Whose Are You? – Joseph Wood

According to historical accounts, 18th-century English poet Alexander Pope had an epigram engraved on the collar of a puppy that he then gave to Frederick, the Prince of Wales: “I am his highness’s dog at Kew; /Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?” Whenever I read Matthew 22:15-22 or the other synoptic versions of the story in this week’s Gospel reading, I’m reminded of Pope’s poem and its barbed question of ownership.

Living within society means existing within a web of oft-competing loyalties, striving to give each of our relationships and identities their due. The religious authorities of ancient Judea recognize this constant struggle, and they try to use it to trap Jesus between his national convictions and the necessities of survival in the Roman Empire. The tax in question was a poll tax levied by Procurator Quirinus in 6 C.E., used to by the imperial bureaucracy to gauge the resources of this far-flung, unusually troublesome province. It was immediately met with resistance, including an unsuccessful revolt and the eventual formation of the Zealot faction within Judean politics—the radical, mainly Galilean freedom fighters plotting to cast off the yoke of Roman control by any means necessary. As part of his growing flock, Jesus had attracted a number of Zealots (including the apostle Simon) hoping for a more martial messiah, and any support he offered for the tax risked alienating him from his followers and his home. However, any rejection of the tax, especially publicly, would be a treasonous offense. Either way he could obviously respond to their queries would brand him a traitor and almost definitely have disastrous consequences.

Jesus, of course, upends all expectations. Instead of openly endorsing or opposing the will of the empire, he quietly asks for a denarius, for the amount required to pay the tax. He then asks about “whose head” and “whose title” appears on the coin, which his opponents perplexedly admit are “the Emperor’s.” (A detail not emphasized by the Gospel writer is the Pharisees’ immediate ability to pull out the coin means that they keep money with a graven image on it about their persons, seemingly violating the 3rd commandment.)  Christ deftly turns his clever escape into a teaching moment, voicing the line that has made this story famous and even gained a life of it’s own: “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21) The problem is, we tend to focus on the first half of the sentence, worrying about giving to the emperor and, more traditionally, rendering unto Caesar—but the real weight of Jesus’ point rests in the second half. Give to God the things that are God’s. If you’re currently trying to puzzle out what things are God’s, I’d like to remind you of a line from the story of Creation and the very beginning of the Bible: “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26). You are God’s, stamped with the Divine likeness and image just as surely as Tiberius on that denarius. Christ isn’t trying to give his interlocutors pragmatic tax advice, he’s warning them that they’re forgetting their most fundamental relationship and identity. It can be so easy to disregard that God should be at the center of our lives, our faith mediating everything else about our social existence. All too often we forget that we are God’s, or we forget that someone else is God's.* Nothing we do and nothing done to us can change the truth of our glorious creation. Now we just have to live like it.

 

*Which should also say a good deal about the Biblical perspective on consent!

A History of the Seal & Symbol of Emmanuel Church

In honor of Emmanuel Day, here is an essay from our archives by former parishioner Steven Sutor about the origins and meaning of our parish seal. (Revised March 14, 2011)

 

The seal of Emmanuel Church, Baltimore, came into being sometime after 1912, when then-rector the Rev. Dr. Hugh Birckhead asked architect Woldemar Ritter, who was working on the church, to design a seal for the congregation. Ritter seems to have designed both a seal and a beautiful rendering of the pelican-in-her-piety, which were used on a number of print materials and on the Emmanuel china pattern. It is unclear exactly when the current seal came into being, but it bears the Ritter look and feel.

 

Some Background

Woldemar Ritter, born in Riga (then Russia, now Latvia) was the son of the president of the University of Zurich; Ritter senior was a world-renowned engineer who married an American, the daughter of Ludwig Jacoby, a Methodist missionary who is credited with spreading American Methodism throughout Northern Europe. Woldemar’s American mother gave him an appreciation for the New World, and after his father’s death he emigrated to Massachusetts. His travels through the northernmost countries of Europe with his family gave him an appreciation for the varieties of architecture found there, an appreciation he brought with him to the United States and to Emmanuel Church.

Ritter was the on-site project architect for the Boston architectural firm of Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson for the chancel renovation of Emmanuel. Dr. Birckhead--who came to Emmanuel as the Dr. James Eccleston’s successor in 1912--recognized Ritter’s talent and hired him to continue renovations. Woldemar Ritter designed the buildings and appointments we see and know today as Emmanuel.

