Grant, O Lord, that we who once again prepare for the commemoration of the coming of thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, may so direct our hearts to the fulfillment of thy law, that he may now accept our hosannas, and in the life to come receive us in the heavenly Sion; where with thee and the Holy Ghost he liveth and reigneth, ever one God, world without end.
Monthly Archives: November 2016
For you yourselves know, brethren, that our visit to you was not in vain; but though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the face of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from error or uncleanness, nor is it made with guile; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never used either words of flattery, as you know, or a cloak for greed, as God is witness; nor did we seek glory from men, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
For you remember our labor and toil, brethren; we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you, while we preached to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our behavior to you believers; for you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
–1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
In August, Christianity Today partnered with Deidox Films to debut The Ordinance, a documentary exploring churches’ efforts to fight predatory payday lenders. Many church leaders recognize the shameful practices of these lenders and seek to meet the needs of their church members while also fighting for justice on a legislative level. On the other side of the same coin, however, are churches attempting to fight poverty and prevent the situations that lead people to accept these loans.
In recent years, several Christian organizations have developed programs providing microloans, savings groups, and economic education in international contexts. But how much do we know about empowering our own communities? With racial and economic tensions exacerbated in recent years, the local church has a key role to play in bringing about reconciliation. Organizations like The Chalmers Center, whose founders wrote the bestselling When Helping Hurts, have recognized the vast needs in the United States and are now working to equip churches to meet economic and spiritual needs in their communities.
“As Chalmers worked to empower grassroots churches in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to help the poor help themselves, we became acutely aware of the same need to address poverty holistically in our own nation,” said John Mark Bowers, the Curriculum Specialist at The Chalmers Center. “After publishing When Helping Hurts, we heard from even more churches that were hungry for tools to help them walk alongside people across economic lines right here in the United States. Thus, the birth of an IDAs [Individual Development Accounts] pilot””out of which came Faith & Finances, and later, Work Life.”
The final phase of a two year grants programme to English cathedrals for urgent repairs is announced today. Grants totalling Â£5,423,000 have been awarded to 24 Church of England and Catholic cathedrals for repairs including to stained glass windows, stone pinnacles, and roofs as well as drainage and lighting.
Heritage Minister, Tracey Crouch said:
“The First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund has done fantastic work to help revive and restore stunning cathedrals across the country.
“Cathedrals are not only beautiful pieces of architecture, they hold centuries of our nation’s history and are centrepieces in our communities. This important fund will help maintain and repair these historic buildings so they can be enjoyed for years to come by everyone.”
A leading Australian evangelical has been appointed Bishop of Jumbunna in the Diocese of Melbourne.
On 12 November the Rev Dr Paul Barker was consecrated by the Archbishop of Melbourne, the Most Rev Philip Freier at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Dr Barker had served for the past seven years with the CMS, teaching at the Seminari Theoloji Malaysia and the Myanmar Evangelical Graduate School of Theology.
Read it all (may require subscription).
While we have thus far highlighted their impact on isolated families like mine, on my darkest days I cannot help wondering if Neoeugenicist attitudes are re-booting the whole ethos of Western medicine and an entire civilisation. Whichever way the cake is cut, the principle that one group of people can legally coerce another to destroy their offspring simply because their skeletons contain low levels of collagen or their eyeballs are a funny colour seems ineradicably totalitarian. Once established this tyranny can never remain quarantined within healthcare institutions – like a virulent pathogen such contempt for human dignity will surely propagate beyond hospital walls and inflict damage upon our society as a whole.
Some hints concerning the social consequences that accompanied medical totalitarianism in an earlier age emerge from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the former University of Berlin academic who opposed the dehumanisation of the Jews in eugenics-obsessed Nazi Germany. He explores the influence of the anti-democratic impulse within healthcare in his famous unfinished work, Ethics.
As he sensed his execution approaching, Bonhoeffer grasped that a commitment to the intrinsic value of every human life is basic to a humane civil order. In such a society, the strong vigilantly resist the temptation to lord themselves over the weak.
This precise risk of divergence arose after Lambeth 1998 when the Episcopal Church consecrated Gene Robinson in 2003 as Bishop of New Hampshire. The churches did meet in a series of Primates’ meetings and made clear the incompatibility of Robinson’s consecration with Lambeth Resolution I.10; however, the failure of the Archbishop of Canterbury to carry out the disciplinary measures of the Primates led ultimately to the formation of the GAFCON movement, which has made Lambeth I.10 a touchstone of identity.
Mr. Nye’s position about the absence of formal discipline is legally correct but spiritually dangerous in that it appears to be clearing the way for the Church of England to work around Lambeth Resolution I.10. Mr. Nye goes on to cite a number of other actions and documents of the Church of England, which I leave to my English colleagues to handle. It certainly seems as if the end-point of these actions and the so-called “Listening Process” is the approval and blessing of same-sex civil partnerships. If this indeed is where the Church of England is heading, it is, in my opinion, crossing the Rubicon, or if I may adapt a North American metaphor, barreling over Niagara Falls.
I say this for three reasons. First, blessing homosexual practice in any form is contrary to Scripture and the Christian church’s continuous moral tradition, as expressed in Lambeth Resolution I.10. Secondly, the Church of England will be unable to hold the line at same-sex civil partnerships. The Episcopal Church USA and Anglican Church of Canada are bellwethers in this regard; both having begun with same-sex partnerships have moved on to mandate same-sex marriage. The UK Government will push this process along, as is seen in the number of legal same-sex marriages of clergy in the Church of England, as pointed out in the GAFCON briefing paper.
Thirdly, approval of same-sex civil partnerships will render irreparable what the Windsor Report called the tear in the fabric of the Communion.
Read it all from Stephen Noll.
For at least the first few sessions with men who have survived horrific violence during the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria’s north-east, therapist Kingsley Nworah knows to expect lots of long silences and scepticism.
After he helps the group establish trust, he typically then witnesses a deluge of emotions and often tears from the men as they begin to “face demons”, says Mr Nworah of the International Committee for the Red Cross.
He stresses that far too few from among the more than 2m Nigerians who fled their homes as the Islamist extremist group raped, kidnapped and murdered its way across the region have access to this type of support.
About half of those who endured the war are probably suffering from trauma and its side effects such as depression, say mental health specialists. If this problem is left untreated it will “threaten the future of the country,” says Lateef Sheikh, medical director of a psychiatric hospital in the northern city of Kaduna, where some survivors have been treated.
Until three weeks ago, many of Abu Osama’s customers were Islamic State militants who brought their wives and children to his pharmacy on the eastern edge of Mosul for injections and treatment.
Now, most of them are Iraqi security forces who recaptured the Gogjali neighborhood earlier this month and are pushing further into the city, which has been under Islamic State control for more than two years.
As the militants retreat, civilians are adjusting to a new reality in their wake and a clearer picture is emerging of what they did to survive the punishments and deprivation of Islamic State rule.
Now it is the custom in God’s congregation at this season that all the servants of God, in the divine services, both in holy readings and in melodious hymns continually recite the songs of the prophets. The prophets, through the Spirit of God, prophesied the coming of Christ in his incarnation, and wrote many books about it, which we now read in the services of God before the time of his birth, to honour him, because he so lovingly chose to come to us. Christ came to mankind visibly at that time, but he is always invisibly with his beloved servants, just as he himself promised, saying, “Lo, I am with you always, until the fulfilment of this world.” With these words he showed that until the ending of the world there would always be people beloved by him, who will become worthy to share God’s dwelling with him.
The holy prophets prophesied both the first coming in his birth, and also the second at the great judgement. We too, God’s servants, strengthen our faith by the services of this season, because in our hymns we confess our redemption by his first coming, and we remind ourselves that we should be ready for his second coming, so that we may follow him from that judgement to the eternal life, as he promised us. The apostle Paul spoke about the celebration of this season in the Epistle to the Roman people and to all believers too, urging thus: “My brothers, you know that it is now time for us to arise from sleep: our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is passed, and the day approaches. Let us cast away the works of darkness, and be clothed with the weapons of light, so that we may walk honourably in the day; not in gluttony and drunkenness, not in fornication and impurity, not in strife and hatred; but be clothed in the Lord, Saviour Christ.”
— Eleanor Parker (@ClerkofOxford) November 27, 2016
O Sovereign God, who raisedst up (King) Kamehameha (IV) and (Queen) Emma to be rulers in Hawaii, and didst inspire and enable them to be diligent in good works for the welfare of their people and the good of thy Church: Receive our thanks for their witness to the Gospel; and grant that we, with them, may attain to the crown of glory that fadeth not away; through Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.
— Episcopal Calendar (@eccalendar) November 28, 2015
O Lord, raise up, we pray thee, thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, world without end.
–The Pastor’s Prayer Book
Paul, Silva”²nus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalo”²nians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brethren beloved by God, that he has chosen you; for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit; so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedo”²nia and in Acha”²ia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedo”²nia and Acha”²ia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us what a welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
–1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Lear, perhaps more than any other tragedy, is an investigation into foolishness. And its apparent modernity is connected to what feels (incorrectly) like the recent sophistication of combining the serious with the absurd. Lear is a tragic figure because of the ridiculousness to which he descends: “the worst”, as Edgar puts it, “returns to laughter”. Shakespeare was fascinated by that point of utter degradation where misery can only be conveyed in mirth. Titus Andronicus is asked, amid his despair, “why dost thou laugh? it fits not with this hour”, and he responds, authentically: “Why, I have not another tear to shed”.
Shakespeare the dramatist knew that there was a thin line sometimes between laughter and slaughter. Both productions of Lear are played for the uneasy amusement of the audience; both Fools (Graham Turner at the Barbican; an antic clownish figure, clothed in painter’s overalls) use their physicality to illustrate the sometimes archaic jokes of the text. But one cannot help but see that ”“ in the Old Vic production at least ”“ the audience laughs because it is the only emotion that is accessible, their safest means of engagement. When Regan hurls one of Gloucester’s plucked-out eyes towards us, there are guffaws; when Gloucester bemoans his fate (“alack I have no eyes”), people snigger. This was not a moment in which tragedy was being reinforced by absurdity, but evidence of a play that had not moved its audience to sadness because it had not trusted to the words throughout.
Samuel Johnson said that Lear, and its conclusion, were “unbearable”. There are clearly scenes which are almost unplayable: Edgar accompanying his father, as he casts himself (as he believes it) off the cliffs of Dover failed in both productions, and felt unrealistic. But amid the difficulties there can be triumphs; and we see these in the figures of Sher and Jackson, and their profound and impressive performances amid the chaos. Fail again; fail better: that’s the modern King Lear for you.