“Detail of Satan from The Last Judgement” (1583) Painting by prolific artist Jacob de Backer, a Flemish Mannerist with obvious Italian influence.
From Wikimedia Commons User: BurgererSF pic.twitter.com/LpLM9BvUvZ
— Fabrizio Di Satana (@FabrizioSatana) November 1, 2019
Daily Archives: March 12, 2020
A new coalition of Christian organisations has been launched to support churches of all denominations in caring for the bereaved.
Loss and HOPE was launched last week at Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, in recognition of an increasing openness in society to speak about death and bereavement.
The coalition brings together the Ataloss.org website with the Church of England, Care for the Family and HOPE Together.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said: “Over the last few years in this country, there has been a real opening up of conversations about bereavement in our society.
“We’re beginning to realise the huge impact that losing a loved one can have on every area of a person’s life. As a result, increasing numbers of people are likely to reach out for help to process loss – and this is presenting the Church with a special opportunity for outreach to our communities.
I was pleased to be at launch this initiative & challenged to think of gospel opportunities. About 30m people attend funerals each year in UK. For many is rare moment of contact with church. https://t.co/jfZHRwP18s
— John Stevens (@_JohnStevens) March 11, 2020
Speaking at the official launch of Faith in Higher Education, the Church of England’s lead bishop for Higher Education, Tim Dakin, who is the Bishop of Winchester, said:
“Higher Education is at a crossroads. Shaping its overall vision is therefore as crucial as the issues of funding and governance and of recognising anew its contribution to social mobility and economic prosperity.
“This Vision is a fresh articulation of what higher education is for: It offers a faith-based hope for humanising higher education: as enriching both the student and common good of all.”
Last night I hosted the launch of the new @CofE_Education Higher Education Vision in the House of Lords.
— Tim Dakin (@bishoptimdakin) March 12, 2020
Out of an abundance of caution due to the coronavirus, we will meet at a later date.
Several years ago, I spoke to a rather typical group of Episcopalians in a church forum and I would estimate that roughly 75% of the people in the room were over 60 years of age.
I would love to see more nuanced statistics, at this point in time, because I suspect that the gold 36-64 years old band in the middle of that Burge chart leans toward the older end of that niche. Burge notes that the average Episcopalian is 59 years old. There are now three retired United Methodists for every member under the age of 35. More Burge:
Demography is destiny for many of these denominations. They will become dramatically smaller in the next two decades based on attrition alone, whether or not they are hit by COVID-19.
But if the disease can’t be curtailed, it could become a turning point for some of these denominations: Their houses of worship are prime targets for the spread of disease.
This passage hit me hard, as well:
Connection to their fellow members is especially important for older Americans. Data from Pew Research Center indicates that the average 80-year-old spends at least eight hours a day alone, double the time a 40-year-old does. For many of the older generation, the institutions that held society together for them during the formative years have already crumbled. One of the few things that has remained constant for them is their church home, seeing the same people in the same pews every Sunday, taking the bread and drinking from the cup the same way they have done for decades. They need that consistency and community — and COVID-19 might take that away from them.
— GetReligion (@GetReligion) March 12, 2020
Stepping out of the story, J says to me, “I remember feeling so drawn to Kathy’s words about joy. ‘Sorrow turned to joy.’ I realized, sitting in that hard chair, that joy comes from the sharing of sorrow. Joy is this incredible experience of sorrow being shared, leading us into a community of love. That’s what I was experiencing, the pure gift of sorrow being shared. I remember thinking to myself, Yeah, it’s true. Youth ministry is for joy because youth ministry is about creating a space for stories and moments of sharing that open us up to something big.”
We sit in silence for a few seconds, and I think about the ramifications of J’s words. I then ask, “What happened next with Kathy’s story? I’m with Tannon—it’s wild that the old woman used that verse.”
J continues, “Kathy then told us the old woman sat with her, holding her hand until Kathy’s husband showed up. Kathy said, ‘We exchanged numbers. I don’t know why; it seems weird now. But she started to call me, and then we started to meet to pray together. When I got pregnant again, she was the first person I called, because I was both so happy and so scared. We prayed together every week through the whole pregnancy. I just had this sense that God was leading me through. I’ll never forget when Nikki was born, seeing her hold Nikki, crying and praying for her. That’s why she’s Nikki, because in a waiting room like this God sent me Nichole Hunmurray, to pray for me, to see me through and bless us with our Nichole Marie Mattson.’”
J tells me that a silence came over everyone. After a minute, Kathy breathed in deep and said, “That’s why I came today, why I wanted Nikki to be here. In a very weird way, waiting rooms are holy places to me. I’d somehow gotten myself disconnected from that experience, but when I heard Lorena was in the hospital, I knew I needed to be here.” Kathy paused and then said, “I never intended to tell that story until Bernard told his, but I know it’s why I’m here.”
J says to me, “I thought to myself, I want my youth ministry to be a waiting room like this one. A place where we share stories and are open to something bigger that ushers us into joy.”
The COVID-19 virus has spread from Asia to Europe and North America rapidly over the past week, bringing with it a level of panic and angst—everywhere from the supermarket to the stock market to the local church—not seen in recent times. The global tally is now more than 125,000 infected and more than 4,600 dead.
Churches in Singapore, which Billy Graham affirmed as the “Antioch of Asia,” have already weathered the anxiety now sweeping the world. On February 7, the nation-state’s government raised its national risk assessment level from Yellow to Orange, indicating “moderate disruption” to daily life—and in particular to large gatherings of people.
March 7 marked the one-month anniversary of Singapore—which has seen 166 cases but zero deaths—going Orange. This means that for the past month, local churches—which account for about 1 in 5 Singaporeans—have been forced into an extended period of self-examination, reflection, and action.
The process has not been straightforward, with a senior pastor afflicted with the coronavirus (and subsequently discharged), entire denominations suspending services, church-based preschools closing, and very public online disputes—in a nation that strictly enforces religious harmony—on how the situation is being handled by church leaders.
To help churches in the United States, Italy, Brazil, and other countries now facing decisions that churches in China, Korea, and Singapore have been grappling with for weeks, here are seven lessons the Singaporean church has learned over the past month…
Attention church leaders and pastors around the world:
Here’s what your Singaporean counterparts want you to know about reacting to coronavirus https://t.co/MXNH7QgWiG
— Christianity Today (@CTmagazine) March 12, 2020
Gregory the Great on Job–‘who can do these things, but the Lord? And yet a man is asked, in order that he may learn that he is unable to do these things’
After the loss of his goods, the death of his children, the wounds of his body, the words of his wife persuading him to evil, the insulting language of his comforters, and the darts of so many sorrows boldly received, blessed Job ought to have been praised by his Judge for such great power of constancy, if he had been now going to be called out of this present world. But after he is here about to receive back yet two-fold, after he is restored to his former health, to enjoy longer his restored possessions, Almighty God is obliged to reprove with strict justice him, whom He preserves alive, lest his very victory should lay him low with the sword of pride. For what commonly slays a soul more fatally than consciousness of virtue? For while it puffs it up with self-consideration, it deprives it of the fulness of truth; and while it suggests that it is sufficient of itself for the attainment of rewards, it diverts it from the intention improvement. Job, therefore, was just before his scourges but he remained more just after his scourges; and, having been praised before by the voice of God, he afterward; increased from the blow. For as a ductile tube is length ened by being hammered, so was he raised the higher in praise of God, as he was smitten with heavier chastisement But he who stood thus firm in his virtues, when prostrated by wounds, needed to be humbled. He needed to be humbled, lest the weapons of pride should pierce that most sturdy breast, which it was plain that even the wounds that had been inflicted had not overcome. It was doubtless necessary to find out a person, by comparison with whom he would have been surpassed. But what is this, which is said of him by the voice of the Lord; Thou hast seen My servant Job, that there is no man like him upon the earth. Job 1:8; 2:3. By comparison with whom then could he be surpassed, of whom it is said, on the witness of God, that he cannot be equalled, on comparison with any man? What then must be done, except for the Lord Himself to relate to him His own virtues, and to say to him, Canst thou bring forth the morning star in its season, and canst thou make the evening star to rise over the sons of men? Job 38:32. And again, Have the gates of death been opened to thee, and hast thou seen the gloomy doors? ib. 17. Or certainly; Hast thou commanded the dawn after thy rising, and hast thou shewn the morning its place? ib. 12. But who can do these things, but the Lord? And yet a man is asked, in order that he may learn that he is unable to do these things; in order that a man, who has increased with such boundless virtues, and is surpassed by the example of no man, may, that he should not be elated, be surpassed on comparison with God.
—-Gregory the Great (540-604), Book of Morals 6.Preface.1
March 12, traditionally the feast day of St. Gregory I ~ Pope, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church … Saint Gregory the Great transformed his house into a monastery and founded many others where the rule of St. Benedict was strictly observed. Elected in turn Abbot, Cardinal, … pic.twitter.com/VpmNgvJVZh
— Leo Q ن☘️ (@LQuinn77) March 12, 2020
Almighty and merciful God, who didst raise up Gregory of Rome to be a servant of the servants of God, and didst inspire him to send missionaries to preach the Gospel to the English people: Preserve in thy Church the catholic and apostolic faith they taught, that thy people, being fruitful in every good work, may receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
“Affliction strengthens the vigor of our soul, whereas happiness weakens it.” – St. Gregory the Great pic.twitter.com/TNzwp3dHwl
— Memento Mori (@TempusFugit4016) March 12, 2020
O God, who through thy Son Jesus Christ hast promised help to man according to his faith: Grant us the freedom of the children to taste the food of eternal life, and to share with others what we ourselves receive; through the merits of the same thy Son, our Lord.
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” –and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.
–1 Corinthians 6:12-14