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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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United Methodists have voted to require church boards and agencies to withdraw immediately from an organization that advocates for abortion on demand. Delegates from across the 12.1 million-member denomination adopted a proposal concluding affiliation with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) on a vote of 425 to 268 (61 percent to 39 percent) during their quadrennial General Conference meeting in Portland, Oregon.
Two United Methodist agencies, the General Board on Church and Society (GBCS) and United Methodist Women (UMW) are coalition members of RCRC.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
I was deeply blessed by a recent phone call from a Christian leader who has never failed to bear fruit (Jeremiah 17:8) for Christ and his Kingdom.
His name is Jim. He joined the staff at St James Newport Beach in the early 1970s as an assistant Youth Pastor, when I was still in high school. As I recall, he was working on his college degree at a small, local Christian community college. But what I remember most about Jim was his love for Jesus Christ, his love for the middle schoolers that he was assigned to pastor, and his love for me. Jim spent a lot of time with me personally. He challenged me to read my bible and to love God’s word, its clarity and its authority in my life. He really challenged me to expand my prayer life with God—even giving me a book or two to read! Nothing academic, it was all plain and simple and practical. That was Jim himself. He challenged me as a timid high schooler..
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Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Kenya * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
In downtown San Francisco stands an unusual war memorial looking as it did in the 1920s when it was a hotel and theater. After World War II, Marines wanted a living memorial so they transformed this into a club that, today, honors all vets.
Mary Shea: I look at this building. It's like a ship that sails every February. That once we're inside here, we're safe. We can be ourselves. We don't have to explain to anybody. It's sort of a subliminal language that we all understand.
Mary Shea learned the language of loss when her son was killed. It's a language that cannot be translated and so she and her husband, Bill, felt they could no longer be understood.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
To learn what suffering has to teach requires that we protect the time and space we need to regard, reflect, and pray. Suffering calls us one by one to walk a dark valley. As Flannery O’Connor suggests, "… sickness is . . . a place where there’s no company, where nobody can follow” (163). To speak from that place of exile is to forego the clichés and enter into what Marianne Paget called a “complex sorrow.” In her “Mastectomy Poems” Alicia Ostriker issues a practical corrective to those who dramatize her suffering in a way that would belie the daily experience of life-threatening illness:
Spare me your pity,
your terror, your condolence.
I’m not your wasting heroine,
your dying swan. Friend, tragedy
is a sort of surrender.
Tell me again I’m a model
of toughness. I eat that up.
I grade papers, I listen to wind. (93)
Ostriker’s spunky resistance to stereotypes calls to mind the comment of an Auschwitz survivor I know: To call the Holocaust a “tragedy,” she insisted, is to falsify it and to oversimplify the mystery of the evil that took place. Tragedy is an art form in which the hero “suffers into truth.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Poetry & Literature Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theodicy
This week, the Rt Rev Dr Kelvin Wright informed the New Zealand Anglican Archbishop, the Most Rev Philip Richardson, of his intention to retire as Bishop of Dunedin on April 17, 2017.
Dr Wright said he gave so much notice because he believed the diocese needed to make some very important decisions about its future.
"In my opinion ... the diocese should not be subject to a long interregnum. And to make an appointment as soon after my departure as possible, we would need to set processes in motion in the not too distant future.
"Further, some very careful thought needs to be given as to how we will pay for episcopal ministry in the future, and maybe some hard choices and some innovations may need to be made,'' he said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Stewardship * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
When the behaviors and beliefs of Christians mirror those of their unbelieving neighbors, it is evidence that the Church is a product of the culture it is called to transform, and that instead of producing disciples, it has been turning out "belonging nonbelievers," if not "functional atheists."
So, if you want find fault for the recent Court ruling, look no further than the doorstep of the Church and a decades-long ethos of non-discipleship Christianity. The thing is, the solution to our national condition starts at the same threshold.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Every day, tributes are placed at the memorial in Washington, D.C., and while they are left behind, they are not lost.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia Vietnam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Responding to asylum seekers and developing younger people as leaders will be among the topics at a refreshed Fresh Expression conference this year.
The November conference will also look at whether those attracted to Fresh Expressions events are from non-church backgrounds, or whether they are returning after feeling rejected by traditional church settings.
Jointly run by Fresh Expressions and the Diocese of Leicester, there will be 16 talks and 25 pairs of consultants will be on hand to share their expertise.
Read it all (may require subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
The nuns, who are members of the Dominican order, care for those of all religions and backgrounds — Laub’s mother-in-law was Jewish — and live by the prescient words of its founder, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, a daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne: “We cannot cure our patients, but we can assure the dignity and value of their final days, and keep them comfortable and free of pain.” (The Hawthorne Dominicans also operate similar homes in Atlanta and Philadelphia.)
As the nuns cared for their guests, Laub followed them with her camera — it’s her way. Then, even after her mother-in-law died in late September, she found herself returning to Rosary again and again, still wanting to capture something of the kindness that her family had found there. She asked the nuns to sit for portraits, in which she stripped away the background to show their eyes and faces in clear focus. “I wanted them to be quiet,” she said, “so their power could come through.”
The nuns in particular had moved her. She was struck by their tenderness with the dying, how they painted women’s fingernails and combed their hair, changed them into fresh nightgowns and arranged flowers in their rooms. “This is how dying should be,” Laub says. “It doesn’t feel like a place of death. It feels like a place of living.”
Read it all and do not miss the pictures.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Pastoral Care Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Religion & Culture Women * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
Now that the case will return to Adams County (assuming the Church litigators do not waste everyone's time and money with a request for leave to appeal again to the Illinois Supreme Court), the stay against those actions will be lifted, and they can proceed. However, like the claim to the moneys in the bank, the claims in these suits will not be proceeding in a vacuum. Twice now the Illinois Court of Appeals has held that ECUSA had no enforceable trust interest in property held for parishes. The first of those decisions also dealt with the ineffectiveness of the Dennis Canon to create any such trust under Illinois law. It is likely, therefore, but not certain, that these last few isolated claims will fare the same fate as the others. (No one ever made anything by trying to predict what a particular court will decide to do.)
It is nonetheless deplorable that the new Presiding Bishop of ECUSA sees fit to allow his litigators to continue to waste the Church's trust funds and pledge income on litigation for purely punitive purposes. One has to wonder, when it comes to going after realigning dioceses and parishes, just who is in charge of ECUSA after all these years. The irony is that a person who acts as his own attorney (or lets his attorney make all the decisions, which comes to the same thing) has, as those of us in the profession happily admit, "a fool for a client."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori Michael Curry TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Quincy TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
In June the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will return to the proposal to change its Canon 31 on Marriage, removing the reference to “one man and one woman”, a step it prepared for in the equivalent meeting last year. At that time the Synod was presented with a paper from its Doctrine Committee, considering change to the doctrine of marriage “in the light of Scripture, Tradition and Reason”. That remains the only formal presentation of the questions at issue the church has published to date, so that when the question is asked, in Scotland and beyond, what considerations have led to this moment of decision, it is the sole source for an answer. It is important, then, to be clear what the nature of the guidance has been.
In a series of articles on the Fulcrum site published just ten years ago I discussed the broader question of how the Anglican churches could think together about the gay issue. 2 Between then and now I have written no more on the matter, and return to it now, prompted by the reflections offered to the Scottish Synod, with considerable reluctance. The paper in question devotes two whole pages to a partly critical response to what I wrote then, and I have no wish at all to pursue an argument, direct or indirect, with what they write about me, which was intended, and is taken, in candour and respect. But the issues now at stake, which were large enough ten years ago, are now infinitely greater: disagreements, which have been extended by the arrival of the so-called “equal marriage” on the secular statute-books, now spread out, like a Canadian wildfire, from the sphere of ethics into the sphere of doctrine, and threaten the catholic identity of the church. But in the vacuum of Anglican theological discussion that prevails in Scotland, these fateful deliberations are able to slip by without much notice. As a theologian holding a license from a Scottish bishop, though with no part in any of the Scottish deliberations, I am not quite at liberty to shrug my shoulders when all around me are shrugging theirs.
