Daily Archives: February 14, 2013

Fr. Dale Matson – Lent As A Treatment For Excessive Self Esteem

..So, my prescription for this current crop of students who have this inflated sense of self-worth, sense of entitlement and narcissism is the 40 days of Lent. This is actually a good prescription for all of us. It is a way of downsizing the ego.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3)

Read it all and see what you think!

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

CofE: Threatened hedgehogs could be at home in a churchyard

The Hedgehog Hibernation survey aims to find out more about the creature’s patterns of behaviour, which in turn will help inform practical conservation action. Hedgehog numbers in Britain are declining by three to five per cent each year in towns and in the rural landscape, with the loss most apparent in the South West, South East and Eastern regions of England, according to the results of a ten-year trend analysis by the charity.

Judith Evans promoter of the Living Churchyard scheme for St Albans diocese said:
“There certainly seem to be far fewer hedgehogs around than there used to be. Like all animals, hedgehogs need food and shelter, both of which are likely to be found in the increasing number of churchyards which are managed in a wildlife-friendly way. The Living Churchyard scheme encourages the creation of compost heaps and log piles which as well as acting as a larder, containing slugs and other invertebrates, provide shelter.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

[Robert Munday] Lent and the Gospel

…this is not to say that there is no value in Lent””far from it! A time, whether it be a weekend retreat or a 40-day period, in which we spend time in devotions that draw us closer to God, is of enormous value. Such times are penitential, in that they will undoubtedly include self-examination and confession of any known sins. In these times we can grow spiritually and find new direction for our lives and ministries. And, sometimes, acts of self denial such as fasting help us to focus our resolve during this time and demonstrate to God and ourselves the seriousness of our undertaking.

The problem comes when we think we are doing something virtuous when we manage to give up things for 40 days that, in actuality, we ought to give up 365 days a year. Or when we reduce our right standing before God to a game of addition and subtraction””as though our salvation depended on the good we have done outweighing the bad. Or when we think that God delights in sacrifice more than mercy, or that petty acts of contrition can bridge a chasm that could only be bridged by the death of God’s only-begotten Son.

We would do well to remember the purposes for which Jesus spent 40 days fasting and praying in the wilderness. He had no sins for which he needed to atone. We have no sins for which we are capable of atoning. If we could, what He did for us””what He had to do for us””would not have been necessary.

In a holy Lent, we need to spend time being reminded of our need to trust in the providence of God (“Do not put the Lord your God to the test”), the supremacy of God (“Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only”), and the sufficiency of His Word (“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”).

So Lent is really much more about what God adds to our lives as we spend intentional, focused time with Him rather than what we give up, because the Gospel is always about what God has done for us, not about what we do for Him.

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

[Bosco Peters] Ash Wednesday – Dragon Sickness

…We all share Bilbo’s dragon sickness. We confuse the goal and the means. We get things totally back to front. The dragon treats the treasure like it is the goal, the purpose. We know the gold and treasure is supposed to be the means. For the dragon the treasure is ultimately totally useless. We know this.

And yet, even though we know it, it traps us. We are like the Master of Laketown, like Gollum, even like Bilbo (when he gets the Arkenstone it possesses him).

The goal is God. Everything, everything else is the means. And we get it back to front ”“ making other things the goal of life, and then finding we are possessed, addicted by these. Even using God as the means to get our goal.

Lent is much deeper than simply “giving something up”. Lent is the unexpected journey ”“ with Gandalf as wise guide and each of us as Bilbo. The painful adventure and journey of Lent, where we leave behind our obsessions with the trivia of handkerchiefs, and doilies, and mother’s dishes.

Through the prayer and self-denial and generosity of Lent we may be surprised to find that we arrive at Easter changed.

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

Kendall Harmon–Throttling the Blog Way Back for Lent 2013

In the season of Lent 2013, the Titusonenine blog needs to shift in terms of its focus and character.
There are a number of reasons for this, but let me cite several.

First, I have had a significant change in my personal circumstances. My father, as a number of you know, came down to South Carolina suddenly in 2012, in need of skilled nursing care. Since getting him an original place to be looked after, we wanted to move him closer to ourselves here in Summerville if possible, and recently a spot has opened up at the Presbyterian Home here (they now call themselves “The Village at Summerville”).

Dad has just moved to this new facility in early 2013. He is 80, and neither of us is getting any younger. My wife and I would like to see him more often, and this is a wonderful opportunity.

Also, my right knee has been a continuing and worsening problem. A number of years back I had surgery for a torn meniscus. Then a couple of years ago the pain began to inch up to the point of being more and more of a distraction and obstacle. It was time to go to the doctor (yuck). I have now been to two specialists, both of whom say I need a knee replacement. When this was first proposed, I nearly screamed (by the way I am not getting older and not in denial either [g]). Now that both of them and my wife and my co-worker at the parish where I serve have said it is time, the jig is up. It looks like the procedure will be in the late spring. I need to get ready.

Second, the situation in the diocese is demanding. The conflict with the national Episcopal Church is a real mess and it is not only personally and emotionally draining, it is spiritually challenging. True, is also an opportunity, but I need to retool the engines so to speak in order to live into that possibility.

Thirdly, the parish where I serve is headed into a new Lenten series entitled “into the wilderness.” The more I wrestled and prayed with the theme the more appropriate I sensed it would be for me to be more in the wilderness also in terms of a blog break.

Finally, although I can scarcely believe it, this blog has been in operation for ten years as of next month. Somehow that timing, also, makes this choice appropriate.

In any event, with the exception of some Anglican and South Carolina news and developments, blog posts will focus on theological and devotional topics as well as open threads on edifying discussion topics, and I will be posting occasionally with help from others.

I wish all of you a blessed lent 2013, and ask your prayers for myself, my family and the diocese of South Carolina. Thank you for your readership, participation, and support””KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Harmon Family, Health & Medicine, Lent, Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

Open Thread: T19 Lent Links

We will be posting and updating links to Lent threads and resources here. You can also use the T19 category Lent. Have you come across a resource such as a course, book, video or music you found helpful? If so, please let us know on this open thread, including if possible your thoughts and comments on it and why you find it helpful.

Lent Reflections and Resources
Lent and Beyond””Recommended Blogs and Links for Lent 2013, February 12
Daily Devotionals from Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge
Three Meditations for Ash Wednesday from Bishop Mark Lawrence, February 13

Spiritual Disciplines
Kendall Harmon and others – Five Spiritual Disciplines for Lent – Introduction, Fasting, Study, Meditation and Prayer, February 13
Five Lenten Disciplines ExplainedChurch of the Incarnation, Dallas – Examen, Prayer, Lectio Divina, Fasting, Service
The Meaning of the Great Fast: The True Nature of Fasting – Mother Mary and Bishop Kallistos Ware [h/t Ad Orientem]

Lent Courses
Into the Wilderness – Lent Series from Christ St Paul’s
Part 1:Off into the Desert – Kendall Harmon
Part 2: Prayer in the Desert – Kendall Harmon
Worship in the Desert – Kendall Harmon [NEW]

Services Online
Ash Wednesday Services Online

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst take upon thee the form of a servant, humbling thyself and accepting death for us, even the death of the cross: Grant that this mind may be also in us; so that we may gladly take upon ourselves the life of humility and service, and taking up our cross daily may follow thee in thy suffering and death, that with thee we may attain unto the power of thy endless life. Grant this, O Christ, our Saviour and our King.

–Harold Anson

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.

–Psalm 37:3-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon–Augustine or Rousseau?

Are human beings born good or born with a volcanic anti-God allergy in their hearts? Answering this theological question is one of THE great challenges for Christians as we stand on the brink of a new millennium.
On one side of the divide stands Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Men and women “are born free,” he famously said in his Social Contract, yet “everywhere” they are “in chains.” Rousseau believed that we are born good. His explanation for the deep problems in the world? They came to us from outside us. Error and prejudice, murder and treason, were the products of corrupt environments: educational, familial, societal, political, and, yes, ecclesiastical.

Note carefully that the FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM is located outside men and women, and the MEANS of evil developing comes from the outside in. The NATURE of the problem is one of environment and knowledge.
Augustine (354-430) saw things very differently. Describing the decision by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Augustine writes in The City of God: “Our parents fell into open disobedience because they were secretly corrupted; for the evil act had never been done had not an evil will preceded it.” The motive for this evil will was pride. “This is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes a kind of end to itself ”¦ By craving to be more” we “became less;” and “by aspiring to be self-sufficing,” we “fell away from him who truly suffices” us.
For Augustine, men and women as we find them today are creatures curved in on themselves. We are rebels who, rather than curving up and out in worship to God, instead curved in and down into what Malcolm Muggeridge once termed “the dark little dungeon of our own” egos.

In this view the FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM is located inside men and women, and the means of evil developing comes from the inside out (note Jesus’ reasoning in Mark 7:18-23). The NATURE of the problem is one of the will.

The difference between Augustine and Rousseau could not be more stark. In a Western world permeated by Rousseau, we need the courage to return to the challenge and depth of Augustine’s insight.
To do so makes the good news of the gospel even better. Think of Easter. What is the image which Paul uses to describe what occurs when a man or woman turns to Christ? New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)! Jesus rose to transform the entire created order from the inside out, beginning with our evil wills which he replaces with “a new heart”¦and a new spirit” (Ezekiel 36:26).

Glory Hallelujah!

–Kendall S. Harmon from a piece in 2007

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Theology

In Wales Three Bishops take up Lent talk challenge

Three Welsh bishops are taking up a tough Lent challenge which will see them give 40 talks over five weeks at eight different venues.

The Archbishop of Wales, the Assistant Bishop of Llandaff and the Bishop of Monmouth will be out and about in churches across South Wales almost every weekday night in the weeks leading up to Easter giving talks about the Bible. And they’re inviting people to make it their Lent resolution to join them for discussion.

The Bishops hope to build on the success of similar talks last year which attracted more than 1,000 people a week.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent