Easter Message 2015

Just a week ago my wife and I returned from the Holy Land. We were leading a pilgrimage with 31 pilgrims from our diocese. Israel, Palestine and Jordan were peaceful places and we were blessed with wonderful weather and met wonderful people, Christians, Muslims and Jews. One of the places we visited as usual was the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or Anastasia, the Church of the Resurrection as Helena, Emperor Constantine’s mother called it.

This is a church that fascinates me because of the rich spiritual treasure it contains. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is also a church that is shared by various Christian denominations. The main ones being the Greek Orthodox, the Latin Church as the Roman Catholics are called in that part of the world and the Armenian Orthodox Church. Of course they also share space with the Coptic Orthodox Church from Egypt, the Assyrian Orthodox Church and also the Ethiopian Orthodox Church that sits at the roof of the building because the Ethiopian got there late and were unable to find space inside the church so they settled in the roof. Sharing the same building with several and very different denominations is always a great challenge and sometimes.

To our shame as Christians, numerable fists fights have taken place that sent a few monks to the emergency room. So, next time you criticize the Sunni and Shiites Muslims for fighting with each other just think of the loving attitude of the Christian monks at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Now, when you visit that church you need to have a lot of patience especially if you want to go inside the empty tomb of our Lord. The Queue can be as long if not longer than the lines that many of us had to face with our little children and grandchildren at Disney World or Universal Studios. There is indeed a fascination with that particular place. At times I wonder that those making the long serpentine line want to make sure that Jesus bones are not there. But that is not the case.

When I was young and slim, I used to wait for hours at the Queue to be able to pray at least for one minute inside the tomb. My wife Diana and I have visited the Holy Land 17 times and now that I am older and overweight I don’t dare to go inside the tomb because I am afraid I will get stuck inside that narrow cave. I could be quite embarrassing.

So I sit in front of it and pray.

It was just last week when I began to wonder why do people are willing to spend almost half a day just to be inside the tomb for less than a minute. After all it is empty; there is not much inside, just empty. Would you be willing to make a long line to see a movie at the theater and when you finally get inside there is no movie at all, just a blank screen? Going inside the empty tomb is about the same.

That’s why I began to wonder why people are willing to wait in such a long line just to see nothing, just an empty tomb?

The 16th chapter of the Gospel of St. Mark gives us a clue. Remember what the angel said to Mary Magdalene and the other women: “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. But now go and tell his disciples……”

I believe that that is precisely why people go through so much trouble just to be inside that empty tomb. They know that they will not find the body of a dead Jesus there. They have also read the Scriptures and know that he has been raised from the dead. They go there precisely because the tomb is empty. There is not a dead body in there. But there is something that they come to seek, and that my dearly beloved is something that we all need. They go there because they are seeking what St. Mark’s called in his Gospel the “sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.” That sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation has been proclaimed throughout the centuries.

The same call of the angel to the women is being repeated here to us during this Easter season: Jesus has been raised from the dead and you and I are called to share this message with the world around us. The same way that the events of that first Easter morning transformed Christ’s followers from grief and desperation we can also be transformed into people of hope.

Yes, it was indeed a message of hope that those first disciples were able to proclaim to each other as they shouted for the entire world to hear. Alleluia, Christ is risen! And they heard in return from other believers: The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia! On that first Easter Sunday hope stopped being a dream and instead became a reality. We like those first disciples can be transformed from being people filled with grief and desperation that face the finitude of life into people of joy and hope.

Christ is inviting us to share in his resurrection.

Listen to what St. Paul writes to the Christians living in Rome to comfort them in the midst of all their challenges: “If we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. If we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again.”

It is that wonderful miracle of hope that we find in the message of the Resurrection that begins to transform our lives giving us renewed hope, lifting the desperation of our souls, challenging our existence. We have become so accustomed to death, defeat, evil and pain having their way that we have forgotten that hope is still alive for us to continue living. Easter reminds us that even our death and the death of those we loved so much becomes the time of Christ’s victory – through him is also our victory.

Yes, let us be transformed into people of hope ready to bring the Good News to others. Let’s share with them that we serve a Living Christ who has conquered death and through him we are also able to share in his resurrection.

Let’s proclaim to the world that Christ is risen today. Yes, the Lord is risen indeed.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

AMEN.

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Praise for Same-Sex Marriage in Florida

Dear Diocesan Family,

I rejoice that today, January 6, on the Feast of the Epiphany, the State of Florida will take a bold and compassionate stand in permitting the legal marriage of same sex couples. For far too long we have suffered alongside our sisters and brothers who have felt God’s call to receive the full blessings of the church through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. At long last their desires and our hopes have been realized.

I encourage the clergy and people of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida to embrace those who might come to our doors seeking to be married. To the entire community of Southeast Florida: please know that everyone who wishes to be married in the Episcopal Church in Southeast Florida should contact their local church and make suitable arrangements to be married. However, it is important to note that clergy who are not willing to perform services are not required to do so. The same guidelines that have long applied to couples seeking marriage now apply to ALL couples seeking marriage in the Episcopal Church in the diocese of Southeast Florida. Our diocese has clearly stated her position long ago through her mission statement, “including ALL, excluding none”:

The Mission of the Diocese of Southeast Florida is to make known to all people the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, including ALL, excluding none.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or one of my Archdeacons.

Archdeacon Bryan Hobbs – dochobbs@bellsouth.net

Archdeacon Tom Bruttell – tbruttell@aol.com

Archdeacon J. Fritz Bazin – jfritzbazin@gmail.com

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Leo Frade

bishopfrade@aol.com

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Christmas 2014 – The Jews and the Christians

When Christmas time comes to our South Florida area there are two things for which I give God thanks. The first is to thank God that 2014 is the ninth year in a row without hurricanes hitting South Florida. The second is that we continue using our salt to spread around our margaritas and not on trucks to spread on our streets to get rid of our snow.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we live in complete paradise. Just take a look at I-95 with its eternal delays or not having a sports team that can win any competitions. The fact remains that our kids are growing in a place that won’t require them to bundle up and our economy seems to be improving.

The most important joy at this time is for Christians and Jews to be able to celebrate our religious traditions. The joy of Christmas and Hanukah are part of who we are in South Florida and we are able to rejoice with our families in our churches and temples.

Among the most conservative in our midst, we are also reminded that we need to keep Christ in Christmas. I imagine this is a campaign to do away with the “Happy Holidays” culture that we have developed trying not to offend persons celebrating other religious traditions.

Never underestimate the power of Macy’s.

As a Christian I am all for keeping Christ in Christmas but I have no need to offend our many Jewish neighbors and those of the Muslim or Hindu faith that are now very much a part of the world we live in. You may say that as Christians we were here first. You could be right if you ignore the religious traditions of Native Americans who exchanged their land for the Bible. I will also remind you all that Julia Tuttle, the Mother of Miami was an Episcopalian so maybe we all should show up at Trinity Cathedral Midnight Mass in honor of her. That will be the thing to do if you really want to go back to the Christianity that was here first.

One last thing as a reminder to all of us – if we really mean to keep Christ in Christmas let’s start acting like Christians. It’s now the time to take care of the homeless, the shut-ins, those who are in prison. As well as those who have completed their sentences and now are unable to find a job because it seems that to be a good Christian for some it means to keep the “riff-raff” far away from our mistletoe; and God forbid that they move next door. Somehow forgiveness is not necessary for some self- proclaimed believers. No need to care for those who are different from us be they gay or straight, white, black, Hispanic, Asian or any other assortment created by our God.

To keep Christ in Christmas doesn’t mean to exile my Jewish neighbor from our holiday festivities or force them to say Merry Christmas while at the same time continue spreading hate against Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhist. If you act like that I can guarantee that Christ will not care to be near you or your hatred.

Let’s remember Jesus great commandments: Love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself. If you do, you will definitely be keeping Christ in Christmas and at the same time you will be obeying the Old Testament Hebrew teaching that our Lord Christ was using.

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Bishop Frade concludes visit to Korea this week.

View the photos and videos from the past few days from Bishop Frade’s trip to Korea. Read the description for the videos and photos below the images.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/87226290@N05/sets/72157647752645615/

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Bishop Frade arrives in Seoul, Korea

View the photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/87226290@N05/sets/72157647752645615/

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Our Changing World

Monday, September 22, 2014

There were 2 reports yesterday, one of which was on the process to elect the next Presiding Bishop. Actually, most of it was centered on how to fill out a nomination form. Most notably, names of candidates will be received from October 1 until October 31.

The second report was on the Study of Marriage where we discussed the current reality of marriage. There are changing norms of marriage of which we need to be aware of and deal with those changes. This will also be discussed at the next General Convention. You may agree or disagree but these are actual facts of marriage today in our society. Here are some of the points discussed.

  1. Marriage as a precursor to childbirth is seen as a relic of the past by many young adults.
  1. In previous generations, marriage was seen as a cornerstone of launching into adulthood. Today, young adults are delaying marriage due to financial insecurity, fear of divorce, and a desire for career stability.
  1. 90% of young adults feel they must be completely financially independent before they marry.
  1. The cohabitation rate of unmarried senior citizens is rising: up 50% since 2000.
  1. 65% of all couples who eventually marry lived together before marriage.
  1. The vast majority of adults in their 20’s  (80%) see marriage as an “important part of their life plan.”
  1. The “ideal” for marriage has shifted from providing economic security to finding a “soul mate.”
  2. In the past 7 years, 35-40% of all marriages began with online dating.
  1. 2/3 of all adults see living together as a necessary step to marriage. Cohabitation has become a routine substitute for marriage.
  2. In 1960, 2/3 of all adults in their twenties were married. By 2008 that number was only 26%.

For more information go to: https://www.facebook.com/A050taskforce

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Today’s meeting started with a very emotional Eucharist celebrated by Bishop David Lai and a special collection was raised for the work of the Diocese of Taiwan.

After the eucharist the workday started with a town hall meeting where different bishops shared various issues of interest ranging from gun control to racism issues.

Business meetings were next on the agenda and we ended with a meeting with the Bishops who are going to visit other dioceses. Tonight we will end the meeting with a banquet in honor of the resigned bishops.

Tomorrow we leave at 5 a.m. for our flight to Seoul where we will meet with the Primate and other leaders of the Diocese of Korea. Please keep praying for us.

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“We are 1 in 100”

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The typhoon is gone. Almost no damage in Taipei, but other areas of the island were affected.

This morning we had three presentations on the challenge of doing ministry in areas where Christianity is being challenged.

The first speaker was the Primate of Japan, Nathaniel Uematsu. I met Nathaniel many years ago when Diana and I were invited to visit and preach for a month to the Holy Catholic Church of Japan (NSSK) as their Anglican Church is called. Nathaniel was a recently ordained priest and he was assigned to take us around – today he is the Primate of Japan. Maybe I’m getting old. Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSSK) was founded in 1859 when the Rev. Channing Moor Williams arrived in Nagasaki as a missionary of the Episcopal Church to start proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

bishop.frade.and.nathaniel.uematsu

Bishop Frade with his friend Nathaniel Uematsu the Primate of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Holy Catholic Church of Japan, one of the Anglican Provinces of our Communion.

Today they have 280 churches in 11 dioceses with 57,000 members and 230 clergy.

One interesting historical fact was that Japan ruled Taiwan as one of their provinces from 1895 until 1945. The Japanese Anglicans (NSSK) had Episcopal churches in Taiwan during that time but after the defeat of the Empire of Japan they left. Unfortunately for us, Chang Kai-shek confiscated the Anglican churches and gave them to the Presbyterians and other Protestant denominations. The Episcopal Church opted not to sue to recover the stolen churches in order not to give a bad witness and not to get on the wrong side of Chang Kai-shek. The end result was that the Episcopal Church in Taiwan had to start from scratch having no buildings.

The witness of the Japanese Episcopalians has been one of reconciliation with the countries they invaded during the II World War and they apologized for all the atrocities committed by their Imperial army. Today NSSK ministers not only to the Japanese but also to the Korean and Philippine immigrant that are discriminated and many times abused.

I was impressed by the words of Nathaniel when he shared what he tells his people. “Even if we are only 1% of the population of Japan, that means that we are 1 out of 100 people in Japan that Christ has chosen for us to be his vessels and carry his message of redemption. What a great privilege we have to have been chosen out of 100 to serve our Christ.”

He also explained to me that the reason that only 1% of the Japanese is Christian is not that they oppose or persecute Christianity like it happens in Muslim countries, but it is because to be a Christian demanded exclusivity if you accept Christ.

Japanese on the other hand believe they can be Buddhists, Shinto and Christians at the same time with no problems. They are people where faith is important to them so the more faiths the better.

The second presentation came from the Primate of Korea by Archbishop Paul S. Kim. I will be leaving on Wednesday to be with him and other Bishops, clergy and laity. I’ll share more after I get there. I am looking forward to learn more on their efforts on reconciliation between South and North Korea.

The last of the morning speakers was Archbishop Edward Malecdan, the Primate of PEC – the Philippine Episcopal Church. He just arrived from a devastated country due to the wind and rain caused by the same typhoon that we suffered yesterday. PEC became a missionary diocese in 1901 and was part of our church until they became self-supporting in 1991. Even though the Philippines is the fourth poorest country of Asia their church continues growing and supporting their church financially. They have 170,000 members in 70 dioceses. Their ministry is with the poor and they are also able to assist the Anglican Church in Myanmar (Burma).

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