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A Prayer for the President from the Church of England

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Office of the President, Spirituality/Prayer

The C of E House of Bishops first Meeting of 2021 releases a report

The bishops began with discussion and an acknowledgment of the ongoing seriousness of the pandemic, the rising death toll and the ongoing difficulty, sadness and loss faced by many. As a House and in breakout groups, the bishops continued to be mindful of the damage Covid-19 continues to wreak in our communities but expressed hope that the vaccines now being rolled out offer light at the end of this tunnel.

The House then turned its attention to the current and multi-year post-Covid environment, with broad discussion over the potential long-term impact of Covid-19 in a number of key areas. The House recognised the opportunities afforded by new kinds of engagement through the internet while regretting that many communities could not meet physically or in familiar ways, while underscoring the importance of Holy Communion for individuals and churches.

The bishops welcomed the creative, innovative ways ministers were finding to extend the Church’s outreach by streaming worship online and by developing other ways of building community online. The House affirmed it would be premature to make decisions on the eucharist in a digital medium and the administration and reception of Holy Communion, particularly in a time of national pandemic and resolved to undertake further theological and liturgical study and discussion on these issues over the coming months.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(PRC FactTank) Biden is only the second Roman Catholic president, but nearly all have been Christians

Much has been written about President Joe Biden’s Catholic faith. He often speaks of his religious convictions and quotes the Bible, and he attends Mass regularly.

Although about one-in-five U.S. adults are Catholic and Catholicism has long been one of the nation’s largest religious groups, John F. Kennedy was the only Catholic president until Biden was sworn in on Jan. 20. Aside from Biden, only one other Catholic, John Kerry, has been a presidential nominee on a major party ticket since Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.

The U.S. Constitution famously prohibits any religious test or requirement for public office. Still, almost all of the nation’s presidents have been Christians and many have been Episcopalians or Presbyterians, with most of the rest belonging to other prominent Protestant denominations.

Read it all.

Posted in Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

The Full Text of President Joe Biden’s Inauguration Speech today

Through the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifice, and setbacks, our “better angels” have always prevailed.

In each of these moments, enough of us came together to carry all of us forward.

And, we can do so now.

History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity.

We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors.

We can treat each other with dignity and respect.

We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature.

For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.

No progress, only exhausting outrage.

No nation, only a state of chaos.

This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward.

And, we must meet this moment as the United States of America.

Read it all.

Posted in Language, Office of the President, Politics in General

(PD) Andrew Walker–Protecting Christian Political Theology from the Shibboleth of “Christian Nationalism”

The very best of the Christian political tradition entails a fervent seeking of the common good, and that entails recognizing certain moral goods consistent with Christian moral tradition. This will always be interpreted as a malevolent expression of Christianity when those with the most cultural power have a different definition of the common good. If, however, all expressions of Christian faith that color one’s political activity are reduced to “Christian Nationalism,” that only leaves space for Christian faith to function as mere private piety. On this view, William Wilberforce, who labored to abolish Britain’s slave trade, and Martin Luther King, Jr., whose professed Christianity ignited the Civil Rights Movement, were Christian Nationalists who should have been silenced.

It is hypocritical for secular critics to accept only those religious claims that conform to liberal sentiment and to label any disfavored religious claim as Christian Nationalism. Christianity cannot be permissible to polite society only when it meets with the approval of its cultured despisers. Such oscillation is not only hypocritical; it is fundamentally out of alignment with the Constitution.

After January 6, everyone was awakened to the severity of how online conspiracies sparked what happened at the Capitol. If we are to have a shared project of rooting out conspiracy, it is incumbent that all parties bear certain responsibilities. It is the responsibility of orthodox Christianity to speak plainly and truthfully about the dangers lurking behind internet-induced conspiracy theories and to call loved ones back from the brink of delusion. We should renounce Christian Nationalism where it is indisputably present. We should rightfully warn against and teach against what is rightly defined as Christian Nationalism. At the same time, secular and liberal audiences who wish to protest the dangers of Christian Nationalism would do well to represent Christian political theology accurately.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Wired) The Ongoing Collapse of the World’s Aquifers

AS California’s economy skyrocketed during the 20th century, its land headed in the opposite direction. A booming agricultural industry in the state’s San Joaquin Valley, combined with punishing droughts, led to the over-extraction of water from aquifers. Like huge, empty water bottles, the aquifers crumpled, a phenomenon geologists call subsidence. By 1970, the land had sunk as much as 28 feet in the valley, with less-than-ideal consequences for the humans and infrastructure above the aquifers.

The San Joaquin Valley was geologically primed for collapse, but its plight is not unique. All over the world—from the Netherlands to Indonesia to Mexico City—geology is conspiring with climate change to sink the ground under humanity’s feet. More punishing droughts mean the increased draining of aquifers, and rising seas make sinking land all the more vulnerable to flooding. According to a recent study published in the journal Science, in the next two decades, 1.6 billion people could be affected by subsidence, with potential loses in the trillions of dollars.

“Subsidence has been neglected in a lot of ways because it is slow moving. You don’t recognize it until you start seeing damage,” says Michelle Sneed, a land subsidence specialist at the U.S. Geological Survey and coauthor on the paper. “The land sinking itself is not a problem. But if you’re on the coast, it’s a big problem. If you have infrastructure that crosses long areas, it’s a big problem. If you have deep wells, they’re collapsing because of subsidence. That’s a problem.”

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Fabian

Almighty God, who didst call Fabian to be a faithful pastor and servant of thy people, and to lay down his life in witness to thy Son: Grant that we, strengthened by his example and aided by his prayers, may in times of trial and persecution remain steadfast in faith and endurance, for the sake of him who laid down his life for us all, Jesus Christ our Savior; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Italy, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Augustine

O Lord, who though thou wast rich yet for our sakes didst become poor, and hast promised in thy holy gospel that whatsoever is done to the least of thy brethren thou wilt receive as done to thee: Give us grace, we humbly beseech thee, to be ever willing and ready to minister, as thou enablest us, to the needs of others, and to extend the blessings of thy kingdom over all the world; to thy praise and glory, who art God over all, blessed for ever.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But fornication and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints. Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity, which are not fitting; but instead let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them, for once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.”

–Ephesians 5:1-14

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(NPR) Why Sea Shanties Have Taken Over TikTok

Argh, the latest trend in pandemic distraction may be – shiver me timbers – sea shanties.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Singing) There once was a ship that put to sea, and the name of that ship was the Billy of Tea.

SIMON: Landlubbers on TikTok and other social media are now appreciating the 200-year-old art form.

MARY MALLOY: Sea shanties are a particular kind of song that accompanies work.

SIMON: That’s Mary Molloy. For 25 years, she taught a program out of Woods Hole, Mass., called the Sea Education Association Semester. She says sea shanties are influenced by the rhythms of African work songs with lyrics that are Anglo Irish. Mary Malloy is also a folk singer. How could she not be with so fine a name? And yes, she sings sea songs. Here be Mary.

Read it all and do not miss this example of the fun:

Posted in Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Music

The ACNA College of Bishops Meeting Communique January 2021

From there:

The College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America met via Zoom January 5-7, 2021 for prayer, conversation, and fellowship. In addition to consenting to the election of two new bishops-elect, we engaged in important dialogue on topics of particular urgency in contemporary society: racial reconciliation, sexuality and identity, and ministry in the midst of a pandemic.

As events unfolded in the United States Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, the words of Archbishop Beach’s address from the previous day were a prophetic encouragement to continue to work for the unity of the Church in the midst of a polarized society:

“We are beginning to suffer from a serious lack of theological, Biblical, and historical understanding in the Church. We have often quoted Marc’ Antonio de Dominis (1560-1624), archbishop of Split (Spalato): ‘In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.’ Yes, we can differ on the nonessentials, but the Faith is not up for grabs. So, let’s not be afraid to say the hard thing regarding the essentials of the Faith and remain true to the teaching of Holy Scripture, the Bible. But remembering, in all things, charity! The mentality which writes people off and breaks fellowship with those who disagree is creeping its way into the Church. We must fight to maintain the unity of the Spirit in our Church.”

