Daily Archives: December 10, 2014

Ebola Fighters are TIME's choice for Person of the Year 2014

Maybe this is true in any battle; it is surely true of a war that is waged with bleach and a prayer.

For decades, Ebola haunted rural African villages like some mythic monster that every few years rose to demand a human sacrifice and then returned to its cave. It reached the West only in nightmare form, a Hollywood horror that makes eyes bleed and organs dissolve and doctors despair because they have no cure.

But 2014 is the year an outbreak turned into an epidemic, powered by the very progress that has paved roads and raised cities and lifted millions out of poverty. This time it reached crowded slums in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; it traveled to Nigeria and Mali, to Spain, Germany and the U.S. It struck doctors and nurses in unprecedented numbers, wiping out a public-health infrastructure that was weak in the first place. One August day in Liberia, six pregnant women lost their babies when hospitals couldn’t admit them for complications. Anyone willing to treat Ebola victims ran the risk of becoming one.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

Lent and Beyond: Prayer for South Carolina on Wednesday December 10th

Awaiting results of litigation”“
Please pray for the Diocese of South Carolina and its legal team, all those involved in the proceedings and for the Judge and for the growth of God’s Kingdom in South Carolina

1 Samuel 6:20-7:2 (ESV)
Then the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?” So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you.”
And the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. And they consecrated his son Eleazar to have charge of the ark of the Lord. From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.

Abinadab”“father of nobleness
Eleazar”“my God has helped

The ark had been housed in Shiloh 369 years. At the time of Samuel’s apprenticeship in Shiloh, the priesthood was discredited by Eli’s sons. Israel goes to war with the Philistines and loses the first battle. They move the ark to the battle field, accompanied by Eli’s sons. The Philistines have the victory and capture the ark. Tradition holds that Shiloh was burned.
The Philistines move the ark to Ashdod and set it next to Dagon, a fertility god. Dagon is broken. They move the ark to Gath, whose people reject the ark from fear of the God of Israel. Then the ark is moved to Ekron, a Baal worship center. The Philistines suffer so much, the decision is made to return the ark to Israel.
It is transported to Beth-shemesh, but seventy of their men die because they looked on the ark. Finally the ark is lodged at Keriath-jearim.

Our Father in heaven,
We thank You for the help You have provided the Diocese of South Carolina in this season of litigation. We thank You that they are a house of nobleness and a lodging place for Your Holy Spirit. Bless them bountifully, we pray. Amen.

Please pray it all and there are more prayers for South Carolina here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Facts and Trends) Americans Still Want More Christ (and Worship) in Christmas

Most Americans believe Christmas goes better with a visit to church, religious Christmas songs in public school concerts, and more focus on Jesus.

And while there’s much banter on cable TV talk shows about a “War on Christmas,” most Americans are fine when people wish them “Happy Holidays.”

All these findings are included in a new survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, which asked 1,000 Americans about their views on Christmas in a phone survey Sept. 26 to Oct. 5, 2014.

“Christmas traditions that have nothing to do with the Christian faith continue to multiply,” says Scott McConnell, vice-president of LifeWay Research. “Still, most Americans want more of Jesus in their Christmas rather than less.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(Telegraph) Former Archbishop Rowan Williams wades into EU withdrawal debate

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has waded into the debate over withdrawal from the European Union insisting it could leave the UK “dangerously dependent” on the City.

He said leaving the EU would be a “deeply regressive” step and claimed Britain would have almost nothing else “distinctive” to offer outside it. Going it alone could turn the country into an “offshore financial facility”, he added.

The former Archbishop also said it was also becoming impossible to have a “reasonable conversation” about immigration in the UK at present.

And he suggested that hostility towards the EU was being fuelled by an increasingly assertive sense of English identity, partly as a response to Scottish nationalism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Willians interviewed by Church of Ireland Gazette

Listen to it all (just under 16 minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Religion & Culture, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby's full Radio Times article on Christmas and giving

The origin of Christmas gifts lies in the Christian tradition that says God gave his son, Jesus, as a gift to bring us life; we reflect that generosity by giving gifts to each other. Of course, no gift, however pricey, can truly reflect the gift God gave the world in sending Jesus to share our suffering on the cross, bear the weight of our wrongdoing and offer us the hope of life.

However, our gifts can, in small ways, reflect and point to the self-giving love of God. But the most meaningful gifts are about expressing life, not luxury. This is especially true if, as money-saving expert Martin Lewis tells us, people feel pressured into tit-for-tat giving at Christmas ”“ buying something equally as luxurious as what they’re given.

There is nothing wrong with giving something small, something that is meaningful and reminds the person that you care for them ”“ something from a charity shop, perhaps. It also gives the recipient the freedom to buy you something similarly small but meaningful.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Stewardship, Theology

(CT) Michael Lindsay on Covenant and Conflict at Gordon College

The Gordon statement in question uses the term “homosexual practice.” Does that cover everything, including handholding by same-sex couples?

Gordon has never been a place that has a master list of dos and don’ts. The wider question being asked is, Does Gordon theologically treat same-sex sexual union as sin? The answer is yes. We don’t see a place in the Bible where God appears to bless same-sex sexual union. The language of homosexual practice is really speaking to the arc of a relationship that leads up to sexual consummation.

We take seriously the challenges of our brothers and sisters who have same-sex attraction. We uphold the idea that same-sex attraction is not to be acted upon in the life of the Christ follower. Some within American evangelicalism and even within the Gordon community don’t share that conviction. But that is the theological position of the institution.
OneGordon, a group that supports LGBT persons connected to Gordon, has a public campaign to drop “homosexual practice” from Gordon’s life and conduct statement. Is there anything the college and OneGordon agree on?

