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.

12/31/2007

Where is God in this?

New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.
—Hamilton Wright Mabie
New Year's Day is a holiday that is about nothing more than noting the passage of time. A little history trivia helps puts this day in perspective. When Julius Caesar introduced the calendar dated from the start of his reign in 45 b.c., January 1 was the first day of the year. But the church council of Tours in 567 a.d. moved the date giving preference to March 25, a day nine months before Christmas and so the presumed date of Jesus' conception by the Holy Spirit. For just over 1,000 years, March 25—known in church terms as the Annunciation, for the day the Angel Gabriel visited Mary—was New Year's Day. Some countries, including England, held out until the mid-18th century to change New Year's back to Julius Caeser's date of January 1.

In any case, marking the passage of time is helpful. We all need times of taking stock, deciding what matters and setting new priorities. For the church year, this comes in Lent with 40 days of resolve leading up to Easter. But if it comes for you on this day, that's fine too. Whenever it comes, a time of introspection should include asking "Where is God in this?" "How has God been involved in my life up until now?" and "How would I like involve God in my future?"

Even the atheist can ask this, but his or her answer will be different from mine. Where has God been in your life? How would you like to involve God in your life in 2008? What will you do to make room for God?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.
—Henry Ward Beecher

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12/30/2007

They should lash us to our pews


Why do people in church seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute?...Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it?

The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us to where we can never return.
Annie Dillard, (1945 - ) from her book Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters

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4 Comments:

  • At 12/30/2007 2:34 PM, Anonymous kenny said…

    We don't have pews...

    :)

     
  • At 12/30/2007 3:39 PM, Blogger Rhonda said…

    The God of Abraham is not aiming to make our life as pleasant as possible. He is here to turn tables and create people who can run with Him. "If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?" (Jer. 12:5). He wants a people like horses, people whose necks are clothed with thunder, mock at fear, and do not stop at the sound of the trumpet.

    I think Annie Dillard new that we sometimes forget that our God is unpredictable. That we must be like him. We should fear Him, for He IS the beginning and the end.

     
  • At 12/31/2007 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Should we fear God, or is he Abba?
    God's aim may not be to make our lives as pleasant as possible, but I don't think it is to make us as miserable as possible either.

    Annie Dillard suggests that we should recognize that the ONE in our presence is all powerful and we need to respect that. We, as children, simply cannot comprehend all that He is.

    Like in the sermon yesterday, Annie Dillard is trying to describe "a cup of coffee."

     
  • At 12/31/2007 10:10 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    The describe a cup of coffee reference in the comment above refers to yesterday's sermon found online here Beyond Words.

     

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12/29/2007

A Pattern for Everything

In this weekend's Gospel reading we hear the wonderful poetic lines of the prologue to John's Gospel:

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being.
What has come into being in him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.

Jesus is called the Logos in the Greek in which this passage was written. Logos means word, but it means more than that. Logos was significant in Greek philosophical thought. The Rev. Jim Stamper at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Woodstock, Virginia tries to bring that sense of the word out in his paraphrase of the full prologue in which he sees the logos as the pattern for all creation. He writes:
Initially there was a pattern for everything.
The pattern was God's; God was the pattern.
The pattern was always God.
Everything came from that pattern.
There isn't anything else.
The pattern is both the source of life and the meaning of life.
It is a way of being alive in opposition to death, and death cannot overcome it.

God sent a man named John to tell people about the possibilities of this way of being alive in opposition to death so everybody would trust the source of life. John wasn't the source of life; he taught how to recognize the pattern. The true pattern, the source and meaning of everybody's life, was coming to people.

To some people, however, life, and what life is all about, is unrecognizable. Some who could be expected to see the possibilities of this way of being alive select death instead. Others embrace life. They trust what life offers.

Life offers something more intense than the strongest family ties: obtaining a new parent, God, the source, the meaning of life itself.

The initial pattern for everything that is became a human being and lived among us.

We experienced how awesome that is: as awesome as a newborn baby is to its daddy, the gift of life and all its possibilities.
Not as poetic as John's text, but quite good at getting the underlying feeling in the Greek of how much it matters that Jesus was the preexistent logos who became flesh in Jesus.

