Category : Parish Ministry

Professor Markus Bockmuehl–Seeking to Understand Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)

So why should anyone in their right mind pray, “lead us not into temptation”? Ours is a postChristian society that smells and fears insensitivity far more than it smells or fears evil, and which finds Christian morality no longer just irrelevant but positively offensive. Shouldn’t we should just rewrite the whole thing? “We affirm and celebrate the rich diversity of temptation; deliver us from attempts to resist it, because they are moralizing and exclusive.” To rephrase things like that would certainly spare us the open knives of Christianity’s cultured despisers.

In fact, even for Christians it seems tricky and difficult to know what it means to pray about temptation – particularly when we too often feel pretty clueless as to what it might
be. Is it something to do with food and dieting? With binge shopping or binge holidays? Or with sex? Or ambition for success? The ancient Christian author St Augustine captures
something of this difficulty even for those who might seem morally serious, when he admits that he used to pray that God would give him sexual chastity – “just not yet!”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) The Bp of Chichester appoints a LGBTI liaison officer

A Bishop’s Liaison Officer for the LGBTI Community has been appointed by the Bishop of Chichester to ‘build bridges.’

The aim of the post is to identify what ministry among this community ‘might look like if it is to be more effective’ and to provide the bishops and parishes with up to date information about the pastoral needs of LGBTI people.

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, announced the appointment of the Rev Andrew Woodward, Priest in Charge of St Mary’s Kemp Town and Rural Dean of Brighton, as the first holder of the post.

Mr Woodward will help the church to ‘build bridges and enable pastoral support for a substantial group of people who feel the Church is alienated from them. Many feel they are tolerated but not included.’

Read it all (may require subsciption).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

(Local Paper) Newly ordained couple minister together at Mount Pleasant’s Church of the Holy Cross

When Kate and Sean Norris first set up a church together, they were surrounded by pawn shops and tattoo parlors on the South Side of Pittsburgh.

At first, Kate said she was skeptical. The call to start a church had come to her husband while she was pregnant.

“It was just a divine kick in the pants that you cannot ignore,” she said.

For a time, the couple ran their church out of a supermarket. Once, they held mass in a tattoo parlor.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Guardian) Inspector Morse creator Colin Dexter 86, RIP

Author Lee Child described Dexter as “revolutionary”. “He wrote a character without any concessions at all to likely popularity – Morse was bad tempered, cantankerous, esoteric and abstruse – and thereby showed us that integrity and authenticity work best,” Child said. “His literary descendants are everywhere. When our genre’s family tree is drawn, he’s the root of a huge portion of it.”

Author Peter James said “all of us who love crime fiction owe Colin Dexter a very great debt”.

“There are few writers of whom it can be genuinely said that they changed – or indeed created – a genre. But Colin Dexter did. Morse was unique, both in the pages of the novels and in the subsequent television adaptations,” James said. “In many ways he mirrored characteristics of Sherlock Holmes, with his fierce brain and quiet nature, and. like Holmes, he came off the page and stepped out of our screens to become a living person, someone any of us could imagine meeting for a drink in a pub.”

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK

Companies doing Good(I): Chevron Helps Father Preserve His Son’s Memory

When Chevron needed to fix up a property, it sought out the anonymous caretaker of a memorial that lie along the property’s fence, and helped that man make it a more permanent fixture.

Watch it all.

Posted in Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family

James DeKoven on his Feast Day–A Sermon on Christian Hope (1864)

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail; whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.”””HEB. vi. 19, and part of v. 20.

Life is full of changes and chances. It sounds commonplace to say so, and yet more and more one learns to realize that the commonplaces of life are the things we most frequently dwell on, and the things we most often need comfort about. Poverty and riches, sickness and health, prosperity and adversity, joy and sorrow, succeed one another in our lives in a way that men call chance, and Christians know to be the will of God. All external circumstances change and alter; friends fail us or are taken away; death breaks up family circles; we move away from the scenes of youth and dwell in other places; cities and towns lose their familiar appearance; nay, in this our day things that should be most stable shake and totter, and government and order seem about to fail, and the very Church itself partakes of the universal disquiet; and only the eye of faith can discern the sure and immovable foundations against which the gates of hell shall never prevail.

But, even if there were no external changes, the changes within us are still harder to bear. We are not what we were. Time more surely alters our inner selves than even it does what is without us. We do not love what we loved, we do not seek what we sought, we do not fear what we feared, we do not hate what we hated. We are not true to ourselves. However brave a front we may present to the world, we are compelled to acknowledge to ourselves our own inconsistencies. There is often a broad chasm even between the intellectual convictions of one period of life and of another; and our very religious convictions, except they are built on the unchanging rule of the catholic faith, contradict each other; and the weary heart, uncertainly reaching forth in the darkness, longs with an ever deeper longing for that immutable One “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

Blessed, then, is it to hear of an anchor of the soul. The imagery is simple enough. The ship, beaten by waves, tossed by tempests, driven by winds, takes refuge in the harbor. The anchor is cast from the stern. The ship rides securely; the danger is over.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Preaching / Homiletics

Sam Brewster on Thomas Cranmer Day: Thomas Cranmer and the fear of death

..as part of a wider effort to reform a church led by an often corrupt and ignorant clergy, Cranmer had produced a book of twelve Homilies. Every parish in the land was required to own them, and every parish priest to preach them. The ninth of these homilies is entitled: An Exhortation Against The Fear Of Death. Cranmer outlines three reasons why men fear to die: a fear at losing worldly honours, a fear of the suffering and pain that attends dying, and the ”˜chief cause’ of fear, namely, ”˜the dread of the miserable state of damnation’. He then goes on,

“There is never a one of all these causes”¦ that can make a true Christian man afraid to die, but plainly contrary, he conceives great and many causes undoubtedly grounded upon the infallible and everlasting truth of the Word of God, which moves him not only to put away the fear of bodily death, but also (for the manifold benefits and singular commodities which ensues to every faithful person by reason of the same) to wish, desire, and long heartily for it. For death shall be to him no death at all, but a very deliverance from death, from all pains, cares and sorrows, miseries, and wretchedness of this world, and the very entry into rest, and a beginning of everlasting joy”¦ And we ought to believe that death being slain by Christ cannot keep any man that steadfastly trust in Christ under his perpetual tyranny and subjection”¦”

But there is a large difference between words written in the safety of an archbishop’s study, and words believed in the shadow of a looming stake! …

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Theology

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon-Being Exposed by the Light that Breaks Down our Walls (John 4:5-42)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

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

Profile of a man Born a Muslim in Sierra Leone who is now a TEC Priest in Connecticut

The Rev. Charles Kamano will take a major step on his journey that began under radical Islam when he celebrates his first Mass as an Episcopal priest Sunday at the Church of the Holy Spirit.

Born a Muslim in Sierra Leone, Kamano converted to Roman Catholicism and was ordained in that church, and he became an Episcopal priest in a ceremony at the Church Street parish on Thursday.

Kamano’s attraction to Christianity began when he persuaded his father to allow him to attend a local Catholic school, even though the elder Kamano was a strict member of the ultra-conservative Wahhabi sect of Islam.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Bp Douglas Milmine RIP

The Right Reverend Douglas Milmine, who has died aged 95, was a missionary in South America for more than 30 years and the first Bishop of the newly-constituted Anglican diocese of Paraguay from 1973-1985.

It was a challenging assignment, partly because of the political situation at the time – when the country’s ruling dictatorship was suspicious of western influence and criticism – but also because Protestant congregations in a strongly Catholic continent were thinly scattered and widely dispersed.

The diocese is one of six in what was then the Province of the Southern Cone of America (now the Anglican Church of South America), ministering between them to approximately 25,000 members throughout Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, South America

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Has Preaching Had its Day?

5. Ensuring that preaching connects with culture and everyday life

The death-knell for preaching is to place it in a self-contained world of the spiritual or the ‘Christian’ detached from everyday life. It is a theological imperative to make it engage with and draw from the day to day world of its listeners and speakers. This is why humour matters, and why I almost always begin my sermons with a practical question. (Doesn’t all preaching, all theology, actually start from a presenting question? Jesus is the answer…). This raises questions about our worship (does it connect with life?) but also about the preacher’s own life. Does it connect with the experiences of the congregation from day to day?

4. Preaching ‘as one without authority’, inviting testing and questioning

Bill Hybels argues that we need to build in an experiential apologetic to our use of Scripture, showing that it offers insights that make a difference in everyday life, and the same is true of our preaching. We need to be willing to invite questioning, and have a robust but flexible sense of the authority of what God is saying…too much of our authority is brittle….

Read it all.

Posted in History, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Church of Ireland parish invites Elvis impersonator to lead the service

The Elvis-inspired service featured the rock’n roll hits Blue Suede Shoes, All Shook Up as well as gospel tracks Take My Hand Precious Lord and How Great Thou Art.

Upon seeing the church was packed to the rafters – and there actually were rafters – Reverend Hoey indicated that the church could maybe repeat the event, but change the theme.

“It’s proven so popular, who knows what’s next? Maybe Johnny Cash.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Ireland, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

Dean of Exeter Cathedral announces his retirement

In recent months Exeter Cathedral has been on a journey of self-evaluation and change. That process has raised some challenging issues, not least financial. While some progress has been achieved, there are still many challenges ahead.

In that context, and having reached the age of 65 last month, after considerable thought and reflection the Dean, the Very Rev Jonathan Draper, has announced that he will retire at the end of August this year. He and his wife Maggie are on leave this week, and on his return Jonathan will be on sabbatical. He has been Dean for over five years and has achieved considerable change including renewing the outward focus to the city and county, and giving the Cathedral a greater mission focus. His preaching ministry has been greatly appreciated. He has led the huge improvements to the repair and maintenance of this historic building, leaving a legacy for generations to come.

Jonathan has been 34 years in ministry in places as diverse as London and York, in parishes, cathedrals and in theological education. Our prayers and thoughts are with Jonathan, Maggie and their family at this time.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Scott Sauls–My Tribute to Tim Keller

A decade or so ago, I moved with my family to New York City thinking I was going to get to serve alongside and learn from one of the greatest preachers and visionary leaders of our time. Indeed, I did get to do that, along with a few others. But even more than this, the man gave me (and us) what McCheyne said is the most important thing a minister can give to his people — his own holiness. For me, Tim’s life has painted notable pictures of integrity that exceeds imperfections, character that exceeds giftedness, prayerfulness that exceeds pragmatism, other-centeredness that exceeds personal ambition, generosity that exceeds personal comfort, and humility that exceeds (even a stellar) impact.

And now, Tim is beginning to paint for us a picture of what it can look like to finish well. He is providing glimpses of what it can look like to say with one’s life and not merely with one’s lips, “I am, and always have been, unworthy to untie the straps on Jesus’ sandals. He must increase, and I must become less.”

And yet, in becoming less, the man is becoming more. For as the man himself has said in sermons, “The less we presume to act like kings, the more like kings we shall be.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(CNA) Can we delete death? Transhumanism’s lofty goal meets a Catholic response

Transhumanism is a loosely-defined cultural, intellectual and technical movement that describes itself as seeking to “to overcome fundamental human limitations” including death, aging, and natural physical, mental and psychological limitations, says humanity+, a transhumanist online community.

The movement overlaps greatly with posthumanism, which posits that a new, biologically superior race is on the horizon, and could replace the human race as we know it. Posthumanists support technologies such as cryogenic freezing, mood-and-intelligence-enhancing drugs, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, bionics and “uploading” a mind to an artificial intelligence.

These movements stem from the idea that human limitations are just “technical problems” that need to be overcome, said history professor Yuval Noah Harari in a 2015 interview in “Edge,” a non-profit website devoted to the advancement of technology….

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology