Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

4/30/2005

Fruity Disciples

grape vinesIn tomorrow's Gospel reading, Jesus says in part,
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.
It is the night before he is to die. Just a couple of hours before his betrayal and arrest. Is Judas about to be removed? Are Peter and the other disciples going to be pruned?

Perhaps this is on Jesus' mind, but John wrote these words for us and they are scripture because they have ongoing significance. There is a way in which, any of us who consider ourselves Christians, may be removed from the vine or we may find ourselves pruned by God, the vinegrower.

The removal suggests that just being near the vine is not enough, you must be tapped into the vine. Jesus puts it "abide in me." Merely being in church is not enough, you also need to have that relationship with Jesus. While coming to church is a good idea for non-believers, church attendance in and of itself is not a relationship with God. You must also open up your heart to Jesus for him to be able to come in and make that relationship real to you. Jesus warns, that those who hang out along the vine, without actually being tapped in, may find themsleves cut off in the future.

But Jesus also says that he will prune those who are connected to the vine. Pruning fruit-bearing vines is something grape growers do to get the vines to produce more grapes instead of more leaves. Jesus warns that even for those who are connected to him, there are parts of their lives they will need to let go of in order to bear fruit for God. What might God be calling you to let go of in order to abide more fully in Jesus' love?

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4/29/2005

Divine Reality

John Polkinghorne is an Anglican priest who is a former professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge University. He has written widely on religion and science. He has this to say on the subject,
I do not believe that I shift gear in some strange intellectual way when I move from science to religion. In particular, I do not claim that religious belief springs from some mysteriously endorsed and unquestionable source of knowledge that is not open to rational assessment and, if necessary, to reassessment. Theology has long known that our images of God are inadequate to the infinite richness of his nature; that human concepts of God are ultimately idols to be broken in the face of the greater reality.

In search for truth, science and religion are intellectual cousins under the skin. In the nineteenth century, A.D. White wrote a celebrated book called "The Warfare of Science and Theology in Christendom" (Appleton, 1896), but its thesis of conflict was a costly and ill-judged mistake. I have sought, instead, to present an account of the friendship between science and theology, which I believe to be the truer assessment.

Religion is our encounter with divine reality, just as science is our encounter with physical reality.
—from Polkinghorne's book, "Quarks, Chaos & Christianity: Questions to Science and Religion"
In the archives, there is a Tribune & Georgian religion column It doesn't have to be science vs. religion.

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4/28/2005

An Offering to God

Christ Church in Saint MarysTonight at 7 p.m., our nearest Episcopal neighbors, at Christ Church in St. Marys will dedicate their new building. It is true that the church is the people and not the building in which they meet, but that doesn't make the building itself of no consequence.

W.H. Vanstone has written of the church building, "Here, at this level of concrete actuality is the work of art, the offering of love, which is the Church. The understanding of the Church as offering throws fresh light on...the attachment to the Church building itself...Attachment to a Church building is by no means to be dismissed as sentimentality; it may well contain a profound, though possibly inarticulate, understanding of what that building is."

Understood as Vanstone presents it, the church building is the congregation's offering to God and God's response is God's own presence in that place of worship in a powerful way. So tonight, we gather with Christ Church as they formally offer their building to God.

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4/27/2005

End-of-Life Issues

Tonight in the Christian Ethics discussion at King of Peace, we'll be looking at end-of-life issues. This is the session that really led to the whole class as Terry Schiavo's case was so much in the news. But now we approach the subject with a good bit more information on ethics in general. Yet, in real life, it is never possible to make end-of-life decisions in a detached way, and thanks be to God that is true. For what care someone receives at any stage in life is something to consider carefully and prayerfully. The end of life is a time for doing what we should do each day—really trust that our lives are in God's hands.

Two places with a bit more information have recently been shared, but are worth a look if you haven't seen them. There's a column from the Tribune & Georgian on Making End-of-Life Decisions and there's David Simmon's post on Euthanasia. There is also a statement made on end-of-life issues by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which says in part:
Although human life is sacred, death is part of the earthly cycle of life. There is a "time to be born and a time to die" (Eccl. 3:2). The resurrection of Jesus Christ transforms death into a transition to eternal life: "For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead" (I Cor. 15:21). Despite this hope, it is morally wrong and unacceptable to intentionally take a human life in order to relieve the suffering caused by incurable illness.
The statement also says:
However, there is no moral obligation to prolong the act of dying by extraordinary means and at all costs if such dying person is ill and has no reasonable expectation of recovery.
Tonight we will consider this distinction while looking at some case studies.

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4/26/2005

A God-Shaped Vacuum

I have climbed highest mountain,
I have run through the fields
only to be with you, only to be with you.
I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls,
these city walls only to be with you.
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for.
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for.
—U2 lyrics from "Only to be with you"

Let yourself by plumbed to the depths, and you will realize that everyone is created for a presence. There, in your heart of hearts, in that place where no two people are alike, Christ is waiting for you. And then the unexpected happens.
—Brother Roger of Taizé, who founded the Taizé community in 1940

There is a God-shaped vacuum in the human heart which only God; made known through Jesus Christ, can fill.
—Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

O God, our hearts are made for thee, and they shall be restless until they rest in thee!
—Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

Let anyone who is thirsty, come to me and drink.
—Jesus

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4/25/2005

Support Persecuted Christians

Visit prisoneralert.comChristians around the world are being persecuated for their faith in Christ. In places like China and the Sudan, being a Christian may result in imprisonment, torture and even death. The Voice of the Martyrs ministry is to keep the needs of the persecuted church at the forefront. As a part of that ongoing ministry, they offer PrisonerAlert.com which will not only give you updates on person imprisoned for their faith, but also the means to write to them a letter of encouragement in their own language and to be able email government officials on their behalf.