Emmanuel Seal.png

The Emmanuel Seal

 

The Shape

The earliest seals for both the great families and for religious orders reflected the identity of an individual and included the effigy, arms, or personal device of the person identified with the seal. However, in England, in 1307, the Statutum de apportis religiosorum was enacted that required every religious house to have and use a common seal representing the entire community, not an individual; it noted that if the seal was not affixed to a document the document was considered null and void.

Early seals were often in the vesica piscis shape, a shape derived by overlapping two circles at an exact point; that point is such that the mathematical ratio of the width to the height of the shape is the square root of three. One of the ratios of this value is the number 153, which in John 21:11 is the number of fish Jesus caused to be caught in a miraculous catch. There are other interpretations of the shape as well [including as the intersection of Heaven and Earth] , but it has been used as a Christian symbol from the earliest days, and is today frequently seen in the seals of religious, educational, and governmental institutions. Note the vesica piscis behind the carving of Jesus in our reredos. When you see, on the back of a car, the fish shape indicating Christianity, it derives from this; vesica piscis translates as “fish bladder.”

 

The Pelican

The symbol of the pelican in Christianity was in use as early as 200 CE, when it is mentioned in the Physiologus, an early Christian bestiary. There are  at least two accounts of the pelican-in-her-piety, as the design is called: in times when food was scarce the pelican would pluck her breast and feed her young with her own blood; in the second account the pelican would strike and kill her rambunctious young and then, in reconciliation, with her own blood, resurrect them over a period of three days. The Christian symbolism is clear: the pelican-in-her-piety represents Christ sacrificing himself on the cross and, in the Eucharist, feeding us with his blood, while the three-day period is consistent with the Biblical Resurrection of Christ. [The three chicks in Emmanuel's particular depiction also represent the three chapels the parish helped to found and support.]

Among many other institutions, the pelican is today used as the symbol for Corpus Christi College, Cambridge; Corpus Christi College, Oxford; the medical faculties at Charles University in Prague; and for the Irish Blood Transfusion Service formerly located at Pelican House in Dublin.

In the hymn Adore Te, St. Thomas Aquinas addressed the Savior, "Pelican of Mercy, cleanse me in Thy Precious Blood,” and Shakespeare used the symbol in Hamlet, Act IV:

“To his good friend thus wide, I’ll ope my arms

And, like the kind, life-rendering pelican

Repast them with my blood.”

 

The Acronym

The lettering, "IHS," on an unfurling banner at the top of the center of the vesica piscis is considered to be a variation of the Greek acroynm ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthys) from the 2nd century. Derived from the earlier Greek work ἰχθύς ("fish"),  the letters became an acronym and covert staement of faith in the early Christian movement standing for ησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ: "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior." In the 3rd century, it was contracted further and latinized as "IHS," which itself became the prevalent, often mistranslated symbol found throughout the world.

 

The Temporal Element

In the background of the drawing of the pelican is what is called the “bottony cross," the cross is from the Maryland flag and state seal. (The pelican, with feathers spread, sitting on her nest, echoes the vesica shape.) A bottony cross is a cross with arms of equal length and trefoil "buttons" on the end of each arm, often thought to represent the Trinity.

This cross comes from the heraldic banner of George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, which is now the Maryland state flag; it is the only state flag in the United States based on English heraldry. Interestingly, it was adopted as the state flag in 1904, shortly before the designs for the Emmanuel seal. The red and white element in our state flag, the two bottony crosses counterchanged or countersigned (heraldic language for cater-corner), were the arms of the Crossland family, Baron Baltimore’s mother’s family--he could incorporate his mother’s family’s arms into his banner because she was an heiress to aristocratic titles in her own right.

 

The Border

The border of the vesica-piscis contains the official name of our church: Emmanuel Church Baltimore, written in a Gothic uncial majuscule (all capitals) type face. At the top and bottom of the border are two Maltese crosses, the 15th century symbol of the Knights Hospitaller--also known as the Knights of Malta--Christian warriors & caregivers. These crosses; with their eight points, two on each arm; were once thought to represent the eight lands of origin, the eight elements of the Beatitudes, or the eight points of courage for the Knights.

 

 

The seal of Emmanuel Church, incorporating all of these symbols, contains elements that are ancient yet familiar in design. At Emmanuel we see the pelican-in-her-piety in a number of places throughout our nave: in the green frontal when used on the altar; in the Peace Chapel triptych; and in the sounding board above the pulpit. The seal is both familiar and mysterious, much as we might express our faith to be. A seal that requires some thought to penetrate; not obvious, but innately expressive of generosity, love, and sacrifice. A fitting seal and symbol of Emmanuel Church, Baltimore.

Good News & Sad News - Jigger Kratz

The sad news is that the Almuhammads, the Syrian refugee family Emmanuel has been sponsoring, has moved to Canada. We will no longer walk with Abdulla, Maha, and their five kids in their journey in healing from the horrors of war in Syria. Nevertheless, they will always be in our prayers (The Book of Common Prayer, 830):

O God, whose fatherly care reaches to the uttermost parts
of the earth: We humbly beseech you graciously to behold
and bless those whom we love, now absent from us. Defend
them from all dangers of soul and body; and grant that both
they and we, drawing nearer to you, may be bound together
by your love in the communion of your Holy Spirit, and in the
fellowship of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The good news is that we have helped to give the Almuhammads a new life, and they were finally at a place where they could decide what to do with it. After nearly nine months of preparation, we welcomed them into our midst July 2016, and so many Emmanuelites have gone above and beyond to care for the family since then. Our parish raised well over $30,000 to support the family, as well as collecting household goods, toys, and clothing for them. Since their arrival, volunteers have striven tirelessly to help find: housing, jobs, schools, babysitting, transportation, paperwork assistance, proper medical/dental care, and the answers to many, many more unexpected challenges. The children’s lives will be forever transformed by the safe and stable home we were able to help provide, not to mention all the new opportunities they were exposed to through countless acts of generosity by the communities that grew around them. (The parents tried to show their thanks the best ways they knew how, and they had tears of gratitude in their eyes the last time I saw them.) This ministry and the relationships it has forged have truly transformed my experience of God, offering a quiet example of grace and Christian love amid uncertain times.

The family has moved to Canada to be reunited with Abdulla's sister and her family. Living with or close to extended family members is an integral part of their culture that they have deeply missed during their time in Baltimore. By moving to Canada, they also avoid the possibility of losing Medicaid benefits. Finally, with all the uncertainty around travel restrictions, Canada provides greater possibility that they’ll be able to see other relatives again, including Maha's mother. 

Thank your compassion, generosity, and most importantly for living your faith!

C'est en S'oubliant qu'on Trouve - Joseph Wood

As we prepare for our annual commemoration of St. Francis, I can’t help but reflect on the popular “A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis.” When I was growing up, my mom had a lovely, little travel icon of Francis with that prayer set up in our family room--one of the few lingering signs of our Catholic identity in which she could still recognize her faith. (Many of my grandmother’s other zealous gifts would quietly vanish almost as quickly as they were given.) Accordingly, it was one of the handful of prayers that I internalized from an early age, an echo of home and shared identity as I grew and began working to delineate my own beliefs. Here’s how it appears in the Book of Common Prayer (833):

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

First, it is important to note is that the BCP version of the prayer shifts the prayer’s voice from the individual to the plural, the community. The original form of the prayer begins with ten petitions that all include the words “I” or “me,” only moving beyond the first-person singular during the final five maxims that close out the prayer. Another difference is that our version elides the closing movement slightly, excising the maxim between “it is in giving that we receive” and “it is in pardoning that we are pardoned”: “c'est en s'oubliant qu'on trouve.”*  It is in self-forgetting that we find. Perhaps the reframing toward “we” in the prayer book implicitly speaks to the same truth, revealing how the collective in all of its relationships is a fuller articulation of what it means to follow Jesus Christ.

What I have slowly learned to take away from either form of the prayer is that action is the fulcrum upon which faith turns. Even the first line of the prayer, the opening petition, takes the apparent identity of “instruments of your peace” and makes it dynamic. Through God’s grace, we are always in the processes of becoming better instruments (in both sense of the word), always singing with a clearer voice or crafting with truer strength. We spend most of our lives in the space between I and we, but there is resurrection to be found the more and more we enter into that divide. In offering up who we thought we were, we find a self with a little more wholeness. In pulling our neighbor out of the figurative and not-so-figurative graves we find ourselves in, we all rise a little closer to eternal life. Giving and receiving reach their fulfillment in mutuality. St. Francis may not have written the prayer that has come to bear his name, but I have no doubt that he would join us in affirming “amen” to it.

 

*The earliest known example of the prayer is from a 1912 edition of the small, French spiritual magazine La Clochette

Ave atque Vale -Jim Holmes

Hail and Farewell, Emmanuel.

First, Hail Emmanuel.  You are a splendid parish having stood for more than 160 years in Mount Vernon to proclaim the love of God.  Through a civil war, two world wars, countless other conflicts you have been steadfast.  Through drastic changes to Baltimore including shrinking population, racial tensions, divisions between rich and poor your doors have been open to all, never more than today.  Through rectors long-term and short, and countless curates, assistants, supply clergy, and interims you have been resilient and faithful.

Your buildings are splendid, and the commitment to make them more accessible is not only laudable but necessary for the mission and ministry of the parish.  Your music is second to none in the city inspiring newcomers and long-timers with the beauty of holiness.  Your participation in the neighborhood and the diocese has had its ups and downs, but you are on a track of increased engagement.  Your commitment to outreach, your willingness to address the scourge of racism, your welcome and inclusion of persons of varying sexual and gender identities is a model for the church.

But it is the people of Emmanuel who must be hailed for you are the ones who make all of the above possible.  Your steadfastness, your generosity, your willingness to embrace change while valuing tradition are amazing.

Hail Emmanuel as you move into a new season of your common life, one filled with excitement and promise.  As you do that, let me repeat the words of a dismissal which we sometimes use:  "Be strong and of good courage, hold fast to that which is true, love and serve the Lord with gladness and singleness of heart, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit."

And now, farewell Emmanuel.  My being with you off and on over the past two years has been a wonderful experience.  Leading worship, convening the staff, celebrating various occasions with you with excellent food and fellowship have been joyous times for me.  Visiting you at your homes, or in nursing homes or hospital rooms, sharing the Sacrament in intimate occasions, crying with you as well as rejoicing with you, have reminded me of why I became a priest.

Your welcome to Tim and me over our months together has never wavered.  Your response to my sermons and to Tim's lectures has been more than gratifying, as we have sought to proclaim the good news amidst all that is going on around us.

Quite honestly we do not know where we will be on October 1, but we know that you will be in our thoughts and prayers.  Please keep us in yours as we move into the next season of life as well.

Hail and farewell, Emmanuel, and "may God bless us, every one."

An Interview with God - Jim Holmes

On our recent trip to Norway to celebrate, among other things, Tim's 70th birthday, we had occasion to attend several interdenominational church services on board our ship.  Led by the ship's captain, the services would be familiar to long-time Emmanuel members as Morning Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer.  The services always concluded with the congregation singing Eternal Father, Strong to Save.

At one of the services the captain shared the following meditation, entitled "An Interview with God":

I dreamed I had an interview with God.  "Come in" God said.  "So, you would like to   interview me."  "If you have time," I said.  God smiled and said, "My time is eternity and is enough to do everything.  What questions do you have in mind to ask me?"

"What surprises you most about [humankind]?"

God answered.  "That they get bored of being children, are in a rush to grow up and     then long to be children again.  That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health.  That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present such that they live neither for the present nor the future.  They live as if they will never die, and they die as if they had never lived. . . ."

God's hands took mine and we were silent for a while.  Then I asked, "As a parent, what are some of life's lessons you want your children to learn?"

God replied with a smile:  "To learn that they cannot make anyone love them.  What     they can do is let themselves be loved.  To learn that what is most valuable is not what   they have in their lives, but whom they have in their lives.  To learn that is not good to   compare themselves to others.  All will be judged individually on their merits, not as a   group on a comparison basis.  To learn that a rich person is not the one who has the     most, but is then who needs the least.  To learn that it takes only a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love, and it takes many years to heal them.  To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness.  To learn that there are persons that love them dearly,   but simply do not know how to express or show their feelings.  To learn that money can buy everything but happiness.  To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it totally different.  To learn that a true friend is someone who knows everything about them. . . and loves them anyway.  To learn that it is not always enough that they are forgiven by others, but that they have to forgive themselves."

I sat there a while enjoying the moment.  I thanked God for his time and for all that He has done for me and my family, and He replied, "Anytime, I am here 24 hours in a day.   All you have to do is ask me and I will answer."

Something to think about as we begin a new season at Emmanuel.

A Letter from Our New Rector

Dear Saints of Emmanuel Church,

I am excited to meet you on Sunday October 1, 2017, and I have been praying for you each and every day.

Our ministry together will begin, per my desire, with my sitting in a pew as a first time visitor to worship at Emmanuel. Per my request, your current priests will celebrate the Eucharist and preach at both Sunday services on October 1, and I won’t have any official responsibilities during worship.

Then on the following Sunday, October 8, I will preach and celebrate at both services.

As a newcomer, I hope to look, listen, learn, and absorb as much as possible about your worship. I want to adapt to who you are and adopt your traditions, structure, and tone as quickly as I can.

Truly, I am adopting the motto: “When in Emmanuel Church, Baltimore, do as the Emmanuelites do.” Having lived around the world, I have some experience in merging into new communities, which is both an exciting and a challenging opportunity. I hope to celebrate and respect who you have been, who you are, and who you hope to become.

I truly love serving and leading in the parish. I truly love helping parishioners be the best saints God has created you to be. Parish ministry is a joyful and fun adventure, full of complexity and occasional conflict, as all communities are--and yet also pregnant with so much life and hope.

As you all know, life in today’s climate can be quite miserable and hopeless. And, it’s because of the suffering of the world, that the courage, strength, and witness to love and justice of Emmanuel Church are all the more critical.

As we establish bonds of respect, trust, and even Christian affection, the power of the Holy Spirit in our midst will multiply. Together with God, we can be ambassadors of peace and love for each other. Together with God, we can be a community of creative, passionate, compassionate, and resilient leaders and servants. Together with God, we can make our world a better place.

Saints of Emmanuel Church, yes, you’ve had along journey. That journey has wounded and frustrated you, and I know it has made you eager for stability, peace, and a fresh, new beginning. I can’t promise you miracles, but I will try my best to be the priest and rector, the inspirer and the healer, you need me to be.

Please remember:  God does love you very much. And, with God anything and everything Good is possible for Emmanuel Church, for Baltimore, and for our nation and our world.

May God help you breathe and relax. May God sustain you with the knowledge that your name itself is powerful. Emmanuel- God is with us. Emmanuel- God is with you.

Please pray for our children: 23 year old, Lucas, just graduated from Williams College, who is teaching in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and 20 year old Sophia, a University of Denver junior, who is in Patagonia, Argentina, and Costa Rica for a semester of adventures.

Please pray for my wife Sara and me as we relocate to our new home,

10 Light Street, Apt. 1710, Baltimore, MD

Know that I hold you in the light.

With joyful anticipation and with my prayers for all of you,

Hentzi

The Rev. Hentzi Elek

A Tale of Two Churches - Jim Holmes

We were in Stavanger, Norway, on a Sunday three weeks ago.  Our ship's newsletter had a note about the cathedral in that coastal city, including Sunday service times.  We decided to go.

When we arrived at the door some twenty minutes before the service was scheduled to begin we were greeted by a man at the front door who said, "No tourists, locals only." Though tourists, we assured him that we were there for the service and not to walk about.  "No tourists,"  he said, "we know that once you get in you just walk about and disrupt things." And besides, "There is a a baptism and the family does not want tourists." We told him, politely, I hope, that we had never experienced such a thing and that in our understanding church was open to all on Sunday morning.  "You can go to another church," he said dismissing us firmly.

So we walked to the nearby St. Peter's Church, also Church of Norway (Lutheran), and walked in.  The place was filled with scurrying children, and an usher greeted us, quickly switching to English.  Though there was not one but four baptisms scheduled that day, we were most cordially welcome to join in the service.  The service started a bit late as it was difficult to round up all of the baptismal groups who were a part of the procession, but the hymn was "A mighty fortress" so we felt at home.  Apropos my short article a couple of weeks ago, we recognized The Lord's Prayer and were able to say it softly in English. In our travels around the world, we have found that we can always recognize the Lord's Prayer.

Two ofthe babies being baptized were part of what we stereotype as Norwegian families:  blond, blue-eyed, the women dressed in local costumes, etc.  The other two were of color, and their families and sponsors were dressed in both African and Asian garb.  It was a wonderful mix.  The pastor had a lovely singing voice, and she presided with great dignity. We were welcome to receive Communion.

After church, the usher found us again and invited us to coffee where he introduced us to other parishioners.  They were very friendly and quite dismayed to hear about our earlier experience but glad we had found them.

St. Peter's modeled what a church should be on Sunday morning.  Welcoming, diverse, good liturgy and music.  Even though we understood few of the words, we knew we were in the House of God, among the people of God.  I believe Emmanuel models this kind of church as well, but we must remember that it takes work and that we need to pay attention to those in our midst and welcome the stranger.

Announcing Emmanuel's New Rector

My Fellow Parishioners:

It is my honor and privilege to announce that, following the search committee’s recommendation, our vestry voted unanimously to call the Rev. Henry Drinker Elek (who goes by “Hentzi”) to be the 14th rector of Emmanuel Church, which he has accepted.

Hentzi currently serves as the long-term supply priest for St. George St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. Previously, he has led several parishes around the Mid-Atlantic, including serving as rector at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, from 2001 until 2015. He has overseen and expanded innovative outreach on local, national, and international levels, such as “Christmas in July” for resource-challenged kids in New Jersey and leading 150 college-age volunteers on a 2010 earthquake relief mission in Haiti. Hentzi views interfaith engagement as a central part of his ministry, and he has built relationships with neighboring communities wherever he has served—he was even elected as president of the local Interfaith Clergy Association for 3 years.

Hentzi is an avid traveler; fan of classical music, classic rock, and jazz; perennial volunteer; enthusiastic hiker and kayaker; lover of cheeseburgers, chocolate chip cookies, and all food except eggs; and a firm believer in the power of prayer, including his daily Morning Prayer routine. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Harvard University and a Master of Divinity from Yale University. He is married to Sara Barton, who is a middle school English teacher at The Haverford School. Their son, Lucas, is currently an Americorps teacher in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and their daughter, Sophia, will return for her junior year at the University of Denver after a semester abroad in Costa Rica.

The vestry is grateful to all who prayed and otherwise helped during this time of transition: Nicole Greenidge-Hoskins and the search committee, who worked with such extraordinary diligence and faithfulness to discern who might best lead our parish; the Revs. James Hamilton, James Holmes, Mary Sulerud, and Joseph Wood, who aided us in continued spiritual growth and recognition of the real treasures of Emmanuel; the staff and lay leaders of the parish, who kept hold of those treasures and their vision of what Emmanuel can be in even the most trying of circumstances; and the Right Rev. Eugene Sutton and the Rev. Canon Stuart Wright, who insured we remained on track during this journey.

I cannot improve on Hentzi’s own words when asked to describe himself:  “I truly believe in the Jewish theology of Tikkun Olam—the fixing, healing, and reconciling of the world. Ultimately, that is what parish ministry is at its best, and I hope to share that ministry in joyful celebration, praise, thanksgiving through worship, prayer, fun, and service within the parish and to the wider Baltimore community.”

Hentzi’s first Sunday at Emmanuel will be October 1, 2017. Thanks be to God, and welcome, Hentzi!

 

In peace,

Martha Montgomery

Senior Warden

Meditation - Taylor Daynes

When the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites, scripture tells us it is because they were “more numerous and powerful more than we.” “Let us deal shrewdly with them,” says Pharoah, “or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” The Egyptians fear that the status quo will be upended by the Isrealites in their region. No longer will they enjoy the de-facto privileges of the normative group-and they perceive this impending shift as inherently threatening. So, they resort to violent, genocidal measures to protect their position.

Though we have heard this story over and over, we can’t seem to stop reliving it. So much so, that it’s almost trite to point out that its drama-in America, the struggle iconically wrought between white power-holders, and African Americans and other communities of color-is being enacted even now. For me, as a white woman protected by my whiteness from so much of the hypocrisy and violence of our nation, it bears remembering, though, that this impulse-the Pharoah’s impulse in Exodus, the impulse of any group in power that views their position as somehow precarious-is exercised even when it’s not so visible as a white nationalist rally.

I hope that all of us who enjoy power and privilege can make it part of our practice to listen to "the other" in our society and examine ourselves daily to see in what ways we may be holding on to our privileges to the harm and detriment of our neighbors. I hope that we can stand up to violence, racism and injustice when we see it. And I hope that we can challenge ourselves to keep imagining that eschatalogical future when this power-struggle between proverbial Pharoahs and Israelites, seems like more than the thinnest of allegories to our own life and times.