newSpin, the newsletter
December 22, 2016
[A DioBeth newsletter (General or Leadership) or the newSpin newsletter is published online on Thursdays in the following rotation: (1) Leadership News, (2) The newSpin newsletter, (3) General News, (4) The newSpin newsletter. If you find something online or in print(or if you'd like to write something) that you think might warrant inclusion for the sake of many in this newSpin newsletter, please send the link or your text to firstname.lastname@example.org]
TopSpin [• New item •• Repeat]
• Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives.
• Want to keep Christ in Christmas? … Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked. Shelter the homeless. Visit the sick. Visit the imprisoned. Give alms to the poor. These works of mercy are the underpinnings of the gospel relationship between religion and politics. I hear them as the most political words Jesus ever preached.”
• DioBeth Leadership News, Nov. 17 … Here. •A Christmas Message from Presiding Bishop Curry, •Online Advent Resources, •Unholy Trinity Gun Violence Conference April 20 - 22, •Congregational Renewal Grant Applications Now Available, •Applications Accepted for Climate Change and Creation Grants, •Roanridge Grant Application Now Available, •2016 Parochial Reports, •Clergy Housing Resolution, •People of Bethlehem, •News of the Diocese
• DioBeth General News, Dec. 1 … Here. •Episcopal Church of the Mediator, Allentown: "We Support Refugees," •Diocese of Kajo Keji Bishop Nomination Confirmed, •Archbishop of Canterbury Meets With South Sudan Church Leaders, •Online Advent Resources, •Applications Accepted for Climate Change and Creation Grants, •Congregational Renewal Grant Applications Now Available, •News of the Diocese, •People of Bethlehem, •Upcoming Diocesan Events
• Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's Christmas Message … This child, when He grew up, came to show us the way to live lives of love, lives of compassion, lives of goodness, lives of kindness, lives of justice. This child came to show us how to change the world. So this Christmas, make room for him to change us. This Christmas help us change the world. And make a new commitment, to go out from this day, to let this Christmas Day, be the first day of a new world. Video and Text.
Intersection: Religion, Culture, Politics [•New item ••Repeat]
• Now this makes sense to me … and perhaps to others, like me, who need something not too complex to make sense of the election of Donald Trump. Back in September, in The Atlantic, Salena Zito wrote that "the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally." I too took Trump literally but not seriously. How could he possibly win? I know that phrase. I've said many times that Episcopalians take the bible seriously but not literally. Read on.
• The Christmas Message we need … [WaPo, OnFaith, Brian McLaren, Dec. 21] 2016 has been a year unlike any other in my life of 60 years, which has made this Christmas season unlike any other. It’s not so easy to settle into that joyful holiday spirit when the political world mocks so many values I hold dear, from protecting our planet to caring for refugees to respecting th equal rights of minorities to upholding the value of truth. Then, just as I find myself stewing in that bitter soup, it hits me: that’s what Christmas was, in fact, about. Not sentimental songs about snow and mistletoe, but hope in the face of ugly and dangerous political realities. To explain, consider some macro-history. Read on.
• SpiritSpin [• New item •• Repeat]
• The Scandal of Incarnation – God Getting Down … [Bill, an excerpt from one of my earlier Christmas sermons] One of the early episodes of the TV series, The West Wing, was titled Noel. During a daylong session with a psychiatrist, Josh is told he has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He worries, of course, that he’s going to lose his job on the President’s staff. Leo, the chief of staff, a recovering alcoholic, is waiting for him. Asking Josh how the session went and sensing Josh’s anxiety, Leo tells him a story.
“This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey, can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me; can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we're both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.’”
Now that’s a Christmas story. The mystery and the scandal of incarnation. The Word was made flesh. God getting down. “Are you stupid, God? Now we’re both down here.” That’s the Christmas story, not so much a story about Jesus as it is a story of God. God is in the hole with us.
That’s what we discover at the manger. That’s where Christianity begins, with God becoming one of us. Theologians call it the Incarnation. Not the birthday of Jesus – we don’t know when Jesus was born – but the Incarnation. That’s the mystery we contemplate with joy and wonder at the manger.
Anglican reflection on our relationship with God, begins with Christmas… with God getting down. From there, we move toward the cross and resurrection. In many faith groups, reflection about our relationship with God begins with Good Friday and Easter… with fallen humanity that needs to be saved. I’m not suggesting that one way of getting at the mystery of our relationship with God is better than the other. How would I know? But they are different. And one surely works better for me: to begin not with “Am I saved?” but with “Have I gotten down?” Do I know people in low places?
The basic Christmas truth is that Jesus is God getting down… and that God continues to touch us through flesh and blood. God uses many media of self disclosure.
• Why are you not Marius? … [The Morning Call, Bill Lewellis, Dec. 17] I knew a caring, compassionate, intelligent, wise and talented man. Though he was authentically religious, he did not wear it on his sleeve. His goodness and spirituality, however, did show on his face. He had an aura. His smile made you think he was happy to see you. And he was. He was 91 when he died in 2014. He was a Marine in World War II and the Korean War. He worked as an artist and designer for advertising agencies in New York City and Newark, N.J., and for 34 years for Bethlehem Steel as artist and designer, art director and assistant to the vice president in the public affairs department.
A member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Bethlehem, where he served as Sunday School teacher, member of the vestry, senior warden and on parish committees, he also served the Diocese of Bethlehem in various capacities and was an elected deputy to five national Episcopal Church General Conventions. Marius Bressoud was an insightful writer. He wrote with authority, with integrity and authenticity. He also was an accomplished illustrator and watercolorist. Read on here and here.
• Liturgical Welcome Posters … [Jenifer Gamber] Click here to find sets of Welcome Posters for about 100 church names, one poster for each liturgical season of the church year. Click on your church name to download a PDF file with all seven 11″ x 17″ posters. You can get posters printed on glossy card stock for about $1.50 apiece at your local printer.
•• Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar… [The Atlantic, Dec. 1] Every day until Sunday, December 25, this page will present one new image of our universe from NASA's Hubble telescope. Be sure to bookmark this calendar and come back every day until the 25th, or follow on Twitter (@TheAtlPhoto), Facebook, or Tumblr for daily updates. Read on and view.
• Knowing what is real … [Bill] Don’t let anyone de-fine and re-duce your reality. Don’t let anyone imprison you in that most secure prison without walls, the prison we don’t know we’re in. Imagine the reality of God. Imagine what is really real. See things differently. “Only the contemplative,” Thomas Merton used to say, only the pray-er “knows what the scoop is.” Only the pray-er knows that the really real is God breaking into human history – God breaking through our prejudices and preferred notions with discomforting questions about poor and powerless persons, about justice and peace, about personal and systemic transformation – God breaking into human history so we might, with new God given hearts, pursue God’s heart’s desires.
• Awesomeness is Everything … [The Atlantic] Research on awe (an emotion related to Edmund Burke’s notion of the sublime, Sigmund Freud’s oceanic feelings, and Abraham Maslow’s peak experiences) reveals both its triggers and its far-out effects. and may even adjust our worldview to accommodate it. Psychologists have described awe as the experience of encountering something so vast—in size, skill, beauty, intensity, etc.—that we struggle to comprehend it. A waterfall might inspire awe; so could childbirth, or a scene of devastation. Read on.
DioBeth [• New item •• Repeat]
• Homeless ministry in the Lehigh Valley … [T Scott Allen] The Bethlehem Area Homeless Hospitality ministry which will extend until the last night of March began on Dec. 1. It is a ministry of the congregations of the Lehigh Valley who open their doors every evening of the week to shelter those without a roof from the cold and snow. The Cathedral Church of the Nativity opened their doors to our homeless brothers and sisters. On Dec. 2, St. Andrew's took in homeless men. Many sites provide soup, a hot supper, companionship until bed time and a hot breakfast in the morning before they depart. It will involve thousands of hours of volunteer time and is a huge undertaking – all done by unpaid members of faith communities who see this work as honoring their baptismal vows to be the Body of Christ in the world.
• Room at the Inn Shelter … [Nativity Cathedral] The Room at the Inn Shelter is one of the largest ministries the Cathedral supports. Every Thursday night in Winter, the Cathedral provides a safe, warm place for the homeless men of Bethlehem to sleep and break bread. Last year, the Cathedral sheltered more than 140 different men during the shelter season, with an average of over 40 men per night. This task is only made possible by the work of many volunteers from the Parish, who help in many ways, from preparing Sayre Hall for the guests, welcoming the guests, providing food, cleaning up after and sheltering overnight with them. Read on.
•• Reconciliation after Trump's election still allows for dissent … [Bishop Sean Rowe, Morning Call, Nov. 14] In the days after a presidential election, the news is full of public figures talking about reconciliation. Leaders of all kinds are pledging to put a divisive campaign behind them and work together for the common good. Church leaders like myself are particularly given to these sort of sentiments. They appeal to our pastoral instincts and allow us to imagine that we are what the prophet Isaiah called "repairers of the breach."
It is difficult to oppose reconciliation. Jesus said peacemakers were blessed, and as a Christian, I certainly want to be on his good side, but before we strike up a rousing chorus of "Kumbaya," I hope we will pause to make sure we understand that real reconciliation requires deep self-examination, an ability to acknowledge both when one has been wronged and when one has done wrong, and the willingness to behave and communicate in new ways. Reconciliation is not a synonym for the silencing of dissent. Read on.
Episcopal/Anglican [• New item •• Repeat]
• House of Deputies Newsletter … December.
•• Weekly bulletin inserts … provide information about the history, music, liturgy, mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church. Current inserts here. To view the archive of bulletin inserts dating back to 2006, please visit here.
• Resources … way below.
• Welcome to the Jesus Movement … The Episcopal Church is working with diocesan teams to organize a series of Episcopal Revivals in 2017 and 2018, six major events that promise to stir and renew hearts for Jesus, to equip Episcopalians as evangelists, and to welcome people who aren’t part of a church to join the Jesus Movement. Read on.
•• Evangelism resources … from the Episcopal Church. Here.
• Resources ... way below
In the Media [• New item •• Repeat]
• St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre hosts Lessons and Carols … [Times Leader] The deaf will hear, the blind will see, the wilderness will blossom. Wolves and lambs will live together, with “the small” no longer having to fear “the fierce.” And a virgin will conceive and bear a son. As lectors read and a 40-member choir sang those predictions from the prophet Isaiah on Wednesday evening [Dec. 14] at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, their faces told stories, just as their voices did. Read on.
TaleSpin [• New item •• Repeat]
• There's a fine line … between a long sermon … and a hostage situation.
• This is a sad, sad story worth reading in its entirety by many – but not all – of us … [Morning Call, Dec. 7] Johnesha Monae Perry wanted to send her son to heaven. So she pushed him in a stroller to the Hamilton Street Bridge in Allentown. As terrified passers-by watched on May 3, 2015, Perry picked 20-month-old Zymier out of his stroller and threw him off the bridge into the Lehigh River. Then she jumped, hoping to join him in heaven. It would be, she thought, better than the life they had here. "I dropped him, yes," Perry said in a high, child-like voice Friday before Lehigh County Judge Kelly L. Banach, "because I wanted to die with him and go to heaven." Perry, 21, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and was sentenced by Banach to 20 to 40 years in state prison. With time served, Perry will be eligible for parole after she turns 40. Read on.
• How 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' defies common sense … [America] When “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted on Dec. 9, 1965, CBS executives were so sure it would fail they informed its executive producer, Lee Mendelson, they were showing it only because they had already announced it in TV Guide. “Maybe it’s better suited to the comic page,” they told him after an advance showing. Despite six months working on the show, the animation director, Bill Melendez, felt much the same. “By golly, we’ve killed it,” he recalls telling Mendelson after a screening.
The American public disagreed. In fact, 45 percent of Americans with a television set watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” that night, making it the second highest rated show of the week (behind “Bonanza”). The program would go on to win an Emmy and a Peabody, and it has been broadcast every Christmas season since. Still, much about the success of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” did defy common sense and continues to do so today. Read on.
• What people talk about before they die … [CNN, Kerry Egan, Dec. 20] As a divinity school student, I had just started working as a student chaplain at a cancer hospital when my professor asked me about my work. I was 26 years old and still learning what a chaplain did. Read on.
• A lynching with a gun … [Jim Wallis, Sojourners, Dec. 8] A good friend of mine, a well-respected black Christian leader, called it a lynching. But with a gun, and not a rope. I agree. I’m talking about the shooting of Walter Scott, a black man in North Charleston, S.C., who was shot and killed by white police officer Michael Slager. Black citizen Walter Scott — who was pulled over for a malfunctioning brake light — was shot several times in the back as he fled Slager after a brief tussle. Scott was unarmed, running away, and at least 17 feet away from Slager when Slager opened fire and shot him in the back. After killing him, Slager dropped his Taser next to Scott’s body, which the prosecutors allege was an effort to make the case that he acted in self-defense. Read on.
Rest in Peace [• New item •• Repeat]
• Margaret Erb Shaffer, 92 … died Dec. 14. She was the mother of Father Ed Erb. Obituary.
• Vivian Smulley, 89 … died Dec. 7. She was a member of Trinity Pottsville. She was on the board of the Marion Price Trust Fund for the church. Obituary.
• Harry Duerst Jr, 88 … died Dec. 7. He was a member of St. Margaret's Emmaus. Obituary.
• Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, 95 … [RNS] died Dec. 14. Brazil’s ‘people’s bishop’ led the fight for peace and justice fought for freedom, stood by workers, inspired their struggle and ministered to the dispossessed and downtrodden. Read on. And at the NYTimes.
• Henry Heimlich, 96 … [NYTimes] died Dec. 12. Famous for antichoking technique. Read on.
• John Glenn, 95 … an American hero, was the NASA astronaut who was the first American to orbit the Earth and went on to serve in the U.S. Senate. Among his survivors is his wife of 73 years. Read on.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., daughter of the late Arthur and Marie Rippert Harman, she was a member of St. James and St. George Episcopal Church, Jermyn. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thetimes-tribune/obituary.aspx?n=lorraine-j-kenny&pid=181391765&fhid=30655&eid=sp_ommatch#sthash.MLwAYyTs.dpuf
Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not [• New item •• Repeat]
•• The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is January 18-25 … [Maria Tjeltveit] 2017's theme is "Reconciliation--the Love of Christ Compels Us." Here's a link to resources from the World Conference of Churches and the Graymoor Institute. Read on.