Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Celebration!


Because I just can't help it.

These three videos are from Hillsong United--a Sydney, Australia-based group that composed all three songs [and many more]. The first two videos are Hillsong by themselves; the third is with another contemporary Christian music group called Selah. I wish there were a better video of Hillsong doing this third song, "The Stand," by themselves; but there isn't. It can be an amazing song when it is done well, and I hope you can get a sense of that in this good but less-than-ideal quality video.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pray for Uganda

The Rev. Canon Alison Barfoot, who serves in Uganda, writes the following:
It’s September 11th all over again. That’s the feeling in Uganda these days since the terrorist attacks hit Kampala on Sunday, July 11th. Three bombs exploded in two locations of crowds innocently watching and reveling in the final game of the World Cup. Another unexploded bomb was discovered at a third location in another part of Kampala. Seventy-four people are confirmed dead and many more were seriously injured.

Al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, has taken credit for the terrorist attacks. Their objection is that Uganda has supplied troops to the African Union peace-keeping mission in Somalia.

Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi issued a statement following the bombings in which he said:
This act of malice and hatred towards mankind is completely ungodly, especially towards innocent and unsuspecting persons. I condemn this act in the strongest terms possible and hope to see the perpetrators of this hideous crime brought to justice.

In the mean time, I call upon each one of us to desist from anger and revenge; this will only perpetuate the pain we already feel. Revenge is not a solution and neither is a sectarian approach to this problem helpful.

Let us instead now focus our energies on being a part of the fight against terrorism in our country. Each one of you can use your eyes as a great weapon to fight this evil. Even as we do so, let us not breed unnecessary suspicion against one another but instead seek for the common goal of a peaceful and just society. Remember a peaceful society is the right of every one regardless of their age, race, gender or religious inclination.

It may cost this nation a lot to try and be a good neighbour to the Somalis who are struggling to have a governable nation.

To the bereaved, I extend my sincere condolences. We share in your pain and wish you God’s comfort during this difficult time.

And to the entire nation, I ask you to fix your eyes on the cross of Jesus. The cross is a reminder of human cruelty to an innocent person; the agony of pain He went through enables Him to share in our pain as well. He had to pay a price for us to receive our freedom. The blood of the Ugandans spilled on Sunday will bring to Ugandans peace.

Read the entire statement.

The Archbishop concluded:
Perpetrators may not know what they are doing but Jesus prayed a powerful prayer, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Yet with this blood on their hands, the Righteous God will be the one to avenge our cause while human justice will also take its course.

For indeed our help comes from the Lord as Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

I pray for the President, his Cabinet, the Members of Parliament, the Police and all Security Agencies as they address this challenge. May God’s wisdom direct you and give you victory over the enemies of our people. And may Ugandans remain united during such a trying time.

Canon Barfoot, who serves on Archbishop Orombi's staff added:
Please also pray--
1. For the families of those innocent victims who are suffering from brutal deaths or injuries.
2. For those, especially church leaders, who are ministering to the injured, shocked, and frightened.
3. For the government to respond appropriately and work to keep Uganda and Ugandans safe.
4. For any other plots to be foiled and the plans of the enemy to be confused.

Those who are interested in directing financial support to the Church in Uganda via Canon Barfoot may send tax-deductible contributions to:

Global Mobilization Ministries, Inc.
1048 Irvine Ave, #556
Newport Beach, CA 92660-4602

For more information, visit

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Loch Lomond - Ralph Vaughan Williams

Two very similar renditions of the beautiful Scottish folk song, Loch Lomond, arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams--

Number One:

Number Two:

The two versions are meant to sound alike because the singer in the first one is copying the second one. Now here's the kicker: The second version is a professional recording by the group Chanticleer. In the first one, all ten parts are sung by one man, overdubbing each voice on a computer using using Acoustica Mixcraft software and a $20 headset microphone. Whichever version you prefer, I think you'll agree that both versions are very moving.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Sunday Morning Worship at Nashotah House -- an Update

I have received many responses (and many assurances of prayers) from my earlier post regarding the Sunday morning Eucharist at Nashotah House and would like to give you an update. I am pleased to say that this service is going well and is an immeasurable blessing to those who are attending. Attendance has ranged from 39 to 65, with an average attendance of 47 for the past eight Sundays. We expect attendance to grow once the fall semester begins and families return from summer vacations.

We are excited by the number of families with young children who attend. We have begun a nursery, staffed by volunteers, during the Sunday morning service. And we look forward to beginning educational opportunities for all ages in the fall.

Beginning on Sunday, July 11, we will offer an adult class featuring a six-week video series by Dallas Willard, renowned teacher, writer of the acclaimed The Spirit of the Disciplines, and one of today's most brilliant Christian thinkers. The series we will be using is entitled The Divine Conspiracy and is a study of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Child care will be provided during this class.

In previous years, Nashotah House has offered a Vacation Bible School, when we have had enough children on campus and parents who are interested. This year, we will again be offering a Vacation Bible School during the week of Orientation, August 23-27. Some of our Sunday morning worshipers have volunteered to help with the VBS. This will allow student spouses to attend Orientations sessions, while offering a fun opportunity for all the children of our community.

I want to apologize to the Nashotah community for poor communication regarding our Sunday morning plans this past spring. From discussions with the trustees and faculty, it has become clear to me that I often have a tendency to work on plans by myself or with a close group of advisers and not to unveil these plans until I believe there is something substantial to present. In this instance, the lack of public communication on my part allowed a lot of false rumors to begin and spread concerning what we intended to do on Sundays; and this, in turn, caused anxieties and distrust on the part of members of our community. I am deeply sorry for that. And, if you are one of those affected by this situation, I ask your forgiveness. I hope you all know that I would never do anything that I did not earnestly believe was in the long term best interest of the House, but I certainly could have handled the planning and communication regarding our Sunday morning activities better than I did.

One of the questions some people have asked concerns the impact of our Sunday morning worship on Zion Episcopal Church in Oconomowoc. Some of the individuals attending Sunday morning worship at Nashotah House formerly worshiped at Zion. But most of these people are not long term members of Zion. They began attending Zion following disruptions in other congregations in the Milwaukee area because they saw Zion as a faithful church and a refuge.

When Zion's rector, Fr. Thad Butcher announced his intention to retire, some members said they simply could not go through another search process. Some have gone to the Roman Catholic Church. Others have decided to join various non-denominational churches in our area. But some, including individuals who are long time friends, Trustees, and Foundation members at the House indicated they would like to worship here if we could accommodate them. Our worship services at Nashotah House always have been and always will be open to anyone who wishes to attend. However, I have also made it clear that we are not a congregation in the canonical sense. We do not receive or issue letters of membership, and we have no desire to compete with any local congregation. We simply want to make a pastoral response to those who look to us for help.

Fr. Steve Schlossberg has been serving at Zion during Fr. Butcher's sabbatical with my blessing. It is my prayer that he can continue and that Zion will prosper. As we have done in the past, with initiatives such as the Lake Country Youth Ministry and our Field Education program throughout the Diocese of Milwaukee, we want to work cooperatively with the congregations in our area and not compete with them.

At the same time, we recognize that Nashotah House offers a unique array of spiritual resources. We have worked hard to offer the ministry of Nashotah House to new constituencies such as those who enroll in our distance learning programs, the members of the Archbishop Ramsey Society, and our Lay Associates who come here from all over the country to make retreats. Similarly, we want to be a spiritual resource for people in our area who can benefit from our what we have to offer and, in turn, enrich our community by their presence.

Despite the mistakes in communication and other road bumps we have experienced in getting to this point, I am thankful to God for the opportunity to be of service in this way. And I look forward to what God will do in our midst.