Category : Ministry of the Ordained
Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–There is therefore now no Condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8)
(Sermon starts about 22 minutes in).
I received an email last week that included a brief message that I’ve been ruminating on ever since. It was from an acquaintance of mine, Bishop James Wong, who is the Anglican Archbishop of the Indian Ocean. Let me share part of it with you.
“In three short months, just like He did with the plagues of Egypt, God has taken away everything we worship. God said, “You want to worship athletes, I will shut down the stadiums. You want to worship musicians, I will shut down Civic Centers. You want to worship actors, I will shut down theaters. You want to worship money, I will shut down the economy and collapse the stock market. You don’t want to go to church and worship Me, I will make it where you can’t go to church.”
I imagine he could have mentioned others: You want to worship health; I will empty your gyms and fill your hospitals. You want to worship recreation; I will close the Magic Kingdom and gate your parks. You want to worship travel and exotic places; I will dock your cruise liners and ground your planes. You want to indulge in the nightlife; I will close your restaurants and bars and shutter your cities.
Well that has the ring of truth to it—mostly! Yet not entirely. It could be understood to mean God sent this coronavirus as a judgement on the world. Yet I for one am not ready to say that. I am inclined to say it is a judgement upon our idols. It reveals to us how frail life can be and how vain at times our pursuits. You will remember the first two commandments of the Decalogue. “God spoke these words and said: I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods but me. You shall not make for yourself any idol.” The reformer John Calvin said, “The human heart is a factory for the making of idols.” When we give ourselves to idols, embracing God’s good gifts separate from Him they invariably turn empty and let us down—whether as individuals, communities, or even nations. “Claiming to be wise they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man….” (Romans 1:22-23)
— Kimberley Pfeiler (@CanonKimberley) June 27, 2017
Belfast man Christopher Gault left medicine to join the priesthood in 2014.
With the outbreak of coronavirus, he returned to work as a doctor for six weeks on the front line in Belfast’s Mater hospital.
Coronavirus: The priest treating patients during crisis https://t.co/psn8YqL986
— Rev’d Tim (@revdtim) July 5, 2020
About 150 preachers, rabbis and imams are promising to invoke Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass on July 4th as they call for the U.S. to tackle racism and poverty.
The religious leaders are scheduled this weekend to frame their sermons around “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” on the 168th anniversary of that speech by Douglass. The former slave gave his speech at an Independence Day celebration on July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York. The address challenged the Founding Fathers and the hypocrisy of their ideals with the existence of slavery on American soil.
The initiative to remember Douglass is led by the Poor People’s Campaign, a coalition of religious leaders seeking to push the U.S. to address issues of poverty modeled after Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last crusade.
“(The Declaration of Independence) was written mostly by Thomas Jefferson. Yet he owned hundreds of human beings, and enslaved them,” Rabbi Arthur Waskow plans to tell The Shalom Center in Philadelphia, according to prepared remarks. “The contradiction between his words and his actions has been repeated through all American history.”
Religious leaders to invoke Frederick Douglass on July 4th https://t.co/UXxU0AY85U
— news10nbc (@news10nbc) July 4, 2020
(Sermon starts at 20:26ish).
A Word of God for Thursday June 11th:
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Shout to the Lord all the earth,
ring out your joy
Psalm 97 pic.twitter.com/tDcTuXFvQW
— Johnny Doherty (@JohnnyDoherty3) June 10, 2020
It has been a very long and arduous process thus far, not only for me and my family, but for the entire Diocese of Albany and all those in the wider Body of Christ who have been following this case. Unfortunately, as just shared, it is not over. As Bishop, one of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of the situation we find ourselves in, is knowing that regardless of what action I took in response to General Convention Resolution B012, it would be seen as divisive, resulting in hurting, angry people being left in the wake
As the Bishop of Albany, I love and care deeply for all the people of this Diocese, even those who may have a different understanding than I do regarding same-sex marriage. I know there are people of good will on both sides of this issue, and that ultimately, we want the same thing – to know how best to show God’s love and minister to our Brothers and Sisters in Christ who have same-sex attractions. The problem is, we have a different understanding of how to go about it. May God give us the grace to figure it out as we work together, keeping Christ at the center of all that we do. My hope and prayer is that whatever the outcome of this Hearing / Trial, God will use it for His purposes and that He will be honored and glorified, and His Church and people be blessed.
Agravel road in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Thumps of artillery become background noise as units practice on the nearby range. A few wisecracks start off the morning, along with some last instructions before the ruck march. Then Cornelius Muasa’s voice rises over the soldiers’ to ask a blessing on their day’s tasks, the chaplain carefully articulating the English words that are challenging after his native Kenyan tongue of Kikamba.
Growing up as a stuttering pastor’s kid in Africa, Muasa never imagined he would one day be serving God in the American military. But the Lord led him from a Kenyan church to a United States seminary to discover a global calling and a burden for soldiers.
Muasa is one of many foreign-born evangelical chaplains whose experiences have equipped them to minister to the growing diversity of the US and the American military. Nineteen percent of US Army chaplains and 10 percent of Navy chaplains were born outside the US, according to military spokesmen (The Air Force did not respond to CT’s request for data). These include Buddhists from East Asia, Roman Catholics from Europe, Muslims from Africa, and many evangelical Christians like Muasa from around the world.
Diversity drew Muasa to this ministry, and it’s why he loves it. There are about 1.3 million active-duty personnel in the US military, and the service members are more diverse than they’ve ever been—16 percent black, 16 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Asian, and about 5 percent who are immigrants to America.
I think this is one of my favorite pieces we’ve published all year https://t.co/OqRFSaeAwV
— Morgan Pomaika’i Lee (@Mepaynl) June 12, 2020
(Telegraph) Row escalates between Christ Church Dean and dons as Oxford college tries to distance itself from McDonald Centre
An ongoing row between the Dean of Christ Church and Oxford University dons has escalated following the college’s attempts to distance itself from a theological foundation headed up by one of the Dean’s staunchest allies.
One of the university’s Chancellor has been asked to intervene after Christ Church insisted that The McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics & Public Life remove all references to Christ Church from its website, including the centre’s logo, which has the appearance of the college’s famous Tom Tower.
The centre is headed up by Professor Nigel Biggar, a vocal supporter of the Very Rev Martyn Percy, who presides over the prestigious college and the cathedral.
It comes after 41 members of Christ Church’s governing body wrote to the Charity Commission accusing Dr Percy of “unsound judgement” and “a consistent lack of moral compass” in a bid to have him removed from the Board of Trustees. They also accused him of breaching his legal, fiduciary and safeguarding duties and of leaking confidential material to the press.
.@ChCh_Oxford source tells @CamillaTominey: “The college doesn’t want anything to do with his centre.”
The deed states: “The Fund shall be administered by Christ Church”; “Christ Church..Trustee of the Funds”. It’s signed by a member of the Governing Body.https://t.co/QnYAy9FesR
— Adrian Hilton (@Adrian_Hilton) June 12, 2020
To stand in the breach, to kneel in the place prayer is to hold all of this in our hearts before God: the young marching in peaceful protest; a looter and burglar fleeing the scene of violence perpetrated by his companion in crime; and all the George Floyds and David Dorns of the world . It is not only to stand in the breach, it is to have one’s heart enlarged. In the words of Edwin Corley, intercession “… is the principle by which praying people allow their own spiritual hearts to become enlarged enough to take on [through prayer] the care of others.” To share in the compassion of Jesus Christ for this world where so many people are like sheep without shepherds. To ask God’s Spirit to address our own “…feelings that have become calloused and remote for most of the people around [us].” May God work in us a deep feeling of love and compassion for His people. So we lift up those suffering from the Covid-19; those working for a vaccine and cure; those burying their loved ones either from the pandemic, the street violence or the normal stuff of life; for those who have lost their business and jobs from quarantine or fire, rioting and looting; for those who continue to suffer the weight of racial injustice; for police officers who risk their lives in their daily round of duty; and those for whom the killing of George Floyd makes the world feel less safe. That may sound almost like a litany. It is—or at least a prayer list. We pray for the light of Christ to come into our darkened world, and after this week of prayer and fasting to show each of us what the next step is, so we might fulfill the promise of our Lord. “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
— Anglican Diocese of SC (@anglican_sc) March 18, 2020
While we can stream services, and are still able to help people through our food banks, most priests and churchgoers have been feeling impotent and frustrated over the last few months. Those feelings have bubbled over into anger about priests not being able to be in our church buildings, streaming from there rather than from our kitchen tables — as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, did on Easter Day.
