Tuesday, September 24, 2013

House of Bishop's Day Five

This morning we heard a panel share their experience of how they did mission on the ground. The most impressive was the Rev. Rebecca Stevens, who has begun a women's ministry called Thistle Farms--a program for working with women who are escaping prostitution and drug abuse. She has raised millions of dollars and her program has expanded throughout the world. She spoke with passion and reminded us that "A Church without beggars is a museum." This theme was picked up in our afternoon Eucharist when Stephanie Spellers challenged us to "Go, talk, heal, and dwell" with the communities we serve. Great lively music too!

In the evening I joined two other bishops in planning our trip to the House of Bishops in Taiwan next fall. We hope to extend our stay there for a few days to see more of the work of the church in Asia. Conversation was great, and the food at the cafe we visited excellent too.

Laura returned today to Phoenix, where I will be too in a couple more days!

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Location:Marriott Dr,Nashville,United States

House of bishops video

The HOB rocks at the Eucharist yesterday.

YouTube Video

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Monday, September 23, 2013

House of Bishops Day Three, Sunday Sept 22.

September 22, 2013, Sunday. Today our "Sabbath time" continued from yesterday afternoon. We had a leisurely breakfast, then got on a big bus for worship at the cathedral. It was a lovely historic building with a fine organ. The Presiding Bishop preached and the Gospel passage was on "you cannot serve God and wealth." A bit ironic given the beautiful setting. Back to hotel for a quiet afternoon of a rest and then dinner with Chuck Robertson and Laura downtown at Jack's BBQ. I was determined to have some of this famous local delicacy between leaving, and was not disappointed. We returned for a "fireside chat" with the Presiding Bishop--we even had an virtual hearth projected on the big screen. Much on everyone's mind--The massacre in Pakistan and the suffering in Colorado.

The picture is from the inside of Jack's BBQ.

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Location:Marriott Dr,Nashville,United States

Sunday, September 22, 2013

House of Bishops, Day Three. September 21, 2013

A rainy morning. Had breakfast with Nick and Karen Knisely. It was good to catch up with them. Then onto morning Eucharist. At the morning session we had a very interesting presentation by Bishop Tom Breidental of S. Ohio about the theology of mission in the church. He gave me some good sermon ideas--on the top of this would be that deacons were the first ordained order in the church and that their engagement with the community should set the tone for the rest of the church. Our "sabbath" time began after lunch, and I used the afternoon to catch up with some reading. It was quite pleasant sitting out by the pool enjoying the early fall weather--too cold to go swimming! The evening was given over our class dinner (those bishops consecrated in 2003/2004. Bishop Mark Hollingsworth of Ohio found a great spot for us in an elegant place with a private dining room. Including spouses, there were twenty of us. As always, a good time was had by all. Here we all are in our "regulation" blue blazers and khaki pants. (Not the best backdrop!) We have all been ordained for 10 years.

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Location:Marriott Dr,Nashville,United States

Saturday, September 21, 2013

House of Bishops, Day Two, Friday, Sept 20.

September 20, 2013 Friday. I had two small breakfast meetings with the Presiding Bishop this morning on a couple of sensitive issues. Then onto morning prayer under the "big tent" outside, and a series of presentations on reconcilation, I did a lot of tweeting about this,, good wifi connections. At lunch it was back to the private room to talk with the Bishop of Jerusalem. I think I made some good suggestions as to how we might move forward with his fund raising needs. After lunch it was back into plenary session to talk about what was being done with the committee on restructure of the church and to have some discussion and feedback about this. Then eucharist, with chaplain Stephanie Spellers preaching. Always great to praise God with one's brothers and sisters in ministry! Then most got onto a bus to to downtown for a reception, but we were both tired and had not signed up, so we went to dinner at the hotel with much conversation about the wonderful experience that Laura had with Thistle Farm, a project she visited to helps women who have been abused Her visit there touched her deeply, and I suspect those her know her will be hearing at lot more about this project.

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Location:Marriott Dr,Nashville,United States

House of Bishops, Day One. Thursday Sept 19

September 19, 2013 Thursday. Travel Day. We left our hotel a bit before 6 AM in the dark and rain and arrived at the Bilbao airport about 15 minutes later. Easy flight, so we had a lot of time in the very nice lounge at Madrid, free food and drinks, better than the US! Our flight was long and bumpy, but I got a lot of reading done, not so much sleep. It was a bit tight to get to the flight to Nashville, but we made it OK, and took the little jet over to Nashville around thunderheads. Shuttle to the Marriott Hotel where we arrived just in time for the opening reception and dinner. We were feeling pretty good despite the long travel day. It was great to see so many old friends. After dinner We had a great presentation of country music by a local Nashville singer. And so off to bed after 9000 miles.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Trip to Spain, Day 10, Sept. 18

September 18, 2013, Wed. Our last day. After breakfast, we went to the museum of ancient cave painting at Altamira. Picasso said, that after this, art was all downhill. The original cave is closed because of the damage of so many tourists, but there is a exact replica of it in the museum, which also contained a very detailed display about human prehistory and evolution. I was struck about how we can recognize in the work of humans 35,000 years ago, a fellow soul and co-creator. Laura did not like it as much as I though she would, however. And we all wished that we could have seen a real example of the original painting. We were there about two hours, then went back to Santillana for lunch at a different hotel. But we had an hour to kill, so I took a group back to the church and got a (clandestine) picture of one of the statues--St Ann, that I was after to send back to the folks in Old Lyme, CT.

Back on the bus and reflections on how the trip has changed us as we drove to Bilbao.
The main destination in Bilbao was the Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art. It is housed in a very dramatic modern building designed by Frank Gehry, the same architect who did the Disney Concert Hall in LA. Five of us got off the bus to see this, in that we are leaving tomorrow and will not have a chance to visit it with the rest of the group. The building is great, but the contents were very disappointing, in fact downright creepy.
We had given ourselves two hours to see this, but were ready to leave after only 45 minutes. We all felt as though we had seen the beginning of art and the end of art in one day! Picasso was right! One could not get any more downhill than this!

We had a short hike to our hotel, a very modern "european" style building in the downtown area, although sadly their internet was not modern in any way, and I gave up after a while (that is why I am writing this at the Madrid airport). We walked down the main boulevard to a casual outdoor cafe with several members of our group for our last meal in Spain. Lots of good wine and conversation, until it started raining about 10 PM. One of the hardest things to get used to in Spain is the dining hours. They are not on daylight savings time, so the sun comes up about 8, people eat breakfast at 9, lunch--the major heavy meal of the day about 1 or 2 PM, and dinner no earlier than 8.30PM. I will be glad to get back to a more familiar schedule.

As I write this, Laura and I are getting ready to board our flight from Madrid to Chicago after a quick commuter flight from Bilbao, which left in the dark and in the rain at 6.45 this morning. It is a good time to reflect on the journey.

It was a great trip, although my health situation was not at its best. I enjoyed everything one can while nursing a mild cold--which I shared with about half of the group. The food and accommodations were embarrassingly over the top, three huge and delicious meals (five courses at lunch and dinner)each day full of regional specialities. I tried to be careful, but I am sure I gained considerable weight.

Our guide was great. She read us a lot of information we were not really interested in, but she could also handle any question we put to her on almost any subject,and she was upbeat and funny. The company was great too, all fun to be with, and by the end of our time together, to share deeper and

more meaningful topics.

One question I am sure I be asked when I return is--what was the highlight for me? There were many grace filled moments--and lots of times my medievalist blood got really flowing. But the epiphany moment for me was worshipping at Santiago cathedral. I climbed the stairs to "embrace" the statue of Saint James, something pilgrims have done for hundreds of years. Having served the parish of St James in LA for 12 years, I naturally had on my mind the experiences and friends of that place. It occurred to me, "by being next to St James's remains, this is as close to Jesus as I will probably get" But then my old rationalist brain kicked in--but what if these bones aren't really his, after all the legends around it are pretty strange, and they were lost of 500 years, etc. etc. But then came the Mass. And in the enthusiasm of the priest and the joyfulness of the hundreds of pilgrims from around the world, I suddenly realized--No, THIS is as close to Jesus as you will ever get--every time you take the sacrament of bread and wine with the people of God.

So as I get ready to move onto the next phase of my trip, the House of Bishop's meeting in Nashville, I will do so with a renewed awareness of what it means to be part of Christ's body in the world and which includes a history and devotion and a mystery which is always beyond our comprehension.

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