DECEMBER 2017 ALUMNI CYCLE OF PRAYER

December 1 – Bexley Hall and Seabury-Western Class of 1972 & 1973

Gary K. Knoss, Leon L. Love, John R. Paal, Tyrus C. Petty, W. Clarke Prescott, Albert S. Sam, Betty Schiess, James R. Sorenson, John Wall, Evan A. Ash, Peder G. Berdahl, Carl T. Cannon, Mark C. Engle, Frederick L. Jones, James E. Krotz, Lawrence B. Lewis, Spencer Lindsay, Donald S. Lofman, James S. MacConnell, Keith E. Mathews, John Palarine, Cedric E. Pearson, Craig Pooser, Philip D. Schaefer, Thomas G. Smith

December 2 – Bexley Hall and Seabury-Western Class of 1974 & 1975

Lawrence D. Bausch, Robert L. Beasley, Robert G. Bramlett, Virginia D. Brown, Wallace F. Caldwell, David A. Cameron, Michael Forbes, Thomas W. Gray, Walter F. Hendricks, Robert W. Horner, Janice A. Hotze, Pamela Mulac, Bruce C. Ogilvie, R. Jeffrey Patnaude, Hays H. Rockwell, Stephen B. Snider, Kent W. Tarpley, Herbert P. Tinning, Craig R. Wylie, Alex A. Aiton, William B. Austin, Jerry C. Doherty, Mary Dombeck, Linda S. Herbert, James D. Ingles

December 19 – Bexley Hall and Seabury-Western Class of 1975 & 1976

Michael R. Long, Phebe L. McPherson, Samuel W. Morrison, Robert K. Myers, Marilyle S. Page, Nancy Platt, Larry J. Roback, Dorothy M. Ruhl, Joslyn Angus, Annette Arnold-Boyd, Chul B. Chung, Leslie Combs, George E. Deatrick, William L. Flodin, Lynne Hamilton Wray, Carl Jensen, Don E. Johnson, Paul D. Kidd, William Kruse, Beverly Messenger-Harris, Mark L. Middleton, Roger E. Miller, David L. Moyer, Martin O’Rourke, William H. Risinger

A LIGHT NO DARKNESS CAN OVERCOME

A Message from Acting President Therese DeLisio
November 27, 2017

The Chicago iHeartRadio FM station switched to playing Christmas songs 24 hours a day on Tuesday, November 6, at 4:35 pm. The president of iHeartMedia Chicago offered this reason: “With all the turmoil in the world today, we felt Chicago needed a little more Christmas right now. The extension of the Christmas music season will allow Chicagoans to get into the Holiday spirit even more this year.”

In my parish, All Saints Episcopal Church in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago, we are experiencing a different kind of seasonal extension. Along with a growing number of Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist churches in the U.S. and elsewhere, we are celebrating an expanded seven-week Advent that this year began on November 12.

The Very Rev. Dr. William H. Petersen, president emeritus of one of our predecessor seminaries, Bexley Hall Seminary, developed this practice of observing an expanded Advent with fellow liturgical scholars at the North American Academy of Liturgy in a seminar called The Advent Project. In his new book, What Are We Waiting For? Re-Imagining Advent for Time to Come (New York: Church Publishing, 2017), Dr. Petersen explains the rationale for this project in chapters that elaborate on the Q&A that he offers in the introduction:

Q: What are we waiting for?
A: The full manifestation of the Reign of God/kingdom of Christ.

Q: Why do we need to re-imagine Advent?
A: The truncated season is eclipsed by the global Christmas culture and the church’s observance is liable to subversion by it.

Q: What would be the shape and feel of [an expanded] Advent?
A: Advent would start earlier and its observance would be a continuing exercise in the Gospel’s counter-cultural redemptive message. *

Advent, from the Latin root adventus, means “coming.” On these liminal Sundays that mark the transition from the end of the liturgical year and start of the new, as darkness in the northern hemisphere literally descends earlier and earlier until the arrival of Winter Solstice and Christmas day, the appointed lessons in the Revised Common Lectionary carry a message of God’s promise that the reign of God is coming. They carry the good news that while we wait, Emmanuel, “God with us,” is near. The Reign of God/Kingdom of Christ is near in the midst of human acts of love and kindness, justice, and in non-violent resistance to all that opposes the dignity of every human being and the integrity of creation.

In sum, observance of an expanded Advent is an act of resistance to  “the pervasive commercialized and secularized anticipatory celebration” that has reduced Advent to “a late-coming but welcome occasion to give that Christmas culture a further but now chocolate-coated countdown opportunity.” An expanded Advent can help the church to be a light in the darkness, a subversive symbol of hope, rather than a sentimentalized four-week trek to Bethlehem.

As these days are getting shorter and the nights longer, I can’t help but feel that a deep darkness of human origin surrounds us. The neo-Nazi’s and other “haters” of this world are unapologetically and visibly on the march. The threat of nuclear conflict hangs over our heads like a dense cloud ready to rain down “fire and fury.”  Alternative facts are blithely granted false equivalence with the truth. Somehow the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution has been elevated to the word of God and unfettered gun ownership has become a “Christian value.” LGBTQI people, instead of carbon emissions, are blamed for bad weather.

