Category : * Christian Life / Church Life

(AP) ‘Sheltering wings:’ Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston’s memorial plan conveys solace

Church officials unveiled detailed plans Sunday afternoon for the permanent tribute designed by the architect behind the 9/11 Memorial in New York. The announcement, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the church known as “Mother Emanuel,” will be followed by a push to raise the money needed to build the memorial and prayer garden.

Church officials say the design conveys both solace and resiliency. A marble fountain with carvings of the victims’ names will be flanked by curved stone benches that rise above visitors’ heads and cradle the space “like sheltering wings,” according to a news release.

“When you walk into the memorial, it’s going to give you the feeling of being embraced, just embraced with warmth,” said City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie, a church trustee who lost a loved one in the June 2015 attack.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

A recent Kendall Harmon Sermon: Living as a Christian with suffering and Weakness (2 Corinthians 12)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

Nathan Barontini–The Three Advents of Christ in Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

From here:

We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible, while the other two are visible. In the first coming he was seen on earth, dwelling among men; he himself testifies that they saw him and hated him. In the final coming all flesh will see the salvation of our God, and they will look on him whom they pierced. The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In his first coming our Lord came in our flesh and in our weakness; in this middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty.

In case someone should think that what we say about this middle coming is sheer invention, listen to what our Lord himself says: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him. There is another passage of Scripture which reads: He who fears God will do good, but something further has been said about the one who loves, that is, that he will keep God’s word. Where is God’s word to be kept? Obviously in the heart, as the prophet says: I have hidden your words in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.

Keep God’s word in this way. Let it enter into your very being, let it take possession of your desires and your whole way of life. Feed on goodness, and your soul will delight in its richness. Remember to eat your bread, or your heart will wither away. Fill your soul with richness and strength.

Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last. In the first, Christ was our redemption; in the last, he will appear as our life; in this middle coming, he is our rest and consolation.

If you keep the word of God in this way, it will also keep you. The Son with the Father will come to you. The great Prophet who will build the new Jerusalem will come, the one who makes all things new. This coming will fulfill what is written: As we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, we shall also bear the likeness of the heavenly man. Just as Adam’s sin spread through all mankind and took hold of all, so Christ, who created and redeemed all, will glorify all, once he takes possession of all.

Posted in Christology, Church History

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Alfred the Great

Lord God Almighty, shaper and ruler of all creatures, we pray Thee for Thy great mercy, that Thou guide us better than we have done, towards Thee, and guide us to Thy will, to the need of our soul, better than we can ourselves. And steadfast our mind towards Thy will and to our soul’s need. And strengthen us against the temptations of the devil, and put far from us all lust, and every unrighteousness, and shield us against our foes, seen and unseen. And teach us to do Thy will, that we may inwardly love Thee before all things, with a pure mind. For Thou art our maker and our redeemer, our help, our comfort, our trust, our hope; praise and glory be to Thee now, ever and ever, world without end. Amen.

–James Manning, ed., Prayers of the Middle Ages: Light from a Thousand Years (Nashville: The Upper Room, 1954)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

Warm congratulations to Sam Ferguson, announced this morning as the new rector of Falls Church (Anglican)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Parish Ministry

(NR) Americans Quit Church but Still Search for Meaning, Now as Loners

People may be looking to nontraditional beliefs in their search for meaning, but there are reasons to doubt that those are effective substitutes for religion. Religion may be a uniquely powerful meaning resource because, in addition to providing a needed space for spiritual engagement, it binds individuals to a meaning-sustaining social fabric. Many alternatives to traditional religion are products of an increasingly individualistic culture, more focused on personal interests and less on social duties. However, the more a belief system promotes interdependence, the more likely it is to enhance meaning. Research shows that belongingness increases a sense of meaning, whereas loneliness and social alienation undermine it. Similarly, the people who are least vulnerable to existential anxiety perceive themselves not just as distinct individuals but as part of broader social and cultural groups. Religion is best able to serve an existential function when it cultivates strong family, friendship, and community bonds. This isn’t to say that religion doesn’t have its own problems. After all, humans are involved. When people form groups, whether secular or religious, they become susceptible to in-group biases that can contribute to social conflict.

It is no small matter that, in their search for meaning, people are turning to beliefs that may not reliably generate and maintain meaning. Viewing life as full of meaning is associated with a wide range of positive health outcomes, including longevity. People who believe they have an important purpose in life tend to be motivated to take care of their physical, mental, and social health and are better able to manage the many challenges and stressors of life. Moreover, feeling that life is meaningless is a risk factor for depression, anxiety, problem drinking, drug abuse, and suicide — which are all on the rise in America.

It isn’t enough to make life longer, easier, or even more pleasurable. People need to feel that they matter, that they are meaningful members of a meaningful social world. Not all beliefs in the supernatural or paranormal help to fulfill this need equally. Our society is becoming not more truly secular but more individualistic and, as a result, more likely to suffer from an epidemic of meaninglessness.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(Eleanor Parker) Some extracts from an Anglo-Saxon homily on St Swithun’s life and miracles

Today is St Swithun’s Day, when the weather-gods obey the saint of Winchester – ‘St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain / For forty days it will remain’, and all that. So let’s look at a few extracts from an Old English homily for St Swithun’s Day, written by Ælfric in the last decade of the tenth century.

Ælfric had a personal connection to Swithun’s story, and in this homily he adds in one or two comments to remind us of it. Swithun was an obscure ninth-century Bishop of Winchester whose fame is almost entirely the work of Æthelwold, his successor at Winchester more than a century later. Winchester was the royal city of Wessex but it was surprisingly short on saints, so Æthelwold did his best to elevate some of his predecessors to that status, including Swithun and St Birinus (a better-attested saint, though his popularity never caught on as Swithun’s did). On 15 July 971, Æthelwold had Swithun’s remains translated to a new shrine inside the Old Minster, Winchester. Ælfric, who was educated at Winchester under Æthelwold and had a great respect for his bishop, would have witnessed much of this, and by the time he wrote about it, around 25 years later, he had come to see Æthelwold’s time – his own youth – as a kind of golden age for the English church, when the king and holy bishops worked together and religion and peace flourished in the land. By the 990s, with the Vikings suddenly once more a pressing threat, this seemed to him like a bright but vanished world.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, England / UK

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Swithun

Almighty God,
by whose grace we celebrate again
the feast of your servant Swithun:
grant that, as he governed with gentleness
the people committed to his care,
so we, rejoicing in our Christian inheritance,
may always seek to build up your Church in unity and love;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of England

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

(CT) Skye Jethani–What an alcoholic pastor taught me about administering the presence of God

When Bill finally finished talking it felt like it was my turn to speak, to offer advice, to minister. I stayed silent. I could feel myself shrinking even more within my borrowed chaplain suit. Looking for an escape from the room and the awkwardness, I spoke timidly.

“Thank you for sharing so honestly,” I said. “I appreciate your advice.”

Bill looked away as I rose and moved for the door. Like everyone else in Bill’s life, I knew I’d be more comfortable once I didn’t have to look at him anymore, once he was invisible again. It wasn’t until I grabbed the door handle to exit that I remembered my calling. “In this room you represent the presence of God.” I was not there to represent the chaplaincy office of the hospital. I was not there to represent a young seminary student named Skye. I was there to incarnate the presence of God, if only for a few minutes, to an utterly broken man who had lost his dignity.

I looked back at Bill and was reminded of Peter’s encounter with the lame beggar at the Beautiful Gate. “I have no silver or gold,” the apostle said, “but what I do have I give to you” (Acts 3:6). I had no advice or wisdom for Bill, but I did have the presence of Jesus. I could give him that. I returned to my chair by his bed.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology

(Local Paper) Army soldier from Summerville, South Carolina, killed in action in Afghanistan was a ‘national treasure’

A 32-year-old Army Ranger from Summerville who was killed in Afghanistan after coming under small arms enemy fire Thursday is being remembered as a passionate and skilled leader.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Andrew Celiz was wounded while conducting operations in support of a medical evacuation landing zone in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia province, according to the Department of Defense. He was treated and evacuated to the nearest medical facility, where he died.

The incident is under investigation.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer

Almighty God,you called your church to be One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. By your grace you have given us new life in Jesus Christ, and by your Spirit you have called us to proclaim his name through out the nations: Awaken in us such a love for you and your world that..we may so boldy proclaim Jesus Christ by word and deed that all people may come to know him as Savior and follow him as Lord; to the glory of your Name.

Posted in Evangelism and Church Growth, Spirituality/Prayer

(Local Paper Editorial) Arrington crash, 11-year-old’s death both needless. Drunk driving is a choice

Two high-profile DUI accidents serve as vivid reminders of just how destructive intoxicated driving can be. Two people are dead, two survivors are recovering from serious injuries, and all of their families are left in a world of hurt.

An intoxicated driver fatally struck a vacationing 11-year-old Danish girl walking with her family Monday night near Cannon Park, police said. This followed a head-on collision involving a drunk driver June 22 that nearly killed congressional candidate Katie Arrington and a friend. The wrong-way driver in that accident died of her injuries.

The young girl’s parents will no doubt be scarred forever. The 30-year-old driver, charged with reckless homicide and felony driving under the influence resulting in a death, faces a possible long prison sentence and a lifetime of regret. The fatal accident also leaves the city with a black eye, coming about the same time Travel + Leisure named Charleston its top U.S. destination for a sixth year in a row.

“This was preventable and never should have happened,” police Chief Luther Reynolds said at a news conference Tuesday alongside Mayor John Tecklenburg and other city officials. “I am very angry. … This hurts all of us.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Travel

Friday Food for Thought from Richard Baxter

It is not the work of the Spirit, to tell you the meaning of Scripture, and give you the knowledge of divinity, without your own study and labour, but to bless that study, and give you knowledge thereby. Did not Christ open the eyes of the man born blind, as suddenly, as wonderfully, and by as little means, as you can expect to be illuminated by the Spirit? And yet that man could not see any distant object out of his reach, till he took the pains to travel to it, or it was brought to him, for all his eyes were opened.

–The Practical Works Of The Rev. Richard Baxter: With A Life Of The Author, And A Critical Examination Of His Writings, Volume XX (my emphasis)

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Richard Baxter

Keep us, O Lord, while we tarry on this earth, in a serious seeking after thee, and in an affectionate walking with thee, every day of our lives; that when thou comest, we may be found not hiding our talent, nor serving the flesh, nor yet asleep with our lamp unfurnished, but waiting and longing for our Lord, our glorious God for ever and ever.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer