Open Minds Blog

Open Minds Blog

Fill the Empty Space…with God

On Wednesday, at our Ash Wednesday service, we began the 40-day-long season of Lent, a season that, from the early days of the church, Christians have observed as preparation for Easter.  Part of that preparation has been hearing about, praying and meditating on Jesus’ life and death. Part of it has been about examining our own lives, looking for those places we feel connected to God (have caught God’s wave) and those places where we are adrift. And part of the Lenten preparation is contemplating the reality that we each will die and therefore what we do with our lives is important—to us and to God. Read more »

Annual Spring Cleaning Drive

Spring is the time we shake off the winter, greet the sunshine, and tidy up the spaces we call home. We all experience a sense of satisfaction when chores are completed—a great feeling of pride of place.

Through the annual Episcopal Community Services Spring Cleaning Drive, we collect household supplies and create welcome baskets for the women and children transitioning out of St. Barnabas Mission and for the families in the ECS Permanent Housing program.

Please consider donating the following items: Dishwashing Detergent; Comet Cleanser; Sponges & Disinfecting Wipes; Toilet Cleaner & Brush; All-Purpose Cleanser; Window Cleaner; Rubber Gloves; Bucket, Mop, Broom & Dustpan; Laundry Detergent & Bleach; Paper Towels & Toilet Paper.

You can put them in a laundry basket in the front of the church. Please bring in all donations by Sunday, April 2.

God is in our Midst

Jesus immigrant web


The last week or so has been very hard—disorienting. As I said on Sunday, it feels like the world is upside down. I have watched in distress at the threats to the vulnerable among us, the callous disregard for the poor, the immigrant, and the refugee, the disregard for the Christ in our midst. I have watched in distress at the threats to our vulnerable planet which is itself an expression of God’s own life. I have watched in distress as lies become the norm and facts become “alternative.” It is hard to know what to protest from minute to minute—how to react and respond. And while I know many of us are engaging in acts of resistance, it is all exhausting. And it is easy to become despondent. Read more »

New Information Comes to Light about George Croghan

croghanWe have recently learned from Allan Hasbrouck, a Christ Church member and volunteer in their archives, that George Croghan (1718-1782), who is buried in our churchyard, was a friend and rival of George Washington from the time of the French and Indian War. According to the Mount Vernon website:

“George Croghan was a prominent trader, frontiersman, and Indian agent. Born in Ireland around 1718, Croghan emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1741. Within a few years, Croghan became a successful western fur trader. A quick-witted, and savvy negotiator, Croghan was a brilliant intermediary who fellow frontiersman Christopher Gist once labeled “King of the Traders.”1

From the 1740s forward the Ohio country was at the center of expansionist ambitions west of the Appalachians, and Croghan was a central player in those ambitions. A key to Croghan’s success was establishing trading posts in Native American villages—a method practiced by French traders— rather than wait for Indian customers to come to him, the common British practice. Croghan also learned at least two Native languages, Delaware and Mohawk, eventually becoming an Onondaga Council sachem. As a result of his pivotal role as a mediator, William Johnson appointed Croghan to the coveted position of Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs, a position he held for fifteen years from 1756 until 1771. Read more »

The Christmas Miracle

ClairephotoOnce again we are approaching Christmas. Engaging in a final burst of activity before December 24:  shopping to be finished, cookies to be made, homes to be decorated, round after round of holiday parties to enjoy.

And finally we get to the stillness and quiet of Christmas Eve. Of the beautiful manger scene, with Mary looking serene, Joseph looking proud, and the baby fast asleep. Which looks nothing at all like any of the births I ever attended as a nurse-midwife. Each one of those births was beautiful, yes, but also gritty, sweaty, earthy, messy, and painful.
And in the most profound miracle ever—the miracle that is really hard to wrap our minds around—God chose to enter into that grit, sweat, mud, mess, and pain right along with us. God, Creator of the stars of night, found in 7 or so pounds of flesh, vulnerable and helpless. This particular miracle assures us that there is nowhere God will not go to reach us. Assures us that this world, our flesh, is shot through with holiness. Assures us that God is with us now and always. I am well aware that it is difficult sometimes to see that, to know that. But I also know that, if we are looking, God shows up in all sorts of surprising places and forms—even in us.

Read more »

Outdoor Nativity Light Show

Consider the true meaning of the season this year at “Lights of Christmas”—a new outdoor light show at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at Third and Pine Streets. The free 10-minute show, open to the public, will play every evening from December 18 through December 31.

Visitors can view the show from the sidewalk along Third Street, near the corner of Pine Street in the Society Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia. The show will be staged in that corner of the St. Peter’s churchyard, along the side of the historic, brick church. The “Lights of Christmas” show will begin at 5 p.m. every evening and the show will run every 15 minutes through 7 p.m.

The centerpiece of the show is the nativity story, recited by Jen Childs, co-founder and artistic director of local theater company 1812 Productions. The show will also feature a 6-foot-tall multi-color LED-lit nativity, complete with the holy family, shepherd, wise men, angel, and animals.

lightsofchristmas Read more »

We Need a Little Advent

One of those (to me) annoying “Christmas” songs we hear on the radio a lot this time of year is “We all need a little Christmas, right this very minute.” To which I want to respond, what we all need is a little Advent. Not because I am channeling my inner Scrooge and am anti-Christmas, far from it. But because what we desperately need before we can greet the coming of the Christ into the world, into our hearts and lives, is a time of reflection and preparation. A time of waiting, examining our lives as individuals and our common life together, and making room within us for God to be born again.

The roots of Advent, as Gayle Boss writes in All Creation Waits, run deep under the Christian church. They are found in the earth and its seasons. In the northern hemisphere, Advent happened after the harvest had been brought in and after the people have heaved a sigh of relief, knowing that their labor had paid off and they had food for the winter. Feast! Was their cry. And yet, and yet, the days were getting shorter and shorter. Darkness seemed to settle in and the warmth of the sun faded from the land. They became anxious, their bodies asking whether the sun and warmth would return. They were reminded how little of life was in their control. Read more »

We are an Easter People

I am not usually at a loss for words, but today it is hard to find them. Hard to put into words the grief, shock, and fear I feel for our nation. Hard to reconcile the hate filled, fear filled speech we have heard over the last few months with the image of the people I thought we, as a nation, were. And it is hard to figure out how to keep going—what the way forward looks like. We are so divided—we seem to have 2 completely different ideas of America.

Since I moved into Queen Village a year ago, every morning on my walk to church I pass a little shop on 2nd Street—a book shop with Arabic writing on the window. And every morning there is an older Arab man sitting facing the window working on an old fashioned type writer. I’ve often looked at him and thought I should go in and talk to him. This morning, as I glanced over at him, I was overwhelmed by that need—so I went in and introduced myself, then proceeded to apologize to him—telling him that I saw him as a brother and fellow citizen—that he was as American as any of us—and I burst into tears. He very kindly and calmly took my hand, looked at me and in a thick accent said, “It will be OK. He said what he said, and people say what they say, and that is reality—but it will be OK.” So then, of course, I felt guilty for barging in on him and laying my white guilt on him. But I was profoundly moved by his sense of calm in the midst of what feels to me like a storm that has no discernible end. And while I do believe ultimately, he is right, it will be OK, I am finding it a little hard to see right now. Though seeing such grace and courage in the face of someone who would seem to have much to fear, felt like a glimmer of hope. Read more »

Pray. Vote. Pray.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Today marks the end of a long and extraordinarily divisive election season. Today Americans go to the polls and decide who our next president will be. This is one of our highest civic duties and, this year in particular, one whose outcome will set us on starkly different paths.

So today, pray. Then vote. Then pray some more (St. Peter’s is having a brief service of prayer and reflection at 8 p.m. this evening). Because whatever happens today we have work to do tomorrow. On Sunday we baptized a baby and an adult. As we spoke the baptismal covenant, I was once again reminded who we are and whose we are—what our call is. It is to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself” and it is to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” It is to be agents of God’s peace and justice in a broken and hurting world, to care for the lost, the lonely, the sick, the stranger, the immigrant, the outcast. It is to recognize that all, without exception, are beloved children of God. It is to love our neighbor, our friend, our enemy alike; to greet all as Christ. And it is to mirror the self-giving love of the One who was willing to die rather than capitulate to the power-mad system of the world. This call is true no matter who is president, or who controls Congress. The specifics of the work may differ depending which path we walk as a nation, but the call is the same. So whatever happens today, tomorrow we carry on with this work that God has given us to do. Read more »