Saint John the Evangelist (Lockport, IL)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

An Exegetical Exercise

Adrian Warnock has challenged Christian bloggers to work on a set of verses. Any takers?

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Communion of Saints

Dr. A.K.M. Adam, professor at Seabury-Western Seminary in Evanstan, provided an essay today on his blog site entitled "Why I Am Not A Liberal". The article in itself is worth reading, not least for his approval of incorporating gay and lesbian people into ministry of our Church and allowing them "sanctified intimate relationships" [my emphasis, DAB], but several of his statements are worth pondering in and of themselves. The one on which I will focus in this blog is:
[...] I do not accept the premise that change and novelty are good in and of themselves. The church is a body that includes generations past as well as its present participants — and it must bear in mind its responsibility to generations yet unborn. Those of us active in the church this year constitute a relatively insignificant proportion of the church’s life, and it behooves us to show respect for the saints who have bequeathed this endeavor to us by not casually shucking off the life and teachings they have died to uphold, and by not impetuously imposing our will as a norm for future saints.
The idea / concept that the "church is a body" that contains believers past, present, and (to us) future should be prayerfully considered by all Anglicans / Episcopalians, and especially our ministers, teachers, and those in authority in the church. We are who we are because of our history and those who came before. And this should lead us to be cautious in our time to make sure that what we leave behind is recognizable, not only to those who will come after us, but also to those who came before!

I don't know how many of my readers have listened to Fr. Luckritz talk about his concept of "Sacred Time" surrounding the event of the Eucharist, where this event in our time and space also collapses in upon itself to become The Eucharist in which all believers of all time participate. [I know that I have not expressed this as well as Fr. Luckritz has explained it.] Dr. Adam's statement is another way to think about the Communion of Saints (cf. the Baptisimal Covenant), in that he has brought into the equation the future (from our perspective).

Read the whole thing, and ponder each of Dr. Adam's six points within the context of his essay. May we continue to realize the nature of God and His Church.
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Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Lectionary for July 3, 2005

Lessons for Sunday July 3, 2005
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 9)

The Collect:
O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Old Testament Lesson:
Zechariah 9:9-12
The Psalm:
Psalm 145, Exaltabo te, Deus, BCP version here
The New Testament Lesson:
Romans 7:21-8:6
The Gospel Lesson:
Matthew 11:25-30
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Friday, June 24, 2005

On Remembering Denzil in our Prayers

And other good ideas for how to encourage/support your local priest.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Call

Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money err, what I mean is your prayers and consider donating money. Here, there's a baby that needs (our) help.

Christian Carnival

Is up. Over at In the Spirit of grace. Tooting my own horn, included is a post of mine on ethics of end of life issues (towards the bottom).

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Little Chuckle

Donald Sensing shares this ... share the light, eh?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Lectionary for June 26, 2005

Lessons for Sunday June 26, 2005
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 8)


The Collect:
Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Old Testament Lesson:
Isaiah 2:10-17
The Psalm:
Psalm 89:1-18, Misericordias Domini, BCP translation here
The New Testament Lesson:
Romans 6:3-11
The Gospel Lesson:
Matthew 10:34-42
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Saturday, June 18, 2005

O God, why?

In a blog I read often I found this note today regarding a friend of the author (both pastors) who has decided to leave the ministry. There are at least two thoughts running through my mind as I write this:

My heart goes out to this man and his family at this time because this decision must have been one of the hardest and most troubling he has ever made. One can only wonder what the situation was in the church he labored over and in that he finally just gave up. He could have moved on to a different church; that happens all the time. But this situation drove him completely out of the ministry!

The other theme running through my mind revolves around the tragedy of the loss of the call from God that this man originally must have felt and discerned. After much reflection on the passage from Jeremiah 20 I finally understand why Dr. West used it in his blog. It ultimately forces us to realize that God will prevail in the end. When the Word of God engages us, and God is at work in our ministry we must recognize that God is able to carry us through the tough times. Jeremiah, in the verses preceeding the section Dr. West quoted, was severely abused by the temple authorities for his prophecies of the end of the nation of Judah and the destruction of Solomon's Temple. Because of this mistreatment, Jeremiah wanted to keep quiet and stay out of trouble. But he could not keep silent because God would not let him. Jeremiah realized at this low point in his life:
But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior, so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.

I think Dr. West is saying that ministers (and all of God's people) need from time to time reflect on Who has called us, Who has enabled us, and Who sustains us. There are times when we get kicked in the head, but God's call and purpose for our lives will sustain us, just as the Word burnt in Jeremiah's bones so that he could not keep silent.

So back to my second theme. I feel great sadness and sympathy for this man. In spite of God's promises to work through us and to give us strength in our weaknesses, this minister has totally given up and is walking away. Part of me wants to say "What a waste of a man's life" but another part of me is saying at the same time "God works in mysterious ways" and "God can work mighty things through our shortcomings." This man may believe that God has abandoned him, and that his ministry was for nought. But we should pray for him because God still can use him, and I believe, wants to continue to use him and his ministry in His church:
Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think--according to the power that works in you--to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
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I just figured out why this blog note is bothering me. Today a family friend is being ordained to the (transitional) Diaconate in the Episcopal Church. She is now at the beginning of her public ministry. This is another public manifestation of God's call to her, and of His grace to her as she begins a new segment of her journey with God. I am sure she senses God's presence and leading; yet we have this message that this other pastor seems to have lost his assurance of God's presence in his ministry!

