Daily Archives: October 13, 2013

(Boston Globe) Holy solar panels for Medford, Massachusetts Episcopal Church

Retired Episcopal Bishop Bud Cederholm ”” affectionately known as the “Green Bishop” ”” sprinkled holy water on the new solar panels installed at Grace Episcopal Church on High Street. Cederholm, who earned his nickname for his environmental advocacy, got a lift in a city truck to sprinkle water on the 25-kilowatt solar installation. Grace Episcopal is part of The Genesis Covenant, a worldwide coalition of Christian churches that aim to save the environment. Each member commits to reducing its own carbon footprint by 50 percent. Along with solar panels, Grace Episcopal has installed compact fluorescent lights, energy-efficient appliances, and a high-efficiency gas heating system.

Read it all (requires full subscription).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, Theology

(ABP) Baptist editors visit Syrian refugee family

[A family of Syrian refugees]…briefly described their life in Syria as farmers on fertile land that produced crops like barley, tomatoes and potatoes in good supply. Theirs was a good life, and they had been happy there.

But the good life disappeared. The people living in the area were soon surrounded by government forces commanded by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and supplies were cut off. The family’s teenage daughter demonstrated how troops intentionally trampled the crops, cutting off residents’ food supply.

The family fled to Jordan several months ago.

The family’s 14-year-old son described the chilling experience on June 1, 2012, when soldiers opened fire and bullets struck him in the leg and tore through the tendon of his then 6-year-old brother’s leg behind the knee. The older brother had thrown himself onto his younger sibling to protect him from further harm.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Baptists, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Other Churches, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Syria, Theology, Violence

John Stott on the Church as a Community of Holy Gossip

“We are a very media-conscious generation. We know the power of the mass media on the public mind. Consequently, we want to use the media in evangelism. By print or tape, by audio or videocassette, by radio and television we would like to saturate the world with the good news. And rightly so. We should harness to the service of the gospel every modern medium of communication which is available to us.

Nevertheless, there is another way, which is still more effective. It requires not complicated electronic gadgetry; it is very simple. It is neither organized nor computerized; it is spontaneous. And it is not expensive; it costs precisely nothing. We might call it ‘holy gossip.’ It is the excited transmission from mouth to mouth of the impact which the gospel news is making on people. ‘Have you heard what has happened to so and so? Did you know that such and such a person has come to believe in God and has been completely transformed? Something extraordinary is happening in Thessalonica: a new society is coming into being, with new values and standards, characterized by faith, love and hope.'”

–John R. W. Stott, The Message of 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Bible Speaks Today)[Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 1991], pp.37-38, and quoted by yours truly in this morning’s sermon

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ecclesiology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Food for thought and prayer on the subject of Christian witness and Evangelism

The Church as people who are Gossippers of the Gospel

[Evangelism] is telling the good news about Jesus, and doing it with honesty, urgency, and joy, using the Bible, living a life that backs it up, and praying, and doing it all for the glory of God.

–Mark Dever

Evangelism is not simply a matter if bringing individuals to personal faith, though of course that remains central to the whole enterprise. It is a matter of confronting the world with the good, but deeply disturbing, news of a different way of living”¦the way of love.

–Tom Wright

To evangelize is so to present Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, that men shall come to put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Savior, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His church.

–William Temple
How do the definitions of evangelism above speak to you right now where you live and move and have your being? Think and pray over them.

Think of the word witness and the word eyewitness. What are the qualities of an effective witness to you? In a lawcourt? In an accident?

In the service of Baptism, the baptismal covenant includes the following Q and A:
Celebrant: Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ? People: I will, with God’s help.
Against the standard above how would you evaluate yourself as a witness? In word? In deed?

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44). What is the role of prayer it witnessing? What is the role of prayer in your witnessing?

If you could name one person in your life for whom you had a particular burden for them to come to know Jesus as Savior and follow him as Lord who would that be? How have you been praying for that person? Is there a way your prayers could be changed going forward? If so,how?

Suppose you had to study Jesus as a witness to God’s kingdom in the gospels? What specific things does he have to teach us about how to witness?

What is the role of listening in witnessing? Of question asking? What are the ways this week God is calling you to listen and ask kingdom oriented questions?

Make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ. How does this saying speak to you about witnessing? Are there ways for you to pay about your friends God is calling you to? Is there anyone in your life you may be missing who needs a friend?

–From this morning’s Bulletin insert in our series on the Church, cited by yours truly in the sermon

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ecclesiology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Local Paper) Keeping religion separate from science in S.C. schools

Millibeth Currie, a nationally board-certified teacher who chairs the science department at Moultrie Middle School, was involved in the first phase of the standards review this go-round.

“Science is everywhere. It’s explaining our system of our universe that exists right now,” which means a student’s family background or philosophy or religion doesn’t even factor into the equation.

When religious concerns are raised, “I kind of neutralize it. There’s no way of being able to answer who’s right or who’s wrong” among different religions, she said. “The focus should be on discovering the commonalities in our universe.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Education, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Nominees for Election as Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of New York Announced

Check out the links with lots of information about each one.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

(A Look Back) Kendall Harmon: The Powerful Woman With No Lines And No Name

One of my friends has the delightful habit of sending me New Yorker cartoons. Certainly one of the best features a man behind a bookstore counter on top of which is prominently featured Allen Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind. He has a big smile on his face and says to the customer “I haven’t read it, but it’s a great book!”

Alas, that is too often a true reflection of how many Episcopalians actually relate to Holy Scripture.

It is such a fabulous book, but we only experience it when we learn to be Scripture students and spiritually attentive Bible readers.

Consider the story of when Simon the Pharisee has the preacher over for dinner (Luke 7:36-50). As for many a good Episcopalian, having the rector over is a big deal for Simon. Etiquette must be properly followed. Invitations must be carefully issued. Everything must be done in correct Anglican fashion, decently and in order.

Then a woman from the wrong side of the tracks crashes the party….

Read it all from 2007 (brought to mind by the Bible readings this morning).

Posted in * By Kendall, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord God of time and eternity, who makest us creatures of time that, when time is over, we may attain thy blessed eternity: With time, thy gift, give us also wisdom to redeem the time, lest our day of grace be lost; for our Lord Jesus’ sake.

–Christina Rossetti

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and took his place at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “What is it, Teacher?” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

–Luke 7:36-50

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(RNS) Interview: Malcolm Gladwell on his return to faith while writing “David and Goliath”

Q: David and Goliath is quite famous, yes. What about Jesus? Where might he fit in in your narrative?

A: He does fit. Here is one of the most revolutionary figures in history. He comes from the humblest of beginnings. He never held elected office. He never had an army at his disposal. He never got rich; he had nothing that we would associate with power and advantage. Nonetheless, what does he accomplish? An unfathomable amount. He is almost the perfect illustration of this idea that you have to look in the heart to know what someone’s capable of.

Q: Many Christians point to some kind of personal conversion experience? Did you have one?

A: I realized what I had missed. It wasn’t an “I woke up one morning” kind of thing. It was a slow realization something incredibly powerful and beautiful in the faith that I grew up with that I was missing. Here I was writing about people of extraordinary circumstances and it slowly dawned on me that I can have that too.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Lapham's Quarterly) Bess Lovejoy–The American Way of Death

Rising industrialization and urbanization in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries helped push the graveyard out of town, and these shifts coincided with the rise of a new reserve, in which displays of strong emotion, such as grief, were unseemly.

But during the 1950s, the landscape changed. In 1955, Geoffrey Gorer’s fascinating essay “The Pornography of Death,” argued that proscriptions around death had replaced the Victorian taboo against sex. In 1959, psychologist Herman Feifel came out with The Meaning of Death, a collection of essays often credited with singlehandedly establishing death, dying, and bereavement as legitimate areas for study. Yet neither Feifel nor Gorer made their way to American dinner tables. It was [Jessica] Mitford who got ordinary people talking. The American Way of Death made its way into soap operas, newspaper cartoons, and even the cover of Good Housekeeping. (An extract appeared in a 1964 issue alongside such articles as “Coming, a New Kind of Refrigerator” and “How Well Can Carpets Take It?”) Her take-charge, do-it-yourself message helped liberate Americans from the rigid rules and roles they were eager to cast off, as they were beginning to do in so many other areas of life.

That doesn’t mean The American Way of Death encouraged Americans to rethink their cultural relationship with death, exactly. The book is a narrowly conceived exposé, a screed against expensive funerals and the men who sell them, not an analysis of how or why funerals got that way. It’s interesting to contrast Mitford’s book with the seminal death texts of the past, such as the two in the fifteenth century that were both called The Art of Dying, or the Tibetan and Egyptian books of the dead. Those works helped individuals prepare for death by prescribing a series of attitudes and rituals designed to ensure a good death and a better afterlife. Such rituals helped people grapple with death’s great challenge to the self; they made death mean. By contrast, Mitford’s book is a Consumer Reports of death. Instead of prayers and meditations, she offers tips on the best way to get a cheap casket (just keep asking the salesman; it’s often out in the garage).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Consumer/consumer spending, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Eschatology, History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(USA Today) Senate takes control of budget talks

The Senate’s top two leaders have asserted control over budget negotiations with the White House for a deal to reopen the federal government and avoid a default on the nation’s debt.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., met Saturday morning with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to begin preliminary discussions.

“I hope that our talking is some solace to the American people and to the world,” Reid said. “This should be seen as something very positive, even though we don’t have anything done yet.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Theology