Daily Archives: December 26, 2013

(FT) No hands on deck–The Dawn of the crewless ship?

“He envisages a shore-based team of qualified captains working in a replica 3D bridge, similar to the simulators used for training today, that could operate a fleet of a dozen ships at the same time.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization, Science & Technology, Travel

Manchester United come back from 2-0 to win 3-2 over Hull

Manchester United came back from two goals down to defeat a spirited Hull 3-2 at the KC Stadium, with former Red Devil James Chester deciding things with a second-half own-goal.

Chester, a one-time United trainee, had opened the scoring with a close-range finish in the fourth minute and, after heading in at the wrong end, had a glorious chance to finish it in injury time only for David De Gea to make the save.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Sports

(WSJ) Jihadists in Syria Draw Children of Muslims Who Settled in Europe

Rahma and Ugbad Sadiq packed their school bags as they did every morning, and left the family home in Kolsås, Norway, where their parents immigrated in 1996 to escape war in their native Somalia.

But by 5 p.m. that day, Oct. 17, the teenage sisters hadn’t returned to help prepare dinner. An email was waiting for the parents in their inbox.

“Papa, we’re on our way to Syria. It isn’t enough to stay in Norway while Muslim people are in huge trouble. We have to deal with them in their daily life to help them,” it said.

Their mother fainted, hitting the floor, her husband, Juma Sadiq, recounted….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Syria, Violence

Forgive those who kill and torture us, West African archbishop tells flock

We so often hear of the peace to be found through Jesus. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. This is a wonderful thing in our world where we so often hear of conflict. The peace Jesus offers is of God ”“ it is a peace beyond our understanding. It is a peace of body, mind and spirit. It is a peace that we can hold on to even during troubled times. It is a peace that comes when we become aware of the presence of God in our lives….

Such peace and joy invariably come at a cost. It is not that suffering brings peace and joy; but suffering can lead to a depth of relationship with God, whom we turn to in time of trouble. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples. The gospel according to John tells us, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with doors locked ”¦.. , Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” (John 20: 19 and 20)

Jesus’ greeting of peace is associated with him showing them his wounds. Peace invariably comes at a great cost. Despite the appalling cruelty he had experienced, Jesus was able to forgive his torturers and executioners. Indeed, he was able to plead with God for their forgiveness. Such forgiveness is exceptional. True forgiveness does not come easily, and does not even recall past wrongs ”“ however awful these may be. I firmly believe it comes only as a gift from God. This in turn allows the peace and joy only God can give.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Province of West Africa, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

John Chrysostom In Perhaps the First Christmas Sermon Ever

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.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

The Gloucester Cathedral Choir sings In the Bleak Midwinter

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Dorothy Sayers on the Incarnation

…[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)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Soteriology, Theology

Christus Natus Est

In Bethlehem
On Christmas Morn
The lowly gem
Of love was born
Hosannah! Christus natus est.

Bright in her crown
Of fiery star
Judea’s town
Shone from afar
Hosannah! Christus natus est.
For bird and beast
He did not come
But for the least
Of mortal scum
Hosannah! Christus natus est.
While beasts in stall
On bended knee
Did carol all
Most joyously
Hosannah! Christus natus est.

Who lies in ditch?
Who begs his bread
Who has no stitch
For back or head
Hosannah! Christus natus est.

Who wakes to weep,
Lies down to mourn?
Who in his sleep
Withdraws from scorn?
Hosannah! Christus natus est.

Ye outraged dust
On field and plain
To feed the lust
Of madmen slain
Hosannah! Christus natus est.

The manger still
Outshines the throne
Christ must and will
Come to his own
Hosannah! Christus natus est.

–Countee Cullen (1903-1946)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Poetry & Literature

He is With Me, He is With Us

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.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Stephen

We give thee thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen, who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to thy Son Jesus Christ, who standeth at thy right hand: where he liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

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

–Gallican Sacramentary

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

–Psalm 28:7

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) In pictures: Christmas around the world in 2013

Check them all out and note there is a slideshow option.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Globalization, Photos/Photography

He sunk himself In

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

–Martin Luther

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christmas, Christology, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

Tom Wright–Suspending Skepticism: History and the Virgin Birth

..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.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology