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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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–Martin Luther (1483-1536)
Remember, beloved friends, that our Lord Jesus, at the time he saved this malefactor, was at his lowest. His glory had been ebbing out in Gethsemane, and before Caiaphas, and Herod, and Pilate; but it had now reached the utmost low-water mark.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology Soteriology
"So you think I'm courageous?" she asked.
"Yes, I do."
"Perhaps I am. But that's because I've had some inspiring teachers. I'll tell you about one of them....
--Fumitaka Matsuoka, The Christology of Shusaku Endo, Theology Today (October 1982) [emphasis mine]
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * By Kendall Sermons & Teachings * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology Theology: Scripture
Lord we live in a world filled with words. Perhaps never in history have there been so many words: spoken, printed, electronically stored or moving invisibly. Help us to realise that few words are necessary. Empty words foster empty hearts. There are realities which do not need words. Give us Lord the words to ask for forgiveness, the words which touch those things in our hearts we would not want anyone to hear, but things that keep us entrapped in sinfulness and isolation. Give us words to forgive, to be generous and loving.Open our heart in mercy to those who long for freedom. Keep us faithful like Jesus to what we are called to, to what is most noble and good in our lives.
In a world where everything has a shelf-life and what we dislike can be quickly discarded, help us to learn that singular characteristic of God: being faithful. The events of Good Friday realise something that has been spoken of throughout the history of God’s encounter with his people. God remains faithful to his people, even when his people generation after generation fail him and fail him and betray him and betray him[.]
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Christology
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Liturgy, Music, Worship * Culture-Watch History Music * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Christology
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopp'd my wild career:
I saw One hanging on a Tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fix'd His languid eyes on me.
As near His Cross I stood.
Sure never till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look:
It seem'd to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke:
My conscience felt and own'd the guilt,
And plunged me in despair:
I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,
And help'd to nail Him there.
Fathomed the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walked with a staff to heaven, and traced fountains:
But there are two vast, spacious things
The which to measure it doth more behoove:
Yet few there are that sound them: Sin and Love.
Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man so wrung with pains that all his hair,
His skin, his garments bloody be.
Sin is that press and vice, that forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through every vein.
Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.
--George Herbert (1593-1633)
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship * Culture-Watch History Music Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Christology
To worldly things are sharp, but to me blind;
To me, who took eyes that I might you find:
Was ever grief like mine?
The Princes of my people make a head
Against their Maker: they do wish me dead,
Who cannot wish, except I give them bread:
Was ever grief like mine?
Without me each one, who doth now me brave,
Had to this day been an Egyptian slave.
They use that power against me, which I gave:
Was ever grief like mine?
Take the time for careful prayer, rumination and meditation over it all.
Thousands of Christian pilgrims filled the cobblestone alleyways of the Old City on Friday along the Via Dolorosa, Latin for the "Way of Suffering."
Read it all and enjoy the picture.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Liturgy, Music, Worship Spirituality/Prayer * International News & Commentary Middle East Israel * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches
Read it all.
How shall I measure out thy bloud?
How shall I count what thee befell,
And each grief tell?
Shall I thy woes
Number according to thy foes?
Or, since one starre show’d thy first breath,
Shall all thy death?
Or shall each leaf,
Which falls in Autumn, score a grief?
Or can not leaves, but fruit, be signe
Of the true vine?
Th’ intelligence that moves, devotion is ;
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey ;
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirl’d by it.
Hence is’t, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul’s form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Christology
You do indeed desire to eat and enjoy [the fruit] of some tree. I will direct you to a tree so full you can never eat it bare. But just as it was difficult to stay away from that living tree, so it is difficult to enjoy eating from the dead tree. The first was the image of life, delight, and goodness, while the other is the image of death, suffering and sorrow because one tree is living, the other dead. There is in man's heart the deeply rooted desire to seek life where there is certain death and to flee from death where one has the sure source of life.
--Martin Luther, "That a Christian Should Bear his Cross With Patience," 1530
And part of the point of where we are today, culturally, socially, politically and religiously, is that we don’t have that option any more. We face a dangerous and deeply challenging future in the next few years, as the demons we’ve unleashed in the Middle East are not going to go back into their bag, as the ecological nightmares we’ve created take their toll, as the people who make money by looking after our money have now lost their own money and perhaps ours as well, as our cultural and artistic worlds flail around trying to catch the beauty and sorrow of the world and often turning them into ugliness and trivia. And we whose lives and thinking and praying and preaching are rooted in and shaped by these great four days – we who stand up dangerously before God and one another and say we are ready to hear and obey his call once more – we have to learn what it means to announce the public truth of Easter, consequent upon the public truth of Good Friday and itself shaped by it (as the mark of the nails bear witness), as the good news of God for all the world, not just for those who meet behind locked doors. Every eye shall see him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn as they realise the public truth of his Easter victory. But we can only learn that in the quiet privacy around the Lord’s Table, and the humble stillness where we lay aside our own agendas, our own temperamental preferences, in the darkness of Holy Saturday. When we say Yes to the questions we shall be asked in a few minutes’ time, we are saying Yes to this rhythm, this shaping, of our private devotion to our Lord, our private waiting on him in the silence, in order to say Yes as well to this rhythm, this shaping, of our public ministry, our living out of the gospel before the principalities and powers, our working with the grain of the world where we can and against the grain of the world where we must.
Read it all.
Much more I say: Lord, dost thou stand and knock
At my closed heart more rugged than a rock,
Bolted and barred, for thy soft touch unmeet,
Nor garnished nor in any wise made sweet?
Owls roost within and dancing satyrs mock.
Lord, I have heard the crowing of the cock
And have not wept: ah, Lord, though knowest it,
Yet still I hear thee knocking, still I hear:
‘Open to me, look on me eye to eye,
That I may wring thy heart and make it whole;
And teach thee love because I hold thee dear
And sup with thee in gladness soul with soul,
And sup with thee in glory by and by.’
--Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
In the story of the footwashing, then, we have the most profound revelation of the heart of God apart from the crucifixion itself. We also learn more of the relation between Jesus and his disciples, the relation of the disciples with one another in humble service and the mission of the disciples to the world. These themes are similar to those of the Eucharist developed earlier (see comments on 6:52-59). The community that Jesus has been forming here takes more definite shape, revealing more clearly "the law of its being" (Bultmann 1971:479), which is humble, self-sacrificing love.
But I believe passionately that religious broadcasting is not just for Easter or Christmas: its presence is vital the whole year round. I could not agree more with Ian Hislop, who wrote in last month’s Radio Times “that programmes that concern themselves with faith are still trying to engage with the world, rather than just trying to escape from it into the next”.
The dramatic events of Holy Week remind us that God is intensely engaged with the world he created – not just the ‘religious’ bits of life. St Paul told early Christians that, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God chose to “reconcile to himself all things”.
Read it all.
The Middle East may be the birthplace of three monotheistic religions, but some Arab nations appear bent on making it the burial ground for one of them. For 2,000 years, Christian communities dotted the region, enriching the Arab world with literature, culture and commerce. At the turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 26% of the Middle East's population. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 10%. Intolerant and extremist governments are driving away the Christian communities that have lived in the Middle East since their faith was born.
In the rubble of Syrian cities like Aleppo and Damascus, Christians who refused to convert to Islam have been kidnapped, shot and beheaded by Islamist opposition fighters. In Egypt, mobs of Muslim Brotherhood members burn Coptic Christian churches in the same way they once obliterated Jewish synagogues. And in Iraq, terrorists deliberately target Christian worshippers. This past Christmas, 26 people were killed when a bomb ripped through a crowd of worshipers leaving a church in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Psychology Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations Judaism * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
There is no delineation.
For the people at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit out of Madison, Wis., there needs to be or he shouldn't have his job.
In what is, if nothing else, an absolutely fascinating subject, the FFRF sent a letter of complaint to Clemson this week about "several serious constitutional concerns" over how "Christian worship seems interwoven into the Clemson football program."
Read it all.
Certainly, Taylor’s new memoir, Learning to Walk in the Dark–on spirituality and self-help shelves in time for Good Friday–challenges the broad theological belief that darkness is evil, scary and just plain bad. But she is also taking on the sometimes far-too-sunny fashion in which churches tell their most important stories. It is easy to forget, amid “the Easter lilies, the sound of trumpets and bright streaming light,” she notes, that the Resurrection happened in a dark cave. “God and darkness have been friends for a long time,” Taylor says. “It’s just one nighttime story after another–amazing.”
Read it all and take a look at the Time Cover picture also.
Read it all.
First, being more confident about our status as a Christian country does not somehow involve doing down other faiths or passing judgement on those with no faith at all. Many people tell me it is easier to be Jewish or Muslim in Britain than in a secular country precisely because the tolerance that Christianity demands of our society provides greater space for other religious faiths, too.
Crucially, the Christian values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, and love are shared by people of every faith and none - and we should be confident in standing up to defend them.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
The Trussell Trust figures, released today, only further illustrate this terrible rise, from 350,000 last year to over 900,000 this year. This figure, shocking as it is, is far from the total number of people going hungry in our country today – from those too ashamed to visit their local food bank to those many families not in crisis but ever more worried about keeping the cupboards full. One in four is cutting portion sizes and half are cutting their household food budgets.
Lent has finally seen the beginning of a real national discussion on what this hunger means, what causes it and how we as a society can begin rising to the challenge of this national crisis.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Lent * Culture-Watch Dieting/Food/Nutrition Globalization Hunger/Malnutrition Poverty Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
We lift them to the Lord
The focus of my sermon this evening is what it means to say those words and what it is to set those words at the heart of ministry.
Some of us have the immense privilege as priests of summoning a whole community to lift up their hearts in the Eucharist. But others are called no less to invite God’s people to lift up their hearts in different ways: in the ministry of the word and in the prayers, in pastoral care, in evangelism, as we lead worship or work with children or young people. This call and invitation goes right to the heart of our understanding of every kind of ministry. So what does it mean?
The words have a long and wide pedigree. They go back to the earliest descriptions of the Eucharist in the third century. They are present in the rites of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches and all the churches of the Reformation as well as our own Church of England. What does it mean to say “Lift up your hearts”?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology
At the Chrism Mass in Saint Peter’s, Pope Francis spoke about “priestly joy,” a joy, he said, “which anoints us,” an “imperishable joy,” a “missionary joy.”
The joy which anoints us, the Pope said, “has penetrated deep within our hearts, it has shaped them, and strengthened them sacramentally.” It is a joy that can never be taken away; although it “can lie dormant, or be clogged by sin or by life’s troubles … deep down it remains intact, like the embers of a burnt log beneath the ashes, and it can always be renewed.”
Read it all and you may find the full text of Pope Francis’ homily for Chrism Mass there.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis
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