It’s my hope that we can learn from each other. The theological positions of a Christian college are not determined by popular vote or advocacy. I appreciate the heartfelt concerns and desires expressed by members of the Gordon family in the OneGordon group who really want the college to change its position. [But] if a change were to occur, it [wouldn’t be] because there were so many signatures on a petition.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality, State Government, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Young Adults

(RNS) Billy Graham, Louis Zamperini and the two nights in 1949 that changed their lives

Two October evenings in 1949 brought together an alcoholic war hero and a fiery young evangelist. From then on, neither would be the same.

The preaching in that rented circus tent in Los Angeles changed Louis Zamperini, then 32 ”” who put away the bottle forever and devoted the rest of his life to Christian testimony and good works.

And those Los Angeles nights also changed the preacher, Billy Graham, and the future course of American evangelicalism as well. In Graham’s autobiography, “Just As I Am,” he calls that chapter of his life “Watershed.”

On Christmas Day, a movie directed by Angelina Jolie about Zamperini’s extraordinary survival amid the horrors of Japanese POW camps opens in theaters. “Unbroken,” is based on the award-winning book by Laura Hillenbrand.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Evangelicals, History, Movies & Television, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(SCP) Hong Kong churches reap big profits from land redevelopments

The Methodist Church Hong Kong redeveloped another site in Wan Chai into a high-rise building in 1998 with New World Development, the builder controlled by the family of Cheng Yu-tung, according to the developer’s annual report. The church currently uses some of the floors, while the rest is leased out by New World.

The Anglican Church plans to build two towers of 18 floors and 11 floors as part of a redevelopment near Lan Kwai Fong. The land currently has historic buildings, including the 166-year-old bishop’s house and a church that was used by Japanese soldiers during the second world war as a training school.

In the deal reached and approved by the government in 2011, the Anglican Church will preserve the heritage buildings at its own cost. The two new towers will be used for facilities including a church, kindergarten and a medical centre, according to a June 2011 government document.

A representative of the church was unavailable for comment on the development.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Karl Barth

Almighty God, source of justice beyond human knowledge: We offer thanks that thou didst inspire Karl Barth to resist tyranny and exalt thy saving grace, without which we cannot apprehend thy will. Teach us, like him, to live by faith, and even in chaotic and perilous times to perceive the light of thy eternal glory, Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, throughout all ages. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the United Lutheran Church

O Lord God, heavenly Father, who through thy Son hast revealed to us that heaven and earth shall pass away: We beseech thee to keep us steadfast in thy Word and in true faith; graciously guard us from all sin and preserve us amid all temptations, so that our hearts may not be overcharged with the cares of this life, but at all times in watchfulness and prayer we may await the return of thy Son and joyfully cherish the expectation of our eternal salvation; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

–Psalm 38:21-22

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Archbishop of Canterbury urges restraint when Christmas shopping

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged people to reject the culture of consumerism this Christmas and not to feel pressured to lavish expensive gifts on family and friends.

The Most Rev Justin Welby criticised “tit for tat giving” and said that small and meaningful presents gave just the same caring message as those that cost the Earth.

He said that shopping in charity shops, or donating time to loved ones or worthy causes, could be as equally well received and would prevent the sense of dread that accompanies the arrival of credit card bills in the New Year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Advent, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

Anglican-Lutheran International Co-ordinating Committee Communique

The Anglican-Lutheran International Co-ordinating Committee (ALICC) held its second meeting at the Mariners’ Club, Hong Kong, 19 to 25 November 2014, under the leadership of the Rt Revd Dr Tim Harris of the Anglican Church of Australia (acting co-chair as Archbishop Mauricio was unable to attend), and of Bishop Michael Pryse of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

The meeting was hosted by the Anglican Communion and the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui. The Committee warmly appreciated the generosity and the hospitality received from the Mission to Seafarers.

The Committee continued its work of mapping Anglican and Lutheran relationships around the world. In order to fulfill its role to be a catalyst for such relationships, it drew up a template of the differing patterns of relationships and the contexts in which they are lived out. For example, some are national churches meeting with other national churches, while others share the same geography. Some have relatively the same demographics, while in other places one church is much larger than the other. The Committee hopes to provide examples of the kinds of joint initiatives which might be appropriate for some rather than others.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Lutheran, Other Churches, Theology

(CNBC) Workers' Job health insurance costs rising faster than wages

Santa Claus is going to be bringing lots of presents in a couple of weeks, but lower health-insurance costs for most Americans won’t be one of them.

People with insurance through an employer””that is, most people with health coverage””are paying “more in premiums and deductibles than ever before” as those costs outpace the growth of wages, a new report finds.

Total premiums for covering a family through an employer-based plan rose 73 percent from 2003 through 2013, while workers’ personal share of those premium costs leaped 93 percent during the same time frame, the Commonwealth Fund report said. At the same time, median family income grew just a measly 16 percent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Theology

(Wash. Post) Senate report on CIA program details brutality, dishonesty

An exhaustive, five-year Senate investigation of the CIA’s secret interrogations of terrorism suspects renders a strikingly bleak verdict of a program launched in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, describing levels of brutality, dishonesty and seemingly arbitrary violence that at times brought even agency employees to moments of anguish.

The report by the Senate Intelligence Committee delivers new allegations of cruelty in a program whose severe tactics have been abundantly documented, revealing that agency medical personnel voiced alarm that waterboarding methods had deteriorated to “a series of near drownings” [among many other things]…

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Senate, The U.S. Government, Theology