Listen to it all. Please note there are audio and video options and it can be downloaded. Be forewarned–it is NOT light bedtime listening–KSH.
Category : * Christian Life / Church Life
Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon at Saint Helen’s, Bishopsgate: Wrestling with the biblical doctrine of hell
Listen to it all. Please note there are audio and video options and it can be downloaded. Be forewarned–it is NOT light bedtime listening–KSH.
Earlier in the Conference, Archbishop Ben had shared more of his background. His father had been brought to Christ and mentored by young missionaries from England, who made huge sacrifices by journeying to Nigeria in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of them died there, some within weeks of arrival; their love for the Lord and for the people made a huge impression on Kwashi senior and his son Ben who became an Archbishop and now General Secretary of Gafcon. “The gospel is the means of saving the world, and God has put it in our hands”, he said. “We must pass it on to the next generation with joy and conviction, hot and fresh”.
This for Kwashi is the central driving motivation for Gafcon. In the churches of the West, theological debate about the essentials of Christianity was “watering down the gospel, destroying faith, taking the church captive”. Gafcon as a series of conferences and a global movement has re-established faithful Anglicanism and provided structures for it to continue and thrive. Anglican groupings have emerged, clearly separated from ‘official’ structures which have embraced heresy, such as the thriving Church in North America, and now new initiatives in New Zealand, Scotland and Brazil. In Africa, those with an anti-gospel agenda “use money to play with people’s lives”, Kwashi warned, but those who identify with Gafcon “are not willing to be sold”.
The theme of the Renew Conference, attended by nearly 500 people from 270 churches, was “multiplying ministries in the light of eternity”. Certainly Ben Kwashi’s ministry in Nigeria, and his current additional responsibilities with Gafcon exemplify this. The truths of the future coming of Christ, and the destiny of all human beings, as a comfort for believers and motivation for mission were outlined in Bible expositions by other speakers. “We can cope with suffering, but not hopelessness”, said Andy Mason, reminding us from the gospel of Luke that the King has come, the King will come, it will be a shock, and we are told how to prepare. A particularly excellent systematic treatment of the subject of hell by Kendall Harmon from the ACNA Diocese of South Carolina explained why and how the loss of this uncomfortable teaching in churches has coincided with the rise of secularism in society, and how recovering a sober and biblical understanding of judgement is vital for the evangelistic project founded on love and concern for the lost.
Revive thy Church, Lord God of hosts, whensoever it doth fall into complacency and sloth, by raising up devoted leaders, like thy servant John Henry Hobart whom we remember this day; and grant that their faith and vigor of mind may awaken thy people to thy message and their mission; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Today the Episcopal Church commemorates John Henry Hobart, Bishop of New York, 1830 pic.twitter.com/s7R5RcQSMq
— Anglican Church SPB (@anglicanspb) September 12, 2014
— Rob Szczerba (@RJSzczerba) September 11, 2018
On Monday this week, the last of the 343 firefighters who died on September 11th was buried. Because no remains of Michael Ragusa, age 29, of Engine Company 279, were found and identified, his family placed in his coffin a very small vial of his blood, donated years ago to a bone-marrow clinic. At the funeral service Michael’s mother Dee read an excerpt from her son’s diary on the occasion of the death of a colleague. “It is always sad and tragic when a fellow firefighter dies,” Michael Ragusa wrote, “especially when he is young and had everything to live for.” Indeed. And what a sobering reminder of how many died and the awful circumstances in which they perished that it took until this week to bury the last one.
So here is to the clergy, the ministers, rabbis, imams and others, who have done all these burials and sought to help all these grieving families. And here is to the families who lost loved ones and had to cope with burials in which sometimes they didn’t even have remains of the one who died. And here, too, is to the remarkable ministry of the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, who played every single service for all 343 firefighters who lost their lives. The Society chose not to end any service at which they played with an up-tempo march until the last firefighter was buried.
On Monday, in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, the Society therefore played “Garry Owen” and “Atholl Highlander,” for the first time since 9/11 as the last firefighter killed on that day was laid in the earth. On the two year anniversary here is to New York, wounded and more sober, but ever hopeful and still marching.
–First published on this blog September 11, 2003
Just 3 days after #September11, @BillyGraham offered this message to a shocked nation. “My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and that as we trust in Him we will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us.” https://t.co/127Juhe8yF
— BGEA (@BGEA) September 11, 2019
President and Mrs. Bush, I want to say a personal word on behalf of many people. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this day of prayer and remembrance. We needed it at this time.
We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious, or political background may be. The Bible says that He’s the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles. No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September eleven will go down in our history as a day to remember.
Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God. Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.
