Archives for the month of: March, 2011

Kiss of Peace, Galilee, 2004 by Tracey Lind

A Sermon preached on The Third Sunday in Lent 2010

In the fall of 2010, now former NY Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote, “However you want to define the American dream, there is not much of it that’s left anymore.  Wherever you choose to look — at the economy and jobs, the public schools, the budget deficits, the nonstop warfare overseas — you’ll see a country in sad shape…We’re in denial about the extent of the rot in the system, and the effort that would be required to turn things around.” (NYTimes, 11/19/10)

This past weekend, I sat in our Conference Room with some 25 members of our congregation cutting out newspaper headlines that spoke of this rot:  bodies buried under Imperial Avenue, U.S. missiles dropping on Libya, corporations not paying taxes, the elimination of collective bargaining for public workers, state and federal budget cuts, nuclear power plants leaking, toys floating in the sea, global climate change, disappearing housing stock, lost jobs, and deteriorating infrastructures, county corruption, and Charlie Sheen.  Enough said.

That was the beginning of our time with Janet Walton, Professor of Worship at the Union Theological Seminary.   “Fierce Imagination in a Time of Rot” was the title of our daylong Lenten retreat.   Quoting poet Adrienne Rich, Janet invited us to “explore the wreck, to see the damage that [has been] done, and to [imagine] the treasures that prevail.”  She encouraged us to dive deep into the sea of despair so that we might emerge with the rising tide.  And, that we did on the first Saturday of spring.

To listen to my entire sermon:


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Spring Break

I took a one-week vacation from work – including blogging – to sit on a beach.  I read, walked, swam, explored, ate, napped, daydreamed, and then repeated the cycle over and over again.  It was great and I am rested.

And here’s the really good news!  Spring has arrived on the lake.  I looked out my window this morning and our friendly woodchuck has awakened from his winter slumber and was munching on a corn cob by the bird feeder.  There is hope, and I’m glad to be home.


Temptation by Tracey Lind

A Sermon Preached on the First Sunday of Lent 2011

Genesis 2:15-3:7 – Romans 5:12-19 – Matthew 4:1-11

Sin – it’s such a familiar word.  We say that it’s a sin to kill someone.  We also say that it’s a sin to let the last piece of chocolate cake go uneaten.  The dictionary defines sin as: “An offense against a religious or moral law; an action that is felt to be highly reprehensible; or a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God.” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1973)  The Book of Common Prayer defines sin, as “the seeking of our own will instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with all creation.” (p. 848)  St. Augustine said, “Sin is energy in the wrong channel.”

Since the earliest of times, human beings have been fascinated and intrigued with the origin of sin.  When looking at the apparently guilt-free existence of the rest of the animal world, humans have wondered why we alone as a species suffer the evils of sin and its consequences.

Some say that we are born in a state of original sin.  Others argue that we choose to be sinful.  But, the truth is that we are not really sure from whence our sinful state originates; and when we don’t know something for certain, we often create what are commonly called “myths.”

A myth is not, as cynics would suggest, a lie or an untruth.  Rather, a myth is a story that explores, discovers and reveals the meaning of human existence in relationship to the sacred.  It accounts for unexplainable events attributed to direct intervention of the divine.

We all live by a myth.  It can choose us or we can choose it.  Thomas Mann, author of The Magic Mountain, wrote: “A myth is and always is no matter how much [we] want to say it was.”

Our responsibility is to engage the myth.  We can accept it without question; we can reject it outright; or we can re-interpret it.  But in the end, we cannot simply ignore it, for we all are faced with questions that cannot be rationally explained or summarily dismissed.

So it is with the origin of sin.  There comes a time in every human life when we ask St. Paul’s probing and perplexing question: Why do I do that which I ought not to do, and why don’t I do that which I know I should do? (Romans 7:19)  If God is so good, why is there so much bad?  Or put in simple theological language: why does sin exist? Read the rest of this entry »

My friend and mentor - The Rt. Rev. Richard Shimpfky

Do you remember Robert Fulghum’s book – All I Really Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten?  I can easily say that all I really need to know about being a priest and a Christian I learned from Richard Shimpfky.

I had the privilege of serving as Curate and then Associate Rector of this parish from 1986-1989, and I learned the really important stuff about being a parish priest from this kind and gentle man – “Sunbeam for Jesus” as I affectionately called him.

So here are the important lessons that Richard taught me:

  • Smile when you greet people, especially on Sunday mornings.
  • Don’t be afraid to hug folks in the receiving line.
  • Pound your chest during the Prayer of Humble Access.
  • Drink a Bloody Mary on Shrove Tuesday so you have something to give up on Ash Wednesday.
  • Love your children (and those in your congregation), and brag about them regularly.
  • Support your spouse when she needs a break from church, and you.
  • Some of the prayers in the 1928 Prayer Book are really better, so keep them glued in the back of your 1979 Prayer Book for when you need them.
  • Drive your car until it wears out, but get rid of it before it smells.
  • Dance at weddings and mourn at funerals, but try not to laugh or cry when you’re preaching or presiding.
  • Go to the hospital, but ask people if they want you to pray with them.
  • Give your clergy colleagues (especially curates) room to grow, and support them when they push boundaries in the name of Jesus.
  • Welcome your predecessors and say nice things about them; they can be your best cheerleaders.
  • The Eucharist belongs to Christ, not just to the Episcopal Church; so welcome the stranger and sojourner in your midst.
  • Honor other faith traditions in both word and deed.
  • Eat whatever is placed before you; it all tastes the same if you add a lot of salt.
  • Be loyal to your seminary, and give credit to your professors when you quote them.
  • Read lots of novels; they are filled with “homiletical hay.”
  • Colleague groups are good for your spirit; so show up for meetings.
  • Write thank you notes.
  • Stand up for what you believe.
  • Say your prayers.
  • Trust in God’s big wings and gentle feathers.

