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Happy American Thanksgiving to all Blog Readers!

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([London] Times) Bishop Graham Tomlin–Gratitude helps us see things in our life we didn’t create

As GK Chesterton once put it: “If my children wake up on Christmas morning and have someone to thank for putting candy in their stockings, have I no one to thank for putting two feet in mine?”

A gift we receive is never ultimately about the gift — it’s about the relationship established between us and the one who gave it. We often say it’s the thought that counts. If that’s true, then if there is no thought behind the thing we receive, somehow, however good it is, it means less. Gratitude is better than greed, but if there is no one behind the things we enjoy, then what we have is not really a gift, because a gift needs a giver. If, however, behind the gift there is someone who gave us what we needed, or even more than we needed, whether or not we deserved it, that gift becomes something much more significant.

It becomes a token of love — a sign that, despite everything, there is a God who made us, thinks of us and cares for us, and even beyond that, gives Himself for us, an even deeper reality than the gift itself.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Scripture, Uncategorized

Food for Thought from Mary Oliver for a Wednesday afternoon

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?….

Read it carefully and read it all.

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From the Morning Bible Readings

O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!

Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.

Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.

–Psalm 96:1-4

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A Prayer to begin the day from Therese of Lisieux

Let us prefer your presence, O God, to all other company. Let us praise your name above all other names and let us love your will beyond all other desiring; for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Back in the Saddle after a jaunt away for a family-related Wedding

Elizabeth’s brother Tim’s daughter Elena got married in Mobile, Alabama, over the weekend–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, Harmon Family, Marriage & Family, Travel, Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

Turn thou to me, and be gracious to me;
for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart,
and bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

–Psalm 25:16-18

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The Bishop of Plymouth embarks on a prayer pilgrimage to mark start of his ministry

Read it all and there is more here.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Uncategorized

Food for Thought from Tom Holland–‘To live in a Western country is to live in a society still utterly saturated by Christian concepts and assumptions’

Today, at a time of seismic geopolitical realignment, when our values are proving to be not nearly as universal as some of us had assumed them to be, the need to recognize just how culturally contingent they are is more pressing than ever. To live in a Western country is to live in a society still utterly saturated by Christian concepts and assumptions. This is no less true for Jews or Muslims than it is for Catholics or Protestants. Two thousand years on from the birth of Christ, it does not require a belief that He rose from the dead to be stamped by the formidable – indeed the inescapable – influence of Christianity. Whether it be the conviction that the workings of conscience are the surest determinants of good law, or that Church and state exist as distinct entities, or that polygamy is unacceptable, its trace elements are to be found everywhere in the West. Even to write about it in a Western language is to use words shot through with Christian connotations. “Religion,” “secular,” “atheist”: none of these are neutral. All, though they derive from the classical past, come freighted with the legacy of Christendom. Fail to appreciate this, and the risk is always of anachronism. The West, increasingly empty though the pews may be, remains firmly moored to its Christian past.

–Tom Holland, Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World (New York, NY: BasicBooks, 2019)

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Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–How Can the Cross offer us Confidence in a life which is difficult? (Romans 8:26-39)

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The Motet Ralph Vaughan Williams Composed for Elizabeth’s Coronation- O taste and see – The Cambridge Singers

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From the Morning Scripture Readings

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:

“Gird up your loins like a man;
I will question you, and you declare to me.
Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be justified?
Have you an arm like God,
and can you thunder with a voice like his?

“Deck yourself with majesty and dignity;
clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
Pour forth the overflowings of your anger,
and look on every one that is proud, and abase him.
Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low;
and tread down the wicked where they stand.
Hide them all in the dust together;
bind their faces in the world below.
Then will I also acknowledge to you,
that your own right hand can give you victory.

–Job 40:6-14

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The Sermon by the Bishop of London at Today’s Service of Prayer and Reflection, St Paul’s Cathedral, London

How we learn to live with the death of a loved one differs for each of us, but we must all find a way to grieve. As the theologian Tom Wright said, ‘Not to grieve, not to lament, is to slam the door on the same place in the innermost heart from which love itself comes’. We may not know the power of that love until the moment of loss, for as the writer Khalil Gibran wisely observed: ‘Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation’.

