Category : Eschatology

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Will You be Ready When Christ Comes? Learning from John the Witness (John 1:9-28)

You can listen directly here and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Advent, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

The Importance of Having a ‘Yes’ Face

During his days as president, Thomas Jefferson and a group of companions were traveling across the country on horseback. They came to a river which had left its banks because of a recent downpour. The swollen river had washed the bridge away. Each rider was forced to ford the river on horseback, fighting for his life against the rapid currents. The very real possibility of death threatened each rider, which caused a traveler who was not part of their group to step aside and watch. After several had plunged in and made it to the other side, the stranger asked President Jefferson if he would ferry him across the river. The president agreed without hesitation. The man climbed on, and shortly thereafter the two of them made it safely to the other side. As the stranger slid off the back of the saddle onto dry ground, one in the group asked him, “Tell me, why did you select the president to ask this favor of?” The man was shocked, admitting he had no idea it was the president who had helped him.

“All I know,” he said, “Is that on some of your faces was written the answer ‘No,’ and on some of them was the answer ‘yes.’ His was a ‘Yes’ face.”

Freedom gives people a ‘yes’ face. I am confident Jesus had a ‘Yes’ face.

–Charles Swindoll, The Grace Awakening (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Word, 2012 rev. ed of the 1990 original), p. 6, also used in the morning sermon (emphasis mine)

Posted in Anthropology, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Office of the President, Pastoral Theology

Joe Rexrode: What do you email your wife when you think you’re going to die?

“Sorry, I died.”

The flight attendants looked as stunned as everyone else — my eyes went directly to them after the jolt — and quickly wheeled the drink cart back to the front of the plane and gathered near the cockpit. They started looking through an emergency manual. I’m no expert, but I’m thinking that’s not a great sign.

I was on the left side of the plane, an aisle seat a couple of rows in front of where the engines under the wings are located. We were about 20 minutes into the flight and I was doing work on my laptop, preparing for Sunday’s assignment of covering the Tennessee Titans at the Cleveland Browns. After that first wave of panic, with my heart trying to beat its way out of my chest, I went to my Yahoo mail account and started writing something to Katie and the kids. I figured, get them something, get a few words out, comfort them in some way. Say goodbye.

Then I realized the wireless was gone. I gulped, closed the laptop, put it in my bag and looked around the plane.

Read it all–this was used to introduce the morning sermon.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Marriage & Family, Travel

(NYT) Raphaël Louigene and his burial team, tending to Haiti’s Dead

Like the country itself, Burial Road stretches between those who have everything and those with nothing. Even modest funeral parlors offer elaborate services starting at $1,100 — far beyond the means of most Haitians, who live on $2 a day or less.

No matter how rich in love they may be, most people can’t pay those fees. And so, the bodies of their sons and mothers wait here so long that their faces melt, their skin unravels. They are stacked one atop another in gruesome, wet piles that resemble medieval paintings of purgatory.

The men who have finally come to their rescue aren’t friends or relatives. They don’t know their individual stories. But they recognize poverty.

“They didn’t have a chance,” says Raphaël Louigene, the burial team’s stocky, soft-spoken leader. “They spent their lives in misery, they died in misery.”

Mr. Louigene and the other men work for the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, a charitable organization started in 2000 to help the country’s poorest.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Haiti, Pastoral Theology, Poverty

(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.

Read it all.

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

CS Lewis On Hope for Advent 2017

Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ”˜thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.

–C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: Harper, 2001), p. 134

Posted in Advent, Eschatology

Richard Baxter on his Feast Day: the Nature of the Saints Everlasting Rest in Heaven

What this rest presupposes…. 5. It contains, (1.) A ceasing from means of grace ; 6. (2.) A perfect freedom from all evils ; 7. (3.) The highest degree of the saints’ personal perfection, both in body and soul ; 8. (4.) The nearest enjoyment of God the Chief Good; 9-14. (5.) A sweet and constant action of all the powers of soul and body in this enjoyment of God ; as, for instance, bodily senses, knowledge, memory, love, joy, together with a mutual love and joy.

The Saints Everlasting Rest (1652)

Posted in Church History, Eschatology

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–How will you live in hope as a Christian this Advent?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Advent, Eschatology, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

Saint Ephrem–Keep watch: he is to come again

To prevent his disciples from asking the time of his coming, Christ said: “About that hour no one knows, neither the angels nor the Son. It is not for you to know times or moments.” He has kept those things hidden so that we may keep watch, each of us thinking that he will come in our own day. If he had revealed the time of his coming, his coming would have lost its savour: it would no longer be an object of yearning for the nations and the age in which it will be revealed. He promised that he would come but did not say when he would come, and so all generations and ages await him eagerly.

Though the Lord has established the signs of his coming, the time of their fulfilment has not been plainly revealed. These signs have come and gone with a multiplicity of change; more than that, they are still present. His final coming is like his first. As holy men and prophets waited for him, thinking that he would reveal himself in their own day, so today each of the faithful longs to welcome him in his own day, because Christ has not made plain the day of his coming.

He has not made it plain for this reason especially, that no one may think that he whose power and dominion rule all numbers and times is ruled by fate and time. He described the signs of his coming; how could what he has himself decided be hidden from him? Therefore, he used these words to increase respect for the signs of his coming, so that from that day forward all generations and ages might think that he would come again in their own day.

Keep watch; when the body is asleep nature takes control of us, and what is done is not done by our will but by force, by the impulse of nature. When deep listlessness takes possession of the soul, for example, faint-heartedness or melancholy, the enemy overpowers it and makes it do what it does not will. The force of nature, the enemy of the soul, is in control.

When the Lord commanded us to be vigilant, he meant vigilance in both parts of man: in the body, against the tendency to sleep; in the soul, against lethargy and timidity. As Scripture says: “Wake up, you just,” and “I have risen, and am still with you;” and again, “Do not lose heart. Therefore, having this ministry, we do not lose heart.”

–From a commentary on the Diatessaron (the single gospel harmony of the early Syriac church), by St Ephrem (ca. 306 – 373)

Posted in Advent, Christology, Church History, Eschatology

(AAC) Stephen Noll–The Canterbury Bait and Switch

In a follow-up interview, …[Archbp Justin Welby] claimed that his entire ministry is one of reconciliation and then applied that to the divisions within the Anglican Communion over sexuality. “Our challenge” he said, “is to work our way forward, holding on to the truths that are given to us through Jesus and in the Scriptures; and yet never sinking to the level of demonising or hating people because they are homosexual.”

So what precisely are the truths given to us through Jesus and in the Scriptures? At the 1998 Lambeth Conference, 570 bishops stated that “[this Conference] in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage” and that “while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation” (Resolution I.10).

Justin Welby has refused to commend this Resolution and, so I argue, intends to relegate it to the dustbin of history. This Resolution – repeatedly affirmed by Global South churches, including the Anglican Church of Kenya, and repeatedly violated by the Episcopal Church USA and others – notably went missing from the October 2017 Lambeth Primates’ Communiqué.

In his interview, Justin Welby proceeded to laud this Primates’ Meeting as an example of unity in difference, skipping over the fact that three of the major Primates from Africa (Uganda, Rwanda, and Nigeria), representing about 40% of the Anglicans in the world, had refused to attend.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(TCT) Robert Royal–Memento Mori – and More

When you reach a certain age, you start to reflect on the end, but something like this makes it real. You not only don’t have a young person’s sense of invulnerability any longer, but you know in the most concrete terms that the end will come – and that you have to prepare for how to meet it. This is not solely a Christian concern, by the way. Classical scholars have come to realize how much several schools of ancient philosophy were really something like spiritual direction. In the Phaedo, Plato reports Socrates as saying “those who do philosophy right are preparing to die.”Among the many things we’ve lost in the meltdown of Catholic culture in the last half-century is attention to the most important end-of-life-question: how to die. It’s much more than a decision whether to treat or not to treat. One of my patron saints, Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), after a life of intense intellectual activity – combating Protestant errors, trying to mediate in the Galileo case, and writing serious theological works including a highly influential Catechism – towards the end of his life “now free from public business,” composed The Art of Dying Well.

