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.

6/30/2007

Nowhere to lay his head

View from the apartment we stayed in while in Todi, Italy
on our recent vacation

In this week's Gospel reading, Someone comes up to Jesus as he and his disciples are going along the road. The person says, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answers, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Jesus warns the one who wants to follow that he is homeless in this life. Jesus was dependent on the hospitality of others. His home base of operations was in Capernaum on the Sea of Gallilee, but he seems to have stayed there at the home of Simon Peter and others.

During our recent three-week trip to Italy and France, my wife and daughter and I greatly enjoyed the fact that we spent a week at an apartment in Todi, Italy and a week at an apartment in Villecroze, in the Provence region of France. It was so much nicer than bouncing from hotel to hotel to have our own place to which we could return and our own kitchen in which to cook meals. This highlighted for me the homelessness Victoria cooking in 'our' apartment in Todi, Italyof Jesus. No, he wasn't homeless in the sense in which we mean it today as his life did not compare to the homeless who subsist in every large city around our country and in most countries of the world.

Jesus lived as an itinerant preacher, much more closely to the way Francis of Assisi would live more than a millinea later as he walked around Italy and beyond on preaching missions. Jesus showed through his life on the road, what Francis wanted to later mirror, that his true home was and is in the kingdom of God. Jesus needed no roof to call his own as he was just passing through on a journey intended to bring us all to where he was.

Jesus lived constantinually as the guest, dependent on the hospitality of others and yet offered hospitality himself and sometimes played the host, as at the last supper. It is to this radical dependance on God that we are called. Even those of us who own homes and love to have a roof to call our own, are to place our trust not in those places or possessions, but in God. Right?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

Assisi, Italy seen from an olive grove on the way to
the church of San Damiano

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6/29/2007

The Gift of Giving

Beggar on the Spanish Steps in Rome Woman begging on Rome's famed Spanish Steps.

Before I left on my recent trip to Italy and France, a parishioner placed a twenty dollar bill in my hand after church. He said that as I am a priest and consequently a soft touch, I should use the money to give to beggars I see on my travels. I took the twenty, converted it to Euros and proceeded to distribute the funds as directed. What a gift it turned out to be to effortlessly share the money I had been given to give! It made me happy to see someone obviously in need, knowing that I needed to hand him or her a Euro (about $1.35) or two.

As I went about giving to beggars, I could see that God has given all of us gifts with the expectation that we will pass along to those in need from what we have been given. Just as I was to go around Rome looking for needy to help using the $20, so too each of us has received from God's love gifts to use in sharing that love. Sometimes it is money. Sometimes it is our talents or abilities. Sometimes it is our prayers or even just our presence with someone in need. In any of these ways, it is in giving that we receive.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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6/28/2007

Drive like an Italian

A scooter outpaces cars on a commute in Rome, Italy

Roman trafficWe rented a car for our recent 3-week trip to Italy and France. I was a bit apprehensive about driving in Europe, especially after watching this humorous web video. But my wife, Victoria, was experienced at driving overseas and confident we could handle it. Like most Americans, I like the freedom of movement that comes with a car and so readily agreed. Then while taking some white-knuckle taxi rides in Rome and walking the streets there, I began to wonder about the decision.

Victoria driving in FranceI'm glad I didn't worry myself out of trying my hand at the wheel and did listen to my wife. Driving in Europe was not only a good way to get around, it was a kick. Driving in Italy is like driving on I-95 through Georgia, except everyone has had two cups of expresso before taking to the road. Just view the lanes, speed limit signs and other indicators as mere suggestions, not rules of the road in some traditional sense, and you'll be driving like an Italian. It's a piece of cake, really.

Our rental car in FranceSo once we got our hands on the shiny new (only 5 kilometers on it) Alfa Romeo 159 and headed out onto the streets of Rome, it was love at first turning circle. Well almost. The challenge wasn't driving, but navigation through unfamiliar terrain with signs not always as clear and helpful as we would like.

All roads lead to RomeBut in Europe as here, travel is about the experience and the adventure. The journey is the thing, not a means to an end. So if we occasionally had to chart a new course to get to a place, then so be it. We rolled with the navigational issues as best we could and mostly got from point A to point B just like we thought we would.

Along the way we were able to venture far from the well-worn tourist routes to visit places that few tourists would ever find. Sometimes this meant fitting the large-for-Europe sports car into some very tight spaces, as we navigated ancient streets built with no thought to a car's width. Always, the rental car fit with our goal of being visitors rather than tourists and even allowed us to be taken as Italians by Italians on occasion. But more on that later.

Victoria driving through a tunnelThis is where I should justify writing this with some nifty Gospel tie in. The problem is that "When in Romans, do as the Romans do" is more anti-Gospel than it is Gospel. Instead, I'll just say that even a priest can enjoy zipping along a winding Italian road sometimes doing well over what would be the posted speed limit in America. Maybe this isn't exactly teaching I'm doing at the moment. Perhaps this blog post is a confession.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

Our car on the street in front of our apartment in ItalyOur car, Romeo, on the street out front of the apartment
as we dropped off our belongings in Todi, Italy

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  • At 6/28/2007 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    And we thought driving in the UK was bad....YIKES!
    Welcome home......
    Ron and MK

     

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6/27/2007

Neighborhood Church

Swiss Guardsman The Swiss Guard made for a fairly intimidating (if colorful)
group of greeters at our neighborhood church in Rome.

I hope y'all don't mind if I tell some hear about my recent trip to Italy and France. First, there is the church we stayed closest to in Rome. When we lived in Rome, Georgia, St. Peter's Episcopal Church was our church home, so it was natural that the other Saint Peter's would become our church while in the other Rome.

Inside the St. Peter's BasilicaWe slept close against the walls of Vatican City with our lovely neighborhood church being Saint Peter's Basilica. We were present to here an absolutely beautiful choir sing for an afternoon Mass. We also stumbled in on a Wednesday general audience and were able to stand just about 25 feet from where Benedict XVI passed by waving cheerfully as he was driven amongst the crowd in a cart down at our height. It was a good way of working the crowd. He didn't get as good a look at me as he might have liked, but I saw him pretty well.

Honestly, I have long had a problem with this church. It's construction touched off the Reformation, which divided the Christians in the west and led to much strife and bloodshed. (For more on that see the sermon in the archives One Simple Truth). But, they did build an amazing basilica. My pictures here can not begin to capture the scale of the immense worship space. And then there are the details like the famous Pieta, showing Jesus in his mother's arms being just inside the entrance on the right.

And then that Catholic desire to entomb saints under altars had me standing at an altar containing the bones of Saint Gregory Naizianzus. Little known in general, he was a towering theologian of the early church and I admire his life and writings and was more struck by standing there at his grave/altar than I would have thought possible. Touring Catholic Italy would give me pause to consider this more than once and I'll come back around to the saints and saints relics again.

Waiting in line to confess at Saint Peter'sBut I know I am not the only well traveled on here in this corner of cyberspace. What are others' impressions of Saint Peter's or other cathedrals on such a grand scale? Do they leave you breathless with God's presence? Wondering at human construction ability?

Where do you routinely experience God's presence most fully?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

Below are some more photos from our
little neighborhood church in Rome:
Saint Peter's Square The faithful waving at the pontiff
A bride and groom waiting to see the pope Waiting to see the Pope
Saint Peter's Square Saint Peter's Square
Victoria and Griffin in Saint Peter's Square

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  • At 6/28/2007 2:01 PM, Anonymous Linda+ said…

    The Basilica of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor in Israel left me breathless. Was it the enormity of the space, the perfection of the mosaics, or the sense that it memorialized something absolutely awesome? I have never sorted that out, but I was ordained priest on the Eve of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus, so I have a special affection for that Basilica.

