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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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+ Sunday Services, Talks and Resources for May 24th
+ The Nature of Christian Service – Bishop Rennis Ponniah
From May 17th
+ Sunday Services, Talks and Resources for May 17th
+ A Bishop Mark Lawrence Sermon on the Ascension of Jesus
+ Sermons from St Helena's Beaufort
From May 10th
+ Sunday Services, Talks and Resources for May 10th
+ Defending the Reconciling Gospel – Bishop Michael Baughen [2 Corinthians 2:1 – 6:18]
+ Do you have to lose your mind to become a Christian? – William Taylor [Acts 26:24-32]
+ The Anglican Book of Common Prayer: What Relevance Does It Have to Today’s Contemporary Worship? John Yates II and John Yates III
From May 3rd
+ Sunday Services, Talks and Resources for May 3rd
+ The Uniqueness of Christ - Andrew Wingfield Digby [Acts 4:5-12 & John 10:11-18]
+ The Place of Unity - Dr Peter Walker
+ Choral Evensong from Exeter Cathedral
+ 3rd Sunday in Easter Confirmation Sermon at Christ St Paul's - Bishop Mark Lawrence
+ My Lord and My God [John 20] - Archbishop Glenn Davies at St Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore on April 13th
The previous post, Sunday on T19 is here
The Most Rev. Hector “Tito” Zavala, Bishop of Chile and Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Province of South America, made his comments in clear English during a meeting at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul, Charleston, May 20. He said that, despite the Diocese’s separation from the Episcopal Church in 2012, the Diocese continues to be recognized as Anglicans by the majority of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
“I'm here with you with the consent of the Archbishop of Canterbury," said Bishop Zavala. He told those gathered that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was with the Global South Primates "Steering Committee" in a meeting in Cairo, Egypt in 2014 when "we decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to some dioceses in order to keep them within the Communion" said Bishop Zavala.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Identity Global South Churches & Primates * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained * International News & Commentary South America Chile * South Carolina * Theology
Among the many friends I have had who have now entered the larger life, several were poets. They were more than fashioners of words – they were first the hearers of words. Francis Hall Ford was a parishioner in St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Mission in Chattanooga, which I had a small share in founding. She and her family had years before entered Orthodoxy through the Greek Church. In later years she split her time between little St. Tikhon’s in Chattanooga and St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas where her daughter, Katie, now lives. Katie has been kind enough to share some of her mother’s poetry. With her permission I share it here. As for Frances (whom I knew better by her Orthodox name, Kassiane) may her memory be eternal!
May we ourselves hear what the poets hear, and with such sounds echo the treasure of God in our world. A good feast to you.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Pentecost * Culture-Watch Poetry & Literature Religion & Culture * Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Living God,
you breathe in us
on all that is inadequate and fragile.
You make living water spring even
from our hurts themselves. And
through you, the valley of tears
becomes a place of wellsprings.
So, in an inner life
with neither beginning nor end,
your continual presence
makes new freshenss break through
--Brother Roger of Taizé (1915-2005) as cited in Prayers Encircling the World: An International Anthology (London: SPCK, 1998), page 71
[At Pentecost Peter] intendeth to prove...that the Church can be repaired by no other means, saving only by the giving of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, forasmuch as they did all hope that the restoring drew near, he accuseth them of sluggishness, because they do not once think upon the way and means thereof. And when the prophet saith, “I will pour out,” it is, without all question, that he meant by this word to note the great abundance of the Spirit....when God will briefly promise salvation to his people, he affirmeth that he will give them his Spirit. Hereupon it followeth that we can obtain no good things until we have the Spirit given us.
--Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles
Our attitude to our fallen nature should be one of ruthless repudiation. For ‘those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires’ (Gal. 5:24). That is, we have taken this evil, slimy, slippery thing called ‘the flesh’ and nailed it to the cross. This was our initial repentance. Crucifixion is dramatic imagery for our uncompromising rejection of all known evil. Crucifixion does not lead to a quick or easy death; it is an execution of lingering pain. Yet it is decisive; there is no possibility of escaping from it.
Our attitude to the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is to be one of unconditional surrender. Paul uses several expressions for this. We are to ‘live by the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:16, 18. 25). That is, we are to allow him his rightful sovereignty over us, and follow his righteous promptings.
Thus both our repudiation of the flesh and our surrender to the Spirit need to be repeated daily, however decisive our original repudiation and surrender may have been. In Jesus’ words, we are to ‘take up (our) cross daily’ and follow him (Lk 9:23). We are also to go on being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), as we open our personality to him daily. Both our repudiation and our surrender are also to be worked out in disciplined habits of life. It is those who ‘sow to the Spirit’ (Gal. 6:8) who reap the fruit of the Spirit. And to ‘sow to the Spirit’ means to cultivate the things of the Spirit, for example, by our wise use of the Lord’s Day, the discipline of our daily prayer and Bible reading, our regular worship and attendance at the Lord’s Supper, our Christian friendships and our involvement in Christian service. An inflexible principle of all God’s dealings, both in the material and in the moral realm, is that we reap what we sow. The rule is invariable. It cannot be changed, for ‘God cannot be mocked’ (Gal. 6:7). We must not therefore be surprised if we do not reap the fruit of the Spirit when all the time we are sowing to the flesh. Did we think we could cheat or fool God?
--Authentic Christianity (Nottingham, IVP, 1995)
O Holy Spirit of God, who didst descend upon our Lord Christ at the river Jordan, and upon the disciples at the feast of Pentecost: Have mercy upon us, we beseech thee, and by thy divine fire enlighten our minds and purify our hearts; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
--Saint Nerses of Clajes (4th century Persian Bishop and Martyr)
...in an odd way, I suspect that is the way it is supposed to work - namely, that the Spirit is quite good at catching us unaware. The Spirit is, as Pentecostals remind us, no tame Spirit. Rather, the Spirit is full of unanticipated surprises....
Stephen Pickard ends his book with reflections on the current state of the church in what were once presumed to be Christian cultures. It is no secret that the church has rapidly lost its standing in those cultures, leading, at least according to Pickard, to two equally disastrous strategies. One alternative Pickard characterizes as the "fast-asleep church," which he associates with churches that continue to rely on the general presumption that religion is a "good thing" so nothing about the church needs to change. The other strategy he characterizes as the "frenetic church," which he describes as the attempt to force new life into a dying church by meeting consumer demand. He doubts either response to the loss of the church's status will be successful. Each in their own way fail to rely on the Holy Spirit.
Pickard proposes an alternative understanding he calls "the slow church." We are a culture of speed, but Pickard draws on the example of monasticism to argue that the work of the Spirit is work for the long haul. It is the work of Holy Saturday in which patience and perseverance are made possible and required. Pickard refuses any suggestion that a slow church is a church that no longer has passion for justice and change, but the change sought is not that of solutions that do not last. Rather, it is the kind of church that makes possible companionship in a world based on isolation. The Spirit rests on our bodies making us capable of friendship.
I call attention to Pickard's account of what it would mean for the church to be a slow church, because I am confident that is pointing the church to where the Spirit is leading us.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
[Today]...is Wesley Day when Methodists across the globe mark the anniversary of the day in 1738 when their founder John Wesley underwent a deep spiritual experience.
In London, Wesley’s Chapel on City Road — the “Mother Church of World Methodism” — will be holding a day of commemorations, including prayers round his tomb, while in chapels and churches across the country a host of special services will be taking place.
An Anglican clergyman, John Wesley had lived a devout life — visiting prisoners, studying the Bible, praying, living simply and even travelling to America to be a missionary — but on May 24 something happened that changed him. That evening he went (“unwillingly” as he admitted in his journal) to a meeting of Christians on Aldersgate Street, near St Paul’s Cathedral, where someone read aloud Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans, describing the change God works in the heart through faith in Christ.
Wesley recorded in his journal how, as he listened, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
Read it all (subscription required).
O Almighty God, who hast fulfilled thy word of promise, and from thy heavenly throne hast poured out upon thy Church the gift of the Holy Spirit: Open our hearts, we pray thee, to receive the fullness of his grace and power; that our lives may be strengthened for the service of thy kingdom, and our souls be conformed more and more to the image of thy Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Anglican war chaplains saw terrible things on the Western Front in the First World War and many were hailed as heroes for ministering to dying men amid the shell fire and machinegun bullets in no man’s land. They returned to their pulpits with a righteous anger to change their church and British society.
Linda Parker’s wide-ranging book, Shellshocked Prophets: Former Anglican Army Chaplains in Interwar Britain, tells the story of this brave band of Anglican clergyman — who were awarded around 250 Military Crosses between them — and then helped to transform the church. “Given the changes that occurred in the Church of England institutionally, liturgically and in its attitudes to a rapidly changing society, it is important that the role of former chaplains should be examined and their significance analysed,” says Dr Parker, herself the daughter of a former Territorial Army chaplain.
A harbinger of social change in the church was the Industrial Christian Fellowship founded by the Rev Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, MC,in 1919 to encourage Christians to relate their faith to their working lives. As chief “missioner”, Studdert Kennedy travelled the country evangelising in factories, mines and canteens, and gathered about him a team of other ex-war chaplains.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books History Poetry & Literature Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In his visit to the Republic of Ireland earlier this week, Prince Charles changed the climate in which reconciliation can take place, and massively changed it for the better.
In word as well as action, tone as well as content, public as well as in private, he moved the heart of reconciliation away from the political arena.
He took it to a place where the facing of pain, resentment, anguish and agonies (to use his own words) are put at the very centre of leaving our grandchildren “a legacy of lasting peace, forgiveness and friendship” (again, his own words).
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
With Victorian-style public lectures now a rarity, listening to anyone speak to a crowd, for most of us above school age, occurs only when the best man tells stories of the groom’s indiscretions. “Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking” is as much a case of “unaccustomed as I am to public listening”.
Pity the preacher then, who, as well as the regular Sunday gig, is drafted in for school assemblies, the Women’s Institute and the odd Rotary dinner.
The vicar is charged with delivering something memorable, neither too long nor too short, and not just once in a while, but week in week out. For me, the Sunday sermon looms large enough to make many a Saturday night sleepless. As I step nervously up the pulpit steps I worry that my waffling will leave them uninspired or, worse still, asleep. But while preaching is culturally alien to many, and being “preached at” unappealing to most, it is similar to something we are more used to seeing: standup comedy.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Theatre/Drama/Plays * General Interest Humor / Trivia * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Something is happening in El Salvador on the 23rd of May. Not just the usual rampant violence in this nation which has one of the world’s highest murder rates. But a celebration for this majority Christian nation: the beatification ceremony of one of its sons, Archbishop Oscar Romero.
The ceremony was arranged following a decree approved by Pope Francis on the 3rd of February in which he declared the Salvadoran Archbishop a martyr.
Like many of his fellow countrymen Romero was a victim of violence and was shot at while celebrating mass on the 24th of March 1980.
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Read it all.
Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being, who hast made us for thyself, so that our hearts are restless till they rest in thee: Grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose, that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing thy will, no weakness from doing it; but that in thy light we may see light clearly, and in thy service find our perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Bishop Tito Zavala, Presiding Bishop of South America, was with us at Diocesan Council today, May 19, 2015.
"We are here to know you, to be with you, to say with our presence that we, in the Global South, are with you and want to do the best we can for you so you can continue being part of the Anglican Communion," said Bishop Zavala.
As one of 40 primates of the 80 million member worldwide Anglican Communion, Bishop Zavala will be in South Carolina specifically to encourage and support fellow Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, and the clergy and lay people of the Diocese of South Carolina.
“We’re grateful for the strong support we’ve received from Anglicans around the world and are especially thankful for this time we’ll have with Bishop Zavala,” said the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, XIV Bishop of South Carolina. “The Global South Primates have assured us of their prayers and their stand with us.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Global South Churches & Primates * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained * International News & Commentary South America Chile * South Carolina
The public view of religion among young people, according to a YouGov poll - well, alright it’s a poll, but … [laughter] the reputation of religion among young people is actually more negative than neutral: 41% – this was a poll in 2013, when they still got them right – 41% of 18-24 year olds agreed that “religion is more often the cause of evil in the world” and only 14% say it is a cause for good.
The Faith Action Audit reveals something different. It shows the breadth of commitment across the country, the depth of commitment, and above all the strength of experience and good practice. Thanks to Cinnamon [Network] and other bodies like it, this is not mere do-goodery. It is seeking to find best practice and put it into action in the most professional way that can be imagined.
We’ve heard some of the figures, but just a reminder: the faith sector collectively is delivering, according to the audit – I’ll round it – 220,000 social action projects, from which 47 million people benefit.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Poverty Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
[THE] REV. WAYNE MEISEL: We have a generation of young people in their 20s and 30s that define themselves by their commitment to service and justice work. The challenge is that many of them, I think most of them, do not believe the church cares about them or the causes they care about. There’s this bubbling fervor and energy and possibility that we just have to figure out how to both tap and how to support, and then for guys like me to get out of the way.
ABERNETHY: Craig Barnes is the president of Princeton Theological Seminary.
CRAIG BARNES (President, Princeton Theological Seminary): Wayne is a fascinating and charismatic kind of leader. He works best kind of on the margins of schools, churches, and organizations, and he’s a visionary. But he doesn’t work through the system. He works with the students themselves, and he excites students, and they become all caught up in his vision of changing the world and thinking that their life can make a real difference. And this is not just happening in Princeton. This is happening in seminaries all over the country. So it’s a phenomenon.
The students are asking different questions in class. Our professors are developing their syllabi differently to account for this passion they have to not just study ethics but to do ethics along the way. These students actually are devoted to loving thy neighbor. And they won’t tolerate any more sitting in class taking notes on wonderful lectures about social responsibility and then folding up their laptops and just going home.
Read or watch it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Poverty Religion & Culture Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
O God our Father, let us find grace in thy sight so as to have grace to serve thee acceptably with reverence and godly fear; and further grace not to receive thy grace in vain, nor to neglect it and fall from it, but to stir it up and grow in it, and to persevere in it unto the end of our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What does directly touch church life are Pew’s numbers on generational change. Attachment to religion is declining across all age groups, but the rise of the nones is most pronounced among younger cohorts: the younger the age bracket, the less likely people are to belong to any Christian (or other religious) body. And of all Christian groups, mainline Protestants do the worst job at reaching and retaining younger generations.
One practical lesson of the Pew report, then, is on the crucial need for mainliners to focus on passing the faith on to the next generation. Mainliners may need to borrow some of the ethos of evangelical Protestants (who seem to do a better job at this) in equipping families to be primary incubators of faith and in forming identities that are distinct and (in some selective ways) more oppositional toward the culture than they have been.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Youth Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Lutheran Methodist Presbyterian
Exeter Cathedral is fighting for its future after it failed to secure multi-million pound funding to uncover the city’s Roman baths.
The £8.7m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid would have seen the first century bath house, buried under the Cathedral Green, excavated and opened to the public.
But the ambitious plans to create a worldwide tourist attraction were dealt a major blow when the funding body decided not to support the project.
