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For Paul

Father Rob's Blog - Sat, 12/17/2016 - 17:43

With pop pop 007

Even if they have kept the faith.  Even if they have fought the good fight.  Even if they have lived a good life and left a legacy much cherished... The holidays are a particularly tough time for those who have lost somebody dear to them. 

Or are in the process of doing so...

So it is that we ended up in a hangar at Leesburg Airport at o' dark thirty on Friday morning.  With single digit temperatures, the first order of the day was to warm up the plane's engine so we could get the prop going.

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Not too much longer after that we were in the air, flying over the mountains.  Our passenger slept.

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The ski slopes do have snow, and there were people skiing below.  The incongruence between those who are enjoying life as normal, and those who are not,  is always startling to me.

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The mountains pulled the clouds down, the heavens giving evidence of unrest.

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We arrived at safely at our destination, and then later, safely home.  Our passenger had a good visit.

I share this only to say how much we need other.  Really, it's the only way any of us get through.  And even if we are in one of those rare and beautiful moments in life that bring so much joy that they inoculate us from any sense of need, there is someone who needs us. 

Whoever your people are, whatever your tribe, gather with them this holiday season.  Even if you've been away for a very long time, there has never been a better  occasion to come home.

Doubt, Fire, and the Formation of a Priest

Father Rob's Blog - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 16:59

Sunrise gangsta fr bowman 009

“Do you still believe in God?”

That was the question Fr. Dick Bowman asked me privately when I was nearing the end of the process of becoming an Episcopal priest. I was young then—full of fire and certainty and not a little arrogance, though I did not yet recognize it as such. I did not understand the question.

Today, on the 30th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood, I do. The day was chosen to coincide with the celebration of the life of St. Andrew the Fisherman on Nov 30. I expect the reason is obvious. But had I known then what I know now, I might’ve chosen St. Thomas the Doubter, celebrated Dec 21st.

I do still believe. And I hope that at least little bit of the fire still burns in my belly; if it ever goes out or even grows dim, it’s probably time to hang up my collar. But these days certainty looks a lot more like a sin than a virtue, breeding self-righteousness, and I do my best to repent of it.

And arrogance… For reasons I don’t fully understand, it is so hard to recognize let alone root out. I can only say that life, and maybe even God, have a way of humbling us when humility is needed. There has been no escaping it. The truth is, though I will always regret the pain this has caused others, there are few things for which I am more grateful.

My Father's Garage

Father Rob's Blog - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 01:50

Dads garage 019

It is in our nature as human beings to want to know our creator. Certainly this pertains to God, or whatever it is that has brought us all into being. But more immediately, I think, it pertains to our parents. Who are these mysterious people who chose to give us birth?

With our parents, we are fortunate that  some of the answer we are looking for can often be found directly. Most of us get to spend at least some time with our parents. We can talk with our mom and dad, or if they are gone, with others who knew them.  But time is limited, and parents frequently would rather hear more about their kids than talk about themselves. So, perhaps like with the question of God, much of what we would know about our parents must be put together through a sort of sleuthing, of looking for clues and then piecing them together in a story that seems to fit.

In regard to our fathers, I have been thinking that one of the places we find such clues is in a man’s garage. This thought has come to me as I have had the opportunity to visit my parents this week. In the evenings, after my parents have gone to bed, I stand in my dad’s garage and feel his presence.

Hanging above his work bench is a poem.  It writes of the lunar landing, in which my dad played a part.  It also speaks of Christmas.  I mostly know my dad as a man of faith, but many of the things in the garage are a reminder that by education, career, and interest, he is also very much a man of science.

Like this poem, his life stands as an eloquent blending of the two.

  In space the lonely missile spins its way,
Beyond the earth’s soft breathing atmosphere
Beyond the note of song the wind’s wild play
The cumulus, the rain’s recurrent tear
Throughout the sky of orbits hung by One
Who saw his handiwork and called it good
There moves this metal deed which man has done
I tremble in the name of brotherhood
For I remember how another night
A new star pierced the heavens from above
Not in the name of power or of might
But in the name of His eternal love
May satellite and star be reconciled
And bring us nearer the waiting child.
--Christie Lund Coles

Not a City Boy, But...

Father Rob's Blog - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 13:24

Fishingwithcows 011

I should know the answer to this.  

I grew up around cows.  From our front yard in Monroeville, PA, we could see cattle from Kuehn's Dairy grazing on a hill side across the valley.  One of the ways I paid for college was by working at Turner's Dairy,  and of course there were lots of cows there as well. 

So I really should know the answer to this question, and frankly it embarrasses me  that I don't:  Are the cows above dangerous?

Here's my problem.  I fish a little stream that runs through the pasture where these cows graze.  When they see me, several of them come running for me.  I don't think they'd actually hurt me.  They probably just want to be fed.  But I'd rather not discover I'm wrong on this.

Take this cow for instance.  It's a young bull.  He made a bee line fore me as soon as he saw me.  If I stand my ground (with an electric fence between us) he acts afraid.  But the second I turn my back, he charges. 

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The problem is compounded by the fact that the best pool on the stream is just over a hill side that is just at the far edge of this picture.   There is no fence around it.   It definitely has some nice fish in it.

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So...  continue to avoid these cows, or just fish right through them? 

Let Love Reign (November 20, 2016)

Sermons - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 02:58

November 13, 2016

Sermons - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 02:52