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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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The Bishop of Willesden concluded by saying:
"We lack a consensus on what we mean by "good disagreement" - is it about process or is it about outcomes? I think that many who want change believe that it's possible, on the basis of good disagreement, to have pluriformity of practice in the Church. Others don't believe that it's possible to live in that way because of the canonical and legal constraints of uniformity that exist in our Church.
We will find this debate a continuing source of disagreement because we haven't coalesced around an end point. When we legislated for women to be bishops, even those opposed came to the view that the Church of England had to make it possible for women to be bishops in the Church of God according to our canons and formularies. In this debate, we haven't even begun to find a place where we can coalesce. The Bishops' Report acknowledges a place of starting. More conversation is needed. We don't yet know the next stage - nor yet when and whether we can bring any further report to Synod. Please make the fullest possible use of the groups and the debate to enable those deliberations."
Read it all and the presentations are below.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology 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 * Culture-Watch Media * South Carolina * Theology
Five American Christian missionaries were killed by members of an Amazonian tribe. Valerie Shepard’s father, Jim Elliot, was one of the five men on the mission into the jungle.
Take the time to watch it all.
It took three and three-quarter hours to travel by TGV from Brussels to Lyon, far enough to be in a different climate, where the crocuses, primroses and even some daffodils were in bloom. We checked in to a family-run hotel close to the magnificent Place Bellecour, in the heart of France’s second city.
There was just time to change before leaving for Mass, where chaplain Ben Harding and I were guests of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin. He gave me a gracious introduction and invited me to read the gospel. The temperature inside the splendid cathedral was icy, and we were glad of our coats.
Read it all and enjoy the pictures.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * International News & Commentary Europe France
"You know why I'd never be a priest, Frank? Priests never know anything outside their field. They're all so spacey."--Jon Hassler, North of Hope (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1990), p. 483
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology
You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.
(Christ/St. Paul's Church Yonges Island SC; photo by Jacob Borrett)
Filed under: * By Kendall Sermons & Teachings * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Globalization * Theology Christology Soteriology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Scripture
I shared a Helen Roseveare story last September but did not have occasion to note her passing as of yet--KSH.
Dr. Helen Roseveare, a famous English missionary to the Congo, has passed away at the age of 91.
Helen Roseveare was born in 1925 at Haileybury College (Hertfordshire, England), where her father taught mathematics.
Raised in a high Anglican church, Helen’s Sunday school teacher once told their class about India, and Helen resolved to herself that she would one day be a missionary.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Missions Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine * International News & Commentary Africa Republic of Congo * Theology
(The Bp of Western Sydney, Thomas Lee: SydneyAnglicans)
Bishop Lee spoke from the book of Matthew, chapters 9 and 10 about the calling of the disciples and Jesus’ famous phrase ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few’.
The bishop, who underwent treatment for cancer in the past year, recalled an incident from his university days. “I was sitting down having a chat with the Anglican chaplain...we were in the chaplaincy building looking out the window and the conversation went something like this: “Ivan, what do you see?” I looked out at the huge numbers of students going back and forth, and I said, “Uh, I don’t know, students, trying to get to their lectures on time?” And he said back to me, slowly and with great sadness in his voice, “You know what I see? All I see are hundreds and thousands of lost souls, young people who need to know about Jesus.” That one moment has had a lifelong effect on me, so that to this very day, whenever I look upon a crowd, which is pretty much every day, I see lost souls, without God in their lives.” Bishop Lee exhorted the ordinands to have the same motivation. “I’d like to say to the ordinands, if your heart is not truly broken, not grieving for lost people, then ministry will become a profession, and church growth a KPI, a key performance indicator!” Bishop Lee said. “But what really matters to Jesus, and ought to matter to us, is lost people and the spiritual need all around us.”
Read it all and you may find the Cathedral website there.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology Soteriology
But see, how unkindly he turns away the humble request of his mother who addresses him with such great confidence. Now observe the nature of faith. What has it to rely on? Absolutely nothing, all is darkness. It feels its need and sees help nowhere; in addition, God turns against it like a stranger and does not recognize it, so that absolutely nothing is left. It is the same way with our conscience when we feel our sin and the lack of righteousness; or in the agony of death when we feel the lack of life; or in the dread of hell when eternal salvation seems to have left us. Then indeed there is humble longing and knocking, prayer and search, in order to be rid of sin, death and dread. And then he acts as if he had only begun to show us our sins, as if death were to continue, and hell never to cease. Just as he here treats his mother, by his refusal making the need greater and more distressing than it was before she came to him with her request; for now it seems everything is lost, since the one support on which she relied in her need is also gone.
This is where faith stands in the heat of battle. Now observe how his mother acts and here becomes our teacher. However harsh his words sound, however unkind he appears, she does not in her heart interpret this as anger, or as the opposite of kindness, but adheres firmly to the conviction that he is kind, refusing to give up this opinion because of the thrust she received, and unwilling to dishonor him in her heart by thinking him to be otherwise than kind and gracious--as they do who are without faith, who fall back at the first shock and think of God merely according to what they feel, like the horse and the mule, Ps 32, 9. For if Christ's mother had allowed those harsh words to frighten her she would have gone away silently and displeased; but in ordering the servants to do what he might tell them she proves that she has overcome the rebuff and still expects of him nothing but kindness.
Read it all.
Watch and listen to it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep: We give thee thanks for thy faithful shepherd, Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example gave up his life for the people of Uganda. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Picture Hagiography Circle via Wikipedia)
Everyone wants to be like the first century church, but from what I can tell, it wasn’t much different from today’s church.
They had large and small churches. Healthy, sick and dead churches. Churches with strong leaders, weak leaders and sinful leaders. They worshiped God imperfectly and fought over theology.
They also had a great deal of variety. The congregations in Jerusalem, Corinth, Laodicea and Ephesus had little in common outside of following scripture and practicing communion and water baptism.
In short, the first century church was not the ideal template for Christian life, theology and worship that many people think it was.
But they did do one thing. They turned the world upside-down. (Acts 17:6 ASV)
Read it all
.. perhaps the most unexpected and surprising opportunity to follow God’s leading came as a gang-affiliated youth walked in off the street looking for a place to get drunk. The young man heard contemporary worship music and assumed it must be a Shihad gig – but when Diocesan Youth Co-ordinator Luke Paynter and his co-leaders spotted that he didn’t have a New Wine wristband, they escorted him outside to question him.
That’s when his story began to unfold.
He had lost his job in the last few days, and his future wasn’t bright. His dad, a patched gang member, didn’t take too kindly to the news, and gave his son “the bash.” Reaching breaking point, the young man went looking for somewhere to drown his sorrows.
As the young man told his story, Luke and his co-leaders offered to pray with him..
Read it all [h/t Peter Carrell]
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology
Read it all the links are at the bottom of the page (p 1-7).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, The Right Reverend David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester, warned changes to the church's authorised blessings are highly unlikely.
He said: "We know those numbers are just not there at the moment to change the law. We have a liturgy for marriage, we can't change that without the majorities that would be required."
However, The Right Reverend added: "What we have said is that we are committed to maximum freedom and I and many of the other bishops are very keen to explore the full extent of what that means. If we don't change the law but everything else is up for grabs, everything else is up for conversation.
"There is an awful lot we can do which doesn't actually require a change in the law and that is what I want to explore.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
The General Synod has rejected moves to end the legal requirement to read banns for couples intending to marry in church services.
Members voted against a Private Member's Motion brought by Rev Stephen Trott, from Peterborough Diocese, calling for draft legislation to be drawn up to transfer 'ecclesiastical preliminaries', the legal paperwork currently carried out by Church of England clergy before a church wedding, to civil registrars.
The motion called for a similar system to the one in operation in Scotland since 1977, when banns were replaced by a Marriage Schedule issued by the civil registrar.
Rev Trott told the General Synod that administering banns was 'fraught with difficulties' and a cause of 'great concern and even stress' to clergy.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The ever-litigious bunch at 815 Second Avenue, the New York headquarters of ECUSA, may be getting a taste of their own medicine. Or it may just be a case of litigation inculturated beyond the point of no return: the litigators at ECUSA have been sued by the Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls, one of their own (and a former lawyer in his own right), who worked there as Chief Operating Officer until the Presiding Bishop terminated him last April.
The complaint, unusually filed in Alabama's Mobile County Circuit Court (see remarks below), makes for an absorbing read (or maybe that's just a lawyer talking): you may download it here. (A big tip o' the Rumpolean bowler to The Living Church, which first broke the story.) It names ECUSA and its corporate arm, the DFMS, as defendants, along with 30 unidentified "John Does", who allegedly participated in some manner in the actions alleged
Read it all and note the download link.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori Michael Curry TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
But notice how Jesus launches:
• No big Inauguration
• No bands
• No fireworks
• and no protestors..
Jesus begins by calling just a few….into something I never want you to forget.
He calls them into FOLLOW-SHIP.
Read it all or you can listen or download it there.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology Theology: Evangelism & Mission Theology: Scripture
The Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls, the Episcopal Church’s former chief operating officer who was placed on administrative leave in December 2015 and lost his job, has filed a lawsuit alleging a conspiracy by senior leadership of the Episcopal Church.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori Michael Curry TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Senior Church of England ministers look set to be allowed to work beyond 70, as its ruling body votes on the issue for the first time amid concerns about a shortage of clergy.
The Anglican Church faces a recruitment crisis as hundreds of ministers are due to retire over the next decade and there is not enough younger staff to replace them.
A vote on the new rules, due to take place on Tuesday at the Church of England synod, will come after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, addresses the meeting on Monday.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
Read it all--LOL
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Travel * General Interest Humor / Trivia * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Yet the IRS hasn’t investigated any of the pastors who have participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday. The agency has made a confusing situation worse by providing no explanation for why it has refused to enforce the law against these pastors. Thus many religious leaders remain in legal limbo while the IRS continues to pronounce its ability to monitor and punish them. This inaction has stymied the possibility of a civil-rights lawsuit, making a legislative fix necessary.
The Free Speech Fairness Act would get the IRS out of the speech-police business while prohibiting political expenditures or contributions by tax-exempt organizations. It would provide a relief valve for speech by allowing all charities to speak on political issues, as long as the speech is done in the course of carrying out the group’s regular activities. Because the bill doesn’t allow for political contributions or expenditures, dark money can’t flow through exempt organizations to campaigns.
America’s pastors deserve better than the Johnson Amendment. The Constitution demands that they have the ability to speak from their pulpits without fearing punishment by the officials from one of the most feared federal agencies. President Trump should urge Congress to swiftly pass this law and do away with this injustice.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President Senate * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
A pastor in Kenya is making a stand against female genital mutilation (FGM) to protect his daughters from an “injustice that would rob them” of their human rights, education, and well-being, an anti-FGM campaigner in the country, Susan Krop, has reported.
The pastor, Emmanuel Longelech, and his three daughters, live in West Pokot, a region of Kenya where an estimated 72 per cent of girls undergo FGM — also known as female circumcision. There are no known health benefits of the procedure, which can cause severe long-term physical and mental damage.
Ms Krop campaigns against FGM in the region. She is chairwoman of the Kongelai Women’s Network, a group of about 100 members funded by ActionAid. The charity works with women and girls in the poorest parts of the world.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality Teens / Youth Violence Women * International News & Commentary Africa Kenya * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Born on August 20, 1946 at Igbemo-Ekiti, Ven Akinwande had his primary and secondary education in what is today known as Ekiti State. The next phase of his life took him to Lagos in 1968 but this was briefly interrupted by the necessity to prepare himself for a profession, which took him to Ibadan. After brief stints with the Federal Department of Agriculture, Moore Plantation, Ibadan; Federal Plant Quarantine Service of the Lagos Airport, Ikeja, the Nigerian Cocoa Industries Limited, Ikeja, he gained admission, by direct entry, on the scholarship of the Western Nigeria Government to the Ibadan campus of the University of Ife to study pharmacy which had, since 1962, begun under the auspices of the Ibadan branch of the old Nigerian College of Arts, Science & Technology (now defunct).
Graduating with a degree in pharmacy, awarded by the University of Ife (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1972, Ven Akinwande worked as a hospital pharmacist with the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Ikeja, Falemi Pharmacy (1974/75), J.H. Morrison Jones & Sons Limited (1975/80) and SmithKline Beecham Corporation (1980/1990), before quitting to set up (in partnership with his wife Mrs Rachel Akinwande Pharmaceuticals (Nigeria) Limited.
However, in years later, he resigned from the partnership to devote his time and life to full time ministry of the Church of God. During the previous four years, he had secured admission to the Lagos Diocesan Board of Continuing Education for the Clergy (BOCEC), for training to become a priest.
Read it all.
Most people may have never heard of Vance Havner (1901-1986), but this godly man was very special because he was so obsessed with the Word of God that he began outdoor preaching when he was only 14 years of age and he said he didn’t want to stop until he went into glory!....
Havner was preoccupied with the Laodicean or “lukewarm” attributes of the church and once quipped, “It is one of the ironies of the ministry that the very man who works in God’s name is often hardest put to find time for God. The parents of Jesus lost Him at church, and they were not the last ones to lose Him there.” He grieved the mood and life of the church in the 20th century as one where few would take up their cross and follow Jesus, as commanded and maybe why he once said, “We may never be martyrs but we can die to self, to sin, to the world, to our plans and ambitions. That is the significance of baptism; we died with Christ and rose to new life.” Havner believed that “Most church members live so far below the standard, you would have to backslide to be in fellowship with them.” He desired a church that was broken over their sin and falling so far short of God’s glory. Brokenness is seen as a weakness to the world but a sign of strength for the believer and so he often reminded the church that “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”
Read it all and you can peruse a lot more there; posted in part because I quoted him in last Sunday's sermon; KSH.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology
Italian television recently broadcast a heartrending documentary about one of the largest single acts of mass Christian martyrdom in the 20th century. This happened in 1937 when soldiers and militias slaughtered some 300 Ethiopian monks at one of the country’s holiest religious houses. In this instance, the perpetrators were neither communists nor Islamists but Catholic Italians, serving the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini. That massacre at Debre Libanos was one instance in a larger campaign of several years’ duration in which Ethiopian monasteries and churches were systematically bombed and subjected to mustard gas attacks. Outside Ethiopia, the persecutions remain largely unknown.
In popular memory, fascist Italy has always been regarded as a less pernicious member of the Axis powers, but in his colonial policies Mussolini yielded nothing to Hitler. In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia, and in the words of its local commander, Rodolfo Graziani, “the Duce will have Ethiopia, with or without the Ethiopians.”
The savage Italian campaign ultimately killed several hundred thousand Ethiopians—some sources say a million. Graziani envisaged the extermination of all local chiefs and elites, much as Hitler would later attempt in Poland. Given the profound identification of the Ethiopian church with national spirit, Italian forces particularly targeted religious establishments....
A global church must have a global memory. Let’s never forget Debre Libanos.
Read it all (this appeared in the Christian Century print edition of January 18, 2017 on page 45).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary Africa Ethiopia Europe Italy * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
“I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a warm cup of milk, or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please”[Chuck Swindoll comments] That’s it. Our inner ‘self’ doesn’t want to dump God entirely, just keep Him at a comfortable distance. Three dollars of Him is sufficient. A sack full, nothing more. Just enough to keep my guilt level below the threshold of pain, just enough to guarantee escape from eternal flames. But certainly not enough to make me nervous…to start pushing around my prejudices or nit-picking at my lifestyle. Enough is enough!”
--Charles R. Swindoll, Improving Your Serve, cited by yours truly in the sermon at the later service
..So, when we say a Christian is mature, what do we mean? Does this mean that we cease to read the Bible regularly and yet we are able to articulate spiritual solutions for society? Does it mean that we cease to be loving, kind and considerate towards those dearest to us, while we reflect on the deepest ideas of sacrifice for mankind and society? Does it mean that we try to save the whole world but lose our own family? Do we think of overseas missions but are clueless about sharing the gospel to an inquiring neighbour or colleague (and we have not even thought of an Alpha invitation!)?
The list goes on. And somewhere in our heart, the Negro spiritual hums quietly. We remember that Jesus said that ‘unless we become like little children, we will not enter the Kingdom of heaven...
Read it all
Theological schools debate how much field education is the right amount and how to integrate practical experience into ministerial training. But what if field education were inseparable from M.Div. courses? And what if seminarians’ primary classmates were the people in the congregations they serve during their three years of seminary?
Bexley Seabury Seminary, an Episcopal school based in Chicago, has such a model in mind as it relaunches its M.Div. degree program. “At every step,” the school states, “students will be challenged to connect the content of their academic work with insights and reflections drawn from their internship experience.”
KyungJa Oh, director of field education and formation, sees the advantages of keeping students rooted in the context of ministry.
Read it all from the Christian Century.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Travel * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
Once upon a time, if you wanted to communicate with someone, you either spoke to them, sent them a letter (which could be delivered in either of the two postal deliveries every day!), or you phoned them. This could be from one of two places: either a phone box in the street, requiring loads of change, or the house phone in the hall—where everyone could hear you—and answered by the desired recipient’s parents, with whom you had to have an excruciatingly awkward conversation before being able to ask for the person you actually wanted to speak to. This probably sounds like the dark ages, but it was actually less than 35 years ago.’
So begins the latest Grove Youth booklet on Youth Ministry in a Digital Age by Liz Dumain, who works in the mission team in Birmingham Diocese. The booklet is a great exploration of the challenges and opportunities of reaching ‘digital natives’, those who were born with the internet technology that many of us have been learning to adapt to. Liz begins by noting the growth of internet use, how it differs for those who have known nothing else, and why it matters.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
How did you get into ministry?
Clarence Givens, our founding bishop and pastor at Rhema Christian Center Church, was quite a persuasive man. He asked my wife and me to become the youth directors. I thought, You have to be kidding me! I’m going to go into his office with my wife and let him know I can’t do that. I’ve got too much on my plate right now. And that’s exactly what I told Dorothy, my wife.
Now it makes me laugh because when we got into his office, I said, “Look, Bishop, you’ve got all of these responsibilities for me, and you know how busy I am. What is it exactly that you want me to do with the youth director position? I’m prepared to take it on.” And my wife started laughing, as if to say, “You get all bold talking about what you’re going to do, but when you sit in front of him, that all goes out the window.”
So in 2002, my wife and I became youth directors. And I was ordained in 2009.
Read it all.
The implication would seem to be that whatever might "directly and publicly" undermine the doctrine of marriage may be perfectly admissible if done "indirectly and privately." The progressive wing of the Episcopal Church used that ploy for years, surreptitiously establishing facts on the ground, until it couldn't be ignored any longer.”
Two years after TEC was threatened with discipline by the Primates at Dar Es Salaam in 2007, General Convention 2009 came up with an end run that did not directly change the teaching of Christian marriage as between one man and one woman. Instead, they enacted Resolution C056 which circumvented those boundaries in practice by authorizing bishops and clergy to provide a "generous pastoral approach to meet the needs of [LGBT] members of this Church."
Within a mere six years the foundations of the Church’s teaching on marriage were so compromised by “facts on the ground” that TEC General Convention 2015 effectively revised the Prayer Book by simply passing a “marriage equality” canon eliminating any language limiting marriage as between one man and one woman. In fact, those “generous pastoral provisions” evolved into the liturgies of the Church.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
One of the authentic prophets of our time is Jean Vanier whose friendship with a person with severe learning disabilities was the foundation for the L’Arche communities. The first one opened in 1964 in France and L’Arche communities are now present in many different countries. By living in intentional community with people some of whom have serious learning difficulties, and some of whom have other challenges, living with diversity and difference, we open ourselves up to grow and be transformed. I know that is true because I received my earliest call to genuine priesthood through my brother, who had very severe learning difficulties but a genius for love.
Jean Vanier’s work is a prophetic word for the church today. We are not called to be a church of warring sects like those which the great 17th century Anglican theologian Sir Thomas Browne denounced as “heads that are disposed unto schism and …. naturally indisposed for a community” but “do subdivide and mince themselves almost into atoms”.
Members of the Church of England say that they are “part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” which Jesus intended. The Great and Coming church is ahead of us. We must never forget our role in realising Christ’s prayer for this one church. We must cherish our Christian friends and never forget what Pope John Paul II said to Archbishop Runcie, “affective collegiality is the basis of effective collegiality”. We should seek partnerships in the gospel at whatever level we are working. We should seek alliances in the wider household of faith in building a servant community whose attractiveness pagans will not be able to deny. Thank God for the gracious presence here tonight of so many Christian friends from other communions.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary England / UK
Holy God, who didst inspire the Dorchester chaplains to be models of steadfast sacrificial love in a tragic and terrifying time: Help us to follow their example, that their courageous ministry may inspire chaplains and all who serve, to recognize thy presence in the midst of peril; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Third Anglican Leadership Institute is now history. As I write some are still in the air, and some have landed and rejoined their families.
And what a great group they were. They spanned the full Anglican spectrum:
- From the Rector of a posh downtown parish in a mid-sized Australian city to the General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Burundi;
- From a Rector in Brunei where Sharia Law prevents him from even having a Christmas tree outside the Church to a leader of young adults in a large Brazilian church who surfs in his spare time;
- From a bishop in northern Nigeria where unless a man "steals" another man's wife his own wife might accuse him of "not really being a man" to the assistant Rector of a booming Northern Ireland church who finished off 6 books while he was with us;
- From a former "Lost Boy" of South Sudan who runs a diocese that cannot afford him any salary and whose family must live in exile to a Deacon who assists the former President of GAFCON...
And on it goes. 16 marvelous people -- all Anglicans from 12 enormously different socio-economic situations living in cultures vastly different from each other. Yet all united in Jesus Christ and experiencing the joy of becoming a family. Our closing dinner was a time of deep prayer followed by hugs all around. Those Africans love to hug.
Read it all (Diocese of SC photo).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture * South Carolina * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
'The blessed Mary offered her sacrifice to God with the child, as it was appointed in God's law. It was so appointed in the old law, by God's command, that those who could afford it should bring a lamb of one year old with their child, as an offering to God, and a pigeon or a turtle-dove. But if any woman were so poor that she could not obtain those things, then she should bring two young pigeons or two turtle-doves.
This smaller offering was offered for Christ, that is, the birds, which were the offerings of the poor. The Almighty Son of God was very mindful of our needs in all things; not only did he choose to become man for us, though he was God, but he also chose to become needy for us, though he was mighty, so that he might give us a portion in his kingdom and communion with his divinity. A lamb betokens innocence and the greater kind of goodness; but if we are so wretched that we cannot offer to God that greater goodness, then we should bring him two turtle-doves or two young pigeons; that is, a twofold burgeoning of awe and love. A person experiences this burgeoning in two ways: first, he dreads the torments of hell, and mourns for his sins; then afterwards he feels love to God, and he begins to murmur, and it seems to him too long a time until he shall be taken from the afflictions of this life, and brought to eternal rest.'
Read it all.
Monday morning and it’s a Zumba class for the over 50s at St Stephen’s Church, Westminster. This class is part of St Stephen’s Second Half Club, a weekly day of classes that looks to build community, keep people active in mind, body and spirit, and ultimately combat social isolation. St Stephen’s is one of two London churches, the other being St Paul’s, North Marylebone running a pilot of this programme.
It is well-known that loneliness is a serious concern, with over half of adults in England saying they experience feelings of loneliness.
Although there are many different ways Anglican churches are addressing loneliness in their communities, what is truly exciting about the Second Half Clubs is the partnership that they can create with other organisations looking to achieve the same goals.
Read it all from Joseph Friedrich.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Music Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Joshua Ryan Butler, pastor of local and global outreach at Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon
I want to change the world. But in the process, I’m tempted to see people as a means-to-an-end rather than servants to be discipled deeper into life with Jesus.
When this happens, I find myself using manipulation and guilt as tools to mobilize volunteers. Instead, I want to emphasize the beauty and grandeur of Christ, and use the tools of celebrating who he is and what he has done to draw others to embody his love and serve the world—because they want to, not because they have to.
Read it all.
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We have no respect for a surgeon who goes in but does not cut deeply enough to cure nor a patient who backs out of an operation because it may hurt; yet people can go through their whole lives attending church, listening to searching exposures of human sin, without ever taking it to themselves, or meeting anyone with skill and concern enough to lay the challenge right in their own laps.--Experiment of Faith (New York: Harper&Row, 1957), p.22 (emphasis mine)
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Scripture
Read it all.
