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.

12/31/2005

A Holy Challenge

In tomorrow's Gospel reading we hear the story of Jesus' birth once again from Luke's Gospel with one additional verse added,
After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
We remember on this day that Mary and Joseph were faithful Jews who did all for Jesus that was required by Moses' Law. Jesus would redeem humankind from within and through the covenant of God made with Moses.

Mary and Joseph present Jesus in the TempleThis passage and a few others give us a glimpse into those shadowy years of Jesus’ youth. We know that Jesus grew up in life of Jeiwsh ritual observance, which found its pattern in the Law of Moses and its purpose in drawing closer to God. Jesus’ parents were both careful in following the letter of the law and thoughtful in understanding with their hearts what their actions signified. We know that Jesus did not suddenly become obedient to God as an adult, but was actually raised by parents who both taught and practiced obedience to God in their home. This makes The Holy Family a model for our own families, by challenging us to raise our own children to be obedient to God as well as following God's commandments ourselves.

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

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12/30/2005

The Name Above All Names

an icon of the resurrection showing Jesus redeeming Adam and Eve

This Sunday is January 1, which is traditionally The Feast of the Holy Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is because January 1 is eight days after Christmas, and so the traditional day on which Jewish boys are circumsized and named.

In Hebrew thought, a name contains the essence of the person. The song that most captures this feast day of the Church's awe for the name of our lord is "Jesus Name Above All Names." The lyrics are:

Jesus, name above all names,
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord,
Emmanuel, God is with us,
Blessed Redeemer, Living Word.

In researching this song, I discovered a web page on the history of the song as found in Lindsay Terry's book, The Sacrifice of Praise: Stories Behind the Greatest Praise and Worship Songs of All Time, by Integrity Publishers. The story is that of New Zealand native Naida Hearn (1931-2001) and how this great praise song grew out of praising God while doing the laundry:

Of the approximately twelve songs she wrote-she wasn't quite sure how many-only one has been published, but what a song! She wrote it as she was nearing her fortieth birthday.

As she studied the Bible, she became interested in the different names referring to Jesus and their meanings. So great was her interest that she began to make a list of the names on a piece of paper.

As is the case with many homes in Palmerston North [New Zealand], she and her family had a "washhouse" behind the regular living quarters of the home. One day in the early 1970s, as she made her way to the washhouse, she carried with her the paper on which she had written the names of Jesus. According to her report to me, she placed the paper "on the window seal against the window." The paper was in full view as she did the washing.

Feeling in a very worshipful mood, she suddenly found herself singing. She expressed it to me as follows:

"While I was doing the washing the Lord just gave me the first line, "Jesus, name above all names,' to sing. I just started it and carried on singing. I sang the whole song just as you sing it today. I just opened my mouth and all of the words came out, the pitch and everything. I just sang...Soon after that it was sung in her church, New Life Church in Palmerton North...
This story makes Jesus, Name Above All Names a testament not just to the name of Jesus, but also to the way in which we can worship God in all times and places.

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

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12/29/2005

Limbo in limbo

The news from Rome this week is that The Vatican is reconsidering the doctrine of limbo—the concept that unbaptized infants and children are consigned to a happy, but not quite heavenly hereafter. Never a matter of settled doctrine, it is still a fairly major reversal on this once frequently taught idea, which was very popular in the Middle Ages.

An article in The New York Times notes that this seemingly irrelevant change in official teaching,
1640 painting called Christ's descent into limbohas some real-life consequences. The church is growing most in poor places like Africa and Asia where infant mortality remains high. While the concerns of the experts reconsidering limbo are more theological, it does not hurt the church's future if an African mother who has lost a baby can receive more hopeful news from her priest in 2005 than, say, an Italian mother did 100 years ago.
Limbo was never a part of the teaching of the Anglican (and later Episcopal) traditions or other Protestant faiths. All Christians agree that infants are in a state of grace inconsistent with the idea of unbaptized babies being destined for Hell. But for Rome, the matter is not yet settled in terms of official teaching. The commission meets again next year. In the meantime, limbo remains in, well, limbo.

1 Comments:

  • At 12/29/2005 11:02 AM, Blogger Cathy said…

    I guess if they take limbo out of their doctrine, the only limbo we can refer to is the limbo dance.
    I hope they can hash it out and take care of it once and for all.

    Not too much thought behind the comment, just think we have bigger fish to fry.

