Thursday, May 31, 2007

Holy is His Name

Mary merely stated the obvious, but we have quoted her ever since. A favorite verse to put on cards to hand out at ordinations is "the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name." (Luke 1:49) I had this engraved on napkins for use at the reception after my ordination as priest.

Today we celebrate the feast of "The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary" which commemorates Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth shortly after Mary found out she would give birth to Jesus. At that time Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptizer. In this story in Luke's gospel we have the only recorded incident in which John the Baptizer behaved in a happy way, and he wasn't even born. Scripture records that when Mary appeared on the scene, Elizabeth's baby John "leaped in her womb."

Mary was also happy then, and here from Luke 1:46-55 is the full text of her song that she composed on the spot:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on
the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all
generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done
great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He 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;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made
to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his
descendants forever.

I believe that this song was etched into Mary's heart and mind, and that it sustained her in tough times. I would venture to say that she probably thought of this when she was standing at the foot of the cross.

In peace,

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Latest Offering

I would say "now in paperback" except that it never was in hard cover. This book of sixty sermons (278 pages) came out last week and now I am making that fact public. Here's how to order a copy at the cost of $15: click on

I took the photo and wrote the sermons, but I cannot take credit for the cover design or for the layout of the book. That credit goes my mentor, the Rev. Frank Logue at King of Peace Episcopal Church in Kingsland, GA. All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the discretionary fund of The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek and will be used for the betterment of our community.

I hope you can enjoy this book and pass it along to friends. This is my attempt to make it possible for everyone to sample my preaching over a cup of coffee. The collection is arranged so that you may pick it up and read it from time to time without feeling obligated to finish it all at once.

If the sermons do not prove meaningful to you, perhaps the cover will be worth the price of admission.

In peace,


The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Death, Resurrection and Pirates

Ahoy! This is not a pirate ship
photo by Linda McCloud+

On this first weekend of summer I went to see the new Disney blockbuster film "Pirates of the Caribbean." I believe this is the third such film to be released and if I may play movie critic for a moment I suspect that this will be the last. It felt as though I was back in my elementary school cafeteria and it was Friday. That was the day that the cooks cleaned out the freezers and served us a combination of foods that did not always seem to go together.

Likewise I suspected that the actors made up this movie as they went along. It seemed to me that they used every gimmick they had left over while the "pirates" still had the gold and black caps on their teeth. Some of it was good fun. I must give them credit for some amazing special effects with the ocean scenes, which frankly kept me in my seat for almost three hours.

That being said, resurrection from death is a recurring theme in this movie and at times it is difficult to tell who is dead and who is alive. The best line on this subject is something like: "Dying is not the hard part. Coming back from the dead is the hard part."

Somewhere in there I find a theological truth, except that coming back from the dead is not something we can do on our own, as they do in the movie. God will raise us from the dead, and that won't be difficult for God.

In peace,

Linda +

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Prayer for Our Country

For this Memorial Day as many families are enjoying a rest from their usual labors, I offer this prayer for our country, from The Book of Common Prayer, 820:

Almighty God, you have given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly ask you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners.

Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.

Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth.

In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in you to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In peace,

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Fifty Days After Easter

Exerpts from The Acts of the Apostles, Chapters 1 and 2 (NRSV):

"While staying with them, [Jesus] ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. 'This,' he said, 'is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'

". . .When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

". . . But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised hs voice and addressed them . . . This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear . . .

"Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, 'Brothers, what should we do?' Peter said to them, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.' . . . So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

"Awe came upon everyone . . .Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people . . ."

And so on Pentecost the Church was born because "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." (Ephesians 5:25).

In peace,

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Saturday, May 26, 2007

First Pilgrim on the Canterbury Road

Today is the feast day of Augustine of Canterbury, who was a very reluctant missionary. Augustine was just minding his own business as Prior at his quiet monastery in Rome when his bishop, Pope Gregory the Great, decided to send him and forty of his monks to the pagan Anglo-Saxons. They arrived in Britain in the year 597 even though on the way to Britain, Augustine and his monks tried to turn back. However, Gregory "encouraged him to keep going."

Christianity was not new in Britain so there were some ecumenical matters to deal with, and Augustine did not enjoy a reputation as a great organizer. King Ethelbert was tolerant of Christians and allowed Augustine and his monks to use St. Martin's, an old church on the east side of Canterbury which had been built during the Roman occupation of Britain.

In approximately the year 601, Ethelbert was converted to Christianity and brought with him 10,000 of his subjects. About the same time Augustine was ordained Bishop and named "Archbishop of the English Nation." Therefore the church at Canterbury became his Cathedral and the rest, as they say, is history.

Augustine's career was short-lived, as it is believed that he died on May 26 in approximately 605. I wonder if he ever would have dreamed that his legacy would survive more than fourteen hundred years. It just goes to show that sometimes even the most reluctant missionary can be successful beyond his or her wildest dreams.

In peace,

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Friday, May 25, 2007

Time to Pray; Time to Play

The Memorial Day weekend has begun. It's a time to pray and remember, especially those who have given their lives in the service of our country. It's also a time to play. The beaches will be crowded.

My earliest memories of Memorial Day include helping my mother cut big pink peonies out of our yard. Then she would wrap the stems in wet newspapers and dad would drive for three hours so that we could lay the peonies on family graves.

On this Memorial Day weekend I also remember Brother Bill Reams, a monk who died recently at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. About this time four years ago I stopped by the Monastery for a time of prayer. Brother Bill had seen me there before and for some reason he decided to give me an autographed copy of his book, The Whole Man: Meditations on the Life of Christ. The autograph says in part, "Holy Spirit, make us holy!"

I think that monks are pretty good at meditating on the life of Christ, so I offer this excerpt from his book that seems fitting today:

"God is our Father, and we are His children. 'Be children in evil, and in mind mature.' Yet the psychology of maturity can be overdone. Among all the children of God there must survive a certain childlike simplicity that not only does not know evil, but that positively rejoices in good.

"Children are, for the most part, happy. They play. When we grow up, sometimes we stop playing. And this is not good. We lose the gift of happiness precisely when we lose the gift of childhood.

We have to make a living. We have work to do. We don't have time to play. Or if we do play, we 'play' as adults 'play,' not as children, not as all the children of God should play, not as God's family.

Childlike faith is the only real faith. It is trust in the Father. We are afraid to relax. 'Thieves may break in and steal.' We do not live prayerful lives of religion and piety, because we do not have the confidence of children in God our Father. . . . Indeed, it might very well mean growing pains, and we are afraid to grow . . . spiritually, because it means becoming like little children . . ."

I'll stop there. I wish you a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend. Please remember to wear your seat belts!

In peace,

Linda +

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Fire Station Coming Soon

Clearing ground for new Camden County
Fire Station on Dover Bluff Road
Photo by Linda McCloud+

The crew started working on this project about three days ago, but I was told that God willing, soon we will have a new fire station about three miles from The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek.

They are not building this fire station just for us. They are building it for the community that is springing up all around Honey Creek. If you plan to travel on Dover Bluff Road any time soon, please leave home a little earlier than usual. That will give you time to slow down and make way for the construction crews that are laying water pipe, installing sod, or carrying materials into places such as Sanctuary Cove or Bridge Point at Jekyll Sound.

If it has been a while since you travelled this way, you will be surprised at the changes that are taking place right before our very eyes. The construction phase has begun.

In peace,

Linda +
The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Funny punishment for my sins

Is this the culprit? He looks so innocent.

OK. I think I have figured out what that noise is. It starts every night at about 9:00 p.m. and goes on until after midnight or until after I fall asleep, whichever comes first. Two weeks ago I would have guessed it was a wild pig wandering across my back porch, but then the noise seemed to take up residence every night. I started asking nature-lovers what it could be. I started imitating its high-pitched sound and someone suggested that it could be a screech owl.

Two nights ago I arrived home late and heard a tall tree emitting this high-pitched sound. Aha! That means it's not a wild hog. Huge sigh of relief.

I love birds. I have hummingbird feeders and a seed feeder. I was hoping for painted buntings to be regular visitors. But instead I got a screech owl whose favorite perch is right outside my windows. Nocturnal creature that he is, I don't even get the pleasure of seeing him. I only get to let him sing me to sleep. I think I need to pray more.

In peace,


The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Candles in The Pines

In the pines, in the pines,
where the sun never shines,
and they shiver when the cold winds blow.

-- Hank Williams (d.1953)

Last evening approximately two hundred of us gathered in front of the dumpsters at The Pines Apartments. It was a warm evening in St. Marys, Georgia, but many of the residents of The Pines are shivering in fear. A week ago the body of a young woman was found in those very dumpsters. Who could do such a cold deed?

Clergy from the Camden County Ministerial Alliance, led by the Rev. Frank Logue who organized the event, handed out candles. We sang Amazing Grace and The Old Rugged Cross. Then with lit candles in hand we marched en masse around the parking lot and returned to the dumpsters for the closing prayers. We prayed and wept for the young murder victim whose identity remains a mystery. God knows her identity and somewhere, someone misses her. God also knows the identity of her murderer(s) who we pray will be brought to justice.

At the end of the service several people placed their lit candle stubs in front of the dumpsters as a memorial to the young woman who was thrown into those smelly bins. This light was to me a very powerful symbol. It is the symbol that St. John uses (John 1:1-5) to describe Jesus in the prologue to his Gospel:

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being.
What has come into being in him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.

The darkness cannot overcome our prayers and presence at the dumpsters, either. Thanks to everyone who came and to those who were present in spirit. For excellent photographs of this event, see

In peace,
Linda +
The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Last Week of Easter

Take a deep breath. The Great Fifty Days of Easter are almost over. This week marks the end of the Easter Season, but that's OK. As the Day of Pentecost fast approaches, hear the words of our Lord Jesus from the Gospel according to St. John:

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

"I will not leave you orphaned; . . . the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." (John 14:15 ff)

In peace,

Linda +

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Sunday, May 20, 2007

"That they all may be one"

Jesus' high priestly prayer is recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John's Gospel. Today we read verses 20-26 of this passage in which John gives us an intimate look into the tender love of Jesus: "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one." (John 17:20-21a)

We remember that Jesus had told his disciples that he had come from the Father and that he was going to the Father. Jesus was on his way to the cross. John's Gospel puts this prayer just before Jesus' prayer and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Some time ago I wrote a poem which summarizes this chapter, and in particular the verses for today:

The Hour Has Come
Linda McCloud+

Father, the hour has come
to glorify your son
I've glorified you here on earth
and taught my chosen ones.

I pray for all of these
that you have given me.
For they have understood my words
and have believed in me

I'm coming home -- coming home at last.
And for these chosen ones -- I pray on their behalf:
Do not take them from the world.
Just keep them from its grasp.
I'm coming home -- coming home at last.

For those who will believe
and who are yet to come
I pray that they will know your love
that they may be as one.

Do not take them from the world.
Just keep them from its grasp.
I'm coming home -- coming home at last.

In peace,

Linda +

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Fauna and Flora

Turtles can move pretty fast
when you want to take their picture
Photo by Linda McCloud+

Cactus flower has flower power
on Jekyll Island
Photo by Linda McCloud+

Today is the feast day of St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, 988. I could recount his life and times and his reforms which brought about carefully orchestrated worship. I could tell you that he was famous for working with metals and casting bells.

However, I have blogged so much serious stuff this week that I thought I would lighten up today. I would like to report that in addition to the turtle, during this week I have seen a bluebird, several quail, and a painted bunting. Last week I saw an American Bald Eagle in the top of a dead tree. They don't sit still for photographs.

Here is a prayer for today:

"Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 827)

In Peace,

Linda +

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Friday, May 18, 2007

Baptismal Vows and Heart Health

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

I will, with God's help.

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

I will, with God's help.

--- From the Baptismal Vows, The Book of Common Prayer, page 305.

What possible connection could our baptismal vows have with the physical health of our hearts? Read on . . .

TUESDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- A nagging sense of being unfairly treated at work or at home can raise a person's risk of heart attack, British researchers report.

Researchers at University College London analyzed responses from a few thousand senior civil servants working for the British government in London. On a scale of 1 to 6 (1 equals "strongly disagree" and 6 equals "strongly agree"), the workers were asked to rate their response to the statement: "I often have the feeling that I am being treated unfairly."

Scores of 1 or 2 were rated as low, scores of 3 or 4 were moderate, and those of 5 or 6 were high.