Read it all from Fulcrum.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Scottish Episcopal Church * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
The Church Commissioners for England have announced their latest financial results with the publication of their annual report.
The Church Commissioners' total return on their investments in 2015 was 8.2 per cent, exceeding their long-term target rate by 2%. Over the past 30 years the fund has achieved an average return of 9.7% per annum. After taking account of expenditure, the fund has grown from £2.4bn at the start of 1995 to £7.0 billion at the end of 2015.
In 2015, the charitable expenditure of the Commissioners was £218.5 million, accounting for 15% of the Church's overall mission and ministry costs. Commissioners-funded projects ranged from clubs and drop-ins to youth work and food bank hubs, all supported by local churches.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets Stock Market * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.
Here are the questions to ponder after listening.
1) Power - Are you in need of God's power? Are you aware of how weak you actually are?
2) Surprise - Are you a Holy Spirit led person that can be open to surprises? Are there surprises God can do in your life, which you will actually notice if he does them?
3) Understanding - Who are the people in your life who don't have an understanding of the Gospel? Can you pray for them? Can you be a message bearer to them so that they might have understanding?
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Pentecost Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Scripture
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.
When they first got Andrew’s diagnosis, she told a night nurse that she just wanted to get her happy-go-lucky little boy back for a single hour. She had not understood then that any reprieve would only mean that they would have to go through losing him all over again — “and each return will be harder than the last as Andrew grows and bonds with us,” she wrote in a post.
By October, Andrew was healthier than he had been in a year, running and playing ball with his siblings. None of the doctors had ever seen this kind of recovery before. They decided to bring him back to the hospital for a bone-marrow test.
Michael Loken, who had analyzed Andrew’s blood work, had not been surprised that Andrew’s cancer returned. He had been working on a paper about R.A.M., the genetic marker that Andrew had. He had tracked 19 other cases of children with the phenotype; three years after the diagnosis, only two were still alive and healthy. When he examined Andrew’s marrow this time, using a sample of 200,000 cells, he got goose bumps. He repeated the test with 500,000 cells. Then he called Lacayo with the news. The cancer had disappeared.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Science & Technology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Netherlands has seen a sharp increase in the number of people choosing to end their own lives due to mental health problems such as trauma caused by sexual abuse.
Whereas just two people had themselves euthanised in the country in 2010 due to an "insufferable" mental illness, 56 people did so last year, a trend which sparked concern among ethicists .
In one controversial case, a sexual abuse victim in her 20s was allowed to go ahead with the procedure as she was suffering from "incurable" PTSD, according to the Dutch Euthanasia Commission.
Read it all from the Telegraph.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Psychology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
A diocesan spokesman said the decision was “ the outcome of a church disciplinary process for a historic matter of behaviour, unrelated to the Diocese of Waiapu, deemed to be a breach of church canons, rather than illegal, and not expected of a priest in the Anglican Church.”
However, Dean Godfrey told local newspapers his indiscretion had been no secret. He had confessed to his wife and his bishop in Australia at the time of his misconduct.
“My feeling is that there hasn’t been due process or natural justice in terms of the process of dismissal,” he said.
However the diocese responded that while the Australian diocese may have known of the affair, “it is the first that his bishop, now in New Zealand, has heard of it”.
Read it all (may require subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Men Psychology Sexuality Women Young Adults * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
In the interview, the Archbishop said: “This week of prayer seems to have touched a chord that none of us really expected to the degree it’s happened. Port Stanley Cathedral in the Falkland Islands has joined in Thy Kingdom Come. There’s people in Israel and all across the UK. People find they’re motivated and excited about praying with others for those who they long to find the love of Jesus Christ.”
The week of prayer will culminate this weekend with special ‘Beacon’ worship events in numerous cathedrals around the country, led by bishops and contemporary worship leaders. The event at Canterbury Cathedral, led by Archbishop Justin Welby, Pete Hughes and Hannah Heather, with worship led by Seth Pennock and Tim Hughes, will be broadcast live on Facebook.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
Many today remember Bonhoeffer for his radical Christian discipleship and sacrificial involvement in the German resistance movement against Hitler. However, few know him for what he believed was most central to his life and ministry: nourishing the body of Christ through the proclamation of the Word. Bonhoeffer cared deeply for the spiritual life and health of the local church, serving in various pastoral roles in Germany, Spain, England, and America. He even wrote his doctoral thesis—Sanctorum Communio—on the church as a holy community.
The sermon showcases Bonhoeffer’s masterful pastoral instincts. He speaks into this atmosphere of angst and uncertainty with a message of hope—a message the church still needs to hear and re-proclaim today, because no human is beyond fear’s reach. We’ve all encountered its many faces:
“. . . fear of an important decision; fear of a heavy stroke of fate, losing one’s job, an illness; fear of a vice that one can no longer resist, to which one is enslaved; fear of disgrace; fear of another person; fear of dying.”Fear fills us with loneliness, hopelessness, and desperation. It drives us to decisions and actions that undo us.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Europe Germany * Theology Christology Theology: Scripture
We are looking for a wise and godly Vicar who is
--firmly grounded in the Bible, both in personal life and teaching;
--devoted to prayer and open to the leading of the Holy Spirit;
--an effective communicator able to interpret and apply scripture to the culture and society we inhabit
--an experienced, collaborative, friendly and approachable leader.
Read it all.
My fifth example comes from the contemporary church, and surprisingly enough from the Anglican Church.
At the Lambeth Conference of 1958, the bishops produced quite a good statement about Scripture, and I want to quote this part of it to you:
The church is not over the holy scriptures, but under them, in the sense that the process of canonization was not one whereby the church conferred authority on the books, but one whereby the church acknowledged them to possess authority. And why? The books were recognized as giving the witness of the apostles to the life, teaching, death and resurrection of the Lord, and the interpretation by the apostles of these events. To that apostolic authority the church must ever bow.
So there is the need for the church to bow down before the authority of the Apostles. So it is time to sum up and conclude:
Firstly, our Lord Jesus Christ repeatedly endorsed the authority of the Old Testament, by appealing to it, and by submitting to its authority himself. And secondly, Our Lord Jesus Christ deliberately provided for the writing of the New Testament by appointing and equipping his Apostles to speak and teach in his name. Thus both the Old Testament and the New Testament, although in different ways, bear the stamp of his authority. Therefore, if we wish to submit to the authority of Christ, we must submit to the authority of scripture. If we wish to hear the voice of Christ, we must listen to Scripture through which he speaks. To the authority of Scripture carries with it the authority of Christ.
So the ultimate question before us tonight, and the ultimate question before the whole church today is: ‘Who is the Lord?’ Is the church the lord of Jesus Christ – so that it has the liberty to edit and manipulate his teaching? Or is Jesus Christ the lord of the church – so that it must believe and obey him? And since Jesus Christ is Lord there should be no hesitation on our part about our answer to those questions.
Let us pray…we will spend a moment or two of silent reflection and prayer, especially that we ourselves may be submissive and obedient to the Scriptures, and so to Christ:
We desire to thank you very much heavenly Father that you have given us in the holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments an authoritative and definitive revelation of yourself. We ask your forgiveness for times when we have presumed to disagree with what is written in Scripture. We pray for a new humility and a new obedience. We pray the same for the churches from which we come, to which we belong, that they may be truly biblical churches submissive to your authority. Hear us in our prayers, in the name and for the glory of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Listen to it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Christology Seminary / Theological Education Theology: Scripture
You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.
Here are the questions to ponder after listening.
1) What are the ways you are not allowing yourself to be sent?
2) Jesus is alive by the power of his Holy Spirit. That same holy spirit lives with us and abides in us each and every day. Do we live like that? Love Like that? Are we guided by that? Does that describe your life right now, a life led by and abiding with the spirit of the living God?
3) Jesus is sovereign Lord in a world where it doesn't much look like he's in charge. Do you embrace that Jesus is King now even in the mess and unpredictability of life, even if you can't sense or see it?
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Ascension Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology Theology: Scripture
You may find the link here.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
Jesus Christ calls every person to follow him. As Christians it’s our duty and joy to share that invitation. That’s why the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are inviting every church in England to join a week of prayer this Pentecost, from 8-15th May — let’s pray for every Christian to receive new confidence and joy in sharing this life-transforming faith.