King of Peace has occasionally supported Voice of the Martyrs Ministry through sending blankets and Action Packs with various items to persecuted Christians. These are tangible reminders for our Brothers and Sisters in chains to let them know that they are not alone. PrisonerAlert.com is another way to let our fellow Christians know that we care.

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4/24/2005

Passover

Jesus at The Last SupperTonight, Jews around the world celebrate the central act of remembrance of their faith—The Passover. The ritual meal recalls the meal eaten on the night before the Jews were brought out of Egypt by God, under Moses' leadership. On that night, the angel of death passed over the homes of the Jews.

The command to celebrate The Passover says that God commanded every person (the Bible specifies all people, rather than all Jews), in every generation, to feel as if he or she was personally redeemed from slavery in Egypt. The Passover then is both a commemoration of a momentous event in the history of a given people and a reminder that God is continually working to bring all people out of bondage into freedom. That bondage can be to drugs or to unhealthy realtionships and patterns of living—bondage to all sorts of things. In every event, God is working to redeem God's own people, which means everyone. God has redeemed you personally from slavery.

Our own communion service comes from The Last Supper, which was itself a Passover meal. Two sermons in the King of Peace archives which delve deeper into this connection are The Next to the Last Supper and The Passover Lamb.

1 Comments:

  • At 4/25/2005 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I attended the Passover last night and was amazed at what I learned. This was the first Passover I have ever attended and went in knowing very little about it. What an honor to be able to participate in something that has been observed for thousands of years. It was fun, informative and very interesting. I had no idea that even children have an important role in the event.

    Thanks to King of Peace and the organizers for providing this to our community.

    Brenda

     

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4/23/2005

Preparing a place for you

In our Gospel reading for tomorrow's worship service, Jesus tells his disciples,
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.
Welcome to HeavenThere are no great details in scripture about heaven. No mention of streets of gold, or people strumming harps while floating about on clouds. Mostly, we are promised that this life is not all there is and in heaven, we will be together with God in a way that is not possible now.

The Bible tells us again and again that life in heaven is life lived with God—fully present to God. Noted author C.S. Lewis writes that this is not a big reward to everyone. He calls heaven a reward that does not sully the motives. If your goal is to be with God, that statement alone says something about you. Lewis writes, “It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.”

What Jesus most wanted his followers to understand was simple: "Do not let your hearts be troubled" and "I go to prepare a place for you." Or to put it more casually, "Relax, I'm handling it."

1 Comments:

  • At 12/09/2007 8:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It is true that heaven is mostly about WHO we spend eternity with, and not where. However, some details in heaven our given, including details such as "streets of gold". Revelation 21 and the first few verses of 22 describe it for us.

     

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4/22/2005

Love yourself for God's sake

Jesus told his followers that all the law and the prophets were summed up in loving the Lord you God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself. The second of those commands includes love of self as well as love of neighbor. So self-loathing is not of God.

Saint Aelred (1110-1167) wrote of the three loves enjoined on people by Christ (love of God, love of self, and love of neighbour):
... the three kinds of love ... are so bound to one another that unless we love God we cannot love our neighbour and, unless we love ourselves, we cannot love our neighbour as ourselves. ... Each one of these three kinds of love depends on the others, and in each one of the three we find the other two. We cannot have one unless we have all three, and if we lose one we lose them all (DeVico 1981:235 citing Aelred, The Mirror of Charity 1961:82).
About the same time as Aelred wrote the above quote, Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) penned his response to an inquiry from an official in Rome, describing four degrees of the Christian's love: 1. Man loves himself for his own sake. 2. Man loves God but for his own advantage. 3. Man loves God for God's sake. 4. Man loves himself for the sake of God.

On a separate topic, today's religion column for the Tribune & Georgian, Can other religions be true? is online.

1 Comments:

  • At 4/22/2005 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great site, great mission! For those interested, there is a daily-emailed version of the Forward Day by Day meditation, with expanded lectionary readings at http://www.giveusthisday.org. Click on the "subscribe" box at the top left center. Peace.

     

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4/21/2005

It's not your creed. It's ours.

I recently read an article that depicted a heated exchange between a seminary student and an Orthodox theologian at Yale Divinity School. The theologian had given a talk on the history of the development of the Christian creeds. The student's original question was centered on belief: "What can one do," he asked, "when one finds it impossible to affirm certain tenets of the Creed?" The priest responded, "Well, you just say it. It's not that hard to master. With a little effort, most can learn it by heart."

To learn something by heart is a concept more in tune with the ancient world than with our own, and the student, apparently feeling that he had been misunderstood, asked with some exasperation, "What am I to do...when I have difficulty affirming parts of the Creed—like the Virgin Birth?" And he got the same response. "You just keep saying it. Particularly when you have difficulty believing it. You just keep saying it. It will come to you eventually." The student raised his voice: "How can I with integrity affirm a creed in which I do not believe?" And the priest replied, "It's not your creed, it's our creed," meaning the Creed of the entire Christian church. I can picture the theologian shrugging, as only the Orthodox can shrug, carrying so lightly the thousand-plus years of their liturgical tradition: "Eventually it may come to you," he told the student. "For some it takes longer than for others..."

What the Orthodox theologian had said made sense to me. It reflected my own experience in the years when I had been trying to make my way back to church, and I felt fortunate to have found my process of conversion conveyed so well and succinctly: the years of anguishing over creeds and the language of belief, a struggle that I had endured only because I dared hope that eventually the words wouldn't seem like "theirs" but also "mine." It was the boring repitition of worship language, and even the dense, seemingly impoderable, words of the creeds that had pushed me into belief. And, yes, it had taken a very long time.

—Kathleen Norris in Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith

See also: To believe is to give your heart a religion column from the Tribune & Georgian.

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4/20/2005

Reading the Bible Online

The Bible is vitally important to our understanding of who God is and how God has acted in human history (as well as in our lives today). The emphasis for centuries within the Anglican Communion (of which the Episcopal Church is part) has been on both reading a lot of scripture within our Sunday worship services as well as daily Bible readings following a pattern, which allows one to read through the entire Bible.

One way to do this is through the practice of the brief services of Morning and Evening Prayer. The readings set for those services by the Book of Common Prayer have one reading through the Bible every two years. While the service is found in the prayer book, you can also find the prayers and readings updated daily at The Daily Office.

These are the same readings found in the Forward Day by Day booklets which are available for free at the church. Using those quarterly-published booklets as a guide, you may also read through the Bible every two years, in four relatively short daily readings from the Old Testament, a Psalm, a New Testament letter and a Gospel.

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4/19/2005

Touring Episcopal Churches

There are approximately 2 million Episcopalians in the United States. Just to keep us humble, I've heard it said that there are more people who say they were abducted by aliens than there are who attend an Episcopal Church. That is probably an exageration, but a useful one for humility's sake.

One way to tour Episcopal churches around the country is through their websites. There is a great listing of Episcopal church websites at Anglicans Online. Some churches to visit might by St. Philip's in the Hills in Tuscon, Arizona. The website tour of King of Peace was borrowed from the excellent tour of their buildings and grounds which St. Philip's offers on the web. Then there is the funky St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco, California with a food pantry set up round its altar during the week its amazing icon project. Finally, the must see might be the truly awe inspiring National Cathedral, which is an Episcopal Church.

When looking for an Episcopal church to attend while visiting another town, try Parish Finder which will show you what's close, together with software to give you a map and directions.

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4/18/2005

Hollywood Jesus

A few weeks ago, there was a post here about movie reviews for parents to assist them in deciding whether to allow their child to watch a movie. But what about adults looking for more in the pop culture they encounter? The website for that is Hollywood Jesus: pop culture from a spiritual point of view. Along with the usual sorts of movie review info, there is a look at the spiritual content of the movies. It's always interesting to see what this site finds in the movies at the local cinema. This is true even if that spiritual content is non-Christian or anti-Christian.

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4/17/2005

Growing in Grace

Gray McCulloughKing of Peace became a younger church yesterday. Once again, a new baby was born into our congregation. Gray Scott McCullough is, for the moment, the youngest member of King of Peace (less than 24 hours old as this is posted). Gray will not be the youngest member of King of Peace for long, probably not even a month. But for now he serves as a reminder. First, you cannot see a new baby without experiencing anew the wonder of it all and so Gray brings the gift a himself reminding us how precious life is and how fragile. Next, he reminds us what a daunting task it is to raise a child.

Gray with his Mom, ShelbyCharlie and Shelby are already making great parents. However, we know for a fact that they cannot raise Gray alone. The pressures Gray will one day face are more than we can imagine and more than he will be able to deal with properly unless he has learned the language of faith. For that, Gray's family needs a community of support, which is part of King of Peace's calling. That support is not just for our kids. We all need the mutual support a church offers—from Gray at less than 24 hours to Janet Finkelstein at 85 years. The community of support is to be with you from cradle to the grave (and beyond). We are called to be there for one another in all our joys and sorrows. And for Gray it means sharing the faith that is in us in an infectuous way so that as a child he comes to know about God's love as well as he knows anything as he comes to make the faith his own.

2 Comments:

  • At 4/21/2005 8:59 AM, Anonymous kathy sue said…

    Congratulations Charlie Shelby! I smiled and laughed when I got the phone call. Through the seemingly long nights ahead, be patient and know that Gray will certainly grow up much faster than you could have imagined! My youngest was getting married at the time Gray was coming into this world, and I remembered how her eyes shined and the joy this little life gave me when I first held her and counted her fingers and toes! Be Blessed and Love every minute good & bad. Do your best and God will see to the rest.

     
  • At 4/21/2005 9:04 PM, Blogger Celeste said…

    Thanks for the post. I was thinking as well how busy God is in blessing a marriage and a birth at almost the same time. "Growing in Grace" is so true to God's word: how we need each other to make it through. It made Shelby cry and her Mom. They printed it for their grands. Thanks Frank, for that. It is very sweet.