The president of iHeart radio is correct. The world is in turmoil. So many of us long for a glimmer of light, a ray of hope, a glimpse of God’s shalom. To the news on the radio I find myself saying aloud, “Thy kingdom come…and hurry!”

It was a dark, rainy morning in Chicago on the first Sunday of expanded Advent at All Saints. The liturgy began with this opening prayer and a procession of light to our new Advent wreath at the foot of the pulpit from which the good news of God’s coming reign is preached.

We wait in the darkness, O God, for the coming of your Christ.
A light no darkness can overcome.
We long, O God, for the coming of your reign.
Let us walk in the light of your promise.

We at Bexley Seabury pray that you may have a blessed and hope-filled Advent.

* Dr. Petersen’s book also contains resources for observing an expanded Advent, as does the Advent Project web site: theadventproject.org

November 2017 ALUMNI CYCLE OF PRAYER

November 10 – Bexley Hall and Seabury-Western Class of 1970 & 1971

Thomas E. Honderich, Samuel O. Hosler, Peter Huiner, Bryce E. Hunt, William Lieber, Rodney R. Michel, Pelham E. Mills, William H. O’Neill, Trenton L. Pitcher, Carlos A. Plazas, James S. Russell, Harold J. Spelman, Spencer E. Thiel, Peter W. Wenner, James E. Baltzell, Kenneth G. Benne, Roy F. Cederholm, Charles H. Christopher, G. Douglas Eberly, David Gellatly, Charles I. Granger, Robert D. Harmon, Ernest S. Harrelson, John H. Haswell, Peter K. Kwong

November 11 – Bexley Hall and Seabury-Western Class of 1971 & 1972

John A. Lawrence, Frederick R. Nestrock, Wayne L. Pelkey, W. Theron Roberts, Donald H. Smith, Calvin Steck, William C. Tapley, William A. Thompson, Suzanne E. Thompson, Gordon F. Weller, Todd H. Wetzel, Harry N. White, Robert O. Wyatt, John R. Beasley, Merrill Bittner, Susan H. Bobek, C. Christopher Epting, John F. Ferguson, James A. Hammond, Thomas G. Harris, Jerry E. Hill, Melvin A. Hoover, Abraham Kadavil, John R. Kenny

Rolling the Stone Away

As a school we participated as a Seminary Sponsor in Rolling the Stone Away,”a conference for LGBTQIA saints and prophets—generations past and present—to honor our history and empower our future.”We sponsor two seminarians with airfare and hotel accommodations. Read the experience of our seminarian, Alexandra Heeter, from the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio.

Rolling the Stone Away – St. Louis, October 31 – November 2, 2017

by Alexandra Heeter – Bexley Seabury – MDiv Student

The experience of this conferences is something that I doubt I could have gotten the chance to be a part of before this, and that will be difficult if even possible to replicate in the future. Spending three days and two nights with the multitude of generations who have worked and fought for one common goal, the rights of LGBTQIA+ individuals, was awesome in the truest AWE inspiring form of the word. To have these individuals speak on the topic of these rights within the context of the church was even more powerful. I got to hear from people who had been working for recognition before the Stonewall riots up to individuals who are of my generation still fighting. We have created new identifiers, new terms which better describe the people who we feel we are, but the idea is the same. God created us. God loves us. No exceptions.

I have a bumper sticker on my car with one of the ‘tag-lines’ from the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, my home, which says this: God loves you. No Exceptions.

This bumper sticker has been the topic of many discussions with friends, coworkers, and random passersby because it is not the “norm” of what is heard in the secular world. Yet in those hotel conference rooms and ballrooms, that tagline was exactly what you felt. There was a multitude of ages, nationalities, denominations, even outright faiths. I got to sit and have drinks with a fellow seminarian, a Jewish person, an activist with BLM as well as other groups, and a gospel singer. I got to listen to how sexuality has helped people feel closer to and more connected with God. I attended a service run by a Catholic Priest and a Catholic woman where I was able to receive full communion from a man wearing a knitted rainbow stole. I heard God prayed to as mother, father, sister, brother, and simply as God. I was able to hear myself, my friends, and my family validated and stood up for on stage, on a microphone, and have people clap and cheer in response. I got to speak with a woman who returned to the Catholic church because “If all of the gay people leave who will make them change?” These are experiences which I could not have at just any church, or with just any group of people. These are not experiences which happen on every Sunday at church or in just any class of Seminary. These are individual.

I think that woman’s sentiment can be felt in all denominations, not just the Catholic church. The Episcopal church has changed because those who care continue to call out injustices, those who feel called to do so speak out about the things that are wrong, and because of that we work, we develop, we change. I cannot speak for how amazing this experience was because I do not have the words. I can only say that I knew from the moment I walked in, that I was acting not only on my own desires but that I was listening to God. I cannot say enough how vital I believe it was for me to have been there. And I cannot say that you enough to Bexley Seabury for making it possible.