Read more about it there.
Shepherding a megachurch is tied in many ways to America’s celebrity culture. There’s a push for big-stage events and around-the-clock access through social media to a pastor’s life and thoughts.
It’s a formula that amplifies the message and multiplies the flock, in congregants who show up on Sunday for worship and in tens of thousands more followers online.
High visibility can also set pastors on a correction-course with humility that evangelical Christians call getting right with Jesus....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Take Rose, for example. At the age of 19 and in her first year of university in a town near her home village, Rose and her family were among her tribemates who were targeted for ethnic cleansing.
Their only crime was to be born in the “H” tribe. The “L” tribe hated them for who they were and marked all their homes in the town for killing. Her two brothers were killed, but she survived because a Good Samaritan whisked her to the airport and got her the only remaining seat available on a flight out of the war zone. She had never flown in an airplane, had only the clothes on her back, and didn’t know where she was going.
When she arrived at her unknown destination, she didn’t speak any of the languages spoken there, except a few words of broken English. Someone asked her where she was going and all she could say was, “Take me to the closest Anglican church.” She grew up in a home of committed Anglican Christians so that’s the only thing she could think of.
She ended up in the office of a Church of Uganda Bishop. He and his wife “adopted” her and took her into their family.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Uganda * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Education Health & Medicine * International News & Commentary Africa * Theology Christology
The center of gravity for both orthodoxy and evangelism is not among Anglo suburban evangelicals but among African Anglicans and Asian Calvinists and Latin American Pentecostals. The vital core of American evangelicalism today can be found in churches that are multiethnic and increasingly dominated by immigrant communities.
The next Billy Graham probably will speak only Spanish or Arabic or Persian or Mandarin. American evangelicals often use the language of “revival” — a word that is sometimes co-opted by politicians to mean a resurgence of a politically useful but watered-down civil religion. A congregation that ignores the global church can deprive itself of revival by overlooking those places where the Spirit is working.
The thriving churches of American Christianity are multigenerational, theologically robust, ethnically diverse and connected to the global church. If Jesus is alive — and I believe that he is — he will keep his promise and build his church. But he never promises to do that solely with white, suburban institutional evangelicalism.
The question is whether evangelicals will be on the right side of Jesus.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Globalization History Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Charleston’s review of on-street parking in some downtown neighborhoods is pitting residents concerned about bars and restaurants against churches whose services can last two or three hours.
The city’s transportation and legal departments are conducting a 90-day study of residential parking regulations, especially those for downtown neighborhoods.
City Councilman Mike Seekings, chairman of council’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, said the study will examine the rules in 10 special parking districts and the total number of spaces available. It also will clarify the law on changing the hours of special residential parking restrictions.
Read it all from the front page of the local paper.
Whilst there are places of growth, the overall pattern is one of slow but continuing decline in church attendance and discipleship. We want to grow more confident in sharing our faith and enabling others to meet and follow Christ. We also need to place a greater focus on releasing and nurturing the gifts of laity and clergy so that ministry is increasingly a shared venture.
Read it all.
The chatter is getting louder. More voices are joining in all the time as people of all ages and from all backgrounds begin to talk more openly about death, dying and funerals. And Christians have much to contribute: after all in Easter services every year, if not every Sunday, we remember and celebrate our great hope that death is not the end, and that God will bring comfort for the bereaved.
And now the big conversation is really emerging in our culture. The taboo around death and dying is being pushed and challenged . Almost every week there are articles, opinion pieces and comments about death and funerals, sometimes triggered by the death of well-known individuals, and sometimes triggered by personal events. Movements such as Death Café are growing quickly as people begin to face the issues, whether making good financial plans or talking more widely about bereavement and loss.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Eschatology
Although a consistory court has a discretion to take into account pastoral considerations relating to a bereaved family, the churchyard rules must not be disregarded when erecting memorials in a churchyard.
Unauthorised memorials that violate those rules are a trespass, and liable to be removed by the PCC or on the orders of the Chancellor of the diocese. The fact that there were older memorials that had been installed without authorisation in the churchyard was not a reason for allowing more recent unauthorised memorials to remain there, the Consistory Court of the diocese of Durham said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children History Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Ascension Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology
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
Although Bill C-14 unavoidably damages the value of respect for life and puts vulnerable Canadians at risk, its goals include, as its preamble recognizes, maintaining respect for human life at both individual and societal levels and the protection of vulnerable people. Achieving those two goals demands another goal be explicit in the preamble: not allowing medically assisted suicide to become part of the norm for how we die.
So how can we, as far as possible in the current circumstances, achieve these three goals?
The conditions legislated for qualification for hastened death will be critical. They must be very limited and strictly controlled; they underline that it is an exceptional intervention, limited to adults competent at the time of death, terminally ill from a physical disease or disability, in unbearable suffering and giving their informed consent.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine History Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
It’s so easy to take things for granted, but what we learned is that people certainly want to be thankful for the people and things that they hold especially dear. What a place of worship or a Christian community can do is provide space and time for people to be able to do that in the midst of their busy lives. Thankfulness and gratitude are at the heart of generosity, which is a response to knowing the love of God.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Sports Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary England / UK
The same week that Kate Grosmaire visited the hospital where her 18-year-old daughter lay in a coma from a gunshot wound to the head, she visited the jail where the shooter was being held by police.
Even before they took Ann off life support, the Grosmaires knew wanted to forgive her murderer, her high school boyfriend Conor McBride.
“Conor has said that act could not have been anything but from God because people alone can’t do that; it has to be from God,” said Kate, who still talks to McBride on the phone once a week. “That was the start of his salvation.”
Since Ann’s death in 2010, Kate and husband Andy Grosmaire have become advocates for an approach to criminal punishment called restorative justice. In their daughter’s murder case, the Catholic couple learned they could push for lighter charges than life in prison.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
..Despite my profound desire for evangelism, I was a failure at it. This realization came to me early in my ministry. Yet, I also discovered that there are many people whom Christ has called and whom He has gifted by His Spirit to be particularly effective in evangelism. To this day, I’m surprised if anyone attributes their conversion in some part to my influence. In one respect, I’m glad that the Great Commission is not a commission principally to evangelism.
The words preceding Jesus’ commission were these: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). He then went on to say, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (v. 19). When Jesus gave this commission to the church, He was speaking authoritatively. He gave a mandate to the church of all ages not simply to evangelize but to make disciples. That raises a significant question: What is a disciple?
Read it all [h/t Robin Jordan]
A groundbreaking trial to see if it is possible to regenerate the brains of dead people, has won approval from health watchdogs.
A biotech company in the US has been granted ethical permission to recruit 20 patients who have been declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain injury, to test whether parts of their central nervous system can be brought back to life.
Scientists will use a combination of therapies, which include injecting the brain with stem cells and a cocktail of peptides, as well as deploying lasers and nerve stimulation techniques which have been shown to bring patients out of comas.
Read it all from the Telegraph.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
You can listen directly or download--at the link here (and if anyone has difficulty the download link is there)
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * South Carolina * Theology Christology Theology: Scripture
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine * South Carolina
He normally advises people on spiritual matters. But after last month’s terror attacks in Brussels, airport chaplain Michel Gaillard is busy helping staff cope with the trauma as they return to their jobs.
Father Michel Gaillard runs his fingers over a wooden bench covered in a thin layer of dust - a remnant of the bomb blasts that hit Zaventem airport the morning of March 22, killing 16 people. The airport chapel is still closed to the public. It's normally where passengers or staff would come to pray. But now, it functions as more of a counselling center, where Gaillard helps people deal with the trauma of recent events. The chaplain says he'll never forget the day of the attacks.
For many people though, March 22 will remain the day their lives changed forever. Gaillard says he has listened to so many stories and painful testimonies of people who were injured by the blasts, in some cases losing their feet or hands. He has also been dealing with the grief of people who lost loved ones. "The question I am asked most is: Was God present at that moment? And my answer is: There is one hand launching the bombs. And there is another hand helping to save the lives, to heal the hearts. Actually, there were many people who came to try and save others. And that's where you find God," said Gaillard.
Read it all
We have now had confirmed what many recognised to be true from the outset of this tragedy. Yet there remain unanswered questions and unresolved accountabilities. No judicial action can bring back the lives of those who were lost or undo the sorrow of those who continue to mourn them. And we cannot escape the reality that this verdict comes too late for some who did not live to see the consummation of their tireless quest.
At the heart of the Christian faith is a narrative of justice, and justice must be allowed to take its course. But our Christian message is also one of forgiveness, grace and mercy. It is only now that some of the wounds can begin to heal and that some of the hurts can begin to be released – truth and justice are crucial to that process, but grace and mercy must also play their part in the journey forward.
Now is the time for us to show our true dignity; we must not now become consumed by bitterness, recrimination and hate, as we allow justice to take its course. We continue to pray for the families of the 96 and everyone whose lives are affected and scarred by this tragedy.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Sports * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
‘To Your Credit’, the local churches’ grassroots movement and the Archbishop’s initiative to create a fairer financial system, has released the first of a series of four 10-minute films on ‘Money, Debt and Salvation.’ Six theologians will offer reflections on money and debt.
The Archbishop features in the first of the series, in a call to ‘challenge the sovereignty of money’.
“Credit and debt is one of the key issues that people face because it’s pervasive, it’s everywhere… The reason it’s so important is because the knock-on effect of credit and debt going wrong is so destructive. People’s lives are torn apart, their families are damaged.
“It’s a prophetic thing to get stuck into these issues because we have to challenge the sovereignty of money and finance over every aspect of our life. And to say in quite a revolutionary way, no you’re not in charge, human beings are the ultimate value.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Movies & Television Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy The Banking System/Sector Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
In the desert climate of Scottsdale, Arizona rest 147 brains and bodies, all frozen in liquid nitrogen with the goal of being revived one day.
It's not science fiction — to some it might not even be science — yet thousands of people around the world have put their trust, lives and fortunes into the promise of cryonics, the practice of preserving a body with antifreeze shortly after death in hopes future medicine might be able to bring the deceased back.
"If you think back half a century or so, if somebody stopped breathing and their heart stopped beating we would've checked them and said they're dead," said Max More, CEO of the Scottsdale-based Alcor. "Our view is that when we call someone dead it's a bit of an arbitrary line. In fact they are in need of a rescue."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Secularism * Theology Eschatology
Justification and judgement
Be on the lookout for it.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Pornography Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
The last two decades have seen an explosion of church planting and multiplication ministries and networks. Most church startups are planted by leaders in urban core or inner suburban neighborhoods—and this trend, among others, has financial implications for church planters and their families. But what other factors shape their financial reality?
In a study of 769 planters from across the nation, Barna assessed the general financial condition of church startups and their leaders; how different funding models hamper or facilitate various facets of ministry and family life; and what resources leaders need to effectively manage their personal and church finances. The findings from the full study release today in a new Barna report produced in partnership with Thrivent Financial, Church Startups and Money: The Myths and Realities of Church Planters and Finances.
Here are a few of the standout findings.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
Follow it there.
Update Hillsborough inquests: Fans unlawfully killed, jury concludes:
Ninety-six football fans who died as a result of a crush in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed, the inquests have concluded.
The jury decided the match commander Ch Supt David Duckenfield's actions amounted to "gross negligence" due to a breach of his duty of care to fans.
Police errors also added to a dangerous situation at the FA Cup semi-final.
After a 27-year campaign by victims' families, the behaviour of Liverpool fans was exonerated.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Marriage & Family Sports * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
What is worship? Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call Our Father Which Are in Heaven.--A. W. Tozer+James L. Snyder, The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship (Ventura, California: Regal, 2009), p. 8, quoted by yours truly in this morning's Sunday School class
The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh elected a Georgia pastor Saturday to be its next leader in a landmark election to succeed the retiring Bishop Robert Duncan, who led the diocese’s break with the Episcopal Church eight years ago.
Clergy and lay delegates elected the Rev. James Hobby, who got his start in ministry in Southwestern Pennsylvania a quarter century ago, on the fifth ballot. Six candidates were originally on the ballot at a special convention, held at St. Stephen Anglican Church in Sewickley.
If his election is ratified by other bishops in the Anglican Church in North America at their June meeting, Rev. Hobby would be consecrated as bishop in September.
Read it all.
Read it all.
The entire congregation of Mechanicsville Baptist Church reportedly joined as one on Monday in intercessory prayer, begging God to keep their teaching pastor, Warren Blake, from seeing the upcoming slate of spring and summer blockbusters.
“We come today solemnly asking for a great miracle,” intoned Deacon Fritz Foster to the grim-visaged assembly. “We have suffered so much from Pastor Warren seeing popular films these many long years, and we ask that this great burden be taken from us, that we may have a sermon, just once, free of movie quotes and references.”
LOL--read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Movies & Television Religion & Culture * General Interest Humor / Trivia
As the people of a missionary God, we are entrusted to participate in the world the same way He does—by committing to be His ambassadors. Missional is the perspective to see people as God does and to engage in the activity of reaching them. The church on mission is the church as God intended.
Instead, churches have become little more than suppliers of religious goods and services. They are more concerned with crafting a good service (music, preaching, ambience, etc) to keep their clients happy. And as a result, we have a disengaged and an uninvolved church.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Theology Christology Soteriology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Scripture
You can listen directly there and and download the mp3 there. The sermon proper starts about 10 seconds in.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Listen to it all here or you can find a download there.
The Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, is to become the 44th Bishop of Oxford in the summer, Downing Street announced on Tuesday morning. The see has been vacant for 18 months, since the Rt Revd John Pritchard retired in October 2014.
Dr Croft has been Bishop of Sheffield since 2009. He said that he was excited about his new position in one of the Church of England’s largest dioceses. “We have had seven really happy, fulfilling years in Sheffield. I will miss the people I work with the most. But I am looking forward to that new challenge.”
The three area bishops will free him to focus on strategy and a personal ministry of mission and evangelism, he says. “Initially, I will listen and discern what is happening locally, but I would hope to be engaged with adults and young people in places where they are — schools and workplaces.”
Read it all.
In the ’90s we millennials heard stories about a time when kids performed plays at home and families gathered around their pianos, but we consumed our entertainment from TVs that kept growing in size and programming.
In following our individual channels, choices, and pursuits, we became more isolated. We became anxious, depressed, and exhausted and began to wonder if bigger was really better. Now something new is happening. Farmer’s markets are springing up. People are turning off their televisions and creating their own stories on social media through status updates, blogs, and vlogs. People upcycle, knit, and quilt.
Those who grew up with big-box stores and megachurches are longing for small, deep, and creative communities. These worshipers reject a worship service where paid professionals entertain those attending and instead are committed to making liturgy, art, music, and relationships.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
You can find the link at the page here or the MP3 there; listening to Gary Beson's sermon is recommended, it comes at about 31 minutes.
The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.
I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
That my soul cannot resist:
A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.
Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.
Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time,
For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
And tonight I long for rest.
Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;
Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.
Such songs have a power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And comes like the benediction
That follows after prayer.
Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.
And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882); this was one of Dad's favorite poems which he used to listen to on the radio before he went to bed when he was growing up--KSH.
Filed under: * By Kendall Harmon Family * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Poetry & Literature * General Interest Photos/Photography
("Stu" Harmon in 1954)
Francis Stuart Harmon Jr., affectionately known as “Stuart” or “Stu” by those closest to him, died at the Village at Summerville in South Carolina on April 2, 2016. He was 83.
Born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1932 he was the son of the late Francis Stuart Harmon and Waverly (Harwood) Harmon. His sister, Virginia Jameson, passed away on March 14, 1988.
He was married to Mary Ann (French) Harmon for 46 years until her death on March 8, 2007.
Following an education at Horace Mann School and Princeton University, Mr. Harmon served in the Navy on the Air Craft Carrier U S Hancock in the Pacific from 1955-1957, and later as an instructor at the Naval Academy from 1957-1959. After marrying Mary Ann French in 1959, he earned a Masters in Science at the University of Illinois in 1960.
He then taught chemistry at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey from 1960-1981, and afterward at the Charlotte (NC) Latin school from 1981-1989. He also wrote test questions for the Education Testing Service for the College Board Chemistry Achievement test and Advanced Placement exam.
As a boy Stu fell in love with the Silver Bay Association in the Adirondack Mountains in upper New York State. He and his wife became permanent residents there in 1995 after spending many summers in the area with his own family. He served the association in many capacities including as a member of the Board of Trustees.
Stuart was a well-loved father, grandfather, community servant and outdoorsman. He will especially be remembered as a passionate chemistry teacher who combined wry humor with a desire to coax a great intellectual curiosity out of those under his care.
Survivors include two sons, Kendall S. Harmon of Summerville, SC and Randall H. Harmon of Gaithersburg, Md., a nephew, John Jameson of West Chester, Pa., and a niece, Ann Jameson of Alexandria, Va. He also has three grandchildren, Abigail Harmon, Nathaniel Harmon and Selimah Harmon.
A memorial service followed by a reception will take place on April 9, 2016 at 2 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Summerville, S.C. The Rev. Craige Borrett will officiate and the Rev. Gary Beson will preach. A further service to give thanks for Stu’s life will take place in the summer of 2016 at the Silver Bay Assn. Chapel in Silver Bay, NY, at a date to be announced.
In lieu of flowers the family is requesting that gifts be made to the Silver Bay Assn. Emp Alumni Fellowship Scholarship Fund.
A memorial message may be written to the family by visiting our website at http://www.jamesadyal.com.
ARRANGEMENTS BY JAMES A. DYAL FUNERAL HOME, 303 SOUTH MAIN STREET, SUMMERVILLE, SC 29483 (843) 873-4040.
Whether a lesson be mastered in obedience to conscience, or from a dread of punishment, from filial affection, or determination to beat a rival, is a question of little moment, I grant, in reference to the stock of knowledge acquired, but of incalculable consequence when asked in reference to the bearing upon moral character. The zeal to make scholars, should, in the minds of Christians at least, be tempered by the knowledge that it may repress a zeal for better things. The head should not be furnished at the expense of the heart. Surely, at most, it is exchanging fine gold for silver, when the culture of gracious affections and holy principle is neglected for any attainments of intellect, however brilliant or varied. What Christian parent, would wish his son to be a linguist or a mathematician, of the richest acquirements or the deepest science, if he must become so by a process, in which the improvement of his religious capabilities would be surrendered, or his mind accustomed to motives not recognised in the pure and self-denying discipline of the Gospel. Not that such discipline is unfriendly to intellectual superiority; on the contrary, the incentives to attain it, will be enduring, and consequently efficient, in proportion to their purity. The highest allurements to the cultivation of our rational nature, are peculiar to Christianity. Hence, literature and science have won their highest honors in the productions of minds most deeply imbued with its spirit. The effect, however, of exclusively Christian discipline in a seminary of learning, when fairly stated, is not so much to produce one or two prodigies, as to increase the average quantum of industry; to raise the standard of proficiency among the many of moderate abilities, rather than to multiply the opportunities of distinction for the gifted few.
Read it all.
Read it all.
Spent the bulk of the weekend thinking of and remembering Dad. He was a great gift.
Now I am occupied with all the logistics involved in deaths-obituaries, memorial service arrangements, phone calls with family members, flowers, receptions, and on and on.
Pray that I may be Spirit led and keep the big picture. I would also value your prayers for my brother Randy and his wife Barb--KSH.
What difference does it make that Christ is risen? I’m not asking what difference we would like it to make: I guess we want resurrection to be the answer to our questions, the happy ending to all our doubts and fears. I’ve spoken about ‘before’ and ‘after’, but I don’t mean that Easter is closure. Far from it: it pulls us into new journeys whose end we can never predict. So how does Easter change everything?
What it doesn’t do is to wind back the clock, as if this wilting daffodil could somehow regain its freshness and vitality. It’s the opposite. Easter winds the clock forward to the time where there will be a new heaven and a new earth, where everything we know is transformed. The Easter garden where Jesus comes to Mary and calls her by name – this is the paradise that an ageing, hurting world has looked forward to since time began. She thinks he is the gardener, and of course he is, exactly that, the divine Gardener who by rising on the first day of the week has begun to re-make creation and bring beauty out of ashes. And this new Eden is our destiny as human beings caught up in the renewal of creation that is Easter. Our first reading said: ‘when Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory’. It is coming, yet it has already begun: with Mary in the garden, with the disciples Jesus greets, with those who have not seen yet believed, with all who worship and love and follow him on this Easter Day.
For Easter takes our fear away, and gives us back our lives.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained
My father died suddenly on Saturday morning, April 2, 2016. He was 83. The family would be grateful for your prayers.
When Helga Kissel was 16, she fled Berlin as Soviets marched in. She met a U.S. soldier in Bavaria, who sent her care packages, and now, she does the same for a 16-year old Syrian girl.
Watch it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Europe Germany Russia Middle East Syria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In this tomb, also, you may see, A pledge to us...Yes, verily, it is a pledge,
Of Christ's power to raise us to a spiritual life — The resurrection of Christ is set forth in the Scriptures as a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers; and by the very same power too, that effected that. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul draws the parallel with a minuteness and accuracy that are truly astonishing. He prays for them, that they may know what is the exceeding greatness of God's power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." And then he says, concerning them, "God, who is rich in mercy, of his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us usi together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus^" Here, I say, you see Christ dead, quickened, raised, and seated in glory; and his believing people quickened from their death in sins, and raised with him, and seated too with him in the highest heavens. The same thing is stated also, and the same parallel is drawn in the Epistle to the Romans ; where it is said, "We are buried with Christ by baptism into death; that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." But can this be effected in us ? I answer, Behold the tomb ! Who raised the Lord Jesus? He himself said, " I have power to lay down my life, and power to take it up again...."
--"Horae homileticae, Sermon 1414
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Christology Eschatology
In parallel, I got to know Kit’s parishioners who worship at St James’, as well as the group of people who support Kit - all full of faith, kindness, generosity of spirit, care and consideration for each other (and a knowledge of the Bible that puts me to shame!). I saw and experienced, first hand, the positive differences that the church can make in a local community, and the value of community that the church can offer to those that seek it.
And I found myself being steadily drawn back to God and my faith. There wasn’t any ‘sudden moment’, just a growing recognition that I wanted this to be part of my life again. I now attend Kit’s church every Sunday when I remind myself to be considerate, loving and helpful to others; to be kind; to be generous…and I find this weekly reminder a very helpful ‘pause’ in my busy life. And I have also experienced, first hand, the value and power of prayer.
I have enjoyed immersing myself in supporting Kit’s church, seeking to bring my business experience to bear to the PCC and our Finance and Buildings committees. We are currently wrestling with the usual realities of a roof that needs a major overhaul, and a need for funding!
Read it all and do not miss the photo and the further link for more.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * General Interest Photos/Photography
When all is done, the hell of hells, the torment of torments, is the everlasting absence of God, and the everlasting impossibility of returning to his presence...to fall out of the hands of the living God, is a horror beyond our expression, beyond our imagination.... What Tophet is not Paradise, what Brimstone is not Amber, what gnashing is not a comfort, what gnawing of the worme is not a tickling, what torment is not a marriage bed to this damnation, to be secluded eternally, eternally, eternally from the sight of God?--From a sermon to the Earl of Carlisle in 1622
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Eschatology
I can bring it so neare; but onely the worthy hearer, and the worthy receiver, can call this Lord this Jesus, this Christ, Immanuel God with us; onely that virgin soule, devirginated in the blood of Adam but restored in the blood of the Lambe hath this Ecce, this testimony, this assurance, that God is with him; they that have this Ecce, this testimony, in a rectified conscience, are Godfathers to this child Jesus and may call him Immanuel God with us for as no man can deceive God, so God can deceive no man; God cannot live in the darke himself neither can he leave those who are his in the darke: If he be with thee he will make thee see that he is with thee and never goe out of thy sight, till he have brought thee, where thou canst never goe out of his.
--John Donne (1572-1631), Preached at St. Pauls, upon Christmas Day, in the Evening, 1624
And this is where the oddity of today’s celebration touches our lives in challenging ways. If I may speak personally, I find it increasingly difficult to resist the onslaught of information that is directed at me or required from me. My life feels as though it is regulated to the point of near extinction, by Government, by economic responsibility, by social and cultural suspicion, by commercial bureaucracy. And this is before I start on the day job! My space as a human being sometimes feels so thoroughly invaded and occupied that I just want to switch off, cut the wifi, abandon the mobile, stop the emails, and regain some quality of human and spiritual equilibrium.
It is no wonder that so high a percentage of young people in Britain today register anxiety as a dominant emotion. The tank of our potential for human flourishing is cluttered up with too much stuff. It’s as though we’ve filled the empty tomb so full with an unhappy blend of debt, regulation, kitsch memorabilia, and a craving for novelty, that there is no longer any expectation of room for glory, space for mystery, allowance for the confounding of limited expectation.
This is a situation that was recently described by Jonathan Sacks, in his masterly book, Not in God’s name, where he observes that we have attained “unprecedented achievements in knowledge, freedom, life expectancy and affluence….[and] the result is that the twenty-first century has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning”.
Which is why the symbol of the empty tomb is so powerful and haunting. Here is the sign of our mortality and death. One day the frame of this body will come to resemble that tomb, when the breath stops and the agency of control and demand is lifted from us. Then, as now when we celebrate the dawn of Easter glory and the glory of life, the very breath of God will be able to fill the space within us, to satisfy our deepest longing, to give freedom to our best and greatest loves, to perfect our every thought and deed that has already expanded the meaning of goodness, truth and justice.
As Easter celebrations begin, those of you who gave up alcohol, sweets, cakes and biscuits, can look forward to your Easter gin and tonic, the glass of remarkable claret, and unbridled pleasure as you accept the offer of a chocolate after lunch. This is your enactment of the reception of divine love in the glory of resurrection; you have made an empty space in your appetites and desires, in order to rehearse what it will be like to receive, all over again, a perfect and eternal gift in the new creation that evokes something you have already known so well. The full to overflowing font is the symbol of that perfect gift and what resurrection means. It is the recovery of our total capacity to expand into the divine life of God, as in baptism we are united with Jesus Christ: “In him the whole fullness of divinity dwells in bodily form, and you have come to fullness in him” – is how St Paul describes it (Col. 2.9) So, happy Easter. Savour the gin, raise a toast to the CofE with the claret, enjoy the chocolate, and expand into the freedom of a bank holiday. But more than these transient celebrations, attend to the eternal fulfilment they betoken. Don’t run away from the empty tomb; it is your destiny. Let its haunting beauty inspire you. Make space for the glory of God to begin its transformative effect in your life now.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology Eschatology
Cigarette breaks between hymns, candlelit services in pubs and parties serving halal food to welcome Muslim neighbours are among unlikely new ideas helping revive the fortunes of once run-down inner city churches, highlighted in a new report.
The breach with traditional ecclesiastical style is singled out in the study into an at-times controversial plan by the Church of England to “plant” new congregations into historic parishes where numbers in the pews have dwindled for decades.
The policy, backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other senior clerics, involves asking a group of often young, enthusiastic members of successful, growing congregations to move to another church as “planters” to inject new energy and ideas.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ecclesiology
What is your vision for the global 21st-century church?
That we would be hungry for the presence of God in our midst and that we would be more united. When the Word says that when we’re united, there’s a blessing. There is a dying to self that happens when you want unity. A lot of people feel that that is too hard, so I would pray that we become better at that. I would pray that there is another great awakening and revival, and that we get passionate about people getting saved. It’s only Jesus that can do that.
As his representatives, I hope we have a great revelation of who we are in Christ. You don’t need a platform, and you don’t need a microphone. You just need to go and preach Jesus wherever you find yourself.
Read it all.
Christ himself pointed out the benefit of his sufferings and resurrection when he said to the women in Mt 28, 10 - "Fear not: go tell my brethren that they depart into Galilee, and there shall they see me." These are the very first words they heard from Christ after his resurrection from the dead, by which he confirmed all the former utterances and loving deeds he showed them, namely, that his resurrection avails in our behalf who believe, so that he therefore anticipates and calls Christians his brethren, who believe it, and yet they do not, like the apostles, witness his resurrection.
The risen Christ waits not until we ask or call on him to become his brethren. Do we here speak of merit, by which we deserve anything? What did the apostles merit? Peter denied his Lord three times; the other disciples all fled from him; they tarried with him like a rabbit does with its young. He should have called them deserters, yea, betrayers, reprobates, anything but brethren. Therefore this word is sent to them through the women out of pure grace and mercy, as the apostles at the time keenly experienced, and we experience also, when we are mired fast in our sins, temptations and condemnation.
These are words full of all comfort that Christ receives desperate villains as you and I are and calls us his brethren. Is Christ really our brother, then I would like to know what we can be in need of? Just as it is among natural brothers, so is it also here. Brothers according to the flesh enjoy the same possessions, have the same father, the one inheritance, otherwise they would not be brothers: so we enjoy with Christ the same possessions, and have in common with him one Father and one inheritance, which never decreases by being distributed, as other inheritances do; but it ever grows larger and larger; for it is a spiritual inheritance. But an earthly inheritance decreases when distributed among many persons. He who has a part of this spiritual inheritance, has it all.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology
But reality is more powerful, deep and penetrating.
How much Jesus loves me is a better story than how much I'm trying to love myself.
The greatness of the creator is a better story than the reflected greatness of the creation.
Grace is a better story than success.
The cross is a better story than recovery.
The resurrection is a better story than anything.
And – one more thing – it's true.
Read it all.
Indian priest Tom Uzhunnalil was reportedly crucified by Islamic State (ISIS) on Good Friday. The gruesome act was committed by the Yemen unit of the dreaded terror outfit.
Father Uzhunnalil was abducted by ISIS on March 4 in the aftermath of an attack on a church in Aden. At least 16 people were killed in the Catholic prayer hall by the Islamic militants. Eyewitnesses reveal that Father Uzhunnalil was dragged out of his room and loaded into a van. The militants were not to be seen again in the region again following the attack.
Read it all.
Update: CNA is reporting the news is still unconfirmed.
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“Who is this for?” The primary witnesses of Easter are those who are marginal in the culture, on the very edges of society of that day - women, the poor. Given the importance that we in society give to celebrity endorsements this is a little disconcerting. The resurrection of Jesus is for all people everywhere, most of all for the poor, the despairing, the forgotten and abandoned.
Resurrection life is springing up all over this world. In Burundi three weeks ago Caroline and I arrived at a smallish, fairly makeshift church in a poor area, packed to the doors. Inside we heard testimony of the suffering of the local people in the violence that had prevailed there - one who’d been shot, another beaten, many threatened. Each morning bodies were found in ditches.
I did what I have learned is the best thing to do when among followers of Jesus Christ, however bad their circumstances, whether in that church or in a refugee camp the next day, and spoke about Jesus Christ, alive.
Because it was Jesus Christ that was being spoken about and it was being translated. Quiet fell, broken later by rifle fire and grenades. At the end, we sang again, and the place lifted in worship, drums playing, people dancing. This was Christianity, living out Easter hope in the face of darkness, unquenched, unquenchable.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics
This Holy Saturday we watch and wait.
What comes will surely be his surprise-
He’s working on it right now-
And we must wait for it,
There is nothing else to do.
On Holy Saturday we realize, as at no other time,
We simply have to wait.
And then it happens!
On Holy Saturday we enter into the mystery. Today we contemplate Jesus, there in the tomb, dead. In that tomb, he is dead, exactly the way each of us will be dead. We don't easily contemplate dying, but we rarely contemplate being dead. I have had the blessed experience of being with a number of people who have died, of arriving at a hospital shortly after someone has died, of attending an autopsy, and of praying with health sciences students over donated bodies in gross anatomy class. These were powerful experiences because they all brought me face-to-face with the mystery of death itself. With death, life ends. Breathing stops, and in an instant, the life of this person has ended. And, in a matter of hours, the body becomes quite cold and life-less - dramatic evidence, to our senses, that this person no longer exists. All that is left is this decaying shell that once held his or her life.
