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(Premium Times) Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Isaac Nwobia calls for national dialogue to address issues of insecurity throughout the country

An Anglican Archbishop, Isaac Nwobia, has urged the federal government to convene a national dialogue to address issues of insecurity in the country

Mr Nwobia, who is the Archbishop/Bishop of Diocese of Isiala Ngwa South (Aba Province), made the call during the 4th Synod of the diocese at St. Peter’s Cathedral Owerrinta, Abia State on Thursday.

The archbishop, while speaking with reporters during the opening session of the Synod, said that national dialogue was important, as the communication gap could be responsible for some of the present security challenges in Nigeria.

“The president should summon us, either as a meeting or a confab, so that people can say why they are annoyed.

“The solution should be that we need to sit down, dialogue and sort things out,” he said.

The cleric condemned the destruction of some of the nation’s security facilities.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria, Law & Legal Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Posted in * South Carolina, Anglican Continuum, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Day from the Church of England

O God the King of glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
we beseech you, leave us not comfortless,
but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us
and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God–not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

–Ephesians 2:1-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(ABC Aus.) Michael Jensen–Sydney’s almost unnoticed Archbishop-elect: The challenges facing Kanishka Raffel and the Anglican church

He must lead his churches, then, in a concerted effort in prayer and repentance. There can be no priority higher than this. It would be a grave mistake to put evangelism above this, since evangelism is powerfully effective when there is evidence that people really live as if the gospel is true. In the past, we’ve been too triumphalist, too presumptive. The grace of our message has not always been matched by the grace of our welcome.

Kanishka must lead them in a return to the Word of God. Martin Luther once said, with typical exaggeration, “the ears alone are the organ of the Christian”. The Christian church is a listening church. It is found wherever the Word of God is preached. Where Jesus is declared to be Lord, and where people gather to hear it, there you find the Spirit of God active — not only there, but certainly there. When the people of God are seeking the voice of God in the pages of the Bible — when they hear themselves addressed by him from above — then there is hope.

The Archbishop must encourage us to be local communities of loving welcome. The “action”, as it were, is not in the bishop’s office or in committee rooms. The faith is not a matter of reports by theologians. It lives in the congregations that gather Sunday by Sunday, worshipping God and hearing him address them. Archbishop-elect Kanishka has written of a visit he made while holidaying to a small congregation, unimpressive by normal standards and few in number. And yet, he wrote later that he saw there “the stunning beauty of the gathered people of God”. It is my experience that people who are you might think the least likely to find a spiritual home in an Anglican Church in Sydney do so when they find that the hospitality they experience is for real.

But there must also be a courageous and prophetic engagement with post-Christian culture. The great Swiss theologian Karl Barth once said that sermons should be written with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. The Bible gives us eyes to see what is really in the newspaper. But it is also the case that news may help us to see better what is in the Bible. The mistake that many American evangelicals have made is to imagine that political and cultural means are the way to pursue or to defend the kingdom of God — mostly in alignment with the political right. That is a fool’s errand. It leads to an idolatry of political power, as was seen the Trump’s presidency. It shows no faith in the ultimate Lordship of Jesus, who is the church’s only Lord.

But neither should the church simply follow the spirit of the age. Its calling is not to provide a chaplaincy to contemporary narcissism. It finds laughable talk of “getting with the times” or “history being on our side”. It does not pursue relevance, as if that were anything worthwhile. It outlasted Rome: it will surely outlast Atlassian.

Read it all.

Posted in Adult Education, Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(NYT front page) Meet the Nun Who Wants You to Remember You Will Die

The books have become some of the order’s best-sellers in recent years, a boost to the nuns, whose income as a nonprofit publisher has declined sharply in recent decades. Sister Aletheia is currently working on a new prayer book for the Advent season, leading up to Christmas.

“She has such a gift for talking about really difficult things with joy,” said Christy Wilkens, a Catholic writer and mother of six outside Austin, Texas. “She’s so young and vibrant and joyful and is also reminding us all we’re going to die.” Ms. Wilkens credits memento mori with giving her the “spiritual tools” to grapple with her 9-year-old son’s serious health issues. “It has allowed me, not exactly to cope, but to surrender everything to God,” she said.

For Sister Aletheia, having spent the previous few years meditating on mortality helped prepare her for the fear and isolation of the past year. The pandemic has been traumatic, she said. But there have also been small moments of grace, like people from the community knocking on the door to donate food to the nuns in isolation. As she wrote in her devotional, “Remembering death keeps us awake, focused, and ready for whatever might happen — both the excruciatingly difficult and the breathtakingly beautiful.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Pachomius

Set us free, O God, from all false desires, vain ambitious, and all that wouldst separate us from thee, that like thy servant Pachomius we might give ourselves fully to a life of discipleship, seeking thee alone and serving those whom thou hast given us to serve. All this we ask through Jesus Christ, our only mediator and advocate. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from William Edward Scudamore

O God, whose dearly beloved Son was, by thy mighty power, exalted that he might prepare a place in thy kingdom of glory for them that love thee: So lead and uphold us, O merciful Lord, that we may both follow the holy steps of his life here upon earth, and may enter with him hereafter into thy everlasting rest; that where he is, we may also be; through the merits of the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.

–Psalm 87:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Open Doors) Christians murdered in terror attack in Indonesia this week

On 11 May, four Christian men were murdered in a village in Indonesia. Members of a terrorist group are believed to be responsible. Open Doors partners are looking to help the families of the victims.

Tragically, four Christian men from a village called Kalimago in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, were beheaded by Islamic extremists on the morning of 11 May. The attack is believed to have been carried out by members of the terrorist group East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT), which has links to so-called Islamic State – it’s the second attack in the past six months: four Christians were killed in Sigi, in the same region, last November.

The victims (who have yet to be named) were men aged between 42 and 61, and all attended churches in the area.

Read it all.

Posted in Indonesia, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Terrorism, Violence

(Economist) A ransomware attack on Apple shows the future of cybercrime

Apple is a prominent victim of the booming business of “ransomware” . In its original incarnation, at the start of the 2010s, this involved spreading malicious software to ordinary people’s computers. The software would encrypt pictures, documents and so forth, transforming them into unreadable gibberish. If the victims paid a ransom, the hackers would provide the decryption key necessary to restore the scrambled files—at least, in theory.

These days the practice is more professional. Hackers increasingly focus on big organisations rather than individuals, since firms are more likely to pay larger ransoms. Hospitals, universities and even police forces have been attacked. Besides Apple, REvil claims to have stolen data from Kajima Corporation, a big Japanese construction firm, the government of Fiji, Pierre Fabre, a French pharmaceutical company, and dozens of smaller businesses. And as big organisations usually store back-ups of valuable data, which makes scrambling attacks less damaging, hackers increasingly threaten their victims with leaks instead.

Working out the size of the problem is tricky. Coalition, a firm which provides insurance against cyber-attacks, says ransomware assaults made up 41% of claims in the first half of 2020. (“Funds transfer fraud”, the second-biggest category, accounted for 27%). According to Palo Alto Networks, a cyber-security company,the average ransom demand rose from $115,000 in 2019 to $312,000 in 2020.

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

(Church Times) Pandemic pressure on clergy has tripled psychiatric referrals, says St Luke’s psychiatrist

Pressure on clergy to deliver additional online services against a backdrop of diminishing financial and human resources, has contributed to an unprecedented increase in clergy referrals for psychological care, a psychiatrist said this week.

St Luke’s Healthcare for the Clergy, which provides access to advice and clinical care for clergy and their families, provided 146 psychological appointments in the first ten weeks of 2021 — up from 43 in the first 12 weeks of 2020.

Dr Gary Bell, a psychiatrist who serves as both a trustee of St Luke’s and a consultant, expects consultations to double this year. “This is the highest level of demand for help from clergy that I have experienced over the ten years I have been associated with St Luke’s,” he said.

The increase had highlighted “the many and varied ways in which the pandemic has adversely affected the life of the Church. Clergy are now under immense pressure to deliver more than ever before, their traditional ministerial roles being added to by the demand for an ongoing online presence, with correspondingly diminishing financial and human resources. It is hardly surprising that rates of anxiety, depression, and burnout have skyrocketed.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(Guardian) How the Colonial Pipeline hack is part of a growing ransomware trend in the US

The wider American public was afforded an unwanted glimpse into the Wild West world of ransomware this week, after a cyber attack crippled Colonial Pipeline, causing fuel shortages across the eastern seaboard and states of emergency to be declared in four states.

But experts warn that ransomware attacks – which are part-ransom, part-blackmail, part-invocation of squatters’ rights – are becoming more frequent, while the mostly Russia-based hackers are growing more sophisticated with their methods.

They have hit solar power firms, federal and local government agencies, water treatment plants and even police departments across the US. As the nation’s eyes were focused on the pipeline attack this week, another hacker group was busy targeting Washington DC police – striking at law enforcement in the American capital.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

(CNS) Catholic Bishops urge Mexicans to vote in elections, but some see warning signs

Ascencio’s diocese has been hit hard by drug cartel violence, something highlighted by a recent visit to the besieged town of Aguililla by Archbishop Franco Coppola, apostolic nuncio. The bishop expressed bewilderment at a mayoral candidate in Michoacán appearing on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s wanted list.

“In my diocese … it’s very likely there’s complicity between organized crime and those exercising political power,” Ascencio said. “They have told me that they’re overwhelmed by the crime situation and security is not their duty; it’s something for the federal government.”

In this election cycle, the bishop said more candidates have sought him out for meetings than in past years. He notices that “they haven’t taken reality into account.”

“What’s not seen is that power in not in the hands of legitimate rulers,” he said. “Power in many places is held by organized crime. It seems like the political sector is at the service of organized crime.”

Read it all.

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, Law & Legal Issues, Mexico, Politics in General, Roman Catholic

A Prayer to begin the day from the Leonine Sacramentary

Be present, O Lord, to our supplications; that as we trust that the Saviour of mankind is seated with thee in thy majesty, so we may feel that, according to his promise, he abideth with us unto the end of the world; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Restore us again, O God of our salvation,

and put away thy indignation toward us!

Wilt thou be angry with us for ever?

Wilt thou prolong thy anger to all generations?

Wilt thou not revive us again,

that thy people may rejoice in thee?

–Psalm 85:4-6

Posted in Theology: Scripture

N.T. Wright on the Ascension and Second Coming of Jesus

Additionally, early Christians were not, as is commonly assumed, bound to a three-tier vision of the universe, i.e., heaven, hell, and earth.

[W]hen the Bible speaks of heaven and earth it is not talking about two localities related to each other within the same space-time continuum or about a nonphysical world contrasted with a physical one but about two different kinds of what we call space, two different kinds of what we call matter, and also quite possibly (though this does not necessarily follow from the other two) two different kinds of what we call time.

So heaven and earth, understood in this way, are two dimensions of the same reality. They “interlock and intersect in a whole variety of ways even while they retain, for the moment at least, their separate identities and roles.” Combine this with the doctrine of the ascension and we do not have a Jesus who floats up into a heaven “up there” but disappears into a reality we cannot yet see. Because heaven and earth are not yet joined Jesus is physically absent from us. At the same time he is present with us through the Holy Spirit and the sacraments, linkages where the two realities meet in the present age.

Read it all.

Posted in Ascension, Christology, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Douglas Farrow on the Meaning of the Ascension for Ascension Day

Ascension theology turns at this point to the Eucharist, for in celebrating the eucharist the church professes to know how the divine presents itself in our time, and how the question of faithfulness is posed. Eucharistically, the church acknowledges that Jesus has heard and has answered the upward call; that, like Moses, he has ascended into that impenetrable cloud overhanging the mountain. Down below, rumours of glory emanate from the elders, but the master himself is nowhere to be seen. He is no longer with his people in the same way he used to be. Yet he is with them, in the Spirit.

–Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (New York: T and T Clark, 2011), p. 64

Posted in Ascension, Theology

Christ the Bird and the Play of Hope: An Anglo-Saxon Poem for the Feast of the Ascension

One thing this poem does have in common with the ‘Advent lyrics’ of Christ I is that it’s an extraordinarily sophisticated theological meditation on its Biblical theme, rendered in the traditional language of Anglo-Saxon poetry but drawing on learned interpretations of the subject by the Church Fathers. The poem begins by describing the delight of the angels at Christ’s return to heaven, contrasting their joy with the grief of the disciples at parting from Christ, and giving his words of comfort to his followers:…

“Rejoice in your hearts! I will never leave you;
I will always remain with you in love,
and give you strength and dwell with you
for ever and ever, so that through my grace
you will never want for anything good…
I will dwell with you
from henceforth as a comforter, and keep you in peace,
a steadfast strength in every place.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ascension, Church History, Poetry & Literature

John Calvin on the Ascension (Acts 1:9)

The readers may learn out of our Institutions what profit we reap by the ascension of Christ. Notwithstanding, because it is one of the chiefest points of our faith, therefore doth Luke endeavor more diligently to prove the same; yea, rather, the Lord himself meant to put the same out of all doubt, when as he hath ascended so manifestly, and hath confirmed the certainty of the same by other circumstances. For, if so be it he had vanished away secretly, then might the disciples have doubted what was become of him; but now, sith that they, being in so plain a place, saw him taken up with whom they had been conversant, whom also they heard speak even now, whom they beheld with their eyes, whom also they see taken out of their sight by a cloud, there is no cause why they should doubt whither he was gone. Furthermore, the angels are there also to bear witness of the same. And it was needful that the history should have been set down so diligently for our cause, that we may know assuredly, that although the Son of God appear nowhere upon earth, yet doth he live in the heavens. And this seemeth to be the reason why the cloud did overshadow him, before such time as he did enter into his celestial glory; that his disciples being content with their measure might cease to inquire any further. And we are taught by them that our mind is not able to ascend so high as to take a full view of the glory of Christ; therefore, let this cloud be a mean to restrain our boldness, as was the smoke which was continually before the door of the tabernacle in the time of the law.

–Commentary on Acts

Posted in Ascension, Church History, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast of the Ascension from the Church of England

Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that as we believe your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ
to have ascended into the heavens,
so we in heart and mind may also ascend
and with him continually dwell;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Posted in Ascension, Church of England (CoE), Spirituality/Prayer

John Stott on the Ascension for Ascension Day

The remedy for unprofitable spiritual stargazing lies in a Christian theology of history, an understanding of the order of events in the divine programme. First, Jesus returned to heaven (Ascension). Secondly, the Holy Spirit came (Pentecost). Thirdly, the church goes out to witness (Mission). Fourthly, Jesus will come back (Parousia). Whenever we forget one of these events, or put them in the wrong sequence, confusion reigns. We need especially to remember that between the ascension and the Parousia, the disappearance and the reappearance of Jesus, there stretches a period of unknown length which is to be filled with the church’s world-wide, Spirit-empowered witness to him. We need to hear the implied message of the angels: ‘You have seen him go. You will see him come. But between that going and coming there must be another. The Spirit must come, and you must go—into the world for Christ.’

–John R W Stott, The Message of Acts:To the ends of the earth (Downers Grove, Il.: InterVarsity Academic, 1990), p.23

Posted in Ascension, Missions, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast of the Ascension from the Scottish Prayer Book

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Saviour Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that according to his promise he abideth with his Church on earth, even unto the end of the world; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Ascension, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is thy name in all the earth!

Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted
by the mouth of babes and infants,
thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars which thou hast established;
what is man that thou art mindful of him,
and the son of man that thou dost care for him?

