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.

3/31/2007

Who is to blame?

This weekend, we have the longest Gospel reading of the year in which we read the story of Jesus' passion (or suffering) from the Gospel of Luke. Paul Nuechterlein a Lutheran pastor in Wisconsin preached a sermon about who to blame for Jesus' death in which he said in part,
How did the "Hosanna!"'s of Sunday turn to the "Crucify Him!"'s of Friday? Five days is all, and the crowd turned from shouting "Hosanna!" to shouting "Crucify him!" How does that happen?

JesusTypically, one finds explanations that focus on Jesus and on people's mistaken views about Jesus. One often hears the line of argument, for instance, that Zealots were hoping for a Messiah to lead them into victorious battle over their enemies and simply mistook Jesus to be that kind of Messiah, turning on him by Good Friday. One often sees that kind of portrayal in today's movie versions.

Or the focus is put on the Jewish leaders and their ability to somehow turn the crowd. In the made-for-TV movie of three years ago, one that I like a lot overall, it takes the most modern approach of blaming Pilate and the Romans. Jesus died by a Roman form of execution. They were the overlords in charge of the politics. So this movie portrays Pilate as manipulating everything behind the scenes. Sensitive to the terrible deeds of Christians killing Jews through the ages, we don't want to blame the Jews, so we blame the Romans.

I'd like to submit to you this morning that blaming anyone—Jews, Romans, the Jewish Sanhedrin, Pilate—that blaming anyone is completely beside the point of this whole story. In fact, when we try to blame anyone, we are exactly missing the point. For the Christian Gospel isn't about this group or that group needing forgiveness. It's not about this person or that person needing forgiveness. It's about all of us needing forgiveness...
The full text of the sermon is online here: Brief Reflections on the Passion

In the archives are the religion column Who killed Jesus? and the sermon What Language does God speak?

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3/30/2007

The Theology of Recycling

Note:
This post is today's religion column for the Tribune & Georgian.

This past Monday evening, I joined more than 20 St. Marys residents and my fellow pastor Rick Douylliez in speaking to our city council about beginning curbside recycling. Asked to present one very brief fact as part of the presentation, I did what most preachers do, I took advantage of standing at a lectern to say a bit more.

I said that I wish that I could give a biblical justification for curbside recycling, but that would take at least 45 minutes and then I added in jest that it would probably end in me convincing them that those who don’t recycle go to Hell.

Of course it is bad Christian theology to suggest that we are saved by anything other than faith in Jesus. And so your salvation does not depend on recycling. But just because your eternal destiny isn’t at stake, does that really mean that God has no opinion on the matter?

I think instead one will find that a careful reading of scripture points to sound biblical reasons why both Christians and Jews should do what is in their power to do when it comes to wise use of the earth’s resources.

In going back to Genesis, we find that humans are to be caretakers of the earth. Proper stewardship of creation was an important task God gave to humanity. We should be as interested in caring for the earth as we are in fulfilling God’s other commands.

Even before God created humans, God’s plan called for a close, mutually beneficial relationship between humanity and the rest of creation. In Genesis 2:4-25 we find a deep connection between the human and the plants. The fertile soil is in Hebrew Adamah and mankind in Hebrew is Adam. The adam and the adamah need one another. We are humans of the humus and care of that fertile soil is part of our charge from God. For not only does the humus need the rain, which God will provide, but it needs the human.

Genesis 2:5 says that “all the plants of the field were not yet sprung up because the Lord God had not yet caused it to rain upon the earth and there was no human for the working of the humus.”

The New International Version translates Genesis 2:15 saying God put the human in the garden in order to “to till it and keep it.” The Hebrew words are avad and shamar. The range of meaning for avad includes “work,” “worship,” and “service.” Avad can mean to “dress” or “till” when applied to farming. Shamar has a range of meaning including “guard,” “watch,” “observe,” “preserve,” and “keep.”

By “range of meaning” I mean that even such a venerable translation as the King James Bible will translate the words avad and shamar in these different ways depending on the context. One may translate Genesis 2:15 saying we were put in the garden “to work and to watch” or “to serve and preserve.” Whatever translation you arrive at should be consistent with the rest of scripture. And elsewhere we find this close connection between mankind and the rest of creation.

This is consistent with the prophet Amos who demonstrated the organic connection between the plants of the field and the humans (Amos 4:7-10). When humans are out of relationship with God (as shown through the treatment of the poor in a time of relative wealth) the crops suffer along with the people.

The prophet Hosea also cried out against the people (Hosea 2:8-9) for forgetting that the fruit of the land comes from God. When the people return to right relationship with God (Hosea 2:14-23), the land is made fruitful once again.

Humanity was created to be in relationship with the land as well as with God. We are to care for the land through working the land and preserving the land. God created us to be dependent on one another. When humans fail to steward the land, as God created us to do, both the land and humanity suffer.

I don’t think it is a stretch at all to say that when Jesus spoke against people not using wisely the gifts God had given them that the gift of creation was included. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells of a man going on a journey who entrusts to his slaves his possessions (named talents in the parable, for an amount of money common at the time). On his return, each is called into account for the ways in which he cared for his masters possessions. Clearly this includes our care of the rest of creation.

This is where we return to recycling. For in recycling we reuse resources in such a way as to get maximum return. Rather than wasting energy to make new glass or new aluminum while tossing out perfectly good glass and aluminum, recycling recreates the old into the new. This saves energy, creates jobs and extends the amount of resources available to us. Recycling then fits with the wise use of resources Jesus taught in his parable of the talents. It also fits with the preservation of earth’s resources assumed in Genesis.

But to be honest, a sound biblical look at how humans are to be stewards of the earth doesn’t support curbside recycling. To be honest, curbside recycling is just the first step, the barest necessity once we take God’s charge to us seriously. So you can blow off recycling and get to heaven. But when you do, you may still have to make an account to your creator for why you didn’t do what was in your power in caring for the creation.

(The Rev. Frank Logue is pastor of King of Peace Episcopal Church in Kingsland.)

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5 Comments:

  • At 3/30/2007 8:23 PM, Anonymous Denise said…

    I read this article in the paper over dinner tonight at Ops. The last paragraph had me laughing VERY loudly in the middle of the resturaunt...I came very close to falling out of my chair. Awesome read!
    p.s. Did you see my son Josh in the paper? :D

     
  • At 4/02/2007 8:37 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    My problem is with the government requiring us to be virtuous.

    "If the supply of virtue is insufficient in free society, it is non-existant in the totalitarian society because a forced virtue is no virtue at all."
    Dinesh D'Souza

    If we force people to do the "right" thing then we're no better than any dictator throughout history.

     
  • At 4/08/2007 2:37 PM, Blogger Lauralew said…

    My husband and I had a talk about this very thing two nights ago. I recycle because I was raised not to waste. It seems intuitive to me, but to the two main men in my life, it is not. My husband says that we are free workers for the recycling companies who make money off of us. My grown son, a very conservative evangelical Christian, says Global Warming is a lie of the liberal elite and makes a point to NOT recycle, as he sees recycling as tacit approval of the theory of Global Warming. They call me the Recycling Nazi.

    By the way, I love this web site. If I lived in your area, I would sure investigate your church! Thanks!

     
  • At 7/30/2007 3:39 PM, Anonymous Matthews Bantsijang said…

    A good article, it reminds and teaches to recycle.

     
  • At 5/03/2011 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We were stationed with the military in Germany for 3 years. They had a mandatory recycling program over there. I don't understand why we don't have that here?

     

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3/29/2007

Captain America, The 300 and the Image of God

From the graphic novel The 300

Writing for Newsweek, Rabbi Marc Gellman connects the recent demise of Captain America and the movie The 300 to the Image of God. He says,

If faith is truly transcendent, then it does not matter who rules our broken world because this world does not matter. If, on the other hand, God wants us to be free not only of sin and death but also from oppression and tyranny, then faith must encourage its believers to take up arms against the oppressors. This question is tearing religious people apart. One can easily carry a protest sign reading NO WAR FOR OIL, but can one carry a sign reading NO WAR FOR FREEDOM without doing damage to one’s soul?

