Archives for September 2006

It does change, starting with us, Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 20 (B) – September 24, 2006

(RCL) Proverbs 31:10-31 or Wisdom 1:16-2:1, 12-22 or Jeremiah 11:18-20; Psalm 1 or 54; James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37 

What do today’s business leaders and the child that Jesus picks up have in common? Let’s consider this question, in the name of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

An interesting book entitled Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within was written by Robert E. Quinn, who teaches organizational behavior and human resource development at the University of Michigan’s Graduate School of Business. In it, Quinn describes three kinds of people: the individual contributor, the manager, and the leader.

First, there is the individual contributor. Several terms apply here: technical competence; technical standards; cynicism; factual communication; conventional behavior; planning in a way that is rational and tactical.

The individual contributor is the sort of person you want to have working on your car, or doing surgery on your heart, or servicing the plane on which you will be a passenger. The individual contributor knows what needs to be known, and does what needs to be done for something technical to work.

The manager is a different sort of creature. The manager functions in a political system rather than a technical one, dealing with people more than things. Instead of technical competence and standards, what concerns the manager are effective transactions and organizational position.

Rather than having a cynical attitude to authority, the manager is responsive. What interests the manager is not facts, but concepts; not professional training, but administrative socialization; not what happens at school, but what happens at the workplace. Yet like the individual contributor, the manager is comprehensible, committed to conventional patterns of behavior.

The manager is the sort of person you want to have as your attorney, or business partner, or boss. The manager knows how to get things done, who to talk to, and what to say for the right transactions to happen.

The individual contributor and the manager are different roles, different kinds of people. But the manager and the individual contributor have this in common: their first objective is their own survival.

Now enters the last of the three. Quinn calls that person the leader.

What the leader inhabits is not a technical system or a political system, but a moral system.

What empowers the leader is not rational competence or effective transactions, but core values.

What makes the leader credible to others are not factual standards or an insider’s position, but behavioral integrity.

The leader communicates through symbols and vivid mental images that provide a general guideline rather than through narrow, specific objectives that are relentlessly clear. The leader’s concern does not center on technique and transaction. What the leader brings about is transformation, deep change. It’s never business as usual with the leader. Instead, the foundations are shaken.

And so the leader comes across as unconventional, difficult to understand, beyond normal expectations, and outside the rules of self-interest. Where the individual contributor and the manager put their own survival first, the leader’s first objective is realizing the vision, regardless of the sacrifice involved. Fear of failure, being fired, or even assassination is not enough to stop a leader. A leader is driven to do the right thing.

People who are leaders can appear in any organization, at any level. They are, as Quinn puts it, “rare but dramatic.” They take risks for the greater good, and they inspire others to do the same.

So much for Robert E. Quinn and the three roles in organizational life he discusses. Let’s take up the story we heard from Mark’s Gospel.

Jesus and his disciples are traveling through Galilee. Jesus spells out to them what awaits him in the future: he’ll be betrayed into human hands and put to death; then three days later, he will rise again.

What Jesus says has the same effect on each disciple: in one ear and out the other. He might as well have been speaking a language unknown to them for all they understand. They do not get it, and they are afraid to ask.

They arrive in Capernaum, a small waterfront town that serves as a home base for Jesus. There Jesus asks his disciples what they were arguing about as they walked along the road. The disciples fall silent. What they had argued about was who was the greatest. They were preoccupied with who among them was number one at the same time Jesus was telling them that what awaited him was the agony of the cross.

Whether the disciples are individual contributors, or managers, or some of both is not what’s important. Here’s what’s important: like managers and individual contributors, like so many of us here this morning, these disciples have their own survival as their first objective. That Jesus is unconcerned with his own survival and focused entirely on realizing his vision of God’s kingdom puts these disciples – and us – to shame.

Jesus does not write a book or design a chart to make his point about what constitutes real leadership. Instead, he lives his vision to the point of dying for it. And neither he nor that vision can ever stay dead. His commitment bears fruit in his resurrection and ascension. The vision still resides in his heart and is realized through his church.

