St Luke the Physician Episcopal Church
La Iglesia de San Lucas

Welcoming all who seek peace and comfort in Christ's name Dar la bienvenida a todos los que buscan paz y comodidad en nombre de Cristo


Rector's Thoughts

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What a Storm Uncovers

Posted by [email protected] on May 21, 2013 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

As the good people of the great state of Oklahoma dig out ofthis mess, a lot of things will be discovered. The extent of each family’s loss will be calculated: first by theinsurance company, then by the banks, and finally by the peoplethemselves.  What the businesses areconcerned about and what the people are concerned about may differ.  The bank will not care that a wedding albumwas lost or baby pictures destroyed. Report cards and Citizenship Awards from 1st grade will notbe on the books of the bank nor the insurer. 


Some things will have survived against all odds.  There are always these little glimmers ofhope even in the biggest disasters. There will be stories of folks who are safe because they had to stopsomewhere and so they weren’t home when the storm hit their house.  These stories will be uncovered.


I live far away.  Ihave not been in Oklahoma since I was a girl and my grandparents moved fromMissouri to Texas.  Because of that, sowe no longer drove through and stopped to visit cousins in Valliant, Oklahomaon the annual pilgrimage.  It has beenmany years since I’ve seen the farm where I first rode a horse, the same one myfather rode in his youth.  It has been asmany years since I fed any chickens.  Ithas been even more years since I visited with my Great Aunt Ida who has longsince been with the Lord.


I’ve been thinking about all of that today.  My paternal grandmother, Miriam ElizabethOlson, nee Shirley, was born in Cherokee County Oklahoma.  Her brother-in-law Bert Thurber, born a yearor two earlier in the same place, was born in Indian Territory.  So if Laurey and Curly in the musicalOklahoma had had a baby within a year or so of getting married, that childwould be the same age as my grandmother of sainted memory.


Today, I live in Miami-Dade. It is the 7th most populous county in the country.  I am surrounded by accents from all overLatin and South America.  But my rootsare uncovered today.  My people, born inOklahoma, Colorado, Mississippi and Texas – western people and southern peopleare on my mind today.  (For the record, Iwas born in Baton Rough, LA.)  In myhead, I’m talking again in a Texas accent. 


I am praying for my people. As Nehemiah prayed for his people, I pray for mine.  As Jesus wept for his people, I weep formine.  May God bless the people ofOklahoma and help them recover.  May theyknow again the joy of home.  May theyknow the shelter love.  May they againfeel safe.  As they uncover all of theirlosses, may they also uncover their resilience and their faith.





Posted by [email protected] on May 13, 2013 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

I don’t know about you, but I waste time.  If there is plenty of time (or at least some time) between the current moment and the last possible moment I could start something, then I procrastinate.  It leads to a lot of moments when I am yelling at myself, “What is the matter with you?”


A couple of weeks ago I decided to tackle my procrastination problem with a new schedule.  I realized that to really be ready with both English and Spanish preparation for a Sunday,I needed two weeks with the texts.  I set out a schedule for printing, studying, etc. I set up a notebook with tabs for each week, including tabs for special services coming up.  It is very nice.


Everything was going according to plan until my father fell ill and had to have a by-pass and aortic valve replacement.  While I still had time, I had no ability to concentrate or to think.  I was worrying and any efforts to stop worrying were met with fierce resistance!


And so, there I was on Saturday at the church doing a Spanish language service that I was completely unprepared for.  Thankfully, I had my church around me and they were able to take care of the cracks and I did what I could.  The daughter of the woman who had died and I hugged with more mutual understanding than I probably share when we are not going through such similar things.  There was God and there was Grace.  


 No plan, no schedule, not amount of preparation can truly prepare you for everything that is coming. Instead we need to rely on other things – God, faith, family, friends,and the church.  These are what got me through the days of fear. 


I received this blessing from my seminary Dear Ward Ewing,though I’ve modified it a bit, I share it here.


Life is short,

and we do not know how much time we have

  to gladden the hearts of those

  who make this earthly pilgrimage with us,


So, be swift to love,

Make haste to show mercy . . .

Shower abundant hospitality on friend and stranger alike,

And walk in justice,

that you may follow the path of mercy and love.


And may the God who first loved you,

The God whose property is always to show mercy

The God who invites you with infinite hospitality to share eternity with him

And the God who is the measure of Justice

            Bless you,in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.




Racism and the Beloved Community

Posted by [email protected] on May 8, 2013 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Since Easter, we have been readingfrom the Gospel of John on Sundays.  EachGospel writer has a distinct voice, but John is quite different from the otherthree.  They are so alike that they arecalled the synoptic Gospels – the look alike Gospels.

What Jesus has been saying to us inthis Gospel is that he was sent by the Father, to show us the Father.  He and his Father have a uniquely lovingrelationship that he wants us all to be a part of, the Beloved Community.  To be a part of it, we need to listen to hiswords of love, to believe that they are from the Father, and to follow.  Just and Jesus and his Father are one, so weshould also be one – with each other and with the Father and Jesus.  ONE

Well, we all know that ONE is notsomething that we have really lived into. Yesterday as I listened to the news I learned about three young womenwho had spent 10 years as captives of three brothers in Cleveland.  The nation listened in amazement as CharlesRamsey described how he heard one of the women screaming and he helped her kickthe door down.  We heard him describe hissurprise to learn that there were three women and a child involved inthis. 

As the story unfolded we had villains,victims and a true hero in the person of Charles Ramsey.  His interviews went viral on theInternet.  He was funny, and down toearth.  He had nice details aboutbar-b-queing with the neighbors who seemed like regular guys.  Charles Ramsey was perfect for this.  He’s on top of the world!  I say, “Good for him!!” 

Then I noticed something in hisstory, and I wasn’t the only one.  I readit on Slate and at NPR.  Charles Ramseywas telling another part of the truth. He said, describing the rescue of Amanda Berry and her fellow captives,he says, “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into ablack man's arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway!”


This is not some white person“doing” something to this man, but his lived experience that has becomecompletely internalized.  He knows,living in what is described as one of the most segregated cities in thecountry, that white women do not trust black men and would only turn to them inextreme circumstances.  I hope it madeyou weep as it made me weep. 

When I posted my observations onFacebook, I got two general responses. From other liberal white people, I got likes and sentences ofsupport.  From black people, I got moreof a “business as usual” response.  Asone friend Kathy Boeschenstein, an Episcopal priest in Colorado, said, “We arein so much trouble. Racism is everywhere including our blessed church.”

The church has made some serious miss-stepsin our history.  This is true in theChurch Universal, but specifically in the Episcopal Church.  Rather than becoming the beloved communitywhere we share in the love of the Father and the Son as Jesus prayed, we becamethe church of the segregated community. We not only did not tear down the walls that divide us, we put them upand put crosses on top of them and called them holy!

As Jesus prayed, “20 Ipray not only for these but also for those who through their teaching will cometo believe in me.  21 May theyall be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they alsomay be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.” (Joh17:20-21 NJB)  May we truly become thepeople who can lead the world to the Father, by becoming those people who showthe love of God in our love for one another.

As they say, from your lips Jesus,to God’s ears!


Preparing for the Challenge

Posted by [email protected] on December 16, 2012 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

The Bible Challenge begins with the commitment.  Without the commitment the possibility ofreading the Bible through in a year is slight indeed.  With the commitment there will be obstaclesand difficulties, without, so many more!

This week 14 people from the English speaking services (15if you count me) and 5 people from the Spanish speaking service made thecommitment.  They said “YES” or “SÍ” tothe challenge.  It was a good start forthe first week of asking for a commitment.

As we prepare to begin this journey together, this is thetime for preparation.  It is time to getthe Bible you want to use.  It is time tostart thinking about what time of day you will use for this commitment.  Something in your current use of time willhave to give, or shift.  Right now youare using all of the 24-hours you have. Where will this new activity fit? Will it take the place of something you are currently doing?  Will you wake up earlier, or turn the TV offat some point?  Maybe you’ll get an audioBible and listen in the car on your way to work. 

Our plan is to begin the Challenge on January 7th,2013.  You are welcome to join in, willyou be ready?

Bible Challenge Introduction

Posted by [email protected] on December 13, 2012 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Itstarted a long time ago.  Many people,many churches, lay people, priests, ministers, deacons, elders, bishops,questioners, doubters, and who knows who else thought, “I’m going to read theBible.”  Of course, some were successful,some have done it time and time again, but others, and I think most, gotsomewhere in Exodus, or Numbers, or Deuteronomy and gave up the ghost!  Many got through Genesis because it is acollection of stories.  But gettingthrough the description of the construction of the tabernacle in Exodus or thecounting of the tribes in Numbers is a lot harder. 

ThisBible Challenge started with an Episcopal priest in his own living room sittingin front of his fire.  He felt like hisown reading of scripture was missing something. He studied, he was learning to read scripture in Greek and Hebrew, butfor all of his efforts, no one said, “WOW! Your preaching is really getting better and helping me more!”  So he said what so many have, “I’m going toread the whole Bible.”

Whatmade that moment different from other, I believe, is that he then invitedothers to join him.  He found churchmembers, other clergy, and friends from his golf club also wanted to read theBible through.  They read all of thebooks in the Old and New Testaments through in a year.  This priest, the Rev. Marek P. Zabriskie,found that this exercise made a significant impact on his life.

Thispast summer, the Challenge took a big step forward when the General Conventionof the Episcopal Church voted to approve TheBible Challenge - Directs the Church to extend an invitation to members andthe wider community to read the Bible in 2013. Now Episcopal Churches across all of the provinces are taking up thechallenge.

TheRev. Marek P. Zabriskie has given us some great tools to help with theprocess.  They can be found at theirwebsite, ; There you will find resources in English andin Spanish to help with the process. There is a daily reflection on the readings with questions andchallenges.  There is a scheme for dailyreading, using only six days a week, to accomplish this goal within a year.

Ihope that you will take up the challenge. I hope that you will decide that this is the year when you will read allof this wonderful word of God in 2013. If you are in Miami, I hope that you will join us at St. Luke’s and findsomeone to do it with. 

MayGod bless you as you prepare for the BibleChallenge!!




Thoughts on the Death Penalty

Posted by [email protected] on September 21, 2011 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (1)

In 1989 Mark MacPhail, 27 years old, was gunned down in a parking lot in Savannah, GA. What happened to him was immoral, violent, unjustified, and sad. His daughter, his wife, his family and friends were wrongfully denied his presence in their lives. It was and still is tragic.

Today in Georgia Troy Anthony Davis is scheduled to be executed in Georgia for that murder. Though he was found guilty of the murder, there is no physical evidence linking him to the crime. According to the Los Angeles Times, seven of the nine witnesses have recanted, some saying that their testimony was coerced by police.

In the Republican debates of September 7, Governor Rick Perry of Texas was asked about the 234 people executed during his term. Before he could answer, the crowd applauded. They cheered this record for Texas. The Governor then touted the infallibility of the state’s process for determining not only guilt but whom to execute.

Governor Perry did not talk about the innocent people who have been recently released from Texas jails, though five were released from death row in the last 10 years. (47 have been released nation-wide over that period.) But the crowd was clearly not interested the in grays of life, only the hard lines, the clear statements, and the voice of confidence. These are difficult times, and clear, hard, confident voices are so welcome.

Today is also the feast day of St. Matthew. On this day we remember that Jesus took as one of his disciples, one of the twelve of his inner circle, a tax collector. Scholars tell us that these people were thought to be collaborators with the occupying Roman state. They tell us that whole families could be brought into disrepute by a single member being a tax collector, a publican.

What we learn from Jesus is that no group can be cast aside. He said, (Matthew 9:12-13) “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, and sick people do. Go and learn what this means: I want mercy and not sacrifice. (Hos 6:6) I didn’t come to call righteous people, but sinners.”(CAB) Then he left it to us to recognize that we are all sick and all sinners. Even the best of us is not infallible, even when we work in committees or juries.

Not long ago I had dinner with a parishioner and her family to celebrate her birthday. We all shared something for which we were grateful and her son told me this story. When he was a young man, I think about 19, he and a friend drove from Miami down to the Keys to party with some friends. As they were driving, flashing lights came from behind them. They pulled over to let the police by, but the police stopped them. The police questioned the young men about their activities and plans. Eventually they arrested the two young men.

It turned out that an old man had been released from a hospital that evening and two young Hispanic men had beaten him up. The police were sure that they were those young men. As the ordeal unfolded the boys were repeatedly offered the opportunity to plead guilty and serve only two years. If they were found guilty in a trial they could serve much longer. My friend’s son and his friend declined the offer protesting their innocence.

Finally at the trial, everything was going against them. Everyone was sure that they were the two assailants. The very last witness, the eye-witness, was finally brought forward. When asked if these were the guys and if this was the car, he said “no.”

When he finished telling me the story, my friend’s son told me, that he never judges folks in prison, for he knows that some of them are innocent.

I am not suggesting that Troy Anthony Davis is innocent and should be released. I just don’t know enough about it to make such a claim. Neither do I make the claim that he must be forgiven by those whom he may have hurt. That will be a matter for their own conscience and sense of justice.

There is, however, a significant difference between confining someone who may have committed a crime and killing them. While, I don’t think dying is the worst thing that can happen to us, I believe that killing another may be. As J. K. Rowling so evocatively put it, murdering another fragments our soul. When we start killing people in the name of justice we run the risk of becoming murderers. Some claim that we have the moral right to execute murderers, but if one innocent person is put to death, then what have we done? How sure can we be?

Perhaps in our desperation to feel safe again, we are willing to sacrifice others on the altars of our desire for vengeance. Our need for control demands the execution of those people whom we believe bring chaos. Our hope for fairness brings us to stamp out the unfairness of an officer killed in a Burger King parking lot; his death was absolutely unfair and so very sad. Unfortunately, we do not seem to have the power to prove whether killing Davis will not be just as sad and unfair.


What do you think of the New Bishop?

Posted by [email protected] on Comments comments (0)

There are many ways to pick new leaders. This Sunday we will be reading about the selection of Matthias, who was select by lot from the two men who were determined qualified to serve. You can find the story in the Book of Acts chapter 1, verses 16 through 26.

In this diocese, we have a slightly different process. Names are submitted to a Nominating Committee who brought the number down to five candidates. In an open period of nomination, a sixth name was added. The six met with the people of the diocese in a series of meetings with fixed questions. This was called the "Walk Abouts." After this period of discernment, we gathered at the cathedral and votes. Each ordained member of the clergy with their canonical residence in Southeast Florida could vote as could two or three members of each parish. Only the largest parishes get three votes. We vote by orders so the candidate must have over 50% of both the lay votes and the clergy votes. This last election took four ballots as I recall.

During this process, the learning the names, the meeting the folks, and the voting, we all formed ideas about what each person would be like as the new bishop. As you may imagine, there is both hope and fear in those imaginings. Some said, "It is a great slate, we cannot go wrong!" Others said, "No matter what, everything will be fine, unless you elect THAT one!" Then we heard, "Well, the diocese is not ready for THAT kind of person." The comments went on.

Then it was over. Suddenly all of the speculation was over and the reality was before us. The Very Reverend Peter Eaton, Dean of the Cathedral in Denver, Colorado, was our Bishop Coadjutor and in January he will be our fourth diocesan bishop. But what happens to all of the anxiety that had built up? It does not just go away.

Of course, many were disappointed that the person that they hoped would be bishop is not. This disappointment is especially felt by the people who had put their names in as candidates and, of course, by the people who love them. Though I was not one who put her name forward, I know it is hard to do. It is especially difficult to lose when it has been part of a process with a great deal of prayer and discernment.

It made me wonder how Joseph called Barsabbas felt when Matthias was picked to join the 12. He is only mentioned once again, though this time he is called Judas called Barsabbas (I think it is the same guy). He is sent to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas to bring news of the council. He clearly stayed involved, engaged in the community and continued as a faithful follower of Jesus!

Our new bishop will be working with all of us to be faithful followers of Jesus. So, when a friend asked me this week, "What do you think of the new bishop?” my answer was easy. I will do my best to work with him and I will pray for his work among us. I have his back!




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