Christmas is Coming
In a few short weeks Christmas will be upon us. I believe, now more than ever, in our dangerously shattered Untied States of America, the teaching and life examples of Jesus the Christ need to be understood, studied and lived now more than ever.
Before you shut down thinking, more Christian propaganda from the conservative right, let me remind you of the basic differences among Christians as to interpret and apply the concepts of the Bible to modern life.
In contrast to a literal, inerrant and infallible view of the Bible, the approach I find most inspiring and sensible may be called Christian modernism. It takes into consideration today’s knowledge, and the progressive insights uncovered as we explore science and ethics. It emphasizes the importance of reason and experience over doctrine and dogma. Basically, it calls for each of us to make our own life choices, our own world view, influenced by, but unfettered by, doctrines of an external authority such as the Bible. I believe we call that process, “growing up.”
As an Episcopalian, I visualize our Christian faith as sitting upon a three-legged stool of Scripture, Tradition and Reason. Reason, a knowledge of history, science and ethics, modulates our reading and understanding the printed words of Holy Scripture and the times they represent, some events dating as far back a 1400 BC.
Being raised in a conservative home, (Missouri Synod Lutheran) and viewing the Bible as authoritative in every instance since childhood, my journey to Christian modernism has been long, mentally challenging, and has called for courage to leave some of the beliefs of my youth behind.
How did this happen?
My heart has always been trusting, but my mind skeptical towards so many things metaphysical. For decades I have been indebted, to Pastor Frederick Buechner, a Vermonter who wrote, much to my comport, “Doubt is the ants in the pants of faith.” Doubt and wonderment get one to thinking.
I used to believe it was Jesus only that opened doors to the bright light of salvation. However, looking for more salvation light, finding myself in a tough spot, I started attending AA meetings in 1993. As Father Richard Rohr has written, “Suffering can be the springboard into spiritual growth.”
AA was the final experience that helped me extricate myself from the “Jesus Only” point of view. AA gives members permission to seek the God of One’s Understanding. I was somewhat skeptical, but time and observations of members transformed into contributing members of society was impossible to ignore.
As a clergy person, more than 30 years a priest, I saw lives changed, freedom found, prayers and spiritual concepts being shared by people who talk about and revere their “Higher Power” with a fervency long coveted in church life. AA meetings were open, honest and provided steps for healing. Sometimes, one has to bleed to see the need and find a better way.
Our Nation needs to find a better way. Let’s start with telling the truth about our own life stories. How do you assess the state of our nation, and status of your own soul? How is your spiritual blood pressure? Are you spiritually fulfilled and motivated to serve your neighbor and community? Do you forgive easily? Do you need to be forgiven?
Choose your place of worship carefully, but choose one. As Bob Dylan reminds us, “Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall.” We can restore kindness, civility and the ability to forgive on another. Take a drink of living water. This holiday season find your church, synagogue or mosque. Now more than ever.
Father Jack Fles
All Saint’s Episcopal Church
Mobil: 207 441-9747
Home: 46 Water St. Gardiner, ME. 04345
 Father Rohr is the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico. https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/interviews/article/47131-understanding-necessary-suffering-richard-rohr.html
November 20 at All Saints:
1. Important Bishop’s Committee Meeting, Short Sermon.
2. What if Father Jack were to attend three Sundays in a row?
3. Guitar meditation before service, organ postlude following.
4. Guitar song – The Times they are a Changing – Bob Dylan
5. Dedication of Bishop’s gift of the new Chalice and Paten
6. This Sunday is Christ the King Sunday.
7. Food for thought: In your opinion, why does the church proclaim Christ as King?
Earth Care COP 27
Dear Mr. Jack Fles,
Thank you so much for your application to be on the Presiding Bishop’s delegation to the United Nations 27th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27).
On behalf of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and our COP27 delegation team, we would like to express our thanks to you, for the time, care and attention you gave to your application. Your commitment to climate advocacy and the care of God’s creation is evident, and is a blessing to our Church.
While we are unable to offer you a place in the Presiding Bishop’s COP27 delegation, we would like to invite you into the wider circle of Episcopalians bearing witness to COP27 and joining together for Episcopal climate advocacy events next month.
Episcopal COP27 Events:
Tuesday, November 1st at 12 PM ET: Episcopal Climate Advocacy at the UN: COP27 Kick-Off with the Presiding Bishop’s Delegation
Join the Episcopal Presiding Bishop’s Delegates to the United Nations 27th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) and our partners for this public launch event! Participants will meet our delegates and get an introduction to global climate advocacy through a faith lens, just in time for the start of COP27 on November 6th, 2022. We will share Episcopal policy priorities and advocacy strategies, and invite the whole Episcopal Church to join in prayer and witness for this critical global conference.
Wednesday, November 30th at 12 PM ET: Episcopal COP27 Closing Event and Report Back from Delegates
After the close of the 27th Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, gather with Episcopal advocates and ecumenical partners for this closing event. Our Presiding Bishop’s Delegation will offer reports from their witness at the conference and summaries from the results of the negotiations. We will finish with a faith-led vision of the future of Episcopal advocacy around climate change.
You are now on our list to receive more information leading up to these events; please let us know if you have questions or would like to be taken off the list. We are still available to you as we can be helpful, to offer clarification, encouragement, and resources as you continue your own ministry on creation care and climate justice.
The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus
The Rev. Melanie Mullen
Ice Cream Social and Climate Change