     

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12/28/2005

Put Herod back into Christmas


Today is Holy Innocents' Day, the day of the church year when we remember both the babies killed by Herod in Bethlehem and those killed by Pharaoh in Egypt at the time Moses was a baby. The Rev. Joy Carroll Wallis's words from a Christmas sermon seem appropriate,
No sooner have the wise men left the stable then King Herod plots to kill Jesus. He is so determined that he is willing to sacrifice many innocent lives in order to get to this one baby. Herod recognizes something about Jesus that in our sentiment we fail to see: that the birth of this child is a threat to his kingdom, a threat to that kind of domination and rule. Jesus challenges the very power structures of this evil age. Herod has all the male infants in Bethlehem murdered. Not so cozy. This is the Jesus who entered the bloody history of Israel, and the human race.

But we don't want to think about Herod. Van Horn calls him the "Ebenezer Scrooge without the conversion, the Grinch without a change of heart." We Christians like to talk about putting Christ back into Christmas, but let's not forget to put Herod back into Christmas.

Herod kills the babies of BethlehemHerod represents the dark side of the gospel. He reminds us that Jesus didn't enter a world of sparkly Christmas cards or a world of warm spiritual sentiment. Jesus enters a world of real pain, of serious dysfunction, a world of brokenness and political oppression. Jesus was born an outcast, a homeless person, a refugee, and finally he becomes a victim to the powers that be. Jesus is the perfect savior for outcasts, refugees, and nobodies. That's how the church is described in scripture time and time again—not as the best and the brightest—but those who in their weakness become a sign for the world of the wisdom and power of God.
Joy Carroll Wallis is an Anglican priest and was a consultant to the British television comedy series, The Vicar of Dibly. The quotation above is from a sermon delivered at Cedar Ridge Community Church.

1 Comments:

  • At 12/28/2005 11:51 PM, Anonymous healing man said…

    Christmas is the time of peace and joy and to remember that jesus christ was born and bethelem. So come in rejoice the savior was born name " JESUS "

     

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12/27/2005

Redeem Time

time fractal
Christmas itself is beginning to fade. It is an appropriate time for W.H. Auden's Christmas Oratorio, For the Time Being. The work was written soon after the poet came to faith in Jesus Christ and it gives Auden’s understanding Christianity, especially of Jesus’ birth—the Incarnation. Auden looks to the excitement of the holidays with the realization that God never wanted our Christmas Day, but our everydays, the plain days with no celebration,
Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes—
Some have got broken—and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe
must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Leftovers to do, warmed up, for the rest of the week—
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted—quite unsuccessfully—
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers.

Once again
As in previous years we have
seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off.

To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly
Outside the locked door
where they knew the presents to be
Grew up when it opened. Now recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.

In the meantime
There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
From insignificance. The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon:
When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God's Will will be done, That, in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph.
In the archives is the sermon, For the Time Being, which is based on both this poem of Auden's and the prologue to the Gospel of John.

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12/26/2005

The Peace Tree

The third of the three new pieces of art at King of Peace is the Peace Tree by Leigh Ellis, which was donated by the artist. And though she is my sister, Leigh is quite talented and all of the following is true
Leigh Ellis' watercolor, Peace TreeLeigh holds a MS degree in biology and began her art career 14 years ago in biological illustration. She has studied painting and design at the University of Hawaii, Montana State University and participated in Smithsonian Institute workshops. Leigh has had the opportunity to teach watercolor and botanical illustration classes at local art centers in Montana, Oregon and Winder, GA. Her works, although diverse in subject and focus, share a commonality in a strong use of color and design. Her paintings have been exhibited in juried and private shows from Hawaii to Georgia. Leigh has illustrated 5 books for Menasha Ridge Press and is an active member of the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation and the Georgia Watercolor Society.
You might enjoy a visit to Leigh's website Studio in the Wood.

Leigh Ellis' watercolor, Peace TreeThe odd part is that I took my sister's beautiful watercolor, which is well framed and matted and hung it over the water fountain in the entry hall (Mom helped). It would seem to be a humble setting for such a moving work of art. But why shouldn't God's house be adorned with fine art, even or even especially over the water fountain. How—dare I say it—refreshing.

I am thankful for the three new works hung in the church as visual expressions of our faith, which speak with a power deeper than words.

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

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12/25/2005

Christmas in photos

Photos of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are now online. We had two wonderful services with more than 200 people worshipping together between the evening and the morning. From making Christingles on Saturday through Christmas Sunday, the highlights are now in the online scrapbook. In the photo above at right and below, you can see the new altar frontal which JoAnn White created for King of Peace.

You'll also find online today's sermon written from the standpoint of a demon Christmas—the counter-revolution.

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The material world reveals God's glory

The following is from Rowan Williams' (the Archbishop of Canterbury) Christmas letter,
Perhaps the two images most of us will carry away from the last twelve months are those of the devastation caused by the tsunami just after last Christmas and by the hurricanes that devastated the southern states of America in the autumn. The natural world became a place of terror and disaster.

