Daily Archives: December 26, 2014

Happy Boxing Day to All Blog Readers!

Americans just have this wrong, this is so inefficient and silly to have as a work day from where I sit.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, England / UK

Music for Christmas 2014–Jesus Christ The Apple Tree

Ever since I first heard it, my favorite Christmas song–KSH.

Watch and listen to it all.

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

Thomas Fleming: a Christmas story about George Washington’s Gift that few Americans know

Washington went on to express his gratitude for the support of “my countrymen” and the “army in general.” This reference to his soldiers ignited feelings so intense, he had to grip the speech with both hands to keep it steady. He continued: “I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God and those who have the superintendence of them [Congress] to his holy keeping.”

For a long moment, Washington could not say another word. Tears streamed down his cheeks. The words touched a vein of religious faith in his inmost soul, born of battlefield experiences that had convinced him of the existence of a caring God who had protected him and his country again and again during the war. Without this faith he might never have been able to endure the frustrations and rage he had experienced in the previous eight months.
Washington then drew from his coat a parchment copy of his appointment as commander in chief. “Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theater of action and bidding farewell to this august body under whom I have long acted, I here offer my commission and take leave of all the employments of public life.” Stepping forward, he handed the document to Mifflin.

This was — is — the most important moment in American history.

The man who could have dispersed this feckless Congress and obtained for himself and his soldiers rewards worthy of their courage was renouncing absolute power. By this visible, incontrovertible act, Washington did more to affirm America’s government of the people than a thousand declarations by legislatures and treatises by philosophers.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the greatest of these declarations, witnessed this drama as a delegate from Virginia. Intuitively, he understood its historic dimension. “The moderation. . . . of a single character,” he later wrote, “probably prevented this revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Economy, History, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, The U.S. Government

Lent and Beyond: Prayer for South Carolina on Friday December 26th

Awaiting the results of litigation. Please pray for Her Honor Judge Diane S. Goodstein, the Diocese of South Carolina and its legal team, all those involved in the proceedings and for the growth of God’s Kingdom in South Carolina

Psalm 143:9-10 (ESV)

Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!
I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!

Our Father in heaven,
We lean on You and not our own understanding. We lean on Your promise that the words that come out of Your mouth will not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work You sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment You gave them.
We stand in agreement with all the words of Holy Scripture read in the parishes of the Diocese of South Carolina through the centuries. These precious, holy words will not return to You empty-handed. Amen.
Isaiah 55:11

Please pray it all and there are more prayers for South Carolina here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

William Willimon for Christmas 2014: From a God We Hardly Knew

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.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Methodist, Other Churches, Theology

The Archbishop of York's Christmas message for 2014–Light in Darkness

In the Christmas Story, on the night when Jesus was born, we are told that an angel appeared to shepherds living in the field, keeping a careful watch that night over their flock. God’s unapproachable light (glory) shone around them. And suddenly a heavenly choir of angels appeared praising God and offering a blessing of peace on earth (this was a fantabulous gig earth has not witnessed again!)

Light came into the world with Jesus Christ ”“ born to live among us, as one of us, on Christmas Day. Hallelujah! His radiant light (glory) and life enables us to know what real life is; he is God made visible. As we reflect that light and life in what we do and say, we too show others what God’s love looks like. We ourselves become a light to help others find their way to the very heart of God. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Don’t go where the path may lead; go where there is no path and leave a trail.”

In St. John’s Gospel, Chapter One, which is read out on Christmas Day, Apostle John tells us that: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” These words came to me vividly in August when I was praying for peace in the Chapel of St John at York Minster during my Vigil of “Hope and Trust for the Peace of the World”. Throughout the vigil, part of the First Movement of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, performed by Jacqueline Du Pré, was played. It is a very moving piece of music which tells of the futility of war. People from all over the world joined me in praying for mercy, justice and peace. It was a breath-taking demonstration of solidarity from so many people in the face of the horror and pain of the violent conflict we have witnessed in so many countries this year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Christmas, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

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 Christology, 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, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, who by the incarnation of thy only begotten Son hast banished the darkness of this world, and by his glorious birth didst enlighten this most holy night: Drive away from us, we beseech thee, the darkness of sin, and illuminate our hearts with the glory of thy grace; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

To thee, O Lord, I call;
my rock, be not deaf to me,
lest, if thou be silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the Pit.
Hear the voice of my supplication,
as I cry to thee for help,
as I lift up my hands
towards thy most holy sanctuary.

–Psalm 28:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

O Magnum Mysterium – Morten Lauridsen

O magnum mysterium, et admirabile sacramentum, ut animalia viderent Dominum natum, jacentem in praesepio! Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Christum. Alleluia
O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament, that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger! Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!

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

Girls who are Boko Haram escapees to start education in the US in the Applachian Mountains

In April almost 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped in northern Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

In the days after the kidnapping some of the girls managed to escape. Now, thanks to the kindness of a Nigerian couple, some of them have travelled to the US and will restart their education there in the New Year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Education, Islam, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Women

(BBC) Christians mark Christmas around the world

Look at them all.

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

The Queen’s Christmas speech for 2014


For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.

A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none.

Sometimes it seems that reconciliation stands little chance in the face of war and discord. But, as the Christmas truce a century ago reminds us, peace and goodwill have lasting power in the hearts of men and women.

On that chilly Christmas Eve in 1914 many of the German forces sang Silent Night, its haunting melody inching across the line.

That carol is still much-loved today, a legacy of the Christmas truce, and a reminder to us all that even in the unlikeliest of places hope can still be found.

A very happy Christmas to you all.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Christology, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology