Advent begins this coming Sunday, December 2. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming" and is the four Sundays before Christmas and the days in between. The season of Advent has been set aside as a time of preparation for Christmas since at least the last half of the 6th century. Advent is a time for self-examination and asking for forgiveness as the church is preparing for Christ’s Second Coming even as it prepares for Christmas.
To assist in observing this season, King of Peace provides a free booklet, Celebrating Advent in the Home available in print form at the church and online: .PDF format here. Included is a nightly Advent Wreath service as well as other practical suggestions for marking the four weeks leading up to Christmas.
We also offer web pages with information on the season here: Celebrate Advent.
One more way to share the joy of Christmas is to send a note of thanks to a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine serving overseas this year. There is a program by Xerox to help you do just this: Just Say Thanks.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church
What Makes Us Moral?
instinctively follow what the law says,
they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong.
They demonstrate that God’s law is written within them,
for their own consciences either accuse them
or tell them they are doing what is right
The current Time cover story asks this question and seems to answer from science, particularly biology, that we are hard wired this way. Then come further questions about why some are moral and some are not. As the article puts it:
We're a species that is capable of almost dumbfounding kindness. We nurse one another, romance one another, weep for one another. Ever since science taught us how, we willingly tear the very organs from our bodies and give them to one another. And at the same time, we slaughter one another. The past 15 years of human history are the temporal equivalent of those subatomic particles that are created in accelerators and vanish in a trillionth of a second, but in that fleeting instant, we've visited untold horrors on ourselves—in Mogadishu, Rwanda, Chechnya, Darfur, Beslan, Baghdad, Pakistan, London, Madrid, Lebanon, Israel, New York City, Abu Ghraib, Oklahoma City, an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania—all of the crimes committed by the highest, wisest, most principled species the planet has produced. That we're also the lowest, cruelest, most blood-drenched species is our shame—and our paradox.The full text of the Time article is online here: What makes us moral?
We were discussing this very thing last night at church in the series on Questioning Your Faith as part of a discussion on whether other religions can be true too. Given my particular line of work, it shouldn't be too surprising that I think we were hard wired with morality written on our hearts. The wiring isn't too precise to be sure as we can debate which killing is justified and which is prohibited even while instinctively knowing that taking life in general is wrong. Biology may find that takes place genetically, and I have no beef with that description. Either way, we do have a sense of right and wrong and the free will to choose to violate that moral code if we wish.
To make things even more interesting, they offer an interactive online quiz full of moral dilemmas: The Morality Quiz which you can take and then how you stack up against others who take the quiz.
And if you are still up for another moral dilemma, what about this article A Hoax Turned Fatal Draws Anger but No Charges about the 47-year old Mom who created a fake identity on MySpace.com to harrass a neighboring 13-year old girl. The teen ended up committing suicide. Nothing the Mom did in harassing her is illegal, but the violation of "Love your neighbor as yourself" is so grievous that it can't help but make heaven weep. Should all moral wrongs be illegal? If so, who determines what is immoral for purposes of law?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
and I will write them on their hearts
Blog Posting Faithfully
"For Christ's sake, stop!" declared the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Rev. Frank Page, pleading for civility in the Baptist blogosphere. Episcopalians and Anglicans duel incessantly over their faith and future in the Anglican Communion. Catholics focus on every topic from liturgy to law to spirituality.This is from a USA Today article Bloggers Keep the Faith, Contentiously that covers the incendiary blogs from people of varying denominations. As to the opening quote, Southern Baptist leader Frank Page was vaulted to president of the denomination partly based on favorable blog coverage, but once on the job he discovered how negative they can be. He wrote in a column for Baptist Press,
These are faith bloggers — uncountable voices who contest, confess and consider religious beliefs, doctrines and denominational politics in their posts.
Although every faith has its bloggers, U.S. Christians may be among the most vociferous of the watchdogs, philosophers and ecclesiastical groupies.
Lost people are seeing the deep division and sometimes hatred that is flowing forth among churches and among those who are involved in convention discussions. For Christ's sake, stop!I too have seen negative blog posts and much more negative comments, sometimes concerning people I love (like our Bishop) and I wonder what this has to do with Love God and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
I think that blogs are wonderfully democratic in that not only can everyone have one, you only get readers to the degree that people find it worth their time to drop in. So perhaps I am not so surprised that some people want to vent their spleen in a blog so much as I am dismayed that the blogs that post such anger remain popular.
I'll try to keep things more peacable in this corner of the kingdom. I hope that's fine with y'all. Toward that end I offer the following dumb joke from BeliefNet's Joke of the Day:
A minister, a priest and a rabbi went for a hike one day. It was very hot. They were sweating and exhausted when they came upon a small lake. Since it was fairly secluded, they took off all their clothes and jumped in the water.
Feeling refreshed, the trio decided to pick a few berries while enjoying their "freedom." As they were crossing an open area, who should come along but a group of ladies from town. Unable to get to their clothes in time, the minister and the priest covered their privates and the rabbi covered his face while they ran for cover.After the ladies had left and the men got their clothes back on, the minister and the priest asked the rabbi why he covered his face rather than his privates. The rabbi replied, "I don't know about you, but in MY congregation, it's my face they would recognize."
Infinite and wise is God,—W. Leslie Richards,
The God who does not reveal
The mysteries of his little insects,
And his minutest creations
That our eyes cannot see.
Wise and infinite is the God
who does not reveal
The mysteries of his worlds and constellations,
And his greatest creations
That our imaginations cannot grasp.
And because we cannot see,
Because we cannot understand,
Because we cannot grasp
All his mysteries,
We can but marvel,
And humbly bow to worship Him.
Cerddi’r Cyfnos, Gwasg Gee, 1986
(trans. Cynthia and Saunders Davies)
For those of with our hands still raised in the Sunday School class wanting to ask questions just the same, our Questioning Your Faith series will look at the question "Can other religions be true too?" tomorrow evening (Wednesday) at 7 p.m. at King of Peace. And for those who want to worship, the study will follow the 6:15 p.m. worship service as it does each week.
Financial Planning Up in Smoke
Many times I am asked how King of Peace can run a church without pledges. It is an odd question as no other financial enterprise relies on pledges as churches do. No store gets customers to pledge their support for the coming year, naming how much they will spend. Business make financial plans based on cash flow and as untheologically sound as it must sound, that's how we plan the budget at King of Peace. We can make a coming year's budget by knowing we will get what we are getting now and in faith assuming that the amount will grow. In seven years it has not failed us yet.
Being fiscally responsible, we do plan what services we would cut in order to bring the budget in line with lesser giving. But, we trust God to find the support and we never have to get to that plan B.
The sermon is now online: Who Jesus Was and Is—the Jesus of History and the Jesus of Faith.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
A covered dish lunch that followed the 10 a.m. service
Labels: King of Peace event
A Thousand Qualifications
In his book, Who Is Jesus? Leander Keck quotes an E. Borowitz as writing this painful-to-hear-because-it-sounds-true observation,
The notion of Christian cross-bearing seems to us to die the death of 'a thousand qualifications.' By the time Christian teachers are done explaining what it means to take up ones' cross and suffer with Christ one seems only to be authorized to consider it virtue to endure one's bourgeois troubles.
The Kingdom of Jesus
This is a medieval feast which uses the metaphor of "king"—a powerful one in those days—to describe the role of Jesus. Today the implications of such a metaphor are harder for us to comprehend, though the fascination with the late Princess of Wales suggests that we still like royalty and royal families—though perhaps we don't quite understand any more the tragedy that is inherent in royal leadership.Note:
In fact, the kingdom which Jesus preached was the kingdom of his Father in heaven, a kingdom of forgiving love with no royal trappings at all, a kingdom which had always been there but which now (through Jesus) were beginning to recognize for the first time. The kingdom of Jesus is summarized in the words of the Our Father—forgive us as we forgive. No matter how many times we say that prayer, the meaning seems to allude us. We expected to be forgiven, but we don't want to forgive.
At every service this weekend, we will recognize those who joined the church within the past year with a prayer and a small gift. We will also receive pledges for the coming year and will burn them unopened at the conclusion of each worship service. Following the 10 a.m. service on Sunday, we will have a covered dish lunch.
Labels: Gospel reading
the online public records of just over 1,300 of these giant churches shows that their business interests are as varied as basketball schools, aviation subsidiaries, investment partnerships and even a limousine service. At least 10 own and operate shopping centers, and some financially formidable congregations are adding residential developments to their portfolios.King of Peace certainly doesn't operate at that scale and yet we did start King of Peace Episcopal Day School which employs 18 persons. I know that St. Paul the Apostle Episcopal Church in Savannah has been successfully involved in housing development and Christ the King in Valdosta opened a coffee house and bookstore and also helped lead development in their downtown area. I am proud of all of these ministries that benefitted people in the church's communities.
But at what point do churches cross the line from ministries that genuinely fill needs in the community into the area of competing with for profit businesses while having the advantage of being tax exempt? What is good ministry? What is too much business and not enough ministry?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.You might also be interested in this USA Today article pointed out by a reader: Florida teacher chips away at Plymouth Rock Thanksgiving myth.
Labels: King of Peace event
Such a life is not formed by asking, What would Jesus do?, for the moral life in view here does not result from astute second guessing; it comes from asking, rather, What is the appropriate thing to do and be in light of the kind of person Jesus was? For the person who asks this, being accountable to Jesus may be difficult, but it is not onerous. The disciple who has internalized Jesus does not experience accountability as a burden but as an opportunity to give a discernible Jesus form to the moral life. He or she knows that Jesus leaves his mark on those who test him—and are grateful for the case....Part of what Keck is doing here in his writing is to emphasize "being." Who am I supposed to be, because of who Jesus is. He seems to think that those marked by Jesus will have their moral decisions formed by the experience.
Although the Beatitudes and other expressions of God's grace are as hard to assimilate as the stern sayings that point to the utter seriousness of the present, both summon the follower to keep reshaping one's moral life until it reflects more clearly and deeply the Jesus event and its vision.
If I tried to shorten, I get something like "Who should I be, because of who Jesus was?" which gets the right thought, but WSIBBOWJW? isn't a much better bracelet. Or I could try "Who would Jesus Be?" meaning, given who Jesus was, how should I be in this circumstance. But in the end, I think it is an idea that won't fit on a bracelet, but does fit neatly in one's heart and mind. It's not a question so much as asking, "Should I reach out to this hurting person and show them God's love, is that what Jesus would do?" But try to live into being the person Jesus is and you will find yourself showing that love without even stopping to look at the bracelet or ask the question. That will just be the kind of person you are.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
One with our enemies
that arose totally outside of yourself.”
—Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430)
[Augustine] was reflecting Saint Paul’s “all have sinned and fallen short.” It is tempting, of course, to believe that some have sinned—for example, “that evil empire”—or that “most have sinned, but not us.” Paul’s insistence, however, that all have sinned makes an important point: if we are not one with our enemies in love, at least we are one with them in sin, which is no mean bond, for it precludes the possibility of separation through judgment. That is the meaning of the injunction “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”—William Sloane Coffin (1924-2006)
The Incarnation vs. Cyberspace
I remember clearly retired bishop Marc Dyer saying, "The Incarnation is not virtual reality." He was no web-fearing Luddite, yet Bishop Marc realized that God becoming human in Jesus was a real time event in the real world and so Christianity also involves real people getting together in real ways. This doesn't mean that we don't or can't find God in cyberspace. I like to think Irenic Thoughts is one of millions of places on the vast World Wide Web that grounds readers in things divine.
This came to mind when I saw the New York Times article on a boot camp to help South Koreans break their Internet addiction. The nation boasts a large and growing number of wired citizens tapping in to their fast, inexensive web access. The article notes,
It has become a national issue here in recent years, as users started dropping dead from exhaustion after playing online games for days on end. A growing number of students have skipped school to stay online, shockingly self-destructive behavior in this intensely competitive society.The article tells of a government funded program to break the cycle of Internet addiction for those mostly male users considered to be at the highest risk. The article tells of the treatment:
Up to 30 percent of South Koreans under 18, or about 2.4 million people, are at risk of Internet addiction....They spend at least two hours a day online, usually playing games or chatting. Of those, up to a quarter million probably show signs of actual addiction, like an inability to stop themselves from using computers, rising levels of tolerance that drive them to seek ever longer sessions online, and withdrawal symptoms like anger and craving when prevented from logging on.
They also follow a rigorous regimen of physical exercise and group activities, like horseback riding, aimed at building emotional connections to the real world and weakening those with the virtual one.This article reminds me that while Christianity should make use of cyberspace, it should be done in a way that grounds what is on the web in reality. For Jesus was very real and very realistic. He was very earthy. While I like to think he has no problem with our using the Internet as a tool, I can't kid myself into thinking that a he came to save a virtual world.
Bishop Marc was right. The Incarnation is not virtual reality. Whatever we do in terms of the time and emotional energy spent in cyberspace, it should help us to better connect to real people in the real world. An email to a friend going through a difficult time can make the difference, but it will never beat a hug, or even sitting quietly by someone in Intensive Care Unit.
That's my take. What do y'all think?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
Daughters of the King and Kids in the Kingdom
After the 10 a.m. service, we celebrated a Kids in the Kingdom Sunday by connecting communion and Thanksgiving. As the kids learned, Eucharist means "Thanksgiving." I showed them the vestments I wear and spoke about them. I also showed them up close the sacristy and the vessels and linens for the altar as we talked about why we set the time apart as holy time. Then I connected our weekly Great Thanksgiving of the Eucharist with Jesus Last Supper with his disciples, a meal offered in thanks with family and friends. Not so different in kind from our own Thanksgiving feasts. Then the kids made centerpieces to take home naming the things for which they are thankful to God.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
Diocese of Georgia DOK President Cindy Coward with me and our daughters.
All the Daughters of the King at the service including daughters from Savannah and our neighboring DOK Chapter at Christ Episcopal Church in St. Marys.
Kids making crafts for Kids in the Kingdom.
Daughters of the King
The object of the Order is the extension of Christ's Kingdom through Prayer, Service, and Evangelism. Their motto is:
For His Sake . . .
I am but one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
What I can do, I ought to do.
What I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.
Lord, what will you have me do?
The chapter at King of Peace is named for Susanna Welsey (1669-1742), the daughter of a pastor and the wife of another, she was mother of 19 children, only eight of whom survived her. Two of her sons, John and Charles Wesley, were Anglican priests who served in the Colony of Georgia.
A supermom, who homeschooled her children in Latin, Greek and the classics, she also created a prototype of Sunday School in her own home for her children and others. Susanna said, “I am content to fill a little space if God be glorified.” She filled more than a little space—Susanna's life and witness had a lifelong impact on her sons who themselves had a tremendous effect on the spread of the Gospel and the history of Christianity.
I give thanks to God for the women who will today dedicate their lives to prayer and service through the Order of the Daughters of the King.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
Labels: Daughters of the King
Habitat's 10th Birthday
As a three-time president of Habitat for Humanity of Camden County, I was proud for King of Peace to be able to serve as the host for the group's tenth birthday bash. A good time was had by all as we recounted the 23 houses built and the lives change one family at a time.
Labels: Habitat for Humanity
The Church at the Cross
In this weekend' Gospel reading we get a scene with Jesus and his followers in the Temple in Jerusalem:
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, "As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down."Then Jesus goes on to talk about signs of the end of times in speaking of wars and insurrections and persecution of Christians.
John Pridmore writes of this passage in England's Church Times saying in part,
We live in the same period of "salvation history". The first of the "last things" has already taken place. The Temple is no more, even if, sadly, many of our subsequent church structures can be seen as pathetic attempts to rebuild it. Now we live in the interval between the first and the final of those last things.The full text of his essay is here Second Sunday before Advent. In the King of Peace archives is the sermon These Things Must Take Place.
This is the era on which the second half of our Gospel reading focuses. It is the age when believers are betrayed by family and friends, when they are arrested and persecuted, when they are put on trial, imprisoned, and executed. Jesus's predictions are literally fulfilled in the events Luke records in the second of his two volumes about the beginnings of Christianity, in the book known to us as the Acts of the Apostles. Again, his first readers will have registered, as we do, how clearly Jesus saw what was coming.
Betrayal, arrest, imprisonment, and execution: the writer of these notes confesses that such trials have not overtaken him since removing to Hove. Nor will they be the experience of most who read these comments. We are not Filipino Christians working in Saudi Arabia, nor are we among the tens of thousands of believers reportedly enduring torture and starvation in North Korean labour camps, nor are we Pentecostal pastors locked in shipping containers in Eritrea, nor do we run Christian bookshops in Gaza.
Nor does Jesus speak of the times when Christians have been the perpe- trators rather than the victims of perse- cution—even if some of the horrors they have inflicted have been on each other. But whether the Church is persecuted or persecuting, it is always the Church at the cross. There we are either sharing Christ's sufferings or inflicting them. We carry his cross, or nail him to it.
The first of the last things was the destruction of the Temple. No longer do those golden walls blaze with the light of the rising sun. Now we must wait and pray for grace to bear what may be required of us. If the days are dark, it is the darkness before dawn.
As George Macdonald used to say: "The light is only the other side of the hill." That promised light is greater than the light that touched the Temple with fire. Our Old Testament reading tells us to look east. There—soon—"The sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings."
Labels: Gospel reading
Lifehouse: Everything Skit
The story of this skit is online here: Jesus 'Everything Skit' Draws Millions.
The little girl watched and loved by millions
Thank You, Jesus
A video of the song Via Delarosa made with scenes from The Passion of the Christ
This video made for Forest Pointe Church in Belmont, North Carolina, is based on excerpts from Most, a short film about life and death choices that was nominated for an Academy Award.
For some Episcopal videos, there are always Father Matthew and Father Steve.
Become What You Are
On the vocabulary of church and baseball
Sometimes in leaning over to speak to the modern world, I fear that we may have fallen in! When, in our sermons, we sought to use our sermons to build a bridge from the old world of the Bible to the new modern world, the traffic was only moving in one direction on that interpretive bridge. It was always the modern world rummaging about in Scripture, saying things like "This relates to me," or, "I'm sorry, this is really impractical," or, "I really can't make sense out of that." It was always the modern world telling the Bible what's what.The full text is online here: On NOT reaching Our Culture Through Our Preaching.
I don't believe that the Bible wants to "speak to the modern world." Rather, I think the Bible wants to change, convert the modern world.
The modern world is not only the realm of the telephone, the telegraph, and allegedly "critical thinking," this world is also the habitat of Auschwitz, two of the bloodiest wars of history, and assorted totalitarian schemes which have consumed the lives of millions. Why would our preaching want to be comprehensible to that world?....
Rather than reaching out to speak to our culture, I think our time as preachers is better spent inculturating Twenty First Century Americans into that culture which is called church. There is no way that I can crank the gospel down to the level where any American can walk in off the street and know what it is all about within fifteen minutes. One can't even do that with baseball! You have to learn the vocabulary, the rules, and the culture in order to understand it. Being in church is something at least as different as baseball.
Forming the church through our speech, laying on contemporary Christians the stories, images, and practices which make us disciples is our most challenging task as preachers.
The point is not to speak to the culture. The point is to change it.
I wholeheartedly agree about scripture seeking to transform our culture. However, I also think there should be a balance in preaching that Willimon seems to miss in moving from one pole to another. Just as I think sermons should balance speaking to the head (intellect) and the heart (emotions), I think we can not transform culture until we have spoken to it. What do you think? Should preaching speak to the culture or seek to transform it?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
PS: Start Questioning Your Faith Tonight
The seven session study begins this evening at 7 p.m. Scroll down for complete information.
Each night below we will meet from 7-8 p.m. to hear a short talk, then have a discussion based on the talk and some relevant passages from the Bible. Please come and encourage anyone you know who is asking questions to join you.
Why does God allow suffering?
Is there a conflict
between Science and Christianity?
What about other religions?
Can they be true too?
What does Christianity say about sexuality?
Does life have meaning? Why am I here?
What happens after we die, really?
How can I read and understand the Bible?
Can I believe it?
There is a PDF of the Questioning Your Faith flyer if you want to share this with someone. The first session is tomorrow evening at 7 p.m.
Teen Is Not a 4-Letter Word
I remain clueless as to why it is difficult to get adults to assist with youth programs for their churches. Many parents want to run and hide when the idea of working with middle and high school students is brought up. Yet, I have found working at youth events to be some of the most rewarding time in my ministry.
I just spent the weekend serving as a spiritual director for New Beginnings #32, a middle school retreat of the Diocese of Georgia. I love these weekends, especially as they are led by teens for teens with the talks given by teens and small groups led by teens. Adult participants and leaders are on hand, but their roles are in the background. The real work of ministry is done by the teen leaders.
At New Beginnings, there were three of us taking part from King of Peace. Kalyn led the games and gave a wonderful talk on friendships. Kyle was a participant attending his second New Beginnings and I served as one of two priests. I have served at several New Beginnings weekends as well as other diocesan youth events. Once again it was an amazing weekend of listening to what is going on in the lives of teens. Much of it is heartbreaking, as you hear the teenagers side of a broken home with a teen working to adjust as his or her parents' marriage falls apart. You also get to see up close the real work that goes into a teen deciding what they believe rather than just accepting all their parents' beliefs as their own.
Through it all, I enjoy watching that transition as children work their way to adulthood in the environment of Honey Creek, our camp and conference center where the teens do such a good job of providing each other with a base of love and support.
The best thing an Episcopal parent in south Georgia can do for their child is to encourage him or her to take part in Diocese of Georgia Youth Events. And for adults who are interested in assisting in ministry for and with teens, taking part in chaperoning these weekends is also highly recommmended.
Upcoming events are:
Winter Blast (grades 9-college), December 14-16 at Honey Creek
Happening #80 (grades 10-12), January 11-13 at Honey Creek
Convention Lock-In, Augusta (grades 8-12), February 8-9 in Augusta
High School Work Weekend (grades 9-college), February 29-March 2 at Honey Creek
Spring Fling (grades 6-9), March 7-9 at Honey Creek
New Beginnings #33 (grades 7-9), April 3-6 at Honey Creek
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor