Daily Archives: December 6, 2016

[Fr Dale Matson] Repentance And The Man In The Mirror

..To be a holy people we must realize that Christ who is our righteousness imparts our holiness. We fall short of being his holy priesthood every day and must confess that we cannot of ourselves even keep the basic two commandments of our Lord. We must confess that we have broken the two great commandments that sum all of the commandments. In Rite One we say, “Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against thee by thought word and deed, by what we have done, and what we have left undone. We have not loved thee with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.” (BCP p. 331)

This is both repentance and confession. Let us not look at the sin of our neighbor and look self-righteously to our self. May we repent of our sins, simply seek personal holiness and run the good race that our Lord and Savior has called us to run. May we not be a stumbling block in the lives of those who do not know Christ and may we never discredit the gospel message through scandalous lives ourselves. Take a look at yourself and then make a change Amen

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

[AU 260] A Lambeth Resolution 1:10 Eye Witness Report

[With thanks to Kevin Kallsen and George Conger at Anglican TV]

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

[Church of Nigeria] Condolence visit to St Francis College of Theology, Wusasa

A ghastly motor accident that claimed three lives with others still lying critically ill in the hospital has thrown the entire St Francis College of Theology Community in Wusasa Kaduna State into mourning. As a result of this development, the Primate of all Nigeria Anglican Communion the Most Rev Nicholas D Okoh quickly arranged and dispatched a Primatial condolence visit to St Francis College of Theology Wusasa.
On hand to receive them was the Dean of the college the Rt Rev Praises Omole-Ekun, the members of the faculty and the entire college community. Bishop Praises appreciated Primate Okoh for sending the delegation and highlight their immediate need most importantly looking after the widows and the children the deceased has left behind, the loss of the college bus to the accident among other challenges of the college.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

[Economist] No, grazie: Italian voters have rejected Matteo Renzi’s constitutional reforms

It was, said a hoarse, red-eyed Matteo Renzi, an “extraordinarily clear” result. His plan to reform Italy’s constitution was not rejected on December 4th by a margin of five or even ten percentage points, as the polls had suggested: the gap between No and Yes was a mortifying 20 points in Italy proper.

Official figures showed the rejectionist front winning by 60% to 40% in metropolitan Italy (and by 59% to 41% counting ballots cast by Italians abroad). And that was with a high turnout, which Mr Renzi’s advisers had believed would favour his cause. The humiliation came at the end of a 66-day campaign into which Mr Renzi threw himself with frenetic energy. He had little choice but to resign in the face of such an unexpectedly decisive outcome.

Mr Renzi had argued that that the reform was essential to make Italy more governable, and so more amenable to structural reforms. Anti-EU populists spearheaded the No campaign, though they were joined by establishment figures such as Mario Monti, a former prime minister, worried about the accretion of executive power sought by Mr Renzi through the combination of the constitutional reform (which would have emasculated the powerful Senate) with a lop-sided electoral law (which engineers a guaranteed majority for the largest party, even one with a small plurality, in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house).

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Europe, Italy

[Abp Mouneer Anis] Appointment of a New Area Bishop at North Africa

(Diocese of Egypt)

Dear Friends

I am happy to let you know that I have appointed The Very Reverend Dr Samy Fawzy Shehata, the Dean of St Mark Pro-Cathedral Alexandria, as the new Area Bishop of North Africa. We have received the approval of the majority of the Provincial Synod of Jerusalem and The Middle East for this appointment. Dean Samy will be the second Area Bishop of North Africa, after Bishop Bill Musk.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Nepal: A Historic and Memorable Episcopal Visit by Bp Rennis Ponniah and Abp Foley Beach

by Revd Lewis Lew, Dean of Nepal
..It was heartwarming to see how the two Bishops, even though separated by hundreds of miles, were of one mind and were so ready to serve one another.

The Confirmation Service was held in Maranatha Church, which is situated in a slump area in Pokhara City (Western Nepal). A total of 317 confirmands packed the worship hall. This was a historic moment for the Anglican Church in Nepal as these confirmands were its first batch of Anglican members from the Western part of Nepal to be confirmed. As we obey the Lord’s call for us to focus our work in the western part of the country, this group of newly confirmed members were reminded that they will be the ones sent to reach the lost, just as the Lord has commissioned us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19-20).

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, The Anglican Church in South East Asia

Tues. Morning Mental Health Break–WONDERFUL Christmas Ad May starring Grandpa (+his dog)

(Hat tip: Greg Kandra)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Children, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Media, Theology

(Commonweal) Understanding Henri Nouwen: Priest, Writer, Mentor, Misfit

Nouwen’s legacy as a writer includes scores of books and translations, and thousands of letters. He could be sentimental, cloying, and crushingly needy, as in his “letter” to journalist Fred Bratman, Life of the Beloved, where his penchant for labored expressions of affection is in abundant evidence (“Deep friendship is a calling forth of each other’s chosenness…our lives are unique stones in the mosaic of human existence”). But he could also be measured, penetratingly observant, and on occasion luminous, as in the epilogue to The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey, reflecting on the seeming capriciousness of God’s grace: “It is dark agony. It is following Jesus to a completely unknown place. It is being emptied out on the cross and having to wait for new life in naked faith.”

One struggles to place Nouwen. Theologians have difficulty situating him within one of the organic spiritual traditions. Catholic intellectuals see him as a cult figure, the darling of suburban matrons. Psychologists have reservations about his methodology and academic pedigree. And pedagogues find his inspirational teaching style problematic. But his readers””and there are legions of them, including Hillary Clinton, who cites him as a chief spiritual influence””love him unconditionally. Some of his books, The Return of the Prodigal Son principal among them, will have lasting power; and for those who met him, listened to him preach, or became his disciples, the effect of his life and ministry has proved ineradicable.

In this twentieth anniversary of his death, it is instructive to see him in a new light, as postconciliar prophet of a reformed presbyteral model. Nouwen was a universal pastor, uninterested in the squabbles of ambitious clerical careerists, detached from the more toxic of ecclesiastical controversies, and committed to prayer as the only antidote to priestly irrelevance. His frankness around issues of sexuality and his willingness to disclose emotional fragility make him important at a time when many bishops promote a discredited neo-Tridentine model of formation. Nouwen was a loyal, integrated, and doctrinally conservative priest. With his openness and undisguised vulnerability, the model of formation he exemplifies will set a mature standard for contemporary ministry.

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

Oliver O'Donovan–Communicating the Good: The Politics and Ethics of 'The Common Good'

….there are two misunderstandings we have to be especially on guard against in deploying the elusive and self-transcending language of the common good. One is what we may perhaps be permitted to call “the Prussian doctrine of the state”: the idea of a political organisation comprehensive of all actual and possible communications, which is in itself therefore the concrete universal, the achievement and interpretation of the purposes of God. The universal good may be represented in a form we can conceive synthetically, for practical purposes, by the state or some other established order. But this conceivable form does not anticipate all possible moral demands. Concrete moral demand can always outrun synthetic moral vision; it may call us to do what we do not wholly see. That is the truth of the experience of obligation, the experience of something as required of us which is not wholly, or not yet, self-explanatory and perspicuous.
One of the most memorable features of Gaston Fessard’s contribution is his recognition of the “problem” of imagining the universal common good, and his insistence that it cannot be grasped simply as an extension of scale, whether in existing community, on the one hand, or in the activity of communication, on the other.

The Prussian doctrine of the state can migrate into larger-scale bureaucratic organisations of a multinational or international character. One false universal the Scriptures can acquaint us with is that of empire. In the common good, as Gaudium et Spes sought to remind us, there is a thrust towards the universal, but the true universal is not quantitative, realised by extension of organisational scale, scope or rigour, but qualitative, too, requiring a depth of personal “communion,” as Fessard names it.

The other misunderstanding we must beware of concerns the relation of the universal common good to history. The truth of history is that time is not, as Richard Wagner conceived it in Parsifal, “turned to space.” Language about action in history cannot be assimilated to language about making things. The universal is not an artefact, to be constructed, replicated, copied and so on, with time as a kind of material element out of which it is wrought.

The question of the universal is inevitably a question about eschatology, the “fulfilment of the times.” As this is not at the disposal of human imagination, so it is not at the disposal of human construction. What is realised historically can only be watched and hoped for, refracted indirectly through the prism of anticipation.

Read it all from ABC Australia.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Theology

Michael Schuermann–Luther’s Morning Prayer ”“ A Model for the Christian’s Daily Life

St. Paul’s exhortation to pray “without ceasing” highlights the importance of regular prayer in the life of the Christian. Luther’s years of monastic life modeled a regulated daily life of prayer. The various monastic daily prayer offices seem to have influenced Luther’s teaching of prayer in the Small Catechism. Not only is a prayer for morning provided, but Luther places that prayer within a simple liturgy: first, the name of the Triune God is spoken and the sign of the holy cross is made, then the Creed and Lord’s Prayer (two of the Chief Parts!) are spoken. Finally, Luther suggests his little prayer may be said “if you choose.” Humbly, Luther considers his own contribution optional and the handed-down texts of the Faith essential.

Luther’s modeling of prayer seems deliberately designed to avoid the type of praying that Jesus warns against: “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” (Matthew 6:7) With many words comes much work; Luther aims at a simple liturgy of prayer that can be adopted in the daily lives of Christians both in his time and in our present day.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Lutheran, Other Churches, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Diocese of South Carolina) Dave Wright–Presence before presents: Can we have a Christmas revival?

