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.

7/31/2007

Outsourcing Compassion

In his typically Questing Parson style, the post Looking for Compassion tells of the parson waiting to preach at a large church when a woman comes up in need of travel money. He talks to her of her need to get to her son who has just died and then tries to solve the problem at a church where he is the guest preacher. The Parson writes,
A few doors down he found a several men in an office. They were counting money. One of the men was the layman who’d first brought Edna to the parson. “I’m sorry to bother you folks,” said the parson. “But that lady in the parlor is in a bad fix. She needs a little gas to get to the place where her son just died. Do you have some kind of fund for that?”

“I don’t think we do parson.” said one. They continued counting.

“Looks like you’ve got a few hundred dollars in that stack,” said the parson.

“We took in a good bit in the Sunday school collection today,” said another.

“How about parting with a little of that? I could give it to the lady and your pastor, after the service, can work out the details with you.”

“I don’t think we could do that, parson,” said the man who’d brought Edna to him. “We have certain accounting procedures here.”
It ends with an ultimatum of
One of us is going to take the lady and get her help and one of us is going to preach at the service. You decide who’s doing what.
Then the senior pastor returns
the church’s pastor appeared rushing down the hall, pulling on his robe as he hurried along.

“Sorry, I got tied up, parson. Hope you got to know the folks.”

“I did,” said the parson.

“What do you think?”

“I think they outsource compassion,” said the parson.
If you liked my Reader's Digest version, you'll like his full text even better at Looking for Compassion.

By the way, we do have a fund for that sort of thing at King of Peace and provide more than $10,000 in direct aid in our community. But how do we Christians outsource compassion? In what ways do we show compassion on our own?

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7/30/2007

The Secret of Joy and Peace

Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) wrote this parable of three pilgrims:
The story is told of a wise man who met three pilgrims on the road. The first was pale and withered and cringing with fear. The wise man asked him, “Why are you in such a frightful state?” Haltingly, the man answered: “All that I have ever done wrong haunts me. I fear the consequences of all the evil I have done knowingly or unknowingly. I am afraid that I will suffer the eternal punishment of naraka, what men call hell.” The wise man spoke to him, saying: “It is sad and distressing that you do not turn your heart and thoughts to God, who alone is the source of all wisdom. Instead, you live in continual fear of hell. So your pilgrimage is not genuine. You are trying to offer your pilgrimage as a bribe to God, so that you will not be punished for your sins. You will never find peace along this path.”

Frank's photo of three camels in IsraelThe second pilgrim was consumed with worries and doubts. The wise man asked him, “Why do you seem so sad and worried?” The pilgrim answered, “I desperately want to find the bliss and peace of the heavenly realm, but I fear I will not find it.” The wise man rebuked him sharply, saying: “It is shameful that you fail to think of God’s creative power and love. This alone should fill your heart with great awe and thankfulness. Instead, you are consumed by your own desire for peace and joy. You only pray in order to gain fulfillment of your own selfish desires. Such prayer is worthless and will never lead you to peace.”

Afterward, the wise man turned to the third pilgrim who radiated joy and contentment. “Friend,” he asked, “what is the secret of your joy and peace?” The pilgrim answered: “My heart is filled with joy, and I am filled with thankfulness to God who has opened the way for me to know his presence and find unity with him. May he open my heart more and more so that I can love and serve him with heart and soul and strength and so that I can worship him for love alone.”

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7/29/2007

Falling and rising again

If there be anywhere on earth [where] a lover of God is always kept safe from falling, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown me. Saint Julian of NorwichBut this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in the same precious love.

Between God and the soul there is no between.

He did not say, You will never have a rough passage, you will never be over-strained, you will never feel uncomfortable, but he did say You will never be overcome.
—Julian of Norwich (c. 1342-1416) in Revelations of Divine Love

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7/28/2007

Children's Festival

train ride
Alex and Sophia riding horses


The Children's Festival has finished up at King of Peace. Running from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., it was a HUGE success bringing out well over 100 people who had a great time.

We had pony rides, train ride, crafts, food, bouncy slide and more. Thanks to Kristen and Austin and all their volunteers!


bouncy slide pony rides
Griffin paints Emily's face

Fire truck tours
Max on the train



Horse rides were VERY popular

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Fun for the children and much more

pony ridesFirst, I need to remind everyone that King of Peace will have a Children's Festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with train rides, bouncy slide, pony rides, carnival cames, refreshments, and much more! Come by and enjoy the fun.

Now, to the scripture for this week's worship...In this weekend's Gospel reading Jesus' disciples ask him to teach them to pray. Jesus responds by giving them the prayer we call the Lord's Prayer and continues to give them much more. In preaching on this passage before, I said,
Jesus put it like this. He said, “Is there anyone among you who if your child asks for a fish will give a snake instead of a fish or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?” Jesus once again is arguing from the lesser to the greater. Your father who is lesser than God is not going to give you these other things. Jesus’ teaching opens up other possibilities. I wonder at once, “But what if the child asks for a snake or a scorpion?” What would God do then?

Jesus praysThe wonderful thing about this analogy is that the answers to these other questions is already built in. For if the earthly father who loves their child has that child come and say, “Dad, give me a scorpion.” The answer will be “No.” If the child asks for a snake, the answer could be yes, but the snake will not be a Copperhead or a Diamond Back Rattler. The father will give something good to their child, but not something harmful.

Jesus teaches us to see through the imperfect love of a good earthly father for their child then imagine how much more perfect God’s response will be. The check cannot be completely blank. You will not be given whatever you want, whenever you want it. The relationship simply does not work like that.

Jesus goes on to say, “If you then, who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Oops! It’s not how much more stuff will the heavenly Father give you. It is not how much more will the heavenly Father give you everything you every ask for in prayer. Jesus says, “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” God’s own presence.

This is the beginning of a deeper experience of prayer. It begins with admitting that I don’t have all the answers, but I have an idea that you do, God. What I really want is your presence in my life. For when you do get the Holy Spirit, God’s presence in your life, then God can be with you more fully in the junk life throws at you. With the Holy Spirit’s guidance wrong desires can be less of a problem—you might ask for a scorpion a little less often. Maybe sometime you will ask instead for that daily bread.
The full text of the sermon is online here: How Much More!

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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7/27/2007

The Anatomy of Reconciliation

Frank's photo of an angel in Bonaventure cemetary

Sara Miles was an atheist when she wandered into St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. Sara calls herself "an unexpected and terribly inconvenient Christian" convert. She had lived "an enthusiastically secular life" as a restaurant cook and writer until that early morning.

She wrote of darkness and reconciliation in a sermon for Trinity Institute.
Frank's photo of an angel in Bonaventure cemetaryLet me tell you about what I saw in the darkness once. It was just a few blocks from this church, in the housing projects nearby, where I deliver groceries to homebound people. When I knocked at Mrs. Johnson’s apartment, I heard footsteps and a child’s high voice screaming. A few minutes later, Andre unlocked the door.

Andre had been sick with AIDS for years. A slight man in his early thirties, he was badly wasted, often bent over with weakness, and his brown skin had turned almost grey over the bones in his face. Some days when I came by Andre would be collapsed on the couch. Once, as he lay there huddled in an overcoat under two blankets, he grabbed my hand and placed it on his hot, dry cheek. “I’m burning,” he said. “Burning.” Mrs. Johnson is eighty and demented, and her son Andre sick unto death, but their place has a kitchen, so it winds up being a last stop for everyone in the big, damaged family when they’ve got nowhere else to go. A great-granddaughter, Sandra, leaves her kids there sometimes. Her oldest boy was born when Sandra was twelve. Honesty, a girl, was born a year later. The newest baby weighed three pounds at birth and lives in the ICU at the General Hospital. Sandra lives in a van with a trick who buys her drugs. This day Andre was ashen, and carried a belt, doubled over, in his hand. He walked up the stairs slowly ahead of me. Honesty was curled up in the living room, limp and sobbing. I followed Andre into the kitchen, where Mrs. Johnson was sitting stolidly. A bowl of Cocoa Puffs lay upended on the table, and the floor was splotched with spilled milk. “She’s bad,” Andre said. “Look at all the work she makes me do.” I glanced back at the crying three year-old. “Kids spill things,” I said. “They can’t help it, they just make messes.” Andre was breathing heavily, still holding the belt. “Nah,” he said, “She did this on purpose. She’s bad..”

Lord, why do you make me see wrongdoing? Why do you countenance oppression?
You know–––this is where we are. In the dark. Right here, with the dying man beating the baby. And what does it take to see in the dark?

Well, first it takes actually being in the dark. Getting used to it. Not just switching on the light. Not pretending. Not trying to cheer up and forget and move on. It’s not about looking on the bright side, but looking honestly at the dark, letting your vision adjust, keeping your eyes open in the wreck and hurt of this human life to see what else you might glimpse, moving there.

Frank's photo of an altar in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, JerusalemIn the darkness you struggle with what to do. You desire justice, as I found myself in Mrs. Johnson’s kitchen yearning for some law, some authority, that would fix it. But what was I going to do? Call the cops? The law has lost its grip, and justice comes out perverted.

When you can’t find justice, you want comfort––perhaps telling yourself that things eventually will turn out better in the long run. But you know that one afternoon is a long time in the life of a toddler. A day is a long time for a sick man. Most people live and suffer and die in the short run, in the dark. When there’s no justice and no comfort, what do you see? When your heart is breaking, what do you see? When you’re lost and grieving, what do you see?

Look at it.

I want to refer you to another prophet, Isaiah, who speaks of “the treasures found in darkness.” The thing about prophecy is that it’s not about the future. It’s all happening in the present tense—the despair, the violence and the reconciliation. The treasure, as literal as a piece of bread, or a kiss. There, in that kitchen, I found myself needing to be on my knees. Frank's photo of sunrise in the Ramone Crater, Israel There wasn’t anything else to do. I reached for some paper towels, and knelt down on the cracked linoleum and started wiping up the milk. I stayed there looking at injustice, the wound of these abandoned lives in the projects. Looking at the times I hit my own daughter, raged at her, broke down in hopelessness. I reached over and touched Andre, and he breathed on me, and after a while I got up and held Honesty on the couch. She breathed on me, too. You know, any human body, even the most messed-up and helpless, reflects a tiny bit of the Creator, and that’s why it’s a good thing to touch other people when you’re hurting. To just feel their breath on your skin, in this present darkness.

Where we are. And where God is.

My friends, draw near. Draw close, close together. Reach for the incarnate love settled, however imperfectly, in your neighbors. Breathe a little peace on one another. And open your eyes, that you may behold God, in all his reconciling work.

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7/26/2007

Switching Churches


A USA Today article I just ran across tells of a survey of folks who switched churches and found that most did so without moving residences—they switched churches while in the same town. The article says in part,
Most of the switchers who changed their house of worship without making a residential move (58%) say their old church failed to engage their faith, or put their talents to work, or it seemed hypocritical or judgmental.
According to the study, people who moved churches chose the new church because:
• Beliefs or doctrines of the church: 89%
• Authenticity of church members/pastor: 88%
• Quality of the preaching: 87%
• Prefer the worship style: 80%
• Found more evidence of God's work/changed lives: 76%
• New church cares for the community: 76%
The full text of the article is online here: Dissatisfaction, yearning make churchgoers switch.

On the one hand, I am in favor of people finding the right church for him or her and their family. On the other hand, I wonder if we look for a church that will make us feel comfortable. Should we be comfortable? Would we seek a church that makes us feel challenged? And, how much do we challenge ourselves to live out the Gospel fully and how much do we avoid this.

Switching churches is common. That's not an all bad phenomenon and can be quite healthy. I know that I benefitted from finding my way to the Episcopal Church, for example. This isn't a pro-Episcopal statement so much as an acknowledgement that I found the part of the Body of Christ that is both comfortable and challenging for me.

But switching churches can also be an excuse not to settle down and deal with the issues being brought up in a given place. So when is it good and godly to move? When is it better to stay and deal with the stuff staying brings up? What do y'all think? What is your experience?

