Category : Sacramental Theology

Jeffrey Miller's 2017 Sermon on the Baptism of Jesus: The King will Never Leave

You can listen directly here or download it there. Watch for a very important reference to an incident in London in WW II.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Baptism, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Baptism of Jesus from the Church of South India

Lord Jesus Christ, who didst humble thyself to take the baptism of sinful men, and wast forthwith declared to be the Son of God: Grant that we who have been baptized into thee may rejoice to be the sons of God, and servants of all; for thy name’s sake, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest ever one God, world without end.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Baptism, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Sacramental Theology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Baptism of Jesus from the Scottish Prayer Book

Almighty God, who at the baptism of thy blessed Son Jesus Christ in the river Jordan didst manifest his glorious Godhead: Grant, we beseech thee, that the brightness of his presence may shine in our hearts, and his glory be set forth in our lives; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Baptism, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Sacramental Theology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes–Infant Baptism: An Anglican Model for Same Sex Blessings?

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Baptism, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Christopher Howse on 1 word in the liturgy– the return of the dew that we hardly knew we'd lost

One word has been reintroduced into one of the Eucharistic prayers in the Mass which had previously been omitted by the translators. I’m glad to see it.

When I say one word, I mean it was one word in the Latin original. In the so-called Second Eucharistic Prayer the word is rore, which is now translated as “like the dewfall”. I find it not only poetic but very expressive of the way that God seems to work.

This is the sentence where it occurs: “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Baptism, Church History, Eucharist, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Sacramental Theology, Theology

(Church in Wales) Confirmation no longer required for Holy Communion–Bishops’ letter

Anyone who has been baptised will be able to receive Holy Communion in church, regardless of whether they have also been confirmed, under new guidance coming into effect in November.

The Church in Wales is re-adopting the practice of the early church on admission to Communion ”“ the sharing of bread and wine ”“ in an effort to strengthen ministry to children and young people in particular.

In recent times, people wishing to receive Communion have usually had to have been confirmed first ”“ confirming promises made on their behalf at their baptism as infants.
However, from the First Sunday in Advent ”“ November 27 ”“ everyone who has been baptised will be able to receive Holy Communion. The policy will be rolled out across the parishes and ministry areas over the next year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Ross Douthat on Recent developments within Roman Catholicism–Dilution of Doctrine

…to the typical observer, it’s the Francis position that looks more like the church’s real teaching (He is the pope, after all), even if it’s delivered off the cuff or in footnotes or through surrogates.

That position, more or less, seems to be that second marriages may be technically adulterous, but it’s unreasonable to expect modern people to realize that, and even more unreasonable to expect them to leave those marriages or practice celibacy within them. So the sin involved in a second marriage is often venial not mortal, and not serious enough to justify excluding people of good intentions from the sacraments.

Which brings us back to Tim Kaine’s vision, because it is very easy to apply this modified position on remarriage to same-sex unions. If relationships the church once condemned as adultery are no longer a major, soul-threatening sin, then why should a committed same-sex relationship be any different? If the church makes post-sexual revolution allowances for straight couples, shouldn’t it make the same ones for people who aren’t even attracted to the opposite sex?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Dr. E. Wesley Ely on a Dying Patient in the ICU requesting Baptism

With antibiotics and fluids, Bennie improved dramatically and was taken off the ventilator several days later. That same night, though, a massive stroke paralyzed his entire left side, and he went back on life support. We quickly administered clot-busting medicine, and he rallied again, remarkably regaining movement of his left arm and leg. The following day, the intern reported, “His delirium has cleared, and he’s mouthing words around the endotracheal tube despite his wicked aspiration pneumonia.”

I sensed an unexpected window of opportunity. We revisited Bennie’s life goals in light of what had happened and spoke directly about the big picture. With his children looking on, I held Bennie’s hand and looked him in the eyes. Choosing my words based on what I knew about his background and the family’s expectation of miracles, I said, “Bennie, just like tobacco plants eventually wither and wilt, so do we. You have improved in some ways, but overall you are very weak. How can we serve you best?”

The next morning, Laura and Len were upbeat, which confused me since Bennie looked weaker than ever. They pointed to words on a whiteboard in the room, explaining they were Bennie’s goals, “Stable vital signs. Baptism.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Baptism, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Theology

South Carolina Cathedral Dean Peet Dickinson–Is or has been Sacrificed?

The fraction found in both the Rite I and Rite II services in our 1979 Book of Common Prayer happens immediately following the Lord’s Prayer and before the invitation to and distribution of Communion. The Celebrant breaks the consecrated bread and then says, “[Alleluia.] Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” The congregation then replies, “Therefore let us keep the feast. [Alleluia.]” Now, this statement comes from Scripture, specifically 1 Corinthians 5:7. Well, actually it is a mistranslation of what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:7, which is found only in the King James Version. The specific word that is mistranslated is the Greek word etuthe, which means a sacrifice that was completed in the past. Therefore, in most English translations, 1 Corinthians 5:7 is translated, “Christ, our Passover has been or was sacrificed.”

Now, why would this mistranslation make its way into the 1979 Book of Common Prayer when this form and placement of the fraction was never in any Anglican Prayer Book prior?

Read it all (if you need to know more about Peet Dickson see there).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Eucharist, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Get Religion on the Primates Gathering–TEC is in time out and its about Bible+Holy Communion

When you look at the current events in the context of an accurate timeline, it’s clear that (a) the Episcopal Church has merely been placed in “time out,” (b) that the global primates really do think this dispute is about the Bible and marriage, (c) that the state of sacramental Communion among Anglican leaders remains as broken as ever and (d) that all Canterbury has really achieved, with this meeting, is send the contest into extra innings (or perhaps “stoppage time” is a better term among global Anglicans)….the Church of England plays a crucial role, to say the least, in the affairs of the Anglican Communion and there will be tremendous political pressure brought on English church leaders to modernize their doctrines on marriage. Check out the first wave of incoming fire, in this news report at The Guardian.

So journalists: Eyes left. That is where the action will be in the next three years, while the Episcopal Church is in “time out.” The conservatives didn’t really win. They won on the marriage statement, but not on the ultimate issue of broken Communion.

Does anyone expect the Episcopal Church to compromise and move back to orthodoxy on marriage, after formally changing marriage rites?

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Eucharist, Media, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) How one Pastor Seeks to Forge a New Path in Brooklyn

From the Lower East Side, St. Lydia’s went to a borrowed space at the Brooklyn Zen Center. Two years ago, the church took over a small storefront space, using about $140,000 to renovate the room into a daytime co-working space complete with an open kitchen and windows overlooking the street. Much of St. Lydia’s funding comes from her denomination, and she hopes to grow the co-working side.

Nadia Bolz-Weber, an author and the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, is part of Ms. Scott’s denomination. She described Ms. Scott’s participatory style of worship as drawing in a generation accustomed to user-generated content.

“There’s a whole population that is culturally millennial that is used to participating in the content of their lives, in a way that a generation before them were only consuming products that religious authorities were distributing,” said Ms. Bolz-Weber.

Yet to create that kind of church, she said, you need a charismatic leader who other people want to hang around. “It demands everything of you,” she said.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Eucharist, Lutheran, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Young Adults

(AI) Peter Berger–Rethinking the Reformation

On October 30, 2015, a joint Lutheran-Catholic statement was issued after a protracted consultation by theologians of both confessions: “On the Way: Church, Ministry and the Eucharist.” The opening phrase means on the way to full mutual recognition and intercommunion, which both sides acknowledge as having been the will of Jesus and as being the intended final relationship between the two communities. [As a sociologist I must observe that there is also a tacit empirical assumption here””that the disunity between churches weakens the credibility of the Christian faith. This may be true in Europe, where both Lutherans and Catholics come out of a history of state churches””and where secularization, as a decline of religion, has gone farther than on any other continent. In the United States this alleged nexus between Christian unity and the plausibility of the faith is less persuasive.]

“On the Way” was published jointly by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest and more liberal wing of Lutheranism in this country (known, not always affectionately, as Aunt Elka), and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. There has also been input from the Lutheran World Federation, the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, and the World Council of Churches (to which most Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches at least nominally belong despite cacophonous disagreements). This document builds on an earlier joint statement in 1993 on the doctrine of justification, which has been a major disagreement between Lutherans and Catholics: The statement concluded in a somewhat tortured argument that there really were (or were no longer) any fundamental disagreements. It therefore decided, logically enough, to withdraw the solemn mutual condemnations (so-called anathemas, “accursed be”¦”) between Rome and its “separated brethren” (a phrase now considered impolite).

