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.

9/30/2008

Pulpit Freedom

I learned belatedly that this past Sunday was Pulpit Freedom Sunday. The brainchild of the Alliance Defense Fund, it was to be a "Come and get us!" program encouraging pastors to explicitly defy the Internal Revenue Service by making political endorsements from the pulpit. Thirty-three churches were set to do just that this past weekend, including the Rev. Wiley S. Drake of Buena Vista, California's First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park. He carried through on asking his congregation to vote for him, and Alan Keyes, his presidential running mate on the American Independent Party ticket. Drake told the 45 people present for his Sunday worship service,
I am angry because the government and the IRS and some Christians have taken away the rights of pastors. I have a right to endorse anybody I doggone well please. And if they don't like that, too bad.
News reports from the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post say that this act of civil disobedience found other takers as well hoping to become a case to challenge the constitutionality of a 1954 law prohibiting religious organizations from endorsing candidates if they accept tax-deductible contributions. The law does not prohibit free speech, so much as to disallow endorsements made by tax exempt groups.

The L.A. Times article quoted the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, saying "Pastors have a responsibility to the whole of their flock to provide spiritual support and guidance" but not partisan political advice.

Here is Martin Marty's take Pulpit Freedom from the IRS.

My opinion on this issue ran in the Tribune & Georgian a while back The Pulpit vs. The Taxman in which I concluded:
Personally, I feel that my views on whom I vote for are not for public broadcast. I do what I expect all people of faith do in voting. I say my prayers and then cast my votes. I know that faithful Christians often disagree on the best candidate and this is just fine. This side of the kingdom of God, no earthly power is going to get it all right all the time anyway. And God will work in and through any person of any background and will work in spite of any person of any background. This is not to say that for whom we vote is of no consequence, but to say that we can not and will not usher in heaven on earth no matter who lives in the governor’s mansion or the White House. However in hindsight it is clear the church did not speak up loud enough or strongly enough against Hilter and Mussolini and it ushered in hell on earth for millions.

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

I don’t have to stump for any candidate to speak up for those who are hungry, naked, sick or in prison. But I do need to be able to speak plainly to the ways in which we as Christians have a responsibility to seek justice in the here and now. We do this knowing that no candidate, no political party, and no government will ever be so godly that it will not need someone to speak up for those with no voice or whose voice is going unheard. And there is no legal basis to tax that constitutionally protected speech.
In fact, this past Sunday's sermon is as political as I care to get (not "political" and no where near endorsing anyone). Read for yourself The Gospel and The Economic Crisis, so maybe I kept the Sunday in my own way even if I didn't know about it until after the fact. That's my take on it. What is yours?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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2 Comments:

  • At 9/30/2008 7:05 AM, Anonymous kelly said…

    No politics at the pulpit please!

    There is so much tension with this political campaign already. I don't want to feel that in my place of worship.

    When I go to church, I want to calm my anxieties about all of the issues so that I am able to pray about them rather than worry.

     
  • At 10/01/2008 6:42 AM, Blogger anything but typical said…

    I agree. The purpose of the church is to advance God's kingdom. The church should be above politics as usual, and should be about God's business. I've been in churches where Chrisitian organizations distributed voting guides and statemenets were made from the pulpit regarding candidates. It made me very uncomfortable - not because of the separation of church and state issue - but because it demeans those who believe things should be done a different way.

    After all, contrary to popular opinion, conservatives and liberals basically want the same things. We both want a safe, smart, and prosperous America. We just disagree on how to get that done. Part of the acrimony of in our system is in that disagreement, and part is greed for power on BOTH sides of the aisle. I don't want my church to be involved in either side.

    I want the church to point the way to peaceful cooperation and be the example. The church should be there to remind us that the important things are to love God with all our hearts, minds, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is up to each individual to listen to God's voice in her life as to how to do that.

     

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9/29/2008

Transfusion

Once a young man fell over a cliff. By the time he was rescued he had lost so much blood that he was almost dead. His father rushed him to a doctor, but the doctor said: "He will certainly die, unless someone can be found who is willing to provide enough blood for a massive transfusion."

Now the father's heart overflowed with such love for his son that he offered his own blood, though he knew it would cost him his own life. So by the sacrificial love of his father, the young man was given new life.

We, too, have fallen headlong from the mountain of righteousness and lie broken and wounded by sin, with our life fast ebbing away. But if we turn to the Master, he freely gives us his spiritual blood so that we might be saved from death and regain life. Indeed, he came to us for this very purpose.
Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929), from Sacrificial Love

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9/28/2008

Loving the Creator

He alone loves the Creator perfectly
who manifests a pure love for his neighbor.
Venerable Bede (672-735)

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9/27/2008

Following through on Faith


In tomorrow's Gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable,
A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' He answered, `I will not'; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir'; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first."
In preaching on this before I have said that neither really did the will of their father, who probably wanted them to both promise and keep the promise. But at least the one who did go out and work, did better than the one who said yes and did nothing. I concluded the sermon saying,
Jesus teaches again and again that the way we reach out to others shows what we believe about God. As we see how Jesus reached out to the outcast, the poor, the lost; then we learn from that that we too should reach out in love to others in need. With his parable of the two sons, Jesus reminds us that faith is to be active. It’s as if he tells us, “Don’t just believe there. Do Something!”

Belief matters. In fact it comes first. But saying “I believe Jesus is God’s Son,” comes with the implied promise that you will do something about it. In giving your life to God, you promised to go work in the vineyard, just as surely as the son who said he would go work. The question is, “In what ways do you live your life differently because of your faith?”

Think back over yesterday. Was there anything you did differently because you are a Christian? What about this past week? What were the moments in which you were living into your faith? Now look ahead to today and to this coming week. How will you live it differently because of your faith in Jesus Christ?

Don’t just sit there believing. Do Something!

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9/26/2008

Faith in the Economy?

Avarice.
Inordinate pursuit of wealth or material things.
Theft, dishonesty, misrepresentation, or sharing in stolen goods.
Cheating in business, taxes, school or games.
Making worldly success the goal of our life
or the standard for judging others.
—from St. Augustine's Prayer Book


Over at Newsweek/The Washington Post's On Faith Forum, the panelists answered the question
Are the economy's recent financial failures also moral failures? Are credit and debt religious issues? Do you have faith in the economy?
Bishop N.T. Wright has responded in part,
Certainly the way the 'debt culture' has spiraled -- remember that credit cards and the like are a very, very recent invention, and that the idea of 'taking the waiting out of wanting' was, until very recently, widely regarded as a sign of moral degeneracy -- is a major index of societal ill-health, in which, as with lotteries, the poor are effectively taxed by the rich while the rich tell them 'aren't you having fun!'.

This isn't a diagnosis; it's a signpost towards one. Nor do I have a remedy lying ready to hand. What does 'repent and believe' mean in this situation? I'm not exactly sure; but I do know that it will involve cheerful generosity. Giving money away is the first great step towards dethroning it as an idol. As long as we are a culture of mammon-worshippers we can expect, quite literally, to pay the price that idols always demand.
The Rev. Jim Wallis responded:
The American economy is often rooted in unbridled materialism, a culture that continues to extol greed, a false standard of values that puts short-term profits over societal health, and a distorted calculus that measures human worth by personal income instead of character, integrity, and generosity....

The behavior of too many on Wall Street is a violation of biblical ethics; the teachings of Christianity, Judaism, and other faiths condemn the greed, selfishness, and cheating that have been revealed in corporate behavior over decades now and denounce their callous mistreatment of employees. Read your Bible.

The strongest critics of the Wall Street gamblers call it putting self-interest above the public interest; the Bible would call it a sin.
See all of the panelists responses here: Faith in the Economy.

At the household level
I think a term like "faith in the economy" is preposterous. The Psalmist wrote, "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God" (Psalm 20:7) referring to the major weapons of mass destruction of their time. Some put their faith in military might, others in the economy. We are to put our faith in God. Jesus warned that it would be mighty tough to serve God and wealth. He was right. I don't know how to solve the national and international problems of the economy. But, I do know how to govern the economy of my household following Jesus' teachings. Placing God first, and giving of my first fruits to him (meaning I give when the money comes in, not when I see what is left), I give the 10% I see in scripture. Then, we live simply enough on what remains to not be beyond our means. I have yet to find my bank accounts running over, but I also have yet to find them empty.

What do you think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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5 Comments:

  • At 9/26/2008 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for this post, I have been pondering on this for a while.

    My situation may or may not be typical of some readers here. I work but am not allowed to keep any of the money I earn, I am given what could be considered an allowance. From this I give a fixed amount each week to the church.

    My question, is this enough? If I’m not at service for some reason that week I double up the next week. I feel I should give every week not just when I attend.

    I don’t feel I am giving enough!! I do try to make up for this by working in different ministries with the church when I am able.

     
  • At 9/26/2008 2:54 PM, Anonymous Kelly said…

    We always double if our family misses service one week too.Father Frank told me that was acceptable.

    It sounds like you are giving what you are able from your own source of income and your heart. I know that time and talent count for something too! Actually they count for a lot.:)

     
  • At 9/26/2008 11:16 PM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Of course credit and debt are religious and moral issues. We are called to be good stewards.

    Remember the rich young ruler who could do everything to be righteous except selling everything he had. And I do believe it is easier to put a camel through a needle's eye than it is for a rich man to make it to heaven.

    I believe that being the possessor of great wealth removes us from reality. Those in need fade into the background as the pursuit of wealth holds the throne. Only by going out and purchasing food or fuel do we feel the sting of much higher prices.

    Great wealth can lead to rampant materialism where we start to love things and use people instead of using things and loving people.

    You are absolutely right that we are to place our faith in God. Faith in anything else is sure to be a rough path. Ultimately money cannot satisfy. It might buy you a nicer car to drive to church or a nicer suit to wear in church or let you feel important, impressed by your own delusions.

    How did Christ live? Did he accumulate wealth? The first shall be last and the last shall be first.

    I'm not sure I said what I set out to say so please pardon my mental meandering. It tends to happen more often all the time.

     
  • At 9/27/2008 2:58 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Jesus pointed at the widow who gave two coins, worth what would be a fraction of a penny to us and said that he gift far out shone that of others give much larger sums. Our Lord knows well that some give small amounts from their smaller incomes and other give larger amounts from their great ability to give and it can all the same. Giving as you can joyfully is great.

    Making up for weeks away when you get back is exactly what I do. It amounts to the same as giving weekly.

     
  • At 9/29/2008 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank You

     

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9/25/2008

Make Poverty History

I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me;
I was in prison, and you came to Me.
—Matthew 25:35-36

In an effort to aggressively work on the issues that grow out of extreme poverty, the United Nations set eight development targets for the year 2015 called The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The eight MDGs share a common focus on improving social and economic conditions in the poorest countries on the planet.

Groups like Episcopal Relief and Development are working on ways to directly address the eight goals and 21 specific targets:

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

  • Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day.
  • Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.
  • Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

Achieve universal primary education

  • Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.

Promote gender equality and empower women

  • Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015.

Reduce child mortality

  • Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.

Improve maternal health

  • Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio.
  • Achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health.

Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

  • Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.
  • Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it.
  • Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.

Ensure environmental sustainability

  • Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources.
  • Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss.
  • Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation (for more information see the entry on water supply).
  • By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum-dwellers.

Develop a global partnership for development

  • Develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory. Includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction—nationally and internationally.
  • Address the special needs of the least developed countries. This includes tariff and quota free access for their exports; enhanced programme of debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries; and cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous official development assistance for countries committed to poverty reduction.
  • Address the special needs of landlocked and small island developing States.
    Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term.
  • In cooperation with developing countries, develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth.
  • In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries.
  • In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications.

The goals are concise, understandable and achievable. The plan calls for the developed nations to give to groups working to achieve these goals. The Episcopal Relief and Development website features brief stories of places where they are seeing success in meeting these goals: Click here for ERD's Stories from the Field.

Truly I say to you,
to the extent that you did it to one
of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them,
you did it to Me.
—Matthew 25:40


Father Matthew on the MDGs

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  • At 9/25/2008 8:18 AM, Blogger Maggie said…

    AMEN! And we can begin with some of these reforms right here at home. Thank God for KOP, where all of these issues are always in the forefront. We have only to watch the news to know how blessed we are, even in our poorest moments.

     

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9/24/2008

Attacks on Christian in India

The Anglican Communion News Service reports on attacks on Christians, churches and other Christian institutions around India with more than 30 dead:
"The recent murder in Orissa of Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati, a leader of Bajrang Dal (a radical section of the Hindu nationalist organisation RSS, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) has led to very serious attacks on Christians and on churches and Christian institutions in various parts of India. Christian church after an attackThe leader of Bajrang Dal was trying to convert Dalit and Tribal Christians forcibly back to Hinduism and was shot dead by a member of a Maoist group. Because this Maoist group includes Christian Tribal people among its membership it was interpreted by extremist Hindus as a Christian attack on a Hindu leader. As a result Christians were attacked in return - suffering loss of life (more than 30 dead), loss of property and forced flight, and in some cases forced conversion to Hinduism. The attacks have now also spread to Mangalore in Karnataka state. Although there are anti-Christian incidents on a regular basis in these states (and others such as Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh) the recent attacks appear to be the most serious violence against the Christian community in the last 50 years....
Christians represent 2.3% of India's population (25 million Christians) with Christianity going back on the Indian subcontinent to shortly after the time of Christ. The report notes that Christians are now often accused of forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity and goes on to state:
The reality is that Christians do not have the power to forcibly convert any non Christians into the Christian fold. Occasional stray incidents or examples from the North Eastern states where Christian are in a majority are used by Hindu extremist organisations to create a false picture. However the RSS blames Christian educational and social developmental organisations for using scholarships and funds for projects etc as inducements for conversion, even though the reality is that Christian institutions try to avoid such incidents.

Photos from Redemption Church, IndiaChristians are also accused of creating fear among non-Christians to convert them to Christianity i.e. with threats such as you will not go to heaven if you do not follow Christ.. It is a big theological challenge how to be Christians without such theological claims. When one of the churches was attacked during the worship services, some of the attackers specifically told the priest not to preach Christ as the only way; he should preach about other ways too. It is clear that underlying many of these criticisms of Christians is the desire to unite Hindus emotionally and turn their anger into votes.

However it is true that there are problems within Christian circles as well. The work of the mainline churches in India is undermined by television evangelists who regularly attack other religions and display converts from Hinduism as a kind of trophy.
The full report is online here: Attacks on Christians and Churches in Orissa and Karnataka.

The report offers this prayer written by Indian Christians:

Servant Christ,
Help us to follow you
Deep into the waters of baptism,
To break the chain of past wrongs;
To become fit to face your coming age:
Servant Christ, help us all to follow you.

Help us to follow you
In untiring ministry to town and village,
To heal and restore the broken body of humanity,
To cast out the demonic forces
Of greed, resentment, communal hatred
And self-destructive fears
Servant Christ, help us all to follow you.

Help us to follow you on the road to Jerusalem,
To set our faces firmly against friendly suggestions to live
A safe, expedient life;
To embrace boldly the way of self-offering,
The way of life given for other’s gain.
Servant Christ, help us all to follow you.

Help us to follow you out of the dark tomb;
To share fully in your resurrection life,
To re renewed daily in your image of love,
To serve daily as your new body
In ministering to the world.
Servant Christ, help us all to follow you.

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9/23/2008

Illumined by the steady radiance

God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.
Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961)

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9/22/2008

The Good Shepherd



For September's Kids in the Kingdom Sunday, we learned how Jesus is The Good Shepherd. We also baked bread stick shepherd's crooks, made sheep cookies, played pin the tail on the sheep (above) and more.



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9/21/2008

Bishop Search Survey


Please participate in the search for the 10th Bishop of Georgia by completing a survey before September 28.

You can do this in one of three ways:

  1. Go to www.georgiabishopsearch.org and click on the Survey button. Complete the questions and submit your survey on-line.
  2. Call toll free 1-866-373-7783 and complete your survey by telephone. An interviewer from the A.L. Burruss Institute at Kennesaw State University telephone survey lab will be available to answer your call Monday - Friday from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM. You may also leave a message to request an appointment for an alternate time at this number. Please indicate that you are calling to participate in the Episcopal Church survey.
  3. Ask your pastor for a paper copy of the survey. Answer the questions and return the survey to King of Peace to have us type in your responses.
Diocese of Georgia Seal

Don’t miss this opportunity for your voice to be heard. Your input will be very important to creating a diocesan profile, introducing ourselves and our hopes for the next decade to the larger church and to prospective nominees.

Password
In order to "discourage people from participating in our survey inappropriately" the Diocese has provided each church with a password to be used in taking the survey online or by phone. The password for King of Peace will be announced in church and sent by email to anyone at King of Peace writing to frank@kingofpeace.org to request the password for the survey.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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9/20/2008

One Long Day in the Vineyard

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus tells the parable of a landowner hiring laborers for his vineyard. He goes out to find works first thing of the morning then at nine, noon, three and even five o'clock. At the end of the day, he paid them all the same amount for their work. I preached on this before on the occasion of Jordan McKenzie Rowe's baptism,
Your parents have had a glimpse of life beyond these rows of grapes and discovered that the vineyard is the best place for you to grow up. Life in this vineyard is its own reward. Oh it’s no picnic. The landowner expects you to work. After all, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to working in a vineyard, not to a pleasure cruise. A Bishop I know once said the cruise ship analogy might work for the Christian life, but the ship would be for crew only. A working vacation at best. No lounging about in the deck chairs. That’s why Jesus prefers the image of workers in a vineyard. The landowner has expectations of you Jordan.

But your parents know that what is best for you is to spend your earliest days here in the vineyard. Learn your way around the landowner’s estate. It’s going to be a long work day and you have the jump on the other workers. You can come to know what its like to live in this generous landowners care even as you learn to read and write.

Sure, the late arrivals will think they have gotten away with something. They’ll think that life away from the vineyard was fun. They may feel they cheated the landowner by sliding in to work at the close of the day. Those one-time ne’er do wells won’t know what it was like to spend your whole life in the landowners care. They may be tempted to think they got the best of both worlds.

You, Jordan, will come to know better. The rest of the world offers plenty of landowners, but none who will lavish attention on you like the Lord of this vineyard. The pay at the end of the long day’s work is extra. A life lived in the vineyard is its own reward.

Let’s ignore child labor laws and get you signed up for work in the vineyard now, Jordan, while the early morning light is still glistening on the dew covered grapes.
The full text of the sermon is online here: One Long Day in the Vineyard.

There is also the sermon in the archives Stingy Generosity.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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  • At 9/21/2008 4:40 AM, Anonymous Mark said…

    Thanks for that interesting post!

    The following is a quote from:

    http://www.ssje.org/sermons/2007/050507cga.htm

    In the first Letter of Peter we read, "Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you." Prior to my coming to the monastery almost 21 years ago, I was a parish priest in the Diocese of Chicago. I was a Curate, and my Rector put this discipline to a daily practice. The Rector, Richard Lundberg (who is a member of the Fellowship of Saint John) and I would both be present for the weekday liturgies. Following the reading of the Gospel we would meet in the middle of the sanctuary and reverence the altar. In that split second while we were bowed, he would announce in a whisper which of us would preach that day. There we were, heads lowered, and he would whisper to me something like, “It’s mine” or he would say, “You’re on!” (Sometimes we playfully fought a little for just a second. I would say, “no way am I going to preach that” and he would say something like, “You want a paycheck this week?”) Anyway, that became our practice week-in and week-out. I initially found this incredibly intimidating, to have all of about three seconds to turn around and deliver a homily. But Father Lundberg’s practice was to always be ready to share the good news amidst so much bad news that people face in the course of a day. I would say this is a helpful practice for all of us: to be ready with a testimony to your faith in Jesus Christ, a testimony that would be cogent and credible to someone outside the church tradition… which is most everyone we meet these days on the street. No spiritual gobbledygook. If someone asks you today, in Harvard Square, why you are a follower of Jesus Christ, what’s the word, the authentic word in your heart and upon your lips? What is your testimony in real time? As we read a moment ago from the First Letter of John, "Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts."

    - Curtis Almquist, SSJE Monastery

    Ergo, to everyone who reads this page, I ask you:

    What is your account of the hope that is in you?

    Peace,

    Mark

     

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9/19/2008

A Pastor Goes Church Shopping

Below is today's religion column for the Tribune & Georgian written by the Rev. Maryann McFadden Meador. She reports on visiting churches in Camden County and not finding them welcoming. While she does not refer to King of Peace, she did visit our church and we are one of the many churches in the county she refers to in the article which follows. Comments are, as always, highly encouraged. What do y'all think of her experiences?

For the past 16 years, I have served in a pastoral role in United Methodist churches in 3 states: New Jersey, Texas, and Illinois. I took an active part in the introduction of the church’s “Igniting Ministries” outreach campaign and always spoke with my congregations about the need to welcome visitors warmly and make efforts to invite them to be part of the church community.

I encouraged people to follow the “60 second rule”, that is, to spend the first 60 seconds at the end of worship speaking with a person whom they did not already know. I formed ministry teams of folks whose calling it was to seek out and welcome visitors, giving them a small gift from the church. Every Monday, I sent letters to everyone who visited on Sunday, if they had signed the pew pads, as requested. I always included the “passing of the peace” as an important part of worship and again, encouraged people to greet newcomers, and not just speak with their friends. Whether or not they ultimately joined the church, I was pretty sure that visitors were greeted and spoken with when they visited. Once or twice, I even had to discourage congregation members from “swarming” and overwhelming visitors.

Then I got to be a visitor. I was granted family leave from my conference and moved to another conference, and had the chance to visit other churches – to “church shop”, if you will, for the first time in 16 years. My plan was to not tell people that I was a pastor, but to simply visit a different church each Sunday, and to sit in the pews and worship God, just like a “regular” person.

In so doing, I became that sought after, spoken of, “visitor” and got to experience first hand what it feels like to be a stranger in church. Each week, I selected another church at which to worship, either by looking through the local newspaper or simply by driving by and noticing a church. I wanted to experience worship in denominations and traditions different from my own, as well as my own, and I was excited about the journey. I was excited to hear good sermons – other than my own. I was excited to meet new people.

But first, I had to determine at what time the worship service was held. And that was not always as easy as it sounds. One church’s sign said they worshipped at 10 AM. I arrived at 9:55 AM and found the place empty. Turns out they worship at 11 AM, but nobody ever changed the sign. I went somewhere else that Sunday.

Another church did not list the time of worship on their sign, so I “googled “ them, checked their website, and believe it or not, no worship time was listed there, either. Undaunted, I called the church office phone on Saturday evening, hoping that the answering machine message would give me the needed information. Again, no such luck. You would think that finding this type of information would be a “no-brainer”, wouldn’t you? I couldn’t help but wonder if these churches were really interested in having visitors, or if it was a closed club.

But I persisted. And visit I did. And it was scary. Scary to enter a strange building by myself: “Is that the front entrance?” “Where am I supposed to park?” “Will anyone speak with me?” “Should I say “good morning” to everyone as I always did as the pastor, or wait to for them to speak to me?”

Most of the time, an officially designated “greeter” stood at the church door, smiled, shook my hand, wished me a good morning, and handed me a worship bulletin. So far, so good. Now, where is the sanctuary?

I experienced many types of worship. There was the contemporary service, with a praise band and lyrics projected on a large screen. It was high energy, and well attended, but I had never heard any of the songs before, and more importantly, no one spoke with me. Then again, no one spoke to anyone else either. I seemed to be in a church service full of strangers. I was visiting churches to worship God, but also to find and become part of a Christian community. Other than the officially designated greeter, no one else looked at me, spoke with me, gave me a gift, or thanked me for coming. I felt ignored.

Then there was the more traditional Christian service. Familiar, well loved hymns, a structured service, a good sermon, a beautiful worship facility. I felt very much at home. But no one spoke with me. I even hung around at what seemed to be a coffee hour after worship (though it was never formally announced that it was a coffee hour, and I neither saw nor was offered any coffee)—looking lost, and obviously new. There were no more than 70 people in worship, and I knew from experience that new folks stand out in a crowd that size. Still, no one spoke with me. By now, I was yearning for connection and community, and so, I initiated conversation with several folks around me. Maybe they were just shy, and I would have to break the ice. No dice. Each of my conversational gambits were met with polite smiles and turned backs. I was sure I had brushed my teeth and applied deodorant that morning. Oh well, maybe if they saw me a few times, they would warm up. After my third visit, the pastor spoke with me; he obviously recognized me and smiled and wished me a good morning. Good for him, but the pastor is not the church.

I visited several churches more than once. I heard some really wonderful sermons, and some great and not so great music and singing. I was uplifted and challenged and inspired. But not welcomed.

Until I decided to step way outside of my comfort zone and visit an all black United Methodist Church. By myself. ( I am not African American). And there, I experienced the warmest, most wonderful, welcoming experience of my journey. I was greeted, hugged, welcomed, and truly felt like the people were glad that I was with them. Just about everyone made a point of speaking to me, and telling me that they were pleased that I was there. We worshipped God exuberantly and extravagantly, with singing and clapping and shouting and great joy. I felt like I had come home. I felt like I had gotten very near to the kingdom.

The pastor reached out to me the following day, and we struck up a friendship. She invited me to preach at the church, and I was honored to do so. Every Sunday that I worship in this church is a joyful experience, a homecoming experience, and I already feel like a part of the community, even though the color of my skin is different.

My experience as a stranger, a visitor, a sojourner, has been exciting, and scary, and eye-opening. I keep hearing the words of Matthew 25:35 echo in my ears: “…for I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me….” (NRSV)

How welcoming are you to the strangers in your midst?

Rev. Maryann McFadden Meador is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and a member in full connection of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference. She is on family leave on absence, and has recently relocated to coastal Georgia.

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12 Comments:

  • At 9/19/2008 7:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think the verse that came to her mind was further down in the same part of Matthew (I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in) She says she wasn't welcomed.

    I know that we try to welcome new people. Most new people I see go straight out the door and don't slow down. I don't want to bother people. It's hard to know, but I thought if she stopped to look around King of Peace someone would talk to her. I would like to think I would have talked to her. Gil talked to me when I first came to KOP. I remember that.

     
  • At 9/19/2008 7:46 AM, Anonymous monkey said…

    I think she's a bit overly critical if it's King of Peace she is referring to with the 70 people at service. I've never experienced anybody, even when I was a new member, politely smile and turn their back on me or my family. Even when I do stay for "coffee hour", which is unofficial and really has no need to be announced, I see the effort of our congregation to make introductions and conversations with visitors.

    I've also heard the opposite from acquaintances who have visited our church and said that the congregation was welcoming but our pastor did not speak to them so they never returned. (Sorry, not my experience, just relaying what I've been told.)

    And, of course Rev. Meador is going to stand out in a church where she is of another race in comparison to the majority of that particular congregation. She is easily spotted as the visitor. And what does she mean by "By myself. (I am not African American.)" Was she with somebody when visiting other churches or was she just extra brave to enter a mostly African American church alone? I was under the impression that she was stepping out of her comfort zone with all the churches that she visited.

    I also feel that Rev. Meador is judgmental concerning what she feels is good music and singing and not. Why even bring that up? Those particular churches may not have a lot of what she considers musical talent in their midst, but at least they tried.

    We do an adequate job in welcoming people at King of Peace. Maybe we could do more, but how far do we have to go? We can try to go beyond the smile, handshake and polite "hello", but to we have to throw a party with hugs, shouts of joy and an invitation to preach?

    Rev. Meador in relaying her experiences has come across as quite judgmental and unforgiving, especially as an ordained elder/pastor. She needs to realize that personalities of various denominations and churches are different. Some are reserved and formal. Some are shy. Some are boisterous. Some are without music and some rock &roll. But, they all have a congregation with members who feel comfortable in worshipping there for whatever reason. They wouldn't be there if they didn't feel welcome.

     
  • At 9/19/2008 10:06 AM, Blogger Victoria said…

    Frank has said it numerous times, and I have to agree with him--one cannot judge what a church is like after only one visit. It takes a least a few Sundays, but preferably a month.

    Any given Sunday there are a number of variables at play including attendance and music. Attendance varies for myriad reasons. In a world where church must compete with everything from sports events to travel and meetings, attendance varies greatly from Sunday to Sunday. And, a "poor" church like King of Peace cannot afford to hire a music or choir director and must depend on the kindness of those who are interested AND in town that Sunday to lead music.

    I think those of us who have the "gift" at King of Peace always make a point of speaking to people they don't recognize. Frank, too, will greet newcomers as they leave the church and if they make themselves known to him. But, as anyone who has witnessed Frank after a service, there are often a dozen or more people vying for his attention. So, if a newcomer slips by or doesn't want to wait around, there isn't much he can do about it.

    And, as always, when it comes to greeting newcomers, there is a wide range of possibilities, from a smile and a hello to trying to entice the newcomer to take part in one of the church's ministries. And therein lies the problem: is the person you are approaching an extreme introvert like myself who needs to slowly work her way into the life of the church or are they the extreme extrovert willing to jump in immediately with both feet?

    Unfortunately, we don't wear signs that say what we need and so it is left to the "greeters" to guess. And sometimes, we just guess wrong (in both directions).

     
  • At 9/20/2008 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I attend church to worship God and have an experience with him. I don't expect when I walk through the doors for it all to be about me and who notices that I am there.

     
  • At 9/20/2008 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Any church that wants to grow its congregation should take these comments to heart. KOP is a fantastic church, but at times it seems that their are cliques and for those who are part of one, you don't see that people feel excluded. To grow we need to be able to hear people's different views and consider them. A "poor" church needs new members to be viable. This may sound silly, but when I was in college in a sorority, we actually practiced mingling with people and the things we could say and such b/c we wanted everyone to feel welcome at our parties and we wanted to draw out those shy girls who might not feel comfortable. It was genuine and it helped those of us who were not as outgoing and good with speaking to people we didn't know as much as it helped the quieter people visiting. I agree with a previous comment that you must visit a place at least 4 times to really get to know it and practice that myself, but if someone doesn't feel welcome at all the first time, s/he is not likely to return. At the same time, I have visited MANY churches in K'd and can honestly say that KOP does a better job than most in welcoming people. However, we must never lose our ability to see ourselves as others may see us -- even on a first impression -- if we want to grow and improve.

     
  • At 9/21/2008 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Looking in on this discussion from the outside...I've never been to your church, but I was in a sorority rush and I do hope the two have little to do with one another. I remember making my way back to church after many years and am glad that when I made a beeline for a pew and a beeline for the door, no one stopped me. I wasn't sure I wanted to be there and I didn't want to talk with anyone about anything. I just wanted to be in God's house while I sorted through some things.

     
  • At 9/22/2008 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When you search with the eyes of a critical person you will only see the one critical spectrum. To me this is an interesting story of where ones' heart and mind would have to be to recieve what God intends you should recieve for that day. She may have carried herself in ways that would divert any display of welcomness, but her eyes where only critical of the actions everyone else, not herself. I know I have been guilty of not being very welcoming aswell, maybe its the thousand yard stare and shaved head that does it.

     
  • At 9/22/2008 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When I first visited King of Peace, no one spoke to me. But I looked around and noticed that there was a church full of love. Many different groups of people were hugging and talking before and after the service. Even having never been inside an Episcopalian Church, I could tell this was the place for me. I knew I had found my church home and kept coming and volunteering to help in various ways. KoP is my family now and I am glad! Maris

     
  • At 9/22/2008 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One more thought...I wish people who are going to comment would believe in what they say enough to sign their names. Somehow the Anonymous writers scare me. Maris

     
  • At 9/23/2008 4:13 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    The comment on cliques above and the one that occured one time before have caught me off guard. Perhaps becuase it is as negatively charged a word as "cult." So you prefer not to attend an Episcopal Church and everyone goes "ho hum." Call it a cult and you have done something very different.

    Say that on visiting people seemed friendly, even if no one spoke to me and you have said one thing. Say there are cliques and you have said something very different. I am quite sure that the anonymous writer knows this and so uses the word clique to convey groups one can not break into or something like that.

    In fact, I see interactions and know more about people and I don't see cliques but something wonderful. Yes, there are people who know each other well and like to gather and talk. But I also see the many ways in which people form groups one would never expect and even if they are not friends outside of church in terms of doing other things together, they are glad to see each other at King of Peace.

    An example of this came on a recnt Saturday morning when Victoria and I arrived at church to the happy laughter of five women laughing as three of them were working on a flower arrangement. Someone could see that happy group and think clique, but nothing could be further from the truth. The two there for the altar guild met through serving together as did two from the flower guild, with the third being the daughter of one of the persons making the arrangement. The all came together through serving their church.

    Yet, I hesitate to write this as it could seem to deny something real that has been experienced at King of Peace and I wish I could get at that experience and understand it better. I do know that within any larger community, smaller groups will have to form for real community to develop. These groups tend to form around persons with similar interests or at similar points in life. Certainly we have that at King of Peace. But I thought those groups were permiable and persons who wish to get more involved can and do. What am I missing?

    Also, the comments above have not been as peaceful as they might. What lies behind our defensiveness? What would it be like for Pastor Meador if she visited King of Peace again?

    peace,
    Frank+
    The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

     
  • At 9/23/2008 5:12 PM, Anonymous monkey said…

    I still stand by my view that Rev. Meador was overly critical in her article. In fact, I would have written a responsive letter to the editor had I not been a member of King of Peace.

    I have a difficult time with an ordained person who visits churches and critiques them in an article in our newspaper. No, she didn't mention us by name, but as a community on the smaller side, she would have known we would recognize ourselves. As an ordainded person she should be teaching by expample of how not to judge, yet she proved herself otherwise.

    I can't say how she would be treated if she came back to King of Peace. Would our "niceness" be sincere, or overdone in a paranoid attempt to pass the hospitality test?

    Frankly, now I'm paranoid. When I talk with a group of friends or a group that I'm working with in church, will I be considered in a clique? If I don't want to socialize, but only pray that day, will I be called a snob? Who is watching me? Shouldn't it be God?

    And, I should have added something in my first comment that I wrote in haste. About those aquaintances that never returned when our pastor did not approach them: One time it was because Frank and Victoria were out of town. We had a visiting priest. Another time, I did defend Father Frank and how busy he can become after service. I invited the people back and did offer an introduction to our pastor to no avail.

    In defense of our defensivess: We are a family at King of Peace and we love each other. I think it was that "blood is thicker than water" thing going on. We all see the good in each other so our feathers get a bit ruffled when somebody comes along who sees us differently.

    Did anybody notice that my first comment was overly critical of Dr. Meador's article? I was waiting for somebody to call me out on that! :)

     
  • At 9/24/2008 11:32 AM, Anonymous Rhonda said…

    I don’t see Cliques within King of Peace. What I see are people who have common interests guiding, mentoring and just plain helping each other. I searched Camden County for a church I felt was mine; I was looking to reconnect with my Lord within a community of Christians. I was lost! I needed the love and guidance that has come from everyone at King of Peace.

    Attending my first service alone, I was touched by the acceptance I was shown by many who came up to me and asked my name. Many told me they were glad I had come and it was there hope I would return. The next week I came back. From that point on my children and I have been part of the Church family that is King of Peace. I found a church that took us in no questions asked, and has never asked for anything in return. I myself am an introvert but have found ways to include myself within ministries I feel comfortable in. I have found my way of giving back to my church.

    I’m still on my journey, trying to find my way in life. The one thing that has changed in the past year for me, I now have a church family to help me along my way. I know if I need anything, at the point I have had enough and I will need them, they will be there for me. I feel lucky to have found the King of Peace website late one night looking for another church to try and fit into. I am blessed to have had an immediate connection when I attended my first service. I have seen firsthand over and over again, the same reception I received at King of Peace.

    “What would it be like for Pastor Meador if she visited King of Peace again?”

    I would have to say, Bring It On! I know in my heart what she would find. It is shown each week, kindness and the Love that God has given us to share with others. But that’s just my two cents I felt I needed to add.

     

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9/18/2008

Moving Dirt


King of Peace is now on the City of Kingsland sewage system. You will recall that this was essential, not just for future growth, but to support our current usage as well.

Equipment is now on site removing the old septic system drain lines. It should look a bit of a mess on Sunday, but early in the coming week, we will resculpt the grounds so that the mound is gone and the land drains better. We will also use this as an opportunity to improve the area of the Memorial Garden as we move ahead with those plans and prepare to build a wall for interring ashes.

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Billy Graham on Being a Christian

Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion; it is like a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.

The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.
The Rev. Billy Graham (1918- )

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9 Comments:

  • At 9/18/2008 9:08 AM, Anonymous Mark said…

    "In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use blind, old men as guides."
    -- Heinrich Heine, Gedanken und Einfalle

     
  • At 9/18/2008 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Religion does not have access to absolute proof of its beliefs but, on careful analysis, nor does science. In all realms of human inquiry, the interlacing of experience and interpretation introduces a degree of precariousness into the argument. Yet this does not mean that we cannot attain beliefs sufficiently well motivated to be the basis for rational commitment.
    —Sir John Polkinghorne

     
  • At 9/18/2008 1:14 PM, Anonymous mark said…

    Sir John Polkinghorne's quote is nonsense. His "absolute proof" argument is a straw man and therefore logically fallacious. Science is based on honest observation, evidence, and logic. Religion is not.

     
  • At 9/18/2008 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow Mark you sound like someone who haunts my site.

    I pray you will receive the love in your heart that is God.

     
  • At 9/18/2008 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Mark,

    Religion can be based on "honest observation, evidence and logic." Faith is not. Faith just is...

    I pray that someday you may know faith!

     
  • At 9/18/2008 5:33 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    I like Polkinghorne a lot, but wouldn't lean toward that quote here. It reads more like part of a larger argument and less like a quote that works out of context.

    Similarly, I wonder where Heine was going. My undergraduate degree was ih German and I've read a bit from those Romantics of Heine's day and the Hegelian philosophy that was the rage then (much to Kierkegaard's dismay). I wonder what he would have thought of Schleiermacher's project. But I suspect that Heine's own experience as a secular Jew who needed to more fully assimilate into the German culture and was, for that reason, baptized. One can never judge the faith of another, but Heine's move from what seems to have been a secular form of Judaism to the same form of Christianity was probably being more kind than he felt in the first half of the quote, in which religion could at least serve as a guide in dark ages. But, of course, he saw himself through the lens of the Enlightenment, which was showing in his day that humans didn't need the old gods. Mankind was getting better and better all the time. In the progress of social Darwinism we had worked past our need for the superstitions that kept the order in earlier times.

    Much of that sort of optimism was crushed under the weight of realization of the kind of cruelty we humans can do one another that was so evident in World War I's trench warfare. What hope remained in human progress was even more difficult to sustain after the holocaust and then the Stalinist purges in Russia which followed.

    I know that Christians from Mary Magdalene and the Apostle John to Francis of Assisi and Martin Luther King, Jr. may seem quaint in the light of a strictly scientific understanding of the world. And yet, I am convinced that they were not merely blind guides, but faithful ones to a different path, a spiritual path and that in a Christian understanding, there way was lit by the light of Christ. In this way, they pointed to spiritual reality and the ways in which human sin, seen so vividly in the world wars and in all the ways in which we humans harm one another (and these ways include ways in which the church has added to that harm).

    In the quote which started this, Billy Graham is pointing out that growing to be more like Jesus happens in unselfish service. I agree with him. But in the quote which followed from Heine, I see that when we Christians speak to one another and are overheard by persons wondering/questioning or even skeptical of faith, even a seemingly innocent thought can come across as the ramblings of one deluded into falling for old superstitions no longer serving us well. I feel challenged to account for the faith that is in me and see that I am falling short of that mark, as my own poor use of language fails to convey my experience of God.

    I appreciate your comments Mark.

    peace,
    Frank+
    The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

     
  • At 9/19/2008 11:40 AM, Anonymous Mark said…

    Frank, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I believe that your inner experiences of a god are part of your subjective reality, just as any of my inner experiences are part of my subjective reality. But subjective reality is not necessarily objective reality, is it?

    What would you say to the following, which is JMHO:

    There exists no compelling objective evidence for the existence of a perfect person who is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, and who loves you and me with an infinite love. Stories in a book are not sufficient objective evidence. The beliefs of other people, past and present, are not sufficient objective evidence. Personal feelings are not sufficient objective evidence. There exists no objective evidence sufficient to compel belief that such a person exists.

     
  • At 9/20/2008 8:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There is no such evidence because the perfect person does not exist. God is not a person.

     
  • At 10/08/2008 7:17 AM, Blogger Serge Ragonnaud said…

    Videos Billy Graham's sermons in France at Paris Bercy in 1986 on: http://evangelistsergeragonnaud.blogspot.com/

     

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9/17/2008

Responding to Ike


600-mile wide Hurricane Ike barrelled ashore at 2:10 a.m. on September 13 packing winds in excess of 100 miles per hour. In its wake seven people were dead in Texas, six in Louisiana. With the floods that followed , Ike is now blamed with 47 deaths in nine states. The Episcopal Church is responding to the needs. The Episcopal Relief and Development website reports:
The Episcopal Diocese of Texas has been deeply affected by the storm. Recent reports are focusing on the destruction in Houston, Orange, Galveston, Beaumont and other areas. News continues to pour in and assessments are currently under way. Episcopal Relief & Development is responding with funds to address immediate needs of vulnerable families.

The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas has been impacted by evacuated populations. Twenty-one of their institutions are functioning as Red Cross shelters and network of more than two hundred volunteers will maintain the shelters for as long as they are needed. These churches offered meal programs and relief supplies including tarps and water.

“Episcopal Relief & Development is communicating with affected dioceses in Western Louisiana, Texas, West Texas and Arkansas and is providing critical assistance as the needs arise,” said Don Cimato of Episcopal Relief & Development. “We are working in coordination with voluntary organizations at state and national levels with the goal of preventing the duplication of services.”

Reports from the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana suggest that the damage caused by Hurricane Ike is significantly worse than Hurricane Rita. Clergy and parishioners have had their homes flooded. The Lake Charles and Sulphur region was drastically impacted and continues to be threatened by water surges.

“We are prepared to provide food, water, medicine, shelter and other basic supplies as well as long-term rebuilding in the aftermath of the destructive hurricane season,” continued Cimato. “Please continue to support and pray for the people affected by Hurricane Ike.”
An Episcopal Church News Service article is online here: Texas dioceses respond to Hurricane Ike. You may donate to the relief effort through Episcopal Relief and Development online here: Hurricane Ike Disaster Response and select for the money to go to Ike Relief.


Diocese of Texas Bishop Don Wimberly updating his Diocese

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9/16/2008

Does God Wear a Cross?

This theological question comes from the Rev. Tay Moss of Church of the Messiah in the heart of Toronto. His congregation just saw the completion an amazing mural project in a children's chapel that turned this wall:


Into this:

It's their artist's conception of a way to interpret medieval art like the Sistine Chapel into a child-friendly space. The one above is the Kingdom of God in Heaven. The opposite wall shows the Kingdom of God on Earth:



More photos of the wonderful space are online here: The mural is finished.

So, now for the theological question. The artist showed God the Father as an old man with white hair and a beard. Then she wondered if he would wear a cross. As Tay wrote,
Susy (the artist) and I are discussing whether this is good or not. She says in "feels right" because she always imagines God and the cross together. Others have suggested that for humans the cross is a symbol of hope but for God is a symbol of suffering. It's a deep question, theologically: what is God's relationship to the cross?
They decided in favor of the cross and so God the father now looks as pictured here. I think there is a theological problem in picturing God the Father or God the Holy Spirit at all, as the Father is not an old man with a beard and the Holy Spirit is not a dove. But when looking at such a wonderful transformation of a space for kids by means of an ambitious art project, I hate to split hairs. But if I were to wax theological on the close up, I would say that having the cross on the neck of God the Father shows the father's love for all of us in a way that seems quite appropriate. What do y'all think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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  • At 9/18/2008 6:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The old white man with a beard is the old standard, but just reinforces the negative aspects of referring to God as "Father". That works if you had a perfect father, but none of us have and really bad father's are out there too. The cross seems fine. The bearded guy wearing it doesn't seem like the best way to picture God. Maybe the ten commandments were right to speak against "graven images".

     
  • At 9/18/2008 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Our FATHER, who art in heaven...??????" Right?

    I like the cross on the children's mural of God. It gets the connection across to the youngsters.

     
  • At 9/20/2008 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A concrete image of a man ("Our father, who art in heaven....") is probably well suited for children -- a concrete image. As they grow older, they'll understand. It is sad that not everyone had a loving father as a child, but God named himself. As children, we didn't have the opportunity to choose our fathers, but as Christians, we can.

     

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9/15/2008

Ministries Fair



Yesterday, we held a Ministries Fair so that various ministries of the church could sign up new participants. If you did not have a chance to take part, but want to get connected to one of the many ministries of the church, just contact the church office and we'll get you hooked up.






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  • At 9/15/2008 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nice photo of your two favorite women. At least I hope they are.

    WT

     

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9/14/2008

The Bridge to Heaven

He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for everyone has need to be forgiven.
the Rev. George Herbert (1593-1633)

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9/13/2008

How often should I forgive?

Real forgiveness is not a purely interpersonal matter,
but it reaches deeply into the relationship of men before God.
—Gerhard von Rad

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Peter asks Jesus, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times." Then he tells a parable of a man forgiven of an enormous debt who is unforgiving to one who owes him much less. Jesus concludes by admonishing his followers to "forgive your brother or sister from your heart."

Katerina Whitley has preached on this parable saying,
The king in the parable acts with magnanimity and compassion. When the slave begs to be forgiven the debt and not to be sold, the king releases him and forgives the whole debt, which is enormous. The problem comes when the man who is forgiven does not have the same grace and compassion toward those who are indebted to him. This parable makes tangible the meaning of the pleading in the Lord’s prayer: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

Like so much else in the life of faith, it is a paradox. God cannot forgive us until we forgive others. Instead of the Creator initiating the act, it is the creature who must make the first move in forgiveness. This is the only obstacle to God’s forgiveness: our own refusal to forgive.

Forgiveness is much more beneficial to the one who forgives than to the one who is forgiven. All of us know that this is not just theory but understand its truth from experience. Jesus told it as a story that fitted the context of his time. Centuries later, human understanding of emotions would assert this in psychology: forgiving, letting go of feelings of revenge and retribution, is a potent healing act.

As individuals, most of us have experienced the great release of being able to forgive. It has nothing to do with sentiment; it is a powerful act of will.
The full text of her sermon is online here: Real Forgiveness

In the archives is the religion column Forgiving means forgetting and other forgiveness myths.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses,
your Heavenly Father will Also forgive you.
—Jesus (Matthew 6:14)

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9/12/2008

The Body of Christ

Dave Walker's Cartoon Church

The truth is that seminary helped me get rid of my "stained glass voice" so that I could be more natural in sermons. But the cartoon above is Dave Walker's view of one aspect of seminary. He has a funny way of looking at clergy gatherings, like this view of a bishop's meeting where they are all vested and jumping in a moon bounce:

Dave Walker's Cartoon Church
I'm sure he would have some humurous idea of what my day will be like today. I am traveling to Statesboro to gather with all the clergy of the diocese for a visit by our Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts-Schori. This is in place of our fall clergy conference.

I used to see these sorts of gatherings as a distraction from what I was trying to do here in Camden County. I would go, but I didn't look forward to these meetings. They were something that was expected, but not particularly enjoyed.

Over the past eight years, I have come to see that what we are doing in Camden County is inextricably linked to what is going on in the 70 other Episcopal Churches in our Diocese of Georgia and beyond to all Anglicans and beyond that to what every Christian church is doing everywhere. We are all doing one thing. But that concept is difficult to get your mind around.

Now I look forward to these meetings and to gathering with local clergy in our Camden Christian Ministerial Alliance and other opportunities to meet with fellow priests and pastors. In these times I get to hear what God is doing in their corners of the Kingdom, which makes the concept of the Body of Christ more real to me.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

For just as the body is one and has many members,
and all of the members of the body,
though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
—I Corinthians 12:12-13a

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  • At 9/12/2008 7:58 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    I thought the first toon was going to make some remark about the white-knuckled grip on the lectern that most people (including myself) adopt. :)

     

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9/11/2008

The things you do for love

Looking down into a tank at twin pumps

A major goal in starting King of Peace eight years ago was that we wanted to become so important to our community that if in ten years we shut our doors, people who had never attended the church would miss us. It's one way of stating that we want to reach out to our community sharing the love that Jesus has shared with us.

This is why a major focus for the church's Mission Vestry (church board) has been to get us moved from a septic system to being on city sewage. This would seem like a small project, but there were political issues, then engineering issues, then funding issues and contractor and subcontractor issues. We are nearly there, thanks to the whole vestry and particularly to Colby Stilson and Bob Shirley, both of whom have stayed on top of this project. So why the fuss? Because we were maxed out. We were over taxing our system and would need to do less, not more, if we didn't make the switch over.

In future years as this ministry expands and grows and is able to do more for Camden County, it will be because of the hard work and dedication of this year's Mission Vestry in making this project happen. In hindsight, it will seem like a no-brainer decision and an easy task, but trust me, this has taken tenacity. I am honored to serve with such a committed group.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

The above ground view

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When Sudden Terror Tears Apart

Worship in St. Paul's ChapelWorship in St. Paul's Episcopal Church at Ground Zero

When sudden terror tears apart
the world we thought was ours,
we find how fragile strength can be,
how limited our powers.

As tower and fortress fall, we watch
with disbelieving stare
and numbly hear the anguished cries
that pierce the ash-filled air.

Yet most of all we are aware
of emptiness and void:
of lives cut short, of structures razed,
of confidence destroyed.

From this abyss of doubt and fear
we grope for words to pray,
and hear our stammering tongues embrace
a timeless Kyrie.

Have mercy, Lord, give strength and peace,
and make our courage great;
restrain our urge to seek revenge,
to turn our hurt to hate.

Help us to know your steadfast love,
your presence near as breath;
rekindle in our hearts the hope
of life that conquers death.


This hymn was written by the Rev. Carl P. Daw, Jr., a prolific Episcopalian hymnwriter, to commemorate the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon September 11. The hymn debuted at the noon eucharist at the Episcopal Church Center, New York City, on September 18. We sang it at King of Peace that following Sunday.

Hymn: Copyright © 2001 Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream IL 60188. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the author. This poem may be reprinted for individual and congregational use with the appropriate copyright information and author credit line. Hope Publishing Co. has waived the usual fee/permission requirements.

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  • At 9/11/2008 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A very powerful verse


    Have mercy, Lord, give strength and peace,
    and make our courage great;
    restrain our urge to seek revenge,
    to turn our hurt to hate.

     

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9/10/2008

Troop 226 leader and scout in the news

Today's Tribune & Georgian tells the story of how one of our Troop 226 Venture Crew leaders and scouts saved a man from drowing. The story by our own Jill Helton Father, son save man from drowning tells of Conn and Nicholas Cole's life-saving outing. They were at Fort Clinch State Park with waters well wipped up by Hurricane Hanna offshore. Nicholas saw the swimmer in distress and his dad used a boogie board to effect a rescue. Jill writes,
Conn Cole was able to fight past the breaking waves, he was pulled out to sea by the rip current just as the swimmer had been. As he approached the man in the water, Conn Cole also was tired from fighting the sea. But he pressed on toward the swimmer, who was now starting to slip under the water.

Conn and Nicholas Cole"I didn't realize how far out he really was until I got out there," he said. "I remember thinking I just hope I can get to him in time."

Nicholas Cole said everyone was relieved to see his dad help the man up onto the board. At that point, they were about 100 yards from the beach.

"We knew Dad had the guy and everything was going to be OK," he said.

By the time his dad hit the surf, he had probably been in the water 25 minutes or more. Conn Cole said the man identified himself as James Bennett and said he had been swimming and enjoying the waves and just got swept out too far from shore.

"The guy was so exhausted he could barely stand [when he finally reached the beach]," Nicholas Cole said.

Bennett's family and friends, who had not realized what had happened until it was over, rushed over to two men. An ambulance arrived several minutes later and Bennett was taken to the Fernandina. Conn Cole said was unable to get any information about Bennett because of medical privacy laws, but the medical staff did tell him that the man was released later that night.

Nicholas Cole said he has a new level of respect for his dad because of his selfless act.

"For him to risk his own safety to do something like that, that's pretty cool," he said. "If we had acted one minute later, I don't think he would have reached him in time."
We give thanks for Nicholas' sharp eyes and Conn's brave action that saved the life of a swimmer.

Tribune & Georgian photo by Alan Nesmith.

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Call Me Hypocritical

convention photo

Pardon me, I think my hypocrisy is showing. I was sent a link to an article in Mother Jones, Jesus Is Magic on the "Fellowship of Christian Magicians, where Scripture-quoting puppets and flaming Bibles win souls for the Lord."

The article begins
As the annual convention of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians kicks off on a hot July afternoon, the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University is awash in displays of irreverent reverence. Ventriloquists converse with Scripture-quoting puppets, unicyclists pedal through the halls, and a man plays "Amazing Grace" on a turkey baster. In the gym, vendors sell mysteriously materializing Communion cups, paper that dissolves in water (perfect for making sins "disappear"), and fire-spouting Bibles ($50 each, they open "with or without flames"). Visitors to the auditorium are greeted by a Noah's ark and Jesus, life-size and complete with cross and crown of thorns, made from balloons by a group of self-described "balloonatics." Outside, preteens wearing gold crosses and short shorts practice high kicks: The five-day event coincides with a gathering of the Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders.
and goes on to say
Gospel magicians are confident that they're following a higher calling, but they worry about how to respect—and illuminate—the line between illusion and bona fide miracles. Nobody wants to be accused of stealing the spotlight from Jesus. Not that He wasn't something of a showman: Turning water into wine, walking on water, producing loaves and fishes to feed the multitude—the Son of Man certainly knew how to bring the wow factor. In his book, What a Fellowship, one of the fcm's founders observes that "the surprise ending in magic is indeed very much like the effect that Jesus's parables had on His audience." The fellowship's Christian Conjurer magazine recently ran a cover article titled "Jesus—Magician or God?"

That's a trick question, of course. For some gospel magicians, the very fact that their powers aren't supernatural is proof that the biblical miracles were real. "I carry tons of equipment in order to do my shows," says André Kole, a famed magician who consults for David Copperfield and has mastered an illusion where he appears to walk on water. "If Jesus was a magician, you'd have to visualize 2,000 years ago Jesus and the disciples walking through the dusty streets of Galilee wearing sandals, with three diesel trucks behind them carrying all their equipment."
I was asked what I thought and what I think is that the message can be lost in the medium. Frank doing the rings in a mullet wig no less, at The PreschoolThe hypocrisy is that I once started an Easter sermon by doing "magic rings" seemingly connecting and disconnecting solid rings of metal as I gave the sermon. I went on to talk about the different between "magic" which involves controlling perceptions and "miracle" which involves trust and letting go of control. My barometer for deciding how an illustration goes is whether the comments on the sermon are about the illustration or about the point being illustrated and I was pleased that Easter to hear comments on the nature of miracles, but received no questions about the rings. That felt successful.

Cleary, I have done something that can be called dabbling in the very thing this convention was designed to promote—Christian magic. But even that term bothers me. So is it just that I trust myself to talk about the difference between slight of hand and miracles. What's wrong with a whole group of folks looking to do what I was doing that Easter? There shouldn't be anything wrong with it and yet, I wonder. I often struggle with that line between making the Gospel come alive on one side, and merely be entertaining on the other. I don't even want to walk that line. I want to open people up to hearing the enduring Word of God with fresh ears, and even to do so in an entertaining way, but without being merely amusing.

And as you read all this, there is a picture of me in clericals and a mullet wig doing magic rings for the kids at King of Peace Episcopal Day School. So who am I to throw stones? As I am way too close to this to make an objective comment on "Christian magic," I need y'all's clarity. What do y'all think about Christian magicians?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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9/09/2008

Over the Edge

I took the Belief.net quiz, Church Quiz: Is Yours on the Cutting Edge. It was hard to put King of Peace into their categories, but their answer is that King of Peace is:
Over the edge. Your church is happening! You like a chuch where the members are young, the decor is minimalist, and the pastor looks like your teenage brother.
Maybe I should have tried their quiz What LOST character are you? instead.

Honestly, I know King of Peace is not "Over the Edge." But to try to live into that rep, I am pasting below the beginnings of a new Intro to King of Peace video. I'll be adding some clips this weekend of people answering "What do you like about King of Peace" during the Ministry Fair between services and at the covered dish following the 10 a.m. service. There it is. We are having a covered dish this Sunday. How over the edge can that be?

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9/08/2008

Babbtisms


Okay, so it's corny. But all plays on words aside, yesterday's baptisms of Charles, Ginger, Andrew and Daniel Babb were quite special. Thanks to Kenn Hodge and Victoria Logue for these photos.





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2 Comments:

  • At 9/08/2008 8:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a great gift to your church family. The "Babbs" are a treasure.

     
  • At 9/08/2008 10:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Phi 4:13

    I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

    Congratulations on your babbtisms.
    All four of you are gifts from God.

     

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9/07/2008

Humility

Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all.
—Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple (1881-1944)

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  • At 9/08/2008 1:56 PM, Anonymous Mark said…

    I enjoy reading your blog. Please answer me, in brief, this one question: I have yet to see evidence sufficient to compel me to believe that Jesus was or is a god. What is the evidence that compels you to believe that he was a god?

     
  • At 9/08/2008 3:04 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    My answer is subjective as it is brief: when I act as if Jesus was and is a God and don't just live as he said to live, but also worship Him and pray in His name, then I see the results in the here and now he promised then. I realize this is not objective proof for the sceptic, but it is my answer in brief.

    A couple of longer answers to this I have written is online here: Faith for the six impossible things before breakfast and Thoroughly Postmodern Paul.

    peace,
    Frank+

     
  • At 9/18/2008 8:51 AM, Anonymous Mark said…

    Frank, thanks for your reply. Why do you say that you "see the results in the here and now he promised then"? What results?

     

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9/06/2008

The Olive Branch




The latest issue of The Olive Branch is now online and in the mail.

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The Power to Care for the Least

The presence of community
does not mean the absence of differences.
—anonymous

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus says,
If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.
Lutheran pastor Deanna Langle wrote a careful reading of this passage for Christian Century that is worth a look as she notes this passage can be used to keep from holding a Christian leader accountable. She writes,
Matthew 18:15-20 is one of many scripture texts that have been used to harm others. These six verses are not meant to be a declaration of power, nor do these verses mean that if two or three people agree on something, then they can ignore others and do whatever they want. These six verses are about listening and account-ability and about a larger vision of God’s kingdom.

If one looks at these verses in the context of chapter 18, one notices the hyperbole Jesus uses in a series of brief teachings. Some of these teachings we choose to take literally, and some we don’t. For example, we don’t drown others for being "stumbling blocks." And we don’t encourage people to pluck out their eyes or cut off body parts because they’ve sinned. And most shepherds would not abandon 99 sheep to go looking for one sheep. Jesus’ exaggerated response to Peter’s question about forgiveness in verse 21 shows that he knows we want forgiveness to be a quick and simple answer although it’s not.
Langle sees throughout Jesus' response the common thread of "The kingdom of God is not concerned with 'who’s the greatest,' Jesus teaches; the kingdom of God is about using power to care for the least and most vulnerable." Her full reflection is worth reading. It's online here: A Careful Read

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