Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Disaster Fatigue?

Christ Church, Exeter
May 22, 2013

Dear All:

There is an expression used these days called "disaster fatigue." It sets in for some when they hear of disaster after disaster the world over - tsunamis, earthquakes, brushfires, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes.  

I would not say that I suffer from disaster fatigue as much as I just wish they would all stop. No more! With instant global communication we can literally see it all and the heartbreak and suffering is far too close and real.  

As people of faith we can at times want to shut out all the bad and that's OK.  It is a defensive mechanism born out of our village-minded DNA that really cannot handle too many circles of loss and suffering beyond what we can see and know.  Thank God that God never suffers from disaster fatigue. God's mercy and compassion is constant and abundant in times when darkness comes, the winds rage and lives rest on a razor's edge.   May we pray to this God to hold the people of Oklahoma ever more close in these days ahead during their time of great need.


The Rev. Mark B. Pendleton

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Turning 50

From the Rector
The Eve of Turning 50 

In two days I turn 50 years old.  Yes, the “BIG 5-0.” On May 10, 1963 I was born in The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio to Judy and Bruce Pendleton. My older sister by one year Terri greeted me at home, and my younger sister Mindy came along two years later. My parents are no longer with us, having passed away three years ago, but I as turn a half-century in years, I cannot help but think of them. Yet I will celebrate the fullness of the day with my wife, son and daughter and a few good friends in Hartford over a good meal.   

One of my favorite writers Frederick Buechner wrote this about life:

If I were called upon to state in a few words the essence of everything I was trying to say both as a novelist and as a preacher it would be something like this: Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” 

So as I hit the mid-century mark tomorrow, I will be listening to my life as I drive to Hartford from upstate New York after picking my son up from college. I will listen to the faces of the people who shaped me. I will remember the sounds of my parents and savor the great tasting Polish noodles and potato pancakes of my grandmother. I will hear again to the places in the world I have visited and the people I have met along they way. I will return to that beach in South America when Christ grabbed me by the mystical arm and I heard so clearly and so surprisingly: “I want you to follow me and be ordained in my church.”  I will see to the people of prayer in whose parishes I have served in my 22 years of ministry.  

Buechner is right: all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. 


Mark B. Pendleton 

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Community of the Cross of Nails: Its story and template for Hope

Truth + Forgiveness = Reconciliation

I have been involved with the Community of the Cross of Nails for over 25 years: currently I serve as the President of the CCN-North America. Its story began on the night of the 14th of November, 1940 in the city of Coventry, England.   Its medieval cathedral was destroyed by the bombs of the German Luftwaffe that also destroyed much of the city.  In the midst of the rubble, a priest took three large roofing nails forged in the Middle Ages and bound them with wire. In the terrible aftermath that followed, Provost Howard wrote "Father Forgive" on the smoke-blackened wall of the sanctuary, leading the people of the city away from a feeling of bitterness and revenge.  After the war a new cathedral emerged alongside the ruins, and Coventry began a ministry of peace and reconciliation with Germany.  Crosses of nails were presented to Kiel, Dresden and Berlin, cities shattered by Allied bombing. In October I will attend a meeting of the German CCN: my second visit to Germany to see the work of healing that goes on decades after the war.   

Today the cross of nails is a powerful and inspirational symbol worldwide of reconciliation and peace, worn by the new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and South Africa's Desmond Tutu.  The Community of the Cross of Nails is a network of people throughout the world.     

The call to forgive and reconcile is never easy and is truly life-long. But this much we know: Jesus called on us to love our enemies and to seek forgiveness from the God who forgives us.  It can be an unhappy process at times leading to unsatisfying conclusions: it is not always accompanied by a "warm and gentle" feeling but rather a dry sense of acceptance.  

In this post-modern world of terrorist attacks, mass-killings, political divide and stalemate, finger-pointing, road-rage and instantaneous communication making it easier to spread both information and misinformation, there can be in all of us a very human impulse to lash out and seek revenge and retaliation. Christ shows us a different way.