But before he goes to the cross for this vision, he speaks through a symbol, a metaphor, an image that still haunts the imagination. Jesus steps out to the street and returns holding a toddler, an ordinary child from an ordinary family. He places this little one in the midst of the circle of his disciples.

Now remember that in the ancient world, children were especially powerless. They simply didn’t count. They were the last and the least, the bottom of the pile.

“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” This is what Jesus says before he steps outside to fetch the child, the kid from the streets of Capernaum.

It is as if he says: “So you want to be a leader, you want to be first? Fine. But do it the right way. Don’t worry about your own survival. Die to your old self. Get born again. Start over as a child. That’s where the real leadership is – with those who are transformed and who help to transform others.

“Have a child’s purity, simplicity, fearlessness, trust. Get a vision and pursue it for all you’re worth, like a little child running full tilt for daddy or mommy. Be single-minded as you chase your vision, even as I’m single-minded making my way to my Friday death and Sunday resurrection.”

Very likely, the toddler from Capernaum was climbing all over Jesus, stepping here and there, reaching out for his beard, sticking fingers in Jesus’ mouth. The man could probably barely get out his next words: “Anybody who welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and anybody who welcomes me is really welcoming the one who sent me.”

The child represents the new birth, the fresh start necessary to real leadership and real life. To welcome this in someone honors Christ, honors his Father who makes it all possible. Vision, trust, willingness to risk, these qualities appear in a toddler, in Jesus, in every saint, and in the people Quinn calls “transformational leaders.” It’s the same Spirit at work in all of them.

When we catch that Spirit, or allow that Spirit to catch us, we are set free from fear. Our own survival is not the number-one issue. Instead, the vision is what matters. And so the world can change. It does change, starting with us.

 

— The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is an Episcopal priest, writer, and teacher. He is the author of A Matter of Life and Death: Preaching at Funerals (Cowley Publications, 2002). 

What Would Jesus Do?, Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 19 (B) – September 17, 2006

(RCL) Proverbs 1:20-33 or Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 19 or Wis of Sol 7:26-8:1 or Psalm 116:1-9; James 3:1-12; Mark 8:27-38 

You have seen them everywhere: bracelets, key rings, and just about anything that can be marked with the logo, WWJD: “What Would Jesus Do?”

It’s daunting to wear one of those bracelets because in most situations, how would we be qualified to answer that question? How could we ever presume to know what Jesus would think or do in today’s world? Jesus was always doing the most surprising things! He was arguably one of the most unpredictable persons in all of recorded history.

If the gospels are any indication, it appears that when he was pressed by others for advice on what to do, he would (a) ask them another question; (b) tell a story or a parable; or (c) say that only God knows.

A couple of years ago, when the WWJD bracelet rage really started to catch on, people came up with some alternative bracelets:

WWDD for football coaches: “What Would Ditka do?” Or DYWFWT for McDonald’s employees: “Do You Want Fries With That?” For elderly Christians there’s WDIPOTB: “Why Did I Put On This Bracelet?” And for today’s teens, simply W: “Whatever” or “Whatsup,” take your pick.

In today’s gospel, Jesus makes his own suggestion for a bracelet slogan: WDYSTIA?

“Who Do You Say That I Am?”

Again, if the New Testament is any indication, the people around Jesus had a surprising number of answers for that one: the Son of God, Son of Man, King, Lord, Son of David, teacher, rabbi, king of the Jews, Son of the Living God, master, and gardener. In today’s lesson and its parallels, he is compared to one of the prophets, Elijah, John the Baptist, and Jeremiah. He was also called a blasphemer, a glutton, a drunkard, and an imposter.

It is important to recognize that Jesus invites us all to answer the question “Who do you say that I am?” for ourselves. And equally important for us to consider is that the New Testament offers all of these answers and more, not limiting us to any single idea or label for Jesus.

This morning we hear Saint Peter’s answer: “You are the Christ.” Jesus responds by urging them to tell no one. Well, so much for that. Mark has spilled the beans. The evangelists Mark, Luke, and Matthew do not honor what Jesus asks the disciples to do.

The next time we are tempted to say, “The Bible says” or “Jesus says” we might ponder our inability to honor one of the few direct requests he makes to all of us who are his disciples: not to tell anyone he is the Christ.

Especially if we are not at all clear ourselves just what we mean by “Christ.” It is a Greek word meaning, “anointed” or “anointed one” – which is a translation of a Hebrew word we know as “messiah,” which also means “anointed one.”

Now what is interesting is that even in Hebrew scriptures and Jewish tradition there is not a lot of agreement as to what this word signifies. Or it is more accurate to say that it is a word freighted with many meanings. Because it can refer to individuals like Aaron, the priest who was anointed with oil and by God to be a priest in the Temple. Or it can be used metaphorically to refer to someone like Cyrus of Persia who delivered the Jewish people from their captivity in Babylon. It can even refer to the entire people of Israel as anointed by God to be a light to the nations.

In Luke’s gospel only, Jesus is shown to be reading from the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah: “God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor … and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,” which is the Jubilee year of Leviticus. He then announces that this scripture is fulfilled, suggesting to some that he is claiming to be anointed, messiah, christos.

And at the time of Jesus, the idea of a Messiah coming to restore the kingdom was in the air. But there were many different interpretations of what that meant. He would be a warrior, a judge, a king, a prophet. None of which included the idea of being executed by the Roman government.

So what does Peter mean by “christos”? What does Mark understand it to mean? What do we mean by calling Jesus the Christ?

Decades of Jewish-Christian dialogue reveals that few Jews actually deny that Jesus could have been the messiah. What they do not see is any evidence that he is. For in Jewish terms, the world would be a much better place if he were. There would be justice and peace for all people. The dignity of every human being would be respected. And Christians, at least, would seek Christ in all people and serve the Christ that we believe is already in all people, loving our neighbors as ourselves.

What we see instead are Christians killing Christians in places like Ireland, or unable to share bread and wine together in church, or trying to force one interpretation of who Jesus is on each other and everyone we meet, and on it goes.

The evangelist Mark reports, “And he charged them to tell no one about him,” and yet we continue to prattle on with our own ideas of who he is, missing altogether what he goes on to say: “Take up your cross and follow me.”

At the end of the day, Jews say, “Messiah is coming,” and Christians say, “Jesus/Messiah is coming again.” And most Jewish people say that when Messiah comes, if it turns out to be Jesus, they will have no problem with that. Surprise for sure, but no problem.

This causes one to wonder, however, if it is not Jesus, how will we respond?

Contemplating what that future point in history might look like inspired the great Jewish thinker and writer Martin Buber to say that if he is present when Messiah comes, and people are all asking if it is or is not Jesus, he would hope to have the courage to step forward and whisper in Messiah’s ear, “For the love of heaven, please do not answer.”

The witness of Christian scripture is that even if it is Jesus he would probably answer back with a new question, a story, or say, “Only God knows for sure.”

Six years ago a statement issued by over 170 Jewish rabbis and scholars titled Dabru Eme was made public. Dabru Emet is a call to the American and worldwide Jewish communities to reexamine how they think about and relate to Christians.

Here is, in part, what Dabru Emet had to say:

“The humanly irreconcilable difference between Jews and Christians will not be settled until God redeems the entire world as promised in Scripture. Christians know and serve God through Jesus Christ and the Christian tradition. Jews know and serve God through Torah and the Jewish tradition. That difference will not be settled by one community insisting that it has interpreted Scripture more accurately than the other; nor by exercising power over the other. Jews can respect Christians’ faithfulness to their revelation just as we expect Christians to respect our faithfulness to our revelation. Neither Jew nor Christian should be pressed into affirming the teaching of the other community.”

Sounds a lot like Paul in his letter to the church in Galatia: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.”

Dabru Emet concludes with what we can do together:

“Jews and Christians must work together for justice and peace. Jews and Christians, each in their own way, recognize the unredeemed state of the world as reflected in the persistence of persecution, poverty, and human degradation and misery. Although justice and peace are finally God’s, our joint efforts, together with those of other faith communities, will help bring the kingdom of God for which we hope and long. Separately and together, we must work to bring justice and peace to our world.”

