About Fr. Manny

Father Manuel "Manny" Borg is the Vicar of St Nicholas, Elk Grove Village

Father Manny: A Penny For Your Thoughts for the Children of Syria

A single penny may not be much of a thing to us. If you live on the streets and are hungry more often than sufficiently fed, a penny may well make a huge difference.

The children of Syria have suffered untold and unspeakable horrors. The civil war that has literally torn that nation to shreds has taken its toll on everyone there, yet most especially the children. No child, whether in Syria, the Sudan or South Carolina should endure deprivation and poverty of such unimaginable proportion and depth.

Our Lenten exercise of “A Penny for your Thought” was our effort, albeit a figurative drop in a seemingly bottom-less bucket at trying to make a change in the lives of children living in a foreign land most of us will never visit or come to know too well. Nonetheless, it was OUR effort. It was OUR intention, prayerfully guided and divinely inspired to make a difference, to bring the basic staples to kids that need any and all help possible. The good, loving and generous people of this church, this Community of St. Nicholas once again, came to the fore and showed what we are made of.

The final total provided us by our Jennifer Brundige…drum roll, please, comes out to $175.00 raised. Now, St. Nicholas will match that total. The funds we shall use will not come from any department that will put us in a tough spot. Rather, we shall use funds that were given to me, for my personal use when I was installed as vicar. I tell you, I can’t think of any better way to share something gifted to me than with kids who desperately need our help.

The Community of St. Nicholas will cut a check in the amount of $350.00 and send it off to the Episcopal Relief Fund. They, in turn, will see to it that every single penny will go toward aid and assistance for the children of Syria who need it most.

From my heart to yours…thank you, everyone, for caring and sharing so generously and so lovingly. We profess that at St. Nicholas, all are welcome…period. How blessed to extend this invitation to children in a far-away country who have probably never heard of Elk Grove Village or who St. Nicholas is. But, with this small but powerful token of our love and care, kids will get a little dose of who St. Nicholas really is, become part of our family and hopefully, change their lives for the better.

Amen.

Important Dates We Remember

75 years ago last week, the U.S. formally entered battle in World War II when the Japanese attacked the naval installation at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. In all, 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 were injured. The U.S.S. Arizona, the “pride of the American fleet” suffered the greatest number of casualties and today, it rests in the harbor where it sank on that fateful Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941.

Dates fascinate us. We remember the day of our birth, though as we mature, some of us choose not to be so celebratory about it. Perfectly understandable. We memorialize the anniversary of a loved one’s passing, as we place flowers atop their grave markers and pray to their beloved memory. For me, it is hard to forget that both my Mom and Dad passed away at the 10 o’clock hour on the mornings of December 22, 1985 and June 16, 2007. I shall not forget, as my heart reminds me each day. This is as it should be, for I love them beyond telling.

What of those other dates, you know, the date of our baptism and confirmation? Can we recall those sacramental occasions? I admit, this is pretty unfair of me to ask such a question. Still, it provides us food for thought, does it not? Truth be told, if I didn’t look at my records, I’d not remember either. And this is my point exactly. We celebrate our birth and other such anniversaries. Yet, as people of God, sisters and brothers to one another through Christ, we forget those times when we committed ourselves to serve God in worship and in ministry and be part of the body of the Church, engaged and active in the life of the Church. These events, along with marriage and ordination (marriage anniversaries may be the exception as most do remember this event) are occasions for rejoicing. Sadly, we forget and said anniversaries pass by without any recall, remembrance or rejoicing.

We are well into the sacred season of Advent. Last weekend we lit the Rose Candle, celebrating Gaudete Sunday. Translated from the Latin, Gaudete means “rejoice,” and is taken from a verse in St. Paul’s letter to the people of Philippi, Greece, “Gaudete in Domino semper,” that is, “rejoice in the Lord always.” For this is what we do as a people of faith: we watch and we wait. We continue to prepare ourselves for the anniversary of Christ’s celebrated birth on the 25th of December. This is the day chosen long ago and it is cherished by millions of faithful followers of Christ Jesus, the Redeemer. Yet and more importantly, let us continue to remind ourselves Advent calls us to prepare for the Lord’s return to our world, to once and for all bring us to eternal glory. As we wait, let us also remember to celebrate the anniversary of our ‘new birth in Christ,’ that is, our baptismal and confirmation anniversaries. It is in these sacramental exercises that we became part of this family we call Christian and members of this church we celebrate and honor as St. Nicholas Episcopal.

Incidentally, I was baptized on the 5th of October, 1958 and made my Confirmation on the 23rd of November, 1971 at Detroit Holy Redeemer. Anyone else wish to share their dates with us? After all…all are welcome…

Amen.

…and in conclusion to the election… 

The world continues to revolve. The sun still rises in the east and sets in the west. The sky remains suspended above us and the firm earth remains under foot. In spite of the drama of the previous week, we continue to live our lives because that is what we must do. The alternative is far, less inviting.

Any election will result in half of the populace pleased while the other half is left disappointed. Last week’s presidential election was no different. We had all been subjected to the campaigning for the past 19 months. Blessedly, it has come to an end, the campaigning that is. Now, the real work of re-bridging a divided and cautious nation begins.

What is our role in this major reconstruction project? My dear friends, we all have a role and a responsibility in the task of taking away the negativity and visceral bitterness and replacing them with optimism, hope and cooperation. What has been torn down must be made erect again. What has been painted as unacceptable must be touched with the colors of acceptance; a virtual rainbow of acceptance of all people as equal, nothing more and nothing less will do and securing the rights of all people and letting be the laws that secure marriage rights for all people. Rather than hope for failure of the newly elected, let us work toward success. Because what is at stake is far more important than the current hurt feelings, anger and disappointment.

Quite frankly, Wednesday, Nov. 9 was a dark day for me and many of us. It’s not as if we haven’t had setbacks in the past. This particular event, this most memorable of elections seemed to hurt just a bit more intensely. Than, like the sunbeam that made its way from under and above the curtains, I remembered how elated I was when, then Senator Barack Obama won the presidency back in 2008 and how half the nation rejoiced while the other half were left to ponder what went wrong. I remembered how I felt. The happiness, while so wonderful gave way to the mundane nature of ‘day to day’ life. I suspect president-elect Obama felt euphoric and triumphant at the time. Yet, once the reality of life and the mountain-high duties and inevitable obstacles were realized, I suspect that happiness was sobered with cold and harsh reality.

This is what I suspect president-elect Trump is going to encounter. High as a kite right now, he will, in due time, come to better understand and appreciate the magnitude of his responsibilities and obligations. He, too will face obstacles, more so than anticipated I suspect. The happiness of half the nation will wane while the bitterness and disappointment of the other half will pass. This is our time to join forces: the blue and the red, the formerly disappointed and euphoric, liberals and conservatives, gay and straight, young and old, city and suburban, the soccer moms and the construction workers, Latino, Muslim, Christian, Jew, atheist and agnostic..this is the time for us to come together and do what must be done. Let’s not spend time building a wall, figuratively or literally. Rather, let us invest in our greatest and most precious of assets…US. We are a resilient lot, are we not? We shall overcome because that is what we do. While it will take time, pride and disappointment must be checked at the door, sleeves will be rolled up and to work we shall go.

I’m feeling better, thank you. That Wednesday morning after I made my way to the E.G.V. Jewel and picked up two car loads of donated items, (hey, how much can I possibly load into my little Prius?) I took to some repair jobs at the church. There were several projects that needed attention. So, I paid said attention, repaired, cleaned things up and felt useful, successful and accomplished! That’s the point, my beloved family of St. Nicholas. We must be engaged in actions that benefit others. And if we feel good about the work we do, so be it. Some of us have made the cognitive and deliberate choice to become members of the ACLU.

Wonderful move. Others will dedicate time to charitable causes, volunteering to help house the homeless, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and lift up those who have been laid low. Beautiful. Let’s make sure we talk to our children, our students and to one another. Let us not be silent with our reservations and fears as well as our hopes, our willingness to remain strong and our determination to “hold our newly elected feet to the fire” to ensure equality for all. May I also suggest we make a point in being present at the worship, attending our weekend Liturgy and taking an active role in the life of our church, our St. Nicholas? There’s room for us all and there’s plenty of work to be done. As we rebuild the morale of our nation we can also and just as importantly go about fortifying and giving the attention our church so deserves.

Congratulations, Mr. Trump and Gov. Pence. May you lead us well, fairly, without prejudice nor favoritism to others. Our country needs healing and the world awaits to see just how you and the nation conducts ourselves. 
Amen.

manny@stnicholasepiscopal.org

Manny

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