An Indonesian artist's NativityThe question never quite goes away of why God made a world in which such tragedy is possible. But Christmas reminds us of the one thing we know for sure—and that is God's way of responding to suffering. He doesn't wave a magic wand, or descend briefly from the sky to clean things up.

He arrives on earth as a human being who will change things simply by the completeness of his love. Jesus is dedicated to the will of the one he calls Father, the divine source of his own divine life. Never for a moment does he put any obstacle in the way of that ultimate, total outpouring of love that is the wellspring of his own life. He gives himself to this transforming purpose in every moment, whatever it costs.

And the world changes—even the physical world: death is overcome and the material world reveals God's glory in its depths. So we are changed.
The full text of his letter is online here.

A snowman nativityAlso, as Irenic Thoughts is in the midst of sharing some quite beautiful artwork with you, it is probably only fair to also share the Cavalcade of Bad Nativities with its Kitschmas artwork.

Note:
Last night's sermon, Making Room for Christ is now online. Today's worship service is at 12 noon.

The January 2006 issue of The Olive Branch is also now online.

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12/24/2005

Venite Adoremus



Griffin's paper cut out 'Mary and Jesus'The title is Latin for "O come let us adore him." This is the name of the online art exhibit which my daughter, Griffin, and I have just curated for The Episcopal Church and the Visual Arts (ECVA). The exhibit is now online here. You will find 34 works by 20 artists all based on the hymns of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. You can share your thoughts on the exhibit at the ECVA blog ecva.blogspot.com

ChristingleTonight's candlelight communion service will be at 6 p.m., though kids will want to be there by 5:40 p.m. in order to have time to make their own Christ Light (see photo at right).

Our Christmas Day service will be at our usual Christmas Day time of 12 noon, rather than at the usual Sunday morning time.

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

1 Comments:

  • At 12/24/2005 8:38 AM, Blogger Cathy said…

    Frank,
    You and Griffin have done a magnificent job of making this exhibit available online - and what wonderful work there is. I have posted it on the St. John's blog and my personal blog (I snatched the graphic logo to attract the eye - let me know if that is ok) - I want to spread the word!
    Cathy

     

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12/23/2005

Illuminating more new art

illuminated manuscript of John 1

In the post for Thursday, we told of three new pieces of art at King of Peace. The second, shown above, is the opening pages of the Gospel of John in the St. John's Bible, first mentioned at this site on June 27 of this year. The work of art now hanging over the sofa in the entry hall at King of Peace is just the opening spread of the Gospel of John from an entire illuminated Bible currently being created to "ignite the spiritual imagination of believers throughout the world." When completed, the orginal Bible, from which our print was taken, will be a monumental two feet tall and three feet wide and more than 1,000 pages bound in seven distinct volumes.

The book is being written on vellum using quills with natural, handmade inks and hand-ground pigments and augmented with gild such as gold and silver leaf. However, a work of its times, a computer is used to size text and define line breaks. The pages are laid out in full size spreads with sketches in position, then the artists use these layouts to guide their work done by hand.

The art hanging at King of Peace shows just one of the 160 illuminations that will appear in The Saint John’s Bible. And behind each there is a theological story worked on by a committee of artists, medievalists, theologians, biblical scholars and art historians which creates a theological brief. The samples given are the theological briefs on the raising of Lazarus: http://www.saintjohnsbible.org/educator/raising.htm and Luke's account of the birth of Jesus: http://www.saintjohnsbible.org/educator/birth.htm. With the theological brief in mind, the artist creates the illumination. Our work is based on the opening lines of the Gospel of John,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. illumination of John 1He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The last installment introducing the new art at King of Peace will run after Christmas.

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12/22/2005

New Art @ King of Peace

Yesterday, three large, framed and matted pieces of art were hung in the entry hall at King of Peace, adding to the visual arts already present in our church. Peace Be Still by He QiTwo of these are gifts of Mary Root—given to the Glory of God and in memory of her parents, Florence and Joe Terrando. The first painting is "Peace Be Still" a 30"x30" print by He Qi (pronounced "Huh Chee"). Shown here at right, this is his interpretation of Jesus calming the waters. Known for his brilliant use of color in designs which grow out of his own Chinese culture, He Qi (pictured below) has a growing artistic following. Christian Times noted in an article,
We need more scholars and artists like He Qi who are able to stir the spirit and establish cultural strong points. It is not easy to find an artist like He Qi who has produced so much Christian art in mainland China.
According to his website, www.heqiarts.com
Dr. He Qi is a professor at the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary and a tutor for master candidate students in the Philosophy Department of Nanjing University. He is also a member of the China Art Association and a council member of the Asian Christian Art Association (please check www.asianchristianart.org for more information about He Qi).