     

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4/16/2005

We sheep need a shepherd

In reading and praying through what the Bible means to us, we are surrounded by a "great cloud of witnesses," the many Christians who have come before us. It is good to learn how a passage of scripture spoke to previous generations of Christians. Tomorrow's Gospel reading is John 10:1-10 in which Jesus refers to himself as both the gate by which the sheep enter the sheep fold and the shepherd of the sheep. What follows was written by Clement of Alexandria (died 215 A.D.) who was born in Athens, Greece, came to be best known as a teacher in a Christian school in Alexandria, Egypt and later moved to Cappadocia, Turkey. Alexandria in particular was a major center of learning with a vast library. It was the closest thing of its day to a major university and it was in that cosmopolitan marketplace of ideas that Clement taught those on a deeper quest for the Truth about Jesus.

About our passage for tomorrow, Clement wrote,
a fifth century depiction of Jesus as Good ShepherdIn our sickness we need a savior, in our wander- ings a guide, in our blindness someone to show us the light, in our thirst the fountain of living water which quenches for ever the thirst of those who drink from it. We dead people need life, we sheep need a shepherd, we children need a teacher, the whole world needs Jesus!

If we would understand the profound wisdom of the most holy shepherd and teacher, the ruler of the universe and the Word of the Father, when using an allegory he calls himself the shepherd of the sheep, we can do so for he is also the teacher of little ones....Such is our Teacher, both good and just. He said he had not come to be served but to serve; and so the gospel shows him tired out, he who labored for our sake and promised to give his life as ransom for many, a thing which, as he said, only the Good Shepherd will do.

How bountiful the giver who for our sake gives his most precious possession, his own life! He is a real benefactor and friend, who desired to be our brother when he might have been our Lord, and who in his goodness even went so far as to die for us! (The Teacher 9, 83, 3-85, a: SC 70, 258-261)
Frank wrote an answer at AskthePriest.org to a question about where people who believe in predestination find that doctrine in scripture.

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4/15/2005

The Tax Day Gospel

Roman coinSurely the Gospel reading for April 15 is
Then the Pharisees met together to think of a way to trap Jesus into saying something for which they could accuse him. They decided to send some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to ask him this question: "Teacher, we know how honest you are. You teach about the way of God regardless of the consequences. You are impartial and don't play favorites. Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to the Roman government or not?" But Jesus knew their evil motives. "You hypocrites!" he said. "Whom are you trying to fool with your trick questions? Here, show me the Roman coin used for the tax." When they handed him the coin, he asked, "Whose picture and title are stamped on it?" "Caesar's," they replied."Well, then," he said, "give to Caesar what belongs to him. But everything that belongs to God must be given to God." His reply amazed them, and they went away. (Matthew 20:15-22 in the New Living Translation)
One way to follow Jesus command that I have heard is this. A man causually mentions that he tithes, giving a literal 10% of his income, to his church. His friend replies that he gives 100% of everything he makes to God. The first man asks, "How is that possible?" His friend explains, "When I get paid, I throw everything I get in the air. Whatever God wants, God can keep. Whatever lands on the floor is mine."

That's a nice big loophole, but it misses the point of Jesus' story which is that we are to give our very lives to God. The coin Jesus held that day bore the image and likeness of Caesar. Genesis 1:27 says,
So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.
You bear the image of God. Giving the coin to Caesar acknowledged the coin as something one owed to Caesar. Giving your life to God acknowledges that you were created in the image of God. In the words of one very ancient communion prayer, what we offer to God every time we come to worship is "our selves, our souls, and our bodies." What God gives in return is everything, even his own Son.

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4/14/2005

The ministry of bagging groceries

There is a retired hospital chaplain who bags groceries at a supermarket not too far from Camden County. Once this man worked full time in ministry. Now he bags groceries. Without the customers knowing it, he prays for the people he serves. Customer after customer. Day after day. Hundreds of prayers for people who seem to have the barest connection to him. In retirement, his ministry has not ended. His ministry has merely changed, though not so much a change as one might suppose while watching him go about his work.

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4/13/2005

Pants on fire

When regard for truth has been broken down or even weakened, all things will remain doubtful. —St. Augustine, On Lying
Tonight, the Christian Ethics class at King of Peace will focus on lying. One form of lying even made the 10 Commandments, "Thou shalt not bear false witness." Yet the lie still has a long and storied history as each generation has struggled with those cases where the truth can harm. Then once the door is open to an acceptable lie, how many others slip through?

Think one should never, ever lie? What about an E.M.T. working on a car accident victim with some significant injuries who is also at risk from shock. The victim asks about a fellow passenger who the E.M.T. knows to be dead? Does the E.M.T. tell the truth, risking the health of the patient? Perhaps there are cases where a lie could do more good than harm. What are the acceptable boundaries? Are any lies white lies? Does that make them OK?
Liars usually weigh only the immediate harm to others from the lie against the benefits they want to achieve. The flaw in such an outlook is that it ignores or underestimates two additional kinds of harm—the harm that lying does to the liars themselves and the harm done to the general level of trust and social cooperation. Both are cumulative; both are hard to reverse. —Sissela Bok, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life

1 Comments:

  • At 4/13/2005 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ah, the lie...I would love to say that I don't lie because of faith...but to be, well...honest… I don't lie because of pride. I don't feel I should have to lie about who I am or what I have done. However, on a social level I understand the complexity. A terminally ill four-year-old. Telling a child with no concept of death the truth will only scare the child and not allow for peaceful last days, and in the end, telling the truth will not change the outcome. Drawing the line is where the issue becomes fuzzy. If you can justify it once, you can do it twice. I firmly, firmly believe though that a lie should never be told to avoid personal consequences.

