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.

7/31/2006

What God Wants

In her most recent book, Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor writes of her and her husband's decision making saying,
Since we are both intuitive types, we do not decide things as much as we gravitate toward them. This is not very theological language, I know, but on the subject of divine guidance I side with Susan B. Anthony. "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do," she once said, "because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." art from the book cover for Leaving ChurchHaving been somewhat of an expert on the sanctification of my own desires, I try not to pin them on God anymore. At the same time, I recognize the enormous energy in them, which strikes me as something God might be able to use.

When I read the stories in the Bible about people such as Sarah, Jacob, or David, what stands out is not their virtue but their very strong wants. Sarah wanted her son to prevail over Hagar's son, Jacob wanted his older brother's blessing, and David wanted Bathsheba. While these cravings clearly brought them all kinds of well-deserved trouble, they also kept these characters very, very alive. Their desires propelled them in ways that God could use, better than God could use those who never colored outside the lines. Based on their example, I decided to take responsibility for what I wanted and to trust God to take it from there.
Note:Yesterday, I did a rare (the only time yet for me) sermon re-mix in which yesterday's sermon Unwrap Your Gift was built out of quotes from and comments on my sermon for St. Andrw's and St. Cyprian's Episcopal Churches in Darien Singing in Harmony. It felt like the right sermon in spite of its odd genesis. The settings were different and the one yesterday helped me see how mature King of Peace is becoming.

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

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7/30/2006

The safest place

King of Peace Episcopal Church

How to stay safe in the world today:

  • Avoid riding in automobiles because they are responsible for 20% of all fatal accidents.
  • Do not stay home because 17% of all accidents occur in the home.
  • Avoid walking on streets or sidewalks because 14% of all accidents occur to pedestrians.
  • Avoid traveling by air, rail, or water because 16% of all accidents involve these forms of transportation.
  • Of the remaining 33%, 32% of all deaths occur in Hospitals. So...above all else, avoid hospitals.

However,
Only .001% of all deaths occur in worship services in church, and these are usually related to previous physical disorders. Therefore, logic tells us that the safest place for you to be at any given point in time is at church.

And...Bible study is safe too. The percentage of deaths during Bible study is even less.

So,...for safety's sake - Attend church, and read your Bible it could save your life!

—anonymous

1 Comments:

  • At 7/31/2006 8:52 AM, Anonymous William said…

    Not to mention the slow death that occurs when we do not attend worship. Not only is worship safe, it is nourishing.

     

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7/29/2006

Our Response


In tomorrow's Gospel reading, Jesus walks across the water, the disciples fear a ghost and then Jesus climbs in the boat and the storm stops. When all is calm, Mark tells us,
They were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
This exact line is much preached upon and Dylan at SarahLaughed.Net has some great reflections on the deeper meaning of this.
But what was it that they didn't understand? I've heard a lot of sermons over the years that suggest that the line of thinking that would have indicated Jesus' followers did understand would be something like this:

"Hey, this guy managed to make a few loaves and fishes feed thousands of people. He must be powerful. Heck, only God has that kind of power. I know ... he must be God!"

But that's not really the issue, and that's not how Jesus' followers would have thought or ought to have thought. Jesus' followers knew something that I think we also know intuitively—and if not intuitively, by cold hard experience in the world:

Not all power in this world is used benevolently.

...What they didn't understand was what their response ought to be. They didn't understand what it meant that God was, through Jesus, feeding all the people such that each had enough and no one accumulated too much—much as God fed the Israelites in the desert with manna. They didn't understand that God's power over winds and waters in Jesus was like the parting of the Red Sea. They didn't understand that in Jesus, God was fulfilling the promise of Deuteronomy 18:15-19 to raise up a prophet like Moses to do what Moses did. They didn't understand that what God was and is doing through Jesus is no less than forming a motley and marginalized crowd into a people, one people, God's people—a people called to do with power what Jesus does with his: healing, empowering, self-giving even to the Cross, to knit together a whole Body joined in love and building up its weakest members.

That's who we are—what we have been freed through Jesus to become.
I have only excerpted above, the full text is well worth a read: Proper 12, Year B

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7/28/2006

Christians caught in war

fleeing a bombed out area of southern Beirut
A press release and a news report caught my eye. The press release from the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem arrived yesterday from the Anglican News service. Honestly, as someone who is generally pro-Israeli, it made me wince with some of his rhetoric about Israel. This is not surprising from one perspective as I know from visiting Israel that the Christians there are Palestinians. They are also predominently Anglican and Orthodox denominationally. Bishop Riah was as clear as he could be writing,
We are tired, weary, sick, and wounded. We need your help.
Specifically, the bishop (pictured here) is concerned that Israel's "disproportionate" response will touch off a war "without boundaries or limitations," "a war with deadly potential beyond the imaginations of most civilized people." What Bishop Riah asks for is that Christians here in America,
Bishop RiahWrite every elected official you know. Write to your news media. Speak to your congregation, friends, and colleagues about injustice and the threat of global war. If Syria, Iran, the United States, Great Britain, China and others enter into this war - the consequence is incalculable. Participate in rallies and forums. Find ways that you and your churches can participate in humanitarian relief efforts for the region. Contact us and let us know if you stand with us. I urge you not to be like a disciple watching from afar.
The Bishop will this week go with emergency aid for families in Nablus and medical supplies for a hospital in Gaza. He also mentions that, as the Bishop of Lebanon as well as Israel, he is traveling next week to that nation to bury the Christian dead.

fires burning in Lebanon following a bombingThe reference to Lebanon brings me to today's article in The New York Times, Christians Fleeing Lebanon Denounce Hezbollah. In that article, yet a new dimension emerges as Christians in that nation are also at risk, this time from their Muslim neighbors on the opposite side of the conflict. As the article reports,
Many Christians from Ramesh and Ain Ebel considered Hezbollah’s fighting methods as much of an outrage as the Israeli strikes.
Fayad Hanna Amar, a young Christian from Ain Ebel, Lebanon told the Times reporter,
Hezbollah came to Ain Ebel to shoot its rockets. They are shooting from between our houses. Please write that in your newspaper.
The problem is that when Hezbollah fires from between Christian homes in a largely Christian village, Israel responds with a counter attack, raining down its bombs on the Christians. Though to be completely upfront, the current situation is also a by product of not just religion, but recent history. The Times article says, "In past wars, Christian militias were close to Israelis, and animosity between Christians and Shiites lingers."

Regardless, these reports show Christians trapped in a war they did not start and they are not perpetuating. It is an under-reported side of the conflict. Bishop Riah's hope is that Christians in America (and Britain) will help influence their governments to work for peace, rather than supporting the continuation and escalation of the conflict.

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

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,
"May they prosper who love you."
Peace be within your walls
and quietness within your towers.
Psalm 122:6-7

4 Comments:

  • At 7/28/2006 7:52 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    In response to a previous post, I added a map-based counter, which discovered 120 visitors dropped by this blog yesterday from diverse geographic locations. Thanks all for stopping in. You can see yesterday's visitors on a map at clustrmaps.com.

    peace,
    Frank+

     
  • At 7/28/2006 12:21 PM, Blogger Victoria said…

    I will be posting later today on essentially same thing . . . war is so tragic. How does the song go, "99 Jahre Krieg
    Liessen keinen Platz fuer Sieger
    Kriegsminister gibt's nicht mehr
    Und auch keine Duesenflieger
    Heute zieh ich meine Runden
    Seh die Welt in Truemmern liegen
    Hab' nen Luftballon gefunden
    Denk' an Dich und lass' ihn fliegen"

     
  • At 7/28/2006 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Translation of Victoria's comment:

    99 year war
    leaves no place for the victors
    ministers of war are no more
    and also no fighter pilots.
    Today, I look around at the ruins
    see the world in shambles lying.
    I find one balloon
    think about you and let it fly.

    from Nena's 99 Red Balloons

    peace,
    Frank+

     
  • At 7/28/2006 10:47 PM, Anonymous Debbie said…

    Matthew 24:5-7 (New King James Version)
    New King James Version (NKJV)
    Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.


    5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all[a]these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,[b] and earthquakes in various places.



    Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

     

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7/27/2006

Self Assessment

Live in harmony with each other.
Don't try to act important,
but enjoy the company of ordinary people.
And don't think you know it all!
—Romans 12:16 (New Living Translation)

A recent survey of 627 Protestant senior pastors in America conducted by the Barna Research Group found that,
Pastors express the greatest degree of confidence in their capability as an “effective Bible teacher” (98% of pastors said this phrase accurately described them).

washing others feetMore than nine out of every 10 pastors also feel that they are an “effective leader” and a similar proportion believe they are “driven by a clear sense of vision.”

More than eight out of 10 claim to be an “effective disciple maker.”

Another favorable perception maintained by pastors is that they are “deeply involved in the community” – a label embraced by seven out of 10 leaders.
This is all wonderful news unless one compares it to other survey results as the researchers did. Lead researcher on the prokect, David Kinnaman, challenged,
the objectivity of pastors’ perceptions by pointing out discrepancies between their self-views and other research conducted by the firm. “Most pastors say they are driven by a clear vision, but very few pastors are able to articulate a firm, compelling vision statement for their church. Many pastors talk about their church’s deep engagement in the community, but most church programs are focused on the congregation, not people outside the walls of the church...

There are other examples of the conflict between pastoral self-perceptions and the condition of their congregations, but the bottom line is that pastors need to find the tools and methods to evaluate themselves and their ministries as candidly and accurately as possible.”
It reminds me of the pastor who had a great sermon on humility and he was waiting for a Sunday with a big turnout in order to preach it.

Then there is the pastor talking to his wife on the way home from church after delivering what he felt was one of his best sermons. "How many truly great preachers do you think there are working today?" he asked. "One fewer than you think!" his wife replied.

Don't be selfish;
don't live to make a good impression on others.
Be humble, thinking of others
as better than yourself.
—Philippians 2:3

2 Comments:

  • At 7/27/2006 10:29 AM, Blogger Victoria said…

    Which, of course, reminds me of the joke about the pastor who set aside an egg everytime her husband's sermon bombed . . .

     
  • At 7/27/2006 6:19 PM, Blogger CSL said…

    The Tao Te Ching parallel:

    On tiptoe your stance is unsteady;
    Long strides make your progress unsure;
    Show off and you get no attention;
    Your boasting will mean you have failed;
    Asserting yourself brings no credit;
    Be proud and you will never lead.

     

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7/26/2006

Striking Back



But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
—Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:39-42
As Harvard professor of psychology Daniel Gilbert puts it in a recent editorial for The New York Times (He who casts the first stone probably didn't), most nations claim another nation struck them first. He writes, "since 1948, it’s hard to think of any partisan in the Middle East who has done anything but play defense."

Professor Gilbert goes on to explain the underlying psychology operating at the individual level, which comes into play at the international level as well. A primary issue as he explains it is
Because our senses point outward, we can observe other people’s actions but not our own. Second, because mental life is a private affair, we can observe our own thoughts but not the thoughts of others. Together, these facts suggest that our reasons for punching will always be more salient to us than the punches themselves—but that the opposite will be true of other people’s reasons and other people’s punches.
And we usually will strike back harder once a fight ensues as
the escalation [is] the natural byproduct of a neurological quirk that causes the pain we receive to seem more painful than the pain we produce, so we usually give more pain than we have received.
The professor concludes that
None of this is to deny the roles that hatred, intolerance, avarice and deceit play in human conflict. It is simply to say that basic principles of human psychology are important ingredients in this miserable stew. Until we learn to stop trusting everything our brains tell us about others—and to start trusting others themselves—there will continue to be tears and recriminations in the wayback.
The full text of the article (He who casts the first stone probably didn't) is worth reading. What Jesus offered as a counterpoint to the tit for tat of conflicts is
You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
—Matthew 5:43-46

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7/25/2006

As the spirit moves

The Washington Post recently carried an article Cyber-Savvy Pastors Blog When the Spirit Moves Them. The article captured something of the power of the blog in stating
Pastor Ben Arment spends several hours each week carefully preparing his Sunday sermon for the 100 members of History Church in Oak Hill. In contrast, he takes just minutes to jot down a few thoughts on faith for his blog; within 24 hours, his message has reached about 300 people.
The article describes some of the types of posts typical in a pastor's blog
Entries sometimes include Bible passages or mini-sermons as well as song lyrics, links to articles or other blogs and personal anecdotes that contain a message about how the bloggers think people should live their lives.
I actually blog daily whether the Spirit moves me or not, which is why this space often has quotes from others rather than my own thoughts. While it takes relatively little time compared to tasks like sermon preparation, I do consider this space an important part of my ministry, though that may be more for me than Irenic Thoughts' readers.

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

8 Comments:

  • At 7/25/2006 7:09 AM, Blogger Celeste said…

    I look forward to reading it everyday. I have gained a lot from it. Of course I always have an opinion but only express it every now and then.

     
  • At 7/25/2006 8:46 AM, Anonymous William said…

    I agree with Celeste and with Father Frank. I look forward to reading the new postings everyday and I think it is an important part of his ministry. It's always nice to have a calm, compassionate and well reasoned voice in the middle of the storm.

    I wonder if Christ would have used the internet to spread his message?

     
  • At 7/25/2006 9:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    William ...

    I wonder if Christ would have used the internet to spread his message?

    I cannot help but think that Christ certainly is using the internet to spread the Gospel through Fr. Frank with Irenic Thoughts and other ministers who have their sites, as well.

    As the spirit moves ... there is no coincidence.

    Just a thought...

     
  • At 7/25/2006 1:46 PM, Blogger Cathy said…

    I definitely think of your blog as an important part of your ministry to others. Do you know how many people your reach daily? weekly?

     
  • At 7/25/2006 3:55 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Cathy,

    I have not found where stats are compiled for blogspot sites. So, I don't know how many people stop in each day or week. I know that our main website www.kingofpeace.org served 10,377 pages in the previous seven days, which makes it a slow week for that website. I imagine the numbers for this blog are much lower, but don't know how to find out.

    peace,
    Frank+

     
  • At 7/26/2006 12:09 AM, Anonymous Leeann said…

    Greetings! This is Leeann from Tifton (met Frank at EFM training). I have been reading the blog fairly regularly for the past month and am grateful for it. I appreciate the quotes as well as the original musings. I have also recently discovered a blog "ring" (sort of a friendship circle) called "revgalpalblog," self-described as an "open table set for a diverse group of people -- women pursuing or discerning a religious vocation -- and their friends." There must be well over a hundred bloggers in this circle from across the country and world, even a few in Georgia. They're at http://revgalblogpals.blogspot.com/.I particularly like the tank top they sell: "Does this pulpit make my butt look big?"

    Anyway, my guess is that Irenic Thoughts has lots of appreciative lurkers like me.

     
  • At 7/26/2006 7:11 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Leeann, I wouldn't have known you were lurking around. Thanks for the RevGalPals link! I will put it in a form easier for folks to use: http://revgalblogpals.blogspot.com/. Thanks for not just stopping by, but also for entering the conversation with the link.

    peace,
    Frank+

     
  • At 7/26/2006 10:20 AM, Blogger Cathy said…

    Frank,
    I use sitemeter to get my stats - it is interesting how people show up to one's site. Bet you get more hits than you think.
    Sitemeter.com

    RevGalBlogpals is one of my favorite stops each day - not all of them are women!! They have just reached non profit status and are on their second book or writings for the lectionary readings!

    Another of my favorite blogs is questingparson.org. - great stories!

     

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7/24/2006

Spirit/Wind

Rick's photoI am not gifted musically and so admire that gift in others—perhaps all the more as I wonder at abilities I don't share or fully understand. I already enjoy checking in with the Rev. Rick Lord's blog, World of your Making and so all the more enjoyed that Rick recently shared a wonderful sound file of his rich original composition for the senior recital of his music performance degree in classical guitar at Catholic University.

The sound file is here: Spirit/Wind and Rick's blog entry on it is here: Marzal and Me.

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

1 Comments:

  • At 7/24/2006 8:58 PM, Blogger Cathy said…

    I believe it was Augustine who said "to sing is to pray twice" - for this guitar player - "to play is to pray twice"

    As he does, I find some of my most prayerful times as a musician!

     

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7/23/2006

War is incompatible with the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ

An Israeli tank fires into Lebanon from Kryat Shmoneh
The title of this blog entry is the title of a 1930 resolution passed by all the bishops of the Anglican Communion gathered in England for the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference. It was between the two world wars and nations were stockpiling armaments once again in such large quantities that the same resolution said,
The Conference believes that the existence of armaments on the present scale amongst the nations of the world endangers the maintenance of peace, and appeals for a determined effort to secure further reduction by international agreement.
This resolution is one of a collection assembled by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship for at a web page called Cross before Flag as it affirms the 1933 resolution of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church which said,
Leigh Ellis Rheney's Peace Tree hangs in the church's entry hallIt is our duty as disciples of the Prince of Peace to insist upon policies that are consistent with the maintenance of equity, fair dealing and the sanctity of pacts and agreements among races and peoples. We are bound by every solemn obligation to wage unremitting war against war. An excess of nationalism or an attitude of detached unconcern for the ills of other nations, together with the building up of an armed force beyond reasonable national needs, deprives us of any opportunity to be a conserver of the world's peace. Love of country must be qualified by love of all mankind; patriotism is subordinate to religion. The Cross is above the flag. In any issue between country and God, the clear duty of the Christian is to put obedience to God above every other loyalty.
Some call the present unrest the beginnings of World War III. I may well be wrong, but I do not think that's where we are, even if it could be where we are heading. And for someone who feels strongly about supporting our troops in a tangible way, perhaps resolutions about peace could seem not contradictory, but overly naïve. But that is the call of Jesus Christ to naïvely stand for peace as the world postures toward war. To support peace knowing that God is on the side of peace.

Just War theory only works if one sees all wars as evil, even if war could become a necessary evil. Knowing that the world was rising toward the point of war, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church wrote in 1931,
Peace will never come without preparation, effort, risk and sacrifice.
This is still true. War exacts a heavy toll, even on non-combatants. There is cost either in war or peace. The cost of peace is determining the root causes leading toward war and dealing honestly with those injustices. This is part of what the House of Bishops wanted to address in 1940 in stating,
Nations as well as individuals must be united in a law-governed society. There can be no enduring peace except that which is grounded on the eternal justice of God. We deplore the persistent persecution of helpless peoples, either because of race or religion, as contrary to the Christian doctrine that God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the whole earth.
It is never the easy path to press for peace. What a greater weight of responsibility our soldiers have now in Iraq and Afghanistan as they seek to bring peace to those nations torn apart by war. It was easier to conquer their leadership and its armies than to pacify all of the people. The path to peace in those nations will be to make room for those peoples to create just societies which honors all of its citizens. The same is true for Israel and its neighbors. This is not to say that I have the solution. Instead I just wanted to restate the problem, knowing that war is messy and imprecise and can never fully be just.

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

note: for those of other denominational backgrounds, you will find some more information at:
Pax Christi a Roman Catholic peace group
Lutheran Peace Fellowship
Peace & Justice Support from the Mennonite Church
and Baptist Peace Fellowship.

1 Comments:

  • At 7/23/2006 2:01 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    This morning's sermon Peace, Peace is now online. It covers some of the same ground as the above, but is also different as it is based on the Old Testament reading for this morning: Isaiah 57:14-21.

    peace,
    Frank+

     

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7/22/2006

Come Away and Rest

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, Jesus welcomes back 70 disciples from a preaching and healing mission. But as Jesus attempts to pull the group aside for a time to rest, the crowds follow. Mark then tells us,
He had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
Before the day is over, Jesus will feed 5,000 men, plus women and children on 5 loaves of bread and two fish.

Jesus knew that his disciples needed rest. At this point Jesus is better rested than the 70 and he both teaches the crowd and then feeds them, but the need for rest for the disciples remains. We often read of Jesus pulling off for times of rest and prayer.

A story survives from the hermits who populated the desert of Egypt in the 4th century
Once Abbot Anthony was conversing with some brethren, and a hunter who was after game in the wilderness came upon them. He saw Abbot Anthony and the brothers enjoying themselves, and disapproved. Abbot Anthony said: put an arrow in your bow and shoot it. This he did. Now shoot another, said the elder. And another, and another. The hunter said, “If I bend my bow all the time it will break. Abbot Anthony replied: So it is also in the work of God. If we push ourselves beyond measure, the brethren will soon collapse. It is right, therefore, from time to time, to relax their efforts.
In the archives, you'll find the sermon Come Away and Rest.

1 Comments:

  • At 7/22/2006 8:42 AM, Blogger Laura said…

    I like this translation from the Living Bible of part of Psalm 127:
    "It's useless to rise early and go to bed late and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don't you know God enjoys giving rest to those he loves?"

     

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7/21/2006

Experiences vs. Things

Jan's gift to her son was watching a TV show being taped liveAt Church for Starving Artists, Jan thinks aloud about giving her 18-year old son an experience for his birthday rather than a thing. Jan asks
Which do we want more: Experiences? Or things?
We live as if we want things. But experiences make life spiritual.

I like things. I especially like things from the Apple store and Ann Taylor and Amazon.

But experiences make us better, sturdier, holier. They can also make us cynical, wary, nervous. Even the bad experiences can be gifts, but we don't like those as much.

Each Sunday the worship leaders and I pray that worship might be a spiritual experience for everyone who passes through the doors. We hope they make connections between their lives and what's happening all around them. We want people touched by the Living God.
Victoria, Griffin and I have erred on the side of experiences at times and we have never regretted it. So trips (like a photo safari) and stage shows (like The Lion King on Broadway) have made for some memorable presents. Also, Victoria did not get an angagement ring from me. Rather we spent two months in Kathmandu, Nepal. I never really tied the experiential gift to spirituality before, but I do see from where Jan is coming.

Have you ever tried giving an experience as a gift rather than giving a thing?

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

3 Comments:

  • At 7/21/2006 8:02 PM, Anonymous Steve said…

    What's the Owen Wilson/Jon Stewart pic about?

     
  • At 7/21/2006 8:09 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    The gift Jan gave her 18-year old son was watching live the taping of an episode of The Daily Show in which Jon Stewart interviewed Owen Wilson. It's a photo featured at the original post.

    Frank+

     
  • At 7/21/2006 8:40 PM, Anonymous Steve said…

    Thanks! I scanned the original post, but I apparently didn't read it very well.

     

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7/20/2006

Stem Cell Research


As you have likely heard, President Bush used his first veto yesterday against a bill that would extend federal funding to additional areas of stem cell research. Here's a Reuter's article: Bush casts first veto to block stem cell bill. My religion column for tomorrow's Tribune & Georgian is The Ethics of Stem Cell Research in which I try to fill in some of what stem cell research is and why some have problems with the use of embryonic stem cells even as I hold out that we should offer funding incentives for adult stem cell research.

The debate is one of whether the ends (groundbreaking new treatments for a variety of serious health problems) justifies the means (ending the life of an embryo to create the stem cell line). Roughly 2/3s of Americans agree with embryonic stem cell research using embryos created for in vitro fertilization, which would be destroyed whether they are used in stem cell research or not.

No matter which direction this political football bounces, I am pleased to see an effort being made to keep what is possible somewhat in check by considering what is ethical. I can not offer an expert's opinion of the research, but I like to hold up this type of issue in my religion column from time to time to show how our faith might intersect with decision making in what could be seen as other areas of our lives.

What do you think?

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

PS: Other ethics-related columns have included Approving torture would kill the soul of U.S. and Support our troops with more than ribbons and The Ethics of Cloning.

3 Comments:

  • At 7/20/2006 6:57 PM, Blogger CSL said…

    Despite a clear majority opinion that stem cell research is vital and despite the vast good that research could bring us, we have a president who vetoes the funding. A president who wilfully opposes the wishes of the country. And yet funding for war is okay. It would seem that Bush feels killing soldiers and another country's citezenry is more palatable than using already discarded tissue. In my book, THAT is a sin.

    - Carol

     
  • At 7/20/2006 10:22 PM, Anonymous Deborah said…

    While I may not agree with all his political stands, I do appreciate that our president has the courage to go against the majority from time to time. After all, I believe the Children of Israel spent 40 years wandering in the desert because they followed the majority when that majority was wrong.

    For me the ethics of using discarded embryos for research goes to the ethics of in vitro fertilization in a world populated with unwanted children. Do we really need to be making kids to freeze when there are so many around the world are literally dying for the lack of a home? I doubt that those people who are willing to donate their "extra" embryos to science would be appalled at the idea of donating their newborns.

     
  • At 7/21/2006 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Bush's decision doesn't stop stem cell research at all. It merely keeps the federal government from spending money on it.

    There are many states that are already spending their taxpayers' money in this area. There are also companies that are spending to try to find the "miracle" cures "promised" by stem cell researchers.

    After some research, I've found that there are equally promising and already proven benefits to be gained from adult stem cell (ASC) research rather than the embryonic stem cell (ESC) research to which Bush has shown his opposition by taking this action.

    Aside from the very clear moral quandary from which ESC suffers, there's also the fact that very little real progress has been shown by anyone in these studies.

    Let's face it. If these studies had shown any real promise, private companies in the United States would be all over it in hopes of reaping an enormous windfall.

    Meanwhile, ASC continues to charge ahead showing results as well as continued promise with both private and public funding free of the moral dilemmas that harvesting children carries.

    Kenny

     

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7/19/2006

No one was left

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)

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7/18/2006

As long as you can

Last night, we went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie (which was fun). Beforehand, there was a preview for a Kevin Costner flic that looks like "Top Gun does the Coast Guard" called The Guardian. In the preview, Ashton Kutcher's character, who is the diamond in the rough of the movie, asks Costner how he decides who lives and who dies. Costner replies something like,
I swim as hard as I can
for as long as I can
and the sea takes the rest.
I was reminded of that ultimate workaholic priest quote from Anglican priest (and founder of Methodism) John Wesley (1703-1791).

John Wesley

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you can.

1 Comments:

  • At 7/18/2006 4:36 PM, Blogger CSL said…

    Are you sure you didn't write the workaholic credo, Frank? Because I could swear it's got you pegged.
    -Carol

     

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7/17/2006

Our Deepest Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God!

Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.

As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

—Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inauguaration speech
In my sermon yesterday that gave my reasons for not subscribing to the doctrine of predestination, I said that your destiny is to be adopted as a child of God. The sermon was A Tale of Two Towns Destined for Eternity.

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7/16/2006

In your heart of hearts

Let yourself be 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 there the unexpected happens.

Brother Roger of Taizé (1915-2005)
There is an extra sermon in the archives from last week as I preached for the Bishop at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Darien on the occasion of that church and their neighboring St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church making a covenant of ministry with their new pastor, the Rev. Ted Clarkson. It is was a typical guest preacher sermon as I said the sort of things that are true, but would sound too self-serving if preached by the priest to his or her own congregation, especially while being brand spanking new. The sermon is Singing in Harmony.

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

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7/15/2006

Shaking Off the Dust

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus sends out 70 disciples two by two ahead of him and told them,
If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.
In 1820, Lorenzo Dow took this story literally, shaking the dust of Jacksonborough, Georgia from his feet as a testament against the rough-living people there. Everyone had a good laugh. Within 30 years, the only house left standing in the town was the Goodall home which sheltered Dow when others sought to persecute the preacher. It's an amazing true story from Georgia history. The full story is found in our archives at Shaking Off the Dust.

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

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7/14/2006

God's Call


The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

—Frederick Buechner in Wishful Thinking: a theological ABC

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7/13/2006

Paying for our sins

Deputies line up at a mic to speak to resolutions at The General Convention
In a July 9 Op-Ed piece for The L.A. Times, Charlotte Allen, Catholicism editor for Beliefnet, writes Liberal Christianity is paying for its sins in which she wrongly characterizes an action of the recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church. In the editorial, Allen writes
As if to one-up the Presbyterians in jettisoning age-old elements of Christian belief, the Episcopalians at Columbus overwhelmingly refused even to consider a resolution affirming that Jesus Christ is Lord. When a Christian church cannot bring itself to endorse a bedrock Christian theological statement repeatedly found in the New Testament, it is not a serious Christian church. It's a Church of What's Happening Now, conferring a feel-good imprimatur on whatever the liberal elements of secular society deem permissible or politically correct.
It is true that the convention discharged resolution D058 Salvation Through Christ Alone. This discharge was reported on the 700 Club as being that the convention could not even approve a resolution saying that Jesus is The Way to salvation.

I think a more accurate account needs to at least consider the actual text of the resolution being considered. Here is the full text of the resolution, which while in some ways it would not be controversial, did in others contain some specific wording which made it problematic.
Resolution D058
Title: Salvation Through Christ Alone
Topic: Evangelism
Committee: 12. Evangelism
House of Initial Action: Deputies
Proposer: The Rev. Guido Verbeck (Western Louisiana)

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church declares its unchanging commitment to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the only name by which any person may be saved (Article XVIII); and be it further

Resolved, That we acknowledge the solemn responsibility placed upon us to share Christ with all persons when we hear His words, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No-one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6); and be it further

Resolved, That we affirm that in Christ there is both the substitutionary essence of the Cross and the manifestation of God's unlimited and unending love for all persons; and be it further Resolved, That we renew our dedication to be faithful witnesses to all persons of the saving love of God perfectly and uniquely revealed in Jesus and upheld by the full testimony of Holy Scripture.
First, in the interest of disclosure, you should know that I voted in favor of this resolution. I did so despite seeing the problems pointed out below as I could in good faith vote for the text even as I could see the potential landmines for other faithful Christians. I should also note that the entire eight members of the Diocese of Georgia deputation were unanimous in support of the resolution.

The problems are primarily two-fold:

1) In any given group of Episcopalians there will be those who personally believe that Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life, but will not let go of the fact that there expressed faith in Jesus Christ may be best, but it is not the only way to heaven. A typical justification is to bring up the problem of those who never heard of Jesus, by either dying before Christ ever lived, or living in places in which the Gospel has never been preached. One then pushes ahead to say that those persons were responsible for God's laws written on the tablets of their hearts (to paraphrase scripture) and not for specific faith in Jesus.

Some will then go on from this more agreed upon point to state that faithful Muslims or Jews, for example, may be connected to God through their faith. Some scriptural grounds can be given for this in showing how those of others faiths within scripture were connected through their faith to the God of Israel including Melchizedek in Genesis 12 and Balaam in Numbers 22 and so on. (Note: my own views on this are found in the archives in the sermon God Shows No Partiality.

On these and similar grounds, some deputies who could have readily affirmed that Jesus Christ is Lord would have had a problem with any resolution named Salvation Through Christ Alone even if that is in fact what they believe and act on as a matter of daily belief and practice.

2) The third resolve uses the language of affirming the "substitutionary essence of the Cross." With no direspect to the drafter of the resolution, I laughed when I read it as I had earlier said what we should do is debate theories of the atonement (knowing that to be predictably contentious) and here was a resolution stating one such theory without room for others.

Within Christian teaching there have been a number of orthodox ways of speaking of what it is that Jesus death and resurrection did. These are labeled theories of the atonement as they tell us the ways in which our sins were atoned for by the cross of Christ.

Within the evangelical tradition, the preferred statement on the atonement, considered the only valid statement by some, is substitutionary atonement. This theory was put forward in the 11th century by Anselm of Canterbury in his book Cur Deus Homo (Why the God Man?). Anselm, drawing from the feudal system of his day stated that God's honor had to be satisfied as our sins were an offense against our Lord. As this satisfaction was something no human could do, God became man to satisfy our debt through offering Jesus as a substitue for us. Jesus would die in our place to satisfy God's honor. A fuller statement of this view is found in the Wikipedia article on Substitutionary Atonement. One other note on the problem with stating this as THE view of The Episcopal Church is that Substitutionary Atonement emphasizies the individual as in Christ died for my sins. Many within Anglicanism would agree with that but want to emphasize that Jesus died for our sins, meaning that Jesus sacrifice on the cross isn't all about me.

The view above, while classic Christian teaching, especially in the Calvinist tradition which undergirds much of Protestantism in America today, is not the only way to speak of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. For example, many would go back to the much older teachings of Irenaeus of Lyon who in the 2nd century wrote of the atonement as a work of recapitulation. In this view man in Adam got it wrong and God made man in Jesus brought redemption through a new creation in his death and resurrection. Recapitulation places an emphasis on the Incarnation stating that what is primary is that God came and lived among us. Jesus' death then becomes a necessary consequence through which our salvation is worked out, but the emphasis remains on the New Creation made possible by God becoming man.

Yet another view is the Moral Example Theory put forward by Peter Abelard in the Middle Ages. While Enlightenment theologians will make this theory their own to say that it was Jesus' teaching that mattered more than "the Jesus Event," this is not the very orthodox theory of Abelard who believed that Jesus' death was an atoning sacrifice and wrote emphasizing God's love in a way which fits with the wording of the resolution above:
Love is increased by the faith which we have concerning Christ because, on account of the belief that God in Christ has united our human nature to himself, and by suffering in that same nature has demonstrated to us that supreme love of which Christ himself speaks: "Greater love has no-one than this" (John 15:13). We are thus joined through his grace to him and our naighbor by an unbreakable bond of love...Therefore, our redemption through the suffering of Christ is that deeper love within us which not only frees us from slavery to sin, but also secures for us the true liberty of the children of God, in order that we might do all things out of love rather than out of fear—love for him who has shown us such grace that no greater can be found.
My point is that there are several orthodox ways to speak of the atonement but the resolution specifically mentioned "substitutionary essence."

If this seems like theological hairsplitting, try a resolution in which we say it is about Jesus being present in communion. That should be easy to get Episcopalians to agree to. Then write the resolution to say that we resolve that it is through Transubstatiation that Christ is present. That very Catholic statement will be acceptable to a few and cold not be voted in favor by most (who would support a statement of "Real Presence" in communion). The motion would then fail and someone could say that Episcopalians can't even agree that Jesus is present within our communion services.

I think despite the intent of the drafter of the legislation (which I trust was to provide a forum for the convention to affirm the essence of our faith that Jesus Christ is Lord) the resolution was written in a way to make it hard for enough people to swallow for different reasons and so it was destined not to pass. The Evangelism Committee then noticed a past convention had affirmed the Lordship of Jesus through another resolution and rather than recommending the resolution be voted yes or no, the committee recommended discharge as it had already been acted on by a previous convention. This is what happened after a brief debate.

During the debate we were encouraged to make this strong, clear statement so that others can see we still uphold core doctrine. Others then pointed out through our Book of Common Prayer, which is part of our Constitution and Canons, we already have very clear statements of the Lordship of Christ that have been in use by Christians for centuries in the Nicene and Apostle's Creeds and no one at the convention was suggesting we drop those creeds. Further it was pointed out that we affirm the Bible as containing all things necessary for salvation. Debate ended. The vote was taken with me and others voting against discharging the resolution even as I understood why some would not be able to support the specific wording of the resolution.

The discharge vote had the effect of saying that Episcopalians discharged faith in Jesus Christ. I think what we did instead was decide not to get sidetracked by a contentious debate over a resolution written in such a way that it was more divisive than uniting.

I don't regret that action of the Convention so much as I regret the impression it gives. I know lots and lots of Episcopalians who agree that Jesus Christ is Lord. I don't know any who do not agree that Jesus Christ is Lord. And yet we seemed to not be able to affirm even that.

In her Op-Ed piece, Allen wrote,
When a Christian church cannot bring itself to endorse a bedrock Christian theological statement repeatedly found in the New Testament, it is not a serious Christian church.
I don't debate that this is true. But I do contend that The Episcopal Church has not come to the point where it can not endorse this "bedrock Christian theological statement." Sure, that particular resolution was discharged by the Convention, but this Sunday in Episcopal Churches all across this country the faithful will still rise to reaffirm their faith as found in the ancient words of The Nicene Creed and I will be saying it with them and my fingers will decidedly not be crossed.

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

5 Comments:

  • At 7/13/2006 10:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    thanks, frank. that does clear it up somewhat for me. however, another 229 million americans may not read your post. as such, perhaps church resolutions should contain a single point, written in clear & simple terms, so things like this don't continue to happen. none of this type business serves us or god well. and there seems to be an awful lot of it in the last few years. later. mike.

     
  • At 7/13/2006 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with Mike here. When you put the issue in those terms, I can see why the dispute exists. I can also see why it's much easier for the issue to be presented as the church being unable to make such a simple, obvious declaration.

    Taking another tack on the subject, though, I wonder why there weren't counter-proposals to the motion. Instead of just voting it down and trusting everyone to see why, wouldn't it have been more constructive to propose alternates that would've shown church unity?

    One possibility could be a simple statement of the supremacy of Christ and that all will eventually bow at his throne and proclaim him Lord of all.

    Another addition could also address the possibility that full revelation to man hadn't occurred regarding the status of the righteous dead in the time before Christ or in the non-evangelized parts of the world since.

    In the Old Testament, Abram's belief in the Lord was accounted to him as righteousness. We aren't specifically told of anyone (that I know of) whose merely being good enough apart from a belief in God (as God has revealed Himself to them)earned them any credit with God.

    Personally, I believe we are all accountable for the revelation we have received. God, being the infinite, perfect judge, will decide whether I've lived up to his requirements for me. James, after all, does tell us that faith without works is dead. I've been exposed to the faith my whole life so often I don't think I'm heeding James' warnings as I should.

    Always more to say and things get jumbled up.

    Kenny

     
  • At 7/13/2006 1:41 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    It would be nice to have put forward a simple alternative and get it passed. That is difficult to do with a group of more than 800 deupties considering more than 300 resolutions in nine days. If something doesn't come through a committee, it's chances of getting written, ammended to get it wordsmithed by the grammar police, and then approved by the House of Deputies on the floor is roughly nil. The blessing of our governance is that so many get a voice, the downside is that it is too large a ship to turn easily. What we need is clear, concise statements coming in at the front end. Anything else is bound to get chewed up and spit out. The other alternative (as proved by a 38-page change to canons on ordination) is to work out a very long and complex change in committee working the three years leading up to convention and it will be too much for the group to debate and will then slip through with little or no debate.

    But I do wish we could have found a clear way to express unity on fundamentals.

    peace,
    Frank+

     
  • At 7/13/2006 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was afraid you were going to say that. I understand completely.

    The other fear that I didn't go into in my first response was that I believe factionalism drives many of these resolutions. There probably would've been those who would've fought tooth and nail over taking anything out of it precisely because they knew it would bring out the "heretics" in their eyes.

    There are times when unity is a worthy goal and times when you have to say enough is enough and go elsewhere. The problem is knowing which one is which.

    Kenny

     
  • At 7/13/2006 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Do those in the greater Episcopal Church not believe in the infallibility of Scripture, the virgin birth and the divinity of Christ, the atonement through the blood of Christ, the Resurrection and Jesus' miracles and His ultimate second coming? Is it wrong to believe that these basic beliefs affirm, or reaffirm the fact that Jesus is the only way to salvation? Is the ECUSA moving away from this central tenet of Christianity? Is ECUSA moving toward a more universal philosophy?

    Does this ECUSA philosophy not directly support the "new" standard provided through the Episcopal News Service on June 21, 2006 by virtue of the full text of the Homily preached at the General Convention's closing Eucharist by the The Right Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori as she refers to "Our mother Jesus" who "gives birth to a new creation?"

    www://americananglican.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c


    Don't these two issues support each other?

    However, it is comforting to read that the Diocese of Georgia voted for affirmation of faith that Jesus Christ IS Lord.

     

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7/12/2006

Where's your treasure?

I don't want to get preachy or anything, but sometimes news items seem so directly to relate to the Gospel. Jesus taught, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Yesterday's issue of The New York Times carried a story on Dr. Nicholas Bartha's long divorce battle which ended in his suicide attempt leading to the destruction of his beloved townhouse.

The Times article has a one-time attorney for Dr. Bartha say about the purchase of the townhouse, "Dr. Bartha’s joy over the purchase was intense and immediate...For him, it symbolized validation, proof of success."

Chip East's photo of Dr. Bartha being removed by firefightersIf newspaper accounts are accurate, Bartha invested much more of himself and his identity in the townhouse than in his wife and daughters. I don't write this to bash a man while he is down, but to point out to myself how important it is that I invest my time, energy and money in my family, friends and most importantly with my God.

Bartha's despondency seems to stem from the great importance he placed on the building. It makes me wonder what is that important to me? If how I spend my time, energy and money show what I value, then where are my priorities? For it is not the case that my own priorities will necessarily drive my life. If I don't guard against it, I can let other needs and the needs of others take precedence over my own priorities. Perhaps that is why Jesus did not say, "Where your heart is there will your treasure be also." Instead he warned that the places where we spend our time, energy and money will where our heart will be found. So where do I want my heart? Certainly not in some thing, even if that thing is a wonderful building.

The sermon in the archives For where your treasure is looks at this saying alongside the life and words of Disney's #1 Fan.

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

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7/11/2006

More Love

staircase in a Shaker Village
More love, more love,
the heavens
are blessing,
The angels are calling,
O Zion: More Love!

If we love not
each other in
daily communion
How can we
love God,
whom we
have not seen?


More love, more love, the heavens are blessing,
The angels are calling, O Zion: More Love!

—Shaker song
For those looking for the latest news within the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of South Africa, Njongonkulu Ndungane, has written to promote the "productive spiritual soil" of the middle ground. You'll find it yourself online at: Heartlands of Anglicanism-Archbishop of Cape Town Promotes Middle Ground

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7/10/2006

Women Bishops

An Episcopal News Service article notes that the Church of England voted to welcome and affirm "the view of the majority of the House of Bishops that admitting women to the episcopate in the Church of England is consonant with the faith of the Church."

Respected theologian N. T. Wright, who is Bishop of Durham, said that Mary Magdalene was the first person entrusted by Jesus to tell the Good News. "The Anglican tradition needs to go back to scripture and read it afresh with respectful engagement."

Katharine Jefferts SchoriThe article concludes with the summary,
Thirty years ago, the Episcopal Church's General Convention voted to admit women into the priesthood and the episcopate. Fourteen of the 38 Anglican provinces currently make provisions for women in the episcopate. At present, there are 13 active and retired women bishops and bishops-elect in the Episcopal Church and three in the Anglican Church of Canada. The Anglican Church of Aotearoa, Polynesia and New Zealand, has one retired woman bishop.
Of course, the Presiding Bishop elect of The Episcopal Church is Katherine Jefforts-Schori. The decision in England will ease her acceptance within the Church of England and perhaps some other portions of our communion.