He has been committed to the artistic creation of modern Chinese Christian Art since 1983. He Qi with one of his paintingsHe hopes to help change the "foreign image" of Christianity in China by using artistic language, and at the same time, to supplement Chinese Art the way Buddhist art did in ancient times. In his works, He Qi has blended together Chinese folk customs and traditional Chinese painting techniques with the western art of the Middle and Modern Ages, and has created an artistic style of color-on-paper painting.

Dr. He Qi was the first among Mainland Chinese to earn Ph.D. in the Religious art after Cultural Revolution. He wrote his dissertation while studying at Hamburg Art Institute in Germany, where he was also able to pursue research in medieval art. His work has been well received overseas: He has exhibited in Kyoto, Hong Kong, Geneve, Hamburg, London, St.Paul, San Francisco, Berkeley and Madison., as well as in mainland China.
We are honored to have the work of this Chinese Christian artist hanging in our building. For those interested, his art, along with that of other Christian artists around the world, is on sale online at www.missionaryarts.com. More on our new art will follow tomorrow.

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12/21/2005

Intercessory Prayer

In his book, Love's Endeavor, Love's Expense, W.H. Vanstone writes of the work of the Church as nothing more or less than an offering to God. Then he goes on to look at some instances of this. The section below comes as Vanstone looks at our prayers for others as an offering, comparing the work of praying for another to a spectator cheering on someone involved in a feat of atheletic prowess, such as mountain climbing. We cheer then with great sympathy on account of the precariousness of the situation. He writes,
Intercession is felt to be appropriate, and indeed, to be a duty; yet on certain interpretations of the activity of God and of the nature of the Church, it is a duty which can not be easily explained or justified. If the purpose of God proceeds by assured programme, and if the Church is no more than the instrument of that programme, intercession can effect nothing and can be no more than an expression of resignation.

If on the other hand, the activity of God is precarious creativity, ever poised between tragedy and triumph, ever redeeming tragedy into triumph; and if the Church is responsive offering to God; then the intercession of the Church is the offering of its own will to participate, to uphold, to support.

We are moved to intercession by tragedy or the possibility of tragedy: by that which has "come wrong" or is in danger of "coming wrong." We presuppose that this is the situation in which the activity of love will be strained to the greatest intensity, in which love can discover yet further resources only because it must. We are as men watching the most precarious stage of a rescue or a mountain climb, or the supreme effort of an artist or athelete. We have no power to give practical help: he who struggles must struggle in his own strength. Yet the will to help and uphold is strong in us. It demands expression: and it finds expression in the movement of our lips and the involuntary tension of our own limbs. The will is stirred in us by our perception of the peculiar intensity of another's effort: it is his endeavor, even morethan to his cause, that our will responds. Where the progress of his cause is relatively easy, we who watch relax: it is when he is strained and spent that our will is stirred.

We are moved to intercession to the degree that, at the point of tragedy or potential tragedy, we understand the intensity of the divine self-giving: and if our intercession is feeble or infrequent, it is because of the feebleness or failure of our understanding. We are assisted in prayer by imaginative sympathy with the person for whom we pray or the situation about which we pray: we are assisted yet more by understanding of that divine activity which is expended upon that person or that situation, of the extremity and costliness of its endeavour.

The intercession of the Church expesses our understanding of how costly a thing we are asking when we say, "Thy will be done."

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12/20/2005

Thank You from Biloxi

King of Peace sent $1,000 to the Church of the Redeemer in Biloxi, Mississippi to assist in needed for that church devasted by Hurricane Katrina (You can see a video of the Church of the Redeemer, Biloxi in the aftermath of Katrina). The following note from their Rector, Harold Roberts was sent to the 18 churches who have teamed up to assist them in their rebuilding both their church and community:

Worship on the grounds of Redeemer in Biloxi after the HurricaneI want to thank you for your patience and wonderful support. Although Christmas on the Coast will be very different for most of us, we have been incredibly blessed by the generosity of so many of you. I am behind in my Thank You notes, but I do want to assure you that your support has been wonderful. One of the real joys that I have been experiencing this past week has been to be Santa Claus with somebody else’s money. These monetary gifts have done amazing things to lift the spirits of struggling families.

I can’t begin to tell you of the countless lives that have been changed by people coming to the Coast for some real “hands on” ministry. I also need to tell you that one of the prime keys to our future on the Coast is Hope; the Hope that we feel in knowing that so many “out there” care about us, pray for us, and sent us such help.

Again, thank you all.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Harold

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12/19/2005

Advent Calendar

old picture of a country parsonThe stereotype of an Anglican priest is someone who visits parishioners in the morning and spends the afternoon writing metaphysical poetry. Probably only true historically of George Herbert and to a lesser degree (as he didn't visit parishioners so much) John Donne, it is also true of the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. The following poem, titled Advent Calendar is from The Poems of Rowan Williams,
He will come like last fall's leaf fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud's folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

The archbishop's Christmas letter is found here online.

Visit a neighboring blog
You will also want to read the Rev. Stephen Rice's Yes, Virginia column for his local newspaper concerning the current "war" on Christmas. It is well worth a read.

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12/18/2005

Praying without ceasing

The following is by the Rev. Dr. Joe Bowden, who in addition to being an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Georgia is an Emeritus Professor of Surgery at the Medical College of Georgia and Chief of General Surgery at the Augusta Veterans Administration Hospital. He has been Editor-in-Chief of the surgical journal, The American Surgeon for fifteen years.
I recently had the opportunity to work with a small church that wanted to start a healing ministry. After I had given my prepared remarks and offered what I thought their healing ministry should look like, I asked the group to honestly tell me what they thought about what I had said. Their immediate response made me wish that I had left well enough alone, because they went straight to the big questions,

"What if it doesn't work?"
"What do we do if people are not healed?"
"What if we fail?"

I would have ducked those questions, but if I had tried to do so, my visit with them would have been meaningless. The questions are good ones and the obvious fact is, not everyone ministered to is healed, or so that would appear.

I responded to their concerns by comparing medical care to church healing ministry. In spite of the miracles of modern medecine, most people have no difficulty understanding the need for a lengthy course of medical treatments, or undergoing months of physical therapy or rehabilitation until a musculoskeletal problem is resolved or maximized. But, on the other hand, many people seem to believe that if immediate improvement is not experienced after one prayer, then healing prayer is a waste of time, and they give up. I'm not saying that dramatic healings don't happen—they do with medecine and healing prayer, but most often healing is gradual. The body, when wounded, undergoes a sequence of physiological events known as the healing process. That process takes time even when enhanced by modern medecines, advanced by surgical techniques, and healing prayer. The point here is that in medecine we keep on treating as long as there is hope for recovery. Bottom line—we don't give up—persistence is our battle cry.

I see the church's healing ministry as an ongoing "curing of souls," which persists in spite of apparent "successes" or "failures." I see the church, as a hospital where broken lives are made whole and spirits are restored through everything we do as a community of faith. Just as in a hospital where rounds are made every day we too, as Gospel physicians, are called to make our faily rounds in prayer. I believe that is what Paul meant when he wrote 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to "pray witout ceasing." He was telling the church to persist regardless of what happened.

Throughout the entire history of God's relationship with his creation one clear quality of God emerges—our God is persistent. Can we do any less.

Be Well!

Joe+

This text column originally appeared in the newsletter of The Church of the Holy Comforter in Augusta, where the Joe currently serves as an Assisting Priest.
King of Peace's monthly healing service will be tonight at 6 p.m.

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12/17/2005

It's beginning to look a lot like...

click here for more Christmas Party photosclick here to see more Breakfast with Santa photosPhotos from last night's Christmas Party are now online as are photos from The Preschool's Breakfast with Santa, which took place this morning. While we emphasize Jesus' birth during the week at our school, we do make room for the jolly old elf at this fund raising breakfast.

Our students looking at our nativity scene

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Anything Is Possible



Tomorrow's Gospel reading tells the story of the Annunciation—the Archangel Gabriel's visit to Mary with the news that,

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
Safiyah Fosua of the United Methodist Church's General Board of Discipleship has written of this passage,
The angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary included the news that her cousin Elizabeth, previously barren, was in her sixth month of pregnancy. This served two purposes. First of all, it reinforced the idea that with God all things are possible. Second, the news reassured Mary that she was not alone — at least one person, whom she loved, would understand and support her on the very difficult road ahead. Gabriel's Advent message continues to ring through the corridors of time to both reassure and strengthen our faith: anything is possible, and we are not alone!

The Annunciation by Chinese artists He Qui, click to see more of his workAccepting an impossible challenge—The logistics and details of God's plans for Mary appeared to be impossible. Mary chose to accept the challenge and deferred to let God work out the details! God, who continues to present humankind with seemingly impossible challenges, is yet in the business of working out the difficult details.
Note: The painting above is by Chinese Christian artists He Qui (pronounced "Huh Chee"). A large giclee print of one of his paintings has been purchased for our entry hall and is being framed now. More on this gift to King of Peace soon.

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12/16/2005

Exploring Narnia

I finally saw the new movie version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe yesterday and it was every bit as wonderful as the reviews led me to believe it would be. I have also just finished rereading the book as a part of reading through the whole series of seven books (I'm now on The Horse and His Boy). I hope that the movie will lead many more folks back into Lewis' writings.

One website with a nice page on Narnia is Welcome to Narnia at reJesus. There you will discover that the books began as series of sketches, that grew into a fairy tale into which the author's faith in Christian faith "pushed itself in of its own accord." The site also tells that,

As a child, Lewis had gone to church and known the stories of Jesus, but though he was told how important it was and how much it should mean to him, he never felt it for himself until he was much older.

But as he was writing for children, it occurred to him that if Christ came to them as a talking lion, if he was betrayed by a schoolboy, and cruelly killed, and astonished everyone by coming back from the dead, and if his death set the boy free and his coming back to life ended the eternal winter of Narnia, then maybe readers (and not just children) would grasp and feel the Christian story in a way he never had as a child.

"Supposing", he explained, "that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday school associations, one could make them appear for the first time in their real potency?" And as he told one parent, "When Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving him more than he ever did before."
Yet C.S. Lewis respected his child audience enough not to explain the allegorical dimensions. Rather he let the power of story work its own peculiar magic in exciting imaginations. This is very similar to the approach taken by his good friend J.R.R. Tolkein in writing The Lord of the Rings series of books. Hopefully, the movie will encourage a similar fostering of religious imagination. What do you think? Is it obvious enough (or too much so) that Aslan plays the role of Jesus with his sacrificial death? Or should C.S. Lewis have been more (or less) overt?

You might also enjoy a look at Into the Wardrobe: A C.S. Lewis' Site

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

Note: Today's religion column in the Tribune & Georgian is the first of two parts. It was originally written as my Christmas Eve sermon for 2003. If you want to look ahead, an illustrated version of the full story is here: Emmanuel: A Shepherd's Story.

1 Comments:

  • At 12/19/2005 12:03 PM, Blogger The Observer said…

    Having read the Narnia series 25 yrs. ago and rereading them from time to time since then, I feel Lewis' allegory was constructed about as well as anyone could do so. I felt the film was faithful to the book; but it seemed to me that the film managed somehow to "skirt" around the theology Lewis presented us. On the other hand, after reading several Lewis commentaries, it seems he chose to make the allegory obscure (particularly in the case of children) so that later they could recognize Christ from their knowledge of Aslan in the Narnia series.

    If you've not read the entire series yet you are in for a treat. I don't believe any book (other than Malcom Boyd's Are You Running With Me, Jesus) has had a more profound effect on my personal theology than Lewis' The Last Battle. But, don't read it until you've finished the other six books of the series. It is most profound.

     

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12/15/2005

Peace must start within

Last night, we completed our study of Esther de Waal's book, Seeking God. One final quote to share,
Peace is an overriding objective of Benedictine life, and pax has become a Benedictine watchword. Let peace be your request and aim;" "Seek peace and pursue it."

Lack of interior peace threatens the whole frabric of the community and that is why St. Benedict starts here, where that lack of peace begins, inside ourselves, with the murmuring which fragments and destroys us. When there is so much concern today with the peace of the world, when peace movements multiply and peace groups proliferate, and the discussion of peace-making becomes more and more urgent and insistent, St. Benedict brings us back to this very simple and basic root: peace must start within myself. How can I hope to contribute to the peace of the world when I cannot resolve my own inner conflicts?
Next Wednesday, we will project the video of Max McLean performing the Gospel of Mark which he has memorized and tells as a storyteller in a powerful 1 hour and 41 minute performance which is an effortless way to hear the Gospel in its entirity. Mark is the Gospel we will read each Sunday this church year and this one-time presentation will be a wonderful way to capture the power and immediacy of the oldest Gospel. We'll meet for this on December 21 from 7-8:45 p.m.

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12/14/2005

To the Glory of God

Our book study on Esther de Waal's Seeking God comes to an end tonight. Through the book, we have delved into the spirituality of Benedict of Nursia, which emphasizes a balanced life. One way this balance is achieved through the realization that all work is prayer. This concept leads one to be attentive to the work one does, no matter how menial the task, recognizing that God may be glorified in all that we do.

This concept might have been more vague had not it been being lived out in our midst as the course progressed. For week by week we have studied de Waal's take on Benedict and through this same time a gazebo has taken shape on the church grounds. The gazebo, which will anchor a corner of our memorial garden being created in Marc Dickman's memory, is being built by students from the advanced shop class at Camden County High School.