The gist of “On the Way” is a list of “32 agreements” (there is also an honest acknowledgment of issues on which there still is disagreement). Coming to the document as a non-theologian one is likely to be less than overwhelmed by what is supposedly agreed upon…

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Eucharist, Europe, History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Archbishop Longley rejects synod proposal on Communion for Anglican spouses

A synod proposal to allow Anglican spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion has been rejected by the Archbishop of Birmingham.

The proposal, contained in the working document is due to be discussed at the synod next week.

If approved it would mean Anglicans being allowed to present themselves at Communion during Mass if they were married to a Catholic but unable to attend a service in their own denomination.

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, co-chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (Arcic), set up to further unity, has criticised the move, however, saying it did not meet the demands of either the Code of Canon Law or the Ecumenical Directory.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Eucharist, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter


Picture: River baptisms at Church of the Holy Cross, Bluffton SC
Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Baptism, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Daniel Newman on The Prayer of Humble Access

Early in the prayer, we are reminded that what we are coming to is a meal. We are invited as guests to a table where God is the generous host, not an altar where we make an offering to appease God’s wrath. The rubric refers to the piece of furniture as ”˜the Lord’s Table’ or, in earlier versions, ”˜Gods borde’. We shall explore below what it is that we receive at this meal.

This prayer creates in us an attitude of humility, helplessness, and dependency on God. We do not deserve to be here. We have no suitable garment of our own to wear to the feast. The contrast is repeatedly drawn between what we do not have and what God does, between what we are not and what God is: ”˜not”¦ trusting in our”¦ but in thy”¦ We are not”¦ But thou art”¦’ Cranmer alludes to our Lord’s encounter with the Syro-Phoenician woman, who says, “Even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (Mark 7.28). This allusion is double-edged, for it expresses both great humility and great faith, as seen by our Lord’s commendation of the woman in the gospel accounts.

The Prayer of Humble Access has the same dynamic. It does not leave us in a state of hopelessness and despair. Although ”˜we do not presume to come”¦ trusting in our own righteousness’, God’s many, varied (”˜manifold’) and great mercies combined with his unchanging essence (”˜the same Lord’) mean that we do presume to come. Praying this prayer is an enactment of the gospel of God’s grace.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Christology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Eucharist, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Sacramental Theology, Soteriology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

Should a “transgender” person be allowed a ceremony of “re-baptism” at their local church?

Should a “transgender” person be allowed a ceremony of “re-baptism” at their local church? That is what a parishioner requested from the Rev Chris Newlands, Vicar of Lancaster.

“I said we don’t do that, but we did offer him, and then carry out, a service,” Mr Newlands told the Lancaster Guardian. “He was originally baptised as a baby girl, and to him it was about God knowing him by name.”

Mr Newlands mobilised his Deanery and put a motion on the House of Bishops’ agenda for the General Synod of the Church of England: “That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.”

That was earlier this year, but such services are already being performed.

Read it all from Christopher Howse at the Telegraph.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Baptism, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Sacramental Theology, Sexuality, Theology

(B+C) Jonathan Reimer–Ambrose, Augustine, and the "lived experience" of 4th-century baptism

Early on the morning of Easter 387, just after dawn, the man whom history would come to know as “Augustine of Hippo” was baptized, along with a small group of fellow catechumens, in the large, octagonal baptistery behind Milan’s imposing Basilica Nova. The baptism itself, as well as the extensive instruction preceding and following it, was performed by another memorable historical figure: the tenacious and formidable bishop “Ambrose of Milan.” The relationship between these two towering figures of church history is the subject of Garry Wills’ Font of Life. Curiously, the relationship he describes was not based on personal affinity or compatibility of belief. Rather, according to Wills, the story of Ambrose and Augustine was “a tangled one, full of surprises,” a strange admixture of mystagogical initiation and retrospective invocation, deeply rooted in the nuances of early Christian liturgical practice and the conflicts of ecclesiastical politics. In this truly foreign context, Wills masterfully steers his historical reconstruction, artfully avoiding the twin shoals of reductive simplicity and overwhelming complexity by anchoring his narrative in the “sacred drama” of 4th-century baptism. In this, Wills does his readers a great service, bringing to life much of the ritual and symbolism surrounding the practice of late antique Christian initiation.
James J. O’Donnell has noted””at the outset of his three-volume commentary on Augustine’s Confessions””the lamentable tendency of most modern readers to anachronistically undervalue the “visceral reverence for cult that all late antique men and women felt.”[1] We undervalue cult, liturgy, and ritual, O’Donnell argues, both because of the prejudice of our time, which tends to purge these foreign elements from the beliefs of our spiritual forebears, and because of the paucity of remaining evidence for the specifics of these highly guarded practices. In the late 4th century, it was customary for the central liturgical act of Christian worship (the Eucharist) as well as for key pieces of Christian teaching (the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer) to be withheld from both non-Christians and catechumens, through a practice known as the disciplina arcani, the “discipline of the secret.” Even Augustine, recounting his own baptismal experience in the 9th book of his Confessions, avoids describing the rite itself, preferring instead to comment on how he was moved by the singing of hymns. As there is clear attestation that much of late antique Christian teaching and practice relied heavily upon these “oral” and “performative” traditions of liturgy and sacrament, all too often veiled in silence, the church historian is faced with the dilemma of trying to reconstruct the Christianity of this period while missing key pieces of the puzzle.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Baptism, Books, Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Lord George Carey's Sermon at the Ordination of Felix Smith

Yesterday, Felix, a special touch was felt by you as a number of us surrounded you and placed our hands on your head. If you have a recollection of someone pressing your ear, that was me! That moment of ordination was not a kind of mysterious masonic initiation ceremony but an incorporation in an apostolic calling that, wonderfully, takes us back to the very times of the Lord.

Just over fifty years ago, the great Austin Farrer, surely one of the greatest Anglican theologians of the 20th century, preached at the Ordination of a priest and used these words:

”˜Here before you is a new made priest; and what does he do? What place does he hold in the mighty purposes of God? The answer is before you. He is not special in himself, he is special because the sacraments are special. Apples don’t drop from the sky, they grow on apple trees. And sacraments don’t hurtle down here, they grow on the great planting tree of the Apostles’ ministry; the tree planted by Christ when he called twelve men and made them his ambassadors; a tree which has grown and spread and thrown its arms out through history. So, a priest is a living stem, bearing sacraments as its fruit, to give you the body and blood of Christ. And that’s not all, the man who bears the sacrament is sacramental himself. He is, one might almost say, a walking sacrament’.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sacramental Theology, Theology

The Archbishop of Canterbury's homily at baptism of HRH Princess Charlotte

Amongst Princess Charlotte’s own ancestors, now buried in the Holy Land, is a saint, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, whose life was one of transparent beauty and death one of beautiful courage and service. In her life she forgave the man who killed her husband. At her cruel murder she continued to care for those suffering with her. It is of such beauty that Jesus speaks when he talks of being great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Such beauty of character begins with baptism, and is established in the habits of following and loving Jesus Christ, habits to be learned from parents and God parents, and the whole community of the church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Baptism, Children, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Joel Miller–1 thing missing from our national conversation about marriage

Over the last several decades we’ve come to a different take on marriage, as part of a much larger cultural shift I discussed before. Marriage is now primarily a relationship for the betterment and self-fulfillment of two individuals. Two are stronger than one, after all. Together two individuals can better gratify each other’s desires and fulfill each others needs””right up until the moment they no longer seem able or willing, of course.

None of that is false, so far as it goes. But when you take this understanding of marriage and place it within the context of a self-indulgent culture like ours, you create marriages between two people looking to get the most out of the relationship for themselves. University of Virginia sociologist Sarah Corse and Harvard sociologist Jennifer Silva, for instance, describe the rise of “therapeutic” marriage, which centers on the “happiness, equality, mutuality, and self-actualization of individuals.”

When the individuals involved think they can get more for themselves outside the marriage, they cheat or just “consciously uncouple,” to use Gwyneth Paltrow’s morally beatific euphemism for divorce. “[W]e don’t divorce””or have affairs””because we are unhappy but because we could be happier,” explains therapist Esther Perel.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AI) TEC Bishops narrowly reject call to study question of Communion of the unbaptized

The House of Bishops has rejected the call to revisit the issue of allowing the non-baptized to receive Holy Communion. By a vote of 79 to 77 the bishops rejected Resolution C010 “Invite All to Holy Communion” which called for the creation and funding of a task force to study…[communion of the unbaptized].

During the afternoon session of the 7th legislative day on 30 June 2015 at the 78th General Convention meeting in Salt Lake City the House of Bishops took up three resolutions submitted for consideration by the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music.

Without debate the bishops endorsed Resolution A067 “Revise Book of Common Prayer for Revised Common Lectionary”, which calls for the church to use the lectionary found in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and not the Revised Common Lectionary for services during Holy Week.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Eucharist, General Convention, Sacramental Theology, TEC Bishops, Theology

Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison–Should we not say Christ our Passover was Sacrificed?

Why do many of our clergy, in the service of Holy Communion, change the words “is sacrificed” to “was sacrificed?” The short answer is that the word in question, etuthe, clearly means action completed in the past (was or has been). The phrase “is sacrificed” is a mistranslation of the Greek word. It appears only in the King James translation and is corrected by every translation since.

Read it all (page 15).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, --Book of Common Prayer, Eucharist, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(DM) Mother's fury at vicar who refused to baptise her baby son because she isn't married

A Christian mother has slammed a vicar who refused to baptise her nine-month-old son because she is not married to the baby’s father.

Heather Lawrence and her partner Jonathan, tried to arrange a service with Reverend Tim Hayes at St John’s Church in Dunkinfield, Manchester, but were told they could only have a blessing.

The couple, who have been in a relationship for four years, were shocked by the vicar’s refusal on the grounds that were not married.

The 30-year-old says the only reason they haven’t had a wedding is because they cannot afford one but had hoped to have baby Roman christened in order to be accepted into the church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Baptism, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Theology

(Diocese of London) Ro Willoughby–Welcome to the Banquet

It is a holy moment. It almost always is. At the heart of the worship area the long banqueting table, covered by a shimmering purple-blue cloth, is set. In the centre is the platter with a large flat loaf resting on a mound of red grapes.

Once the Eucharistic bread and wine have been consecrated, the children will flock to take their seats at the banquet. Each child will be given a hunk of loaf followed by a handful of grapes. They will be reminded by name that Jesus loves them, that he died for them, that he is with them always and everywhere.

The children are not receiving Holy Communion. They have not gone through a preparation course although at least once a year they all explore the meaning of Holy Communion. Their parents may stay with them if they are very young but this is essentially a ”˜children only’ experience. Prior to his retirement, Bishop Peter appreciated the banquet when he visited us.

The Eucharistic banquet is rich in symbolism and meaning for these children and for the whole church at St Paul’s Finchley. Let me explain!

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Eucharist, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology

A Pastoral Letter from the Bishop of Central Florida

Update: Note this letter has been updated with an addendum on May 12th
..Some will say that it is impossible for gay couples to fully assent to the baptismal covenant, especially the question “do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?” I wrestle with that as well. But I also know that the baptismal covenant is written in language so demanding that I am still discovering places in my life where I live below its demands. The renunciation of sinful desire is a daily discipline. The call for justice forces me not only to care about the plight of the least of these, but it also challenges me to face the places where injustice works to my economic and social advantage.

I know that for some, saying yes to this baptism feels like nothing more than pastoral logic, particularly when one starts with the spiritual needs of the child, regardless of the child’s family situation, and especially if the church is willing to take up her responsibility for spiritual formation. For others it feels like a betrayal of the Gospel and a capitulation on my part in my opposition to gay marriage in the church. Please know, for those on both sides of the gay marriage issue, that I have not changed- at all- my opposition to the church’s recognition of gay marriage as Holy Matrimony. I still believe, strongly, that civil gay unions do not conform to the Biblical definition of Holy Matrimony nor do they conform to the definition of Holy Matrimony found in our Book of Common Prayer.

Given our own brokenness as a people, it seems to me that none of us has the right to cast the first stone…

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Baptism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Pastoral Theology, Sacramental Theology, Theology

[ACI] Dr Ephraim Radner: Infant Baptism For A Modern Age

Having gay parents does not automatically preclude such a baptism at all. There are reasons a priest might decide to go forward with it, and I do not necessarily question colleagues who would come to this conclusion. However, it is also possible that discernment regarding the integrity of this baptismal act might yield another decision ”“ and that too must be acknowledged. But the new, thinner view of baptism, buttressed now by an ideological notion of baptism as an instrument of social legitimation for gay couples, seems to have made it morally inexcusable even to suggest that the church has an obligation to discern whether the child’s parents or sponsors properly understand and consent to the teaching of the church on behalf of the child, or whether there is a reasonable expectation that the child himself will be raised into a proper understanding of this faith and practice. This is deeply unfortunate, for it basically rules out reasoned commitment related to the doctrinal context of the church as essential elements of Christian existence. And it does so just at the time when these aspects are more important than ever as necessary aspects of Christian witness in the face of a rapidly expanding secular culture. Put another way: in our era of beleaguered Christian witness in the West, the practice of infant baptism bereft of a robust commitment to self-conscious discipleship and its formation is a recipe for ecclesial collapse.

Read it all

Posted in Baptism, Sacramental Theology, Theology

[ACI] Same Sex Marriage and Infant Baptism

Under the Anglican concept of “lex orandi, lex credendi” (the rule of prayer is the rule of faith) the public worship of the church is the teaching of the church. When a same sex couple (or an unmarried couple) present their child for baptism they are required to answer publicly the following question:

“Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?

I renounce them.”

This question and answer, as well as others in the baptismal covenant, unavoidably present the question of what the church’s teaching on sex outside traditional marriage really is. If the same sex or unmarried couple answers this question affirmatively, they and the officiant are publicly proclaiming that the teaching of the church does not consider their relationship sinful. Under the lex orandi standard, that is the teaching of the church.

Read it all

Posted in Baptism, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Statements Regarding the Resolution of the Situation in The Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida

[We ask that commenters respect the request of the Dean that “We ask that you respect the dignity of this process and refrain from destructive and inflammatory commentary” – The Elves]

[Update: The Rev Gary L’Hommedieu’s sermon on point ‘Love One Another As I Have Loved You’ [1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17] may be listened to here – from Sunday, May 10th]

Received via email from the Diocese of Central Florida

Please find attached statements from Bishop Brewer, the McCaffrey family and The Cathedral of St. Luke regarding the recent controversy surrounding the delayed baptism of Jackson McCaffrey, the infant adopted son of Rich and Eric McCaffrey.

There has been a lot of misinformation and speculation since this issue became public last Sunday. We hope these statements will largely put that to rest while healing and reconciliation move forward.

This is, at heart, a matter for the McCaffrey family, Dean Tony Clark and Bishop Brewer to resolve and reconcile. They are well along the way to doing just that.

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE CATHEDRAL

In recent days, the Cathedral Church of St. Luke has become embroiled in a media controversy regarding the baptism of a child of a gay couple.

The conjecture and speculation being circulated has contained inaccurate and false information regarding the series of events and interaction with the family.

It is with great care and concern that the Cathedral and the Diocese of Central Florida mutually address this situation with all dignity and respect for the family, the child and the congregation.

Baptism is a rite of new birth and new life in Christ. Parents, godparents and sponsors promise the child will be “brought up in the Christian faith and life” – taught the Gospel – so that the grace of baptism may be nurtured and strengthened by the faith of the family and by proper Christian instruction provided by the Church and at home.

It is important to note that the Dean and Cathedral have always intended to baptize this child. No one, including the Bishop, “denied” this baptism. We regret the delay, apologize for it and are working with his family on a revised date that will accommodate their schedule and respect the sacrament of Holy Baptism of their child. The family and the Dean are committed to restoring their pastoral relationship and their welcome into the life of the Cathedral with support from the Bishop. We ask that you respect the dignity of this process and refrain from destructive and inflammatory commentary.

In the meantime, the Cathedral is open and welcoming to all with the ultimate mission of leading people to Christ and transforming lives. We will continue to provide timeless truths to a changing world through the teachings and interpretation of the Gospel as Jesus instructed in the Great Commission. As a congregation we will support this family in their desire to raise their child in the Christian faith.

We ask for your prayers for the family, the child, the Cathedral and the congregation as we navigate through this process.

In Christ we stand united,

The Cathedral Church of St. Luke

Matthew 19:14
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

BISHOP BREWER’S STATEMENT ON HIS MEETING WITH THE McCAFFREYS

On the evening of May 7th, I met with Rich and Eric McCaffrey in my office. Our purpose was to get to know each other and talk through the events that occurred surrounding Dean Tony Clark’s decision to postpone the baptism of their son, Jack.

This was the first time the three of us had met. The conversation was open, warm, and frank. I prayed with and for the McCaffreys at the conclusion of our time together.

The McCaffreys indicated that they wanted to move forward with the baptism and for that baptism to take place at the Cathedral. They said they wanted to set a date for the baptism later in the summer “after the dust settles” so that the focus would be on the baptism and nothing else.

As I had just left a meeting of the leadership of the Cathedral, I brought to them the Cathedral’s desire for the McCaffreys to continue worshipping at the Cathedral and for the baptism to proceed there.

We talked about my being a part of the baptism and I told them I would be happy to do so. We look forward to celebrating Jack’s baptism at the Cathedral in the near future.

Blessings,
The Rt. Rev. Gregory O. Brewer
Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida

A STATEMENT FROM RICH AND ERIC McCAFFREY

Dear friends,

Less than a week ago I shared a very personal story about our son Jack’s baptism. Since then we have received an overwhelming response. Many have expressed disappointment, anger, and a lack of understanding about the situation that unfolded. However, the common thread is one of support from the community, including members of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke. Know that the support has been reaffirming and sustaining for both Eric and me as we contemplated how we want to proceed with the central issue, baptizing Jack.

Bishop Brewer extended an invitation to meet with us and we had the opportunity to speak with him yesterday evening. We spoke frankly and openly about the chain of events. The Bishop acknowledged he learned the Cathedral set a firm date of April 19 for the baptism, but did not support postponing the baptism. He genuinely wanted to learn about us and expressed his apologies for how it had been handled. Most importantly, he was clear he is supportive of Eric and I, two dads, baptizing our son at the Cathedral and offered to be a part of it.

We are appreciative and are looking forward to the baptism to take place this summer. At the same time we know on many fronts there is healing to be done which will take time. Some may question why we are choosing to return to the Cathedral. We are returning because we still have faith in the goodness of people, and we trust people have good intent and ultimately will do the right thing. This is not to say faith or trust should be given blindly, but there are moments when you must choose to rise above the fray and acknowledge you are part of something bigger.

I close with one more lesson for Jack ”“ Aspire to live your life with grace and forgiveness. You will be better for it.

Change is seldom easy. I thank each of you for listening to us, supporting us, and engaging in the conversation.

Rich McCaffrey

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Baptism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Pastoral Theology, Sacramental Theology, Theology

(LA Times+NBC) Gravity Payments CEO Slashes Pay to Raise Company 'Minimum Wage' to $70,000

Dan Price was about a mile into a Sunday hike on scenic Mt. Si when he knew what he had to do to change his life ”” and the lives of others.

His hiking partner and close friend had just been notified that her rent was going up. She had no idea how she would afford the extra couple hundred dollars a month on her salary as the hardworking manager of a luxury spa in pricey Puget Sound.

That’s when it hit him. Many of his own employees at Gravity Payments had similar money problems. He was making $1million a year, and the lowest-paid of his workers was averaging about $35,000.

So he decided he would cut his pay, first to $50,000, rising to $70,000 by the end of 2017.
CEO raises workers’ minimum pay to $70,000 a year

Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, reportedly stunned his employees with the announcement that workers’ minimum wage would rise over the next few years to $70,000.

That would make his compensation mirror his company’s lowest-paid employees ”” after he gave them generous raises.

Read it all and take the time to see this brief video report so you can see the worker’s reactions.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Sacramental Theology, Theology

(Guardian) Giles Fraser–I regret that the devil is being made redundant. He’ll be much missed

It’s one of the most famous scenes in cinema. “Michael Francis Rizzi, do you renounce Satan?” asks the priest. “I do renounce him,” replies Michael, straight-faced, knowing full well that his orders to murder Moe Greene, Emilio Barzini, Philip Tattaglia, Victor Stracci and Carmine Cuneo are being carried out at that very moment. A particularly over-the-top organ piece by Bach reaches its climax. “And all his works?” asks the priest. Michael repeats: “I do renounce them.” Brilliant stuff. And a perfect rendition of the moral/existential drama of baptism. It’s not just a little bit of genteel water-sprinkling. It’s not just a chance to get out that floral patterned dress and drink lukewarm cava with a few select friends. It’s a scary participatory drama of death and new life.

Unfortunately, however, the Church of England has just agreed to take the devil out of the baptism liturgy. “Those who work with young people give constant advice that references to the devil are likely to be misunderstood in today’s culture,” the Bishop of Truro told the Church of England’s General Synod this week. What a pity. I’m going to miss the devil and all his works. I always thought those passages rather importantly referenced that little bit of Michael Corleone in all of us. And by their omission, we are being taken still further along the road from baptism as an expression of the big themes of death and resurrection to baptism as a polite middle-class naming ceremony….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Baptism, Church of England (CoE), Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theodicy, Theology, Theology: Scripture