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.

1/31/2007

The Olive Branch

click to view the PDF version

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

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The Emerging Church

Our church as construction was ending and a large mud puddle looked lake like out front

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:

  • Prophetic (or at least provocative)
  • Postmodern
  • Praxis-oriented (how the faith is lived out)
  • Post Evangelical
  • Political

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.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

4 Comments:

  • At 1/31/2007 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I don't get it. Why does it all have to be analyzed and labeled?

     
  • At 1/31/2007 3:04 PM, Anonymous Jim said…

    King of Peace is certainly emerging out of that puddle.

     
  • At 1/31/2007 9:26 PM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    I not so sure King of Peace is emerging as much as it has arrived. It is a very strong voice for good in the community. That's what is important, not whether or not you fit some newfangled definition. By the way, your turn to buy lunch.

     
  • At 2/01/2007 1:52 PM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    I think we are a King of Peace Church.

     

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1/30/2007

The way we get turned around



As Christians we want to be forgivers of sins, the lovers of men, new incarnations of Christ, saviors rather than saved; secure in our own possession of the true religion, rather than dependent on a Lord who possesses us, chooses us, forgives us. If we do not try to have God under our control, then at least we try to give ourselves the assurance that we are on His side facing the rest of the world; not with that world facing Him in infinite dependence, with no security save Him.

—H. Richard Neibuhr

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1/29/2007

Open mouth and insert...

Last week in our Sunday afternoon Education for Ministry seminar, Janet Finkelstein shared the following poem she had written:


Dear Lord look down on me
And please let me see
that since I'm living in the South
I've got to shut this Yankee mouth.

Put some sugar on what I say
in my own caustic way
but if this is too hard to do
please open mouth and insert shoe.

I misunderstood her and for the better part of the week, I thought her last line of the poem read:

please open mouth and insert You.

referring to God inserting God's own self into her mouth instead of the caustic Yankee. Well, it turns out I was wrong and when I told her what I heard, she still preferred the line with "shoe."

Having worked with a variety of editors on eight books I wrote with my wife Victoria, I know what she means. She wrote the poem in her own voice and changing one word changes the meaning enough that even if I like it, that is my voice not hers. And expressing her voice in words may have been the point all along.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand,
which he had taken from the altar with tongs.
He touched my mouth with it and said,
"Behold, this has touched your lips;
and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven."
—Isaiah 6:5-7

3 Comments:

  • At 1/29/2007 8:57 AM, Blogger anything but typical said…

    So does that mean we can change "Holy, Holy, Holy" back to the way Reginald Huber wrote it?

     
  • At 1/29/2007 1:07 PM, Anonymous kenny said…

    Can I get an amen to that!!

    lol!

     
  • At 1/29/2007 4:40 PM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    I run into a similar problem many times in my owm writing when two words seem appropriate but neither fully conveys what I am trying to say. I eventually gave up and resorted to putting a forward slash between the words and including them both. I believe it enriches the writing by multiplying potential meaning/interpretation.

     

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1/28/2007

Life is a pure gift

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.
—Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932-1996)

Labels: ,

1 Comments:

  • At 10/13/2010 4:08 PM, Anonymous Kayla said…

    Believe it or not, gratitude comes from well-resolved resentment. You see, babies are not "born" with gratitude. They scream, they cry, they want to be fed, period, by WHOEVER is there, as long as they get what they want. Some people, sadly, remain like that for the rest of their lives, even into the nursing homes...while other people apparently "grow up" and realize, that, no, wait, life is a gift, I AM AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT, therefore I can take care of myself and others. Those that have envy in their hearts(I did!)think of life as a "burden" to be carried, something "imposed" on them... grow up already!

     

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1/27/2007

God never cooperates

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus nearly gets himself tossed off a cliff. The people are angered by Jesus' teaching that the love of God extends beyond Israel. Methodist Bishop and reknowned preacher William Willimon has preached on this passage saying,
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.

Trying to throw Jesus off a cliffNo, 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?"
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.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

1 Comments:

  • At 1/27/2007 10:36 AM, Blogger anything but typical said…

    I've been reading The Challenge of Jesus by N.T. Wright. Here's an applicable quote:

    "To take up the cross and follow Jesus meant embracing Jesus' utterly risky vocation - to be the light of the world in a way the revolutionaries had never dreamed of."

     

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1/26/2007

Church and State vs. Faith and Politics

Over at On Faith, the folks at Newsweek and The Washington Post are offering comments by a variety of panelists on whether presidential candidates should talk about their religious convictions. For example, Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf 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.

And social justice champion Jim Wallis writes,
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....

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?
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?

The On Faith page with the responses of all the panelists is online here: Religion in political campaigns. What do y'all think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

3 Comments:

  • At 1/26/2007 7:53 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    I find that I am more disappointed to find out what faith or denomination politicians have than I was in the past.

    I as a current Episcopalian I was proud to learn that Gerald Ford was an Episcopalian.

