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A message from Bishop of Gloucester regarding the release of the House of Bishops statement re civil partnerships

It brought me deep joy yesterday morning to be with a group of clergy and laity on the final day of a two-year programme called THRIVE as they continued to reflect together on what it means to be the Church in their different contexts. At the heart of it is the generous love of God, and as we gathered in a room with a roaring fire, I reflected on continuing to fan into flame the gift of God within us as we live and share the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.

The bishops of the Church of England are also coming towards the end of a two-year programme. ‘Living in Love and Faith‘ is a project which will result in the production of ‘resources that will help the Church to learn how questions about human identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality fit within the bigger picture of what it means to embody a Christian vision of living holy lives in love and faith in our culture’. It is led by the bishops and therefore I was deeply frustrated and saddened in the way that the House of Bishops statement re civil partnerships was published on Thursday. I recognise that it has fanned into flame unnecessary pain and distress and I wish to acknowledge my part in that.

I cannot deny seeing the content of the statement at the meeting of the House of Bishops in December and in terms of factual content the statement is reiterating that in the light of the recent change in law allowing civil partnerships to be extended to opposite-sex couples, nothing has changed regarding the legal and doctrinal position of the Church of England. There should have been no surprises for anyone in that. However, I am complicit in making wrong assumptions in December and not asking questions about how this statement was to be used. For me, the publication of the statement in cold isolation from anything else, on a seemingly random day and lacking any pastoral ‘surround’ or mention of the Living in Love and Faith’ process, has been perplexing and upsetting. This is even more so as it has been released just days before the College of Bishops convene once more to focus on ‘Living in Love and Faith’ as we stand in the present looking to both the past and the future.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bp Michael Nazir-Ali responds to the recent Pastoral Statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England

Such an understanding of CPs should determine the Church’s attitude to the blessing of those who enter such partnerships. The Bishops are right, therefore, to say that the Church should not provide an authorised public liturgy for the blessing of CPs and that clergy should not bless such unions. Publicly authorised liturgies are not, however, necessary for clergy to conduct services of blessing. This is being done to a significant extent and the Bishops need to say what action they are going to take in such situations. Widespread practice can become the norm, even if the fundamental documents of an organisation remain unchanged.

When people come for baptism, confirmation or holy communion, my assumption is that they have repented of their sin and intend to lead a life which is consistent with the teaching of Christ and of the Church. I am surprised, however, given the clarity of the Bishops’ understanding of the nature of marriage and of what falls short of God’s purposes (what is, therefore, of the nature of sin), that they instruct the clergy not to ask those who present themselves for reception of the sacraments about the nature of their relationship. Clergy are certainly called to be exemplars to their flock and it is right to ask them about their relationships but they are examples precisely so the people may follow their example. There can be no double standards here; one for clergy and another for lay people. Sensitive pastoring is required for all but the teaching of Christ and of the Church must also regularly be placed before all so they can be comforted and challenged by it and seek to order their lives in accordance with it.

Where the baptism of infants is concerned, the Bishops are correct to point out that, while baptism can be delayed for purposes of instruction and preparation, under the Canons, it cannot be refused. They are right to say that such instruction should include teaching about marriage and family. There should be an expectation, however, that those receiving this teaching will seek to order their lives in accordance with it. The requirement for godparents in the Canons are relevant and, in any case, the covenant community should be committed to those children being baptised into the body so that they are brought up in accordance with Christian faith and values. This will mean, on the part of those bringing them to baptism, that they will commit themselves to making sure the infant is kept in regular contact with the community where the baptism takes place.

The Bishops’ Statement is clear about the Church’s understanding of marriage and the relationship of sexual expression to it. It is less clear about the consequences of such an understanding for clergy and their ordination vows and what should be required of lay people so that they too may order theirs and their families’ lives in ways that are consistent with the teaching of the Bible and of the Church. For the Church’s chief pastors, it is urgent that they guide people to walk in the way of Christ and to help them to grow in holiness and godly love. It is my prayer that the Bishops will go on to provide such clear guidance which cannot be misunderstood in matters having to do with our salvation.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

For his Feast Day-Mike Aquilina: John Chrysostoms Discovery of the Blessings & Mysteries of Marriage

We could honestly and accurately describe it as a mystagogy of marriage. He wants us to move from the icon to the reality. Still, he insists that we must also learn to venerate the icon. “Learn the power of the type,” he says, “so that you may learn the strength of the truth.”

It is important for us to realize that John’s mature doctrine of marriage is almost unique in ancient Christianity. His contemporaries tended to look upon marriage as an institution that was passing away, as more and more Christians turned to celibacy. The best thing Jerome could say about marriage was that it produced future celibates. In Antioch in John’s day, there were 3,000 consecrated virgins and widows in a city of perhaps 250,000, and that number does not include the celibate men in brotherhoods or the hermits who filled the nearby mountains.

Yet John glorified marriage. It pained him that Christian couples continued to practice the old, obscene pagan wedding customs. So shameful were these practices that few couples dared to invite their parish priest to attend and give a blessing.

“Is the wedding then a theater?” he told them in a sermon. “It is a sacrament, a mystery, and a model of the Church of Christ. . . . They dance at pagan ceremonies; but at ours, silence and decorum should prevail, respect and modesty. Here a great mystery is accomplished.”

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Posted in Church History, Marriage & Family

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Chrysostom

O God, who didst give to thy servant John Chrysostom grace eloquently to proclaim thy righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of thy Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellency in preaching, and fidelity in ministering thy Word, that thy people shall be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; 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 John Henry Newman

O Emmanuel, O Wisdom, I give myself to Thee, I trust Thee wholly. Thou art wiser than I, more loving to me than I myself: deign to fulfill Thy high purposes in me, whatever they be. Work in and through me: I am born to serve Thee, to be Thine, to be Thine instrument. Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see, I ask not to know, I ask simply to be used.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.

-Psalm 41:13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CNS) The Roman Catholic faith of Kobe Bryant RIP

In 2015, the basketball player told GQ that after the matter was resolved, he decided to shed some superficiality he felt he had built up in his public persona.

“What I came to understand, coming out of Colorado, is that I had to be me, in the place where I was at that moment.”

Bryant said it was a priest who helped him to make some important personal realizations during the ordeal.

Describing his fear of being sent to prison for a crime he believed he had not committed, Bryant told GQ that “The one thing that really helped me during that process—I’m Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic—was talking to a priest.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Roman Catholic, Sports

(CHE) The Big Lie–A professor schemed to get a raise and win his department’s respect. Instead, he wrecked his career

Brian and Stacey McNaughton had bought their single-family home in Fort Collins, Colo., six years earlier for $525,000. It was the sort of place, situated on an oversize corner lot in a neighborhood filled with doctors and lawyers, that projected the kind of solid middle-class status that the couple had achieved after years of study. Brian McNaughton, once a first-generation college student, was on the tenure track at Colorado State University, and his wife was a nurse anesthetist.

But all of that risked being torn asunder because of the big lie — a lie that they shared, and that Stacey McNaughton was now threatening to expose. She would recount to the police how she had signaled plans to call her husband’s boss, reveal his deception, and derail his career. The couple struggled for control of a phone, and the professor pleaded with his wife to reconsider, before Stacey McNaughton ran out the back door screaming for help. She jumped a fence and took refuge with some neighbors who were having a backyard campfire.

On that night and many thereafter, Brian McNaughton feared that his wife would tell people at Colorado State how he had fabricated a job offer from another university. It was a simple scheme, one designed to earn him the kind of money and respect that is often so elusive for early-career professors. As McNaughton had hoped, the fake letter spurred a counteroffer, forcing his dean and department chair to reconsider what he might be worth.

In July 2015, police responded to a domestic disturbance at the McNaughtons’ home. An officer’s body camera captured interviews with the couple and a secret recording that Stacey McNaughton had made of their argument.

Not long before, Stacey McNaughton had started secretly recording all of the couple’s conversations. In audio from that summer night, which she shared with an officer, she can be heard saying, “You wrote that letter, Brian — that lie. I told you don’t submit it.”

But he had done it, and there was no turning back.

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Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Psychology, Science & Technology

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from C. J. Vaughan

Grant, O Lord, that this mind may be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus, Who left the heaven of Thy holiness and of Thy glory that He might take upon Him our sins and our sorrows, and seek and save that which was lost. Stir the hearts of Thy people that they may multiply their labours in the cause of charity and love, that they may minister to the wants of others, and by their good works lead many to glorify our Father Who is in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

O God, thou art my God, I seek thee,
my soul thirsts for thee;
my flesh faints for thee,
as in a dry and weary land where no water is.
So I have looked upon thee in the sanctuary,
beholding thy power and glory.
Because thy steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise thee.
So I will bless thee as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on thy name.

–Psalm 63:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Church Society responds to the House of Bishops’ pastoral letter on civil partnerships this week

The statement concludes:
“With opposite sex civil partnerships, and with those for same sex couples, the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics remains unchanged. For Christians, marriage – that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity. In its approach to civil partnerships the Church seeks to uphold that standard, to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships and to minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently.”

While we agree wholeheartedly with this statement, we continue to insist that pastorally sensitive ministry must include calling people to repent of their sin and exercising appropriate church discipline.

Given the confusion in our culture, and even in many of our churches, we believe the House of Bishops should be thanked for making such a courageous and counter-cultural statement.

We continue to have concerns about the trajectory of the Church of England, and some of the details of this statement, but pray that the House of Bishops will continue to provide the pastoral leadership that we need, in accordance with the revealed will of our Lord and Saviour.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

An Open Letter to the Archbps of York and Canterbury expressing dissent from and disappointment with the C of E House of Bps Statement this week

Since the public defeat of your ‘Marriage and Same Sex Relationships‘ report to General Synod in 2017, we have waited for you to deliver on your promise of ‘a radical new Christian inclusion’. We have been patient believing that nothing further would be said regarding sexuality and relationships until after the publication of the Living in Love and Faith report. It seems our trust has been misplaced and we feel badly let down.

The pastoral statement makes clear there has been no desire to listen or learn from those of us who spoke to explain how offensive we found the tone of the House of Bishops’ previous document. Indeed, this statement is anything but ‘pastoral’ – it is cold, defensive, and uncaring of its impact on the millions of people it affects.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Conversion of Saint Paul

O God, who by the preaching of thine apostle Paul hast caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we beseech thee, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may show forth our thankfulness unto thee for the same by following the holy doctrine which he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Henry Bull

O Good Christ, our most gracious Redeemer, grant that as Thou dost mercifully raise up this my body, even so I beseech Thee, raise up my mind and heart to the true knowledge and love of Thee, that my conversation may be in heaven, where Thou art; to the glory of Thy Name.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself. Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect for ever.

–Hebrews 7:26-28

Posted in Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

(1st Things) Bruce Riley Ashford–My Ten (Or So) Favorite Cultural Critics

In 1974, British theologian Lesslie Newbigin returned to England after four decades of serving as a missionary to India. Back in Europe, he wrestled with a pressing question: How to preach the gospel to the West? He believed the Western church had unconsciously been captured by secular ideology. Rather than viewing the Bible’s narrative as the true story of the whole world, the church had bought into various Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment narratives. The church, Newbigin argued, must once again “soak” itself in the Bible, challenging the axioms of modernity with the axioms of Scripture.

The task of bringing the West into a missionary encounter with Scripture remains today. We must analyze Western culture to understand what is happening and why. We must attempt to discern the reigning idols of our day, how they twist the affections and thoughts of society, and how they warp our cultural institutions. This will help us better understand how to bring the gospel to the secular West.

Toward that end, I offer this list of eleven of the most perceptive cultural critics of the last two centuries. The list includes historians, philosophers, sociologists, poets, and literary critics. Some are well-known, others are quite obscure. Some are Christians, others are not. All were born before 1950 and each offers a salient evaluation of Western society and culture that remains relevant for our task today.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, History, Philosophy, Poetry & Literature

A Telegraph Article on the C of E House of Bps Guidance Released Yesterday–Civil partnerships should be no more than ‘sexually abstinent friendships’, Church of England Bishops rule

Civil partnerships should be no more than “sexually abstinent friendships”, the Church of England has stated.

Following a landmark legal battle, which resulted in the recent introduction of mixed-sex civil partnerships, Bishops have now issued pastoral guidance to clergy on how to deal with the issue.

Religious leaders have concluded that sex belongs only within heterosexual marriage, and that Christians who are in either gay or straight civil partnerships should remain sexually abstinent.

The statement from the House of Bishops said that sex outside of marriage falls “short of God’s purposes for human beings” and concludes that those in civil partnerships – whether same-sex or opposite-sex – can be ordained, as long as they commit to celibacy.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

David French–‘And No One Will Make Them Afraid’ When Jews are under violent attack for building a home in this land, it repudiates the American promise

Indeed, it’s not only the most American of stories—of people welcome nowhere else coming to a land that promised them liberty, it’s a story of unique resonance to American Jews dating back to our nation’s founding. As New York Times editor and writer Bari Weiss relates in her outstanding and moving book, How To Fight Anti-Semitism, George Washington wrote to a Rhode Island Hebrew congregation all the way back in 1790 that American Jews “possess alike liberties of conscience and immunities of censorship.”

America is Israel’s closest ally. America is the home of the second-largest population of Jewish people in the world, behind only Israel. And now, in communities where Jews have lived and thrived for generations, they don’t know if they’re safe. They don’t know if they’ll be victimized by random, vicious attacks. Even worse, those attacks aren’t coming from a single movement that can be identified, isolated, and defeated. They come from radical left and radical right. They come from Americans black and white. The ancient hatreds have re-emerged to such an extent that I’ve heard more than one friend question whether this land can truly remain their home.

In fact, one of the central political, cultural, and spiritual challenges of our time is reassuring Americans increasingly divided by religion and still divided by race that this nation is, indeed, home.

That’s America’s 400-year challenge with an African-American population that endured 246 years of slavery, 99 years of widespread legal discrimination following Appomattox, and has lived only 56 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

That’s America’s challenge as increasing diversity is accompanied by increasing cultural clashes, and the omnipresent human will to power prefers victory and domination over pluralism and accommodation.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Judaism, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Violence

Saint Michael’s Charleston’s Four Collars Podcast on Daniel and the Beast

Listen to it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Archbishop Greg Venables reveals his thoughts about the recent Partial Anglican Primates’ Gathering

We were all conscious of the awareness of the inevitability of some kind of a split in the Anglican Communion. We have already seen the reality of it in the formation of the ACNA [the Anglican Church of North America formed as a reaction against Episcopal liberalism] and the new Anglican Province in Brazil.

As encouraging as the solidarity of the orthodox Primates was, there was also sadness – which everyone recognized. Some of my friends who are close theological allies stayed away from the meeting out of conscience, namely [the Archbishops of] Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda.

Others – the Primate of the ACNA and the Primate of the new Anglican Province in Brazil – weren’t invited. The Primate of ACNA was invited to the Primates’ Meeting in 2016, but not to the October 2017 meeting nor this one. I don’t know who decided that. None of the Primates I have spoken with were asked about it. Both the Primate of the ACNA and the Primate of the new Anglican Province in Brazil are included as full members of the Global South [a movement of some of the Anglican provinces] and should have been invited to Jordan to help in this process of dialogue and discernment.

As many Primates commented on the inescapable truth that a separation is almost bound to happen, pretty well everyone in the room nodded and agreed. The biggest challenge was that we don’t know how to either avoid or accomplish it.

A key factor this time was that of our attitudes. Put simply, as a group, we have tried to move away from acrimony in personal relationships despite our disagreements. That does not diminish the vast differences in our theological positions, nor does it mean that there won’t ultimately be a divide. It is just the hope that we can do it with more kindness than was done with the Episcopal Church.

Photos with those with whom we don’t agree can reflect the kindness we hope to show to each other, but they should not be misunderstood to be interpreted that there is agreement or acquiescence on fundamental issues of Biblical faith.

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Posted in Anglican Primates, Southern Cone

(BBC) You owe it to yourself to listen and watch this piece about Auschwitz survivor Max Eisen

Posted in Canada, Germany, History, Judaism, Poland, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Church Times) Faith leaders call for unity, 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz

THE 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz should be used “to come before God in worship, conscious of our need for forgiveness, but committed to action that would seek the common flourishing of all”, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

In a statement released this week, in advance of Holocaust Memorial Day on Monday, Archbishop Welby said: “The Holocaust, the Shoah, remains a unique stain on the history of Europe, and a chilling reminder to me of how millennia of Christian anti-Jewish hatred could provide a seedbed for such evil.”

The Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) has released a prayer for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day. It was launched at an event in the House of the Lords on Monday, where it was read by the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally.

The chair of the CCJ, the Bishop of Lichfield, Dr Michael Ipgrave, said: “Through prayer, we will be asking Christians to remember the pains of the past, and to recommit to a better future for all people, and, in particular, of course, to commit themselves to combating anti-Semitism, which is such a scourge in our society and our world.”

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Posted in History, Judaism, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Globe+Mail) Chinese coronavirus prompts lockdown unlike anything seen before

The last major quarantine of an entire urban area took place “in Sierra Leone surrounding the 2014 Ebola epidemic,” said Raina MacIntyre, a doctor and epidemiologist who leads the biosecurity research program at the University of New South Wales. What China is doing is “unprecedented,” she said. “We haven’t seen a lockdown at this level before.”

But it’s a measure that could help prevent a Chinese health crisis from becoming a global one, she said. The World Health Organization has held back from declaring the Wuhan virus an international emergency, with spokesman Tarik Jasarevic saying Friday, “It’s still too early to draw conclusions on how severe the virus is.”

By halting air travel from the region, “it will instantly reduce the risk of cases ending up in other countries,” Dr. MacIntyre said. “Perhaps while there’s so much uncertainty about what’s the source of this infection, what’s the exact mode of transmission — we need to know those things to control the disease — then it’s probably a good strategy.”

Early data show a fatality rate of 14 per cent among those hospitalized for the Wuhan virus, a study published by University of Hong Kong researchers. That compares to roughly 12 per cent of all cases in SARS, and 24 per cent for the subsequent Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERCS), also a coronavirus.

Those figures show that the Wuhan virus does not appear to be as serious as SARS or MERS, since hospitalized cases tend to be the most serious, Dr. MacIntyre said. But the Wuhan virus remains “a serious infection.”

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Posted in China, Health & Medicine

A Prayer to Begin the Day from John Baillie

Eternal God, Who hast been the hope and joy of generations, and in all ages hast given men the power to seek Thee and in seeking to find Thee: grant me I pray Thee, a clearer vision of Thy truth, a greater faith in Thy power, and a more confident assurance of Thy love. If I cannot find Thee, let me search my heart and know whether it is not rather I that am blind – than Thou Who art obscure, and I who am fleeing from Thee rather than Thou from me; and let me confess these my sins before Thee, and seek Thy pardon in Jesus Christ my Lord.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sar’ai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions which they had gathered, and the persons that they had gotten in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. Thence he removed to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.

–Genesis 12:1-8

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Saint Philip’s, Charleston) Denise C. Pickford–Recipe for a Christian Life: Reflections on Canon J.John’s Sermon

I love to cook. Browsing through recipes and then preparing them for my family and friends is one of my favorite things to do. To me, I am showing my love for them by taking the time to follow each step and make the preparations for a wonderful meal as my gift to them––and, of course, when my children were younger, to ensure their proper physical growth and health.

Is preparing nourishment in the form of food for our bodies any different from being nourished spiritually? We are not just a physical body; we have a spiritual body that must be fed as well. Without food and water, we would die. Without feeding our spiritual bodies or souls, we would become empty and begin searching for, in many instances, the wrong things to feed our hunger, which could never be satisfied with just earthly things. God wants to nourish our souls so that we may have the proper spiritual growth and health.

As I sat listening to Canon J.John on Sunday, his sermon struck me as the perfect “recipe” for how to live a Christian life!

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

(AI) Church of Uganda defends Biblical standards defining marriage

The Church of Uganda has issued a statement responding to criticisms issued by a mega-church pastor who charged the church’s stance on marriage was non-biblical. Pastor Aloysius Bugingo, who is currently estranged from his wife, said the Anglican view that marriage was between one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others, for life, was not found in the Bible.

Pastor Bugingo has made a declaration that the phrase ’till death do us part’ is not biblical, and that it is from Satan! In so doing, the pastor attacks the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Pentecostal Churches, associating them with what he calls a practice from Satan.

I can’t believe that these words are from someone who claims to be a pastor! Nonetheless, I’m not surprised that he is making such a statement after divorcing his wife on grounds of a sickness!

Bugingo claims that he has read the Bible a number of times he is not even able to count! That in itself is an interesting claim, which I wish he were humble enough not to associate himself with. Even if it was true that he has read the Bible countless times, it would be prudent for him to know that it is one thing to read even several times, but another to understand.

He states that no where does the Bible say that the married should not separate. Remember that the Bible is God’s holy, infallible, and innerant word, some versions of which he once set ablaze on an Easter Monday, claiming that they were deceptive!

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of Uganda, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Latest Edition of the Parish Newsletter from Christ St Paul’s, Yonges Island, South Carolina

What is your response when you read this excerpt from John Eldridge’s book All Things New: Heaven, Earth and the Restoration of Everything You Love?

“One day soon you will step into a renewed earth, a young earth, sparkling like an orchard of cherry trees after a rain shower. Joy will be yours. How do we open our hearts to this after so much pain and disappointment? We have lost many things as we’ve passed through the battlefields of this war-torn world; our humanity has been stripped of such essential goodness.” (All Things New, Eldridge, p. 115)

Do you scoff with cynicism or cry out in wonder?

Read it again, stopping to consider your own thoughts of our future hope – The New Heaven and New Earth. We invited you to take advantage of one of the ways to further engage with this topic, to study, take in, and talk about something we don’t often talk about… what does eternity look like?

Or, pick up a copy of the book and “grab hold with both hands!”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Eschatology, Parish Ministry

(Regent College) Dr. Amanda Russell-Jones–The Other Handmaid’s Tale

This year in my pondering of Mary’s Song I have had two companions along the way. My first companion has been another handmaid or, rather, many of them, in the shape of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; this time revisited in a powerful drama series created for television which incorporates Atwood’s book then extends it. In the dystopian world of Gilead, a highly religious patriarchy has been set up where the Bible is quoted tirelessly as the thread that knits together and mandates a unique way of life.

Women are divided into three classes—wives; Marthas, who perform the household tasks like cooking; and Handmaids—fertile young women assigned to a household and given a name based on that of their commander. Each commander impregnates his Handmaid against her will via a monthly ceremony. All this is justified by the argument that birth rates are so low and that this is due in large measure to the failure of women to know their place in the patriarchy and to fulfil their God given role of reproduction. No woman is allowed to read or dissent from the regime. Punishments include losing a finger or eye or tongue.

It is a tough watch, as all dystopian versions of Christianity are. Adding insult to injury, my favourite craft (and possibly the only skill for which I am an Olympic hopeful) comes in for criticism in one episode when a highly capable commander’s wife complains that she hates knitting. It was almost enough to cause me to put down my needles and throw the ball of wool at the screen. (For you fellow knitting fans who just cheered—it was a Christmas baby hat. I knew you would want to know. Keep knitting live!)

My other companion of some 10 years has been Josephine Butler, the English nineteenth-century Christian reformer. Butler’s use of the Bible in her arguments with church and state was the subject of my doctoral research and became and remains a great source of inspiration and joy. Butler was convinced that Jesus requires an absolutely equal standard of morality from everyone—male and female. In her time, it was expected that men would “sow some wild oats.” Women, however, were shamed and shunned for the smallest breaches of propriety. Men who frequented brothels or kept mistresses were excused for their behaviour, retaining positions of power and influence. In contrast, the women they used were permanently expelled from society with no opportunity for restoration. Butler pointed out the inconsistency, drawing on Christ’s words––“let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Prodigal sons were welcomed back when they repented, she observed, so why not prodigal daughters?”

If Mary had lived in the Victorian world, Butler asks, would she too have been cast out by a church and society quick to accuse and shun immoral women?

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Theology: Scripture