Read it all from the Exeter Express and Echo.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
3. What are you most looking forward to?
It’s a while off yet, but I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the opportunities for preaching and evangelism. I’m looking forward to meeting the Cathedral church family, getting to know them, the challenges they face and the opportunities they have in living for Jesus. I’m looking forward to meeting those already engaged in gospel work in the city and seeing how we can support one another in advancing the interests of the Lord in ‘that great city’.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ
The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, the Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), on Wednesday called on Nigerians and the incoming administration led Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to focus on peace and the unity of the country. Okoh told newsmen in Abuja no development could be achieved in any society without peace and unity. He said the current problem of insurgency, regional and ethnic suspicion in the country was a threat to peace and unity. “Peace is a major capital needed to develop the country and there must be a deliberate policy by the incoming administration to reassure Nigerians of peace and unity....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Last year, a death penalty sentence slapped on a Sudanese doctor for refusing to renounce her Christian faith stirred international outrage and heightened calls on the government to increase religious liberty.
Meriam Yahya Ibrahim was released a month later, but now two Christian pastors have been jailed and they also face a possible death sentence.
The Rev. Michael Yat and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith, both from the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, have been charged with undermining the constitutional system and spying, offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment.
The clerics are charged with waging a war against the state and assault on religious belief.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Sudan --South Sudan * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Two “priceless” medieval painted panels, the stone effigy of a knight in chainmail and a plaque marking the spot where a 12th-century Bishop of Hereford’s heart was buried are among dozens of historic artefacts recovered by police investigating thefts from isolated country churches.
The brightly painted 15th-century panels were hacked from a rood screen at Holy Trinity Church in Torbryan, Devon, in 2013. The paintings of St Victor of Marseilles and St Margaret are rare survivors of the puritanical zeal of the Reformation when many religious artifacts were destroyed.
The panels were recovered from a London collector who had bought them along with about 40 other objects stolen from country churches, which police are now trying to return to their rightful owners.
Read it all (subscription required).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire
Blessed Spirit of God, come to us in all thy fullness and power, to enrich us in our poverty, to inflame us in our feebleness. Be closer to us than breathing, nearer than hands or feet. As the branches are in the vine, so may we abide in thee. Compass our minds with thy wisdom. Saturate our souls with thy righteousness. Fire our wills with thy might. Melt our hearts with thy love. Do everything at all times to make us wholly thine until thy wealth is ours and we are lost in thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Bishop of London has launched the Diocese of London’s week of prayer, in the Chapel of St Michael and George, within St Paul’s Cathedral. The prayer room has been set up in association with 24-7 Prayer and will enable London churches to engage in a week of continual prayer.
The Chapel will have various prayer stations this year which reflect a theme of journeys. The first is a rolling visual presentation of the Lord’s Prayer, after which visitors will journey through a series of banners – allowing them to reflect on their faith and pray. As they leave the Chapel, people will be invited to add a small pebble to a jar as they thank God for those who inspired them in their life’s journey and also take a small jenga brick away with them to remind them to pray for those they meet in their daily journeys.
People will also be invited to join in the Diocese of London’s Pray for Seven initiative, which invites each person to pray for seven people and enables them to share the story of their faith.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Urban/City Life and Issues
Eternal Light, shine into our hearts;
Eternal Goodness, deliver us from evil;
Eternal Power, be our support;
Eternal Wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance;
Eternal Pity, have mercy upon us;
that with all our heart and mind and soul and strength we may seek thy face and be brought by thine infinite mercy to thy holy presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Today is the festival of Alcuin of York , Abbot of Tours, d. 804.Image- 9th c. copy of his letters [LPL MS218 f.132v] pic.twitter.com/xrvKkKQENO— LambethPalaceLibrary (@lampallib) May 20, 2015
Almighty God, who in a rude and barbarous age didst raise up thy deacon Alcuin to rekindle the light of learning: Illumine our minds, we pray thee, that amid the uncertainties and confusions of our own time we may show forth thine eternal truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
O Christ, the King of Glory, who through the everlasting gates didst ascend to thy Father’s throne, and open the Kingdom of heaven to all believers: Grant that, whilst thou dost reign in heaven, we may not be bowed down to the things of earth, but that our hearts may be lifted up whither thou, our redemption, art gone before; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, ever one God, world without end.
The Bishop of Salisbury will bless 42 young yew trees on Wednesday at the cathedral.
The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam — the Church of England’s lead bishop for the environment — will hold the service as part of a campaign to celebrate the heritage of the nation’s ancient yew trees.
The trees represent the 42 dioceses of the Church of England.
The Conservation Foundation's 'We Love Yew' campaign is being launched to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Congregations in Yorkshire and the Humber region have the most entertaining services, with 80 per cent able to recall laughing at a clerical quip – just ahead of London, where 77 per cent had heard a decent joke in church. London also has some of the fastest growing churches in Britain.
In the East of England barely half (53 per cent) could do so. The news will be a disappointment to one East Anglian cleric, the Bishop of Norwich, who said recently that the Church should provide an alternative voice to Russell Brand.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained * International News & Commentary South America * South Carolina
....perhaps the day has arrived in the PCA when progressives need not worry about any negative connotations of the term "progressive." However, it might still be proper to ask, "Towards what are the progressives asking their church to progress? If we follow the path of progress or get swept along by its tide, what will be left behind and where will we end up?" (Or, for real traditionalists, "where up will we end?")
Dr. Chapell places the label "Traditionalists" on those who are "highly committed to Confessional fidelity and are often worried about perceived doctrinal drift." Is there a more pejorative term in America, where you buy your laundry detergent because it is "new and improved," than the term "traditional"? Not even conservatives want to be traditionalists unless they are appealing to "traditional values" (as in "family" or , peculiarly in Mississippi, "traditional Mississippi values" - wink, wink, hint, hint, get it?). Americans fought a great War for Independence so we wouldn't have to be traditional like those stuffy old British. The last thing a true American wants to be is a stick-in-the-mud old fuddy-duddy traditionalist.
In the churches it's the old and soon to pass from the scene folks who attend the "traditional" service, which may not be traditional at all but a service in which gospel hymns are sung with a song leader rather than praise and worship songs with a praise team. The cool kids flock to the contemporary service, where they will not be turned off by robes, minsters leading worship, and too much Scripture and prayer - until that comes to feel like it is traditional in which case they may join Rachel Held Evans who likes her doctrine and morals progressive but her liturgy sort of traditional in The Episcopal Church.
Read it all (my emphasis).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
Speaking thirty years ago, Attorney General Meese warned that “there are ideas which have gained influence in some parts of our society, particularly in some important and sophisticated areas that are opposed to religious freedom and freedom in general. In some areas there are some people that have espoused a hostility to religion that must be recognized for what it is, and expressly countered.”
Those were prophetic words, prescient in their clarity and foresight. The ideas of which Mr. Meese warned have only gained ground in the last thirty years, and now with astounding velocity. A revolution in morality now seeks not only to subvert marriage, but also to redefine it, and thus to undermine an essential foundation of human dignity, flourishing, and freedom.
Religious liberty is under direct threat. Just days ago the Solicitor General of the United States served notice before the Supreme Court that the liberties of religious institutions will be an open and unavoidable question. Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.
A new moral and legal order is ascendant in America, and this new order is only possible, in the arena of American law and jurisprudence, if the original intent and the very words of the Constitution of the United States are twisted beyond recognition.