    As a past Methodist I find that was disappointed to find out that George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were both Methodists.

    Yet underneath that disappointment there is a feeling of gladness, not despair.

    I was glad when I heard that Bill went to his pastor for counseling.

    I was glad to learn that George also spends time talking to his pastor.

    Having Faith exist in the lives of men who shape the destiny of an entire nation preserves Hope even when those men fail.

     
  • At 1/26/2007 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Why does denomination matter? Faith in God is what it is. Religion provides an anvenue to follow your faith.

    I find that it is more important to know that a politician has faith in the Lord and has the courage to follow that faith. I am more disappointed to know of their public sins rather than what denomination they are when they commit those sins.

    Too, it is disappointing when a politician uses his/her "faith" or religion to gain popularity and power. Was Clinton sincere when he sought counseling from his minister? If he was a true man of faith, would he have found it so easy to sin in the first place? If he truly was a man of faith, I would think he would have sought counseling before he got caught.

    And let's take a look at the Catholic Kennedys...They hold up religion to gain populartiy, but those sins of the fathers, sons and brothers--and cousins too!

    Maybe this is only idealism, but if a politician claims to have faith in God, let's see that faith in action. Don't abuse faith and religion to ehance the public image and to gain power.

     
  • At 1/26/2007 1:57 PM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Did you hear the one about the angostic dyslexic with insomnia? He stayed up all night wondering if there is a dog.

    But seriously, I think Pres. Gerald Ford handled it right. He let his faith guide his decisions without using it for political gain. His pardon of Richard Nixon demonstrated that he clearly understood the truth of the Gospel.

     

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1/25/2007

Florence Hughes

Mrs. Florence H. Hughes

At 1 p.m. today we will hold a memorial service for Florence Hughes. Mrs. Hughes died this past Saturday evening in Hospice Care. She was 80 years old and leaves behind her husband, Arthur, children Ian Hughes and Janice Morris, and grandchildren who include Gregory and Andrew Morris.

Mrs. Florence H. HughesMrs. Hughes is pictured above adding flowers to the cross Easter 2005 in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection. Every day we hold a funeral or memorial service is Easter. The service today will be a joyous one and all are expected to wear bright clothing in keeping with the Easter nature of a Christian memorial service. While this may not be typical, it is appropriate and in keeping with the Hughes Family wishes.

Florence may have been always and everywhere an Englishwoman who believed in keeping everything in its proper place and all things tidy. She also knew that tea could cure any ill. Yet she had a mind of her own. She liked her clergymen a bit on the untamed side in terms of their preaching, vestments and the like. And she loved singing hymns and deeply enjoyed worship services, especially Palm Sunday, Easter and Christmas Eve.

I trust she will enjoy the Easter-like memorial service we will hold today in her honor as we commend her soul to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, pastor

3 Comments:

  • At 1/25/2007 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The news of the death of Florence Hughes has reached us and we who knew her while she was a member of St. John's Church are very sad and want her husband Arthur and children Ian and Janice to know that their loss is our loss, too. Memories of Florence are an integral part of the fabric of our life in Christ. She brought her talents to serve in a leading role that is not an easy role to fill, Assistant Treasurer and Treasurer for years and there has been no one since willing to serve as long. This parish is located in a leading academic city with a very transient population so we are gaining and losing members regularly. But the Hughes family were the backbone of this church. The children grew up attending our church school and serving as acolytes while Arthur often offered support on projects. However it was Florence who would be in her pew every Sunday and who would come forward with willing hands when ever needed that marked her as a true Martha. By always being on time with her financial reports and attending countless vestry meetings she was our miracle worker who wore a cheerful face. .In addition she faithfully wrote long hand thank you notes to those who made gifts to the parish.

    We were saddened when Florence and Arthur moved away, but understood their need to be near one of their children as they aged. The cruelty of Florence's illnesses gives us great sympathy for her and her family. We miss her spirit shining among us and know she will brighten the heavenly mansions we've been told will be waiting for us who trust in Our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

    —St. John's Episcopal Church
    New Haven

     
  • At 1/25/2007 5:43 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Today's sermon from Florence Hughes' Memorial Service is online here: A Body of England's.

     
  • At 1/25/2007 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks, Frank, for helping my family "keep in touch" across the miles.
    Janice

     

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1/24/2007

Apostle's Build

Ground is broken
Breaking ground on The Apostle's Build

We broke ground today on the latest Habitat for Humanity house. It is the Apostle's Build being built jointly by 12 Camden County Churches including King of Peace. The materials will arrive on February 6 and then every Saturday after that you can come build starting at 8 a.m. Our special day for King of Peace will be on February 17, but we can and should be there other Saturdays as well. I plan to be there as I can and I hope you will join me.

In the archives are the religion column Hammering out the Gospel and the sermons Doing the Truth and Love in Action which all related directly to Habitat and why I consider this non-profit worth my time and energy.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
(and President of Habitat for Humanity of Camden County)

praying for the homeowner
Praying for the homeowner

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Some Assembly Required

photo from a crafty session of Kids in the Kingdom

In the aptly titled Some Assembly Required, a Radical Conservative Feminist member of King of Peace shares her experience with our Art Guild and reflects on Christian community. She says in part,

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.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

2 Comments:

  • At 1/24/2007 7:19 AM, Anonymous PK's Mom said…

    Sounds like a Baptist PK is doing alright and she is happy at King of Peace. She likes her church family and her pastor's family. We are happy that she has found you. We think Bro Frank is OK also.

     
  • At 1/25/2007 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Glad you took a step towards being part of a community. Sometimes a newcomer may say that no one spoke to them, but they should also ask themselves if they stuck around after the service and tried speaking to someone new themselves. In a church where there are so many newcomers, it is hard for old timers to greet each new person. Sometimes the newcomer has to take some responsibility and take a leap of faith to meet people. Welcome! Let's pray more follow in your footsteps and take that leap.

     

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1/23/2007

Trying to find answers while carrying a gun

Through the serendipty of web surfing on my day off yesterday I ran across a first person account at the BBC News site. It's from a young Indian soldier serving in Kashmir. He is taken aback by the reactions he receives:

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'

photo from KashmirAnd 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.

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?

But the young man is hopeful and says,

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.

In the trenches of World War IThat 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.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

2 Comments:

  • At 1/23/2007 8:27 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    Frank,

    I wonder if you ever think of yourself in some ways as the soldier does.

    Your "uniform" can cause people to put up their shields and hide themselves from you. You (and all Christians) are soldiers of the Cross in a foreign land. We must represent Christ to people who mistrust us and our motives. Our sword is the Bible and that standard can be offputting (is that a word?) to people who haven't accepted Jesus.

    May we never do anything that we will later regret, either.

     
  • At 1/23/2007 11:38 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Kenny,

    That's a good image. I do know that my uniform of clericals breaks down a wall with some people and puts up on with others. What I find most interesting is it marks me so that people watch what they say around me and to me as if God will hear when I am there and won't hear when I am not.

    There is also the image in theology of The Church Militant and the Church Triumphant with the church militant being the church on earth. That's where we get hymns like Onward Christian Soldiers who are not going to an actual military battle, but nonetheless go to war and march as if in to battle.

    peace,
    Frank+

     

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1/22/2007

Dealing with a Bad Reputation


The following is a story that survives from the Christian hermits of the deserts of Egypt circa 400 a.d.
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."

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1/21/2007

101% mathematically certain

Sharing the peace at King of PeaceThe congregation sharing The Peace at King of Peace

My Mom sent me the following equation,

If:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Is represented as:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Then:
H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K
8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

and

K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E
11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%

But,

A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E
1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

AND, look how far the love of God will take you

L- O- V- E O-F G-O-D

12+15+22+5+15+6+7+15+4 = 101%

Therefore, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that while Hard work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, but it's the Love of God that will put you over the top!

My own math skills are limited and so I'll take her word for it. I do know I John 4:19-21, which says
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?

peace,
F+R+A+N+K
6+18+1+14+11=50%
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

PS: Speaking of our neighbors...the Rev. Linda McCloud, founding pastor of our daughter congregation The Episcopal Church of Our Savior, is featured in an article on the religion page of The Brunswick News. The article shows Linda with The Last Supper painting at King of Peace. The article is online here in Adobe PDF format: A Changing of Times.

1 Comments:

  • At 1/26/2007 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If you complete the Frank equation you get
    F R A N K L O G U E
    6+18+1+14+11+12+15+7+5+21= 110%

    That's more like Father Frank Logue
    as we know him!

     

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1/20/2007

Release to the captives

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus returns to his hometown and reads the Prophet Isaiah in the synagogue worship saying,

'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

For Luke this seems to be a summary of Jesus' ministry, almost like a modern mission statement for a corporation or church. Lindy Black offers the following way of looking at Jesus' promise to proclaim release to the captives
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.

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.
What holds people captive today? How might we continue to live into Jesus' goal to proclaim release to the captives?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

1 Comments:

  • At 1/22/2007 8:45 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    While Lincoln's proclamation was a political document designed to garner support for his cause and, interestingly enough, only freeing the slaves within the bounds of the rebellious states, Jesus' proclamation was a spiritual one to all those enslaved by evil, regardless of their location.

    Other than that, it's a good analogy. ;)

     

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1/19/2007

The Church as a Sacrament

King of Peace on Christmas Eve

It turns out that I view the church as a Sacrament—an outward visible sign of God's inward grace. Sounds like a fair assessment to me:

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.

Sacrament model

89%

Servant Model

84%

Mystical Communion Model

78%

Herald Model

56%

Institutional Model

17%

What is your model of the church? [Dulles]
created with QuizFarm.com

If you came to Irenic Thoughts looking for something deeper theologically to chew on, try Father Steve's YouTube clip, which not only has pretty high production values and nice special effects (no kidding) it even makes a Great Theological Point:

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

2 Comments:

  • At 1/19/2007 1:35 PM, Blogger CSL said…

    Great little clip - what a sane approach.

     
  • At 1/20/2007 10:09 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    The quiz was very accurate to what I think about church. Here is my quiz score It is pretty much what I think! Cool!

    Your model of the church is Mystical Communion, which includes both People of God and Body of Christ. The church is essentially people in union with Christ and the Father through the Holy Spirit. Both lay people and clergy are drawn together in a family of faith. This model can exalt the church beyond what is appropriate, but can be supplemented with other models.

    Mystical Communion Model 72%
    Servant Model 72%
    Sacrament model 67%
    Herald Model 61%
    Institutional Model 11%

    One problem with it though. The comment that "this can exhalt the church beyond what is appropriate"... sounds a little paternalistic.

     

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1/18/2007

The clear water of spiritual peace


Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) wrote on prayer saying,
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."

1 Comments:

  • At 1/19/2007 9:56 AM, Anonymous Kay G. said…

    You see birds like me, we stand and stare, not thinking we could see or be aware of the quiet and the peace. But let a small boy run at one of us, and watch us fly to a tree and wait, wait, for that boy to leave, so we can then fly back and stay in that same spot, enjoying the view, and now & then, spotting a fish or frog, eating our fill, yet also rejoicing that God made us as we are.

     

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1/17/2007

Temptation

Adam and Eve

Samuel Clemens as Mark Twain wrote,

Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple's sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden.

The mistake was not in forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.

3 Comments:

  • At 1/17/2007 7:32 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    Adam & Eve were God's problem children.

    By the way, Adam was a middle child which is probably why he blamed every thing on Eve. He didn't blame it on "The Word" (who is the eldest) because "he could do no wrong".

    Anyway, to get parental vengence God invented teenagers for Adam & Eve.

    "Vengence is Mine," sayeth the Lord!

     
  • At 1/17/2007 7:33 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    P.S. Get some sleep Frank!

     
  • At 1/20/2007 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree they were God's problem children which proves that raising children really is the toughest job in the world!

    Would you please explain how you see Adam as a middle child?

    Thanks

     

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1/16/2007

In you and through you


At newsweek.washingtonpost.com's On Faith page, noted evangelist Luis Palua writes,
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 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.”
The full text of his article is online here: A profound revelation in a seminary auditorium.

“It is no longer I who live,
but Christ who lives in me;
and the life I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.”
—Galatians 2:20

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1/15/2007

Happiness Revisited

Yesterday's sermon was a first in that it started as the blog entry Have a very active left prefontal lobe day. At that point, I knew the blog related to a reading for the coming Sunday, but thought I would preach on the Gospel of Jesus changing water to wine. I came to realize that I could easily preach the water to wine story, but that it sounded more like a history lesson and wasn't what I needed to preach. So, I revisited happiness. The sermon is online here: Discover Yourself. In it, I reference a Spiritual Gifts Survey, which I ran across when serving as a lay pastor at Church of the Spirit while in seminary. That survery is online here: Spiritual Gifts Survey in Adobe PDF format. I also mention Dr. Martin Seligman's similar Signature Strengths Survey which is found at his website: AuthenticHappiness.org. You have to register to take that survey, butit is free.

In the archives is the related, but different sermon How to find peace and happiness.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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1/14/2007

Good stewards

Burning pledgesThe photo at left shows financial pledges made to King of Peace burning unopened. Each year we ask those who consider King of Peace to be their church (whether memmbers yet or not) to write down a pledge for the coming year. They go in sealed envelopes and are brought forward at the offering. At the end of the service they are burned unopened. The pledges are between the person who made it and God.

After the worship service this morning, King of Peace will have its annual meeting. We'll elect new members to the Mission Council, which is our church board. We'll also approve the budget for this year. So here are a few related items:

A man and his son went to church. Afterwards, the father complained to his boy that the service was too long, the preacher was boring, and the singing was off key.

The boy responded, "Daddy, I thought it was pretty good for the dollar you paid."

Christ has no body now
on earth, but yours;
no hands but yours;
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
He is to go about doing good;
yours are the hands
with which He is
to bless people now.
—St. Teresa of Avila

Not everything that can be counted, counts.
And not everything that counts, can be counted.
—Albert Einstein

As each has received a gift,
use it to serve one another
as good stewards of God's varied grace.
—1 Peter 4:10

1 Comments:

  • At 1/14/2007 5:29 PM, Blogger CSL said…

    I like that practice of burning the pledges unopened. I think our Meeting's practice is similar in spirit - pledges are made only internally, and people respond to the needs as they feel led.

     

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1/13/2007

A joyful friend



In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus and his disciples are attending a wedding when the host runs out of wine. A potential embarassment is averted when Jesus' mother gets her messianic Son to perform his first miracle and turn more than 120 gallons of water into some very nice wine.

Novelist and Roman Catholic priest Andrew Greeley writes parables each week to go with the Gospel reading, bringing out some deeper meaning of the text. This week's was intriguing for me.
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.

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.
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.

Jesus was the life of the party in Cana it would seem. This is what Katerina Whitely says in her sermon for the Sermons That Work series in which she writes
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?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

PS: Next Saturday, I'll be back to commentaries that make sense.

6 Comments:

  • At 1/13/2007 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There really is no connection. In my opinion, he's just "out there".

     
  • At 1/13/2007 10:57 AM, Blogger anything but typical said…

    Huh?? I don't get it either.

     
  • At 1/13/2007 4:39 PM, Blogger CSL said…

    Umm, maybe that if the punch had been miraculously turned to wine, the girl would have enjoyed the party even more? No, that can't be it. Okay, it's just baffling.

     
  • At 1/14/2007 11:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I may be way off, but this is what I get out of it.

    The girl was reluctant to attend the party but did so to be obediant to her mother. Her mother had faith in her. Also, because she wasn't mature, she wasn't comfortable being placed in a situation that could attract attention to her. The twist is this,....When Jesus changed water into wine it gave the Lord the opportunity to demonstrate his power and mission to all his extended family and close friends. ...The girl is the water, and the the other guests who reach out to her are demonstrating the Lords power and mission. This transforms her from water into wine....After some time spent refecting on the days events, she understands the transformation.

    Robin Rapp

     
  • At 1/15/2007 8:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OK, I can see that. But, don't you think that it is just too deep for most of us to really get? I thought the purpose of a parable was to increase understanding and make us see more clearly.

     
  • At 1/15/2007 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It seemed like he wanted to change her "whine" and ended up with a cheesy parable.

     

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1/12/2007

Pajama Day at The Preschool

The Bees Class

Ducks Class The Ducks Class

Turtles Class The Turtles Class

Frogs Class The Frogs Class

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Transcending Space and Time

Religion writer Gustav Niebuhr writes,
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. Rheinhold Niebuhr's boyhood churchThey were pious folk and used to invite him to church. He typically refused.

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.
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.

Another of the Niebuhr offspring effected by that Sunday in the farm country of Illinois was Richard's brother, Rheinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) who wrote perhaps the best known prayer of the 20th century the text of which (not usually printed in full) reads:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

Sometime after the prayer was written, the old Federal Council of Churches used it in some literature and later it was printed on small cards to give to soldiers. Later still it became the prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous and other Twelve Step groups. Now it has been printed millions of times and prayed billions of times by people looking for the courage to change what they know they need to change about themselves.

Of course, Rheinhold Niebuhr could have come to faith and ended up writing the Serenity Prayer anyway, but his great nephew Gustav wonders if that is not the ongoing effect of a the patriarch Gustav Niebuhr's conversion that Sunday long ago.

The contemporary writer Gustav Niebuhr concludes his column A 19th-century decision resonates still by writing,
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,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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1/11/2007

Über Cool Episcosite

an image from the GSU campus ministry website

The Rev. Lonnie Lacey the Episcopal Chaplain at Georgia Southern who serves as Assistant Rector at Trinity Episcopal Church in Statesboro, Georgia has put together such an attractive and engaging website that The Episcopal Church couldn't help but brag about it at their home page. It's the website for Episcopal Campus Ministries at Georgia Southern. I would be proud anyway, but as an Alumni of GSU, I am particularly pleased to see the work Lonnie is putting in to connecting with college students there.

The episcowhat page describes what Episcopalians think about the Bible, Jesus, sin and more. Check out the Episcopal Campus Ministries page and see how they are presenting an ancient faith to a new generation.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

click the graphic to go to www.episcopalcampusministry.org
From their home page

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1/10/2007

Ignoring Advice

Easter worship at King of Peace

The Episcopal News Service published an article recently on which churches are growing and why. The article said in part,
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.

Blessing of the Animals at the Humane SocietyThe 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.
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.

Griffin and Celeste working on a Habitat for Humanity houseThe Mission Council (our church board) has talked about this more than once and we are clear that we don't want to do anything for the specific purpose of growing the church. We do want to be intentional about trying to be the Body of Christ in Camden County to the best of our ability.

Over time our imperfect attempts to be the Body of Christ has caused growth both numerically and spiritually within our congregation as it has for other churches in the community who are doing the same. But we do not attempt to be faithful so that we will grow. We attempt to be faithful in being the church God is calling us to be because that is what we are supposed to do.

The growth is grace. It's like grits on the breakfast plate at a good southern restaurant. It comes unordered, but if your Mama raised you right, your glad your getting grits. ;-)

Eating together at King of PeaceSo we'll take the recent study as descriptive of us, but not prescriptive for what we should now do. Instead, we continue to call on parishioners to dream as God dreams and show us new ministries for which we have the gifts that should come to be a part of our ministry of reaching out to our community in love.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

PS: for the curious, the Episcopal stuff from that ecumenical survey is online here: Findings from 2005 Survey and the full text of the ENS article is online here: Ecumenical Study Shows Why Congregations Grow.

Serviong the Thanksgiving meal for the community
Serving a community-wide Thanksgiving meal

3 Comments:

  • At 1/10/2007 8:14 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    I belonged to an Episcopal Congregation that tried everything to grow. They Failed! They went from Parish to Mission. They thought to themselves, "We are too small to do any significant good works. We need more people to help us do them." They tried everything to recruit members but missions disappeared and people left instead of coming. When people simply moved away to follow jobs that left holes that weren't filled.

    I believed then and still believe today that when you build it they will come.

    To badly and liberally paraphrase the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson, "People are looking for something, they don't know what. They'll say someday, 'lets go for a drive' and find themselves turning up your drive."

    If we are here (and out there) doing God's work, people will come. Some will know why and some won't. We all have a God shaped hole in our heart and nothing else quite fills in all the cracks.

    Planning is good and necessary, but I think we ought to be planning to make space and time to let God work his works in us and with us. Have faith that he knows what he's doing. To quote another movie badly (Father of the Bride) you got to learn to love the roller coasters.

     
  • At 1/10/2007 1:17 PM, Blogger anything but typical said…

    Jesus promised that if His disciples would lift Him up, He would draw all men unto Him.


    Growing the Kingdom of God isn't about how many people you have on the membership list. It's about being the hands and feet of God to a world separated from Him. You can't measure God's progress by the 3 B's (Buildings, Budgets, and Baptisms) because I don't believe He keeps score that way.

    Henry Blackaby, the author of the Experiencing God Bible study series, described it best. He said that God, at work in the world around us, invites us to join Him in what He is doing. God doesn't need us to make a plan; he just wants us to follow.

    Our attitude should be, "Here am I, Lord, Speak for your servant hears" not "Over here, Lord, see what I'm doing for you."

    Debbie

     
  • At 1/10/2007 1:57 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Kirk Hadaway (referenced above) wrote a reply to my email letting him know of the blog entry and graciously has allowed me to reprint it here:

    I usually talk about growth as a by-product of congregational vitality, rather than an end in itself.

    This report deals with correlates of growth, and we simply found that a plan for growth was related to growth, but not as much as actually doing things to invite and incorporate new people. More than likely, the correlation is based on the fact that congregations that care about reaching the people in their community are more likely to do something, whereas those who don't care tend to do nothing (and decline).

    Kirk

     

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Baptizin' Babies

Father Steve+ goes Father Matthew+ on us and explains baptism, including infant baptism in this YouTube video:

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1/09/2007

Have a very active left prefrontal lobe day

In a recent New York Times article Happiness 101 students at George Mason University learn that pursuing pleasure only puts one on a "hedonistic treadmill," while "True happiness comes with meaning." Todd Kashdan, the positive psychology professor there says, “there are ways of living that research shows lead to better outcomes.”

click here to see the short film MoreKashdan notes "published studies that optimistic people live longer and that certain regions of the brains of positive people show more activity (“Have a very active left prefrontal lobe day,” he joked at one point)." The article goes on to note the popularity of such classes around the country, such as at Harvard where, with 855 students, the class is the most popular at that esteemed university.

Signature Strengths
What exactly do you learn in a class on happiness? One example comes from George Mason where:
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.

This is not so different from churches getting folks to identify their gifts and then figure out how to use them. I know that at King of Peace we are better off not when someone takes on some task at the church because the church has a need, but when someone identifies their gifts and then figures out how to use those within the church or community. We are all better off when someone is doing what they are good at and love for the benefit of others, rather than doing something they have to do.

A Profound State of Well-being
The article describes this media-loving new corner of psychology saying
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.

Oprahesque
beyond happy to manic—Tom Cruise on OprahOK. I know this is closer to the Gospel According to Oprah than to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but finding meaning in life through using your God-given talents to reach out to others sounds pretty solidly Christian to me, even if the way it is presented is more Oprahesque than usual. In fact, Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert, says, “I guess I just wish it didn’t look so much like a religion.”

What do y'all think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

3 Comments:

  • At 1/10/2007 6:19 AM, Anonymous barb said…

    KingofPeace : I received a MA basically in Positive Psychology just over one year ago. I am quite interested in SIGNATURE STRENGTHS. taking that 240 question survey 3 times about 6 mos apart, I felt my top 5 were 'really me.' I wish to pursue talking to groups about Sig.Strens. [SS] as I view not living by one's SS a bit like trying to comb hair which grow to the left - comb to the right .... and it won't remain that way without superglue spray ! it also goes to a question which has been used in past for mid-age persons who feel dissatisfied with their jobs or life: what did you enjoy doing as a child? as our SS are mostly inborn, these are evident usu. in childhood. do you agree ?
    barb in central MD

     
  • At 1/10/2007 7:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So, if our gifts are inborn, does that make us predestined to become who we are? Or, do we have the free will to choose what we like?

     
  • At 1/10/2007 8:30 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    Ho Ho!

    I think what Barb meant was simply, you may be good at doing many things. The ones that are in your heart are the ones you should do.

    We all know people that are excellent at their jobs but hate them. They are good at doing "A Thing" so Society says that is "The Thing" they should do.

    ORGANIC FERTILIZER!! Stop letting Society tell you what your life is all about. Ask the Lord.

    I already know what he'll tell you.......



    ......"I will write my words on your heart." He will tell you what He told me. "Do what you want to do."

    Does that mean you have free reign to run about causing mayhem and mischief? Of course not. It means find those words that He wrote on your heart. Read them, find that thing (or two, or three things) that you have talents for. Things that make you happy and fulfilled.

    Isn't that God's Promise? Not riches, fame or fortune but Peace!

    Peace+
    Robin

     

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1/08/2007

The Work of Christmas Begins






With the Twelfth Day of Christmas behind us this past Saturday, the following poem seems appropriate. And for those who saw it at church on Sunday, yes you are right, this is taken from the current issue of our bathroom stall newsletter, The Toilet Paper:

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The Work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers and sisters,
To make music in the heart.
Then indeed we shall be blessed!
—Howard Thurman

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1/07/2007

You have been baptized in Christ

From the baptismal liturgy:
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.
Pouring Water for Mary's baptism
Mary's baptism on Saturday evening.

Pouring Water for Mary's baptism
Maxwell's baptism this morning.

1 Comments:

  • At 1/08/2007 9:22 PM, Blogger CSL said…

    Frank,
    I attended a baptism on this very day in Melbourne! Quite by accident, I was just wanting to attend an Australian Anglican service. But they lost the font! It added an interesting bit of comedy. I posted photos of the church.

     

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1/06/2007

Why was Jesus baptized

a fake tabloid cover I made

Back in 2001 when I was still a creative, under 40 priest, I made the above fake tabloid cover to illustrate a sermon on tomorrow's Gospel reading. The idea was that Jesus' baptism should have been controversial with Christians. After all, John the Baptist was baptizing "for the forgiveness of sin" and Jesus was the sinless one. In the sermon Bethlehem Star Baptized for Sin I said that we do get the voice from heaven telling us that God was pleased with Jesus' baptism and went on to say,
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....

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.
The full text of the sermon is online here: Bethlehem Star Baptized for Sin

last year's bonfireTonight at 5 p.m., Bishop Louttit will be on hand as we will welcome Mary Newsum into Christ's body, the church, through baptism. Then we'll have the Burning of the Greens with Low Country Boil and Oyster Roast at 6 p.m. And tomorrow the Bishop will still be with us as Maxwell Goodwin is baptized. These services will offer all of us a chance to reaffirm the commitments made in our baptisms.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

2 Comments:

  • At 1/06/2007 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You are still a creative priest, even over 40!

     
  • At 1/08/2007 4:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It has never occurred to me to question Jesus being baptized. If we are to be Christ-like and baptism is important to God, then of course Jesus would set the example and be baptized. I think it emphasizes the importance of baptism and fully illustrates how God will be fully present in it and give all of us the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.

     

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1/05/2007

Free Will Revisited


In yesterday's post Free Will vs. Meat Machine I shared a recent New York Times article on a scientific look at free will. Today, I'll briefly consider a Christian take.

Classic Christianity and Free Will
Christians have long considered the topic of whether humans are free moral agents or follow a plan foreordained by God. The two classic views are Arminianism championed by Jacobus Arminius and Calvinism which follows the thinking of John Calvin. Methodists are strongly Arminian as are Episcopalians and most Baptists, believing that humans have a choice rather than a preset destiny. While Presbyterians, and other Protestant denominations in the Reformed Tradition hold that God's plan for you is the deciding factor in your ultimate destiny.

This relates directly to a discussion during Bible study this past Wednesday evening in which a question was asked wondering why if there is so much grace from God, there can still be a judgment day. Calvinist say that one is predestined to heaven or hell and those predestined to heaven would find God's grace irresistible. Arminians say that grace—God's unearned love—is offered to all and it can be either accepted or rejected and can even be accepted and later walked away from (though this is the one exception Baptists take to Arminianism, saying "once saved, always saved").

Science and Free Will
The scientific take on this from yesterday's article in the New York Time on Free Will would suggest that it is my subconscious, rather than my conscious mind that is really running the show. Then they make the move to say that if it is my subconscious and the conscious mind is only playing catch up to decisions already made without my mind taking any real part, then free will is a "convenient illusion."

I think the scientists are on to something in, like Freud and those who followed him, noting the role of the subconscious. But I think they overstate the case, acting is if we play no role in forming our own subconscious and that therefore our own will can not shape our own destiny.

An anecdotal alternative
Subway Hero, Wesley AutreyThe article Man is rescued by stranger on subway tracks is the best anecdotal argument I have that one does have free will. A mish-mash of subconscious, evolutionary fueled-instinct and the illusion of choice don't quite explain actions against one's own best self-interest or the interest of furthering your own line in the evolutionary chain. It seems more likely that a variety of factors had formed the subway hero so that his subconscious jumped to save another even as his conscious mind caught up to the danger. But both parts of his mind were involved and in agreement.

More
For more reading, there are posts at AskthePriest.org (where I am a sometime contributor) on Free Will and Predestination. There's also the sermon in the archives A Tale of Two Towns Destined for Eternity.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

3 Comments:

  • At 1/05/2007 6:02 PM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    When free will is removed from the equation that leaves a lot of room for judging the value of other people's lives.

    "If I'm more financially successful then God must think I'm better than my brother."

    If one leaves all God's control out of the picture then you get the fall prey to the other side of the argument which is judging people who have had bad things happen to them as being bad decision makers.

    "If my brother is poor or unhealthy it is because he was lazy and wicked. He didn't do the best that he could."

    This is an interactive living Universe and as such the relationships between God and man are living and interactive.

    The following Lyrics are from Mos Def and his rap, "Fear Not Of Man".

    Well, from my understanding people get better
    when they start to understand that, they are valuable
    And they not valuable because they got a whole lot of money
    or cause somebody, think they sexy
    but they valuable cause they been created by God
    And God, makes you valuable
    And whether or not you, recognize that value is one thing

    Peace+
    Robin

     
  • At 1/06/2007 6:13 AM, Blogger Linda McCloud+ said…

    Can we be predestined to Arminianism?

     
  • At 1/06/2007 8:45 AM, Blogger anything but typical said…

    A seminary professor gave me some wise advice. He said the best course of action is to take the Gospel and run with it - spread it far and wide. If Calvinism is true, you won't convert anyone who isn't predestined, and if Armenianism is true, then we've been unquestioningly obedient to the Great Commission and participated in a great work of God.

    Debbie

     

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1/04/2007

Free Will vs. Meat Machines



A recent science article in The New york Times Free Will: Now you have it now you don't looks at recent work on the concept of free will. The article says,
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.

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.
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,
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.

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.
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."

The dillusion works something like this according to Seth Lloyd, an expert on quantum computing and professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
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.

Tomorrow, I'll touch on Calvin and Armenius who give us the two dominant Christian views about Free Will. But the short version is that you have to be predestined to be a Calvinist, but you can choose to follow Armenius.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

5 Comments:

  • At 1/04/2007 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is too deep for me at the moment. So, today, I will pray to the Lord to allow me the opportunities to do His will, or mine, or whatever...

     
  • At 1/04/2007 6:41 PM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    Silberstein & Libet, I know these guys!!! We used to make these arguments at 25-Cent-Pitcher night at Shannon's Pub!

    It's good to know that they are making money off of those beer-soaked philosophical debates.

    So essentially this is the argument, Does God know everything including what you are going to do in the future? If he does know your future actions doesn't that knowledge in and of itself stymie your free will?

    So, theoretically, if anyone is a good enough mathematician then he becomes God.

    If you can imagine something, it must exist somewhere in an infinite Universe. Douglas Adams wrote, somewhere there is a planet where screwdrivers are fruit on a tree and mattresses live in a swamp and are hunted and dried for sale.

    He also wrote that there is a theory that if anyone discovered the True Meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything; the Universe would instantly cease to exist and be replaced by something more inexplicable

    These guys are getting paid to be fertilizer salesmen.

     
  • At 1/05/2007 8:09 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    "These guys are getting paid to be fertilizer salesmen."

    Yeah. What he said.

    It does seem amazing to me that these people who are paid to be so smart are arguing against their means of livelihood. Either that or they really do believe they are a different species from the rest of us who never actually had an original thought.

    Ayn Rand set up her antagonists with philosophies remarkably similar to these in "Atlas Shrugged". She pretty effectively destroyed them as well.

     
  • At 1/05/2007 8:51 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    "paid to be so smart are arguing against their means of livelihood"

    Kenny, Were they given free will for the purpose of determining that there is no such thing? Or is their subconscious—against their own will—deciding that they have no free will?

    Frank+

     
  • At 1/05/2007 9:11 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    It all goes back to your definition of free will and intelligence. If you start with the idea that we're all animals then you wind up with the idea that there's no such thing as choice (makes me wonder what the pro-choice abortionists would say but that's another argument.)

    If we really do have choice then we have to act like it and be accountable for our actions to God and each other. If not, then pretty much my whole religious philosophy comes crashing down. And if we don't, then can we really determine whether we do one way or the other?

    I don't think so, so we'd just as well act as if we do.

    Ultimately, the answer is probably that human intellect is far more complex than we've been giving it credit for being. We've spent so much time on scans of the brain we think we've got it all figured out from a mechanical perspective. I also think God's got a few more surprises in store for us.

     

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