During our time together, we also looked at concrete proposals for addressing clergy wellness, received an update from the Liturgy and Music Task Forces, and began looking ahead to 2030.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)

(PD) Timothy P. O’Malley–A Communion of Anxiety: Hookup Culture and the Impossible Horizon of the Future

For those of us who are married and with kids, these micro-transformations are most of our life. We change diapers, play endless games of horsey with toddlers, teach our kids to read and write, ask our teen the questions that matter, and endure the wrath of the same teen when we limit their use of a digital device. We do this because we hope in a future in which truth, goodness, and beauty will be passed on not by us but by our progeny. After all, we will be very dead. But the pursuit of wisdom will continue through our children, who hand on the gift of life to their children, and so on until a future generation knows us exclusively because of a seventh-grade family history project on the part of our great-great-great-great granddaughter.

All of this may seem a strange way to deal with hookup culture and an increasing fear of procreation. But if hookup culture and the anxiety of introducing children into this world is about fear of the future, then we must uphold the gift of commitment, stability, and those small acts of love that no human being will recognize as an accomplishment worth fêting.

It is precisely through these micro-transformations that a future will be created that is marked by generosity and communion. In other words, a future in which everyone will introduce children into a world that is very good.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Young Adults

After 29 years, Craige Borrett’s final sermon at Christ Saint Paul’s, Yonges Island, South Carolina

The sermon starts about 42 minutes in.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Kendall Harmon–Celebrating the Borrett’s Ministry at Christ Saint Paul’s

Kendall Harmon–Celebrating the Borrett's Ministry at Christ Saint Paul's

One of the great truths of our faith is that…

Posted by Kendall Harmon on Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, History, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Wulfstan

Almighty God, whose only-begotten Son hath led captivity captive and given gifts to thy people: Multiply among us faithful pastors, who, like thy holy bishop Wulfstan, will give courage to those who are oppressed and held in bondage; and bring us all, we pray, into the true freedom of thy kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Henry Alford

O Lord Jesus, who by thy first miracle didst manifest thy glory, so that thy disciples believed on thee: Give us in our measure that faith which dwelt in them. Fill us with the riches of thy good Spirit; change thou our earthly desires into the image of thine own purity and holiness; and finally give us a place at thy heavenly feast; for the glory of thy holy name.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

My foot stands on level ground;
in the great congregation I will bless the Lord

–Psalm 26:12

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(1st Things) Richard John Neuhaus: Remembering, and Misremembering, Martin Luther King Jr.

As Abernathy tells it—and I believe he is right—he and King were first of all Christians, then Southerners, and then blacks living under an oppressive segregationist regime. King of course came from the black bourgeoisie of Atlanta in which his father, “Daddy King,” had succeeded in establishing himself as a king. Abernathy came from much more modest circumstances, but he was proud of his heritage and, as he writes, wanted nothing more than that whites would address his father as Mr. Abernathy. He and Martin loved the South, and envisioned its coming into its own once the sin of segregation had been expunged.

“Years later,” Abernathy writes that, “after the civil rights movement had peaked and I had taken over [after Martin’s death] as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” he met with Governor George Wallace. “Governor Wallace, by then restricted to a wheel chair after having been paralyzed by a would-be assassin’s bullet, shook hands with me and welcomed me to the State of Alabama. I smiled, realizing that he had forgotten all about Montgomery and Birmingham, and particularly Selma. ‘This is not my first visit,’ I said. ‘I was born in Alabama—in Marengo County.’ ‘Good,’ said Governor Wallace, ‘then welcome back.’ I really believe he meant it. In his later years he had become one of the greatest friends the blacks had ever had in Montgomery. Where once he had stood in the doorway and barred federal marshals from entering, he now made certain that our people were first in line for jobs, new schools, and other benefits of state government.” Abernathy concludes, “It was a time for reconciliations.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Prison/Prison Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(CT) Esau McCaulley– It’s Not Enough to Preach Racial Justice. We Need to Champion Policy Change.

As pastors, teachers, and Christian leaders who participate in America’s public square, we don’t remember King rightly by pulling a few disconnected words about justice out of context and plastering them all over social media. We remember him rightly by taking an honest assessment of ourselves as a country. This involves both lauding the progress and looking toward the future. And it involves a robust commitment to understanding the link between injustice and economic disenfranchisement.

King didn’t see his economic advocacy as a move toward partisanship. He saw it as the most Christian of activities, a manifestation of love for neighbor. His truth telling was not a mere venting of frustrations. He was doing work similar to the biblical prophets of old. He was holding up a mirror to American culture so that it could see what it had become in light of God’s vision for a just society.

When we pretend we can live above the fray and not get into the rough and tumble of people’s lived experiences, we are becoming less Christian. We are squandering our chance to be witnesses to what is possible. And we are forfeiting our God-given right to dream.

We are blessed that Martin never did.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: I Have a Dream

You can find the full text here.

I find it always is really worth the time to listen to and read and ponder it all on this day especially–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Almighty God, who by the hand of Moses thy servant didst lead thy people out of slavery, and didst make them free at last: Grant that thy Church, following the example of thy prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of thy love, and may strive to secure for all thy children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Confession of St. Peter

Almighty Father, who didst inspire Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the Living God: Keep thy Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of South India

Almighty God, the giver of strength and joy: Change, we beseech thee, our bondage into liberty, and the poverty of our nature into the riches of thy grace; that by the transformation of our lives thy glory may be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.

–Ephesians 4:11-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(NBC) South Carolina at its best–College football dream comes true for star running back

Watch it all.

“After spending time in and out of a children’s home, Nathan Harris-Waynick found his forever home at age 12. His forever family was there to cheer him on as he was accepted to the University of South Carolina and even offered a spot on the football team.”

Posted in * South Carolina, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sports

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Join us this Sunday, January 17, 2021, as we, in The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, pray for the work and ministry…

Posted by The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina on Friday, January 15, 2021

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

A Prayer for the Day from the Church of England

Almighty God,
in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives
make known your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Just then his disciples came. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but none said, “What do you wish?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the city and were coming to him. Meanwhile the disciples besought him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has any one brought him food?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

–John 4:27-42

Posted in Theology: Scripture

The Rector of Falls Church Anglican on the DC Riots–we are Called to be Ambassadors of Reconciliation within the World

Dear Church Family,

Taking the necessary time to recoup and quarantine since having COVID has meant Sundays away from you. This has been hard, especially in light of recent events.

What we witnessed at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th, in the wake of a complex and burdensome year, leaves us all emotionally unsettled. Tragically, the violence and destruction of that day only deepened the seemingly intractable divisions in our nation.

We can be sure our Heavenly Father, the Author of Life and Love, despises the death and discord wrought that day. As Christians, we also decry such violence.

I join you in being heartbroken for our nation. I too lament such a sad beginning of 2021. I also join you in asking certain questions: how should the Church respond to something like this? What is God calling us to be and to learn?

Below I offer suggestions for Christian life together at a time such as this, which I hope members of any local church will consider. Prior to that, I want to draw our attention to one idea, or biblical concept, that should shape Christian engagement with the world right now: reconciliation.

Jesus’s first followers were not sent into a docile world. The cultures of Greece, Rome, Israel, and other nations, often clashed. Shortly after Jesus’s ministry, his own people’s imperial city, Jerusalem, and Temple, were sacked and razed by the Romans. In the midst of national and political tumult, we don’t find Jesus’s early followers dividing over preferred political allegiances; we find them instead proclaiming and embodying a universal message of reconciliation—for Jews, Greeks, Romans … for everyone (Gal 3:28). Christian political allegiance was to a kingdom not of this world (John 18:36).

This message of reconciliation was not a secular ideal. It was the message that in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, and that Christians were now ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:16–20). It meant that Christians saw all reality and all people as in need of reconciliation, being re-united, with God.

What might this message of reconciliation mean for Christian engagement with the world following the tumult of recent weeks and months?

First, it means affirming all genuine desires for truth-seeking. Christians do not want matters obscured in half-truths or lies to be reconciled with the crystal clarity of the God Who is Truth. We cheer on truth-seeking and decry dishonesty. We also resist oversimplification, and instead acknowledge the painstaking process of discernment required by the many complex issues of our day.

Second, it means condemning ungodly means of pursuing truth or power. Storming the Capitol, fear-mongering, or any form of violent protests, are irreconcilable with a God whose way was self-sacrifice (Mark 10:45). Christians champion the right use of laws and tools of democracy, that human pursuits of justice would be reconciled with God’s passion for righteousness.

Third, it means that while condemning the violence of January 6th, we are careful not to condemn persons whose politics and opinions differ from ours. Hearty debates and passionate arguments have an important role. However, judging the state of someone’s soul or hurling condescension upon them are irreconcilable with a God who bore patiently with those who rejected him (John 1:11).

In public engagement, a Christian’s attitude and actions should bespeak a desire to see the world, its ways, and its people, reconciled with a righteous, just, and loving God. As you read blogs and engage with others, be asking: are my speech, attitude and aims reconcilable with the reconciling work of God in Christ?

Ambassadors of Reconciliation within the Church
Turning now to our life together within the body of Christ, here are three practices to help us maintain the reconciliation God has purchased for us with one another.

1. Resist Grouping and Labeling Your Brother and Sister in Christ.

Within our church family, people hold differing political views. However, avoid grouping and labeling each other, we are first and foremost brothers and sisters in Christ. The “purposes of a man’s heart are like deep water” (Prov 20:5). Often a conversation over a cup of coffee—rather than a barb over social media—is the appropriate place to discover what’s really going on in the heart of your brother or sister in Christ.

2. Reevaluate Who’s Enthroned in the Temple.

The New Testament teaches that the temple of God is no longer in Jerusalem, but in you! (1 Cor 6:19). God’s unfolding plan does not include enacting his reign through any nation-state, but rather through His Church—the individuals who collectively make up the Body of Christ.

The question for us, then, is who is enthroned in God’s temple? As we pass through turbulent political waters, have you sensed that perhaps false gods have made their way into your temple? Are we, the Church, putting ultimate hope and trust in a country, political party, or preferred leader? Are we conflating our nation’s purposes with God’s purposes? Are we treating political viewpoints like Divine Law? We are responsible for our civic engagement, yes, but we are not counted righteous based on our politics, but rather upon the atoning work of Christ.

3. Use Disagreement as an Opportunity to Practice Jesus’s Teaching to Love Your Enemies.

What if the Church is the very place where we learn “to beat our swords into plowshares” (Isa 2:4), and even dare to love those who differ from us politically? Jesus’s twelve disciples included the pro-Israelite, Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15) as well as the so-called sell-out-to-the Gentiles, Matthew the tax collector (Luke 5:27–28). Jesus called both of these men into fellowship with each other and himself. The local church may be the very classroom God has ordained for us to learn Jesus’ teaching to “love our enemies” (Matt 5:44).

One way to put this into practice, is to focus on your commonality in Christ rather than your differences. In relationships with those who differ on politics or other matters, consider talking more about what Jesus is doing in your life, or perhaps share your testimonies.

Finally, I call our attention to the inauguration on January 20th. We should all join in praying that this will be a peaceful transition of power, that all law enforcement would be secure and safe, and that the plans of any intent on violence would be stopped. We should pray for our incoming President, Joseph Biden, that God would place His hand of blessing and guidance upon him, and give him an unswerving commitment to truth and the wisdom to lead well. I am dedicating time from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening, January 19th, to pray for these matters. Please consider doing so as well.

God has entrusted us, His Church, with the message of reconciliation. Let us be faithful to His call.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Violence