–Psalm 8:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(AP) Burkina Faso’s 7 Army Chaplains Struggle Amid Jihadist Attacks

In the more than 15 years Salomon Tibiri has been offering spiritual succor as a military pastor in Burkina Faso, he’s never fielded so many calls from anxious soldiers and their relatives as in recent years, when the army found itself under attack by Islamic extremist fighters.

“Before the crisis there was more stability,” Tibiri said, seated in a military camp church in the city of Kaya, in the hard-hit Center-North region. “Now (the soldiers) are busier, and when you approach them you feel their stress—much more stress.”

Once considered a beacon of peace and religious coexistence in the region, the West African nation has been embroiled in unprecedented violence linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State since 2016.

Read it all.

Posted in Burkina Faso, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

An FT Profile of the Archbishop of Canterbury–‘We have a national case of PTSD’

In his book, Welby depicts Britain as a country that has become embarrassed by its Christian roots. Since 1983, the proportion of Britons affiliating with the Church of England has halved to one in five. In the US, 28 per cent of people say that the pandemic has strengthened their faith. In the UK, it’s just 10 per cent. Joe Biden mentioned God four times in his inauguration address, while in Britain the Trussell Trust, which supports more than 1,200 food banks, no longer talks about its church origins. The footballer Marcus Rashford has won the support of millions by calling for free school meals for children during lockdown, but who knows he has “God puts you on a path in life” tattooed on his chest? “Oh, it doesn’t surprise me at all,” says Welby. 

Does it sadden him that people aren’t more open about their faith? “In some cases, it does. In one sense the pendulum has swung so far that you have to justify to people the idea that it’s remotely a good idea to do any work with you at all.”

But “in one sense it doesn’t matter because God sees, and that’s the key thing. I mean, we’re not Unilever — we don’t have to put the brand on every bit of product.” In most of the world, he emphasises, faith is still the default. “For over 80 per cent of the world’s population, the idea that someone is not to be trusted because they hold a faith is just bewildering. They just think that’s bizarre!”

As God has been pushed from public view, Britons have seemed to cast around for replacements: pets, yoga, the philosophy of Jordan Peterson. “He’s a really good writer. And a really good speaker. I think he’s fascinating,” remarks Welby. Are people trying to compensate for a God-shaped hole? 

“I think there’s an anxiety caused by the fact that it’s very ­difficult to discern the rules and values [of society]. And in one sense I’m not really worried about that, because the rules and values were extremely hypocritical in many ways.”

Read it all (from the long line of should-have-already-been-posted material).

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Andrew O’Dell–Two Ways to Plumb the Depths of the Ten Commandments

I will never forget the first time the Ten Commandments became more to me than mere “words on a stone tablet.” I was attending a church that encouraged the use of a little prayer journal produced by the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer. Within that journal was a section entitled “A Method of Self Examination Using The Ten Commandments.” Beneath each of the Ten Commandments was a list of several items designed to take the reader deeper into the heart of each commandment. Under the first commandment, “Thou shalt have none other gods but me” (a commandment that, up to that point, I felt I had “aced”) was this statement, “Hint: What do I think about when I first awaken each morning?” I read that statement and thought to myself, “Uh-oh! This isn’t going to go well…” I became keenly aware in that moment that there were (and still are) all sorts of things I’d be thinking about when I first awoke each morning, but was God at the top of the list? Ouch. And thus began the adventure of going deeper into the commandments. With this simple resource, the Holy Spirit began to take me deeper into the heart of God and into an ever-growing awareness of my desperate need for him. It’s as if the psalmist wrote Psalm 19:12 to express our need for God’s Commandments to guide us on this journey: “But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.”

Over the years, I have continued to use this little prayer journal and have made it my habit to meditate on one commandment a day, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal those places in my heart that need repentance, healing, and change. I have updated the journal several times, and we provide a copy to each participant of our Foundations class when I teach the session on Bible reading and prayer. If you would like a copy for your own devotions, you can pick one up in the church office. Or, if you’d simply like to print a copy of the section “A Method of Self Examination Using The Ten Commandments,” you can download a copy (at the link provided)….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Theology, Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Theology: Scripture

Albert Mohler–The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Reality of the Gospel

As the disciples preached in the earliest Christian sermons, “This Jesus God has raised up, of whom we are all witnesses . . . . Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” [Acts 2:32,36].

The Resurrection was not a dawning awareness of Christ’s continuing presence among the disciples, it was the literal, physical raising of Jesus’ body from the dead. The Church is founded upon the resurrected Lord, who appeared among His disciples and was seen by hundreds of others.

The Church does not have mere permission to celebrate the Resurrection, it has a mandate to proclaim the truth that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrected Lord gave the Church a sacred commission to take the gospel throughout the world. As Paul made clear, the resurrection of Christ also comes as a comfort to the believer, for His defeat of death is a foretaste and promise of our own resurrection by His power. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” [1 Corinthians 15:53].

So, as the Church gathers to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we should look backward in thankfulness to that empty tomb and forward to the fulfillment of Christ’s promises in us. For Resurrection Day is not merely a celebration”“it is truly preparation as well. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the promise of our resurrection from the dead, and of Christ’s total victory over sin and death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the very center of the Christian gospel. The empty tomb is full of power.

Read it all.

Posted in Easter, Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

More Music for Easter 2021–Christus resurgens – William Byrd, John Rutter, The Cambridge Singers

Listen to it all.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Kendall Harmon for Easter–Cry Freedom

How shall we understand freedom? Perhaps because I am in a state, South Carolina, where candidates….[not long ago] were running around saying “you are free so vote for me!” this has been much in mind.

There is a lot of sloppy thinking about freedom these days. For too many it only means the ability to choose a candidate or a product. Or it is understood to be the removal of external constraints, as in I need the government out of my—then fill in the blank: my business, my body, and on and on.

Christian thinking about freedom is a totally different animal.

For one thing, in the Scriptures, freedom has an interesting relationship to time. Freedom is something which was present in creation, and which will be fully present again at the end of history when God brings it to its conclusion. But what about the present? The people Jesus spends time with—say, for example, the woman at the well (John 4), or Zaccheus (Luke 19) are not free but constrained, imprisoned, and encased. When Jesus rescues them, freedom begins, but even then it is lived out in the tension between the already of new life in Christ and the not yet of the fullness of the eschaton.

So apart from Christ people who think they are free need to hear the bad news that their perceived freedom is an illusion. One would like to hear more from preachers these days on this score, since they are addressing parishioners who are workaholics or poweraholics or sexaholics and/or addicts to heaven knows what else. Why is it that a group like AA seems to know more about real freedom than so many churches? Because they begin with the premise which says their members are enslaved—that is the first of the twelve steps.

And there is so much more to freedom then even this. In the Bible, real freedom moves in not one or two but three directions.

Freedom from is one piece of the puzzle—freedom from sin, from the demands of the law, from the tyranny of the urgent, from whatever constricts us from being the people God intended us to be.

Equally important, however, is freedom for, freedom for Christ, for service, for God’s justice, for ministry. Paul wonderfully describes himself as a bondservant of Christ Jesus, and the Prayer Book has it right when it says God’s service is “perfect freedom.”

Freedom with should not be missed, however. For Paul in Galatians Christian freedom is not the Christian by herself changed by the gospel. This has too much in common with the individual shopper in Walmart deciding exactly what kind of popcorn or yogurt she wants. No, real freedom is to be liberated to live for Christ with the new pilgrim people of God who reflect back a little of heaven’s light on earth. A real church is one where people enjoy koinonia, fellowship, the richness of God’s life shared into them which they then share out in Christ’s name by the power of the Holy Spirit to the world.

Paul says it wonderfully in Galatians: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Do not settle for anything less than this real freedom, freedom from bondage, freedom with our fellow pilgrims, and freedom for the God who made the heavens and the earth.


–The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon is the convenor of this blog

Posted in * By Kendall, Easter, Eschatology, Theology: Scripture