January 05, 2006

The Blog of Daniel

The Episcopal Diocese of Washington has started a blog for discussion of the NBC series: Blog of Daniel

The series premieres tomorrow night, and has sparked controversy and plenty of news items. We'll have something new to talk about at coffee hour - see you there!

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January 03, 2006

NBC Series "The Book Of Daniel" Premieres Friday

A television series about an Episcopal priest that premieres this Friday is generating a lot of interest - and a lot of controversy.

On the interesting side, "The Book of Daniel" features a man of God who struggles with personal demons, family conflict, parish problems, and a more conservative (but female) bishop. Also, his best best friend Jesus often drops by for a chat.

On the controversial side, at least one prominent conservative religious group has organized a letter-writing and emailing campaign to protest the series, claiming that the series "mocks Christianity." Which is ironic, when you consider the gulf that divides conservative and progressive Christians over most issues - this particular group is more interested in objecting to the portrayal of a (secondary) gay character in a positive way than defending Episcopal priests from being portrayed as human, fallible, or conflicted.

They are very quick to condemn Daniel's addiction to painkillers and his wife's fondness for her afternoon martinis. They disapprove of the They also have a problem with the way the "very unconventional white-robed, bearded Jesus" is portrayed. However, from all reviews I've read, Jesus is shown to be a kind, supportive figure who refuses to be Daniel's fortuneteller, but who offers him insights and friendship.

It's up to each of us to decide for ourselves whether this series is worth watching. It may turn out that it's just not that good - in that case, it will end its short run of 8 episodes and no one will care. On the other hand, it might turn out to be compelling, thought-provoking, and even entertaining, as it's billed as a comedy-drama.

The cast includes Aidan Quinn as Daniel, Ellyn Burstyn as Bishop Congreve, and occasionally Phyllis Diller appears as one of Daniel's parishioners (I bet she's a lot of fun at potluck suppers).

Here's a description of the show from the NBC website:

Emmy nominee Aidan Quinn (“An Early Frost,” “Plainsong,” “Legends of the Fall”) stars as Reverend Daniel Webster, an unconventional Episcopalian minister who not only believes in Jesus - he actually sees him and discusses life with him. Webster is challenged on many levels as he struggles to be a good husband, father and minister, while trying to control a nagging addiction to prescription painkillers, and an often rocky relationship with the church hierarchy, led by Bishop Beatrice Congreve (Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn, “Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore,” “Requiem of a Dream”), Roger Paxton, a senior warden of the parish and stalwart churchgoer (Dylan Baker, “Kinsey,” “Happiness”). wholesale body jewelry

The reverend also has loving, but challenging relationships with his three children: Peter (Christian Campbell, “Trick”), his 23-year-old gay son, who struggles with the loss of his twin brother; Grace (Alison Pill, “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen”), his 16-year-old daughter who doesn't try to push her father's buttons but succeeds at it nonetheless; and Adam (Ivan Shaw, “All My Children”), his 16-year-old adopted Chinese son, a handsome and cocky high school jock with a wicked sense of humor. Keeping Webster grounded is his strong and loving wife Judith (Susanna Thompson, “Now and Again”), who is fighting her own fondness for mid-day martinis, as well as Jesus (Garret Dillahunt, “Deadwood”), whose frequent chats with Daniel serve to remind him of his strengths and weaknesses.

"The reverend?" Well, it's rare that the entertainment industry gets the details right on the proper way to refer to an Episcopal priest. For unintentional comedy alone, this may be an interesting series to watch. It's generating a lot of heat, but what is more interesting is the issues that it raises.

Some of us may be troubled by the rather excessive number of challenges Daniel faces, but no one has ever said that the life of a man or woman of God is easy, or that perfection is a requirement for the clergy.

The pilot for the new series was shot in Pasadena, Calif., at All Saints Episcopal Church to the great delight of the congregation.

“How cool is it that a progressive Episcopal priest has a shot at being a prime-time drama protagonist,” says the Rev. Susan Russell, associate rector. “How surprising might it be to many who tune in to find out there actually is a church where women can be bishops – clergy can be human – and there’s enough good news around to extend to everybody?” NBC has ordered 13 episodes.

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December 26, 2005

Prayers For Victims Of The Tsunami

Episcopal News Service] Committed to rebuilding communities and responding to individuals' and families' basic needs, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) has partnered with churches throughout Asia this past year to help millions of people whose lives have been affected by the December 26, 2004, tsunami.

Triggered by a magnitude 9 earthquake, the tsunami pounded coasts along India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand and, although the official death toll is still unclear, the giant wave claimed more than 220,000 lives, conservative estimates suggest. -- Tsunami relief central to churches' mission one year on

Today is St Stephen's Day, but it will forever also be remembered as the anniversary of the devastating tsunami in South Asia.

We remember the victims and their families with this prayer from Grace Cathedral, San Francisco from last year:

Prayer For The Victims of the Tsunami

-- by Wilma Jakobsen
Most merciful and compassionate God,
Giver of Life and Love,
hear our prayers
and let our cries come unto you.

We weep with your people in South Asia
We hear the cries of orphaned children and laments of bereaved parents
We feel the desperation of those searching for loved ones
We behold the silence of vanished villages.

We see the devastation.
We are overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.
Our hearts are hushed, our minds are numb.
Let not our hands be stopped, our voices dumb.

God of the universe,
our hearts to feel your compassion
Galvanize in us the act of continued giving
Bond us to our sisters and brothers in need
Comfort and heal the injured, the bereaved, the lost
Strengthen the aid workers and medical personnel
Bolster the resolve of governments and those with power to help
through this tragedy pathways to partnerships and peace
In Your Name of mercy and healing and compassion we pray,

The Rev. Wilma T. Jakobsen is an associate pastor for liturgy and justice at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California. She is a native South African, and previously served as Anglican chaplain at the University of Cape Town.

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in Prayers of the People

December 25, 2005

One Person Can Make A Difference

When disaster strikes, we often think "there's nothing I can do about that," other than perhaps to make a donation to some existing charity group.

However, creative thinking makes it possible for one person to really make a difference:

The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Richard Berger of West Seattle felt that he had to do something for the people of Pakistan, struggling to survive after a massive earthquake, with winter coming on and no shelter:

Berger, a former gallery owner, drove to the flagship REI store and bought several blankets. He took them home, tore at them, set them on fire, stood out in wind and rain with them wrapped over a T-shirt.

Then he called the manufacturer of the most durable blanket, and they found a way to bring the $5.50 blankets down to $1 each. Berger asked Mercy Corps, a relief agency, if it would distribute the blankets in Pakistan. And he e-mailed 250 friends, asking for donations. DHL heard about it, and shipped some for free. As of Tuesday, he had raised more than $100,000 to send about 110,000 blankets to Pakistan.

"I had no idea this would work. There's a tremendous number of caring people that, given the opportunity to respond, will step in.

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December 24, 2005

Readings for Christmas Day

The Collect

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

or this

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

or this

Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born [this day] of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Old Testament

Isaiah 9:2-4,6-7
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness--
on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

The Psalm

Psalm 96 or 96:1-4,11-12 Page 725, BCP
Cantate Domino
1 Sing to the LORD a new song; * sing to the LORD, all the whole earth.

Sing to the LORD and bless his Name; *
proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.

Declare his glory among the nations *
and his wonders among all peoples.

For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; *
he is more to be feared than all gods.

As for all the gods of the nations, they are but idols; *
but it is the LORD who made the heavens.

Oh, the majesty and magnificence of his presence! *
Oh, the power and the splendor of his sanctuary!

Ascribe to the LORD, you families of the peoples; *
ascribe to the LORD honor and power.

Ascribe to the LORD the honor due his Name; *
bring offerings and come into his courts.

Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness; *
let the whole earth tremble before him.

Tell it out among the nations: "The LORD is King! *
he has made the world so firm that it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity."

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
let the sea thunder and all that is in it; *
let the field be joyful and all that is therein.

Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy
before the LORD when he comes, *
when he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with righteousness *
and the peoples with his truth.

The Epistle

Titus 2:11-14
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

The Gospel

Luke 2:)
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see-- I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

[When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. ]

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December 17, 2005

Jan 15 Is Companion Diocese Sunday

Chicago Diocese -- January 15 is Companion Diocese Sunday

Congregations are invited to remember our companion dioceses of Renk and Southeast Mexico in special prayers, collections, and in presentations by members.

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December 16, 2005

Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

The Collect

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Old Testament

2 Samuel 7:4,8-16
But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan: Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

The Psalm

Psalm 132 or 132:8-15 Page 785 or 786, BCP
Memento, Domine
1 LORD, remember David, * and all the hardships he endured;

How he swore an oath to the LORD *
and vowed a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:

"I will not come under the roof of my house," *
nor climb up into my bed;

I will not allow my eyes to sleep, *
nor let my eyelids slumber;

Until I find a place for the LORD, *
a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob."

"The ark! We heard it was in Ephratah; *
we found it in the fields of Jearim.

Let us go to God's dwelling place; *
let us fall upon our knees before his footstool."

Arise, O LORD, into your resting-place, *
you and the ark of your strength.

Let your priests be clothed with righteousness; *
let your faithful people sing with joy.

For your servant David's sake, *
do not turn away the face of your Anointed.

The LORD has sworn an oath to David; *
in truth, he will not break it:

"A son, the fruit of your body *
will I set upon your throne.

If your children keep my covenant
and my testimonies that I shall teach them, *
their children will sit upon your throne for evermore."

For the LORD has chosen Zion; *
he has desired her for his habitation:

"This shall be my resting-place for ever; *
here will I dwell, for I delight in her.

I will surely bless her provisions, *
and satisfy her poor with bread.

I will clothe her priests with salvation, *
and her faithful people will rejoice and sing.

There will I make the horn of David flourish; *
I have prepared a lamp for my Anointed.

As for his enemies, I will clothe them with shame; *
but as for him, his crown will shine."

The Epistle

Romans 16:25-27
Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith-- to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

The Gospel

Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
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in Readings

December 11, 2005

Christmas Bags for the Hungry

Our food drive was a success! After church today several teams drove around the neighborhood picking up grocery bags filled with non-perishable food. We are very happy with the response and hope to continue to run food drives like this one in the future.

We distributed bags last Sunday in the neighborhood around the church, and returned today to pick up the loaded bags. Thank you to everyone who participated by distributing bags, donating food, or picking up!

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in Reaching Out

December 10, 2005

Christmas Bag Pickup Tomorrow!

largeadventaltar copy.jpg
Tomorrow we return to pick up grocery bags for the hungry! Last Sunday we distributed 75 bags to our neighbors around the church. We hope for a good return, so if we left a bag on your porch, please leave it out for us to pick up tomorrow morning by about 11:30am-12:30pm or so. If you are worried about freezing temperatures, you may either bring it to the church tomorrow, next Sunday, or Christmas Eve. We will be out in the neighborhood for about an hour picking up bags.

Advent, the season of the church year leading up to Christmas, is a busy time for everyone. There's shopping, wrapping, writing cards, cooking, and visiting to be done, and very little time to do it in. There often seems to be little time left over for the needy, the hungry, or even ourselves.

This Advent season, do something for others, and for yourself. Take time out from your busy schedule to do something good.

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