Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bishop Frade's 2012 Christmas Message

Can you imagine celebrating Christmas with no Christmas tree, nor Santa Claus, nor gifts or carols and songs, nor Christmas cards or decorations? What if they do away with the Christmas holidays, with all the parties, Christmas family gatherings, with no turkey or refreshments of all kinds? Would you still have Christmas?

Well, I can imagine it and yes, we would still have Christmas. Actually in the land of my birth for more than two decades the Cuban Communist government established an atheist state and outlawed the celebration of Christmas but regardless of their attempt to do away with Christmas the Cuban Christians continued celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. There was Christmas and although Santa was sent packing with the Christmas tree and all the trimmings, faith remained.

Unfortunately today, in the midst of our American celebration of Christmas we are facing a massacre of little children so tragic and inhumane at Sandy Hook Elementary School that we need to put away our joy and celebrations to be replaced with tears and mourning. Instead of caroling or parties our country is trying to make sense and understand how could something like this happen in our midst?

How can you have Christmas in the midst of all the constant killings in our society? How can we rejoice in the midst of wars that seem to linger on and on and the threat of more wars to come in faraway lands?

Let me remind you that during the 12 days of Christmas, that starts December 25, we also celebrate on December 28, another massacre of children on a feast that we call The Holy Innocents. In the midst of the joy of the birth of a small child named Jesus we also have the pain of Mary and Joseph having to flee their land and going into exile.

Throughout the Christian era we have faced many ups and downs in our commemoration of Christmas but regardless of the times we have always remembered that hope was born anew in the little town of Bethlehem and that Christ will always be there for us in the good and bad times.

The Apostle St. Paul reminds us of this promise when he asks: “Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?.....For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, not rulers, not things present, nor things to come, nor power, not height, nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus or Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

Let us this Christmas once more be reminded that Christ is the reason for the season and rejoice in knowing that hope can be found in the manger wrapped in bands of cloth.

Let’s join the throngs of angels praising Jesus and say:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among all people!” 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Having Faith

At St. Paul's in Delray Beach, while the Voices Out of Darkness event was going on, the Brotherhood of St. Andrew Chapter was making Faith Chests. The chests, as described by Canon Chip Stokes, is presented to children of the church who are baptized. "Baptism is the central milestone ministry of the Christian faith, so when a child is baptized at St. Paul's, we present him or her with a Faith Chest. We encourage family and friends of the baptized to fill the Faith Chest with the child's Baptismal Certificate and candle, children's bibles, bible stories, notes, and any items helping a child grow into the full stature of Christ," Canon Stokes explained. 

As a part of the church's association with the Minnesota-based organization, Vibrant Faith Ministries, St. Paul's observes a variety of 'milestone ministries,' one, of which, is the baptism. 

Canon Chip Stokes is the Rector at St. Paul's in Delray.

A few photos are featured here

Voices Out of Darkness

Voices Out of Darkness was held on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at St. Paul's in Delray Beach. Throughout the day a series of sessions were held to help 20 to 30-somethings deal with very real issues. Organizer Teresa B. Pasquale, who is a founding member off SEEK{ers} Community & Voices describes the event as a day of several opportunities to hear the stories of others. The Reverend Chip Stokes, Rector of St. Paul's welcomed the attendees and a spiritual reading was provided by Rabbi Jenny, a survivor and spiritual coach.  
Presenter Michele Rosenthal

One of the first sessions of the day featured Michele Rosenthal's 'Story of Trauma, PTSD and Healing,' which resonated with those who were in attendance. She spoke of her story, beginning at the age of 13, going through cycles of trauma and crisis for many, many years, finally concluding how she is a survivor today. Toward the end of her presentation Rosenthal asked for the attendees to take away three things: (1) developing hope to live a better life, (2) developing the belief 'I can do it', and (3) having an imagination to set yourself free from who you were and into who you want to be. 

Her book, 'Before the World Intruded: Conquering the Past and Creating the Future' is available via her website

Optional activities included guided contemplation and a mindfulness practice during lunch. Throughout the day pieces of a documentary were shown. THE VOICES chronicled the stories of survivors of different types of trauma. Exhibitors were also invited to share their service with attendees and to join in on the discussion. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Vive Al Ritmo!

Floridian performing artist Bobby Ramirez joined the Latin Portuguese Mission last Saturday, December 1, 2012 for a day of inspiration, music, and empowerment. 

Sponsored in part by the Latin Portuguese Mission and the Center of Studies and Integral Formation for Women (CEFIM),  Ramirez said "[his] life's purpose is to inspire and empower one million young people, women and families to become leaders through the gift of music." The theme of the workshop was "Vive Al Ritmo" or Lives to the Rhythm. Attendees learned to discover the rhythm of their purpose, success and significance. 

Everyone in attendance enjoyed special workshops, as well as fun activities for the children.  The Latin Portuguese Mission has many families from Mexico, Central America, and Brazil. Part of the goal is to help these families in their leadership development. This first seminar is hopefully the start of an annual tradition. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

O' Happy Day!

On Sunday, December 2, 2012, the Diocese of Southeast Florida celebrated an ordination and installation! 

Father Denrick Ephriam Rolle was installed as the fourth rector of St. Agnes Episcopal Church at 4 p.m. in Miami. The Bishop of the Diocese The Right Reverend Leo Frade presided over the service, and there was a reception immediately following the worship in Blackett Hall. 

(photos forthcoming)

Father Michael David Picou was ordained into the priesthood at 10:30 a.m. at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove. On this first Sunday of Advent, Bishop Frade also presided over this service. A reception in the Oak Grove immediately followed the joyous occasion.