O little town of Baltimore, I cannot tell a lie
Above thy brief and restless sleep, Webb telescope does fly.
And in thy dark streets shineth the sign of Domino.
Look: M & T, and Royal Farms, and winking Natty Boh.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered in this place
Are movers, shakers, teachers, bakers all to see his face.
Banner and Sun together proclaim what we believe:
The babe is born and Ravens win, and both on Christmas eve!

O little town of Baltimore, your charms belie the news:
Harbor, Hopkins, Morgan State and lady sings the blues.
In Hampden street, a miracle, with lights and Hons to spare,
There’s Charmery, and Mayor’s parade, and nude workmen “calendare.”

How noisily, how noisily we yell when our teams show!
So God imparts to human hearts the anthem which says “O.”
Each one can feel his coming, the God explained in flesh,
From Harlem Park to Roland Park is grace made manifest.

O Holy child of Baltimore, reveal yourself each day,
In folks who help and heal and hold, in people who still say,
“We hear the Christmas angels in people reconciled,
Through clerks and cops and squeegee kids and every mother mild.”

For God has pitched his tent in us, proclaims the morning star,
Engage, embrace, inspire all those who come from near and far.
Which leads us now to Bethlehem, to see this holy birth,
Then Baltimore can be the start of peace to all on earth.


“The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.…”

The stories we know and treasure, associated with this time of year, shine with visions.

There are, of course, those sugar plums from Clement Clark Moore’s famous telling of “A Visit from St. Nicholas”

And from our treasure trove of sacred Christian story, there is Joseph’s vision of an angel in a dream, allaying his fears and misgivings about marrying his already-pregnant betrothed maiden Mary.

There’s Mary’s vision of her own angel, announcing the impossible dual realities, that both she and her aged cousin are with child.

And then there are those dear shepherds, trembling with fear, at their collective vision of a heavenly host, bearing good tidings of great joy at the birth of One Who Saves.

If Christmas is a time of visions, what vision glimmers silently in the temple of your own heart? What good news do you dare pour your heart-soul energy into, to make it shine more brightly? What glad tidings are inviting you to cast aside your fear — or perhaps, to step forward amidst and despite your fear — to have the courage to fully believe in, in order that it be birthed, made manifest and incarnate?

Perhaps it is a vision of yourself — or a loved one — healed and well, in body-mind-soul.

Perhaps it is a vision of a broken relationship mended and whole.

Perhaps it is a vision of a school, neighborhood or city thriving with the heartbeat of life.

In yesterday’s Bible study, we danced with a story from the Book of Acts, about a man “lame from birth” who is able to stand and walk on his own, for the first time in his life, after a transformative 1-on-1 encounter with the apostle Paul.

Paul sees in the man something that others, including the man himself, had not seen before — “that he had faith to be healed” (Acts 14:10). Paul proclaimed out loud the Word of the vision he saw — “Stand upright on your feet” — and it indeed was made flesh — “And the man sprang up and began to walk.”

How many of us have our own stories, of people in our lives who saw in us something that we ourselves could not (yet) see; who told us and spoke aloud their vision, encouraging us (the word “encourage” derives from the Latin cor which means heart, so imagine heart-soul energy being poured into your own heart) to “make it flesh”: teachers, coaches, mentors, colleagues, partners, friends.

There’s a story told about Michelangelo who, when asked how he could create the magnificent sculpture of David from a block of marble, replied that he simply chipped away at everything that wasn’t David. In other words, he had a vision of David that he was chipping away at, to liberate and bring forth from that block of stone. And I wonder, who might have encouraged him, to manifest that vision?

Christmas is a time of heavenly visions and bringing them forth into our earthly world.

What is your vision? 

Can you see it?

Can you feel it?

Can you believe in it?

It’s time, Beloved, for you … for Us … to bring it forth … 


Have you ever prayed for patience and then found yourself STUCK in every line imaginable—at the bank, at the grocery store, on the freeway?  Have you ever prayed for more faith and been hit with circumstances or situations impossible to believe or trust in G-D as love?  It happens. Sometimes we wonder if G-D answers our prayers, I used to wonder, too.  But now experience has taught me that G-D is always responding to me, even when I’m too full to listen.

It took me a while to realize that G-D wasn’t going to part the clouds and say anything about what I had asked or wanted to know.  Instead, something would occur, which in hindsight I later recognized as G-D.  It was only later reading the mystics that I came to understand G-D within me and therefore participating in every aspect of my life.

If you will recall last Sunday, I preached about our living in the kingdom of heaven right now and closed with a prayer modeling Mother Mary as she wondered to the angel Gabriel, how she could be pregnant without a husband.  I prayed that we would come to know how Christ is within us; how we participate in Christ and Christ in us.  I really don’t think I was ready for the answer, though!

Beginning that Sunday afternoon, I started to feel as if I was unraveling for no apparent reason.  I was bouncing between feelings of “okay-ness” and then “not-so-okay.”  Agitation and unjustified mood swings.  I went an entire day without eating and drinking very little…which, I later recognized, made me feel worse.  The following day was no better…nor the next.  I felt psychically fractured and totally unwell with physical symptoms to boot. Then, came the “monkey mind.”

