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(Church Times) Most Christians happy to share their faith, survey suggests

The majority of Christians are confident about spreading the gospel to others — especially people from the same social background, a new survey suggests.

The survey, conducted by Savanta, was commissioned by the London City Mission. In September, researchers asked a representative sample of 1007 practising Christians — defined as people who identified as Christians, attended church, read the Bible, and prayed at least weekly — about their attitudes to communicating their faith to others.

They found that almost four in five (78 per cent) said that they were “confident” or “somewhat confident” about talking about their faith with people who were not Christian. Almost nine in ten (89 per cent) thought that doing so was “important”, and three-quarters (76 per cent) would have liked to talk more often about their faith with people who were not Christians.

Respondents said that they were most likely to talk about their faith with close friends (42 per cent), family (42 per cent), and work colleagues (37 per cent).

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Sociology

The Latest Edition of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Cathedral Hymns, a collection of musicians and artists connected to the Cathedral of St. Luke & St. Paul has released a single Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. We hope this enhances your Advent worship and waiting.

Read it all.

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

Taylor Swift Makes Time’s Person of the Year

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Economy, Music

Thomas Hopko on St. Nicholas for his Feast Day

“The extraordinary thing about the image of Saint Nicholas in the Church is that he is not known for anything extraordinary. He was not a theologian and never wrote a word, yet he is famous in the memory of believers as a zealot for orthodoxy, allegedly accosting the heretic Arius at the first ecumenical council in Nicaea for denying the divinity of God’s Son. He was not an ascetic and did no outstanding feats of fasting and vigils, yet he is praised for his possession of the ‘fruit of the Holy Spirit … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5.22-23). He was not a mystic in our present meaning of the term but he lived daily with the Lord and was godly in all of his words and deeds. He was not a prophet in the technical sense, yet he proclaimed the Word of God, exposed the sins of the wicked, defended the rights of the oppressed and afflicted, and battled against every form of injustice with supernatural compassion and mercy. In a word, he was a good pastor, father, and bishop to his flock, known especially for his love and care for the poor. Most simply put, he was a divinely good person.”

–Thomas Hopko, The Winter Pascha (St Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1984) p. 39

Posted in Church History

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas of Myra

Almighty God, who in thy love didst give to thy servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness on land and sea: Grant, we pray thee, that thy Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; 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 for 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

This is now the second letter that I have written to you, beloved, and in both of them I have aroused your sincere mind by way of reminder; that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.” They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

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 3:1-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CT) Christopher Watkin–God Thwarted the Tower of Babel. But Its Spirit Lives On.

God can be served in any circumstance because all things can be done for him, and he sees all things. We all tend to plot our actions along a hierarchy of significance, placing certain deeds at the top (getting that promotion or visiting a sick friend in the hospital) and relegating others to also-ran status (praying the prayer no one will ever thank you for or sweeping the floor).

I have often wondered whether the front-page splash on heaven’s newspaper, so to speak, will be the anonymous elderly lady who, perhaps unbeknown to her church friends, persisted for years in private prayer for God’s world, never having preached a sermon, never mind led a revival. She is the unspectacular spectacle of God’s glory.

To live and die by the dynamics of “making a name for ourselves” is to submit to a court of a public opinion that allows only certain achievements to count, with value ascribed to our words and deeds according to the fickle tastes of the crowd. God’s judgment, by contrast, cuts across these perverse and changeable hierarchies of importance, “for the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7, ESV). There are no meaningless actions, meaningless words, or meaningless thoughts, for our witness is also our judge.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Theology

(NYT) YouTuber Gets 6 Months in Prison for Destroying Evidence of Intentional Plane Crash

A YouTuber who intentionally crashed his plane in Southern California and recorded a video of it in a scheme “to gain notoriety and to make money” has been sentenced to six months in prison for obstructing an investigation into the crash by destroying the wreckage, federal prosecutors said Monday.