    In peace,
    Linda+

     
  • At 6/28/2007 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I will never forget the thrill of having Yorkminster almost all to myself at 7 a.m. About 12 of us were gathered in one of the side chapels for daily communion. As if that wasn't enough of a gift I was then able to wander the cathedral before the rest of the tourists arrived. Priceless!
    MKL

     

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6/26/2007

Perspective

Umbrian Sunset from Todi, Italy Sunset from a spot in the medieval hill town of Todi, Italy
close to "our" apartment where we spent a week.

A statue of Saint Francis restingIt took a grueling 33.5-hour weather-complicated series of flights to get home, but my wife, daughter and I are now back in Camden County after 21 days in Italy and France. The trip was phenomenal and, up until the return voyage, very inspiring and restorative. But I should save writing about that for a time when I haven't been up 42 hours straight as I have now. And in this time I need to stay awake before crashing at a decent hour to get my head back in the this time zone, I'll share the last story of the trip, something from this morning.

We arrived in the Atlanta airport at midnight last night along with thousands of others coming in following that busiest southern hub having fully shut down earlier in the day for a violent thunderstorm. Our plans to fly on to Jacksonville were on hold for a half-dozen hours. So many of us were effected there was no way for us all to make arrangements for a motel and we ended up trying to catch some sleep in the airport by the hundreds. We were up on the second floor of the atrium with a hundred or more of our newly sidelined sojouners thankful for the relative quiet and the thin carpet over the concrete of the floor.

By three this morning, there airport was quite cool. I had seen others with airline blankets and I went in search of ones for my wife and daughter. I discovered that Delta had given them all out. Crashing at the airportThen I saw a man and woman in a restaurant with three unopened and when I asked, they readily offered one for my family. I went off and got them a bit warmer for our wait and settled in myself. Another hour passed and I was downright chilled to the bone, cuddled against the wall with my head against my backpack trying to rest and I heard a rustling, felt warmth and looked up to see a women covering me with a blanket. A fellow traveler, she had found more fresh blankets and she was out just after 4 a.m. taking the initiative to provide some care.

Hers was such a simple selfless act. I was touched. I thanked her for her kindness and then watched as she worked her way around the upper atrium blanketing bone weary and chilled to the core travelers. How very Christlike.

Even with the storms, the missed flight and the uncertain morning schedule ahead as we waited on standby, I found watching the care of the woman showed this morning for her fellow travelers was a great way to end our three week trip.

I'm glad to be home.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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  • At 6/26/2007 9:37 PM, Blogger Knit, Chat, Klatch said…

    Welcome home. :) Sorry that you had such a long wait, but often I think these types of things happen so we can find the silver lining.

     

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Vocation


“Here lies John Smyth who cobbled shoes
in this town 40 years to the glory of God.”

This inscription found on an English tombstone is my favorite epitaph. It speaks volumes of how any job can be done to God's glory. This was also true for the German Reformer Martin Luther who taught that it was not only those called to be monks, nuns or priests who had a vocation from God. Luther noted that everyone has a calling from God no matter their station in life.

In 1990, the Synod of Orthodox Bishops published a statement saying,
All are called to be saints (to be Christians), but each person is called to do so in his or her own unique way.... Some will work primarily in a physical way, others will work intellectually. Some will be artists, scientists, business people, and professionals. In the eyes of God none is better than the other is."
As the poet W.H. Auden put it,
You need not see what someone is doing to know if it is his vocation,

you have only to watch his eyes:
a cook mixing a sauce, a surgeon

making a primary incision,
a clerk completing a bill of lading,

wear the same rapt expression,
forgetting themselves in a function...

There should be monuments,
there should be odes...

to the first flaker of flints
who forgot his dinner,

the first collector of sea-shells
to remain celibate.
Your vocation is the work you do that best uses the gifts God has given you. You may work in a job to pay the bills while your true vocation is a scout leader. Or your job might itself be your vocation as you are the teacher, sailor, banker, nurse (or whatever it is) that God created you to be, and you serve others through that vocation.

Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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6/25/2007

No Man is an Island

John DonneJohn Donne (1572-1631) was an Anglican priest and a poet. In the 1620s, Donne contracted a serious illness and thought he was dying. Around him, he could hear the bells of London tolling following the deaths of many a person. Lying in extreme sickness, he composed in his head a serious of devotions which on recovering he wrote down. They were published in 1624 as Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. In the most famous, Donne writes,
The church is catholic, universal, so all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another....

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by sea, Europe is no less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of a friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefor never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
The full text of this Devotion XII is here online.

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6/24/2007

What if we didn't exist?

an aerial view of King of Peace

Today, God will be worshipped at King of Peace and in more than 100 other churches in our county alone (there are 159 counties in Georgia). It would seem redundant at best to have so many churches in this one place. God would seem to be more of a major property owner than is necessary. Yet, instead of wondering why so many, consider where we would be without them. What would Camden County be like if every Christian church in the county had never existed?

I read a statistic a while back that, "the average church...provides $150,000 of social services to the community." I'm not sure of the accuracy of the data, but I do know it points to a reality that the whole community benefits from churches.

In starting King of Peace in 2000, one of my primary goals was that in 10 years, if King of Peace closed that people who never attended the church would be sad to see it go. The idea was that the new church would grow to become such an important part of the community, through the ministries it provided, that the community would miss the church if it went away. I think we have already arrived at that goal. Through the Preschool, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, we have already become an important part of the lives of many people who will likely never attend King of Peace.

Each week's local newspaper always features something that is going on at King of Peace, often several events—we are booked pretty solid, especially during the school year. And the things taking place at the church building are not just some community event, but they are ministries as well. We do what we do as a natural outgrowth of the love of God we have experienced in Jesus Christ.

Looking around I also realize that we are not alone, as I continually see how important our fellow churches are to our community. I wouldn't want to imagine Camden County without its many churches worshipping and serving our Lord alongside us.

In the archives is the religion column for the Tribune & Georgian that looks at it from a personal perspective, rather than a community-wide one, in telling of The Dollar Value of Attending Church.

There is also the sermon How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place which I preached at the dedication of the building for St. Margaret of Scotland in Moultrie, Georgia. The sermon warns of not making decisions for sake of the building, but for sake of the Gospel.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

King of Peace seen (top right) alongside our nearest neighbor, Camden County High School

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  • At 7/22/2007 2:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I cannot imagine what my life would be like if KOP did not exist. Since first walking into the church several years ago to plan a Christmas Variety Show, the wonderful, warm welcome I recieved
    then, still exists now, as I regularly attend services. I have observed the continual growth of KOP and I am enlightened to see that everyone is treated with such love and respect. Fr. Frank and KOP is a very special & unique group of Christians who have such dedication for one another. I talk with many people in Camden County who speak very well about their experience or knowledge of KOP or Fr. Frank. I have always felt a sense of belonging and I am honored to know this is my Church home.

     

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6/23/2007

Who would they blame?

In this weekend's Gospel reading Jesus meets a man living among the tombs. We are told that he is possessed of so many demons that they call themselves Legion. Jesus sends the demons into a herd of pigs who promptly run into the sea. Luke tells us,
When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear.
The Preaching Helps page of the United Methodist Church's General Board of Discipleship offers that,
Jesus casts demons into a herd of pigsThe healing of the Gerasene demoniac was a major event that frightened the local people. They were, in fact, so frightened that they asked Jesus to leave them. When the former demoniac, now in his right mind, begged to go with Jesus, Jesus commanded him to remain in that town as a witness. Mark's account confirms that the former demoniac did just as Jesus suggested. He proclaimed the great things that Jesus had done for him, and those who heard him were amazed (Mark 5:20). What profound lessons do we learn from this?

Can't live with 'em and can't live without 'em?—I once heard a preacher speak harshly about the pig farmers' request for Jesus to leave. He spoke of the issue in economic terms. It is quite true that they suffered economically, and maybe they did want the troublemaker to leave before they suffered any further losses. But what if there were something more familiar at play? What if Legion, the man in his demonized state, fulfilled a function in his local community? What would they do without their resident demon? Who would they blame for things that went awry; how would they justify their nighttime fears without Legion? Humans often find it more comfortable to live with their demons than to exorcise them and live in peace. I wonder if they invented, or created another Legion after this man was healed?
Often a problem someone in recovery faces is that their friends and family are accustomed to him or her as a drug addict or alcoholic and don't know how to deal with healing. I think that without meaning to, we can put a stumbling block in front of those trying to change their lives by not giving them room to be transformed. What do you think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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6/22/2007

Everlasting Encore


Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged, They always say, "Do it again;" and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.

It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon, It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite for infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.
—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (1908)

Child-Like Faith
Jesus called a small child over to him and put the child among them. Then he said, "I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to lose faith, it would be better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck.—Matthew 18:2-6

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6/21/2007

Goose Music

a cerulean warblerI heard of a boy once who was brought up an atheist. He changed his mind when he saw that there were a hundred-odd species of warblers, each bedecked like to the rainbow, and each performing yearly sundry thousands of miles of migration about which scientists wrote wisely but did not understand.

No 'fortuitous concourse of elements' working blindly through any millions of years could quite account for why warblers are so beautiful. No mechanistic theory, even bolstered by mutations, has ever quite answered for the colors of the cerulean warbler, or the vespers of the woodthrush, or the swansong, or—goose music. I dare say this boy's convictions would be harder to shake than those of many inductive theologians.

Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) in A Sand County Almanac

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6/20/2007

The Love Letter

ancient papyrus text of Revelation
Think of a lover who has received a letter from his beloved—as precious as this letter is to the lover, just so precious to you, I assume, is God's Word; in the way the lover reads this letter, just so, I assume, do you read God's Word and conceive that God's Word ought to be read.
Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), from For Self-Examination

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6/19/2007

Cheap Grace

In 1937, German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book called The Cost of Discipleship in which he wrote of cheap grace and costly grace. Bonhoeffer began his book saying, “Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace.”

He went on to outline what we meant writing,
Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the courtyard at Tegel PrisonGrace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?

Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian “conception” of God. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins. The church which holds the correct doctrine of grace has, it is supposed, ipso facto, a part in that grace. In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God.
Later Bonhoeffer goes on to show the distinction between cheap grace, which he sees as an empty promise and costly grace, which he sees as Christ’s true teaching.
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all the he has….it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man his only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.
Not one to mince words, Bonhoeffer wrote further in the same book, “Those who try to use grace as a dispensation from following Christ are simply deceiving themselves.” Eight years after writing these words, Bonhoeffer was killed in the waning days of Germany's so-called Third Reich. The pacifist ethicist was put to death for his part in a plot to assasinate Adolf Hitler.

The love of God is still free. You still do not have to earn it. But before accepting the free gift, you should be aware that there is a cost that comes later. Forgiveness of sins is just the beginning, it is followed by a call to go and sin no more. Being united to God through Christ is also just the beginning; it is followed by a call to redefine all of your commitments in the light of that relationship.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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6/18/2007

Hate these things first...

Thomas MertonInstead of loving what you think is peace, love others, and love God above all, and instead of hating the people you think are warmongers, hate the appetite and disorder in your own soul, which are also causes of war.

If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed—but hate these things in yourself first, not in others.
Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

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6/17/2007

To the glory of God

I am often struck by the care that goes into the altar linens, seen up close by so few. The delicately stitched cloths have beautiful designs—a cross and vine, a lamb or wheat and grapes. The same cloths are lovingly washed, ironed and folded just so. The attention to detail speaks volumes about the importance we as a congregation place upon our common worship, our worship space and the items we use in worship. The 19th century Danish philospher Søren Kierkegaard captures this in his work, Purity of Heart

altar linens in use in worshipWhen a woman makes an altar cloth, so far as she is able, she makes every flower as lovely as the graceful flowers of the field, as far as she is able, every star sparkling as the glistening stars of the night. She withholds nothing, but uses the most precious things she possesses. She sells off every other claim upon her life that she may purchase the most uninterupted and favorable time of the day and night for her one and only, for her beloved work. But when the cloth is finished and put to its sacred use: then she is deeply distressed if someone should make the mistake of looking at her art, instead of the meaning of the cloth; or make the mistake of looking at a defect, instead of at the meaning of the cloth. For she could not work the sacred meaning into the cloth itself, nor could she sew it on the cloth as though it were one more ornament.
How can we put such care into whatever God calls us to do that others see our work as being to the glory of God. If this is difficult, as Kierkegaard states, for the woman sewing an altar cloth, how much more so for the soldier, policeman, teacher, real estate agent, banker and so on. Yet each of us is called to do just that. The meaning of our work, no matter what we do, is that we do it as if our work is God's glory.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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6/16/2007

Go in Peace, to Where?

This weekend's Gospel reading tells of Jesus attending a dinner party in the home of a Pharisee. The Pharisees were Jews seeking to be faithful to God's law, which Jesus clearly wanted. But sometimes they let the letter of the law get in the way of its spirit as happens at this party. Luke writes,
And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner."
Jesus offers her forgiveness and tells her to go in peace. Three years ago, I preached a first-person sermon on this passage. It began with the idea of the host saying, "As dinner parties go, it was a disaster." Then continued from the hosts viewpoint on a dinner party gone wrong and the dangers of following Jesus. That sermon ended,
Go in peace. Really! The nerve. Go where? Where could that woman ever find peace? anointing Jesus' feetIf she really did want forgiveness, if that woman really did want to turn toward God, then she would never be welcome back in this city again. Her old crowd wouldn’t know what to do with her and neither would we, the religious ones. Where could this weeping thing go? Who would offer her peace except for that gaggle of Galileans?

This Jesus needs to think it all through. If God’s love and forgiveness is for everyone, then there is going to have to be some sort of community to receive those forgiven sinners, and the unforgiven ones too.

The Kingdom of God will never be a here-and-now reality unless there is a place where those fallen folks can congregate, support one another. Those forgiven sinners certainly can’t come to my house, or church, until they have proved themselves and I suspect they won’t be welcome in yours either.

Face it. Jesus was too accepting. If he was more like you and me, this movement of his might go somewhere. But I promise you. This is the last time, and I mean it the very last time, I let the likes of him in my gate. And I would advise you to steer clear of this irresponsible teaching. Jesus words sound good at first, but this reckless rabbi would turn the world upside down if anyone actually practices what he preaches.
The full text of the sermon is here: Go in Peace, to Where. A version of this will be next week's religion column for the tribune & Georgian. Being away on vacation, I thought that this first person sermon might make an interesting change up from what I've been writing for the paper. We'll see.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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6/15/2007

Beathe in God's life-giving spirit

Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) wrote in A Sadhu's Wisdom
Dolphins can live in the deepest water without danger because they regularly come to the surface and take in the air that sustains them. We, too, must rise in prayer into the spiritual realm. To pray is to breathe in God's life-giving spirit that gives life and peace, even in this world.

The new-born child needs no instruction in drinking, but instinctively turns to its mother's breast for nourishment. For her part, the mother withholds no good gift from her child, but still the child cannot receive the mother's milk without effort. In the same way, we are carried at God's breast, but we must turn to God in prayer for the spiritual milk that sustains our souls.

olive tree in IsraelThe root tips of trees are so sensitive and responsive that they instinctively turn away from places where there is no nourishment and spread themselves instead in places where they can drink in moisture and life.

I have seen green and fruitful trees standing in the middle of a dry and barren desert. These trees survive and flourish because their roots have driven down and discovered hidden streams of flowing water.

Some people live in the midst of evil and misery but still radiate joy and lead fruitful lives. Through prayer, the hidden roots of their faith have reached down to the source of living water. They draw from it energy and life to bear spiritual fruit. If we lead active lives of prayer, we will also gain the spiritual discernment to turn away from illusion and evil and to find the truth we need for life.

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6/14/2007

Divine Reality

John Polkinghorne is an Anglican priest who is a former professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge University. He has written widely on religion and science. He has this to say on the subject,
I do not believe that I shift gear in some strange intellectual way when I move from science to religion. In particular, I do not claim that religious belief springs from some mysteriously endorsed and unquestionable source of knowledge that is not open to rational assessment and, if necessary, to reassessment. Theology has long known that our images of God are inadequate to the infinite richness of his nature; that human concepts of God are ultimately idols to be broken in the face of the greater reality.

In search for truth, science and religion are intellectual cousins under the skin. In the nineteenth century, A.D. White wrote a celebrated book called "The Warfare of Science and Theology in Christendom" (Appleton, 1896), but its thesis of conflict was a costly and ill-judged mistake. I have sought, instead, to present an account of the friendship between science and theology, which I believe to be the truer assessment.

Religion is our encounter with divine reality, just as science is our encounter with physical reality.
—from Polkinghorne's book, "Quarks, Chaos & Christianity: Questions to Science and Religion"
In the archives, there is a Tribune & Georgian religion column It doesn't have to be science vs. religion.

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6/13/2007

Spiritual Reading

In The Joyful Christian C.S. Lewis writes,
Wherever you find a little study circle of Christian laity, you can be almost certain that they are studying not St. Luke, or St. Paul, or St. Augustine, or Thomas Aquinas...But I would advise him to read the old....

The only safety is to have a standard of plain, central Christianity ("mere Christianity" as Baxter called it) which puts the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective. Such a standard can be aquired only from old books. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.
I don't know that I follow C.S. Lewis' advice to the letter, but I do know that the passage above has been helpful in redirecting me back into the deep traditions of Christianity to read spiritual classics, which have earned their place by speaking to generations of readers. Books such as the slim little Practicing the Presence of God of Brother Lawrence, or the anonymous Russian work The Way of a Pilgrim leap to mind. But there are other spiritual classics such as St. Augustine's Confessions and the anonymous The Cloud of Unknowing and many others. Additionally, there are more recent works that can said to have already have stood the test of time including the writings of Thomas Merton as well as those of C.S. Lewis himself.

some of the books in King of Peace's lending libraryOne way to start broadening your selection is to visit the bookshelf near the coffee pot and coke machine at King of Peace where you can check out some books for free, that have already stood the test of time. You may also want to visit online bookstores listed in an earlier post.

Know that Lewis is right. You will enrich your spiritual journey in seeking out the older books that have already nourished generations of the faithful. The best one close to hand is, of course, the Bible with its 66 books of the Old and New Testaments.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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6/12/2007

It's not your creed. It's ours.

Kathleen Norris writes the following of the creeds in her book Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith,
I recently read an article that depicted a heated exchange between a seminary student and an Orthodox theologian at Yale Divinity School. The theologian had given a talk on the history of the development of the Christian creeds. The student's original question was centered on belief: "What can one do," he asked, "when one finds it impossible to affirm certain tenets of the Creed?" The priest responded, "Well, you just say it. It's not that hard to master. With a little effort, most can learn it by heart."