It was exactly 20 years ago that I experienced something as a believer and as a young father that changed the way I view and experience Christmas. It was our first Christmas in England and in the Anglican Church. Growing up in a different denomination and in America, I’d never experienced going to church on Christmas morning. We always attended Christmas Eve services. Once I became a believer, they were particularly powerful experiences. The only time after I was married that we attended church on Christmas day was the rarity of it falling on a Sunday. And to be honest, we only did so because I worked for the church and it was expected of me.

What we experienced in 1996 was nothing less than amazing. As a family we went to church together on Christmas morning, and it forever changed the way we want to experience Christmas. We got up that morning, had breakfast and allowed our three small children the luxury of opening their stockings before getting dressed for church. We headed to church that morning, opened the doors and were amazed at what we saw. The entire church family packed the place! By that I mean all the active members of the church were there and some had brought extended family or friends. There was hardly a spare seat in the place. The service was lively and full of a spirit of true celebration. We sang “Joy To The World” as if we had never sung it before. The service was all-ages-oriented, and the sermon proclaimed the good news in a way that every generation could appreciate. There was no question as to why Jesus came to the earth by the time we left the church. And leaving was no hasty matter either. People lingered after the service exchanging cards, gifts, and hugs. The joyful spirit in the air was nothing less than stunning. We probably stayed longer than we did most Sundays. I then took my wife and three small children back to our house to continue the celebration. We opened gifts and shared phone calls with grandparents and ate entirely too much food.

The focus of our day was simply Jesus. It was possibly the first truly Christ-centered Christmas we as a Christian family had experienced. Having taken the time to worship our Lord first set the stage for the entire day.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Advent, Children, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Marriage & Family, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas

Almighty God, who in thy love didst give to thy servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness on land and sea: Grant, we pray thee, that thy Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Gregory of Nazianzus

O God, by whose command the order of time runs its course: Forgive, we pray thee, the impatience of our hearts; make perfect that which is lacking in our faith; and, while we tarry the fulfillment of thy promises, grant us to have a good hope because of thy word; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

O LORD, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwells.

–Psalm 26:8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Doctors of the World Christmas cards combine nativity scenes with images from war zones

A UK charity is selling a series of Christmas cards featuring images that combine traditional Biblical imagery with contemporary pictures from conflict zones across the Middle East.

Doctors of the World UK is selling the cards, with names including ”˜Not So Silent Night’ and ”˜The Star of Bedlam’, to raise funds for its mission to provide medical aid to people who’ve been forced from their homes by war.

The cards were designed by ad agency McCann London, incorporating Press Association photographs taken over the last year.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Globe and Mail) David Haskell–How to grow a church: some church leaders might not like the answer

If you went to Sunday school, you heard the story of Jonah and chances are you remember that he was swallowed by a whale. But what often gets forgotten is the story’s larger theme. Jonah is given a divine message and is instructed to deliver it to a people on the verge of calamity but, for some specific reasons, he’s reluctant.

Minus hearing the voice of God, for the last couple of weeks, I’ve felt a little like Jonah.

The information I’m delivering relates to a study some colleagues and I conducted that explored mainline Protestant churches. Since the 1960s, churches in the Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and United denominations have been steadily losing members and we wanted to determine why.

Through statistical analysis of survey data from a near-even mix of growing and declining church attendees and their clergy, we found that conservative religious doctrine, known for emphasizing a more literal interpretation of scripture, is a key driver for church growth in mainline Protestant congregations. Liberal doctrine, which emphasizes a metaphorical interpretation, leads to decline.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Canada, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

The Advertiser profiles New Australian Anglican Bishop Geoffrey Smith

The first challenge he faces is the move to Adelaide, getting to know the city’s people and culture, which he expects will be quite different from the diocese of Brisbane.

Bishop Smith has worked with the Sudanese community in Brisbane and is pleased that Adelaide is becoming more multicultural.

Church attendances have risen and declined in cycles over the centuries but Bishop Smith says God has not given up on the church.

He says research indicates healthy churches tend to grow the number of people who are part of them, in terms of service to the community, and in faith and generosity.

“I’ve seen churches grow; I’ve been a part of growing churches,” Bishop Smith says. “I’m going to be very focused on helping our parishes to be healthy, as well as encouraging the Anglican schools.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces

Mistrial declared in Michael Slager murder case; policeman still faces federal charges

A mistrial was declared Monday after jurors could not agree on a verdict in the murder case against Michael Slager, the white North Charleston police officer who shot Walter Scott, a black man. The jury had been deliberating for about 22 hours.

It was not immediately clear whether state prosecutors would retry Slager. The 35-year-old former policeman still faces charges in federal court that carry a lifetime of imprisonment.

The jury had two options for a conviction: murder or voluntary manslaughter. To reach any verdict ”” guilty or not ”” all 12 jurors must have unanimously agreed on the decision.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Theology, Violence