In the modern world, we’re supposed to know that thinking about death is morbid. Bellarmine, the heir to both pagan and Christian wisdom, knew differently: “what folly can be imagined greater than to neglect that Art, on which depend our highest and eternal interests; whilst on the other hand we learn with great labor, and practice with no less ardor, other almost innumerable arts, in order either to preserve or to increase perishable things?”

There’s probably no clearer indication of the distance between traditional wisdom and our age than this:

Now everyone will admit, that the “Art of dying Well” is the most important of all sciences; at least everyone who seriously reflects, how after death we shall have to give an account to God of everything we did, spoke, or thought of, during our whole life, even of every idle word; and that the devil being our accuser, our conscience a witness, and God the Judge, a sentence of happiness or misery everlasting awaits us.

 

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Roman Catholic

CS Lewis on CS Lewis Day (III)–On Hope

Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ”˜thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.

–C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: Harper, 2001), p. 134

Posted in Church History, Eschatology

(Scientific American) Dissolve the Dead? Controversy Swirls around Liquid Cremation

Proponents note that traditional cremation is trending upward in the U.S. In 2015 more people in this country were burned than put in the ground for the first time, according to a report by the National Funeral Directors Association. This fad is driven in part by price: A fire cremation usually costs less than a third of a burial, according to an industry report by market research firm IBISWorld. It also saves on some natural resources; a burial requires land as well as the stone, steel, cloth and wood used to make the casket and gravestone.

Some see alkaline hydrolysis—versions of which go by the names biocremation, aquamation and resomation—as the next big thing for those who want to make an environmentally friendly exit.

The technique has its origins in an 1888 patent for making fertilizer and gelatin, which describes dissolving animal parts in an alkaline solution such as potassium hydroxide. In the 1990s two researchers began disposing of lab animals this way at Albany Medical College in New York State. Their work informed the construction of the first machine that could handle a single human body, built by a company called WR2 and first used in the Mayo Clinic’s anatomical bequest program in Rochester, Minn., in 2006.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Energy, Natural Resources, Eschatology, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Secularism

(NYT) Liquefaction, An Alternative to Burial and Cremation, Gains in popularity

What do you want done with your body after you die?

It is an unnerving but important question, and for most Americans there have long been only two obvious choices: burial or cremation.

But a third option, a liquefaction process called by a variety of names —flameless cremation, green cremation or the “Fire to Water” method — is starting togain popularity throughout the United States.

This week, California became the 15th state to outline commercial regulations for the disposal of human remains through the method, chemically known asalkaline hydrolysis.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Secularism

(NPR) A Mortician Explores Cultures’ Many Paths For ‘Sacred Transition’ Of Death

In 1980, only 6 percent of Americans were cremated. Now, just a generation later, 50 percent of Americans are choosing cremation. But unlike the intimacy of the experience in Japan, cremation in the U.S. is still quite industrial.

That’s one reason why, when we visited Undertaking LA, we were the rare guests that Caitlin Doughty ushered into the brick, factory-like space that contains two cremation machines running at full blast. There, we met Mike Munoz, the crematory operator, who handles first the bodies, and then the ashes. At 22 years old, he is committed to spending his life caring for the dead. He offered to open the door to show us one cremation that was nearly complete. It was a surprisingly peaceful sight: just a hint of bones, white as lace, lit by slowly undulating flames. “It’s beautiful,” said Doughty. “You don’t want to be the one who says a cremating body is beautiful, but cultures all around the world have open air pyres because it’s a sacred transition for many people.”

Caitlin Doughty, is just 32, but is accustomed to thinking ahead. She wants a green burial. Dust to dust. Unless there’s a way to be laid out above ground.

“The model for this is the Tibetan sky burial, where when someone dies they are laid out to be eaten by vultures. Hence the name “sky burial.” The Buddhist idea is that your body isn’t worth anything to you anymore, so why are you trying to hold on to it? Why don’t you give it back to other animals to take up into the sky? And I think that’s gorgeous.”

Read it all.

Posted in Buddhism, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Other Faiths