Cromey Online

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

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Sunday, January 08, 2017


The Epiphany 2017

I read in the newspaper that Christmas sales were up again this year. Or were they down. I forget.

Why do we have the shopping frenzy to buy gifts and presents? Well, you can blame it all on the Three Kings. They brought gifts to the holy family and now we give gifts to our beloved families, friends and even to our rotten relatives.

We have just heard the ancient story of the three kings who travelled many miles through the desert to visit Jesus, Mary and Joseph. They were following a star.  The kings brought Jesus gifts, Gold, Frankincense and myrrh.

They were not Jews. They were Gentiles. The writer of Matthew wanted to tell his readers that the Jesus was not just for the Jews but also for all people.

St. Matthew showed us that the message of Jesus was for all people.

What was the message of Jesus? Shall I give you a quiz?
We are to be truly human. To be truly human is to love, forgive, care for the poor, the homeless, the sick and those facing injustice.

I want to tell you a story about another man who travelled afar in the desert.

In the 1960s TV show Branded, Chuck Connors plays a classic Western figure, Jason McCord--courageous, loyal, yet aloof and alone.  In the first episode, he meets a dying man in the desert and saves his life by giving him water and even carrying him on his own horse--only to find himself held up at gunpoint at an oasis, as the duplicitous Colbee takes McCord's horse and leaves him to walk across the desert, very likely to die in the attempt.  Colbeen explains that he has to do this because he has a wife and two daughters, and so he has to live--and to get to town in time for his daughter's birthday!  McCord survives, and meets up with the Colbee family in town.  A friend urges him to anger and confrontation.  McCord really is angry, and he walks toward Colbee resolutely, as Colbee's two little daughters play around him with their hoops.  McCord, looking at the family, then has a second thought; he turns around and walks away.  As he does, he says over his shoulder, with a wry smile, "Happy Birthday, Janie."

Here is one way to handle anger and move to forgiveness, a basic teaching of Jesus.

Some members of this parish are happy that Donald Trump will be our new president.

Some of us are angry and upset that he is our president elect.

We are a community who call ourselves followers of Jesus.
We are on a life-long quest to learn how to forgive.

Creative Christians will move on, past our upsets, or our self-righteous glee, and into a new life.

We continue to insist:

 That the people living in the tents outside our church have adequate housing.

That all people have adequate food to eat. We try through the Julian pantry.

That legal and illegal immigrants find justice and residency.

That all Americans have adequate medical care.

That there is continual witness for peace in the world.

I have noted over my many years that both Democrats and Republicans do not care much for these basic rights and needs.

We need to stop squawking about the election and get on with the gifts we have been given in following Jesus.

Monday, December 19, 2016


What’s all this self righteous palaver. Putin interfered with the U.S. election. Oh Horrors. I recall that the US interfered with Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Palestine, just to name the ones I can remember. The CIA disrupts governments, electorates, politicians and the military all over the world. Our tax dollars pollute other country’s activities right up to this very moment through the nefarious activities of the CIA, Secret Service and the U.S. Military.


Our Vocation
Calling of Joseph

Jesus was born into a dysfunctional Family. Joseph is engaged to Mary. Then he finds she is pregnant. He contemplates leaving.  But an Angel tells him to marry her anyway. He does what he is told.

He is given a vocation, a calling to be a husband to this woman Mary who is great with child. He sets out to travel and he presides over the birth of Jesus.

Mary of course was also commanded of the Holy Spirit to bear a child. She too is called to a vocation, bearing a child of the Holy spirit.

I want to talk today about our vocation and calling. 60 years ago yesterday I was ordained a priest of the Episcopal Church. I believe I had a calling, a vocation to be a priest.

I wish I could tell you that, like Joseph, I had a visitation from an angel, a direct powerful call from God to be a priest. I didn’t. I’d probably have fainted if I did. I just drifted into the ministry. My father was a priest. My heroes were clergy. They were advocates for the poor, the unions and for the rights of African-Americans. I realized that being a priest gave me a pulpit and opportunity to be a social activist through the church. My vocation, my calling found me.

But enough about me.

I believe we are all called to a vocation, a ministry. We even have the notion that we are a priesthood of all believers. All of us have a vocation, a calling to be followers of Jesus. Why are we all here in this church, why are we all here? It is because we are drawn to be followers of Jesus.

Susie McAlpin jouneys from Berkeley to help our church develop our community Outreach. After the liturgy this morning, we will bag gifts for the un-housed. Her’s is a calling whether she likes it or not.

Patrick Lane and Michael Reardon come on Sundays to set up the sound system and then take it down. The sound system helps us hear God’s word from the Bible and the Eucharist. Michael and Patrick have a calling to serve God in Christ in this place. Michael is an actor who gives dramatic performances of the gospels. A vocation, a calling.

Not all jobs are vocations, callings. Is it a calling from God to be a coal miner? Men, children and women dig coal as ways too make a living. Danger, cave-ins, filth, lung disease, gas leaks are the risks. Working in dark tight places to dig the coal is bruising and harrowing work and very dangerous.

However, miners themselves make mining a vocation. They band together to support and aid one another. They form unions too assure better working conditions. In England they formed mighty choruses, singing gorgeous music to express their creativity. Some even feel it is necessary, as people need coal for fuel to heat their homes and energy for industry.  They made a vocation out of a job.

Bad for environment, yes.

Perhaps you have a job rather than a vocation. Perhaps you can make your job into a calling even a ministry.

Br. Lawrence, in his monastery, had to wash dishes and scrub floors. Instead of complaining, he made washing the dish or floor an act of prayer and worship. He saw his work as an offering to God.

That never happens to me when I washed a dish.

Actors and theater people, musicians and sculptors have a calling, a vocation to create beauty.

Most killed in the Oakland fire were artists of some sort. They chose to live in a dangerous building so they could make music, paintings and write poems. Their calling cost them their lives.

Yehudi Menuin – something in my fingers on the violin – something special.

Ann knew when she was 12 years old she wanted to be an English teacher. That won out even though she had been a secretary to the Governor or Utah and also to a member of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC. She persisted in becoming high school English teacher. Her calling her vocation.

Pray regularly. What is the Holy Spit calling me to do in the world? Open your minds and hearts to listen to God’s call.

What are my talents? What gifts have I been given. Organization, healing, teaching, mechanics, clothing, food.
Find a way to use those talents and gifts.

How can I best use those gifts?

Many see their purpose in life is to make money. Yes, we want money to take care of ourselves and our families. Many see amassing money as a goal in itself. Some justify this by saying, the more money I make, the more I can give away.
There is no question that the acquiring of money Is a goal in life and many are good at it, have a vocation for it.

The root of all evil is not money. It the LOVE of money that is evil.

God called Mary to bear Jesus.
The angel called Joseph to bear shame in order to support Mary.

Pray regularly. Listen in quiet and meditation. What is the Holy Spit calling me to do in the world? Open your minds and hearts to listen to God’s call.

Thursday, December 08, 2016


There are not enough fire inspectors to cite dangerous building owners and shut down illegal building uses.

There are not enough Immigration Officers to prevent illegal entrants into our country.

There are not enough police officers and firefighters to fight crime and fires.

Why? We can’t afford them. Why? We do not want to pay taxes that would improve our safety and well being.

Friday, November 11, 2016


November 9, 2016

Trump beat Hillary. We got the news this morning. I felt so sad and angry that Hillary lost. I was more distressed by how sad she must have felt losing the chance to be the first woman to be President of the United States. She is so experienced and competent. It is hard to see how she could lose to Trump.

I expect our lives won’t change much with the new president. I fear for the poor, those without health insurance, students in debt, immigrants and those with limited wages.

The disappointment I feel is like when Bush won his second term. How could so many people vote for such an incompetent president who sent us into war in Iraq and killed so many people in the Middle East? But they did re-elect him.

I feel rather numb and listless right now. Perhaps that will change as the days go by.

Last night I went to bed early and then slept until 3:00 AM. I looked on my iPhone to see that Hillary had lost. With some certainty at least I was able to fall back to sleep.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

White middle class men and women in the south and mid-west voted against Clinton. Donald Trump is The President of the United States for at lest four years. I do not respect him as a man, just as I disrespected George W. Bush. My plan is to pay as little as possible to him but focus on what he and the congress do during these years. I liked President Obama so I was interested in him and his family as well as his doings in the White house.

The media is full of opinion about what might happen during Trump’s reign. I do not waste my time reading opinion. I will focus on news and events to form my own opinion.

The only fair thing is to keep an open mind and give Trump time to work out his agenda. There are plenty of checks and balances as well as laws to control any to wild ideas. As a Christian I do see him as a human being, flawed like the rest of us. However, I plan to be in opposition to the Republican administration that threatens the care for the sick, homeless and those in need of justice at home and around the world.