The workers were tracked for an average of 11 years. During that time, 64 of the 966 people in the low category had either a heart attack or experienced angina, compared with 98 of 1,368 in the moderate category and 51 of 567 in the high category.

People with the strongest feelings of being treated unfairly were 55 percent more likely than those in the moderate category and twice as likely as those in the low category to have serious heart disease, the study found.

Women and people with lower incomes and status were much more likely than others to feel they were being treated unfairly, the researchers added. Feelings of unfair treatment were also associated with higher levels of poor physical and mental health.

Fairness is an important factor in promoting a healthier society, the U.K. team concluded. They published their findings in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Need I say more?

In peace,

Linda +

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ascension Day

While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. "This," he said, "is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." . . . "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. (Acts 1:4-5, 8-9)

The ascension of Jesus into heaven is a major milestone in the story of the Church, so the Church since very early times has celebrated the Feast of the Ascension.

It comes at an odd time for us – this fortieth day of Easter. We have settled into the Great Fifty Days of Easter with some ease. We have swung back into the rhythm of Sunday Eucharists with nothing special in between. So all of a sudden right in the midst of our busy week we have Ascension Day. After this, we have ten days in which to wait until Pentecost.

Maybe we would rather not bother with waiting because we already know what is coming next. Pentecost is on its way, with red vestments and festivities revolving around the birthday of the church.

So why should we keep Ascension Day? Maybe we need some time to reflect, regroup, and be refreshed. The season after Pentecost is long, and we need to prepare for the journey. Maybe we need to think some more about Jesus’ parting words. He said we would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth, which implies that as baptized persons, we are his witnesses regardless of whether we choose to be. We can, however, choose what kind of witnesses we will be. Maybe we need to think about new ways in which we can preach the Gospel to all nations.

If we appreciate the Ascension, the Creed will be more meaningful to us. Every Sunday we proclaim that Jesus ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the father.

In remembering Ascension Day we learn more how to trust that God might have some surprises for us just as he did for the first disciples.

In peace,

Linda +

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Love -- Near and Far Away

On Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. during June, I will be leading a study based on a book by Jane Tomaine: St. Benedict's Toolbox, The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living ISBN 0-8192-2152-X. This will be held at King of Peace Episcopal Church in Kingsland, GA. See for directions. You are welcome to sit in on the discussions regardless, but your enjoyment of them would be enriched is you could read the book ahead of time.

From comes this background information about St. Benedict:

It was ST. BENEDICT OF NURSIA (c.480-c.543) who brought uniformity and order into the early medieval monastic movement. The Benedictine Rule, as it became known, is the only surviving work in his own hand and, as a result, there is considerable controversy surrounding its composition. Spending his youth as a student at Rome, Benedict was disgusted by the vice and corruption he encountered in the papal city. He fled into the wilderness and, as so often happened with ascetics like Benedict, he began to attract disciples. Benedict organized these disciples into communities, originally at Subiaco. Driven from Subiaco by a jealous priest, Benedict founded a new community at Monte Cassino (529). Toward the end of his life, Benedict drew up his rule for this community. The Rule served as a constitution to be applied to many communities. Endowed the full authority, it was the abbot who had sovereignty over the community -- he was elected for life and could not be replaced. A monk could neither leave the community nor could he refuse obedience.

Here is a typical admonition from St. Benedict to his monks:

Your way of acting should be different from the world's way: the Love of Christ must come before all else.
You are not to act in anger
or nurse a grudge.
Rid your heart of all deceit.
Never give a hollow greeting of peace
or turn away when someone needs your love.
(Rule of St. Benedict 4:20-26)

St. Anselm wrote in a letter to a friend in 1093:

"Continue to keep a warm love for me. . . . I cannot be with you physically but my heart is always with you. Like me make efforts to win friends everywhere. . . . Do not think you will ever have enough. Be bound to all, whether rich or poor, in brotherly sympathy. This letter is a document of the heart."

Here is a word from Esther de Waal, who wrote Seeking God, The Way of St. Benedict:

"Love, trust, acceptance -- these are things that I receive from Christ, and it is only as I come to know and to love Christ and to realize that I am known and loved, that I can also love my fellows. My primary relationship is with Christ; it is through him that I forge my link with others, and that gradually I grow towards maturity in loving, in the giving and receiving of love."

In peace,

Linda +

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What is wrong with this picture?

Deheishe Refugee Camp
near Bethlehem - August 2004
photo by Linda McCloud+

It has been almost three years since I was in Israel, but something has always haunted me about that trip. It is the smile on this little girl's face. She was born in the Deheishe Refugee Camp for Palestinians near Bethlehem, which the United Nations established in the West Bank almost sixty years ago.

When my study group visited Deheishe, we were told that houses get bombed out on a fairly regular basis. We were also told that the house behind the girl in this picture was her house that got bombed out the night before. Her smile provides a bizarre contrast to the background, especially since we were told that Deheishe had contributed thirty-five "martyrs" to the Palestinian cause.

I have considered two possibilities: 1) this little girl had a heart full of hope for the future; and 2) her life was so full of upheaval that a chance to get her picture taken was a joyous occasion. The answer is probably a combination of the two, but I would like to think that we come into the world and take our first breath in the hope of having a full life.

With these positive thoughts in mind, I offer a portion of Psalm 108 for meditation today:

Psalm 108
verses 1-6

My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed;
I will sing and make melody.

Wake up, my spirit;
awake, lute and harp;
I myself will waken the dawn.

I will confess you among the peoples, O Lord;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.

For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens,
and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God,
and your glory over all the earth.

So that those who are dear to you may be delivered,
save with your right hand and answer me.

In peace,

Linda +
The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Monday, May 14, 2007

Peaches and Bees

Let's play word association. If I say "Georgia," you might think "Peach." That is in spite of the fact that South Carolina claims to produce more peaches than we do.

We are all going to be in want of the succulent peach if the bee population continues to decline. Most of us do not have time to take a small paint brush from blossom to blossom to pollinate fruit trees. God has given that job to the bees.

Since we will soon be looking for peaches sold by local growers, I share this poem by Li-Young Lee.

Beehives in an orchard

From Blossoms
Li-Young Lee

From Blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background, from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom

This day on our church calendar is a "Rogation Day." According to An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, Rogation Days are celebrated three days before Ascension Day, about which I will blog on Thursday. The Dictionary says that this celebration originated in Vienne, France, in the fifth century when Bishop Mamertus introduced days of fasting and prayer to ward off a threatened disaster.

In England these days were associated with the blessing of the fields at planting. In the United States they have been associated with rural life and with agriculture and fishing. The term is from the Lation rogatio, "asking."

From the Book of Common Prayer (pp. 207-208), here are two prayers for Rogation Days, which include today, tomorrow and Wednesday:

"Almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth: We humbly pray that your gracious providence may give and preserve to our use the harvests of the land and of the seas, and may prosper all who labor to gather them, that we, who constantly receive good things from your hand, may always give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

"Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ in his earthly life shared our toil and hallowed our labor: Be present with your people where they work; make those who carry on the industries and commerce of this land responsible to your will; and give to us all a pride in what we do, and a just return for our labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."

I know that somewhere in those prayers, God hears our cries to preserve and prosper the honey bees.

In peace,

Linda +
The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Classic Christianity

The Chapel of Our Savior at Honey Creek
photo by the Rev. Frank Logue

In case you regularly read this blog and don't usually look at the website for The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek, I am taking this opportunity to post the Values that will be held up before us as we become a faith community.
The core values of The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek are based on Jesus’ summary of the laws and the commandments of God as follows:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.”
Luke 10:27

In order that we may know and love God as God is revealed in our Savior Jesus Christ, we embrace the following values so that we may live more fully into the abundant life that he promised:

Worship—Intentional attendance at worship, in particular weekly participation in Holy Communion, will be the center of our life together as a church. From this shared experience with God and each other we receive the strength to live out our Christian faith in our everyday lives.

Prayer—The Anglican emphasis on daily prayer also emphasizes the attendant Bible readings which, if followed closely, take us through the Bible every two years. If we pray Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, we get more than a relationship with God through his Son Jesus Christ. Daily prayer connects us with the 77 million other Anglicans around the world who could potentially be reading the same scriptures and praying the same prayers. We might pray by ourselves, but we never pray alone.

Holy Baptism—Christian Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble. This is the most serious step in becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Discipleship—Putting our faith into action and letting it permeate everything we do is a tried and true way of following Jesus Christ as his disciples. Discipleship means making a conscious effort to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ through regular attendance at worship, through prayer, and through our relationships with others.

Relationships/hospitality—At The Episcopal Church of Our Savior we expect to build up our church family by making friends for Christ. In order to offer the hospitality of the church, each member will be expected to take part in the life of the church in an intentional way. There will be a job for everyone to do.

Evangelism/outreach—Evangelism and outreach should be natural outcroppings of our growth as Christians. God’s house is a “house of prayer for all peoples” and we expect to invite all sorts and conditions of people to experience the grace of God in our midst. We expect to reach out to our community and be involved in projects that make life better for everyone.

+ + + + +

We hope to begin organizing Wednesday evening worship services and fellowship events in late August, building up to Sunday services later in the fall. I will post that information to the website and this blog as plans unfold.

We offer classic Christianity for twenty-first century seekers, and it's closer than you think.

In peace,

Linda +
The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Saturday, May 12, 2007

"Let all the Peoples Praise You"

Our Psalm for tomorrow is Psalm 67, which will be read in response to a lesson from the Acts of the Apostles 16:9-15.

I share this Psalm because it is brief, succinct, and can easily be memorized as a prayer. What would the world be like if "all the peoples" would praise God? It might feel more like "home sweet home."

Psalm 67

May God be merciful to us and bless us,
show us the light of his counteance and come to us.

Let your ways be known upon earth,
your saving health among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide all the nations upon earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has brought forth her increase;
may God, our own God, give us his blessing.

May God give us his blessing,
and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of him.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be forever.

In peace,

Linda +
The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Friday, May 11, 2007

Getting Ready for Mother's Day

Mother's Day is coming up soon, and I hope that brings up for you happy memories and joyous expectations.

If instead the thoughts of Mother's Day and later on Father's Day fill you with dread, perhaps this Forgiveness Prayer would prove helpful to you. I do not know the source of this prayer, as it was handed to me typed out on a piece of paper.

A Forgiveness Prayer

Lord, I don't know how to make forgiveness happen.
I can't cleanse my heart or change my feelings.
I don't know how to trust,
and I'm afraid to hold my heart open.
But today I'm making a choice to forgive.
I know I'll have to choose again and again
until you make forgiveness real and complete in me.
Please God, give me the willingness and strength
to persevere in choosing until forgiveness
is accomplished in me by Your power.

I choose to forgive my father for . . .
I choose to forgive my mother for . . .
I choose to forgive ________ for . . .
Forgive me for all my sinful responses.

O God, I let go of all resentments and bitterness
stored up in my heart.
Wash me clean.
Forgive me for all the condemning judgments I have made.
Give me a new and right spirit that will help enable me
to look with Your compasson and love upon sinners,
including myself.
Heal the wounded heart of the child within me.
Pour Your love in.
Bless those who wounded me.

Forgive me, Lord, for projecting childish pictures
of my parents onto You, and onto others,
especially those I love.
Bring those pictures to death.
Bring my childish ways and expectations to death.
Let Your light shine
into all the hidden places of my heart.
Enlighten the eyes of my heart, Lord,
to see You and love You as You really are,
and to walk in Your ways.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

I hope this will help you in your relationships with all those close to you.

In peace,

Linda +
The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thankful for the rain

Storm clouds over the marsh
May 9, 2007

"Ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring rain,
from the Lord who makes the storm clouds,
who gives showers of rain to you,
the vegetation in the field to everyone."
Zechariah 10:1

To all who have been praying for rain for southeast Georgia -- Thank you very much. We have gratefully received some rain.

To all who are concerned about Subtropical Storm Andrea -- Thank you very much. From the looks of things on the NOAA website, a sweep of rain could come our way to help put out the forest fires and to give the farmers a break from irrigating their fields. We only pray that no one will suffer injury or loss in the process.

Rain puddles at Honey Creek
May 9, 2007

"Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make music to our God upon the harp.
He covers the heavens with clouds
and prepares rain for the earth.
He makes grass to grow upon the mountains
and green plants to serve mankind."
(Psalm 147:7-9)

In peace,
Linda +
The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Do you love to forgive?

It was during Evening Prayer on Monday at a typical gathering of priests that I heard it. Someone was reading the Gospel and I was aimlessly trying to filter the events of the day through those words. I was sort of listening to what was actually being read. Then I heard it. I heard something in a fresh way. It was these lines from Luke 7:47:

"Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many,
have been forgiven;
hence she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven,
loves little."

Do you want to be capable of more love? Get forgiveness. These are the words of Jesus as he comments on the actions of the woman who bathed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. In addition to this, she did an even more amazing thing right in front of everyone. She "continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment" from the alabaster jar. This is pretty intimate behavior, yet Jesus allowed it, and it happened at a dinner party, for goodness sake! (Luke 7:36-50)

On Monday, a truth of this story became more real for me. That is, forgiveness makes room for love. Conversely, unforgiveness shuts out love. Maybe this is why Isaiah the Prophet says that our sins have separated between us and God.

If we seek God's forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people we have hurt, this frees us up to love more. If we forgive other people the wrongs they have dealt us, we make room for love to have the right of way in our lives. This is so liberating that we will wonder why we had not been more thorough in giving and receiving forgiveness. Is this a good trade, or what?

So -- do you love to forgive, or do you forgive to love? I hope the answer is yes to both questions.

In peace,

Linda +
The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Love, Human and Divine

Zoey, my great-niece
whom I get to baptize in July
-- photo by her dad

Since Sunday Evening I have been at the Spring Priests' Conference at which I am getting to see a lot of my priest friends and to find out what is happening in their corners of the world. This is more than a meet and greet time. Our Bishop always brings in an engaging speaker who offers thought-provoking lectures or other presentations. At this conference we are privileged to have the Rev. Dr. William Danaher, an Episcopal priest and seminary professor with whom I studied at Sewanee.

Professor Danaher reminded us that in his classroom teaching he still uses Edward Collins Vacek's book Love, Human and Divine: The Heart of Christian Ethics. Here are a couple of quotes from that book:

"Because God is and always will remain incomprehensible, at some point in our relation with God we must leave off trying to know God and simply let ourselves be in love with God."

"God's identity is not wholly bound up with promoting our well-being. God's promise is that God will be with us, loving us, but not loving only us. God's promise is also to be with us as we struggle with the evils that are not from God's hand. Even if we are defeated in this struggle God is still with us, and that is more than enough."

These are lessons that Zoey will be learning as she goes through life. We'll get her off to a good start with her baptism. Isn't she the most beautiful baby in the universe?

In Peace,

Linda +

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Monday, May 7, 2007

Morning Persons

Another spectacular sunrise
at Honey Creek
Photo by Linda McCloud+

"God made the two great lights -- the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night -- and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day." (Genesis 1:16-19)

Are you a morning person? Is God a morning person? According to the first chapter of Genesis, evening came before morning. Poet Vassar Miller suggests that God is a morning person. What do you think about that?

Morning Person
Vassar Miller

God, best at making in the morning, tossed
stars and planets, singing and dancing, rolled
Saturn's rings spinning and humming, twirled the earth
so heard it coughed and spat the moon up, brilliant
bubble floating around it for good, stretched holy
hands till birds in nervous sparks flew forth from
them and beasts -- lizards, big and little, apes,
lions, elephants, dogs and cats cavorting,
tumbling over themselves, dizzy with joy when
God made us in the morning too, both man
and woman, leaving Adam no time for
sleep so nimbly was Eve bouncing out of
his side till as night came everything and
everybody, growing tired, declined, sat
down in one soft descended Hallelujah.

In Peace,

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Going out on a limb

Cormorants in a dead tree
Honey Creek
Photo by Linda McCloud+

Think about this really hard. If you had to come up with a list of persons in the category of "I would go out on a limb for these people," who would be on it?

OK. Now that you've completed that list, here comes another question that might thin down the list a bit. For whom would you be willing to lay down your life? If I were pressed to answer that question, I confess that my list is quite short.

Now hear this portion of today's Gospel reading:

"I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you,
you also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another."

-- Jesus Christ on the night
he was handed over
to suffering and death,
as recorded in John 13:34-35.

Jesus asks us to love one another, but not in the way we might expect. Of course Christians should love one another because we are brothers and sisters and fellow members in Christ's body the Church. As Episcopalians we take baptismal vows to "seek and serve Christ in all persons" and to "respect the dignity of every human being."

Jesus commands us to love one another "as he has loved us." Jesus laid down his life for his friends. He said there is no greater love. St. Paul says that "Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her." Awesome, isn't it? Now, where is my list? I need to work on it some more.

In peace,

Linda +

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Saturday, May 5, 2007

And They're Off

"In the spring a young man's fancy
lightly turns to thoughts of love"
-- a line from "Locksley Hall"
a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Also in the Spring, on the first Saturday in May, a native Kentuckian's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of Churchill Downs and the fastest two minutes in sports. I'm speaking of course of the 133rd Kentucky Derby, the first leg in Triple-Crown Racing. This year I'm rooting for Storm in May, a one-eyed colt who has already earned ten times the price his owners paid for him. Last year Barbero won. I was sad when he pulled up lame.

Even though I lived in Louisville for almost five years, I have never been at the Churchill Downs on Derby Day for two good reasons: 1) the stands are packed-out and you practically have to inherit a ticket unless you desire to camp in the infield; and 2) at a Derby party with friends you can watch the race on TV and actually know what is happening.

I have been at Churchill Downs on occasions other than Derby Day. Once I was with a group standing near the fence. We were positioned at a point just beyond the backstretch. By some blessed happenstance the track officials brought the starting gate around the track and put it right in front of us. We watched as they loaded the horses into the gate and locked them in. Then there was a very loud bell and the track announcer's voice: "And they're off."

Did you ever see horses come out of the starting gate? They leap several feet and land in the soft dirt of the track, literally "hitting the ground running." I thought when they landed that I had felt a minor earthquake. Those powerful, beautiful creatures were giving the race all they had. It's too bad that only one horse comes out of the race a winner. In my estimation, the very fact that those horses got into the race makes them all winners.

Although we are not horses, the Christian race has a few similarities to the Derby. We are being observed and maybe watched closely by a crowd of people. But unlike the Derby, we all win just for running the race. I like to think that the communion of saints in heaven are in some sort of grandstand, watching and cheering us onward. In light of that thought, I offer these verses from Hebrews 12:1-2:

Therefore, since we are surrounded
by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight
and the sin that clings so closely,
and let us run with perseverance
the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus the pioneer
and perfecter of our faith,
who for the sake of the joy
that was set before him endured the cross,
disregarding its shame,
and has taken his seat at the
right hand of the throne of God.

When it comes time to begin weekly worship services as The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek, I hope we can all get into the starting gate and hit the ground running. Love is all around, and the world is watching. No pressure.


Linda +
The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

Friday, May 4, 2007

Praying for Rain

Many of us have been very concerned about the fires that are still raging near and in the Okefenokee Swamp. It's the worst such fire in Georgia history. Some people have lost their homes, and only God knows how many forest creatures have been affected.

The cause of the blaze is said to have been that a tree fell on a power line. The fires have consumed over 100,000 acres. Governor Sonny Perdue has declared a State of Emergency for the following counties: Atkinson, Bacon, Berrien, Brantley, Bryan, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Coffee, Echols, Effingham, Glynn, Lanier, Liberty, Long, Lowndes, McIntosh, Pierce, Ware and Wayne.

The Biblical Book of James makes this timely remark: "How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!" (James 3:5b) That same book also tells us that every good and perfect gift is from God (James 1:17).

With this in mind, I ask you to join me in praying for the gift of rain -- rain to help the weary fire-fighters put out the fires, and rain to help the farmers whose crops are suffering from drought. Here's a memorable statistic: it takes 26,000 gallons of water to put one inch of irrigation on an acre of crops.
So please pray this prayer with me:

"O God, heavenly Father, who by your Son Jesus Christ has promised to all those who seek your kingdom and its righteousnes all things necessary to sustain their life: Send us, we entreat you, in this time of need, such moderate rain and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth, to our comfort and to your honor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." The Book of Common Prayer, p. 828.

In peace,

Linda +
The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek