Daily Archives: December 31, 2014

Dave Barrys' year in review for 2014

It was a year of mysteries. To list some of the more baffling ones:

A huge airliner simply vanished, and to this day nobody has any idea what happened to it, despite literally thousands of hours of intensive speculation on CNN.

Millions of Americans suddenly decided to make videos of themselves having ice water poured on their heads. Remember? There were rumors that this had something to do with charity, but for most of us, the connection was never clear. All we knew was that, for a while there, every time we turned on the TV, there was a local newscaster or Gwyneth Paltrow or Kermit the Frog or some random individual soaking wet and shivering. This mysterious phenomenon ended as suddenly as it started, but not before uncounted trillions of American brain cells died of frostbite.

An intruder jumped the White House fence and, inexplicably, managed to run into the White House through the unlocked front door. Most of us had assumed that anybody attempting this would instantly be converted to a bullet-ridden pile of smoking carbon by snipers, lasers, drones, ninjas, etc., but it turned out that, for some mysterious reason, the White House had effectively the same level of anti-penetration security as a Dunkin’ Donuts.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Humor / Trivia, Media

Christmas and New Year Messages

Some of the messages from around the Communion and the British Isles. Please leave other links you come across in the comments below. This post will be updated [in bold] as links are notified.

Other Seasonal posts:
Christmas on T19
Blog Open Thread: How, Where and With Whom are You Spending Christmas 2014?
London Fireworks 2015
Belize: Bishop Philip Wright
Canterbury: Archbishop Justin Welby
Kenya: Archbishop Eliud Wabukala report from NTV
Egypt: Archbishop Mouneer Anis and A Christmas Eve Surprise
Lagos: Bishop Adebola Ademowu
San Joaquin: Bishop Eric Menees
Singapore: Bishop Rennis Ponniah
West Malaysia: Bishop Moon Hing

Bishop of Blackburn
Bishop of Chichester
Bishop of Huntingdon
Bishop of Lichfield
Bishop of St Albans
Down and Dromore: Bishop Harold Miller

Ecumenical – New Year
Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK: General Bishop Angaelos
Roman Catholic: HH Pope Francis
Russian Orthodox Church: HH Patriarch Kirill
Metropolitan Hillarion

Ecumenical – Christmas
Coptic Orthodox Church: HH Pope Tawadros II
Ecumenical Patriarchate: H A-H Patriarch Bartholomew and Epiphany report
Russian Orthodox Church: HH Patriarch Kirill

Australia: Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney
Australian Bishops
Tazmania: Bishop John Harrower
Belize: Bishop Philip Wright
Canada: Bishop Charlie Masters, Moderator of ANiC
Archbishop Hiltz of ACoC
and video with National Bishop of ELC [no carol singing from them this year]
England: Archbishop Welby
Ghana: Archbishop Sarfo
Hong Kong: Archbishop Paul Kwong
Kenya: Archbishop Eliud Wabukala
Myanmar: Archbishop Stephen Than
South America: Archbishop Hector ‘Tito’ Zavala
South East Asia: Kuching: Archbishop Bolly Lapok
West Malaysia: Bishop Moon Hing
Southern Africa: Archbishop Thabo Makgoba
New Zealand: Archbishop Richardson at Oihi
Uganda: Archbishop Ntagali
and Advent video
US: Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina – Christmas Eve Sermon
Mabel’s Story
Archbishop Foley Beach of ACNA
Bishop Julian Dobbs of CANA
Bishop of Central Florida: Greg Brewer
Acting Bishop of Dallas – Bishop Paul Lambert
West Indies: Archbishop John Holder


Archbishop of York
The Bishop of London
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Bishop of Birkenhead
Bishop of Bristol
Bishop of Blackburn
What #ChristmasMeans
Bishop of Carlisle
Bishop of Chester
Bishop of Chichester
Bishop of Coventry
Bishop of Durham
Bishop of Exeter
Christmas Sermon
Bishop of Leicester
Bishop of Lichfield:
Bishop of Liverpool and Daily Express Message
Bishop of Peterborough
Bishop of Sheffield
Bishop of Sherborne
Bishop of Truro
Bishop of Winchester
Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe – Bishop Robert Innis
Bishop of Beverley
Bishop of Ebbsfleet

Ireland: Archbishops [Anglican and Roman Catholic] of Armagh
Bishop of Down and Dromore
Archbishop of Dublin
Church in Wales bishops
Scotland: Primus

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

For his Feast Day (3)–John Martin: Samuel Ajayi Crowther’s World: The Cover-Up

One of the great contributions of CMS to African Christianity was its encouragement and support of the mission of ex-slaves in West Africa, led by Samuel Ajayi Crowther and his associates.

As Yale professor Lamin Sanneh has noted, this movement brought a new world order into being, a world order achieved not through colonial power or military might but by something radically opposite. Its agents were drawn from among the world’s most repressed and downtrodden who became champions of freedom, dignity and enterprising evangelical faith.

The outcome was a high-octane faith that exulted in the freedom Christ offered. The principles of anti-slavery and freedom became keynotes of a massive movement that few white people fully comprehended. At one stage Sierra Leone was sending a higher proportion of its population into missionary service than has ever been achieved anywhere.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Missions, Theology

For his Feast Day (2)–Archbishop Justin Welby preaches on Anglican Pioneer Samuel Crowther

Crowther was the apostle of Nigeria and the inspiration of much more. He worked all over but especially in the South South (for the Nigerians here) or Niger Delta, in places like Nembe (which I have been to), Brass, Bonny. It is a hard place now, one can scarcely imagine what travel and health were like then. He was a linguist, a scholar, a translator of scripture, a person of prayer. Above all he loved Jesus Christ and held nothing back in his devotion and discipleship.

Those who opposed him were caught up in their own world. British society of the nineteenth century was overwhelmingly racist, deeply hierarchical. It resisted all sense that God saw things differently. In the India of the time the East India Company, ruling the land, forbade the singing of the Magnificat at evensong, lest phrases about putting down the mighty from their seats and exalting the humble and meek might be understood too well by the populations they ruled. The idea that an African was their equal was literally, unimaginable. Of course they forgot the list of Deacons in Acts 5, including Simeon Niger in Acts 13, or Augustine from North Africa, or the Ethiopian eunuch whom Philip baptised. They lived in an age of certainty in their own superiority. In their eyes not only the gospel, but even the Empire would be at risk if they conceded.

The issue was one of power, and it is power and its handling that so often deceives us into wickedness. Whether as politicians or Bishops, in business or in the family, the aim to dominate is sin. Our model is Christ, who washed feet when he could have ruled. Crowther’s consecration reading was do not dominate, and it means just what it says. Each of us must lead by humility.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Church of Nigeria

For his Feast Day (1)–(CMS) Samuel Ajayi Crowther: the unsung hero

It is time to tell again the long-neglected story of Samuel Ajayi Crowther, writes Gareth Sturdy.

If you know the name, it probably resounds as that of a hero. Such heroes, unacknowledged in their own time and then ignored by their immediate successors, end up being the Really Important Ones. Their stature is so great that it is missed entirely up-close, gets larger the more distant you are from it, and can only been seen in its true glory from space.

If the name is unknown to you, then you are the victim of a cover-up. How else can you have missed one of the most important Africans of the modern era?

It is an opportune moment to reassess Crowther in the light of new understanding. A light that glares at the cover up and reveals a significance greater than that so far ascribed to him by even his most loyal champions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Nigeria

(LICC) Phil Grundy–Christmas ”“ What’s the Story?

Two high-profile TV adverts this season seem to point back to the sentiment of Dickens’ tale. Sainsbury’s sign off with the strap line ”˜Christmas is for sharing’, whilst John Lewis prefer ”˜Give someone the Christmas they’ve been dreaming of’. Behind the marketing strategy seems to be a genuine search for a more profound message to accompany the call to consume. Both are centred on sharing and people, not objects or wealth.

Margaret Oliphant, Scottish novelist and historical writer, wrote that A Christmas Carol ”˜moved us all those days ago as if it had been a new gospel’. And its popularity and pertinence remain undimmed. But shining even brighter is the old Gospel ”“ the ultimate story of second chances and redemption that is ready to move us again this Christmas and lead us to sharing it with others.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, England / UK, History, Religion & Culture

The Bishop of St Albans’ Christmas Sermon for 2014–Discomfort and Joy

Everything is turned upside down. Much to everyone’s astonishment it’s not Augustus who is the real son of God, the saviour who bring good news of peace ”“ no, it’s Jesus. And the proclamation is made not in the public forum in front of the Roman citizens but to the shepherds on the hill sides, who were the social outcasts. And as the narrative unfolds Simeon and Anna proclaim that this child, Jesus, is the one who will become the saviour of God’s people, not Augustus or for that matter, any earthly ruler, especially those who govern by the sword and with violence.

Now so much of our celebration of Christmas has sanitized these insights. Take popular carols, such as ”˜While shepherds watched their flocks by night’ or ”˜O little town of Bethlehem’ which give us a romaticised, privatised interpretation of Christmas, which, though I love them too, have no little bearing on the world in all its pain and suffering. These carols give us a piety which is only about feeling an inner sense of peace. Now there is nothing wrong with feeling inner peace. It’s just that here in Luke chapter 2 the events are profoundly political. This is the Christ who is born into a country which has been occupied by foreign forces, where its people are oppressed and where he comes to bring peace founded in justice.
And so let’s return to where we started: that cold Christmas day in 1914 where peace broke for a few hours. It did not come from the politicians who were safely back in Blightly tucked up with their families in the warm with their turkey lunch. Peace did not come from the generals ”“ they certainly didn’t order a cease fire. No, it came because ordinary soldiers, recalling the events of Christmas, put down their weapons and dared to venture out into no man’s land.

If we are going to find true peace in our world today, it will not come primarily through the politicians and certainly not through the soldiers who may keep the peace, but cannot alone establish it.

Peace will come when ordinary men and women like you and me, dare to climb out the trenches that we have dug to protect ourselves, the trenches of fear, of greed, of hatred. Can we show similar courage to that of the First World War soldiers who stuck their heads above the parapets?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

Music for Christmas 2014–Arlan Sunnarborg's Wonderful Fanfare Intro to Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Just oh so uplifting–KSH.

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

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

Great Fun and Laughter for Christmas 2014: Straight No Chaser – The 12 Days of Christmas

Wonderful stuff!

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Humor / Trivia, Music

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Ajayi Crowther

Almighty God, who didst rescue Samuel Ajayi Crowther from slavery, sent him to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to his people in Nigeria, and made him the first bishop from the people of West Africa: Grant that those who follow in his steps may reap what he has sown and find abundant help for the harvest; through him who took upon himself the form of a slave that we might be free, the same Jesus Christ; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Nigeria, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from William Knight

O Almighty God, who by the birth of thy holy Child Jesus hast given us a great light to dawn upon our darkness: Grant, we pray thee, that in his light we may see light to the end of our days; and bestow upon us, we beseech thee, that most excellent Christmas gift of charity to all men, that so the likeness of thy Son may be formed in us, and that we may have the ever brightening hope of everlasting life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

–Psalm 46:1-3

Posted in Uncategorized

(Methodist Bishop) William Willimon–Word Made Flesh

It’s a story so strange we could not have dreamed it up by ourselves, this story of how God was incarnate in Jesus the Christ. An embarrassing pregnancy, a poor peasant couple forced to become undocumented immigrants in Egypt soon after the birth of their baby, King Herod’s slaughter of the Jewish boy babies in a vain attempt to put an end to this new “King,” From the beginning the story of Jesus is the strangest story of all. A Messiah who avoids the powerful and the prestigious and goes to the poor and dispossessed? A Savior who is rejected by many of those whom he sought to save? A King who reigns from a bloody cross? Can this one with us be God?

And yet Christians believe that this story, for all its strangeness, is true. Here we have a truthful account of how our God read us back into the story of God. This is a truthful depiction not only of who God really is but also of how we who were lost got found, redeemed, restored, and saved by a God who refused to let our rejection and rebellion (our notorious “God problem”) be the final word in the story.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Methodist, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

Martin Luther for Christmas 2014–Lay hold of this picture deep in your heart

This Gospel is so clear that it requires very little explanation, but it should be well considered and taken deeply to heart; and no one will receive more benefit from it than those who, with a calm, quiet heart, banish everything else from their mind, and diligently look into it. It is just as the sun which is reflected in calm water and gives out vigorous warmth, but which cannot be so readily seen nor can it give out such warmth in water that is in roaring and rapid motion.

Therefore, if you would be enlightened and warmed, if you would see the wonders of divine grace and have your heart aglow and enlightened, devout and joyful, go where you can silently meditate and lay hold of this picture deep in your heart, and you will see miracle upon miracle. But to give the common person a start and a motive to contemplate it, we will illustrate it in part, and afterwards enter into it more deeply.

First, behold how very ordinary and common things are to us that transpire on earth, and yet how high they are regarded in heaven. On earth it occurs in this wise: Here is a poor young woman, Mary of Nazareth, not highly esteemed, but of the humblest citizens of the village. No one is conscious of the great wonder she bears, she is silent, keeps her own counsel, and regards herself as the lowliest in the town. Shestarts out with her husband Joseph; very likely they had no servant, and he had to do the work of master and servant, and she that of mistress and maid, They were therefore obliged to leave their home unoccupied, or commend it to the care of others.

Read it all.

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

(Jerusalem Post) Benjamin Weinthal–The religious cleansing of Middle East Christians

Anti-Christian violence in 2014 saw a transformation from under-told news coverage, to routine reports of radical Islamists seeking to obliterate Christianity’s presence.

Religious freedom experts captured the dire situation of Middle Eastern Christians in comments on Friday to The Jerusalem Post.

“Persecution no longer adequately describes the treatment of Christians in a growing number of Muslim areas.

Religious cleansing, a type of cultural genocide, which is a crime against humanity, is the more accurate description.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Foreign Policy) Christian Caryl–It’s a Black Christmas for the Christians of the Middle East

I guess you could argue that this is all old news. A lot has happened since late November, and there are plenty of other stories to cover. By and large, the international media have moved on. But the refugees are still there, huddled together on the grounds of the church, or in other sites scattered around Kurdish-controlled territory (which has offered them a warm welcome despite its own lack of resources). The world may have forgotten these people, but they’re still struggling to come to terms with the catastrophe. The accounts repeat and overlap: “I hid our money in the house, thinking we’d be back in a few days. But now we realize that we’ll probably never be able to go back.” “They knew our cellphone number, so a few days later, they called us up and said they’d hunt us down and kill us.” “They took him away, and we’ve never heard from him again.”

Mukhlis Yusef Yacoub, 37, could be considered one of the lucky ones. Thanks to a benefactor from his hometown of Qaraqosh (a predominantly Christian city just east of Mosul), he’s found a job in Erbil, selling clothes from the back of a car, which gives him just enough money to afford a closet-sized apartment for him, his wife, and their three kids. But this is small consolation for the loss of their world.

“They came on August 6,” Yacoub told me, remembering how the jihadists began their assault on Qaraqosh. Islamic State fighters detained him and his 9-year-old son, Mark; his wife and two daughters managed to flee. His captors demanded that Yacoub convert to Islam. When he refused, they beat him so viciously that he lost his sight in one eye. Yet he would not bend ”” so his jailers decided to go after his son. “They tied a rope around Mark’s body and legs, and then they dragged him down the street behind a car.” But still, he said, he refused to submit. After 7 days, his jailers tired of the game, and they expelled Yacoub and his son from IS-controlled territory. The two of them walked on foot for miles until they reached the safety of Kurdish territory.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence