Category :

From the Morning Bible Readings

And when he returned to Caper′na-um after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

–Mark 2:1-12

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(FT) Boom in private companies offering disinformation-for-hire

Politicians are increasingly hiring private companies to spread disinformation online, according to researchers who found campaigns run by third-party contractors targeting 48 different countries over the past year.

The Oxford Internet Institute said the “disinformation-for-hire” market is booming, with advertising, marketing and public relations companies offering to manipulate online opinion for political parties and governments.

The OII said private contractors help to identify which groups to target with messages, and then “prompt the trending of certain political messages” either through fake accounts or with armies of bots, or automated accounts.

Researchers said they had found evidence of at least $60m of spending on such campaigns since 2009, although the real total may be far higher.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Politics in General, Science & Technology

The Bishop of Durham supports protections for children in covert intelligence bill

The Church of England’s Lead Bishop for Children and Families is supporting moves in the House of Lords today to introduce legal protections for children from being used in undercover operations by police and other authorities.

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, is backing cross-party amendments to the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill which is currently before the Lords for report stage.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(NC Register) Re-Reading Father Richard Neuhaus’ ‘American Babylon’ in Light of U.S. Capitol Attack

Father Richard’s engagement in political activism never led him to messianic politics. He died after Barack Obama’s election but before his inauguration, and long before the current president came down the escalator at Trump Tower. He was suspicious of the messianic dimension of Obama’s candidacy and would have been troubled by those who regarded Donald Trump as having some kind of messianic anointing.

Father Richard would have been dismayed at the apocalyptic tone of politics today. The future of the republic does not hang on a presidential election, let alone a senate election in Georgia. Elections have consequences, sometimes, grave consequences, but electoral politics does not heal a corrupt culture.

“Moral progress is far from being self-evident,” Father Richard wrote. “We should at least be open to the possibility that we are today witnessing not moral progress but a dramatic moral regression.”

That possibility was the risk of freedom, and Father Richard knew well that the great American experiment in ordered liberty was just that, an experiment, which would be tested. His commitment to the pro-life cause made him all too aware that that test could be failed….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(AJ) Edmonton church avoids COVID-19 outbreak after presence of infected person at service

The person contacted the church as soon as they found out they had tested positive. They also provided to AHS a complete account of where they had been and who they had been near, after which AHS contacted the church and investigated the person’s potential contacts there—speaking with people, going through the worship service step-by-step and asking questions about the configuration of the chancel and nave and other details pertinent to the service.

As per instructions given to the church by AHS, Key, the church’s musical director and five choristers all self-isolated for 14 days, and then got tested for COVID-19. The person who had tested positive also followed all AHS’s protocols. By Oct. 27, all the tests had come back negative.

“This is wonderful news and is perhaps one of the only times we ALL wanted to FAIL a test (though we are all still required to isolate until November 2nd),” Key wrote in her Facebook update.

AHS had advised the church, Key added, that no one besides these people were considered to have been in close contact with the person who tested positive, so that there was no need for the rest of the congregation to self-isolate.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry

Hilary on his Feast Day–False teachers make Christ a second order God, or not a God at all

We have clearly fallen on the evil times prophesied by the Apostle; for nowadays teachers are sought after who preach not God but a creature And men are more zealous for what they themselves desire, than for what the sound faith teaches. So far have their itching ears stirred them to listen to what they desire, that for the moment that preaching alone rules among their crowd of doctors which estranges the Only-begotten God from the power and nature of God the Father, and makes Him in our faith either a God of the second order, or not a God at all; in either case a damning profession of impiety, whether one profess two Gods by making different grades of divinity; or else deny divinity altogether to Him Who drew His nature by birth from God. Such doctrines please those whose ears are estranged from the hearing of the truth and turned to fables, while the hearing of this our sound faith is not endured, and is driven bodily into exile with its preachers.

