Daily Archives: April 7, 2015

Charles Simeon on Easter 2015–a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers

In this tomb, also, you may see, A pledge to us…Yes, verily, it is a pledge,

Of Christ’s power to raise us to a spiritual life ”” The resurrection of Christ is set forth in the Scriptures as a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers; and by the very same power too, that effected that. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul draws the parallel with a minuteness and accuracy that are truly astonishing. He prays for them, that they may know what is the exceeding greatness of God’s power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” And then he says, concerning them, “God, who is rich in mercy, of his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us usi together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus^” Here, I say, you see Christ dead, quickened, raised, and seated in glory; and his believing people quickened from their death in sins, and raised with him, and seated too with him in the highest heavens. The same thing is stated also, and the same parallel is drawn in the Epistle to the Romans ; where it is said, “We are buried with Christ by baptism into death; that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” But can this be effected in us ? I answer, Behold the tomb ! Who raised the Lord Jesus? He himself said, ” I have power to lay down my life, and power to take it up again….”

–“Horae homileticae, Sermon 1414

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

Kendall Harmon–The Compelling Verbs of Easter

Above all the gospel accounts of Easter compel our attention. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” One version of this wonderful day begins with a voice of negation, a crucial question which many people never answer. Are we looking for love in all the wrong places? Are we clinging to earthly things and forgetting those things which do not pass away?

Then we hear “come and see.” To see with the full eyes of one’s heart is a rare thing indeed. So many times in life we look but do not see, do not perceive as God perceives. The power of the post-resurrection narratives is that each person is met on his or her terms. What wondrous love is that, as the Holy Spirit by his power opens our eyes.
The dynamic does not stop with the question and the call to see, however. If we really see who God is and his power to change lives and transform them into the likeness of his glory, we cannot keep it to ourselves.

Where I served my curacy in South Carolina, we had many Clemson football fans; they root for the Tigers whose color is orange. One day I visited a family devoted to Clemson and, I kid you not, even their toilet seat cover was orange. Bless them, they loved to tell the story of a particular University. One wonders whether an Easter people have a similar passion to share Jesus’ love for the world.

He is risen. Why? Come. See. Go. Tell. Alleluia.

”“The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is the host of this blog

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Eschatology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Another Prayer for Easter from William Bright

O Lord, who by triumphing over the power of darkness, didst Prepare our place in the New Jerusalem: Grant us, who have this day given thanks for thy resurrection, to praise thee in that city whereof thou art the light; where with the Father and the Holy Spirit thou livest and reignest, world without end.

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

John Piper for Easter–I Have Seen the Lord

Today that question, that debate””Did Jesus really rise from the dead historically, bodily?””is not as prominent or as intense because, at one level, people feel that it doesn’t matter to them, because different people believe in different things, and maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t; and if it did, or didn’t, and that helps you get along in life, fine; but it doesn’t make much difference to me. I may or may not call myself a Christian, and if the resurrection seems helpful to me, I may believe it; and if it doesn’t, then I won’t, and I don’t think any body should tell me that I have to.

Behind those two different kinds of unbelief””the kind from 40 years ago and the kind from the present day””is a different set of assumptions. For example, in my college days the assumption pretty much still held sway, though it was starting to give way with the rise of existentialism, that there are fixed, closed natural laws, that make the world understandable and scientifically manageable, and these laws do not allow the truth of the claim that someone has risen from the dead to live forever. That was a commonly held assumption: The modern world with its scientific understanding of natural laws does not allow for resurrections. So unbelief was often rooted in that kind of assumption.

But today, that’s not the most common working assumption. Today the assumption is not that there are natural laws outside of me forbidding the resurrection of Jesus, but there is a personal law inside of me that says: I don’t have to adapt my life to anything I don’t find helpful. Or you could state it another way: Truth for me is what I find acceptable and helpful.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Christology, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Lucy Winkett for Easter: As the bad news gets worse, the Good News keeps getting better

Jesus’s disciples had their lives turned upside down. At the moment of his death, they were fearful, living under occupation and behind locked doors. The news that the women in their group had seen him alive astounded them and completely changed the way they lived. Their fear was transformed into courage, their anxiety turned into confidence, and they were able to speak publicly about what they believed to be true.

It is often said that Jesus Christ never wrote any books or held public office, hardly travelled from the place where he was born, or produced any plans for the ordering of society. Yet all the armies that ever marched or kings that ever ruled have not had so profound an effect on the world as that travelling preacher and healer. That is because of the resurrection message that was transmitted across the known world by excited men and women who had found something extraordinary.

Jesus’s disciples thought they had lost the teacher who had taught them that the kingdom of God belongs to children, that human life should be characterised by compassion and dignity, whatever your status, and that life is lived not for the maximising of one’s own comfort but for the common good.

Read it all.

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

One Way Out of the Cul de Sac – Bishop Mark Lawrence offers more Thoughts for Easter

It is easy for us to forget that that is where the first disciples were on Easter morning—in the cul de sac. They had no place to go. Peter and Andrew, James and John, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James and the other women. The enterprise was based on Jesus of Nazareth. This movement which they had given themselves to—this God thing—it was all dependent upon him. The healing of the sick, delivering people from dark drives and obsessions, loosening the grip of loss, the teaching about how God works in peoples’ lives, (not just religious practices), but having the ability to bring people into God’s presence, into an experience with the living God by his words and presence. When Jesus was around, God came to them; forgiveness flowed; broken lives were mended. All this seemed to happen around him. You can see the problem I suppose—Jesus was the franchise. There was no way to posture or pretend about these things. Without him it would be futile to carry on.

To further illustrate my point, remember the disciples didn’t have any of these. The Pharisees and the scribes had the Hebrew scriptures; the priests in the temple had the altar of sacrifice, the altar of incense, the candelabra, the shew bread, the robes, the Holy of Holies—all that the disciples had was Jesus. Frankly, if he had not been raised we would never have heard of him. And just to have heard of him is hardly enough anyway. Without Jesus they were clearly in the cul de sac of death, which Karl Barth once called “the hopeless cul de sac.” That’s what those who stumble over Jesus’ seemingly exclusive statement that he is “the way, the truth and the life” too often forget. The Easter message is quite clear here—there’s one way out of the cul de sac and Jesus pioneered it.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Eschatology, Parish Ministry, Theology

Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi Message for 2015

From the risen Lord we ask the grace not to succumb to the pride which fuels violence and war, but to have the humble courage of pardon and peace. We ask Jesus, the Victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence. There are many!

We ask for peace, above all, for Syria and Iraq, that the roar of arms may cease and that peaceful coexistence may be restored among the various groups which make up those beloved countries. May the international community not stand by before the immense humanitarian tragedy unfolding in these countries and the tragedy of the numerous refugees.

We pray for peace for all the peoples of the Holy Land. May the culture of encounter grow between Israelis and Palestinians and the peace process be resumed, in order to end years of suffering and division.

We implore peace for Libya, that the present absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence may cease, and that all concerned for the future of the country may work to favour reconciliation and to build a fraternal society respectful of the dignity of the person. For Yemen too we express our hope for the growth of a common desire for peace, for the good of the entire people.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

(NYT) Kenyans Try to Trace a Student’s Path to Terrorism

Abdia Noor Abdi sat in the yard, exhausted after all the questions from the authorities. When she saw the face of her son on the front page of a daily newspaper, she pushed it aside and began to tear up.

He was not poor or marginalized, and did not seem especially angry. He strutted around in $200 suits, the son of a local chief.

But now her son, Abdirahim Abdullahi, has been identified as one of the four gunmen who killed nearly 150 people at a university in eastern Kenya last week, the authorities say.

Once a promising student himself, Mr. Abdullahi was killed along with the other gunmen as Kenyan forces stormed the campus in Garrisa. Police officers later paraded his naked, bullet-riddled body in the back of a pickup truck.

“He was a polite and obedient son,” his mother said. “We are in shock.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Kenya, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence, Young Adults

(CT) John Inazu–Pluralism Doesn’t Mean Relativism

Each of us, religious or non-religious, live out our beliefs in our actions. Christians act on a belief that the claims of Jesus Christ are true. Non-Christians act on other beliefs. As theologian Lesslie Newbigin observes, “We are continually required to act on beliefs that are not demonstrably certain and to commit our lives to propositions that can be doubted.” Recognizing this fact of the world does not make us relativists.

Even though Confident Pluralism is one practical outworking of Christian witness in a liberal democracy, it finds resonance in Christian theology. For example, in our English translation of Psalm 118:9, we see the psalmist proclaim, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.” And the well-known verse from Hebrews asserts that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (11:1).

Such examples of confidence in the Christian tradition bring to mind what Newbigin calls “Proper Confidence.” For Christians, the proper object of our confidence is always the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In that confidence, we can engage with those who don’t share our beliefs. And we can do so with a grace that flows out of our confidence in the gospel.

That is not relativism. It is witness.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Evangelicals, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Margaret Feinberg on “Defiant Joy”

LAWTON: Feinberg believes joy is a universal impulse.

FEINBERG: Across the globe, humanity speaks so many different languages and yet scientists have noted that there’s one language that all of humanity shares and it is the language of laughter. We are meant to experience this thing called joy.

LAWTON: As a Christian, she sees joy as a virtue derived from God.

FEINBERG: It is that thing that I believe emanates out of an abiding sense of being fiercely loved by God.

LAWTON: Feinberg also believes joy can be activated through practical means. She says for her, one of the first steps was an ancient Jewish grieving ritual.

FEINBERG: I remember going in my bedroom and taking my blouse and making a small clip just like they often do at Jewish funerals and ripping it open and as I did, you know, speaking the words of Job and making that confession to God, and there was something that would happen in those rippings of the garment where grief was allowed to flow. I think like it’s meant to. I think one of the ways that we fight back with joy is that we learn to grieve well.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Psychology, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Mozarabic Sacramentary

We give thee thanks, O heavenly Father, who hast delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of thy Son; grant, we pray thee, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his presence abiding in us he may raise us to joys eternal; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.

–Psalm 103:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Melanie McDonagh–Why have we forgotten the Easter story?

There was a dispiriting little survey the other year conducted by YouGov which suggested that 28 per cent of our children think the fable of the tortoise and the hare is part of the Easter story, while almost a third appeared to be totally ignorant of the resurrection. More than a quarter thought that the Golden Goose is part of Easter, presumably on account of the egg motif.

That, in fact, was an improvement on an earlier survey, which suggested that 43 per cent of young people aged eight to 15 had never read or heard of the crucifixion of Jesus. It seems, at the very least, a bit of an indictment of Ofsted and the National Curriculum. Britain may be increasingly a post-Christian society, but it would be nice to think people knew a bit more about Christianity before deciding to move on.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Religion & Culture