The Olive Branch
The latest issue of our newsletter The Olive Branch is now online and will go into the mail tomorrow. You may view the newsletter in Adobe PDF format now here: http://kingofpeace.org/vol8no2.pdf
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.
While you may not have heard the terms "The Emerging Church" and "Emergent Churches" before, these are two ways of describing a new way to be a church that are getting a lot of press. Some folks come and peak at our website and see us as part of this movement which arose largely among evangelical churches disatisfied with some things about that Christian movement. Yet while we are not intentionally, self-awarely so, there are some points of connection to be sure.
A recent article in Christianity Today Five Streams of the Emerging Church will fill you in on the details. The author of that article notes five themes found in emerging churches as:
Clearly King of Peace does not reflect all of these themes, but I think our way of being the Body of Christ in Camden County is not unrelated to the Emerging Church. There is also a line in the article which I think does reflect King of Peace. It says,
Emerging upholds faith seeking understanding,
and trust preceding the apprehension
or comprehension of gospel truths.
I had to read that a couple of times to get it. Faith seeking understanding I know as a medieval quote from a time when faithful Christians came to realize they could use their God given reason to probe more and deepend their understanding. And then the part about reaching out in love and establishing trust with people before they have come to faith is also something we strive for even if we may miss sometimes. If I understand the above correctly, I think it is a fair description of our congregation even though we don't hit all five of the streams noted above.
So what is probably most true is that King of Peace is not an emerging church or part of the Emergent movement, but in our own way we reflect some of what those post-evangelical churches are up to.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
Resentment and gratitude cannot coexist, since resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift. My resentment tells me that I don't receive what I deserve. It always manifests itself as envy. Gratitude, however, goes beyond the "mine" and "thine" and claims the truth that all life is a pure gift.
Things were fine in Nazareth until Jesus opened his mouth and all hell broke lose. And this was only his first sermon! One might have thought that Jesus would have used a more effective rhetorical strategy, would have saved inflammatory speech until he had taken the time to build trust, to win people’s affection, to contextualize his message—as we are urged to do in homiletics classes.Preaching grace nearly got Jesus killed that day in Nazareth and did get him later killed in Jerusalem. Preaching God's love for people different from himself got that preacher punished in South Carolina. We want to control who God can love and how. But God never cooperates by hating who we want Him to hate.
No, instead he threw the book at them, hit them right between the eyes with Isaiah, and jabbed them with First Kings, right to the jaw, left hook. Beaten, but not bowed, the congregation struggled to its feet, regrouped and attempted to throw the preacher off a cliff. And Jesus "went on his way."
And what a way to go. In just a few weeks, this sermon will end, not in Nazareth but at Golgotha. For now, Jesus has given us the slip. Having preached the sovereign grace of God—grace for a Syrian army officer or a poor pagan woman at Zarephath—Jesus demonstrates that he is free even from the community that professes to be people of the Book. The Book and its preachers are the hope of the community of faith, not its pets or possessions....
In a seminar for preachers that I led with Stanley Hauerwas, one pastor said, in a plaintive voice, "The bishop sent me to a little town in South Carolina. I preached one Sunday on the challenge of racial justice. In two months my people were so angry that the bishop moved me. At the next church, I was determined for things to go better. Didn’t preach about race. But we had an incident in town, and I felt forced to speak.
"The board met that week and voted unanimously for us to be moved. My wife was insulted at the supermarket. My children were beaten upon the school ground."
My pastoral heart went out to this dear, suffering brother. Hauerwas replied, "And your point is what? We work for the living God, not a false, dead god! Did somebody tell you it would be easy?"
And social justice champion Jim Wallis writes,
The candidates for the highest office, just as all other citizens of liberal democracies, have the right to express their religious views in public....
'But more is at stake than just exercise of the candidates’ rights. It would seem disingenuous if presidential candidates did not express their religious views. If the candidates are religious, presumably their religious convictions touch the very core of who they are and shape significantly their social vision. More broadly, religious motivations are then what largely makes them “tick.” Not to know their religious views is not to know them.
I have said and written many times that I think a good and fair discussion of how a candidate’s faith shapes his or her political values should be viewed as an appropriate and positive thing—it’s as relevant as any other fact about a politician’s background, convictions, and experience for public office....We do as a nation have a separation of church and state which means that there is no official religion or religious view. However, we do not have nor would I want us to have a separation of faith and politics, meaning that I expect someone's faith and values will effect the political decisions they make. As these views will effect their decision making, I don't mind candidates describing the ways in which they feel their own faith will effect their public service. But I find that much political rhetoric is different in kind from what I am describing and can degenerate to someone who seems to have no outward signs of faith other than during political campaigns trying to wrap him or herself in the Bible. Don't they realize that America is not the Kingdom of God and Jesus is neither Democrat nor Republican?
Having said that, I also say that it is important to remember that the particular religiosity of a candidate, or how devout they might be, is much less important than how their religious and/or moral commitments shape their values, their political vision and their policy commitments. If one’s religious and ethical convictions don’t shape a candidate’s (or a citizen’s) public life—what kind of commitments are they?
I had a great afternoon making new friends. Our church has started an Art Guild that meets a couple of Saturdays a month, and today was the day. We made cedar-filled sachets to sell at our Christmas bazaar later in the year. I like making things with my hands, but more important to me was spending a couple of hours with my daughter making new friends and getting to know other women in our church. Afterwards, some of us went to lunch together, too.
The writer of Hebrews said in Hebrews 10:24-25, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
The full text of the post is here: Some Assembly Required. FYI: The Art Guild meets every other Saturday at 12 noon at the church to create crafts for sale in our Holiday Bazaar. The group is under the leadership of Deacon Jennifer Highsmith and its schedule is found in our newsletter and at the church website www.kingofpeace.org.
In the archives is the sermon Baptism and Community.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
Of course, the people he meets have learned not to trust soldiers and I imagine, if ordered to do so, the young man of the report will do things he will later regret. How many young men who were trying to find answers in life have been forced to do so while walking in hostile territory and carrying a gun?
Their eyes look at me with distrust, and resignation. And I want to get out and tell them that I'm alright.
Then I look at myself, and see myself in uniform and I see what they see.
'Another soldier in uniform'
And I guess they are not wrong in feeling what they feel. And I feel very sad at the state of affairs. I want to tell them that I am about as good or as bad as any of them, and I am not here to harm them. Beneath the uniform I am just a young man in his twenties trying to find answers in life.
What I am saying is that I may be a soldier, but I am definitely not the enemy. In the end, there is still hope.
Walking around with a gun
I am reminded of the famed Christmas Truce of World War I in which both sides sang Christmas Carols and then met in the No Man's Land. There is still hope when we see the person who is supposed to be our enemy as a potential friend. But walking around with a gun in a war zone makes breaking down walls in that way impossible. Walk around with a gun long enough and someone will attack and then you will shoot back. It's what generations of idealistic young men with guns have had to do and will do again.
That Christmas Truce was hopeful, but it was followed by more grueling trench warfare with each side laying waste to the other. By the time we are in trenches with guns cocked and loaded seeing one another as a potential friend is long gone from the equation.
Band of Brothers
I am a man. I don't tear up at sappy movies. In fact, I almost never cry at all. But I wept while wandering through the Congressional Medal of Honor citations exhibit at Parris Island Marine Recruiting Depot. I was not the only man crying, though we tried not to notice one another. I found the Marines' acts of bravery awe inspiring. Their courage under fire inspirational.
I know that the sort of bravery that is acknowledged with a Medal of Honor is not engendered by "the good of the nation" or the "honor of the fight" or anything less lofty than the love felt for the men a solider serves alongside. In the end, that is whom the soldier really fights for. Sure the country is a great idea and the flag is inspiring, but you fight hard for the men you fight with. It's about the Band of Brothers. And that too is honorable.
The Debt We Owe
Yet what we must acknowledge is that we owe so great debt to those who fight on our behalf, that we must think long and hard before deciding that the young men (and increasingly women) need to go war at all. Because we can teach them how to shoot a person. That's the easy part. But we have a tough time teaching them to live with it.
I hope that Indian soldier in Kashmir never has to learn that lesson. The full text of the BBC News article is online at Impressions from Kashmir War Zone.
Three old men,of whom one had a bad reputation, came one day to Abba Achilles.
The first asked him, "Father, make me a fishing-net."
"I will not make you one," he replied.
Then the second said, "Of your charity make one, so that we may have a souvenir of you in the monastery."
But he said, "I do not have time."
Then the third one, who had a bad reputation, said, "Make me a fishing-net, so that I may have something from your hands, Father."
Abba Achilles answered him at once, "For you, I will make one."
Then the two other old men asked him privately, "Why did you not want to do what we asked you, but you promised to do what he asked?"
The old man gave them this answer, "I told you I would not make one, and you were not disappointed, since you thought that I had no time. But if I had not made one for him, he would have said, 'The old man has heard about my sin, and that is why he does not want to make me anything,' and so our relationship would have broken down. But now I have cheered his soul, so that he will not be overcome with grief."
We love each other as a result of his loving us first. If someone says, "I love God," but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don't love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen? And God himself has commanded that we must love not only him but our Christian brothers and sisters, too.So the best way to experience that 101% of the Love of God is through loving your neighbor as yourself. That's the equation as I have learned it. What's been your experience of loving God through loving others?
When the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in the midst of the Civil War, the slaves who lived within the realm of the Confederacy remained in bondage. Many did not know about the proclamation when it went into effect. Its authority was denied and nullified by local and regional power.What holds people captive today? How might we continue to live into Jesus' goal to proclaim release to the captives?
Yet Lincoln, in both his words and his claim to authority over the whole of the split and rebellious Union, contended that the proclamation was nonetheless true and real. And so this flawed and partial emancipation became the herald of a fuller freedom, a fulfillment yet unreached.
Jesus' proclamation...no different.
|You scored as Sacrament model. Your model of the church is Sacrament. The church is the effective sign of the revelation that is the person of Jesus Christ. Christians are transformed by Christ and then become a beacon of Christ wherever they go. This model has a remarkable capacity for integrating other models of the church.|
What is your model of the church? [Dulles]
created with QuizFarm.com
Have you ever seen a heron standing motionless on the shore of a lake? From his attitude you might think he was standing gazing at God's Power and Glory, wondering at the great expanse of water, and at its power to cleanse and satisfy the thirst of living creatures. But the heron has no such thoughts in his head at all; he stands there hour after hour, simply in order to see whether he can catch a frog or a little fish.
Many human beings behave like that in prayer and meditation. They sit on the shore of God's Ocean; but they give no thought to His Power and Love, they pay no attention to His Spirit which , can cleanse them from their sins, neither do they consider His Being which can satisfy their soul's thirst; they give themselves up entirely to the thought of how they can gain something that will please them, something that will help them to enjoy the transitory pleasures of this world, and so they turn their faces away from the clear water of spiritual peace. They give themselves up to the things of this world which pass away, and they perish with them.
Sometimes people ask me this question: "If God does not wish us to ask for material things, but for Himself, the Giver of all good, why does the Bible never say: Do not pray for this or that, pray simply for the Holy Spirit? Why has this never been clearly expressed?"
I reply, "Because He knew that people would never begin to pray if they could not ask for earthly things like riches and health and honours; He says to Himself: If they ask for such things the desire for something better will awaken in them, and finally they will only care about the higher things."
My most formative religious experience came at the age of 25, sitting in the back of a small seminary auditorium in Portland, Oregon, listening to a gruff British speaker behind a small wooden podium.The full text of his article is online here: A profound revelation in a seminary auditorium.
The invited guest, Major Ian Thomas, was the founder and general director of Torchbearers, a Christian organization based in England. His thick British accent and staccato delivery made it a challenge to follow his message. But when he waved his partially amputated finger at the crowd he clearly got my attention.
His message that winter morning was on Moses and the burning bush. It was a story I was familiar with (probably most of us are) but his point was revolutionizing.
The essence of his talk was that it took Moses forty years in the wilderness to realize that he was nothing. It wasn’t until he came across a burning bush – a bush made mostly of worthless, dried-up old sticks, completely engulfed in flames yet not consumed – that Moses finally “got it.” And very quickly, as Major Thomas described the story, I did too.
According to Major Thomas, God was trying to tell Moses, “I don’t need a pretty bush or an educated bush or an eloquent bush. Any old bush will do, as long as I (God) am in the bush.”
Thomas went on to share, “If God is going to use you, he is going to use you. It will not be you doing something for him, but God doing something in you and through you.”
Once upon a time a certain teenage woman was invited to a birthday party. In fact according to all reports it was going to be a super cool party. However, this young woman was at that stage of her maturation where it was necessary to adopt a pose of infinite boredom with life, she was in fact like a flapper in one Evelyn Waugh’s novels about the nineteen twenties from the very act of breathing was an source of infinite fatigue. So she announced that she wasn’t going to the party because it would be “BORING!” Other young women considered her opinion, because she was one of the opinion-makers of her group, but they said well, maybe it won’t be boring. So they decided to attend the party. Our heroine’s mother kept urging her to give the party a chance because the birthday queen’s mother was such a nice woman. WELL, as we all know if a mother thinks something is worthwhile, by definition it can’t be. Anyway, at the last minute she decided to show up, if only to stop people from talking about her.I have to admit, now that you've read it, that the story leaves me wondering how it connects to the Gospel reading. I can see the party he describes and the girl's lack of participation and then the reversal in her description to her mom, but I can't make the connection.
She walked in the front door of the house, looked around at the thirty young people who were talking, dancing, and eating and said, Nobody’s here! Where’s everybody! So she found a segment of the wall that looked like it needed shoring up and leaned against, with a loud sigh. A nearby angel said she sighed a hundred and forty nine times during the party. Many of the boys at the party tried to talk to her. They offered to bring her food and a coke (the hostess’s mother kept an eagle eye out for other liquids) or a piece of cake. She just sighed again and shook her head. One boy, by reputation very cool, even brought her a piece of chocolate cake. Barf city she said.
When the party was over she walked home by herself. How was the party her mother asked. Oh, said young woman, it was great. Everyone was there and we had a wonderful time.
Jesus did enjoy life and wanted others to enjoy it to the fullest also. He is not a gloomy guide but a joyful friend. He tells us in fact, “This is who I am; follow me.” There is goodness in life and in the meaningful occasions of our lives.So is the Greeley story meant to show the opposite to the Gospel? What did I miss?
I suppose if I had a "most formative religious experience," it didn't actually take place in my lifetime, but occurred to a teenage boy 126 years ago. He was my great-grandfather, Gustav Niebuhr, after whom I'm named.He goes on to tell of how his great-grandfather's conversion to Christianity had ongoing implications for his family and writes of the elder Gustav's conversion saying,
About Gustav: He was strong-willed and adventurous, with something of a rowdy streak. At 18, he abruptly pulled up stakes from his native German village, found his way to a seaport and set sail for America. He got as far west as Illinois, where he shifted between agricultural and factory labor, eventually ending up working for his cousins, fellow immigrants who owned a farm. They were pious folk and used to invite him to church. He typically refused.Those words did matter as they were a turning point for a whole family that would follow. Though he doesn't go into detail in the column, his family is one of famed theologians. His grandfather was H. Richard Niebuhr (1894–1962) whose book Christ and Culture was formative for me when I read it while serving as a pastor intern in Tanzania.
But one day, he took them up. There's no record that's come down to me about what he heard that morning. But a sermon changed his life. Words do matter: I take that on faith.
I could quote Faulkner here, about the past not being past. But I think it's more to the point to say that experiences involving faith--which I consider deeply human experiences--can be exceptionally powerful. They can transcend space and time, and can even be felt for generations.peace,
A plan to recruit and incorporate newcomers, clarity of mission and ministry, contemporary worship, involvement of children in worship, geographic location, a website and the absence of conflict are key factors in why some congregations in America are growing, according to the latest national survey of U.S. faith communities.Though he probably doesn't remember it, I've eaten a couple of meals with Kirk at the Presiding Bishop's Conference on Church Planting at which I was a presenter. He's a sharp guy and really has a handle on statistics about The Episcopal Church in a helpful way. Despite that King of Peace is not following his advice.
The survey, sponsored by the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership (CCSP), found that wanting to grow is not enough. Congregations that grow must plan for growth.
"Congregations that developed a plan to recruit members in the last year were much more likely to grow than congregations that had not," according to a report on the survey written by C. Kirk Hadaway, Director of Research at the Episcopal Church Center in New York.
Students were asked to do something that they were good at, be it writing, playing basketball or talking to their friends. According to positive psychology, your signature strengths play a special role in building your confidence and thus bringing you happiness.You are asked to identify your special strengths and then use those strengths to try something new.
Positive psychology brings the same attention to positive emotions (happiness, pleasure, well-being) that clinical psychology has always paid to the negative ones (depression, anger, resentment). Psychoanalysis once promised to turn acute human misery into ordinary suffering; positive psychology promises to take mild human pleasure and turn it into a profound state of well-being.Wondering how you rate? Dr. Martin Seligman of Pennsylvania is a leading researcher who offers some questionaires at authentichappiness.org to help people assess themselves online.
We thank you, Father, for the water of baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit. Therefore in joyful obedience to your Son, we bring into his fellowship those who come to him in faith, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Why was God pleased? What was Jesus doing in that water anyway? Jesus went to the river for the forgiveness of Sin. Just as a newborn infant, who has surely not sinned, is baptized for forgiveness of Sin, so too was Jesus baptized. Not because of sins, the many little sinful actions of our lives in which we turn ourselves away from God, but because of Sin. Sin is the main root cause of all the other sins....The full text of the sermon is online here: Bethlehem Star Baptized for Sin
Being born into this world turned from God, meant that Jesus should one day make a decisive break from that Sin. The moment for this came at the start of his earthly ministry. Jesus entered the water and was baptized as an outward sign of the inward action of God lovingly washing away the effects of Sin, the sinful state of a world turned from God. Even the Sinless One knew that he must wash away the Sin of a world turned away from God in order to more fully receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then with the full anointing of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was ready to begin his ministry.
We too live in a world turned from God. People are created good, in the image of God, made for a life lived connected with God and with each other. Yet we live in a world which is fundamentally disconnected. People are disconnected from God, from each other, and from nature. Human life is no longer what it was created to be. But it’s never too late. Each of us can make a fundamental turn away from a world lived apart from God toward a world lived in connection to God and through that we connect more fully with each other....
Through baptism, we make the story of Jesus our own story. We do as Jesus did. In obedience to God we pray for the stain of a world turned from God to be washed away. The Holy Spirit comes to give us the grace and strength to live out this new life.
A bevy of experiments in recent years suggest that the conscious mind is like a monkey riding a tiger of subconscious decisions and actions in progress, frantically making up stories about being in control.The article quotes Michael Silberstein, a science philosopher at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania as saying,
If people freak at evolution, etc. how much more will they freak if scientists and philosophers tell them they are nothing more than sophisticated meat machines, and is that conclusion now clearly warranted or is it premature?The article goes on to say,
How comforted or depressed this makes you might depend on what you mean by free will. The traditional definition is called “libertarian” or “deep” free will. It holds that humans are free moral agents whose actions are not predetermined. This school of thought says in effect that the whole chain of cause and effect in the history of the universe stops dead in its tracks as you ponder the dessert menu.The problem started in the 1970s when Benjamin Libet, a physiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, wired up the brains of volunteers to an electroencephalogram and told the volunteers to make random motions, like pressing a button or flicking a finger, while he noted the time on a clock. The article says,
At that point, anything is possible. Whatever choice you make is unforced and could have been otherwise, but it is not random. You are responsible for any damage to your pocketbook and your arteries.
Dr. Libet found that brain signals associated with these actions occurred half a second before the subject was conscious of deciding to make them. The order of brain activities seemed to be perception of motion, and then decision, rather than the other way around.The article looks at Free Will from other angles and largely sees it as a "convenient illusion" and takes the perspective that "According to deep mathematical principles, they say, even machines can become too complicated to predict their own behavior and would labor under the delusion of free will."
In short, the conscious brain was only playing catch-up to what the unconscious brain was already doing. The decision to act was an illusion, the monkey making up a story about what the tiger had already done.
There are no shortcuts in computation. That means that the more reasonably you try to act, the more unpredictable you are, at least to yourself. Even if your wife knows you will order the chile rellenos, you have to live your life to find out.If you are intrigued, you'll want to look at the full text of the article: Free Will: Now you have it now you don't which does a better job explaining itself than my digest above.