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David Zimora–An Advent devotional based on the readings for today

The magnificent machinery of the eye! So finely tuned to fill the mind with color and shape, with light and beauty. And yet, so prone to misuse. An example and analogy of this misuse is found in the way we currently use our mobile devices. These are pieces of technology, with the power to retrieve astounding quantities of information in fractions of a second, that we regularly employ to consume all sorts of frivolities and—sometimes—even contents that could hinder the fruit of the Spirit in us.

Both Amos and Jesus denounce the deeds of the people whose attention has gone after worthless things. The prophet and the Word warn against the external piety that secretly longs for material gain and social acknowledgment. In his utterance, Amos depicts a terrible day of darkness, mourning, lamentation, sackcloth, and baldness. As a climactic conclusion for this list of consequences, Amos announces a thirst and a hunger that will remain unsatisfied. This hunger and thirst do not refer to material elements, but to the word of God. Consequently, the people who wander “from sea to sea” will be dismayed and perish.

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Posted in Advent, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Lucy

Loving God, who for the salvation of all didst give Jesus Christ as light to a world in darkness: Illumine us, with thy daughter Lucy, with the light of Christ, that by the merits of his passion we may be led to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the day from the United Lutheran Church

O Lord God, heavenly Father, who through thy Son hast revealed to us that heaven and earth shall pass away: We beseech thee to keep us steadfast in thy Word and in true faith; graciously guard us from all sin and preserve us amid all temptations, so that our hearts may not be overcharged with the cares of this life, but at all times in watchfulness and prayer we may await the return of thy Son and joyfully cherish the expectation of our eternal salvation; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear evil men but have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and found them to be false; I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have, you hate the works of the Nicola′itans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

–Revelation 2:1-7

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Yorkshire Post) Archbishop Sentamu’s intervention could finally end Yorkshire devolution stalemate

A possible solution to Yorkshire’s long-running devolution stalemate that could see a region-wide mayor elected by May 2020 has emerged after an intervention by the Archbishop of York, The Yorkshire Post can reveal. A letter by Dr John Sentamu to Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, seen by this newspaper, sets out proposals for a two-year phased programme that would finally see vital powers for transport, housing and skills handed over from Whitehall to the region’s leaders.

The plans outlined by the Church of England’s second most senior cleric, who met last month with local MPs, council leaders, trade union leaders and bishops, are a bid to overcome the Government’s objections to the proposed ‘One Yorkshire’ solution for a mayor presiding over the whole region of more than five million people.

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Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), City Government, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Yorkshire Post) Andrew Adonis: Whole cities and towns are in grip of a social crisis

WE are in the grip of a social crisis. Half or more of the country have been left behind, while the rest of Britain went to university, modernised and globalised. This is not just about individuals and families, but communities, even whole towns and cities. The ultra-respectable Financial Times last month carried a heart-rending article by Sarah O’Connor, who had immersed herself in Blackpool and reported on what GPs there called SLS or “s*** life syndrome” — deep poverty, pervasive drugs, obesity, anti-depressants and mental illness, in a large, isolated town exhibiting alarming signs of disintegration, including the largest encampment in Britain of children expelled from school. It is euphemistically called a pupil referral unit. Even more euphemistically, it is run by an organisation called Educational Diversity, but it is basically a dumping ground for 330 children whom schools want nothing to do with. That is 330 who have been expelled from schools in one Northern town and sent to what is in many respects a giant training camp for the criminal justice system, in addition to hundreds excluded from school day by day for lower-level misbehaviour, who simply roam the streets.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Economy, Education, England / UK, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(ACNS) Archbishop calls for tolerance, harmony and mutual respect in the Holy City of Jerusalem

The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Archbishop Suheil Dawani, has called for tolerance, harmony and mutual respect for all in the Holy City of Jerusalem. He made his comments in a sermon preached at St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem yesterday, the second Sunday in Advent.

Reflecting on the Gospel story of John the Baptist, he said that his voice “echoes in the wilderness”, calling the people “into ways of justice and peace.” The prophet’s message today, he said, might be difficult to hear or digest. “Its message may require us to sacrifice some of the things we hold dear,” he said. “We know that the prophets throughout the ages asked difficult questions – Isaiah, Elijah, Amos, Micah. They had messages that were delivered to people who did not like the message.”

Archbishop Suheil said: “We do not know what the future of this land is. For many centuries people have suffered here under different regimes; and they are suffering again today. The young and the old are fearful of the future. Many say – ‘what shall we do?’ or ‘what can we do?’

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Posted in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Middle East

(CC)Jason Byasee–The value of apocalypse

Who is the most influential thinker in the history of American culture? A case can be made for John Nelson Darby, the 19th-century former Church of Ireland priest who cooked up what we now call premillennial dispensationalism—an es­chatological scheme by which disasters natural and supernatural presage the return of Christ.

Anthony Aveni and Lisa Vox describe how American culture, politics, and apocalypticism have been braided together in ways that tend toward paranoid conspiratorial fearmongering peddled as Christianity. Darby’s mistake—I would call it a heresy—has shaped the politics that rule our country and our world. That’s a much grander claim than these two good books by appropriately modest historians would ever let themselves make. Yet I think it’s the clear conclusion they offer.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Church History, Eschatology, History, Religion & Culture

The Gafcon Chairman’s December 2017 letter

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Posted in Global South Churches & Primates

(CT) Evangelicals and Domestic Violence: Are Christian Men More Abusive?

So, what does the science tell us? Are some forms of evangelical Protestantism bad for marriage and “good” at fostering domestic violence?

The answer is complicated, since some research suggests that gender traditionalism fuels domestic violence. For example, a study in the Lancet found that domestic abuse was higher in regions across the globe where “norms related to male authority over female behavior” are more common.

In general, however, the answer to these questions is “no.” In my previous book, Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands, I found that women married to churchgoing evangelical men—compared to women married to men in other major religious traditions or women married to unaffiliated men—report the highest levels of happiness. Their self-reports were based on two markers: “love and affection you get from your spouse” and “understanding you receive from your spouse.” This same demographic of women also report the highest levels of quality couple time.

My newer book Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos, co-written with sociologist Nicholas Wolfinger, reveals similar findings. Men and women who attend church together are almost 10 percentage points more likely to report that they are “happy” or “very happy” in their relationships, compared to their peers who attend separately or simply don’t attend religious services at all. On average, then, evangelicals (as well other religious believers in the United States) who attend church regularly enjoy higher quality marriages compared to their less religious or secular peers.

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Posted in Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Men, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Bishop W. Walsham How

O Heavenly Father, whose most dearly beloved Son has come once to save the world, and will come again to judge the world: Help us, we pray thee, to watch like servants who wait for the coming of their lord. May we abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost; and, having this hope, may we purify ourselves by thy grace, even as Christ is pure. Grant this, O Father, for his sake and for the glory of thy holy name.

Posted in Advent, 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: Scripture

(Guardian) Loneliness is a ‘giant evil’ of our time, says Jo Cox commission

One of the key architects of Britain’s welfare state would have added loneliness as society’s sixth “giant evil” if he were alive today, Rachel Reeves will say after completing a year-long study into the issue.

The Labour MP, who co-chaired the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness after her friend and colleague was murdered last year, will argue that the weakening of trade union, church, local pub and workplace ties have left a disconnected society.

“When the culture and the communities that once connected us to one another disappear, we can be left feeling abandoned and cut off from society,” she will say, describing the issue as a new social epidemic.

“In the last few decades, loneliness has escalated from personal misfortune into a social epidemic. More and more of us live alone. We work at home more. We spend a greater part of our day alone than we did 10 years ago. It sometimes feels like our best friend is the smartphone.”

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Posted in England / UK, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology

A Nation Answers a Sobbing Boy’s Plea: ‘Why Do They Bully?’

When Kimberly Jones picked up her son, Keaton, from school in the Knoxville, Tenn., area last week, he asked her to record a video of him in the car.

Keaton was going home early — not for the first time, Ms. Jones said — because he was afraid to have lunch at school. Classmates, he told his mother, had poured milk on him and stuffed ham in his clothes.

“They make fun of my nose,” he said in the video, which Ms. Jones posted on Facebook on Friday with a plea for parents to talk to their children about bullying. “They call me ugly. They say I have no friends.”

“Why do they bully? What’s the point of it? Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them?” he asked, sobbing. He added: “People that are different don’t need to be criticized about it. It’s not their fault.”

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Posted in --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Children, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Teens / Youth

(NBC) A Powerful example of how one parish choir director made a huge difference–Opera student raises $40,000 in performance for college tuition

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Education, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, Young Adults