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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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O God of hope, fill us, we beseech thee, with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope by the power of thy Holy Spirit, and show forth our thankfulness to thee in trustful and courageous lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
While at Taizé, I felt called by God to choose the unique experience of spending the week in silence. This meant that I would join a small group of other pilgrims staying in the quiet and quaint village of Taizé in a house near the main grounds. The accommodations were simple and comfortable, providing a private room to be fully immersed in the gift of silence.
Spending a week in silence may not immediately sound like the kind of experience to put at the top of your bucket list. Yet this experience was so formational, I would not hesitate to do it again. It was initially challenging to allow my mind to become quiet and my spirit to settle, but after the first few days, my rhythm became one of great joy in silence. I would spend the morning reading scripture and in the afternoon, I would take time for personal prayer, enjoy a holy nap, and walk through the beautiful French countryside. While the days themselves seemed to pass slowly, the week went by very quickly.
Besides the inspiring prayer services, a poignant part of my week was sitting at the table and sharing meals with my fellow pilgrims. We gathered for meals in a beautiful common room that overlooked the hills of Burgundy. As each meal began, the aroma of freshly peeled tangerines filled the room. The only spoken words that broke the silent fellowship were the Taizé prayers we sang before eating. Each face around the table was of a different nationality—French, German, American, and others. As we served each other in the sacred silence, the real blessing was that we spoke the common language of service to one another. In these moments at mealtime, it was as if I were joining Jesus and the disciples at the table of servanthood.
Read it all.
Almighty God, who hast revealed thyself to us in Jesus Christ thy Son, and given thy Word and Spirit to testify of him: We bless thee for the men of faith whom thou didst inspire to write the holy Scriptures; for the labours of all who have preserved, copied, and translated them; for the wisdom given to those who have interpreted them; and for that measure of light and understanding thou hast granted unto us; and we pray that, learning what is thy will, we may ever obey thee and live to thy glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
O God, Father of mercies, who didst so love the world that thou didst give thine only begotten Son to take our nature upon him for us men and for our salvation: Grant to us who by his first coming have been called into thy kingdom of grace, that we may always abide in him, and be found watching and ready when he shall come again to call us to thy kingdom of glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
--The Rev. Henry Stobart (1824-1895)
Almighty God, who in thy love didst give to thy servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness on land and sea: Grant, we pray thee, that thy Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Thou who with thine own mouth hast avouched that at midnight, at an hour when we are not aware, the Bridegroom shall come: Grant that the cry, The Bridegroom cometh, may sound evermore in our ears, that so we be never unprepared to meet him, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
--Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626)
Bishop Moses Deng Bol of Wau Diocese warned members of his diocese not to be fooled by the conmen in Yei--in the south of the country.
"How stupid then to think that you can pay for faith or sell it like market goods," he wrote in the Diocesan newsletter. "Let us be clear – salvation is a free gift that no amount of money can buy."
Bishop Deng Bol said the reports of such examples of "Prosperity Gospel" made him angry and said he was unable to stay silent about such behaviour. He added that paying for prayers was "contrary to the way God wants us to behave."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Episcopal Church of the Sudan * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Africa Sudan --South Sudan * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
O Lord, who didst call thy servant Clement of Alexandria from the errors of ancient philosophy that he might learn and teach the saving Gospel of Christ: Turn thy Church from the conceits of worldly wisdom and, by the Spirit of truth, guide it into all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
O Lord God, who never failest both to hear and to answer the prayer that is sincere: Let not our hearts be upon the world when our hands are lifted up to pray, nor our prayers end upon our lips, but go forth with power to work thy will in the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Confirm our minds, O Lord, in the mysteries of the true faith, set forth with power by thy servant John of Damscus; that we, with him, confessing Jesus to be true God and true Man, and singing the praises of the risen Lord, may, by the power of the resurrection, attain to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for evermore.
Keep us, O Lord, while we tarry on this earth, in a serious seeking after thee, and in an affectionate walking with thee, every day of our lives; that when thou comest, we may be found not hiding our talent, nor serving the flesh, nor yet asleep with our lamp unfurnished, but waiting and longing for our Lord, our glorious God for ever and ever.
--Richard Baxter (1615-1691)
...I was a pastor’s kid, so eyes were always on me, even then. I sat in the first pew of the church, and I had to wear a suit every Sunday, because my parents wanted me to be this role model that I didn’t always want to be. I preferred going to punk-rock shows in small venues in New Jersey, where we grew up, wearing my jean jacket and all my band pins. That’s how I fell in love with music, how I became obsessed with it. I’d stand there, watching the singer running around the stage, owning the crowd. I didn’t even notice whatever else was happening onstage. All I could see was the singer.
But I had certain obligations at that age. If I ever didn’t want to go to church on Sunday, or when I was trying to figure out what religion I wanted to be, or trying to understand spirituality, I would always have to deal with knowing that people were looking up to me. We eventually left our church, Assembly of God, when I was 14. A scandal had erupted involving stolen money, and it caused a big rift in the church. After that the concept of church really upset me for a long time. I mean, I believe in God, and that’s a personal relationship that I have, but I’m not religious in any way.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Music Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology
Loving God, who didst call Francis Xavier to lead many in India and Japan to know Jesus Christ as their Redeemer: Bring us to the new life of glory promised to all who follow in the Way; through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
O Lord, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that the night is far spent and the day is at hand: Awaken us from all sloth and slumber, that we may live as sons of light and of the day, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation; for his sake who died for us and rose again, even our Lord Jesus Christ.
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy Servant Channing, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to the peoples of Asia. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land heralds and evangelists of thy kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Saviour Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst warn us to prepare for the day when thou shalt come to be our judge: Mercifully grant that being awake from the sleep of sin, we may always be watching and intent upon the work thou hast given us to do; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.
--W. E. Scudamore
Almighty and everlasting God, who orderest all things in heaven and on earth: We give thee thanks and praise that thou didst make all ages a preparation for the coming of thy Son, our blessed Redeemer. Prepare us for the coming of him whom thou dost send, and grant that of his fullness we may all receive; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
Almighty God, who didst give such grace to thine apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of thy Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give unto us, who are called by thy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Almighty and everlasting God, who dost enkindle the flame of thy love in the hearts of the Saints; Grant to us, thy humble servants, the same faith and power of love; that, as we rejoice in their triumphs, we may profit by their examples; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
--The Pastor’s Prayerbook
Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy thought can drag downwards; an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God, understanding to know thee, diligence to seek thee, wisdom to find thee, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
--Saint Thomas Aquinas
Thanks be unto thee, O Christ, because thou hast broken for us the bonds of sin and brought us into fellowship with God the Father.
Thanks be unto thee, O Christ, because thou hast overcome death and opened to us the gates of eternal life.
Thanks be unto thee, O Christ, because where two or three are gathered together in thy Name there art thou in the midst of them.
Thanks be unto thee, O Christ, because thou ever livest to make intercession for us.
For these and all other benefits of thy mighty work, thanks be unto thee O Christ, Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end, Amen.
Listen to it all if you so desire. This is highly recommended to blog readers for three reasons--you can meet Rob Kunes, a new member of the diocese of South Carolina, but you can also hear testimony about healing and the power or prayer--KSH.
O Lord, take thou full possession of my heart, raise there thy throne, and command there as thou dost in heaven. Being created by thee, let me live to thee. Being created for thee, let me ever act for thy glory. Being redeemed by thee, let me render to thee what is thine, and let my spirit ever cleave to thee alone; for thy name’s sake.
God of truth and grace, who didst give Isaac Watts singular gifts to present thy praise in verse, that he might write psalms, hymns and spiritual songs for thy Church: Give us grace joyfully to sing thy praises now and in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
O God, the glory of thy saints, who being above all, and through all, and in all, dost yet accept the prayer of the contrite: Grant that we, being hallowed in mind, fervent in spirit, and chaste in body, may offer to thee the pure sacrifice of hearts uplifted in thy praise, and lives devoted to thy service; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
O loving God, by whose grace thy servant James Huntington gathered a community dedicated to love and discipline and devotion to the holy Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ: Send thy blessing upon all who proclaim Christ crucified, and move the hearts of many to look unto him and be saved; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.
O God, whose days are without end and whose mercies cannot be numbered: Make us, we pray thee, deeply sensible of the shortness and uncertainty of life; let thy Holy Spirit lead us in the paths of righteousness all our days; that when we shall have served thee in our generation, we may have an abundant entrance into thy everlasting kingdom; through thy mercy in Jesus Christ, our only Saviour and Mediator.
O Lord Jesus, with whom we have passed another Christian year, following thee from thy birth in our flesh to thy sufferings and triumph, and listening to the utterances and counsels of thy Spirit: Even thus would we also end this year of grace, and stand complete in thee our Righteousness; humbly beseeching thee that we may evermore continue in thy faith and abide in thy love; who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
A World Medical Mission team prays over medical kits as they are assembled and shipped to the Philippines. Take a look.
Almighty God, who didst choose thy servant Clement of Rome to recall the Church in Corinth to obedience and stability: Grant that thy Church may be grounded and settled in thy truth by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and may evermore be kept blameless in thy service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast put thine own eternity into our hearts, and desires which the world cannot satisfy: Lift our eyes, we pray thee, above the narrow horizons of this present world, that we may behold the things eternal in the heavens, wherein is laid up for us an inheritance that fadeth not away; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give thee thanks for Clive Staples Lewis whose sanctified imagination lighteth fires of faith in young and old alike; Surprise us also with thy joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Poetry & Literature * Theology Apologetics
O Gracious God, whose blessed Son set forth thy love towards mankind, in his miracles of healing and mercy, making both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak: Grant that our ears may be opened to thy Word, and our tongues loosed to proclaim it to others, and to further the spreading of thy gospel among all nations; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
O thou who hast taught us that we are most truly free when we lose our wills in thine: Help us to attain to this liberty by continual surrender unto thee; that walking in the way which thou hast prepared for us, we may find our life in doing thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
O God of ineffable mercy, who didst give grace and fortitude to blessed Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for thy Name: Bestow on us thy servants, we beseech thee, the shield of faith, wherewith we may withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
O God, who didst wonderfully deliver thy people out of Egypt and didst bring them into their own land: Deliver us, we beseech thee, from the tyranny of sin, and bring us into that land where the Prince of Peace reigneth, and the lives of men proclaim thy righteousness; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
--L. E. H. Stephens-Hodge
O God, so rule and govern our hearts and minds by thy Holy Spirit, that being ever mindful of the end of all things, and the day of thy just judgment, we may be stirred up to holiness of living here, and dwell with thee forever hereafter; through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.
Members of a Roman Catholic order are to take up residence in Lambeth Palace in a move not seen since the Reformation, the Church of England has announced.
The four members of Chemin Neuf, an order founded in France, a married Anglican couple, a Lutheran training for the ministry and a Roman Catholic sister – will live at Lambeth Palace (above), the London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, from January.
The group will work on ecumenical and international affairs and will share in the ‘daily round’ of prayer at Lambeth Palace, it was announced.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic
Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan flocked to ruined churches on Sunday, kneeling in prayer under torn roofs as the Philippines faced an enormous rebuilding task from the storm that killed at least 3,681 people and displaced 4 million.
At Santo Niño Church, near the waterfront in the flattened city of Tacloban, birds flitted between the rafters overhead as women moved through the pews with collection plates. At the end of mass, the Roman Catholic congregation broke into applause.
Rosario Capidos, 55, sat crying in one row, hugging her nine-year-old grandson, Cyrich.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * General Interest Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc. * International News & Commentary Asia Philippines * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
O God of peace, by whose grace the abbess Hilda was endowed with gifts of justice, prudence, and strength to rule as a wise mother over the nuns and monks of her household, and to become a trusted and reconciling friend to leaders of the Church: Give us the grace to respect and love our fellow Christians with whom we disagree, that our common life may be enriched and thy gracious will be done, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
O God, who art nigh to all them that call upon thee in truth; who art thyself the Truth, whom to know is life eternal: Instruct us with thy divine wisdom, and teach us thy law; that we may know the truth and walk in it; through him in whom the truth was made manifest, even Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.
