Saturday, January 31, 2009


Dear Abbey Members and Friends:

Below is today's meditation from Fr. Don Talafous, St. John's Abbey. I like the reaffirmation that God wants good things for us in this life, but we are creatures of this earth and subject to he 'laws of nature'. For me today the message reminds me of the 4th tenet of our RoL: "Show fellowship with a welcoming heart seeking Christ in everyone I meet, offering comfort and celebration." Fellowship--being present for another --is one of the greatest gifts we can give.

Shalom and blessings, George

Protestant preacher William Sloane Coffin just after the death of his college-age son in an accident confesses to blowing up at a neighbor. This well-intentioned person had brought in a dinner for Coffin and his family and said, "I just don't understand the will of God." He said: "I'll say you don't, friend. Do you think it was God's will that Alex never fixed that lousy windshield wiper, that he was driving too fast in a storm, that he probably had a couple too many drinks? That there are no lights or guardrail on that road?" Coffin says that nothing sets him off so easily as "intelligent people who seem to think that God goes around the world with a finger on the trigger, a fist around the knife, hands on the steering wheel." His point, of course, is that bad things happen because of human or natural causes. An arsonist or a faultily installed piece of equipment starts a fire; the friction in the earth's crust causes a 6.6 quake; a person possessed by hate fires the gun; a careless driver hits the child. On the positive side, we should be reminded that grain gets to starving people because of human ingenuity and generosity; that a limb nearly ripped off in a farm accident is saved by skilled doctors; bad governments are ousted by committed and responsible citizens. The frustrated woman takes it out on God in prayer: "All we have on this earth are problems and a bunch of dummies who will never figure out how to solve them. Even I could make a better world than this one." From deep within she heard: "That's what you're supposed to do." God needs us to act in this world; we need God's strength to bring about changes for the better.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bishop Gene Robinson's Inaugural Prayer

Dear Urban Abbey members and Friends:

I was sent Bishop Gene Robinson's prayer for the opening event of the inaugural at the Lincoln Memorial. Following is a brief commentary and the prayer. I find it truly an amazing and wonderful prayer. I wanted to share it with you.

Shalom and blessings, George

As you may know, the Right Rev. Gene Robinson, the openly Gay Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, gave the opening prayer at yesterday's Lincoln Memorial event. It was the first event in the inaugural festivities this year. HBO, which had paid for exclusive rights to the event, chose not to broadcast Bishop Robinson's prayer. So if you watched there you wouldn't have caught it or even known that it occurred. NPR didn't air it either. There's no record of it in images placed on the sites of Getty Images, New York Times and the Washington Post. It's a complete erasure of his ever having delivered the prayer. So we're going to celebrate it by providing here the full text of Bishop Robinson's prayer. I suggest you forward this around so that everyone has a chance to enjoy it.

Opening Inaugural Event, Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC, January 18, 2009
Delivered by the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson:

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God's blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will:

Bless us with tears - for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger - at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort - at the easy, simplistic "answers" we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience - and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility - open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance - replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity - remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand - that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Save the dates: Feb 22 and March 28

Two exciting Abbey events are coming up this spring, so mark your calendars now. On the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009 Esther de Waal will meet with the Urban Abbey at the National Cathedral from approximately 2pm to 6pm for a special retreat focused on discernment. Part of this event will include Choral Evensong, regularly scheduled at the Cathedral from 4-5 pm on Sundays. More details will be forthcoming soon. Big thanks to Abbey member and former Abbott Wayne Lewis for arranging this exciting event with a leading Benedictine thinker.

Also mark your calendars for Saturday, March 28, 2009 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm for the Urban Abbey's spring community meeting. So far, nothing but the date and the location - St. George's parish hall - has been decided, so if you would like to be involved in planning this community meeting, please contact either me or any member of the Abbey leadership team (Missie Burman, Ron Crocker and Kathie Panfil).

More details soon, so stay tuned!