• December 24, 2016 - 12:00 AM A Christmas Greeting from the Dean

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    Today we gather to reclaim a great mystery of faith. As we enter and acknowledge the Darkness that can often surround everyday life, we renew our faith in the Light that cannot be overwhelmed by any darkness. Pastor Edmund Sears composed the poem which has become the Christmas Carol It Came Upon the Midnight Clear. He did this after suffering a breakdown. It was a time of personal melancholy during which he was also surrounded by news of revolution in Europe, with this country’s war with Mexico fresh in his mind. Some felt he did not hear the Christmas message when he wrote:

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  • November 26, 2016 - 12:00 AM An Advent Message from the Dean

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    Each new Church Year begins with the four weeks of Advent – a time of preparation for the Feast of Incarnation – the birth of Jesus the Christ. During that time, we pray that God will “give us grace to cast away the works of darkness” as we “put on the armor of light.” To some this year may seem to have special shades or threats of darkness. But every year we ask for that armor of light – wherever that darkness may or may not be felt around the world. The world has always been threatened by hatred, evil and violence. Perhaps so much so, that we forget that our preparation speaks directly to the challenge each of us faces to believe anew that we can do something to usher in light. By the Grace of God, we can connect to the generations that have reached for the Light, as kindred...

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  • August 25, 2016 - 12:00 AM A Message from the Dean

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    This is to inform you, following a period of deep reflection and prayer, that I will step down as Dean of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine at the end of June 2017. For more than 15 years, and with two Bishops of New York, I have had the privilege of serving arguably the world’s most unique religious, cultural and civic institution. At a time of polarization and violence in the name of religions, this Cathedral has gathered people in constructive conversations to build more just societies. When I was first elected as Dean in 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11 and just a month before the terrible fire that struck the Cathedral, there was much to do. Since then, we have worked together to stabilize the Cathedral financially, embarked on a multi-million dollar restoration of th...

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  • July 8, 2016 - 12:00 AM A Statement from the Dean on Recent Shootings

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    The Cathedral Community offers its prayers for the most recent victims of police violence in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis and for the Dallas police who were assassinated or wounded. We pray for all families affected by gun violence. We stand on the threshold of yet another tragic opportunity to work together for racial and economic justice. All that we do in this Cathedral of radical hospitality and ongoing respectful dialogue is animated by our shared quest for more just societies in which we respect the dignity of all. No forces that attempt to further divide us are as strong and compelling as the values and possibilities that can unites us across faiths and cultures.

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  • May 15, 2016 - 12:00 AM Unity: A Pentecost Message from the Dean

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  • March 27, 2016 - 12:00 AM An Easter Message from the Dean

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    Today we add our voices to those over the generations who have proclaimed, “Alleluia, Christ is risen indeed!” This passage from death into life was revealed to us that first Easter, but it becomes a way of life when each of us finds God mighty to save us. In Christ’s Resurrection, the Promise that nothing can separate us from Divine Love is seen and kept. There is a Divine Rhythm of life: things that are cast down are raised up, what grows old is made new, and what dies is given New Life! All across this planet we see how violence and hatred infect God’s plan of salvation, which is that abundant life is meant for all. There are forces that pull us and others of God’s children away from that Love. Easter shows us that darkness cannot overwhelm God’s plan of Salvation. What atta...

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  • February 10, 2016 - 12:00 AM An Ash Wednesday Message from the Dean

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    As we hear “You are dust and will return to dust,” we remember the cycle of life. God hates nothing that God has made. The lost will find a way home. Nothing will return to God empty, but will be part of the plan of salvation. These themes and sounds of Lent are opportunities for renewal—to start over. Our mortality is placed in the context of that promise: we acknowledge that during our earthly lives we are meant to spend the gifts entrusted to us, to make the unique contributions as we return those gifts to God. Ash Wednesday also reminds us that we are meant continually to be put in mind of God’s promise, and that when we repent and turn to God’s Love, we can always rediscover God's mercy. God never gives up on us or on creation. May we this Lent see anew God’s love su...

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  • January 5, 2016 - 12:00 AM Epiphany: A Message from the Dean

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    The Twelve Days of Christmas offer a relatively brief time for reflection on the Gift. We always know that Christmas will occur on the 25th of December, but what day of the week that falls on in a given year determines whether there are one or two Sundays before the Feast of the Epiphany – the 12th and final day of Christmas. I’m often saddened when we do not have occasion to hear the Collect of the Second Sunday after Christmas: O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. In God’s decision to become fully human in Jesu...

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  • December 24, 2015 - 12:00 AM A Christmas Greeting from the Dean

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    Former Honorary Cathedral Canon Howard Thurman wrote the poem, The Work of Christmas: When the star in the sky is gone, When the Kings and Princes are home, When the shepherds are back with their flocks, The work of Christmas begins. To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner, To teach the nations, To bring Christ to all, To make music in the heart. Today we gather to reclaim a great mystery of faith. As we enter and acknowledge the Darkness that can often surround everyday life, we renew our faith in the Light that cannot be overwhelmed by any darkness. That is why Isaiah long ago proclaimed that: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined....

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  • November 29, 2015 - 12:00 AM Advent 2015: A Meditation from the Dean

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    We begin each new Church Year with the four weeks of Advent—a preparation for the Feast of Incarnation—the birth of Jesus the Christ. We pray that God will “give us grace to cast away the works of darkness” as we “put on the armor of light.” Every year we ask for that armor of light—even when the year past or year expected is not filled with the shadows of the darkness felt around the world because of the attacks on Paris, Mali, or Nigeria. But at times when the world seems almost to be unraveling in hatred, evil and violence, it is easy to understand our connection to the generations which have reached for the Light in their times of darkness. And to feel a kindred spirit with those who feared that God had either abandoned them or been rendered impotent by the dark shadows of Evil....

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  • May 23, 2015 - 12:00 AM The Valley of Dry Bones: A Pentecost Message from the Dean

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    –From Ezekiel 37:1-14 read on The Feast of Pentecost Writing for The Atlantic on May 9, Matt Schiavenza, reported: The campaign to eliminate the Ebola virus marked a significant milestone on Saturday, as the World Health Organization declared that Liberia was free of the disease. The announcement came 42 days after the safe burial of the last confirmed Liberian victim of the Ebola, a period equal to twice the virus’ incubation period. The news was met with jubilation in Liberia, which along with Sierra Leone and Guinea was the country most affected by the virus. But officials tempered their joy with a note of caution. “Let us celebrate, but stay mindful and vigilant,” said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s president. Since the epidemic began last March, 10,564 people across Liberia c...

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  • April 5, 2015 - 12:00 AM An Easter Mediation from the Dean

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    Across cultures and centuries people have shouted with joy, “Alleluia, Christ is risen indeed!” We join in ancient rituals, as we renew that passage from death into new life. Each Lenten Journey begins with the hope that each one of us would find God mighty to save us. In Christ’s Resurrection, the power of The One who made that Promise — that nothing could separate us from Divine Love — is revealed and kept. In Christ we see clearly the Divine Rhythm of life: things cast down are raised up, what grows old is made new, and what was dead is given New Life! Today we also rediscover that hope made real. Each generation, every people in their own personal and community histories, experience the death-dealing dangers of pettiness, hatred, misunderstanding and violence. In our tim...

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  • March 23, 2015 - 12:00 AM A Message from the Dean

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    There is much I do not know about what led up to the arrest of Diane Reiners on Friday, March 13th, allegedly for driving under the influence inside the Holland Tunnel. I do not know what will unfold for Diane over the next several months. These are the things I do know: Diane has served as a valued and respected assisting (volunteer) priest among us, whose spiritual energy, intellect and humor touched many of us very deeply. The charges she is facing are serious and warrant the kind of legal investigation and ecclesiastical response they will receive. It will be some time before the legal and personal issues are understood and responded to, and for that period of time, at least, Diane will not be among us. Our prayers for and support of Diane as she navigates these responsibil...

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  • February 18, 2015 - 12:00 AM A Lenten Season Meditation from the Dean

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    As we hear “You are dust and will return to dust,” we remember the cycle of life. All things come from God. God hates nothing that God has made. The lost will find a way home. Nothing will return to God empty, but will be part of the plan of salvation. The themes and sounds of Lent are an offering of renewal—an opportunity to start over. Our mortality frames that promise as we acknowledge that we have our earthly life during which to spend the gifts entrusted to us, to make the unique contribution those efforts return to God. The special liturgy of Ash Wednesday also reminds us that we are meant continually to be put in mind of God’s promise: if we repent and turn to God’s Love, we can always rediscover God's mercy, and that God will never give up on us or on creation. Ma...

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  • January 6, 2015 - 12:00 AM Going Home: An Epiphany Message from the Dean

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    The paths that First Christmas were not all linear. Of course, following the Star was not likely to be a straight path. But it must have been shocking to those Magi that an offering of Radiant Love could be twisted into a story of violence and death so quickly. All they could do after weighing in with their gifts was to decide not to return to Herod. Thankfully, there usually is another road we can take. I grew up disappointed that Mario Cuomo never embarked on the road to the Presidency. He was a hero to me, an abiding inspiration – because of his eloquence, his insights into the ethnic fabric of this great country, and his Renaissance man brilliance. He said he could not run for President and also be an effective Governor. He decided the opportunities to serve New York and its peop...

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  • December 24, 2014 - 12:00 AM A Christmas Greeting from the Dean

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    Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine as we celebrate Christmas! Hear tonight Isaiah's prophecy: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.” (9:2). One of the most profound characteristics of faith we can model is to acknowledge the Darkness – to see clearly around us the battle being waged between good and evil, the ways in which we and others are drawn away from the abundant life God intends for all by greed, violence, and disrespect for the dignity of each and every one of us. Those long-ago angels, as they said, “Fear not,” addressed people who also were no strangers to Darkness: poverty, oppression, injustice, war. The Holy Family, uprooted and forced by edict...

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  • November 30, 2014 - 12:00 AM Subversive Children of the Light: an Advent Meditation from the Dean

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    "But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake -- for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake." From Mark 13:24-37 “Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.” Henry Steele Commager, Ame...

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  • June 7, 2014 - 12:00 AM Signs of the Spirit: a Pentecost Meditation From the Dean

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    from Acts 2:1-21 I have just returned from Iran. Few Americans – even the many who have spent their lives studying the country or who have been colleagues with Iranian citizens at universities in this country – have had firsthand access to Iran since the Revolution of 1979. I am not a politician or a diplomat. My invitation was based on being a religious leader in this country and my willingness to engage in dialogue in Europe with Iranian philosophers, scientists, religious leaders and public servants over the last decade. In the spirit of interreligious dialogue, we endeavored to respect each other. We listened carefully to how we see and respond to things that matter. We shared respectively deep concerns about the meaning and value of life. We had common observations ab...

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  • April 19, 2014 - 12:00 AM An Easter Greeting from the Dean

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    Across the centuries people have shouted with joy, “Alleluia, Christ is risen indeed!” Now we join in that ancient ritual, as we pass from death into new life. We began the Lenten Journey daring to believe that each one of us would find God mighty to save us! Now in Christ’s Resurrection, the power of The One who made that Promise – that nothing could separate us from Divine Love – is revealed. The gracious Creator, God who hates nothing that God has made, reveals in Christ the Divine Rhythm of life: things cast down are raised up, what grows old is made new, and what was dead is given New Life! Every age must rediscover that hope made real. Within the challenges of human history, people in each generation have known the dangers of pettiness, hatred, misunderstanding and vio...

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  • March 4, 2014 - 12:00 AM A Lenten Message From the Dean

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    We hear the voice that says to us, “You are dust and will return to dust.” The cycle of life makes clear that we come from and return to God. Do you hear that voice as foreboding – a warning only of judgments and endings? Or can you be open to listening for the themes and sounds of Lent as an offering of renewal – an opportunity to start over? In our mortality we acknowledge our need for God’s mercy. The special liturgy of Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are meant continually to be put in mind of God’s promises: if we repent and turn to that Love, we rediscover that God hates nothing that God has made. It is actually when we pull away from God and from each other, that God’s plan of salvation is undermined. May we this Lent see anew that God’s love surrounds us, and may our...

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