St. Michael’s Day: October 1, 2017
The Rev. J.C. Austin, Founder and Executive Director
of The Studio for Leadership Arts
Last week our gospel reading pointed us toward how we deal with conflict in the community, and reminded us that when we come together, even in our humanness and our bumping up against each other, Jesus is with us. This week we go further in the same theme, with Paul warning the Romans against judging one another and Jesus teaching his disciples about forgiveness. All this emphasis on what can go wrong between us – I’ll admit, I’m kind of wishing we had some happier material to work with for our first day of Sunday School. But there it is. And yes, these are certainly words to live by. Stop being so judgy against each other, says Paul. Forgive each other, says Jesus. Or else. There’s a moral to the story – and you’d better get it. (more…)
Many many years ago I worked a summer as a camp counselor. I was fresh out of college and not sure what to do next, so when a new friend invited me to come on her staff for 8 weeks in Montana, I agreed. We were a small staff and at first had a great time together, in that summer camp kind of way. We just loved each other. But it rained that summer, pretty much every week, and the camp turned into a mud pit. One after the other, each of us on staff got sick with some kind of chest infection (which we called the staff infection). Two staff members dated, then broke up, and reformed as couples with other staff members. One counselor never showed up to do the kitchen work when assigned. We got sick of singing the same camp songs week after week. In the first half of the summer, we talked about moving to Missoula and renting a house together at the end of camp. By the end of the summer, half of us weren’t speaking to the other half, and we all left in a huff.
While I was on vacation, I started reading a book called the Life of Pi, the story of a sixteen year old boy named Pi who gets stuck on a lifeboat for 227 days with a 450 pound Royal Bengal tiger in the Pacific Ocean. (more…)
Some of you know that my first job out of seminary was as a digital media resource expert serving Christian educators across the Episcopal Church. The Center for the Ministry of Teaching had never had a “Digital Missioner” before, so for me one of the joys of this position was getting to figure out what the job was actually supposed to be.
Did you see the Saturday Night Live sketch with Tina Fey this week, giving her take on Charlottesville? She started talking about the horrific events there, and the horrible news of the last several months, and said, there’s just one thing to do: you go to the store and you get a sheet cake with an American flag on it, and you get a fork, and you start eating. And she started doing just that, screaming into the cake a litany of all the horror we’ve seen in our country over the last several months. I’m hoping someone brings a sheet cake to the potluck today.
Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty.
On our vacation a few weeks ago, we took our kids backpacking up into the Sierra mountains in California for four days. It was idyllic – perfectly sunny, perfectly warm but not too hot, the lakes perfect for swimming. We found wonderful places to camp on granite slabs with wide open views, we had long times each day of just relaxing together outside. We didn’t want to come back down at the end. Back down below, we wondered if we were at war yet with North Korea, what further chaos had erupted in the Oval Office, what bad news there might be from our families. Up in the mountains, none of that could reach us. And so we just wanted to stay. (more…)
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ah, it’s summer. A chance to slow down, to go outside, to see things a little differently. I just returned from several weeks of doing things differently – a week at the Family Camp we’ve helped run in California and a few more weeks of traveling, backpacking, visiting friends and family up and down the West Coast. I have been slow to get back up to speed since my return on Wednesday. But if I’m honest, I’ll admit, I don’t really want to get back up to speed. Over the past several weeks I did a lot of slowing down: sitting outside looking at views and listening to the wind and the water; chatting idly with people I’ve known for a long time; reading books and magazines that didn’t purport to improve me or my professional identity but were just good reads. We traveled many miles, we hiked in the mountains, I took long runs, and really, all of it was relaxing. It was an alternate reality. And this reality now is having a hard time tamping that one back down. Deadline? Whatever. What’s for dinner? Vacation is subversive. (more…)