Calvary is a special place with great preaching, wonderful music, an active laity, and a friendly and mission-focused congregation …
“As a place of tolerance and acceptance of others; the friendliness, love and support of our congregation ensures we will continue to remain an open and affirming place for everyone.”Vision 2020 excerpt
I find myself thinking of God, community, and Scotland this morning. Being an Episcopal priest I am often thinking of God and the community of Christ that is such an important part of my faith tradition, so it is not unusual that those are my thoughts over my first cup of coffee today. But why would my thoughts include Scotland? Part of the reason is undoubtedly that our recent weather in the Shenandoah Valley is very reminiscent of the rainy, windy, and cold climate of Scotland! The stormy weather here in Front Royal is the perfect backdrop to my reflections of how Scotland has played important roles both in the establishment of my Episcopal denomination, and in my personal faith journey.
Scotland played an important part in the establishment of the Episcopal Church in America after the Revolutionary War. In 1783 Episcopal priests in Connecticut elected Samuel Seabury as the first bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA. Because there were no Anglican bishops in the newly independent states to consecrate Seabury, and because the English would not consecrate him because he refused to swear allegiance to the monarchy, Seabury sought out willing bishops in the Episcopal Church of Scotland. Thus, on November 14, 1784 in Aberdeen, Scotland, Samuel Seabury was consecrated as the first Anglican bishop in the United States of America.
Scotland also has played an important part in my personal spiritual growth. Several years ago I had the privilege of going on a pilgrimage to the Isle of Iona, a rocky island in the Hebrides chain off the coast of Scotland. It was on one of Iona’s stone-covered beaches around the year 563 that Saint Columba and a small band of Irishmen landed and began establishing the center from which he would spread Christianity throughout Scotland. The abbey Columba founded is still home to an amazing group of Christians known as The Iona Community who are dedicated to spreading social justice throughout the world. My brief time on Iona was filled with wonderful experiences of God and community that will live on in my soul always.
And so when I think of Scotland, I smile, and am happily reminded that God’s love and community travels across the seas and throughout the world, much like the sound of the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace echoes through the Scottish Highlands! When we find God on a rocky beach in Scotland, or along a trail on the Skyline Drive, or in a mosque, or synagogue, or temple, or one of the churches along Royal Avenue, we are very blessed!
-The Rev. Ann H. Truitt, Priest Associate
[This posting originally appeared as The Weekly Pulpit on the Religion page of The Warren Sentinel of June 2, 2016].
“The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together.” Isaiah 40:5
Advent is the liturgical season of preparation and expectation. In recalling the Biblical story, we remember that the long awaited coming of Christ was met with a mixed review! I often wonder how I would have responded to the person of Christ had I lived at that time, but, in truth, there is plenty of opportunity for me to respond to Christ, here and now!
Christ comes to us in our neighbor even though we may not recognize him, our neighbor or Christ! We are challenged by Christ’s words in the 25 Chapter of Matthew that this reminds us that when we have been loving or kind to our neighbors, we have been loving or kind to Christ.
This season is one which is especially difficult for many people. Those who lack material resources are acutely aware of what they don’t have and of the insensitivity of the world around them. Many people who have experienced loss or grief of any kind often feel that pain more keenly during this time. This, too, is Advent. During our Advent reflections, we tend to be most conscious of the joyful expectation of celebration of the coming of the baby Jesus and forget the difficult life our Lord would lead which included terrible rejection and, ultimately, execution on the Cross.
In reaching out in love to relieve the pain of our brothers and sisters, we can share in the action of Christ’s love first given to us. It is not easy to reach out because we may not know what to say or do. That is okay. Feeling uncomfortable is part of sharing Christ’s journey that began in a manger and ended on the Cross. Even Jesus mother, Mary, who took care of Jesus, followed him, and stood beneath the cross, could not find words to adequately express her feelings. The Gospel tells us that she “kept all of these things in her heart” while she painfully supported Him with her presence.
The suffering we confront may be someone in our own family who is in pain without our knowing it. We might pray that for this season we could be more sensitive to the needs and concerns of others and be less caught up in the “holiday” rush and more aware that, for some, this time may be difficult to endure.
In The Irrational Season, Madeleine L’Engle writes, “In the evening of life we shall be judged on love, and not one of us is going to come off very well, and were it not for my absolute faith in the loving forgiveness of my Lord I could not call on him to come.” We will always love imperfectly and in our own clumsy way, but, nonetheless, we are called to love one another and in doing so give glory to Christ.
May the coming of Christ into our lives be a blessed event now and always!
[This posting originally appeared as The Weekly Pulpit on the Religion page of The Warren Sentinel of December 3, 2015].
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
Galatians 5:1, 13-25