Sunday, July 21, 2019

“Frequent solitary converse with One Whom we know loves us.” Teresa of Avila

woman sitting on seashore
A Song that can Save the World

I’d like to build the world a home and furnish it with love,
Grow apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtle doves.
I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,
I’d like to hold it in my arms and keep it company.
I’d like to see the world for once all standing hand in hand,
And hear them echo through the hills for peace throughout the land.
This popular song has a vision for our world that has yet to be realized.  The songwriter, the “I” of the song, hopes to share it, and its sentiment and dream of harmony, with every human being.  You and I have probably sung this song many times.
But the dream of this song, and the peace and harmony it longs for, continues to elude us.  We think:  If every human being would just adopt this song as their own, our world would be a better place.  This is a great song, but there is only one song that has the power to save the world.  Biblical Scholars have identified the verses of today’s reading from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians as one of, if not the earliest, hymns of the early church:
Jesus is the image of the invisible God/the firstborn of all creation/for in him all things in heaven and earth were created/things visible and invisible/whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers/ all things have been created through him and for him/He himself is before all things/and in him all things hold together/He is the head of the body, the church/he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead/so that he might come to have first place in everything/For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell/and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things/whether on earth or in heaven/by making peace through the blood of his cross.
The Letter to the Colossians was written by Paul or his secretary while he was in prison in Rome.  The fashioning of these verses, in their form as a hymn, probably came later in the first or second generation after Jesus’ resurrection, 50 to 90 AD.  Early witness like this can help us so much—even bring about the salvation of the whole world!
Some reflections on the words of this hymn:  Jesus, the Word, existed before Creation.  Creation was a free gift to us all.  Jesus is the first-born of Creation.  The Empires of this world exercise only a type of pseudo power in the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God is where real power resides.  The peace that the world longs for is made possible by the peace-making blood of Jesus on the Cross.  The blood of other human beings will never be able to bring about true and lasting peace.  True peace comes through the blood of Jesus’ cross, which, by the way, was the newest technological advance of the Roman Empire for killing criminals and enemies.   Fear of this “technology” was responsible for the Pax Romana. This kind of fear is still used in our day!
In the Gospel this morning, we see that Martha was too busy in the kitchen to learn the meaning of this song and its absolute focus on Jesus.  Martha tries to bring Jesus into the middle of her rivalry with her sister Mary.  “Look Jesus, I’m doing all the work.  Tell my sister to help me.”  Jesus refuses to be triangulated into this rivalry or any other.  “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”  Jesus refuses to enter into judgment when people attempt to get him to be “on their side.”  The food and other tasks can wait.  The most important thing is to give attention to Jesus.  A healthy relationship with Jesus, and the peace it brings, is far better than entering into rivalry with others:  I’m right, you’re wrong.  Jesus is on my side.  Jesus favors me and not you.  This rivalry, so common, is a recipe for un-peace and stress.

          The one really needful thing is to sit regularly at Jesus’ feet in prayer.  Teresa of Avila defined prayer as “Frequent solitary converse with One Whom we know loves us.”  Yes, we all have many tasks to be done, many good things to accomplish, but we can’t think that those tasks, however important, absolve us from coming before God in prayer, privately and corporately.  We need to be “prayed up” in order to benefit most from the highest prayer of the Church:  the Holy Eucharist.  From the Eucharist we are sent out to serve others in Jesus’ name without being in rivalry with anyone.  


St. Alban

Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.

Parking inside on the convent back grounds

Monday, July 15, 2019

"When 'eternal life' is spoken about in the Gospel (a notion from the Hebrew bible), it’s not about an 'other worldly' experience, like getting to heaven, but is completely 'present world' oriented." John+

Resultado de imagen para how to get to heaven, photo?
The Million Dollar Question
I always like to remind myself and the congregation, that in the “Green” or Ordinary Season of the church year the emphasis is on how to live and put in practice what Jesus’ coming among us, his teaching and example, means.  Half the year we focus on all the great events of Incarnation, Ministry, death and Resurrection of Jesus and the sending of the Spirit.  Now, ordinary time, the last half of the year, is the practicum.
Today’s Gospel contains the “Million Dollar Question.”  A rich lawyer comes up to Jesus and, sincerely, I think, asks Jesus “What must I do to inherit eternal life (zoe ai­onios)?”  I think Luke gives us this story, and million dollar question, because it is everybody’s question deep, deep, down.
Today, in fairly recent times, when we hear this question, most Christians have morphed this question to ask “What do I have to do to get into heaven?”  Meaning, “What are the (minimum, at least) requirements I need to do to get into heaven?”  We might, like the rich young lawyer, say to ourselves “I’m not perfect, but I think I’m a pretty good person,” thinking “that should be enough to get me out of this world when I die and let me enjoy heaven for eternity.”
Therein lies the crux of the matter:  the “out of this world” part.  When “eternal life” is spoken about in the Gospel (a notion from the Hebrew bible), it’s not about an “other worldly” experience, like getting to heaven, but is completely “present world” oriented.  For the Jewish people there were two “Ages:” The “Present Age” and “the Age to Come.”  The Age to Come would begin when the Messiah comes.  Hello!!??  Jesus the Messiah is here! 

Jesus shifts the conversation and tells the lawyer the story of the Good Samaritan.  Persons who consider themselves good and considered good by others, the priest and Levite, pass by the hurt guy on the “other side” of the road.  These two consider they have already  fulfilled the requirements of God, the Torah, and do so every day.  They are in.  Touching the beat up guy might contaminate them in some way and make themselves unclean.

          The Samaritan, an absolute, hated outsider, is, according to Jesus, the one who went “above and beyond” to take care of the wounded victim.  Note:  Jesus, himself, would be the Victim.  What Jesus is teaching us here is that one of the greatest hints of real closeness to God is movement toward the victims of this world.  The Greek word to describe the Samaritan’s reaction to seeing the victim on the side of the road was splaghna, a word used to describe someone’s guts being ripped out (done to prisoners and enemies), but it came to mean “heart” or compassion.  This compassion is what Jesus saw in the Samaritan and lacking in the priest and Levite.
I dare say most of us at St. Alban have a somewhat liberal bent, but when we do hear someone called a “compassionate conservative,” we’re happy to hear it.  But compassionate conservatives are mostly generous to those they feel deserve or merit charity.  “Outsiders” are judged for taking away resources belonging to the majority, or guilty of some illegality, therefore, unworthy of concern.  Jesus’ focus, on the contrary, is always on the real victims of this world, never victimized by God, as if to say “They were punished by God,” but always by other human beings.  Jesus teaches us that any victim is deserving of our care, whether they “deserve” it or not.
          There is a universality of grace, found in people of all backgrounds and faith traditions- or not.  The Spirit blows where it wills.  We are ministers of this grace and can acknowledge it in all people because we are coming to know Jesus.  The Holy Eucharist, centered as it is on giving thanks to God for Jesus’ loving sacrifice for us, teaches us movement toward the Victim, in the hope that when we are sent out from this gathering in peace, we, in the power of the Holy Spirit, might be good Samaritans and be examples of this movement toward victims in our daily lives.  


St. Alban

Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.

Parking inside

Sunday, July 14, 2019

A MESSAGE FROM THE SENIOR WARDEN, Bishops Committee, Saint Alban Mission, Antigua, Guatemala, IARCA

St. Alban Episcopal Mission, Antigua, Sacatepequez, Guatemala (Anglican Communion)
Elizabeth Bell, Senior Warden, Bishops Committee, St. Alban Mission, Antigua

Greeting to all,

Our Vicar, The Rev. John Smith, informed us and Bishop Silvestre Romero, diocesan bishop of Guatemala,  that he and Terri will be moving to Nashville, TN on October 1st

We at St. Alban Mission thank them for their service and wish them well. 

The first step when considering a new priest is, for me, as Senior Warden of St. Alban Mission, to meet with Bishop Silvestre. I contacted him this week and look forward to that meeting at the end of the month. 

The next step is for our vestry, known as the Bishop’s Committee - search committee, to share various possibilities for a new priest or priests, and we may review many possibilities.

All ideas are welcome and will be shared as we strive to serve those who are in greatest need throughout the diocese of Guatemala, both here in Antigua and beyond. Part time/full time possibilities, as well as temporary and/or visiting clergy can be considered along with the financial requirements that must be involved.

After the "calling", at  St. Alban Mission, is better clarified, defined and blessed by Bishop Silvestre, we will contact the clergy candidates and work on a proper, and supportable, arrangements for new clergy to join us.

I appreciate your comments and suggestions always.

Yours in the spirit of unity and service,  may God bless you,

Elizabeth Bell
Senior Warden
St. Alban Episcopal Mission
Antigua Guatemala
St. Alban
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.
Inside parking

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

HELPING ONE ANOTHER: Action and more action - The Episcopal Church, IARCA, Anglican Communion, diocese of Guatemala

Padre Luis distributing food parcels to each/every family

It became clear FAST!.  Our  sisters and brothers who live deep in the romote areas on the west side, Pacific coast side, deep in the sugar cane fields/jungle GUATEMALA needed help!  They had been storm trashed and need food and other everyday supplies  to sustain their health.  Their roads, pathways and even the water supply had been lost! 

We asked the new Episcopal/Anglican Bishop, the Rt. Reverend Silvestre Romero, what we, the folks at St. Alban/Antigua Mission* should/might do to help. 

His words were softly spoken:

La Iglesia "La Ascencion"
La Iglesia "La Anunciacion"

"They need food,
contact Fr. Luis Cuyun"
Bishop Silvestre

Fr. Luis and the congregation holding a mass of Thanksgiving
Episcopal Church of "La Ascension"
Each one of the dozens of families received a package of healthy "basics" to keep nutrition sustainable

Bishop Silvestre Romero, diocese of Guatemala; IARCA (Anglican Communion)
Fr. Luis Cuyun and Señora Irma
Doña Flora, Sexton
Thanks to everyone within the hospitable 

Community of Rosario
 San Carlos,
Thanks for the loving fellowship at

La Iglesia "La Ascencion"
La Iglesia "La Anunciacion"

*Thanks to St. Alban Mission, Antigua, Guatemala
Elizabeth Bell, Bishops Senior Warden
Mary Lou Ridinger, Bishops Junior Warden
The Vestry/Bishops Committee
The congregation and clergy of St. Alban Mission Antigua

St. Alban

Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

A NEW CREATION: A life lived in mercy and forgiveness always in the shadow of the Resurrection hope. John+

Imagen relacionada
Mercy and Forgiveness
Unbelieving the Sacred
During my first year studying theology in Rome, one of the courses we took was Christology- the study of Christ’s divinity and humanity.  At the end of this course, and all the others, we were given an exam, oral or written, of our choosing.  I liked to take most of my exams orally.  For the exam, usually ten minutes long, you would sit in front of the professor and the professor would pick from a list of theses, all in Latin, and you had to “prove” that thesis to the professor’s satisfaction and a grade of 1 to 10.
For my Christology exam I was given the thesis:  If Jesus was holy and without sin, how could he go among and have fellowship with sinners?  I’ve forgotten how my “proof” went, but I do remember the key conclusion:  Jesus is the Divine Physician.  Just as all physicians spend their day among those who are sick and making diagnoses without “catching” the diseases of their patients, so the same with Jesus.
The Gospel we hear each week tells us more about our humanness than it does about God.  Usually we think the opposite.  Jesus, the Divine Physician, comes among us, fully human himself, and, on every page of the Gospel, shares his diagnosis of our human condition with us.  Of course, we are free to accept Jesus’ diagnosis and take the prescribed medicine or not.   The Good News is, that however bad the diagnosis is, it always has a good prognosis:  Resurrection life!
In today’s Gospel, Luke, a physician himself, shares how Jesus sent out disciples, two by two, to every town where he planned to go.  They were to travel very light and accept whatever hospitality was offered them.  Their simple message to bring wherever they went (and where Jesus would follow) was “Peace.”  If people accepted it, wonderful, if they didn’t, they were to move on (shaking the dust of that place off their sandals)!
These disciples represented Jesus himself.  If people listened to the message of peace and life they brought, they were listening to Jesus himself.  The Seventy felt invigorated by the power they were given and the success against Satan they had:  the demons submitted to them!  Jesus cooled their jets: 

I saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightening.  See I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Let’s consider Divine Physician Jesus’ primary diagnosis:  humankind, whether individuals or nations, from the beginning has sought its survival in sacred violence, scape goating victims (Jesus was the Victim par excellence), and death of enemies:  All this to achieve a temporary peace, until the disease flares up all over again.  Only heeding Jesus’ diagnosis and prescription of mercy and forgiveness would bring the real and lasting peace that the world longs for.

Our best example of someone who heeded Jesus’ diagnosis of the sickness of violence was Paul.  Paul was a student and teacher of the Law and the “sacred” violence it permitted against those who transgressed it.  After meeting the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus he became a new person.

May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!  As for those who will follow this rule – Peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Paul had to “unbelieve” everything he had held sacred his whole life:  the perfect keeping of the Law, the sacrifice of animals, grains, foreskins, and if necessary, other human beings, all this in order to please God and therefore sacred.  Like St. Paul, as each of us come to know Jesus in our lives, we too will have to go through the same conversion, leaving behind so much of what we have held sacred (ie., most recent example was in the 4th of July speech of President Trump- America, victorious in so many wars and the lives we have taken, and will take, to preserve our “sacred” freedoms).

What we see in Paul, and offered by Jesus to every person is a complete life style change.  This is what Paul means when he proclaims that what is most important is a new creation:  A life lived in mercy and forgiveness always in the shadow of the Resurrection hope.

Nothing will hurt you.  Amen!

St. Alban

Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

ANONYMOUS EARTHBOUND ANGEL REVEALED: 4th of July in Guatemala - Central America

It's a secret.  Nobody is to know. For Your Eyes Only!

 You know how angels can be, anonymous, they really don't like publicity...please be quiet and don't say a word but I knew you would like to know that a very big hearted ANGEL contacted one of our own. The Angel asked us to find a holy-wholesome way to help some of our beloved folks in a fast way, a one on one way, and a clean as a whistle we have. We've (a couple of wanna be angels) watched, we waited and we inquired and we have been inspired..  We certainly didn't want to let down a really BIG ANGEL (besides, you never know what they know) so we did angelbidding fastlike!  

We asked the new Episcopal/Anglican Bishop, the Rt. Reverend Silvestre Romero, who KNEW/KNOWS  a thing or two about what we should/might do. 

His words were softly spoken:

La Iglesia "La Ascencion"
La Iglesia "La Anunciacion"

It became clear FAST!.  Our  sisters and brothers who live deep in the romote areas on the west side, Pacific coast side, GUATEMALA needed help!  They had been storm trashed!

The rains have been fierce and the sugar cane cutting dirt roads (only roads), the jungle paths, the most used stepping stones were GONE...deep into the humid/jungle landscape of tiny fragile homes.  The mud runneth over and elders, adultos, and niños needed rubber boots (we hiked in on huge rock filled destroyed trails and roads). A great cause for despair because afterward there is NO good available water, not a road, a health hazard and near total loss.  No work. Padre Luis (the Reverend Luis Cuyun) prayed for/asked for help for his two quite isolated parish people and churches.  A helping hand to "give help" came his way.  We got some foot sizes after few calls on cellular telephone with Luis+ (some needed switching after we got there because real shoe sizes were not-known/few-shoes, we guessed sizes and the Angel guessed too). Onward.

We went shopping (several days worth), we purchased lots of rubber boots and nifty packs of socks too...a few rain capes to see if they would be useful because our Most High (and already cherished)Secret Angel benefactor,  whispered that we ought to.

The children loved them, the adults adored the colorful and decorated rain capes, we will need more, more is better.  Angels know lots of things about capes.  The boots, the socks, life/foot savers.

Anonymous Angels are HEAVENLY (but ours is stateside,  Thank you SECRET ANGEL)

Thanks be to God and ALL of Gods Angels too.

We do whatever ANGELS ask us to do,we aim to please as to earn our wings.

Earthbound on the FOURTH of JULY, 2019

Elizabeth Bell
Leonard Clark (Leonardo Ricardo)

Bishop Silvestre Romero, diocese of Guatemala; IARCA (Anglican)
Fr. Luis Cuyun and Señora Irma
Doña Flora, Sexton
Thanks to everyone within the hospitable community of 

San Carlos,

Giving thanks for the loving fellowship at:

La Iglesia "La Ascencion"
La Iglesia "La Anunciacion"

Henry Leonardo Minas Veliz, thank you, for without you driving, hiking, physically hauling, sorting/labeling and boot purchasing too  (he could see the sizes on the bottom of hundreds of boots and we had to hunt them down one-at-a-time and my eye sight was going out) we would have been impossibly stuck in the muck/mud. On more than one day of this spirit-healthy adventure Henry helped "make the day" with his good nature, willingness and hard work, mil gracias.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Holy Spirit is the source of unity in the Church: ekklesia, those “called out” to be a sign of the truth of the Gospel.

Resultado de imagen para Holy spirit, photo?
Discerning the Holy Spirit
Last Sunday we talked about the importance of focusing on Jesus’ own words in the Gospel.  One of the last things Jesus prayed to his Father for (in the hearing of his disciples at his last supper with them) was “that they all may be one.”  The unity of all those who would come to believe in him was paramount in Jesus’ mind “so that the world may believe that you sent me.”  When people today see the believers in Jesus, divided into so many denominations competing with each other, they oftentimes throw up their hands and, in good conscience, slip into agnosticism or even atheism.
Yet today we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the sending into this world the promised Holy Spirit of God to lead, guide, and empower Jesus’ believers to witness God’s presence in the world.  The Holy Spirit is the source of unity in the Church: ekklesia, those “called out” to be a sign of the truth of the Gospel.
The Holy Spirit works in those who are open to God’s action in their lives and because “the Spirit blows where it wills,” it’s not the sole possession of any person or denomination.  Yet at the same time, we’re not talking about an “invisible” reality, but a visible one of unity built on mutual forgiveness and love.
Today’s scriptures help us be able to discern the Presence of the Holy Spirit in the world in our personal lives, families, among believers, in ever widening circles of belief and love.  In Genesis, chapter 11, we read  the story of the Tower of Babel:  how humankind attempted to build a tower to heaven.  Their pride told them that they could do this without the help of any God.  (This is a metaphor for our world.  We try to do the same in our own day, when trying to achieve our goals without reference to God.)  The people who built the tower spoke the same language and were willing to sacrifice the lives of their fellows in this effort.  God seeing their pride, allowed their language to be confused, and the city and Tower was never completed and all the inhabitants of that time were scattered and developed their own languages.  This story explains the state of the world and the separation of people into their own lands and countries and working toward their own “sovereign” interests, with little regard for The Sovereign, Almighty God.  This has led, on the level of nations and individuals, endless war, the taking of life, harsh words, insults, slanders, neglect, and gossip.
Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, is God’s attempt to “reverse” the status quo that the Tower of Babel story accepts.  The disciples are gathered together at Pentecost, 50 days after Passover, behind locked doors depressed and fearful.  The Holy Spirit comes upon them, symbolized as “tongues of fire,” and emboldens them to go out and tell all people of God’s love and forgiveness and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.   Everyone hears the message in their own language and many come to believe.  In the power of the Holy Spirit, the disciples/Apostles go out to the four winds to bring this Good News to the whole world, gathering people who have been scattered and bringing them together to love one another, forgive each other, and give thanks to God:  revealed as a loving, merciful Father, Jesus, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit of love who gathers and never scatters.
This is the principle of discernment of the Holy Spirit’s presence:  When people gather in ever greater concentric circles of mutual love and forgiveness the Spirit of God is there.  When people are scattered and divided by their own pride, greed, and willfulness, they give in to the temptation of the Evil One.  The Evil One tries to keep people at enmity with one another, unwilling to love or forgive, and driven to retaliation for loss and hurt.  The value of human life, the very gift of God, is lessened and easily sacrificed for selfish ends.  People are gathered, yes, but they gather, unfortunately, “over and against” their fellow human beings.
The Holy Spirit is The Gatherer, par excellence, bringing people of all persuasions and cultures together in companionship based on love and forgiveness.  Where the Holy Spirit is present there is always a note of deep joy, even in the midst of ongoing struggles and atmospheres of disunity and mistrust.  Thankfully, the Holy Spirit will succeed, accomplishing the work it was sent to do, slowly, but surely, making God’s love visible in the world.  Each time we gather for the Holy Eucharist, with all our shortcomings and sins, we open ourselves and ask for a fresh renewal of the Holy Spirit in our lives and are sent out to be signs of God’s presence in our community and world.  

St. Alban

Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.

The Reverend John Smith, Vicar

5235-6674 cell telephone (502 country code)


*The Anglican Church in Central America (Anglican Communion)
The Most Reverend Julio Murray, Archbishop and Primate, IARCA

The Rt. Rev Silvestre Romero, Bishop of Guatemala
The Right  Reverend Silvestre Romero, Bishop of Guatemala

Anglican Communion

*The Anglican Church in Central America (Anglican Communion)