Trunk or Treat
Tonight's Trunk or Treat was a HUGE success with hundreds on hand for the fun over the course of the event. Thanks to the Wills, Gillian and The Preschool teachers and all who put the evening together and thanks to all who came and took part.
Labels: King of Peace event
Dress Up Day at The Preschool
Trunk or Treat
Tonight, Kids can celebrate the Eve of All Saints with us at King of Peace as we will host a safe and fun event on the lawn of the church.
Vehicles are to begin gathering at King of Peace at 4:30 p.m. to set up on the grass is front of the long side of our church for Trunk or Treat. We will begin distributing candy to kids at 6 p.m. and will continue until 7:45 p.m. We will also have train and horse rides for children. The whole community is encouraged to take part. Please invite your friends and neighbors whether they set up to give out candy or just bring their children to enjoy the fun. There is no cost. It's our gift to the community.
The Way to Walk
In the fall of 1988, my wife Victoria and I stood atop Katahdin, the massive mountain which dominates Maine’s lake country. Those last miles to the top of that final mountain of the 2,150-mile Appalachian Trail were hiked in the pre-dawn darkness. When we reached Thoreau Spring, one mile from the northern end of the Appalachian Trail, the top of the mountain was enshrouded in a cloud. We were torn. We had hiked in the darkness to reach the mountaintop at sunrise. We didn’t want to end our hike in a fog. But yet, we did want to keep hiking and not wait out the sunrise below the peak. So we all decided to march on.You may continue reading the column here: The Way to Walk
Our pace quickened in that last mile, we climbed the treeless peak watching as wind blew the cloud apart, shattering the fog over the summit. On we hiked, reaching the rough wood sign marking the end of our quest just before the sun topped the horizon, lighting the peak with a shaft of red light. As the sun continued to rise, the surrounding Maine lake country basked in an amber glow that caused the many ponds below us to sparkle in the sunlight. It was glorious. Words fail to capture the feeling.
Yet, we never would have reached that peak without the miles of hiking in mud. We would not have gotten there without the eight days of straight hard rain in Virginia. We wouldn’t have made it without the trips and falls on the path or any of the other difficulties overcome. It took perseverance to make it to that fall sunrise at trail’s end.
You are on a journey no less demanding heading toward a destination far more glorious. It’s a walk. A long walk. Even a rewarding walk. But a walk.
Walking is a favorite expression in the Old Testament for a relationship with God. We walk in God’s ways. We walk by faith. We walk with God. This idea of walking is such a part of Old Testament thought that Jews call their moral and ethical code “halachah,” which means “the way to walk.”
Walking. It had deep roots in the culture of the Jews. They began as a nomadic people. The essential Jewish statement of history begins, “A wandering Aramean was my father…” Abraham left the home of his father and wandered out into the desert to walk with God.
We find the ongoing theme in scripture that God has little interest in religion. The content of a person’s heart, and the ongoing walk, mattered to God then and now.
God does not want you to come to one big religious moment of making things all better and then get on with the rest of your life as usual. God wants the rest of your life. God wants an ongoing relationship that is more about the journey than the destination. The prophet Micah put it like this, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Labels: religion column
Where the rubber meets the road
Speaking of calling oneself a Christian, Civil Rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer wrote,
If you are not putting that claim to the test, where the rubber meets the road, then it's high time to stop talking about being a Christian. You can pray until you faint, but if you're not gonna get up and do something, God is not gonna put it in your lap.
A week ago, I was in New Orleans meeting with the Network of Ministry Innovators. We are a group of 32 persons in varying places within The Episcopal Church asked to mine our own experiences to try to figure out how the denomination can identify and spread best practices for congregations, with an emphasis on creating new congregations and redeveloping existing, declining churches. I was honored to be a part of the group and to hear the stories of others. I hope that our work, which is still ongoing, will be of benefit to the church.
In brief, we did find some common threads. These included a deeper understanding of how important it is to receive coaching. Or as we came to see it, if professional atheletes have a coach guiding them in every single game, why do we think those in ministry don't need someone from whom they can routinely get input. That outside perspective on what is being done and why is invaluable. We also so how much context of ministry matters to the particular froms that ministry will take. And one more key learning was how important support from the diocesan level is to the success of new initiatives.
We also looked at the nuts and bolts of getting the word out about a church, welcoming newcomers and more. But we all agreed that church's should do what they do as it is the right way to be the Body of Christ and not just something we do to get more people or money.
This is just a thumbnail sketch of what we discovered. Next we will look at the vehicles (websites, books, conferences, etc.) for sharing the best practices as we discover others. We aren't looking for a new thing exactly, as the church has long done many things right even as we drop the ball in some areas. As one participant, Simon Bautista Betances put it, "Innovators point us to the past to show us the way to the future."
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
Teach me to live
Teach me to live, that I may dread—The Rt. Rev. Thomas Ken (1637-1711)
The grave as little as my bed;
Teach me to die, that so I may
Rise glorious at the aweful day.
Stop, Cease, Look
changed my life,
What a burden I thought I was to carry -
a crucifix, as did He.
Love once said to me, "I know a song,
would you like to hear it?"
And laughter came from every brick in the street
and from every pore
in the sky.
After a night of prayer, He
changed my life when
—from Love Poems from God, by Daniel Ladinsky
More than a Feeling
It is this sort of all encompassing law the questioner is asking about, wanting to know what matters most. Jesus replies,
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.This is the Cliff Notes version of the whole Bible. Jesus sums up all of the teachings of scripture saying that we fulfill God's will if we love God and love our neighbor as ourself. We need each other so much that the first thing God pronounced "not good" was loneliness (It is not good for man to be alone).
The love to which we are called is not merely a feeling. Love is an action and we can show loving actions to people we don't even like. Psychologist tell us though that this only works for so long as we get increasingly likely to actually like someone when we do nice things for that person (as long as they are not mean in return for the kindness). In the process, we are drawn closer to God.
Abba Dorotheos used the illustration of mankind being like a wheel. God is the hub, and people are the spokes. The closer we get to God, the closer we get to one another. But put another way, the closer we get to other people, the closer that brings us to God. Finally, there is an anonymous poem that puts it all together:
and the soul I could not see.
I sought my God and God eluded me—
I sought my neighbor and found all three.
Within a Little Palace
The Same Work
Poemen is one of the great saints of the Egyptian desert of the fourth century. He said,
Suppose there are three men living together. One lives a good life in stillness, the second is ill but gives thanks to God, the third serves the needs of others with sincerity. These three men are alike, it is as if they were all doing the same work.For more of the saying of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, visit Wisdom of the Desert, a daily-updated blog of wisdom from the early Christian Church.
Forcing priests to wear robes
Garments such as the cassock and surplice are a form of "power dressing" which reinforce class divisions and prevent the wearer getting the Lord's message across.The article is based on the publication of a report titled "Clergy Robes and Mission Priorities" which seeks to challenge canon laws (church rules) which date back in England to 1604. Atherstone goes on to say,
The existing law, which makes robes obligatory for all, belongs to a bygone world. In the 21st century Anglican ministers must at last be given the freedom to decide their own clothing, in consultation with their congregations, based on their local setting.He also says that "robes can be a form of power dressing—they can reinforce the divisions of a stratified society, where deference to rank and authority is key."
We do have that flexibility in The Episcopal Church. Church of the Spirit (pictured at left), a church I helped plant while in seminary, does not use vestments in worship for their main Sunday service for the very sort of reasons Atherstone points out. I have a friend from seminary, Jimmy Bartz, whose new church start, St. Thad's is an Episcopal Church with a a laid back feel that meets at The Jazz Bakery in Culver City, California. Their website notes,
Sunday mornings at Thad’s are very informal. We wear clothes that we are comfortable in, we play music that we like, we do our best to create a place that people feel welcome and at home.By design, King of Peace is informal, but does have ways of worshipping that seem very formal compared to my Pentecostal upbringing. Yes, the clothes we wear in leading worship are different from our day-to-day wear. That helps show outwardly, what we know inwardly, that we are entering holy space for a holy task. The various vestments are for the various roles in the service. When I am not the celebrant, I don't wear the celebrants vestments or sit in the presider's chair. I see this as more about worshipping decently and in good order than visble signs of an archaic hierarchy.
