate partnerships and relationships, and of course, share in some wonderful Haitian food.

The schedule of the afternoon looks like this:

2pm: Family fun time! Create shoebox floats, decorate masks and learn Creole songs for the procession and worship.

4pm: Participate in a vibrant worship service including music and stories. The offering will go to Mission Opportunity 2015: Engaging the Spirit in Haiti.

5:15pm: Enjoy a light Haitian themed meal and fellowship time with visiting Haitian clergy and nonprofit partners.

As you can see, this is going to be a fabulous opportunity for all ages to learn and build relationships with our Haitian brothers and sisters and with each other. Everyone is invited!

Becoming Aware of the Prevalence of Racism in Our Society Today

15004132404_f88e93d142_kI grew up in a multicultural context. There were Latinos, Native Americans, Anglos, a small Asian American population and an even smaller African American population. Amidst this diversity, at least as kids, we were part of the same small community. And yet,  particularly with time and perspective, racism was unquestionably prevalent. And such is the case in our world today.

For over thirty years I have been blessed to be in conversation with some close friends and colleagues who continue to play a critical role in my ever increasing awareness of racism. They have helped me discover my own unaware and unintentional racist behavior, racism in the cultures and context we share, and the systemic racism of the institutions and organizations we are a part of.

Recent events in our country have made even the most naive or uninformed in our society aware of the ongoing challenges brought forth around racism in our society. Painful as this increased awareness is, it has also begun to foster a greater desire to hear the stories of those who have (and continue to be) most deeply impacted by racism.

I know for me personally, hearing the stories and the experiences of those whose lives both historically and presently are confronted by racism has been transformative. It is in truly listening that I have subsequently begun to experience the amendment of life, the journey toward healing, and the beginning of wholeness. It is for all of us what God commanded, what Martin Luther King dreamed, what Jesus modeled, and what we commit to in our Baptismal Covenant.

How our Choices and Actions Impact Others

16060094060_7e6ddf655b_bIt all came back as if it happened yesterday…

It was a beautiful mid-afternoon on a summer day between my sophomore and junior years of high school. I had been working in the orchard since sunrise and was happy to now be hanging out with my friends in the parking lot of a local park. Shortly after I arrived, Ellen, a childhood friend of ours and the girlfriend of a long time buddy of mine who was there chatting with me, rode up on her bike. We all joked around for a few minutes before Ellen told us she needed to head home. The couple exchanged smooches, the gathered guys made smart aleck adolescent comments, Ellen smiled and rode off. Less than five minutes later, sirens began to wail. Ten minutes after that, all of us had heard the unbelievably tragic news: Ellen had been hit and killed as she was riding her bike home.

When I read the news of Bishop Cook of Maryland reportedly hitting and killing a cyclist, Thomas Palermo, it all came back as if it happened yesterday…

Once again, I was painfully reminded just how fragile life is.

A son, a husband, a father, a friend—killed in an instant. A daughter, a Bishop, and a friend – life changed forever.

We are all connected, as Paul tells the faith community in Corinth, “But the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it,” 1 Cor 12:25-26.

Inherent in our connectedness is the fact that our actions impact others. Ellen’s family and friends were devastated by the actions of the driver that killed her, but so was the driver and those close to him. Mr. Palermo’s family and friends are completely grief stricken by the alleged action of Bishop Cook and so, also, are her family and friends. We are all connected – and what we do and say, and the choices we make, impact others. Sometimes positively, other times, as in this case, tragically.

Life is fragile. And that is never more apparent than when we see how our choices and actions can have a far-reaching and significant impact on others.

Prayers for healing for all.