Like monkeys swinging from tree to tree, my chattering brain was everywhere all at once.  I tried to sleep and couldn’t. Tried to meditate and couldn’t.  So I headed for one of my favorite Psalms.  At least hearing those words, helped me claim enough internal silence to do some reading.  While reading, I discovered a reflection by Ilia Delio in which she spoke of the Love of G-D as an “energy” that drives all of creation; an energy that is closer than our next breath.  Just those words led me to “JUST BREATHE” as I usually encourage others to do.

That’s when the insight hit me of self-love and self-care as Christ within me and as a pre-requisite to loving anything or anyone external to myself.  Now, I know we all intellectually know this must be true—but when I experienced it in my soul, that’s when I knew it was true.  The thought that came was, “and THAT is only ONE way that Christ is within you, Freda.”  So ordinarily EXTRAORDINARY!

This led me to consider those of us who are used to going and doing for everybody else especially during the holidays. We may want to take note.  There is no better love to offer, than the offer of your own precious self—your own loving, Christ-filled soul at rest and peace.  Everything else you lovingly offer will be icing on the cake.

I am grateful for one answer to my prayer and expect to learn even more as time goes on.  I must say though, I feel like I could have done without that mini-dark night-of-the-soul episode,  Jesus.  Or could I??? Either way I’m grateful for the means of Grace and hope of Glory.

With Light & Love,
Freda Marie+

When I was 6 years old, visiting relatives in the Philippines one summer, I found myself trapped inside a small rental cabin behind my aunt’s home. My playmate at the time thought it would be funny to lock me inside from the outside and then run away when I wasn’t looking. Panicking, I climbed up onto a window sill and started banging my hands on the window pane until I got the attention of a passerby, who ran for help and got the key to the cabin. Freed from my prison, I cried with relief and joy. I also decided never to play with said-playmate again!

Have you ever felt —or are you currently feeling — trapped? Trapped in a death-dealing, toxic relationship? Trapped in a situation in which you feel powerless, without agency, to effect change? Trapped in habits, routines, and ways of thinking and reacting, that — while familiar — are no longer life-giving, and simply play out in the same tired way, over and over again, like a rerun of an old show that you’ve seen one too many times, already? Trapped in and trapped by an unjust, entrenched system?

In yesterday’s Wednesday morning bible study, David led us through a reading and discussion of the 12th chapter in the Book of Acts, when Peter is arrested and imprisoned by Herod, during the Feast of Unleavened Bread or Passover. Peter is then set free by “an angel of the Lord” as “light shone in the cell”, who instructs him to “Get up quickly” as the chains fall off Peter’s wrists (Acts 12:7). Our energized and energizing discussion covered rich territory and questions, including “What is an angel?” and how might “light” — as in the “light of truth” — be liberating?

For a few moments, my own imagination transported me away from our discussion in the Women’s Council Room, to a prison cell on Robben Island off Cape Town, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela spent much of his 27-year prison term. What greater reality did he encounter — what light and truth were revealed to him — inside the depths of his own soul and expanded consciousness, that empowered him to emerge from prison, after all those years, as a truly liberated human being, unshackled by hatred, anger and resentment?

How might you and I engage these ancient and modern stories of liberation and salvation, in our own lives, during this season of Advent? What light, what truth, what God-inspired-experience is breaking into the confines of our limited perception and reality, revealing something more, something greater, something holier and more whole?

Stay awake! Be alert! Pay attention!

Salvation is at hand.


Whenever I visit Baltimore I feel like the country mouse coming to visit my city mouse cousins. Our life in rural Maine is so very different from the busy vital pulse of Baltimore. I wanted to share with you my experience of visiting Redeemer. I am a supply priest for a half dozen Episcopal churches in our area. Each is tiny by comparison and many are on life support. Music is good but nothing like what I heard on Sunday. Your music program is just amazing. It was all the time I was rector, but now that I live so far away from it, the amazement is even deeper. The sermon was outstanding and memorable. I like chocolate too.

What touched my heart most deeply was seeing so many people who have been so important to me. It is wonderful how memories are tinted by the rose colored glasses. Everyone we saw was someone I was so happy to see and they seemed happy to see me.

My home parish is St. Paul’s in Brunswick. That is also Bob Patterson’s* home parish and I see him most Sundays. Sunday before Thanksgiving I chatted with him and told him I would be at Redeemer next Sunday. I told him I only recognize about a quarter of the congregation. He also feels the passage of time and the absence of friends no longer with us.

I feel such pride and thanksgiving when I consider all that Redeemer has and is accomplishing for the sake of the Gospel of Christ. I’m just a little country mouse now. But whenever it is possible, I will visit my city mouse cousins at Redeemer. You all have some of the best cheese I have ever tasted.

God bless.

Paul Tunkle+

Editor’s Note: Paul Tunkle served as Redeemer’s rector from 2001 to 2014. *Bob Patterson was rector from 1965 through 1993.