Captain America diesThis same conflict lies behind the comic-book death of Captain America and the cinematic death of Leonides in the movie “300.” The Spartan Greeks, led by Leonides, could have chosen to live under the rule of Xerxes and the Persian Empire. They could have traded their imperiled freedom for a secure life of slavery. The choice of Leonides and the 300 Spartans to die in a doomed but heroic battle is the clear choice of those who believe that nothing—no faith, no material wealth, nothing—justifies the surrender of freedom to tyranny.

Captain America was created by Joe Simon in 1941 as a fictional ally in the war against Hitler and Nazi fascism. In the most recent issue, Cap was gunned down in New York City after 65 years of fighting for freedom and the American way of life. Pop culture mavens said that Cap's death symbolized the death of the American passion for freedom and of the kind of heroes who give their lives in its defense.
He concludes the essay writing,

Embracing the need to spiritually justify the fight for world freedom carries its own perils. Chief among these dangers is what we now see in the world of Islamic fascism: the use of religion to extol death and tyranny. The biblical name for this is idolatry, and the seductions of idolatry are hard for some to resist. In the end, though, the spiritual truth of freedom's cause is eventually clear to all.

Gerard Butler as LeonidesLeonides and Captain America were heroes not because they entered the field of battle with a shield of Vibranium or were in possession of abs of steel, but because they entered battle with a spiritually authentic idea: that God is free and we are made in God's image to be free as well. We were not placed on planet earth to avoid death. We were placed here so that we could avoid surrendering our God-given freedom to tyrants.
You may read the full text of Rabbi Gellman's essay here: The Image of God.

In the archives are the religion columns When is War Just and Prayer in a Time of War as well as the sermon Peace, Peace.

So what do you think? When should Christians stand up on behalf of freedom and when are we just using faith to justify violence?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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6 Comments:

  • At 3/29/2007 7:49 AM, Anonymous Linda+ said…

    Did anyone notice in the movie 300 that when Leonidas died, he looked strangely like Jesus Christ on the cross?

     
  • At 3/29/2007 8:18 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    Molon Labe

     
  • At 3/29/2007 8:22 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Molon Labe meaning "Come and take [them]!", is a classical (reported by Plutarch) expression of daring and bravery, roughly corresponding to the modern "over my dead body" or "from my cold dead hands", or more literally to the "Come and take it" slogan from the Texas Revolution Battle of Gonzales.

    How very erudite Kenny. But I did enjoy my trip to Wikipedia.

     
  • At 3/29/2007 10:26 AM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Finally, a topic I know something about, the Spartans and the Battle of Thermopylae.

    At the Battle of Thermopyle the Spartans were fighting for freedom (their own), but their cause was not as unsullied as Rabbi Gellman would have it appear. Spartan society survived largely off the labor of a huge slave class called the helots, who ironically would have carried most of the Spartan’s baggage train to Thermopylae. In fact a Spartan “homoioi” or “equal” could have no other trade but warcraft.

    The Spartans, who believed they were descendants of Heracles, were worried about the potential Persian invasion so they fought and died to protect themselves and their Hellenistic brothers. Rabbi Gellman is off the mark when he says, “Leonides and Captain America were heroes not because they entered the field of battle with a shield of Vibranium or were in possession of abs of steel, but because they entered battle with a spiritually authentic idea: that God is free and we are made in God's image to be free as well. We were not placed on planet earth to avoid death. We were placed here so that we could avoid surrendering our God-given freedom to tyrants.”

    Don’t get me wrong. I greatly admire the Spartans and their accomplishments. In their time they were the undisputed masters of land warfare. We do not need to impose our own interpretations on their actions, what they did speaks for itself and requires no philosophical our spiritual embellishment on our part. I believe we should depict them as they were, not as we wish them to be.

    While the Athenians, Sparta’s neighbor, ally and adversary, set the intellectual underpinnings for most of the western world in philosophy, medicine, mathematics, music and drama and a host of others, the Spartans set the example for courage. The Athenians showed us how to live, the Spartans showed us how to die.

     
  • At 3/29/2007 10:52 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    There are things worth dying for as many martyred saints would agree. While we never really know how we'll react to any threat to our beliefs or ourselves, it seems helpful to me to remember that.

    Thanks, Frank. I'm just amazed that I could make you resort to Wikipedia!

     
  • At 3/30/2007 12:33 PM, Anonymous Steve+ said…

    I went and saw 300 last night. It seemed the movie was a combination of "Gladiator" and "Big Trouble in Little China."

     

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3/27/2007

Hear God’s Voice

Desmond TutuAll of us are meant to be contemplatives.

Frequently we assume that this is reserved for some rare monastic life, lived by special people who alone have been called by God. But the truth of the matter is that each one of is meant to have that space inside where we can hear God’s voice. God is available to all of us. God says, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’

Each one of us wants and needs to give ourselves space for quiet. We can hear God’s voice most clearly when we are quiet, and then you begin to see with the eyes of the heart.
—Archbishop Desmond Tutu
from God Has a Dream, A Vision of Hope for Our Time

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2 Comments:

  • At 3/27/2007 8:01 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    Sorry -turning down iPod- could you repeat that?

    ;)

     
  • At 3/27/2007 9:01 AM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    This entry is especially relevant for me as I am slowly learning to allow myself to be calm and quiet enough to hear Him.

    For most of my life I lived as a slave to my emotions. I had no control and wherever my mood or life situation took me that's where I went. My inability to cast off the shackles of anger, of lust, of greed and every other possible distraction left no room for anything else. At some point this may have been a way to keep from having to look within myself because I did not like what I would see. But most of those issues have been resolved.

    For the brief periods when I am able to achieve a modicum of inner tranquility life is so much better. How much better we are when we can listen to and obey those small inner proddings to resist anger, to give away what we value, to take ourselves off the throne.

     

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3/26/2007

The Quietest Place

I'm not good at recalling my dreams. But last night I had one in which God was speaking to me and I still remember it. I was trying to pray and getting distracted, God told me to find the quietest place to pray. And in the frustrating way that dreams can work I tried different places and they were all distracting in various ways. God told me again to find the quietest place. And I felt like, "Duh, it's not where you are in some external sense."

Then I imagined myself descending quite literally into my own heart. There the "lub, dub" of my heart beat slowed as time approached standing still. And within my own heart I found the quietest place to be with God, no matter what is going on around.

The sharp edges of the dream are disappearing as I write this this morning, but I wanted to get it down, and to share it. This is no great prayer breakthrough. It's something like planting the flag in Times Square and claiming it as my own. Lots of folks have discovered this territory before me.

Yet I am thankful for the dream and the knowledge that the God I seek is seeking me in my own heart. And I have a sneaking suspiscion that the same is true for you.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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3 Comments:

  • At 3/26/2007 11:52 AM, Anonymous Linda+ said…

    Wow! Such dreams are an absolute gift from God.

     
  • At 3/26/2007 1:55 PM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    Is it "old men will dream dreams" or "young men will dream dreams"?

    I can never get that straight.

    ;)

     
  • At 3/26/2007 10:04 PM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Perhaps "Hidden Man Of The Heart" (a seven-CD set Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou of the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex, England for The 2007 Clergy Brotherhood Retreat, Antiochan Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America) would be appropriate. I can let you borrow it.

     

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Experiencing the Passion

Stations of the Cross at King of Peace
crossing the bridge to our stations trailYesterday, our Kids in the Kingdom Sunday was devoted to Jesus' death and resurrection. Thanks to the creative and hard work of Kelly and Amber, we had a great interactive way for the kids to experience the Stations of the Cross.

At each of the fifteen stops, the kids were given some item to help bring the story home or there was something to experience. So at the 10th station when Jesus is stripped of his clothing, they had a t-shirt for me to rip and then each child received a piece of torn cloth.

Tearing the T-Shirt at the 10th stationThis made the story real as it was told in an age appropriate way which emphasized God's love for the kids and the reality of the resurrection. When we went back to the gazebo and laid the objects out on the cross in the floor, the children readily remembered what the items meant and how they related to the story. I am thankful for the great setup I was given and the chance to share the story with children in a memorable way. And I am thankful to Tammy, Maris, Melissa and Gina who regularly assist with Kids in the Kingdom Sundays as well!

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

Looking back over the object lessons in the gazebo

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3/25/2007

The Highest Perfection

The highest perfection consists not in interior favors or in great raptures or in visions, or in the spirit of prophecy, but in the bringing of our wills so closely in conformity with the will of God that, as soon as we realize that He wills anything, we desire it ourselves with all our might, and take the bitter with the sweet, knowing that to be His Majesty’s will.
Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

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3/24/2007

Behind the scenes tour of a sermon

On Saturdays, it is my practice to share something about that weekend's Gospel reading. But today, I want to share something related to the weekend's Epistle reading. An epistle is a way to say a letter and the letter in this case is the one that Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi. Six years ago, when I preached the sermon Dying to Win the Prize on this passage, I gave a behind the scenes tour of what sort of work I do in creating a sermon. So it is both a sermon and a sermon about creating a sermon. Throughout the sermon, I pause to note what I have done and why before pushing on. I wrote in part,
As I pressed on toward my prize of a sermon for the week, I had to go back to the letter to the Philippians. What is this prize that Paul is pressing toward? What is the race that Ignatius was running? Why does the winners platform for each of them seem to have come in the form of a public execution in Rome?

To help the quest, I read the passage through in Greek and, as my own translation skills are not as good as the experts are, I also read several translations. In the Greek, which is the language Paul wrote in, I found that the passage had race imagery. The word for goal was a word for a mark to fix your eye on as you bear down the home stretch toward the finish line. Nothing else matters in that homestretch but the goal and for Paul, that goal was Jesus. The word for prize was the same word they used to describe the prizes won at the Isthmian games, the then equivalent of the Olympics.

The New International Version gives a very good rendition of the Greek. The NIV says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” The call came at the start of the race. The race is run as Paul follows the course set for him by God. Paul has looked ahead to the goal, the distant object at the finish line and Paul already can see how the race must end. If Paul is obedient to God’s call, Paul will end up with his neck on a Roman executioner’s chopping block. Paul didn’t pick the goal. Paul didn’t give the call. God did. Paul is trying to be obedient to that call and see it through. Looking to the example of his Lord, Paul is far from being bothered about the way his own race will turn out. Paul closely identifies with Jesus and he is pleased that he will be given a chance to suffer and die in obedience to God, just as Jesus was called to suffer and die in obedience to God. Ignatius too was set on a course that would result in his death and he didn’t want fellow Christians to derail God’s plan and purposes for him.

Next I have to see how the scripture and what I have found in it relates to us today. What does all this talk of dying to win the prize mean to 21st century American Christians?
And so it goes...The full text of the sermon is online here: Dying to Win the Prize.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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3/23/2007

Apocalypse Wow

Related to my blog entry below is the latest video from Father Matthew:

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The End of the World as We Know It

Over at On Faith, the fine folks at The Washington Post and Newsweek asked their panelists,
Do you believe the world will come to an end? If so, where, when and what will it look like?
The Anglican response comes from Bishop N.T. Wright of England in his essay, Read the Book; You'll Know How It Ends in which he says,
The NT [New Tsetament] picture is for heaven and earth to be joined together in a great act of renewal (Revelation 21-22), or for the new world to be born from the womb of the old (Romans 8), or for everything that destroys and defaces the present world to be defeated and overthrown, including death itself, which means not that the world will be destroyed but precisely that the forces of such destruction won't have the last word (1 Corinthians 15.20-28).

The Tabloid ApproachThe great irony here is that a lot of muddled Christians are relentlessly opposed to Darwinism on the grounds that they believe in Genesis 1. Often the same people have no concern at all for what Genesis 1 insists on, namely that the space/time/matter creation is the good creation of the one good God -- who will, according to both Old and New Testaments, set creation right at the last by bringing together its two dimensions (heaven and earth) into one. That, after all, is what Jesus taught us to pray.
Columnist Cal Thomas agrees, writing,
The "world" will not end. It will be transformed, even re-created.
You can browse what all the panelists have to say here: On Faith: End of the World

I have written of this sort of thing in the sermon The Problem with the Rapture and we have a resource page on Revelation at Demystifing Revelation.

How would you answer their questions...Do you believe the world will come to an end? If so, where, when and what will it look like?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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3/22/2007

Made of dearer stuff

Frank's photo of a grieving angel
The friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away.
Barbara Kingsolver (1955- )
When we honestly ask ourselves which people in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
Henri Nouwen (1932-1996)
Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment, for it is an old one you have always had, right from the beginning. This commandment—to love one another – is the same message you heard before.
—I John 2:7 (New Living Translation)

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  • At 3/22/2007 8:17 AM, Blogger Laura said…

    Our topic last night at at Lenten supper series was compassion, and in discussion we talked how we sometimes avoid helping others for fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. Barbara Kingsolver's thought is right on target.

     

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3/21/2007

Revival Week



The latest issue of our newsletter The Olive Branch is now online and will head into the mail today. It tells of a liturgical church's version of a revival—Holy Week. Get the low down on our week full of varied worship as we work our way toward the cross and the empty tomb. It's all here: kingofpeace.org/vol8no4.pdf

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3/20/2007

Where the wild things are

In the Lenten issue of Trinity News from Trinity Episcopal Church on Wall Street, the Rev. Dr. Earl Kooperkamp, Rector of St. Mary's Church, NYC writes,
Wilderness is not anything I normally encounter. I live in a vest city, and the concrete keeps the wilderness at bay. Or so it seems. Even in the midst of the constant motions of people going to and fro, the wilderness can be closer than I might care to admit. The solitude and isolation of even a metropolis as great New York City can mean that wilderness might lurk around any corner, or may be found in the lives of people I meet every day.

The very cord conjures up images of that childhood classic, Where the Wild Things Are. And like Max, the child in the book who visits the wilderness and the beast every night in his room, I am both terrified and exhilarated in my terror of that wild side. Those childhood fears of the dark, scary places have a lasting power....

A sojourn in the wilderness means confronting ourselves, and perhaps at the core, confronting our fears. We go, like Max, to where the wild things that “roared their terrible roars and gnashed their teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws” are. But we go into the wilderness in Lent as Christians knowing the most frequent command in the entire Bible is “Fear not.” Those words are spoken by God to Abraham as he starts off on the journey that leads him so far from his home. Confronting our fears, living into that commandment, “Do not be afraid” transforms us with a radical openness, a place in which God’s love can make a dwelling.

Even Max, made king of the wild things, became lonely after all the wild rumpus. As the story concludes, he “wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.” Our Lenten wilderness finally concludes on that small mount outside the city walls, at the foot of the cross, where we find a love that loves us best of all.
The full text of the Trinity News article is online here: Where the Wild Things Are.

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  • At 3/20/2007 7:48 AM, Anonymous Linda+ said…

    Lent has been an adventure so far.

     
  • At 3/20/2007 8:44 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    Fear Not. Somedays I need to hear that more than others.

     
  • At 3/29/2007 4:28 PM, Blogger Nick said…

    If you love Maurice Sendak's 'Where the Wild Things Are' you might be interested in visiting www.cafgivinggarden.org - the site showcases the 'Where the Wild Things Are' inspired garden being designed by Tiggy Salt for this year's Chelsea Flower Show.

     

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3/19/2007

Wisdom of the Desert

In the late 200s and early 300s, a few men and women drifted away to the deserts of Egypt to pursue Christianity alone, living as hermits in caves. By the mid-300s, there was such a surge toward this starkly disciplined form of Christianity that the caves began to fill up.

One of the many stories which survives from this period illustrates this rush to the desert:
Abbot Arsenius lived in a cell thirty-two miles away from his nearest neighbor, and he seldom went out of it. The things he needed were brought there by disciples. But when the desert of Scete where he lived became peopled with hermits, he went away from there weeping and saying: Worldy men have ruined Rome and monks have ruined Scete.
The situation which caused the rush to the desert was when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. For many, this was confirmation of the rightness of the Christian faith. The crucified and risen Jesus had conquered the Rome. Yet, others were more deeply convinced that Christianity and politics could not mix and if mixed would never create a perfect Christian society. Those who fled to become hermits were often convinced that the only kind of Christian one could be in a Christian country was a complacent one.

One of Victoria's photos of Egypt, click to see moreWe learn of the hermits of the desert through their sayings and stories, preserved through an oral tradition and written down as early as the 4th century by persons interested in capturing their distilled wisdom. My wife, Victoria, has created a new website called, Wisdom of the Desert, which offers a new saying from these radically faithful Christians of 4th century Egypt.

You can visit the blog here: dailydesertwisdom.blogspot.com

In the archives is the sermon Accommodation vs. Love.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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3/18/2007

We had better know what we are about

When we pray, ‘Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,’ we had better know what we are about. He will not carry us to easy triumphs and gratifying successes; more probably He will set us to some task for God in the full intention that we shall fail, so that others, learning wisdom by our failure, may carry the good cause forward.

Archbishop of Canterbury William TempleHe may take us through loneliness, desertion by friends, apparent desertion even by God; that was the way Christ went to the Father. He may drive us into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. He may lead us from the Mount of Transfiguration (if He ever lets us climb it) to the hill that is called the Place of the Skull. For if we invoke Him it must be to help us in doing God’s will, not ours. We cannot call upon the Creator Spirit, by whose aid the world’s foundations first were laid in order to use omnipotence for the supply of our futile pleasures or the success of our futile plans.

If we invoke Him, we must be ready for the glorious pain of being caught by His power out of our petty orbit into the eternal purposes of the Almighty, in whose onward sweep our lives are as a speck of dust. The soul that is filled with the Spirit must have become purged of all pride or love of ease, all self-complacence and self-reliance; but that soul has found the only real dignity, the only lasting joy. Come then, Great Spirit, come. Convict the world; and convict my timid soul.
William Temple (1881-1944)

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3/17/2007

The Forgiving Father

An 1800s painting of The Prodigal Son

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus tells one of his best known parables, The Prodigal Son. The Rev. Ken Kesselus has preached on this passage saying,
The fine point of interpretation obviously hinges on whether the younger son was restored to his former hereditary position after he wasted his share and then returned, or whether he received no further inheritance. Contrary to the legal view, many assume that the younger son was completely taken back into full and total relationship with his father when he returned. The older son would not have been so upset simply about his brother being given a party. He must have understood that the younger son was back in the inheritance picture, and would one day receive a half of what the older brother had come to expect as the full remaining inheritance.

In fact, the story would carry no real weight if the legal view is correct -- if Jesus' point was simply that the younger son was given a party by his father and allowed to become a worker on the farm. It is too conventional, too ordinary, too human to imagine a father welcoming a prodigal's return, throwing a party for him, and yet protecting the older son's investment by not letting the prodigal again become an heir.

Frank Wesley's The Forgiving FatherOf course, such a view affirms our natural idea of fairness. But that's just the point. That is where the argument breaks down. It is simply too legalistic, places too much emphasis on the unfairness of the prodigal getting an additional portion of inheritance, and relies too much on the concept of rewards and punishments.

Those who choose to call this the "Parable of the Forgiving Father" view the prodigal, younger son as forgiven and accepted by the father, and also brought back fully into the family and eventually given an additional share of the inheritance-unfair as that may seem....

When Jesus had the father say to the older son, "Everything I have is yours," he described the treasure chest of God's mercy and love that is inexhaustible. God makes each of us equal heirs of God's kingdom. God gives each of us an equal share, whether we come to the kingdom early or late. Jesus illustrated the same thing by having the father say to the younger son, after his return from a season of sin, "you remain my son, and you share equally with you older brother."
The full text of his sermon is online here: Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C

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3/16/2007

Counter-Cultural Worship

Methodist Bishop and noted preached William Willimon recently wrote,

kids singing in worship at King of Peace January 2007The modern world teaches us to ask, of every event and relationship, “Now what good will this do me?” The modern world teaches us to make ourselves the center of the world. We have no more important project than ourselves.

Christian worship is counter-cultural to all this. We do it, not primarily to “get something out of it,” but to give something to it. We do it because we are in love.

Try this example. You are walking hand-in-hand in the park on a beautiful spring day. At some point, you lean over and kiss the one with whom you are in love.

Now, if someone asks you, “Now what good does that do you? What good do you get out of it?” It would be stupid question to ask. Gestures like kissing, hugging, are the actions of lovers. We do it out of love. We do it, not “to get something out of it,” but rather to offer something to the one with whom we are in love. Christian worship is a lot like that.
The full text is posted at his blog here: Meeting and Being Met by God.


Mary's baptism January 6, 2007

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3/15/2007

If I do not stop



Jesus told the now famous story of The Good Samaritan in which two religious leaders (a priest and a Levite) pass by a man who thieves beat and left for dead. The man was cared for instead, by a Samaritan, who would have been expected not to crae for an Israeli. Famed Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr. has written this about the people in Jesus' parable:
The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”

But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

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1 Comments:

  • At 3/15/2007 10:03 PM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    Character is measured many ways. I believe that actions over retoric are one way to tell someone's character.

    I also think that another's actions should not dictate your response, but instead your response should be based on you own core beliefs regardless of how you are treated.

     

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3/14/2007

Benedict Stands Firm

I pass along the news that Pope Benedict XVI issued a 131-page exhortation reaffirming all the highpoints of traditional teaching for Roman Catholics. The Associated Press article Pope Affirms Traditional Views does a good job at providing an overview. The official text is at the Vatican's website here: Apostolic Exhortation.

This news is shared with no anti-Catholic bias as I feel none. As a married priest, who under the right conditions remarries people after divorce and under most any condition lets them receive communion, who enjoys the liturgy in English and a variety of music in worship, etc. it is self evident that my practices vary from those of the Pope. I love Gregorian Chant and am proud of my daughter for taking Latin in high school, but I don't want them back as regular features of worship at King of Peace.

Benedict XVIBut it is Benedict's role to lead the 1.1 Billion Catholics, not mine. And he is leading as those Cardinals who said their prayers and cast their votes expected he would.

This does offer an occasion to comment that it is very common that two different people will read the Bible, pray fervently for guidance and will feel God leading them two different ways. I sometimes wish this were not so, but there it is. Some will find in this excuse to consider that God is leading one person and not the other, or perhaps neither person.

Instead, I see that in my reading of scripture and saying my prayers, I am confident that I can be married, for example, as I am confident of some other views at variance with Benedict's exhortation. But I am also confident that Benedict is saying his prayers and leading the church with which he has been entrusted as faithfully as he knows how. I do well to listen to how God is leading me while not judging Benedict for how he hears God leading him.

I don't have to conclude is that Benedict is wrong or the place I stand is better. Instead, I am drawn to the conclusion that God knows that many of us are in different places and that the Holy Spirit is capable and even apt to work with each of us where we are and not where others wish we would be. This is messy. If I were God I would handle things differently. This is yet another of a long list of reasons why I am not God.

But I am confident that God is working out the redemption of the world. I also trust that Julian of Norwich was right in affirming that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well...even when people who share a strong faith in Jesus differ in where they see their Lord leading them.

What do you think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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8 Comments:

  • At 3/14/2007 7:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Are all "truths" then equal? Is everything anyone ever holds as something they believed after reading their Bible and praying OK?

     
  • At 3/14/2007 8:15 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Ah yes, the dilemna of the blog. Write a short post affirming one thing and it will leave open other possibilities not intended.

    I was attempting to hold up how one can have views that differ from another and not judge the other person. I was not trying to say that anything someone says, "God told me" is true. I have already affirmed elsewhere that it is not logically possible for all truths to be equal and so I am not a complete relativist. But I still hold that it is possible and even likely for God to lead me differently than God leads you. And based on this it is prudent for me to follow Jesus teaching not to judge.

    Now I have probably erred another direction. But all shall be well anyway.

    peace,
    Frank+

     
  • At 3/14/2007 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Truth" stands alone as "Truth." It is what it is. It is our human perception of truth that is faulty. Our beliefs are sometimes shaped on these faulty perceptions.

    Robin rapp

     
  • At 3/14/2007 8:35 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    Coming from a minority religious tradition, I can certainly respect their interest in maintaining the integrity of what they believe.

    As long as they don't attempt to force their beliefs on anyone, let them have it. But, if I recall correctly, the office of the inquisitor is still present in the RC church so it seems to me that a religious leader demanding that politicians uphold the doctrines of the church means we're not all that far advanced from the times of putting Galileo under arrest for holding heretical views.

     
  • At 3/14/2007 10:27 AM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Unfortunately truth seems to be a moving target. Where is the line to be drawn? Where does the Church stop accomodating and hold fast to what it believes to be the Truth?

    Just because most of our society thinks folks who have ben divorced should be allowed to remarry and take communion should the Pope give in? Is he not the Roman Catholic leader?

    When dealing with contentious issues what standard do you use?

    The Episcopal Church, to its credit, seems to follow the principle of inclusiveness. Get as many people under the umbrella as possible.

    The Cathoilcs (or at least this Pope) seems to be saying you must conform to the Cathoilc dogma or you will be excluded.

    Which is better? Which is right? What would Jesus do?

     
  • At 3/14/2007 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with "King of Peace". This particular pope and his upholding of "traditional values" is precisely why I feel that God led me straight out of the Roman Catholic church. Many of those "traditional values" are hurtful and oppressive. What's right for the pope is not right for me. I have been led "differently." Thank the Lord.

    And, I pray for the pope and the strength not to judge him or the Roman Catholic church, unlike the way that he and his "traditional values" so harshly judged me.

     
  • At 3/14/2007 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What would Jesus do? I have faith that He would never be exclusive. He welcomed all, including the sinner. Maybe the Pope needs to ask that question!

    And yes, the Pope should give in when it comes to the divorce and the Communion issue. He grants awful lot of annulments for a price.

    And, yes,again, the Pope is the Roman Catholic leader. But, so were many Popes before him. Priests were originally permitted to be married in the RC church. For political reasons, one Pope changed all that. What makes one Pope right and not the other?

    Obviously, Roman Catholic doctrine has changed throughout the centuries, so depending on the Pope in office, it could change again. This is a prime example of the Holy Spirit leading people differently.

     
  • At 3/15/2007 5:19 PM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    "Truth" is a principle. It cannot differ. Principles are the rocks upon which all things are built. God created principles. Some people call these things, "Laws of the Kingdom".

    We are, unfortunately, imperfect beings in a halfway place. Our world is neither perfect nor corrupt. (It ain't Heaven, but it ain't Hell neither.)

    For any man to interpret Truth is an imperfect task. The Pope is doing the best he can with what he is given, I believe. We too must do the best we can with what we believe.

    My Sociology Advisor told me that the Church should always change slower than Society because it's job is to act as a sea anchor ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_anchor )and keep society pointed in the right direction.

    You don't have to believe the Pope is the repository of Ultimate Truth but you do have to hope he is looking for it.

     

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3/13/2007

Outside the Box

Worship on the Water on Lake Blackshear

I know that the term "thinking outside the box" is overused. But if within church circles, we think of the box as the church building in which we worship, then two ministries in our diocese (at least two anyway) qualify as worshipping outside the box.

One of the coolest ministries in the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia is Worship on the Water. Worship on the Water logoThe fine folks at Christ Episcopal Church in Cordele put on an Episcopal communion service at The Resort Dock on Lake Blackshear from Memorial Day Sunday through Labor Day Sunday at 9 a.m.. The congregation comes in by boat, by jet ski, by foot and by car to worship alongside the dock of the Resort. The Rev. Bill Stewart is the innovative priest with the hard working congregation that puts on the worship.

It has been highly successful and a lot of fun for all involved. The website for that ministry is now online at: www.worshiponthewater.org.

Between this very innovative worship service and the new mission in Sylvania that the Rev. Steve Rice is undertaking from St. Michael's in Waynesboro, I am challenged by the ways my fellow priests are finding to reach out to their communities. I know that there is a way in which the Episcopal Church can reach people with the Good News of Jesus Christ, who might otherwise not get connected to God. I am thankful for these folks being faithful to God's leading them outside the box.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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3 Comments:

  • At 3/13/2007 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Worship on the Water sounds wonderful! Are there sand gnats in Cordele?

     
  • At 3/13/2007 7:03 PM, Anonymous Bill Stewart said…

    No.... Life on Lake Blackshear takes you back to Eden... The mosquitos ask permission before biting. The geese sing in 4-part harmony and know Gregorian chants. The dogs always genuflect as they leap from the boats. You need to come visit the Kingdom as God intended it to be.
    Thanks, Frank, for the help. You inspire me.

     
  • At 3/13/2007 7:17 PM, Anonymous Bill Stewart said…

    btw/// my bad and not Frank's
    the website is http://worshiponthewater.org

     

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3/12/2007

The Bright Field

Amber Wills' beach photoPhoto by Amber Wills

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receeding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

R.S. Thomas (1913-2000)

Thanks to the Rev. Rick Lord's World of Your Making blog for sharing this poem.

This is the 777th post at Irenic Thoughts.

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3/11/2007

Time Change

This morning at King of Peace, the time change
was noticeable as we began worship in the blue
dark of a foggy morning.

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Elucidating the Erudite

Over at Questing Parson, the experienced pastor is trying to assist the seminary grad who says,

My objective, parson, is to ascertain from you some directives whereby I could be more effective in bringing these people a more erudite view of theology.
He says,

The parson held up his hand. “I don’t think that’s necessary, Reggie. Let me see if I can explicate your impetus for sitting here with me. You’re not getting along with the people at the church, are you?”

“No, sir, I’m not.”

A t-shirt design I created for my seminary using seminary words, people, places and events“Reggie let me tell you about my five-year-old granddaughter. She was riding in her car with her dad; she was in her booster seat in the back; he was in the front. She was eating an apple as they rode along she studied that apple carefully. After a while she paused to carefully examine the apple. The she said to her dad, ‘Daddy, my apple’s turning brown. It looks icky.’

“’Its okay, sweetheart,” her daddy told her. ‘The apple is turning brown because when you took a bite you pulled the apple’s skin off. When you pulled the skin off you exposed the meat of the apple to the air. That caused it to start to oxidize. When the oxidization started, the molecular structure of the fruit changed. And when the molecular structure changed, the color also changed.’

“My granddaughter looked at the apple for a short moment, then she looked at the rearview mirror to catch her daddy’s eye. ‘Daddy,’ she said, ‘are you talking to me?’”

The parson pushed the empty plate toward the center of the table and added, “Reggie, the real secret to communicating with those people is to speak their language.”
Jesus had a knack for using the things people knew to explain to them things beyond the power of our language to capture. I am continually challenged by Jesus' example and I am quite sure that while he sometimes elucidated the erudite, it was with words like,

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.—Matthew 23:23
I'm reminded of a theology professor who continued as a pastor while teaching as he said any theology that made no sense to the person in the pew and did not assist with their daily lives, was of little value.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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3/10/2007

Spreading manure

Note:
The time changes tonight. The Saturday 6 p.m. worship service at King of Peace will be on the current time. Then we will spring ahead one hour overnight before our 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. worship. Now back to our usual program:

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus tells this parable:
"A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, 'See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?' He replied, 'Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"
The Rev. John J. Pilch of Georgetown University has written of this parable,
The Palestinian fig tree bears fruit ten months of the year, and so one can reasonably expect to find fruit at almost any time. The time sequence regarding fig trees is this: first, the tree would have three years to grow after planting. The fruit of the next three years is considered forbidden (see Lev 19:23). The fruit of the seventh year is considered clean and ought to be offered to the Lord (Lev 19:24).

The owner in this parable has come seeking fruit for three years, hence it is nine years since planting, and the situation begins to look hopeless. He rightly urges that it be rooted out, but the gardener urges “mercy,” give the tree yet another chance.

Keep in mind that the parable is not about trees but about the nation's leadership. The gardener's proposed remedy for the tree's problems reflects Jesus' mastery of “insult humor.”

Throughout the Gospels Jesus, the authentic Mediterranean native, resorts to insults on a regular basis, and they are always gems. The gardener might have proposed new soil for the tree, or increased watering.

Instead he proposed spreading manure on it. Jesus' original peasant audience undoubtedly roared with laughter. This is just what those #)%!@* leaders need!

Moreover, in Aramaic there is a wordplay between “dig it out” and “let it alone” (also the word for forgiveness), which makes the parable and its point very easy to remember. Judgment (dig it out)? No, mercy and forgiveness (let it alone)!

figsThe tree cannot lift itself by its roots. They (the leaders) need the intervention of an outsider, the gardener, God himself!

Dedicated reformers are often so focused on the evils to be exterminated that they neglect the need for personal reform as well. This is as true of all as it is of leaders. This is the point Luke's Jesus makes in today's masterful cluster of readings. The passage is beautifully appropriate to Lent. It needs no further comment.

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3/09/2007

HWJV—How Would Jesus Vote?

The folks at The Barna Group just completed a survey looking at what they call The God Gap as they ask how faith effects party politics. The study found that on matters of faith, rank and file Republicans and Democrats differ little. The study found in part,
The eight most significant differences were almost exclusively in the domain of beliefs and commitment, rather than the arena of behavior. For instance, Republicans were more likely than Democrats to strongly assert that the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches (57% versus 40%); twice as likely to believe Satan is a real spiritual entity (33% versus 17%); more likely to reject the idea that good works can earn salvation (35% versus 23%); and more commonly describe themselves as absolutely committed to Christianity (61% versus 48%).

Another gap relates to the proportion of born again Christian voters aligned with each party. In Barna studies, a born again Christian is defined based upon a person’s religious beliefs - rather than their use of the "born again" term. Overall, 51% of Republicans have spiritual convictions that qualify them as born again Christians, compared with 38% of Democrats.

However, since Democrats outnumber Republicans among registered voters by a 10-point margin (31% to 41%), the born again vote balances out. This means that, if the 2008 election were held today, among born again voters, 37% would vote as a Democrat, 38% would be entering their ballot as a Republican, with the remaining born voters being unaffiliated.
The study's author noted, "Keep in mind that many Christian voters are increasingly skeptical of being played for political purposes." The full text of the study is online here: The God Gap? The faith of Republicans and Democrats

I maintain my earlier stance that God is neither Republican nor Democrat. I wrote in a religion column, The Pulpit vs. the Taxman that,
Personally, I feel that my views on whom I vote for are not for public broadcast. I do what I expect all people of faith do in voting. I say my prayers and then cast my votes. I know that faithful Christians often disagree on the best candidate and this is just fine. This side of the kingdom of God, no earthly power is going to get it all right all the time anyway. And God will work in and through any person of any background and will work in spite of any person of any background. This is not to say that for whom we vote is of no consequence, but to say that we can not and will not usher in heaven on earth no matter who lives in the governor’s mansion or the White House. However in hindsight it is clear the church did not speak up loud enough or strongly enough against Hilter and Mussolini and it ushered in hell on earth for millions.

This is why the church must be able to speak out against injustice. The Bible casts a different understanding of the world. It is an upside down view of life in which the least are the greatest and the last are first. Jesus says (in Matthew 25:31-46) that the judgment at the end of time will have everything to do with how the least are treated. Are the needy fed, clothed and comforted? If not, then we will have some explaining to do. So the church cannot hand over all its rights to speak against injustice even if that means dancing the thin line that sometimes separates politics and religion.

I don’t have to stump for any candidate to speak up for those who are hungry, naked, sick or in prison. But I do need to be able to speak plainly to the ways in which we as Christians have a responsibility to seek justice in the here and now. We do this knowing that no candidate, no political party, and no government will ever be so godly that it will not need someone to speak up for those with no voice or whose voice is going unheard. And there is no legal basis to tax that constitutionally protected speech.
peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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3 Comments:

  • At 3/09/2007 11:29 AM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Come on, everyone knows that God the Father is Republican (He does a lot of smiting), Jesus the Son is a Democrat (we all just need to love one another) and the Holy Spirit is Independent (New Ager).

    Here a few others:

    Abel - NRA material
    Cain - Green Party and a vegan
    Abraham - Definetely AARP material
    Noah - PETA, Save the animals, let the people learn to swim
    Moses - Definetely Republican but could have used a good GPS
    Joseph - Rainbow Coat of Many Colors Coalition
    Sampson - Anti-Steroid Party

    Any other ideas? These are all lame attempts at humor, please don't take offense.

     
  • At 3/09/2007 1:00 PM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    WHAT A HOOT!

    The survey was certainly not scientific as it had a lot of problems.

    Maybe there was a greater number of Traditional Christian reponses from the Republicans because Muslims, Buddist, Jewish, Hindu are more likely to be Democrats?

    Just more fodder for those who call us Democrats a bunch of Pagans. (Right Kenny?)

    LOL, ;)

     
  • At 3/09/2007 9:49 PM, Anonymous kenny said…

    The non-Republicans are probably more popular because they throw better parties. Right, D-R? :)

     

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3/08/2007

Extending an Olive Branch

click here to read The Olive Branch online




The latest issue of our newsletter, The Olive Branch, is now online.

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Blasphemy Challenge

A group is challenging teens to deny God online in a Blasphemy Challenge. The story is online here:



Father Matthew Moretz has his video response here:



And Father Steve Rice also responds here with Does God Exist?:



Related posts in the archives of this blog are: Evangelical Atheists, Delusional?, and The eBay Atheist.

Then there is the practically blasphemous idea in a religion column of Why a non-believer may want a church.

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4 Comments:

  • At 3/08/2007 7:00 AM, Anonymous Linda+ said…

    Is this the ultimate rebellion? It's almost as if these teens are thanking God they are athiests.

     
  • At 3/08/2007 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Perhaps this rebellion will counteract itself. The children of atheists may turn toward God! Maybe somebody should challenge them online.

    It is frightening how such a group finds pleasure in instituting a rebellion against God and religion with our youth. Like dying their hair and body peircing isn't enough anymore! Before we know it "torturing" our children with the Love of God will become a form of abuse in the system. NOT!!!!

    Thank the Lord that LOVE will always prevail. Let's pray that it's not too late for our youth to realize this!

     
  • At 3/08/2007 4:03 PM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    As Christians we should not be shocked by such behavior. The Faith has endured much more than this and emerged intact. But we should, however be ready to answer such a challenge. Why do I believe God exists? Why do you believe? If you're not sure of the answer perhaps you should spend some time thinking about it.

    Remember the first rule of war, and make no mistake this is a spiritual war, is to know your enemy.

     
  • At 3/08/2007 10:24 PM, Blogger Loren said…

    I think it's important that we pay attention to this phenomenon. There's a reason those kids decided to take the challenge. Whether it's because they want the attention, because they've been burned by the church or because they really believe what they're saying, they need to be listened to. Kudos to Fr. Matthew for presenting them with that option.

     

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3/07/2007

Prayer of Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my Life,
Take away from me the spirit of laziness,
faint-heartedness, lust for power, and idle talk.

Instead grant me, your servant,
the spirit of purity, humility, patience, and love.

Yes, Lord and King,
give me the power to see my own faults
and not to judge my brother.
For You are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

Ephrem the Syrian (306-373)

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3/06/2007

God in a box

A recent article in The New York Times, Darwin's God, tells in part of "the magic-box demonstration" Scott Atran first conducted in the 1980s, when he was at Cambridge University studying the nature of religious belief. In the demonstration the article says,
He presents students with a wooden box that he pretends is an African relic. “If you have negative sentiments toward religion,” he tells them, “the box will destroy whatever you put inside it.” Many of his students say they doubt the existence of God, but in this demonstration they act as if they believe in something. Put your pencil into the magic box, he tells them, and the nonbelievers do so blithely. Put in your driver’s license, he says, and most do, but only after significant hesitation. And when he tells them to put in their hands, few will.

If they don’t believe in God, what exactly are they afraid of?
What indeed? This is the question being considered by scientists considering whether humans are "hard wired" to believe in God. I think so and think we were wired that way by a creator. But the scientists are working on the puzzle. The full text of the rather long article is here: Darwin's God.

But I wonder...would you have put your hand in the box?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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6 Comments:

  • At 3/06/2007 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Back in the 80's, I am 99.9% sure that I would have put my hand in the box. Sadly, though, I don't know if it would have been because of my faith in God, or because I was young and "invincible." I thrived on the excitement that a dare could bring to me back then.

    In my defense, however, even though I had developed major resentments toward my religion, I never had any doubt in the existence of God. I know that because of faith, I would not have believed in any mystical powers of an ancient relic and would have put my hand in, or not. Because of this faith, I may have seen the whole experiment as a waste of time for me.

    It's sad that these scientists continue trying to prove or disprove the existence of God and unfold the mysteries of faith. They're missing out on the joy we receive from faith alone.

     
  • At 3/06/2007 11:28 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    Most people who chose not to believe in God make their arguments against the lamest and most ridiculous claims made by religions.

    The first and most absurd claim made by us the faithful, is that God's Existence can not be proved so therefore we must accept him on "Blind Faith" or "Thall shalt not test the Lord your God!"

    The Bible is full of men who tested God. Abram, Gideon, Moses, etc...

    A few years ago Stephen W. Hawkings stood the physics community on its ear by postulating that at the center/bottom of a black hole matter/light/energy/information simply ceased to exist. He backed it up with a beautiful formula and dared the physics community to prove him wrong. (You may view this short and elegant paper at http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/hep-th/pdf/0507/0507171.pdf ).

    As you can imagine most physicists hated that idea because they had become quite used to “The Law of Conservation of Matter”. This Law states that matter cannot be created or destroyed, only redistributed.

    That Law quite conveniently omits any potential Extra-Universal Actor and the possibility that something could be created from nothing. A short time later, when the ramifications were realized that with utter un-creation there must have been a creation, Stephen Hawkings himself had to come up with a way to refute his own theory using Multiverse Theoreticals. If some thing ceased to exist in one universe it must still exist in another universe, so the thing that ceased to exist wasn’t mathematically viable in the first place. No elegant formulas this time, just dirty excuses.

    The truth is that most laws of physics fit quite nicely with a belief in God who is an involved Creator. You just can’t make your box too small! The Universe exists in God, not the other way around. IF YOU DON’T LIKE GOD BEING THAT BIG THEN GET OUT!

    Theologically, how could we reject physical proof of his existence? Scientifically, how can you be lazy in your investigations of the Universe because you might, by accident prove something you didn’t intend?

     
  • At 3/06/2007 11:44 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    Correction the 1975 Paper with the elegant formula can be downloaded from ...

    http://projecteuclid.org/Dienst/UI/1.0/Summarize/euclid.cmp/1103899181

    The above mentioned web address was his lame excuse.

     
  • At 3/06/2007 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Faith alone" was not intended to mean "blind faith." It merely means that I know that there is God. It is not blind faith because God makes his presence known to me in ways that I can understand and accept. I find joy in getting to know God rather than exploring the universe to find out "if" God...

    Yes, I too have tested God. But, why would I waste my time with that if I didn't know He was there in the first place?

     
  • At 3/06/2007 9:54 PM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    Did you read beyond my second paragraph?

    My comments were not a rebuttal to yours but a comment on the phrase, "God in a box".

     
  • At 3/08/2007 6:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The end of the Newsweek article puts it well:

    "This internal push and pull between the spiritual and the rational reflects what used to be called the “God of the gaps” view of religion. The presumption was that as science was able to answer more questions about the natural world, God would be invoked to answer fewer, and religion would eventually recede. Research about the evolution of religion suggests otherwise. No matter how much science can explain, it seems, the real gap that God fills is an emptiness that our big-brained mental architecture interprets as a yearning for the supernatural. The drive to satisfy that yearning, according to both adaptationists and byproduct theorists, might be an inevitable and eternal part of what Atran calls the tragedy of human cognition."

     

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3/05/2007

Our common way

If we are to follow Christ, it must be in our common way of spending every day. If we are to live unto God at any time or in any place, we are to live unto him in all times and in all places. If we are to use anything as the gift of God, we are to use everything as his gift.
William Law (1686-1781)

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  • At 3/05/2007 10:38 AM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    This sounds a lot like learning how to play chess. The rules are easy, putting them into practice effectively is very difficult.

    Some days I feel I am living my faith, in the spiritual groove so to speak. Otherdays I feel totally disconnected. Like Teddy Roosevelt said much better is the man who strives valiantly even though he may fall short. It is in the effort, though the falling down and getting back up that we find our way.

    Part of today's Scripture reading from Proverns 8:11 says:

    For wisdom is better than rubies, And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.

     

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3/04/2007

How God Wired Me

What I wish were true
The image at the left by artist James Christenson is what I wish I were like. That centered, non-anxious presence in the frenetic cacophony that is life. But I know better. I know that I am not that man.

I want to blame God for this and say that God just didn't wire me that way. That is true, but may miss the point.

God did wire me with a lot of energy, too much energy to sit still for too long. But God also created within me the potential to be quite centered nonetheless. And I have, at times, discovered this within me. In the midst of a frenzied emergency room fighting to save a life. Gathered withthe family at the bedside of a dying loved one. With a couple caught in a downward spiral toward divorce. With a teen facing some untenable choices about where life goes next.

In these times and places I have tapped in to my God-given ability to be a non-anxious presence in anxious times. This lies dormant within every energetic extrovert, just as every retiring introvert has the ability to stand in front of a group of people and speak.

Reality
The reality of my life is probably much more like this other Christenson painting, the one on the right. He calls it "balancing act" and the central figure has more than seems possible in the air, balanced precariously. This is the truth and not an especially painful one, but one that is helpful to recognize.

The Problem
The problem with this is not so much a problem for me, in that I like to have a lot of things in progress. I prefer juggling to idleness. It is more a problem of the image that I project to others. I realize that I seem quite busy. Too busy in fact. People respond to me as if I am someone with too much on his plate to take the time to speak, and more importantly I seem too busy to listen. And yet, I dearly love to set aside other projects to talk with folks about what God is doing in their lives and to help discern God's will in times both good and bad.

A solution (for now)
I am quite capable of setting aside other tasks to do this. What I am not capable of is sitting and staring at the wall waiting for someone to need me. I think I will just always be busy, needing to set one thing aside for another. Sitting still is just not the only way I stay centered. I stay centered through prayer, Bible reading and study, singing songs (I love to walk around the church singing songs from our worship, I just rarely do so with others around but find time for that when the sanctuary is not otherwise occupied). I think channeling my God-given energy (without forgetting God's desire for me to stay centered on him in the midst of busy-ness) is the way forward that doesn't make me a victim of my own wiring.

So some Sundays I have been bustling about taking care of details as we head toward a worship service, but having been at the church early, praying and singing and just being in God's presence, I find it possible to be quite centered on the ground of our being even while seeming to be nothing more than an object in motion.

So what?
I share this to say that I am busy. But not too busy to be present, really fully, undistractedly present in times of need big and small. And I would hate to think the congregation I am priviledged to serve would see me as too busy for that.

In the archives is the sermon Dragged Apart by Distractions.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

Only one leper in ten turns back

2 Comments:

  • At 3/05/2007 6:05 AM, Anonymous Linda+ said…

    Maybe this is the time to pass out copies of the book "Please Understand Me II -- Temperament, Character, Intelligence" by David Keirsey (1998). It helps us understand the dance of everyday life.

     
  • At 3/06/2007 6:01 PM, Blogger Celeste said…

    Okay. I should post this.
    I admit I am guilty of not "bothering" you. When in fact, I know it wouldn't be a bother at all. I think that's my problem and not at all yours. I just tend to weed out what I feel is worthy of your time or not and as I write this I realize I have been wrong in my judgement in some instances. This post was well timed for a lot of folks even if they can't post a comment.
    Thanks,
    Celeste

     

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3/03/2007

Like a hen gathers her brood

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, Jesus predicts that he will die in Jerusalem and says,
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
This image of a hen gathering a brood under her wings is one that recurs in scripture and it is one of a number of feminine images for God. While we readily affirm God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we also know that God is beyond gender and is not confined by male terms alone. In a sermon God Our Mother, I once wrote,

Our mothers are so formative for who we are, it is not surprising that the Bible uses the image of a mother to speak of God at times. For example:

  • In Deuteronomy (32:18), God is described as “the God who gave you birth.”
  • The Prophet Hosea described God as a parent who loves, teaches, holds, heals and feeds her child. God is not specifically described there as father or mother, though the actions are those most associated with a mother. Hosea also describes God as being like a mother bear protecting her cubs (Hosea 13:8).
  • The Book of Job also referred to God’s womb bringing forth the world (Job 38:8,29).
  • In five Psalms (Psalms 17:8, 36:7, 57:1, 91:1, 4) the Psalmist uses the image of God being like a mother bird protecting her chicks under her wing.
  • In I Peter (2:2-3) Christians are described as newborns longing for pure spiritual milk from God.
  • While Jesus did not use motherly language, he did compare God to a woman working leaven into bread (Luke 13:18-21) and a woman seeking a lost coin (Luke 15:8-10).
  • In Isaiah (42:12) God is compared to a woman in labor. Also in Isaiah we get those words we sing here at King of Peace which say (Isaiah 49:14-15), “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these may forget, yet I will never forget you.”

This is an important distinction, for I know in speaking of mothers how complex that can be. Not everyone has had an ideal mother. This is the same problem we can run into when speaking of God as Father. In both instances, God is compared to an ideal mother and an ideal father. This is why Isaiah acknowledges that even if a woman does forget her own baby or the child within her womb, God will nonetheless be like that ideal mother who could never forget her own.

God also says through the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 66:13), “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.”

In our Gospel reading for this morning, Jesus says, “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” In the King James Version, the verse is translated, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” This translation fits well with the verse as Jesus is speaking of sending the Holy Spirit, sometimes referred to as the Holy Comforter from the King James Version’s translation which speaks of Jesus as sending a comforter to be with us always.

The Holy Spirit as comforter is a very feminine image, which fits well enough as Spirit in both Hebrew and Greek is a feminine word. In those languages, the pronoun she is used of Spirit, including Holy Spirit. Of course, all of this is by way of analogy as God is neither male nor female. And certainly speaking of God the Father is orthodox Christian teaching. Yet, we should also hold on to some of that feminine imagery for God is not only like a man as God is like the father in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. But God is also like a mother who can not forget the child in her womb.

We gather to worship our creator who is beyond the limit of our vocabulary to describe. Yet our words can point to the deeper reality of God's love and care for us.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

2 Comments:

  • At 3/03/2007 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    How about describing God as our "Perfect Parent"? In today's society, there is role reversal in some families, as well as single parents playing both roles when the other parent is missing.

     
  • At 3/11/2007 9:50 PM, Blogger Miss Eagle said…

    I hope you don't mind but I have copied your picture of the broody chook. I am an Anglican blogger in Melbourne, Australia. I have attributed to you, linked to the post, to the blog, and to King of Peace. If you wish to contact me my email is on the sidebar of To the Desert at http://eaglesnestcompanion.blogspot.com

     

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3/02/2007

A massive surprise and novelty

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams wrote this of Lent last year,

Just as in Advent we have to remember that we all still in some ways live in a pre-Christian world, waiting for Christ to arrive not only in Bethlehem but in our hearts and minds, so in Lent: the cross and the resurrection are never over and done with, never things we have been through and understood once and for all.

Ahead of us lies the immense bulk of failure and suffering, to be faced again and again with whatever degree of honesty we can manage. So every year, we need to live for a little while in such a way that Easter comes as a massive surprise and novelty.

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3/01/2007

25 Words or Less

Over at Ask the Priest where I am an occasional contributor, a reader sent in a challenging proposal. We were sent the following request:
Being an old man but a relatively new member of the Episcopal Church I would like to challenge the blog to answer this question in 25 words or less: Assuming that Christ died for our sins, past, present and future, why are we still guilty when we sin today and still face the loss of salvation?
Here were our three responses:

The site's creator and host, the Very Rev. David Simmons (the priest at St. John's Episcopal Church, Murray, KY and the Episcopal Chaplain at Murray State University) answered:
Loss of salvation" is not the issue, but "right relationship." Who is saved is God's perogative, right relationship is something we can effect. (23 words)
The Rev. Shannon Ferguson Kelly, chaplain at the University of Wisconsin wrote
Sin is anything that takes us away from God, therefore, we feel guilt & loss of salvation because we strain our relationship with God. (24 words)
And I said,
The Atonement Jesus offers is made real both in our hearts and in the coming Kingdom, when we by faith accept Jesus' sacrifice for us. (25 words)
It was a valiant effort, but somehow I feel that all our 25 words or less responses fell short of the glory of God. Perhaps because the topic can't be done justice in 25 words. But more likely because preachers are long winded.

What do y'all think (in 25 words or less)?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

Here's a 21-word answer in cartoon form from www.cartoonstock.com:

3 Comments:

  • At 3/01/2007 6:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When the gentleman's question is 25 words or less, then I'll take the challenge. All of your answers are wonderful--all 72 words worth!

     
  • At 3/01/2007 8:17 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    We must present our bodies as a living sacrifice but "The only trouble with a living sacrifice is that I keep crawling off the altar."
    (25)

     
  • At 3/01/2007 9:02 AM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Christ overcame death and made salvation possible. Through and with Him we work out our salvation. It is a process, not a moment in time.

     

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Wednesdays in Lent

On Wednesday evenings in Lent, we are offering a catered meal at the church at 6 p.m. for $3 per person. We got off to a great start last night with a wonderful turnout, good food, and great conversation.

The food line in the hall
The who gave up meat for Lent were in great shape as their were ways to stick with veggies.


But those who gave up sweets for Lent had a tougher evening as we had some cookies and then birthday cake for my wife, Victoria's, birthday.

The evening continued with me teaching about the beginnings of the religious Reformation in England in the mid 1500s. Then we experienced worship using the 1549 Book of Common Prayer.

Next week we will have soup, salad and bread for a meal and then we'll discover what a difference a few years can make in worshipping with the prayer book of 1552, which was much more reformed in character. This way of learning about history through worshipping with the words those before us used is a very experiential way to gain insight into their times and the words of our own worship services today.

Come join us next Wednesday.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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