Whether it was the students' intent or not, and certainly whether it was the school systems' intent or not, their work has been a prayer. Every bit of work has been done in God's presence and to the glory of God. From the students' creative thoughts in the design to their attention to detail, God has been honored through their work.

Of course, the real emphasis of St. Benedict comes in his teachings' on continually reading and reflecting on the Word of God found in the Bible. Yet there is that companion approach within Benedictine thought that says this reading and reflecting on scripture is done within the context of the ordinary stuff of life. Or as Thomas Merton describes the essence of it, "that concern with doing ordinary things quietly and perfectly for the glory of God."

I give thanks for the—not always quiet, but as close to perfect as the quite skilled class could make it—work the high school students have put into this cornerstone of our memorial garden. The students have been invited to the dedication, which will follow the regular worship service on January 22, 2006.

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

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12/13/2005

The paradox of the Incarnation

Advent is a time for meditating on the Incarnation—on what it means for God to become human in Jesus of Nazareth. Kathleen Norris writes in Amazing Grace: a vocabulary of faith of the two extremes we tend toward in thinking of the Incarnation,
Christ Sinai - click to find out moreI began to realize that one of the most difficult things about believing in Christ is to resist the temptation to dis-incarnate him, to not accept him as both fully human and fully divine. The normal human tendency is to succomb to the errors that Gregory Wolfe, the editor of Image magazine, delineates in his recent book "The New Religious Humanists:"

"When emphasis is placed on the divine at the expense of the human (the conservative error), Jesus becomes an ethereal authority figure who is remote from earthly life and experience. When he is thought of as merely human (the liberal error), he becomes nothing more than a superior social worker or a popular guru."
The orthodox Christian seeks another way, that of living with paradox, of accepting the ways that seeming dualities work together in Jesus Christ, and in our lives.
The gift of Advent is to accept the paradox of the Incarnation in recognizing that Jesus was and is both human and divine and so the Lord whose coming we anticipate knows our hopes and fears, our joys and sorrows, better than any distant divinity and is more truly present to us and able to save us than any human, no matter how exemplary.

1 Comments:

  • At 12/14/2005 3:59 PM, Anonymous William said…

    Paradox is part and parcel of the Christian experience. Consider these: Jesus as God/Man, the nature of God which is Three and yet One, bread and wine that are body and blood,through dying to self we live in Him. The love of God is an embrace full of mystery and awe. How could it be otherwise? The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, the infinite took on finite form, just because He loves us.

     

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12/12/2005

Shop 'til you drop for the least of these

Ready to ride off into the sunset
"It was my birthday and you made sure
no one went without a gift."
Kyle and others head back with our lootYesterday, sixth through 12th graders met for Camden County Episcopal Youth Group. 21 of us—representing all three Episcopal Churches in our county—piled into three vehicles to drive south to St. John's Town Center to shop.

Once there, we divided into groups for a quick 30 minutes of shopping for ourselves. Then we met up for another half hour of shopping. This time groups were given an amount to buy of $50 to $100 depending on the size of their group. We were shopping for 12-16 year olds who will get their presents through the Christmas for Camden Kids project. Christ Church, St. Marys and King of Peace each gave $200 for the teens to use on their shopping spree. This second half was shopping with a purpose and the teens clearly gave thought as to what their peers will want to receive this Christmas.

Andrew presses his face into green 'needles' to try out a toyJesus taught that at the judgment, the righteous would be told, "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me."

While Jesus did not say, "It was my birthday and you made sure no one went without a gift," that sentiment does seem to follow from Jesus' words. Christmas with Camden Kids is an important way the Christians in our county lead the way to make sure that no one will go without at Christmas. Through our angel tree and the youth group shopping spree, we do what we can as a congregation to support this ministry.

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

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12/11/2005

Habits, skills, and attitudes

click here to visit The Church of St. Michael & St. GeorgeThrough a bit of serendipity common to the Internet, I ran across The Rev. Andrew J. Archie's annual report to the Church of St. Michael and St. George in St. Louis, Missouri. He asked his congregation to consider what he felt to be the most important question for a church:

What are the habits, skills, and attitudes needed to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and to be able to share those habits, skills and attitudes with others.
He goes on to compare this task of discipleship to baseball

Think of what it is like to learn to play baseball. By throwing the ball time and time and time again, one learns how to catch a ball. And catching a ball gives you the ability to throw someone out at first base and throwing someone out a first base relates the whole pattern and purpose of playing baseball. To know what baseball is all about, you have to play baseball. It takes more than a television.
And then after a helpful comparison with a chemistry teacher who gets her students to think like a chemist, he writes

And so the question is not, "Will some community have its way with us?"—for some community inevitably will. The question is, "Will the community that forms us and identifies us be true or false?" We live in a world that tells that faith is personal, particularly Christianity, and therefore that being faithful requires no special skills. And if faith is personal then it is optional. And so being faithful consists of having nice, loving thoughts about God. The idea that being faithful requires a discrete set of practices that forges a distinct way of being in the world that godly habits and practices, like an athlete's training, are more geared to developing abilities than a set of thoughts is strange. These habits and practices are what give us a real glimpse of the Lord and make us more than a social organization sustained by the amount of fellowship and good feeling in the congregation. The Christian faith draws the believer into a new, alternative world. And this new alternative world does not work the way the world as we know it works.
The Annual Report is a bit long to quote in full here, but it is worth a read, if you want to follow this link (did you notice the subliminal advertising in that link text?).

What do you think? Does faith require skills developed over time? If not, where might the annual report have gone astray on discipleship? If so, what might be the habits, skills, and attitudes needed to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? And how does (or how can or should) a church convey those to others?

King of Peace with the chairs arranged around the altar for Advent

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12/10/2005

I must decrease

In tomorrow's reading from the Gospel of John, John the Baptist's disciples are concerned that many are now following Jesus. The Baptist replies,
You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, `I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.' He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.
John knows both who is his (the forerunner, preparing the way) and who his is not (the Messiah). We too need to learn our own identities in God's eyes and part of this is learning that we are not God. There are no divine job vacancies and we would not be able to fill those shoes anyway.

John the Baptist had that heavenly perspective which allowed him to see the importance of his role in God's plan for creation without getting some inflated view of himself. If God's perfect will is to increase in our lives, then our own, often misguided, will must decrease.

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

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12/09/2005

Aslan is on the move

a scene from the movie

The movie version of C.S. Lewis' fantasy classic The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe hits theaters today. In it, we'll meet Aslan—the Jesus character who redeems Narnia. In the book he is introduced as the beaver tells the four children who go through the wardrobe
"They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps has already landed."

And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. AslanPerhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning—either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventerous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delighful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.
And so the savior-lion Aslan is introduced. Soon after Lucy asks the beaver if Aslan is safe. The reply is "'Course he isn't safe. But he's good."

If after seeing the film you feel inspired to get the car tag "ASLAN", don't bother trying. That Georgia license plate is already taken— it belongs to our Bishop, Henry Louttit.

Note: The religion column for today's issue of the Tribune & Georgian, Is it time yet for Plan C? is now online.

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12/08/2005

My own immediate way to God

The following is from Esther de Waal's book, Seeking God in the chapter on Material Things which was one of the ones we covered during last night's study,
God is neither idea nor ideal; he is exceedingly concrete reality and it is only in the concrete reality of my daily living that I am going to encounter him. photo by noted Benedictine monk, Thomas MertonThe difficulty is that most of the time I am so busy and so involved that I simply have not the time (nor the incentive) to see my daily life and work in this sort of way at all. Yet that deeply sacramental understanding which emphasizes common creation, which plays down the division between the sacred and the secular, which brings awareness that all comes from God, is something which speaks most immediately to my condition and I am a fool if I do not hear it. For it enables me to seek God here and now, just as I am, caught up in all the absurdly down-to-earth chores and demands which I feel trap me day by day....

I should look around me and see that seeking God does not demand the unusual, the spectacular, the heroic. It asks me as wife, mother, housewife that I do the most ordinary, often dreary and humdrum things that face me each day, with a loving openness that will allow them to become my own immediate way to God....

Care is to be taken over even the most unrewarding of chores.

2 Comments:

  • At 12/08/2005 4:25 PM, Anonymous William said…

    If we look, we find the eternal in the everydayness. In our world full of supposedly time saving devices we often become slaves to our schedules and our machines. Heed the words of Henry David Thoreau. "Simplicity. Simplicity." It is in the quiet quest that we hear Him.

     
  • At 12/09/2005 6:21 PM, Blogger Celeste said…

    I have forgotten about the "sacremental understanding" that she speaks of. Simplicity is what I've waited for but obviously isn't coming. I've wasted my time, huh? I've tried to separate the secular from the sacred....it's not gonna happen.
    I love this: "For it enables me to seek God here and now, just as I am, caught up in all the absurdly down-to-earth chores and demands which I feel trap me day by day...."
    Thanks for the blog. I wish I hadn't missed the class.

     

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Using somewhat scientific—if not bankable—means, technorati.com determined that Irenic Thoughts has some value. Who knew?


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