Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God, whose blessed Son endured the loneliness and darkness of the cross, that we might enjoy eternal fellowship with thee: Grant that amidst life’s shadows we may know that we are never forsaken, but that we are ever walking in the light of thy countenance; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekSpirituality/Prayer

April 18, 2014 at 6:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

St. Bernard was so terror-stricken by Christ’s sufferings that he said: I imagined I was secure and I knew nothing of the eternal judgment passed upon me in heaven, until I saw the eternal Son of God took mercy upon me, stepped forward and offered himself on my behalf in the same judgment. Ah, it does not become me still to play and remain secure when such earnestness is behind those sufferings. Hence he commanded the women: “Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.” Lk 23, 28; and gives in the 31st verse the reason: “For if they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” As if to say: Learn from my martyrdom what you have merited and how you should be rewarded. For here it is true that a little dog was slain in order to terrorize a big one. Likewise the prophet also said: “All generations shall lament and bewail themselves more than him”; it is not said they shall lament him, but themselves rather than him. Likewise were also the apostles terror-stricken in Acts 2, 37, as mentioned before, so that they said to the apostles: “0, brethren, what shall we do?” So the church also sings: I will diligently meditate thereon, and thus my soul in me will exhaust itself.

–Martin Luther (1483-1536)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyChristology

April 18, 2014 at 3:42 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The story of the salvation of the dying thief is a standing instance of the power of Christ to save, and of his abundant willingness to receive all that come to him, in whatever plight they may be. I cannot regard this act of grace as a solitary instance, any more than the salvation of Zacchaeus, the restoration of Peter, or the call of Saul, the persecutor. Every conversion is, in a sense, singular: no two are exactly alike, and yet any one conversion is a type of others. The case of the dying thief is much more similar to our conversion than it is dissimilar; in point of fact, his case may be regarded as typical, rather than as an extraordinary incident. So I shall use it at this time. May the Holy Spirit speak through it to the encouragement of those who are ready to despair!

Remember, beloved friends, that our Lord Jesus, at the time he saved this malefactor, was at his lowest. His glory had been ebbing out in Gethsemane, and before Caiaphas, and Herod, and Pilate; but it had now reached the utmost low-water mark.

Read more...

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristologySoteriology

April 18, 2014 at 3:30 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(This story appears in the sermon by yours truly posted below--KSH).
On Courage

"So you think I'm courageous?" she asked.
"Yes, I do."
"Perhaps I am. But that's because I've had some inspiring teachers. I'll tell you about one of them....

Read more...

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & Medicine* TheologyChristology

April 18, 2014 at 3:16 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

April 18, 2014 at 3:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Shusaku] Endo locates the point of contact between Japanese life and the Gospel in what he observes, and has experienced personally, to be the essence of Japanese religious awareness. This he sees as the sense of failure in life and the subsequent shame and guilt that leave a lasting impact upon a person's life. Such theological notions as love, grace, trust, and truth are intelligible only in the experience of their opposites. Endo sees them incarnate in the person of Jesus through his own experience of failure, rejection, and, most of all, ineffectualness. Only rarely has modern Christianity presented the story of Jesus as the one to whom those who had failed, were rejected, lonely, and alienated could turn and find understanding and compassion. Endo argues that it is our universal human experience of failure in life that provides us with an understanding of Christian faith in its depth.

--Fumitaka Matsuoka, The Christology of Shusaku Endo, Theology Today (October 1982) [emphasis mine]

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April 18, 2014 at 3:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Listen to it all should you wish to and also note that there is an option to download it there (using the button which says "download" underneath the link which says "listen").

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

April 18, 2014 at 2:15 pm - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Think of Jesus. His words are few. He is exhausted and in pain. Two words however remain: a word of mercy to the criminal who repents; a word of fidelity, handing himself to his Father, his mission completed.

Lord we live in a world filled with words. Perhaps never in history have there been so many words: spoken, printed, electronically stored or moving invisibly. Help us to realise that few words are necessary. Empty words foster empty hearts. There are realities which do not need words. Give us Lord the words to ask for forgiveness, the words which touch those things in our hearts we would not want anyone to hear, but things that keep us entrapped in sinfulness and isolation. Give us words to forgive, to be generous and loving.Open our heart in mercy to those who long for freedom. Keep us faithful like Jesus to what we are called to, to what is most noble and good in our lives.

In a world where everything has a shelf-life and what we dislike can be quickly discarded, help us to learn that singular characteristic of God: being faithful. The events of Good Friday realise something that has been spoken of throughout the history of God’s encounter with his people. God remains faithful to his people, even when his people generation after generation fail him and fail him and betray him and betray him[.]

