31 January 2016


My wife and I arrived in New York on Tuesday, and we’re staying at the home of a colleague who was kind enough to have us!  Yesterday, I attended the first presbytery meeting since coming back.  I mentioned to some people that it really didn’t seem like a year had gone by.

There’s the saying that “time heals all wounds.”  I’m not sure how true that is—we need God’s grace to open our hearts—but some healing did occur.  Still, the need for healing was a rather insignificant part of a warm reception.

As I said in a recent post, I picked up some things during the past year while worshipping with Episcopalians.  One is making the sign of the cross.  I never thought that it would become part of who I am!  I still feel a bit self-conscious about it, but I also feel like something is missing within me if I fail to do it at certain times.  That was true during worship at the presbytery meeting.  Making the sign of the cross is something I’ve done while sitting in the pew and coming up for the Eucharist.  What happens when I’m again leading worship?  Would it appear to be an affectation?  (I suppose this hand-wringing goes with being an introvert.  I’m not sure.)

By the way, I also worshipped with the Lutherans this past year.  I like them, too!  (The first time I ever attended church with a congregation that actually observed the First Sunday of Advent was a Lutheran church in Florida.  There was also an infant baptism—the first time I had ever seen that done!)

So, we begin again.  The year closes, the year opens.

I’ll end with a collect for Sundays in the Book of Common Prayer:

“Lord God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ triumphed over the powers of death and prepared for us our place in the new Jerusalem: Grant that we, who have this day given thanks for his resurrection, may praise you in that City of which he is the light, and where he lives and reigns for ever and ever.”

16 January 2016

soon to be a New Yorker (again)

Banu and I have spent the past year in the Volunteer State, experiencing a quasi-sabbatical.  After some twists and turns, professionally and personally, we’re ready to return to the Empire State.

We arrived on the first of February, Super Bowl Sunday (with the notorious Seahawks-Patriots game).  In the weeks after, we experienced a number of snowy and icy days.  That’s rare for Tennessee, but as we were out driving, it helped to serve making the transition from New York a bit more seamless.  Snow-covered scenery was a familiar sight.

But the call of parish ministry has us heading back north.  My mom’s health has dramatically improved, and some necessary work has been done on the house.  And it’s been wonderful to reconnect with my sister and her family.  My nephews have turned into a pair of good-looking young men!

I will miss Nashville and being near a big city.  Still, we plan on frequent visits back here, having a home away from home.

[Banu was behind the camera in the Thanksgiving Day photo.  From left to right are Curtis, me, my mom, Kaleb, Curtis (big Curtis!), and my sister Kristen]

02 January 2016

living liturgically

“The offering of the body in prayer is at the heart of life and includes everything in our daily life.” (124)  So writes Caryll Houselander.  She speaks of it “giving the majesty of liturgical action.”  She adds that we “carry this idea into the world…making life a liturgy.”  When we live this way, we do so with liturgical power.

For the large majority of 2015, we worshipped with the Episcopalians.  I’m grateful to have gotten better acquainted with the Episcopal Church and with its liturgy.  I have come to admire the Book of Common Prayer.  I love its beauty
and the way I have been introduced to actually singing much of the service.  That includes the Gloria in Excelsis (“Glory to God in the highest”).  In a number of ways, that worship has soaked into me.  (I even make the sign of the cross!)  A couple who invited us for dinner said they like the structure of the Episcopal service.

Still, seeing at a distance where you’ve come from lends a new perspective and appreciation.  That’s been my experience as a Presbyterian.  I told Banu that I have a newfound understanding and affection for our Book of Common Worship.  That also applies to the Hymnal, which even has the Gloria in Excelsis as numbers 566 and 575.  (That’s the “blue” 1990 version!)

And truth be told, I prefer the prayers of confession of sin and the prayers of the Great Thanksgiving, which accompany the Eucharist (or the Lord’s Supper).  I like the variety in them, as they change with the seasons of the church year.  The Presbyterian liturgy has a number of affirmations of faith, not just the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds.  I know that these things are true of some other church liturgies.

 Having said all that, if these various aspects of worship do not result in our living liturgically—if we do not carry this beauty, majesty, and love into the world—we are, as St. Paul says, but “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”; we “gain nothing” (1 Cor 13:1, 3).

Relying on the power of the Spirit which flows from the heart of the Trinity, we make life itself a liturgy.