Saturday, May 30, 2009

Making Something New Through the Spirit

Pentecost Eve

One of the great privileges of my vocation as bishop is to ordain gifted men and women to the sacred order of deacons and to the sacred order of priests. Last night, I was in Albuquerque to ordain Patricia Riggins as transitional deacon. Patricia entered our diocesan ordination process at the request of the then Bishop of the Rio Grande, Jeffery Steenson. After three years study at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, she was graduated earlier this month.

Fittingly, her ordination was held at St. Michael and All Angels in Albuquerque where she first discerned her call to ordained ministry. As I prayed, "Therefore, Father, through Jesus Christ your Son, giver your Holy Spirit to Patricia; fill her with grace and power, and make her a deacon in your Church," I felt the awesome power of the moment. God was making something new

Deacons are supposed to "serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely." Goodness knows we need deacons. Indeed, deacons are to be icons of the servant ministry that is the responsibility of every follower of Jesus Christ. And so, as the Holy Spirit descends upon the church tomorrow on Pentecost, I pray that we will feel the awesome power of that moment. For God will be making something new. With power and might, each of us can serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely.

Friday, May 22, 2009

It's Great to a Bishop at Bishop's

It was my great privilege to give the Baccalaureate Address to the Class of 2009 at The Bishop's School. This annual occurrence was particularly poignant as it coincides with the retirement of Michael Teitelman, who has serviced as headmaster since 1983, and the school's Centennial.

In my address, I urged the graduates to cherish and imbue their lives with the values of the school: excellence, integrity, and compassion. I found myself wondering how these gifted men and women will contribute to our world. They have been transformed by an elegant education and molded by a gospel-centered community.

Please offer your prayers of thanksgiving for this class, Michael Teitelman, and one hundred years of ministry at The Bishop's School.
The Bishop's School Website:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Reaching Across the Border

St. James-by-the-Sea in La Jolla has reached a helping hand across the border. As a congregation that is passionate about serving, the community has for some time been concerned about housing and our neighbors in Tijuana. They also make substantial contributions to Dorcas House, a Tijuana foster home for children whose parents are in prison.

A couple of weeks ago they sent a team to work with the La Jolla based Icology Group which focuses on building ecologically sound housing. For more information, contact the Rev. Eleanor Ellsworth at St. James-by-the-Sea: Well done good and faithful servants!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Raising the Bar

A friend of mine likes to say that Jesus' first miracle kept the bar open late at a wedding.

It's an interesting take on the wedding at Cana, focusing a bit much on the partying rather than on the fact that it was a celebration of the hard work of building a family and a community. If my friend weren't such a hard worker, I could dismiss her comment as a joke. But she's a really hard worker. And she's fun. We forget how much gets done when we combine these qualities.

That's just what Episcopal Community Services is doing Wednesday, May 13th at their fundraiser, "Water to Wine: Making Miracles at ECS." With their support of battered women, the homeless, and disadvantaged children, ECS takes on some of the hardest work in our community. But this week, we'll celebrate that hard work. You can learn more about the event here:

And one of our supporters will stage a minor miracle of his own. Craig Justice, a parishioner from Grace San Marcos and owner of Blue Merle Vineyards, will help us keep the bar open a little longer by giving a bottle of his best wine, signed with Bluey's paw print, no less, to anyone who donates $1,000 or more to ECS before May 14th. Craig may not be keeping the bar open, but he certainly is raising the bar!

If you can't come to the party, you can still be part of the celebration. Just go to to make your gift. Then send an email to Alyssa Osian at with your name, address, and phone number. Those served by ECS, Craig, Bluey, and I will thank you.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sydney the Kidney

Dame Julian of Norwich

I don't know a lot of folks who name their organs. In fact, this is really a first as far as I know. Sydney the Kidney is not some character on Sesame. Sydney is a gift of life selflessly given from one person to another.

Karny Stefan, who serves with me on the Episcopal Community Services Board, received an email broadcast from a friend whose husband was in need of a kidney. They email asked people to be tested for a match. Karny felt called by God to respond positively. She was a perfect match for Jeff.

Two weeks ago, Sydney "relocated," Karny's terminology, from Karny to Jeff. Jeff's transformation has been remarkable, and Karny has taught us all what it means to be truly good and giving.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Good Shepherds

Sts. Philip and James

Sunday is often referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday. For one who practices the art of shepherding in the name of Jesus, there is a particular power found in the readings of the day, particularly the Gospel reading from John: "So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father."

Of late we have been doing a particularly good job of not being one. No one gets a pass when it comes to bearing a degree of responsibility for this. Perhaps, the words of New Testament scholar Gerald Sloyan should give us something to ponder: "The game of picking one’s “thieves and robbers, “one’s other sheep not of this fold,” is an old one…. All Christians worthy of the name must have the minimum conviction that their church or congregation is fully allied with Jesus in his work of bringing salvation to the world. They must decide whether they treasure him as a principle of unity or a principle of division."

Now there is a novel idea: Jesus in his work of bringing salvation as a principle of unity!