But though many may heap up teachers according to their desires, and banish sound doctrine, yet from the company of the Saints the preaching of truth can never be exiled. From our exile we shall speak by these our writings, and the Word of God which cannot be bound will run unhindered, warning us of this time which the Apostle prophesied. For when men shew themselves impatient of the true message, and heap up teachers according to their own human desires, we can no longer doubt about the times, but know that while the preachers of sound doctrine are banished truth is banished too. We do not complain of the times: we rejoice rather, that iniquity has revealed itself in this our exile, when, unable to endure the truth, it banishes the preachers of sound doctrine, that it may heap up for itself teachers after its own desires. We glory in our exile, and rejoice in the Lord that in our person the Apostle’s prophecy should be fulfilled.

–Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, X

Posted in Church History, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hilary of Poitiers

O Lord our God, who didst raise up thy servant Hilary to be a champion of the catholic faith: Keep us steadfast in that true faith which we professed at our baptism, that we may rejoice in having thee for our Father, and may abide in thy Son, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit; thou who livest and reignest for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, France, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for Epiphany from Robert Nelson

O God, who didst manifest thy only begotten Son to the Gentiles, and hast commanded thy Church to preach the gospel to every creature: Bless all thy servants who are labouring for thee in distant lands. Have compassion upon the heathen and upon all who know thee not, and lead them by thy Holy Spirit to him who is the light of the world, even the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered together about the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, and they found him and said to him, “Every one is searching for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

–Mark 1:29-45

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CT) Where Is the Gospel in God’s Judgments on the Nations?

The hardest parts of Scripture, in my experience, are not the bits you don’t understand. Failing to understand can be good; it can prompt thought, investigation, and discovery. No, the real trouble comes when you know exactly what is going on, and it doesn’t look good, true, or beautiful. Think, for instance, of the prophetic oracles of judgment against the nations, which run for page after terrifying page, with (apparently) no hope, no contemporary application, and no end in sight.

The last seven chapters of Jeremiah are a case in point. How can a book containing such glorious promises have such a depressing ending? There are nine oracles of judgment against the nations—Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar and Hazor, Elam, and Babylon—followed by Jerusalem’s destruction. The judgments are severe and sometimes graphic. Four nations receive a one-verse promise of future mercy (46:26; 48:47; 49:6; 49:39), but these are just four droplets of hope in a seven-chapter desert of disaster. How do we find goodness, joy, and gospel in these passages? As happens so often in the Old Testament, we find an answer in the exodus story.

The final chapters of Jeremiah contain ten divine judgments: nine against foreign nations, and the last upon Judah itself. Ezekiel 25–33 runs through an equivalent sequence: nine oracles against nations and their kings, followed by Jerusalem’s destruction. And a similar pattern occurs in Isaiah 13–23. That is unlikely to be a coincidence.

Read it all.

Posted in Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Miroslav Volf–Joy is for Epiphany, too

Everybody knows that Christmas is a season of joy. For one, it has at its heart a birth story. A new and healthy child came into the world, and his family rejoiced. Every birth is a new beginning, a fresh hope. Christmas joy overlaps with the most common of humanity’s great joys.

We tend not to associate joy with Epi­phany. In Epiphany, Christians re­member the visit that the sages from the East made to Bethlehem to honor the newborn Jesus, an act of gentile recognition of Christ’s divinity and mission (Matt. 2:1–12). In this season we also commemorate the first miracle Jesus performed—at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, when Jesus revealed his glory and his disciples believed in him (John 2:1–11). Each of these seemingly unrelated events highlights a crucial aspect of joy.

Read it all.

Posted in Epiphany, Theology

More Music for Epiphany 2019–Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning [Thrupp]

Words: Bishop Reginald Heber
Tune: ‘Epiphany’ – Joseph Thrupp

Posted in Epiphany, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(NYT) Tribal Elders Are Dying From the Pandemic, Causing a Cultural Crisis for American Indians

The virus took Grandma Delores first, silencing an 86-year-old voice that rang with Lakota songs and stories. Then it came for Uncle Ralph, a stoic Vietnam veteran. And just after Christmas, two more elders of the Taken Alive family were buried on the frozen North Dakota prairie: Jesse and Cheryl, husband and wife, who died a month apart.

“It takes your breath away,” said Ira Taken Alive, the couple’s oldest son. “The amount of knowledge they held, and connection to our past.”

One by one, those connections are being severed as the coronavirus tears through ranks of Native American elders, inflicting an incalculable toll on bonds of language and tradition that flow from older generations to the young.

“It’s like we’re having a cultural book-burning,” said Jason Salsman, a spokesman for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in eastern Oklahoma, whose grandparents contracted the virus but survived. “We’re losing a historical record, encyclopedias. One day soon, there won’t be anybody to pass this knowledge down.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine

(C of E) Chaplain mobilises churches and community to identify more than 1,000 over 80s for Covid-19 vaccination

The Revd Andy Dovey, Lead for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust in south London, reached out to churches and faith groups in the area to raise awareness of the availability of the vaccine.

It came as NHS teams across the country booked appointments for the most vulnerable people in our society, including those over 80 who were already coming in to hospital for outpatient appointments,

“The response has been amazing,” he said.

“I am really grateful to the community of churches that have pulled together to support our congregations in these difficult times.”

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

Aelred of Rievaulx for his Feast Day–What Friendship is

10. What statement about friendship can be more sublime, more true, more valuable than this: it has been proved that friendship must begin in Christ, continue with Christ, and be perfected by
Christ. Come, now: propose what in your opinion should be the first question about friendship.

IVO. I think we should first discuss what friendship is, lest we appear to be painting on a void, not knowing what should guide and organize our talk.

11. AELRED. Is Cicero’s definition not an adequate beginningfor you? “Friendship is agreement in things human and divine, with good will and charity.”

12. IVO. If his definition suffices for you, it’s good enough for me.

–Aelred of Rievaulx Spiritual Friendship I.10-12 (Lawrence C. Braceland, tr., Marsha L. Dutton ed., Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2010), p.57

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Aelred of Rievaulx

Almighty God, who didst endow thy abbot Aelred with the gift of Christian friendship and the wisdom to lead others in the way of holiness: Grant to thy people that same spirit of mutual affection, that, in loving one another, we may know the love of Christ and rejoice in the gift of thy eternal goodness; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for Epiphany from the Church of South India

O God, who by a star didst guide the wise men to the worship of thy Son: Lead, we pray thee, to thyself the wise and the great in every land, that unto thee every knee may bow, and every thought be brought into captivity; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.

–Ephesians 1:15-23

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Can the Church of England survive Covid?

In those parishes that have actively sought new ventures and parishioners, the Church of England is prospering. In Rural Ainsty, a country parish in North Yorkshire, the Reverend Richard Battersby says, ‘We have a thriving Sunday morning worship – as many and more as before lockdown. I pray with more parishioners in the morning and evening than ever before.’

Where, previously, he took separate services in four villages, they now worship together online, with Zoom services unifying the different churches. ‘They’d never worshipped together before,’ says Battersby. ‘Faith has been made more intense by the pandemic. People on their laptops can actually contribute to the service. Someone from the Congo recently contributed.’

He’s had to deal, too, with coronavirus funerals. ‘We’ve had to come up with ways that families could mourn in the right way. After the first lockdown, we could have a service for those interring ashes, who couldn’t attend a proper funeral during lockdown.’

In Battersby’s parish, the congregation’s contributions have even gone up. He talks about the Church being ‘shocked into new ways of being’ by the pandemic. ‘Churches that explored an online presence have done pretty well and have seen exponential growth,’ he says. ‘Churches that were struggling before have seen an accelerated demise. The willingness of the church leader to adopt new technology from a theological or sacramental point is crucial.’

Read it all.

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

([London] Times) Rise of funerals to give pets a fitting farewell

More and more Britons intend to give their pets an individual send-off, according to the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria. It noted a 10-15 per cent increase last year in owners requesting cremations at a time when, because of Covid-19, people have spent more time with their pets.

Owners spend up to £400 for a service and an animal-shaped urn. This contrasts with the service provided by vets, where remains, which are classed as waste, are typically sent to a third party to be cremated en masse for a fee of about £50.

Vicars and spiritual leaders may also be called upon to help grieving owners who choose to go to pet crematoriums. “Sometimes people contact me for a conversation, while others prefer a full order of service,” says Ms Hellings, whose parish covers Crondall and Ewshot in Hampshire. “It’s such a privilege to help owners who are feeling sad. My job isn’t to tell people what to think.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * General Interest, Animals, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) London Mayor Khan urges PM Johnson to close places of worship as Covid cases surge

Places of worship in the capital should shut immediately because of the risks of Covid infection, Sadiq Khan has said, amid signs that churches, mosques and synagogues are already closing their doors.

In a letter to the prime minister setting out his reasons for declaring a major incident in London, the mayor urged Boris Johnson to order places of worship to close, among other measures to tackle the crisis.

Under the lockdown restrictions, places of worship in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are permitted to remain open. The Scottish government has ordered them closed.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Eleanor Parker on the Tradition of Plough Monday

Posted in Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany

(NYT front page) A Snaking Line to No Vaccine: Florida’s Big Rollout Sputters

Linda Kleindienst Bruns registered for a coronavirus vaccine in late December, on the first day the health department in Tallahassee, Fla., opened for applications for people her age. Despite being 72, with her immune system suppressed by medication that keeps her breast cancer in remission, she spent days waiting to hear back about an appointment.

“It’s so disorganized,” she said. “I was hoping the system would be set up so there would be some sort of logic to it.”

Phyllis Humphreys, 76, waited with her husband last week in a line of cars in Clermont, west of Orlando, that spilled onto Highway 27. They had scrambled into their car and driven 22 miles after receiving an automated text message saying vaccine doses were available. But by 9:43 a.m., the site had reached capacity and the Humphreys went home with no shots.

“We’re talking about vaccinations,” said Ms. Humphreys, a retired critical care nurse. “We are not talking about putting people in Desert Storm.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, State Government

A Kendall Harmon Sermon-Finding Hope in Epiphany and Jesus’ Baptism

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

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

A Prayer for the Day from the Church of England

Eternal Father,
who at the baptism of Jesus
revealed him to be your Son,
anointing him with the Holy Spirit:
grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit,
that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power.

–Hebrews 1:1-3a

Posted in Theology: Scripture

A Message from South Carolina Anglican Bishop Mark Lawrence

From there:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I send this communication to you while I am presently attending the ACNA College of Bishops Meeting (via Zoom). The violence at our national capital yesterday took place while we, as bishops, were in deliberations to consent to newly elected bishops (bearing witness to the fact that the church’s work goes on). Nevertheless, we paused our deliberations briefly to pray. Archbishop Foley Beach then issued a call for the church to pray. You will find his call to prayer here.

Bishops Guernsey and Dobbs, ACNA bishops in the DC area, prayed this morning the Great Litany* before the National Capital on behalf of our church. I join with our Archbishop to encourage our congregations and parishioners, as they are able, to pray the Great Litany for our nation and for God’s intervention as our society descends into increasingly aggressive actions and suspicion, and where trust of one another continues to be in short supply.

Yours in Christ,
Bishop Lawrence

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

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Join us this Sunday, January 10, 2021, as we, in The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, pray for the work and ministry…

Posted by The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina on Friday, January 8, 2021

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

A Prayer for Epiphany from George Appleton

Lord Jesus Christ, who in the offerings of the wise men didst receive an earnest of the worship of the nations: Grant that thy Church may never cease to proclaim the good news of thy love, that all men may come to worship thee as their Saviour and King, who livest and reignest world without end.

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.

–Psalm 146:5-7

Posted in Theology: Scripture