In the end, the only thing we know that everyone can agree on about Jesus is that he worked alongside anyone who would join him to bring justice and peace to the world. He rarely, if ever, asked them to believe anything, least of all about him. He wrote no creeds or confessional statements. Instead, he always calls us to follow him.

We promise in our Baptism that we will be those people who strive for justice and peace for all people, not some people, not a lot of people, but all people, and respect the dignity of every, not some, not a few, not the ones like us, but every human being.

WDYSTIA? Who do you say that I am? Jesus wants to have that conversation with each of us, and is not overly insistent that we all have the same answer.

His only concern is that, whoever we say Jesus is, he can be seen in the way we pick up our crosses and follow him. The people he chooses to spend time with are not the people we always find ourselves drawn to be with on a day-to-day basis: tax collectors, sinners, the lame, the sick, prostitutes, and so on. That is the real challenge in our Baptismal promise: to follow him.

What Jesus did in any given situation was always surprising and unpredictable. Which is why it’s hard to presume to know what he would do today or tomorrow, and why it’s hard to adopt the kind of hubris it would take to wear a WWJD bracelet.

It might be easier, however, to wear one that says WDYSTIA, “Who Do You Say That I Am?” That way we can continue to have conversation with him as we strive to follow him in his mission to bring Jubilee, justice, and peace to all people while respecting the dignity of every human being.

 

— The Rev. Kirk Alan Kubicek is rector of St. Peter’s Church in Ellicott City, Maryland, a parish in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. He also travels throughout the church leading stewardship events for parishes, dioceses, clergy conferences, and diocesan conventions. He has long been involved in the work of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS), and the Ministry of Money. He frequently uses music and storytelling in his proclamation of the Word. 

Thank goodness for women and men who seek justice, Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 18 (B) – September 10, 2006

(RCL) Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 or Isaiah 35:4-7a; Psalm 125 or 146; James 2:1-10 (11-13), 14-17; Mark 7:24-37 

I suspect that “pushy” women do an enormous amount of the work that keeps the world going. One very popular pushy woman is Baroness Thatcher of Grantham, the first woman to serve as Britain’s Prime Minister. In the late 1980s, Mrs. Thatcher was often criticized for being “school-marmish” and “hectoring.” But if she were a man, wouldn’t they admire her for being decisive and forceful?

Today’s gospel reading is about a woman most of us would probably characterize as pushy, and perhaps aggressive and obnoxious, too. Mark tells us that Jesus “went away to the region of Tyre.” Tyre was in or near present-day Lebanon, an area occupied mostly by Gentiles. Although he tried to keep his visit there a secret, word somehow got out, and a woman of the region came to Jesus seeking help for her daughter who was possessed by a demon. Mark clearly identifies her as “a Gentile of Syrophoenician origin.” Mark does not tell us how often she came to Jesus with her request or what she said initially, but Matthew tells us that she cried out, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David.” Matthew also implies that she came to Jesus at least twice and to his disciples at least once.

Sermons on this text generally spend most of their time trying to justify Jesus’ grossly insulting rebuke to this nameless woman: “Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

Let’s consider two things about this comment. First, Jesus does not need us to defend him, and second, even if we wanted to defend Jesus, there’s no way to do it. However, it’s worth noting that God became incarnate not only in a person but also in a culture, and here Jesus gives voice to two of the most fundamental prejudices of his culture: Jewish men did not speak to or allow themselves to be spoken to by women in public, and observant Jews tried to minimize their contact with Gentiles. First Corinthians 14:34 expresses the standard attitude of Jewish men toward women in public places: they are to be “silent.”

By far the most interesting person in this story is the nameless Gentile woman who didn’t mind being pushy and who cleverly turned Jesus’ insult to her own advantage. There are two ways to look at her. First, let’s try to see her as Jesus and the disciples must have seen her: unpleasant, annoying, and impossible to get rid of. She wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. “Don’t call us; we’ll call you” would not have satisfied her. If you put her on hold and hoped she would eventually hang up, you would have been disappointed.

Now, let’s try to see her more objectively. Sometimes being pushy, aggressive, and annoying is the only way to get things done. Sometimes in hindsight we can see that “pushy,” “aggressive,” and “annoying” were just other words for “courage,” “persistence,” and “determination,” and that is we ought to see the woman in today’s Gospel reading. She defied social conventions. In Jesus’ world, women were expected to be more or less invisible and silent, but in spite of any number of spoken and unspoken cultural assumptions, the Syrophoenician woman would not be silent and persisted in seeking healing for her daughter.

Another famous “pushy” woman was the late Rosa Parks. On her way home from work in Montgomery, Alabama, in December of 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a bus and sat in the last seat reserved for “colored people.” When a white passenger boarded at the next stop, the bus driver demanded that Ms. Parks yield her seat to the white passenger. Parks refused and was arrested. But the simple act of refusing to give up her seat had a profound effect on history. It launched a boycott that brought Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to international prominence, and it was the beginning of the civil rights movement that did so much to secure basic human rights that had long been denied to African Americans.

Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat may have had influence far beyond her time and country. In the waning days of the Soviet Union, reactionaries sought to reverse the process of democratization by overthrowing the Soviet leader, Gorbachev. During the tense days of the attempted coup the world watched as Moscow’s mayor, Boris Yeltsin, literally stood up to tanks attempting to disperse the Soviet parliament. When asked what inspired him to face down tanks, Yeltsin said that he was inspired by Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement in Poland. When Walesa was asked what inspired him, he said that he had long admired Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, civil rights campaigns. When Dr. King was asked what inspired him, he said that he admired Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat. Is it possible that Rosa Parks’ defiance of injustice helped bring down the Soviet Union?

It’s tempting to shout “hooray” for pushy women, but being pushy is not enough. You also need to know whom to push. The Syrophoenician woman went to the one person who could command the demonic spirit to leave her daughter and restore the girl to soundness of mind: Jesus.

This story shows Jesus in the worst possible light, so why did Mark include it? Maybe it’s in the Gospel to encourage us. Like the Syrophoenician woman, we often come to Jesus with desperate needs: we’re out of work and need a job, or someone we love is dying, or someone has just shattered our heart. Like the nameless woman, we may pray to God day and night but find no relief. But more than likely, we pray about something once or twice and then forget about it. It’s difficult to explain why God hears and answers some prayers and seems to leave others unanswered. But God seems to expect us to be persistent in our prayers (maybe even a little pushy) and come back again and again.

The final thing we should notice about the Syrophoenician woman is the nature of her request. Begging Jesus to free her daughter from demonic power was no idle, off-hand petition. The woman was not asking for a trip to Cancun or a new car: she was seeking justice.

Thank goodness for pushy women and sometimes pushy men. Thank goodness for people who defy social conventions in their quest to right wrong. But above all, thank goodness for those who kneel at Jesus’ feet day and night and pray without ceasing. Thank goodness for women and men who seek justice and will not accept “no” for an answer – even when the “no” seems to come from God.

 

— The Rev. J. Barry Vaughn, Ph.D., has led congregations in Alabama, California, and Pennsylvania. He has preached at Harvard, Oxford, and the Chautauqua Institution and more than fifty of his sermons have been published. He is a member of the history faculty at the University of Alabama.

We are to be doers of the word, Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 17 (B) – September 3, 2006

(RCL) Song of Solomon 2:8-13 or Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9; Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9 or 15; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8,14-15, 21-23 

“Sit up straight! Elbows off the table! Napkin in your lap! Wait until everyone has been served before you begin to eat! And close your mouth when you chew!”

The rituals associated with eating begin early in a child’s life and grow more complex with our journey toward maturity. In every culture these rituals are one of the ways the “in” group holds itself apart from the “out” group. Those who are like “us” eat the same foods the same way “we” do.

Perhaps one of the more curious and exciting adventures we ever embark upon is our first awareness of these differences, the very first time we venture away from home to eat dinner with a family other than our own. At their house can one get dessert without eating everything on the plate? What is that stuff on the plate, anyway? So many differences define us: Is belching after dinner an expected compliment for the host or an embarrassment to your mother? Do they eat dinner with a fork, their fingers, or chopsticks? Is cold spaghetti or Cocoa Puffs one of the mainstays of their breakfast diet?

Though we can laugh at the mystery of our differences, when it comes to food, at the time the Gospels were written, food laws were a serious matter for Jews.

Many struggled to hold on to their identity after the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. Enforcing rules and regulations for maintaining purity was one way to maintain a sense of themselves as the people of Israel.

It was God’s commandment, after all, not unlike the admonishments of parents to “mind your manners and remember who you are” in the foreign land of a friend’s home.

Listen up Israel, says Moses, to the Israelites. Folks will notice how you behave, and folks talk.

Do what God tells you, and your upbringing will honor God. They will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people.”

For Jesus the food laws became critical arguing points to challenge the exclusion of Gentiles from the kingdom of God. A new identity for Israel was unfolding and it required a shift in understanding the purpose of the law. Table manners are not after all meant for banishing to the basement those who aren’t worthy enough to eat. They are meant to help make dining a pleasurable experience for everyone.

But the controversy over food laws persisted, and in the early Church reflected tensions between Jewish and Gentile Christians that kept them from table fellowship together.

Today, for us, other controversies keep Christians from coming to the table together. Opinions about policies having to do with genetic research, war, medical care, education, the environment, and gender give us all the opportunity for violent disagreement, if we let them.

Each of these areas of contention represent deeply held convictions about how we are to live. These convictions in part, tell us who we are. When they are challenged, we get scared. It feels as if our very existence is threatened. And it is fear, ultimately, that fuels the evil intentions of the heart.

What defines us? Jesus perhaps might have said, it’s not so much that “you are what you eat,” but “what’s eating you.”

Jesus reassures us that what we need to worry about isn’t whether we get the rituals exactly right. What we need to reflect upon is how willing we are to reach out to the people across the street who see things and do things differently than we do.

We are to be doers of the word, and not merely “hearers who deceive themselves,” James writes.

Jesus challenges us to see beyond the differences that threaten to isolate us from each other. He calls us to be together at the table so that we might find we have more in common than our evil intentions. Eucharist, pot-luck suppers, coffee hour, pizza parties, picnics, cookouts – we are called together to gather to at the table to remember that we all depend upon the grace of the One who loves us.

We come together again and again to give thanks and to be sent out once again humbled by that revelation. How do we show it forth, not only with our lips but in our lives? James suggests one specific practice: Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; Anger does not produce God’s righteousness.

The story is told of a family and friends gathered for a special dinner that called for the best china and everyone’s favorite recipes. All were seated at the table, waiting hungrily for the turkey to be served so dinner could begin. The proud cook strode through the doorway, the weight of the platter straining her grip, and she tripped on the carpet’s edge. As she fell, the turkey slid across the floor.

There was a moment of dead silence before the hostess declared in a bright voice directed to the cook: “It’s no problem, everything is all right. Just take that one back to the kitchen, and bring in the other one you prepared as back up.”

Of course, there was no second turkey. But a turkey appeared, moments later, nevertheless. Dinner was served.

Jesus challenges the purity laws so fiercely protected by the Pharisees and scribes who have come down from Jerusalem. It is in the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law that God’s will is to be found.

Pure and undefiled religion has to do with caring for others in distress, not stressing over pure religious practices.

Life in God, the creator of all, is our common ground, not the source of our differences. But the evil intentions that divide our hearts speak across cultures and religions, too.

What distinguishes us as Christians is what we do with our experience of this evil – and who we offer it to for redemption. What makes us Christian is not ritual or customs, what we eat or what we fear. What defines us ultimately is our faith in the great redemptive love that calls us into being and commands that we be reconciled with one another. A common thread runs through the diversity of our response to that command.

As the old folk song proclaims “We are one in the spirit, we are one in the lord. They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, they will know we are Christians by our love.”

 

— The Rev. Mary H. Ogus is rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Clinton, North Carolina. A graduate of the M. Div. and STM programs at the General Seminary in NewYork City, she is in her second year of parish ministry.