Read more...

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyChristology

April 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

April 18, 2014 at 1:46 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In recent years Luther's teaching on the atonement has been a subject of strong dispute. Some (mostly the Swedish interpreters) have stressed the ideas of "conflict" and "victory" in Luther's discussions of atonement, arguing for a discontinuity between the Reformer's own thinking and the "substitutionary" theory of later Protestant orthodoxy. Others have insisted that at this point Luther's teaching differs in no essentials from that of his successors. One is well advised to tread carefully on entering the field of controversy; nevertheless, I make bold to submit that the interpretation of atonement in both Luther and Calvin can be understood as turning on the central and pivotal conception of a "happy exchange," in which the believer's sins are laid upon Christ and Christ's own innocence is communicated to the believer. From this center, we may say, the Reformers' thinking moves outwards to the various other soteriological concepts, including the two about which modern opinion is chiefly divided, namely, "victory" and "substitution." First and foremost, the Christian is one who has been united with Christ so intimately that an exchange of qualities has somehow taken place.

Read more...

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyChristologySoteriology

April 18, 2014 at 1:28 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopp'd my wild career:
I saw One hanging on a Tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fix'd His languid eyes on me.
As near His Cross I stood.

Sure never till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look:
It seem'd to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke:
My conscience felt and own'd the guilt,
And plunged me in despair:
I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,
And help'd to nail Him there.

Read more...

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyChristology

April 18, 2014 at 1:02 pm - 2 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Philosophers have measured mountains,
Fathomed the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walked with a staff to heaven, and traced fountains:
But there are two vast, spacious things
The which to measure it doth more behoove:
Yet few there are that sound them: Sin and Love.

Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man so wrung with pains that all his hair,
His skin, his garments bloody be.
Sin is that press and vice, that forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through every vein.

Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.

--George Herbert (1593-1633)

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April 18, 2014 at 12:15 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord Christ, who didst enter into thy triumph by the hard and lonely way of the cross: May thy courage and steadfast loyalty, thy unswerving devotion to the Father’s will, inspire and strengthen us to tread firmly and with joy the road which love bids us to take, even if it leads through suffering, misunderstanding, and darkness. We ask it for thy sake, who for the joy that was set before thee endured the cross, despising the shame, O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekSpirituality/Prayer

April 18, 2014 at 11:01 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

April 18, 2014 at 10:01 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O all ye, who pass by, whose eyes and mind
To worldly things are sharp, but to me blind;
To me, who took eyes that I might you find:
Was ever grief like mine?

The Princes of my people make a head
Against their Maker: they do wish me dead,
Who cannot wish, except I give them bread:
Was ever grief like mine?

Without me each one, who doth now me brave,
Had to this day been an Egyptian slave.
They use that power against me, which I gave:
Was ever grief like mine?

Take the time for careful prayer, rumination and meditation over it all.

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April 18, 2014 at 9:00 am - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Christ, who by the thorns pressed upon thy head hast drawn the thorns from the sorrows of this world, and given us a crown of joy and peace: Make us so bold as never to fear suffering, nor to suffer without cheerfulness in thy service; to the glory of thy holy name.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekSpirituality/Prayer

April 18, 2014 at 8:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

April 18, 2014 at 7:00 am - 5 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It so happened that in this man Jesus God himself came into the world, which he had created and against all odds still loved. He took human nature upon himself and became man, like the rest of us, in order to put an end to the world's fight against him and also against itself, and to replace man's disorder by God's design. In Jesus God hallowed his name, made his kingdom come, his will done on earth as it is in heaven, as we say in the Lord's Prayer. In him he made manifest his glory and, amazingly enough, he made it manifest for our salvation. To accomplish this, he not only bandaged, but healed the wounds of the world he helped mankind not only in part and temporarily but radically and for good in the person of his beloved Son; he delivered us from evil and took us to his heart as his children Thereby we are all permitted to live, and to live eternally.

Read more...

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyChristology

April 18, 2014 at 6:30 am - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in the Holy Land are commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Good Friday prayers and processions through Jerusalem's Old City.

Thousands of Christian pilgrims filled the cobblestone alleyways of the Old City on Friday along the Via Dolorosa, Latin for the "Way of Suffering."

Read it all and enjoy the picture.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

April 18, 2014 at 6:26 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Through Mary he received his humanity, and in receiving his humanity received humanity itself. Which is to say, through Mary he received us. In response to the angel’s strange announcement, Mary said yes. But only God knew that it would end up here at Golgotha, that it had to end up here. For here, in darkness and in death, were to be found the prodigal children who had said no, the prodigal children whom Jesus came to take home to the Father.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyChristology

April 18, 2014 at 6:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O My chief good,
How shall I measure out thy bloud?
How shall I count what thee befell,
And each grief tell?

Shall I thy woes
Number according to thy foes?
Or, since one starre show’d thy first breath,
Shall all thy death?

Or shall each leaf,
Which falls in Autumn, score a grief?
Or can not leaves, but fruit, be signe
Of the true vine?

Read more...

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature* TheologyChristology

April 18, 2014 at 5:45 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let man’s soul be a sphere, and then, in this,
Th’ intelligence that moves, devotion is ;
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey ;
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirl’d by it.
Hence is’t, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul’s form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.

Read more...

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyChristology

April 18, 2014 at 5:30 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The ancient and saintly fathers and theologians have contrasted the living wood with dead and have allegorized that contrast this way: From the living wood came sin and death; from the dead wood, righteousness and life. They conclude: do not eat from that living tree, or you will die, but eat of the dead tree; otherwise you will remain in death.

You do indeed desire to eat and enjoy [the fruit] of some tree. I will direct you to a tree so full you can never eat it bare. But just as it was difficult to stay away from that living tree, so it is difficult to enjoy eating from the dead tree. The first was the image of life, delight, and goodness, while the other is the image of death, suffering and sorrow because one tree is living, the other dead. There is in man's heart the deeply rooted desire to seek life where there is certain death and to flee from death where one has the sure source of life.

--Martin Luther, "That a Christian Should Bear his Cross With Patience," 1530

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyChristology

April 18, 2014 at 5:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord Jesus Christ, who for the redemption of mankind didst ascend the cross, that thou mightest enlighten the world that lay in darkness: gather us this day with all they faithful to that same holy cross; that, gazing in penitence upon thy great sacrifice for us, we may be loosed from all our sins, and entering into the mystery of thy passion, be crucified to the vain pomp and power of this passing world; and finding our glory in the cross alone, we may attain at last thy everlasting glory, where thou, the lamb that once was slain, reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekSpirituality/Prayer

April 18, 2014 at 4:20 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times.

--John 13:36-38

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyTheology: Scripture

April 18, 2014 at 4:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Blessed Lord Jesus, who, when about to depart out of this world, having loved thine own, and loving them to the end, didst institute the holy sacrament of thy Body and Blood, the dying legacy of thy love: Vouchsafe, we earnestly pray thee, that we may never draw near thine altar, save with hearts enkindled by love for thee and for one another; for thy dear name’s sake.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekSpirituality/Prayer

April 17, 2014 at 8:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Because the newly public message which is the good news of Easter is at one and the same time so obvious – the message of new creation, which answers the deepest longings of the whole cosmos – and so utterly unexpected that if we are to announce God in public in these terms, as Paul did so spectacularly at Athens, we need the preceding private stillness to rinse our minds out of preconceived notions and make ready for God’s startling new world. Note, by the way, that it is the public truth of Easter – the dangerous, strikingly political truth that the living God is remaking the world and claiming full sovereignty over it – that has been for two hundred years the real objection, in western thinking, to the notion that Jesus rose bodily from the tomb. Western thought has wanted to keep Christianity as private truth only, to turn the Lion of Judah into a tame #####-cat, an elegant and inoffensive, if occasionally mysterious, addition to the family circle.

And part of the point of where we are today, culturally, socially, politically and religiously, is that we don’t have that option any more. We face a dangerous and deeply challenging future in the next few years, as the demons we’ve unleashed in the Middle East are not going to go back into their bag, as the ecological nightmares we’ve created take their toll, as the people who make money by looking after our money have now lost their own money and perhaps ours as well, as our cultural and artistic worlds flail around trying to catch the beauty and sorrow of the world and often turning them into ugliness and trivia. And we whose lives and thinking and praying and preaching are rooted in and shaped by these great four days – we who stand up dangerously before God and one another and say we are ready to hear and obey his call once more – we have to learn what it means to announce the public truth of Easter, consequent upon the public truth of Good Friday and itself shaped by it (as the mark of the nails bear witness), as the good news of God for all the world, not just for those who meet behind locked doors. Every eye shall see him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn as they realise the public truth of his Easter victory. But we can only learn that in the quiet privacy around the Lord’s Table, and the humble stillness where we lay aside our own agendas, our own temperamental preferences, in the darkness of Holy Saturday. When we say Yes to the questions we shall be asked in a few minutes’ time, we are saying Yes to this rhythm, this shaping, of our private devotion to our Lord, our private waiting on him in the silence, in order to say Yes as well to this rhythm, this shaping, of our public ministry, our living out of the gospel before the principalities and powers, our working with the grain of the world where we can and against the grain of the world where we must.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristology

April 17, 2014 at 6:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

St. Peter once: ‘Lord, dost thou wash my feet?’—
Much more I say: Lord, dost thou stand and knock
At my closed heart more rugged than a rock,
Bolted and barred, for thy soft touch unmeet,
Nor garnished nor in any wise made sweet?
Owls roost within and dancing satyrs mock.
Lord, I have heard the crowing of the cock
And have not wept: ah, Lord, though knowest it,
Yet still I hear thee knocking, still I hear:
‘Open to me, look on me eye to eye,
That I may wring thy heart and make it whole;
And teach thee love because I hold thee dear
And sup with thee in gladness soul with soul,
And sup with thee in glory by and by.’

--Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature

April 17, 2014 at 5:25 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
In the story of the footwashing, then, we have the most profound revelation of the heart of God apart from the crucifixion itself. We also learn more of the relation between Jesus and his disciples, the relation of the disciples with one another in humble service and the mission of the disciples to the world. These themes are similar to those of the Eucharist developed earlier (see comments on 6:52-59). The community that Jesus has been forming here takes more definite shape, revealing more clearly "the law of its being" (Bultmann 1971:479), which is humble, self-sacrificing love.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week

April 17, 2014 at 5:05 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Lord Jesus Christ, who in the garden didst teach us, by word and example, to pray, that we might overcome the perils of temptation: Graciously grant that we, always continuing in prayer, may gain abundantly the fruit thereof, and be partakers of thy victory; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekSpirituality/Prayer

April 17, 2014 at 4:46 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As is our custom, we aim to let go of the cares and concerns of this world until Monday and to focus on the great, awesome, solemn and holy events of the next three days. I would ask people to concentrate their comments on the personal, devotional, and theological aspects of these days which will be our focal point here. Many thanks--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet

April 17, 2014 at 4:28 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At a time when some argue that faith and religious life should be kept behind closed doors, it is reassuring that the BBC and other broadcasters still invest in imaginative, high-quality religious programming, especially during Christian festivals such as Easter and Christmas.

But I believe passionately that religious broadcasting is not just for Easter or Christmas: its presence is vital the whole year round. I could not agree more with Ian Hislop, who wrote in last month’s Radio Times “that programmes that concern themselves with faith are still trying to engage with the world, rather than just trying to escape from it into the next”.

The dramatic events of Holy Week remind us that God is intensely engaged with the world he created – not just the ‘religious’ bits of life. St Paul told early Christians that, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God chose to “reconcile to himself all things”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

April 17, 2014 at 3:45 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This week, as Jews celebrate the Passover holiday, they are commemorating the Bible's Exodus story describing a series of plagues inflicted on ancient Egypt that freed the Israelites, allowing them to make their way to the Holy Land. But over the past century, another exodus, driven by a plague of persecution, has swept across the Middle East and is emptying the region of its Christian population. The persecution is especially virulent today.

The Middle East may be the birthplace of three monotheistic religions, but some Arab nations appear bent on making it the burial ground for one of them. For 2,000 years, Christian communities dotted the region, enriching the Arab world with literature, culture and commerce. At the turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 26% of the Middle East's population. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 10%. Intolerant and extremist governments are driving away the Christian communities that have lived in the Middle East since their faith was born.

In the rubble of Syrian cities like Aleppo and Damascus, Christians who refused to convert to Islam have been kidnapped, shot and beheaded by Islamist opposition fighters. In Egypt, mobs of Muslim Brotherhood members burn Coptic Christian churches in the same way they once obliterated Jewish synagogues. And in Iraq, terrorists deliberately target Christian worshippers. This past Christmas, 26 people were killed when a bomb ripped through a crowd of worshipers leaving a church in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

April 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You spend anytime around the 44-year-old [Clemson Coach] and you are going to hear about Jesus, Scripture, and the power of it all. It isn't necessarily, or at least not always, done to proselytize. It's part of how he talks, how he lives. Faith, Family, Football – that's about it with him.

There is no delineation.

For the people at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit out of Madison, Wis., there needs to be or he shouldn't have his job.

In what is, if nothing else, an absolutely fascinating subject, the FFRF sent a letter of complaint to Clemson this week about "several serious constitutional concerns" over how "Christian worship seems interwoven into the Clemson football program."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSportsYoung Adults* South Carolina

April 17, 2014 at 11:30 am - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Few who have heard or read [Barbara Brown] Taylor are surprised that she is nudging people down a path toward endarkenment. For years, her sermons have been required reading at seminaries nationwide, and she often lectures at Princeton, Duke and the National Cathedral in Washington. She is the most requested Sunday speaker at New York’s Chautauqua Institution and draws both atheists and divinity students to her book signings. And 13 books on, she has chronicled her own fascinating and complex faith journey for hundreds of thousands of readers. Taylor, says Randall Balmer, chair of Dartmouth’s department of religion, “belongs in the pantheon of spiritual writers that includes such luminaries as the late Will Campbell, Anne Lamott and Frederick Buechner. She doesn’t shy away from big issues, and her honesty is disarming.”

Certainly, Taylor’s new memoir, Learning to Walk in the Dark–on spirituality and self-help shelves in time for Good Friday–challenges the broad theological belief that darkness is evil, scary and just plain bad. But she is also taking on the sometimes far-too-sunny fashion in which churches tell their most important stories. It is easy to forget, amid “the Easter lilies, the sound of trumpets and bright streaming light,” she notes, that the Resurrection happened in a dark cave. “God and darkness have been friends for a long time,” Taylor says. “It’s just one nighttime story after another–amazing.”

Read it all and take a look at the Time Cover picture also.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* TheologyTheodicy

April 17, 2014 at 8:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can tell a lot about someone from their friends. Jesus gathered an amazing mix of people around him, many of whom would never normally be seen anywhere near one another. There were fishermen, a tax collector, a political radical and even the person who was going to betray Jesus, namely Judas Iscariot. And yet, rather than keeping Judas at arm’s length, Jesus welcomes him and calls him ‘friend’.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week

April 17, 2014 at 6:29 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some people feel that in this ever more secular age we shouldn't talk about these things. I completely disagree. I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people's lives.

First, being more confident about our status as a Christian country does not somehow involve doing down other faiths or passing judgement on those with no faith at all. Many people tell me it is easier to be Jewish or Muslim in Britain than in a secular country precisely because the tolerance that Christianity demands of our society provides greater space for other religious faiths, too.

Crucially, the Christian values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, and love are shared by people of every faith and none - and we should be confident in standing up to defend them.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

April 17, 2014 at 6:14 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This Lent we, and thousands of others, made the rise of hunger in the UK the focus of our fasting. It has been a time of sorrowful and deep reflection on a rise we see every day in the numbers visiting food banks in towns and cities across the country.

The Trussell Trust figures, released today, only further illustrate this terrible rise, from 350,000 last year to over 900,000 this year. This figure, shocking as it is, is far from the total number of people going hungry in our country today – from those too ashamed to visit their local food bank to those many families not in crisis but ever more worried about keeping the cupboards full. One in four is cutting portion sizes and half are cutting their household food budgets.

Lent has finally seen the beginning of a real national discussion on what this hunger means, what causes it and how we as a society can begin rising to the challenge of this national crisis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekLent* Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionGlobalizationHunger/MalnutritionPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

April 17, 2014 at 6:01 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord

The focus of my sermon this evening is what it means to say those words and what it is to set those words at the heart of ministry.

Some of us have the immense privilege as priests of summoning a whole community to lift up their hearts in the Eucharist. But others are called no less to invite God’s people to lift up their hearts in different ways: in the ministry of the word and in the prayers, in pastoral care, in evangelism, as we lead worship or work with children or young people. This call and invitation goes right to the heart of our understanding of every kind of ministry. So what does it mean?

The words have a long and wide pedigree. They go back to the earliest descriptions of the Eucharist in the third century. They are present in the rites of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches and all the churches of the Reformation as well as our own Church of England. What does it mean to say “Lift up your hearts”?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Theology

April 17, 2014 at 5:48 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The Lord anointed us in Christ with the oil of gladness, and this anointing invites us to accept and appreciate this great gift: the gladness, the joy of being a priest.”

At the Chrism Mass in Saint Peter’s, Pope Francis spoke about “priestly joy,” a joy, he said, “which anoints us,” an “imperishable joy,” a “missionary joy.”

The joy which anoints us, the Pope said, “has penetrated deep within our hearts, it has shaped them, and strengthened them sacramentally.” It is a joy that can never be taken away; although it “can lie dormant, or be clogged by sin or by life’s troubles … deep down it remains intact, like the embers of a burnt log beneath the ashes, and it can always be renewed.”

Read it all and you may find the full text of Pope Francis’ homily for Chrism Mass there.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

April 17, 2014 at 5:26 am - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

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