I am one very grateful priest for the lessons I learned, the gifts I received, and the twenty-five years of friendship I shared with Richard Shimpfky.

The Very Rev. Tracey Lind

March 12, 2011

Christ Church, Ridgewood, NJ

I can’t tell you the number of times I said, “If only I had my camera.”  Sometimes, I console myself by saying, “That was a photograph meant to be made with the eye.”  But if truth be told, I usually don’t make the photograph because I’m too rushed, too busy, too pre-occupied, or too lazy.  This time was different.  I was driving home from work one night wearing high heels and stockings.  I saw these men practicing Kung Fu under a park pavillion.  I passed by thinking, “What a cool photograph.  It’s a shame that there’s so much snow, and I’m not dressed for it.”  And then, I turned the car around, got out, walked in my high heels through the snow, and made the picture.  Sure, my feet were wet, but it was worth the effort.  They were so graceful and gracious.   They also were wearing sensible shoes.


Why I Do Ashes by Tracey Lind


The other day I reminded a friend that Ash Wednesday was fast approaching.  She reminded me that she didn’t do ashes.

A lot of people don’t understand Ash Wednesday and “don’t do ashes.”  Frankly, I think Ash Wednesday is one of the most powerful liturgies of the entire church year, and I believe that marking our foreheads with ashes is one of the most powerful rituals in our tradition.

Ash Wednesday really means for me a right beginning.  It is a chance to start over, to say with absolute certainty and resolute assurance that today is the first day of the rest of our lives.   I don’t know about you, but I need starting over days and new beginnings.  I also need symbols and rituals to mark these rights of passage.  Ashes are the powerful symbol of the starting over as we pray, “Create in us a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within us.”   They remind us of who we are and to whom we belong.

I am grateful for the opportunity to get down on my knees and say – God, please let me start over.  Please give me a second chance.  And once again, mark my forehead so that I may remember when whence I came and where I am going.

Today is Shrove Tuesday, and tonight at Trinity Cathedral we’ll eat pancakes at 6pm.  Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, and we’ll worship at 7:30 a.m., 12:10 pm , and 6 pm.  If you’re looking to start over, join us!

In the Palm of her Hand by Tracey Lind

…I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands. (Isaiah 49.16)

Those hands are nearly ninety years old, and they’ve touched so much – work, love and life.  They’ve swept many a floor, harvested a lot of sugar cane, and stirred a lot of batter.  These hands have brushed and braided hair, washed dishes, ironed linen, and polished silver.  They’ve held bibles and prayer books.  They’ve even made the sign of the cross.

I wonder what she would inscribe upon her hands: the name of her beloved daughter now departed, her son-in-law who shelters her from the cold; her church family who has supported her all these years; her friends back home where’s it’s warm; or Jesus her savior.  We all have names that we might inscribe upon our hands.

Look at the palms of your hands.  Examine carefully the lines, crevices, blisters and calluses.   Think about all the places your hands have been and all of the hands they have touched.  And now imagine writing – in permanent, indelible ink – names on palms of your hands.  Whose names would be there: your family, friends, or co-workers?  If you’re a doctor, might you inscribe the names of your patients?  If you’re a teacher, would you write the names of your students?  If you’re a hairdresser, your clients; a business owner, your employees; a bishop, your clergy; or a pastor, your parishioners.  Might you inscribe even the names of the 156 men and women sitting on death row in Ohio; might they write the names of their victims?  They are your hands, so it’s your choice.

Now imagine the huge and holy hands of God.  Imagine all of us engraved and inscribed on the palms of the hands of God.  These eternal hands are extended to us as a promise that we will not be forgotten.  We, you and I, all of us, are engraved, inscribed, chiseled, and grafted onto divine hands and a holy heart.

Thanks be to God.

Phyllis Harmon Greene 1919-2011

A Tribute to Phyllis Harmon Greene – March 1, 2010  – Temple Israel – Columbus, Ohio

Have you ever been asked to do a favor and without thinking much about it you said, “Of course,” and then twenty years later, you actually had to follow-through on your promise.  Well, that’s what happened to The Rev. Jane Mykrantz and me.  Phyllis asked us both to preach at her funeral, and she called in that favor just before she died.  Unfortunately, Jane couldn’t be here today, but we talked together so that I might offer these words from two humbled ministers in honor of one remarkable woman.

Jane and I began our conversation where most preachers start – the scriptures.  The prophet Micah reminds us of what is required: “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.”  We concluded that there are no better words to describe how Phyllis Harmon Greene actually lived her life.  Phyllis fulfilled this biblical mandate with body, heart, mind and spirit.

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