The YouTuber, Trevor D. Jacob, 30, of Lompoc, Calif., pleaded guilty in June to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, after he removed the wrecked plane from the crash site in December 2021, just over two weeks after the episode, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

He was sentenced on Wednesday by Judge John F. Walter, and ordered to surrender to the authorities by Jan. 29. “This experience has been so humbling,” Mr. Jacob said in a statement shared by his lawyers. He described the sentence as the “right decision.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Psychology, Science & Technology

Eleanor Parker–An Anglo-Saxon Sermon for Advent

And to every person their last day, too, comes nearer and nearer; and the common judgement daily approaches, in which each individual will receive what they merited in the bodily life, be it good or ill. Let us therefore flee every sin, and do good according to our ability – lest when we are willing we do not have the power, and pray for more time when death compels us to depart. “The night is passed, and the day approaches.” Here the apostle makes night stand for the old ignorance which reigned throughout all the world before Christ’s coming; but he shook off that erring ignorance by the enlightening of his presence, just as the bright day drives away the shadowy darkness of the black night. The devil is also called the night, and Christ the day – he who mercifully freed us from the darkness of the devil and gave us the light of knowledge and truth. “Let us cast away the works of darkness, and be clothed with the weapons of light, so that we may walk honourably in the day.” Let us cast away by confession and penitence the sins of the past, and let us from now on steadfastly withstand the temptings of the devil, just as the same apostle urged his followers in another place, “Withstand the devil, and he will fly from you; draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” The weapons of light are the works of righteousness and truth. We should be clothed with those weapons, so that we may walk honourably in the day. Just as the light of day prevents people from doing what the night allows, so the knowledge of truth, that is, the thought of the will of our Lord, will not allow us to commit sins…

Read it all.

Posted in Advent, Church History, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

(CH) Clement of Alexandria: What Kind of Rich Person Can Be Saved?

What God wants is a “take it or leave it” attitude about money. Money must not be the master; rather it must be the slave. If one has money, it is for the sake of his brethren; if he does not have money, he is as cheerful as if he had. That is what it means to be poor in spirit.

Another way to see that Jesus was speaking metaphorically when he spoke of the difficulty of a rich man getting into heaven is to look at the disciples’ astonished response to his words. “Who then can be saved?” they cry in consternation. Why are they dismayed? Is it because they are rich? No, certainly not. They have left all to follow him. They are amazed because they understand the hidden meaning in the Lord’s words. They have been counting on being saved because they have renounced their possessions, but now they understand that until their souls are cleansed of passions they have no more hope than a rich man who clings to his possessions. Salvation is the privilege only of pure and passionless souls.

But the Lord replies, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” No man can free himself from his passions and desires, but God conspires with willing souls. Peter shows himself willing by saying, “We have left all to follow you.” Here he cannot be boasting of leaving the few dollars worth of property he owned, but he means he has left the old mental possessions and diseases of the soul. By doing this he will be saved.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Clement of Alexandria

O Lord, who didst call thy servant Clement of Alexandria from the errors of ancient philosophy that he might learn and teach the saving Gospel of Christ: Turn thy Church from the conceits of worldly wisdom and, by the Spirit of truth, guide it into all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Day from W. E. 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

Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up out of the land of Egypt: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. “Do two walk together, unless they have made an appointment? Does a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from his den, if he has taken nothing? Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when it has taken nothing? Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does evil befall a city, unless the LORD has done it? Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken; who can but prophesy?”

–Amos 3:1-8

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(FT) Claer Barrett–The untimely death of the funeral

Should we mourn the slow death of the traditional funeral?

The soaring cost of ceremonies and an increasingly secular society mean that fewer than half of Britons now want a funeral, according to a study this week. This raises the question, what do they want instead? The answer — which anyone who watches daytime television will surely know — is a direct cremation.

Also known as a “takeaway funeral”, the rise of a cheap, no-frills cremation with no relatives in attendance started under lockdown, but has remained enduringly popular, now accounting for nearly one in five UK deaths. Costs are kept low by using out-of-the-way crematoria, often very early in the morning before traditional ceremonies with mourners and wreaths begin.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(WSJ) U.S. Suicides Reached a Record High Last Year

America’s mental-health crisis drove suicides to a record-high number last year.

Nearly 50,000 people in the U.S. lost their lives to suicide in 2022, according to a provisional tally from the National Center for Health Statistics. The agency said the final count would likely be higher. The suicide rate of 14.3 deaths per 100,000 people reached its highest level since 1941.