To learn something by heart is a concept more in tune with the ancient world than with our own, and the student, apparently feeling that he had been misunderstood, asked with some exasperation, "What am I to do...when I have difficulty affirming parts of the Creed—like the Virgin Birth?" And he got the same response. "You just keep saying it. Particularly when you have difficulty believing it. You just keep saying it. It will come to you eventually." The student raised his voice: "How can I with integrity affirm a creed in which I do not believe?" And the priest replied, "It's not your creed, it's our creed," meaning the Creed of the entire Christian church. I can picture the theologian shrugging, as only the Orthodox can shrug, carrying so lightly the thousand-plus years of their liturgical tradition: "Eventually it may come to you," he told the student. "For some it takes longer than for others..."

What the Orthodox theologian had said made sense to me. It reflected my own experience in the years when I had been trying to make my way back to church, and I felt fortunate to have found my process of conversion conveyed so well and succinctly: the years of anguishing over creeds and the language of belief, a struggle that I had endured only because I dared hope that eventually the words wouldn't seem like "theirs" but also "mine." It was the boring repitition of worship language, and even the dense, seemingly impoderable, words of the creeds that had pushed me into belief. And, yes, it had taken a very long time.
See also: To believe is to give your heart a religion column from the Tribune & Georgian.

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6/11/2007

Who Am I?

A pagan at 12, a complete agnostic at 16, G.K. Chesterton described himself writing, "I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before," to describe how to his surprise all the questions he had about the way of the world were answered in Christianity. In his book Orthodoxy, Chesterton wrote of an essential problem we all face at some point,
We have all read in scientific books, and, indeed, in all romances, the story of the man who has forgotten his name. This man walks about the streets and can see and appreciate everything; only he cannot remember who he is. Well, every man is that man in the story. Every man has forgotten who he is. One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God; but thou shalt not know thyself. We are all under the same mental calamity; we have all forgotten our names. We have all forgotten who we really are.
The problem is that we go to the wrong sources to discover who we are. It is in the eyes of The Beloved that you learn who you are, for it is the God who made you and who was willing to die to redeem you who knows you by name and wants you not to call upon "The Great High God," as in some unknown diety but to call upon "Abba," or "Daddy," who knows you like no other, loves you just as you are, and wants something better for you as you conform your life more to the life and teachings of Jesus.

In the archives is the sermon Abba, Father which tells of your secret identity.

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6/10/2007

The Wounded Healer

There is a thought provoking post at The RiverStone Journal worth a read. The author is looking forward to praying for others during a healing service, knowing full well the absurdity of that act knowing that she too is in need of healing. She says in part
What will happen is that I will go in on Sunday morning in full touch with the absurdity of the situation, feeling like a faker and a hypocrite. Then, during Eucharist, I will lay hands on the first head that comes before me, and I will say the prayer for healing. And I will be completely present in the moment, which is transported outside of space and time while still being firmly rooted in the here and now, and God's grace will flow through me. I will do this again and again, for each person who comes to me. When it is over, I will realize once again why I continue in this ministry. I am not a faker and a hypocrite. I do not have healing power. All I can do is humble myself, put myself into the background, and let God work through me.
In his book The Wounded Healer Henri Nouwen writes
In short: "Who can take away suffering without entering it?"

The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there....

On the other hand, it would be very easy to misuse the concept of the wounded healer by defending a form of spiritual exhibitionism. A minister who talks in the pulpit about his own personal problems is of no help to the congregation...Making one's own wounds a source of healing, therefore, does not call for a sharing of superficial personal pains but for a constant willingness to see one's own pain and suffering as rising from the depth of the human condition which all men share.
You may be wounded and feel that you have nothing to offer God. Yet it is your wounds you have to offer. By getting in touch with your own emotional scars, you can find the empathy and compassion to reach out to others. You do this not by dumping all your hurts on someone, but by being fully present with him or her in the pain, loss, loneliness, despair, grief or whatever else they battle. You have some sense of what they need for The Holy Spirit can use your own woundedness to guide you.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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