A prophet with a new message, but he's not the Savior
Lay Worship Leaders Training, January 23


Desks and chairs for Kajo Keji kids ... Story and three photos by Charlie Barebo.

12 Days of Christmas for Kajo Keji ... December 15 is the deadline. Find a bulletin insert for the 12 Days of Christmas for Kajo Keji  sponsored by our World Mission Committee. Similar info appears on page 6 of the December issue of Diocesan Life. By the beginning of this, donations of $6,360 had been made: Solar Lanterns 6, Scholarships 4, Solar Radios 10, Tables 5, Soccer Uniforms 17, Jump Ropes 34, Fabric 70 Yards, Chairs 16, Hoes 15, Net Balls 8 and Bikes 14.

Emergency shelter in Bethlehem opens early ... Read it here. And there's more in the Express-Times, here and here.

A 12:15 Eucharist is celebrated at the Cathedral Monday through Friday in Sayre Chapel.

The Religious Sports Fan: the boundaries blur, the boundaries clarify  ... Don't miss Archdeacon Stringfellow's short, entertaining and useful reflection. It's on the newSpin blog.

A prophet with a new message, but he's not the Savior ... A reflection by Archdeacon Stringfellow on the gospel for Sunday, Advent 3. Find it here

Information breeds confidence; silence breeds fear ... A quote from a 2001 episode of The West Wing.

In a heartbeat ... The reason it is so easy for the U.S. to declare wars, and to continue fighting year after year after year, is because so few Americans feel the actual pain of those wars. We’ve been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan longer than we fought in World Wars I and II combined. If voters had to choose right now between instituting a draft or exiting Afghanistan and Iraq, the troops would be out of those two countries in a heartbeat. [From a recent NYTimes op-ed by Bob Herbert]

Army suicides ... There were 147 reported active duty Army suicides from January 2009 through November 2009. Of these, 102 have been confirmed, and 45 are pending determination of manner of death. For the same period in 2008, there were 127 suicides among active-duty soldiers. More info here.

Bishop's Bakery for Youth ... Friday, Jan. 29 (6:00pm) - Saturday, Jan. 30 (9:00am) at Good Shepherd Scranton. Registration is now open. More info here.

Is the Bible too liberal? The last issue of the newSpin newsletter pointed to conservatives who hink the Bible is too liberal and have pulled together amateur translators to work on the Conservative Bible Project. Read about it here. Canon Andrew Gerns followed up on this with What Would Supply Side Jesus Do?

Desmond Tutu, and church leaders from the regions most affected by climate change will speak out from a faith perspective during the Copenhagen UN climate summit this Sunday. [Read more here.]

Wounded gifts ... Bishop Jeff Lee tells a moving story on video about letting go of the image of a perfect self.

Small is beautiful ... Statisticians tell us that while the majority of church members in the U.S. attend a large church, the majority of congregations are small. Many of these congregations provide an anchoring presence in the rural or small town communities they call home, and some offer services and programs to benefit the community at large and not just "their own." Most small congregations enjoy much higher percentages of their members in worship and ministry than do their larger counterparts, and many make generous contributions to mission in the community and the wider world, especially in proportion to their size. [Read it all here.]

Where and how will you seek out the light of the world ... Read the Presiding Bishop's Christmas message.

CNN to ponder faith and money ... The program is set to air December 19, but I haven't been able to find a CNN abstract or even a specific time. More here from John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter.

A higher glass ceiling ... [From a story by Greg Hardesty in the OC Register, CA, Dec. 8] Diane Bruce stormed out of the counselor's office. She was in her junior year at UC Berkeley studying linguistics and had just taken a series of tests to determine what career best suited her. The counselor told her, "The first thing the tests indicate is that you should be a priest; the second, a banker." Bruce looked at her, angry and dismayed. "I'm a Roman Catholic woman," she said. "I can't be a priest. I can't be a nun because I'm engaged to be married. And I can't add two and two; I could never be a banker. This has been such a waste of my time." Well, not exactly. [Read the rest of the story here. H/T to Neva Rae Fox]

Glasspool: 'I anticipated some kind of reaction' ... The Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool on Saturday, Dec. 5, became the first openly lesbian Episcopal priest elected a bishop in the Anglican Communion. Pending confirmation, the Annapolis woman, who since 1992 has served as a rector and canon to the bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, will become bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles. She would be only the second openly gay Anglican bishop in the world. The election drew a stern rebuke from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan D. Williams, who said her confirmation would jeopardize relations in the 70 million-member church. There's a story in Wednesday's Baltimore Sun and a transcript of her conversation with the Baltimore Sun reporter. The conversation begins with a question about the Archbishop of Canterbury's warning. [H/T to Neva Rae Fox] And find reactions to this election and reactions to the reactions at Episcopal Cafe. And here's a story from today's LATimes.

Missing a huge opportunity ... [From a column by Richard Morrison of the TimesOnline, UK] The latest row — into which the Archbishop of Canterbury has stumbled like a blind man into a bog — is over the “lesbian bishop” elected by the American Episcopal Church (the equivalent of the Church of England). According to Ruth Gledhill, The Times’s reliable Religion Correspondent, this single appointment places the future of the entire Anglican Communion “in jeopardy”. Such is the froth of hysteria about sexuality in the upper echelons of the Church that this astonishing claim seems quite plausible. ... The tragedy for the Church is that it is missing a huge opportunity. There are millions of young people out there who are disaffected from mainstream politics but equally dissatisfied with the mindless consumerism and callous selfishness of modern life. You can see that from the numbers flocking to espouse green causes, or to work for charities this Christmas. With so many youngsters thinking deeply about what’s right and wrong for the world, this should be a golden age for Christianity — the most revolutionary of religions. But while the Church renders itself a laughing-stock over sex, it hasn’t got a hope of converting the young. At the moment some leading clerics come across as befrocked weirdos with one-track minds. And I’m not talking about their belief in God. [Read Nothing but sex please, we're vicars in the TimesOnline, UK. H/T to John Chilton reporting at Episcopal Cafe]

The Archbishop and the President ... The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. --William Butler Years, The Second Coming. Read a reflection here from Lively Dust, the blog of Lavonne Neff [H/T to Peter Carey reporting at Episcopal Cafe.]

Catholics vs. Kennedys ... [NYTimes Online op-ed by Timothy Egan] It begins: Hanging front and center inside the classroom of the grade school I attended were pictures of two men: Pope Paul VI, and John F. Kennedy, the first Roman Catholic president. Each was revered almost without question, although we were taught that one could never tell the other what to do in their separate realms. [Read it all here.]

Madeline Jervis, onetime Presbyterian pastor of an Arlington VA church, now an Episcopal priest in Greenwich Village, was honored last night in Arlington for opening her church to persons with AIDS in the early days of the disease and for preaching and practicing "God loves you as the person you are." Read more here.

It's not personal, it's business ... Joel Gross, 25, an agnostic, owns an Internet business called "Prayer Helpers." According to this story on the AOL Small Business site, "if want someone to pray for you, you just send $9.99, and Prayer Helpers will pray for you." The writer says it's not so crass as it sounds. "The strongest reactions," says Gross, "have come from my atheist friends who think I'm taking advantage of Christians and people who are superstitious." Meanwhile, his Christian friends, says Gross, have been more bemused and generally supportive, but even there, he admits, "They see it as a weird service." It's a funny story, another one you just can't make up. And, remember, it's not personal, it's business. So far, the business has only two customers.

Adapting elements of Eastern and New Age thinking ... [From a USA Today feature by Cathy Lynn Grossman] The chances are that one in five of the people there find "spiritual energy" in mountains or trees, and one in six believe in the "evil eye," that certain people can cast curses with a look — beliefs your Christian pastor doesn't preach. In a Catholic church? Chances are that one in five members believe in reincarnation in a way never taught in catechism class — that you'll be reborn in this world again and again. Elements of Eastern faiths and New Age thinking have been widely adopted by 65% of U.S. adults, including many who call themselves Protestants and Catholics, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released Wednesday. ... "For an extremely long time, most of us thought belonging or membership or home church was monogamous, even if it was serial monogamy, because we all know about church-switching," says sociologist of religion Scott Thumma, a professor at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research in Hartford, Conn. "Today, the individual rarely finds all their spiritual needs met in one congregation or one religion." [Read it all here. H/T to Neva Rae Fox.]

Expectant in Bethlehem ... Find a recent Advent reflection by Canon Anne Kitch here. If you would like to subscribe to her daily meditations go to the "Get Connected" box on the right side of our Diocesan Website.  Enter your name and email address, click on "my groups," then choose Expectant in Bethlehem. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Christmas Cookies at St. Andrew's ... [From Liza Holzinger] Too busy to bake for the holidays? Purchase some fresh, homemade, delicious treats for entertaining and gifts. Cookies, kiffles, and nut tossies go on sale at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 1900 Pennsylvania Ave. (just south of Catasauqua Rd. on the border of Bethlehem and Allentown) on Sunday, December 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Visit www.standrewsbethlehem.org or phone 610 865-3603 for more information. All proceeds benefit the church’s mission and ministry of sheltering the homeless and feeding the hungry.

Diocesan Life.December ... download it here. Diocesan Life will not publish a January issue.

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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ... January 18-25. Find resources here.

Become a baker in the House of Bread ... If you are interested in more news, issues, ideas, opinion and conversation related to our diocesan community, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, you might consider becoming a baker in the House of Bread's new Bakery. Go to the "Get Connected" box on the right side of our diocesan website. Fill in your name and email address, and click on "My Groups." In the next window that comes up, check Bakery. Bakery, of course, is a play on Bethlehem meaning "House of Bread" in Hebrew. Subscribed to Bakery, you will receive several notes daily (perhaps two, perhaps ten when the oven is hot) and you will be able to enter the conversation by posting your own notes to the group, i.e., to the other bakers. News is fresh in the Bakery long before you see it in print in Diocesan Life.

Find earlier issues of the newSpin newsletter here.

Bill Lewellis, Communication Minister/Editor (1986), Canon Theologian (1998)
Diocese of Bethlehem, 333 Wyandotte Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015
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Be attentive. Be intelligent. Be reasonable. Be responsible.
Be in Love. And, if necessary, change. [Bernard Lonergan]


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