Wright is correct in pointing out that while Jesus may have had only male disciples, the role of women in the Gospels in specific and the New Testament as a whole is far from misogynist. Jesus routinely broke down walls between genders as when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well and she went on to evangelize her town. Paul also recognized the church leadership of Chloe and other women. While this has been a contentious issue for some, I see no scriptural impediments to women serving as Bishops and Priests.

The best proof of the rightness of ordaining women to me is how I have seen the ministry of female clergy thrive. I know that God is blessing their ministry. I have also been blessed in my own life by the ministry of women serving as pastors and preachers.

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

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7/09/2006

The enemy who must be loved

That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ—all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ.

But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very real enemy himself—that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness—that I myself am the enemy who must be loved? What then?

—Carl Jung (1865-1961)

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7/08/2006

Locked out of his hometown

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, Jesus returns to his hometown after having begun his ministry on the road. Rather than being welcomed as a returned hero, Jesus finds much disbelief among those who know him best. In a July of 2000 sermon on this passage for St. Athanasius Church in Brunswick, I preached that
As Jesus taught, the people listened to his words about the Kingdom of God come near. He called them to repent and believe in the Good News. But the Good News Jesus offered was too much for the people of Nazareth to swallow. He might have gotten straight “A”s at Nazareth Elementary, but that didn’t qualify him for “Son of God.” The crowd asked, “Where did this man get all this?”
The upshot was that "Jesus of Nazareth was no longer welcome in Nazareth." The reason was that the people of Nazareth knew Jesus too well as a human—a boy and then a man—to readily accept him as Messiah and Lord.

The sermon went on to say,
It was, therefore, as a plain old Joe that Jesus experienced life in Nazareth, with all its joys and sorrows, just like everybody else. And that is the Good News from this morning’s Gospel. Jesus, the Son of God, knows our joys and our sorrows better than a distant God ever could. Because we do not worship a distant God. We do not worship a God who can’t understand us. We worship a God who has lived among us. We worship a God who knows our joys. We worship a God who knows our pain. We worship a living God who has lived among us.

After all, it was there in Nazareth that Jesus mourned as his adopted father Joseph died. So Jesus understands when we mourn for our family and friends who die. It was in Nazareth, that Jesus first felt the temptation to sin and came to understand the temptations. So Jesus understands the various temptations we will all face this coming week. Jesus knows the pain of a family torn apart, as his own family was torn by his calling to live as God among us. Jesus knows all the broken parts of our human lives and loves us anyway. And it is to that Jesus that we pray and through him that we receive the forgiveness of his loving father, our God and creator.
The full text of the sermon is found in the archives here: Local Boy Does Good.

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

1 Comments:

  • At 7/08/2006 4:09 PM, Blogger Laura said…

    There are medieval legends and songs that portray the infant or young Jesus performing miracles, causing the cherry tree to bow down to his mother, or building a bridge out of sunbeams so the other children would play withhim. But I don't think so! I picture a sturdy and bright child playing with his brothers and sisters, making friends, learning carpentry at Joseph's side, studying Scripture--a normal Jewish child of the times.

     

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7/07/2006

Church Business: an oxymoron

At his blog World of Your Making, the Rev. Rick Lord gives his post-General Convention thoughts on reading the book The Missional Leader: Equipping your Church to Reach a Changing World by Alan J. Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk. In doing so, Lord quotes a passage from the book about the difference between a church and a corporation,
"The denominational systems that came into their own in the twentieth century were modeled after and came to look like North American corporate organizations. But a congregation is not a business organization, nor is it meant to be run like a minicorporation through strategic planning and alignment of people and resources around some big plan. The congregation comprises the people of God, called to be formed into a unique social community whose life together is the sign, witness, and foretaste of what God is doing in and for all creation" (The Missional Leader, p. 14).
I remember an annual meeting in an Episcopal Church about a decade ago when the Senior Warden—a well known and quite successful local business owner—described a financial decision made by the vestry as "a bad business decision." He went on to say, "But fortunately we are not a business and it was the right decision so we made it and we stand by it."

It was refreshing to hear how a group of church leaders who came to the vestry largely with their business experience were able to separate out the difference between doing business and being about the business of God's kingdom.

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

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7/05/2006

Seek the Truth

In her comment below on the chicken and egg post about the Bible, Carol quoted Quaker George Fox from a song he wrote which said,
"Will you swear on the Bible?" "I will not," said he, "For the truth is as holy as the Book to me."
Fox's words remind me of a few other quotes on Truth. One of the quotes is etched into the wall of the library at Virginia Seminary, where I received a Masters in Divinity. The words were from a professor of a previous generation are

Seek the truth, come whence it may, cost what it will.
In John 4:23, Jesus says,
But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
and in John 8:31-32
If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
Finally, Simone Weil writes in her book Waiting for God,
For it seemed to me certain, and I still think so today, that one can never wrestle enough with God if one does so out of pure regard for the truth. Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth. If one turns aside from him to go toward truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms.
peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

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Church Lite?


Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas wrote a column called Church Lite which said in part,
Anglicanism has suffered from probably irreversible corruption since the days of the late C.S. Lewis and John Stott, who is still with us. These men combined intellectual heft with orthodox belief and had little regard for trends, fads or cultural diversions. They have been replaced by theological dim bulbs that are less concerned about proclaiming truth and conversion than in not offending anyone.
The Rev. Robert Fain, Rector of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Augusta, wrote a response to Thomas' column for the July 2 issue of the Augusta Chronicle which said in part,
I doubt Mr. Thomas meant to impugn either the faithfulness or the integrity of all Episcopal Christians across America, but the tone of his column may very well have had just that effect on his readers, causing them to believe that all Episcopalians don’t know what they believe, or that there is no such thing as sin and brokenness in our church’s understanding of humanity and the world we live in. I do not believe that to be the truth about the Episcopal church.
The full response as published in the newspaper is found here at The Episcopal Churches of Augusta Blog with Cal Thomas' full column here: Church Lite.

I second Fain's commentary to say that I can't be accountable for all Episcopalians or every Episcopal Church. No one in any denomination would care to take on that particular burden of accountability. But I am more than willing to be held accountable for our congregation. At King of Peace we take the Bible seriously through our readings from the Old and New Testament in worship, our scriptural sermons, and in affirming that the Bible contains all things necessary for salvation. In all of this we are very much like other Episcopal Churches I know and with whom I have worshipped.

But we make no apologies for emphasizing God's love even as we acknowledge the reality of sin. Sin is falling short of the mark set by God. We know that our church is nothing but sinners looking to live more and more closely conformed to God's will.

In working toward God's will for us, I don't feel the need to beat people over the head with what terrible persons they are. This is classical evangelical preaching, but it has nothing to do with the sermons Jesus preached or the way he lived his life. Jesus emphasized love and he wasn't wishy washy about it. Jesus reached out in love and brought people into community. Then a person was challenged to change, but only after he or she knew they were loved. In fact, the particular way he preached about and lived out love got Jesus killed as a threat to society.

In conforming our lives to Jesus' life, we too work to emphasize love, costly love. As we emphasize the love of God rather than God's judgment, I guess we are bound to occasionally seen by others as lightweights. I'm more than willing to take that hit for the sake of love.
peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

PS: For a look at what it is like in a concrete way to emphasize love in preaching, the archives has the sermons:
One Simple Truth
Nothing Can Separate You From God's Love
Accommodation vs. Love
A Still More Excellent Way
and
All Whom God Loves
among others.

3 Comments:

  • At 7/05/2006 9:47 AM, Blogger Celeste said…

    The way I see it is being in His presence and surrounded by His love is what creates in us (or me at least) the desire to change. How else will we know what He wants of us without coming into fellowship with other Christians who seek the same thing? If we are turned away from our churches, how will we ever get to know Him any more? I agree that we have to stand with open arms without pointing out everyone's sin and let God do His work. Who wants to hear how awful and unworthy they are? Most of us already know that.

     
  • At 7/05/2006 11:57 AM, Blogger Victoria said…

    AMEN Frank and AMEN Celeste . . . "Judge not lest ye be judged . . . " and if you feel that someone is pointing the finger at you, there's always that grand old standby, "Bless them, change me."

     
  • At 7/05/2006 12:54 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Church Lite??? That's not what I've found at King Of Peace... Church Light is more accurate!

    Peace,

    Matt <><

     

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7/04/2006

An Act of Faith?

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
230 years ago today, 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence. In time, many would pay for their declaration—9 died as a result of the war or its hardships; 12 had their homes ransacked or ruined. Had the colonies lost, the toll on the signers would have been much greater.

Some of those who signed—including Thomas Jefferson—were Deists whose faith in God was more in that of a detached creator who made the world to work according to certain laws we could come to know by reason. The document itself is open-ended enough that both orthodox Christians and Deists could read of the God they worshipped coming through the lines with words like those in bold below:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Not exactly an evangelistic epistle, the Decalaration nonetheless sought to appeal to a higher authority than the King of England through grounding its statements in Natural and Divine law. Whether it was a statement of faith in the Christian God, a Deist God or the armies of General Washington, the Declaration of Independence was an act of faith for in that in the summer of 1776, no victory was assured.

One slightly humorous aside is that this is a curious holiday for Episcopalians (even if more than half the signers were Episcopalian). Had victory not come, ours would be the predominant denomination here in South Georgia as the Church of England, and Anglicanism would have continued as the official religion of state. In cutting off themselves from England on this day, they also cut themselves off from having a religion of state, a form of faith that comes with the governmental seal of approval.

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

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7/03/2006

Which came first?

On the contrary, Christianity is not a “religion of a book,” but rather a religion of a Person. It propounds for our acceptance Jesus Christ, and as the revealer of the Father. The test question of the Church has never been “Dost thou believe the Bible,” but “Dost thou believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? The Bible thus ought to be viewed as not a revelation in and of itself, but a record of the proclaiming and receiving of a revelation.-Charles Gore (1853-1932) in Lux Mundi
I do think of Christianity, as well as Judaism, as religion of the book. But is the book primary? This may sound like theological hairsplitting, but it makes a difference in how you determine the sources of your faith and give weight to each.

Speaking about The Good Book is certainly a primary part of proclaiming the Good News here in South Georgia where Christianity is both Jesus and Bible centered in most churches. Not that this emphasis is bad, but it is not the only way to express the Christian faith.

For example, within the Orthodox tradition—definitive for a good percentage of Christendom during the past millennium—Christianity is centered in the Trinity and worship. The act of worship is primary theology for Orthodox Christians, for it is there that one stands before God (hopefully) with pretension stripped away.

At the level of history, it is clear that God came first and the Bible later, which makes scripture an important, but not primary source for knowing God. At the level of theology, many believe that scripture, as the inspired Word of God, is the way to come to know Jesus and through Him, the Father and is therefore primary.

Perhaps it is the Pentecostal tradition in which I was raised which leaves open the door to me for direct revelation from God, knowing God in my heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. This direct revelation still seems primary to me, though it must be balanced with what has already been revealed in scripture. Or to make my answer as down-the-middle Anglican as I can, any revelation of God is looked at in light of scripture, tradition and reason.

What do you think?

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

1 Comments:

  • At 7/04/2006 4:21 AM, Blogger CSL said…

    From the George Fox song:
    "Will you swear on the Bible?" "I will not," said he,
    "For the truth is as holy as the Book to me."

    Truth first. I don't know if that counts as chicken or egg.

    Carol

     

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7/02/2006

Back to Church Sunday

back to church


Less than three months to go until Back to Church Sunday for the Church of England. I learned this from a post at The Cartoon Blog which said,
Back To Church Sunday aims to get people back to church on the 24th of September by bribing them with chocolate and a free bookmark. Hmmm. I wonder whether addressing the reasons people leave church in the first place might be as useful, if not slightly more. Then again, these people on 43 Things obviously think going back to church is the thing to do.
The website for the program says,
Back to Church Sunday offers quality resources to local churches so people in your church can give an especially warm welcome on this special Sunday of the year.
It would seem to miss the point to create a church which is inviting to newcomers just one day a year. I know that is not the real idea behind the program, but that is the focus of the efforts—how to make at least one Sunday inviting. I wonder instead how a church can be the sort of place that the visitors could arrive on one of the other 51 Sundays and find the place just as warm and welcoming with judgment left at the door and love filling the pews (or chairs in our case). How can we grow more fully into being that place?

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

1 Comments:

  • At 7/03/2006 9:56 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    "How can we grow more fully into being that place?"...
    In a word, forgiveness! With forgiveness we are released from the shackles of sin. And to ask for forgiveness takes an honest heart, a humble heart, a heart running towards God. I have sinned against my God and my neighbour. I asked for forgiveness from God but it wasn't until I was honest and humble enough to ask forgiveness from my "neighbour" that I trully felt His love and peace...
    Just a thought!
    Matt <><

     

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7/01/2006

No one lost in the crowd

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus raises a little girl from the dead. Then in between two instances with Jairus daughter—being asked to come to heal her and the healing itself—a woman who has hemorrhaged for years touches Jesus' robe and is healed. Jesus' miracles are themselves parables as they teach us about God's kingdom. Several important healing take place: 1) Jairus' fear and grief and healed, 2) the woman is healed from the issue of blood, 3) Jairus' daughter is raised back to life and health.

Perhaps as importantly as seeing these people healed, we see a few people through Jesus' eyes. Jairus was the religious leader, the important person in this story. He finds the touch he needs from Jesus for his daughter. touching the hem of Jesus robeBut the two women in the story are less important to their culture. One is the woman who has been ritually unclean for years. She is cut off from her community of faith by her disease. The other is the young girl healed in a culture where female life was worth less than male life and 60% of all babies which were live births would die by puberty. The girl's life was only meaningful to her family—not to her community and culture.

Famed Christian writer William Barclay has written of the sinking of the Titanic's press coverage and what it showed of how the world sees things,
The next day, the headline of a famous newspaper was devoted entirely and exclusively to the death of the multimillionaire, John Jacob Astor. At the end of the article, the newspaper almost casually mentioned the other 1800 people who died. The other 1800 were not that important. Such is the attitude of the world and many public media, but not God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord is concerned about every single person and no person is lost in the crowd, however unimportant that person may be in the eyes of the world.
peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

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