Sunday, December 30, 2012

First Sunday after Christmas

John 1:1-18  The Light that Shines in the Darkness

Christmas 2012

Luke 2:8-29 "A Multitude of the Heavenly Host"

Monday, December 17, 2012

Grief and Joy in Advent

Sermon for December 16, 2012

We grieve for the souls lost in Newtown, CT

Sunday, December 16, 2012

When Will this Be?

Sermon for November 18, 2012
Mark 13:1-8

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Salvation and the Wilderness

Sermon for the Second Sunday in Advent, December 9, 2012

Luke 3:1-6  John and the Wilderness

Monday, December 10, 2012

Quiet Expectation

Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent, December 2, 2012.

Sermon text, Luke 21:25-36

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Notes on malfunctions

I'm grateful for a few minutes of down time yesterday in which I found the missing videos.  I'm always glad to eat my words.  I will post them as traffic on-line allows.  You can see All Saints day below.  

All Saints All Souls

Sermon on John 11:32-44, November 4, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Musings on malfunctions

Unfortunately, all of the videos we recorded during November have been lost.  I have a Kodak camera, which is terrific.  However, the Kodak computer program for uploading no longer recognizes the videos on said camera.  After thinking they uploaded I received the message, "Do you want to erase all photos on your camera?" and I did.  Darn.  No way to retrieve them.  I'll be working on this problem ASAP.  My apologies to all!   Mag

Friday, November 16, 2012

December Advent Musings 2012

Our liturgical year will begin anew on December 2, the first Sunday of Advent.  With the change of year we will experience lots of changes in our worship.  Our Scripture readings for the Eucharist will follow Year C and for those who follow the daily lectionary for Morning and Evening Prayer, we will be in Year 1 (Charts for both sets of readings are at the back of our Book of Common Prayer.)  The readings and our hymnody will reflect our custom of anticipating Christ’s return to us at the end of time.  The term “advent” means “coming”, which we tend to assume means the coming of Christmas.  But the intent of Advent is to awaken our desire for the Risen One to come again, to bring everlasting justice and peace. 

Of course, as we center ourselves on our desire for a parousia (the Greek word for the second coming of Christ) we cannot escape the momentum of the days preceding Christmas.  We overlap our need for all things to be made well with our anticipation of the birth of Christ.  Again, as we get closer to Christmas Day, our readings and hymns will reflect the stories of our ancestors’ cries for a Prince of Peace to come and rule over them with justice and equity; a time when the Lord God “will swallow up death forever and will wipe away the tears from all faces.” (Isa 25: 8a)

Each Advent we acknowledge our shaky understanding of time and eternity.  We echo the cries of the ancients while we yearn for an end to humanity’s sufferings.  Mary sings out, in words reminiscent of Hannah’s Song in the first book of Samuel: “God has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.” (Luke 1:51-52)  All of Mary’s praise for God’s miraculous mercy foreshadows our desires for Christ to come again.

O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.  Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” (9th century)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Magdalene's Musings for November 2012

Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name...

These words from our Eucharistic Prayer invite all of the saints who have gone before us to join with us in our celebration of the Eucharist.  As I read the New Testament, I understand these words to mean all who have followed Jesus on “the Way.”  That includes all of us, now, and all of our Christian ancestors, all the great and famous personalities of Christianity.  We are all the saints of God, and we stand in good company.

Paul begins his famous letter to the Phillipians, “ all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”  As far as Paul is concerned, if you are “in Christ Jesus”, if you have been baptized and marked as “Christ’s own forever”, then you are a saint. 

It is true that our Episcopal tradition recognizes some of the faithful departed as “extraordinary servants of God and of God’s people for the sake, and after the example, of their Savior Jesus Christ.” (From “Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating  the Saints.”)  In1964 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church approved the inclusion of over a hundred saints days with collects and readings from scripture for inclusion in our worship.  Today we have hundreds more.

It was not until I joined the Order of St Helena, in 2001, that I began to honor the saints who had gone before me with prayer, hymns, and homilies.  It was  learning to preach in this setting that gave me a new vocabulary and provided me with fantastic stories of some very unusual people to follow as role models.  I didn’t care if they were “approved” by our church or not. 

I read about St Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, Anthony the Great, and of course, all of Jesus’ apostles, including the Apostle to the Apostles, Mary Magdalene.  What depth of character and heart-rending stories accompany these diverse people!  Even the word to describe the stories, hagiographies, fascinated me.

This All Saints Day we will combine the services for All Souls Day into our liturgy so that we won’t leave anyone out.  We want to remember the heroic along with the  ordinary.  Our prayers will unite us with the “great company of heaven”, where our  ancestors hold hands with the saints of old.  They stand with the angels as they pray us along our own pilgrimage of sainthood in the making.

Magdaglene's Musings for October 2012

My first view of Zion’s sanctuary was through the little door behind the chancel.  It was during my visit with the vestry and search committee on January 31 of this year.  I instinctively went to the altar and gazed at the alcove behind. As the lights slowly warmed up, the image of Christ Enthroned, sparkling in thousands of golden mosaic pieces, materialized before my eyes.  It mesmerized me and took me back to my visits to the Holy Land and Turkey.  Some of the mosaics I saw there were dated from as early as the Sixth Century, expressing the faith of a people now long gone and the artistry of an anonymous iconographer.   

I am a newcomer to Zion, building my own memories and impressions from the stories you all share with me and the histories I piece together.  This icon, in Zion’s apse, represents the Byzantine figure of Christ enthroned in glory.  Although faded by the dirt and soot of incense and age, Christ has the expression of wise omnipotence and piercing compassion.  This is the same image that has centered me in prayer for over ten years now.

Zion Church is only one of New York’s hundreds of aging and antiquated Episcopal structures, sapping the resources of congregations struggling with low membership and reduced income.  A significant portion of the funds raised over Zion’s lifetime have gone to the repairs, upkeep and remodeling of Zion’s worship space and buildings.  It is easy to diminish the value of our worship space in the face of financial hardship.

Zion’s history is embedded in its holy space.  It stands as an invitation to the community to come and rest for a moment in this liminal place between heaven and earth.  The space, adornments and structure create a numinous territory where God invites us to be still and know that God abides - in this space, in our history, and in our hearts.  Our Church home is alive in its heritage and full of hope for its future.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

You Lack One Thing.....

Sermon on Mark 10:17-31

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Take Up Your Cross

Sermon for September 9, 2012
Mark 7:24-37

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 and James 1:17-27 and Song of Songs 2:8-13

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Shocking Language

Sermon on John 6:51-58

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Magdalene's Musings for September 2012

Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. Luke 10:15-16.

In 1982 I began working as a teacher’s aide in a class for handicapped preschoolers. The disabilities ranged from profound retardation and Cerebral Palsy to Spina Bifida, Down’s Syndrome, and Autism. As I began to learn the techniques involved with teaching these children I became reacquainted with an old friend, hiding under the complicated debris of being a grownup. I discovered that in order to effectively teach a child it helps to think like a child. And thinking as a child thinks I began to remember how it felt to be a child. It was the child in me that was able to relax with these children as if I had known them all my life.

As I learned healthy teaching strategies, the hidden past of my childhood began to emerge. If it had not been for those particular children I might never have discovered the wisdom of my own gifted-but-handicapped child, waiting patiently for me to invite her to take her place in my grownup life. Jesus says that we must receive the Kingdom of God like a child or we will never enter it. Is it just innocence that he is referring to? Or is it the unique perspective of our own childhood drama? Could he indeed be asking us to remember the curiosity, creativity, and crushing disappointments of our childhood in order to integrate them into our transformed life of faith?

We are invited to come into the Kingdom as complete human beings, bringing every part of the damaged, hidden, forgotten, and buried parts of ourselves. When we watch the children climb up onto Jesus’ knees we are watching him accept and love the child in us - introducing us to the inclusive embrace of God. This Fall, I will invite the children up at the beginning of the 10am service to hear a mini sermon before going to their classes. I invite you to listen with your child heart - listen, and remember the complexity of childhood. The blessing Jesus gives the children is a blessing over our own childhoods, healing and restoring us to our place at God’s side.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

My father used to sit on the end of my bed and animatedly read stories to me before our prayers and goodnight kisses. I remember those tales vividly because they permanently infected my imagination and informed my faith. I carry Lewis Carroll’s magic with me from his masterpieces, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. “Beware the Jabberwok my friend, the jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun the frumious Bandersnatch!” and “Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast,” and “But it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” I hold onto the belief that God’s heavenly Kingdom is like the magical, but dangerous, land at the bottom of the rabbit’s hole and on the other side of the mirror. I instinctively know that playing with language is good for your health, and I believe that it is especially important to imagine different ways of seeing the world around us. Did my father’s theatric reading teach me this? Or was it Lewis Carroll’s artistry? Or maybe it was my young imagination, coupled with the power of words. Throughout Pentecost we have the opportunity to hear some incredible stories from First and Second Samuel. One of the highlights of our Revised Common Lectionary is the continuity of story-line running through our Sunday lessons from Hebrew Scripture. This summer we will hear of the kingships of Saul and David, of the dangers of power and the depth of love binding David and Jonathan; of the horrors of war and of David’s shattering grief when he loses a favorite child. These stories are part of our heritage and had a huge effect on the writers of the New Testament. I invite you all to listen on Sunday, as these stories are read from the lectern, and let them play with your imagination. Maybe they will trouble and fascinate you. Maybe they will haunt you. Maybe they will guide you back to your family bible. Maybe you will read them to your children.
Mark 4:35-43, Jesus in our Boat, Sunday, June 24, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Kingdom and Kudzu

Sermon for Sunday, June 17, 2012 on Mark 4:26-34

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jesus' Family

Sermon for the Second Sunday after Pentecost, June 10, 2012 Mark 3:20-25

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Trinity Sunday: Nicodemus and Being Born Anew

June 3, 2012 Zion Church in Wappingers Falls, NY John 3:1-17

Saturday, June 2, 2012

June Issue of Zion Chimes

I grew up in southern California where I had a favorite climbing tree right across the street from my front yard. In its branches I felt invisible, light as a feather, and wise. I looked down on unsuspecting neighbors and pretended I didn't hear my mother calling me in for dinner. I climbed the tree with such confidence and familiarity that it was like sliding effortlessly up into the clouds. I took a favorite book with me and read, undisturbed, for hours. I gained perspective on my life, escaped from doing my chores, and treasured the nuances of life in a tree. As I write this I am gazing across the yard to Zion Church. My new home in the Rectory gives me a perspective of the church that reminds me of being in my tree. I watch the setting sun radiate light onto the bell tower and I see stars beckoning me to travel beyond the rooflines. Day after tomorrow is Ascension Day, when Jesus departs from his friends in order to complete and fulfill his mission with us. I try to see things, every now and then, as he must have when he left his dearest friends for the last time. How little they understood of all he told them. How desperately they needed to see things from his perspective. From above we all look so lovable, and so capable of loving. He shows us the way. He beckons us to rise above it all, pause for a moment and gain perspective on our simple lives. From above it looks doable. Why must we make things so complicated?