When we are bereaved, we need to make opportunities, individually and together, to face and absorb the depth of our loss. Yet we are also invited into the healing love of God which never falters, and which is the deepest and widest perspective of our lives. It is a perspective beautifully expressed by the writer of Deuteronomy who tells us that ‘underneath are the everlasting arms’. Even in the midst of our grief we are enfolded in that all-encompassing love.

As a Christian I believe that death is not the end. That gives me hope even in the worst of times. To speak of hope is not to deny the fear, the loss and the anguish which death brings. Jesus himself stood with Martha and Mary at the tomb of his beloved friend, Lazarus, and wept, wholly undone by his grief. But in that cameo we have the assurance of God’s presence in the world’s pain and a model for our response to human suffering: God is there for us and we are called to be there for others. The words of the prophet Isaiah assure us that the Spirit of the Lord is at work and will bind up the broken-hearted, comfort those who mourn – and give them a garland instead of ashes, and the oil of gladness instead of mourning.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Uncategorized

And More Summer Reading

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This is a time of ‘great need for the love of God’ – Queen’s message to the partial Lambeth Gathering of 2022

It is with great pleasure that I send my warm greetings as you continue your meeting in the fifteenth Lambeth Conference. As we all emerge from the pandemic, I know that the Conference is taking place at a time of great need for the love of God – both in word and deed.

I am reminded that this gathering was necessarily postponed two years ago, when you had hoped to mark the centenary of the Lambeth Conference that took place in 1920, in the aftermath of the First World War. Then, the bishops of the Anglican Communion set out a path for an ongoing commitment towards Christian unity in a changing world; a task that is, perhaps, even more important today, as together you look to the future and explore the role of the church in responding to the needs of the present age.

Now, as so often in the past, you have convened during a period of immense challenge for bishops, clergy and lay people around the world, with many of you serving in places of suffering, conflict and trauma. It is of comfort to me that you do so in the strength of God.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Uncategorized

Phil Ashey on yesterday’s failed exercise in Obfuscation at the partial Lambeth Gathering

Then came a massive contradiction. Abp. Thabo, drawing upon his experience in reconciliation in South Africa, forcefully asserted that what needs to happen in the Anglican Communion is an eye-to-eye conversation between people of different views to present their facts on a matter to reach the truth. Moments later, it was noted that the churches of Nigeria, Uganda, and Rwanda have not attended any Communion meetings since 2008 due to repeated violations of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 by the Episcopal Church and others. When another correspondent on Zoom asked about resolving this situation, he was told the question was out of order. As he attempted to address the fundamental underlying issue (Lambeth 1.10), he was muted. It seems that the facts, in fact, are not welcome, despite what was asserted about the nature and practice of true reconciliation within the Anglican Communion.

Realizing the outrageous contradiction made, the Lambeth Press team later allowed the questioner to ask about Lambeth 1.10 in a very brief discussion on the Call for Human Dignity. In that discussion, Bishop Thornton again asserted that Lambeth is not legislative and that all provinces are autonomous. When asked what would happen if the Global South motion to reaffirm Lambeth 1.10 was affirmed, his only comment was, “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” When asked about the process regarding the discussion of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 in the Human Dignity Call, Bishop Thornton said he could not talk about what process they would observe because it was confidential.
This kind of obfuscation continued as we awaited the results of the long-anticipated discussion on the Human Dignity Call. Instead of a report on the proceedings, we received at the Press Conference an email from the Lambeth conference that included only Archbishop Justin Welby’s opening remarks. In the Human Dignity session, the bishops were given only one hour to discuss the major cause of the division within the Anglian Communion around all that Lambeth 1.10, yet most of that time was taken up by Welby’s speech. (You can read the entire statement here) No time was given for the Global South leaders to speak out on the Resolution.

Read it all.

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From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak at Ophrah, which belonged to Jo′ash the Abiez′rite, as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press, to hide it from the Mid′ianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Pray, sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this befallen us? And where are all his wonderful deeds which our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Mid′ian.” And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Mid′ian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Pray, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manas′seh, and I am the least in my family.” And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall smite the Mid′ianites as one man.” And he said to him, “If now I have found favor with thee, then show me a sign that it is thou who speakest with me. Do not depart from here, I pray thee, until I come to thee, and bring out my present, and set it before thee.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.”

So Gideon went into his house and prepared a kid, and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour; the meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the oak and presented them. And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so. Then the angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes; and there sprang up fire from the rock and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight. Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord; and Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you; do not fear, you shall not die.” Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it, The Lord is peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiez′rites.

–Judges 6:11-24

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Congratulation to Novak Djokovich Men’s Wimbledon winner for 2022

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(PRC) 10 facts about religion and government in the United States

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that the country shall have no official religion, and Americans have been debating where to draw the line between religion and government since the country’s founding. The debate recently resurfaced with three new Supreme Court rulings over religious symbols on public property, prayer in public schools and state subsidies for religious schools.

Pew Research Center surveys in recent years have shown that far more Americans support than oppose the separation of church and state, although there sometimes are divisions on these questions by political identity and religious affiliation.

Here are 10 facts about some of the connections between religion and government in the U.S. – and the public’s current views on the matter – based on previously published analyses by the Center.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Uncategorized

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of England

Almighty and eternal God,
who, for the firmer foundation of our faith,
allowed your holy apostle Thomas
to doubt the resurrection of your Son
till word and sight convinced him:
grant to us, who have not seen, that we also may believe
and so confess Christ as our Lord and our God;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

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(C of E) Bishops of Maidstone, Ebbsfleet and Oswestry

A series of changes have been announced to the names of bishops who offer extended episcopal care to parishes that cannot accept the priestly or episcopal ministry of women.
Under these changes, now approved by the Dioceses Commission, the Bishop of Maidstone Rod Thomas’s successor will now be known as the Bishop of Ebbsfleet.

Meanwhile the role of the previous Bishop of Ebbsfleet – whose ministry was to traditional catholic parishes – will move to become that of the Bishop of Oswestry in the Diocese of Lichfield.

Bishop Rod, who will retire in October, has had a special national ministry since 2015 providing a voice in the College of Bishops and advocacy for those who cannot, on the grounds of complementarian evangelical theology, accept the priestly or episcopal ministry of women.

The future Bishop of Ebbsfleet, who will take on this responsibility when Bishop Rod retires, will live either in London or the M4 corridor for ease of travel and will minister nationally to complementarian evangelical parishes.

The combined effect of these changes means that the See of Maidstone will become vacant and could potentially revert to local use within the Diocese of Canterbury in the future.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Uncategorized

Another Prayer for Pentecost

O Holy Spirit of God, who didst descend upon our Lord Christ at the river Jordan, and upon the disciples at the feast of Pentecost: Have mercy upon us, we beseech thee, and by thy divine fire enlighten our minds and purify our hearts; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–-Saint Nerses of Clajes

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A WSJ profile of Archbp of Canterbury Justin Welby–rifts over theology, marriage and anthropology Challenge Anglicanism’s Leader

The 2008 Lambeth Conference displayed the divisions that had broken out across the denomination five years earlier, when Gene Robinson of New Hampshire was elected as Anglicanism’s first openly gay bishop by the U.S. Episcopal Church. About 230 conservative bishops from different countries, many from Africa, stayed away to protest the presence of bishops from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, some of whose congregations had begun to bless same-sex marriages.

That year, a group bound by adherence to a conservative reading of scripture, including the proscription of homosexual acts, founded the Global Anglican Future Conference, or GAFCON.

“There is no running away from the choice between following the teachings of the Bible or following the culture of our time,” says Nigerian Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi, general secretary of GAFCON, who hasn’t attended a Lambeth Conference since 1998 and said he won’t attend this year.

Read it all.

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(Brave New World Dept) [NeoLife] Juan Enriquez explores the possibility and inevitable risks of human speciation

…soon we’ll need to cope with true diversity within our species. We are not just talking variants of ourselves that Homo sapiens could mate with.

The era of space travel, and potentially space colonization, may just force the issue of true speciation. Launch a human body into space and it dramatically decays. Almost all long-term astronauts come back severely damaged by their jaunts, in their vision, hearts, bones, brains. So if we are to leave this place, we are going to have to seriously reengineer the human body, very deliberately, to induce the kind of evolutionary adaptations required for surviving higher radiation, different gravity, more extreme environments. Those engineered humans would be diverse, and the differences between them and humans of today would increase rapidly as successive generations of them got further and further from Earth and adapted to truly different ecosystems.

Even if we do not begin to colonize space in the near future, the human genome will diversify by other means. As more and more gene therapies come online to deal with horrid diseases, the tools necessary for such procedures will become more standardized and widespread. People will use these tools to engineer their own genes and organs, and they won’t do it the same way everywhere, especially if different countries adopt different regulations, restrictions, and incentives.

Read it all.

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(FT) ‘We are now living in a totally new era’ — Henry Kissinger

We are now [faced with] with technologies where the rapidity of exchange, the subtlety of the inventions, can produce levels of catastrophe that were not even imaginable. And the strange aspect of the present situation is that the weapons are multiplying on both sides and their sophistication is increasing every year. But there’s almost no discussion internationally about what would happen if the weapons actually became used.

My appeal in general, on whatever side you are, is to understand that we are now living in a totally new era, and we have gotten away with neglecting that aspect. But as technology spreads around the world, as it does inherently, diplomacy and war will need a different content and that will be a challenge.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, History, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Uncategorized

(Church Times) Moscow Patriarch persists in his support for war on Ukraine

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has again defended Russian intervention in Ukraine, denying that it constituted an invasion.

“Russia has never attacked anyone — it’s amazing that such a great and powerful country has only ever defended its borders,” the Patriarch told a congregation in the Cathedral of the Archangel, in the Kremlin.

“May God grant that our country remains like this till the end of the century: strong, powerful, and loved by God. . . May the Lord protect our Russian land from internecine strife and invasion by foreigners, and strengthen the Orthodox faith, the only spiritual force that can truly hold our people together.”

Preaching on Tuesday, the Patriarch said that Russia’s past rulers had “faithfully served the Orthodox Church and their fatherland”, and should be turned to in prayer “for the Russian state, so that our sacred borders remain impregnable”.

Read it all.

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A Prayer to begin the day from the Pastor’s Prayerbook

O merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor desirest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all who know thee not as thou art revealed in the Gospel of thy Son. Take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy fold, that they may be made one flock under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

—-Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

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Failure, Rejection, and Ineffectualness

[Shusaku] Endo locates the point of contact between Japanese life and the Gospel in what he observes, and has experienced personally, to be the essence of Japanese religious awareness. This he sees as the sense of failure in life and the subsequent shame and guilt that leave a lasting impact upon a person’s life. Such theological notions as love, grace, trust, and truth are intelligible only in the experience of their opposites. Endo sees them incarnate in the person of Jesus through his own experience of failure, rejection, and, most of all, ineffectualness. Only rarely has modern Christianity presented the story of Jesus as the one to whom those who had failed, were rejected, lonely, and alienated could turn and find understanding and compassion. Endo argues that it is our universal human experience of failure in life that provides us with an understanding of Christian faith in its depth.

–Fumitaka Matsuoka, The Christology of Shusaku Endo, Theology Today (October 1982) [emphasis mine]

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A Nice Maundy Thursday Healing Miracle Story

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(NPR) Why there are growing fears the U.S. is headed to a recession

As employers scramble to find scarce workers, they’re bidding up wages, and that’s helping to push inflation even further above the Fed’s target of 2%.

Inflation hits another 40-year high. It’s bad, but older folks say they’ve seen worse
As a result, economist Matthew Luzzetti believes the Federal Reserve will have no choice but to crack down hard, with significantly higher interest rates.

Luzzetti predicts that those aggressive rate hikes will push the economy into a mild recession by late next year.

“It’s probably surprising to be talking about recessions at this point, given the momentum that we’ve seen, particularly in the labor market,” says Luzzetti, chief U.S. economist for Deutsche Bank.

“The ultimate conclusion is that we are having very strong growth, but it is inflationary growth,” he adds.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Uncategorized