For one thoughtful answer, try Richard's For whom the church? post in which he asks,
Why should anyone remain in a community where their life in Christ is no longer nurtured or deepened?
This en route to considering whether worship is for God or for us and decides on a both/and solution.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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5 Comments:

  • At 7/26/2007 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I recently left a church that I was a member of for several years and came to King of Peace. These are the main reasons that I chose to leave the other church:

    1- There is more priest worship than God worship.
    2- Every individual in the congregation is not considered an equal member of the church family.
    3- Anybody who is allowed the opportunity to participate in a ministry will only be offered ministries that benefit that church.
    4- All money collected through fundraising goes into church funds to benefit that church.
    5- If you show up for one hour on Sunday and tithe, then that's all that is required.
    6- There is nothing offered to challenge you to work for God. If you have any ideas about that, they are usually ignored or put down.

    I have participated in God's work more at King of Peace in less than one year than I did for over seven years at the other church. I tried to fight for change in the other church, but I guess my voice wasn't rich enough to be heard. And, as for my friends in the other church who have the desire to work for God; they usually have to do that through functions at King of Peace. So, I feel blessed because of "switching churches."

     
  • At 7/27/2007 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sometimes it's about accepting the challenge to heed God's nudging to leave like when a mother eagle removes the comfy parts of a nest making it uncomfortable for the baby. It's about realizing you don't want to stay and compromise your beliefs. It's about following the Holy Spirit's leading. Changing churches requires much family discussion and prayer.

     
  • At 7/27/2007 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree. Sometimes God sets you on a journey...

     
  • At 7/29/2007 1:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think it's difficult to leave a church when the people there have become your chosen family. I do think that leaving for the wrong reasons is, well, just wrong. If there is anger or unresolved issues, moving memberships will temporarily fix the problem but eventually things unresolved have a way or finding their way back to us. I don't think we should want to be too comfortable because usually that means we are on cruise control. I do believe though that we should be in a house of worship where we are encouraged and supported while we are attempting things that are "uncomfortable." I think that Christians spend a lot of time deciding what God wants and not enough time earnestly praying for His direction. Some churches will not get involved in community projects because they are afraid of being associated with unsaved people and non-christian organizations. But Jesus himself said that it isn't the well people that need a doctor!

     
  • At 10/12/2011 6:55 PM, Blogger Butterflying said…

    I left the Catholic Church, then the Seventh Day Adventists, got married & eventually was left alone, then went back to the modern R. C. Church, read an anti/pro Catholic book by a Catholic & left & now I go to a Methodist Church, because it's laid back. The church had a pretribulational/premillennial dispensational Sunday school class & I'm learning about it. I felt that God called me to all of these churches & groups, but it is confusing. Why can't there be a denominational true church? Jesus is the head of the universal church & he matters more than anything else....

     

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7/25/2007

Get animated!

Questing Parson found this cartoon:
Died and gone to heaven

And laying aside all fears of being thought of as
a priest with too much time on his hands,
Father Steve gets animated in Waynesboro:

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7/24/2007

Restless discomfort & holy anger

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

A Saint Francis Statue in San Damiano, ItalyMay God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator, Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Saviour, and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore.

AMEN.

I found this Four-fold Franciscan Blessing through Jim's blog, who found it at All Saints Church in Brookline, Massachusetts, who credited finding it through St. Mark's Church in Waterville, Maine. I did a little research and could find it is much published and never attributed an author. The photo above is one I took of a statue of St. Francis in San Damiano, Italy.

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7/23/2007

YouTube Travel

Father Matthew went to Italy:


Father Steve went to Honey Creek:


and these guys didn't get away:


My own What-I-did-this-Summer report remains online here Italy and France 2007 in words and pictures, but no video.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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  • At 7/25/2007 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "It is pleasing to the dear God whenever you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart." Thank you so much for sharing these videos!

     

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7/22/2007

Power for the Forgiving

click here to find out more
My wife, Victoria, and I are leading a retreat at Honey Creek on Friday August 24 and Saturday, August 25. The theme is Power for the Forgiving and it is the first of three retreats in the Journy to Wholeness series.

The Journey to Wholeness Retreats offer an opportunity for you to deepen your understanding of Christian spirituality Frank's photo of a cross in Egyptalong a given theme. The theme for the Fall 2007 retreat will be Power for the Forgiving. Forgiveness is dynamite from a spiritual perspective. An almost selfish act because of the positive effects it has on you, forgiving others is the path toward discovering forgiveness for yourself.

The all-inclusive cost is $80 for a single room, $60 for a double, $45 for a dorm room, or $35 for commuters. Some scholarship assistance is available. You must register by 5 p.m., August 10, 2007 in order to take part in this retreat.

Tentative Schedule

Friday, August 24, 2007

6 p.m. Dinner
7 p.m. Opening session
8 p.m. First break out sessions
9 p.m. Taize Compline worship service

Saturday, August 25, 2007

8 a.m. Breakfast
8:30 a.m. Morning general session
9:30 a.m. Saturday break out sessions
11 a.m. Final general session
12 noon Lunch
1 p.m. Closing Eucharist with healing prayers

Honey Creek is the Episcopal Camp and Conference Center at the north end of Camden County. The center is located 5.5 miles east of I-95 at exit 26. To register, contact Honey Creek at (912) 265-9218 or honeycreekga[at]aol.com

For more information on the other retreats for Advent and Lent, go to kingofpeace.org/journeytowholeness/.

peace,

Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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7/21/2007

Choosing the better part

Martha in the kitchen
Martha working in the kitchen

This weekend's Gospel reading takes us to the home of Mary and Martha in Bethany. Martha is busy making a meal and wants Jesus' help in getting Mary up off the floor from where she sits entranced at the Rabbi's feet. Instead, Jesus defends Mary's actions, saying she has chosen the better part. In preaching on this passage before, I noted that this comes immediately after the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the two work to balance one another:
If you find yourself busy with many things, but never making time to read the Bible and pray, then the story of Mary and Martha should be speaking to you. The things that busy your life may be good and necessary, but should they have your top priority? What comes first for you now? Job, friends, family, relationship with God, mundane tasks. All of these demand time. How much time do you have to give to each? Many people say that their family and faith are most important, but it’s a challenge to put those priority into action. What do you want to be first in your life? The story of Mary and Martha is a wake up call to look at your priorities.

But, if you do find the time for prayer and Bible study, but you without allowing what you read and study to be transformed into service toward others, then you might want to reread the Parable of the Compassionate Samaritan to find out if God is speaking to you through that story. Perhaps you need to put your faith into action.

Jesus’ challenge is not one-sized fits all. Jesus’ advice is not generic, but universal. Each of us has come here today at a different point in our spiritual journeys. Someone is probably here just hoping to survive another day. Someone else is here looking for meaning and purpose in life. The list of where we are and what we need from God goes on. God is reaching out to each of us where we are now to take us a step or two further along the way.
The full text of that sermon is online here: Choosing the better part.

In another sermon on this text, Dragged apart by distractions I compared Martha in the kitchen to Brother Lawrence, the 17th century saint of his monastery's kitchen.

peace,

Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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7/20/2007

catholic and defective

St. Peter's BasilicaSaint Peter's Basilica

Today's Religion column for the Tribune & Georgian We are all catholic and we are all defective is my response to the Vatican's recent statement that other Christian denominations "suffer from defects." I say in part,
I am a defective Christian. This is according to a report released last week by the Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This makes me far from unique. You’ve probably already heard the news that you are defective too. That is if you are not a member in good standing of the Catholic Church. All other Christian denominations and their members “suffer from defects.”

confession in Saint Peter's BasilicaI will attempt to give a reasoned response to the Vatican’s statement. But first, we need to be clear on exactly what the statement said. The nearly 1,200-word statement is put in a question and answer format to five questions of faith. All of the questions concern what theologians call ecclesiology, which means “the doctrine of the church.”

The main thrust of the short document is that the Vatican wanted to make it crystal clear that its teaching on the church did not change with the reforms of the Second Vatican Council held in the 1960s. In particular, the document says that work on ecumenism (various denominations coming together in the ways possible) has led to some interpretations that could cause “confusion and doubt.”

In that context, the new document says that the Catholic Church believes and teaches now what it has always believed and taught, namely that they are the one true church. In fact, the text says that to be part of the one Church established by Christ one must be “governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him.” They also state that other Christian denominations can not “be called ‘Churches’ in the proper sense.”
The column goes on to a less reported and more important part of the brief document. The full text of my essay is here We are all catholic and we are all defective. The gist of it is that I agree that I'm defective, but disagree that I'm not catholic. You can read the Vatican's 1,200-word statement for yourself here Responses to some questions....

For other perspectives on the Vatican statement, head to The Washington Post's online religious forum, On Faith, where the experts answer what they think of the statement ...the church of Christ exists fully only in the Catholic Church.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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  • At 7/20/2007 8:41 AM, Anonymous Linda+ said…

    I have wondered why it took the Roman Catholic Church until 1896 to slam the door on the validity of Anglican Holy Orders, which Pope Leo XIII did with his Bull Apostolicae Curae issued September 15 of that year. Perhaps the wheels turn slowly, and someday we will all be back in the good graces of the Vatican.

    peace,
    Linda+

     
  • At 10/12/2011 7:16 PM, Blogger Butterflying said…

    Unless you have hands placed on you by successors of the Apostles, (read Roman Bishops)but that may not be easy to determine, then you are not imbued with leadership skills. You don't have the rights to dispense true doctrines, forgiveness & blessings from the Holy Spirit. Isn't that what the R. C. Church says? Anyway it seems that very few churches or denominations have any validity. At least they should have the Nicene Creed & total obedience to Jesus Christ. The Western Universal Church (All true Christians in the West)is often materialistic, pseudo-scientific & atheistically educated snobs, who divorce, get drunk & pray as often as the pagans & ex-Christians. Has the Temple been torn down? You will know them by their holy or filthy outcomes (fruits).

     

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7/19/2007

Faith and the Farm Bill

An Episcopal News Service Press Release Faith leaders call for new covenant with American, world farmers tells of multi-denominational work on the reauthorization of the Depression-era farm bill. The release says in part:
The farm bill is a piece of comprehensive legislation governing U.S. farm, food, and conservation policies. Originally dating to the Great Depression of the 1930s, the farm bill must be renewed, or reauthorized, by Congress every five years. The current farm bill expires later this year and must be reauthorized by Congress by the end of 2007.

Wheat field in TuscanyThroughout the year, the Episcopal Church has been working with a broad alliance of faith groups in Washington that includes Roman Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, and leading advocacy organizations. The group has been calling for fundamental reforms to the farm bill, particularly the system that directs commodity subsidies (cash payments from the U.S. government) to American farmers.

Currently, more than three-quarters of U.S. commodity payments go to the largest ten percent of farms, with small and medium-sized family farms frequently left out of the system. Additionally, the U.S. commodity payment system has been judged by outside observers—including the World Trade Organization—to be unfairly distorting of world-market prices and supply in ways that violate U.S. commitments and make it harder for farmers in poor countries to feed their families....

In order to ensure that reform succeeds this time, the Episcopal Church is working with its partner denominations and advocacy organizations to organize grassroots support throughout the country. "Faith farm teams" are working in 38 key states, and Episcopalians and others have flooded congressional offices with calls, emails, and postcards.

Interested Episcopalians can sign up at faithfarmteams.com, and learn more about the farm bill at episcopalchurch.org/EPPN.
The full text of the press release and the letter to congress is online here: Faith leaders call for new covenant with American, world farmers.

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7/18/2007

Sowing and Reaping

Don’t be misled. No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others – ignoring God! – harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.
—Galatians 6:7-16 in Eugene Peterson's Bible paraphrase The Message.

The prayer attributed to Saint Francis offers some pairings for what we should sow:
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Frank's photo of wheat in Israel

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7/17/2007

The Jesus Dynasty, not so much

In a recent review of James Tabor's assertions about Jesus being married and fathering children, scholar Gary Greenberg concludes,
In the wake of The da Vinci code and claims about a Jesus family tomb including a reference to the son of Jesus, some people actually think there is some merit to the idea that Jesus was married and had a child. Was Jesus Married - an adThat there is not a shred of tradition or evidence in any ancient Christian writings for the existence of a wife and child seems to be beside the point....

In a further invest- igation of Jesus' surviving family members, apparently the most Eusebius could come up with, for all practical purposes, was that Jesus had a brother named Jude (attested in the Gospels) and this Jude had some grandchildren, and towards the end of the first century, under the Emperor Domitian, they were questioned as possible descendants of David and, therefore, potential enemies of Rome. Domitian decided they represented no threat and let them go. On their release, they became leaders of the Church. (EH 3.20.)

So, all our earliest traditions can come up with are a couple of nephews and a cousin, with what strikes me as an overwhelming circumstantial case that Jesus had no son.
The full text of his post is online here: What Son of Jesus?. Those who want to build a case for Jesus having a son seem to write a lot and quote one another, which builds the appearance of scholarly consensus emerging, but all without winning over the folks at the Society for Biblical Literature and others who do the hard work of biblical scholarship. It sells books, but makes for poor scholarship. My earlier post related post is online here: Jesus' tomb.

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7/16/2007

Strong Women


There is an intersting look at Proverbs 31 and its description of a Virtuous woman from a Bible scholar at the blog God & Mammon, which says in part:
The Queen of Sheba visits SolomonContrary to many Christian stereotypes of proper female behavior, this passage does not depict the virtuous and praiseworthy wife as a submissive homebody whose sole purpose in life is to raise children and do dishes. No, this noble wife is a shrewd and profiting businesswoman! Even the Hebrew word for "noble character," often translated as "excellent" or "virtuous" literally means "power" or "strength." Of the 244 times this word is used in the Bible, it almost always means "strength", "army", or "wealth." The woman in Proverbs 31 is described in this manner, as is the Queen of Sheba in 1 Kings (10:2) and 2 Chronicles (9:1). Her strength is mentioned several more times throughout this passage.
and further in the post
Part of what makes this virtuous wife so praiseworthy is what she does with her wealth. She provides for her family and servants, but then she helps the poor and needy out of her excess. Her wise use of time and money enables her to be charitable, just like Lydia in the New Testament.

After she has provided for the needs of many, she still has the means for a little luxury.
The full text of the original post is found online here: Business Lessons from the 'Wife of Noble Character'. The biblical text on which the author muses is found here:
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She senses that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness...
—Proverbs 31:10-27
Something fun to try
And something I had fun with this week, is a BBC News quiz called Sex I.D. which is a series of visual challenges and questions used by psychologists to find out if you think like a man or a woman. It's online here: Brain Sex. I ended up at 30% toward male where 50% is typical. No problem preferring feminine faces and knowing objects set in different configurations—both male traits. However, my empathy (shown by identifying emotions on faces properly) and my ability to notice things out of pattern are more typically feminine than masculine abilities. Like I care.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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  • At 7/16/2007 7:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As you are a priest I would expect you to have the more feminine traits too! With all the people you care for everyday you would have to. But, like you care... :)

     

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7/15/2007

Jesus remains...

In a recent sermon, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu Ndungane said,
If anyone wants to pick a fight with me about my faith, let it be on the grounds of my relationship with Jesus, and my belief in who he is: the belief to which Scripture attests and the creeds affirm.

Jesus remains the eternal Word made flesh.

Jesus remains the second person of the Trinity, pre-existent from before all time, taking on human form.

Njongonkulu Ndunga at Westminster for this sermonJesus remains fully God and fully human – the double homoousios to which the Nicene creed affirms.

Jesus remains the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, who breaks the chains of death. No-one else can do this.

Jesus remains the crucified one who was raised to new life. In twenty-first century scientific terms, we do not know how to describe his risen body – but we do know he was raised, and we do know he ascended, and we do know he sits at the Father's right hand, where he ever makes intercession for us.

Jesus Christ remains the same, yesterday, today and for ever!

So, even though some of the church is in turmoil over issues of human sexuality, that should never become the touchstone of orthodox belief.

Rather, let the heart of your faith be your love for God, responding to God's love in Christ for you.

And if anyone asks you where you stand, be confident in saying with Paul

'I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I how live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life that I live now in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.'

Amen.
The full text of the sermon is online here: Archbishop Ndungane's Sermon at Westminster Abbey.

