…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. 



Father Manny150

First Sunday of Lent: Father Manny’s Sermon

LIsten to Father Manny’s sermon from Sunday, Feb 14, the first Sunday of Lent (and also Valentine’s Day).

First Sunday of Lent 02.14.2016 from stnickchurch59 on GodTube.

Father Manny: A Day In The Life (of an #Episcopal priest)

A Day in the Life...
Busse Woods November 2009
Wednesday morning, 6:05am, it is still quite dark out. A thick fog had settled upon the northwest suburbs muting the autumn colors and muffling the sounds of nature. All was still; the trees were motionless. Even the birds were nowhere to be seen. Traffic was heavy headed eastbound. Not much to do but endure the bumper to bumper situation, remain patient and, well, pray. I do quite a bit of praying while I drive. It's not a testament to my driving skills, but rather a practice in which I've engaged for as long as I've been driving. Praying brings a palpable peace upon me that is far too pleasurable to ignore or do without. So, I pray. More heavy traffic. More prayer. St. Alexius Hospital is just off to the left. I park at the farthest spot from the front door. I like to walk and quite frankly, my car is safer parked farthest away. I ask the front desk receptionist how to get to the ICU. She points to the elevator and says get off on the 3rd floor and turn left. I find and opt for the stairs and walk the 3 flights, turn left and locate room 364. I see Erlene in the hallway, talking to the doctor. She and I embrace and talk about how Vernon is doing and how she's coping. After donning a blue cover-all and gloves, I go in to see Vernon. He's not too responsive: he has tubes here, there, seemingly everywhere. I hold his hand and gently stroke his head with my other hand. He tries to talk, but his breathing tube prevents any audibility. No problem, I share with him that the community is praying for him and for Erlene, that we all miss him and wish him to return to us happy and healthy. Despite the tubes, his smile can not be denied nor missed. It is contagious. Erlene smiles, I smile and I have to think that even God is smiling with us at that very moment. And why not? We are His children and God loves us with such intensity. I say my goodbyes to Vernon and Erlene and begin the drive to Elk Grove.
Vernon and Erlene
(Little did I know that this would be my last visit with Vernon. I will treasure the time spent with him and always remember his most infectious smile. Rest in Eternal Peace, my dear friend.) Barrington Road is clearing up by now. After all, it's after 10am and the morning rush has pretty much ended. I turn left on Schaumburg Road, past a series of strip malls, schools and churches. A quick right on Meachem to Biesterfield Road, over and across Rt. 53, past Alexian Brothers Medical Center, the Village City Hall and Police Station, veer left to Jewel and pull up behind the store. I ring the buzzer once, twice and three times. Finally, an employee opens up and announces he has "some stuff" for us this week. 8 full boxes of canned goods and staples I carefully load into my car. The cans and bottles rattle up against one another and I fear something will break and spill onto my fresh and neat car seats. Fear not. All went well and nothing broke, spilled or was the cause of all my earlier prayers going out the window with any utterance of disappointment or anger. Went in through the back door of the church, unlocked the sacristy and greeted Jim who was unpacking all the bread and pastry he had picked up earlier that morning at Panera's. I took the large cart, down the ramp out the back door and carefully sidled up next to my car. Unloaded all the cases and heaved the cart into the church, up the ramp and into the Pantry Room. We unloaded the boxes and began to stock the shelves with the bounty made gift to us. The bare shelves had life again and the pantry guests would have some selections from which to choose. How wonderful.
Back into the church, I prepare for the weekend Services by getting the chalices ready, cutting the altar bread into halves, one set into the freezer again and the other set into the fridge for use this weekend. Printed the Stewardship inserts that will go into the Worship Programs once they are ready. Music books are straightened out, the chairs in the church are lined up in order and the funereal candles we used for All Saints Day were lugged back into the storage room. Checked the Book of the Gospels to be sure the proper passage is readied. The phone rang three times, solicitors, a neighboring church inquiring where we purchase our altar wine and some one asking about our food pantry requirements. Haven't had any breakfast but I'm not hungry. I could, however, use a cup of coffee. I brew a fresh pot, pour myself a cup and take it outside with me as I walk around the church. All looks so nice, so clean and well kept. I smile and again I consider the chances that God is smiling along with me. And why not? It's just after 3pm and already several pantry guests have gathered. In fact, they've been at the church since 1pm. They are invited in where coffee and pastry await. They have been huddled at the table in the Gathering Space, talking, laughing, sharing recipes and stories. It is a community; a gathering of friends who meet up every 1st and 3rd Wednesday, compliments of the Holy Innocents Food Pantry at St. Nicholas Church. I look at their faces, those happy and grateful faces and my heart is full with joy and peace. I smile. I know that God is smiling with me right then. And why not? Bob Kalicki and Gary Lackey have arrived by now. We share some stories and chit-chat about this and that. I fill Bob in on what's going on, about the food we received from Jewel and that all the bread and pastry Panera's gave us is all ready, packaged and available to whomever desires it. I say my goodbyes to the Pantry Team and to the guests, I grab a couple bottled waters from the fridge, make sure the sacristy is locked up and all is as it should be. I get into my car which is rather hot and stuffy. Here it is, November 4th and it feels like it's mid-September. I love it. How much longer are we to be blessed with these rather late, Indian Summer style days? 'Embrace and savor them while we can,' I say to myself. Next week, we could have snow. What bliss. I drive the 2 miles to Eunice's home where she awaits my arrival. As I walk up the drive, a rather friendly squirrel carefully and cautiously crawls over to me. I keep calling him over and he responds. Darn it, no food to give. He nibbles at my shoe, looks up and scampers off. A little touch of nature right at my feet. I knock and walk in, give Eunice a hug and sit myself down in the wing back chair which is my traditional place. We talk, laugh and laugh some more. It's what Eunice and I do when we get together. I bring her up to speed on what's happening at St. Nicholas. No, not gossip, but actual concerned conversations. We talked about Vernon, about how Nancy Allan is doing, about how beautiful the gardens look again in large thanks to Connie Nicholson, Marilyn Brown and Bob Kalicki, too. We talked like a family would talk about each other...with love and care. And after the conversations, we pause and prepare for Holy Communion. I offer a prayer and share Jesus with Eunice. We are silent for a moment. Then, we pray the words our Lord and Savior taught us..."Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name..." I bid my farewell, give Eunice another big hug and find my way to my car. Fortunately, the two bottles of water are still cool to the touch. I'll need them as I know traffic headed north will be heavy this time of the day.
Fall Leaves It's 5:30 pm, the sun is preparing for its descent and the sky is a brilliant reddish, orange. It's autumn's beauty on display. The birds that were absent earlier this morning are everywhere. My car windows are down and I can hear them overhead. I see a line of geese headed south in their classic "V" formation. It's wonderful. I'm at a red light watching the traffic pass by, watching the birds begin their migratory journey, squinting into that setting sun...and I smile. Yes, God is smiling, too. And why not?