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

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

55th Anniversary of my Ordination Sermon


The Christmas Gospel says:

55 years ago yesterday I was ordained a Priest in a splendid ceremony in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. I was chosen to read the gospel that day. Canon Edward Nason West said to all of us after the rehearsal, "Gentlemen, if you make any mistakes, I hope you have had a glorious past because you will have no future in this Diocese."

My mind has changed a lot in these 55 years. The most important was that I moved from being a pastoral priest to prophetic voice by that I mean relating the Gospel of Jesus to the conditions of the world we live in.

The birth of Jesus means he scatters the proud in their foolishness.

He casts down the mighty from their thrones

He lifts up the lowly

He fills the hungry with good things

The rich he sends empty away.

This becomes specific when we urge us all:

in urging love and peace toward Muslims who are being hated and discriminated against by many Americans;

in fighting discrimination against legal and illegal immigrants.

in supporting the 99% percent to get a better share of what the 1% have.

in support of George Packard, Episcopal Bishop and John Metz, priest arrested yesterday for supporting the Occupy Wall St. People who want to be in a lot owned by Trinity Church, Wall St.

Jesus was a poor rabble-rouser healer who called on his followers to care for the poor and the oppressed. We worship in community that we become empowered to do the same.

Today’s Gospel reads,

“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

I saw a video clip that showed a blind man begging in front of the steps of a large public building. His sign read, “I’m Blind. Please help.” Many people passed by and a few dropped a few coins in his cup. One young woman came by, he touched her shoes and knew who she was. She bent down and wrote something on his sign and then walked away.

The next scene showed many, many people giving him lots and lots of money. The young woman returns, he touches her shoes and asks what she had written on his sign. The camera panned to the sign and it said, “It’s a Beautiful Day and I can’t see it.” - The power of words.

God gives Light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death….

He calls us into community:

I recently witnessed how a woman experienced the power of community. During the weekly discussion following the Sunday service, she shared the adventures she'd had that morning. She was on her way to church when she encountered car troubles.

Instead of returning home and not attending church, or waiting thirty minutes for the Auto Club and being late, she pulled into the local fire station, hoping that they could assist her. The firefighters happily provided the immediate help she needed so she could complete her journey.

People asked why it was so important for her to be at the service. She replied that she lives alone, and this congregation provides her with the spiritual support she needs, and in return, she wants to give the best she can. She feels a sense of purpose and belonging that comes from being with others. When she's with her congregation, she feels part of a vital community.

We the Christian community gain strength only as we serve others.

God in Christ is among us in the cradle, on the road, in healing and on the cross.

In serving others, in our prayer and worship, in our singing and celebration we come to God and perhaps we will find that God comes and finds us.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Rob Droste said...

Congratulations, Robert! It's been such a privilege to walk and work with you.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Fred Fenton said...

55 years a priest and counting. Good for you. The Episcopal Church sure was lucky the day you signed up.

Loved the sermon and especially your stories.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Thanks so much for this post...it says exactly why I go to church in the first place.

And congratulations on 55 years of ordained ministry. I remember Ed West very well from my days attending St. John the Divine when I was an undergraduate at Columbia, 41 years ago. My most vivid memory was of him running next to a procession, robes flying about, to ensure that the crucifer made the correct turn.

3:52 PM  
Blogger stanchaz said...

Re Occupy & Trinity Church: You don’t need to be religious to understand -and embrace- the idea that "Whatsoever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." But many of the 1%, in blind greed and endless schemes, have forgotten this. They have closed their eyes to what the word "society" should really mean, what it can mean. But due to Occupy Wall Street, we are finally talking less about CUTS and more about BLEEDING. Instead of demanding m-o-r-e budget cuts -to be borne by the middle class and poor- we are FINALLY focusing on the shameful bleeding that the poor and middle class has endured, for all too long. Instead of talking about even m-o-r-e cuts in the taxes of millionaires....we are now talking about fairness and justice - about an economy and a political system that is increasingly run for the rich, and by the rich. Instead of talking about LESS government, we are talking about a government that WORKS FOR ALL OF US, not just a favored few. Thank you OWS, for reminding us that people -ordinary working people- really DO matter, and for helping open our eyes to what’s going on in this country, and why. The attempt by OWS to occupy Duarte Square (the empty lot owned by Trinity Church) is much more than a plea for sanctuary. For like Zuccotti Park, it’s an attempt to carve out a protected space, a living conscience for the city, amid the repression. A refuge...in a city where control-freaks would sweep us under the rug, and out of the way. In a city where they would pen us in, and permit us to death. In a city that tells us to “move on, move on”..... you don’t belong, you don’t count, you don’t have a right to be here...don’t assemble, don’t block the street, don’t trespass, don’t EXIST! They would deny us, deny our lives, deny our very futures. IF WE LET THEM. But OWS responds, both in word and in DEED: it says we’ve had ENOUGH - we BELONG, we STAND our ground, and we DO matter! This IS our land, and we want it BACK! The word OCCUPY...says it all! That’s why OWS has captured our imagination. That’s why a living breathing OCCUPIED public space is important for OWS. Like Lady Liberty’s never extinguished torch that burns in our harbor, OWS needs to have a concrete, persistent, in-your-face presence.. ..to continually remind us of what we’ve lost, of what we are, and what we can be; a protected place to affirm, to illuminate, to defy...and to inspire. Trinity Church, with its oft-proclaimed ideals (and its huge land holdings), should look deep into its collective soul, do the right thing, and help OWS secure a sanctuary. Not merely a space of refuge but one of hope, non-violent change and compassion. And dare I say: a space of love - love of country, love of your fellow man and woman, love for the poor and oppressed. Can thoughtful Christians argue with these simple Christian / human values? For if Christ were physically with us today, as He was 2000 years ago, He would be among the FIRST to climb those fences, and occupy Trinity’s Duarte Square. Of this I am certain. Let us pray that Trinity Church -and others -hear the call, and respond. For the old ways are not working....

2:50 PM  
Blogger hgyt grreg said...

Hi,
Thank you for sharing this information Please carry on your Good job get ordained online

11:56 PM  

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