Of Kitchens and Christmas – Br. James Koester

John 1:1-14

Memories are a powerful force in the human psyche. They have the ability to trap and imprison, but they have also the ability to liberate and free. They have the power to make one weep in despair or grief and to laugh with the delight of a child. They have the power to shape and mold a life and in hindsight to help make sense of all that was and is, and even is to be. As we all know, it doesn’t take much to trigger a memory: a sound, a taste, a smell, an image, even just a word or phrase and suddenly we are back there as if it were happening this very instant.

I have one such memory that crops up in my mind and heart on a regular basis and it happens many days at Morning Prayer. I had no idea at the time, that the event itself was to be a harbinger of things to come. As a memory it continues to delight and console, and even assure me.

I couldn’t have been more than 9 or 10 and my mother and I were alone in the kitchen. I can’t remember what we were doing, but we were doing something together, and we were talking as a 9-year-old boy talks with his mother, or at least as this 9-year-old boy and his mother did. I was puzzled and I wanted to know something. The burning question I had, had something to do with church. (It’s okay of you want to roll your eyes at this point.) We had been to church as some point before this conversation, and it had been a Morning Prayer Sunday (if you have been an Episcopalian for more than 50 or 60 years, you’ll remember those). We had sung the Te Deum, and what I wanted to know, and what had puzzled me, was what exactly did we mean when we sang: When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man: thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.[1] I knew what all the words in that phrase meant except one, and I wanted to know what was meant by the word abhor. Read More

Celebration of the Ministry of M. Thomas Shaw – The Rt. Rev. Frank T. Griswold, 25th Presiding Bishop

Celebration of the Ministry of M. Thomas Shaw, 15th Bishop of Massachusetts

Presiding Bishop Frank T. GriswoldIsaiah 64:3-5,8; 1 Cor. 12:12-13, 20-26; John 15:1-12

I am grateful for the invitation to break the bread of God’s word on this occasion as we gather here to give thanks for the amazingly fruitful episcopal ministry of the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw.

I am particularly pleased to be with you this morning to celebrate someone who has been a close friend for many years – since the 1980’s and his years as Superior of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, and, additionally, for the past 20 years, as a colleague in the House of Bishops where he has been deeply valued as a person of wisdom and insight with the ability to draw to draw people together beyond differing points of view into a broader understanding and wider vision.  Read More