Daily Archives: December 30, 2011

Ring out, Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

–Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Poetry & Literature

(CNS) Nigerian bishops urge government to get control after church bombings

Catholic leaders condemned the spate of bomb blasts in Nigeria and urged the government to get control of security.

Lagos Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie criticized the government for its failure to protect citizens.

Speaking at the dedication of St. Peter Church in Awka, the cardinal said the spate of bombings in a four-day period makes people wonder “what the government is doing with our money. If they cannot protect the lives of its citizens, then why do we have a government?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Terrorism, Violence

Father Patrick Allen's Christmas Day 2011 Homily

…in all of our giving, even in our best gifts, there is always, to a greater or lesser degree, there is always a gap ”“ a gap between the sign and the thing signified, between the gift and the giver. We say “it’s the thought that counts” because we have to, because the thought and the gift can never be identical.

But here’s the thing. Again, here is Christmas: God does not give us something external to himself; God gives us himself. In this child born unto us, that gap between the Gift and the Giver has disappeared. That baby is not a gesture. In this Gift, it really is the thought that counts, because in this gift the Thought, the Heart, the Logos, the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Maclin Horton: The Heart of Christmas

As with the holiday, so with the culture at large. The increasingly post-Christian culture of America and Europe are nevertheless more deeply rooted in Christianity than is usually recognized by its opponents (and some of its adherents). It’s at least theoretically possible that this culture will eventually get Christianity out of its system, out of the roots of its consciousness, and negligible as a cultural force, reduced to the private practices of an eccentric few. This would take several generations, and I don’t think it will happen, but it certainly could. And if it did, the resulting culture would, like Christmas, lose the hope and the humanism which had been its legacy from Christianity. As with Christmas, if the heart were to stop beating, the body would die.

We have seen the prospects for that new culture already, in the totalitarian nightmares of communism and fascism, in the wasteland of pleasure-and-power-seeking which is offered as the good life by much of the entertainment and advertising produced by capitalism, in the drab materialist collectivism of “Imagine” and the absurd materialist egoism of Atlas Shrugged.

Perhaps it’s not even too much to say that if Christmas were to die, the remains of Christian culture would die, too, and with it that softness toward the individual human person””imperfect, of course, and slow to develop””that has characterized it. As long as the mad mixture of the very earthly and the very heavenly which is Christmas””the poor and vulnerable newborn baby among the animals on the one hand, choirs of angels on the other””remains at the heart of the holiday, and the holiday remains very much alive in the culture, the natural coldness and brutality of the human race is always challenged from within the culture itself. Should that challenge be removed, no one would be more surprised by the result than those who worked to remove it. They might not live to see that result, but if their souls were not lost altogether, part of their purgatory might be the knowledge of what they had done to their descendants.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

In China, a Christmas Crackdown on Dissent

Christmas means different things around the world, but in China one of the things it’s come to stand for crackdown. In recent years Chinese courts have chosen the holiday season as the time to hand down the harshest sentences to political dissenters, possibly in the belief that their rulings will received the least attention abroad. On Dec. 26 a court in the southwestern city of Guiyang sentenced longtime dissident Chen Xi to 10 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power,” Reuters reported.

Chen was active in the 1989 protest movement, organizing a pro-democracy group in Guiyang and later serving 13 years in prison after the government crushed the Tiananmen demonstrations. Chen Xi, who is also known as Chen Youcai, was arrested on Nov. 29, a week before the Guizhou Human Rights Forum, a group to which he belonged, was declared illegal, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders, an activist group.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Coptic Pope Shenouda III to invite all Presidential Hopefuls to attend Christ Mass

The Coptic Orthodox Church will send out invitations to presidential hopefuls and all political parties, including Salafi ones, to attend the Christmas holy mass on 7 January, a papal source told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

The source said that Pope Shenouda III insisted on inviting both Muslim and Coptic Egyptians to the celebration.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Coptic Church, Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Friday Morning Fun–Golden the Dog who Loves Guitar

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Animals, Music

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Frances Joseph-Gaudet

Merciful God, who didst raise up thy servant Frances Joseph-Gaudet to work for prison reform and the education of her people: Grant that we, encouraged by the example of her life, may work for those who are denied the fullness of life by reasons of incarceration and lack of access to education ; through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for Christmas to Begin the Day

Almighty God, who hast revealed the glory of thy love in the in the face of Jesus Christ, and called us by him to live as thy children: Fill our hearts, as we remember his nativity, with the gladness of this great redemption; that we may join in the heavenly song of glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, and goodwill towards men; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; and his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. And she said to Eli’jah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!” And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her bosom, and carried him up into the upper chamber, where he lodged, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried to the LORD, “O LORD my God, hast thou brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?” Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried to the LORD, “O LORD my God, let this child’s soul come into him again.” And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Eli’jah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Eli’jah took the child, and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and delivered him to his mother; and Eli’jah said, “See, your son lives.” And the woman said to Eli’jah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.”

–1 Kings 17:17-24

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Cathedral Dean Frank Limehouse's 2011 Christmas Sermon

In one of the original episodes of Law and Order, some 15 years ago, I’ll never forget the scene of the three cops doing an all-night stake out from their parked car. It’s 3:00 AM or so and over black coffee they’re talking about the regrets of their lives. The guy in the front under the wheel said he regretted being a jerk to his wife most of their married lives before she died. The cop riding shotgun said he regretted chronically stealing money as a teenager from this hard-working father’s wallet. The third cop is in the back with his eyes closed, half-asleep. And they said to him, “Hey sergeant, what do you regret?” And he finally mumbled out, “I regret everything.”

There’s just a little part of me that can identify. I have my share of sin and regret that stem from a self-centered heart. And the message of the angel, that “to you is born a Savior who is Christ the Lord”, is the most wonderful news I ever heard. Would you agree?

I don’t care how low you’ve sunk, there is no reason to give up or think only somber, gloomy thoughts. I’m with you in that I cannot undo my past. But I am privilege to point to a Savior that can wash us clean. Jesus never once in the narrative of the New Testament turned away a helpless sinner who fled to him….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology

W.H. Auden's Christmas Oratorio

The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week —
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted — quite unsuccessfully —
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.

The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Poetry & Literature

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Charleston: Rejoice, share peace, hospitality at Christmas

“Rejoice! Rejoice! The kingdom of God is upon us.” This is a phrase that we hear quite frequently during the Christmas season.

When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth to share her wonderful news about the message she had received from the angel, she proclaimed great joy in the hymn that has come down to us and is recited each day by those who pray the Liturgy of the Hours: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior.”

Her joy is reflected in the way we celebrate Christmas: Christmas Mass, the beautiful decorations, the family gatherings, the sharing of gifts. With Mary we can offer our thankful praise to the God who loves us so much and is so generous to us….

Read it all.

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

The Bishop of Chelmsford's 2011 Christmas Message

The challenge of the Christmas story is to sing this same song of peace and good will amidst the sorrows, trials, inequalities and injustices of today’s world. It means caring about those who are without a job, or without a home. It means trying to build a different world and trying to live by a different set of values. It means remembering those who are worse off, and doing something about it. It means providing jobs and homes and meals. It also means ensuring that people have jobs and homes and meals for life.

None of this will be easy. But the biggest danger of all is starting to believe that nothing can change and that our own contribution makes no difference. It does. Things can change.

And if the Christian faith teaches us anything, it is that one person can make a difference. That person is Christ. He shows us a different way of living. He gives us a different set of values. What he brings is what the world so desperately needs. And he begins that life in solidarity with the poorest of the poor.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops

The 2011 Christmas Message From the Custos of the Holy Land

Faith is risking entering the road of those who, like Him, can forget themselves in favour of others ”“ whoever they are ”“ and can take on the attitudes that derive from this: forgiveness, welcome, listening, solidarity ”¦
The path of losing, marked out by these stages, becomes the path of finding.
Those who take this path, find God, the brother finds himself.
Life is transformed this way.
It may be ”“ usually it is this way ”“ that outside nothing seems to change, that history and, in particular the history of our Holy Land, continues to be the dramatic reality that we see and experience: hatred, divisions, fears, suspicions, prejudice, paralysis”¦
But inside, everything changes!
The way of looking at life changes, the way of being changes and ”“ by grace!- we are pleased with this life, because this life is not only a field, but it is the field that hides the treasure.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Middle East, Other Churches, Roman Catholic