Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Does Prayer Work?

I just got back from a round trip flight, San Francisco to Boston on United Airlines. I prayed as we taxied to the runway.

I pray without ceasing – “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy upon me a sinner.”  This is the Jesus Prayer. I pray this when taking off and then again when landing. I like the simple repetition. It is a prayer of praise and a request for forgiveness.

The most dangerous part of the flying is when I get in a cab to get home from the airport.

I pray on waking and on going to sleep. I give thanks for the beginning of a new day. I give thanks for a quiet night. I pray, “Thank you Jesus” for my wife Ann and daughters Leigh, Sarah and Jessica, my grandchildren and my family.

Prayer works best for those who believe God answers prayer. We believe God answers our prayer with a yes or a no. If a child prays for a new doll for Christmas, the answer may be no. “Thy will be done.” If there are 200 people on a plane, many will pray for a safe flight. If the plane goes down, perhaps God’s answer is No. If the plane lands safely, God’s answer is yes.

God does not play favorites, he loves ands forgives: the United State States, Isis, Islam, Arabs, Christians, Jews and those who follow voodoo. God loves, forgives and the good and the evil. We work to bring justice to all people. Yes there is punishment for people who hate, those on all sides.

A Franciscan brother and I talked about my failure to meditate. He said simply, "Pray the way you can, Robert, not the way you can’t."

Many get great benefit from meditation. I do not. Some make prayer lists and regularly pray for those on the list. Focusing on a collection of photographs of people is a fine way to pray.

Prayer is a place to put our deepest fears and worries. On 9/11 people came to churches to pray – to put their worst fears and anxieties. Pray to God for safety.

Prayer does not work on God, prayer works on us.
I have had several surgeries over the years. It gives me strength, courage and peace to know that many people from our parish and among our friends hold me in their prayers. Those prayers work to sustain me. Those prayers motivate me to help and cheer me. God’ will answer the prayer. “Thy will be done.”

Pray for the sick
            Pray for the hungry
            Pray for the homeless
            Pray to end Police brutality
            Pray for the police
            Pray for the end to war.
And then work on healing, hungry, homeless, police
Peace. Prayer is not enough for those of us who say we love Jesus.

An Arab medic was helping ISIS soldiers who had been captured. Sadiq said to the prisoner, “You killed my friend and I bring you food. I saw my friend beheaded on video. I bring you food. The Isis soldier says, “I have a wife and three daughters. I want to talk with then on the phone. The medic says, you killed my friend and I bring you food.

The good news of the Gospel of Jesus is that we are called to pray for our enemies and our loved ones. What God does with our prayers is God’s business. Our prayers inspire us to do all we can for our beloved ones, our enemies and those in need.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Trump uses all legal loopholes to pay the lowest taxes possible. He complains our military might is too weak. Taxes pay for military dominance.

Americans complain about crime rates and do not want tax increases to pay for more police.

Citizens moan about miserable prison conditions but defeat measures to increase taxes to fix the problems.

Many parents complain about poor public education but don’t want to hike taxes for higher teacher salaries.

Donald Trump’s desire to cut taxes for the rich slashes money to finance repairing highways, bridges and allows the American infrastructure to deteriorate further.

Tax rates in the United States are the lowest in most of the countries in the world. I consider paying my taxes an honor and privilege for being an American.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Luke 16:1-13

Then Jesus* said to the disciples, ‘There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2So he summoned him and said to him, “What is this that I hear about you? Give me an account of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.” 3Then the manager said to himself, “What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.” 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, “How much do you owe my master?” 6He answered, “A hundred jugs of olive oil.” He said to him, “Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.” 7Then he asked another, “And how much do you owe?” He replied, “A hundred containers of wheat.” He said to him, “Take your bill and make it eighty.” 8And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9And I tell you make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth* so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.*
10 ‘Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth,* who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.’*

I hope you have listened carefully to the parable that Jesus has just told us. St. Luke relates the story in his gospel. I have wrestled with the meaning of this story all of my preaching life and also this week in trying to figure a sermon out of it.  Maybe Luke was having a bad day.

I choose to interpret this parable by Jesus like this. “The point of the parable is that shrewd and the faithful are welcome in the kingdom of God?

Some believe in heaven and hell. If you are good you go to heaven. If you are bad you go to hell.  You can believe in them if you wish. We don’t give you a quiz on what you believe in this church.

Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God. Peaceable Kingdom where the lion lies down with the lamb, the child plays with the deadly snakes, where peace, love and forgiveness are the basic values.

The parable says that after death all people are welcome into that heavenly home, the shrewd and the faithful, the rich and the poor, the sick and the dying, the truly evil and those of high virtue.

The church can think that way too.

Do we welcome the sex offender? Do we welcome in our neighborhood low cost housing? Do we welcome the woman or man newly released from prison? Do we welcome a shelter for LGBT homeless youth? Do we
welcome an undocumented person fleeing deportation?

We do welcome the homeless through our Gubbio Project letting homeless people have a nap on our church floor and breakfast from 6 AM until 10 AM, 5 days a week..
We welcome those who want or need food to the Julian Pantry.

We certainly welcome people who lie. Raise your hand if you have never told a lie….and I’ll show you a liar.

We welcome Non Believers – Believers. Pray-ers – non prayers

I heard a fascinating story about a World War II prisoner of war held by the Japanese. Japanese soldiers were noted for their cruelty. The Japanese guard, unbeknownst to his fellow soldiers, was a Christian and an Anglican, known in Japan as Sei Ko Kai. While marching the prisoners one day to a welcome but measly meal, the Japanese guard quietly started humming the tune of this hymn. Publish Glad Tidings, Tidings of peace.”

It is (or was) one of the best known and best loved hymns of Anglicanism. The prisoners then knew that they had a friend among their captors.

The kingdom of God is not heaven or hell. The K of G is a banquet, a feast, a mighty meal. The K of G is a great welcome home to the good and bad in a splendid banquet.

Jack was a huge muscled man just released from prison.
He said food is better at Trinity than at Glide. Jack became a helper in the feeding program, came every night to set up and clean up and became part of the givers and supporters of the program

Feeding the hungry is a band-aid and but necessary.

How to stop hunger? We have to stop Water pollution, overworking the land, destroying trees and forests, polluting the air and earth by industry and governments. That is what makes the poor and hungry.

We help all have a banquet by the people we vote for and opposing the policies that cause havoc to the environment.

As we await the heavenly banquet, we work that that the poor and hungry are not further burdened by ecological disaster.

As we come to the table for the bread and the wine we have a foretaste of that Heavenly banquet.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016


A Sip of Scotch

I love a scotch whiskey on the rocks once in a while. Sometimes I have one for cocktail time at five or six in the evening. It is also a perfect nightcap. I like the smooth Glen Livet. I have enjoyed it since 1956. That year I learned to drink and enjoy scotch. Now I lean back in my blue leather chair, close my eyes and smell the sweet malty flavor of the drink.

All these years later a sip of scotch whiskey sprouts vivid memories of Lloyd Patterson and George Barrett in Bronxville, New York. I can see their faces, hear their voices and even smell Lloyd’s cigarette smoke. I hear Lloyd reciting the title of his doctoral thesis, The Anti-Origenism of  St. Ignatius and its affect on Gregory of Nyssa. I hear my boss George West Barrett, rector of Christ Church, Bronxville and his guttural chuckle after someone’s joke or sly remark. We three were the clergy staff at the church. We had met at The General Theological Seminary in Chelsea Square, New York City. George was a professor and Lloyd and I were students.

The sip draws memories of my first wife Lillian and our newborn baby, Leigh. She captivated us. The lovely Episcopalians welcomed our family to the church and the village. We had a light airy apartment overlooking green trees. Lloyd was a bachelor so we often had him over for dinner. He always clutched a copy of his dissertation, having left a copy of it his apartment. He feared losing his work in a fire. It was Lloyd who made me interested in Glen Livet. It was very expensive and not our regular brand. He sang its praises. We very occasionally bought a bottle. Now it is my house scotch.

George Burpee was another aficionado of Glen Livet. He and his wife Tippy were in their 70s. The first Sunday after we moved in the Burpees climbed three flights of stairs to visit us the new cleric and his wife. It was an old-fashioned house visit. They invited us to dinner and then climbed back down the stairs to go home. Before dinner that night very pregnant Lillian managed to spill a gin and tonic onto the splendid red and blue multi-colored Persian rug. The Burpees laughed it off and dried it up. George then extolled us of the virtues of a good scotch whiskey.
Mr. Burpee was Senior Warden of Christ Church. A civil engineer, he flew regularly to San Francisco as a consultant to the Bay Area Rapid Transit System, known now as BART.

Lloyd, George, Lillian and the Burpees are dead. Leigh and I survive in this year of 2006, sixty years later.

A line from the Psalms sticks in my mind. “Oh taste and see….”

Friday, July 22, 2016

How Does a Follower of Jesus Campaign?

I do not call myself a Christian much anymore. A follower of Jesus is what I prefer. Too many Christians are hateful, narrow, prejudiced cruel and exclusionary. My leader and inspiration is Jesus. He called on his followers to feed the hungry, heal the sick and visit those in prison. He calls us to love and forgive our neighbors, ourselves and our enemies. He spoke against injustice. I do my best to follow Jesus teachings. My life works best that way. Pope Francis said recently that churches the do not feed the poor should be taxed. I agree with that.

Many Christian friends belong to and support their churches and denominations, which discriminate against homosexuals, women and same sex marriages.

Many of my Christian friends mock, degrade, scorn and deride Donald Trump.  Yes, Jesus got angry and did some name-calling. He did not have a perfect moral life. He also did not participate in elections.

I don’t think mocking and degrading candidates help win elections. Campaign managers think some negative ads do help runs for office.

I choose to support, encourage, seek the truth and contribute to the Hilary Rodham Clinton. I do not like her negative campaigning as I am sure will happen.

I think her experience in government, as senator and Secretary of State and her common sense will make her a good President. She was also the wife of the President for eight years.

The government can only accomplish help for the poor, adequate health care, control of blatant and cruel capitalism. I will support policies that work toward those ends. I think the Democratic Party, with all its flaws, can best accomplish those ends.