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O God of truth and beauty, who didst richly endow thy Bishop Dunstan with skill in music and the working of metals, and with gifts of administration and reforming zeal: Teach us, we beseech thee, to see in thee the source of all our talents, and move us to offer them for the adornment of worship and the advancement of true religion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Almighty and merciful God, into whose gracious presence we ascend, not by the frailty of the flesh but by the activity of the soul: Make us ever by thy inspiration to seek after the courts of the heavenly city, whither our Saviour Christ hath ascended, and by thy mercy confidently to enter them, both now and hereafter; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Church of England is launching a new national resource to help churches get people talking about death and dying.
GraveTalk, provides resources for a café space in which churches provide a relaxed environment for people to explore questions about death and dying, funerals and loss. It is being launched during Dying Awareness week (May 17-23), run by the Dying Matters coalition, and made up of more than 30,000 members including the Church of England.
GraveTalk, is being launched nationally at a giant café in Portsmouth Cathedral between 2pm and 9pm, tomorrow, May 19. The resources include a pack of 52 questions about life, death, society, funerals, and grief to help people start, and has been piloted in more than 100 parishes, is available at a dedicated website http://www.gravetalk.org
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The Church of England has achieved growth on its investments far above inflation, meaning it has enough funds to finance ambitious plans for expansion by paying for dozens and possibly hundreds more clergy across the nation.
The profits in 2014 mean that the Church Commissioners have more than made up the disastrous losses of the late 1980s and 1990s and that here is enough cash to pay for the growth vision of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
The portfolio is now worth a record £6.7 billion, meaning plans approved by the General Synod to release an extra £100 million to pay for more clergy can be easily afforded.
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[...She asks] “Where and how do I want my establishment to inject itself into secular controversies?”
The essay is well worth reading in full, in part because it shows how L’Engle embodied a deeply articulate and vigorous faith, one that was characterized by liberality and generosity in the best senses. “It is impossible to listen to the Gospel week after week and turn my back on the social issues confronting me today,” she writes. “But what I hope for is guidance, not legislation.”
She goes on to discuss a host of difficult issues, including abortion, divorce, euthanasia, genetic manipulation, and slavery, and her conclusions about the official church’s role are not in every case ones that I agree with myself. She tends to have a more mystical view of how the “Gospel” will necessarily inform the individual believer’s conscience than do I. If she is a conservative, then she is certainly at least what might be called a “liberal conservative” in Peter Lawler’s parlance.
But she certainly is right to point to the necessary task of each individual believer to work for the good within their own spheres of influence regardless of whether the church holds an “official position” on any particular issue.
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O God, whose dearly beloved Son was, by thy mighty power, exalted that he might prepare a place in thy kingdom of glory for them that love thee: So lead and uphold us, O merciful Lord, that we may both follow the holy steps of his life here upon earth, and may enter with him hereafter into thy everlasting rest; that where he is, we may also be; through the merits of the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
On those who say religion is unnecessary, given humanity's growing scientific knowledge.
I think science and religion are at some point both about big questions of origin and wonder. And I think, for me, I've always felt that it's important for religious people to have the same kind of philosophical stance they use in their religious life as they do in the rest of their life. And a lot of times I think religion — religions — ask people to sort of turn off the scientific part of their lives and just go and kind of think about God kind of pre-scientifically.
I don't think we can do that. We've got to have a faith that is, in some sense, consonant with the way we think about the world scientifically. And again, I think one of the things the Pew study suggests to us is that if the church can get over its anxiety about talking about God in a grown-up way, we would actually reach out to and speak to more people than we do right now.
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South of the border, the Church of England already allows clerics to form civil partnerships as long as they claim to be celibate. But the Church of Scotland’s approach does not require celibacy.
The Very Rev David Arnott, who coordinates the General Assembly’s business, said that although the Presbyterian structure of the Church of Scotland is different from that of Anglican churches, he hoped the plan could offer a “template” for the Church of England to consider.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme: “We are not going to change people’s minds, we have to come to a way of living together with our differences and living with our diversity and I hope that we’re able to do that.”
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Earlier last week, the outgoing moderator, the Right Reverend John Chalmers, issued an appeal for calm in the run-up to the debate and also called for a “year of grace”.
During the debate, the Rev Gordon Kennedy from Edin-burgh said: “This has been the greatest cause for the expression of disunity in our church for 170 years. The only fruit this will bear is disharmony and disunity,”
But the Rev Dr Ian Whyte strongly disagreed and said he had witnessed the suffering of gay ministers who felt they had to hide their sexuality.
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The Most Rev. Hector “Tito” Zavala, bishop of Chile and presiding bishop of the Anglican Province of South America, will visit the Diocese of South Carolina on Wednesday for a 10 a.m. meeting at St. Matthias Church in Summerton and a 5:30 p.m. meeting at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston.
Zavala is the leader presiding over Anglican churches in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. He is the Diocese of South Carolina’s liaison to the Global South Primates Steering Committee. As one of 40 primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Zavala will be in South Carolina to support the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, clergy and lay people of the local diocese.
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This day in the church year—the Sunday in-between the Ascension and Pentecost—is given to us as a reminder of what it means to be a Spirit-filled disciple of Jesus: our life as Spirit-filled disciples is a life of (1) clinging to the Spirit’s testimony about what Christ has accomplished, (2) a life of suffering in the world, and (3) a life of doing good to our neighbors.
First, we cling to the Spirit’s testimony. Today’s prayer anticipates Pentecost, the giving of the Holy Spirit: “Leave us not without consolation but send us the Spirit of truth.” The Holy Spirit’s consolation is precisely in testifying about Jesus.
What are the specifics of the Holy Spirit’s comfort (or, consolation)? The devil and your own conscience will frighten you because of your sins; the world will hate your confession of the faith, your morals and your piety. That you must expect. But the Holy Spirit comforts us by pointing us to Christ. He won’t make your wallet fat, but He will enable you to say, “When I have lost everything—spouse, children, house, car, possessions, reputation, even my own life—yes, when all that is gone, still Jesus Christ for my sake was made man, died and rose again, and ascended into heaven. He is coming at the last day for me. If God’s Son suffered for me, He will certainly not be my enemy. Since He loves me and has given me such great promises, then I have everything” [Adapted from Luther].
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O God, whose blessed Son, our great High Priest, has entered once for all into the holy place, and ever liveth to intercede on our behalf: Grant that we, sanctified by the offering of his body, may draw near with full assurance of faith by the way which he has dedicated for us, and evermore serve thee, the living God; through the same thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
Cathy Rion Starr and Heather Rion Starr, the ministers of the Unitarian Society of Hartford since last summer, were reminiscing recently about a conversation early in their friendship, before they had become either romantic partners or co-workers.
“We had some colleagues in common, who were a same-sex couple serving a congregation in California,” Heather Rion Starr said on Tuesday in the office they share at the church. “And I think I said something about, ‘So-and-so and so-and-so are starting a co-ministry — what do you think about that?’ And you said, ‘Oh I would never want to do that. I would never want to spend that much time with someone.’ ”
“And now here we are,” Cathy Rion Starr said of the church, which will hold the couple’s installation ceremony on Sunday.
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The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted to allow congregations to ordain gay ministers who are in same sex civil partnerships.
Delegates voted 309 in favour and 183 against.
The vote followed a church-wide debate and consultations with all 45 presbyteries, which voted 31 to 14 in favour of change.
A further vote will be held this week on whether or not to extend ordination to ministers in same sex marriages.
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Believing that Jesus was raised from the dead is fundamental to Christian faith. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul stated his conviction starkly: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.” There are plenty of people today who would agree with him, but give his logic a reverse twist. They dismiss the idea of resurrection as wishful thinking. Jesus has not been raised. Those who believe it are deluded and their faith is indeed futile. Yet many believe it still. These seven weeks between Easter and Pentecost are given over to celebrating it. What is being celebrated?
First of all, it may help to realise that Jesus’s resurrection is not simply the next thing that happened to him. It is not as though he died on the Friday, lay in the tomb on the Saturday, and rose on the Sunday. James Alison has expressed the point effectively by supposing that Holy Saturday was Jesus’s birthday. And so he imagines that Jesus was 33 when he was killed on Good Friday. But, he goes on, “he was not 34 when he rose on Easter Sunday. He was not any age at all. He was his whole human life and death given back to God.” In his resurrection, the whole of who Jesus is taken up and brought to its fulfilment. His resurrection takes hold even of his death and transforms it. The one who was raised has not been cured of being slaughtered. When, according to the Fourth Gospel, Thomas placed his hand into the wound in Jesus’s side in the upper room eight days after Jesus had been raised, he did not find a scab forming. The risen Lord is the crucified Jesus.
A second outstanding feature in all the Gospel accounts is the lack of any immediate appearance of the risen Jesus....
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In an effort not just to “play” church, but to “be” church, we began Maundy Thursday by having dinner with the homeless on upper Meeting Street. That dinner made the whole night “real: and set the tone for worship...
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....Neuhaus had an extraordinary talent for bringing people together—to discuss, debate, and strategize. He regularly convened intellectually and theologically diverse groups to spend a couple of days discussing topics of interest. (In my own case the topics included, civil religion, multinational corporations, ecumenism, faith and politics, and “culture wars,” among others.)
But the most important of these projects was the 1990 founding of First Things. While Neuhaus had previously edited two similar journals, Worldview and This World, they had each been sponsored by larger foundations, the Carnegie and Rockford Institutes respectively. This time around the journal was Neuhaus’s own, to shape as he wished. And shaped it he did, with great talent and flair, bringing together like-minded writers representing Catholicism, evangelicalism, Orthodoxy and Lutheranism, along with fellow travelers from Judaism and Islam.
First Things was the flagship publication of Neuhaus’s Institute on Religion and Public Life, and the concept of “public life” was foundational to his efforts. Neuhaus always insisted that politics is only one aspect of a larger “public square”—one that makes room, as best it can, for a variety of religious, moral, and communal traditions. Boyagoda reminds us that Neuhaus and Berger actually coined the term “mediating structures,” now commonly used in social science, in their 1977 book To Empower People. That short book (just over 50 pages) showed how a wide range of smaller institutions—families, churches, professional associations, teams, guilds, neighborhood organizations, book clubs, schools—can offer a protective, nurturing space between individual and the power-hungry state.
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O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: As the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death, and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plenteous harvest, may we, too, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Look with thy mercy, O Father, upon all thy children in every land, on every sea, and in the thoroughfares of the sky. Hold in thy gracious keeping every burdened heart, encourage every noble hope, strengthen every righteous purpose. Unite in the deathless bond of charity all followers of thy valiant Son, whose Name, and whose Name alone, can still the cries of greed and bring to our stricken world the hush of peace. Shatter our fears and our misgivings, and let the light of truth so govern our thoughts and guide our hands that, with all the brotherhood of the sons of God, we may receive as our home that kingdom which belongs to thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Listen to it all from the Positively Anglican conference. I have posted a brief excerpt from this on the blog earlier.
At least eight people were killed in Tuesday’s Amtrak train derailment, and each victim has now been identified. The details of their remarkable lives revealed the depth of this catastrophe: a college dean who, after overcoming an impoverished childhood, was working toward his doctorate; a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy who aspired to become a Navy SEAL; a woman who, at just 39, had become the chief executive officer of an education tech firm in Philadelphia; an Associated Press software architect who was known for his composure, kindness and frequent hugs; a Wells Fargo executive who was an avid cyclist and a constant optimist; a technology company vice president who lived in Maryland and had a wry sense of humor.
The seventh and eighth victims were identified Thursday afternoon: Laura Finamore, 47, a New Yorker who worked in corporate real estate; and Giuseppe Piras, 41, an Italian who sold olive oil and wine and was in the United States on business.
Read all of their profiles....
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Let’s be honest, most sermons today are terrible. They are boring. They ramble. They sound like bad imitations of high school book reports. Listening to a sermon today is often like listening to the teacher from the old Charlie Brown cartoons. And I believe the reason why preaching has gotten so bad, particularly in liturgical churches, is rather obvious. We do not have good preachers because we do not understand what preaching is for.
Like being a great cello player or a great center fielder, a great preacher is born with a certain degree of raw talent that then must be honed and trained in order for the preacher to reach his or her full potential. But in liturgical churches in the contemporary West, we see preaching as less important than other aspects of ministry. We assume that anyone can be a great preacher and that the honing of preaching skills ought to be relatively low on the clergy’s priority list, something to tend to once all the other fires are put out. We reap what we sow. We treat preaching like it is nothing, and thus it becomes nothing.
What I offer here are a few maxims on what makes great preaching. They are culled from my own experience both as a preacher and as someone who listens to sermons. I am no expert, and this list is nowhere near exhaustive, but it is a start. I hope that others will build on this. “Faith comes through hearing,” Paul says (Romans 10:17). It is no secret that the Church in the West is in decline, and I see no scenario for its revival that does not include a renewal of great preaching.
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On 22 May 2015 Ireland will go to the polls to vote on a constitutional amendment put forward by the Fine Gael-Labour government that would mandate the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. The Roman Catholic Bishops of Ireland have urged the defeat of the bill, but two former Archbishops of Dublin and two current Church of Ireland bishops have said they will vote “yes”.
The Most Rev. John Neill, the archbishop of Dublin from 2002 to 2011, told The Irish Times “we now recognise that there are many different types of unions and I don’t see why they cannot have the protection and status of marriage”. "The understanding of marriage in the church has evolved, putting partnership first before procreation”, in which context “there is less of a problem about same-sex marriage”. The Most Rev. Walton Empey, archbishop from 1996 to 2002 said "I certainly have no hesitation in calling for a Yes vote."
The Bishop of Cork, the Rt. Rev. Paul Colton told the BBC last year he supported the introduction of gay marriage, while the Bishop of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory, the Rt. Rev. Michael Burrows last month told a conference at Trinity College, Dublin that gay rights was the “great justice issue of our time just as the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of women were in the past.”
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The power that comes is to be given away not hung onto; Jesus was no Mugabe clinging to power. There would be no public glory or acclaim, merely hard work and sacrifice, like most of those who serve the church round the world today. I spoke to someone yesterday working for reconciliation in a civil war, whose name will never be known outside the circles of his own friends – yet he carries a cross of suffering for Christ.
Put like that it makes the worst of any recent party manifesto looks like words of gold, to which people would flock by contrast. Few would be elected on the manifesto of Jesus, surely?
Yet the church grew at such a rate, despite opposition and suffering, that 300 years later the Empire that had casually swiped away the life of Jesus with the sort of attention we might give to a mosquito, found itself honouring and converting to the faith. The same disciples who beforehand seem foolish and act only in their own interests, were willing to lay down their lives, confident in the promises of God, the Kingdom of God and the triumph of Christ.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Ascension Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology
O Glorious Christ, who in thy ascension didst enter into thy kingdom: Remember, we pray thee, the countless millions who have not heard of the redemption which thou hast won for them. Grant that they may learn, through thy Church, of the new and living way which thou hast opened for them. Let them draw near in fullness of faith, to enter with thee into the holy place of the Father’s presence, and receive forgiveness and peace. So may they worship, with the innumerable company of angels and with the spirits of just men made perfect, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, blessed for evermore.
I am publishing this paper on the further research we plan to do around the Resourcing Ministerial Education (RME) workstream on the day it has been considered by the Ministry Council, which since the RME Task Group finished its work and disbanded just before the February Synod, now holds the responsibility for progressing the task. The paper was shared privately for consultation with a number of stakeholders, including TEI Principals. Somehow or other, a copy has found its way to the press. I guess this is part of the price of consulting .
The paper sets out a significant programme of research over a long period. It recognises that the issues raised by RME are profound and need long term and deep enquiry into the effect of ministerial education in terms of mission and ministry in practice. The Ministry Council has today expressed its commitment to this for a number of reasons.
The first is that, as the RME report acknowledged, the research done within the six or so months available to us in the first stage of the task is initial research and reveals a great deal of scope for further work.
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As a new and renewing church, The Episcopal Church celebrates the joys and challenges of a global community called to mission and filled with hope. Amid growing concern about the state of the Church in turbulent times, there are signs of
growing mission, transformation, resiliency, and the presence of the ever-creative and renewing work of the Spirit. Our Church is changing as we shift our gaze from an inward view on conflict resolution to an outward focus on mission. Hope, collaboration, and joy are the images that will describe the State of the Church as we move into a new triennium.
Over the past three years, a group from across the Church has been listening to stories, analyzing data, and developing a snapshot of our collective health and vitality. This information has been compiled into a State of the Church (SOTC) report,
which will be presented to the 2015 General Convention. This report not only provides a glimpse of the Church in action, as it is now, captured into freeze-frame stillness, but it also will be an important artifact, serving as a point on a historical timeline--something to observe and say wisely with the clarity of hindsight, yes, this is when THIS all began, or ended, or shifted.
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If the Ascension means the departure of the Lord Jesus, why celebrate it? Who rejoices over the loss of a loved one? Clearly this is not a day to remember what was lost. We celebrate what was gained.
For the first time, our humanity, the nature assumed by Christ, has been taken into the Godhead. This is a coming of age for the human race, something akin to the removal of training wheels.
Here, the sainted scholars of the Church diverge a bit. It’s not clear whether we were created to enjoy the very life of God, or if this is the gladsome result of the Incarnation. Put another way, we don’t know whether the Incarnation, and the resultant glorification of our humanity, happened because of sin, or despite it. Either way, as it did happen, Christ took on our humanity so that we might share his divinity. Today, in him, our humanity is first raised to that height.
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Glory to our ascended Lord, that he is with us always.
Glory to the Word of God, going forth with his armies, conquering and to conquer.
Glory to him who has led captivity captive, and given gifts for the perfecting of his saints.
Glory to him who has gone before to prepare a place in his Father’s home for us.
Glory to the author and finisher of our faith; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion now and for evermore.
As you can imagine, there's no shortage of fine choral music to celebrate the feast of Our Lord's Ascension says music historian Monsignor Philip Whitmore. He suggests we listen is a piece of 20th century organ music written as an extended meditation and an uplifting motet for double choir by English composer Sir Charles Villiers Stanford.
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The readers may learn out of our Institutions what profit we reap by the ascension of Christ. Notwithstanding, because it is one of the chiefest points of our faith, therefore doth Luke endeavor more diligently to prove the same; yea, rather, the Lord himself meant to put the same out of all doubt, when as he hath ascended so manifestly, and hath confirmed the certainty of the same by other circumstances. For, if so be it he had vanished away secretly, then might the disciples have doubted what was become of him; but now, sith that they, being in so plain a place, saw him taken up with whom they had been conversant, whom also they heard speak even now, whom they beheld with their eyes, whom also they see taken out of their sight by a cloud, there is no cause why they should doubt whither he was gone. Furthermore, the angels are there also to bear witness of the same. And it was needful that the history should have been set down so diligently for our cause, that we may know assuredly, that although the Son of God appear nowhere upon earth, yet doth he live in the heavens. And this seemeth to be the reason why the cloud did overshadow him, before such time as he did enter into his celestial glory; that his disciples being content with their measure might cease to inquire any further. And we are taught by them that our mind is not able to ascend so high as to take a full view of the glory of Christ; therefore, let this cloud be a mean to restrain our boldness, as was the smoke which was continually before the door of the tabernacle in the time of the law.
Jesus hasn’t just gone away. He has gone deeper into the heart of reality – our reality and God’s. He has become far more than a visible friend and companion; he has shown himself to be the very centre of our life, the source of our loving energy in the world and the source of our prayerful, trustful waiting on God. He has made us able to be a new kind of human being, silently and patiently trusting God as a loving parent, actively and hopefully at work to make a difference in the world, to make the kind of difference love makes.
So if the world looks and feels like a world without God, the Christian doesn’t try to say, ‘It’s not as bad as all that’, or seek to point to clear signs of God’s presence that make everything all right. The Christian will acknowledge that the situation is harsh, even apparently unhopeful – but will dare to say that they are willing to bring hope by what they offer in terms of compassion and service. And their own willingness and capacity for this is nourished by the prayer that the Spirit of Jesus has made possible for them.
The friends of Jesus are called, in other words, to offer themselves as signs of God in the world – to live in such a way that the underlying all-pervading energy of God begins to come through them and make a difference.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Ascension Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Christology
Additionally, early Christians were not, as is commonly assumed, bound to a three-tier vision of the universe, i.e., heaven, hell, and earth.
[W]hen the Bible speaks of heaven and earth it is not talking about two localities related to each other within the same space-time continuum or about a nonphysical world contrasted with a physical one but about two different kinds of what we call space, two different kinds of what we call matter, and also quite possibly (though this does not necessarily follow from the other two) two different kinds of what we call time.So heaven and earth, understood in this way, are two dimensions of the same reality. They “interlock and intersect in a whole variety of ways even while they retain, for the moment at least, their separate identities and roles.” Combine this with the doctrine of the ascension and we do not have a Jesus who floats up into a heaven “up there” but disappears into a reality we cannot yet see. Because heaven and earth are not yet joined Jesus is physically absent from us. At the same time he is present with us through the Holy Spirit and the sacraments, linkages where the two realities meet in the present age.
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This day was Christs perfect triumph over the Devil, Leading captivity captive, Ephes. 4. 8. This day He opened the kingdom of Heaven to all believers, as we say daily in the Te Deum. See S. John 3. 13. Acts 2. 24. Heb. 10. 23. His flesh opened that passage, in that he deserved to enter there first: For when he was taken up on high, then he opened the Gates of Heaven Chrysost. upon that place of the Hebrews. Therefore the Church appoints for this day the 24. Psalm. Lift up your heads O ye gates, and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in. This day gives us hopes of Heaven, in that our flesh in the first-fruits is thither ascended. For if God had not intended some great good to our nature, he would not have received the first-fruits up on high: Christ taking the first-fruits of our nature, this day carried it up to God, and by those first-fruits, hath made the whole stock to be sanctified. And the Father highly esteemed the gift, both for the worthiness of him that offered it up, and for the purity of the offering, so as to receive it with his own hands, and to set it at his right hand. To what Nature was it that God said, Sit thou on my right hand? To the same, to which formerly he had said, dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return. This gift went far beyond the loss; Paradise was the place from which we fell; but we were this day carried up to heaven, and mansions are there provided for us, Chrys. in diem. Christ ascended up into heaven in the sight of his Disciples, that they and we might assuredly believe, that we should follow, and not deem it impossible for us body and soul, to be translated thither; Cypr. in diem.
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In the Wakefield mystery play for the Feast of the Ascension, the apostle Philip calls out to Christ: “Lord, if it be thi will, / shew vs thi fader we the pray; / we have bene with the in good and ill, / and sagh hym neuer nyght ne day.” To which Jesus points out that whoever sees him sees the Father—but a moment later Jesus is gone, and Mary keens, “All myghty god, how may this be? / a clowde has borne my childe to blys; / Now bot that I wote [know] wheder is he, / my hart wold breke, well wote I this.”
If it is fitting for the disciples and Mary, it is fitting for us to be puzzled by the ascension. As John Henry Newman puts it in an Ascension Day sermon, “This, indeed, is our state at present; we have lost Christ and we have found Him; we see Him not, yet we discern Him.” There are no footprints in the sky, but, as Newman says, the ascension of Christ “is a sure token that heaven is a certain fixed place, and not a mere state.” By the same token, the ascension means that embodied human nature—Christ’s donkey—has a place in heaven. However strange a picture, however stupidly it causes us to stare at the sky, Christ’s promise to prepare a place for his members means nothing less than this: a future life in which, as Dylan Thomas puts it, we “shall have stars at elbow and foot”—and the whole universe (or multiverse, if you prefer) will reveal its secrets, confess its lord, and give us welcome. Hard to believe? The idea was no more probable for ancient science than it is for modern; yet with a robust view of the Creator’s authority over creation, it is just barely conceivable.
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Listen to it all (It begins with the reading of the gospel by the Rev. Fred Berkaw) [It is an MP3 file]. It occurred on the occasion of the Bishop's confirmation visit to Saint Paul's in Summerville, South Carolina in times past.
He speaks of a memory from 1960 and later there comes this quote to whet your appetite:
"What is astonishing to me I suppose is that we in the church make so little of the Ascension of our Lord."
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Ascension Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * South Carolina * Theology Christology
Ascension theology turns at this point to the Eucharist, for in celebrating the eucharist the church professes to know how the divine presents itself in our time, and how the question of faithfulness is posed. Eucharistically, the church acknowledges that Jesus has heard and has answered the upward call; that, like Moses, he has ascended into that impenetrable cloud overhanging the mountain. Down below, rumours of glory emanate from the elders, but the master himself is nowhere to be seen. He is no longer with his people in the same way he used to be. Yet he is with them, in the Spirit.--Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (New York: T and T Clark, 2011), p. 64
O Lord Jesus Christ, who after thy resurrection didst manifestly appear to thine apostles, and in their sight didst ascend into heaven to prepare a place for us: Grant that, being risen with thee, we may lift up our hearts continually to seek thee where thou art, and never cease to serve thee faithfully here on earth; until at last, when thou comest again, thou shalt receive us unto thyself; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
--Frederick B. Macnutt
O Thou merciful and loving High Priest, who hast passed within the veil and art in the presence of the Father: Help us with thy mighty intercession, that, our unworthiness being clothed upon with thy perfect righteousness, we may stand accepted in the day of thy coming; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
The leader of the Church of Ireland has said "we may as well close the doors now" if it cannot solve the problem of falling attendances.
Archbishop Richard Clarke made the comments after it was revealed in a survey that only 15% of Irish Anglicans attend services on Sundays.
This represents just 58,000 out of a total of 378,000 who claim affiliation to the church.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Ireland * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland
Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Helping people to get out of debt, and freeing them from the anxiety and exploitation that often goes with being in debt, is part of the Church's commitment to human flourishing.
“I welcome this new training resource to help local churches play a vital role in encouraging people to seek assistance earlier and to make use of the many free debt advice services that are available."
Read it all and take a look at the video.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
--Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
Most of us were trained to minister to a culture that had a Christian baseline, but we weren’t trained how to reach people who don’t accept the Bible as true or know about Christ.
In other words, we were trained to focus on Nominals but now we increasingly need to reach Seculars.
There are resources to help with that.
I’m a big fan of Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God. Many use that curriculum for reaching secular people. I also recommend the work of George Hunter, a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary. His book How to Reach Secular People is good, as is James Emery White’s book called The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated.
Do you deal more with Nominals or Seculars? Has your church made progress in reaching either group? What have you found that works in bringing these people to Christ?
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Secularism * Theology Anthropology Soteriology
The international community stepped in, investigated, and found enough to warrant a further investigation by the International Criminal Court. In the meantime, the country tried to put things back together. By 2010, post-crisis reforms had come into being along with a new constitution that brought about a coalition government.
These were the first few steps toward reconciliation, but they were surface deep, nowhere near the restoration of the people. David Shibley with Global Advance says their organization was called in to help the church rebuild in 2010. God used them as a catalyst; sometimes it takes someone coming from the outside, speaking into a situation, to be the fresh eyes needed. “God graciously used our first Frontline Shepherds Conference there, five years ago, to bring healing and reconciliation. We saw a marvelous move of God’s Spirit as men who had not talked to each other suddenly were embracing each other, asking for forgiveness.”
Since that time, says Shibley, reconciliation efforts reawakened a sense of belonging to one nation. “The pastoral leaders of that area have been used of God to bring a real healing in that area, and now there is tremendous cooperation among most, if not all, of the evangelical churches of that area.”
Then came the al-Shabaab attack on the Nairobi University campus in Garissa in April. 147 Christian college students were killed. “Since that time, there has been a real galvanizing of the Church in Kenya: kind of a ‘snapping to attention’ that I saw,” explains Shibley.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Kenya * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Give salvation and strength, O King of saints, to those who, being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, are in great tribulation; and grant that these thy followers, loving not their lives unto the death and leaving all to follow thee, may overcome by the word of their testimony, and overcoming, may inherit all things.
While Ebola still haunts Guinea and Sierra Leone, where infections have dwindled but refuse to disappear, Liberia has passed a remarkable threshold: at least 42 days since its last Ebola victim was buried, or twice the maximum incubation period of the virus, according to the W.H.O.
Even before reaching that official marker, the nation was trying to stitch itself back together after more than 4,700 deaths from the disease, by far the most of any nation in the epidemic. Liberia has reopened markets, clinics and schools, eager to move past an outbreak so devastating that it “has changed our way of life,” as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf put it.
Similar efforts are taking place inside churches as well, bedrock institutions in West African society that were at once a place of succor and a source of contagion during the outbreak.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology
O God, who, calling Abraham to go forth to a country which thou wouldest show him, didst promise that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed: Fulfill thy promise in us, we pray thee, giving us such faith in thee as thou shalt count unto us for righteousness; that in us and through us thy purpose may be fulfilled; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Almighty God, Lord of Heaven and earth, in whom we live and move and have our being; who doest good unto all men, making thy sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sending rain on the just and on the unjust: Favourably behold us thy servants, who call upon thy name, and send us thy blessing from heaven, in giving us fruitful seasons, and satisfying us with food and gladness, that both our hearts and mouths may be continually filled with thy praise, and we may ever give thanks to thee in thy holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now, if they who hold such views have authority to meet, your wisdom approved in Christ must see that, inasmuch as we do not approve their views, any permission of assembly granted to them is nothing less than a declaration that their view is thought more true than ours. For if they are permitted to teach their view as godly men, and with all confidence to preach their doctrine, it is manifest that the doctrine of the Church has been condemned, as though the truth were on their side. For nature does not admit of two contrary doctrines on the same subject being both true. How[,] then, could your noble and lofty mind submit to suspend your usual courage in regard to the correction of so great an evil? But even though there is no precedent for such a course, let your inimitable perfection in virtue stand up at a crisis like the present, and teach our most pious emperor that no gain will come from his zeal for the Church on other points if he allows such an evil to gain strength from freedom of speech for the subversion of sound faith.
Almighty God, who hast revealed to thy Church thine eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons: Give us grace that, like thy bishop Gregory of Nazianzus, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of thee, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who livest and reignest for ever and ever.
Heavenly Father, the Father of all wisdom, understanding, and true strength: We beseech thee look mercifully upon thy servants, and send thy Holy Spirit into their hearts, that when they must join to fight in the field for the glory of thy holy name, then they, strengthened with the defence of thy right hand, may manfully stand in the confession of thy faith, and continue in the same unto their lives’ end; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
On May 1, 2015, The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) honored the Rev. Dr. Dallas H. Wilson, Jr., a priest in the Diocese of South Carolina, and the Vicar of St. John’s Chapel, Charleston, for his work creating and implementing ministries and programs to prevent at-risk youths from engaging in violent activities, spiraling into crime, drug and alcohol use, and incarceration.
The Bureau has been presenting its Director’s Community Leadership Awards (DCLA) for more than two decades to ordinary citizens and organizations striving to build stronger, safer, and more cohesive communities
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Lord God, who in thy compassion didst grant to the Lady Julian many revelations of thy nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek thee above all things, for in giving us thyself thou givest us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst say that in thee we may have peace, and hast bidden us to be of good cheer, since thou hast overcome the world: Give ears to hear and faith to receive thy word; that in all the confusions and tensions of this present time, with mind serene and steadfast purpose, we may continue to abide in thee, who livest and wast dead and art alive for evermore.
A politician who prays is often suspected as someone who claims a hotline to God, someone dangerous and unaccountable. The reverse is true. A ruler who prays is one who is regularly reminded that they are not God, that whatever power they have is borrowed, that they will one day give account for how they used the power they were given, and that they are truly accountable not just to the whim of the people, but to something, or someone, bigger, deeper and more final: the God who has laid the foundations of justice, mercy and peace beneath the torrents of human pride and desire.
Read it all and the Archbishop has comment on this
Check it out for those interested.
Is there anything you would like to pray or to request prayer for?
The theme for the 2015 National Day of Prayer is Lord, Hear Our Cry, emphasizing the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to place their faith in the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men. To further highlight our theme, we’ve chosen I Kings 8:28 as our Scripture for this year: “Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.”
Here’s the prayer for today’s National Day of Prayer in the US, written by the National Day of Prayer Chairman
We come to You in the Name that is above every name—Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Our hearts cry out to You.
Knowing that You are a prayer-answering, faithful God—the One we trust in times like these—we ask that You renew our spirits, revive our churches, and heal our land.
We repent of our sins and ask for Your grace and power to save us. Hear our cry, oh God, and pour out Your Spirit upon us that we may walk in obedience to Your Word.
We are desperate for Your tender mercies. We are broken and humbled before You.
Forgive us, and in the power of Your great love, lift us up to live in Your righteousness.
We pray for our beloved nation. May we repent and return to You and be a light to the nations. And we pray for our leaders and ask that You give them wisdom and faith to follow You.
Preserve and protect us, for You are our refuge and only hope.
Deliver us from all fears except to fear You, and may we courageously stand in the Truth that sets us free.
We pray with expectant faith and grateful hearts.
In Jesus’ name, our Savior.
– 2015 National Prayer by Dr. Jack Graham
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Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I have been made aware that the National Day of Prayer (May 7th) falls on my birthday this year! As an American and as a prisoner for Christ I have spent many hours praying and crying out to God for revival for this great nation. We all hope for the success of our nation and for America to be blessed, but without revival there can be no true success or blessing. As Ezra’s cried out to God in repentance and the Israelites joined him in weeping bitterly and turning from their sin, I would like to ask you to join me in repenting and praying for revival. Me from inside of these prison walls and you on the outside.
“Now while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God, a very large assembly of men, women, and children gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly.”
Ezra re-built the spiritual walls of Jerusalem while Nehemiah re-built the physical walls. Therefore, please join me in rebuilding the spiritual wall of our beloved country.
In times of need we see how much government and authorities can influence our everyday life, and when we see that their decisions do not match with our beliefs and standards, our initial reaction is to blame the leadership or the situations surrounding us for our hardships. But the truth is that change has to start with us, just as a wave has power to lead it's surfer so by revival we, as the people, can help or push our leaders to follow their callings.
Change starts with us. Revival starts with us. The first step to revival is praying together in unity as a nation.
The National Day of Prayer is a great opportunity for us to come out and use the freedom that we have been given. So many Christians around the world are imprisoned and martyred for their faith in Jesus. You have the freedom to gather across the United States at your state capitol to pray. Please use this opportunity. Please use your freedom for the Kingdom of God.
We see in Ezra chapter 10 that despite the heavy rain and their shivering the people still gathered together. People should stand under any pressures to pray for their nation, for the Lord to bring revival, and to stand under the rain of the Holy Spirit to be filled by His manifestation.
Remember my chains in your freedom and chain together in unity for our beloved America. Know that I am chained with you in prayer on that day in seeking God for America.
There is no other way but to be crucified with Christ so that we may experience the power of His resurrection in our beloved country.
So much love to America,
Read it all from here
Prayer has always been used in this country for guidance, protection, and strength, even before we were a nation or a handful of colonies. The Pilgrims at Plymouth relied on prayer during their first and darkest winter. Our Founding Fathers also called for prayer during the Constitutional Congress. In their eyes, our recently created nation and freedoms were a direct gift from God. And being a gift from God, there was only one way to ensure protection – through prayer.
President Abraham Lincoln knew this well. It was his belief that, “It is the duty of nations as well as men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God.” When it came to the fate of the nation, he practiced what he preached. Before the battle of Gettysburg, he turned to God in prayer. “I went to my room one day, and I locked the door and got down on my knees before Almighty God and prayed to Him mightily for victory at Gettysburg.” Won by the Union, Gettysburg was one of the turning points in the war that ended slavery and kept the states united.
Today, the need for prayer is as great as ever...
Read it all from here
O Lord, who hast called us to fight under the banner of thy cross against the evil of the world, the flesh and the devil: Grant us thy grace, that clothed in purity and equipped with thy heavenly armour, we may follow thee as thou goest forth conquering and to conquer, and steadfast to the last we may share in thy final triumph; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.
The Church of England has released the following prayer ahead of the General Election tomorrow:
Lord, we give thanks for the privileges and responsibilities of living in a democratic society.
Give us wisdom to play our part at election time, that, through the exercise of each vote, your Kingdom may come closer.
Protect us from the sins of despair and cynicism, guard us against the idols of false utopias and strengthen us to make politics a noble calling that serves the common good of all.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord.
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Update More suggestions from Lent and Beyond
When Melissa Mira suffered sudden heart failure at the end of her second pregnancy last year, she worried first about her health and her baby — then about the more than $200,000 in medical bills that began rolling in.
“Your world is just crashing down around you and you wonder: ‘How is this going to be covered?’ ” recalled Mira, 30, who spent more than a month away from her Tacoma home, hospitalized at the University of Washington Medical Center.
For Mira and her family, the answer came not through traditional health insurance, but through faith that fellow Christians would step forward to pay the bills.
The Miras — including daughter Jael, 4, and baby Sienna Rain, now a healthy 9-month-old — are among the growing numbers of people looking to “health care-sharing ministries” across the U.S.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
In a recent sermon, the rector of my church recommended adding the Psalms to our prayers, if we had not already discovered this wonderful method of praying. At various times, I have used the Psalms in prayer, but that reminder was an encouragement to be more intentional about using this treasure trove of prayers.
Of course, praying the Psalms is also a powerful way to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. If anyone fits the description “the cords of death entangled me,” it is Christians in Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, or wherever Christians are suffering for the sake of Christ.
Wouldn’t it be great if Christians in the West all committed daily to praying Psalms on behalf of our persecuted brothers and sisters?
Here’s an example of doing just that from the Psalm I referenced above...
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