Cromey Online

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

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas - back to Basics

Christmas Day- Back to Basics

December 25th is the day the Christian churches celebrate the birth of Jesus son of Mary and Joseph, a Jewish couple in what is now Israel. The Biblical events of Jesus’ birth were not written down until at least thirty years after the death of Jesus. References to Jesus as Messiah, as Christ as son of God were added to the story.

of his birth to show the importance of this child and man in the eyes of the church as it grew from being a Jewish sect to a world religion. The Christmas music and stories so beloved and popular were all written well after the events of Jesus’ actual birth. The church was trying to figure out who this man Jesus was.

The gospel stories tell the events of this Jewish prophet’s life. He preached with knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures, he healed the sick, called for peace, and for help for the poor and oppressed. He expected the end of history to come in his lifetime. He called this the coming of the kingdom of God when all would be peaceable and perfect. Early Christian leaders began to ascribe to him characteristics like Messiah and Son of God, which come from the Hebrew Scriptures.

For the next four hundred years after his death the church tried to define who he was with controversies, debates and creeds written to shape the basic Christian beliefs. Then the worst thing happened. Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire. The simple and basic teaching of the Jewish man Jesus became subservient to the state. Hierarchies and even worship became elaborate and took on the clothing of royalty, which exists in many churches today.

The message of Jesus the humble Jewish teacher, healer and prophet became totally corrupted. It was no longer about love, forgiveness and healing. It morphed into power, money and fame. However, great painting, sculpture, learning, architecture, language and music did emerge from the wealth and power of the church. Great acts of love and mercy came with the Franciscans and others, found hospitals and orphanages.

The church quickly broke up into denominations, sub-groups, cults and national allegiances. The Irish, English, Poles, Germans, Russians all have their own forms of Christian expression. Many of the changes in the church came about because the church was aligned with some political power. Russian Orthodoxy was at the mercy of the government. The Holy Roman Empire was the church and state as one.

It was not until the founding of the U.S government that separation of church and state became a reality that the simple message of the man Jesus has a chance to breathe more freely. The future of the Christian Church lies in getting back to the basics of what Jesus the Jewish prophet and teacher stood for – love, healing, care for the poor and oppressed and seeking peace.

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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Meditation

“Purify our conscience.” Now there is a threatening suggestion. While we will never have a perfectly clean and purified conscience, we can take a peek at it now and then. Let’s leave out any “sex between consenting adults in private that does not hurt or harm”and masturbation. But there is plenty of conscience left to examine. My mind leaps to the stuff I have not done – helping to stamp out illegal drug trafficking, assisting the fight to make our country safe for immigrants, legal or illegal, or fighting to end bashing of American Muslims and peaceful Muslims throughout the world.

We must not forget to glance at and confess words and deeds that hurt others, gossip that hurts and not paying our fair share of taxes. Oh well, the list gets so familiar as to be boring. But you get what I mean. Admitting our faults, sins and peccadilloes and receiving God’s forgiveness makes us more human if not pure. (Meditation on the collect for the Fourth Sunday in Advent by RWC

Friday, December 09, 2011


People of Islam are deeply distrusted by two friends. They are smart and deeply read. Should we send American Muslims to camps like we did the Japanese Americans in WW 11? Deport them? Perhaps they are the newest people to hate. In my lifetime we Americans have hated Jews, African Americans, Japanese, Germans, Communists, Chinese, North Koreans, North Vietnamese, homosexuals and now it is the people of Islam. As a Christian I am committed to hospitality, communication and reconciliation with my enemies. (It is hard with Republicans. But I have relatives and friends of that stripe and we do get along. We just never talk politics.)

Take a Muslim to lunch. Hear one talk on you tube or at a mosque. Open your/our/their minds.