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A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Non-Jurors’ Prayer Book

O thou, who hast foretold that thou wilt return to judgment in an hour that we are not aware of, grant us grace to watch and pray always, that whether thou shalt come at even, or at midnight, or in the morning, we may be found among the number of those servants who shall be blessed in watching for their Lord, to whom be all glory now and for evermore.

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Thus the Lord God showed me: behold, a basket of summer fruit. And he said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me,

“The end has come upon my people Israel;
I will never again pass by them.
The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,”
says the Lord God;
“the dead bodies shall be many;
in every place they shall be cast out in silence.”

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy,
and bring the poor of the land to an end,
saying, “When will the new moon be over,
that we may sell grain?
And the sabbath,
that we may offer wheat for sale,
that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great,
and deal deceitfully with false balances,
that we may buy the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and sell the refuse of the wheat?”

The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
“Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.
Shall not the land tremble on this account,
and every one mourn who dwells in it,
and all of it rise like the Nile,
and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?”

“And on that day,” says the Lord God,
“I will make the sun go down at noon,
and darken the earth in broad daylight.
I will turn your feasts into mourning,
and all your songs into lamentation;
I will bring sackcloth upon all loins,
and baldness on every head;
I will make it like the mourning for an only son,
and the end of it like a bitter day.

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,
“when I will send a famine on the land;
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord.
They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord,
but they shall not find it.

“In that day the fair virgins and the young men
shall faint for thirst.
Those who swear by Ash′imah of Samar′ia,
and say, ‘As thy god lives, O Dan,’
and, ‘As the way of Beer-sheba lives,’
they shall fall, and never rise again.”

–Amos 8:1-14

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–John the Baptist, the standard of God for humanity, and where the standard takes us (Isaiah 11:2-3)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

(NBC) 11-year-old Laila Anderson meets her bone-marrow donor for the first time

Posted in * General Interest, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Sports

(ABC Aus.) Controversial religious discrimination bill overhauled as Australia Government releases new draft

The Federal Government has overhauled its proposed religious discrimination laws in an effort to win over faith leaders who rebuked the Coalition’s earlier attempts.

Attorney-General Christian Porter outlined 11 changes to the draft bill, which the Government opted against introducing to Parliament last month after facing criticism from religious and groups advocating for racial and sexual equality, and for those with disabilities.

As flagged, the new bill will allow religious bodies — such as hospitals and aged care providers — to continue to hire people on the basis of their religion.

The other changes include defining the word “vilify” as inciting “hatred or violence” and exemptions to allow religious camps and conference centres to take faith into account when deciding to provide accommodation.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

Simply Wonderful–John Rutter on the Importance of Choir

Take the time to listen to and ponder it all.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship

(AI) A Message from the Vestry of Truro Parish to the congregation in reference to the recent resignation of Tory Baucum

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

Thomas Merton on Trusting in God on his Feast Day

“But the man who is not afraid to admit everything that he sees to be wrong with himself, and yet recognizes that he may be the object of God’s love precisely because of his shortcomings, can begin to be sincere. His sincerity is based on confidence, not in his own illusions about himself, but in the endless, unfailing mercy of God.”

No Man Is an Island (New York: Houghton Mifflin 2002 paper ed. of 1953 original), p.202

Posted in Church History, Theology

A Prayer of Thomas Merton on his feast Day

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Thomas Merton

Gracious God, who didst call thy monk Thomas Merton to proclaim thy justice out of silence, and moved him in his contemplative writings to perceive and value Christ at work in the faiths of others: Keep us, like him, steadfast in the knowledge and love of 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 to Begin the Day from Lancelot Andrewes

Thou who with thine own mouth hast avouched that at midnight, at an hour when we are not aware, the Bridegroom shall come: Grant that the cry, The Bridegroom cometh, may sound evermore in our ears, that so we be never unprepared to meet him, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

I John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Per′gamum and to Thyati′ra and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to La-odice′a.”

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast; his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Now write what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter. As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

–Revelation 1:9-20

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CC) How local governments punish poor people with fines

Several years ago, Anne Stuhldreher rolled through a stop sign in San Francisco and got a ticket. That kind of infraction costs $238 or more in California. The price shocked Stuhldreher, who knew that many families living in San Francisco—rated one of the most economically unequal cities in the US—don’t have a few hundred dollars to spare.

After Stuhldreher got her ticket, she thought about the way that the fee would impact different people in the community differently. “If someone who is a daycare worker in my neighborhood got that ticket, it would be very different than someone who works at a tech company.” Stuhldreher, who has long worked on addressing the financial issues facing low-income residents, started digging into these questions.

Around this time, new research was demonstrating the impact of fines and fees on low-income people across the country. The problem isn’t isolated in San Francisco: a 2016 survey by the finance website Bankrate showed that 63 percent of Americans don’t have enough money saved to cover a $500 emergency. That is nearly the cost of a ticket for running a red light in California.

In its 2015 report on Ferguson, Missouri, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Michael Brown, the US Department of Justice showed that aggressive law enforcement in low-income communities of color was being used to generate revenue. People’s inability to pay for minor offense tickets could have major ramifications on their live, forcing them to go into debt, lose a driver’s license or a job, or even end up in jail.

Stuhldreher calls it the “spiral of despair.” A person gets a traffic ticket for a few hundred dollars. Unable to pay the fine, she misses the deadline for payment, and the ticket starts accruing late fees and creates a debt that hangs over her head. The city sends the ticket to the collections department, and now her credit is damaged, so that the next time she tries to rent an apartment, her application is rejected.

Read it all.

Posted in City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance & Investing, Poverty

(CT’s The Exchange) What Does the Bible Have to Say about Leadership?

Finally, Paul’s letter to Titus provides us with explicit characteristics that we can try to develop and refine in ourselves. In chapter one of the letter, Paul explains what church elders should look like.

He says that elders are to be blameless, faithful to their spouses, and trusted by their children. Elders should be blameless, hospitable, self-controlled, upright, and holy. Most importantly, elders should rely on the “trustworthy message” (the Gospels) so they can encourage others well.

As leaders, we should ask ourselves if we are fulfilling these characteristics. While it is important to remember that we are human and therefore always imperfect, we must also continue to strive to improve ourselves.

Here are a few reflection questions we can ask ourselves:

What is the state of my household? How is my relationship with my husband/wife? Do my children trust me and respect me?
How am I treating others? Am I living out the characteristics that Paul provides in Scripture?
Have I relied on Scripture to guide my leadership lately? How can I improve in this area?
How well am I walking alongside my people and encouraging them with the gospel?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Economist) Short Creek starts to move beyond its past as a very very conservative Mormon Community

Judging by its shops, Short Creek seems more like a trendy suburb of somewhere like Portland than a small town on the Utah-Arizona border with just shy of 8,000 people. There are two health-food stores, a bakery and a vape shop. The occasional sight of women in prairie dresses and the huge houses with thick walls are the only conspicuous evidence Short Creek was once home to an American theocracy.

When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (lds), better known as the Mormon church, abandoned several controversial doctrines in 1890, there were dissenters. Some, seeking to preserve abandoned institutions such as “plural marriage” (polygamy) and communal ownership, formed communities practising “Old-Fashioned Mormonism”. By the early 1930s Short Creek was such a place….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Mormons, Religion & Culture

(C of E) Advent weekly reflections: Looking deeper

Advent calls us to look at the deeper truths of life. It calls us to see God at work even when everything looks bleak and hopeless. It calls us to see injustice and inequality behind the apparent wealth and ease of our society.

This is why we read the prophets in Advent. They were truth-tellers. Uncomfortable, awkward, at times offensive.

Read it all.

Posted in Advent, Church of England, Theology

(CNBC) As the cost of dying rises, more families try crowdfunding for funerals

At 2 a.m. on Oct. 17, Helen Ramos tried to wake up her son, Michael Bowen. Something about the 37-year-old looked strange.

Ramos, 65, uses a wheelchair, and running errands can be a struggle. The day before, Bowen had gone grocery shopping for her. Later, Ramos pleaded with him to spend the night at her house in Milford, Connecticut. It was raining heavily and she wanted him to be safe, but now she couldn’t get him to rise.

Bowen had died in his sleep, from either medical or drug complications. He had suffered from drug addiction since he was 13.

Bowen’s death threw his family into grief — and a financial problem. Neither his four older siblings nor his parents had enough savings to come up with the $10,000 it would cost for a funeral and burial at Keenan Funeral Home in West Haven, Connecticut.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Death / Burial / Funerals, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Dirk Kurston–Why Sexual Morality May be Far More Important than You Ever Thought

Looking at our own sexual revolution, the “having your cake and eating it too” phase would have lasted into the early 2000’s. We are now at a stage where we should begin to observe the verification or falsification of Unwin’s predictions.

Unwin found that when strict prenuptial chastity was abandoned, absolute monogamy, deism, and rational thinking disappeared within three generations of the change in sexual freedom. So how are we doing as we enter the second generation since our own sexual revolution at the end of the 20th century?

  1. As predicted, absolute monogamy has already been replaced with modified monogamy. Common-law relationships are becoming the norm. Although divorce occurred prior to the 1970’s, the mainstream of our culture still maintained the view that marriage should be for life, and common-law relationships were regarded with some distaste. That has clearly changed. Those who actually practice life-long commitments in marriage have become the minority, with couples born prior to the sexual revolution much more likely to maintain a life-long commitment in marriage.

  2. Deism is already rapidly declining, exactly as predicted. Prior to the 1960’s, a combination of rationalism and a belief in God was the norm for mainstream culture. Not only has belief in God greatly decreased since the 1960’s, but there has been a trend to remove the concept of God from government, the educational system, and the public forum. Those who still believe in God sense a strong societal pressure to keep deistic beliefs private. In its place, is a surprising rise in superstition,[7] classified by Unwin as a “monistic” culture, two levels down from the rationalist culture we had prior to the sexual revolution. There has also been a huge increase in the percentage of the population that classifies itself as non-religious, a symptom of the lowest, “zoistic” level of Unwin’s categories.[8]

  3. The swiftness with which rational thinking declined after the 1970’s is astounding. In its place arose post-modernism, characterized by “scepticism, subjectivism, or relativism” and “a general suspicion of reason”.[9] But it gets worse … post-modernism is giving way to “post truth”. In direct contrast to rational thinking, a post-truth culture abandons “shared objective standards for truth” and instead, stands on appeals to feelings and emotions, and what one wants to believe.[10] People can now “identify” themselves as something which flat-out contradicts science and rational thinking and, in many cases, receive the full support and backing of governments and educational systems. Not only do people feel they have a right to believe what they want, but any challenge to that belief, even if supported by truth and logic, is unacceptable and offensive. Here is a quote from Unwin that has become particularly a propos in the last couple decades since our own sexual revolution …

If I were asked to define a sophist, I should describe him as a man whose conclusion does not follow from his premise. Sophistry is appreciated only by those among whom human entropy is disappearing; they mistake it for sound reasoning. It flourishes among those people who have extended their sexual opportunity after a period of intense compulsory continence. [11]

Summary of where our culture is going, given Unwin’s findings

For the first part of the 1900’s, mainstream Western culture was rationalist and experienced enormous technological advances — from horse-and-buggy to cars; from hot air balloons to supersonic flight and spacecraft landing people on the moon; from slide rules to computers. Unwin’s three main predictions — the abandonment of rationalism, deism, and absolute monogamy — are all well underway, which makes the ultimate prediction appear to be credible … the collapse of Western civilization in the third generation, somewhere in the last third of this century.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Telegraph) Cathedrals across Britain are selling historic fixtures and fittings to cover maintenance costs

Cathedrals across Britain are selling their historic fixtures and fittings to cover maintenance costs, it has emerged.

Newcastle’s St Nicholas Cathedral, which dates back to the 1400s, is to sell 35 of its Victorian-era oak pews to raise money ahead of a £6m renovation.

Project chiefs say the decoratively carved benches, made in the 1880s, could become garden furniture or be used in hotels and restaurants.

They will be sold on a first come, first served basis for upwards of £450 and it is hoped the sales will raise up to £20,000.

Read it all.

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

All of the Talks from the ReNew 2019 Conference are now available

Take the time to enjoy them all and note that several have links to handouts that accompanied the talks.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Eschatology, Evangelicals, Parish Ministry, Theology: Scripture, Uncategorized

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Harold Anson

O great and glorious God, holy and immortal, who searches out the policies of nations and tries the hearts of men: Come, we pray thee, in judgment, upon the nations of the world; come and bring to destruction all that is contrary to thy holy will for mankind, and cause the counsels of the wicked to perish. Come, O Lord, into our hearts, and root out from them that thou seest, and we cannot see, to be unlike the Spirit of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(GR) Richard Ostling reflecting on the struggles the media is having with the label “evangelical” these days

Two of the book’s editors provided standard definitions, In an introduction to a 1984 book, Marsden said “we may properly speak of evangelicalism as a single phenomenon” with “conceptual unity” around five points: “the final authority” of the Bible, the “real, historical” character of God’s work recorded in the Bible, “eternal salvation only through personal trust in Christ,” “the importance of evangelism and missions,” and “the importance of a spiritually transformed life.”

That last point, often mis-characterized, does not require a dramatic moment of “born again” conversion or commitment. People in biblically conservative churches are often “transformed” gradually, but thoroughly.

Bebbington’s 1989 history of British evangelicalism defined the “special marks” as “conversionism, the belief that lives need to be changed; activism, the expression of the gospel in effort; biblicism, a particular regard for the Bible, and what may be called crucicentrism, a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.”

Confusingly, both the Marsden and Bebbington criteria depict not some distinctive evangelical ideology but ardor for pretty much what all of Protestantism stood for till recent times.

The Religion Guy advises writers to refine those definitions by adding traditionalism in doctrine and morals. Thus evangelicalism embraces the ancient belief in God as the Trinity (excluding “Oneness” Pentecostals, Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses despite some evangelical-like traits), and on morality opposes such innovations as openly gay clergy and same-sex marriages in church.

Note that movement-wide definitions omit certain sectors’ enthusiasm for end-times scenarios or attacks on evolution. Also they involve religious substance, not politics…

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Media, Religion & Culture

(AI) The rector of Truro Anglican Church, Tory Baucum, resigns

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Church of England (CoE), Roman Catholic

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 Richard Acland

Grant, O Lord, that we who once again prepare for the commemoration of the coming of thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, may so direct our hearts to the fulfillment of thy law, that he may now accept our hosannas, and in the life to come receive us in the heavenly Sion; where with thee and the Holy Ghost he liveth and reigneth, ever one God, world without end.

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion,
and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samar′ia,
the notable men of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel come!
Pass over to Calneh, and see;
and thence go to Hamath the great;
then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are they better than these kingdoms?
Or is their territory greater than your territory,
O you who put far away the evil day,
and bring near the seat of violence?

“Woe to those who lie upon beds of ivory,
and stretch themselves upon their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
and calves from the midst of the stall;
who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
and like David invent for themselves instruments of music;
who drink wine in bowls,
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
Therefore they shall now be the first of those to go into exile,
and the revelry of those who stretch themselves shall pass away.”

The Lord God has sworn by himself (says the Lord, the God of hosts):

“I abhor the pride of Jacob,
and hate his strongholds;
and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.”

–Amos 6:1-8

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Hundreds of Christians in Nigeria ‘slaughtered’ by Islamist militia this year

More than 1000 Christians in Nigeria have been “slaughtered” by Islamist militia since January.

This is the key finding of a new report, Your Land or Your Blood, from the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), which was presented at the International Organisation for Peace and Social Justice (PSJ) crisis conference in London, last month. The PSJ promotes peace-building and social justice in Nigeria.

Since January, there have been five serious attacks in Kaduna State, in the centre of the country, resulting in an estimated 500 deaths. There were at least another five attacks in the counties of Bassa and Riyom, and more in Taraba State. The militant Islamist group Boko Haram remains in power around the Chad border region, including parts of Borno State in the north (News, 19 March).

More than 6000 people have been killed since 2015.

Baroness Cox, who founded HART to promote and support peace and development groups in Nigeria, has recently returned from a research trip to the country. She explained that the Fulani, a nomadic ethnic group of about 20 million people across 20 West- and Central-African countries, were largely responsible for the new wave of violence. The terrorist group was listed as the fourth most deadly in the Global Terrorism Index in 2016 and 2017.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Nigeria, Politics in General, Terrorism

Remembering Pearl Harbor 78 years later today

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces

A missions team from Christ Saint Pauls, Yonges Island, sends pictures from their recent trip to Nigeria

Posted in * South Carolina, Church of Nigeria, Photos/Photography