Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Do We Opt for Comfort Rather Than Change?

One goal of the Urban Abbey blog is sharing discoveries we run across during our daily times of meditation and prayer. Many of us use a number of different sources and devotionals, so sharing not only our discoveries, but where we found them can be a joy!

Patty (my wife) and I read from Forward Day By Day, a devotional from Forward Movement, "an agency of the Episcopal Church." Today I was struck by the line
"...we have been warned that growth brings change and that change can be scary. Unfortunately, many of us have taken that warning to heart and have opted for comfort rather than change."
St. George's IS changing, and we are not always comfortable. As part of St. George's, our Urban Abbey changes as well.

To make matters a bit more difficult, many of these changes are not things we have control over, we don't have the option of "comfort"... But we do have the comfort of God and our St. George's (and Urban Abbey) communities to hold to during the most uncomfortable of the changes...

May God be in our communities!


If you wish more information about Forward Movement, you can find it at

Here is the Meditation for today (Wednesday, Jan 26, 2011):

wednesday, january 26 (timothy and titus, companions of saint paul)

Isaiah 49:1-12. …saying to the prisoners, “Come out,” to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”
Over the past thirty years, much has been written about church growth and the drop in mainline church membership. I read what pertains to the Episcopal Church, and what I read is usually accompanied by complaints about the direction being taken and some aspect of inclusivity.
When we in the church feel weak or threatened, we tend to be a selective bunch. It has been over ­thirteen years since a new presiding bishop, Edmond Lee ­Browning, issued a historic pronouncement from the pulpit of Washington National Cathedral: “There shall be no outcasts in this church.” Yet, in many parishes it is a struggle to cast our loving, accepting eyes on all those around us.
At every vestry retreat I have ever attended on the subject of church growth, we have been warned that growth brings change and that change can be scary. Unfortunately, many of us have taken that warning to heart and have opted for comfort rather than change.
It is time to reflect on today’s verse from Isaiah and our call to proclaim, “Come out…Show yourselves.” (1998)
PRAY for the Diocese of Lucknow (North India)
Ps 119:49-72 * 49, [53]; Galatians 2:11-21; Mark 6:13-29

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr Day

Dear Urban Abbey members and Friends: It is not my week to post a reflection, but I think Steve Garnaas-Holmes has a wonderful message for us in his reflection below. Love of our Savior and being close to God are what we strive for in our Rule of Life and our life in Community. On this day we remember a person who is almost “bigger than life”. I wonder how I who am relatively insignificant and unknown could ever effect any change in the world. But then, I remember that if I can touch just one person by my love and compassion, I have accomplished a great deal. We change the world one person at a time.

I encourage us all to be more loving and compassionate in our world.

Shalom and blessings, George

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Violence never changes the world. It only adds to the wounds. Only nonviolence will heal us. Nonviolence is not passivity; it is more than “not fighting.” It is the transformative act of bringing the power of compassion to bear upon the world. It requires of us the courage to risk suffering, and the love to care for those who oppose us.

It begins with the transformation of our own hearts. We confront ourselves in humble self-honesty, confess our own violence, and ask the God of Peace to remove from us our anger, fear, greed, and the willingness to hurt and dehumanize others for our own gain. We experience our own forgiveness by the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Forgiven of our own faults and injustices, we remain aware of our own sin. We see ourselves as part of a unified whole of humanity, not a separate individual. We are able to love others as ourselves: mindful of our common failings and frailties and that we are all equally flawed and forgiven, God's Beloved. We then can act for the sake of justice without judgment toward persons, without bitterness or blame, but with clear hearts loving even our enemies. Ultimately it is not our actions but the love with which we carry out those actions that accomplishes powerful things and changes the world.

Many will laugh and say that simply being kind in the face of great evil will not change the world. But think of it: who changed the world, Jesus or Pilate? The British colonialists or Gandhi? The sheriff with the dogs, or Martin Luther King, Jr? Nonviolence is the only power capable of changing the world. Let it begin in your own heart.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Serve others...

Dear Urban Abbey members & friends:

As we begin the new year and contemplate resolutions and changes we want to effect in our lives this year, I have been drawn to the 3rd element of our Rule of Life -- Serve others, share the tasks of the Urban Abbey community, and be mindful of God in my daily life.

How do we serve others? How do you serve others? For me, serving others is bound up with a change in my own own attitude and subjecting my will to someone else's. I find that I get so involved in doing what I want (or think I need to do) that I don't see others needs or take the time to just listen or be present with them. I find it difficult to generously give of my talent and time to our community or our larger community. It is so easy to find excuses - work, family, leisure - to satisfy my conscience. These are all worthy and needed parts of living, but it all comes down to balance in life.

The second part of this element is sharing the tasks of our Community. The measure I've heard most is that 10 percent of the members take an active part in the organization. I believe we in the Urban Abbey are called to a higher standard. If we are to be a vibrant and enriching community, we all must participate, no matter how small a part we play.

Taken together these form my resolution for this year - to work at changing my heart so that I can give of myself to others genuinely (heart as well as outward signs).

How do you serve others?

Shalom and many blessings, George