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.

8/31/2006

Out of the blue



Out of the blue is used to describe something that hits you out of nowhere. It also describes the storm that nearly killed my wife, Victoria, 18 years ago.

The cloudless cobalt sky overhead had our spirits soaring after hiking for eight straight days in the rain. Victoria and I were 960 miles into our thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. We had both made peace with the fact that our trek would test our will power with day after day of rain every once in a while. But, we had been slogging over mountains in a steady rain for more than 100 miles and we were glad to have a break from it.

After a lunch break at Rod Hollow Shelter, we tossed on our packs and marched off to Sawmill Spring, our destination for the night. The wind picked up almost immediately and the temperature began to drop. Within an hour after lunch, lightning boomed close by to announce the thunderstorm that would soon reach us. Accustomed to hiking in the rain, we always kept our pack covers at the ready. Barely slowing down to stop, we covered each others packs and hiked on. We didn’t wear rain coats, rain pants or ponchos as they would only make us sweat. We planned on letting our shorts and T-shirts get wet and changing when were cocooned in our semi-dry tent.

Fat drops of rain exploded on the pack covers as soon as we could get them on. Spirits dampened, but otherwise undeterred, we picked up the pace to get to our campsite sooner.

The rain continued to pelt us, the big drops coming so fast and furious, that it sometimes made it difficult to see the trail ahead. As we forged ahead, the flashing and crashing of thunder and lightning kept our pace quick.

When we reached Sawmill Spring, the campsite was standing in more than a half inch of water. Unable to pitch our tent, we splashed through puddles in the cold rain and continued north. We topped an exposed ridge where the trail was choked with briars. Tiny thorns etched a path through our wet legs as we slowed to push our way through the undergrowth. A brilliant white flash and simultaneous deafening boom just ahead stopped us in our tracks. Through the pouring rain we could see that a tree alongside the trail, just down from the ridge, had been ripped apart by lightning. It wasn’t long before we climbed over the new “blow down” as we followed the white blazes and evacuated the ridge.

We continued climbing and descending small hills until the trail was severed by an unlikely obstacle. A normally docile stream, that doesn’t rate a mention on maps or guidebooks, had been flash flooded into a raging torrent. Eight feet across and too deep to see the bottom, the swift current was a force to be reckoned with. Bowing to the greater power of the water, we searched for a better ford.

Upstream, the channel was narrower, creating a deeper, faster stream to wade. We looked downstream, but it was almost immediately intersected by another small creek that added more water to the already overflowing stream. We went back to the trail and considered waiting out the storm. Not only was the prospect of sitting out the rain depressing, but we were wet and getting colder by the minute. Our shriveled fingers were aching from the cold that was seeping into our bodies.

A few feet downstream from the trail, a tree had fallen across the stream. The foot-wide trunk sat a good foot and a half over the water, offering a tempting bridge. Victoria and I decided that the downed tree offered the best prospect for crossing and I stretched out on the trunk. With my belly squashed against the tree, I began to shinny across the creek. My feet were still on the bank when the water began pushing against my knees. I tried several positions, but couldn’t keep my whole body out of the water and on the log. I was sure to be pulled under the log by the current. Giving up on that approach, I crawled back up on the bank for another look.

I decided the direct approach was the only way to go. I unfastened my hip belt in case I was pulled under and needed to ditch my pack and waded into the water. I faced downstream and grabbed hold of the tree I had just tried to crawl on and slowly sidestepped my way across. About three feet before I reached the opposite bank, I reached the deep, narrow streambed that was now overfilled. The strong current began pushing against the bottom of my sleeping bag and caused my feet to slip. Clinging to the downed tree for balance, I regained my footing and crawled out on the bank.

Without hesitating, Victoria unbuckled her pack, stepped into the knee deep water and grabbed the log. The water quickly got deeper as she crabbed her way across the creek. The water was waist deep when she hit the streambed. Victoria’s trash bag covered sleeping bag was submerged and the water used it like a sail to push against her. I wrapped my arm around the nearest tree, a small dogwood, and reached my hand out to her.

“Grab my hand and I’ll pull you out,” I yelled over the cacophonous symphony created by the creek, rain and thunder. She looked up at me with relief and reached out an arm. Her weight shifted and her feet lost their purchase on the streambed. A rock rolled out from under her and she began to be pulled under the log. I strained with all my might to pull her up on to the bank, but she still hadn’t let go of the log with her other arm.

“Let go and I’ll pull you up,” I screamed.

“I can’t,” she called back.

I kept a tight grip on her arm, not wanting her to be swept under the tree and into the tangle of branches the blowdown had created downstream. In the fraction of a second that passed, I remembered clearly the devastating story of Alice Ferrence drowning in the Kennebec River in Maine during her attempted thru-hike with her husband. I didn’t know how I could pull her out, but I knew I couldn’t let go.

“Let go,” she yelled, “the current is breaking my leg.”

The indecision didn’t last long, it couldn’t. I simply couldn’t pull her up, so I let her go.

The current pushed her deeper into the water, but she bear hugged the tree and fought the streambed for better footing. I kept my hand out and watched as she got a better footing, pushed herself off the bottom and grabbed my hand. I yanked her up on the bank and we both gasped for breath in the cold downpour.

We didn’t talk. There was nothing to say. We buckled our packs and hiked on. In another half hour, the rain slackened and then stopped. We trudged on to Bears Den Hostel, an American Youth Hostel right on the trail. By the time we got there, not only had the rain stopped, but the sky was once again blue. The hostelkeepers were not at home and it was a short hike down the hill to Virginia Highway 7 in Snickers Gap. As chance would have it, we were only about 15 miles from Victoria’s father’s house, so we decided to go to the road and hitchhike to some creature comforts.

During the half mile between Bears Den and the highway, I began to feel angry about the blue sky. Here we were back in the safety of a developed area and it was as if nothing had happened. Sure the ground was wet from the recent downpour here too, but gone was the threat of lightning and the flash flooded creek. We were going to try to hitch a ride, and anyone driving by in the climate controlled comfort of their car would have no idea that I had just felt I was in a life and death struggle with nature.

We quickly got to the road, shucked our packs and stuck out our thumbs. Even soaked to the skin, or more likely because we were, it didn’t take long for us to get a ride in the back of a pickup truck. “Ya’ll weren’t out hiking in that mess were you?” the driver asked rhetorically. We told her that we wanted to bail out to Victoria’s father’s and she offered to go out of her way to take us to a convenience store in the next town so that we could call for a ride.

We didn’t get far before all of the traffic had to detour around a flooded section of highway. The days of rain followed by the flash flood had taken its toll on the highway as well as the trail.

That night, we saw on the news the damage done by the storm. It was somehow gratifying to know that we weren’t the only ones to be effected. It assured me that the pounding rain wasn’t the personal assault I had pictured. The storm would have been there whether we were on the trail or not. It was up to us to be prepared to take care of ourselves.

Looking back on it from the comfort of my home office years later, It still scares me. I could be reminiscing about how Victoria died in that storm instead of remembering how we made it. I remember having to let go of my grip and watch her kick against the bottom to regain her footing. And I remember that it worked. The creek bottom held firm, she reached up and took my hand and was soon panting for breath on the bank beside me.

Frank and Victoria Logue, September 1, 1988So where is your theology on this? I don't think it was some vast cosmic plan waged against by a vengeful god that led to our life or death struggle in the creek that day. Whether it was caused by a butterfly flapping its wings over China or a clash of warm and cold fronts, the outcome was the same. I know that God was with us in the midst of that struggle rather than either working behind the scenes to make it happen or watching idly from afar. What do you think?

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

3 Comments:

  • At 8/31/2006 3:12 PM, Blogger Victoria said…

    Oh I can say, DEFINITELY, that God was with us and always is with us. Sometimes, though, we are just too deaf, dumb or even tough-skinned to feel that presence.

     
  • At 9/01/2006 9:36 AM, Anonymous Kenny said…

    God is definitely with us all the time. Seems we have to have everything just so for our little visits with God - you know, the right clothes, the right church, etc - when we really need to get comfortable with knowing that he really does see everything. Even when we'd rather he didn't!Awnr

     
  • At 9/04/2006 12:46 AM, Blogger Terrell said…

    I have heard you tell this story before but I hadn't thought of it in years. Wow! We're glad you made it through, Victoria!

    I am enjoying your blog, Frank.

     

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8/30/2006

Pluto Hugger

I'm still thrown off by last week's news that we are down to 8 classical planets. Pluto is off the list, making a test answer of "9" to the planet question is now, officially, wrong. You can see the USA Today article The universe has room for change for more on this.

As my daughter pointed out, it mostly effects the makers of styrofoam balls as one can now buy only eight in doing the ubiquitous science project on the planets. But she further pointed out that this must be a glimmer of what it was like to hear that science was now saying the world is round not flat or that the earth revolves around the sun, not all the heavens around the earth. So to be a Pluto hugger, makes me a bit of a neo-flat earther. Yet while the earth is demonstrably round not flat, that ball of rock and ice we have called the planet Pluto orbits unphased by its 76-year run as one of the 9 planets in our solar system.

And if there is a point to the post it is just that. For 76 years, scientist called it a planet. Now the agreed description is a dwarf planet. For all those years we had nine planets and now we have eight. Scientific categories were sharpened to make the definition of a planet more clear. Reality was unphased by the whole project. Only the name has been changed.

Seek him who made the Pleiades and Orion,
and turns deep darkness into the morning,
and darkens the day into night;
who calls for the waters of the sea and pours
them out upon the surface of the earth:
The Lord is his name.
—Amos 5:8
peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

1 Comments:

  • At 8/30/2006 11:02 PM, Blogger CSL said…

    My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas will have to change - My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles? In this case, I'm going to ignore science and leave poor little Pluto on the planet roster.

     

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8/29/2006

The point of following Jesus

N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, England writes in his commendable book Simply Christian:
The point of following Jesus isn't simply so that we can be sure of going to a better place than this after we die. Our future beyond death is enormously important, but the nature of the Christian hope is such that it plays back into the present life. We're called, here and now, to be instruments of God's new creation, the world-put-to-rights which has already been launched in Jesus and of which Jesus' follower's are supposed to be not simply beneficiaries but also agents.

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8/28/2006

Epic Struggle

What happens when a simple Sunday School faith slams into a liberal arts education? Something like what one finds in this well-written post at November in My Soul:
Early on in college I read The Epic of Gilgamesh, and to borrow a cliché, nothing was ever the same again. It was a huge epiphany, or maybe a reverse epiphany, as it pushed me away from The Truth. I began to see the forest, or more correctly I began to realize that there was a forest and not just my little sacred grove. When I realized that the Noah flood story, as well as many others, was common across many cultures my already tenuous acceptance of the Baptist indoctrination stretched beyond the breaking point. Like so many before me I thought I had found the answer and felt content in my newly minted agnosticism.
The full post Far on a Dark Wind is here.

I once preached a sermon which worked with the Gilgamesh Epic called Competing Stories: Which do you make your own? The challenege is a real one for whether the Biology or Sociology or whatever you study in college may challenge your faith, or it may be a big event like September 11, Hurricane Katrina or the death of a loved one, each of us can have our faith tested.

I don't actually mean to pick on Sunday School as shallow. But how can you go beyond a too simple view of faith (one which doesn't get you through the real tough times Christians face) without losing child-like wonder Jesus considered essential? How can we raise the next generation to have more robust faith?

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

1 Comments:

  • At 8/29/2006 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You should read the entire blog posting from "November in my Soul." As a(n) [anonymous] college chaplain, I find that students often come away with a stronger faith once their Sunday School faith collides with a liberal arts education. Read further in the blog and you'll find that this writer's agnosticism was short lived and a stonger faith in Christ grew out of the initiate shock to find that his Christian experience was just one treat in the forest of Christianity.
    The blogger writes: "Understanding Christianity in a mythological context enhanced my faith, providing me with an infinitely deeper comprehension. We have been given the complete Truth for which these myths were aiming. We can see them for what they are, attempts to see the face of God, to know His mind, to find solace in a cold world."

    The blogger also said:"Let me be clear. I am not saying that Christ is a myth. I am not saying that Christianity is disguised mythology. I believe that He is the Way, the truth and the Light. Coming to a deeper understanding or the role of myth across time led ME back to the true faith."

    I find that most Sunday School faiths expire at the first life tragedy, but a well thought-out faith leads to an even deeper love of Christ. But you raise a good question, how to you help a younger generation have a robust faith? I think exposing them to the wider world is key to this goal, for, if God is not God in the wider world, then, it is a pathetic faith indeed. However, further examination of the wider world may reveal what the mathematician Pascal said years ago, that all truth is God's truth.

     

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8/27/2006

Splish Splash

A rainy pool

Five minutes. Maybe ten. That's how long the Pool Party and Cookout at Honey Creek was officially underway before the rain hit. A good steady shower that chased Troop 226's Boy Scout Court of Honor into the Chapel and sent everyone else running for shelter.

But I was always told that sun shiny showers don't last half and hour and neither did this one. The sun came back out, more hamburgers and hot dogs were grilled, the kids jumped in the pool and sea kayaks hit the creek. It ended up being a great three hours at our camp and conference center for King of Peace's 7th annual Pool Party.

Rachel cannonballs into the pool - Ben shoots water out of a foam noodle

Kenn -Victoria

Having fun in the pool once the sun came out

Kayaking -Biggest smile

Neil grilling lunch -Dog blanket

an overview of the cookout area alongside the pool

I didn't count, but looking through all the pictures it seems like about 70 people came and all braved the rain to see the sun shine again. It was a great way to celebrate the 6th anniversary of my ordination as a priest.

Frank+

Kayaking on Honey Creek

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8/26/2006

Do you also wish to go away?

In tomorrow's Gospel reading John tells us that many of the disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. Jesus then asks the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" In commenting on this, Larry Gillick has written:
Do you also wish to go away? I wonder sometimes how I would have responded to the question. Because at times the truth is I do wish to go away. I don’t like thinking this about myself. But in times of temptation, in times when I deceive other people to avoid trouble or get what I want, in times when I deliberately close my eyes to the sight of those who are poor or marginalized because I don’t want to feel guilty or bother to help. I too am one of the ones who wish to go away.

Do you also wish to go away? Peter’s response is striking. He doesn’t say yes, of course, but he doesn’t quite say no either. Instead, in good Jesus-style, he answers back with another question: To whom else can we go? It is not, perhaps, the most flattering answer in the world, but it is honest. It’s a little reminiscent of Winston Churchill’s famous description of democracy as the worst form of government except for every other form that has ever been tried. Following Jesus may not always be easy or pleasant, or even totally comprehensible, but when it comes to the eternal-life business, to tell the truth there’s not much out there in the way of alternatives.

As ethicist Lewis Smedes said, "This is where the trolley stops. . . Without Jesus we are stuck with two options: utopian illusion or deadly despair. I scorn illusion. I dread despair. So I put all my money on Jesus."
Reminder:
If you do want to go away, but not too far, come join us today (Saturday) from 12 noon to 3 p.m. as King of Peace travels to Honey Creek for a cookout, pool party and sea kayaking on Honey Creek. It will offer a great chance to get get up to Honey Creek and to together with your fellow churchgoers in a relaxed setting.

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8/25/2006

Shared Humanity



In his book on prayer With Open Hands Henri Nouwen writes of a compassion that comes from learning through prayer how alike all other humans we truly are:
Compassion grows with the inner recognition that your neighbor shares your humanity with you. This partnership cuts through all walls which might have kept you separate. Across all barriers of land and language, wealth and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, we are one, created from the same dust, subject to the same laws, and destined for the same end.

With this compassion you can say, "In the face of the oppressed I recognize my own face and in the hands of the oppressor I recognize my own hands. Their flesh is my flesh; their blood is my blood; their pain is my pain; their smile is my smile. Their ability to torture is in me, too; their capacity to forgive I find also in myself.

There is nothing in me that does not belong to them, too. There is nothing in them that does not belong to me, too.

In my heart, I know their yearning for love and down to my entrails, I can feel their cruelty. In another's eyes, I see my plea for forgiveness and in a hardened frown, I see my refusal. When someone murders, I know that I too could have murdered, and when someone gives birth, I know that I am capable of birth as well. In the depths of my being, I meet my fellow humans with whom I share love and hate, life and death."

3 Comments:

  • At 8/25/2006 9:19 AM, Anonymous Kay said…

    This reminds me of a book , LOVE AND DUTY, written by Ben and Anne Purcell. Mr. Purcell was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for five years. He speaks of the "Stockholm Syndrome", saying that rather than going over to the same side as the captor, it is a person's way of seeing the humanity in the person holding you captive and therefore, responding to that humanity. Sorry, I am just paraphrasing here, Mr. Purcell put it so much better in his book.

     
  • At 8/25/2006 10:37 AM, Blogger CSL said…

    The practice of acknowledging that there is nothing in anyone else that is not in you strikes me as one of the single most important things we can do. It cuts across religions, and ties us all together. I heard Thich Naht Hanh read his poem "Call Me By My True Names," addressing that very issue. It can be found at:

    http://www.earthlight.org/earthsaint26.html

    Carol

     
  • At 8/25/2006 11:09 AM, Anonymous William said…

    The inability to see ourselves in others has been the souce of a great deal of hatred and violence. I think people feel a perverse sense of empowerment when they believe they are superior to someone else. Only with the realization that despite the outward differences in race, creed color, finances, gender, and religion, that we all come from the same source and are headed in the same direction can peace truly be achieved. We must be willing to be open to the harsh reality of our own human nature and biases. When we understand that we are loved unconditionally, only then can we love unconditionally.

     

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8/24/2006

A Warm Oven

click to find out more about this icon which is on the pulpit at King of Peace
It's really important for us to understand that we're not called to be Christians. We're called to be Christ.

There is a difference in the Anglican approach to salvation and the revivalist approach to salvation. That difference is similar to being placed in a nice warm oven and being baked slowly at a low temperature versus being stir-fried. Think about it.
That quote is from the Rev. Dennis Maynard's book Those Episkopols which we are reading and using in a discussion on The Episcopal Church on Wednesday evenings. What do you think?

5 Comments:

  • At 8/24/2006 11:18 AM, Anonymous Kenny said…

    Sometimes I think there's nothing wrong with a little shake 'n bake. Salvation certainly isn't a once-for-all-time event but excitement attracts attention and shows that something significant has happened.

     
  • At 8/24/2006 11:32 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    I think our ongoing cenversion does have multiple "aha" moments which are more shake 'n bake as you put it so well.

    And though I have a moment on January 10, 1973 I can point to, I was really saved on a Friday about 2,000 years ago, though I couldn't appreciate that until after the following Sunday.

    But then the conversion of my finances when Victoria and I began to tithe was significant. And there have been other conversions of this sort and doubtless more will follow. But maybe I'm just slow.

    -Frank

     
  • At 8/24/2006 3:07 PM, Anonymous William said…

    I think the point you're trying to make is the difference between a faith tradition focused on justification or one focused on sanctification. Having had a little experience with both, I found that the justification model was so focused on the moment of being "saved" that life afterward got little to no attention. The sanctification approach seems more holistic and better prepares the believer for life in the world.

     
  • At 8/24/2006 4:13 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Exactly William. I only have an audio version of the sermon, but I did preach one Pop Tarts and Pickles which looks at the justification and sanctification.

    And speaking of sanctification, there is a sermon in the archives that deals with the Orthodox church's concept of this which is called Theosis. That sermon is called Becoming Like God.

    peace,
    Frank+

     
  • At 8/25/2006 7:16 AM, Anonymous Debbie said…

    I'm afraid I don't see the advantage of one over the other. I think there are too many people who think that because they've been baptized as infants and "marked as God's own", that's all their accountable for. Maybe it's because I can embrace sacramental theology in regards to communion, but haven't been able to do the same with baptism. There has to be a point when a person makes a decision for himself to accept or reject the provision God made for him.

     

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8/23/2006

Thankful for Our School

The following was written for the Church in Georgia which requested an article on King of Peace Episcopal Day School. What was specifically requested was an article which would update the Diocese as we received a $25,000 grant through the United Thank Offering. Below is what I will submit based on the start of my work day yesterday (with photos taken at the time):
The Ducks Teacher, Miss Jamie, works with a studentIt’s 8:30 a.m. as I arrive for work at King of Peace. I enter through the entrance for King of Peace Episcopal Day School, slip through the sign in area at the front desk and into the 2 year old class. The teacher’s aide is sitting on the floor reading a story to several children in the Library Center. Other kids are playing with dolls and blocks in other centers while the teacher is working with a child on creating a craft with the letter “M.”

Miss Mila is the Turtles Class teacherGetting a few hugs from the students, I pass through the room and enter the 3 year old class. The teacher is doing fun motions to go with words starting with the letter “F’ and the students are clearly enjoying the lesson.

Miss Daphnie is the teacher for the Frogs classI should go on to my office, but I can’t resist completing the tour, so I walk into the 4 year old room where the teacher is going over the calendar and the students are eagerly answering questions about the day, date, season and more. Then I enter the toddler room where the children are putting away their books to get ready to move on to circle time.

With a staff of 16 and 65 students, The Preschool is a busy place from opening at 6:30 a.m. to closing at 6:30 p.m. It is like this Monday through Friday 52 weeks a year. Some days, like this one, I am stopped in my tracks and faced with the miracle of this ministry.

First, and foremost this school is a miracle. Having been involved every step of the way, I can assure you that there have been a lot of miracles large and small that got this ministry off the ground and flourishing.

The Bees Teacher, Miss Christi, works with her class Now we are a vital part of our community with an enviable reputation and an embarrassingly long waiting list. I know this is largely because of the remarkable staff with whom we have been blessed from our Director, Gillian Butler, to the high school students who come in afternoons as part of a work study program.

Beyond that is the support of the church which made this possible and the ongoing support of the parents which helps us thrive and grow. We are now working toward both state recognition as a Center of Distinction and national accreditation as we continue to “up our game.”

But the reason I write is because none of this would have been possible without that essential grant of $25,000 from the United Thank Offering which allowed what was then a small congregation at King of Peace Mission to even consider seriously starting a school. So the impressive sights and sounds of a busy preschool which started my work day today was made possible by your faithful support of the little blue boxes of the U.T.O. And for that I am joined by my congregation and our school in being very thankful.

–the Rev. Frank Logue, Vicar
King of Peace Church

1 Comments:

  • At 8/23/2006 8:19 AM, Blogger Laura said…

    My dream is that there will someday be pre-schools like this EVERYWHERE. ("Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.")

     

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8/22/2006

The Great Omission

Nothing less than life in the steps of Christ is adequate to the human soul or the needs of our world. Any other offer fails to do justice to the drama of human redemption, deprives the hearer of life’s greatest opportunity, and abandons this present life to the evil powers of the age.

Dallas WillardThe correct perspective is to see following Christ not only as the necessity it is, but as the fulfillment of the highest human possibilities and as life on the highest plane. It is to see, in Helmut Theilick’s words, that “the Christian stands, not under the dictatorship of a legalistic ‘You ought’, but in the magnetic field of Christian freedom, under the empowering of the ‘You may’.”

—Dallas Willard (pictured above) from his book The Great Omission
Thanks to the Rev. Rob Lord who featured this quote at his blog A New and Unending Kind of Life.

In the archives is the sermon A Faith that lives in you which features another Dallas Willard story.

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8/21/2006

The Holy Spirit

August 2006 Kids in the Kingdom on the Holy Spirit

The stained glass window of Genesis 1:1 at King of PeaceHow do you picture The Holy Spirit? In the Hebrew Bible, the word ruach means wind, breath and spirit. And it is this ruach of God which hovered over the waters in creation as shown in the stained glass window above the altar at King of Peace.

Yesterday for our Kids in the Kingdom Sunday, the kids and I sang some fun songs, then we settled down to talk about The Holy Spirit. I often use a book, or at least a children's Bible to help with part of the story time on our once a month Christian Education for kids 4 years old through fifth grade. But there are not children's story books about The Holy Spirit. This is odd as it is the third person of the Trinity that we know best as God's spirit speaks to our spirit. The kids had no trouble at all talking about the spirit of God being with them always—God in each one's heart, even mean people.

After talking about The Holy Spirit we moved on to eating pizza and then making pinwheels to spin in the wind. The kids went out to test drive the pinwheels on the playground. With a little extra engineering on a few of them by my very able adult helpers (Melissa, Tammy, Martis and Gina) they all worked great when blown on or when running holding the pinwheel out.

But then the breeze picked up and the pinwheels turned without the children doing anything. Look at the picture above and tell me you don't see The Holy Spirit coming unbidden to and through those kids.

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

2 Comments:

  • At 8/21/2006 11:14 AM, Anonymous William said…

    We are more suseptible to the spirit moving in us and through us while still in the innocence of youth. It's only when we become old enough to reason that we begin to close our minds.

    On a slightly different topic, why do some denominations call the thrid part of the Trinity the Holy Spirit and others the Holy Ghost?

     
  • At 8/22/2006 6:48 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    William,

    The difference is found in these two translations of Matthew 28:19:

    King James' Version "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

    New American Standard Version, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

    "Holy Ghost" is a King James translation where all the other translations use the term "Holy Spirit." So a KJV only church would definitely say Holy Ghost, some others probably do as well. But churches which use modern English translations will tend to follow suit and use "Holy Spirit" in their worship.

    Frank+

     

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8/20/2006

An unusually holy vacation

A week ago, the Rev. Dr. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, England, was scheduled to go on a 7-day vacation to Salzburg, Germany. But the second highest ranking clergy person in England decided that with the conflict ongoing between Israel and Lebanon and tensions within his own country, it was not the time to go on vacation.

Instead of making the trip to Germany, Sentamu took his vacation time to "camp inside York Minster where he has asked people from all over the country to join him in heart and mind to pray every hour for peace in the conflict between Israel and Lebanon, and for good community relations in Britain."

The Archbishop finishes his unusual vacation of prayer and fasting today. In his own words, Sentamu describes his actions like this
Dr. John Sentamu, Archbishop of YorkI have received letters and calls from people about this conflict, and people are asking "What can I do?" They feel helpless, they feel bewildered but they want to do something in response to the suffering that they have been watching on their televisions, hearing on their radios and reading in their newspapers.

So my call to everyone is to join me in prayer, join me in fasting join me in providing a meal for every displaced person – especially women and children, medicine for the sick; and at a future date be part of the reconstruction of the areas, in both countries, that have been destroyed.

Will you join me in standing up against violence as an unacceptable means of trying to change one another’s views and lives ? Whether in our own skies or the skies above the Middle East, bombing and violence cannot be the way in which we seek to change that which we don’t like in the world. There has to be another way. Each one of us has to be the change we want to see in the world.
In the archives is the blog entry A Grueling Start & a Little Nut from when I heard Archbishop Sentamu speak in person at the start of this past June's General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

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

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8/19/2006

Communion past/present/future

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus concludes his words on being the Bread of Life which we have read the previous two Sundays. In the words of Lindy Black at her page Sermon Nuggets,
Here the language of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ becomes graphic and specific. The Greek verb for "eat" changes from a generic term for eating (which might be understood symbolically as well) to a specific verb meaning "to chew upon" which could only be interpreted literally. The meaning of the teaching for the gospel's audience: Those, and only those, who gather to offer the Eucharist and so receive the blessed and transformed bread and wine have eternal life. Indeed, the gospel commends this is the means, par excellence, of abiding in Jesus Christ (verse 56).
Black also notes that "Communion has a past/present/future quality about it" and goes on to write,
  • Called "The Lord's Supper," it is a memorial meal that we do "in remembrance." It solidifies our traditional faith as we envision ourselves back there in that upper room with Jesus.
  • Called "Communion," it is a present tense, acknowledging that "where two or three are gathered," Christ is present. Here we see Him as host who invites us to His table.
  • Called "Eucharist" (thanksgiving), it is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. This is the not-yet of the kindom of God for which we hunger and thirst.

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8/18/2006

The Bishop Who Ate His Boots

This just in from the You Think You've Got It Tough? department...

seal skin boots
The website The Bishop Who Ate His Boots tells the true story of Bishop Isaac O. Stringer (1866-1934) whose regular visitation in northern Canada in September 1909 turned into a 51-day life or death struggle.

Stringer has first heard the call to the arctic as a Bishop from the Yukon addressed his seminary class in much more hospitable Toronto. Though his father refused to support him in the endeavor, Stringer said, "The way seemed plain to me and so I decided to go." His high school sweetheart Sadie would later say,
…both of us were burning with a missionary zeal laced by a sense of adventure on the far side of the cold horizon.
Stringer got special permission to ammend his studies to include "dentistry, obstetrics, and minor surgery in preparation for his position."

The day after his 1892 ordination, Stringer headed to the Yukon. In 1905, he was selected as Bishop of Selkirk (Yukon), a position he held for 26 years. It was while serving as Bishop and also overseeing his neighboring Diocese of Mackenzie in the absence of a bishop their that Stringer experienced a visitation gone bad. a photo of Stringer and Johnson on an Arctic TrekHe and his companion Charles F. Johnson, set out on a 500 mile trek through dense bush over a steep mountain divide with provisions for 8 days though they expected to complete the trip in five days. The two ended up with no guides and decided they knew the way well enough. The weather turned severe and the two made as little as five miles progress a day before opting for a shorter route directly across the mountains.

Provisions ran out and though they did hunt and trap for some food, the Bishop noted in his journal,
"October 17 - Travelled 15 miles, made supper of toasted rawhide sealskin boots. Palatable. Feel encouraged.

"October 18 - Travelled all day. Ate more pieces of my sealskin boots, boiled and toasted. Used sole first. Set rabbit snares.

"October 19 - No rabbit in snare. Breakfast and dinner of rawhide boots. Fine. But not enough.

"October 20 - Breakfast from top of boots. Not so good as sole. Very tired. Hands sore. Tied up Mr. Johnson's fingers
The Bishop and his fellow traveller, Mr. Johnson emerged 50 pounds lighter after the harrowing ordeal. Read all about it here: The Full Story. The website also tells more of the missionaries of the far north including the story of Stringer's wife, Sadie.

I can't help but be reminded of how foreign this whole experience of an arctic journey would have been to Jesus' first followers. Yet they valued and preserved Jesus' words for Stringer and for us as he said,

Go and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name
of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Teach these new disciples to obey
all the commands I have given you.
And be sure of this:
I am with you always,
even to the end of the age.
—Matthew 28:19-20

"When the Holy Spirit has come upon you,
you will receive power
and will tell people about me everywhere
– in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth."
—Acts 1:8

1 Comments:

  • At 8/18/2006 3:58 PM, Blogger Victoria said…

    I'm speechless. What an amazing couple. We are so spoiled these days even in regard to spreading the Word of God.

     

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8/17/2006

Relevance

Better known than the author of The Odyssey

According to a Reuter's article Current events dwarfed by pop culture most Americans know little about our shared heritage. For example:
  • 20.5% of us know that The Iliad and The Odyssey are the epic poet Homer's great works, while...
  • 60% of Americans know that Bart is Homer's son on The Simpson's.

  • 37% knew that Mercury is the planet closest to the sun, while...
  • 60% of those surveyed Krypton is Superman's home planet.

  • 42% can name the three branches of our government—judicial, executive and legislative, while...
  • 74% can name the Three Stooges—Larry, Moe and Curly, and...

  • 11% were able to name the Supreme Court Justice confirmed in January 2006 as Samuel Alito, while...
  • 23% were able to identify the most recent winner of the television talent show American Idol as Taylor Hicks.

Relevance is one of the values of King of Peace as we follow Jesus' example of starting with someone where they. Relevance in preaching and teaching comes first in the knowledge that the 2,000 year old words of scripture are more relevant to our lives than the embarassing thing Paris Hilton just did or the latest twist and turn in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's relationship.

In the archives you'll find sermons that use a video clip from The Simpson's, Boldness in Prayer, another with a scene from the movie The Lord of the Rings, The Power of We, and a talk on Why Does God Allow Suffering that works from a scene in the movie Dogma.

I use video and sound clips and other similar devices to get attention and to throw people off a bit from what one expects in church while connecting the sort of things we see in daily life to things eternal. When it works well, these cultural references allow us to move from the pop culture knowledge we share to the biblical truths for which we thirst.

What do you think about how the eternal is revealed to be relevant to our daily lives? How can we share this relevance we experience without it being just a gimmick?

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

2 Comments:

  • At 8/17/2006 9:22 AM, Anonymous William said…

    My first experience of using cultural references coupled with modern technology was at King of Peace. At first I was taken aback because it felt almost sacreligious but quickly realized that here was the best of both worlds. Incorporating cultural references enhanced the appeal without taking away from the message. The technique also works to hold the congregation's attention. I think the problem is that other churches and/or denomiations become so culturally savvy that the message is lost in the medium. They look too slick, too hip and most people can quickly spot the difference. This blog is proof that facets of modern culture can be put to good effect in spreading the gospel while maintaining its integrity..

     
  • At 8/17/2006 9:37 AM, Anonymous Steve+ said…

    I have a high school student who is a part of a after school work program who comes in and does secretarial duties for me for an hour and a half in the afternoon. Yesterday I needed her to send out a mailing. She came to me and asked how do you address an envelope. She has been sending email since she was in the womb and has probably never sent a "real" letter. Do we help people by keeping up with technology in worship or do we add to the decreasing attention span of adults and children. I served in a parish (not Episcopal :-) ) one time where the pastor had to have a visual aid or some gimmick in every sermon. I don't think he could rely on simply telling the story. I don't know if it was because people are so condidtioned to visuals that they can't listen or if we preachers have been so conditioned that people need visuals that we can't preach. Barbara Brown Taylor once wrote that preaching is not art or science, it's alchemy. I think she's right. I'm not sure what is good preaching. The stuff I see on tv strikes me as horrible but there are thousands of people in the pews who think it's the best thing since sliced bread. Some people like stories and some like teaching and some like shouting. I know what I like.
    All this is to say I don't know the answer to the question!

     

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8/16/2006

Feel the Burn

The Discovery Channel's Calorie Burn Rate Calculator will let you know how many calories you burn at certain activities.

There is a whole section devoted to church activities. Here is what I, as a 195 pound man, can burn in an hour:

88.4 calories for Church—Praying/meditating
132.66 calories for Church—Sitting/Singing

but those who serve in other ways burn off more calories so:

176.88 calories for Church—ushering

and if you really want to lose weight more than worship they have the category:

442.19 calories for Church—yard work

Funny, I thought I went to church to get fed, not to burn calories.

If you are worried about your weight, Taking Off Pounds Sensibly meets at King of Peace today at 9:15 a.m. If you want to get spiritually nourished, our mid-week worship service is tonight at 6:15 p.m. We'll even serve bread and wine.

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

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8/15/2006

Bless my enemies

click here for a New York Times article on the truce

"I say, love your enemies!
Pray for those who persecute you!
In that way, you will be acting as true children
of your Father in heaven."
Jesus Christ
—Matthew 5:44-45a (New Living Translation)

In Israel and Lebanon an uneasy truce continues. We continue to pray for the Middle East and the peace of Jerusalem, knowing that Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies as well as those we love.

Here at home, we have those in our lives who we wouldn't classify as enemies but who wreck our days nonetheless. In the archives is the Tribune & Georgian religion column Bless My Enemies, Change Me which has proved quite meaningful to a number of people over time as the prayer within the column really makes a difference.

There is also the following prayer written by Nikolai Velimirovic (1880-1956), a Bishop in the Serb Orthodox Church:
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them. Enemies have driven me into Your embrace more than friends have. Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul. Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.

They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself

They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.

They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself

They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.

Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.

Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.

Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.

Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.

Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.

Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of Your garment.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me: so that my fleeing to You may have no return;

so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;

so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;

so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger;

so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;

ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.

One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.

It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.

Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands. For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life. Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them. Bless my enemies, O Lord.

Even I bless them and do not curse them.

1 Comments:

  • At 8/16/2006 10:49 AM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    I think the Orthodox Bishop has tapped into a very deep Christian truth. The essence of the Gospel is that we forgive and love. In learning to love our enemies we purify ourselves, an essential process of the Orthodox belief in deification. By emulating Christ, (who surely loved his myriad enemies)we become like Him. This post really gave me pause as I realized how contrary this wisdom is to the view espoused by our culture. We are bombarded with the message that it is OK to seek revenge, to carry grudges and to withold forgiveness. The more difficult path is to let it go, to embrace those who will not embrace us. Are we really capable of loving Timothy McVeigh? The 9/11 bombers?

     

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8/14/2006

Anglican Prayer Beads

Anglican Prayer Beads are a relatively new form of prayer, blending the Orthodox Jesus Prayer Rope and the Roman Catholic Rosary. The thirty-three bead design was created by the Rev. Lynn Bauman in the mid-1980s, through the prayerful exploration and discovery of a contemplative prayer group.

Anglican Prayer BeadsThe use of the rosary or prayer beads helps to bring us into contemplative of meditative prayer—really thinking about and being mindful of praying, of being in the presence of God—by use of mind, body, and spirit. The touching of the fingers on each successive bead is an aid in keeping our mind from wandering, and the rhythm of the prayers leads us more readily into stillness. You can read more online at King of Peace's web page on Anglican Prayer Beads.

Online Prayer Beads
Or experience this form of prayer for yourself. You don't even need a set of special beads, just your web browser. You can use our Online Prayer Beads and just click the forward arrows and say the prayers putting your own feeling to the words.

When you have completed the round of the prayer beads, you should end with a period of silence. This silence allows you to center your being in an extended period of silence. It also invites reflection and listening after you have invoked the Name and Presence of God.

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

2 Comments:

  • At 8/14/2006 7:06 AM, Blogger Cathy said…

    Well, the online prayer beads are just too cool! Thanks for sharing!

     
  • At 8/14/2006 8:28 AM, Anonymous Steve+ said…

    I find great comfort in praying both the Roman rosary and the Anglican "Jesus Prayer" version. Praying the Rosary/Anglican Prayer Beads for me serves the same purpose as pacing back and forth - it keeps me focused. I remember standing near the wailing wall in Jerusalem and seeing the men rock back and forth. The explanation given was that it helps them focus, which is also why men and women are separated. The great Russian story, The Way of a Pilgrim, goes even so far as to describe how you can pace the Jesus Prayer with your heartbeat. Praying without ceasing. As long as your heart beats, your soul is praying.

     

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8/13/2006

Which Jesus?

Talledega NightsIn the new comedy "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Rickie Bobby" there is a very humorous prayer in which Will Ferrell as Ricky Bobby says grace before a meal. The video clip is online here: Talladega Nights Prayer.

In the prayer he prays to "Dear Lord Baby Jesus" and continually mentions "infant Jesus" until his wife and father-in-law remind him that Jesus was a grown man. The group goes on—mid prayer—to discuss other images of Jesus including Christmas Jesus, Teen Jesus, and Bearded Jesus as well as Ninja Jesus fighting Samurai and Jesus with giant eagle's wings.

A popular Jesus painting from days gone byThe grace, like the movie, is silly and intends to be so. The prayer may be sacrilegious, but it does call us to question our picture of Jesus. No matter what picture we have, the real Jesus is beyond that picture. Whether you see Jesus as a bathrobed, blond-haired, blue-eyed Messiah or the homeless man you saw on the corner when last you wound through downtown Jacksonville, Jesus is ready to break down that image so that you can move closer to real thing.

A sermon in the archives on this is More than The Good Shepherd

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

Hyatt Moore's Last Supper with 12 Tribes which hangs in King of Peace's entry hall

3 Comments:

  • At 8/13/2006 11:48 PM, Anonymous Debbie said…

    I'm glad that Jesus can never be constrained by the human imagination. Our concepts are so finite and limited, and cannot even be compared to God's.

     
  • At 8/14/2006 8:58 AM, Anonymous Kenny said…

    Frank,

    I'm constantly amazed where you get inspiration.

    Speaking of images and roles we choose and sometimes have forced upon us, have you ever read/done the study "Wild at Heart"?

    It challenges some of the stereotypes we have been given.

     
  • At 8/14/2006 9:28 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    I have read it and listened to it on CD. I think Wild at Heart has some real wisdom in it. I keep the CD set on loan out to men in our congregation and have offered the books (and the women's version called Captivating) for sale at King of Peace.

    Speaking of inspiration, I think a little of my words on not having to become a stereotypical Christian yesterday (in the sermon Genuine Imitation) were probably inspired by Wild at Heart though I hadn't noticed that until your comments now.

    peace,
    Frank+

     

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8/12/2006

The Bread of Life

click this photo to read about how we worship at King of Peace
In tomorrow's Gosel reading Jesus says, "I am the Bread of Life" and goes on to say "Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."

The Rev. Jim Price has preached on this text saying
We cannot ignore the obvious allusion to the sacramental bread of the Eucharist. There is no doubt that in the time St. John was writing his Gospel the first century Christians had already begun to connect Jesus' words claiming to be the Bread of Life to their growing sacramental understanding of the mystery of Holy Communion. Just as they had experienced Jesus as a man but more than a man, so they saw in the Eucharistic bread more than bread alone. It was a sign of the presence of Jesus. The bread became for them a representation of the mystery of Christ in their midst. To receive the sacrament was to realize the love of God in Christ, gracing, forgiving, accepting and filling their lives in a very profound way. To prepare us to receive this filling love, we turn to Thomas Cranmer, whose words find their place in the American Book of Common Prayer, in the first Eucharistic prayer of the Rite I service:

And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee that we, and all who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him.

The bread that our Lord offers to the world is himself. We who come to the altar with hands outstretched, come desiring to be so filled with Christ that our restless seeking shall come to an end. We come believing that here is the place where the "God-shaped hole" shall be filled. Yes, we are filled when Christ dwells in us and we in him. It is at this moment that he becomes for us the living bread that comes down from heaven.
Jim's full sermon is online here: YEAR B - Proper 14

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8/11/2006

Have I Sinned?

What sort of sin does a 78-year old woman commit during a hospital stay? Well it begins with a visit from a pastor other than her own who:
just kept on preaching, ranting is a better word. You know, my mother raised me to never be rude to folks, especially a pastor. But I was getting a little mad. He didn’t know anything about my church and here he was just giving us down the country.
You may read the rest at The Questing Parson here: Have I Sinned?

2 Comments:

  • At 8/11/2006 12:02 PM, Anonymous Kenny said…

    Do I sin when I turn off certain televangelists? Is it some kind of secret sin when, in my heart, I doubt the sincerity of certain prayers that I hear?

    I don't always know but I do try to "ask God about it later." Faith and our responses to it are so personal that it's hard to spend too much time tending to someone else's garden. Do you think that's why Jesus always met with people personally and got to know them?

    Don't complain about the speck in your brother's eye - you might have a hard time getting to it over the board in your own.

     
  • At 8/11/2006 10:39 PM, Anonymous Loren said…

    This story really speaks to me, having just finished an internship as a hospital chaplain. I heard from several patients who'd had similar experiences. Each patient spoke with pain in his or her voice when recalling the discomfort of being cornered while lying in a hospital bed. They felt hurt, angry, confused and helpless as they were told that their faith was not valid, not strong enough, not of the right variety, etc.

    Do I doubt the sincerity of these ministers? Not at all. But I do disagree with the method of evangelism. Seems to be furthering an agenda rather than helping people in need. If I were in the patient's place I think I would have pushed the button too.

     

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Worth a Thousand Pictures

"A word is worth a thousand pictures."

Sermons that Work XIV
That idea is from the introduction to Sermons that Work XIV: Preaching from Psalms, Oracles, And Parables, which is part of a series "devoted to presenting examples of preaching excellence from parishes throughout the Episcopal Church"

Series editors Roger Allin and David Schalfer go on to write

A word can send a shower of illuminating sparks in a thousand different directions. One word—tree, dog, water; hope, hate, hospitality; dancing, grasping, savoring—can trigger immediate, palpable awareness of countless alternative worlds. Those nine words just did that for you did they not?)
The book collects sermons that preach the "gallery of living pictures" found in the prophets and psalms of the Old Testament.

I am honored to have a sermon preached at King of Peace published in the collection alongside some esteemed Episcopal preachers. It is a sermon I gave in the wake of September 11, 2001 from the oft neglected book of Habukkuk.

But you, gentle reader, don't have to buy the book to read that sermon as I will link to the text of Faithfulness to the Vision for free.

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

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8/10/2006

The gift of service


Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) writes of the gift of serving others with a story,
Once when travelling in Tibet, I was crossing a high mountain pass with my Tibetan guide. The weather had suddenly turned bitterly cold, and my companion and I feared that we might not make it to the next village—still several miles away—before succumbing to the frost.

Suddenly, we stumbled upon a man who had slipped from the path and was lying in the snow. Looking more closely, I discovered that the man was still alive, though barely. “Come,” I said to my companion, “help me try to bring this unfortunate man to safety.” But my companion was upset and frightened for his life. He answered: “If we try to carry that man, none of us will ever reach the village. We will all freeze. Our only hope is to go on as quickly as possible, and that is what I intend to do. You will come with me if you value your life.” Without another word and without looking back, he set off down the path.

I could not bring myself to abandon the helpless traveller while life remained in him, so I lifted him on my back and threw my blanket around us both as best I could. Slowly and painstakingly, I picked my way along the steep, slippery path with my heavy load. Soon it began to snow, and I could make out the way forward only with great difficulty.

How we made it, I do not know. But just as daylight was beginning to fade, the snow cleared and I could see houses a few hundred yards ahead. Near me, on the ground, I saw the frozen body of my guide. Nearly within shouting distance of the village, he had succumbed to the cold and died, while the unfortunate traveller and I made it to safety. The exertion of carrying him and the contact of our bodies had created enough heat to save us both.

This is the way of service. No one can live without the help of others, and in helping others, we receive help ourselves.

1 Comments:

  • At 8/10/2006 9:01 AM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    As always a good story that raises and important issue. Being selfless is hard for most of us. We need only look to Christ as our example.

     

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8/09/2006

Selfless Service

Doctors Without Borders working in Lebanon

Yesterday morning this photo caught my attention. Taken by Samuel Aranda of Agence France-Presse, it shows members of Doctors Without Borders and local volunteers passing supplies across the Litani River in Lebanon. On this site the last bridge south was bombed.

Then during the day I heard a member the group, who was there at the Letani River speak yesterday. He said they handed four and a half tons of medical supplies across the river. Doctors Without Borders contacted the Israeli Army to let them know what they would be doing to seek assurances that they would not be attacked by ait or rockets. The army said they could give no assurances. The group and volunteers from the nearest village went to work anyway.

All of this was on the day after news went out of 15 aid workers killed in Sri Lanka. The 15, locals working for the French Agency Action Contre La Faim (Action Against Hunger), executed in the group's office. Those killed were clealry identified as aid workers through wearing their ACF shirts, according to that group's president.

At one time, aid workers were largely left alone in the world's conflicts, free to care for the needy as the battle raged on. As non-combatants are more seldomly immune to the real threat of death, so too aid workers die with more frequency in service to others.

I am left deeply impressed by the Doctors Without Borders group pushing ahead to get medical supplies into southern Lebanon. This admiration is not because many of the people there are Christian, though they are, but because their selfless service to others is very Christ-like. No matter what there religious background, the members of the group and the volunteers who assisted them showed courage that should inspire those of us who face no similar challenge in reaching out to the least among us.

In the archives are the sermons Small Things Done with Great Love, which includes the story of my visit not with aid workers in this sense, but with a group working in a very tough skum in Brazil, and the sermon A Great Cloud of Witnesses which tells of the martyrdom in 2003 of members of the Melanesian Brotherhood, a group of Anglican monks.

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

2 Comments:

  • At 8/09/2006 11:45 AM, Blogger Laura said…

    I am always overwhelmed by such selfless bravery. Whether or not it is their intention, these people ARE being Christ's hands and hearts.

     
  • At 8/09/2006 3:28 PM, Anonymous William said…

    I agree that the selfless service of organizations like Doctors Without Borders demonstrates the unconditional love that is the essence of Christianity. Instead of debating who is right or wrong they are feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, exactly what Christ told us to do. If only we all had the courage to lay down our life for our neighbor.

     

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8/08/2006

Be spiritual without being religious

I ran across the post Is it all right to be spiritual without being religious? at The Journey. The entry says in part,
To understand this in another way, it might be helpful to consider the meaning of the two words religion and spiritual. The word religion in Latin actually refers to piety and the word spiritual comes from the French word esprit and refers to the breath or breathing. You are, first and foremost, spiritual. Becoming religious—practicing piety—is a result of being spiritual. Your breath (your spiritual nature) is given to you by the Creator. You cannot make yourself breathe, nor can you will your breathing to cease. You are intimately connected to the One who gave you the breath and every time you inhale and exhale, your spirit longs for a deeper relationship with that One who is beyond your wildest imaginings.

The post closes with some specific steps to take if you are considering a change
So, if you are feeling spiritual, but are a bit afraid of becoming religious, you might take a few moments to do the following exercise.

1. Sit quietly for a few moments, letting go of all the burdens and anxieties that are so much a part of life. Bring your attention to your heart and to your breath.

2. Let your heart speak to God about your longing for relationship. You don't need special words or prayers. Just tell God what you are feeling.

3. Take out a piece of paper and write out ten ways that you could be more religious without stopping being spiritual. Feel free to think outside the box!

4. Re-read your list, and visualize reading it to God.

5. Spend a few moments in silence to see what God wants to say to you. God may speak audibly, or you may have a fresh idea or insight, or a new sense of peace.

6. Choose one or two things that you will begin to work on, and offer your intentions to God.

7. Thank God for the time that you have spent together.
In the King of Peace archives you will also find an article and a sermon on praying The Jesus Prayer. and an Adobe .PDF format brochure on Centering Prayer for those interested in these similar forms of prayer.

How do you think spirituality and religion connect? How are they different?

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

2 Comments:

  • At 8/08/2006 6:32 PM, Blogger CSL said…

    Well,the Buddha was spiritual (and most notably in the sense of following the breath) without being religious. He taught the practice without addressing the issue of the existence of God. And Thich Nhat Hahn says you can practice mindful, and spiritual, attention to the breath within any (or no) religious tradition. At a TNH retreat I attended there were atheists, agnostics, a Catholic nun in her habit, an Episcopal priest - you name it. So I think you can be spiritual and religious or spiritual and not religious. But that's the opinion of a non-theistic Buddhist-Quaker, so take it or leave it. Carol

     
  • At 8/08/2006 11:00 PM, Anonymous Debbie said…

    There are lots of people who consider themselves religious, or rather are obedient to a set of principles of formulae to get on God's good side. James 1:27 says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." To me, this means love your neighbors as yourself, and live like you believe what you say you believe. To put it bluntly, showing up on Christmas, Easter, and other assorted Sundays may make one religious in the world's eyes, but it doesn't establish that one is reconciled to God.

    Whether one is spiritual, whether the Holy Spirit bears witness with one's spirit, is a different issue altogether.

    Modern spirituality doesn't mean your spirit communes with God any more than showing up for church makes one religious. Unfortunately, many people with "spiritual disciplines" do not even acknowledge God who must be worshipped in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

     

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8/07/2006

Prayerful Crime Stoppers

an aerial view of King of Peace
Reuter's reports that an English group is using a Pray Watch to stop crime. The report goes on to say,
As well as encouraging worshippers to keep an eye out on their churches and each other, the police said the scheme would allow Christians to use prayer to help catch criminals.

"It's largely geared to protecting congregations and church properties which are pretty vulnerable places, but with the added bolt-on aspect of prayer," a Lincolnshire police spokesman told Reuters Wednesday.

Retired London policeman Don Axcell, the national executive director of the Christian Police Association, said God did answer crime-busting prayers.

"I'm a great believer in the power of prayer and all I'd say to the skeptics is that I've seen it work too many times for it to be a coincidence," he told the Lincolnshire Echo newspaper.
I know that pray does change things. I also know that we have had incidents of vandalism over the last six years of King of Peace which have included one church cat being killed and another shot and needing its leg amputated. We have also experienced a variety of thefts including two VCRs, a glider rocker and large box of Legos for The Preschool.

Should we have been praying to prevent the theft of the back tires right off our tractor? Or does God watch our backs by working in the lives of those who have stolen from King of Peace? What is the Christian response?

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

Note:
Yesterday's sermon on The heretic who gave us the Bible is now online.

1 Comments:

  • At 8/07/2006 10:39 PM, Anonymous Debbie said…

    I believe we should be praying for God's protection for His property just as we would our own during a time of danger. Consider the parable of the woman and the judge. I don't think Jesus was condemning the woman for demanding justice.

    I find it difficult sometimes to reconcile the widow's demands for justice, Christ's commands to turn the other cheek, and "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord." I suppose as long as I'm asking for God to lead others to do justice and not asking to be the tool God uses to exact his judgement...

    I guess it's a matter of the difference between doing justice and judgement. When we do justice we are being obedient. When we do judgement, we are stepping trying to do God's role. When we pray for God's justice and peace, we are asking for God to be active in our lives, because apart from God, there is only revenge and confusion.

     

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8/06/2006

The Pillar of the Cloud


The following poem, The Pillar of the Cloud, was written by noted Anglican theologian John Henry Newman (1801-1890). This poem, which became a popular hymn, was inspired by a journey from Palermo, Italy to Marseille, France in an orange boat which was becalmed in the Strait of Bonifacio on June 16, 1833. Newman had just recovered from a serious fever and was returning to England convinced that God had important work for him there, yet there he sat waiting for wind to power the orange boat out of the strait.
Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet: I do not ask to see
The distant scene, —one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will; remember not past years.

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.
Newman returned to help found the Oxford Movement which sought to bring the Church of England back in line with its more Catholic roots (some might say the early Christian tradition baby thrown out with the Reformation bath water). Though at the point he wrote the poem above Newman still described Rome as "polytheistic, degrading and idolatrous," in time he converted to Roman Catholicism and was named a Cardinal.

But we see in the poem that Newman, who would return to England to find himself leading the movement which did guide the church back into neglected traditions which had nourished centuries of Christians, first committed himself to following Christ one step at a time.

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8/05/2006

Transfiguration

Tomorrow is Transfiguration Day, which falls on a Sunday this year. In the Gospel Reading we read of Jesus transfigured before his death. The Rev. Ken Kesselus' sermon for tomorrow (written for the Episcopal Church's Sermons That Work series) connects the readings for Transfiguration to the fact that tomorrow is also the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima:
Hiroshima August 6, 1946August 6, 2006 reminds us that sixty-one years ago flyers of the U.S. Army Air Corps dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan—a profoundly dramatic event that forever changed the world. This cataclysm released such energy that a blue sky was transfigured into a blinding white light of an intensity never before witnessed...

This is an extreme, dramatic example of how we on earth can treat on another, how fearful we can become when we are threatened, how easily we can forget why we were created, despite what God desires and longs for us to become. It illustrates how easy it is for us to pervert the energies God has created...

Today’s Gospel, however, reminds us of a deeper reality—that God insists always on having the last word. The dazzling, blinding white light cast on the mountain declares that God insists on transfiguring hell into heaven. God will not let the hell of Hiroshima that we speak of be the last word. God will not let the selfishness and inhumanity of nuclear annihilation win out...

Lorenzo Lotto's painting of The TransfigurationAs we remember August 6, 1945, always the image of the mushroom-shaped cloud comes to consciousness. But Christians who remember that August 6 is the Feast of the Transfiguration know, too, that another cloud overshadows the mushroom-shaped one. It is the cloud of the mountain from which the voice of God reminds us that Jesus is God’s chosen one to whom we must listen.
The full text of the sermon is online here: Transfiguration Day

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8/04/2006

Costly Change in Politics

The Woodland Hills Church
Perhaps you have heard the news of the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd, pastor of the evangelical megasized The Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. He preached a sermon series to make clear his views on the intersection of faith and politics and in the process lost 1,000 members. An AOL news article reports,
The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

the Rev Greg BoydMr. Boyd says he is no liberal. He is opposed to abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God’s ideal. The response from his congregation at Woodland Hills Church here in suburban St. Paul—packed mostly with politically and theologically conservative, middle-class evangelicals—was passionate. Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.

But there were also congregants who thanked Mr. Boyd, telling him they were moved to tears to hear him voice concerns they had been too afraid to share.
In the accompanying unscientific poll at the site with 417,241 votes in, 55% of those reading the article agreed with Boyd's views. Boyd has recently written a book, The Myth of a Christian Nation.

I think no matter how one feels about his views there was integrity in preaching them knowing that clarity would come with a cost. What do you think?

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

5 Comments:

  • At 8/04/2006 12:51 PM, Anonymous Steve said…

    Good for him.

     
  • At 8/04/2006 10:14 PM, Anonymous Loren said…

    Quite impressive that he was able to overlook the "numbers game" and speak such a powerful message.

     
  • At 8/04/2006 11:37 PM, Anonymous Debbie said…

    I admire that he was willing to risk all to take a stand for what he believes is right.

    I do have mixed feelings about the message he sends. On one hand, I agree that the church should not be in the business of supporting a single political viewpoint. God's kingdom is not limited to our political structure and I believe it is a poor steward of God's resources for us to spend God's money to support a single political agenda. God's resources should be used to advance God's kingdom - going into all the world to preach the Gospel, making disciples, baptizing them. Our efforts to encourage peace, justice, etc., should be an outgrowth of what God is doing and should be independent of political controllers.

    On the other hand, I defend anyone's right to participate actively in the political process, and reject our culture's notion that people of faith need participate only if their faith does not affect how they make decisions. My father, perhaps the wisest man I know, has always said that if your faith doesn't change how you live, you don't really believe.

    It seems to be more of a question of where our loyalty really lies. There are many issues on which Christians can easily disagree. We get into trouble when we lose our focus, stop doing what scripture says is right, and get caught up in what Man says is right.

     
  • At 8/05/2006 6:36 PM, Anonymous Kenny said…

    Megadittos! ;)

     
  • At 8/06/2006 12:09 AM, Blogger CSL said…

    The first definition of liberal: "Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry." I think Mr. Boyd is underestimating himself - in an important way he is a liberal in its very best sense.
    Carol

     

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