Category : * Christian Life / Church Life

A Prayer to Begin the Day from W E Scudamore

O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst warn us to prepare for the day when thou shalt come to be our judge: Mercifully grant that being awake from the sleep of sin, we may always be watching and intent upon the work thou hast given us to do; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

(Dallas News) Evangelical churches are embracing liturgy to make the megachurch more personal

Step into a worship service at Epiphany Church in Lower Greenville on a Sunday morning and you’ll smell incense, see candles and hear ancient prayers read in unison. Sermons align with the Revised Common Lectionary, and church activities are planned around the liturgical year.

All of these are trappings of a liturgical church, but Epiphany is not Catholic, Anglican or Eastern Orthodox. Epiphany is a start-up planted by an evangelical megachurch and its pastor, Kurtley Knight, a graduate of George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Epiphany is a new kind of hybrid: an evangelical church that orders its services around liturgical practices.

Liturgical practice is a growing trend among evangelical churches. Last month, one of the largest evangelical megachurches in Texas, The Village Church where more than 10,000 people attend every week, announced it would order worship around the church calendar, observing Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Theologian R C Sproul, RIP

When Reformed theologian and Ligonier Ministries founder R. C. Sproul was once asked what he wanted written on his tombstone, he replied cheekily, “I told you I was sick.”

That was in 2015, after the esteemed teacher and author’s health declined severely following a stroke. This December, the 78-year-old was hospitalized and was forced to rely on ventilator support to breathe during his 12-day stay, due to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). He died on Thursday.

“His tombstone wouldn’t be able to hold the words of what he’s meant to so many,” tweeted Kansas pastor Gabriel Hughes. “Well done, good and faithful servant. Now great is your reward.”

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Posted in Adult Education, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Theology

(AI) University of Exeter to offer trauma response training for clergy

Ministers have supported hundreds of people in the UK after traumatic events like terrorist attacks, fires, flooding and revelations of child abuse. The new training will help them support large numbers of people in such circumstances.

Ministers who have worked with communities experiencing difficult situations have helped create the course, which is being run by Dr Christopher Southgate, from the University of Exeter

Clergy were trained in Exeter and Plymouth in November and further training will be held in Cumbria in January, with further courses around England within the next three years.

Dr Southgate said: “Events we have seen this year – the attack in Manchester and the fire in Grenfell Tower – make it clear that this training is very much needed. Horrific situations like this pose challenges for ministers which their current training doesn’t include. We hope this new course will help them feel prepared when their communities are traumatised.”

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Posted in Education, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

(TGC) Ed Shaw–Figuring Out Faithfulness with Same-Sex Attraction

There has been a recent avalanche of books from a biblical and traditional perspective on same-sex attraction. Each brings a different viewpoint, with many writing from their own experiences of same-sex attraction. Both of us also experience same-sex attraction; we’ve benefited immensely from the variety books on this topic and trust that the church has as well.

The latest addition is from Nate Collins in All But Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender, and Sexuality. Collins—a partner associate at The Sight Ministry, a Christian organization based in Nashville that provides resources and support for individuals, families, and Christian organizations regarding LGBT issues—likewise writes out of experience and from a traditional, biblical approach.

But what justifies yet another book on these subjects? More books are justified by the other, more powerful cultural avalanche that has nearly buried us all—the new attitudes and approach to gender and sexuality created by the sexual revolution of the last 50 years. More recently, acceptance of same-sex marriage has slipped in the evangelical church through the influential books of James Brownson (at an academic level) and Matthew Vines(at a popular one).

In response, those of us coming from a traditional perspective have had a lot of rescue work to do. But both avalanches have left us with a new landscape where some differences of opinion have emerged among those who espouse a traditional view on same-sex attraction….

 

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Posted in Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology

Bob Mayo (the Vicar of St Stephens Shepherds Bush)–Reflections on a recent visit to America and the danger of cheap grace

I had occasion to spend 10 days in the USA before Advent. I learnt that in Oregon you can buy rifles in a supermarket and in Texas church ushers and sometimes the preacher may be wearing a pistol. I learnt that the Episcopal Church is not obsessed with finding a solution to the debate about same sex marriages. ‘Never mind sex’ I was told, ‘what about people in poverty? Economic issues are far more important’. America is not the land of mega churches: 75% of Americans worship in churches of less than 100. These churches are not full of Donald Trump supporters. People that I met were both embarrassed and hostile towards their President.

I was in Oregon for the launch of Professor Roger Newell [2017] new book Keine Gewalt! No Violence! The book outlines how the role played by the German Church in the 1940’s laid down the foundations for her part in the ending of the Cold War in the 1980’s. In the first half of the century the German church withdrew into pietism and individual spirituality leaving the political area to the Nazis. In the second half of the century the German church actively engaged in the civil society leading to the peaceful overthrow of Communism.

The underlying question in Roger’s book is how the Church relates to society. This question is especially relevant in the UK and USA with the Trump phenomenon on one side of the Atlantic and Brexit on the other. Being anti American is seen as the last acceptable form of racism but it is the American policies with which we disagree and not the people. The people are warm-hearted and, when I was there, asked me no end of times about whether I was having a ‘nice day’.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John of the Cross

Judge eternal, throned in splendor, who gavest Juan de la Cruz strength of purpose and mystical faith that sustained him even through the dark night of the soul: Shed thy light on all who love thee, in unity with Jesus Christ our Savior; 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 Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory

O God of hope, fill us, we beseech thee, with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope by the power of thy Holy Spirit, and show forth our thankfulness to thee in trustful and courageous lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: Services of Praise and Prayer for Occasional Use in Churches (New York: Oxford University Press, 1933)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

Rowan Williams: Nativity is a powerful reminder of our own vulnerability and weakness

Dr Williams is chair of Christian Aid and called for support for its Christmas appeal as he said, ‘life doesn’t have to be like this. We can build a world with deeper justice, greater fairness, greater security for all.’

He said: ‘One of the most serious forms of powerlessness that anyone can experience is, of course, hunger. Take a country like South Sudan: after years of merciless and bloody civil war, food security has become a major question in South Sudan. This year, a famine was declared. Countless young people faced starvation. It’s not the only place in Africa, or indeed throughout the world, where this is a problem. Places like Burkina Faso are facing some of the same challenges.

‘But South Sudan is particularly vivid in my own memory: I visited there a couple of times in the last 10 years. I’ve seen what life is like in the refugee camps. I’ve seen the feeding programmes, combined with educational programmes, that many local churches and charities take up. The challenge is enormous, and it’s one that we are determined to face this Christmas, and to respond to. A gift of £10 will feed a family in South Sudan for a week. A gift of £40, for a month.’

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, --South Sudan, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Christmas, Poverty, Stewardship

(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.

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

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

(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

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