     

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4/12/2005

The Nature of Greed

Rhonda Del Boccio writes, "I had something, just a thought a really, that I wanted to post." But she wasn't sure how. Well, a comment can be added by anyone by clicking "post a comment" for something longer, like Rhonda's thoughts on greed, send email it to the church and we'll post it. That's how this works. Below is Rhonda's thought to post:

The other day my family and I took a trip to Saint Simons Island, GA. I love it there. You couldn’t paint a better picture. The sky is always a brighter shade of blue and the air is easy to breathe. For years now, I have wanted to live there. For right now, finances keep me in Camden County, a nice place to live where you can still find a house with some land for under $500,000. That would be a steal on the island. One of my favorite things to do there is go to open houses. Sunday afternoons the island is filled with anxious realtors just waiting to show you their newly listed property.

condos on Saint SimonsThis Sunday my husband, two children, and I stumbled upon an open house for a newly built condo-style development. These houses where built taller than wide with no more than twenty feet between the buildings. We entered the first floor, which consisted of a walk in area, a door to the garage, a set of stairs in front of you and then another door. Wondering what this door was, thinking maybe closet space, I opened it to find an elevator. Yes, your own private in home elevator. My mouth dropped. Already impressed I toured the rest of the home. The next three floors were all exquisitely designed. A total of four bedrooms and four and one half baths. Two living rooms, a huge kitchen, an office...ect. You name it this house had it, including private balconies on three floors and one on the roof, with a beautiful view of the ocean. I was in love. All this for the bargain price of $1.7 million. I thought, I am young enough to afford this one day. I am half way into my psychology degree. If I work hard one day I will be able to buy something like this. I thought about that house all afternoon.

condos on Saint SimonsThis morning I woke up in my three bedrooms, one bathroom house and got my children off to school. Then my husband, who is off work this week decided that he would like to put his 14ft twenty-year-old johnboat that was given to him by our neighbor in the water for the first time to see if it would float. I went with him to make sure that if he ended up swimming back to shore, someone was there to help. I sat on a swing in the park and watched him drive his boat back and forth, happy as a duck that it ran and didn’t stall. While I was sitting there, I had a thought. What do I need 4400 sq. feet of living space for. I only have two kids. I hate to clean my 1100 sq. feet!

Then I remember something else. While driving back from the island, when we turned off the highway onto our exit there was a man standing by the stop light holding a sign that said, need work, I’m hungry. I can barely write that here without crying. I don’t know what saddens me more, this man that is hungry, or the knowledge of my own hypocrisy. I think we very often pass our greed off as ambition. We have worked hard for what we have, we deserve it, right? We may not need all four bedrooms in our home, but we have worked hard to afford them. We give what we can. We tithe our ten percent at church and donate to the feed the children foundation. Plus, we don’t make a ton of money; there are movie stars and sports stars that make so much more. They should be required to donate more money to the needy.

I will not lie; these are all thoughts that I have had. It is what we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better, about who we are. In truth though, most of us live in house a little bigger than we really need. We drive the highest dollar car our credit will let us finance. Don’t miss understand, I am not saying that we should not live comfortably or live in squalor. I am simply saying this… I wonder what the world would be like if we could each trade one of our wants, to fulfill someone else’s need.

—Rhonda

1 Comments:

  • At 4/12/2005 10:31 PM, Blogger Celeste said…

    I've thought about the same things and have concluded that we need the extra space in our houses to put all the "stuff" we think we can't live without. It really boils down to how content you are within rather than without.
    Good post!

     

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4/11/2005

Choose to be beloved

Rembrandt's Return of the ProdigalThe Christian writer Henri Nouwen's writings emphasize that we are beloved of God, always lovable, always loved. In fact, God chose us to love us. Nouwen wrote in his book The Life of the Beloved,
"The Truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God's eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity and held safe in an everlasting embrace."
Return of the Prodigal SonPerhaps Nouwen's most loved book is, The Return of the Prodigal Son, and it was also Nouwen's personal favorite. The book is a lengthy meditation on Rembrandt's painting by the same title. In that work Nouwen imagines himself as each of the people in the master painting coming finally to the Father, and feeling himself challenged to love as the father loved (even as he was challenged to receive love as the son received love). It fits so well into Nouwen's ongoing assertion that God loves us and we are to choose to be beloved by God, then God calls us to share that love with others.

For those who want to learn more about Nouwen and his works, here's a great introduction to Henri Nouwen.

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4/10/2005

Bear with one another in love

bearing one another in love?This photo shows a game we played during Kids in the Kingdom today. Everyone started on their own seat. Then Rhys Jewett called out directions, such as "everyone with brown eyes move two seats to the right" or "everyone in tennis shoes move one seat to your left." Before long, we were stacked several deep. The game went along with our theme for the day of friendship, during which we learned about the great friendship of the Old Testament, David and Jonathan. The idea of the game is to notice things about yourself and others. You do have to know yourself and your friend well to be a good friend.