O Eternal God, our heavenly Father, who hast given to us thy children an abiding citizenship in heaven, and, in the days of our pilgrimage, a citizenship also upon earth: Give us thine aid, as we journey to that heavenly city, so faithfully to perform the duties which befall us on our way, that at the last we may be found worthy to enter into thy rest; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This slender, charming book must be approached with a special tact. To read it feels a little like an intrusion on inwardness itself. The volume contains, alongside a lightly corrected transcription, a facsimile of the Sterling notebook in which Flannery O’Connor, just 20 years old, began a journal addressed to God. Written in her neat hand, it is reproduced complete with the empty final pages (her concluding words are “there is nothing left to say of me”) and not omitting a bit of musical notation floating on the inside of the back cover. The prayers, attempts at prayer and meditations on faith and art contained in it were written in 1946 and 1947, while O’Connor was a student in Iowa. The brilliance that would make her fictions literary classics is fully apparent in them.
The complexity of O’Connor’s thinking, together with the largely flawless pages in her hand, suggest that these entries may be fair copies of earlier drafts. Clearly O’Connor’s virtuosity makes her self-conscious. Young as she was, new to writing, she could only have been pleased, even awed, at having produced these beautiful sentences. Perhaps nothing written is finally meant to go unread, even if the reader is only a creature of the writer’s mind, an attentive and exacting self that compels refinements of honesty.
Read it all.
O God, who didst call thy servant Margaret to an earthly throne that she might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst give her zeal for thy church and love for thy people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate her this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of thy saints; though Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
O God, who, calling Abraham to go forth to a country which thou wouldest show him, didst promise that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed: Fulfill thy promise in us, we pray thee, giving us such faith in thee as thou shalt count unto us for righteousness; that in us and through us thy purpose may be fulfilled; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
--Church of South India
Holy God, who didst so inspire Francis Asbury and George Whitefield with evangelical zeal that their faithful proclamation of the Gospel caused a great awakening among those who heard them: Inspire us, we pray, by thy Holy Spirit, that, like them, we may be eager to share thy Good News and lead many to Jesus Christ, in whom is eternal life and peace; and who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
O God, most holy, most loving, infinite in wisdom and power: Teach us to reverence thee in all the works of thy hands, and to hallow thy name both in our lives and in our worship; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Eternal God, who didst bless thy servant Samuel Seabury with the gift of perseverance to renew the Anglican inheritance in North America; Grant that, joined together in unity with our bishops and nourished by thy holy Sacraments, we may proclaim the Gospel of redemption with apostolic zeal; through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Heavenly Father, the Father of all wisdom, understanding, and true strength: We beseech thee look mercifully upon thy servants, and send thy Holy Spirit into their hearts, that when they must join to fight in the field for the glory of thy holy name, then they, strengthened with the defence of thy right hand, may manfully stand in the confession of thy faith, and continue in the same unto their lives’ end; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
--Nicholas Ridley (c.1500-1555)
The Archbishop of Canterbury has sent a message of prayer and solidarity to all those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
'We are deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the loss of thousands of lives and of the suffering of millions' caused by the storm, Archbishop Justin Welby said today.
'Our prayers are with all those who are traumatised by the disaster and in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical attention.'
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * General Interest Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc. * International News & Commentary Asia Philippines
Grant us, O Lord, not to mind earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to cleave to those that shall abide; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I do not often do this but regular blog readers know there is a lot going on in the diocese and I mean it when I say it is a heartfelt request--KSH.
You may find information about it here.
O loving God, who orderest all things by thine unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see thy hand; that, following the example and teaching of thy servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve thee with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Look upon our lives, O Lord our God, and make them thine in Lithe power of thy Holy Spirit; that we may walk in thy way, faithfully believing thy Word, and faithfully doing thy commandments; faithfully serving thee, and faithfully serving our neighbour; to the furtherance of thy glorious kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord God of hosts, who didst clothe thy servant Martin the soldier with the spirit of sacrifice, and didst set him as a bishop in thy Church to be a defender of the catholic faith: Give us grace to follow in his holy steps, that at the last we may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Governor of Nations, our Strength and Shield:
we give you thanks for the devotion and courage
of all those who have offered military service for this country:
For those who have fought for freedom; for those who laid down their lives for others;
for those who have borne suffering of mind or of body;
for those who have brought their best gifts to times of need.
On our behalf they have entered into danger,
endured separation from those they love,
labored long hours, and borne hardship in war and in peacetime.
Lift up by your mighty Presence those who are now at war;
encourage and heal those in hospitals
or mending their wounds at home;
guard those in any need or trouble;
hold safely in your hands all military families;
and bring the returning troops to joyful reunion
and tranquil life at home;
Give to us, your people, grateful hearts
and a united will to honor these men and women
and hold them always in our love and our prayers;
until your world is perfected in peace
through Jesus Christ our Savior.
--The Rev. Jennifer Phillips
Imagine you are an entrepreneur in Greece, a town of 96,000 in upstate New York, wanting to open a restaurant inside a billiard parlour. Before you pitch the idea at a public hearing, hoping to win a special-use permit, a Catholic priest delivers a prayer, a tradition in Greece since 1999. Suppose you’re not a believer. Do you bow your head with everyone else? Glare? Walk out?
In Town of Greece v Galloway, the Supreme Court is considering whether Greece’s brand of public prayer violates the constitution’s ban on the establishment of religion. It is 30 years since, in Marsh v Chambers, the court upheld the Nebraska legislature’s right to a chaplaincy. If religious invocations in legislative bodies were acceptable to the men who drafted the first amendment, the court reasoned in Marsh, they are all right now.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
O Lord of life, who didst raise from the sleep of death the daughter of Jairus the ruler: Extend to us, we pray thee, thy quickening power, that we may know the life more abundant which thou didst come to bring; for the glory of thy holy name.
“This case is about Christians aggressively imposing themselves upon their fellow citizens with the power of government,” says plaintiff lawyer Douglas Laycock. But defense attorney Tom Hungar warned that the case could lead to “government regulating the theological content of prayers, prescribing what is orthodox and what is not in religion.”
Read or watch and listen to it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
O God of love, who hast given us a new commandment through thine only begotten Son, that we should love one another even as thou didst love us, the unworthy and the wandering, and gayest him for our life and salvation: We pray thee to give to us thy servants, in all time of our life on earth, a mind forgetful of past ill-will, a pure conscience, and a heart to love our brethren; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Remarkably, the Obama administration has backtracked from the position taken by the Reagan administration. It now argues that even explicitly sectarian prayers are permissible. Congress and state legislatures have prayers, but they are supposed to be and usually are nondenominational, and they are delivered to legislators rather than a captive audience of the broader citizenry assembled to do business before the board.
Given the state of the law, the importance of religious inclusivity and the facts of this case, I assumed that if the Obama administration participated at all, it would side with the plaintiffs. But the administration did just the opposite. In fact, because this is a suit not involving the federal government, it did not need to participate at all. It's hard to fathom how the administration arrived at its conclusion, and I hope the Supreme Court will reject it.
I hope the court will take to heart the words of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who shortly before she stepped down from the court wrote in a decision: "At a time when we see around the world the violent consequences of the assumption of religious authority by government, Americans may count themselves fortunate. ... Why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?"
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President President Barack Obama
On one side of the court, justices Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor view the prayers offered at the town board meetings as overtly religious and posing a significant threat of coercion.
It places residents about to appear before the board in the position of risking the ire of board members (and losing votes) if they refuse to participate in a public prayer that is obviously important to board members.
On the other side of the court, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Kennedy appear more concerned about the problem of the government trying to fine-tune an expression of religious belief – or to censor it.
Read it all.
O Lord our God, who dost call whom thou willest and send them whither thou choosest: We thank thee for sending thy servant Willibrord to be an apostle to the Low Countries, to turn them from the worship of idols to serve thee, the living God; and we entreat thee to preserve us from the temptation to exchange the perfect freedom of thy service for servitude to false gods and to idols of our own devising; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Grant to us, O Lord, the royalty of inward happiness, and the serenity which comes from living close to thee: Daily renew in us the sense of joy, and let the eternal spirit of the Father dwell in our souls and bodies, filling us with light and grace, so that, bearing about with us the infection of a good courage, we may be diffusers of life, and may meet all ills and cross accidents with gallant and high-hearted happiness, giving thee thanks always for all things.
-The Pastor’s Prayerbook
The most recent meeting of the Town Board here had typical local fare: a new sidewalk proposal, permitting issues and a failed attempt to get a bid on some surplus soil.
Before all of those mundane matters, however, there was one considerably more controversial item on the agenda: a moment of prayer, a practice that has been a religious aperitif to the town’s civic business for more than a decade.
But that could soon change. On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether those prayers — almost always delivered by Christian clergy members to the assembled audience — violate the First Amendment clause that prohibits the establishment of religion. The court’s ruling, expected next June, could be one of the most significant church-state decisions in 30 years, and could affect the nature of such invocations in municipal meetings nationwide.
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O God of light and love, who illumined thy Church through the witness of thy servant William Temple: Inspire us, we pray, by his teaching and example, that we may rejoice with courage, confidence and faith in the Word made flesh, and may be led to establish that city which has justice for its foundation and love for its law; through Jesus Christ, the light of the world, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The case now before the court may not be decided on the issue of whether local citizens who must go before a city council to conduct business should be forced to listen to an opening prayer. The justices treat adults differently from school children in many church-state issues. And the town has not censored the prayers or barred anyone from giving them.
Rather the court may focus on the lower court’s attempt to analyze the prayers on whether they used “generically theistic terms” or refer to a deity as male. The lower court found most of the prayers to be too Christian and thus impose one faith on the citizenry....
The high court’s history hints that it will rule in favor of the city council, recognizing that prayer is too private for public control or official definition. Courts can serve justice better if they are silent about the nature of prayer – and the power of prayer in individual lives.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Almighty God, whose blessed Son taught in all honesty the way of life that thou requirest: Grant that we may so live as dutiful and loyal citizens of our earthly country, that we may show ourselves to be members of that heavenly country whereof thou art sovereign Lord and King; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
--L. E. H. Stephens-Hodge
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled for the plaintiffs. While prayers before legislative sessions do not necessarily violate the Constitution, the court said, the “overwhelming predominance” of the prayers was explicitly Christian, leading a reasonable observer to understand the town to be endorsing that religion over others, regardless of the town’s intent. (After the suit was filed, the board invited representatives of other religions, including Judaism, the Baha’i faith and Wicca, to deliver the prayer, but after four months the prayers were almost exclusively Christian again.)
Defenders of the board’s practice rely on a 1983 Supreme Court case that upheld prayers before legislative sessions — including those of Congress — because they are “deeply embedded” in American history. The prayers in Greece are constitutional, the defenders say, because they may be delivered by anyone, and the town does not compel citizens to pray.
But compulsion is not the only issue. As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in a 1984 case, when a government appears to endorse one religion, it “sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.” After the Greece lawsuit was filed, one of the plaintiffs received a letter, signed “666,” that read, “If you feel ‘unwanted’ at the Town of Greece meetings, it’s probably because you are.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Church/State Matters Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * Theology
Grant, O Lord, that we may cleave to thee without parting, worship thee without wearying, serve thee without failing; faithfully seek thee, happily find thee, and for ever possess thee, the one only God, blessed, world without end.
O Almighty God, who hast called us to faith in thee, and hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good examples of thy Saints, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at length through thy mercy we, with them, attain to thine eternal joy; through him who is the author and finisher of our faith, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of thy Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as thy children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen
O God, the Lord and leader of the hosts of the blessed: Instruct us in the spiritual warfare; arm us against all foes visible and invisible; subdue unto us our own rebellious affections; and give us daily victory in the following of him who vanquished sin and death, and now goeth forth with us conquering and to conquer, even thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.
We thank thee, O God, for the saints of all ages; for those who in times of darkness kept the lamp of faith burning; for the great souls who saw visions of larger truths and dared to declare them; for the multitude of quiet and gracious souls whose presence has purified and sanctified the world; and for those known and loved by us, who have passed from this earthly fellowship into the fuller life with thee. Accept this our thanksgiving through Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Redeemer, to whom be praise and dominion for ever.
Almighty and Everlasting God,
who dost enkindle the flame of Thy love in the hearts of the saints,
grant unto us the same faith and power of love;
that, as we rejoice in their triumphs
we may profit by their examples, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
who hast knit together thine elect
in one communion and fellowship
in the mystical body of Your Son, Christ our Lord:
Give us grace so to follow Your blessed saints
in all virtuous and godly living,
that we may come
to those ineffable joys
that thou hast prepared for those
who unfeignedly love thee;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth,
one God, in glory everlasting. Amen
O Holy Father, to whom we draw near with boldness through our Lord Jesus Christ: Look, we beseech thee, on his merits and not on our unworthiness; and grant that our prayers, being asked in his name, may be accepted for his sake; to whom with thee and the Holy Spirit be all praise and glory, now and for evermore.
O God, whose justice continually challenges thy Church to live according to its calling: Grant us who now remember the work of John Wyclif contrition for the wounds which our sins inflict on thy Church, and such love for Christ that we may seek to heal the divisions which afflict his Body; through the same Jesus Christ, who livest and reignest with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Lord, increase our faith; that relying on thee as thy children, we may trust where we cannot see, and hope where all seems doubtful, ever looking unto thee as our Father who ordereth all things well; according to the word of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Precious in thy sight, O Lord, is the death of thy saints, whose faithful witness, by thy providence, hath its great reward: We give thee thanks for thy martyrs James Hannington and his companions, who purchased with their blood a road unto Uganda for the proclamation of the Gospel; and we pray that with them we also may obtain the crown of righteousness which is laid up for all who love the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Grant, O Lord, that as thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ prayed for his enemies on the cross, so we may have grace to forgive those that wrongfully or scornfully use us; that we ourselves may be able to receive thy forgiveness; though the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
--Church of South India
O God, we thank thee for the glorious company of the apostles, and especially on this day for Simon and Jude; and we pray thee that, as they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so we may with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
O Lord, who hast taught us that we can only be forgiven, as we ourselves forgive: Help us ever to bear in mind our continued shortcomings, our manifold transgressions; that as we remember the injuries which we have suffered and never merited, we may also remember the kindnesses which we have received and never earned, the punishments which we have deserved and never suffered; and therewith may render thanks to thee for thine unfailing mercies, and the mercies of our fellowmen; for thy name’s sake.
The village sign at Minster in Thanet, Kent, says “AD 670”. But the settlement is far older, for Roman bricks are built into the tower of St Mary’s Church....
Autumn suits Minster. Seagulls sat on the steep-pitched roof the church and pigeons cooed round its tower last week as the leaves began to fall – though not those of the mature olive trees near the churchyard, which clement winters have allowed to flourish. Even so, the blazing log fire at the Bell public house was welcome once sunset approached.
Minster once stood on the shore of the Isle of Thanet when it was a true island separated from Kent by the sea. That was a source of prosperity from trade, but also a fatal weakness, for the Vikings repeatedly plundered and destroyed Minster.
The name is from the Latin for monastery (as in “Westminster”), and the year 670 was when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore of Tarsus, consecrated the monastery of nuns here.
St Mary’s is a fine, large church, with a stone-vaulted chancel. “The beauties of the east end are fully revealed inside,” says Pevsner’s Buildings of England volume. But it was locked when I arrived, so I crossed Church Street and looked at an even more intriguing old building – Minster Abbey.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
"Servant" in our English New Testament usually represents the Greek doulos (bondslave). Sometimes it means diakonos (deacon or minister); this is strictly accurate, for doulos and diakonos are synonyms. Both words denote a man who is not at his own disposal, but is his master's purchased property. Bought to serve his master's needs, to be at his beck and call every moment, the slave's sole business is to do as he is told. Christian service therefore means, first and foremost, living out a slave relationship to one's Savior (1 Corinthians. 6:19-20).
What work does Christ set his servants to do? The way that they serve him, he tells them, is by becoming the slaves of their fellow-servants and being willing to do literally anything, however costly, irksome, or undignified, in order to help them. This is what love means, as he himself showed at the Last supper when he played the slave's part and washed the disciples' feet.
When the New Testament speaks of ministering to the saints, it means not primarily preaching to them but devoting time, trouble, and substance to giving them all the practical help possible. The essence of Christian service is loyalty to the king expressing itself in care for his servants (Matthew 25: 31-46).
Only the Holy Spirit can create in us the kind of love toward our Savior that will overflow in imaginative sympathy and practical helpfulness towards his people. Unless the spirit is training us in love, we are not fit persons to go to college or a training class to learn the know-how or particular branches of Christian work. Gifted leaders who are self-centered and loveless are a blight to the church rather than a blessing.
--J.I. Packer Your Father Loves you (Carol Stream. Illinois: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986) and quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon
We give thee thanks, O God our Father, for the good work which thou hast begun in us, in that thou hast called us to the knowledge of thy grace and faith in thee; and we pray thee so to continue thy work in us that our lives may be strengthened for thy service in the fellowship of the gospel, and our love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment, to thy praise and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
O Sovereign Lord, who didst bring thy servant Alfred to a troubled throne that he might establish peace in a ravaged land and revive learning and the arts among the people: Awake in us also, we beseech thee, a keen desire to increase our understanding while we are in this world, and an eager longing to reach that endless life where all will be made clear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
O Almighty God, who by thy holy apostle hast called upon us to present our bodies to thee a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service: Graciously hear us, we beseech thee, O Lord, and grant that we may so dedicate ourselves wholly to thy service that henceforth we may live only to thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
--Liturgy of the Catholic Apostolic Church
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at the carpenter’s bench didst manifest the dignity of honest labour, and dost give to each of us our tasks to perform: Help us to do our daily work with readiness of mind and singleness of heart, not with eye-service as menpleasers, but as thy servants, labouring heartily as unto thee and not unto men, so that whatever we do, great or small, may be to the glory of thy holy name.
--John R. W. Stott (1921-2011)
O God, our Father, we are exceedingly frail, and indisposed to every virtuous and gallant undertaking: Strengthen our weakness, we beseech thee, that we may do valiantly in this spiritual war; help us against our own negligence and cowardice, and defend us from the treachery of our unfaithful hearts; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Grant, we beseech thee, O God, that after the example of thy servant James the Just, brother of our Lord, thy Church may give itself continually to prayer and to the reconciliation of all who are at variance and enmity; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.
Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves and all who are dear to us this day. Be with us in our going out and in our coming in. Strengthen us for the work which thou hast given us to do. And grant that, filled with thy Holy Spirit, we may walk worthy of our high calling, and cheerfully accomplish those things that thou wouldest have done; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
--F. T. Woods
Q: If you had to name or or two ways that we could pray specifically for the conference what would those be?
A: Pray that God would pour out His Holy Spirit for the beginning of a new revival throughout the church through what He can accomplish at this gathering. Pray for the persecuted church throughout the world which is widely represented by many in attendance. Pray for the health and safety of all gathered.
Q: What has struck you most about being in a different place with so many Anglicans from so many varied locales?
A: This is what heaven will be like someday, and what a joyous opportunity to get a taste of it now....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Kenya * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Spirituality/Prayer * Theology Eschatology
Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves this day. Let thy presence be with us to its close. Strengthen us to remember that in whatsoever good work we do we are serving thee. Give us a diligent and watchful spirit, that we may seek in all things to know thy will, and knowing it, gladly to perform it, to the honour and glory of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
O Lord and Father, to whom alone the debtors in ten thousand talents can come with hope of mercy: Have mercy upon us, O Lord, who have aught to repay; forgive us all the debt, forgive us all our sins, and make us merciful to others; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
We pray thee, O God our Father, for all who profess and call themselves Christians, that their love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all discernment until the day of Christ; that they may be sincere and void of offence, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are through Jesus Christ unto thy praise and glory, now and for ever.
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O God of the nations, who didst give to thy faithful servant Henry Martyn a brilliant mind, a loving heart, and a gift for languages, that he might translate the Scriptures and other holy writings for the peoples of India and Persia: Inspire in us, we beseech thee, a love like his, eager to commit both life and talents to thee who gavest them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Be with me, O God my Father, in all my enterprises this day; purify my intentions and strengthen my purposes through your Holy Spirit, and grant that in serving others I may serve thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Almighty God, who didst inspire thy servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son: Graciously continue in thy Church the like love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of thy Name; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
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