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I welcome the BRGS Report’s upholding of the doctrine set out in Canon B30. It is to be noted that this Canon is not just about marriage being between a man and a woman but also about its lifelong nature, the birth and the nurture of children and the ‘hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affection’. This cannot go hand in hand with wanting to make pastoral provision for public prayer for those in others kinds of relationships.
I miss any treatment of a biblical anthropology in the document and, even more, of the detailed work both of biblical scholars and by the Church of England of the biblical material as set out, for example, in Some Issues with Human Sexuality (Church House Publishing, 2003). Although Scripture, tradition and reason are mentioned as a ‘classic Anglican triad’ the primacy of Scripture is not affirmed. Instead, the report, mistakenly, invokes ‘provisionality’ in theology, although Lambeth Conferences have done this only in relationship to ecclesiology.
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On Friday the House of Bishops released a report saying the Church of England shouldn't change its teaching on marriage but recommending that it reviews other aspects of how it treats LGBTI+ clergy and laity. The Rev Rachel Mann is critical of elements of the report and gives Martin Bashir her reaction to it....
([The Rev.] Canon Andy Lines is also interviewed about his perspective on the report).
The Bishops of Manchester and Maidstone respond to criticism that the Church has come up with a 'don't ask, don't tell' solution.
Listen to it all (begins approximately at 21:58 and ends about 35:42).
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Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On Friday morning the 20th of January, the Mall in Washington, DC, was the sight of the much-publicized Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America. One week later on January 27, the Mall will once again be the sight of an important event to protest prayerfully a legal decision in the United States known as Roe v. Wade from January 22, 1973. This event on the Mall will receive far less coverage than the Inauguration but is every bit as important. This year, I will make the trip to be a part of the March for Life with the contingent from Anglicans for Life and bishops from the Anglican Church in North America.
I have long protested the act of protesting. In fact, I ironically responded to the request to be a part of a “March for Jesus” in the 90’s by saying “I do not march.” Well it turns out God has other plans. So why would I leave family and home in a busy week in January? Why would I go somewhere colder than Beaufort? Simply, why march? I want to offer three main reasons:
I am marching because I am convinced that the Bible requires me to speak up for the voiceless and defenseless in our culture. No one has less power in our world than the unborn.
I am marching because I believe that the Life issue is not political but scriptural. I believe it is intrinsic to our faith, not optional.
I am marching because I want to bear witness to these truths with other Brothers and Sisters as well as other co-belligerents. I want to feel the strength of the pro-life movement in this country. Most polls show this country at about 50% pro-life but that strength is not often represented in the media.
This Sunday, we will celebrate Sanctity of Life Sunday at St. Helena’s, and there will be a bulletin insert from Anglicans for Life. I will be teaching about the sanctity of human life from a biblical perspective during the Rector’s Forum. We also will have information about the Radiance Women’s Center here in Beaufort. My hope is that many of you will feel called to join me in starting an Anglicans for Life chapter here at St. Helena’s. I believe there is much for us to do in our church and in the community to uphold the cause of life.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
(The Rev) Shay Gaillard, rector, Saint Helena's, Beaufort, SC
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
(Diocese of South Carolina)
C of E Bishops says no change to allow same-sex marriage but resources guidance+tone need revisiting
From the deliberations of the House and the College as described...there has emerged a provisional approach regarding how the Church of England should move forward in this area following the conclusion of the Shared Conversations. The two key elements of this would be:
(a) proposing no change to ecclesiastical law or to the Church of England’s existing doctrinal position on marriage and sexual relationships; and
(b) initiating fresh work in the four key areas identified [in 4 key areas]....
Read it carefully and read it all.
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The isolation experienced by elderly clerics, especially in wealthy, liberal societies, is one symptom of a crisis in the Catholic priesthood. They were ordained at a time when their status as men dedicated to the church was understood and revered, sometimes to an unhealthy degree. In that era, priests could look forward an old age in which the respect and support of the faithful might compensate to some degree for the absence of any life-partner. With the standing (and finances) of the clergy damaged, in many countries, by child-abuse scandals and shabby attempts to cover them up, the twilight years are a harder prospect than ever for priests on their own, even those who have led exemplary lives. Small wonder that fewer and fewer young men want to walk the same stony path..
As measured by the number of faithful, global Catholicism is faring decently. The flock is still growing in the developing world and migration from poor countries is reinvigorating tired congregations in the West. But the priesthood, with its hard calling of celibacy, is in freefall in many places. In America, the number of Catholics connected to a parish has risen over the past half-century from 46m to 67m, while the number of priests has fallen from 59,000 to 38,000. In France, about 800 priests die every year while 100 are ordained. Priest numbers there have fallen from 29,000 in 1995 to about 15,000. On present trends they may stabilise at less than 6,000.
The result is that many jobs once done by priests, like taking funerals or ministering to the sick, are now done by lay-people or by deacons who may be married. But certain functions, including the consecration of bread and wine which is Christianity’s most important rite, can only be performed by a priest.
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Judicatory leaders may feel either overjoyed or overwhelmed by an expanding corps of retired clergy who bring a wide range of needs and gifts to the wider church’s table. Moyer hopes that the future will bring a fruitful convergence of older clergy who need more relaxed schedules and a supplement to their pensions with congregations that can no longer support full-time salaries.
Whatever happens, judicatories will have to stay focused on the leadership needs of churches. Congregations, for their part, might be wise to find roles for retirees who are creative and flexible—and who can support new pastors in a time when the demands of leadership are changing.
“My guess is that no matter how the transitions happen, a one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate,” said Moore-Nokes.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
(Oak Hill College)
To compel attention in his lectures, where he never got to the end of the notes, he used Sooty and Sweep puppets to illustrate the Trinity. But staff feared that the meat cleaver sitting on his study chair might make visiting DDOs nervous.
His love of PG Wodehouse found expression in exam questions in which a couple of pages of Woodhousian narrative were populated by various ecclesiastical figures espousing different theological nostrums to which the candidate was invited to respond.
The Rev Andrew Cornes from Crowborough, his training vicar, recalled him as a fierce fighter for justice. Dr Dan Strange, now acting principal, said: “He had so little ego and no interest in self-aggrandisement.” His local pastor, Jonathan Prime said he was the best of listeners.
Present were his wife of 29 years, Heather and their children, Charles, Harry and Ana. Before they were a ‘couple’, they had led a Bible study group at St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, while Mike was a Parliamentary draftsman and living in Clapham. Heather told Mike he should devote his life to teaching the Bible.
Mike’s parents, John and Ruth and sisters Elizabeth and Margaret were present. Dr Mark Thompson, principal of Moore College, Sydney, where Mike had done post-graduate study and lectured, led prayers.
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Mary Tyler Moore, whose witty and graceful performances on two top-rated television shows in the 1960s and ’70s helped define a new vision of American womanhood, died on Wednesday in Greenwich, Conn. She was 80.
Her family said her death, at Greenwich Hospital, was caused by cardiopulmonary arrest after she had contracted pneumonia.
Ms. Moore faced more than her share of private sorrow, and she went on to more serious fare, including an Oscar-nominated role in the 1980 film “Ordinary People” as a frosty, resentful mother whose son has died. But she was most indelibly known as the incomparably spunky Mary Richards on the CBS hit sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Broadcast from 1970 to 1977, it was produced by both Ms. Moore and her second husband, Grant Tinker, who later ran NBC and who died on Nov. 28.
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She could turn the world on with her smile.https://t.co/YQ1zuMlqeH— Twitter (@Twitter) January 25, 2017
What surprised me, however, was not that churches suffer from hate crime — we have known this anecdotally for years, but do not have the research statistics to prove it — but the response of churches, the police, and other statutory authorities to how to tackle and best protect churches.
Almost all the applications were for the installation of CCTV in and around the church. There seems to be a common thought that CCTV stops crimes because it is a deterrent to offenders. This is simply not true. CCTV is a useful tool: it is most effective at providing evidence after an offence, and in assisting the police in identifying offenders. It does not, however, prevent the crime, especially when it comes to the types of crimes which most often occur in churches.
Theft, violence, and disturbances in churches are usually committed by people who are under the influence of a substance such as alcohol or drugs, or are suffering from a mental-health episode. These types of offenders do not care or recognise that they are being recorded by CCTV at the time of the offence. Therefore, the decision to put CCTV into a church should be looked at carefully, and those making the decision need to recognise its limitations.
Read it all from Nick Tolson in the Church Times.
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A recently released report says medical debt is the No. 1 reason consumers reported being contacted by a collection agency. If efforts to overhaul the Affordable Care Act result in more people losing their coverage, those numbers could rise.
The study by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that 59 percent of people who reported they had been contacted by a debt collector said it was for medical services. Telecommunications bills were the second most common type of overdue bill for which debt collectors pursued payment, at 37 percent, and utilities were third, reported by 28 percent.
Unlike other types of debt, people with medical debt were prevalent across a range of income levels, credit scores and ages. A poll conducted in 2015 by NPR, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that many people with health insurance still struggle to pay medical bills. Some 26 percent said health care expenses have taken a serious toll on family finances.
Read it all.
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Ben Bradshaw, a Labour MP who is in a civil partnership, said: “It is progress for them to stop asking the celibacy question but it still leaves the Church of England policy based essentially on dishonesty and encouraging its clergy to lie.”
He also suggested the church’s apparent reluctance to usher in full equality meant it could be time for parliament to intervene, as it did when the synod initially refused to allow women to become bishops in 2012.
Bradshaw, a member of parliament’s ecclesiastical committee, said: “There is a growing sense that if the church can’t sort this out for themselves, then parliament may have to do it for them.”
Frank Field, a fellow Labour member of the committee, urged the bishops to be “brave” and usher in equality, with a conscience clause for those clergy who feel they cannot marry gay people.
Read it all (requires subscription).
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One of the Queen's chaplains has resigned after a row about reading from the Koran in a Glasgow church.
The Reverend Gavin Ashenden, a senior clergyman in the Church of England, left his position as chaplain in order to be free to criticise the move.
A passage from the Koran was read during an Epiphany service at St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow earlier this month.
Mr Ashenden said the reading had caused "serious offence".
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Courage...is the indispensable requisite of any true ministry.... If you are afraid of men and a slave to their opinion, go and do something else. Go make shoes to fit them. Go even and paint pictures you know are bad but will suit their bad taste. But do not keep on all of your life preaching sermons which shall not say what God sent you to declare, but what they hire you to say. Be courageous. Be independent.----Phillips Brooks, Lectures on Preaching, the 1877 Yale Lectures (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 59
Read it all.
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For a number of churches in this fast-growing town, soaring land prices have been a godsend.
Some have inked multimillion-dollar sales of land they bought inexpensively many years ago, boosting church finances and in some cases paying for other initiatives. Development-weary residents, however, might not appreciate new homes popping up on previously tax-exempt property. In at least one community, residents say they feel betrayed.
Parcels once owned by churches are now home to a parking lot for the future Lucy Beckham High School, a cellphone store at Towne Centre, and the Tidal Walk single-family home development.
Read it all from the local paper.
Each congregation member has been encouraged to pray “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will”, and to further discern God’s call upon their lives, including those who are retired. This has resulted in some using their vocational skills as teachers to become School Governors, as well as an increase in outreach events in the Community.
St Peter’s has joined with other Catholic Parishes in the Barnsley area to deliver teaching and encouragement, through short courses designed to give those who attend a greater depth of understanding of the faith, as well as running a Fan the Flame mission to encourage personal development within the parishes, and the Clergy and People have studied together and been ministered to by one another during this time.
Read it all.
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The Church of England needs to undergo a major "culture shift" to mobilise lay members to spread the gospel in their everyday lives, a new report being presented to members of the General Synod argues.
The report, entitled "Setting God's People Free", calls for Christians to be equipped to live out their faith in every sphere - from the factory or office, to the gym or shop - to help increase numbers of Christians and their influence in all areas of life.
Laity and clergy should view themselves as equal partners in the task of evangelising the nation, it insists. The paper is a key element of the lay leadership strand of Renewal and Reform, an initiative from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, to help grow the Church.
Read it all and follow the link provded for more.
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A cathedral has removed a clip of a Muslim prayer being recited within its precincts from its Facebook page after it was heavily criticised for allowing the event to take place.
The prayer took place in Gloucester Cathedral’s chapter house as part of the launch of a multi-faith art exhibition, and was well-received by those who attended.
The cathedral decided to take down its social media post on the event following some of the comments it received on its page.
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In his first full-length book, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby looks at the subject of money and materialism.
Designed for study in the weeks of Lent leading up to Easter, Dethroning Mammon reflects on the impact of our own attitudes, and of the pressures that surround us; on how we handle the power of money, called Mammon in this book. Who will be on the throne of our lives? Who will direct our actions and attitudes? Is it Jesus Christ, who brings truth, hope and freedom? Or is it Mammon, so attractive, so clear, but leading us into paths that tangle, trip and deceive?
Read it all and you can read an extract there.
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A further £9 million has been distributed to dioceses by the Church Commissioners as part of the drive to achieve statistical growth.
Church-planting by Evangelical churches, and efforts to address the absence of children from the pews, are among the trends that will benefit from a financial boost.
The largest grant — £2.5 million — will go the diocese of Birmingham, for its work with younger people. The diocese, which has the lowest church attendance to population in the country, and the lowest level of stipendiary clergy per capita, has already received £1 million towards its “Growing Younger 2015-19” work. By 2022, it seeks to plant 15 new churches, “make over 1000 new disciples”, and train up to 1000 “missional leaders”.
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We received an update from The Rev. Dr. Joel Scandrett and The Rev. Art Going, members of the Committee for Catechesis. The work of the committee is to encourage the whole church to embrace catechesis as a critical means of discipling; to be a church investing and engaging in lifelong disciple-making.
The College adopted a revision to Parts 1 and 2 of the Catechism, with the goal of producing a final version of the Catechism in the coming year. The Bishops approved changes that were presented, and endorsed the plan to place pastoral prayers formerly in the introduction in the relevant sections of the text, and to add prayers for pastoral application to other sections.
The Committee continues to focus its work on three audiences and three challenges:
Outsiders becoming insiders - learning from the ancient church how to do catechetical evangelism through patterned practices in an environment of warm, evangelical hospitality.
Forgetters becoming rememberers - renewing our commitment to lifelong catechesis—laying the foundation for all other ventures in discipleship; completing the revision of To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism.
Beloved children becoming belief-ful adults - rediscovering the crucial role of family for discipling our children for Christian life and mission.
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History was made in St Anne’s Cathedral on Sunday January 15 when the Cathedral’s first Lay Canons were installed.
Mrs Myrtle Kerr and Mr Robert Kay were presented by the Archdeacons of Belfast and Down respectively and after the reading of the Mandate by the Cathedral Registrar, the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev John Mann, led each new Canon to their designated seat.
The appointment of Lay Canons to Church of Ireland Cathedrals only became possible in 2010. The Constitution allows St Anne’s Cathedral to appoint up to three Lay Canons from Connor Diocese and up to three from Down & Dromore Diocese. Mrs Kerr and Mr Kay are the first to be appointed.
Read it all and nejpy the picture.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Ireland * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland
The Archbishop of York swapped his mitre for a toque blanche when he visited a Michelin-starred eatery in North Yorkshire.
Dr John Sentamu was invited into the kitchen of The Star Inn at Harome near Helmsley by chef Andrew Pern as part of the mission in the deanery of Northern Ryedale.
Dr Sentamu, a keen cook, enjoyed a tour of the kitchen and tried his hand at creating a pheasant dish.
The visit comes as Dr Sentamu embarks on a mission to join all 21 deaneries in the Diocese of York over weekends throughout 2017 and 2018.
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The bishop who was a key figure in the campaign to uncover the truth about the Hillsborough disaster is to receive the Freedom of Liverpool.
Bishop James Jones chaired the Hillsborough Independent Panel, whose report led to the quashing of the 1989 tragedy's inquest verdicts.
The cleric will be honoured later at a ceremony in the city.
Bishop Jones, 68, was made Knight Commander last year for his services to the Hillsborough Inquiry.
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To prepare for his signature role, Christopher interviewed priests to "help get the tone right." Finally, he created a Los Angeles-area panel of priests to help him deal with questions about how a Jesuit would have handled some rites, and tricky war-zone issues, in the era before the Second Vatican Council.
The goal was to show respect for the priesthood, while avoiding what he called "embarrassed priest situations and celibacy jokes." It was especially sobering to learn how to handle rushed deathbed confessions and Last Rites.
