Daily Archives: March 9, 2011

(Living Church) ”˜We Clean the Wounds of Those Who Hate Us’

As 2.5 percent of the population in a Muslim state of 170 million people, Christians in Pakistan are “a fly on the wall” that can sometimes be treated as a nuisance, says the Rt. Rev. Munawar K. Rumalshah, Bishop Emeritus of Peshawar.

The church’s minority status manifests itself regularly, the bishop said ”” from Islam’s effects on how Christians conduct themselves to the threat of death for converts and the martyrdom of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Roman Catholic who was minister for religious minorities in Pakistan.

The bishop spoke at St. Stephen’s Church, Richmond, Va., March 6, concluding a fundraising tour of the United States. The bishop spoke on the theme of “Wishing for an Embrace: Minority Faith in an Islamic World.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pakistan

David Lose–The Trouble (And Blessing) of Lent

Let’s face it. Lent is in trouble.”¨

Let me explain. Most of us have favorite holiday seasons. For some it’s Christmas, with the family get-togethers and presents. For others it’s the Fourth of July and summer, filled by a sense of national pride and beach vacations to boot. But each year at just about this time, it strikes me that very few of us would pick Lent, a season that seems to most of us as grim as the weather that usually attends it.

Think about it: crossing off days on the calendar until Ash Wednesday; leaving work just a little early, saying “I’ve got to get my Lenten shopping done;” advertisements on billboards and television reading “only 12 more days ’til the day of Ashes;” or little kids going to bed, asking their parents, “How much longer ’till Lent is here?” It just doesn’t happen.”¨

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Lutheran, Other Churches

(AP) Hundreds of Anglicans start move to Catholic church on Ash Wednesday

Hundreds of disaffected Anglicans left the Church of England to become Roman Catholics on Ash Wednesday, the Christian day of penance.

The day set by the church to welcome converts wishing to join the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, a unique grouping created by Pope Benedict XVI for Anglicans left feeling isolated since the Church of England decided in 1992 to ordain women as priests.

Tensions have grown further as the governing General Synod moves to allow women to become bishops while denying special structures to protect the sensitivities of the objectors.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Church of England Clergy to collect prayers for Lent

Church of England clergy are taking to the streets as part of a prayer-collecting exercise to mark the start of the Lenten season.

The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu is joining other bishops visiting shopping centres and other locations to launch a new online prayer service www.sayoneforme.org for Lent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

(CNA) Catholic dioceses use fresh initiatives to promote traditions of Lent

As Roman Catholics begin Lent with the traditional distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday, dioceses in the U.S. are seeking to pass on the ancient practices of the liturgical season in new ways.

The three traditional “pillars of Lent” ”“ for Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, as well as some Protestants who observe the tradition ”“ are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Through these three essential practices, Pope Benedict XVI said in his 2011 Lenten message, “Lent teaches us how to live the love of Christ in an ever more radical way.”

Fr. Randy Dollins of the Archdiocese of Denver and Auxilary Bishop Robert F. Hennessey of Boston spoke with CNA about initiatives that help Catholics focus on the meaning of the penitential season, and benefit spiritually from its traditions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Benedict XVI's Message for Lent 2011

In order to undertake more seriously our journey towards Easter and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord ”“ the most joyous and solemn feast of the entire liturgical year ”“ what could be more appropriate than allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word of God? For this reason, the Church, in the Gospel texts of the Sundays of Lent, leads us to a particularly intense encounter with the Lord, calling us to retrace the steps of Christian initiation: for catechumens, in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of rebirth; for the baptized, in light of the new and decisive steps to be taken in the sequela Christi and a fuller giving of oneself to him.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

A Pastoral Letter from the Episcopal Bishop of Albany for Lent 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The holy season of Lent is soon upon us. The invitation to its devout observance as set forth in the Ash Wednesday liturgy gives prominence to “reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” I am convinced that all other spiritual practices and observances find their surest foundation in the plain words of Holy Scripture.

One of the main goals of the English reformers was to make the Bible in the English language accessible to every person. A cornerstone of Anglican Spirituality for the past four and a half centuries has been the provision for ordinary people to read the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament in the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer. Those who pray the Daily Office regularly know what a gift it is and how the Lord can speak to us through this invaluable spiritual discipline.
During the recent Diocesan Parish Leadership Conferences, Whitney Kuniholm, President of Scripture Union U.S.A., introduced to the clergy and people attending the PLC’s another means of being fed and nourished by God’s Word through the E-100 initiative. It’s a simple method of reading and meditating on 100 of the most important or essential passages of the Old and New Testament (50 from each) which help provide the ‘big picture’ of the story of salvation. God’s love and our neglect is a repeating cycle. The E-100 passages help open the door for God through Holy Scripture to directly enter into our minds, our memories and our hearts, reminding us of His love and commitment to our welfare and salvation.

As Ash Wednesday approaches, ushering in the season of Lent, I encourage you to take part in your parish Lenten programs, to attend church every Sunday, to engage in Lenten devotions such as the Stations of the Cross, to fast and to pray. I especially encourage you to begin the E-100 on Ash Wednesday, and to faithfully follow it as a family or individually. Copies have been given to every Parish in the Diocese. If you begin now, you will complete the E-100 by Pentecost. It takes only a few minutes a day- far less than the news, the soaps, facebook a telephone chat or a nap. Many of our parishes are taking the E-100 Challenge as a parish family. Please give it a try. In so doing, may the Lord bless you richly as you grow ever closer to Him through His holy Word.

The Letter to the Hebrews (4:12-13) reminds us that “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.”

My prayer for each of us this Lent is that the Word of God will actively penetrate our heart and mind, that we might be transformed, and that God can then use us to transform His world.

Your brother in Christ this holy Lent,

–(The Rt. Rev.) Bill Love is Bishop of Albany

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lent, TEC Bishops

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty and merciful God, the fountain of all goodness, who knowest the thoughts of our hearts: We confess that we have sinned against thee, and done evil in thy sight. Wash us, we beseech thee, from the stains of our past sins, and give us grace and power to put away all hurtful things; that, being delivered from the bondage of sin, we may bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, and at last enter into thy promised joy; through the mercy of thy blessed Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Alcuin (c.735-804)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

–Hebrews 12:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

New National Community Growing Project supported by Church of England environmental campaign

A new national community growing project, supported by Shrinking the Footprint, the Church of England’s national environmental campaign, and endorsed by a BBC Gardening expert, aims to bring people together locally to help each other grow fruit and vegetables in their own gardens.

Grow Zones has been created to address the challenges facing a new grower with local teams sharing skills, tools and produce to eliminate food miles. A resource kit has been developed to help a facilitator and team get organised and growing without necessarily having any expert knowledge.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Energy, Natural Resources

(CNN Faith Blog) The Bible and the Same Sex Blessing Debate (II): Robert Gagnon

In her recent CNN Belief Blog post “The Bible’s surprisingly mixed messages on sexuality,” Jennifer Wright Knust claims that Christians can’t appeal to the Bible to justify opposition to homosexual practice because the Bible provides no clear witness on the subject and is too flawed to serve as a moral guide.

As a scholar who has written books and articles on the Bible and homosexual practice, I can say that the reality is the opposite of her claim. It’s shocking that in her editorial and even her book, “Unprotected Texts,” Knust ignores a mountain of evidence against her positions.

It raises a serious question: does the Left read significant works that disagree with pro-gay interpretations of Scripture and choose to simply ignore them?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Media, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CNN Faith Blog) The Bible and the Same Sex Blessing Debate (I): Jennifer Wright Knust

We often hears that Christians have no choice but to regard homosexuality as a sin – that Scripture simply demands it.

As a Bible scholar and pastor myself, I say that Scripture does no such thing.

“I love gay people, but the Bible forces me to condemn them” is a poor excuse that attempts to avoid accountability by wrapping a very particular and narrow interpretation of a few biblical passages in a cloak of divinely inspired respectability.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Chris. Today) Mark Galli–Heaven, Hell, and Rob Bell: Putting the Pastor in Context

This is not to suggest that frank, honest, theological exchange should not take place. It should! But traditionalists need to marshal arguments and not ad hominems. The same goes for the innovators. Some gadfly theologians are notorious for tweaking, even mocking, traditional evangelical doctrines; they delight in scoring cheap shots against received orthodoxy. All well and good, for tradition needs to be tweaked for its own good. But when challenged, these critics often refuse to engage their challengers, and instead suggest that they are rationalists trapped in a modernist mindset and not worthy of engaging!

As Bauckham and McKnight have noted, the ground on this topic has been shifting. The traditional view may well be grounded ever more deeply and solidly as a result of re-engaging this topic. Or it may be altered, as have many doctrines, by rigorous theological discussion. But we won’t be able to discern where the Spirit is leading if we don’t listen and respond respectfully to one another. God once used a donkey to make his will known, so surely he is is able to speak through both traditionalists and gadflies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Theology