Daily Archives: April 3, 2018

A Group of C of E Bishops’ Easter letter warns of slavery in our midst

Slavery is on the rise in Britain in a way we have not seen since the days of William Wilberforce. Last year 5,145 victims were found in the UK. It is a big increase on 2016’s figure, but it still does not come close to the tens of thousands that the National Crime Agency believes are hidden.

It might seem that we should leave this problem to the police. But this Easter we are asking everyone to open their eyes to the signs of potential exploitation around them. The Clewer Initiative, our national anti-slavery project, educates people on what to look out for. New life for those entombed in darkness.

As Wilberforce said more than 200 years ago, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say you did not know.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(WSJ) George Weigel–The Easter Effect and How It Changed the World

This remarkable and deliberate recording of the first Christians’ incomprehension of what they insisted was the irreducible bottom line of their faith teaches us two things. First, it tells us that the early Christians were confident enough about what they called the Resurrection that (to borrow from Prof. Wright) they were prepared to say something like, “I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s what happened.” And the second thing it tells us is that it took time for the first Christians to figure out what the events of Easter meant—not only for Jesus but for themselves. As they worked that out, their thinking about a lot of things changed profoundly, as Prof. Wright and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI help us to understand in their biblical commentaries.

The way they thought about time and history changed. During Jesus’ public ministry, many of his followers shared in the Jewish messianic expectations of the time: God would soon work something grand for his people in Israel, liberating them from their oppressors and bringing about a new age in which (as Isaiah had prophesied) the nations would stream to the mountain of the Lord and history would end. The early Christians came to understand that the cataclysmic, world-redeeming act that God had promised had taken place at Easter. God’s Kingdom had come not at the end of time but within time—and that had changed the texture of both time and history. History continued, but those shaped by the Easter Effect became the people who knew how history was going to turn out. Because of that, they could live differently. The Easter Effect impelled them to bring a new standard of equality into the world and to embrace death as martyrs if necessary—because they knew, now, that death did not have the final word in the human story.

The way they thought about “resurrection” changed. Pious Jews taught by the reforming Pharisees of Jesus’ time believed in the resurrection of the dead. Easter taught the first Christians, who were all pious Jews, that this resurrection was not the resuscitation of a corpse, nor did it involve the decomposition of a corpse. Jesus’ tomb was empty, but the Risen Lord appeared to his disciples in a transformed body. Those who first experienced the Easter Effect would not have put it in these terms, but as their understanding of what had happened to Jesus and to themselves grew, they grasped that (as Benedict XVI put it in “Jesus of Nazareth–Holy Week”) there had been an “evolutionary leap” in the human condition. A new way of being had been encountered in the manifestly human but utterly different life of the one they met as the Risen Lord. That insight radically changed all those who embraced it.

Read it all.

Posted in Easter

Jon Talton offers thoughts on the fading Central Methodist Church in Phoenix, Arizone

I was baptized in Central Methodist Church, so many decades ago. I remember Sunday school, attending services with my mother and grandmother. My mother had a glorious contralto and, a child prodigy trained as a concert pianist, sometimes played the immense pipe organ, with its 4 divisions, 28 stops, and 41 registers. In the 1960s, it was common for each service to see a thousand people or more, filling the sanctuary and its three balconies. Central was a prime posting for veteran ministers — only doctors of divinity reached the senior rank — and the choir was superb. I was confirmed there, age 13.

When I returned to Phoenix in 2000, I started attending Central again, this time with Susan. Getting a hundred people in the pews was a victory by that time. The quality of preaching was uneven, as individual ministers came and went (long gone from the days of a senior minister and others). But the music program was very strong under Don Morse. The core, including the corps of ushers, was committed. Important for us, Central still offered a traditional service, with the wonderful Methodist hymns. Christmas Eve could see five services in the soaring sanctuary, with luminarias in the courtyard. We continue to attend. When I lived in Charlotte, people would ask me if I had found “a church home.” No — in that hotbed of religion, the question irritated the secular me. “I have a bar home,” I would respond. But the truth was different. My church was here. It always was. Always will be.

But this year brought heartbreaking news. First, the music program was downgraded, with Morse and seemingly most of the choir gone. Finances were an issue; the church and Morse, who had already taken a pay freeze/cut, couldn’t come to terms. But respect also seemed an issue, the lay leaders wanting to downgrade his position to “choirmaster.” A botched remodel of the sanctuary was probably another cause, including the loss of the pipe organ and removal of two of the balconies. I don’t claim special insight. I spent many years in United Methodist choirs, but tried to avoid church politics whenever possible. Next came word that the sanctuary would only be used for special occasions. A traditional service would be held in the small Pioneer Chapel and a contemporary one in Kendall Hall.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Methodist, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Do not take yourself too seriously Dept–Listening to Sermons


(HT: Mindful Christianity+DG)

Posted in Humor / Trivia, Preaching / Homiletics

(Radio Times) BBC’s religion editor Martin Bashir: Why Christianity is still relevant this Easter

If Christmas is now a secular celebration – described by one newspaper as a season marked by “buying, boozing and bonking” – then what do we make of Easter? Is Holy Week more about chocolate eggs than the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ?

And since the latest British Social Attitudes survey says that more than half (53 per cent) of the British public now describe themselves as having “no religion”, isn’t it time to consign these Christian festivals to history?

Should we accept the advice offered by an advertising campaign on the side of London buses in 2008 that read, “There’s probably no God – now stop worrying and enjoy your life”?

These are some of the questions that I’ve been grappling with since I returned to the UK in 2016, after working for 12 years as a news broadcaster in New York, and became the BBC’s religion editor….

Read it all.

Posted in Easter, Media, Religion & Culture

An Easter Carol

Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer;
Death is strong, but Life is stronger;
Stronger than the dark, the light;
Stronger than the wrong, the right.
Faith and Hope triumphant say,
Christ will rise on Easter-Day.

While the patient earth lies waking,
Till the morning shall be breaking,
Shuddering ‘neath the burden dread
Of her Master, cold and dead,
Hark! she hears the angels say,
Christ will rise on Easter-Day.
And when sunrise smites the mountains,
Pouring light from heavenly fountains,
Then the earth blooms out to greet
Once again the blessed feet;
And her countless voices say,
Christ has risen on Easter-Day.

Up and down our lives obedient
Walk, dear Christ, with footsteps radiant,
Till those garden lives shall be
Fair with duties done for Thee;
And our thankful spirits say,
Christ arose on Easter-Day.

–Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)

Posted in Easter

Music For Easter–Since By Man Came Death from Handel’s Messiah

Take the time to listen to it all from the Oxford Philomusica.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

The Archbishop of York’s 2018 Easter Sermon

In the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth we see a God who would do anything – absolutely anything – to bring his lost children, in the wilderness of this world, home to his warm embrace.

Jesus Christ’s death and Resurrection have a power that has echoed down through the centuries, casting its shadow across empires and kingdoms and nations and it has come to us of the Third Millennium. It cries out to us, screaming at us to look upon the Crucified and Risen Saviour and realise how far God is willing to go to forgive us constantly. He promises to bring victory to the defeated, belonging to the lost, joy to the sorrowful, comfort to the afflicted, and even life to the dead.

The Crucified Saviour stands as a sign to every man and woman, every boy and girl, who has endured bodily or spiritual pain that God knows what it means to suffer, and that he redeems our suffering, our pains, through his own sacrificial love.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Easter

Heaven Haven

I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail,
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.

–Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1899)

Posted in Easter, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Prayer Manual

Almighty God, Who art worshipped by the heavenly host with hymns that are never silent and thanksgivings that never cease: fill our mouths with Thy praise that we may worthily magnify Thy holy Name for all the wonderful blessings of Thy love, and chiefly [in this season] for the Resurrection of Thy Son. Grant us, with all those that fear Thee and keep Thy commandments, to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom with Thee and the Holy Ghost may praise from all the world be given, now and for evermore.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Easter

From the Morning Bible Readings

A Psalm of David. 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, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

–Psalm 103:1-5

Posted in Theology: Scripture