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Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–3 great Lessons from the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-12)

Listen to it all. The sermon itself starts around 17:45.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pentecost, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

Church’s 2023 strategic investment focuses on doubling number of children and young people – report

The latest report on the Church of England’s strategic investment shows how funding in the last year has prioritised doubling the numbers of children and young people, and revitalising parishes for mission.

In the year 2023, Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Funding (SMMI) awarded £60 million to Church of England projects and parishes plus an additional £29 million to support lowest income communities around England.

Alongside the focus on growing the church younger and more diverse, funding prioritised parts of society where other sources of support have been withdrawn.

There was also a new structure, with a single Board – the Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Board (SMMIB) – set up to distribute funding on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Stewardship, Youth Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Helena of Constantinople

Most Merciful God, who didst vouchsafe to bless thy servant Helena with such grace and devotion to thee that she didst venerate the very footsteps of our Savior; Grant unto us the same grace that, aided by her prayers and example, we too may evermore behold thy glory in the cross of thy Son. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for Pentecost from the American Prayerbook

Send, we beseech thee, Almighty God, thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that he may rule and direct us according to thy will, comfort us in all our afflictions, defend us from all error, and lead us into all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who, with thee and the same Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth one God world without end.

Posted in Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God, and every one who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth. There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has borne witness to his Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. He who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne to his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life.

–1 John 5:1-12

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Preliminary figures suggest church attendance increased a bit YOY, but is still below 2019 levels

Attendance figures are assembled each year and published in the Statistics for Mission report in the following autumn. This year, however, preliminary figures were released by Church House on Monday. They provide “a snapshot of the overall picture”, and are based on returns from more than 11,000 churches, a statement said. “The totals could be revised as further figures come in and checks continue.”

The returns received so far suggest that average all-age weekly attendance, which includes Sunday and midweek services, increased from 654,000 people in 2022 to 685,000 in 2023: a rise of 4.7 per cent. The number of children (defined as anyone under the age of 16) attending weekly rose from 87,000 in 2022 to 92,000 in 2023: an increase of 5.7 per cent.

In 2021, average all-age weekly attendance was 605,000 people, compared with 345,000 people in 2020 (when churches were closed during periods of national lockdown), and 854,000 people in 2019….

Read it all (registration or subscription).

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

(WSJ) The U.S. Finally Has a Strategy to Compete With China. Will It Work?

The new tariffs President Biden announced last week aren’t economically significant. Symbolically, they are huge.

The U.S. buys almost no electric vehicles, steel or semiconductors—all targets of the tariffs—from China. But, by adding to, rather than rescinding, tariffs imposed in 2018 by former President Donald Trump, it signals that the decoupling of the Chinese and U.S. economies is becoming irreversible.

More important, the tariffs are the final piece of an economic strategy for competing with China.

This strategy is a three-legged stool. The first consists of subsidies to build a viable technology manufacturing sector, from clean energy to semiconductors. The second is tariffs on Chinese imports that threaten those efforts. The third is restrictions on access to money, technology and know-how that could help China compete. A fourth leg, a unified economic front with allies, remains unrealized.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., China, Economy, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, President Joe Biden

Tuesday food for Thought from Mark Batterson for Pentecost

‘The Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit that has always intrigued me. They called Him An Geadh-Glas, or “the Wild Goose.” I love the imagery and implications. The name hints at the mysterious nature of the Holy Spirit. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed.

An element of danger and an air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious at first earshot, I cannot think of a better description of what it’s like to pursue the Spirit’s leading through life than Wild Goose chase. I think the Celtic Christians were on to something that institutionalized Christianity has missed out on. And I wonder if we have clipped the wings of the Wild Goose and settled for something less—much less—than what God originally intended for us.’

–Mark Batterson, Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2008), pp. 1-2, quoted by yours truly in this past Sunday’s sermon

Posted in Pentecost, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

John Calvin on Pentecost

[At Pentecost Peter] intendeth to prove…that the Church can be repaired by no other means, saving only by the giving of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, forasmuch as they did all hope that the restoring drew near, he accuseth them of sluggishness, because they do not once think upon the way and means thereof. And when the prophet saith, “I will pour out,” it is, without all question, that he meant by this word to note the great abundance of the Spirit….when God will briefly promise salvation to his people, he affirmeth that he will give them his Spirit. Hereupon it followeth that we can obtain no good things until we have the Spirit given us.

–Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

Posted in Church History, Pentecost, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Lydia of Thyatira

Eternal God, who gives good gifts to all people, and who teaches us to have the same spirit of generosity: Give unto us, we pray thee, hearts that are always open to hear thy word, that following the example of thy servant Lydia, we may show hospitality to all who are in any need or trouble, through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology: Scripture, Women

A Prayer for Pentecost from the Scottish Prayerbook

Almighty and everlasting God, who in days of old didst cause thy Word to grow mightily and to prevail: We praise and magnify thy holy name for the manifestation of thy presence in this our day, and we beseech thee to pour out thy Spirit upon the Church, that thy way may be known upon earth and thy saving health among all nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight;
for I give you good precepts:
do not forsake my teaching.
When I was a son with my father,
tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
he taught me, and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Get wisdom; get insight.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.

–Proverbs 4:1-7

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Anglican Futures) The start of an episcopal free for all?

Then, as now, the majority of global Anglicans believed that apostolic teaching calls for those engaging in sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage to be loved by the church and called to repent. Without repentance, such a person cannot be considered a “true shepherd” and therefore should be precluded from ordination or consecration. It was, therefore, TEC’s willingness to consecrate a man in a same-sex relationship which tore “the fabric of [the] communion at its deepest level.”

Returning to the events of Saturday 11th May 2024, Bishop Jill Duff told Anglican Futures that she was asked to attend the consecration of Bishop David Morris as a representative of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York…. She was very clear that it was in that capacity, rather than as an honorary assistant bishop in the Church in Wales, that she did so .

This raises a number of issues of national and international significance:

First, this means a bishop of the Church of England was involved in the consecration of a man whose conduct would prevent him from being consecrated as a bishop in the Church of England.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Wales, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Church of Wales, CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Global South Churches & Primates, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(Bloomberg) Niall Ferguson–Biden Can’t Pay His Way Out of Fighting Cold War II

The problem of being a poor paymaster is equally evident in the case of Ukraine. For reasons that future historians will struggle to understand, the US suspended its aid to Ukraine in late 2023. Europeans did not fill the gap, with the result that Ukraine’s military capacity was diminished and Russia’s hopes of victory revived. According to the latest Ukraine Support Tracker published by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, between the beginning of the war and this March, the European Union plus its individual members together allocated a total of €89.9 billion in military, humanitarian and financial aid to Ukraine. The US pledged less, €67 billion.

The result is that Kyiv listens much less to Washington than it did in 2022 and 2023 — hence the recent spate of deep drone strikes aimed at Russia’s energy infrastructure, operations that cannot possibly have been approved by Team Biden, which it seems will (to quote John F. Kennedy) “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship … to assure the survival and success of liberty” — except for higher gasoline prices in an election year.

This has been a horrible failure of American policy. Turning off aid to Ukraine has unquestionably encouraged Putin to believe that victory can be achieved in a relatively short time frame. Thanks to Samuel Charap and Sergey Radchenko, we know now that, when their invasion was going badly in early 2022, the Russians were ready to negotiate a peace deal with Ukraine. The compromise would have ruled out North Atlantic Treaty Organization membership for Kyiv but provided it with multilateral security guarantees to protect its neutrality, and paved the way to EU membership.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

Food for though from Susan Howatch for Pentecost–‘God seized me by the scruff of the neck, slammed me against the nearest wall and shook me until my teeth rattled’

Ms Howatch, 52, believes God has been guiding her. Although she made her first fortune writing blockbusters such as Penmarric, success and its trappings left her spiritually empty. She had houses in several countries, drove a Porsche and a Mercedes and after the break-up of her marriage had too many ‘facile, transient liaisons’. In the early Eighties she told her editor she would be late with a novel and he said: ‘What will I tell the accountants?’

‘I was not interested in fame and fortune any more – I’d had it all since I was 30 and it hadn’t satisfied me. So I thought, ‘If I’m not in it for that and I’m not in it to keep my publishers in the black, what the hell am I doing it for?’

‘God seized me by the scruff of the neck, slammed me against the nearest wall and shook me until my teeth rattled. I thought: ‘Okay, what does God actually require of me?”

–From there and quoted by yours truly in yesterday’s Pentecost sermon (emphasis mine)

Posted in England / UK, History, Pentecost, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

(ISW) The Iran Update after the Death of the Iranian President

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei wields ultimate decision-making authority in Iran, but Raisi still holds significant power within the regime. Raisi is the deputy chairman of the Assembly of Experts, a regime entity constitutionally responsible for monitoring the supreme leader and selecting his successor.[8] Iranians re-elected Raisi to serve as a representative of South Khorasan Province in the Assembly of Experts during the recent March 2024 Assembly of Experts elections.[9] Raisi also holds numerous ex officio positions. He is a member of the Expediency Discernment Council and the chairman of the Supreme National Security Council, Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, and Supreme Cyber Space Council.

Raisi’s death would have serious implications for supreme leader succession. Raisi is considered one of the top contenders—along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba Khamenei—to succeed Khamenei as supreme leader. Khamenei appointed Raisi to the position of judiciary chief in 2019 and endorsed Raisi during the August 2021 presidential elections.[10] The next several days have the potential to reshape the immediate and long-term dynamics of the regime, including supreme leader succession. Raisi’s death would ultimately not change the regime’s current trajectory toward more hardline and conservative domestic policies and more aggressive regional policies, however.

Read it all.

Posted in Foreign Relations, History, Iran, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Alcuin

Almighty God, who in a rude and barbarous age didst raise up thy deacon Alcuin to rekindle the light of learning: Illumine our minds, we pray thee, that amid the uncertainties and confusions of our own time we may show forth thine eternal truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Day from the Church of England

O Lord, from whom all good things come:
grant to us your humble servants,
that by your holy inspiration
we may think those things that are good,
and by your merciful guiding may perform the same;
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church of England, Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

–Psalm 1:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This day

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

A Shofar Call for the Day of Pentecost

Posted in * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Pentecost

A Prayer for Pentecost from the Gelasian Sacramentary

O God, who in the exaltation of thy Son Jesus Christ dost sanctify thy universal Church: Shed abroad in every race and nation the gift of the Holy Spirit; that the work wrought by his power at the first preaching of the gospel may now be extended throughout the whole world; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

–Acts 4:32-33

Posted in Pentecost, Theology: Scripture

A CEEC update on the latest on the LLF mess in the Church of England

From there:

There’s a lot of water going under the Living in Love and Faith Bridge right now, including today, the 16th of May, a discussion at the House of Bishops. Whilst we do not know what they will conclude and what therefore will be brought to General Synod in July, it is clear that two things are going to happen. One, that the so-called ‘standalone services’ for blessings of same-sex relationships will be made possible.

And secondly, that, probably by the removal of ‘so-called’ discipline, that clergy in some dioceses are going to be able to marry their same-sex partners. Maybe as soon as this autumn. These are big changes, and I think it’s fairly clear that they are indeed indicative of a change of doctrine.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Church of England, England / UK, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

A Doxology from Thomas Ken to begin the day

Glory be to thee, O Christ our Prophet, who didst reveal and interpret thy Father’s will and all saving truth to the world.
Glory be to thee, O Christ our Priest, who didst offer thyself a sacrifice for sin and ever livest to make intercession for us.
Glory be to thee, O Christ our King, who dost give laws to thy people, and dost govern and protect us in thy love, and who reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit now and for evermore.

Posted in Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations will know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.

–Ezekiel 36:22-27

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(C of E) ‘Traditional doesn’t mean boring’ – a medieval parish church growing for the future

The church of St John the Baptist, in the centre of Peterborough, has a remarkable history, not least the 16th Century parish sexton who conducted the funerals of Katherine of Aragon and Mary Queen of Scots, who are buried in the nearby cathedral.

But when the latest vicar, the Rev Michelle Dalliston, arrived two years ago, some were beginning to be concerned for the church’s future.

After years of slow decline in numbers, the combination of Covid followed by a period without a vicar, had taken its toll: confidence was waning and the building was only able to open for services, a Saturday café and a Tuesday lunchtime concert series.

Two years on it is “buzzing”, open most days in the week with everything from support for homeless people and a variety of NHS and other drop-in services to a busy café, revitalised lunchtime concerts with professional musicians, and a myriad of other events and activities.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth

([London] Times) Teachers to get free speech protection from blasphemy claims

The report has been influenced by a series of recent blasphemy cases in Britain that have been inappropriately handled, according to government sources familiar with its findings.

They include the 2021 protests against a teacher in Batley, West Yorkshire, who received death threats and is still in hiding after showing pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in a religious studies lesson.

Another incident understood to have informed the report’s recommendations was the controversy last year in Wakefield, also West Yorkshire, after a copy of the Quran was slightly damaged at a high school. West Yorkshire police recorded it as a “hate incident,” which led to concerns that officers were being pressured into imposing de-facto blasphemy laws by conservative faith groups. It led to Suella Braverman, the home secretary at the time, introducing a new code of conduct for the police to protect freedom of expression.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(WSJ) Surging Hospital Prices Are Helping Keep Inflation High

One reason U.S. inflation is still high: Increases in prices for procedures to prop open clogged arteries, provide intensive care for newborns and biopsy breasts.

Hospitals didn’t raise prices as early in the pandemic as supermarkets, retailers and restaurants. But they have been making up ground since then. Their increases have contributed to stubbornly high inflation readings from the consumer-price index, which in April increased 3.4% from a year ago.

Hospital prices specifically jumped 7.7% last month from a year ago, the highest increase in any month since October 2010, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

Among the procedures with hefty recent price increases are angioplasties placing stents in arteries to improve blood flow, which grew $670, or 4.5%, to $15,640 in the first three months of the year from the same period a year ago, according to Turquoise Health.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance

(CT) Police Officers Are Burning Out. Can Chaplains Help?

Sitting in the front row of a supervisor training in 2016, Stamford Police Sgt. Sean Boeger raised his hand every time the instructor asked who had dealt with a particular experience, including homicides, fatal accidents, and child deaths.

During his nearly 30 years as a police officer, 48-year-old Boeger had helped with body recovery efforts at Ground Zero after 9/11. When 20 children were killed by a lone shooter in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, just 40 miles from Stamford, Boeger volunteered to help the small Newtown police department. He covered midnight shifts as officers took time to recover.

The instructor at the training triggered something in Boeger. Until that class, he had never dwelt much on the effect of witnessing so much trauma. Driving home that evening, he also thought back to another incident, when he responded to a report of a small child falling out of an eighth-story window.

“I felt overwhelmed, kind of panic-stricken,” he recalled of that evening. “I think I was more in shock from the stuff I’d never contemplated and the trauma impact it had on me. Because you don’t stop to think about it.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ministry of the Ordained, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture