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(MW) Fewer Americans are donating to charity — and it may have nothing to do with money

Fewer Americans are giving money to charity, and their relationship with God may have something to do with it.

The share of U.S. adults who donated to charity dropped significantly between 2000 and 2016, according to an analysis released this month from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Vanguard Charitable.

By 2016, just over half — 53% — of Americans gave money to charity, down from 66% in 2000. That figure held mostly steady until the Great Recession. Then it started to drop off and took a dive after 2010, said report co-author Una Osili, associate dean for research and international programs at the Lilly School.

The decline amounts to 20 million fewer households donating to charity in 2016 (the most recent year for which data was available) versus 2000, researchers said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology, Stewardship

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John of Damascus

Confirm our minds, O Lord, in the mysteries of the true faith, set forth with power by thy servant John of Damascus; that we, with him, confessing Jesus to be true God and true Man, and singing the praises of the risen Lord, may, by the power of the resurrection, attain to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for evermore.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Bishop William Walsham How

O Almighty Father, fountain of light and salvation, we adore thine infinite goodness in sending thy only begotten Son into the world that, believing in him, we may not perish but have everlasting life; and we pray thee that, through the grace of his first advent to save the world, we may be made ready to meet him at his second advent to judge the world; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.

–2 Peter 3:8-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Barna) What Young Adults Say Is Missing from Church

Just over half of 18–35-year-old Christians surveyed for The Connected Generation study (54%) attend church at least once a month, including one-third (33%) who are in the pews once a week or more. Three in 10 (30%) attend less frequently. A small group of Christians (10%) says they used to go to church, but no longer do.

Despite their fairly consistent presence in the pews, almost half of Christians (44%) say that attending church is not an essential part of their faith. Practicing Christians, defined in part by their regular attendance, are less likely to feel this way, though one-fifth in this group (21%) still agrees. But even if belonging to a community of worship isn’t always seen as essential, young Christians who attend church point to many reasons their participation may be fruitful, most of which pertain to personal spiritual development.

About six in 10 Christians in this study say they participate in their community of worship to grow in their faith (63%) and learn about God (61%). These two options are by far the top responses, though other main motivations also relate to learning, such as receiving relevant teachings (40%), wisdom for how to live faithfully (39%) or wisdom for applying scriptures (35%). This desire for spiritual instruction persists even though four in 10 Christians in this age group (39%) say they have already learned most of what they need to know about faith, and nearly half (47%) say church teachings have flaws or gaps.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology, Young Adults

(SA) “We are struggling to make room” – Gospel growth in Western Sydney

“[Berala’s] been a provisional parish for at least 50 years,” rector the Rev Mike Doyle informed the Synod. Yet, despite this long struggle, God has been faithful – working alongside the parish as members sought to share the gospel.

It hasn’t been an easy task. As the demographic of Berala changes, so must the evangelism strategy. According to the 2016 Census, 79.1 per cent of Berala’s population speaks a language other than English at home. To accommodate this, and ensure the parish is proactively connecting with the community, Berala hosts international food nights, and provides multilingual services and Bible study groups in languages other than English. These efforts have resulted in many baptised as they come to know Christ plus a thriving kids’ and youth ministry.

Mr Doyle also said that Berala aims to begin a second service next March catering more to younger people, and continue to “make followers of Jesus and bring about growth in our members’ relationships with God and each other”. He hopes, in time, this will “raise leaders from within those languages and cultures” in the local community, so that the gospel can spread more easily without fear of miscommunication.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia

(CT) The First Christian: Mary’s preeminent example as a Christ follower neither began or ended at Christmas.

Once upon a time, the Virgin Mary pervaded the life and thought of the Western world. Her presence was so expansive, in fact, that even European fairy tales acknowledged her status. Take Cinderella. An abusive stepmother was still the cause of Cinderella’s impoverished conditions, but in one of the earliest tellings of the tale, she knew the one to call upon was the Virgin Mary. In no time at all, Cinderella’s hunger was resolved, and a prince was proposing. By replacing the Virgin Mary with a Fairy Godmother, the story of Cinderella was successfully secularized for today without disenchanting it. But it’s not just fairy tales that have stripped Mary from a well-loved story. She’s missing from The Story, too.

It’s not that Protestants have entirely forgotten Mary. At this time of year, the mother of Jesus gets some attention. But Mary is not a Christmas figure to be stored away like the manger and the Star of Bethlehem until next year. She played an extraordinary role throughout the life and ministry of Jesus, from the Annunciation to the day of Pentecost. By overlooking the roles she played throughout Jesus’ ministry, we may think that we are protecting Protestantism from falling into old “Catholic” habits of elevating her beyond what Scripture declares about her. But there’s nothing “Protestant” about neglecting what Scripture does say about her—and about the other women named by the New Testament writers.

Before Easter this year, I (Jennifer) stepped out of my comfort zone and preached a sermon at a church on the women named in Luke 8, who traveled with Jesus and financially supported his ministry. In one sense, it was an obvious choice for a sermon. I wanted the congregation to know who the women of Luke 8 were before they met them again at the tomb on Easter. After all, every single Gospel account mentions that women were the first witnesses to the risen Christ. And there is no better evidence of the truth of the Christian claim that Christ truly, bodily resurrected than the fact that the Gospel writers absurdly and consistently base it on the testimony of women during a time when a woman’s testimony was legally worthless. Still, I was uncertain about how a sermon with this kind of focus would be received. Afterward, I had just a swarm of people saying to me that they had never even heard of these women before. They told me that while they had heard sermons focusing on a number of biblical characters other than Jesus, they had never heard a single Sunday morning sermon focused on a woman. And this was in a congregation that’s part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), a denomination that takes pride in its inclusion of women into all areas of ministry! As I officiated communion afterward, a line of women softly whispered to me “thank you,” some with tears in their eyes. Women have a hunger to know that women were faithful and active participants in Jesus’ ministry. They were not just recipients of his miracles. Not just people shown love and respect, but people transformed by Jesus for new life as participants and witnesses in his ministry.

Numerous women are named in Scripture as supporters and participants in Jesus’ ministry. Many more are named as co-workers with Paul. These women are not entirely forgotten by Protestant churches today, but when we tell the stories of Priscilla, Phoebe, Susanna, Chloe, Junia, or the many other women of Scripture, we almost always reserve that focus for the women’s retreat. The whole testimony of Scripture is for the whole church—both men and women. What would it mean for men in the pews to think about the examples of women not as particular “women’s stories” but as universal Christian exemplars? Women in our churches have long had to learn special listening and application skills as they considered the many examples of men following Jesus. It is the normative filter for women in the pew. What if the tables were turned to better reflect the practice of the Bible? What if the New Testament writers didn’t just name female disciples to show women that they too can participate in Jesus’ work? What if the New Testament writers also intended men to learn from women how to follow Jesus? What if Mary, the Mother of God, is for men too?

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Posted in Theology: Scripture

(NBC) College Football Player Saves Young Girl’s Life With Bone Marrow Donation

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Sports

(The Conversation) Faith made Harriet Tubman fearless as she rescued slaves

Millions of people voted in an online poll in 2015 to have the face of Harriet Tubman on the US$20 bill. But many might not have known the story of her life as chronicled in a recent film, “Harriet.”

Harriet Tubman worked as a slave, spy and eventually as an abolitionist. What I find most fascinating, as a historian of American slavery, is how belief in God helped Tubman remain fearless, even when she came face to face with many challenges.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(NYT) The Class of 2000 ‘Could Have Been Anything’ Until the Opioid Crisis Hit

The Minford High School Class of 2000, in rural Minford, Ohio, began its freshman year as a typical class. It had its jocks and its cheerleaders, its slackers and its overachievers.

But by the time the group entered its final year, its members said, painkillers were nearly ubiquitous, found in classrooms, school bathrooms and at weekend parties.

Over the next decade, Scioto County, which includes Minford, would become ground zero in the state’s fight against opioids. It would lead Ohio with its rates of fatal drug overdoses, drug-related incarcerations and babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

To understand both the scope and the devastating consequences of what is now a public health crisis, we talked to dozens of members of the Class of 2000. Many opened up to us about struggles with addiction, whether their own or their relatives’. They told us about the years lost to getting high and in cycling in and out of jail, prison and rehab. They mourned the three classmates whose addictions killed them.

In all of the interviews, one thing was clear: Opioids have spared relatively no one in Scioto County; everyone appears to know someone whose life has been affected by addiction.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Education, Health & Medicine, Teens / Youth

(Church Times) Sister Teresa White on Advent–The love lies in the waiting

If we are not too tense or worried, waiting can give us the opportunity to see and hear and feel things that we are often too preoccupied to notice. As our vision sharpens, our eyes may be opened to the plight of someone in need; as our hearing is refined, we may hear the unspoken cry of a lonely soul. As we wait, often caught up in painful, incomprehensible, and messy situations, we may perceive something of the beauty given us — the love, the music, the laughter of life. The flickering flame of hope can light up unforeseen pathways, even in what seems to be a lifeless landscape; through hope, we may be able to discern a distant shape or a glow in the surrounding darkness. Psalm 30 reminds us that “joy comes in the morning”, as fresh hope brings welcome relief after a night of tears and anguish.

Advent is a time of waiting and promise, a time of longing and anticipation. But the quality of this waiting is not edgy and anxious; it is hope-filled, and quietly joyful. Waiting — being prepared to wait — indicates some measure of love, or caring, or interest; after all, we don’t usually spend much of our time waiting for something or someone of little or no concern to us.

A short passage from the Letter of St James, which regularly appears in the lectionary at this time of year, encourages us to be patient, and patience is born of hope. “Be patient”, James writes, “until the Lord’s coming.” And he engagingly adds, “Do not lose heart, because the Lord’s coming will be soon.”

We know that Love is coming, and trust that Love will truly come; so we wait in joyful hope — a hope that is renewed, when, year after year, “we pray those beautiful prayers of longing and waiting, and sing lovely songs of hope and promise” (Karl Rahner, The Eternal Year).

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Posted in Advent, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Francis Xavier

Loving God, who didst call Francis Xavier to lead many in India and Japan to know Jesus Christ as their Redeemer: Bring us to the new life of glory promised to all who follow in the Way; 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 for the Day from William Edward 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

From the Morning Bible Readings

But I through the abundance of thy steadfast love will enter thy house, I will worship toward thy holy temple in the fear of thee.

–Psalm 5:7

Posted in Theology: Scripture

([London] Times) Church of Scotland doomed if squabbling doesn’t stop, former moderator and minister John Chalmers says

Radical plans to rescue the Church of Scotland from extinction are at risk of collapse amid rancorous infighting and internal division, one of its most senior figures has warned.

The Kirk registered a deficit of £4.5 million last year and membership is dwindling by an average of more than 100 people a week. It is estimated that the church has lost 80 per cent of parishioners since the 1950s.

In an effort to address its declining fortunes it has approved wide-ranging cost-cutting measures, including merging parishes and closing a number of churches. Earlier this month the Kirk agreed to integrate a number of its policymaking councils and significantly reduce the number of meetings.

The Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, a former moderator and principal clerk of the church’s general assembly, urged members to put aside their differences and work together. Speaking of the reforms he said: “If we do not change the way we think of our colleagues or learn to speak well of our brothers and sisters in Christ — even those we disagree — it may all be for nothing. Ours is a culture that needs to change”.

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Posted in --Scotland, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture

Archbp Justin Welby–Why Advent shows us there is purpose to waiting

The prophet Isaiah, writing some half a millennium before Christ, spoke of judgement for society’s injustices and sins. When it all happened and much of the nation was enslaved, he wrote of the hope of return, of God’s transforming power. It is some of the most beautiful and passionate poetry of the Bible – and the return happened. Isaiah’s readings accompany the Church through Advent. He paints a vivid picture of a time when all nations will be at peace, when there will be no more tears and pain, no weapons or division and justice will prevail. It can all seem removed and unreal. Something to dream of, but not a reality.

On the contrary, Isaiah the prophet was utterly realistic. He lived in a country that preferred the illusion of all being well to the reality of social sin. Reality was his stock in trade. It was in reality that he held the vision for what could be if the people co-operated with God, if a value-based nation, albeit occupied and dominated by others, could seek the common good, as we might call it. We too can see how our hope for the future may start to change the present. Hope, in the sense of purposeful expectation, motivates action. Hope inspires us to follow God where God already is: at work in the world.

That is why Christian waiting and looking forward is never passive. It empowers hope to take courage and aspire to change the world. It makes space for God to work in our lives, being open to the challenge of the Spirit.

That is the hope-filled invitation that Jesus Christ offers to each of us – and that is why we wait both by praying, and by living out this joyful call to walk with God who brings light out of darkness, and purpose out of waiting.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Advent, Archbishop of Canterbury, Theology

The recent sermon preached by new Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin

The prophet Isaiah speaks of a God who has knowledge of us before we were born. A God who has chosen us to be his messengers of Good News and has given us a name. The giving of the name is important as it is meant to reflect something of the character of the messenger. In the New Testament reading Jesus speaks of making known God’s name, “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world.” His name is his bond, you can trust him, because you know what he is like. I am reminded of the words of the psalmist, “Some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” Such confidence! The name that was once so sacred and could not be spoken, is now available to all – we have access to him through the coming of the Lord Jesus – ‘Emmanuel, God with us.’ Another name carrying much meaning.

God’s presence in our midst changes the kind of relationship we have with him and with each other. This is at the heart of the Good news message we are called on to share. Jesus captures it brilliantly in our New Testament reading. Here we discover a kind of symbiotic relationship – “All mine are yours and yours are mine”. We are deeply mistaken if the kind of relationship we seek with God is so personal and private that we exclude our brothers and sisters around us or indeed as we are in Kent, on the frontier if we exclude our brothers and sisters from another mother!

I am reminded of the quote, “I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see, I sought my God but he eluded me, I sought my brother and I found all three.” The name Emmanuel, which will be highlighted in the Christmas season, captures the kind of relational work that is at the heart of God’s kingdom and which we are called to be engaged in. To do this kind of work, we need to commit to working together not apart. To build the body of Christ together; not to create mini kingdoms according to the numerous labels that that we appear to attach ourselves to.

If we are going to experience that oneness of purpose that Jesus prayed for then we will need to seek to be identified more with the name of Jesus. For too long we have been embarrassed to be associated with him. We have kept him hidden in our beautiful churches and cathedrals that we visit on our terms, for weddings, baptisms, funerals or other such special occasions like Christmas or the mandatory school service. If we are going to ignite the communities from which we come, indeed the county of Kent, then everyone of us will need to reassess our relationship with the name of Jesus.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Preaching / Homiletics

(Atlantic) The Crisis of American Christianity, Viewed From Great Britain The theologian N. T. Wright is unfazed by the faith’s politicization in the U.S.

Green: Do you feel hopeful about the future of Christianity?

Wright: Yeah, of course I feel hopeful. Lesslie Newbigin—does that name mean anything to you? He was a Presbyterian who went out to India as a missionary.

Somebody once asked him whether he was an optimist or a pessimist, and he said, “I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist; Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.” In other words, something has happened, as a result of which the world is a different place. If we put our faith only in a Western Enlightenment version of the spread of Christianity, how foolish would we be? Christianity is thriving in Africa and Asia—in China, for goodness’ sake. It’s amazing, actually.

Green: Looking to America and Britain to be the future of Christianity—you think that’s misguided?

Wright: Who knows? You know, God is the God of surprises. New things can happen; new things should happen. But there are more Anglicans in church in Nigeria on a Sunday than in the whole of Britain and America put together.

Green: If you were talking to a young person who feels anguish about what Christianity has come to mean in America, what would you say to him or her?

Wright: For goodness’ sake, read the four Gospels. That’s what they’re there for. And recognize that in the prayer Jesus taught us to pray: “Forgive us our trespasses.” You don’t just say that once, at the beginning of your Christian life. You jolly well say it every day, because you will need to. The trouble is that the Church is far too good at hoping that everyone else will be asking for forgiveness for their trespasses. Self-critique is part of the Gospel. And where the Church forgets that—oh boy, things go badly wrong.

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Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT Op-ed) The Unending Indignities of Alzheimer’s

But while his family, and his physician, agree on the need for more advanced care, his health insurers do not.

Medicare does not generally cover long-term nursing home care. Medicaid does, but only when it deems those services “medically necessary” — and that determination is made by insurance agents, not by the patient’s doctors. The state of New Jersey, where my parents live, recently switched to a managed care system for its elderly Medicaid recipients. Instead of paying directly for the care that this patient population needs, the state pays a fixed per-person amount to a string of private companies, who in turn manage the needs of patients like my father. On paper, these companies cover the full range of required offerings: nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and a suite of in-home support services. In practice, they do what most insurance companies seem to do: obfuscate and evade and force you to beg.

When I told my father’s care coordinator what his doctor said, she was unequivocal. “He is not even close to qualifying,” she said. “He’s only 78, and he can still walk and wash and dress himself without assistance.”

I countered that he had “bathroom issues” and that he frequently refused to shower.

“Refusing to do something is not the same as being physically incapable of doing it,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing

Announcement of New Bishop of Doncaster

The next Bishop of Doncaster will be the Revd Canon Sophie Jelley Downing Street has announced today. The Revd Canon Jelley is currently the Director of Mission, Discipleship and Ministry in the Diocese of Durham, and Canon Missioner at Durham Cathedral, a role she has held for four years.

The role of the Bishop of Doncaster has been vacant since the retirement of the Rt Revd Peter Burrows in September 2019. Sophie will be the seventh Bishop of Doncaster in the Church of England.

The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Dr Pete Wilcox, said:

“I am truly delighted that Canon Sophie has accepted the invitation to be the next Bishop of Doncaster. She is a devoted disciple of Jesus and a highly gifted priest, with an almost uncanny ‘fit’ to the role description we drew up. She has a wealth of experience, as an incumbent, a residentiary cathedral canon and a member of a bishop’s senior staff team. Her energy, creativity and passion will enrich our Diocese, and I am looking forward hugely to forging a collaboration with her.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

A Church of Ireland Gazette Editorial Remembering Nicholas Ferrar (1592-1637) on his Feast Day

Nicholas Ferrar, like his great friend, George Herbert, was a courtier turned clergyman. Born in London, he was educated at a boarding school in Berkshire and at Clare College, Cambridge. He was appointed to the service of Princess Elizabeth, daughter of James I, who married the Elector Frederick V, and travelled to the continent. In the coming years, Ferrar travelled widely and, a brilliant scholar, learnt to speak Dutch, German, Italian and Spanish, as well as engaging in the study of medicine in Leipzig and Padua.

On his return to England in 1618, Ferrar was involved with the London Virginia Company, which was the family business, and he was also, for a time, a Member of Parliament. In 1626, following ordination as a deacon by the controversial Bishop (later Archbishop) William Laud, there was a major life-change when he and his extended family moved to the manor in Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire and restored St John’s church for their own use. There they lived a life of extreme simplicity, devotion and practical service.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE)

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Nicholas Ferrar

Lord God, make us so reflect thy perfect love; that, with thy deacon Nicholas Ferrar and his household, we may rule ourselves according to thy Word, and serve thee with our whole heart; 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, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Richard Baxter

Keep us, O Lord, while we tarry on this earth, in a serious seeking after thee, and in an affectionate walking with thee, every day of our lives; that when thou comest, we may be found not hiding our talent, nor serving the flesh, nor yet asleep with our lamp unfurnished, but waiting and longing for our Lord, our glorious God for ever and ever.

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.

For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall; so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

–2 Peter 1:1-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(PD) Nathaniel Blake–Outrage Mobs Might Be More Forgiving If They Believed in Hell

Belief in Hell might seem like the opposite of forgiveness. However, divine forgiveness is contingent on the possibility of divine punishment. Temporally, belief in divine retribution may also encourage human forgiveness, as believers recollect that they, too, need mercy. At the very least, they may overlook some wrongs on the basis that God will sort them out.

The prospect of Hell may allow for a moving-on even in cases of radical evil of the sort that Arendt deems unforgivable. Civil peace often demands leniency for horrific crimes. It is sometimes necessary that witnesses and informants be granted immunity for their crimes, that traitors and terrorists be offered amnesty, or that treaties be made with tyrants. In such cases, where reasons of state preclude justice in this life, belief that there will be an accounting after death may help restore and preserve peace, even without forgiveness. Belief in divine justice liberates humanity from the responsibility of administering perfect justice—an impossible effort that, because of human finitude and sin, itself produces injustice.

Recognizing the social utility of religious beliefs is not enough to preserve them. Still, such reflection aids in diagnosing the ills of a culture that abandons them. Declining belief in divine judgment may encourage some to indulge themselves, comforted by the belief that there will be no punishment. However, others will attempt to take the place of the absent divine judge.

Those who believe that the only justice to be had is that which they administer in this life will be neither proportionate nor merciful. And those who do not believe in Hell may attempt to create it themselves.

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Posted in Eschatology, Philosophy, Politics in General

(1st Things) Hans Boersma–Advent Arrow

The Fathers see evidence in Isaiah 49:2: “The Lord … made me like a chosen arrow, and in his quiver he sheltered me.” Theodoret directly identifies Christ as God’s arrow when he comments on the meaning of the Bride’s profession of love, “I have been wounded by love” (Song 2:5). He too appeals to Isaiah 49: “For [Christ] is after all the chosen arrow (Isa. 49:2) that wounds the souls it strikes.”

The patristic logic is impeccable: If Christ is the Groom who wounds our heart, then with impatient desire we search the Scriptures for how he does this. That’s exactly what the Fathers do by turning to biblical texts such as Psalm 45:5 and Isaiah 49:2. The broader canonical witness tells us how it is that the Groom wounds his Bride’s heart. Archery is his means—preachers’ words give the Logos entry in the human heart.

Patristic scholars talk about “intertextuality” or “verbal association” to explain what’s happening here. I won’t object. But really, we should call this kind of exegesis advent reading. It is a form of interpretation that longs for Christ to come and that looks beyond the empirical. Only an interpretation animated by desire can spot the arrow.

Scripture demands an Advent posture. The most important things are not the ones we see. The unseen word arrow is arguably the key to grasping what the Bride means when she exclaims, “I am wounded with love.” That, at least, is the consensus patrum.

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Posted in Advent, Church History, Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Posted in * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Henry Stobat

O God, Father of mercies, who didst so love the world that thou didst give thine only begotten Son to take our nature upon him for us men and for our salvation: Grant to us who by his first coming have been called into thy kingdom of grace, that we may always abide in him, and be found watching and ready when he shall come again to call us to thy kingdom of glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape. But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But, since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

–1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CNN) Grandmother who texted the wrong teen for Thanksgiving shared her fourth holiday with him

Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton are a pair of unlikely friends. All it took to bring them together was a couple of texts to the wrong number.

Dench meant to text her grandson to invite him to her 2016 Thanksgiving dinner, but she reached Hinton instead. Then she doubled down on the invitation, and he showed up to her house for a plate full of turkey.
This year, the pals reunited for their fourth Thanksgiving feast together. This time, Dench didn’t have to host.
With their partners, local news crews and a house teeming with family members, the pair reminisced about how much things had changed since their first Thanksgiving — and how their friendship had grown.
“I’m just ecstatic that I have a new friend,” she told CNN affiliates KTVK and KPHO, on scene to document the friendly feast. “Of course, not new anymore.”

Read it all.

Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Marriage & Family, Stewardship