The record reflects broad struggles to help people in mental distress following a pandemic that killed more than one million in the U.S., upended the economy and left many isolated and afraid. A shortage of healthcare workers, an increasingly toxic illicit drug supply and the ubiquity of firearms have facilitated the rise in suicides, mental-health experts said.

“There was a rupture in our economic health and social fabric. We’re still experiencing the aftereffects of that,” said Jeffrey Leichter, a psychologist who connects mental health and primary care at Sanford Health, an operator of hospitals and clinics in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa.

Read it all (cited by my colleague Jonathan Bennett in his Sunday sermon).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

(NYT) Desperate Families Search for Affordable Home Care

There is precious little assistance from the government for families who need a home health aide unless they are poor. The people working in these jobs are often woefully underpaid and unprepared to help a frail, elderly person with dementia to bathe and use the bathroom, or to defuse an angry outburst.

Usually, it is family that steps into the breach — grown children who cobble together a fragile chain of visitors to help an ailing father; a middle-aged daughter who returns to her childhood bedroom; a son-in-law working from home who keeps a watchful eye on a confused parent; a wife who can barely manage herself looking after a faltering husband.

Mr. [Frank] Lee finally found two aides on his own, with no help from an agency. Using the proceeds from the sale of his stake in a group of restaurants, including the popular Charleston bistro Slightly North of Broad, he pays them the going rate of about $30 an hour. Between his wife’s care and medical expenses, he estimates that he’s spending between $80,000 and $100,000 a year.

“Who the hell can afford this?” he asked. “There’s no relief for families unless they have great wealth or see their wealth sucked away.” He worries that he will run out of money and be forced to sell their home of more than three decades. “Funds aren’t unlimited,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Aging / the Elderly, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing

John of Damascus on his Feast Day–‘So…this one and only God is not Wordless’

So then this one and only God is not Wordless. And possessing the Word, He will have it not as without a subsistence, nor as having had a beginning, nor as destined to cease to be. For there never was a time when God was not Word: but He ever possesses His own Word, begotten of Himself, not, as our word is, without a subsistence and dissolving into air, but having a subsistence in Him and life and perfection, not proceeding out of Himself but ever existing within Himself. For where could it be, if it were to go outside Him? For inasmuch as our nature is perishable and easily dissolved, our word is also without subsistence. But since God is everlasting and perfect, He will have His Word subsistent in Him, and everlasting and living, and possessed of all the attributes of the Begetter. For just as our word, proceeding as it does out of the mind, is neither wholly identical with the mind nor utterly diverse from it (for so far as it proceeds out of the mind it is different from it, while so far as it reveals the mind, it is no longer absolutely diverse from the mind, but being one in nature with the mind, it is yet to the subject diverse from it), so in the same manner also the Word of God in its independent subsistence is differentiated from Him from Whom it derives its subsistence: but inasmuch as it displays in itself the same attributes as are seen in God, it is of the same nature as God. For just as absolute perfection is contemplated in the Father, so also is it contemplated in the Word that is begotten of Him.

The Orthodox Faith, VI

Posted in Christology, Church History

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 for 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 Scripture Readings

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

–Psalm 1:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

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

A Prayer for the day from the Church of England

Almighty God,
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Teko′a, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzzi′ah king of Judah and in the days of Jerobo′am the son of Jo′ash, king of Israel, two years[a] before the earthquake. 2 And he said:
Judgment on Israel’s Neighbors

“The Lord roars from Zion,
and utters his voice from Jerusalem;
the pastures of the shepherds mourn,
and the top of Carmel withers.”

–Amos 1:1-2

Posted in Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Channing Moore Williams

O God, who in thy providence didst call Channing Moore Williams to the ministry of this church and gave him the gifts and the perseverance to preach the Gospel in new lands: Inspire us, by his example and prayers, to commit our talents to thy service, confident that thou dost uphold those whom thou dost call; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Day from the Prayer Manual

O Almighty God, Who sittest upon the throne, make all things within us new this day. Renew our faith, and hope, and love; renew our wills, that we may serve Thee gladly and watchfully with all our powers; renew our delight in Thy truth and in Thy worship; renew our joy in Thee, our longing that all may know Thee, our desires and labours to serve others. And so take care of us Thy people, who embrace the Cross of Thy Son and desire to walk in the light and power of Thy Spirit, now and evermore.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers. Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another. As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

–1 Peter 4:7-19

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Bishop Colin Buchanan RIP

The Rt Revd Colin Buchanan, an Honorary Bishop in the Diocese of Leeds and eminent theologian, has passed away peacefully with his beloved family around him.

In tribute, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds has written to clergy following the sudden death of Bishop Colin in the Leeds General Infirmary on November 29.

Bishop Nick writes: “Colin is loved and respected around the world, but especially here in the Diocese of Leeds.

“Many parishes and individuals owe him a huge debt for his pastoral care, teaching and faithfulness. He will be greatly missed.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals

(WSJ) Johnson and Johnson Hired Thousands of Data Scientists. Will The Strategy Pay Off?

Johnson & Johnson is making one of the biggest bets in the healthcare industry on using data science and artificial intelligence to bolster its work.

The 137-year-old pharmaceutical and medical-device company has hired 6,000 data scientists and digital specialists in recent years, and spent hundreds of millions of dollars on their work, such as using machines to scour massive health-record datasets. Last year the company opened a state-of-the-art research site near San Francisco that houses advanced data science.

Some early efforts focus on diagnostics, like an algorithm that analyzes heart tests to spot a deadly type of high blood pressure much sooner than humans can, and voice-recognition technology to analyze speech for early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. There’s a virtual-reality goggle set to help train surgeons on procedures like knee replacements.

The long game, though, is a goal that has seen a lot of hype but less concrete proof that it will become a reality: using AI for drug discovery.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

Andrew Goddard–‘Nothing has changed’: should the bishops ‘commend’ the Prayers of Love and Faith?

The problem is that, as with the former Prime Minister’s claim, nobody really believes this is the case. How many people really believe that:

  • what will be commended in the PLF Suite of Resource—public prayers for God’s blessing on two people of the same sex many of whom will be in a sexual relationship and/or a civil same-sex marriage—has always been lawful in the Church of England and could have been commended by the bishops and used by clergy at any point in the past? 
  • the use of such prayers does not represent a major change from the historic and current situation? 
  • while the doctrine of marriage remains unchanged, the proposed use of the PLF is neither contrary to doctrine nor indicative of a departure from in doctrine in any essential matter? 
  • all these claims have been shown by the House of Bishops to be theologically and legally coherent and convincing?

Charlie Bell, a supporter of getting PLF done but also a severe critic of the latest proposals, recently wrote “what the bishops have done may be legal, but it is not honest”. This echoes the language of Canon C1 and the oath of canonical obedience. The way in which the bishops are proceeding—the “nothing has changed” argument and the refusal to publish the written legal advice they have received—is very difficult to view as honest and to trust. Given the law has not formally been changed, for many the introduction of PLF means that the doctrine to which the law refers has changed in practice. If, as it is being claimed, doctrine has not changed, then what is being proposed seems to many to be not only “not honest” but also, as shown by past legal advice, probably “not legal”. 

In short, unless we sincerely believe and are convinced that “nothing has changed”, then we have to say that it appears the bishops are acting in their commendation, and thereby encouraging clergy to act in their services, in ways which are unlawful. In addition, those liturgical actions are now—because of the bishops’ decisions, which do not alter the legality of what they commend and so in one sense could be described as simply symbolic or “virtue signalling”—going to attract much more attention when they take place then they have done in the past. This means clergy who accept at face value and act on the basis of the bishops’ commendation are probably more likely to face legal challenge than they were in the past.

In the light of this, it even more unacceptable that the bishops are now so reticent to set out clearly for parish clergy, and those who advise them such as archdeacons, both

  1. the changing written legal advice which they have received throughout this process, particularly for their 9th October meeting, and
  2. a clear explanation as to how what they are now proposing in PLF is, and indeed always has been, legal and how this judgment relates to the content of past legal advice which they have published that would suggest otherwise.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture