Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God our Father, who art the source of strength to all thy saints, and who didst bring the holy martyrs of Japan through the suffering of the cross to the joys of life eternal: Grant that we, being encouraged by their example, may hold fast the faith that we profess, even unto death; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsSpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryAsiaJapan

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Posted February 6, 2017 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

'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.





Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 2, 2017 at 5:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech thee that, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple, so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


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

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Posted February 2, 2017 at 5:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty and everlasting God, the brightness of faithful souls, Who didst bring the Gentiles to Thy light, and made known unto them Him Who is the true Light and the bright and morning Star, fill we beseech Thee, the world with Thy glory, and show Thyself by the radiance of Thy Light unto all nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

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Posted January 20, 2017 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Thou, who givest to thy children liberally and upbraidest not: Preserve us from all envy at the good of our neighbour, and from every form of jealousy. Teach us to rejoice in what others have and we have not, to delight in what they achieve and we cannot accomplish, to be glad in all that they enjoy and we do not experience; and so fill us daily more completely with love; through him in whom thou hast promised to supply all our need, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

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

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Posted January 17, 2017 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty God, the giver of strength and joy: Change, we beseech thee, our bondage into liberty, and the poverty of our nature into the riches of thy grace; that by the transformation of our lives thy glory may be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

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Posted January 16, 2017 at 6:36 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon


(Christ Saint Paul's, Yonges Island, South Carolina, 2016)
"Almighty God our Heavenly Father, whose only Son came down at Christmas to be the light of the world, grant as these trees are burned this Epiphany night, that your Holy Spirit would enable us to follow his example and bear witness to His light throughout the globe, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reign in glory everlasting. Amen." (KSH)

Filed under: * By Kendall* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphanySpirituality/Prayer* General InterestPhotos/Photography

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Posted January 15, 2017 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty God, who hast set in thy Church some with gifts to teach and help and administer, in diversity of operation but of the same Spirit: Grant to all such, we beseech thee, grace to wait on the ministry which they have received in the body of Christ with simplicity, diligence, and cheerfulness; that none may think of himself more highly than he ought to think, and none may seek another man’s calling, but rather to be found faithful in his own work; to the glory of thy name in Christ Jesus our Lord.

--The Rev. H. J. Wotherspoon [1850-1930], Kyrie eleison ("Lord, have mercy"): A Manual of Private Prayers (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1905)

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

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Posted January 15, 2017 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Thou, in whom we live and move and have our being: We offer and present unto thee ourselves, all that we are and have, our thoughts and our desires, our words and our deeds, to be a living and continual sacrifice. We are not our own; therefore we would glorify thee in our bodies and our spirits, which are thine; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

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Posted January 14, 2017 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Almighty God, who by thy holy Apostle hast taught us to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto thee, as our reasonable service: Hear us, we beseech thee, as we now come to thee in the name of Jesus Christ; and give us grace that we may dedicate ourselves wholly to thy service, and henceforth live only to thy glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

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Posted January 13, 2017 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty God, who to wise men who sought him didst manifest the Incarnation of thy Son by the bright shining of a star: Grant that, as they presented unto him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh, so we also out of our treasures may offer to him ourselves, a living sacrifice acceptable in thy sight; through him who for our sakes was born on earth as a little child, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

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Posted January 12, 2017 at 4:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Blessed Lord, who in the days of thy earthly childhood didst earnestly desire to be about thy Father’s business: Give us the grace of thy Holy Spirit early to seek thee and evermore to follow thee; that being continuously aided by thy grace, we may be exercised in thy service; who livest and reignest with the Holy Spirit, world without end.

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

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Posted January 11, 2017 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Listen to it all (click on the link to play at the site when you get there).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphanyLiturgy, Music, Worship

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Posted January 10, 2017 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord Jesus Christ, who in the offerings of the wise men didst receive an earnest of the worship of the nations: Grant that thy Church may never cease to proclaim the good news of thy love, that all men may come to worship thee as their Saviour and King, who livest and reignest world without end.

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

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Posted January 10, 2017 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God, who by the shining of a star didst guide the wise men to behold thy Son, our Lord: Show us thy heavenly light, and give us grace to follow until we find him, and, finding him, rejoice. And grant that as they presented gold, frankincense, and myrrh, we now may bring him the offering of a loving heart, an adoring spirit, and an obedient will; for his honour, and for thy glory, O God most high.

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

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Posted January 9, 2017 at 5:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Almighty God our Heavenly Father, whose only Son came down at Christmas to be the light of the world, grant as these trees are burned this Epiphany night, that your Holy Spirit would enable us to follow his example and bear witness to His light throughout the globe, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reign in glory everlasting. Amen."



(Trinity Church, Edisto Island, South Carolina, Epiphany 2016)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphanySpirituality/Prayer* South Carolina

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Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves



Words: Bishop Reginald Heber
Tune: 'Epiphany' - Joseph Thrupp

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphany

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Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord Jesus Christ, who didst humble thyself to take the baptism of sinful men, and wast forthwith declared to be the Son of God: Grant that we who have been baptized into thee may rejoice to be the sons of God, and servants of all; for thy name’s sake, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest ever one God, world without end.




Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphanySpirituality/Prayer* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 8, 2017 at 5:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty God, who at the baptism of thy blessed Son Jesus Christ in the river Jordan didst manifest his glorious Godhead: Grant, we beseech thee, that the brightness of his presence may shine in our hearts, and his glory be set forth in our lives; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphanySpirituality/Prayer* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Please bear with me/us.

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

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Posted January 7, 2017 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 7, 2017 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast made known the incarnation of thy Son by the bright shining of a star, which when the wise men beheld they adored thy majesty and presented costly gifts: Grant that the star of thy righteousness may always shine in our hearts, and that for our treasure we may give to thy service ourselves and all that we have; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.


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

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Posted January 7, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphany

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Posted January 6, 2017 at 7:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many Christians around the world are celebrating Epiphany and Theophany – the day when the Three Kings of Orient arrived in Bethlehem to present Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh; and the celebration of the Baptism of Christ by John in the Jordan River – while others are preparing to celebrate Christmas.

Read it all and enjoy all the photosRead it all and enjoy all the photos.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphany* General InterestPhotos/Photography

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Posted January 6, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord Jesus, our Master, go with us while we travel to the heavenly country; that, following thy star, we may not wander in the darkness of this world’s night, while thou, who art our Way, and Truth, and Life dost shine within us to our journey’s end; for thy mercy’s sake.


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

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Posted January 6, 2017 at 11:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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).


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

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Posted January 6, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But a closer look reveals a more complicated scene. If I may quote myself once more,
The gifts the magi present to Jesus are, at one level, what we would have expected. The gold is a fitting sign of kingship. The incense attests, however obliquely, to Jesus’ deity (incense being used in the Old Testament for the worship of Israel’s God). But the myrrh foreshadows a funeral. The myrrh casts a shadow over the other two gifts, forcing us to ask whether the kingship and deity of Jesus will somehow culminate in tragedy. Myrrh, as the jaunty Christmas carol puts it, is a “bitter perfume”; it “breathes a life of gathering gloom; / Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, / Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.” Or, as T.S. Eliot’s great poem “The Journey of the Magi” has it, when the wise men crest the hills of Judea and make their way toward Bethlehem, what they see is “three trees on the low sky.”
This is the ultimate unpredictability and irregularity of Epiphany. It is a feast day, and we are celebrating the appearance of Jesus the king of the Jews to all the nations of the world. And yet it is a strange feast, a poignant one, in which we can already smell the acrid odor of a corpse. It’s important, I think, to bear this strange Christological concertina wire of reconfigured chronology in mind when we observe — and teach others to observe — the Christian calendar, so that we don’t forget where the narrative’s real center lies. The church year has the hallmark of every good story: a beginning, a middle, and an end. But the more you inhabit it, the more you realize that its end is given in its beginning: There is no Christ anywhere in the Christian year who is not already “the Lamb that was slaughtered from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8), and that, ultimately, is the mystery the calendar invites us to plumb.

