Archive for December, 2016

Hopes and Fears

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

One of the historic connections Incarnation is most proud of is our relationship to perhaps the greatest clergyman of the 19th century, Phillips Brooks. One of Brooks’ brothers, Arthur was rector of Incarnation; Phillips preached his last Christmas sermon from our pulpit.

Brooks is indelibly linked with this season because he was the author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” When we sing that marvelous carol this Christmastime, we may pay particular attention to the words, “…the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

2016 had more than its share of global hopes and fears. And whatever we are feeling now, Brooks’ hymn reminds us that we can bring our feelings to Christ. Whatever our hopes, whatever our fears, we can bring them to the One who shares them and holds them in his heart. —J. Douglas Ousley


The President and His Religion

Monday, December 19th, 2016

As far as I know, we have never had a professed atheist President. Our last two leaders, George W. Bush and Barack Obama were faithful churchgoers.

Donald Trump’s personal faith is not clear. He claims membership in the Marble Collegiate Church around the corner from Incarnation; he met his second wife while attending a service there and pastors of that church have officiated at one at least of his weddings. One of his grandchildren was baptized in an Episcopal Church.

Doubtless, then, Mr. Trump would claim to be a Christian in something resembling good standing. It remains to be seen, however, how his faith will affect his decisions as president.

Of course, one can be a fine political leader without being a Christian or a believer of any kind. Americans may put too much emphasis on the personal religion of its presidents. And one thing is certain: we don’t need hypocrisy in high places. —J. Douglas Ousley


Two Nations?

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

Yesterday, a number of messages appeared on the Diocese of New York priests’ listserv. They were from women priests offering bus rides to Washington D.C. for the January 21 “million women” march. I was amazed at how many parishes have already rented buses for the trip.

Later in the day, I was at a dinner party with a pretty conservative (and mostly Episcopalian) group of people. I asked various guests what they thought of the upcoming march–and none of them had even heard of it!

I hope the latter group were simply forgetting having previously read about the January gathering. I also hope that the activists on the march remember that many of their fellow citizens have different concerns about the future than they do. —J. Douglas Ousley