Death is our ultimate fear. Everything else we fear, every struggle we have, is some taste of, some chilling approach to, the experience of losing our life. This fear is responsible for so much of our lust and greed, so much of our denial and arrogance, so much of our silly clinging to power, so much of our hectic and anxiety-driven activity. It is the one, inevitable reality we all will face. There is not enough time, money, joy, fulfillment, success. Our physical beauty and strength, our mental competency and agility, all that we have and use to define ourselves, slip away from us with time. Our lives are limited. Our existence, in every way we can comprehand it, comes to an end. We will all die. In a matter of time, all that will be left of any of us is a decomposing body.
Today is a day to soberly put aside the blinders we have about the mystery of death and our fear of it. Death is very real and its approach holds great power in our lives. The "good news" we are about to celebrate has no real power in our lives unless we have faced the reality of death. To contemplate Jesus' body, there in that tomb, is to look our death in the face, and it is preparation for hearing the Gospel with incredible joy. That we are saved from the ultimate power of sin and of death itself comes to us as a great relief, as a tremendous liberation. If Jesus lives, you and I will live! The mystery of death, which we contemplate today, will be overcome - we will live forever!
The feathers of the birds made the air soft, softer
than the quiet in a cocoon waiting for wings,
stiller than the stare of a hooded falcon.
--Barbara Ras (1949-- ), "A Book Said Dream and I Do"
Jesus dies. His lifeless body is taken down from the cross. Painters and sculptors have strained their every nerve to portray the sorrow of Mary holding her lifeless son in her arms, as mothers today in Baghdad hold with the same anguish the bodies of their children. On Holy Saturday, or Easter Eve, God is dead, entering into the nothingness of human dying. The source of all being, the One who framed the vastness and the microscopic patterning of the Universe, the delicacy of petals and the scent of thyme, the musician’s melodies and the lover’s heart, is one with us in our mortality. In Jesus, God knows our dying from the inside.
--–The Rt. Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Rowell, (recently retired) Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe
HOW life and death in Thee
Thou hadst a virgin womb
A Joseph did betroth
–Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)
This ultimate solidarity is the final point and the goal of that first 'descent,' so clearly described in the Scriptures, into a 'lower world' which, with Augustine, can already be characterised, by way of contrast with heaven, as infernum. Thomas Aquinas will echo Augustine here. For him, the necessity whereby Christ had to go down to Hades lies not in some insufficiency of the suffering endured on the Cross but in the fact that Christ has assumed all the defectus of sinners...Now the penalty which the sin of man brought on was not only the death of the body. It was also a penalty affected the soul, for sinning was also the soul's work, and the soul paid the price in being deprived of the vision of God. As yet unexpiated, it followed that all human beings who lived before the coming of Christ, even the holy ancestors, descended into the infernum. And so, in order to assume the entire penalty imposed upon sinners, Christ willed not only to die, but to go down, in his soul, ad infernum. As early as the Fathers of the second century, this act of sharing constituted the term and aim of the Incarnation. The 'terrors of death' into which Jesus himself falls are only dispelled when the Father raises him again...He insists on his own grounding principle, namely, that only what has been endured is healed and saved.
That the Redeemer is solidarity with the dead, or, better, with this death which makes of the dead, for the first time, dead human beings in all reality- this is the final consequence of the redemptive mission he has received from the Father. His being with the dead is an existence at the utmost pitch of obedience, and because the One thus obedient is the dead Christ, it constitutes the 'obedience of a corpse' (the phrase is Francis of Assisi's) of a theologically unique kind. By it Christ takes the existential measure of everything that is sheerly contrary to God, of the entire object of the divine eschatological judgment, which here is grasped in that event in which it is 'cast down' (hormemati blethesetai, Apocalypse 18, 21; John 12; Matthew 22, 13). But at the same time, this happening gives the measure of the Father's mission in all its amplitude: the 'exploration' of Hell is an event of the (economic) Trinity...This vision of chaos by the God-man has become for us the condition of our vision of Divinity. His exploration of the ultimate depths has transformed what was a prison into a way.
--Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988), Mysterium Paschale: The Mystery of Easter [emphasis mine]
Holy Saturday is a neglected day in parish life. Few people attend the Services. Popular piety usually reduces Holy Week to one day — Holy Friday. This day is quickly replaced by another — Easter Sunday. Christ is dead and then suddenly alive. Great sorrow is suddenly replaced by great joy. In such a scheme Holy Saturday is lost.
In the understanding of the Church, sorrow is not replaced by joy; it is transformed into joy. This distinction indicates that it is precisely within death the Christ continues to effect triumph.
–Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983)
"By the grace of God" Jesus tasted death "for every one". In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son should not only "die for our sins" but should also "taste death", experience the condition of death, the separation of his soul from his body, between the time he expired on the cross and the time he was raised from the dead. The state of the dead Christ is the mystery of the tomb and the descent into hell. It is the mystery of Holy Saturday, when Christ, lying in the tomb, reveals God's great sabbath rest after the fulfillment of man's salvation, which brings peace to the whole universe.
--The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, para. 624
‘For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’ Paul’s classic challenge to the wisdom of the world echoes down the centuries and confronts us once more as we come face to face once more with the great events which not only stand at the heart of our faith but are etched into our geography and architecture, as this great building makes clear. One of the paradoxical signs of the continuing and urgent relevance of the message and meaning of the cross is that it is once more under attack from several directions; and we who today declare that we will be true to our ordination vows, and who will this evening and tomorrow commemorate those high and holy, disturbing and decisive events in the story of Jesus himself, must take a deep breath, summon up our courage, and learn again what it means to discover the wisdom of God in what the world counts foolishness, the power of God in what the world counts weakness.Read it all.
The first challenge comes from within, in the temptation to water down the message of the cross so that it becomes less offensive, more palatable to the ordinary sensible mind. We must of course acknowledge that many, alas, have offered caricatures of the biblical theology of the cross. It is all too possible to take elements from the biblical witness and present them within a controlling narrative gleaned from somewhere else, like a child doing a follow-the-dots puzzle without paying attention to the numbers and producing a dog instead of a rabbit. This is what happens when people present over-simple stories, as the mediaeval church often did, followed by many since, with an angry God and a loving Jesus, with a God who demands blood and doesn’t much mind whose it is as long as it’s innocent. You’d have thought people would notice that this flies in the face of John’s and Paul’s deep-rooted theology of the love of the triune God: not ‘God was so angry with the world that he gave us his son’ but ‘God so loved the world that he gave us his son’. That’s why, when I sing that interesting recent song and we come to the line, ‘And on the cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied’, I believe it’s more deeply true to sing ‘the love of God was satisfied’, and I commend that alteration to those of you who sing that song, which is in other respects one of the very few really solid recent additions to our repertoire.
But once we’ve got rid of the caricature, we are ready to face the reality, the reality of the foolishness and weakness, but in fact the wisdom and the power, of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology Theology: Scripture
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.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees Gods face, that is self-life, must die ;
What a death were it then to see God die ?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes ?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us ? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul’s, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg’d and torn ?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God’s partner here, and furnish’d thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom’d us ?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They’re present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them ; and Thou look’st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang’st upon the tree.
I turn my back to thee but to receive
Corrections till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust, and my deformity ;
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou mayst know me, and I’ll turn my face.
–John Donne (1572-1631)
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Poetry & Literature * Theology Christology Soteriology
Read it all.
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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.
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Containing over 70 million members in 38 national and regional churches (provinces), the Anglican Communion is the world’s third largest Christian community. Retired Bishop Colin Buchanan defines a province in the Anglican context as a “cluster of dioceses, with an organic (usually constitutional) relationship which forms a province. The minimum is typically four dioceses to constitute a province, thereby conforming visibly to the requirement that, when there is a vacancy in a bishop’s post, there will still be three bishops available to consecrate a new bishop for the vacancy.”1 With rare exceptions all dioceses belong to a province. Prior to its separation in 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina was affiliated with the province called The Episcopal Church (TEC).
In 2014, the Global South Primates Steering Committee announced the establishment of a Primatial Oversight Council. This council provides pastoral and primatial oversight to dissenting individuals, parishes, and dioceses in order to provide a meaningful connection to the wider Anglican Communion. The steering committee extended an offer for provisional primatial oversight to our diocese, which we accepted. At the diocesan convention later that year a Task Force for Provincial Affiliation was established by vote of a resolution. Bishop Lawrence appointed one clergy and one lay person from each of the six deaneries to serve. The task force began meeting to “design and initiate a process whose goal will be to enable the Diocese and this Convention, along with their parishes, to discern among the options available for provincial affiliation, and in Convention, decide our means of affiliation.”2
For the next several months the task force considered all options, one of which was to remain unaffiliated. While provincial oversight from the Global South Steering Committee is a solid temporary arrangement, to remain disconnected from a province is not a desirable state for a diocese. Lack of affiliation has disadvantages in terms of ecclesiastical fellowship and limits both our ability to shape the larger communion and provide a normal process for episcopal succession. Ultimately, the task force determined that remaining unaffiliated was not a realistic option.
Read it carefully and read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Global South Churches & Primates * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology
On Monday April 11 at 6 p.m. the Diocese will host an event at the Cathedral in Charleston where a number of honored guests from Africa and South America will speak about their work. A soup reception will follow. All are encouraged to join us for this unprecedented gathering.
• Bishop Rob Martin, Diocese of Marsabit, Anglican Church of Kenya
• Rose Kanyunyuzi, head of the Go Project in Uganda
• Bishop Joseph Abura, Diocese of Karamoja, Anglican Church of Uganda
• The Rev. Raymond Bukenya, the Diocese of Karamoja, Anglican Church of Uganda
• Bishop George Kasangaki, Diocese of Masindi-Kitara, Anglican Church of Uganda
• The Rev. Paul Ssembiro, recent past Provincial Coordinator for Mission and Evangelism in Uganda, and the present Country Team Leader of African Enterprises
• Bishop Elias Chakupewa, Diocese of Tabora, Anglican Church of Tanzania
• Bishop Raphael Samuel is the Bishop of Boliva
• The Rev. Geison Vasconcellos, Diocese of Recife, Brazil
Read it all.
The only path to the hope of Easter is through the struggle of Holy Week. Like the assurance offered in the 23rd Psalm, we’re not given a shortcut around the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
The only way out is through.
Read it all.
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A historic declaration from the Anglican Church of Canada regarding it’s part in the horrific cultural genocide and many abuses done to an estimated 150,000 Aboriginal children and their families in the name of Christ was delivered at North America’s oldest Anglican Church, Her Majesties Chapel of the Mohawks in Brantford, Saturday afternoon.
Canada’s top Anglican Bishops and leaders were on hand as Anglican Archbishop of Canada, Fred Hiltz and National Indigenous Bishop, Right Reverend Mark MacDonald delivered a humble and heartfelt apology to all Indigenous children forced to attend residential schools operated by the Church and their families.
The Chapel is only a short distance from the Mohawk Institute, Canada’s first and longest running residential school where atrocities were committed in the name of education and Christianity against Aboriginal children.
Read it all.
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The Anglican diocese of Bathurst is being forced to sell church property following a NSW Supreme Court order to settle an outstanding debt of up to $25 million to Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
The diocese, which covers one-third of the area of NSW, is likely next month to approve the first sale of properties at a synod, or governing council, after losing a lengthy battle in which it argued it did not have the authority to sell property it held under trust structures.
"We will be selling church trust property in order to satisfy what we owe," Ian Palmer, the bishop in charge of the Bathurst diocese, said.
Read it all.
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As we celebrate Palm Sunday, Andy Crouch looks at four snapshots from Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Through the stories of the king, the image, the pennies and the jar, we learn lessons about worship, power, and what it means to bear the image of God.
Listen to it all by podcast or download.
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You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there. Please note that the sermon proper begins after an introduction and a reading from John 17 by parish members. Also, there reference to the "rise of the nones" is the "none" as is no religious affiliation in some recent American religious surveys.
Filed under: * By Kendall Sermons & Teachings * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics Spirituality/Prayer * Theology Christology Theology: Scripture
Black Mountain Missionary Baptist Church absolutely gleams in the sunshine with a fresh coat of paint on the outer walls and brilliant yellow daffodils blooming on the manicured lawn.
The handiwork of an arsonist has been entirely erased. There are no signs of the flames that charred the insides of the historic church, which dates back to the days when this was a working coal camp. The soot and stain and odor of acrid smoke are long gone. So, too, are the water-logged furnishings, ruined in the mad dash by firefighters to extinguish the blaze.
Church members refused to leave Black Mountain in shambles.
“They never missed a worship service because of the fire,” said Bill Wallace, director of missions for the Upper Cumberland Baptist Association. “They never gave up. That says so much about their determination to serve the Lord and to reach this community with the gospel.”
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Denver’s business community took notice of [Karla] Nugent because of her philanthropy. As leader of sales, marketing, and human resources, she’s created a culture of generosity at Weifield. The company donates to more than 30 nonprofits in the city, including organizations that support women, veterans, at-risk youth, and the urban poor. Employees join in the generosity as well, taking bike rides to raise money for MS and building houses for Habitat for Humanity on company time.
In 2014, Nugent won the Denver Business Journal’s Corporate Citizen of the Year Award as well as the award for Outstanding Woman in Business for architects, engineers, and construction.
But light began to flood into Weifield when, several years ago, Nugent decided to bring the community’s needs into the company. After seeing growing income inequality in Denver, she created the Weifield Group apprenticeship program.
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They all filed past the open coffin, seeing familiar remnants of Ms. McDonald’s life: a favorite pink blouse and white suit, and her finest jewelry.
“Why did they cut off all her hair?” a son, Errol McDonald, 57, remembers thinking. “Maybe it’s the cancer.” He bent and kissed her.
But sometimes children see what adults cannot. Adults rationalize. Children call it like it is.
“My 10-year-old son said, ‘Daddy, that’s not Grandma,’” recalled Mr. McDonald, a school maintenance worker in Manhattan. “I said, ‘Yes, that’s what happens,’” he told the boy, explaining that people can look different in death....[but the 10 year old was right]...
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It is not the fact that the French Revolution attacked clerical celibacy that is revealing, then, but which arguments they deployed against it. Earlier opponents attacked the institution as a crime against innocent bastards and faithful concubines, or as unscriptural Roman overreach, or as an implicit denigration of family life. In the case of the French revolutionaries, their arguments were primarily either utilitarian or legalistic—which may be why they sound familiar today....
More modern-sounding still, in our age of "marriage equality," are the legalistic arguments. Insofar as clerical celibacy was a form of discrimination on the basis of profession, it was deemed a violation of egalité. The most rhetorically powerful ploy of all was to elevate parenthood to the status of a basic human right, which vows of celibacy infringed upon. One abbé Cournand, upon presenting a motion in favor of clerical marriage in a Paris suburb's local assembly in 1790, said that obligatory celibacy violated clerics' "inalienable right … to exist as father and spouse." A 1795 treatise by a married priest argued that becoming a père de famille was a basic right and any act prohibiting it was "fundamentally invalid [and] an attack on liberty."
The debate over clerical celibacy was at its liveliest during the period of ambiguity following the Civil Constitution of the Clergy of 1790, since the issue of clerical marriage is not actually mentioned in that document and would not be settled until the Constitution of 1791. One pamphleteer of the uncertain interim argued that the National Assembly did not even need to clarify its position on clerical marriage, since the right to marry was implicit in the egalitarian decrees already enacted. "Lay people can marry, therefore priests can marry as well." In his eyes, it was a constitutional fait accompli. Eulogius Schneider, a former Franciscan monk who would become a prosecutor of the Terror, echoed this line of argument in 1791: "Priests are men and citizens, and by consequence, they must enjoy the rights of man and of citizen." In the hands of such innovators, the Rights of Man and Citizen proved as accommodating as our Fourteenth Amendment in the search for a never-before-dreamed-of right to marry.
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