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7/14/2007

Compassion and mercy

In this weekend's Gospel reading, Jesus tells the parable of The Good Samaritan. It's a story so famous we even have Good Samaritan laws to protect those who lend aid to others. I once preached on this passage saying in part,
The Samaritan comes near to the injured man and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.

Here’s where I have to get a little technical again. I’m sorry, but without it, you just don’t get the full impact of the story. The Greek word for moved with pity is “Splanchnisomai.” It sounds kinda funny when I say it, “Splanchnisomai.” But when Jesus said it, I bet no one was laughing. You see that splanchnisomai is a special word. It’s sort of a theological word as it was reserved to describe the compassion and mercy God has for us. It is a common Biblical word for God’s compassion and mercy. But splanchnisomai is a rare word indeed otherwise. In fact, only Jesus ever uses it to describe human action. Everybody else reserved the word for God alone. Now Jesus has the nerve to say that a dirty rotten scoundrel like a Samaritan can show God-like compassion for someone in need. If that’s not shocking, it should be. The Good SamaritanOf course, the story doesn’t stop there. It just gets worse. The good for nothing Samaritan risks his own safety, spends his own money and a good deal of time to make sure that the Israelite who was beaten by bandits is taken care of. While the crowd is still trying to sort out the images Jesus has tossed together, Jesus asks the lawyer, “Which one of the three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The no-doubt dumfounded legal expert said, “the one who showed him mercy.” There it is again, Mercy. The Samaritan was moved by mercy, showed mercy to the injured man and was his neighbor.

But don’t you see, the story is inside out. It started out with who’s my neighbor. That equation starts with me, or in your case you and works outward. For a good person the concentric circle stretch out farther and farther. You not only include your close family and friends, but can be neighborly to people you don’t even know. That’s just great, but Jesus works the equation the other direction. Jesus starts with the person in need and says the person who is closest is the neighbor. If you see a need, if you know of a need, then you are a neighbor. In fact you may be the nearest neighbor and the one God is looking to to express that Godly compassion and mercy.
The full text of the sermon is online here: The Nearest Neighbor.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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7/13/2007

Give Yourself to the Savior

Chariot RacingChariot races

Chariot RacingWe conclude our look at the story of Jesus’ birth today with the arrival of Wise Men from the East. Matthew’s Gospel records Magi coming to worship Jesus. Matthew doesn’t say they were kings, nor does the Gospel name three as their number. But we are told that they saw a star, and followed it to Bethlehem. There they found Mary, Joseph and Jesus and gave gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. The Magi may or may not have been kings. They were certainly astronomers and probably from Persia.

Victoria in costumeGod used the Magi to show King Herod that the prophecies about a Savior had come true. And then the Magi showed they were wise by worshipping Jesus. As we end our Kids in the Kingdom Week, the challenge for us to is to move from knowing about Jesus to knowing him and worshipping him.

Today's handout is online at Bethlehem Star: Friday.

Chase wanted to be photographed with Griffin and Kalyn

Abi makes tea cakes

Chariot racing

Chariot racingEven more chariot racing

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7/12/2007

Tell about the Savior

Pam demonstrates the pottery wheelPam demonstrates the pottery wheel

Leap frogOur Kids in the Kingdom Week continued Thursday with the Christmas story as shepherds came to visit the baby Jesus on the night of his birth. As they tended their sheep, the shepherds saw a sky filled with angels who told them that the Messiah—the one anointed by God to be their savior—had been born in Bethlehem. The shepherds were told that the baby they found wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger (which means food trough) was the one. They went at once and found and worshipped Jesus. Then the shepherds excitedly went out to tell the news that the Savior had been born.

pebble tossThe theme for the day is Tell about a savior as the Shepherds didn't just come and see Jesus, but they went and told Bethlehem and all the surrounding area of the Messiah's birth.

Today's handout is online at Bethlehem Star: Thursday.
Playing with a parachutePlaying with a parachute

Potter's hands

Making cookiesMaking cookies with dates, nuts and chocolate

Leap Frog
A leap frog race between tribes

High energy dancing (in church no less)

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  • At 7/12/2007 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a wonderful way for the children to come together to learn about the birth of Jesus. It looks like fun for all.

     

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