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The Chimes

January 9, 2005


Left Behind?

I think it may have been in the early 1980's when I first noticed bumper stickers which proclaimed "In case of Rapture, this vehicle will be unmanned." At the time, I simply put it down to another case of falling under the spell of the likes of Hal Lindsey, whose book The Late, Great Planet Earth had been selling well enough to merit mention in Christian periodicals as a theological oddity. I had assumed that once the End Time events predicted in such books had failed to occur, particularly after the fall of the Soviet Union (a perennial favorite in the role of the Beast who would fight the forces of Light at the End), such interest as there was among the populace would disappear. I was wrong. As the huge sales of the recent series of novels depicting the Rapture and the End as it might affect the lives of ordinary Americans shows, there is a frighteningly large audience out there that is eager to believe such fantasies.

These novels, known as the Left Behind series, are best known for there depiction of the Rapture, the event, supposedly based on scripture, in which true Christians are suddenly, silently and instantaneously whisked away from their lives in this world to be with Christ. There then follow a whole sequence of events which supposedly follow the predictions of the End found in the Bible. They culminate in the horrific destruction of all of those who follow the beast by a ferocious Christ as well as the heavenly joy of all of the saved. What is not often pointed out is that the prophecies are constructed out of a whole series of separate passages of scripture in a concoction that did not exist in Christian theology until the Nineteenth Century, and that are considered fanciful and outrageous by most academic theologians and Biblical scholars.

I think that there has been a real failure of theologians and scholars to expose this whole scheme of history as the bogus construction that it is. That is beyond this little essay, but just let me point out how the picture of the Rapture is contradicted by recent scholarship. The Rapture is based on a few verses of Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, I Thessalonians 4: 13-18. Paul gives his readers an image of the return of Christ based on the visit of the Roman Emperor to a provincial city, the Greek word Parousia is the same.

Roman cities buried their notable dead in mausoleums lining the road into the city, so that the Emperor on his visit would be met by the dead first and then by the living citizens who would then accompany him into the city with music and great pomp. That is precisely how Paul imagines the visit of Christ at the End. As Christ comes down from heaven to earth with shouts and music he will first meet the dead and then will be met by the living Christians who will accompany him into an earthly reign of God. This is quite a different picture that the silent disappearance of Christians.

Notice also that in this passage, Paul assumes that he will be one of the living, which was not correct, and that the Lord's return will be "like a thief in the night" for which reason Paul, like the Jesus of the Gospels, tells Christians not to worry about signs of the End Times. That is actually good advice for us today. However we interpret the Biblical images of the End and the Return of Christ, the best we can do is to live lives of faith, hope, and above all, love, and leave the rest in God's hands.

Rev. Dr. Max A. Myers


The Kingdom Comes, One by One by One


Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you he who is to come, or should we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and then lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them." Matthew 11:1-2

Here is the way the world works: it's better to be rich than poor. The diseases of the very poor kill them more quickly and more unnecessarily than the diseases of the rich, and the very same diseases are different for them than for the rich -- where we live, a bout of diarrhea is a nuisance, and your child might have to miss school for a day or two. In southern Africa or, after the tsunamis in South Asia, a mother can lose her child in a day or two -- to the very same illness.

The means by which disease may be prevented are often simple: clean water, a good mosquito net, a vaccination, nutritious food, some good advice from a traveling health technician who leaves behind a few trusted neighbors trained in the provision of basic health services. It's not --as we say --rocket science. It's usually very simple.
Jesus was simple. Some people who saw and heard him were disappointed by him. He wasn't very kingly. He appeared to be a very ordinary man, a carpenter -- definitely working class. And the signs of his kingdom were not very kingly, either. No fanfare. Not even John the Baptist was absolutely certain -- Are you the one who is to come, he asks, or should we look for another? Maybe it was all too simple -- just healing, one by one by one, village by village, house by house. Good news preached to the poor and healing for those who needed it, over and over again. Simple, one-by-one things.

Yes, they were simple things. But they were signs of the kingdom -- Isaiah had said that these and many other sorrows would be conquered, and here they were, in the midst of the conquering. And it was quiet and simple. One by one.

The signs of the kingdom are the same today. Not much in the way of fanfare. Just one-by-one things, simple things. Things we can become part of, just by joining with those who visit the sick we will never meet ourselves, who bring them food we could never bring them ourselves, who bring healing and strength and encouragement to the very poor whom we will never see. By ourselves we cannot be signs of the kingdom to them -- they don't know us, and we are too far away.

But through our relationship with Episcopal Relief and Development, we are part of it now, through prayer and support of those who partner with local health workers, community workers, clergy. Look at what is happening, Jesus says tenderly to John, who wonders, at the end of his life, if his whole ministry of proclamation has been in vain. It has not been in vain. The signs are all here, one by one, and the kingdom really is coming into the world.

"People are homeless, left destitute and need to be fed, clothed, comforted, counseled, and also moved from polluted areas," said Dr. Pauline Sathiamurthy, General Secretary of the Church of South India. "The Church is now engaged in round the clock work feeding adults, providing milk and biscuits for babies and children, transporting tankers with clean, drinkable water to prevent waterborne diseases, and providing the elderly and very young with blankets," said Dr. Sathiamurthy

To learn more about ERD's work in post-tsunami South Asia and southern Africa, visit or call 1-800-334-7626,

December 21, 2004

Vestry meeting opened with prayer led by Bishop Fricker.

  • Bob Wallace represented the Properties Committee by asking for and receiving approval to appoint Peter Flickinger as the single point of contact (POC) between St. Paul's Cathedral and the contractor and the architect for masonry work that is to be done on the exterior of the building.
  • Michael Lehman reported on the Stewardship campaign--details to be announced in the Chimes.
  • The Finance meeting has been rescheduled for the first Tuesday of each month at 12:30 p.m. We are now on a 15-month year as we have extended the 2005 Budget to March 2005.
  • Profile and Search committees are being formed to call a new Dean to the Cathedral.
  • Kristen Looney is reducing her full-time status to 30 hours per week, due to family commitments.
  • A Place at the Table booklets have been mailed. This year's activities are very exciting!
  • Nominations are being completed for Vestry, Warden and Convention Delegate elections.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m. after Compline was said.

Respectfully submitted,

Priscilla Wiedl, Jr.



Voting will be held on Sunday, January 30. Please be sure to check the list of eligible voters.


Cathy Dempsey
Daniel Fisher
Karen Hoepfinger
Leyla Kamalick
Joseph Nardiello
Tom Salvatori
Kevin Smith
Mark Smith
Albert "Bert" Stewart

Youth Vestry Representatives

Lloyd Hunt
Noel Kraebel
Sam Naylon
Kristen Saetveit

Background information on the candidates for office will be included in the next issue of the Chimes.



In order to vote at the annual meeting to be held on Sunday, January 30, you must be a "voting member" as defined by our bylaws.

To qualify you must:

  • Be 18 years or older.
  • Regularly attend worship here.
  • "Belong to the parish." This means that you were either baptized here, confirmed or received by the Bishop here, were officially transferred here by Letter from another parish, or have given proof of your baptism and had your name added to our register of Baptized Members.
  • Contribute to the support of the parish during 2004. Your contributions must be on record. If you receive a quarterly statement of giving, your contributions are recorded. This rule applies to anyone who meets the first three qualifications, regardless of age (in other words, "children" who have attained the age of 18 must have a record of independent giving).



The Rt. Rev. J.C. Fricker December 6, 2004
St. Paul's Church in Buffalo
128 Pearl St.
Buffalo, NY 14202

Dear Rt. Rev. J. C. Fricker:

On behalf of over 500 food pantries, emergency shelters, soup kitchens, day cares and senior care centers that help to feed over 100,000 people each month, thank you for the recent donation of $950.00 from your chicken barbecue to benefit the Food Bank of Western NY.

Hunger is a growing problem in Western New York and through your efforts much needed food can be distributed to our les fortunate neighbors.

Again, many thanks for joining the fight against hunger.

Highest regards,
Lori Stachowiak,
Development Manager



On Saturday, Jan 8, 2005, there will be a tour of both St. Paul's Cathedral and St. Louis' Church, beginning at 10 am. We will be celebrating the one-year Anniversary of the joint effort. The tour is free, open to the public and occurs on the 2nd Saturday of every month. For more information or to make a reservation call Martha Neri @ 631-3789.



Bongo, Doumbek, Tubano, Djembe- the names of drums. Each native to various parts of the globe. A Bongo is Latin American, as is the Tubano. Doumbek is from the Middle East, Turkey and Eastern Europe and the Djembe originated in the Great Mali Empire in the 12th century.

Why am I writing about these things here? Well, we own some of these right here at St. Pauls. Between the youth group, the music committee and myself we have purchased eight drums to conduct drum circles and other such programs.

To be a participant in a drum circle is to be a participant in something wonderful and magic! As you play the drum and make music, you also become a part of the music and get a good, healthy dose of Vitamin 'D'. Be on the look out for future opportunities to come and join a St. Paul's Drum Circle.

Deacon Mick Szymanski



The Counseling, Advocacy, Referrals, Education and Services Program has been instituted in the UB School of Dental Medicine. The Program was initially developed to assist seniors in accessing dental care, but has since expanded to assist all age groups.

Often times, limited finances and transportation, dental anxiety and other barriers make it difficult for seniors to obtain needed dental care. Fully staffed by an MSW social worker, 7 MSW students and overseen by a Ph.D. social worker, CARES provides assistance to the over 10,000 patient seen in the School's dental clinic annually.

The School of Dental Medicine offers dental care at 33%-66% less than the customary cost of a private dentist.

If you need dental care or have any questions about what the School and/or the CARES Program can offer you, please contact Dr. Kim Zittel or James Wysocki at 829-2698.


The First Sunday After the Epiphany

8:00 am Eucharist

9:00 Eucharist

10:00 Forum:
Bible Study;
Sunday School

11:00 Eucharist



Tuesday, Jan. 11
Finance Committee
No Archive Committee.
5:45 Choral EvensongChoral Evensong

Wednesday Jan. 12
Choral Evensong

Thursday, Jan. 13,
Catherine Parker Conversation
5:45 Choral Evensong

Friday, Jan. 14
Recital (free)
Trio A'Belle - flute trio

Saturday, Jan. 15,
Weekly guided tour of the Cathedral.
11:00 Liturgical Participants meeting


The Second Sunday After the Epiphany

8:00 am Eucharist

9:00 Eucharist

10:00 Forum:
Bible Study;
Sunday School

11:00 Eucharist



Tuesday, Jan. 18
Choral Evensong
6:15 Vestry meeting

Wednesday, Jan. 19
Choral Evensong
No St. Paul's Seniors this week.

Thursday, Jan. 20
Catherine Parker Conversation
5:45 Choral Evensong

Friday, Jan. 21
Recital (free)
Quinn Patrick, Soprano

Saturday, Jan. 22,
Weekly guided tour of the Cathedral.


The mission of St. Paul's Cathedral is to offer hospitality, healing and hope in the Name of Jesus Christ, in the City of Buffalo and the Diocese of Western New York.


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�2005 St. Paul's Cathedral, Buffalo New York