"I tried to humanize Mulcahy as much as possible, although I knew there was a certain danger there since he is a priest. But I felt there was an even greater danger if we let him turn into a stereotype," he explained.
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The front page article “The Pharisee Culture is Not Magnetic”:[Scott] Sauls Challenges Churches to “Love People, Institutions and Cities to Life” at Listen & Speak Conference" is highlighly recommended.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * South Carolina * Theology
You can listen directly here or download it there. Watch for a very important reference to an incident in London in WW II.
Narcissus would seem to be an unlikely character to show up in companies of Christians. And yet the progeny of Narcissus keep showing up in our communities of created and saved souls. They are so glaringly out-of-place in the context of the biblical revelation defined by the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, one would think that they would be immediately noticed and exposed. More often they are welcomed and embellished, given roles of leadership and turned into celebrities.
It is an odd phenomenon to observe followers of Jesus, suddenly obsessed with their wonderfully saved souls, setting about busily cultivating their own spiritualities. Self-spirituality has become the hallmark of our age. The spirituality of Me. A spirituality of self-centering, self-sufficiency, and self-development. All over the world at the present time we have people who have found themselves redefined by the revelation of God in Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection, going off and cultivating the divine within and abandoning spouses, children, friends and congregations.
But holy living, resurrection living, is not a self-project. We are a people of God and cannot live holy lives, resurrection lives, as individuals. We are not a self-defined community; we are a God-defined community. The love that God pours out for and in us creates a community in which that love is reproduced in our love for one another.
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Isabelle was licensed during the daily Eucharist service at Lambeth Palace, attended by staff as well as her family and friends. She was previously Tutor in Biblical Studies at St John’s College, Nottingham and Associate Priest in the parish of Edwalton.
Speaking at the time of her appointment in November last year, the Archbishop said: “I am delighted to welcome Isabelle to the team at Lambeth. The Chaplain is a central part of life here, supporting the Archbishop and the family, maintaining the rhythms of worship and prayer and providing pastoral support for the community who live and work here.”
“Isabelle comes to us highly commended by her diocese where she has served in several ministry roles, lay and ordained, in university, college and parish. She brings a pastoral heart, a spiritual richness and a rigorous theological understanding to what is a demanding role. We look forward to welcoming her, husband Paul and daughter Aelwen to London and life at Lambeth.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
The Queen accompanied her nephew, David Armstrong-Jones, to church near her Sandringham Estate...[this past weekend], just days after his father, Lord Snowdon, died.
Braving wet and cold conditions, the royal party attended the morning service at St Mary the Virgin church in the village of Flitcham, Norfolk.
Read it all from the Telegraph and don't miss the pictures.
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Around the table at U.C.S.F., Miller stood out. The other doctors wore dress pants and button-downs — physician-casual — while he wore a sky blue corduroy shirt with a tear in the sleeve and a pair of rumpled khakis; he could have come straight from camping or Bonnaroo. Even just sitting there, he transmitted a strange charisma — a magnetism, people kept telling me, that was hard to explain but also necessary to explain, because the rapport Miller seems to instantly establish with everyone is a part of his gift as a clinician.
“It’s reasonable to say that it’s impossible to describe what it feels like to be with him,” [Dr. Michael] Rabow told me. “People feel accepted. I think they feel loved.”
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Watch it all--NYC's finest indeed.
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The financial troubles at Peterborough Cathedral should not be used as “a stick to beat the rest of the cathedrals with”, the Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, has declared.
Dean Dorber was reacting to a suggestion, published last week by the Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister, that the independence of cathedrals posed “serious risks” to the reputation of the Church.
The comment came at the end of a legal charge by the Bishop after his visitation of Peterborough Cathedral. This was prompted by the discovery, in July, of a cashflow crisis at the cathedral, which meant that staff were in imminent danger of not being paid....A loan was secured from the Church Commissioners, but it was announced at the same time that the Dean, the Very Revd Charles Taylor, was resigning.
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Here are three things that will stay with me:
First is the way that the perpetrators at Auschwitz tried to dehumanise their victims – in a way that actually cost the humanity of both. It worked to some extent. Prisoners killed others in order to live – and were then killed themselves. Others gave their lives, like St Maximilian Kolbe and St Edith Stein.
Second, these atrocities were committed by ordinary people. When one of the priests leading our retreat was asked who was to blame, he said: "People did it to people.”
Third, it was idolatrous and demonic.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Europe Germany Poland * Theology Theodicy
The body of Archbishop Brown Turei, one of three leaders of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, is to lie in state at Kauaetangohia Marae near the northernmost point of East Cape for two nights before his funeral on Saturday.
Brown Turei died surrounded by his family and loved ones in Gisborne Hospital on Monday, aged 92.
He was ordained a deacon in 1949 and a priest the following year.
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Since it was finally completed in the fourteenth century, the tower of the Priory of St Mary Overie, later the Parish Church of Saviour and now the Cathedral for the Diocese of Southwark, stood high above the surrounding community on the south bank of the Thames. It was the ‘Shard’ of its day, an architectural presence in this busy, congested, exciting district of London. Within the tower, bells were hung, the first ring associated with the marriage in the Priory Church of King James I of Scots to Joan Beaufort, niece of the then Bishop of Winchester, Cardinal Beaufort on 12 February 1424. The bells rang out to call people to prayer, to mark the joyous and the sad occasions of life, to warn and to welcome. In the eighteenth century the ring of twelve was consolidated in the way that we have come to know the ring. Now in the twenty-first century it has been our privilege to undertake much needed work on the bells to ensure that they ring loud and clear for future generations.
Read it all and don't miss the wonderful pictures.
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‘Tim, there’s a priest at the door.’ She gripped her hands in front of her sweatshirt, balling her fists into her stomach. ‘He wants to know if you want to speak with him.’
Tim laboured to chew and swallow the food in his mouth. ‘A priest?’
‘From the Church of England.’ Tim’s father and I checked each other’s faces for comprehension. Only Tim intuited immediately why a priest had come calling.
‘No.’ Tim shook his head. ‘Please tell him no.’
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The death has taken place of the Very Reverend Victor Griffin, former dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Dean Griffin died in the early hours of Wednesday in Limavady, Co Derry, where he had been living in retirement.
Dean Griffin was involved with the anti-apartheid movement and protested at Lansdowne Road against a visiting Springboks rugby team. He also helped to organise the peace train to Northern Ireland. He was also part of the Dublin Crisis Conference when Dublin Corporation – now Dublin City Council – planned “to resettle the Liberties with large highways, with large office blocks and large car parks: the unholy trinity”. He was opposed to the idea, saying “it would all end in tears”. He later recalled that it did.
Dean Griffin was the author of a number of books including Anglican and Irish: What We Believe (1976), Mark of Protest (1993), Enough Religion to Make Us Hate (2002) and A Short Catechism of basic Church Teaching (2007).
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Saward’s case led to changes in attitudes toward rape victims and important legal overhauls. Victims of sexual assault were given the right to appeal lenient sentences and the media was blocked from identifying a victim before a defendant was charged. In 1990, Saward became the first person in Britain to waive her right to anonymity as a victim of rape. With Wendy Green, she wrote a book, Rape: My Story, in which she spoke openly about her trauma, how it had led to suicidal thoughts and how she had overcome them. “I believe forgiveness gives you freedom,” she wrote. “Freedom to move on without being held back by the past.” Saward went on to give training to judges and police on how to treat rape victims.
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He was ordained in 1991 and served for 4 years as curate of All Saints, Crowborough in Chichester diocese. He and Heather then left to move to Sydney Australia, as Mike took up a post as Junior Lecturer at Moore Theological College. While there he also did research for an MTh, with a dissertation on the concept of truth in John’s Gospel, and made many friends.
I first met Mike in 1998 when he returned to the UK to be a research fellow at Oak Hill Theological College in London. Some of his lectures were quite stretching (such as this one, and this one which he contributed to The Theologian journal), and I never understood his compulsive need to talk about Arsenal football club and include diagrams or witty quotes in all of his handouts! But he was a good friend and a mentor. We met up weekly to read the Bible and pray together during a year when I was doing MPhil research in the Old Testament, and we’d occasionally pore over the Septuagint or a Latin Church Father, or he’d advise me about college committees he had gotten me involved with. Always with at least one cup of coffee (and occasionally with a glass of something different).
Mike’s PhD from Kings College, London (completed in 2004) was on the eternal relation between God the Father and God the Son in selected patristic theologians and John’s Gospel, which highlights his interest in integrating systematic, historical, and biblical theology. Much of this work made it into his most recent publication Your Will Be Done: Exploring Eternal Subordination, Divine Monarchy and Divine Humility. He was keen to encourage Christians to engage more carefully in systematic theology, which he saw as something of a weakness in evangelical circles. In a helpful talk from 2006, for example, he examined the biblical foundations of systematics and outlined a biblical method of engaging in it, which many found persuasive.
Read it all (my emphasis).
(Oak Hill College)
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Just a few hours after he told a crowded courtroom “I still feel like I had to do it,” Dylann Roof was sentenced to death by a federal jury for carrying out a cold, calculated massacre inside Charleston's Emanuel AME Church in a bid to spark a race war.
The 12-member panel – three white jurors, nine black – deliberated for a little less than three hours before unanimously deciding that the 22-year-old white supremacist should die for his crimes rather than spend his life in prison without the possibility of parole.
It will be up to the presiding judge to formally impose that sentence, but he is bound by law to follow the jury’s decision. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel has scheduled the formal sentencing hearing for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Read it all from the local paper.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Capital Punishment Law & Legal Issues Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Being opposed is not fun. It does not lift our spirits. And when, as you have in South Africa, you spent decades and decades facing an atrocious and deeply evil ideology of apartheid, even a trace of wrongdoing brings back the taste of injustice. One thinks, "Perhaps we are simply going round the circle again.”
Yet we are not.
A New Year reminds us that history is not circular. It is not endless repetition, but linear: a story written by God in the colours and characters of human beings. A story that has a beginning, a middle and an end – it ends in triumph. Even if we struggle and suffer along the way, we know that because God raised Christ from the dead, we will see the victory of Jesus Christ and share in his perfect Kingdom.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Southern Africa * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Theology: Scripture
But Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester condemned the reading and called for discipline against those involved.
"The authorities of the Scottish Episcopal Church should immediately repudiate this ill-advised invitation," he said in a statement.
He also called for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to publicly distance the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion from the event.
" Christians should know what their fellow citizens believe and this can include reading the Qur'an for themselves, whether in the original or in translation. This is not, however, the same thing as having it read in Church in the context of public worship," he said.
Read it all from Christian Today.
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It is with profound shock and sadness that we announce the sudden and unexpected death of our Principal, the Revd Dr Mike Ovey, at the age of 58.
As the Oak Hill community comes to terms with the loss of our dear brother and leader, we cling on to the promise that ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’. It reminds us that for Mike, death is not an end but a glorious beginning.
Read it all and you can read comments by Archbp Peter Jensen there.
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[SCOTT] SIMON: What are some of the reasons you think more people's families, I guess I should - I almost said why more people are choosing to be cremated. And that might technically be true - but usually after their death.
[BARBARA] KEMMIS: So cremation is simply cheaper than burial. Of course, when you consider a funeral or a memorial service or celebration-of-life expenses, those are extra. And consumers also report that they see extra value with cremation and that they have more flexibility. To put it bluntly, death, even when it's anticipated, is inconvenient.
We don't want to lose our loved ones. We don't want to drop everything and gather and grieve and do what we need to do. But we must. And we can do that. But as families are spread across the country in various states, it's more and more difficult to bring people together on short notice. Cremation can expand the timeframe of grieving and memorializing your loved one.
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You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.
(Christ/St. Paul's Church Yonges Island SC; photo by Jacob Borrett)
Filed under: * By Kendall Sermons & Teachings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Anthropology Christology Theology: Scripture
I want to add a postscript to this tribute. In her death, Jill has somehow become public property. That is entirely understandable. Whilst remaining gentle and vulnerable, Jill was a tireless campaigner, fine communicator, a loyal and compassionate friend, a perceptive counsellor, and a courageous justice-seeker. It is interesting that so many tributes have been paid to her by those who are not involved with the church. But Jill was also a faithful Christian believer, whose testimony to God’s goodness and love undergirded all that she was and did. Working for justice in the area of violence against women was in every way her Christian calling, and one she pursued with faithfulness and vigour; indeed, I believe it is impossible to understand her work or her legacy without acknowledging the centrality of God’s love in her life. So, since she has offered such encouragement to other Christians, we might ask why her work received more attention from those outside the church than those within it and why, now that she has gone from us many Christians are wondering why they never learnt from her or supported what she was doing. So here’s the challenge. If the outpouring of tributes following Jill’s death, helps us in the church to re-think our own agendas, recognizing our blind spots, and our entrenched parochialism, Jill’s work will continue. For even now, she is surely encouraging us towards a bigger vision, where we can engage with the needs of our culture and our world, with more insight, compassion and care.
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These men saw a star that made them set out. The discovery of something unusual in the heavens sparked a whole series of events. The star did not shine just for them, nor did they have special DNA to be able to see it. As one of the Church Fathers rightly noted, the Magi did not set out because they had seen the star, but they saw the star because they had already set out (cf. Saint John Chrysostom). Their hearts were open to the horizon and they could see what the heavens were showing them, for they were guided by an inner restlessness. They were open to something new.
The Magi thus personify all those who believe, those who long for God, who yearn for their home, their heavenly homeland. They reflect the image of all those who in their lives have not let their hearts become anesthetized.
A holy longing for God wells up in the heart of believers because they know that the Gospel is not an event of the past but of the present. A holy longing for God helps us keep alert in the face of every attempt to reduce and impoverish our life.
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Let us now return to the exposition of the Gospel, where we previously left it. The astronomers went into the place where the child was staying, and found him with his mother. Then with prostrate bodies they worshipped Christ, and opened their coffers, and offered to him threefold gifts, gold, and incense, and myrrh. Gold is fitting for a king; incense belongs to God's service; with myrrh the bodies of the dead are prepared that they may not soon rot. These three astronomers worshipped Christ, and offered to him symbolic gifts. The gold betokened that he is true King; the incense that he is true God; the myrrh that he was then mortal, though now he continues immortal in eternity...
My brothers, let us offer to our Lord gold, for we confess that he is true King, and rules everywhere. Let us offer to him incense, for we believe that he was always God, who at that time appeared as a man. Let us bring him myrrh, for we believe that he was mortal in our flesh, who is incapable of suffering in his divine nature. He was mortal in human nature before his Passion, but he is henceforth immortal, as we all shall be after the universal resurrection.
We have spoken of these threefold gifts, how they apply to Christ. We also wish to say how they apply to us in a figurative sense. Truly gold betokens wisdom; as Solomon said, "A goldhoard much to be desired lies in the mouth of a wise man." Incense represents holy prayer, of which the psalmist sang, "Lord, let my prayer be sent forth like burning incense in thy sight." By myrrh is shown the mortality of our flesh, of which Holy Church says, "My hands dropped myrrh." To the born King we bring gold, if we are shining in his sight with the brightness of heavenly wisdom. Incense we bring him, if we set fire to our thoughts on the altar of our heart with the eagerness of holy prayers, so that through heavenly desire we may give forth something of a sweet smell. Myrrh we offer him if we quell the lusts of the flesh by self-restraint.
Read it all (and note the link to the full sermon text).
Saint John has described the character of Jesus in just two words, grace and truth. He said Jesus was "full of grace and truth...."
How would someone describe you? Are you strong on truth but weak on grace- quick to judge and slow to forgive? A whole lot of people are. Or are you strong on grace and weak on truth? A whole lot of people are. But grace without truth is not grace, it’s denial.
It’s easy to fall off the slippery slop in one direction or another. In our marriages, parenting, our work places, and even in ministries there is often a lot of one but not much of the other.
Look at our churches. Some churches are deeply immersed in truth, but awfully thin on grace. One of the greatest novels ever written, in my humble opinion, is The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Talk about a story of truth with no grace. Mistress Hester Prynne was sentenced to wear the scarlet letter, (an A for adultery), as a mark of shame upon her breast all the days of her life until the letter be engraved upon her tombstone. If she entered a church, trusting to share a comforting word from God, it was often her mishap to find herself the text of the sermon.
How sad that accurately describes many churches today- a lot of law, a lot of truth, but thin on grace. There is a story of a clergyman who had an argument with a vestryman about whether a young man who had a bad reputation should be made welcome in the church. Finally the minister said, "Well, didn’t the Lord forgive the woman taken in adultery?" "Yes," replied the old gentleman, "but I don’t think any more of him for having done it." And so it is with many churches- strong on truth, but weak on grace.
And on the flip side, there are many churches that cheat people out of truth, churches that vow never to offend, to make everybody feel good and comfortable. It may feel good and comfortable, it may sound like sacred tolerance, but there is no abiding peace there. There is no new life, no liberation, no transformation.
I knew a man who once asked a much younger woman to marry him, but with a pre-nuptial agreement. In the pre-nuptial it was stated that she was not suppose to nag him about his drinking. She agreed, and little by little, instead of speaking the truth in love she sat by and watched him die of alcohol. Now it could be argued that she stuck nobly to the agreement, but it could also be argued that she lived a marriage of no truth.
Read it all.
....one could learn a great deal from the question, “What do you hope to get for Christmas?” For if you know our hopes, you fairly well know us. If you want to know who a person really is, and plans to be, inquire into what that person is hoping for.
What are you hoping for?
I expect that is what most of us think religion is about, the fulfillment of our hopes. We hope to find peace in our anxious lives. So we come to church on Sunday morning hoping that the music of the hymns, the words of scripture and preaching may fill us with a sense of peace.
We hope for thoughtful, reflective lives. So we come to church on Sunday morning hoping for an interesting sermon, something that will help us to use our minds, something that will test our intellects, make us think about things in a way we haven’t thought before.....
The trouble is that the Gospels seem to engage in a continual debate with people’s hopes and expectations. Jesus came, light into our darkness. But the problem with Jesus was he was not the sort of light that we expected. That is where the trouble started. Jesus was the hope of the world. But he was not the hope for which the world was hoping!
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Christmas Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist * Theology Christology
And even because this day He took not the angels' nature upon Him, but took our nature in "the seed of Abraham," therefore hold we this day as a high feast; therefore meet we thus every year in a holy assembly, upon us a dignity which upon the angels He bestowed not. That He, as in the chapter before the Apostle setteth Him forth, That is, "the brightness of His Father's glory, the very character of His substance, the Heir of all things, by Whom He made the world;" He, when both needed it His taking upon Him their nature and both stood before Him, men and Angels, "the Angels He took not," but men "He took;" was made Man, was not made an Angel; that is, did more for them than He did for the Angels of Heaven.
Elsewhere the Apostle doth deliver this very point positively, and that, not without some vehemency; "Without all question great is the mystery of godliness: God is manifested in the flesh." Which is in effect the same that is here said, but that here it is delivered by way of comparison; for this speech is evidently a comparison. If he had thus set it down, "Our nature He took," that had been positive; but setting it down thus, "Ours He took, the Angels He took not," it is certainly comparative.
...Now the masters of speech tell us that there is power in the positive if it be given forth with an earnest asseveration, but nothing to that that is in the comparative. It is nothing so full to say, "I will never forget you," as thus to say it; "Can a mother forget the child of her own womb? Well, if she can, yet will not I forget you." Nothing so forcible to say thus, "I will hold my word with you," as thus, "Heaven and earth shall pass, but My word shall not pass." The comparative expressing is without all question more significant; and this here is such. Theirs, the Angels, nusquam, "at no hand He took, but ours He did.
--From a Christmas sermon in 1605.
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in thus being laid in a manger, he did, as it were, give an invitation to the most humble to come to him. We might tremble to approach a throne, but we cannot fear to approach a manger. Had we seen the Master at first riding in state through the streets of Jerusalem with garments laid in the way, and the palm-branches strewed, and the people crying, "Hosanna!" we might have thought, though even the thought would have been wrong, that he was not approachable. Even there, riding upon a colt the foal of an ass, he was so meek and lowly, that the young children clustered about him with their boyish "Hosanna!" Never could there be a being more approachable than Christ. No rough guards pushed poor petitioners away; no array of officious friends were allowed to keep off the importunate widow or the man who clamored that his son might be made whole; the hem of his garment was always trailing where sick folk could reach it, and he himself had a hand always ready to touch the disease, an ear to catch the faintest accents of misery, a soul going forth everywhere in rays of mercy, even as the light of the sun streams on every side beyond that orb itself. By being laid in a manger he proved himself a priest taken from among men, one who has suffered like his brethren, and therefore can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Of him it was said "He doth eat and drink with publicans and sinners;" "this man receiveth sinners and eateth with them." Even as an infant, by being laid in a manger, he was set forth as the sinner's friend. Come to him, ye that are weary and heavy-laden! Come to him, ye that are broken in spirit, ye who are bowed down in soul! Come to him, ye that despise yourselves and are despised of others! Come to him, publican and harlot! Come to him, thief and drunkard! In the manger there he lies, unguarded from your touch and unshielded from your gaze. Bow the knee, and kiss the Son of God; accept him as your Savior, for he puts himself into that manger that you may approach him. The throne of Solomon might awe you, but the manger of the Son of David must invite you.
...Methinks there was yet another mystery. You remember, brethren, that this place was free to all...
Read it all.
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...I have chosen this text with some fear and trembling that I would do an injustice to it by treating it with one sermon. But I choose it for two reasons. One is that it is a great Christmas passage. The key verse that shows this Christmas orientation is verse 14: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." This is the meaning of Christmas. God has come into the world, born of virgin, in the person of Jesus Christ. The second reason I have chosen this text is because it is so full of particular truths about Jesus Christ that we desperately need to know and embrace.
This is especially important today because, as I said last week during my welcome, even the major non-Christian religions of the world are speaking these days as though they esteem and honor and, in some sense, believe in Jesus. You hear this especially, these days, from Muslim leaders who want to draw the fact that they even honor Jesus more than we do because they do not think God would allow him to suffer the ignominious death of a criminal on the cross. So it is crucial that Christians know Jesus Christ very well, and can tell the difference between the Christ of the Bible and the Christ which other religions claim to honor.
So what I would like to do with this great paragraph about Jesus Christ, written by the one who knew him on earth more intimately than anyone else, the apostle John, is to point out and explain and exult over five truths concerning the Word made flesh, and then contrast two starkly different responses that you might give to him this morning. My aim is that you might see him for who he is and be moved to receive Him as your Lord and your God and your all-surpassing Treasure. And if you have already received Him, I pray that you will embrace him, and treasure him and delight in him and follow him and display Him more than you ever have.
Read it all.
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I behold a new and wondrous mystery! My ears resound to the Shepherd's song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.
The Angels sing!
The Archangels blend their voices in harmony!
The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise!
The Seraphim exalt His glory!
All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.
Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side the Sun of Justice.
And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, he had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things move in obedience to God.
This day He Who Is, is Born; and He Who Is becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became he God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassibility, remaining unchanged.
And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.
Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His Incarnation has he departed from the Godhead.
Kings have come, that they might adore the heavenly King of glory;
Soldiers, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven;
Women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of child-birth into joy;
Virgins, to the Son of the Virgin, beholding with joy, that He Who is the Giver of milk, Who has decreed that the fountains of the breast pour forth in ready streams, receives from a Virgin Mother the food of infancy;
Infants, that they may adore Him Who became a little child, so that out of the mouth of infants and sucklings, He might perfect praise;
Children, to the Child Who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod;
Men, to Him Who became man, that He might heal the miseries of His servants;
Shepherds, to the Good Shepherd Who has laid down His life for His sheep;
Priests, to Him Who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchisedech;
Servants, to Him Who took upon Himself the form of a servant that He might bless our servitude with the reward of freedom;
Fishermen, to Him Who from amongst fishermen chose catchers of men;
Publicans, to Him Who from amongst them named a chosen Evangelist;
Sinful women, to Him Who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant;
And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they may look upon the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world.
Since therefore all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice. I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival. But I take my part, not plucking the harp, not shaking the Thyrsian staff, not with the music of pipes, nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ.
For this is all my hope, this my life, this my salvation, this my pipe, my harp. And bearing it I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels, sing:
Glory to God in the Highest; and with the shepherds:
and on earth peace to men of good will
--From Antioch in 386 A.D.
You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.
(Christ/St. Paul's Church Yonges Island SC; photo by Jacob Borrett)
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