We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We’re facing a new kind of enemy. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God. The Bible words are our hope: God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have. We’ve seen so much on our television, on our ”” heard on our radio, stories that bring tears to our eyes and make us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.
But what are some of the lessons we can learn? First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a mystery. In 1st Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Who can understand it?” He asked that question, ‘Who can understand it?’ And that’s one reason we each need God in our lives.
The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but secondly it’s a lesson about our need for each other. What an example New York and Washington have been to the world these past few days. None of us will ever forget the pictures of our courageous firefighters and police, many of whom have lost friends and colleagues; or the hundreds of people attending or standing patiently in line to donate blood. A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart. But instead it has united us, and we’ve become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way; it’s back lashed. It’s backfired. We are more united than ever before. I think this was exemplified in a very moving way when the members of our Congress stood shoulder to shoulder the other day and sang “God Bless America.”
Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope–hope for the present, and hope for the future. Yes, there is hope. There’s hope for the present, because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way. But there’s also hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I hope not for just this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And many of those people who died this past week are in heaven right now. And they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s so glorious and so wonderful. And that’s the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in your heart.
This event reminds us of the brevity and the uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if even one those people who got on those planes, or walked into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon last Tuesday morning thought it would be the last day of their lives. It didn’t occur to them. And that’s why each of us needs to face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God and His will now.
Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us symbols of the cross. For the Christian–I’m speaking for the Christian now–the cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering. For He took upon himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, our sins and our suffering. And from the cross, God declares “I love you. I know the heart aches, and the sorrows, and the pains that you feel, but I love you.” The story does not end with the cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil, and death, and hell. Yes, there’s hope.
I’ve become an old man now. And I’ve preached all over the world. And the older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago, and proclaimed it in many languages to many parts of the world. Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, Ambassador Andrew Young, who had just gone through the tragic death of his wife, closed his talk with a quote from the old hymn, “How Firm A Foundation.” We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations, were examples of the prosperity and creativity of America. When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet underneath the debris is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth of that old hymn that Andrew Young quoted: “How firm a foundation.”
Yes, our nation has been attacked. Buildings destroyed. Lives lost. But now we have a choice: Whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people, and a nation, or, whether we choose to become stronger through all of the struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we’re in the process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. That’s what this service is all about. And in that faith we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we’ve experienced this week.
This has been a terrible week with many tears. But also it’s been a week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called prayer meetings. And today is a day that they’re celebrating not only in this country, but in many parts of the world. And the words of that familiar hymn that Andrew Young quoted, it says, “Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed for I am thy God and will give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upon “thy righteous, omnipotent hand.”
My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him. We also know that God is going to give wisdom, and courage, and strength to the President, and those around him. And this is going to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory. May God bless you all.
This site is intended as a place to remember and celebrate the lives of those lost on September 11, 2001. It includes Guest Books and profiles for each of those lost.
The Legacy Website for September 11, 2001–well worth yr time to explore thoroughly today #NeverForget911 #september11th #September11 (N Harmon photo) #911Neverforget #911Memorial #history #terrorism #death #usa https://t.co/DnUf7QlLnp … #NYC #Pentagon #shanksville pic.twitter.com/9eypf031If
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) September 11, 2019
Almighty God, the past year will be indelibly inscribed in our memories.
We looked with horror on the terrorist attacks of last September 11th.
But we looked with honor on acts of courage by ordinary people
who sacrificed themselves to prevent further death and destruction.
We shed our tears in a common bond of grief for those we loved and lost.
We journeyed through a dark valley, but your light has led us to a place of hope.
You have turned our grief into determination.
We are resolved to do what is good, and right, and just.
Help us to remember what it means to be Americans””
a people endowed with abundant blessings.
Help us to cherish the freedoms we enjoy and inspire us to stand
with courage, united as one Nation in the midst of any adversity.
Lord, hear this prayer for our Nation. Amen.
— Shelby Twp PD (@ShelbyTwp911) September 11, 2019
God, our strong deliverer: We bless thy Name for the grace given to Harry Thacker Burleigh, who didst lift up in song the struggles of thy people. Let that Spirit of love which spurred him draw us and thy whole Church to raise our distinct voices into one great harmony of praise; through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Wednesday we remember Harry Thacker Burleigh, Composer, 1949. Burleigh, an American singer, composer, and arranger, did more than anyone else up to his time to make available the riches of the American Negro spiritual to vast audiences. pic.twitter.com/UqhWQbWrkN
— Louisville Cathedral (@ChristChurchLou) September 10, 2019
Almighty God and Father who wills that people may flourish and have abundance of life, be with us especially on this day when we remember such destruction, darkness, devastation, death and terror; help us to honor the memory of those whose lives were utterly cut short, and to believe that you can make all things new, even the most horrible things. Redeem and heal, O Holy Spirit, grant us perspective, humility, light, trust and grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Never Forget. 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/hGdxCApH5B
— Edoardo Fanfani (@EdoardoFanfani) September 11, 2018
Wilson shared openly about his own mental health challenges in his most recent book, Love Is Oxygen: How God Can Give You Life and Change Your World, and blog posts. He blogged earlier this summer that he had dealt with “severe depression throughout most of my life and contemplated suicide on multiple occasions.”
On social media, he regularly encouraged others dealing with similar challenges with messages like, “I’m a Christian who also struggles with depression. This exists, and it’s okay to admit it.”
Breaking down the stigma of mental illness is one of the goals of Anthem of Hope, the nonprofit the pastor founded with his wife, Juli, in 2016. Anthem of Hope creates resources for the church to assist those dealing with depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide.
Eaton said Wilson wanted to especially help those who were dealing with suicidal thoughts.
“Tragically, Jarrid took his own life,” Eaton said.
“Over the years, I have found that people speak out about what they struggle with the most,” Eaton added.
— Christianity Today (@CTmagazine) September 10, 2019
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant Alexander Crummell, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to those who were far off and to those who were near. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land evangelists and heralds of thy kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
— Black Then (@4BlackThen) January 23, 2016
Almighty and everlasting God, by whose grace we have been admitted into the glory of the new covenant: Grant, we beseech thee, that being delivered from the death of sin and the bondage of the law, we may rejoice in the life and liberty of the Spirit, and evermore find our sufficiency in thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Mediation Between the Historic Diocese of South Carolina and the new TEC Diocese has been rescheduled for September 26th
We give thee thanks and praise, O God of compassion, for the heroic witness of Constance and her companions, who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for the sick and the dying, and loved not their own lives, even unto death. Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.
— Christ Church (@ChristChurchPhx) September 9, 2016
O Gracious God, whose blessed Son set forth thy love towards mankind, in his miracles of healing and mercy, making both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak: Grant that our ears may be opened to thy Word, and our tongues loosed to proclaim it to others, and to further the spreading of thy gospel among all nations; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
A year after my brother’s death, I returned as a guest to our family home. I stayed in my childhood bedroom, but my relationship to this room and my old house had begun to change. From the bedroom window, I looked out over the front fields and gardens and realized that it was just a matter of time before the maintenance of this house and grounds would require too much expense and sheer physical labor for my sister-in-law to manage. Eventually she would be forced to sell it, probably to developers. We dreaded the idea that they would probably tear it down, divide up the land, and build houses one after another on this special spot. Now memories of growing up in this home feel more precious than ever, as I am conscious of how my separation from this family home has begun.
I also returned as a guest to another building: the church sanctuary in which I once served. Returning after eight months, I was still in a fallow time, waiting for a new season in which to balance my vocational gifts. Faith leaders from the past 15 years were invited to join together for community worship and thanksgiving. Their new pastor graciously invited me to speak at the service.
This was the first time I had returned to the pulpit since Christmas Day 2016. I felt close to tears as I looked out over a large gathering. As I spoke, I sensed that I was beginning to let go of a deep sense of loss of my role in this church. While my role had changed, my pastoral identity was still alive and strong. I remembered in those moments that pastoral identity was not limited to a role or roles in a church, but rather, it is a way of life, a way of thinking about life.
I felt as if I were standing with Moses before a burning bush, with my shoes off, when Moses asked, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11). God replied, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on the mountain” (v. 12). Moses was promised God’s presence through whatever trials he might encounter, but he was not exempt from the changes and separations that he would have to endure. Could I ask for more than Moses? After eight long months, it was time to put on my shoes again.
What people will never tell you about the pain of losing a churchhttps://t.co/DB7xVUh2uK
— Christianity Today (@CTmagazine) September 8, 2019
O Almighty God, who hast revealed thyself in him who veiled his Godhead that he might unveil thy glory, and hast made him the eternal sacrifice and only priest of men: Grant that by the power of thy Holy Spirit the veil on our hearts may be taken away, and we may look on him who loved us and gave himself for us, and so be changed into the same image from glory to glory, until at last we shall see him with unveiled face, for evermore.
O God the Father of boundless mercy, whose handmaiden Kassiani brought forth poetry and song: Inspire in thy church a new song, that following her most excellent example, we may boldly proclaim the truth of thy Word, even Jesus Christ, our Savior and Deliverer, who with the Holy Spirit lives and reigns with you forever and ever. Amen (slightly ed.).
— Mystagogy (@mystagogy1) September 7, 2018
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst humble Thyself to become man, and to be born into the world for our salvation: teach us the grace of humility, root out of our hearts all pride and haughtiness, and so fashion us after Thy holy likeness in this world, that in the world to come we may be made like unto Thee; for Thine own Name’s and mercies’ sake.
–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)
Yesterday’s first hymn, For All The Saints, was written by William Walsham How, Bishop of Wakefield. He began his ministry in #Shropshire & his one-time family home, Nearwell, was demolished to build #Shrewsbury‘s Shirehall pic.twitter.com/BFKcJcjSxh
— St Margarets Betton Strange (@StMargBettonStr) November 5, 2018
Last month, I was in a room in Central Pennsylvania with North American leaders and kingdom practitioners from around the country for a retreat. After lunch we centered our conversation around this question:
“Where is the Church in North America heading and what are the implications?”
For those who know me, you know I am passionate about discussing a great question. And this certainly is a significant one.
Many missiologists, theologians and scholars believe the Global Church is becoming more diverse and moving south (that is, the center of Christianity is no longer in North America, but its greatest movement is in the Southern Hemisphere, particularly South America and the southern part of the continent of Africa.)
But what about North America? What does the future of the Church look like here? Well, we don’t know for sure, but we are seeing it become more diverse (ethnic, racial, gender, etc.), more urban, and more post-Christian/postmodern. With all this as the foundation, we dug deeper. We broke down our answers into three categories:
Sociological (what does this mean for how we interact with others)
Ecclesiological (what does this mean for the Church and localized churches)
Missiological (what does this mean in how we join with God and His mission)
Here is what we surmised for each category….:
Gathered with leaders from around the country around this question this morning: “Where is the Church in North America heading and what are the sociological, ecclesiological and missiological implications?”
Utterly fascinating, enlightening, exciting and hopeful. pic.twitter.com/lnuJiTJfnU
— J.R. Briggs (@jr_briggs) July 11, 2019
Hundreds of clergy are in financial hardship, with some resorting to credit cards or even a high-interest payday lender, despite the Church of England sitting on a multibillion-pound investment fund.
Some vicars are tens of thousands of pounds in debt, with many struggling to survive – especially those supporting families – and relying on charity handouts to make ends meet, the Guardian has learned.
Clergy Support Trust – a centuries-old charity which supports destitute Anglican vicars, assistant or associate priests, curates-in-training and chaplains – gave £1.8m worth of grants to 459 clergy last year.
Analysis last year found that 217 individuals who had applied to the charity for help had personal unsecured debts of £5,000 or more, totalling nearly £3m. The figures, based on a combination of grant application data over a 20-month period, do not include mortgages or student loans. Of the 217, 41% had debts of between £5,000 and £10,000, 44% between £10,000 and £20,000, and 15% over £20,000. Four applicants had debts in excess of £50,000.
Exclusive: Hundreds of clergy in financial hardship with some forced to resort to desperate measures such as using high-interest payday lender or racking up credit card bills – despite the Church of England sitting on a multi-billion pound investment fund. https://t.co/FnrFEa6FAX
— Simon Murphy (@murphy_simon) September 6, 2019
Imagine yourself seated at a fashionable London dinner party in 1789.
The women are wearing hoops several feet wide, their hair dressed nearly as high and adorned with fruit or feathers. In between hips and hair, bosoms overspill. The men sport powdered hair, ruffled shirts, embroidered waistcoats, wool stockings, and buckled shoes. Politeness and manners reign around a table laden with delicate, savory dishes.
As guests wait for the after-dinner wine to arrive, a handsome but demure woman pulls a pamphlet from the folds of her dress. “Have you ever seen the inside of a slave ship?” she asks the natty gentleman seated next to her. She proceeds to spread open a print depicting the cargo hold of the Brookes slave ship. With meticulous detail, the print shows African slaves laid like sardines on the ship’s decks, each in a space so narrow, they can’t lay their arms at their sides. The print will become the most haunting image of the transatlantic slave trade””as well as a key rhetorical device used to stop it.
The woman sharing it is Hannah More.
— Karen Swallow Prior (@KSPrior) February 3, 2016
Almighty God, whose only-begotten Son led captivity captive: Multiply among us faithful witnesses like thy servant Hannah More, who will fight for all who are oppressed or held in bondage; and bring us all, we pray, into the glorious liberty that thou hast promised to all thy children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
— Geri Walton (@18thCand19thC) February 17, 2019
O God, who hast taught us the joy of serving thee and hast given us an earnest of the peace that passeth understanding, fill us also with righteous discontent, that we may never be perfectly at rest while injustice is done to thy people and thy children cry out in anguish; grant us so to desire thy Kingdom, as a pearl of great price, that the signs of its coming may be seen upon earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Watch it all.