This game relates to how King of Peace becomes not just a church, but a real community. How well do you know the people with whom you attend church? It is impossible for us to accomplish our goal of bearing one anothers burdens and sharing one anothers joys unless you share of yourself. The congregation cannot support you in your times of need and rejoice with you in your time of joy unless we know of your needs and joys.

It begins with seeing, really seeing, the people with whom you go to church. Then just follow your natural curiosity and when you say hello, ask questions. "Where do your kids go to school?" or whatever question seems appropriate. It is easy to keep sharing worship with one another without getting to know each other. But it is also surprisingly easy to meet new people and get to know their joys and sorrows, challenges and frustrations. Then you'll have a basis for building the community you need, and the community that King of Peace is called by God to become.

You can read about the Bible's view of Christian community by reading the one anothers here online. Also related, but working on a different part of the question of what a Christian community is for, is today's sermon Why bother with Church?

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  • At 4/10/2005 6:46 PM, Blogger Celeste said…

    Sometimes it is hard to mingle through the crowd after church on Sunday. I find it easier on Wednesdays and other smaller services we have. There were several visitors today at KOP. I didn't get a chance to offer any of them anything but the peace. I hope they come back.
    Thanks for the reminder.
    Celeste

     
  • At 4/11/2005 9:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "...Nouwen suffered deeply. He admitted he usually did not feel the affection from others that he deeply craved—suffering from what Jonas calls Nouwen's "habitual, almost neurotic need to be needed."

    ..."It begins with seeing, really seeing, the people with whom you go to church."

    Is it not ironic how these two passages fit together? Feeling the affection from others ... wondering if affection couldn't be changed to acceptance from others. People come to a community fearful of how will be perceived and received. Those who walk about as "roaring lions" or, just the opposite, who "fade into the woodwork", so to speak, are, in my opinion, those most desperate for someone, anyone to just notice; to just receive them into the fellowship of community. Ah, wouldn't it be something if we could accomplish this!! ... and just continue to receive those like Nouwen and so many others like him.

     

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4/09/2005

Stay with us Lord

Along the Road to EmmausTomorrow, we will read together the story of Jesus meeting two disciples on the Road to Emmaus after his resurrection. As Luke Timothy Johnson writes,
There is an almost pastoral quality to this story. It has the feel of an evening spring walk in the country and a quiet conversation and a spiritual presence. No wonder monks pray at the end of the day in words taken from the disciples...."Stay with us Lord, for evening falls."
The two disciples are slipping out of Jerusalem, still in doubt and confusion after hearing early reports that the Jesus they know to be dead has been resurrected. Jesus comes to them, offering his presence in the midst of their troubles. Jesus does not force himself on the one-time disciples who no longer recognize their Lord, but remains available, waiting to be invited in.

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  • At 2/04/2007 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Beautiful!

     
  • At 4/06/2008 1:14 AM, Blogger Trevor said…

    Along with the parable of the Prodigal Son, this is my favourite gospel story. This is my little contribution.

    The Road to Emmaus

    “Stay with us Lord, it is almost evening
    And the day is now nearly done”
    Stay with us Lord and guide us
    Till the battle is over and we have won.

    Stay a while with us Lord, refresh us
    For we are weary and faint of heart
    Stay with us Lord and be gracious
    And this Easter time, grant us a new start.

    May our hearts burn with zeal for you Lord,
    Even while we are tired and weak
    Be with us Lord and walk with us
    We need you Lord, it is you we seek.

    Teach our hearts to know you Lord
    When we sit at your table to dine.
    Open our eyes to see you in the Sacred Bread
    And in the Blessed Cup of Wine.

    This day and forever, revive our feeble spirits
    And may we with faith and fervor spread the Easter story,
    “We have seen the Lord, He is risen, Alleluia”
    “The tomb is empty, He is risen in glory.”

    May God bless you.

    Trevor

     

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4/08/2005

True to our nature

A religion true to its nature must also be concerned about man's social conditions.... Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion—the rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

If anyone has material posessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him.—I John 3:17

Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are belssed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you visited me.... Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'—Matthew 25:35-36,40

The religion column in today's Tribune & Georgian, Easter is followed by Good Friday, is here online.

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4/07/2005

Let my soul hunger for it

Anselm of CanterburyAnselm, an Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109), is best remembered for his book Cur Deus Homo (Why God became Man) and his logical proof of the existence of God. Though a philosopher and logician Anselm was a person who first and foremost hungered for God and sought to deepen his relationship with God. It is sometimes comforting to think of the many who have shared the path we are on. Here is a look into Anselm's heart. This prayer closed his book Proslogion (written in 1079):
I pray, O God, that I may know You and love You, so that I may rejoice in You. And if I cannot do so fully in this life may I gradually progress until it comes to fullness. Let the knowledge of You grow in me here, and there be made complete; let Your love grow in me here and there be made complete, so that here my joy may be great in hope, and there be complete in reality. Lord, by Your Son You command, or rather, counsel us to ask and you promise we shall receive so that our joy 'may be complete.' I ask, Lord, as You counsel through Your admirable counselor. May I receive what You promise through Your truth so that my 'joy may be complete.' God of truth, I ask that I may receive so that my 'joy may be complete.' Until then let my mind so meditate on it, let my tongue speak of it, let my heart love it, let my mouth preach it. Let my soul hunger for it, let my flesh thirst for it, my whole being desire it, until I enter into the 'joy of the Lord,' who is God, Three in One, 'blessed forever. Amen.'
Two other items: For those who are interested, the handout from last night's class of Christian Ethics is online. There was a great turnout and that class got off to a good start. You may join the class at any time. Also, Frank filled in as a guest question answerer at askthepriest.org to take on "What is the true meaning of religious vocation?."

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4/06/2005

The way to walk

Ethicists have been busy lately as much of the news relates directly to Ethics. Pop star Michael Jackson says he has acted ethically in having children as guests at his home, his accusers say he did not. Baseball great Barry Bonds says he acted ethically with regard to steroids, some look to his late in life change of physique and question that statement. Questions about cloning, stem cell research and other sceintific advances all involve ethics. And, of course, there has been the very public debate about removing Terry Schiavo's feeding tube which was also an ethical decision.

Ethics answers questions as to what is right, good, virtuous or how we ought to behave. Tonight at King of Peace, we'll begin a 7-week study of Christian Ethics that will meet each week from 7-8 p.m. Each week, the group will learn some of the techniques of how one can decide which choice is best with a variety of issues. There will also be an opportunity to hear some specifics of cases and make the decisions.

What does scripture say on ethics? Plenty, but here is a short version which the Prophet Micah gave,
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
Micah taps in to that very Jewish way of discussing ethics, which is part of our spiritual roots as Christians. Walking. That is a favorite expression in the Old Testament for a relationship with God. We walk in God’s ways. We walk by faith. We walk with God. Abraham, the wandering ArameanThis idea of walking is such a part of Old Testament thought that Jews call their moral and ethical code halachah, which means “the way to walk.”

Walking. It had deep roots in the culture of the Jews. They began as a nomadic people. The essential Jewish statement of history begins, “A wandering Aramean was my father…” Abraham left the home of his father and wandered out into the desert to follow God. In the process Abraham learned how to walk with God.

Halacah teaches the fundamental religious truth that God does not want you merely to come to one big religious moment of making things all better and then get on with the rest of your life. What God wants is the rest of your life. God wants an ongoing relationship that is more about the journey than the destination. For faith is not head knowledge alone. Faith is a journey and a relationship that results in some clear actions in response to that relationship. Faith and ethics can't be separated. It turns out, you've been a ethicist all along, but you have the God who made everything with you in your journey.
Walking by faith

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4/05/2005

Bring your own fish

Matt wrote yesterday to share the news that Conrad Gempf has a new book coming out. The book is Mealtime Habits: 40 Encounters with Jesus. Why mealtime encounters? Gempf quotes fellow New Testament scholar Robert Karris in saying, "Jesus was killed because of the way he ate."

Mealtime Habits of the MessiahThe book does go beyond meals, but all of it is in the typically Gempf style, which includes an attitude more common to a magazine style of writing than what one normally finds from a teacher of scripture. Yet, when we studied his book, Jesus Asked, at King of Peace, we found there to be a lot of substance in what Gempf writes.

Here's an excerpt from the new book in which Gempf writes about the miraculous catch of fish and breakfast on the beach that followed Jesus' resurrection. The story is found in John 21. Here's what Gempf says,
Jesus is frying fish. He supplied a miraculous catch.What does he do and say next?

He makes just the right number of fish levitate out of the net and directly into the pan, right? No.

He says, “Have some of these fish already in my pan”? Wrong.

“Bring me some of the fish I’ve supplied for you”? Nope.

Here it is. He says, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

Excuse me? The fish you have caught? What did they have to do with it? By themselves they caught nothing.And it took them the whole night to do it.

Want to know what Jesus is really like? It doesn’t get much better than this. He wants us to bring “our” fish, “our” talents, “our” service, “our” faith. Never mind that none of these are “ours” except as a gift. But he’s serious. He’s willing to regard them as ours; he wants our gifts, generously crediting us with generosity.

Have breakfast with Jesus: BYOF.
Jesus supplies the fish then counts them as what the disciples bring to the fire. Gempf always seems to find something more, something deeper in each passage of scripture he encounters and then shares what he finds in such an enjoyable way. Here's a longer excerpt from the new book.

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4/04/2005

Coffee that makes your money go farther

Want the money you spend on coffee to go farther? This is not a plug for cheap coffee, but a coffee purchase that makes a difference.

Bishops BlendThe Episcopal Church offers Bishop's Blend Coffee from Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD). The coffee comes in French Roast, Cinnamon Spice and Decaf. Where do the profits for the Coffee go? Once known as The Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief, ERD provides emergency assistance in times of disaster; rebuilds devastated communities and offers long-term program development solutions to fight poverty.

Because, Bishop's Blend does not come in the pillow packs King of Peace uses, we get our coffee from the Lutheran World Relief Coffee Project, which works with Equal Exchange Coffee.

Through either program you get better tasting coffee, bought in a way that promotes a fair working wage for the coffee farmers. As the Bishop's Blend website explains fair traded coffee:
fair trade logoToday, with world commodity prices far below the costs of production, Fair Trade provides a critical alternative to the “free trade” market and creates a more equitable and stable trading system. The Fair Trade floor price and direct market access reduce the devastating effects of the boom and bust cycle on farmers and their organizations. The result is stronger farmers’ cooperatives, independence from exploitative middlemen, and more revenue for social development and environmental conservation programs.
And on top of that, the profits go to world relief projects, such as aid for victims of the December 26, 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

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4/03/2005

Parson—a representative person

I just got back from a service of prayer for John Paul II at Our Lady Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church in St. Marys. I was there representing King of Peace, showing our fellow Christians that they are alone neither in their grief at his death, nor in old picture of a country parsontheir desire to celebrate his life. It is part of my job, to represent our whole congregation on some occasions. Another example that comes to mind is when I showed up, check in hand, to let the congregation of First African Baptist Church know that we were praying for them after their building burned to the ground. It's sometimes impractical for us all to go and show our concern and so I go to represent the congregation.

This role of being a representative is where the old term, "parson" comes from. The word comes from the Middle English "persone," which in turn comes from Medieval Latin "persona." A parson is a representative person. The word literally means "person" and hopefully it is no surprise that pastors are regular people. But we are also called to be representative persons. Sometimes that is to represent others who can not be present, as at the death bed of a parishioner. Sometimes, it is to show what each person in the church can do, as in visiting a new baby or a sick person in the hospital. I can represent the kind of things all Christians can and should do. Of course, since I am a person, I get it wrong sometimes. But I do try to represent King of Peace well.

The deeper truth is that for people who know that you attend King of Peace, you already serve as a representative person as well. For good or ill, others will look at you to decide what King of Peace is like. Further, we all as Christians represent Christ. I know we do a bad job of it at times, but in the ways we get it right, we do sometimes let Jesus shine through us. Not that we are Jesus, or are even Christ-like, but we represent him everytime we reach out to someone in need.

Today's sermon: Competing Stories: which do you make your own is here online.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Parson + King of Peace Episcopal Church

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4/02/2005

Doubting Thomas

Tomorrow, the Gospel reading is the story of Jesus appearing first to the disciples without Thomas and later appearing to them when Thomas is presnt. This is the Thomas often called Doubting Thomas.

Thomas speaks in only two other verses of scripture. And they don’t necessarily give us a picture of a rock-steady Apostle. In the story of Lazarus being raised form the Thomas touches the spear mark in Jesus sidedead, Thomas is there at Jesus’ side when Jesus says they are going to the outskirts of Jerusalem to raise Lazarus from the dead. Jesus’ endangers all their lives by going to Jerusalem at this point as powerful people in Jerusalem want Jesus dead. Thomas knows this and says to the Apostles, “Let us also go to Jerusalem, that we may die with him.” Thomas could mean, let us go so that we can die with Jesus or with Lazarus. What is clear is that Thomas doubts that the group can go to Jerusalem and come out alive. Is Thomas ready to die, or is he trying to get the gung-ho group to slow down and see what the cost of discipleship might be? We can’t be sure, but given what else we know about Thomas, I wouldn’t want to dismiss the possibility that he is being facetious. Jesus says, “Let’s go to Jerusalem.” And the not quite so fool-hearty Thomas says, “Let’s all go to Jerusalem so that we can die with him.”

Once in Jerusalem, Jesus is having a farewell talk with his disciples. Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” And Jesus goes on to say “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you there myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the place where I am going.”

Thomas is the first one to raise his hand at this point, waving it in the air to get the teacher’s attention. Thomas says, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus replies “I am the way, the truth and the life.” I’m not sure if that answer was enough for Thomas.

That’s all we have of Thomas though. Once Thomas said, “Let’s all go up to Jerusalem and die.” Another time Thomas asked, “How can we know the way?” And the third time he demanded some physical proof to believe. These three scenes sketch a portrait of indecision that gets Thomas labeled as the ultimate doubter. Whether that distinction is fair or not, that’s the label Thomas the twin is stuck with.

The thing worth noticing is that Thomas was part of Jesus inner group. Thomas was Jesus' friend and traveling companion. Jesus did not toss Thomas out for his doubts, but answered them, giving Thomas what Thomas needed in order to believe. So maybe Thomas did doubt. Jesus showed through his love of Thomas that he loves doubters and wants to give doubters the answers they need in order to believe. The willingness to ask questions, to really seek for answers to questions of faith is one sign of an active faith.

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4/01/2005

Holy Fools

No, April Fools Day is not a Christian holiday. But perhaps it should be. The Apostle Paul wrote,
God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise.
and
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.
There is in Christian tradition a group known as Holy Fools. These were otherwise saintly people who poked fun at anyone acting holier than thou. The great Holy Fool of Russia was Basil the Blessed, a man so revered that the Cathedral in Moscow was named in his honor. Basil walked through Moscow wearing nothing more than a long beard. Basil threw rocks at wealthy people’s houses and stole from dishonest traders in Red Square.

Few, if any, doubted Basil’s holiness. Czar Ivan the Terrible feared no man but Basil. Basil was also given to eating meat on Good Friday. Once he went to Ivan and forced the Czar to eat raw meat during the fast saying, “Why abstain from eating meat when you murder men?” Countless Russians died for much less, but Ivan was afraid to let any harm come to the saintly Basil.

Curious? You'll find a sermon about Holy Fools here.

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