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12/28/2007

Redeeming the time after Christmas

In today's religion column for the Tribune & Georgian I wrote in part,
The Christmas rush is over. Soon houses, now filled with the pine scent of Christmas trees and the lights and garlands and wreaths that set this time aside as special, will seem bare. Wintry depression can come to take root if we don’t take care.

Auden's typewriter at the time he wrote the OratorioThe poet W.H. Auden captured the after Christmas feeling very well. Toward the close of his long poem, “For the Time Being,” he wrote, “Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree, Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes—Some have got broken—and carrying them up to the attic. The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt, And the children got ready for school.

“There are enough Leftovers to do, warmed up, for the rest of the week—Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot, Stayed up so late, attempted—quite unsuccessfully—To love all of our relatives, and in general Grossly overestimated our powers.”
The full text of the column is here: Redeeming the time after Christmas.

Extra points go to those who realize that this is an old sermon reworked as a religion column. Cheesy, I know. Having submitted the column in the midst of seven church services in five days, it also seemed smart not to grossly overestimate my powers by trying to crank out something wholely new while being more than adequately busy. But more than that, Auden's poem is so wise and works well for this time of year. Have we once more seen the vision and failed to "do more than entertain it as an agreeable Possibility?"

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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12/27/2007

Christmastide Photos

Christmas Day Eucharist



Christmas Eve Eucharist





Fourth Sunday of Advent Eucharist

Thanks to Kenn Hodge for taking these pictures. Click on any photo above to see a larger version of it.

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Smallest Bible

"But this is the covenant which I will make
with the house of Israel after those days,"
declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them
and on their heart I will write it;
and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
—Jeremiah 31:33

Well it is small enough to easily be inscribe on the human heart anyway...The Associated Press reports that Israeli scientists have created the world's smallest Hebrew Bible. How small? The text measures less than 0.01 square inch surface. It took about roughly an hour for the 300,000 words to be etched on a silicon surface about half the size of a grain of sugar. The full text of the article is here: Scientists inscribe entire Bible on head of a pin. I'm fairly certain that writing it on our hearts is still God's job.

I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.
—Pslam 40:8

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12/26/2007

Allow God to speak through the things of creation

In his Christmas sermon at Canterbury Cathedral yesterday, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said,
The world around us is created as a framework within which we may learn the first beginnings of growing up towards what God wants for us. It is the way it is so that we can be directed towards God. And so this is how we must see the world. Yes, it exists in one sense for humanity's sake; but it exists in its own independence and beauty for humanity's sake – not as a warehouse of resources to serve humanity's selfishness.

To grasp that God has made the material world, 'composed', says John of the Cross, 'of infinite differences', so that human beings can see his glory is to accept that the diversity and mysteriousness of the world around is something precious in itself. To reduce this diversity and to try and empty out the mysteriousness is to fail to allow God to speak through the things of creation as he means to. 'My overwhelming reaction is one of amazement. Amazement not only at the extravaganza of details that we have seen; amazement, too, at the very fact that there are any such details to be had at all, on any planet.'
The full text of his sermon is online here: Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Day sermon

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12/25/2007

The Visited Planet


Once upon a time a very young angel was being shown round the splendours and glories of the universes by a senior and experienced angel. To tell the truth, the little angel was beginning to be tired and a little bored. He had been shown whirling galaxies and blazing suns, infinite distances in the deathly cold of inter-stellar space, and to his mind there seemed to be an awful lot of it all. Finally he was shown the galaxy of which our planetary system is but a small part. As the two of them drew near to the star which we call our sun and to its circling planets, the senior angel pointed to a small and rather insignificant sphere turning very slowly on its axis. It looked as dull as a dirty tennis-ball to the little angel, whose mind was filled with the size and glory of what he had seen.

"I want you to watch that one particularly," said the senior angel, pointing with his finger.

"Well, it looks very small and rather dirty to me," said the little angel. "What's special about that one?"

"That," replied his senior solemnly, "is the Visited Planet."

"Visited?" said the little one. "you don't mean visited by --------?

"Indeed I do. That ball, which I have no doubt looks to you small and insignificant and not perhaps overclean, has been visited by our young Prince of Glory." And at these words he bowed his head reverently.

"But how?" queried the younger one. "Do you mean that our great and glorious Prince, with all these wonders and splendours of His Creation, and millions more that I'm sure I haven't seen yet, went down in Person to this fifth-rate little ball? Why should He do a thing like that?"

"It isn't for us," said his senior a little stiffly, "to question His 'why's', except that I must point out to you that He is not impressed by size and numbers, as you seem to be. But that He really went I know, and all of us in Heaven who know anything know that. As to why He became one of them - how else do you suppose could He visit them?"

The little angels face wrinkled in disgust.

"Do you mean to tell me," he said, "that He stooped so low as to become one of those creeping, crawling creatures of that floating ball?"

"I do, and I don't think He would like you to call them 'creeping, crawling creatures' in that tone of voice. For, strange as it may seem to us, He loves them. He went down to visit them to lift them up to become like Him."

The full text of this story is online here: The Visited Planet.

Note:
This is the beginning of The Visited Planet a story by the Rev. J.B. Phillips (1906-1982). Phillips was disappointed that the youth in his church didn't understand the Bible. During time in a bomb shelter due to the air raids on Britain in World War II, he translated the Bible into contemporary language, much as Eugene Peterson has done more recently with The Message.

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12/24/2007

Jesus, Santa and Garrison Keillor

Three different takes on the same theme. They miss Saint Nicholas of Myra as a faithful follower of Jesus, but they hit squarely on the idea that the greatest Christmas gift is Jesus Christ.






In his essay Don't Like Christmas? Get a Life. Garrison Keillor writes in part,
Christmas is an artistic performance, and art, by and large, is not made by contented people. It is made by wounded recluses, freaks, the absurdly self-conscious, the haunted and guilty, the humiliated, the outcasts, and we create this, first and foremost, for our children. To rise up out of confusion and dismay, with ghosts whispering to us, and bake cookies and light a candle and sing "Silent Night"—I can do that for my child, and if your children want to join us, they are most welcome.
The full text of the essay is online here: Don't Like Christmas? Get a Life.

Christmas at King of Peace
Tonight, we will offer candlelight communion services at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. Then tomorrow we will worship at 12 noon.

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12/23/2007

A Pastor's $40,000 Challenge


The Associated Press is carrying the story of The Federated Church, a United Church of Christ' church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Their pastor gave away $40,000 to his congregation in a challenge to have them double the money. Preaching on the Gospel of Matthew's account of Jesus' Parable of the Talents, The Rev. Hamilton Coe Throckmorton gave each adult $50 and each child $10 with a challenge to double that amount. The money was on loan from congregation members and the profit would go to charity. As the article reports,
Talents began multiplying at such a rate that the church held a bazaar after services on two consecutive Sundays for people to display - and sell - their wares.

The pretty little village on the Chagrin River falls had never seen anything quite like it. Everyone seemed to be talking about the talent challenge: over the clatter of coffee cups at Dink's restaurant, at the Fireside bookshop on the green, sipping drinks at the Gamekeeper's Taverne. Even members of other churches weighed in: Have you heard what's happening at Federated?

"Anyone can open their wallet and give cash," Kris Tesar said. "This was just an extraordinary process of exploration and discovery and of challenging ourselves. It became bigger than any one of us or than any individual talent."
When the October 28th deadline came the church had raised $38,195 over the initial $40,000 with more money coming in later and still trickling in. The final sum will be divided among three groups in the community.
Throckmorton is asked all the time if the talent challenge will become an annual event, but he is doubtful. It was a special time and a special idea, he says, and he is not sure it could be re-created or relived.

Yet in a very real sense, it lives on. Church members who never knew each other have become friends. And orders for applesauce, flip-flops and Rudolph pins are still rolling in for Christmas.
The full text of the AP article is online here: Pastor's Challenge Shocks Congregation. The sermon is online here: Sermon September 9, 2007.

girls from the church pose with fleece blankets they made and sold

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12/22/2007

Work Day

Thanks to the folks who came out to work today (not all pictured here obviously) who worked inside and out to get King of Peace more squared away for our Christmas celebration.

Gil Frank June Neil

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God’s plan

In this weekend's Gospel reading Matthew tells of the events leading up to Jesus' birth in which Joseph is led by a dream to marry Mary instead of quietly divorcing her mid-engagement. In the sermon Plan C, I once preached on this passage saying,
Plan A for Joseph was to marry Mary. They are betrothed, which at the time was an official ceremony that contractually bound a couple together. The couple would not yet live together, but entered a yearlong engagement, which took a divorce to break off. During that year, Joseph learns that Mary is pregnant and he knows that he is not the child’s father. Now comes Plan B.

Joseph and JesusMatthew writes, “Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.” This is to put it mildly. We later read how in Jesus’ ministry he prevents the public stoning of a woman caught in no less a public disgrace. Being engaged to Mary, Joseph could have denounced her publicly and cried out for her to be put to death by stoning. But, we learn that Joseph would never consider this. Instead, Plan B for Joseph is to quietly make some arrangements to break off the engagement without Mary facing an angry mob.

Then God intervenes with Plan C. An angel appears to Joseph in a dream to assure Joseph that this was God’s plan all along. In God’s plan, Joseph will take on the minor public dishonor of having everyone assume the child that would otherwise be born out of wedlock is his own. Joseph marries Mary, she has a child who Joseph names Jesus, which means “God saves.”

God will save and God will do it through Jesus. But Joseph and Mary were essential to the plan. Mary had to consent to the pregnancy and Joseph to the marriage. I promise you; this is not the life of which either of Jesus’ parents dreamed. It wasn’t their Plan A or Plan B. But it was God’s plan all along.
The sermon looks at how Plan C has worked itself out in my life and how it might work in yours. The full text of the sermon is online here: Plan C.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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1 Comments:

  • At 12/22/2007 7:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We are all thankful that plan C worked it's way into your life.

     

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12/21/2007

Christmas Party

4 Comments:

  • At 12/22/2007 7:40 AM, Blogger Rhonda said…

    It looks like it was a wonderful event.

     
  • At 12/22/2007 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It was wonderful! BTW: SNOWMAN theme this year.

     
  • At 1/14/2008 11:47 AM, Anonymous Melfe said…

    This was such a spiritually fun-filled night and too many moments to mention, however, I do want to commend Victoria for her usual graceful appearance in lieu of a black eye. Doesn't she look adorable? Also, Debbie and Carol,playing Christmas songs for all of us to gather around the piano to sing was a highlight for me. MLF

     
  • At 8/17/2013 4:42 AM, Anonymous venue in los angeles said…

    Amazing collection of post you have. Will come back later and read all thoroughly

     

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Give them what they really want (for Christmas)

The Rev. Tom Ehrich's opinion column for Episcopal Life counsels churches to stop whining and give people what the want for Christmas. He notes that churches spend the month leading up to Christmas complaining about the commercialization of Christmas and singing unfamiliar Advent hymns while the rest of the world is singing carols. He writes,
This annual whining is a perfect expression of why many churches dwindle to irrelevance. This is "provider-driven" religion. We are blaming people for not wanting what we provide. It would be far better for us to ask ourselves: why don't we provide what they want?

If people are hungry for food, why give them ritual? If people are hungry for meaning, why give them traditions inherited from former days? If people want to connect their lives with a living God, why condemn them for digging deep to buy gifts for their children or yearning for lost love?

If people want to sing Christmas carols because this is the best music we sing all year long, why would we force them to drone through Advent hymns just because the church calendar says it's technically not "Christmas" yet? Is there some virtue in denying people their legitimate needs?

Forget the patronizing attitudes. Our members aren't children who need to be taught the value of eating spinach. They are grownups who yearn for love, meaning, joy, and community. They are smart enough not to bring those needs to congregations where the preaching is dull, the air is filled with year-end anxiety about money or children aren't invited to sit on laps and express their dreams.

Max gets the super dooper reindeer pooper at last year's King of Peace Christmas partyThe mall meets people where they are, whereas we blister people for not being what we want them to be. Who needs such abuse?

Meeting people where they are doesn't mean being slavish to their self-destructive ways. But it does mean comprehending those self-destructive ways -- not as mindless appetite, but as yearning and hunger. Plodding through a dour Advent hymn is no response, especially when Macy's is playing "Joy to the World."

Of all the possible roles to play, we seem to have chosen the least savory. We play the uncaring innkeeper: no room for you here as you actually are. We play the Roman census-taker: do it our way, or else. We play the shepherds' employer: stay out there in the cold, even though light is shining not far away.

I say, Stop the whining, and rev up the preaching. Let's touch their hearts, not tickle their ears with clever Advent homilies about John the Baptist. Let's love people, not berate them for spurning our treasured offerings.
The full text of his column is here: Give them what they really want (for Christmas).

Christmas Party Tonight
Tonight at 7 p.m. we will hold King of Peace's Christmas Party. Bring a wrapped $1 gift (gag gifts are always fine) for a gift exchange. You may also bring a party snack. This party is a fun way to better get to know the people with whom you worship each week.

a view from last year's Christmas Party
Part of the fun at last year's Christmas party

1 Comments:

  • At 12/21/2007 8:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Is there a particular theme for the party tonight? I remember the Super Duper Reindeer Pooper, a "musical" can of beans and a whoopie cushion from last year...:)

     

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12/20/2007

Do not pray for easy lives

Do not pray for easy lives,
but pray to be stronger men.
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers,
but pray for power equal to your tasks.

Then the accomplishing of your work
shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle.
Every day you shall wonder at yourself
and the richness of life
which has come to you
by the grace of God.
The Rt. Rev. Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)

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12/19/2007

The Atheist Delusion

Georgetown University theology professor John Haught has written a book, God and the New Atheism, to counter the claims of the recent atheist writings like those of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Over at Salon.com, they have a current article, The Atheist Delusion presenting Haught's views in brief. In the article, he argues that those arguing for Intelligent Design share with their evolutionary materialists foes in debate the feeling that science can solve questions of faith, while he feels this may not be the only way of discovering truth. Haught says in part,
My chief objection to the new atheists is that they are almost completely ignorant of what's going on in the world of theology. They talk about the most fundamentalist and extremist versions of faith, and they hold these up as though they're the normative, central core of faith. And they miss so many things. They miss the moral core of Judaism and Christianity—the theme of social justice, which takes those who are marginalized and brings them to the center of society. They give us an extreme caricature of faith and religion....

I don't have any objection to the idea that atheists can be good and morally upright people. But we need a worldview that is capable of justifying the confidence that we place in our minds, in truth, in goodness, in beauty. I argue that an atheistic worldview is not capable of justifying that confidence. Some sort of theological framework can justify our trust in meaning, in goodness, in reason....

The new atheists have made science the only road to truth. They have a belief, which I call "scientific naturalism," that there's nothing beyond nature—no transcendent dimension—that every cause has to be a natural cause, that there's no purpose in the universe, and that scientific explanations, especially in their Darwinian forms, can account for everything living. But the idea that science alone can lead us to truth is questionable. There's no scientific proof for that. Those are commitments that I would place in the category of faith. So the proposal by the new atheists that we should eliminate faith in all its forms would also apply to scientific naturalism. But they don't want to go that far. So there's a self-contradiction there.
I don't agree with all that Haught says, but I do enjoy his trying to set some things straight with regard to Atheism, which is itself a theological conviction that take some faith. Haught's book is forthcoming. The full text of the interview is here: The Atheist Delusion.

I have written about some of the underlying assumptions here in the religion column, It Doesn't Have to Be Science Vs. Religion and in the blog post Faith, Doubt, Certainity and the Leap of Faith.

peace,.
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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1 Comments:

  • At 12/19/2007 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I feel sad that most Atheists will never know what I know to be true. What He has shown to me can not be explained away by logic and science(I've tried). And the joy that I feel from Him just can't compare to anything else.

     

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12/18/2007

Stop being daft about Christmas

"Stop being daft about Christmas."
—Trevor Phillips,
chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, U.K.

The head of the commission charged with protecting human rights in Britain (pictured at right) is trying to get the message out that, "It's fine to celebrate and it's fine for Christ to be the star of the show." This, according to an article in The Yorkshire Post is in response to a move in recent years in which school nativity plays have been banned in some places and altered in others so to not offend minorities with their Christian meaning. According to The Daily Mail,
His intervention clears the way for councils and other public bodies, which have often allowed the celebration to be downgraded by politically correct considerations, to put up decorations, display cribs and send out cards with a clear Christmas message.
They are discussing the chairman of the commission's comments over at the On Faith Forum of The Washington Post and Newsweek with panelists chiming in. Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright says their,
It would be nice to think that the worm was starting to turn. The reality is that it isn't the Muslims or the Hindus who are 'offended' at Christians doing Christian celebrations. It is the old-fashioned secularists who, discovering that their myth (that Christianity would die out by the end of the 20th Century) had failed to come true.
Baptist minister and professor of law, J. Brent Walker says,
It’s ironic that the season during which many celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace often comes with a manufactured “War on Christmas.” This yearly battle in the culture war is fought against an enemy that simply does not exist.

Of course it’s fine to celebrate Christmas, and Christ is indispensable to its proper celebration. Christ should not be crowded out of Christmas either by fussy sensitivities or grubby consumerism. Christmas is Christmas, and a tree is a tree, and a Christmas tree is a Christmas tree.

That said, I offer two important principles.

First, there is a big difference between public celebrations and governmental observances. Private citizens and religious organizations are perfectly free to celebrate Christmas openly, visibly and in most public places! It’s only governments that, under the First Amendment, cannot observe religious holidays or lead religious exercises....

Second, there is a fine line between political correctness and good manners. For example, it is perfectly appropriate to extend a specific holiday greeting like my Jewish friends do when they wish me a “Merry Christmas,” and I return a “Happy Hanukkah.” But it’s often similarly appropriate to wish another “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” if I’m talking to a person whose religious affiliation I do not know. It’s simply good manners and common courtesy to employ a more general greeting. The same goes for merchants who have advertised goods to all Americans of many religious traditions who may or may not celebrate Christmas. None of this disparages Christmas one iota or diminishes its enjoyment in the least....
All of the panelists responses are found here: PC Christmas.

King of Peace's pastoral resident, Jay Weldon, referred to this in passing in his recent sermon The Journey of Advent in which he said in part,
It was also during this time that what some have called the “War on Christmas” began. Stores across America, waking up themselves to the realities of a new millennium, began asking employees to wish patrons a simple Happy Holidays. As nativity scenes disappeared from storefronts, as Targets and Starbucks and Best Buys toned down any hint of the gracious incarnation, as those familiar words of the season disappeared from most seasonal transactions, some were incensed. I have to admit that I was among those at first who missed the simple warmth of a “Merry Christmas.” I once became quite angry with a work colleague of mine who refused to wish me anything but a happy holiday. “You are a Methodist!” I told her. “We talked about your daughter’s confirmation retreat. I think it is alright for you to wish me a Merry Christmas!” She was unrelenting, and I remained quietly offended.

It was a sign of the times, but slowly I began to learn something from those church banners juxtaposed against the malls of Atlanta. Starbucks gave me the coffee I wanted, Target gave me the candle holder I needed for my mom, Best Buy gave me the gift certificate I needed for my dad, but they couldn’t give me Christmas. It had nothing to do with their holiday salutation; Christmas wasn’t found there, and a simple phrase wouldn’t change that fact.

I had to come to notice that the writing was on the wall, just as literally as Isaiah is crying out to the world in etched stone, just as these churches were calling out to me in their roadside signs. “When you drive on,” they seemed to say, “you will be reminded that what you are looking for this Christmas will not be found in those stores. When you have finished, come back and let us journey together that long road to Bethlehem. Let us beat the swords of our hearts into plowshares together, again.” If we know who we are this advent, and we know we are not yet there, we must remember again where it is we are actually going.
The full text of Jay's sermon is online here: The Journey of Advent.

What do y'all think about the so-called war on Christmas? What do you think should be done about the disappearance of Christ from Christmas or the Holy Days from the Holidays?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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4 Comments:

  • At 12/18/2007 8:22 AM, Anonymous Kelly said…

    Is there anything we can do other than be true to ourselves, try not to offend and try not to be offended?

    Christ has not disappeared from my Christmas, and we can all experience Holiness in our days by extending kindness and compassion.

     
  • At 12/18/2007 10:28 AM, Blogger Rhonda said…

    I think that most would rather bow to what is being done to the Christmas season than to stand up and make a statement of their belief.

    I for one wish a Merry Christmas to everyone, with the hope of understanding. This is a season of love, we should show this to each other in all ways known. Love me as I love you!

     
  • At 12/18/2007 2:48 PM, Anonymous kenny said…

    I agree with Rhonda in that I try to wish people a Merry Christmas. I'm not trying to be offensive to anyone of a different faith and I hope that it's taken in the spirit intended.

    I hope that I can do the same for others if they wish me well in Ramadan, Chinese New Year, or anything else I don't subscribe to personally.

     
  • At 12/18/2007 3:38 PM, Anonymous Kelly said…

    I agree too. That's what I meant by being true to ourselves--greet people with what's in your heart this season. By not offending anyone, I meant that I won't become defensive if somebody politely wishes me Happy Holidays.
    I feel like the greeting of Happy Holidays is meant to include everyone. I don't think that the majority of those who use the greeting are being intentionally exclusive of Christ.

    Personally, I have never seen anybody get bent out of shape over the greeting of Merry Christmas or well wishes for any holiday celebrated during this season.

    Frankly, though, I would rather get a Happy Holidays with a smile from somebody then nothing at all. It is the season of Love and as long as we're all expressing that in one way or another, I'm happy.

     

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12/17/2007

Release to the Captives

Jan Richardson's art

Over at The Advent Door: entering a contemplative Christmas, artist Jan Neal is blogging art through Advent. The current post (the art is above) is based on yesterday's Gospel reading on John the Baptist sending word to Jesus from prison, to discover if he is The One Who Is to Come. She writes in part,
So today I find myself thinking about the word of Christ that comes to those in captivity. I think of how in recent months I’ve felt drawn to pray for those who live in various kinds of bondage in body and/or soul: those in prison, those who have been kidnapped, those living with addictions that have bent and broken them. I think of, and pray for, those who live within systems of oppression and those who create their own systems and situations that rob them of power. I think of those who live in ostensible freedom but who, for reasons of fear or ignorance or seeming convenience or who knows what else, have given their power away little by little, in such small increments that they (we) hardly notice it until it’s nearly gone. In John’s company today, I find myself wondering where those prayers might lead me, what path they might be preparing.
At King of Peace, the sermon I wrote for yesterday seemed better presented as a play, or something like it. Seven others had speaking roles in the sermon which was a fictional retelling of the Gospel in an Old West setting. It is now online at The One Who Is to Come: a parable of the old west. I am grateful to those who helped me present the Gospel in a way that would get tiresome to hear too often, but that worked well enough for yesterday, especially with the awesome support I got from the cast members. So thanks especially to Craig, Robin, Bill, Celeste, Victoria, Gil, and Al.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

1 Comments:

  • At 12/17/2007 7:07 AM, Anonymous Kelly said…

    The sermon was GREAT! And the acting...Y'all deserve the TONY!

     

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12/16/2007

The world is better for it

No man or woman of the humblest sort can really be strong, gentle and good, without the world being better for it, without somebody being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness.
The Rt. Rev. Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)

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12/15/2007

Nativity Play


King of Peace Episcopal Day School held its Annual Nativity Play to a standing room only crowd of about 200 family and friends. Our Director Gillian and her teachers and other staff outdid themselves with a wonderful production with kid-created costumes and set.

Michael says his line into the microphone
Hi Mom!
The angel Amelia announces Jesus birth
Singing in the stable
Gray Sophia in an angel wagon

The Shepherds enter and speak
Shepherd paparazzi

Benjamin

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4 Comments:

  • At 12/15/2007 5:37 PM, Blogger jimmorrow said…

    that looks beautiful!!

    BTW, how do you create those composite images?

    jim

     
  • At 12/15/2007 9:48 PM, Anonymous denise said…

    he is magic, sillly!

     
  • At 12/15/2007 10:11 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    I take multiple photos and stitch them together in Adobe PhotoShop. To see our sanctuary in a variety of set ups using this sort of panorama, go to http://kingofpeace.org/180-degreeview.htm.

    peace,
    Frank+

    PS: Thanks for the confidence Denise, but I prefer trusting in miracles to trying to pull off magic ;-)

     
  • At 1/05/2008 7:27 PM, Anonymous Caroline said…

    To the Teachers and Staff of King of Peace Day School - You did a wonderful job on the play! Thank you for all of your on going hard work!!! You're terrific!
    Caroline Wright

     

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