Editorial from the Fall 2013 issue of The Stained Glass Quarterly

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I write this editorial at the end of a week that began at The Elms Resort and Spa in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, the site of the next Stained Glass Association of America Annual Summer Conference. I spent several days helping to plan events for the Conference but also enjoying views like the ones above. I took my sketch pad with me and spent some time outdoors — sometimes on the pool deck, sometimes in the gazebo (from which the photo above left was taken), and sometimes on the covered porch near the Café at the Elms — drawing and enjoying the relaxing environment that this amazing hotel offers.

I don’t think I can stress strongly enough that this Annual Summer Conference is going to be very different from those of past years. This Conference adopts a new orientation — perhaps I should say, a new atmosphere — made possible by a site like that at the Elms. The hallmark elements of education, information, networking, and fun that are part of all SGAA Conferences will be maintained while a new one is added: relaxation.

To those readers who are artists, I suggest that you bring pencils, pens, pastels, watercolors… whatever it is that you use to create, and be ready to enjoy using them in this wonderful and relaxing atmosphere… or, if I can perhaps coin a new word, artmosphere. But I also suggest that you bring something new… some new medium. Perhaps it could be something you’ve been wanting to try, or perhaps it could be something you’ve been wanting to return to and explore further. Regardless, the Elms is the place to try it.

And for those who are not artists, I suggest you bring a sketch pad, anyway. You are going to find yourself inspired by the grounds of the Elms, and, if you aren’t an artist when you get there, you may find yourself wanting to become one by the time you leave. Besides, even if you can draw only a stick figure, you’ll likely find it is the finest, most inspired stick figure you’ve drawn in a good, long while. And, most importantly, you’ll find drawing it both relaxing and refreshing.

I’m very excited about next summer’s Annual Summer Conference. I hope you’ll start making plans to join us and take advantage of all that an SGAA Annual Summer Conference has to offer. Also, please plan on entering the stained glass panel competition. It will be beautifully displayed in a sunlit hallway outside the Grand Ballroom at the Elms and will be a real opportunity to showcase the beauty of stained glass.

RichardGross-gssig

Reflection for October 21, 2013

“Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” At the heart of this Gospel, we see Our Lord warning us not to let money divide us from those we love: from God, friends, family, and neighbor. A young man entreats Jesus to order the young man’s brother to share an inheritance to which the young man clearly believes he has a claim. Christ won’t do that. Why not? He knows it will lead to division. He knows it will lead to anger.

Our value is not found in our net worth. Our value – our eternal value – is found simply in living a life in conformity with the will of God. It means living according to the Gospel imperative and loving God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind; and loving our neighbor as our self.

Greed is one of the deadly sins; greed leads us down a path that takes us away from God and neighbor. When we succumb to greed, we see our neighbor as our competitor. We even see God as our competitor. This is not the path to true happiness; this is the path to misery and isolation.

Therefore, it is imperative that we remember the words of Jesus Christ: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Reflection for October 18, 2013

Reflection on Luke 10: 1-9

On reading this passage this morning, I was struck again by Christ’s call to service. “The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.”

Certainly, Christ calls us to service of God and neighbor throughout the Gospel, but the service he calls us to is not merely social work. While that is noble in itself, what we as Christians are called to is far greater. Our service depends on a radical trust in the Lord. “Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals.” For many – or, at least, for myself – this is uncomfortable. Everything the world tells us is counter to this. And yet, this is the call the Lord makes.

If we can live so that we do have a radical trust in the Lord, then we – like the people of the towns those seventy-two disciples visited – will truly find that for us, the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Baptism Homily

Mark 10:13-16 13 And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.

 

Baptism is the first of the seven sacraments of Holy Church and the door to life in Christ; it unites us with the Lord, who died for our sins and rose for our justification. Through the waters of baptism and the power of the Most Holy Trinity, we begin a new life; we become a new creation. We take on a new dignity given to us by our Lord because we share in the life and the love of God. Through baptism, we are raised up to God.

Our Lord said to let the children come to Him, for to such belong the kingdom of God. Baptism removes sin. Christ calls us to live always in the state of the newly baptized, free of sin; loving the Lord God with all our heart; and loving our neighbor as our self.

Baptism initiates us into the life of the Church; in a very special way, it equips us for life in the Kingdom of God. We are truly blessed by the Lord that we are allowed to become a child of God through the waters of this most holy sacrament. Amen.