May Issue of Zion Chimes

Prayer Space: As I unpack boxes and sort through hangers, wadded-up newspaper and bubble wrap I find gratitude continually bubbling up in my heart. The people of Zion have enveloped me in a cloud of hospitality and gracious good will that is both heartfelt and ebullient. Thank you to all of you who are welcoming me so heartily to your home at Zion. It is so good to feel welcome after being so recently uprooted from my home in Augusta, GA. After packing boxes for over a month I finally got to the point where I had to pack up my prayer space for the move up north. It was only then that I began to feel anxious and without an anchor. I am used to having a prayer space in my home, where I know I can go to sit in quiet and hear the voice of God breaking through all my business and routine. I pray more regularly and effectively when I have a designated time and place to say my prayers. I fill this space with items that remind me of Christ and why I turn to him for guidance. I have a comfortable chair (an old rocker) with a cushion for my back and a blanket for my knees. I keep my favorite meditation and prayer books near at hand. In fact I have so many favorites that I need a small bookcase in my prayer spot. I have a candle, so that I can light my own "light of Christ". I have a Buddhist prayer bell (brought to my family from a cousin living in Nepal), and icons I "wrote" in a Russian iconography workshop. Light is important to me, so I sit near a window. This prayer space is where I let God knit me together and unravel the mistakes. Without it I feel a bit lost. I find myself looking around for where I might find it again. My new home in the rectory is beautifully furnished and lovingly cleaned and curtained. It is now ready for my prayer space, as soon as God and I figure out where it is going to be. Where is your place for prayer? Do you feel safe there? How do you let your family know that you need to go there? When will you create one? "For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in him." (Ps 62:6a)

April Issue of Zion Chimes

Dear People of Zion, It is with much joy that I write to you from my home in Augusta, GA. We have all been on a long journey, trusting that the search process would eventually come to an end, and that the Holy Spirit would guide our hearts and minds to choose unhurriedly and wisely. Our hard work culminated in an extended interview process where your search committee and vestry believed they were being guided by the Holy Spirit to call me as your new Priest-in-Charge. They were not alone in this feeling. I, too, believed that God was gently pushing me into embracing this new ministry with all of you. We are now, finally, entering the borderlands together. The moment we all agreed to begin this new ministry together we took a communal step into a new territory. This place has been called by many names - the borderlands, a threshold, a liminal place - with expectations, language, and behaviors that make us all very aware that we are not in Kansas anymore. What makes this time and place so very special is the knowledge that God desires nothing more than that we should get to know each other. Simply that. I told both the vestry and the search committee that the key to the future of Zion lies in the stories of your shared past. My job, in this new borderland, is to listen to your stories and get to know you. I cannot do my ministry without knowing who I am ministering with. And yes, you read that correctly. We are all called to be the ministers and missioners of the Word of God. Your job is to remember why you came to Zion, why you stayed, what you love, or loved, most about this parish, and what your dreams are for the future. We will remain in these borderlands of story-telling, dream-sharing, and communal worship and praise until God nudges us to begin using our gifts to spread the Gospel. I pray that God will guide us, care for us, and fill us with peace as we step into this threshold together and make a new community. In Christ, Magdalene+

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pentecost Sermon for May 27, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sermon for May 20, 2012 at Zion Church, Wappingers Falls, NY

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sermon for Easter 6, John 15:9-17 Zion Church, Wappingers Falls, NY

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Ethiopian Eunuch and the Vine, Sermon for 5-6-2012 Zion Episcopal Church, Wappingers Falls, NY Acts 8:26-40 and John 15:1-8

Monday, April 30, 2012

Sermon for Sunday, April 29, 2012: Easter 4, the Good Shepherd

Monday, April 23, 2012

Have you anything to eat?

Sermon for Easter 3, my first Sunday at Zion Church, Wappingers Falls, NY.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rainbows, Arks, and the Baptismal Promise

Here is the link for my Lent I sermon on February 26, 2012:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Epiphany Transfiguration

Sermon for Sunday, Feb 19th, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Follow Me

Yesterday's sermon can be found on at this address:

Or, when you get to youtube search for "magdastar52" and all my videos will pop up!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Baptism of the Lord

My sermon for January 8th, The Baptism of Jesus, can be found at:
Just copy and paste this address into your browser window and you'll be able to watch it on Youtube. Happy Epiphany everyone!