I know that St. Thad's is entering holy space for a holy time in their own way and I am not knocking their practice, which fits their setting and the group they are hoping to gather as they grow. This means that both King of Peace and St. Thad's are now living into the sort of future Atherstone pictures in the report. We already have the flexibility to tailor the clothes to fit the Church, rather than being straightjacketed by canon law. It does make sense to leave room for church's to select ways of worshipping that feel worshipful to the gathered community. That's my take. What do you think?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
PS: Though I am still away at a meeting in New Orleans, we will have worship tonight at King of Peace. The Rev. John Pearce, who is serving St. Mark's in Woodbine, will be the celebrant and preacher and I bet he'll wear robes. The service is at 6:15 p.m. No Bible study follows this week, we will pick up with Mark 13 next Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Oxen in the Stall
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”
Debbie pointed out a thought-provoking blog post from old frienda who note why Christian community is inherently messy making reference to the quote from Proverbs above. Glenn and Phyllis wrote an entry Oxen in the Stall for their blog Kingdom Come!
If our goal in ministry is neat, clean, orderly lives, forget it. Ministry is about living in the mess and understanding that the oxen – the people we have around us – are both the producers of the dirty stall as well as the harvest.They go on to point out that "There are no really good people, the potential for greatness is in us all, but marred by the propensity to sin and fall short, and there are no really good functional families."
I think about this as I work with people. And that’s what I do – and have done all my life – I work with people. Mostly, people with grand ideas but no experience, or money or connections. People with tons of baggage from bad families, from bad relationships, from substance abuse, from people abuse. People who bring loads of poop from other lives, other relationships, other ways of living. These are the folks who mess up the stall.
But these are the people who also will bring in the harvest.
I get tired of using the shovel to work with people to clean the stalls. I grow weak and weary. I’m looking for people who have it all together – cool people with perfect lives! Who don’t need a lot of fix-up. As my friend Larry Nunnally says, “I’m looking for a better class of sinner.” I’m looking for people who are ok when you find them.
The full text of their reflection is online here: Oxen in the Stall. As we really aren't looking for a better class of sinner, the stall will get messy at times. That's OK, as if they started to throw out the really stinky folks, I'd be the first to go and you'd be right behind me, gentle readers. ;-)
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
McCain and Obama: Two Lonely Souls
The heading above caught my eye. It is from a commentary on the most recent debate by the Reverend William McD. Tully, rector of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in New York City. Tully was not judging, but wanting to be pastoral toward two men being pushed past human endurance in the race for the White House. He wrote in part,
We're told they're being handled, coached, and scheduled within an inch of their lives. We know that national campaigns in this media-saturated and blog-infested time demand a superhuman ability to "stay on message" at all costs.The full text of his reflection is online here: Two Lonely Souls.
But I see two men who are not just standard-bearers of their parties. I see two human beings who are who not so managed that they don't have feelings. The images in the debates invite merciless scrutiny. We are sure that we see both masterful acting and honest emotion. And we know those emotions include fear and anger.
Those raw emotions are in the crowds, too. And there have been some sobering reminders in the last ten days of how those inner energies can spill over from legitimate fear and anger to something ugly and even dangerous.
We then demand the candidates "pastor" those crowds and their emotions. But again: who pastors them now that they've had to disavow their own pastors?
...We can't really "do" anything. We can only hope they get soul-guidance and spiritual nourishment they need.
I note that I wrote in last Friday's newspaper that we will need to pray for the winner. Tully is probably right that we need to pray for them both win or lose given the grueling gauntlet they have had to run.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
Network of Ministry Innovators
The Network of Ministry Innovators is a gathering of leaders in our church who are offering creative ministry responses to our changing world. The focus of this gathering is on Evangelism, Congregational Vitality, Church Planting and Church Redevelopment. The objective is to create and develop a network that listens to what is happening both in our world, as well as in the church and responds faithfully to the Spirit’s leading. This networked group of practitioners will share their discoveries and “best practices” with the larger church in the hopes of creating resources and support systems that will nurture a fresh spirit of leadership and vitality. All of this is motivated by a desire to share the good news of God in Jesus Christ with the world at large, to see lives transformed and to birth fresh expressions of ministry.So I will go and listen as we all seek to hear where the Holy Spirit is leading our Church, in the larger denominational sense of that word, and then speak up as I feel led. It is an ambitious schedule of meetings that starts tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. with the last event beginning at 9 p.m. and a similar (sometimes later) schedule for the other days. It will be a time full of meetings, but also of prayer and worship, as we will worship together with The Episcopal Church's Black Ministries Conference meeting at the same time at the same hotel.
I don't know what God has for The Episcopal Church in this meeting, but I am honored to be invited and look forward to getting back together with the few others I already know and meeting the rest of the group tapped by the denomination as innovators in there varying settings. This blog will continue on autopilot with daily posts scheduled to upload each morning at 5 a.m.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
Labels: Episcopal Churches
Practicing vs. Preaching
The Things That Are God's
In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus is tested in the Temple with the question "Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" Jesus famously said, "Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" They answered, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's."
Sarah Dylan Bruer writes on this passage saying,
So what in this world is God's?Her full reflection is online here: What belongs to God is everything
Our reading for this Sunday from Isaiah provides some clues. It has God addressing Cyrus, King of Persia, a gentile, as one who is nonetheless called by the God of Israel. In other words, it's not solely the people of Israel who are God's, but everyone to whom God gives life and breath. And God tells this gentile king, that he is providing help "though you do not know me, so that they may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is no one besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the Lord do all these things" (Isaiah 45:4-7). East or west, light or dark, in all circumstances, God is God, and there is none other. Our psalm for this Sunday describes God similarly as Lord of all peoples, of all the earth.
As Psalm 24:1 puts it:
The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it.
It's a claim even more sweeping than some people would have wanted to make as they said that the land of Israel and everything in it belonged to the God of Israel. But as far as it relates to the question Jesus was asked — the question of whether Israelites should pay taxes to Caesar — it boils down to essentially the same thing:
What belongs to God is everything.
And if we really take seriously the claim that God is rightful Lord of the earth and all that is in it, the world and all people in it, over what is Caesar a rightful lord?
Nothing. Squat. Nada.
That is the radical edge and the liberating cry of the claim that "Jesus is Lord"; as I've argued before, it's that when we make that the central fact of our lives, nobody and nothing else gets to make the same claim.
Labels: Gospel reading
The results of the Diocese of Georgia wide survey for the bishop search process are in. 15% of the baptized adults in the diocese took the survey, which is nearly double the typical level of participation in other dioceses. You may click the button above to see the full 33-page report in Adobe PDF format. The primary two areas for defining what the diocese wants in the next bishop are:
7 most important issues/opportunities
The top seven are listed with the percentage of respondants who selected that item.
- Programs for children and youth (66.10%)
- Declining membership (64.10%)
- Recruiting, training, developing, ordaining and retaining priests and deacons (61.20%)
- Programs that minister to the multiple generations present in our congregations (55.90%)
- Programs for college students and young adults (53.10%)
- Improving communications within the Diocese (43.00%)
- Evangelism and outreach with sensitivity to our changing demographics and emerging populations (42.50%)
The top seven are listed with the percentage of respondants who selected that item.
- Possesses sound judgment and wisdom (63.80%)
- Has Integrity (55.90%)
- Deeply spiritual and prayerful (50.10%)
- Commitment to the traditional creeds of the Christian Church (e.g. Nicene Creed). (50.10%)
- Leader (44.00%)
- Strong theological background (42.20%)
- Ability to maintain unity in the church (41.60%)
This is just the top surface of the results. The full survey is online here: Bishop Search Survery Results The next step in the process is that a diocesan profile is being created using the survey results and other information. Nominations will be open on November 15.
Healing Oil on Troubled Waters
I have strong political opinions. I do not express them anywhere but the voting booth. They are heart-felt, prayerfully made choices. Not everyone in my church will agree with me on them and that is fine by me.The full text of the column is online here: Presidential Prophecies Revisited. That's my take on the topic. What do you think?
I don’t keep my political views close to the vest because others might disagree, I do so out of a humility born by the sure and certain knowledge that I can be wrong. I have gotten things wrong before and will again and I don’t want others to confuse my views on an election as God’s views. I reserve my public statements to matters theological, which is broad enough terrain, thank you.
Committed Christians can and will disagree on many things. I mean real, honest-to-goodness, Bible-reading, church-attending followers of Jesus. As this is true, how much more lack of agreement will we find among the many sorts and conditions of people of faith across this country? That’s just considering the faithful.
The question is not can we all agree, because we can’t. The question is can we all work together for the common good.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
Working for Faith
I think the experience of losing your faith, or of having lost it, is an experience that in the long run belongs to faith; or at least it can belong to faith if faith is still valuable to you, and it must be or you would not have written me about this.—Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964)
I don’t know how the kind of faith required of a Christian living in the 20th century can be at all if it is not grounded on this experience that you are having right now of unbelief. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” is the most natural and most human and most agonizing prayer in the gospels, and I think it is the foundation prayer of faith.
A friend once wrote to the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins and asked him to tell him how he could believe. He must have expected a long philosophical answer. Hopkins wrote back, “give alms.” Perhaps he was trying to say that God is to be experienced in Charity (in the sense of love for the divine image in human beings). Don’t get so entangled with intellectual difficulties that you fail to look for God in this way.
Faith is what you have in the absence of knowledge… and that absence doesn’t bother me because I have got, over the years, a sense of the immense sweep of creation, of the evolutionary process in everything, of how incomprehensible God must necessarily be to be the God of heaven and earth. You can’t fit the Almighty into your intellectual categories.
If you want your faith, you have to work for it. It is a gift, but for very few is it a gift given without any demand for time devoted to its cultivation…Even in the life of a Christian, faith rises and falls like the tides of an invisible sea. It’s there, even when he can’t see it or feel it, if he wants it to be there.
Whose year is it?
A man of wisdom once wrote: “Hurry is actually a form of violence exercised upon God’s time in order to make it ‘my time’.” (Donald Nicholl, Holiness.)The full essay is online here: Living in time with the rhythm of the Church’s year
In reordering our lives in moments of turmoil, it may be worth considering the rhythm of a year, rather than just of a day or a month. Imagine the year ahead of you. What comes to mind? When does that year begin? Whose year is it? An intriguing question is how do you make God smile? One answer may be that you tell Him your plans.
No Way to Run a Group
Alan, in his book, points out that Al-Qaeda is almost impossible to stop. This is, in large part, due to the way its message works, and the way the work gets carried out. And he's absolutely right.
So, in the service of national defense, I propose the following, in order to effectively neutralize the movement. Let's get Al-Qaeda to...
1) Complexify the message
Right now, it's so simple, it can pass from one to the next, and be easily grasped by the uneducated, the young—everyone. This is dangerous, because it's highly contagious, and people on the street feel capable of enlisting others in the cause.
2) Construct a less "flat", more hierarchical structure
Currently, small, underground groups can move nimbly and autonomously, complicating efforts to thwart them. A more regimented, stratified approach, where some members are left thinking, "I can't know enough to do anything" would bring the movement to a halt.
3) Foster "expert" culture, and barriers to entry to the expert class
Promote the idea that the message is not only highly complex, but only some can truly understand it. Construct extensive barriers to entry to the presumed expert class. Promote idea that cells lacking a certified member of expert class, it is not equipped to be activated.
4) Focus on knowledge, rather than doing
Complexification and expert-class development will make cells spend immense amounts of time studying the work, even debating theories of the work, rather than doing it. Better yet...
5) Equate STUDYING the work with the work itself
The cells are called to ACT, of course. But if we can convince operatives that the work, itself, is in trying to understand the complexity of the work? They'll be effectively neutered. We need to get them to spend large amounts of time in study, gathering to study, believing they don't know enough, hiring new experts to teach them again and again, and attending teaching events.
They'll actually believe they're doing their work when they attend events held by experts. This will render the cell, and the whole movement, harmless! Convince them that the most radicalized, militant among them are merely called to bring other non-activated members to the cell events.
6) Sabotage cell multiplication
VERY important! Cells that operate under simple principles, with motivated operatives, devoted to multiplication? Very, very dangerous, fast-growing, and pop-culture endangering. We must stop this in its tracks, and this is done in multiple ways:
A) Foster egos and small-time celebrity. By convincing operatives to set up individual fiefdoms, fewer autonomous cells will be activated. Rather, the emphasis will be on building larger individual cells with numerous unactivated members.
B) Make the basic structure highly difficult to replicate. Al-Qaeda cells currently are, by necessity, simply-structured and easily replicated. Propagate idea that for cells to begin, planning, experts and capital must be simultaneously accumulated. Expert motivational speakers will be necessary, plus paid staff with highly specific training and talents. Operatives will see massively "successful" large cells, and attempt to duplicate them, with very limited success because of the huge inputs required. This will greatly inhibit growth.
C) Convince philosophically-aligned, but non-active, members to choose from among most entertaining, high quality, cells that offer services for them. Not only will this engender a harmless, internal focus, it will require IMMENSE amounts of resources and energy.
7) Make operatives really, really busy.
Replace simple, animating mission with lengthy lists, charts, and programs for cell maintanance. Convince them that this institutional maintenance is, actually, the mission, itself.
This will leave them will no actual time for conducting actual mission.
8) Get Al-Qaeda to seek governmental approval.
Offer tax incentives if necessary. The larger cells, requiring large edifices, will also require tremendous amounts of capital. This will also allow a measure of control, to threaten the cell's tax status, thereby threatening funds for internal programs, when necessary.
Better: They'll consider actual operational cells that exist without this governmental approval to be, themselves, invalid!
9) Co-opt Al-Qaeda with the larger culture.
Once members are convinced that cell maintenance and study are actually their "mission", the rest of their lives can be harmlessly integrated with the culture at large. They'll be indistinguishable from non-members, and, because of their new understanding of "mission", effectively equivalent to non-members.
10) Convince members to wear Al-Qaeda t-shirts with funny sayings and stuff.
It'll work to thwart an evil message. It even works with the good ones.
An Update from the Congo
The short version is that:
Bishop Henri Isingoma and a group of Anglicans from the Diocese of Boga have arrived safely in Bunia after a recent upsurge in rebel activity forced them to travel for two days through the bush in eastern Congo.and
About 40 families are temporarily living in church buildings in Bunia. United Nations peacekeepers have been stationed around Bunia to quell the violence but tensions remain high as government troops clash with rebels in neighboring regions only six miles away from the Bunia. As the threat of attack persists outside of the town, displaced people are continuing to seek shelter in Bunia churches. It remains unclear when the rebel groups will disperse and allow the families to return home securely. ERD is providing funds for the churches to feed and shelter the refugees until they can safely relocate.
Ready for Take Off (or Worship)
A pre-flight announcement from the All Are Welcome Church.
Clothed in Love
piece of clothing you must wear is love.
Love is what binds us all together
in perfect harmony.
In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus tells a diconcerting parable about a wedding banquet. The invited guests refuse to come. The invitation is repeated and refused once more. Finally, the king who is the host sends out his servants saying, "The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet."
So far so good, but then the king sees someone at the feast not in proper wedding robes and tells the attendants, "Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
I've spent more time on this passage than I might usually in that I was asked to write a sermon for this Sunday for The Episcopal Church's wesbite to be used by those who don't have a preacher this week. A lay person can read my sermon to fill in for a trained priest. So about six weeks ago I prayed and studied on this reading and then wrote a sermon and the passage has remained with me. I'll present my take tomorrow. For now, I offer the words of Augustine of Hippo, the fifth centruy giant of the Christian faith who wrote about this parable identifying the wedding robe as love:
Whatever can this wedding garment be, then? For an answer we must go to the Apostle, who says: The purpose of our command is to arouse the love that springs from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith.peace,
There is your wedding garment. It is not love of just any kind. Many people of bad conscience appear to love one another, but you will not find in them the love that springs from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith. Only that kind of love is the wedding garment.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, says the Apostle, but have no love, I am nothing but a booming gong or a clashing cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, if I have all knowledge and understand all mysteries, if I have faith strong enough to move mountains, but have no love, I am nothing.
In other words, even with all these gifts I am nothing without Christ. Does that mean that prophecy has no value and that knowledge of mysteries is worthless?
No, they are not worthless but I am, if I possess them but have no love. But can the lack of one good thing rob so many others of their value? Yes, without love my confession of the name of Christ even by shedding my blood or offering my body to be burnt will avail me nothing, for I may do this out of a desire for glory.
That such things can be endured for the sake of empty show without any real love for God the Apostle also declares. Listen to him: If I give away all I have to the poor, if I hand over my body to be burnt, but have no love, it will avail me nothing. So this is what the wedding garment is.
Examine yourselves to see whether you possess it. If you do, your place at the Lord's table is secure.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
Labels: Gospel reading