Read it all.


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

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Posted January 6, 2017 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The same thing happens to Father Kendall Harmon every year during the 12 days after the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It happens with newcomers at his home parish, Christ-St. Paul's in Yonges Island, South Carolina, near Charleston. It often happens when, as Canon Theologian, he visits other parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

"I greet people and say 'Merry Christmas!' all the way through the 12 days" of the season, he said, laughing. "They look at me like I'm a Martian or I'm someone who is lost. ... So many people just don't know there's more Christmas after Christmas Day."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasEpiphanyLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer

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Posted January 6, 2017 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shine graciously into our hearts that, walking as children of light, we may glorify thee before men, and, being always ready to obey Thy call, may, in our place and measure, hold up the light of life to them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death. Hear us, O Lord, for Thy great mercies' sake, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, now and for ever. Amen.


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

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Posted January 6, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...that this star was not of the common sort, or rather not a star at all, as it seems at least to me, but some invisible power transformed into this appearance, is in the first place evident from its very course. For there is not, there is not any star that moves by this way, but whether it be the sun you mention, or the moon, or all the other stars, we see them going from east to west; but this was wafted from north to south; for so is Palestine situated with respect to Persia.

In the second place, one may see this from the time also. For it appears not in the night, but in mid-day, while the sun is shining; and this is not within the power of a star, nay not of the moon; for the moon that so much surpasses all, when the beams of the sun appear, straightway hides herself, and vanishes away. But this by the excess of its own splendor overcame even the beams of the sun, appearing brighter than they, and in so much light shining out more illustriously.

...[Later in the narrative] it did not, remaining on high, point out the place; it not being possible for them so to ascertain it, but it came down and performed this office. For ye know that a spot of so small dimensions, being only as much as a shed would occupy, or rather as much as the body of a little infant would take up, could not possibly be marked out by a star. For by reason of its immense height, it could not sufficiently distinguish so confined a spot, and discover it to them that were desiring to see it. And this any one may see by the moon, which being so far superior to the stars, seems to all that dwell in the world, and are scattered over so great an extent of earth,—seems, I say, near to them every one. How then, tell me, did the star point out a spot so confined, just the space of a manger and shed, unless it left that height and came down, and stood over the very head of the young child? And at this the evangelist was hinting when he said, “Lo, the star went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphany* Theology

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Posted January 6, 2017 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God, who by the guidance of a star didst manifest to the Gentiles the glory of thine only begotten Son: Grant us grace that, being led by the light of thy Holy Spirit, we may, in adoring love and lowliest reverence, yield ourselves to thy service; that thy kingdom of righteousness and peace may be advanced among all nations, to the glory of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


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

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Posted January 6, 2017 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And there it is. Born to give them second birth. Bound up in the many promises of the manger is the promise that the babe born in Bethlehem has power to reconstitute human beings, which means he can start them over again, spiritually speaking from scratch. This is what the Bible means by “born again,” or what Wesley meant by “second birth.” And this is indeed what Scrooge needs. After all, neither we nor he wish to trust his eternal chains to the fragile and fickle powers of human resolve. Better to enter into the mystery, terror, joy, and dark night of Christmas Eve as one man only to emerge hours later through miracle (or magic?) another man.

Flinging the curtains open on Christmas Day, his spiritual pilgrimage through the past, present and future complete, the first thing Scrooge does is laugh.

Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs.

“I don’t know what day of the month it is,” said Scrooge. “I don’t know how long I’ve been among the Spirits. I don’t know anything. I’m quite a baby. Never mind. I don’t care. I’d rather be a baby. Hallo! Whoop! Hallo here!”

“I’m quite a baby.” Indeed. Christmas magic made the man new. He had started all over gain. He had been born anew. Dickens’ point was not about ghosts and phantasms but rather about Christmas itself.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriology

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Posted January 5, 2017 at 11:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Come to your heaven, you heavenly quires!
Earth hath the heaven of your desires;
Remove your dwelling to your God,
A stall is now His best abode;
Sith men their homage do deny,
Come, angels, all their faults supply.

His chilling cold doth heat require,
Come, seraphim, in lieu of fire;
This little ark no cover hath,
Let cherubs' wings his body swathe;
Come, Raphael, this babe must eat,
Provide our little Toby meat.

Let Gabriel be now His groom,
That first took up His earthly room;
Let Michael stand in His defence,
Whom love hath link'd to feeble sense;
Let graces rock when He doth cry,
And angels sing this lullaby.

he same you saw in heavenly seat,
Is He that now sucks Mary's teat;
Agnize your King a mortal wight,
His borrow'd weed lets not your sight;
Come, kiss the manger where He lies;
That is your bliss above the skies.

This little babe so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan's fold;
All hell doth at His presence quake,
Though He Himself for cold do shake;
For in this weak unarmèd wise
The gates of hell He will surprise.

With tears He fights and wins the field,
His naked breast stands for a shield,
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows, looks of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns, cold and need,
And feeble flesh His warrior's steed.

His camp is pitchèd in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall,
The crib His trench, hay-stalks His stakes,
Of shepherds He His muster makes;
And thus, as sure His foe to wound,
The angels' trumps alarum sound.

My soul, with Christ join thou in fight;
Stick to the tents that He hath pight;
Within His crib is surest ward,
This little babe will be thy guard;
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heavenly boy.

--Robert Southwell

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

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Posted January 5, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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

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Posted January 5, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O NIGHT DIVINE from Eliot Rausch + Phos Pictures on Vimeo.



Watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas

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Posted January 5, 2017 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now had the body been brought down from heaven and not taken from our nature, was there any need for him becoming man? God the Word was made man for this reason, that that very nature which had sinned, fallen, and become corrupt should conquer the tyrant who had deceived it. Thus it should be freed from corruption, as the Divine Apostle says: 'For as by a man came death, and by a man came the resurrection from the dead' (1 Cor. 15:21). If the first was true, then so is the second.
--Saint John of Damascus: Writings, Frederic Chase ed. (Washington DC: CUA Press, 1958) Book III, 12, page 293


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyAnthropologyChristology

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Posted January 5, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We sing the songs of progress in the gospel of an ever-improving world. Today, this is the purpose that motivates almost every undertaking, both public and private. However, the cult of progress is the repudiation of grace....

There are habits of the heart worth pondering in this context. The train of thought geared towards progress and the greatness of our achievements is rooted in discursive reasoning’s efforts to judge, weigh, measure and compare. It becomes a habit that blinds us to many things. Of note, the faculty that judges, weighs, measures and compares is not the same faculty that sees beauty. It is the faculty of utility, made for tools.

This faculty of the heart that sees beauty is also the faculty that sees the small things and the things that “do not signify.” It is not a practical place nor given to usefulness. The Fathers describe it as the nous, and often simply call it the heart. It is that place through which we have communion with God. It is, interestingly, also the place that recognizes Him in the “least of these my brethren.” It is that place which sees personhood in its proper form, in its utter uniqueness and never as “one of many.”

It is worth considering that our real day is almost completely populated with “small things.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyAnthropologyChristology

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Posted January 5, 2017 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God, who hast made the most glorious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, thine only-begotten Son, to be exceeding sweet and supremely lovable to thy faithful servants: Mercifully grant that all who devoutly venerate this name of Jesus on earth may in this life receive thy holy comfort, and in the life to come attain thine unending joy; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

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Posted January 5, 2017 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the early Christians wrote about Jesus, this was the story they believed themselves to be telling. They didn't see him as simply a teacher, a moral example, or even as one who saved people from a doomed world. They told his story as the point where the dark forces of chaos converged, in the cynical politics of Herod and Pilate, the bitter fanaticism of the Pharisees, the wild shrieks of diseased souls, the sudden storms on the lake. They invite us to see his death on the analogy of Jonah's being thrown into the sea, there to be swallowed by the monster called Death. They insist that in this death God has taken upon Himself the full force of the world's evil. As a sign of that, the final book of the Bible declares that in the new world, now already begun with his resurrection, there will be no more sea.

Saying this precisely does not give Christian theology an easy explanation ("Oh, that's all right then") for the continuing presence of evil in the world. On the contrary, it tells a story about Jesus's own sense of abandonment, and thereby encourages us to embrace the same sense of helpless involvement in the sorrow of the world, as the means by which the world is to be healed. Those who work for justice, reconciliation and peace will know that sense, and perhaps, occasionally, that healing.

This isn't the kind of answer that the Enlightenment wanted. But maybe, as we launch into the deep waters of another new year, it is the kind of vocation we ought to embrace in place of shallow analysis and shrill reaction.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristologyTheodicy

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Posted January 4, 2017 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchMusic

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Posted January 4, 2017 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Berliner and longtime member of St. Mary's church choir, Christian Beier attempts to explain the mystique and tradition behind this piece of music....

"It makes Christmas Christmas," he adds with a chuckle.

But as gorgeous as the music is for Beier, the core of this yearly event is something deeper.

"It is getting into some dialogue with God. It is being moved by whatever is around us," he says.

Read or listen to it all (audio for this highly encouraged).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasLiturgy, Music, Worship* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany

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Posted January 4, 2017 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Wonderful stuff!

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchMusic* General InterestHumor / Trivia

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Posted January 4, 2017 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....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!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 4, 2017 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
The Word of the Father, through which time was made, became flesh and made his birthday in time, and willed a single day for his human birth, he without whose divine permission no day rolls round. With the Father he precedes all the spaces of ages; born this day of a mother, he inserted himself into the courses of the years.The maker of man was made man [homo factus hominis factor]so that the ruler of the stars might suck at breasts,bread might hunger,the fountain might thirst,light might sleep,the way might be wearied by a journey,truth might be accused by false witnesses,the judge of the living and the dead might be judged by a mortal judge,justice might be condemned by the unjust,discipline might be beaten with whips,the cluster of grapes might be crowned with thorns,the foundation might be hung from a tree,strength might be weakened,health [salus] might be wounded,life might die.He suffered these and like indignities [indigna] for us so that he might free the unworthy [indignos]. He who did no evil suffered such great evils for our sakes, while we who deserved nothing good through him have received such great goods. For the sake of all this, he who was the Son of God before all the ages, without a beginning of days, deigned to be a son of man in the last days, and the One who was born, not made, of the Father was made in the mother whom he had made, so that he might exist here and now, made from the mother, from the woman who except for him would never ever herself have been able to exist."
(Sermon 191, 1; PL 38, 1010)

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

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Posted January 4, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A fine collection for the season here.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasLiturgy, Music, Worship

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Posted January 4, 2017 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Gospel is not that Jesus Christ comes to earth, tells us how to live, we live a good life and then God owes us blessing. The Gospel is that Jesus Christ came to earth, lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died—so when we believe in Him, we live a life of grateful joy for Him. If these things didn’t happen, if they’re just parables, what you are saying is that if you try hard enough, God will accept you.

If Jesus didn’t come, the story of Christmas is one more moral paradigm to crush you. If Jesus didn’t come, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere around these Christmas stories that say we need to be sacrificing, we need to be humble, we need to be loving. All that will do is crush you into the ground. Because if it isn’t true that John saw Him, heard Him, felt Him, that Jesus really came to do these things, then Christmas is depressing.

First John 1:3 says, “Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son.” “Fellowship” means that if Jesus Christ has come, if Christmas is true, then we’ve got a basis for a personal relationship with God. God is no longer a remote idea or a force we cower before, but we can know Him personally. He’s become graspable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristologyTheology: Salvation (Soteriology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted January 4, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sickness relieved is a beautiful thing. A heart attack treated takes the elephant off the chest and leaves a smile. A child made well, a broken bone splinted, a wound closed, a tooth numbed, an abscess opened are among the reasons that physicians, at least at first, decide to walk among the sick.

However, we poor doctors, with our paltry degrees and bags of tricks, can only do a little. We merely treat the symptoms. He treated the disease. He brought an end to it all with his birth, death and resurrection. No more sin, no more death. He offered every patient the cure, free of charge, with no need for insurance or cash.

How it must feel to be him! Not to cure the broken bones, but to offer healing to the broken hearts. Not to excise the tumor, but to remove the guilt. Not to bypass the heart, but to replace it with a new one.

At Christmas, we celebrate the child. How blessed we are that he walked among us, knew our every disease, then grew up to become the only physician qualified to heal us.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 4, 2017 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyAnthropologyChristology

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Posted January 4, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Simply marvelous--listen to it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasLiturgy, Music, Worship

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Posted January 4, 2017 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Eternal God, who makest all things new, and abidest for ever the same: Grant us to begin this year in thy faith, and to continue it in thy favour; that, being guided in all our doings, and guarded all our days, we may spend our lives in thy service, and finally, by thy grace, attain the glory of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

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Posted January 4, 2017 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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

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Posted January 3, 2017 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A crucial event for the church’s confession of the doctrine of the Incarnation came at the Council of Chalcedon (A.D.451), when the church countered both the Nestorian idea that Jesus was two personalities—the Son of God and a man—under one skin, and the Eutychian idea that Jesus’ divinity had swallowed up his humanity. Rejecting both, the council affirmed that Jesus is one divine-human person in two natures (i.e., with two sets of capacities for experience, expression, reaction, and action); and that the two natures are united in his personal being without mixture, confusion, separation, or division; and that each nature retained its own attributes. In other words, all the qualities and powers that are in us, as well as all the qualities and powers that are in God, were, are, and ever will be really and distinguishably present in the one person of the man from Galilee. Thus the Chalcedonian formula affirms the full humanity of the Lord from heaven in categorical terms.

The Incarnation, this mysterious miracle at the heart of historic Christianity, is central in the New Testament witness. That Jews should ever have come to such a belief is amazing. Eight of the nine New Testament writers, like Jesus’ original disciples, were Jews, drilled in the Jewish axiom that there is only one God and that no human is divine. They all teach, however, that Jesus is God’s Messiah, the Spirit-anointed son of David promised in the Old Testament (e.g., Isa. 11:1-5; Christos, “Christ,” is Greek for Messiah). They all present him in a threefold role as teacher, sin-bearer, and ruler—prophet, priest, and king. And in other words, they all insist that Jesus the Messiah should be personally worshiped and trusted—which is to say that he is God no less than he is man. Observe how the four most masterful New Testament theologians (John, Paul, the writer of Hebrews, and Peter) speak to this.

John’s Gospel frames its eyewitness narratives (John 1:14; 19:35; 21:24) with the declarations of its prologue (1:1-18): that Jesus is the eternal divine Logos (Word), agent of Creation and source of all life and light (vv. 1-5, 9), who through becoming “flesh” was revealed as Son of God and source of grace and truth, indeed as “God the only begotten” (vv. 14, 18; NIV text notes). The Gospel is punctuated with “I am” statements that have special significance because I am (Greek: ego eimi) was used to render God’s name in the Greek translation of Exodus 3:14; whenever John reports Jesus as saying ego eimi, a claim to deity is implicit. Examples of this are John 8:28, 58, and the seven declarations of his grace as (a) the Bread of Life, giving spiritual food (6:35, 48, 51); (b) the Light of the World, banishing darkness (8:12; 9:5); (c) the gate for the sheep, giving access to God (10:7, 9); (d) the Good Shepherd, protecting from peril (10:11, 14); (e) the Resurrection and Life, overcoming our death (11:25); (f) the Way, Truth, and Life, guiding to fellowship with the Father (14:6); (g) the true Vine, nurturing for fruitfulness (15:1, 5). Climactically, Thomas worships Jesus as “my Lord and my God” (20:28). Jesus then pronounces a blessing on all who share Thomas’s faith and John urges his readers to join their number (20:29-31).

--Concise Theology: A Guide To Historic Christian Beliefs (Tyndale House, 2011), pp. 105-106

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 3, 2017 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This mediator must represent God to humankind, and humankind to God. He must have points of contact with both God and humanity, and yet be distinguishable from them both….the central Christian idea of the incarnation, which expresses the belief that Jesus is both God and man, divine and human, portrays Jesus as the perfect mediator between God and human beings. He, and he alone, is able to redeem us and reconcile us to God.

--"I Believe": Exploring the Apostles' Creed ( Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p.48

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

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Posted January 3, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I believe the hardest job in America today is that of being a Roman Catholic parish priest.

Perhaps the most challenging single job this year is that of Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The spiritual leader of 500,000 people in one of the most heavily Roman Catholic regions in the United States, Hughes, according to the New York Times, had to put together a diocese "in exile." The task was to reorganize the Archdiocese, including a charitable network and 104 parochial schools, inBaton Rouge. Can you imagine?

"I never thought the Lord was going to ask me to take this on at 72," said the Archbishop. Indeed.
And here is where faith in the child in the manger comes in. Looking out at all the flooding, devastation, looting and loss, the reporter asked Alfred Hughes whether he still had hope.

He declared: "Absolutely. Absolutely. That is the root of our faith."

"The most important thing is to not doubt God's presence and God's saving and transforming grace," he continued. "I'm convinced that God is going to purify us through this."

What a bracing affirmation in the midst of so many who are tempted to soften Christmas into a Hallmark Card these days. "In the bleak midwinter," Christine Rossetti reminds us, "frosty wind made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone."

Talk about bleak — how about New Orleans after Katrina? Yet the good Archbishop says "I am convinced." If there can be light in the bleakness of Bethlehem, in the miry initial despair of New Orleans after such a fury of nature, there can ALWAYS be hope. For the light shines in the darkness at Christmas, and the darkness has not and never will overcome it.

--The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon from 2005

Filed under: * By Kendall* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 3, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Just oh so uplifting--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasLiturgy, Music, Worship

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Posted January 3, 2017 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...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.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 3, 2017 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two high-profile TV adverts this season seem to point back to the sentiment of Dickens’ tale. Sainsbury’s sign off with the strap line ‘Christmas is for sharing’, whilst John Lewis prefer ‘Give someone the Christmas they’ve been dreaming of’. Behind the marketing strategy seems to be a genuine search for a more profound message to accompany the call to consume. Both are centred on sharing and people, not objects or wealth.

Margaret Oliphant, Scottish novelist and historical writer, wrote that A Christmas Carol ‘moved us all those days ago as if it had been a new gospel’. And its popularity and pertinence remain undimmed. But shining even brighter is the old Gospel – the ultimate story of second chances and redemption that is ready to move us again this Christmas and lead us to sharing it with others.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted January 3, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(A new carol written for the Choir of King's College, Cambridge in 2012)


Enjoy it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasLiturgy, Music, Worship

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Posted January 3, 2017 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Almighty God, who by the birth of thy holy Child Jesus hast given us a great light to dawn upon our darkness: Grant, we pray thee, that in his light we may see light to the end of our days; and bestow upon us, we beseech thee, that most excellent Christmas gift of charity to all men, that so the likeness of thy Son may be formed in us, and that we may have the ever brightening hope of everlasting life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

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Posted January 3, 2017 at 5:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

And behold,

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.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 2, 2017 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The purpose of religious language…is to evoke an attitude...”

You may need to enlarge the page to see it better; I sure did; KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 2, 2017 at 12:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Listen to it all. A reminder of the English translation of the words:
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
Alleluia!


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasLiturgy, Music, Worship

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Posted January 2, 2017 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As with the holiday, so with the culture at large. The increasingly post-Christian culture of America and Europe are nevertheless more deeply rooted in Christianity than is usually recognized by its opponents (and some of its adherents). It’s at least theoretically possible that this culture will eventually get Christianity out of its system, out of the roots of its consciousness, and negligible as a cultural force, reduced to the private practices of an eccentric few. This would take several generations, and I don’t think it will happen, but it certainly could. And if it did, the resulting culture would, like Christmas, lose the hope and the humanism which had been its legacy from Christianity. As with Christmas, if the heart were to stop beating, the body would die.

We have seen the prospects for that new culture already, in the totalitarian nightmares of communism and fascism, in the wasteland of pleasure-and-power-seeking which is offered as the good life by much of the entertainment and advertising produced by capitalism, in the drab materialist collectivism of “Imagine” and the absurd materialist egoism of Atlas Shrugged.

Perhaps it’s not even too much to say that if Christmas were to die, the remains of Christian culture would die, too, and with it that softness toward the individual human person—imperfect, of course, and slow to develop—that has characterized it. As long as the mad mixture of the very earthly and the very heavenly which is Christmas—the poor and vulnerable newborn baby among the animals on the one hand, choirs of angels on the other—remains at the heart of the holiday, and the holiday remains very much alive in the culture, the natural coldness and brutality of the human race is always challenged from within the culture itself. Should that challenge be removed, no one would be more surprised by the result than those who worked to remove it. They might not live to see that result, but if their souls were not lost altogether, part of their purgatory might be the knowledge of what they had done to their descendants.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Theology

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Posted January 2, 2017 at 10:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

CHORUS

Come we shepherds whose blest sight
Hath met love's noon in nature's night;
Come lift we up our loftier song
And wake the sun that lies too long.

To all our world of well-stol'n joy
He slept, and dreamt of no such thing,
While we found out heav'n's fairer eye,
And kiss'd the cradle of our King.
Tell him he rises now too late
To show us aught worth looking at.

Tell him we now can show him more
Than he e'er show'd to mortal sight,
Than he himself e'er saw before,
Which to be seen needs not his light.
Tell him, Tityrus, where th' hast been;
Tell him, Thyrsis, what th' hast seen.

TITYRUS

Gloomy night embrac'd the place
Where the Noble Infant lay;
The Babe look'd up and show'd his face,
In spite of darkness, it was day.
It was thy day, Sweet! and did rise
Not from the east, but from thine eyes.
CHORUS

It was thy day, Sweet! and did rise
Not from the east, but from thine eyes.
THYRSIS

Winter chid aloud, and sent
The angry North to wage his wars;
The North forgot his fierce intent,
And left perfumes instead of scars.
By those sweet eyes' persuasive pow'rs,
Where he meant frost, he scatter'd flow'rs.
CHORUS

By those sweet eyes' persuasive pow'rs,
Where he meant frost, he scatter'd flow'rs.
BOTH

We saw thee in thy balmy nest,
Young dawn of our eternal day!
We saw thine eyes break from their east
And chase the trembling shades away.
We saw thee, and we bless'd the sight,
We saw thee by thine own sweet light.
TITYRUS

Poor World, said I, what wilt thou do
To entertain this starry stranger?
Is this the best thou canst bestow,
A cold, and not too cleanly, manger?
Contend, ye powers of heav'n and earth,
To fit a bed for this huge birth.
CHORUS

Contend, ye powers of heav'n and earth,
To fit a bed for this huge birth.
THYRSIS

Proud World, said I, cease your contest,
And let the Mighty Babe alone;
The ph{oe}nix builds the ph{oe}nix' nest,
Love's architecture is his own;
The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
Made his own bed ere he was born.
CHORUS

The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
Made his own bed ere he was born.
TITYRUS

I saw the curl'd drops, soft and slow,
Come hovering o'er the place's head,
Off'ring their whitest sheets of snow
To furnish the fair Infant's bed.
Forbear, said I, be not too bold;
Your fleece is white, but 'tis too cold.
CHORUS

Forbear, said I, be not too bold;
Your fleece is white, but 'tis too cold.
THYRSIS

I saw the obsequious Seraphims
Their rosy fleece of fire bestow;
For well they now can spare their wings,
Since Heav'n itself lies here below.
Well done, said I, but are you sure
Your down so warm will pass for pure?
CHORUS

Well done, said I, but are you sure
Your down so warm will pass for pure?
TITYRUS

No no, your King's not yet to seek
Where to repose his royal head;
See see, how soon his new-bloom'd cheek
'Twixt's mother's breasts is gone to bed.
Sweet choice, said we! no way but so,
Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.
CHORUS

Sweet choice, said we! no way but so,
Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.
BOTH

We saw thee in thy balmy nest,
Bright dawn of our eternal day!
We saw thine eyes break from their east,
And chase the trembling shades away.
We saw thee, and we bless'd the sight,
We saw thee, by thine own sweet light.
CHORUS

We saw thee, and we bless'd the sight,
We saw thee, by thine own sweet light.
FULL CHORUS

Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span;
Summer in winter; day in night;
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little one, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav'n to earth.

Welcome; though nor to gold nor silk,
To more than C{ae}sar's birthright is;
Two sister seas of virgin-milk,
With many a rarely temper'd kiss,
That breathes at once both maid and mother,
Warms in the one, cools in the other.

Welcome, though not to those gay flies
Gilded i' th' beams of earthly kings,
Slippery souls in smiling eyes;
But to poor shepherds, homespun things,
Whose wealth's their flock, whose wit, to be
Well read in their simplicity.

Yet when young April's husband-show'rs
Shall bless the fruitful Maia's bed,
We'll bring the first-born of her flow'rs
To kiss thy feet and crown thy head.
To thee, dread Lamb! whose love must keep
The shepherds more than they the sheep.

To thee, meek Majesty! soft King
Of simple graces and sweet loves,
Each of us his lamb will bring,
Each his pair of silver doves;
Till burnt at last in fire of thy fair eyes,
Ourselves become our own best sacrifice.

--Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchHistoryPoetry & Literature* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 2, 2017 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(It is very difficult to set the stage for this scene, but some background will be helpful. Rayber is one of the novel's central characters and is strongly anti-Christian. He is looking as hard as he can for his nephew, Francis Tarwater, who has run away. This has led him to a small church service, likely a revival meeting, and he is watching what is occurring through a window. Rayber is unable to hear in one ear and in the other he wears a hearing device which sometimes vexes him. The "old man" is a reference to another key character in the novel, Mason Tarwater, whose death and desired burial form an important early part of the book. There is also a mention of Bishop who is Rayber's son and who appears to have Down's syndrome).

. . . A little girl hobbled into the spotlight.

Rayber cringed. Simply by the sight of her he could tell that she was not a fraud, that she was only exploited. She was eleven or twelve with a small delicate face and a head of black hair that looked too thick and heavy for a frail child to support. A cape like her mother's was turned back over one shoulder and her skirt was short as if better to reveal the thin legs twisted from the knees. She held her arms over her head for a moment. "I want to tell you people the story of the world," she said in a loud high child's voice. "I want to tell you why Jesus came and what happened to Him. I want to tell you how He'll come again. I want to tell you to be ready. Most of all," she said, "I want to tell you to be ready so that on the last day you'll rise in the glory of the Lord."

Rayber's fury encompassed the parents, the preacher, all the idiots he could not see who were sitting in front of the child, parties to her degradation. She believed it, she was locked tight in it, chained hand and foot, exactly as he had been, exactly as only a child could be. He felt the taste of his own childhood pain laid again on his tongue like a bitter wafer.

"Do you know who Jesus is?" she cried. "Jesus is the word of God and Jesus is love. The Word of God is love and do you know what love is, you people? If you don't know what love is you won't know Jesus when He comes. You won't be ready. I want to tell you people the story of the world, how it never known when love come, so when love comes again, you'll be ready."

She moved back and forth across the stage, frowning as if she were trying to see the people through the fierce circle of light that followed her. "Listen to me, you people," she said, "God was angry with the world because it always wanted more. It wanted as much as God had and it didn't know what God had but it wanted it and more. It wanted God's own breath, it wanted His very Word and God said, 'I'll make my Word Jesus, I'll give them my Word for a king, I'll give them my very breath for theirs.'

"Listen, you people," she said and flung her arms wide, "God told the world He was going to send it a king and the world waited. The world thought, a golden fleece will do for His bed. Silver and gold and peacock tails, a thousand suns in a peacock's tail will do for His sash. His mother will ride on a four-horned white beast and use the sunset for a cape. She'll trail it behind her over the ground and let the world pull it to pieces, a new one every evening."

To Rayber she was like one of those birds blinded to make it sing more sweetly. Her voice had the tone of a glass bell. His pity encompassed all exploited children--himself when he was a child, Tarwater exploited by the old man, this child exploited by parents, Bishop exploited by the very fact that he was alive.

"The world said, 'How long, Lord, do we have to wait for this?' And the Lord said, 'My Word is coming, my Word is coming from the house of David, the king.'" She paused and turned her head to the side, away from the fierce light. Her dark gaze moved slowly until it rested on Rayber's head in the window. He stared back at her. Her eyes remained on his face for a moment. A deep shock went through him. He was certain that the child had looked directly into his heart and seen his pity. He felt that some mysterious connection was established between them.

"'My Word is coming,'" she said, turning back to face the glare, "'my Word is coming from the house of David, the king.'"

She began again in a dirge-like tone. "Jesus came on cold straw. Jesus was warmed by the breath of an ox. 'Who is this?' the world said, 'who is this blue-cold child and this woman, plain as the winter? Is this the Word of God, this blue-cold child? Is this His will, this plain winter-woman?'

"Listen you people!" she cried, "the world knew in its heart, the same as you know in your hearts and I know in my heart. The world said, 'Love cuts like the cold wind and the will of God is plain as the winter. Where is the summer will of God? Where are the green seasons of God's will? Where is the spring and summer of God's will?'


"They had to flee into Egypt," she said in a low voice and turned her head again and this time her eyes moved directly to Rayber's face in the window and he knew they sought it. He felt himself caught up in her look, held there before the judgment seat of her eyes.

"You and I know," she said turning again, "what the world hoped then. The world hoped old Herod would slay the right child, the world hoped old Herod wouldn't waste those children, but he wasted them. He didn't get the right one. Jesus grew up and raised the dead."

Rayber felt his spirit borne aloft. But not those dead! he cried, not the innocent children, not you, not me when I was a child, not Bishop, not Frank! and he had a vision of himself moving like an avenging angel through the world, gathering up all the children that the Lord, not Herod, had slain.

"Jesus grew up and raised the dead," she cried, "and the world shouted, 'Leave the dead lie. The dead are dead and can stay that way. What do we want with the dead alive?' Oh you people!" she shouted, "they nailed Him to a cross and run a spear through His side and then they said, 'Now we can have some peace, now we can ease our minds.' And they hadn't but only said it when they wanted Him to come again. Their eyes were opened and they saw the glory they had killed.

"Listen world," she cried, flinging up her arms so that the cape flew out behind her, "Jesus is coming again! The mountains are going to lie down like hounds at His feet, the stars are going to perch on His shoulder and when He calls it, the sun is going to fall like a goose for His feast. Will you know the Lord Jesus then? The mountains will know Him and bound forward, the stars will light on His head, the sun will drop down at His feet, but will you know the Lord Jesus then?"

Rayber saw himself fleeing with the child to some enclosed garden where he would teach her the truth, where he would gather all the exploited children of the world and let the sunshine flood their minds.

"If you don't know Him now, you won't know Him then. Listen to me, world, listen to this warning. The Holy Word is in my mouth!

"The Holy Word is in my mouth!" she cried and turned her eyes again on his face in the window. This time there was a lowering concentration in her gaze. He had drawn her attention entirely away from the congregation.

Come away with me! he silently implored, and I'll teach you the truth, I'll save you, beautiful child!

Her eyes still fixed on him, she cried, "I've seen the Lord in a tree of fire! The Word of God is a burning Word to burn you clean!" She was moving in his direction, the people in front of her forgotten. Rayber's heart began to race. He felt some miraculous communication between them. The child alone in the world was meant to understand him. "Burns the whole world, man and child," she cried, her eye on him, "none can escape." She stopped a little distance from the end of the stage and stood silent, her whole attention directed across the small room to his face on the ledge. Her eyes were large and dark and fierce. He felt that in the space between them, their spirits had broken the bonds of age and ignorance and were mingling in some unheard of knowledge of each other. He was transfixed by the child's silence. Suddenly she raised her arm and pointed toward his face. "Listen you people," she shrieked, "I see a damned soul before my eyes! I see a dead man Jesus hasn't raised. His head is in the window but his ear is deaf to the Holy Word!"

Rayber's head, as if it had been struck by an invisible bolt, dropped from the ledge. He crouched on the ground, his furious spectacled eyes glittering behind the shrubbery. Inside she continued to shriek, "Are you deaf to the Lord's Word? The Word of God is a burning Word to burn you clean, burns man and child, man and child the same, you people! Be saved in the Lord's fire or perish in your own! Be saved in . . ."

He was groping fiercely about him, slapping at his coat pockets, his head, his chest, not able to find the switch that would cut off the voice. Then his hand touched the button and he snapped it. A silent dark relief enclosed him like shelter after a tormenting wind.

--The Violent Bear It Away (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1960), pp.129-132 [my emphasis]

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryPoetry & Literature* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted January 2, 2017 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Joy is costly, but it is worth it. We choose joy when we go “all in” with our love, knowing that pain will be a necessary part of it. As Wendell Berry so beautifully puts it in his poem, The Way of Pain, “by pain we learn the extremity of love.”

We see love and pain in Heidi Petersen’s All Our Sorrows. With its bust of Mary in a ponderous pose (perhaps the “ponderings” of Luke 2), surrounded by the thorns her son would one day wear as a crown, this work embodies the sort of melancholy joy that is the alchemy of love and loss and hope and fear.

When I contemplate the visage of Mary in this work, as I listen to the song “Christmas Mourning” by J.A.C. Redford, I almost picture Mary as a mother of a large family, on Christmas night. She’s standing at the sink alone, looking down at the dishes she scrubs in the wake of the day’s Christmas feast. Her young sons have all gone to bed, exhausted by the frivolity of the day: stockings, candy, presents, games, snowball fights, turkey, pie, play. In the quiet of the night, herself exhausted, this mom’s heart is full of pondering.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 2, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Merciful and most loving God, by whose will and bountiful gift Jesus Christ our Lord humbled himself that he might exalt mankind; and became flesh that he might restore in us the most celestial image; and was born of the Virgin that he might uplift the lowly: Grant unto us the inheritance of the meek, perfect us in thy likeness, and bring us at last to rejoice in beholding thy beauty, and with all thy saints to glorify thy grace; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

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Posted January 2, 2017 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O almighty God, who hast given unto thy Son Jesus Christ the name which is above every name, and hast taught us that there is none other whereby we may be saved: Mercifully grant that as thy faithful people have comfort and peace in his name, so they may ever labour to publish it unto all nations; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasSpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland

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Posted January 1, 2017 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Out of the thousand things which follow directly from this reading of John, I choose three as particularly urgent.

First, John’s view of the incarnation, of the Word becoming flesh, strikes at the very root of that liberal denial which characterised mainstream theology thirty years ago and whose long-term effects are with us still. I grew up hearing lectures and sermons which declared that the idea of God becoming human was a category mistake. No human being could actually be divine; Jesus must therefore have been simply a human being, albeit no doubt (the wonderful patronizing pat on the head of the headmaster to the little boy) a very brilliant one. Phew; that’s all right then; he points to God but he isn’t actually God. And a generation later, but growing straight out of that school of thought, I have had a clergyman writing to me this week to say that the church doesn’t know anything for certain, so what’s all the fuss about? Remove the enfleshed and speaking Word from the centre of your theology, and gradually the whole thing will unravel until all you’re left with is the theological equivalent of the grin on the Cheshire Cat, a relativism whose only moral principle is that there are no moral principles; no words of judgment because nothing is really wrong except saying that things are wrong, no words of mercy because, if you’re all right as you are, you don’t need mercy, merely ‘affirmation’....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 1, 2017 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Eternal Father, who didst give to thine incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we beseech thee, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, even our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.



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

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Posted January 1, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves


[click cogwheel lower right for HD and higher quality]

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas

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Posted December 31, 2016 at 8:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since God was in the business of re-starting creation in the sending of his Son, might we not expect him to create “out of nothing” the second time, just as he did the first? Karl Barth, the greatest theologian of the 20th Century, thought so. Just as the Spirit brooded over creation the first time, so again in the birth of Jesus the Spirit “brooded” over the virgin Mary. Also, just as creation was totally initiated by God the first time, so creation (the second time, in Jesus) gets to be totally initiated by God. The Virgin Birth tells us that Jesus was not born “of the will of man”, but wholly of the Father’s initiative. God chose to by-pass the normal male role in the work of redemption, in part, so the logic goes, to signal his own headship. “Man as a creating, controlling, self-assertive, self-glorifying being was set aside in favor of a woman who listened, received, and served.” (From, A Step Further, by the author)

We honor the Virgin Birth, of course, because Scripture teaches it. But we can also see the logic behind it. God’s sovereign action is a challenge to the human psychological need to contribute to our own salvation, to be co-creators with God. Mary is a witness against the drive, push, and self-assertion that men especially (though not exclusively) associate with a healthy self-image and by which men often mask their own impotence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyAnthropologyApologeticsChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 31, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God, who as at this time didst send thy Son to be the Saviour of the world, teach us to thank thee for thine unspeakable gift. Help us to hate the evil that he came to destroy, and to receive the eternal life that he lived and died to bestow; that so we may love thee with all our power and may serve our day and generation according to thy will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

--The Rev Harry Bisseker (1878-1965)

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

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Posted December 31, 2016 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When rightly understood, the imaginatively compelling story of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth was about God entering the world, in order to redeem it.

Lewis explored this theme in a remarkable sermon that he preached in a London church during the Second World War. He had learnt how to dive in 1930. Although he initially saw this simply as an enjoyable, exhilarating experience, Lewis began to realise its potential as an analogy for what he was coming to see as a core theme of the Christian faith — the incarnation.

Lewis invited his audience to imagine a diver plunging into the water to retrieve a precious object. As he goes deeper, the water changes from “warm and sunlit” to “pitch black” and “freezing”. Then, his “lungs almost bursting”, he goes down into the “mud and slime”, before finally heading back up to the surface, triumphantly bearing the lost object. God “descended into his own universe, and rose again, bringing human nature up with him”.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchBooks* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyChristology

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Posted December 30, 2016 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dickens and Disney’s Tiny Tims both hope that those who feel pity for a poor crippled boy in church “… will think of Him who made lame men walk” at Christmas time.

This was a lesson that Dickens meant for adults, as well as children.

There is no separating the generosity we owe to others from the generosity God has shown to us by sending his son to give us new hearts. Christmas shouldn’t just bring out the best in us once a year; it should transform our lives—as it did for Scrooge. Dickens knew where he wanted to end his story, and finished it accordingly:

“Some laughed to see the alteration in [Scrooge] but he let them laugh ... he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed that knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, every one!”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchBooksHistory* Theology

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Posted December 30, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While dining at home on December 1, 1863, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow received a telegram that his son had been severely wounded four days earlier. On November 27, 1863, while involved in a skirmish during a battle of of the Mine Run Campaign, Charley was shot through the left shoulder, with the bullet exiting under his right shoulder blade. It had traveled across his back and skimmed his spine. Charley avoided being paralyzed by less than an inch.

He was carried into New Hope Church (Orange County, Virginia) and then transported to the Rapidan River. Charley’s father and younger brother, Ernest, immediately set out for Washington, D.C., arriving on December 3. Charley arrived by train on December 5. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was alarmed when informed by the army surgeon that his son’s wound “was very serious” and that “paralysis might ensue.” Three surgeons gave a more favorable report that evening, suggesting a recovery that would require him to be “long in healing,” at least six months.

On Christmas day, 1863, Longfellow—a 57-year-old widowed father of six children, the oldest of which had been nearly paralyzed as his country fought a war against itself—wrote a poem seeking to capture the dynamic and dissonance in his own heart and the world he observes around him. He heard the Christmas bells that December day and the singing of “peace on earth” (Luke 2:14), but he observed the world of injustice and violence that seemed to mock the truthfulness of this optimistic outlook. The theme of listening recurred throughout the poem, eventually leading to a settledness of confident hope even in the midst of bleak despair.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military

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Posted December 30, 2016 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military

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Posted December 30, 2016 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To give shape and meaning to life we need to inhabit narratives capacious enough to permit development and to accommodate new themes. Not only stories are needed but communities to inhabit them. We all need somewhere we belong and where membership gives us dignity and something to live up to....

God so loved the world that he was generous and gave himself to us in the person of the infant Jesus whose destiny was not command and control but to love his enemies into loving. We no longer regard Caesar as god and the coming of the Christ-child has also changed our picture of God and reveals a generous God who does not in his heart of hearts resemble Caesar.

And so the wise men significantly “departed into their own country another way”.

A genuine encounter with the Christ-child, an infant born in a stable to an ordinary mother in a far off province of the Empire, may not on the surface seem very earth-shaking but in reality it changes everything.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture

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Posted December 30, 2016 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

--Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

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

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Posted December 30, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has highlighted the importance of truth in public life and pointed to the truth of Jesus, in his annual Christmas message....

“In the Bible, God is called the God of truth. The apostle John describes Jesus as ‘the Word become flesh’ who came to earth and lived among us. He said, ‘We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.’ From politics to personal life, what more do we want for Christmas than people who will tell us the truth?” the Archbishop said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas

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Posted December 30, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Therefore, brethren, may this be the result of my admonition, that you understand that in raising your hearts to the Scriptures (when the gospel was sounding forth, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” and the rest that was read), you were lifting your eyes to the mountains. For unless the mountains said these things, you would not find out how to think of them at all. Therefore from the mountains came your help, that you even heard of these things; but you cannot yet understand what you have heard. Call for help from the Lord, who made heaven and earth; for the mountains were enabled only so to speak as not of themselves to illuminate, because they themselves are also illuminated by hearing. Thence John, who said these things, received them—he who lay on the Lord’s breast, and from the Lord’s breast drank in what he might give us to drink. But he gave us words to drink.

Thou oughtest then to receive understanding from the source from which he drank who gave thee to drink; so that thou mayest lift up thine eyes to the mountains from whence shall come thine aid, so that from thence thou mayest receive, as it were, the cup, that is, the word, given thee to drink; and yet, since thy help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth, thou mayest fill thy breast from the source from which he filled his; whence thou saidst, “My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth:” let him, then, fill who can. Brethren, this is what I have said: Let each one lift up his heart in the manner that seems fitting, and receive what is spoken. But perhaps you will say that I am more present to you than God. Far be such a thought from you! He is much more present to you; for I appear to your eyes, He presides over your consciences. Give me then your ears, Him your hearts, that you may fill both. Behold, your eyes, and those your bodily senses, you lift up to us; and yet not to us, for we are not of those mountains, but to the gospel itself, to the evangelist himself: your hearts, however, to the Lord to be filled. Moreover, let each one so lift up as to see what he lifts up, and whither. What do I mean by saying, “what he lifts up, and whither?” Let him see to it what sort of a heart he lifts up, because it is to the Lord he lifts it up, lest, encumbered by a load of fleshly pleasure, it fall ere ever it is raised. But does each one see that he bears a burden of flesh? Let him strive by continence to purify that which he may lift up to God. For “Blessed are the pure in heart, because they shall see God.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 30, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasLiturgy, Music, Worship

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Posted December 30, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Father, who hast declared thy love to men by the birth of the Holy Child at Bethlehem: Help us to welcome him with gladness and to make room for him in our common days; so that we may live at peace with one another and in goodwill with all thy family; through the same thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

--A New Prayer Book (London: Oxford University Press 1923)

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

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Posted December 30, 2016 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

(Christ/St. Paul's Church Yonges Island SC; photo by Jacob Borrett)

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

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

God with us means more than God over or side by side with us, before or behind us. It means more than His divine being in even the most intimate active connection with our human being otherwise peculiar to Him. At this point, at the heart of the Christian message and in relation to the event of which it speaks, it means that God has made himself the one who fulfills his redemptive will. It means that He Himself in His own person —at His own cost but also on His own initiative—has become the inconceivable Yet and Nevertheless of this event, and so its clear and well-founded and legitimate, its true and holy and righteous Therefore. It means that God has become man in order as such, but in divine sovereignty, to take up our case. What takes place in the work of inconceivable mercy is, therefore, the free overruling of God, but it is not an arbitrary overlooking and ignoring, not an artificial bridging, covering over or hiding, but a real closing of the breach, gulf and abyss between God and us for which we are responsible. At the very point where we refuse and fail, offending and provoking God, making ourselves impossible before Him and in that way missing our destiny, treading under foot our dignity, forfeiting our right, losing our salvation and hopelessly compromising our creaturely being—at that very point God Himself intervenes as man.
--Church Dogmatics (IV.1) [E.T. By Geoffrey Bromiley and Thomas Torrance of the German Original] (London: T and T Clark, 1956), page 12

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyAnthropologyChristology

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, howbeit he was not far from us Acts 17:27 before. For no part of Creation is left void of Him: He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father. But He comes in condescension to show loving-kindness upon us, and to visit us. And seeing the race of rational creatures in the way to perish, and death reigning over them by corruption; seeing, too, that the threat against transgression gave a firm hold to the corruption which was upon us, and that it was monstrous that before the law was fulfilled it should fall through: seeing, once more, the unseemliness of what was come to pass: that the things whereof He Himself was Artificer were passing away: seeing, further, the exceeding wickedness of men, and how by little and little they had increased it to an intolerable pitch against themselves: and seeing, lastly, how all men were under penalty of death: He took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity, and condescended to our corruption, and, unable to bear that death should have the mastery—lest the creature should perish, and His Father's handiwork in men be spent for nought—He takes unto Himself a body, and that of no different sort from ours. For He did not simply will to become embodied, or will merely to appear. For if He willed merely to appear, He was able to effect His divine appearance by some other and higher means as well. But He takes a body of our kind, and not merely so, but from a spotless and stainless virgin, knowing not a man, a body clean and in very truth pure from intercourse of men. For being Himself mighty, and Artificer of everything, He prepares the body in the Virgin as a temple unto Himself, and makes it His very own as an instrument, in it manifested, and in it dwelling. And thus taking from our bodies one of like nature, because all were under penalty of the corruption of death He gave it over to death in the stead of all, and offered it to the Father—doing this, moreover, of His loving-kindness, to the end that, firstly, all being held to have died in Him, the law involving the ruin of men might be undone (inasmuch as its power was fully spent in the Lord's body, and had no longer holding-ground against men, his peers), and that, secondly, whereas men had turned toward corruption, He might turn them again toward incorruption, and quicken them from death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of the Resurrection, banishing death from them like straw from the fire.

--Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyAnthropologyChristology

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.

--Martin Luther


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyAnthropologyChristology

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.

He had no credentials but Himself. He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of His divine manhood. While still a young man, the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying—and that was his coat. When he was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.

--James Allan Francis (1864–1928) from a sermon preached on July 11, 1926 (for anyone who took the time to listen this was quoted in Jeffrey Miller's Christmas sermon posted earlier--KSH)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchHistoryPoetry & Literature

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This sure is matter of love; but came there any good to us by it? There did. For our conception being the root as it were, the very groundsill of our nature; that He might go to the root and repair of our nature from the very foundation, thither He went; that what had been there defiled and decayed by the first Adam, might by the Second be cleansed and set right again. That had our conception been stained, by Him therefore, primum ante omnia,to be restored again. He was not idle all the time He was an embyro all the nine months He was in the womb; but then and there He even ate out the core of corruption that cleft to our nature and us, and made both us and it an unpleasing object in the sight of God.

And what came of this? We who were abhorred by God, filii irae was our title, were by this means made beloved in Him. He cannot, we may be sure, account evil of that nature, that is now become the nature of His own Son, His now no less than ours. Nay farther, given this privilege to the children of such as are in Him, though but of one parent believing, that they are not as the seed of two infidels, but^are in a degree holy, eo ipso; and have a farther right to the laver of regeneration, to sanctify them throughout by the renewing of the Holy Ghost.O This honour is to us by the dishonour of Him; this the good by Christ an embyro.

Read it all from 1614 (emphasis mine).

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

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

..the [New Testament] birth stories have become a test case in various controversies. If you believe in miracles, you believe in Jesus' miraculous birth; if you don't, you don't. Both sides turn the question into a shibboleth, not for its own sake but to find out who's in and who's out.

The problem is that "miracle," as used in these controversies, is not a biblical category. The God of the Bible is not a normally absent God who sometimes "intervenes." This God is always present and active, often surprisingly so.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the divinest prophets lived according to Jesus Christ. On this account also they were persecuted, being inspired by grace to fully convince the unbelieving that there is one God, the Almighty, who has manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son, who is His Word, not spoken, but essential. For He is not the voice of an articulate utterance, but a substance begotten by divine power, who has in all things pleased Him that sent Him.
--Epistle to the Magnesians, Chapter VIII (emphasis mine)

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

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Listen to it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s a story so strange we could not have dreamed it up by ourselves, this story of how God was incarnate in Jesus the Christ. An embarrassing pregnancy, a poor peasant couple forced to become undocumented immigrants in Egypt soon after the birth of their baby, King Herod’s slaughter of the Jewish boy babies in a vain attempt to put an end to this new “King,” From the beginning the story of Jesus is the strangest story of all. A Messiah who avoids the powerful and the prestigious and goes to the poor and dispossessed? A Savior who is rejected by many of those whom he sought to save? A King who reigns from a bloody cross? Can this one with us be God?

And yet Christians believe that this story, for all its strangeness, is true. Here we have a truthful account of how our God read us back into the story of God. This is a truthful depiction not only of who God really is but also of how we who were lost got found, redeemed, restored, and saved by a God who refused to let our rejection and rebellion (our notorious “God problem”) be the final word in the story.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian joy thus springs from this certainty: God is close, he is with me, he is with us, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as a friend and faithful spouse. And this joy endures, even in trials, in suffering itself. It does not remain only on the surface; it dwells in the depths of the person who entrusts himself to God and trusts in him.

Some people ask: but is this joy still possible today? Men and women of every age and social condition, happy to dedicate their existence to others, give us the answer with their lives! Was not Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta an unforgettable witness of true Gospel joy in our time? She lived in touch daily with wretchedness, human degradation and death. Her soul knew the trials of the dark night of faith, yet she gave everyone God's smile.

In one of her writings, we read: "We wait impatiently for paradise, where God is, but it is in our power to be in paradise even here on earth and from this moment. Being happy with God means loving like him, helping like him, giving like him, serving like him" (The Joy of Giving to Others, 1987, p. 143). Yes, joy enters the hearts of those who put themselves at the service of the lowly and poor. God abides in those who love like this and their souls rejoice. If, instead, people make an idol of happiness, they lose their way and it is truly hard for them to find the joy of which Jesus speaks.

--Pope Benedict XVI (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Carl F. H. Henry, the dean of evangelical theologians, argues that the Virgin Birth is the “essential, historical indication of the Incarnation, bearing not only an analogy to the divine and human natures of the Incarnate, but also bringing out the nature, purpose, and bearing of this work of God to salvation.” Well said, and well believed.

Nicholas Kristof and his secularist friends may find belief in the Virgin Birth to be evidence of intellectual backwardness among American Christians. But this is the faith of the Church, established in God’s perfect Word, and cherished by the true Church throughout the ages. Kristof’s grandfather, we are told, believed that the Virgin Birth is a “pious legend.” The fact that he could hold such beliefs and serve as an elder in his church is evidence of that church’s doctrinal and spiritual laxity — or worse. Those who deny the Virgin Birth affirm other doctrines only by force of whim, for they have already surrendered the authority of Scripture. They have undermined Christ’s nature and nullified the incarnation.

This much we know: All those who find salvation will be saved by the atoning work of Jesus the Christ — the virgin-born Savior. Anything less than this is just not Christianity, whatever it may call itself. A true Christian will not deny the Virgin Birth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyAnthropologyApologeticsChristology

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty God, who hast revealed the glory of thy love in the in the face of Jesus Christ, and called us by him to live as thy children: Fill our hearts, as we remember his nativity, with the gladness of this great redemption; that we may join in the heavenly song of glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, and goodwill towards men; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 5:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Listen to and ponder it all.

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

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Posted December 28, 2016 at 4:23 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That first Christmas started with a young couple making a difficult journey and having to trust God with every step along the way. And, day by day, as I walked through the streets and fields, talking and praying with people who joined me, and sometimes walking alone, I was aware that I was part of the continuing journey of God’s people. A journey on which we constantly rest on God’s promises, and look ahead to the time when all those promises will be fulfilled.

Some of us feel uncertain about the New Year and what it will hold for us personally. As you reflect on the year that has passed, may I encourage you to reach out to God as part of your journey in 2017? We may also feel unsettled by the uncertainty of Brexit and the US presidential elections. In the face of an uncertain future, we look at our leaders and ask ourselves, “Can these men and women really lead us to a life of prosperity and peace?” The Gospel of John holds a verse of great hope: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it".

In the midst of uncertainty and personal danger, I can testify to the fact that God will never leave us or forsake us. God will always show us a way – as he has done in sending Jesus, his Son, to forgive us all that separates us from God and from each other and lead us into new life. We do not travel alone and God’s promise to us in Jesus is to be with us throughout. Friends, this is not a pie crust promise – easily made and broken. There is nowhere God’s love cannot abound; in prison, in war zones, in refugee camps, in areas of acute hunger, in hospitals and hospices, in isolation, in loneliness, in despair, in mental illness, and even in our lives’ last journey – the journey through death.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 28, 2016 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week --
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted -- quite unsuccessfully --
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.

The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off.
Read it all (my emphasis).

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

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Posted December 28, 2016 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Washington went on to express his gratitude for the support of "my countrymen" and the "army in general." This reference to his soldiers ignited feelings so intense, he had to grip the speech with both hands to keep it steady. He continued: "I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God and those who have the superintendence of them [Congress] to his holy keeping."

For a long moment, Washington could not say another word. Tears streamed down his cheeks. The words touched a vein of religious faith in his inmost soul, born of battlefield experiences that had convinced him of the existence of a caring God who had protected him and his country again and again during the war. Without this faith he might never have been able to endure the frustrations and rage he had experienced in the previous eight months.

Washington then drew from his coat a parchment copy of his appointment as commander in chief. "Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theater of action and bidding farewell to this august body under whom I have long acted, I here offer my commission and take leave of all the employments of public life." Stepping forward, he handed the document to Mifflin.

This was -- is -- the most important moment in American history.

The man who could have dispersed this feckless Congress and obtained for himself and his soldiers rewards worthy of their courage was renouncing absolute power. By this visible, incontrovertible act, Washington did more to affirm America's government of the people than a thousand declarations by legislatures and treatises by philosophers.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the greatest of these declarations, witnessed this drama as a delegate from Virginia. Intuitively, he understood its historic dimension. "The moderation. . . . of a single character," he later wrote, "probably prevented this revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 28, 2016 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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