Tag Archives: Church of the Redeemer

On Baking Bread, Communion, the Holy and Profane

Bread making this morning.

In the deep past, I did this once or twice a month at home, and really enjoyed it. This time, it is for Communion Bread for a special event, which fills me with thoughts. Apparently, I would rather THINK about my work than actually do it. Continue reading


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Thoughts on the beginning of Advent; “O Come O Come Emmanuel!”

O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel;

that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny.

From depths of Hell Thy people save, and give them victory o’er the grave

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here.

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come, and open wide our heavenly home;

Make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might, who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,

 In ancient times did’st give the Law, in cloud, and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.

My favorite song of this season, Advent, and one I am full ready to proclaim this this year. I need the awareness of Emmanuel (“God with us”) now, as proclaimed in the third verse, to

“Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death dark shadows put to flight.” Continue reading

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The “Roman Road” – there is more than one.

There are any number of mnemonic devices for remembering Bible verses, and for remembering and communicating the central points of Christianity. The “Apostles’ Creed” is about the earliest, and I think still about the best. “The Four Spiritual Laws” is one I remember from my teens and early twenties.

Many of us, perhaps most of us who seriously entered an Evangelical understanding of Christianity 40 or 50 years ago will remember  “The Roman Road” as it lays out the work of God in Jesus through six verses in the Epistle to the Romans.

Romans 3:10  “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one…’ “

Romans 3:23  “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

Romans 5:8  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 6:23  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 10:9  “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 10:13,  “for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ “

I think, though, that there is another “Roman Road” spelled out. I have often seen the journey described as the road humanity takes/has taken when we refuse to look to God. But I have discovered that here, as in most warnings, they are not only for “those OTHER people” … Christians, too, are vulnerable. This “Roman Road” leads to deception, self-deception. I know very closely at least two, who think themselves devout Christians yet have fallen into this road.  I am one of them. Continue reading

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On the Redeemer and the Exodus, through Psalm 105 (with thanks to Lisa Tenney)

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!

Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!

Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!

Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,

O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

The beginning of Psalm 105

 This morning, the daily reading app (at YouVersion.com, of which I am quite fond, btw) on my phone served to me Psalm 105 which starts with this marvelous call to praise God.

I read it in the context of reading a post from another long-time member of Houston’s Church of the Redeemer (Episcopal) Lisa Tenney. Her thoughts were a joy to hear; and as I began to read this Psalm of praise and exhortation to   praise God for His mighty acts, I could not help but put the two together.

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Singing in Harmony: an objection to Deitrich Bonhoeffer (or what I learned from the music ministry of Church of the Redeemer)

 “ ‘Sing and make melody in your heart to the Lord’ (Eph. 5:19). …

‘Because it is bound wholly to the Word, the singing of the congregation, especially of the family congregation, is essentially singing in unison. Here words and music combine in a unique way. The soaring tone of unison singing finds its sole and essential support in the words that are sung and therefore does not need the musical support of other voices. …

‘Unison singing, difficult as it is, is less of a musical than a spiritual matter. Only where everybody in the group is disposed to an attitude of worship and discipleship can unison singing, even though it may lack much musically, give us the joy which is peculiar to it alone.’ ”

from Life Together, The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It is only with the greatest trepidation that I would dare to dissent from such a saint as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but this section of “Life Together” has bothered me since I first read it over thirty years ago. The ideas have nagged at me as I have seen changes in congregational singing between parishes, and even in the way congregational music is published. My renewed time and extended visitation among the folk of Houston’s Church of the Redeemer (Episcopal) has both confirmed and solidified my objections.  It is time I gave them voice. Continue reading


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A review of “This is My Story, This is My Song” by Betty Pulkingham

Many people who will read this will already know who Betty Pulkingham is. Her first husband, the Rev. Graham Pulkingham was a founding visionary in the Renewal movement in the Episcopal Church, and very important Rector of Houston’s Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

In her own right, Mrs. Pulkingham is one of the most important contributors of the music from that period and beyond. This description is totally inadequate, but if I used all the space this format will allow, I would still fall short.

Probably the best short summary of Betty’s true importance came to me from a local Methodist pastor, who voiced to me his private and very serious opinion that in years to come, Betty Pulkinghman will be honored, for her musical gift to the church, as of equal importance with Charles Wesley.

  I have just finished reading Betty Pulkingham’s new book,
“This is My Story, this is My Song: A Life Journy”

What a beautiful, grace-filled little book! Continue reading

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Yesterday, at the Church of the Redeemer

Yesterday, I went back to Redeemer.

God! What a statement! I had some idea of what I wanted
to say, why I wanted to write; but I had not formed any words in my head until
my fingers hit the keyboard. This is what came out, unannounced, a total
surprise to me. I have often spoken of writing as letting my pen speak to me,
and I am bowled over by what it has said. Continue reading

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