Fulfilling God’s Dreams

IMG_2399One of the great and humbling honors of serving Episcopal Relief & Development is the opportunity I have to visit our work around the world.  

In April, I led a pilgrimage of friends and supporters to Zambia to learn about our work with children.  

For the last several years we have worked with the Zambian Anglican Council Outreach Program (ZACOP) to establish nearly 70 Early Childhood Development Centers across the country.  

We’ve focused on the most vulnerable children—those impacted in one way or another by HIV/AIDS.  To date we’ve served over 10,000 children. We’re scaling the work up over the next three to five years.  

What I love about this program is that it speaks both to my head and my heart.

Continue reading “Fulfilling God’s Dreams”

God’s Jewels

alcyonewebsterikeulemansAnyone who knows me will attest that I am fundamentally a city person.  Having lived in New York City on and off for over 30 years, my instincts are well-honed and distinctly urban.  I can emerge from the subway and my sense of direction is intact. I know the most likely corners on which to catch a taxi during rush hour.  My knowledge of animals is limited to the best kinds of pets for apartments.

So, when I recently found myself on safaris in Zambia and Botswana, I was out of my element.  Unending open space. Myriad shades of green. Where do you even begin to look?

It was disorienting.

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One billboard outside Sandusky, Ohio

Each year my wife and I attend St. Bartholomew’s three-hour Good Friday service.  Each year I wonder how on earth I will sit through three hours of music, extended periods of silent prayer, readings on the seven last words of Christ, and a homily on each.  Each year the time disappears. Continue reading “One billboard outside Sandusky, Ohio”

An Australian Parable of the Return of the Prodigal Son

Palm Sunday and Holy Week are not my favorite liturgical season.  I endure them in anticipation of Easter. And so, this year I’ve frittered away the final days of Lent and Holy Week binge-watching The Heart Guy, an Australian television series.   I have a soft spot for Australia, and Australian television programs give me the sensation of being there, if only for the duration of the show.

368px-Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_ProjectThe Heart Guy isn’t brilliant television, but it’s fun and harmless.  It chronicles the misadventures of an arrogant and infallible Sydney heart surgeon, Hugh Knight.  Dr. Knight has bad boy habits involving drugs and other misbehavior that result in his surgery license being temporarily suspended.  The medical board sentences Knight to a year’s probation at a country hospital in a town called Whyhope. The aptly named Whyhope also happens to be the town where Dr. Knight grew up and where his family still lives.

Knight returns to Whyhope with his tail between his legs and quickly begins the process of re-integrating into his family and community.  Complications ensue.

At a deeper level, however, The Heart Guy is a retelling of the parable of The Prodigal Son as found in Luke 15:11-32. Continue reading “An Australian Parable of the Return of the Prodigal Son”

Sinking into Silence

0EE325D5-71E6-4199-9E41-E36950CDD34C.jpegEach year I try to spend a week in silent retreat. With my travel schedule, that can be a challenge. However, if I attach the retreat to other travel, so that I’m already away from the temptations of the office and the “to do” lists of home, I can sometimes swing it. Continue reading “Sinking into Silence”

And yet…

I try not to regret much in life.  God knows I have no cause for regret.  I’ve been abundantly blessed from birth.  Just about any white male born in the developed world starts life on at least second, if not third, base in the baseball game of life compared to the rest of humanity.  So regret is nothing but self-indulgence. And yet…silhouette-1082129_640

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Fog Over the Promised Land

stock-photo-17181584-mountain-manLast Thursday afternoon, just before heading home to New York, I stood on Mount Nebo in Jordan and looked west to the Promised Land.  Mount Nebo is where Moses stood at the end of his life, having led the Israelites in the desert for forty years, and died.

Today there is a modern Catholic church built over the remains of an ancient Byzantine church on Mount Nebo.  The mosaics from the Byzantine church have been beautifully restored and are displayed as part of the modern church’s design.

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Abir and Smadar

IMG_2132A good pilgrimage leaves one with more questions than answers and this one has not disappointed.  Several evenings we were blessed to have guests come and talk with us about the current situation here in the Holy Land.  It’s hard not to be discouraged.  How does one get to a just peace?  What does that even mean?

But I did see God moving in the lives of those most heartbroken by the conflict.  It was in their brokenness that I found hope.

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“Do not be afraid…”

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Today I find myself in the Holy Land—on a pilgrimage.  This is not my first pilgrimage, nor, do I suspect, will it be my last.  Moreover, this is my 5th or 6th time visiting many of the sites on this trip.  Yet, each visit is a little different.  Each visit challenges and rewards me in unexpected ways.

This time I have the luxury and challenge of not being the group leader.  I can enter into the visit as a true pilgrim.  

What does it mean to be a pilgrim? Continue reading ““Do not be afraid…””

What kind of person does God want me to become in 2018?

NewYearsResolution1915SecondPostcardChristmas decorations tend to linger around our house until Ash Wednesday.  I’m always reluctant to sweep them away too quickly after December 25th.  After all, there are twelve days of Christmas—it’s a season not a day.  Certainly any decorations associated with the Three Kings have their place in our home through Epiphany.  

Those who know me well will tell you that once I’m done with something, I’m done with it.  Off to Goodwill go clothes I’m not wearing anymore.  Out goes leftover food that hasn’t been touched.  Half drunk glasses of water go into the dishwasher.  Time to move on.  I’m not sentimental about things in the rearview mirror.   Continue reading “What kind of person does God want me to become in 2018?”