Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am a PhD student studying Theology and Religious Studies in the University of Glasgow and go to St Mary’s regularly as a High Church Anglican Christian who recognise the importance of reading the Bible in the Holy Eucharist. The church has a lectionary to decide which biblical lessons should be read on particular day. The Holy Eucharist is a sacrament where the Christ truly presents through the power of the Holy Spirit. The entire service is sacred. The Liturgy of the Word is the moment when the Word of God according to the Holy Scripture is proclaimed to “bring about the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26). No other religious texts should be read in the Holy Eucharist. Inter-faith dialogue should be conducted in the setting of conference or talk instead of sacrament.

But the Provost of St Mary has no intention to repent. On 12th January St Mary’s cathedral even say that they have reported to the police for the criticisms in the social media. The news even appear on BBC. Many Christian question the faith of Scottish Episcopal Church when my articles are distributed among Christian in Hong Kong and in the United Kingdom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 19, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly here or download it there. Watch for a very important reference to an incident in London in WW II.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristologySacramental TheologyBaptismTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 18, 2017 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Narcissus would seem to be an unlikely character to show up in companies of Christians. And yet the progeny of Narcissus keep showing up in our communities of created and saved souls. They are so glaringly out-of-place in the context of the biblical revelation defined by the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, one would think that they would be immediately noticed and exposed. More often they are welcomed and embellished, given roles of leadership and turned into celebrities.

It is an odd phenomenon to observe followers of Jesus, suddenly obsessed with their wonderfully saved souls, setting about busily cultivating their own spiritualities. Self-spirituality has become the hallmark of our age. The spirituality of Me. A spirituality of self-centering, self-sufficiency, and self-development. All over the world at the present time we have people who have found themselves redefined by the revelation of God in Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection, going off and cultivating the divine within and abandoning spouses, children, friends and congregations.

But holy living, resurrection living, is not a self-project. We are a people of God and cannot live holy lives, resurrection lives, as individuals. We are not a self-defined community; we are a God-defined community. The love that God pours out for and in us creates a community in which that love is reproduced in our love for one another.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyChristologyEcclesiologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 18, 2017 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The early Christians must have felt that they had no option but to talk about the cross. They knew that because of the death of Jesus on the cross their universe had changed. They no longer lived in the same world. They expressed this with enormous force, talking about a new creation, about liberation from slavery. They talked about the transformation of their whole lives and they pinned it down to the events that we remember each Good Friday. They couldn't get away from the cross – or so at least the New Testament seems to imply. There are in fact some New Testament scholars who try to argue that reflection on the cross of Jesus came a little bit later. First came Jesus the charismatic teacher, the wandering prophet; first came an interest in his words rather than his deeds or his sufferings. And yet, when you read the earliest texts of Christian Scripture, not only the Gospels, it's difficult to excavate any stratum of thinking that is, as you might say, 'pre-cross'. Pretty well everything we read in the New Testament is shadowed by the cross. It is, first and foremost, the sign of how much has changed and how it has changed.

Even non-Christians in the world around recognised the central importance of the cross to Jesus' early followers. The earliest picture we have of the crucifixion is scratched on a wall in Rome; it may be as old as the second century. It is a rather shocking image: a man with a donkey's head strapped and nailed to a cross, and next to the cross a very badly drawn little figure wearing the short tunic of a slave, and scribbled above it, 'Alexamenos worshipping his god'. Presumably one of Alexamenos's fellow slaves had scrawled this little cartoon on the wall to make fun of him. But he knew, as Alexamenos knew, that Alexamenos' god was a crucified God.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchBooks* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted January 18, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has defended the right of Christians to protest when crosses are removed from public places.

In a new book on the meaning of the cross and resurrection, both in the early Church and in the modern world, Lord Williams of Oystermouth says it is "reasonable" to "get rather indignant" when crosses are removed from certain public places.

The Christian cross is a "sign" of God's love and freedom, he says.

It is a sacrifice that symbolises the forgiveness of sins.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted January 18, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ove, therefore, becomes the hallmark of nonviolent resistance requiring that the resister not only refuse to shoot his opponent but also refuse to hate him. Nonviolent resistance is meant to bring an end to hate by being the very embodiment of agape. King seemed never to tire of an appeal to Anders Nygren's distinction between eros, phila and agape to make the point that the love that shapes nonviolent resistance is one that is disciplined by the refusal to distinguish between worthy and unworthy people. Rather agape begins by loving others for their own sake, which requires that we "have love for the enemy-neighbor from whom you can expect no good in return, but only hostility and persecution."

Such a love means that nonviolent resistance seeks not to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win a friend. The protests that may take the form of boycotts and other non-cooperative modes of behaviour are not ends in themselves, but rather attempts to awaken in the opponent a sense of shame and repentance. The end of nonviolent resistance is redemption and reconciliation with those who have been the oppressor. Love overwhelms hate, making possible the creation of a beloved community that would otherwise be impossible.

Accordingly, nonviolent resistance is not directed against people but against forces of evil. Those who happen to be doing evil are as victimized by the evil they do as those who are the object of their oppression. From the perspective of nonviolence King argued that the enemy is not the white people of Montgomery, but injustice itself. The object of the boycott of the buses was not to defeat white people, but to defeat the injustice that mars their lives.

Read it all from ABC Australia's Religion and Ethics site.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And so we come to the final apologia for Kelvin Holdsworth's mistake, again from his sermon yesterday: "Nobody at that service that night could be in any doubt that we proclaimed the divinity of Christ and preached the Gospel of God's love."

Well yes, you possibly did recite the Nicene Creed at some point after its key verses were repudiated, but saying that makes the heresy before it OK is like saying that if you deliver a devastating uppercut to a stranger walking down the street, handing him a plaster afterwards makes it OK.

This story hasn't gone away despite the best efforts of the Provost to say nothing, to say he'll say something and then say nothing, to ignore his boss, to ignore the sensible, cogent, important theological questions that even the head of the Episcopal Church of Scotland accepts are perfectly valid.

In ministry, or indeed any position of responsibility, the sooner you learn the lesson that it's better when you're caught red-handed to admit a mistake and ask for forgiveness than to try and defend an indefensible corner, the better.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchBooksMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head of the Scottish Episcopal Church says the Church is "deeply distressed" at the offence caused by the reading of a passage from the Koran in a Glasgow cathedral.
The comments of the Church Primus, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, follow criticism that Islamic verses were read during an Epiphany service.
In his blog, he also condemned the abuse received by St Mary's Cathedral.
Police are investigating offensive online messages aimed at the church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Clutching the blood-stained Bible she had with her when Dylann Roof executed nine family and friends around her, Felicia Sanders told the self-avowed white supremacist in court Wednesday that she still forgives him for his actions. They have scarred her life but haven't shaken her faith.

Addressing Roof the day after a jury sentenced him to death, Sanders said the mass shooting that killed nine black worshippers at Emanuel AME Church in June 2015 has left her unable to hear a balloon pop or an acorn fall without being startled. She can no longer shut her eyes when she prays.

But she will carry on, she told him, and continue to follow the words of God still clear in the battered Bible she cherishes.

"I brought my Bible to the courtroom ... shot up," she said. "It reminds me of the blood Jesus shed for me and you, Dylann Roof."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCapital PunishmentLaw & Legal IssuesRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 15, 2017 at 11:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The flaw in his approach is that while the Muslims who chose the reading seem to have been only too aware of the differences, and chose to declare them in their Koranic reading during the Christian worship, the Provost, on the other hand, appears to have been unaware.

When asked if he had known what the passage of the Koran said about Jesus, how it denied what Christians hold central to their faith, he “declined to comment further”.

This was not, then, “a dialogue about the ways we differ”. It was not even a strategy of parity. If there had been a conversation in which he had said, “Let us insert into each other’s worship and prayers readings from our sacred scriptures which confront and contradict each others’ faith”, how would the Islamic community have responded? We will never know, because the exercise was not actually the one he claimed it to be.

Read it all from Gavin Ashenden.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 12, 2017 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cyril interprets this "breath of life" to be the Holy Spirit, and argues that God's breathing of the Spirit into the first human demonstrates that we were created to exist in intimacy with God. We were created to partake of the divine nature, to participate in the divine, and so to attain the beauty of likeness with God.

Sin disrupted this intimacy. Cyril describes the fall, not as a descent into depravity and sinfulness, but as a loss of the Holy Spirit. Through the exercise of the freedom God gave us, humankind shrank from intimacy with the divine and so lost the Holy Spirit.

Cyril argues that one of the central purposes of the Incarnation was our recovery of intimacy with God through the Holy Spirit, and it is this recovery that Jesus' baptism accomplishes. Through the Incarnation, the Son of God made man becomes the Second Adam, and at his baptism, the Second Adam receives the Holy Spirit, not for his own sake, but for the sake of all humanity.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 9, 2017 at 7:00 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: * By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:30 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

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

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

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

....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

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

in thus being laid in a manger, he did, as it were, give an invitation to the most humble to come to him. We might tremble to approach a throne, but we cannot fear to approach a manger. Had we seen the Master at first riding in state through the streets of Jerusalem with garments laid in the way, and the palm-branches strewed, and the people crying, "Hosanna!" we might have thought, though even the thought would have been wrong, that he was not approachable. Even there, riding upon a colt the foal of an ass, he was so meek and lowly, that the young children clustered about him with their boyish "Hosanna!" Never could there be a being more approachable than Christ. No rough guards pushed poor petitioners away; no array of officious friends were allowed to keep off the importunate widow or the man who clamored that his son might be made whole; the hem of his garment was always trailing where sick folk could reach it, and he himself had a hand always ready to touch the disease, an ear to catch the faintest accents of misery, a soul going forth everywhere in rays of mercy, even as the light of the sun streams on every side beyond that orb itself. By being laid in a manger he proved himself a priest taken from among men, one who has suffered like his brethren, and therefore can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Of him it was said "He doth eat and drink with publicans and sinners;" "this man receiveth sinners and eateth with them." Even as an infant, by being laid in a manger, he was set forth as the sinner's friend. Come to him, ye that are weary and heavy-laden! Come to him, ye that are broken in spirit, ye who are bowed down in soul! Come to him, ye that despise yourselves and are despised of others! Come to him, publican and harlot! Come to him, thief and drunkard! In the manger there he lies, unguarded from your touch and unshielded from your gaze. Bow the knee, and kiss the Son of God; accept him as your Savior, for he puts himself into that manger that you may approach him. The throne of Solomon might awe you, but the manger of the Son of David must invite you.

...Methinks there was yet another mystery. You remember, brethren, that this place was free to all...

Read it all.

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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

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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

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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

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Posted January 3, 2017 at 7:00 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.

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Posted January 3, 2017 at 6:30 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.

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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.

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Posted January 2, 2017 at 12:08 pm [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)

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Posted January 2, 2017 at 10:00 am [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.

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Posted January 1, 2017 at 7:15 am [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.

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Posted December 31, 2016 at 11:32 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).

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Posted December 30, 2016 at 4:31 pm [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.

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Posted December 30, 2016 at 6:15 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)

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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

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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

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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


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Posted December 29, 2016 at 11:20 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).

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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.

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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)

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 7:30 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.

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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).

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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.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s tough to be on the receiving end of love, God’s or anybody else’s. It requires that we see our lives not as our possessions, but as gifts. "Nothing is more repugnant to capable, reasonable people than grace," wrote John Wesley a long time ago.

Among the most familiar Christmas texts is the one in Isaiah: "The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (7:14) Less familiar is its context: Isaiah has been pleading with King Ahaz to put his trust in God’s promise to Israel rather than in alliances with strong military powers like Syria. "If you will not believe, you shall not be established," Isaiah warns Ahaz (7:9). Then the prophet tells the fearful king that God is going to give him a baby as a sign. A baby. Isn’t that just like God, Ahaz must have thought. What Ahaz needed, with Assyria breathing down his neck, was a good army, not a baby.

This is often the way God loves us: with gifts we thought we didn’t need, which transform us into people we don’t necessarily want to be. With our advanced degrees, armies, government programs, material comforts and self-fulfillment techniques, we assume that religion is about giving a little, of our power in order to confirm to ourselves that we are indeed as self-sufficient as we claim.

Read it all.

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Posted December 28, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I can bring it so neare; but onely the worthy hearer, and the worthy receiver, can call this Lord this Jesus, this Christ, Immanuel God with us; onely that virgin soule, devirginated in the blood of Adam but restored in the blood of the Lambe hath this Ecce, this testimony, this assurance, that God is with him; they that have this Ecce, this testimony, in a rectified conscience, are Godfathers to this child Jesus and may call him Immanuel God with us for as no man can deceive God, so God can deceive no man; God cannot live in the darke himself neither can he leave those who are his in the darke: If he be with thee he will make thee see that he is with thee and never goe out of thy sight, till he have brought thee, where thou canst never goe out of his.

--John Donne (1572-1631), Preached at St. Pauls, upon Christmas Day, in the Evening, 1624

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Posted December 28, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
Jesus Christ. Offices.—He alone had to create a great people, elect, holy, and chosen; to lead, nourish, and bring it into the place of rest and holiness; to make it holy to God; to make it the temple of God; to reconcile it to, and save it from the wrath of God; to free it from the slavery of sin, which visibly reigns in man; to give laws to this people, and engrave these laws on their heart; to offer Himself to God for them, and sacrifice Himself for them; to be a victim without blemish, and Himself the sacrificer, having to offer Himself, His body, and His blood, and yet to offer bread and wine to God…


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Posted December 28, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the radio one time I heard a breathtaking African-American spiritual that I had never heard before. It had a question-and-answer format, or, rather, call-and-response:
What month was my Jesus born in? Last month of the year.

What month? January? No...February? No... March? No…

Last month of the year…

Born of the virgin Mary.

What does this suggest to you? I think it means that the tide of human possibility was running out. Month after month, we thought that we could fix whatever was wrong. New resolutions, new products, new leaders, new technology, new strategies, new medicines, new regimes—surely we can fix it. Month after month the statistics tell the story: better lives for rich Arab sheiks, worse lives for Chinese peasants. Better lives for Scandinavian welfare recipients, worse lives for Congolese children. Better conditions for Baghdad, worse for Kabul and Islamabad. Put your finger in the dike here, a leak springs over there. We look to the stars, we look to the earth, but for this word which we speak there is no dawn. Human potential has been explored to the nth power and it is a dead end.

What month was my Jesus born in? Last month of the year.

What month?

Last month of the year…

Born of the Virgin Mary.

What does this suggest? When the tide of human possibility has run out, divine intervention take its place....

Read it all.

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Posted December 28, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The message of Christmas for you from Christ this morning is that what is good and precious in your life need never be lost, and what is evil and undesirable in your life can be changed. The coming of the eternal Son of God into the world as the God-Man, Jesus Christ, is a fact of history. But thousands of Americans fill out Gallup Poll religious surveys that they believe this fact but then live just like everybody else. They have the same anxieties that good things will be lost and the same frustrations that crummy things can't be changed. Evidently there is not much power in giving right answers on religious surveys about historical facts.

That's because the coming of the Son of God into the world is so much more than a historical fact. It was a message of hope sent by God to teenagers and single parents and crabby husbands and sullen wives and overweight women and impotent men and retarded neighbors, and homosexuals and preachers and lovers and you. And since the Son of God lived, died, rose, reigns and is coming again, God's message through him is more than a historical fact. It is a Christmas gift to you this morning, December 25, 1983, from the voice of the living God. Thus says the Lord: the meaning of Christmas is that what is good and precious in your life need never be lost, and what is evil and undesirable in your life can be changed. The fears that the few good things that make you happy are slipping through your fingers, and the frustrations that the bad things you hate about yourself or your situation can't be changed -- these fears and these frustrations are what Christmas came to destroy. It is God's message of hope this morning that what is good need never be lost and what is bad can be changed.

There are many in our church family who because of age or sickness will inevitably ask themselves the question today: "Is this my last Christmas?" Life is good and precious and we don't want to lose it. We can talk all we want about the good things of life, but if we don't have life we don't have anything. "What does it profit if you gain the whole world and lose your life?" O, how precious is our life. If you don't feel it now, wait 'till you get very sick. Then you will know why Hezekiah wept bitterly with his terminal illness and pled for added years (2 Kings. 20:1-7). The message of Christmas to you who see your death on the horizon is that you need never lose your life. It is good to live. Your life is precious and can be saved.

Read it carefully and read it all.

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Posted December 27, 2016 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly here or download it there.

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Posted December 27, 2016 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now the man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn't make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man. "I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. That he'd much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized, that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me. That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him. "If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safety ... to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand."

At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells - Adeste Fidelis - listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.

According to a knowledgeable blog commenter in the past, "This was written by the author, Louis Cassels. According to enotes.com, he was a "correspondent for United Press International. He was a feature writer and author of the popular column "Religion in America" from 1955 to 1974. He was also a recipient of the prestigious Faith and Freedom Award from the Religious Heritage of America."

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Posted December 27, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let’s apply the spiritual sense of the Christmas story to our lives. For that story happens not only once, in history, but also many times in each individual’s soul. Christ comes to the world — but He also comes to each of us. Advent happens over and over again.

Christmas is so familiar that we sometimes wonder whether anything fresh and true can be said about it.

But there is a way to explore its meaning that may seem new to us today, yet is in fact quite traditional, dating back to the Middle Ages and the ancient Fathers of the Church.

Modern interpreters often argue about whether a given Scripture passage should be interpreted literally or symbolically. Medieval writers would question the “either/or” approach. They thought a passage could have as many as four “right” interpretations, one literal and three symbolic.

These were: (1) the historical or literal, which is the primary sense on which the others all depend; (2) the prophetic sense when an Old Testament event foreshadows its New Testament fulfillment; (3) the moral or spiritual sense, when events and characters in a story correspond to elements in our own lives; and (4) the eschatological sense, when a scene on earth foreshadows something of heavenly glory.

This symbolism is legitimate because it doesn’t detract from the historical, literal sense, but builds on and expands it. It’s based on the theologically sound premise that history too symbolizes, or points beyond itself, for God wrote three books, not just one: nature and history as well as Scripture. The story of history is composed not only of “events,” but of words, signs and symbols. This is unfamiliar to us only because we have lost a sense of depth and exchanged it for a flat, one-dimensional, “bottom-line” mentality in which everything means only one thing.

Let’s try to recapture the riches of this lost worldview by applying the spiritual sense of the Christmas story to our lives. For that story happens not only once, in history, but also many times in each individual’s soul. Christ comes to the world — but He also comes to each of us. Advent happens over and over again.

Read it all.

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Posted December 27, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Therefore, as I have already said, He caused man (human nature) to cleave to and to become, one with God. For unless man had overcome the enemy of man, the enemy would not have been legitimately vanquished. And again: unless it had been God who had freely given salvation, we could never have possessed it securely. And unless man had been joined to God, he could never have become a partaker of incorruptibility. For it was incumbent upon the Mediator between God and men, by His relationship to both, to bring both to friendship and concord, and present man to God, while He revealed God to man. For, in what way could we be partaken of the adoption of sons, unless we had received from Him through the Son that fellowship which refers to Himself, unless His Word, having been made flesh, had entered into communion with us? Wherefore also He passed through every stage of life, restoring to all communion with God. Those, therefore, who assert that He appeared putatively, and was neither born in the flesh nor truly made man, are as yet under the old condemnation, holding out patronage to sin; for, by their showing, death has not been vanquished, which reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression. Romans 5:14 But the law coming, which was given by Moses, and testifying of sin that it is a sinner, did truly take away his (death's) kingdom, showing that he was no king, but a robber; and it revealed him as a murderer. It laid, however, a weighty burden upon man, who had sin in himself, showing that he was liable to death. For as the law was spiritual, it merely made sin to stand out in relief, but did not destroy it. For sin had no dominion over the spirit, but over man. For it behooved Him who was to destroy sin, and redeem man under the power of death, that He should Himself be made that very same thing which he was, that is, man; who had been drawn by sin into bondage, but was held by death, so that sin should be destroyed by man, and man should go forth from death. For as by the disobedience of the one man who was originally moulded from virgin soil, the many were made sinners, Romans 5:19 and forfeited life; so was it necessary that, by the obedience of one man, who was originally born from a virgin, many should be justified and receive salvation. Thus, then, was the Word of God made man, as also Moses says: God, true are His works. Deuteronomy 32:4 But if, not having been made flesh, He did appear as if flesh, His work was not a true one. But what He did appear, that He also was: God recapitulated in Himself the ancient formation of man, that He might kill sin, deprive death of its power, and vivify man; and therefore His works are true.

--Irenaeus, Against Heresies III.18.7 (emphasis mine)

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Posted December 27, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the juxtaposition of the John and Jesus birth stories, we see God’s movement between earth and the cosmic realm. The neighbors and relatives who rejoice over John’s birth are overshadowed by the more universal and expansive cosmic responses to Jesus’ birth. God’s movement is also shown in the religio-political repercussions of Jesus’ birth. The registration of “all the world” asserts Caesar Augustus’s sovereignty over that world—but the birth of God’s son is made known not to the emperor or even the governor, but instead to peasant shepherds. Jesus’ birth shows that God is on the move to dethrone the powerful and lift up the lowly. The census, even in Luke’s day, presupposed registration in the place of a person’s residence, not their hometown. But God is on the move, and Luke has Mary and Joseph travel from historical Nazareth to messianic Bethlehem.

Ironically, the one who will ascend the throne of David enters the world homeless. Forced to place her baby in a feeding trough, Mary improvises a solution for the cool night by wrapping him in cloths. Throughout the Gospel of Luke, Jesus continues to lack a permanent home. Luke’s Jesus, like Luke’s God, is constantly on the move.

Even before his birth, as an unborn child Jesus travels from Mary’s home in Nazareth to her cousin Elizabeth’s home and then back to Nazareth. The shepherds live in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks. The angels appear to them suddenly—movement by the heavenly host! Then with haste, we are told, the shepherds move to go find Mary and Joseph and the child. Through their actions, all involved demonstrate the appropriate response to the movement of the omnipotent God, who is determined to bring a savior into the world.

This season ought to remind us that we are not the only ones who are busy. God is always busy, in the best way, for us.

--Christian Century (December 7, 2016), p.18

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Posted December 26, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One is very often asked at present whether we could not have a Christianity stripped, or, as people who asked it say, 'freed' from its miraculous elements, a Christianity with the miraculous elements suppressed. Now, it seems to me that precisely the one religion in the world, or, at least the only one I know, with which you could not do that is Christianity. In a religion like Buddhism, if you took away the miracles attributed to Gautama Buddha in some very late sources, there would be no loss; in fact, the religion would get on very much better without them because in that case the miracles largely contradict the teaching. Or even in the case of a religion like Mohammedanism, nothing essential would be altered if you took away the miracles. You could have a great prophet preaching his dogmas without bringing in any miracles; they are only in the nature of a digression, or illuminated capitals. But you cannot possibly do that with Christianity, because the Christian story is precisely the story of one grand miracle, the Christian assertion being that what is beyond all space and time, what is uncreated, eternal, came into nature, into human nature, descended into His own universe, and rose again, bringing nature up with Him. It is precisely one great miracle. If you take that away there nothing specifically Christian left. There may be many admirable human things which Christianity shares with all other systems in the world, but there would be nothing specifically Christian. Conversely, once you have accepted that, then you will see that all other well-established Christian miracles--because, of course, there are ill-established Christian miracles; there are Christian legends just as much as there are heathen legends, or modern journalistic legends--you will see that all the well-established Christian miracles are part of it, that they all either prepare for, or exhibit, or result from the Incarnation. Just as every natural event exhibits the total character of the natural universe at a particular point and space of time; so every miracle exhibits the character of the Incarnation. Now, if one asks whether that central grand miracle in Christianity is itself probable or improbable, of course, quite clearly you cannot be applying Hume's kind of probability. You cannot mean a probability based on statistics according to which the more often a thing has happened, the more likely it is to happen again (the more often you get indigestion from eating a certain food, the more probable it is, if you eat it again, that you again have indigestion). Certainly the Incarnation cannot be probable in that sense. It is of its very nature to have happened only once. But then it is of the very nature of the history of this world to have happened only once; and if the Incarnation happened at all, it is the central chapter of that history. It is improbable in the same way in which the whole of nature is improbable, because it is only there once, and will happen only once.
--C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

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

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Posted December 26, 2016 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But the object of divine action in the Incarnation is man. God’s free decision is and remains a gracious decision; God becomes man, the Word becomes flesh. The Incarnation means no apparent reserved, but a real and complete descent of God. God actually became what we are, in order actually to exist with us, actually to exist for us, in thus becoming and being human, not to do what we do-sin; and to do what we fail to do–God’s, His own, will; and so actually, in our place, in our situation and position to be the new man. It is not in His eternal majesty–in which He is and remains hidden from us–but as this new man and therefore the Word in the flesh, that God’s Son is God’s revelation to us and our reconciliation with God. Just for that reason faith cannot look past His humanity, the cradle of Bethlelhem and the cross of Golgotha in order to see Him in His divinity, Faith in the eternal Word of the Father is faith in Jesus of Nazereth or it is not the Christian faith.

--Karl Barth (1886-1968)

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

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Posted December 26, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

..[Jesus of Nazareth] was not a kind of demon pretending to be human; he was in every respect a genuine living man. He was not merely a man so good as to be “like God”—he was God.

Now, this is not just a pious commonplace: it is not a commonplace at all. For what it means is this, among other things: that for whatever reason God chose to make man as he is—limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death—he [God] had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He has himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When he was a man, he played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile.
--Creed or Chaos? (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company,1949), page 4 (with special thanks to blog reader and friend WW)

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

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Posted December 26, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let us allow the Child in the manger to challenge us, but let us also allow ourselves to be challenged by the children of today’s world, who are not lying in a cot caressed with the affection of a mother and father, but rather suffer the squalid “mangers that devour dignity:” hiding underground to escape bombardment, on the pavements of a large city, at the bottom of a boat overladen with immigrants. Let us allow ourselves to be challenged by the children who are not allowed to be born, by those who cry because no one satiates their hunger, by those who have not toys in their hands, but rather weapons.

The mystery of Christmas, which is light and joy, questions and unsettles us, because it is at once both a mystery of hope and of sadness. It bears within itself the taste of sadness, inasmuch as love is not received, and life discarded. This happened to Joseph and Mary, who found the doors closed, and placed Jesus in a manger, “because there was no place for them in the inn” (v. 7). Jesus was born rejected by some and regarded by many others with indifference. Today also the same indifference can exist, when Christmas becomes a feast where the protagonists are ourselves, rather than Jesus; when the lights of commerce cast the light of God into the shadows; when we are concerned for gifts but cold towards those who are marginalized.

Yet Christmas has essentially a flavor of hope because, notwithstanding the darker aspects of our lives, God’s light shines out. His gentle light does not make us fear; God who is in love with us, draws us to himself with his tenderness, born poor and fragile among us, as one of us. He is born in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread.” In this way he seems to tell us that he is born as bread for us; he enters life to give us his life; he comes into our world to give us his love. He does not come to devour or to command but to nourish and to serve.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 26, 2016 at 9:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Then came, at a predetermined moment, a moment in time
and of time,
A moment not out of time, but in time, in what we call history:
transecting, bisecting the world of time,
a moment in time but not like a moment of time,
A moment in time but time was made through that moment:
for without the meaning there is no time,
and that moment of time gave the meaning.
---T.S. Eliot, Choruses from "The Rock", VII, as found for example there (page 107).

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

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Posted December 24, 2016 at 7:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ comes uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it, because he is out of place in it, and yet he must be in it, his place is with those others for whom there is no room. His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world. He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst."
--Thomas Merton, "The Time of the End Is the Time of No Room" in Raids on the Unspeakable (New York: New Directions, 1966), pp. 51-52

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

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Posted December 24, 2016 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Opening with an examination of the light and dark motif found in Isaiah’s proclamation—that “on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isa. 9:2)—Keller frames the incarnation as an inbreaking of divine light into our world. The world is fallen, shrouded in the darkness of rebellion, but the true light (John 8:12) has shone forth bringing life. In contrast with secular humanism’s conviction that we’re able to overcome the darkness by our own will, Christmas tells us that only a light from outside us can save us.

When I picture light penetrating into darkness, it’s often a violent thing. For those enveloped in darkness, it’s an assault on their senses. Eyes squinting, we instinctively flinch from the jolt. Yet here with the Christmas story, we have the most dramatic intrusion of light imaginable. It’s the story of the holy One, the Son of God in flesh arrayed, breaking into realms of darkness to reclaim his fallen bride—the unapproachable God approaching his enemies. Our instinct should be to flinch from the threat, as we see the Old Testament saints doing whenever God draws near as a pillar of fire, a whirlwind, or a cloud of glory.

But when God became man, his entrance into the darkness was disarming rather than jarring. A baby is not threatening. Why the difference? [Timothy] Keller asks and answers:

Why would God come this time in the form of a baby, rather than a firestorm or whirlwind? Because this time he has not come to bring judgment but to bear it, to pay the penalty for our sins, to take away the barrier between humanity and God, so we can be together. Jesus is God with us. (54)

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchBooks* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 24, 2016 at 5:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is only one God, brethren, and we learn about him only from sacred Scripture. It is therefore our duty to become acquainted with what Scripture proclaims and to investigate its teachings thoroughly. We should believe them in the sense that the Father wills, thinking of the Son in the way the Father wills, and accepting the teaching he wills to give us with regard to the Holy Spirit. Sacred Scripture is God's gift to us and it should be understood in the way that he intends: we should not do violence to it by interpreting it according to our own preconceived ideas.

God was all alone and nothing existed but himself when he determined to create the world. He thought of it, willed it, spoke the word and so made it. It came into being instantaneously, exactly as he had willed. It is enough then for us to be aware of a single fact: nothing is coeternal with God. Apart from God there was simply nothing else. Yet although he was alone, he was manifold because he lacked neither reason, wisdom, power, nor counsel. All things were in him and he himself was all. At a moment of his own choosing and in a manner determined by himself, God manifested his Word, and through him he made the whole universe.

When the Word was hidden within God himself he was invisible to the created world, but God made him visible. First God gave utterance to his voice, engendering light from light, and then he sent his own mind into the world as its Lord. Visible before to God alone and not to the world, God made him visible so that the world could be saved by seeing him. This mind that entered our world was made known as the Son of God. All things came into being through him; but he alone is begotten by the Father.

The Son gave us the law and the prophets, and he filled the prophets with the Holy Spirit to compel them to speak out. Inspired by the Father's power, they were to proclaim the Father's purpose and his will.

So the Word was made manifest, as Saint John declares when, summing up all the sayings of the prophets, he announces that this is the Word through whom the whole universe was made. He says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Through him all things came into being; not one thing was created without him. And further on he adds: The world was made through him, and yet the world did not know him. He entered his own creation, and his own did not receive him.

--from St. Hippolytus’ treatise against the heresy of Noetus

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Posted December 24, 2016 at 4:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My own feeling is that writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eyes for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable. In some cases, these writers may be unconsciously infected with the Manichaean spirit of the times and suffer the much-discussed disjunction between sensibility and belief, but I think that more often the reason for this attention to the perverse is the difference between their beliefs and the beliefs of their audience. Redemption is meaningless unless there is case for it in the actual life we live, and for the last few centuries there has been operating in our culture the secular belief that there is no such cause.

The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may well be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs as you do, you can relax a little and use more normal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock, to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind, you draw large and startling figures.

--Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969) pp. 33-34 [my emphasis]

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

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Posted December 24, 2016 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...glimpses into the life of the holy family are rare.

Three qualities, however, seem evident. First, there was a firm, but loving authority in the home. This can be seen in the one episode where there was a misunderstanding between Jesus and his parents. (Luke 2:41ff) A second familial practice was implicit in this event: they were faithful in keeping holy days, as well as in Sabbath and synagogue worship. Thirdly, both Mary and Jesus demonstrated a deep intimacy with the Hebrew Scriptures. Great portions of the Law, Prophets and Psalms appear to have been memorized. We might like to know more about their daily lives, but this much we may safely assume: There was a strong, positive and loving discipline; a sure trust in God’s providential care; a commitment to regular worship; and a deep and practical knowledge of the Scriptures.

How such qualities are needed today in our homes—where

the Bible is read and children hear and see their parents reading and praying the Scripture
prayers are said as individuals and as families
parents and children go to church and worship together
God’s name is spoken with reverence and where his teachings are believed
wholesome and proper authority is respected

It was from this kind of home that Jesus went out to minister to a hurting world. For those of us who are parents or grandparents is there any better gift we can give our children or grandchildren than a decision to model our home and family in this way?

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 24, 2016 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



During this season leading up to Christmas, people all around you are wondering if God is available and if he cares. Is he accessible? Can he be known? The answer is Yes, yes, yes, and yes!

Right now, hearts are open to God. People are wondering about Him because the culture is focused on Christmas. We may lament the crass commercialization and the cultural confusion about reindeer and elves and such things. But the fact is, now is a perfect time to help those you know - neighbors, friends or co-workers - take a step toward Christ. This season offers one of the main times when people will actually come to church — if they are invited.

But here’s a tip to inviting people so that they won’t get cold feet at the last minute. Ask them if you can pick them up. Or offer to meet them in the lobby (don’t call it a Narthex!) so that you can sit together. Then offer to go out to eat together after the service and while you’re eating engage them in conversation about the message they heard and what they think. You’ll be amazed because you’ll discover that God is with you in the middle of it all.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAdventParish Ministry* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 22, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s also commonly asserted by our liberal critics that it is not the type of theology that matters for church growth but whether the theology is believed strongly and articulated clearly. However, we would suggest that different convictions, though equally strong and clear, produce different outcomes.

For example, all the growing church clergy in our study, because of their theological outlook, held the conviction that it is “very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians.” As theological conservatives, these pastors believe Jesus is the only way to salvation and that they must “Go and make disciples everywhere.”

Conversely, half the clergy at the declining churches held the opposite conviction, believing it is not desirable to convert non-Christians. As theological liberals, these pastors believe there are many paths to salvation and that it’s culturally insensitive to peddle your beliefs on those outside your religious community. Comparing the two theological outlooks, which do you think is more likely to generate church growth?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted December 21, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



O thou Ruler and righteous King,
who guards the locks, who opens life
and the blessed way on high, and to others denies
the bright longed-for path, if their deeds have not earned it;
truly, we speak these words in need,
and entreat that he who made mankind…
[this next line is damaged]
…of sorrowful things, for we in prison
sit sorrowing, hoping for the sun,
for when the Lord of life will open light to us,
become for us a source of strength in spirit,
and enfold our feeble knowledge in splendour,
and make us worthy, that he may admit us to glory,
who have had to come, wretchedly,
into this constraining world, cut off from our homeland.

Therefore may he who speaks the truth say
that he saved us, who had been led astray,
the race of men. It was a young girl,
a maiden free from sin, whom he chose as his mother;
that was accomplished without the love of a man,
that the girl gave birth to a baby, became pregnant.
Nothing equal to this, before or since,
has ever in the world been a woman’s reward;
that was a secret, the Lord’s mystery.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 20, 2016 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It makes many people queasy nowadays to talk about the wrath of God, but there can be no turning away from this prominent biblical theme. Oppressed peoples from around the world have been empowered by the scriptural picture of a God who is angered by injustice and unrighteousness. If we are resistant to the idea of the wrath of God, we might pause to reflect the next time we are outraged about something—about our property values being threatened, or our children’s educational opportunities being limited, or our tax breaks being eliminated. All of us are capable of anger about something. God’s anger, however, is pure. It does not have the maintenance of privilege as its object but goes out on behalf of those who have no privileges. The wrath of God is not an emotion that flares up from time to time, as though God has temper tantrums. It is a way of describing his absolute enmity against all wrong and his coming to set matters right.

On September 2, 1990, a murder occurred in New York City that horrified the nation. The Watkins family from Provo, Utah, a father and mother with their two barely grown sons, had come joyfully to the city for a long-anticipated trip to attend the US Open tennis matches. While waiting on the subway platform for the train to Flushing Meadows, the family was assaulted by a band of four youths. The older of the two sons went to his mother’s rescue as she was being kicked in the face, and he was killed in the attempt. The judge, Edwin Torres, sentenced all four attackers to life without parole, the toughest sentence possible in New York at that time, and in doing so issued a striking statement expressing grave alarm for a society in which “a band of marauders can surround, pounce upon, and kill a boy in front of his parents [and then] stride up the block to Roseland and dance until 4 a.m. as if they had stepped on an insect. For a mother to hold a dying child in her arms, murdered before her very eyes, is a visitation that the devil himself would hesitate to conjure up. That cannot go unpunished.”

Read it all (emphasis hers).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon


(Amazon)

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooks* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 15, 2016 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My spiritual director, a Norbertine Priest, diagnosed the problem as impasse and gave me an article by Constance Fitzgerald on the subject.
By impasse, I mean that there is no way out of, no way around, no rational escape from, what imprisons one, no possibilities in the situation. In a true impasse, every normal manner of acting is brought to a standstill, and ironically, impasse is experienced not only in the problem itself but also in any solution rationally attempted. Every logical solution remains unsatisfying, at the very least. The whole life situation suffers a depletion, has the word limits written upon it….
This has been my relationship with the church for the past seven years—no way out of, no way around a sense of exile and alienation, despite much effort. Fitzgerald ties this to the teaching of the imprisoned 16th-century monk St. John of the Cross. In impasse, God is at work preparing us to know him in new ways. So, the proper response to impasse—as to the dark night—is not frantic effort, but simple, expectant waiting on God, "contenting [oneself] with merely a peaceful and loving attentiveness toward God, and in being without anxiety, without the ability and without desire to have experience of Him or to perceive Him," as St. John of the Cross writes in The Dark Night of the Soul.

Read it all.


(Saint John of the Cross by Francisco de Zurbarán, 1656, from the Archdiocese Museum in Katowice, Poland)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 14, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Church of Ireland Gazette)

Part 1

Running Order:
00:00 Background to reconciliatioin priority
04.18 Hatred within Anglican Communion and between Christians and Muslims
07:26 Secretary-General’s role in inter-Anglican reconciliation
10:22 Conservatives’ attitudes
12.30 End of Part 1

Part 2

Running Order:
00:00 Human sexuality an issue for all major denominations
00:58 GAFCON
08.02 Possibility of a dialogue body for GAFCON-Anglican Communion Instruments reconciliation
12.20 End of Part 2

Part 3

Running Order:
00:00 Comments on Primates’ Meeting 2016 & ACC-16
03.17 Churches’ financial contributrions to Anglican Communion Office
06.00 Archbishop Idowu-Fearon’s comments to CAPA in 2015/African Church leadership/Anglican orthodoxy
13:00 Human sexuality debate within Anglican Communion/American conservatives intervening in Africa
15:40 End of Part 3

Part 4

Running Order:
00:00 The Anglican Covenant
02:48 Anglican Communion Task Force
04:33 Next Lambeth Conference
05:10 Next meeting of Anglican Consultative Council
05:49 End of Part 4

Listen to it all (45 minutes for all 4 segments).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican CovenantAnglican ProvincesChurch of NigeriaGlobal South Churches & PrimatesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 13, 2016 at 8:00 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: * By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAdventParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 13, 2016 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So where can we start?

One of the success stories of recent times has been the resource church. Resource churches tend to be found in the cities and typically have been HTB style plants. As Ian Paul has pointed out in a recent thought piece resource churches have achieved rapid growth, through focusing predominately on a discrete group (the 18 to 30 age range). Their astonishing growth in numbers includes a significant number of returnees to church and new converts (around 34% of their congregations comprise these two groups). Resource churches tend to be well resourced in terms of staff numbers and, have demonstrated success in terms of planting, and resourcing, new congregations. They are in other words porous.

So far resource churches have tended to be characterized through a commitment to an evangelical and charismatic expression of faith. Resource churches of this sort are not for everyone but they have been successful; up to a point, or more precisely a geographic point. They have shown an ability to reach from the centre to the suburb, but perhaps no further. But, perhaps, we can learn from the existing model of resource church, amending and extending our understanding of the term? We could, and in my view should, consider extending it to include a wider range of ecclesiologies and geographic territories.

Maybe some real work needs to be done in identifying churches that are potentially and genuinely capable of serving rural England, less we stop at the suburbs? We must invest in potential for real growth, as every good investment manager knows. We must seek out and invest in churches which are currently undervalued and, through a prudent investment strategy seek to release value.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyStock Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyChristologyEcclesiology

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Posted December 11, 2016 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Perhaps the carol's simple language only enhances its beauty, conveying complex theological ideas without obscuring them; it becomes transparent, you might say. The image in the last verse, of Christ entering the world through Mary like the sunbeam passing through the glass, is a very common simile in medieval literature, and one that I'm fond of (compare this carol, and this poem). The attribution to St Anselm is not strictly accurate, in that the image doesn't appear in his works, but it was 'a simile much used in the school of Anselm', according to R. W. Southern.

Read it all from Eleanor Parker.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAdventLiturgy, Music, Worship* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 10, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




This is a rather clever little carol. Like 'As I lay upon a night', which I posted the other day, it keeps to one rhyme throughout for the English lines, and it's properly macaronic; as I read it, the Latin refrain completes the meaning of each verse, so that for instance verse 1 presents a puzzle - 'how could a maiden conceive a king?' - and then asks for the solution: 'To show all us how this could be, come, Redeemer of the nations'. Such a strategy implies a certain comfort with the Latin and with this particular hymn, the ability to use the hymn as a starting point for a more general meditation. It begins by picking up on a line from the first verse of the hymn, miretur omne saeculum, which becomes (with a grammatical shift) this carol's first line: 'this world wonders above all things...' This carol is full of 'wonder', in both senses of the word: the wonder at which the world wonders is specifically the Virgin Birth, 'how a maid conceived a king', and where the hymn goes on to consider various other aspects and images of the Incarnation, this carol dwells, still wondering, on that one idea.

Read it all from Eleanor Parker.

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

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Posted December 7, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was exactly 20 years ago that I experienced something as a believer and as a young father that changed the way I view and experience Christmas. It was our first Christmas in England and in the Anglican Church. Growing up in a different denomination and in America, I’d never experienced going to church on Christmas morning. We always attended Christmas Eve services. Once I became a believer, they were particularly powerful experiences. The only time after I was married that we attended church on Christmas day was the rarity of it falling on a Sunday. And to be honest, we only did so because I worked for the church and it was expected of me.

What we experienced in 1996 was nothing less than amazing. As a family we went to church together on Christmas morning, and it forever changed the way we want to experience Christmas. We got up that morning, had breakfast and allowed our three small children the luxury of opening their stockings before getting dressed for church. We headed to church that morning, opened the doors and were amazed at what we saw. The entire church family packed the place! By that I mean all the active members of the church were there and some had brought extended family or friends. There was hardly a spare seat in the place. The service was lively and full of a spirit of true celebration. We sang “Joy To The World” as if we had never sung it before. The service was all-ages-oriented, and the sermon proclaimed the good news in a way that every generation could appreciate. There was no question as to why Jesus came to the earth by the time we left the church. And leaving was no hasty matter either. People lingered after the service exchanging cards, gifts, and hugs. The joyful spirit in the air was nothing less than stunning. We probably stayed longer than we did most Sundays. I then took my wife and three small children back to our house to continue the celebration. We opened gifts and shared phone calls with grandparents and ate entirely too much food.

The focus of our day was simply Jesus. It was possibly the first truly Christ-centered Christmas we as a Christian family had experienced. Having taken the time to worship our Lord first set the stage for the entire day.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAdventChristmas* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* South Carolina* TheologyChristology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

... I finally embarked on a book about my great-grandfather.

I knew that if I hoped to understand what drew him into ministry in Japan, I needed to learn more about Christianity. So, for the first time, I began to read the Bible in a meaningful way, under the guidance of two devout relatives. A long-suppressed inner flame burned brighter as I read and contemplated the Scriptures. Several verses in particular spoke to me.

In Luke 17:20–21, when Jesus is asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God is coming, he replies: “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed; nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” And in John 14:9, Jesus says, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

For the first time, I felt I understood the true meaning of faith, as hope in things unseen. I understood, too, how Jesus taught us what it means to be God’s people, loving one another as we love ourselves. Only through love can we help bring God’s kingdom to life on earth as it is in heaven.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryAsiaJapan* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 1, 2016 at 6:00 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: * Anglican - Episcopal* By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted November 28, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our God is not big, like Mister Zeus, perched upon his throne on Mount Olympus, and bending his attentive brows to behold the deeds of men, making sure that they are just, unless he happens to be distracted by his nagging wife Hera or by an especially lissome shepherdess momentarily alone and vulnerable in the fields. Such bigness is trivial, even contemptible. Our God is the immortal, invisible, God only wise: and he would not be the infinite God were he not infinitely present within each of the tiniest things he has made. The smallest of all the seeds is as great as all the universe, because God dwells within it, and not a piece of him, either; all of the heavenly hosts are there, singing and praising him forever.

Of course Chesterton is thinking of that smallest of all of Jesus' parables. "The kingdom of God may be likened unto a mustard seed," says Jesus, "which is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it grows it becomes the greatest of the shrubs, and the birds of the air build their nests in its branches." We are apt to think that the parable has to do with the lowly beginnings of the Kingdom, beginnings that are then swallowed up in greatness and never seen again.

Read it all from Touchstone.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 20, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly here or download it there.


Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 20, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Feast of Christ the King, along with the encyclical letter Quas Primas, is a modern form of an ancient Christian assertion that there is “another King” than the myriad lesser kings seated on thrones or behind government desks. The early Christians were accused of acting against the official laws of the land, “against the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king, Jesus” (Acts 17.7). And though ancient Christians were certainly the target of large amounts of unjust slander, in this instance the accusation was absolutely true. After all, the Apostle Paul preached the Kingdom of God and the Lordship of Jesus from within Caesar’s household. Explicit in such an activity is the uniquely Christian notion that there is a greater empire than that of the Romans, with a mightier king than that of Caesar. The secular powers of this world cannot long stand such assertions, which is most certainly one of the reasons the Apostle Paul’s head was removed from his neck.

In his magnificent New Testament and the People of God, N.T. Wright notes that one group feeling existentially threatened by another is often the precursor to persecution. In the case of early Christianity, he wrote:
Mere belief—acceptance of certain propositional statements­—is not enough to elicit such violence. People believe all sorts of odd things and are tolerated. When, however, belief is regarded as an index of subversion, everything changes. The fact of widespread persecution, regarded by both pagans and Christians as the normal state of affairs within a century of the beginnings of Christianity, is powerful evidence of the sort of thing that Christianity was, and was perceived to be. It was a new family, a ‘third race’, neither Jew nor Gentile but ‘in Christ’. Its very existence threatened the foundational assumptions of pagan society.
Wright’s point is that the early Christian confession of the Lordship of Christ, along with the beliefs and ethics entailed therein, appeared so threatening to the ancient world’s foundational convictions, that the only option was to wipe Christianity out. In light of this it’s worth asking: are modern confessions of the Lordship of Christ as threatening to this secular age as the early church was to the ancient world? I wonder.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical Seasons* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 20, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Respected new research published this week from Wilfrid Laurier University claims to have discovered that the ‘secret ingredient’ for church growth is clergy and congregations committed to the historic truths of the Christian faith as a revealed religion, while a liberal approach to belief is consistently a predictor of decline (see Guardian Online 17th November).

This should be a great encouragement to us in the Church of England as we recognize that our core business is to bring the truth of the gospel to the nation – and is a conclusion that confirms what we see on the ground where there is a confidence in the Bible as the Word of God.

It is also a conclusion that matches the Church of England’s clear theological identity. She identifies herself as apostolic - in other words faithful to the teaching of Jesus as given through the Apostles. According to Canon A5 this teaching is ‘grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.’

So while for some this new research merely confirms the obvious, it is likely to be a major upset for those who hold to the comfortable notion that theology doesn’t much matter.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted November 18, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in light of the enormous social costs of being a Christian in the first three centuries, why did anyone become a Christian? Why did Christianity grow so exponentially? What did Christianity offer that was so much greater than the costs? Hurtado and others have pointed out three things.

First, Christians were called into a unique “social project” that both offended and attracted people. Christians forbade both abortion and the practice of “infant exposure,” in which unwanted infants were simply thrown out. Christians were a sexual counter-culture in that they abstained from any sex outside of heterosexual marriage. This was in the midst of a culture that thought that, especially for married men, sex with prostitutes, slaves, and children was perfectly fine.

Also, Christians were unusually generous with their money, particularly to the poor and needy, and not just to their own family and racial group. Another striking difference was that Christian communities were multi-ethnic, since their common identity in Christ was more fundamental than their racial identities, and therefore created a multi-ethnic diversity, which was unprecedented for a religion. Finally, Christians believed in non-retaliation, forgiving their enemies, even those who were killing them.

Second, Christianity offered a direct, personal, love relationship with the Creator God.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted November 14, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly here or download it there.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyEschatologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 14, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the first time in 500 years, pilgrims can get a glimpse of Jesus’s tomb — though for some, it is not worth queueing for an hour to see it.

Last week, conservationists started a frantic 60-hour dig inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, built on the spot where Christ’s body was supposedly taken after the crucifixion. They lifted the marble slab covering the tomb, which was last moved in the 1500s. Beneath it was another slab, this one inscribed with a cross, dating back to centuries before.

After two days of work, as a church-imposed deadline approached, workers finally found the limestone slab on which Jesus is said to have been laid after his crucifixion in AD33. They soon sealed it up again, but they carved a window to give visitors a view of the tomb’s walls.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* TheologyChristology

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Posted November 6, 2016 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Church Dogmatics, Karl Barth defines “human religion” this way: “the realm of attempts by man to justify and sanctify himself before a wilfully…devised image of God.”[6] The position I’m staking out is that in today’s context, it is more crucial than ever to make a sufficiently sharp distinction between self-justification and self-sanctification, on the one hand, and on the other, the utterly gratuitous, prevenient action of God in justifying humanity by the self-offering of his Son. I’m choosing those two words carefully: gratuitous in its original, primary meaning of “given freely, without regard to merit” and prevenient, meaning “to go before,” as in prevenient grace which precedes anything we can do to earn or deserve it.

So what is the antidote to the situation we find ourselves in, where voices within the church are calling for the reinstatement of Pelagius as a Christian teacher and model? Where “Celtic” services on Sunday evenings, with candles and chants and eclectic liturgies, attract far more millennials than Sunday morning worship? Where so often, sermons are little more than assorted more-or-less-religious reflections having little to do with the actual biblical text? Where the high Christology of the Creeds and Councils has become a Jesus-ology, based on his inclusive table fellowship? What is the antidote?

In one of my old files I came across an interview with the pre-eminent Anglican missionary bishop and historian Stephen Neill. He said, “Biblical preaching is practically unknown these days.” This is in the 1970s! He continues, “I find a very remarkable response to biblical preaching. There’s not nearly enough of it in the churches in America…[Unless] you are rooted and grounded in the faith, there is no particular impulse to pass it on.” This was more than 40 years ago, and the trends have proven him right.

I’m here to argue that when there is no biblical preaching, the church is in a crisis.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristologyEschatologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 3, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But I am besides my purpose when I fall to bewail the cold affection which we bear towards that whereby we should be saved, my purpose being only to set down what the ground of salvation is. The doctrine of the Gospel proposeth salvation as the end, and doth it not teach the way of attaining thereunto? Yes, the damsel possessed with a spirit of divination spake the truth: "These men are the servants of the most high God who show unto us the way of salvation" [Acts 16:17] -- "a new and living way which Christ hath prepared for us through the veil, that is, his flesh," [Heb 10:20] salvation purchased by the death of Christ.

--Learned Discourse on Justification (my emphasis)

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted November 3, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"I'm absolutely amazed. My knees are shaking a little bit because I wasn't expecting this,” said Fredrik Hiebert, National Geographic's archaeologist-in-residence. "We can't say 100 percent, but it appears to be visible proof that the location of the tomb has not shifted through time, something that scientists and historians have wondered for decades."

In addition, researchers confirmed the existence of the original limestone cave walls within the 18th-century Edicule, or shrine, which encloses the tomb. A window has been cut into the southern interior wall of the shrine to expose one of the cave walls.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* TheologyChristology

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Posted November 1, 2016 at 1:30 pm [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: * Anglican - Episcopal* By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 31, 2016 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How then should evangelism be defined? The N.T. answer is very simple. According to the N.T., evangelism is just preaching the gospel, the evangel… Christians are sent to convert, and they should not allow themselves, as Christs representatives in the world, to aim at anything less. Evangelizing, therefore is not simply a matter of teaching, and instructing, and imparting information to the mind. There is more to it than that. Evangelism includes the endeavor to elicit a response to the truth taught. It is communication with a view to conversion. It is a matter, not merely of informing, but also of inviting. It is communication with a view to conversion. It is an attempt to gain (KJV) or win (ESV) or catch our fellow men to Christ (see 1 Cor 9:19ff.; 1 Pet. 3:1; Luke 5:10) Our Lord depicts it as fishermen’s work (Mt 4:19; cf. 13:47).
--Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVaristy Press, 1961) pp.41-50, quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBooks* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 30, 2016 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s adviser for evangelism and witness, the Revd Chris Russell, deplores the attitude to evangelism entertainingly shown in the BBC TV sit-com, Rev. In that popular series, the Revd Roland Wise was seen talking another priest through the “IED” course: “Invade. Evangelise. Deliver.” This approach, says Mr Russell, is not endorsed by Lambeth Palace.

“Evangelism is not about techniques,” he says. “It is not a marketing ploy.”

Evangelism may be an important strand of Renewal and Reform, but many members of the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Force, agree emphatically that it is not motivated by anxiety about numbers. “It is a commitment you have because you are the Church of Jesus Christ, not because you are worried about the future, or who is going to pay for the roof, Mr Russell says.” What matters is that “people do not know Jesus Christ.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 29, 2016 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
[Will] Willimon once preached about an encounter he had with the father of a graduating student. The father called his office and exploded over the phone. “I hold you personally responsible for this,” he yelled at Willimon. The father was angry because his graduate-school-bound daughter had decided (in the father’s words) “to throw it all away and go and do mission work in Haiti with the Presbyterian church.” The father screamed, “Isn’t that absurd! She has a bachelor of science degree from Duke University, and she is going to dig ditches in Haiti! I hold you responsible for this!”

Willimon, not easily intimidated, asked him, “Why me?” The father replied, “You ingratiated yourself and filled her with all this religion stuff.” Dr. Willimon was quick to reply, “Sir, weren’t you the one who had her baptized?” “Well, well, well, yes,” the father stumbled. “And didn’t you take her to Sunday school when she was a little girl?” “Well, well, yes.” “And didn’t you allow your daughter to go on those youth group ski trips to Colorado when she was in high school?” “Yes, but what does that have to do with anything?” replied the father, becoming more and more aggravated. “Sir,” Willimon concluded, “you are the reason she is throwing it all away. You introduced her to Jesus. Not me!” “But,” said the father, “all we wanted was a Presbyterian.” Willimon replied, “Well, sorry sir, you messed up. You’ve gone and made a disciple.”
--shared by my coworker Craige Borrett in the morning sermon and one of my favorite Willimon stories

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryCaribbeanHaiti* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 23, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Throughout Germany, the pews of churches like theirs are filled increasingly by asylum-seekers. Though two umbrella church organizations told me that they couldn’t provide exact statistics or comment on the nationality of the asylum-seekers attending church, Christoph Heil, a spokesman for the Protestant Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia—which includes 1,300 parishes—confirmed the pattern. “Normally we don’t count the number of asylum-seekers who are baptized because we don’t differentiate between who is an asylum-seeker and who isn’t, but [asylum-seekers asking to be baptized] appears to be a new trend,” he said.

Muslim converts to Christianity that I spoke to in Germany cited the redemptive power of Jesus’s story, and disillusionment with Islam. It’s also worth noting the more earthly forces potentially at work: Germany does not grant refugee status to Iranians as easily as it does Syrians and Iraqis. Around 27,000 Iranians applied for asylum in the EU in 2015, with Germany hosting the overwhelming majority; according to Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, 60 percent of Iranian requests for asylum received positive answers that year. Iranians seeking refugee status must prove that if they are sent home, they stand the risk of being persecuted for their beliefs. In Iran, that often means Christian converts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted October 22, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Why do you think the cross, its image and message, is so captivating?

It seems as though the world knows in its bones that the cross of Jesus was the ultimate revelation of true power and true love. Most people for some of their lives, and some people for most of their lives, nurse sorrows and wounds whether secret or open; and the thought or sight of Jesus on the cross, perhaps particularly when it’s painted beautifully or set to wonderful and appropriate music, speaks of the true God not as a distant, faceless bureaucrat, nor as a bullying boss, but as the one who has strangely come into the middle of the pains and sorrows of the world and taken their full force on himself. In a sense, all of Christian theology, certainly theology of the cross, is the attempt to explain, to give a wise and scriptural account of, that very immediate, personal, visceral impact.

Read it all

Filed under: * TheologyChristology

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Posted October 16, 2016 at 5:33 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yet Jesus Christ is also the Life. This means he is the one who conquers death and offers life eternal to all. But as many biblical scholars have noted, “eternal life” is about a life of unimaginable quality. A life of beauty.

“Beauty,” wrote psychologist Rollo May, “is the experience that gives us a sense of joy and a sense of peace simultaneously. … Beauty is serene and at the same time exhilarating; it increases one’s sense of being alive. … Beauty is the mystery which enchants us.”

Beauty fills us with joy and peace precisely because it indirectly and mysteriously manifests the one who is the Life. One might even paraphrase our Lord and say that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the beautiful. Or to put it more succinctly, it is in Jesus Christ that we can know, relish, and live into what we here at CT call a “beautiful orthodoxy.” It is in Christ alone that we can know, relish, and live into the truly good, the truly true, and the truly beautiful as manifested in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchArtPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyChristology

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Posted October 11, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Several months ago we were praying that the Lord would guide us during the conference, specifically that it would not be political, but spiritual, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We did experience his movement among us, and the communique reflects the love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. It expressed very clearly where we stand, in a non-aggressive and non-divisive way. On the contrary, it shows how unity among the people of God brings blessing. (Psalm 133)
- Archbishop Mouneer Hanna Anis, Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

It expresses our collective frustration, hope, and counsel to the Anglican Communion leadership on the state of our communion. It shows our faith, determination, and effort to restore this communion to wholeness. And it shows we are getting ready for the possibility of further deterioration, that we should be able to speak and act decisively.
- Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Province of Nigeria

With the confusing messages from the centers of Anglicanism regarding Biblical morality, it clearly communicates our message, allowing us to focus on our mission to lead people to Jesus Christ.
- Archbishop Foley Beach, Anglican Church in North America

When we see conflicts and suffering in the world, this communique tells us we have to work faster and more corporately to help. But it also expresses our dissatisfaction and disappointment over the inability of the communion to address fundamental issues which are distracting us from the mission of the church. The truth of the gospel will only have power if it is not compromised.
- Archbishop Ng Moon Hing, Province of Southeast Asia

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Times have changed, Ms. Sandys said on Monday as the statue arrived at the cathedral, swaddled in the kind of dark gray blankets that movers wrap around furniture.

“It was startling then,” said Ms. Sandys, who is a granddaughter of Winston Churchill and whose name is pronounced “sands.” “Now? Well, we have women bishops now.”

The current dean of the cathedral, the Very Rev. James A. Kowalski, saw the return of the statue as “an opportunity to reframe the conversation and, frankly, do a better job than the first time.”

And this time, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, Andrew M. L. Dietsche, wrote an article for the cathedral’s booklet — an approving article. “In an evolving, growing, learning church,” he wrote, “we may be ready to see ‘Christa’ not only as a work of art but as an object of devotion, over our altar, with all of the challenges that may come with that for many visitors to the cathedral, or indeed, perhaps for all of us.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchArtReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyChristology

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Posted October 5, 2016 at 8:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The world watched in amazement as, on the day of their son’s funeral, nearly 30 Amish men and women, some the parents of the victims, came to the cemetery and formed a wall to block out media cameras. Parents, whose daughters had died at the hand of their son, approached the couple after the burial and offered condolences for their loss.

Then, just four weeks after the shooting, the couple was invited to meet with all the families in a local fire hall. One mother held Roberts’s gaze as both women’s eyes blurred with tears, she said. They were all grieving; they were all struggling to make sense of the senseless.

But the Amish did more than forgive the couple. They embraced them as part of their community. When Roberts underwent treatment for Stage 4 breast cancer in December, one of the girls who survived the massacre helped clean her home before she returned from the hospital. A large yellow bus arrived at her home around Christmas, and Amish children piled inside to sing her Christmas carols.

“The forgiveness is there; there’s no doubt they forgive,” Roberts said.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 2, 2016 at 1:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
In reading Kenneth L. Woodward’s “The Democrats’ Methodist Moment” [see there], I am struck by both the views of Hillary Clinton and the observations of Mr. Woodward about the United Methodist Church, other Protestant denominations, the Catholic church and many Jews, and their connection with the progressive Democratic Party’s righteous politics with the attending social-justice traditions.

It’s funny that in an article like this, with all of its religious implications, there is no mention of Jesus Christ, his teachings and place in Christianity. Could it be that’s the reason there are now more “Nones” (people with no religious affiliation) than ever before, and the so-called “Christian church” is in decline? For many reasons, I don’t think that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, would recognize the United Methodist Church today.

George Mamoulides


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyChristology

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Posted September 30, 2016 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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