This article is not about that debate, and indeed we are now back at our altars. Don’t get me wrong — it raised important questions, and I took part in it. It was however a brittle debate, with a lack of charity on both sides. And that is not the voice the country wanted or needed to hear in the midst of a national crisis. Rather than speaking to the nation, we spoke to ourselves. And that was a major failing as the established church. Job, early on in his proverbial sufferings, is told: “Your words have supported those who were stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed.” That is the Church of England right now.
The reason for our failure is a lack of confidence. We have so much to say at a time like this — about how to cope with death, how prayer can give structure to our days, about the nature of sacrifice for the good of one another, how love conquers death. We are saying these things in our parishes and putting it into action. But we shot ourselves in the foot when it came to the kind of spiritual guidance the country needed. Some were saying those things, including Justin Welby, but they weren’t heard because of the white noise we were also producing by our internal fractiousness.
The Church of England faltered when our country needed spiritual guidance | London Evening Standard https://t.co/wMEOYNnzxa
— Giles Fraser (@giles_fraser) June 9, 2020
Beyond the glass lay a man, unconscious in the electric blue light, shrouded in tubes. His family was not allowed to visit. His body could not be touched.
Father Ryan Connors stood at the door watching, his Roman collar barely visible beneath his face shield.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, he had gone to the bedsides of Covid-19 patients across the Boston area to perform one of the oldest religious rituals for the dying: the Roman Catholic practice commonly called last rites.
For centuries, priests have physically anointed the dying with oil to heal body and soul, if not in this life, in the next. Many Catholics have spent their entire lives trusting that in their most difficult hours a priest, and through him God, would come to their aid.
On this Tuesday morning, in the intensive care unit at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, west of the city, all that Father Connors knew about the patient was his name, and that his family had called for a priest.
He had a clear plastic bag with a cotton ball containing a few drops of holy oil. He carried a photocopy of pages from a liturgical book.
At 10:18 a.m., he slid open the door. He walked over to the bed, careful to avoid the tubes on the ground.
He stretched out his hand, and began to pray….
Jesuit Brian Conley SJ quoted in NY Times article “The Last Anointing” about the importance of the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick to Catholic COVID patients and the challenges faced by hospital chaplains during the pandemic. https://t.co/vKHdmfP2Fg pic.twitter.com/3WD4CgadSA
— Jesuits West (@jesuitswest) June 8, 2020
Bishop Mark Lawrence offers some Thoughts on our Current Cultural Moment of National Unrest–Groanings too Deep for Words
Please keep the family and loved ones of the Very Rev. Dr. Peter Moore, Director of the Anglican Leadership Institute, in your prayers. Peter died on the Eve of Pentecost, May 30, following a battle with cancer. Details for a service have not yet been announced.
The following is a message from the Rev. Al Zadig, Rector of St. Michael’s Church Charleston, where Peter served as Scholar-in-Residence.
Saying Goodbye to a Hero
Just minutes after our Annual Meeting/Festival of Faith on Zoom today, I received word that our Scholar in Residence and dear friend the Rev. Dr. Peter Moore had died. My brothers and sisters in Christ, we lost a hero of faith this weekend. A hero of the faith who always stood for the bedrock truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the foundation of Scripture against all odds, powers and principalities.
In addition to writing books, pastoring, and leading, Peter poured his life into the ancient art of mentoring the generations. Whether students at FOCUS (Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools), Trinity School for Ministry, St. Michael’s Church, or the Bishops and clergy of the Anglican Leadership Institute, he loved coming alongside to make disciples!
I therefore marvel at the fact that Peter died on the eve of Pentecost. Why? He simply lived and breathed through the power of the Holy Spirit. I know we all have our Peter Stories, but I especially remember that when he first came to St. Michael’s he would walk around with the pictorial directory of the parish just so he could memorize all your names and pictures! He had that kind of love for you!
While Peter’s obituary is being prepared as I write this, I just wanted you to know now so you can be praying for Peter’s wife Sandra as well. Funeral plans are being arranged and the service will take place at St. Michael’s Church at a date and time to be announced. In the meantime dear brothers and sisters, please pray with me:
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Peter. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive Peter into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.
The Rev. Alfred T. K. Zadig, Jr
St Michael’s Church
— Bishop Steve Wood (@revstevewood) October 7, 2014
Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon for Pentecost 2020–What does it mean to live as a believer in the Holy Spirit, the Lord the giver of life (Acts 2:1-11)?
The sermon starts at about 23:57.
Choirstall woodcarving of the Pentecost. Cathédrale d”Amiens, 1508-1519. pic.twitter.com/uAoe519pbW
— Ian St. (@IanStFrance) May 31, 2020
(Independent) James Pacey–‘I’m a hospital chaplain working during the coronavirus crisis – it’s the funerals that are the hardest’
There is no typical day in the life of a vicar. Before the pandemic, an average day might consist of morning prayer, a midweek eucharist service, catching up with emails, visiting our community café, doing some admin, going on home visits and a meeting or two in the evening. Vicars are often described as being “paid not to work” – what that means is, although you might have a lot on, you’re available and around. You should never be too “busy” for people – I think that’s a damaging, corporate word.
Since the pandemic, the workload has been consistent, but different. At the moment, my time is split between three days in the parish and three days across two hospitals in Nottingham. I can’t physically be with my congregation right now, but all of the admin, preparation for worship, meetings and pastoral stuff goes on – it’s just moved online. I’ve had to become an expert in livestreaming and Zoom, which takes time, and mentally it takes up a lot more headspace. Celebrating the eucharist from behind the altar and looking out at loads of empty seats is still a very odd thing.
One of the things I’m finding most difficult is that I love people and I love being alongside them – to physically not be with them during this time is hard. I’m also careful to protect my own mental health: when you’re in the parish or the vicarage, you feel like you’re always “on”, but vicars are also human. In the past I’d disappear into town if I needed a break, settle into a coffeeshop and write my sermon; just being in a different place was mentally uplifting. Now, that’s not possible.
But it’s strange; even though we’re far apart, we’ve never felt so united as a congregation.
I’m a hospital chaplain working during the coronavirus crisis – it’s the funerals that are the hardest https://t.co/WAM2OyFNCb
— The Independent (@Independent) May 28, 2020
Pastor Dwight Nelson Preaches for an Ascension Sunday Joint Service with Wesley United Methodist Church+Christ Saint Paul’s
A vicar has been appointed as the next Archdeacon of Durham.
The Right Reverend Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham has said Revd Canon Libby Wilkinson will take on the role as well as becoming Director of Mission, Discipleship and Ministry for the Diocese.
She was ordained in Durham in 2005 after training for ordination at NEOC and served her curacy in Harlow Green and Lamsley in Gateshead before becoming Priest in Charge at St Barnabas, Burnmoor.
She then became Vicar of Bishopwearmouth St Gabriel’s, Sunderland in 2016 and was made a non-residentiary Canon of Durham Cathedral in 2019.
Diocese appoints vicar as the new Archdeacon https://t.co/yIz6zA9g1F
— Diocese of Durham (@DioceseofDurham) May 20, 2020
This [past] week, nearly all U.S. church leaders (96%) express confidence in their church’s survival rate despite current disruptions. A quarter (25%) is confident, with another seven in 10 (71%) stating they are “very” confident in this scenario. Three percent remain unsure, and a single percent doubts their church doors will reopen again.
What makes the majority of pastors so sure their church will reopen again? Three in five (60%) believe their people are excited and anxious to return to church. One-quarter attributes this confidence to their current financial standing, with 21 percent saying their finances have remained stable during the crisis and another 4 percent voicing optimism that their finances will recover. One in 10 (11%) believes that God will not allow their church to close.
On churches re-opening, “ I’m encouraging church leaders to do, especially smaller churches, is to find out what your peers are doing in other churches.” – Thom Rainer https://t.co/uwtwCH5v5I
— Barna Group (@BarnaGroup) May 18, 2020
The dangers to be avoided: (i) Secularization. A clergyman may become secular by giving too much time to the study and discussion of great social problems, and also by throwing himself too freely into superficial society life. (2) He is in danger from over-occupation. Often he would do more if he did less. (3) He is in danger from depression. This may arise from lack of bodily health, or from a mind wearied by long, uninterrupted tension, or from a lack of money; and,
whatever be its cause, it unfits a minister for his great duties, and sometimes ends in despondency, which, someone has said, “is self-confidence which has failed.”
Bishop Steve Wood was released from the hospital following 10 days on a ventilator amidst treatment for COVID-19. An otherwise healthy man in his 50s who had not before been hospitalized, Wood is far from the image of elderly or medically compromised patients we regularly read about in the news.
The rector of St. Andrew’s Church and bishop for the Anglican Diocese of the Carolinas shares with the Institute on Religion & Democracy’s Jeff Walton about what sustained him during a period of intensive care, ongoing recovery and God bringing “beauty from ashes.”
Take the time to watch it all (just under 18 minutes).
“I don’t believe that God promises to spare his people from these kinds of things,” @revstevewood says after 10 days on a ventilator. “Paul tells us in Romans that God’s ways are inscrutable … there are times when we have experiences of severe mercy” https://t.co/lluClj8ise
— Jeff Walton (@jeffreyhwalton) May 11, 2020
In his five years as a hospital chaplain, the Rev Steven Chewning has anointed the sick more times than he can remember.
The ritual of applying oil to the forehead of someone ill or dying is considered one of the most intimate of Christian sacraments. But when Covid-19 restricted Chewning’s access and left him working from home, a family’s request to anoint a young father who was intubated and critical forced him to get creative. While performing the rite over speakerphone with the help of a nurse (who is an atheist), Chewning found himself not only reimagining his own duties, but the very conception of holy space.
From his bedroom, the chaplain recited his litany, reading from James 5 and Mark 6, where Jesus first sends his disciples to anoint the sick. “O Holy One, giver of health and salvation, send your holy spirit to sanctify this oil,” he prayed, his words ringing over the drone of the ventilator. “As your holy apostles anointed many who were sick so may those who in faith receive this holy unction be made whole. Can you please rub a drop of oil on the patient’s forehead?”
“You want me to make it like a cross? I think that’d be meaningful.”
“Yeah, sure, if you don’t mind.”
“Like the ancient Israelites who carried God in a tent while they wandered through the wilderness, chaplains are having to find God in unexpected places.” @bryanmealer @guardian #COVID19 https://t.co/Xkr9EuO811
— Kristin Collier (@KristinCollie20) May 6, 2020
(Church Times) Clergy tell of the effects of the ‘unknown enemy’ for people with mental-health problems
People who are used to being in control are among those most affected by the stress of the coronavirus lockdown: they can feel helpless in the face of a problem that they cannot deal with, a psychotherapist and studies have said.
One priest who works as a group analytic psychotherapist, the Revd Dr Anne Holmes, said that the “underlying angst is a very hard thing for people who are normally high-functioning. Adjusting puts a strain on them.” Describing the virus as the “unknown enemy”, she continued: “Because everyone is aware this is a unique situation and unknown to our usual living experiences, people with important positions have tended to downgrade themselves and might not be asking for help for themselves because it is not important in the great range of things.
“Those whose identity is tied up with being the one in charge are at risk of grandiosity and are likely to falter when faced with a situation over which they have no control.”
She compared the current crisis to her experiences as an army wife living in Belfast during the Troubles. “In Ireland, you got used to checking the car and having your handbag searched. You knew what you were dealing with. The difficulty with this is that it could be anywhere, on anything. People even worry about their shopping.”
Church leaders tell of the effects of the ‘unknown enemy’ for people with mental-health problems https://t.co/Gb3451t46e
— Ian Beckett (@ian_beckett) May 1, 2020
“And it happened that, while [Jesus] was with [the two disciples] at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.” (Lk 24:30-31)
Supper at Emmaus by Rembrandt. pic.twitter.com/6wCmbcu64r
— Christian Culture (@Christian8Pics) April 24, 2019
In consultation with Bishop Lawrence and the Wardens, we agreed to delay the announcement while so much was unknown. Although our current situation still has many question marks, the initial shock of COVID-19 has past, and it remains uncertain when we shall re-gather. Again, in consultation with wise counsel, I have decided to invite you into
the midst of this journey we are on as a family. We would appreciate your love and prayers as we walk into a new season with plenty of unknowns.
If you have limited experience with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) as I did, you should know that Parkinson’s is a neuron-condition which affects the brains dopamine-producing cells. Thislack of dopamine causes a myriad of fairly unpredictable symptoms in the bodies of those afflicted. PD is a “snowflake disease” with no set pattern of symptoms and no known cause or cure. Statistically, I am slightly young to have PD with the average age of onset being 55.Because of the advances in treatment, PD does not generally shorten one’s lifespan.
My prognosis in the near term (10 years+) is good. I have been on a medicine and exercise regimen since January that has produced some very good results….
The Rector of Saint Helena’s, Beaufort, writes the parish he serves about his medical situation https://t.co/GBYCr513hf #parishministry #family #marriage #children #health #southcarolina #anglican pic.twitter.com/sbyZyDT4Ka
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) April 23, 2020
([London] Times) St Bride’s priest who stayed to serve during Great Plague is my inspiration to hope
In recent days I have found myself thinking a great deal about Richard Peirson.
In 1665, the year of the Great Plague, Peirson was the priest here at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, the post that I now hold. Faced with the unimaginable horror of the plague, many clergy fled London. Peirson was one of the few who chose to remain. He stayed at his post, faithfully serving his people as best he could, for the whole of that terrible year.
Our burial register for the year 1665 makes for startling reading. Our parish was a densely populated area and the impact of the plague was devastating. In the month of September alone, when the plague was at its height, Peirson buried 636 people — 43 of them on a single day. There are so many burials that he signs his name at the bottom of each page of the register, rather than against individual entries. He buries whole families; he buries his church officials; he buries unknown and unidentified strangers: some entries read simply: “A child from Kingshead Ally” or “A man from new street”. The symptoms of bubonic plague were horrific and the recovery rate was effectively nil.
I can’t help wondering how Peirson kept going during that year. I wonder what he prayed about and how it affected his faith; I wonder what kept him here, quietly and steadfastly ministering to his flock, day after dreadful day, when every human instinct within him must have craved escape. And Peirson was not alone….
Read it all (subscription).