Contrasts like this are unsettling; I don't like to think about these things. But there are times that we have to understand that people have ups and downs. And we need to rely on God in our own lives and pray for others.

New beginnings! and unfortunate endings! All the more reason to continue to uphold our pastors and other ministers in prayer. They need to be told that we are praying for them, and we need to be diligent in our prayers that we do pray for them: as people and as priests and ministers.
Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift: Send down upon our bishops, and other clergy, and upon the congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace: and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Strength of Solitude

There is an article on the Christianity Today web site that should be read!

Its title is "The Strength of Solitude" and the subtitle is "Learning to be with God in solitude allows us to be Godly in community."

The thrust of the article is that sometimes we are so focused on our "quiet times with God" that we don't allow God to be present when we are in our usual situations of noise, confusion, people, and interruptions. The author, a busy mom with a houseful of her daughter's friends, writes:
I remembered Julian of Norwich's wonderful statement about being present to God when in the company of others: "I look at God, I look at you, and I keep looking at God." Although I had often prayed for others in this way during times of solitude, on that night I decided to try it in the midst of a very ordinary moment of my life as a busy mom in a houseful of kids, facing deadlines and long workdays, a moment that is repeated over and over again these days. I thought, If my experiences in solitude and silence don't make a difference in this real life moment, then I'm not sure any of this is worth much.
Most of us are not called to worship God in a closed monastic setting of controlled quiet and peaceful surroundings; rather we are called to worship God as we live our untidy, noisy, crowded, and busy lives. How well we perform this duty tells much about our grasp of God's grace and faithfulness to each of us.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Lectionary for June 19, 2005

Lessons for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 7), June 19, 2005

The Collect:
O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving­kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Old Testament:
Jememiah 20:7-13

The Psalm:
Psalm 69:1-18, Salvum me fac, BCP translation of the Psalm here

The New Testament:
Romans 5:15b-19

The Gospel:
Matthew 10:(16-23)24-33

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

Perhaps Off Topic

Just so y'all know, I've been working on a job in the Philippines for the last two weekends. I'm doing work in Lapu-Lapu on Mactan Island, and staying in Cebu City in Cebu (connected to Mactan by bridge). Cebu is about an hours flight south of Luzon (the largest Philippine island containing Manila). It's actually my first time out of the country and has been interesting. Last Sunday I was in Hong Kong, but wasn't quite confident in my ability as a "world" traveler to seek out a Church, so I just wandered around Kowloon instead.

I visited a local Roman Catholic church service today. I decided not to seek out an Episcopal Church largely because Cebu is a very Christian Island, mostly Catholic, and I wanted the "local experience". Apparently today was some sort of feast day for St Mary, so for a protestant that was the most jarring thing. I haven't gotten quite comfortable with, basically, the deification of Mary. One other thing that struck me as odd was a number of women (perhaps 4) who proceeded to their pew in the church on their knees. I thought that an unusual custom ... more demonstrative than (again) we protestants are accustomed. Also, they did exchange peace, but not very enthusiastically. They also had a custom, which might also be done in the States, I can't recall, of holding hands during the Lord's prayer. The church also had no hymnals or service leaflets. Service music (the words only) were projected with an overhead projector (poorly visible in the light). The church had open arches along the sides instead of walls. Birds lived in the dome behind the altar. The homily was nothing to write home about.

Anyhow, I'm safe, healthy and in good cheer and will be back (at long last) in Lockport to worship with y'all on Sunday.

Peace.

Friday, June 03, 2005

"Evangelicals": Not a bad word!

Today I came across this article from ChristianityToday.com. In it the author Philip Yancey provides some insight into this adjective that Christians either hate or love, and the non-churched feel unsure about.

Key quote from Mr. Yancey:
Friend who runs an inner-city shelter for drug addicts and homeless people made this observation: "I love evangelicals. You can get them to do anything. The challenge is, you've also got to soften their judgmental attitudes before they can be effective."

I have seen the truth of both statements.

He continues later in the article:

To complicate matters, many evangelicals in places like the United Kingdom and New Zealand align themselves with liberal political parties, believing their Christian commitment enjoins them to seek government help for the poor and to oppose war. And in China, many whom we would identify as evangelical see no contradiction in their support for the world's largest Communist government.

According to author Randall VanderMey, "Evangelicals tend to view the church not as a giant ship so much as a fleet of rowboats and boogie boards, with each individual in search of an authentic personal experience with God." As we have seen, politics hardly offers the appropriate labels to slap on evangelicals. What descriptors might apply, then?

Mr. Yancey then provides a framework (borrowed from David Bebbington) by which the evangelical Christian can be distinguished:
  • Conversionism: the belief that lives need to be transformed through a "born again" experience.
  • Activism: the expression of the gospel in missionary and social reform efforts.
  • Biblicism: a particular regard for the Bible as the ultimate authority.
  • Crucicentrism: a stress on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross as making possible the redemption of humanity.
We need to be aware of the terms in use as the Anglican Communion tries to figure out who and what we are, as well as what we are to do. Adjectives being tossed around (liberal, conservative, evangelical, et al.) are meaningful only when carefully defined. And when one of these are used in a negative sense in the heat of the argument, is it being used as a caricature or as a carefully selected word used to describe people and groups?