Archive for September, 2016

The Color Black

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Many observers have wondered why racial conflict seems so prevalent now in the United States after almost eight years under an African-American president. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church–also African-American–has felt called to make racial reconciliation one of the prime emphases of his ministry.

While I think this is a very good question, I have no answer to it. Perhaps black leadership has made people feel freer to express their grievances. Perhaps our nation is dealing with issues we have been covering up in the past.

Whatever the cause, racial conflict continues. Episcopalians of all skin colors will have this problem before them for years to come. —J. Douglas Ousley


Ordinary Time

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Sunday night, one of our parishioners was having dinner about 110 feet from the bombing on 23rd Street–in a restaurant on 24th Street. He not only didn’t hear the blast, but he went on to enjoy a leisurely meal and only learned of the bomb when he left the restaurant! Even then, he said most of the surrounding streets seemed to be displaying business as usual.

The church refers to the many Sundays between the Feast of Pentecost in the spring and the beginning of the Season of Advent in late November or early December as “Ordinary Time.” The lessons and prayers set for these Sundays are generic, nothing particular to the season, “ordinary.”

So the city is wracked by bombs and life goes on. Terror has become ordinary. God help us.–J. Douglas Ousley


9/11 @ 15 in NYC

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Preaching last Sunday, I realized that many of the people who were in church weren’t in NYC 15 years ago on September 11. Given that they didn’t experience the attacks of that day at first hand, they were remarkably attentive. 9/11 continues to unite us as a people and a nation.

Our well-attended service was, I believe, an appropriately solemn and devout observance. I mentioned political and military action as well as the need to seek peace, and I received no protests that the sermon was biased.

God who was our help in ages past remains our hope in the uncertain years to come. —J. Douglas Ousley


Numbers Game

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

A couple of days ago, I was discussing church attendance with a parishioner. He observed that many people seem no longer to feel under the obligation to attend church every Sunday. Even Roman Catholics don’t worry about committing a mortal sin if they fail to go to mass. Even devout Protestants “honor the Sabbath” with all sorts of leisure activities besides worship.

In fact, the new attendance norm could explain why church attendance has lagged in recent years. If a person goes to church once a month instead of four times, her attendance record declines by 75%.

I myself see no problem with the every-Sunday old rule. It follows the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament and it encourages regular sharing of the Body of Christ, as commended in the New Testament. But people today seem to need more than just duty to bring them to church. Something for all of us concerned about the future of Christian religion to think about. —J. Douglas Ousley