Running to Places production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

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Photo by George Cannon Images

My daughter Annie was in her first production of this remarkable local youth theater group. Here are a few thoughts of mine from a recent Facebook post:

 

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is truly a wonderful work of pastoral theology–the story of Joseph is read as a story of how our gifts are often also our afflictions–in Joseph’s case his gift of dreams and dream interpretation–leading him to isolation and ostracization at the beginning of the show–but at the pivotal moment when he is thrown in jail and everything seems dark and he feels utterly isolated (Close Every Door), the chorus comes to tell him no, we’ve read the book, Joseph and you come out on top. This is a remarkable affirmation of the importance of faith, and for those of us who are biblical people, a reminder of how important it is to read the scriptures as our story, not just that of ancient history.

They then sing Go Go Go Joseph and tell him that the way forward is to realize that this gift is to be affirmed, understood, and used for the good of others–which he does for the starving people of Egypt and then his brothers.

And in the end, the coat of many colors is taken off his shoulders–he is only special when he shares that gift. It is meant for the good of others, not self-adulation, as the good book says.

In R2P’s remarkable staging, as the coat is taken off Joseph’s shoulders the lighting on stage becomes technicolor; now the community is technicolor–showing that the gift that was the affliction and isolating can, with work and group discernment, become a gift for the whole community in its great diversity of gifts and dreams.

When Jasper as Joseph raised his hands up at the end, the whole community did too and we see the power of love and mutual recognition of our gifts. The joy and redemption and release were palpable and I for one was moved to tears of great joy and gratitude.

This is truly a remarkable work. Thank you Jeremy Pletter and Joey Steinhagen and R2P. I look forward to coming to many more of these wonderful productions!

A Biker Bishop and the gift of the Episcopal Church at Cornell

Audio: This is my last sermon as chaplain of the Episcopal Church at Cornell. It has been an incredible honor and privilege to serve this remarkable community for the past eight years.

 

Audio of My Last Compline Meditation 2017

Here is a picture of my dear friend, teacher, and living bodhisattva, G. Victor Sogen Hori, professor emeritus of Zen Buddhism at McGill University. For him and for all the mercies and blessings he gave me, thanks and praise to the living God!

 

P.S. If you listen to the meditation–a special thanks to brother Jeremy Pletter, who bought me my drink at CTB, an Ithaca Ginger Beer-and who is teaching my daughter Annie to sing with power and joy.

Montreal Zen Poetry Festival 2009

Audio: We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace by Anabel Taylor Chapel Singers

At  a recent celebration of the rich tradition of African American spirituals, our chaplain emeritus Gurdon Brewster heard the Dorothy Cotton Singers sing the incomparable Moses Hogan’s setting of We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace. It so moved him that he arranged to have it sung in his parish church, Epiphany Trumansburg, on Palm Sunday this Holy Week. Sadly Gurdon died before hearing his beloved community sing this wonderful piece of music, but we sang it with spirit and love, and then sang it again at his graveside service at Greensprings Cemetery.

This past Thursday night, the Anabel Taylor Chapel Choir, led by our director Ms. Anna O’Connell of the Cornell Roman Catholic community,  sang Hogan’s piece at their regularly scheduled Choral Compline service led by ECC chaplain Clark West. Here is an audio recording of their song, dedicated to the memory and legacy of Gurdon Brewster and the beloved community.

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Easter Sermon at Epiphany Trumansburg

After the sermon, we sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” which Gurdon writes about in the chapter “Singing Hymns” from his book No Turning BackAnd.yes, we sang the first verse again right after finishing the hymn because it is indeed that good.

daffodils by beebe lake

Mark Bickford’s Good Friday Passion

Church of the Epiphany in Trumansburg is blessed to have local musician, songwriter, and Irish music lover Mark Bickford as one of its music ministers. This Good Friday he sang his original text and setting of the Passion Gospel. It moved most of us in attendance to tears and we share it here in thanksgiving for the gift of music to soothe our souls in times of grief and sorrow.

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A meditation for Good Friday in honor of the beloved community of Ebenezer Baptist Church

Mystical substitution: this is the moment of the church’s birth at the foot of the cross on Good Friday. When Jesus gives his mother and his beloved disciple to one another, a new family is created. In her deepest sorrow, a sorrow like no other, Mary becomes a mother to St. John and St. John becomes, mysteriously, but definitively, her son. Out of death, life anew.

This power of suffering love to bind us to one another across any and all boundaries is what we celebrate today. When Daddy King, the son of a sharecropper, and Gurdon Brewster, a young white man born of incredible privilege, met that summer of 1961, such a mystical substitution began to take place. Because Gurdon stayed at the foot of the cross of racial violence and was baptized into the beloved community of Ebenezer Baptist, serving at table for Daddy King that summer while King’s wife Alberta was ill, their love for one another was born, flowered and grew.

And when, years later, after the death of his own son Martin Luther King Jr, and his wife Alberta, Daddy King came to that same cross in the Eucharistic feast at Cornell, he shared this most mysterious of Holy Week truths. “Brewster is like a son to me.” Impossible the world might say. And yet we know such mystical substitution to happen in the church again and again and again. So we call one another brother, sister, mother, daughter, son. This is the church.

And this is the power of love at the foot of the cross–the river of sorrow that can divide us is the river of Jordan into which we may be baptized with Jesus and in that river of peace be made brothers and sisters, no matter how far apart we may seem to be in the eyes of the world. And this is why the world needs the church, gathered at the foot of the cross, to proclaim this good news, this Good Friday. For this day and the mystery of love it holds, we give thanks and praise.

 

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