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.

1/31/2009

One with Authority

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, Mark tells us,
Jesus and his disciples went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
United Methodist pastor Tom Steagald of Stanley, North Carolina put it this way in writing Sensing Jesus' authority:
I was delighted to find something I'd never noticed before in today's gospel. The synagogue goers in Capernaum express amazement after Jesus silences the unclean spirit: "What is this? A new teaching—with authority!" But these folks were already amazed before the miracle, because Jesus taught them in a way that demonstrated his authority. The exorcism proves his authority, proves that he is not like the scribes who teach through case law and precedent.

It's as if the people in the synagogue sense Jesus' authority before they see it—and this applies even to the demons, who acknowledge his power before they experience it. This is a theme throughout Mark: the world and everything in it is possessed of a kind of spiritual intuition related to Jesus and his ministry, one that leads to or proceeds from amazement.

Whether the demons or the people correctly construe Jesus' power or interpret his intent is another matter, a relevant one throughout Mark. Still, the readiness of some to hear and obey (to follow, to bring their loved ones to Jesus, to intercede for their suffering neighbors) and the resistance and retrenchment of others (demons, swineherds, religious leaders) indicate a sense of who Jesus is prior to actual experience. This intuition seems to shape the moment of encounter and its consequence.

The synagogue goers' familiar benediction is also striking because Jesus doesn't really offer any new teaching in this passage. We know from Luke 4—and from earlier in Mark—that Jesus is teaching and preaching the kingdom of God, and that his emphasis is different from John's: while the baptizer preaches repentance to prepare for the coming kingdom, Jesus preaches the kingdom come as the occasion for and source of repentance. But the Old Testament writers also envisioned God's reign as a promised reality.

It is Jesus' authority that makes the teaching seem new. Authority is not the same thing as power. In the New Testament, power has an almost universally negative connotation, and it can be conferred, grasped or wielded because it remains external.

Authority, on the other hand, is internal—or, given that the Greek word for authority means "out of (one's) essence"—essential. Whatever Jesus does is a demonstration, not of external power, but of his inner life and essence. Then and now, many religious authorities trade mostly in the external power granted by position, and are eager to maintain that power. But Jesus trades in authority, which he is willing to relinquish for the sake of others.

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7 Comments:

  • At 1/31/2009 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Father Frank,

    your authority makes me want to fallow the lord but my husbands power makes me follow him. What am I supose to do then? I have one pulling me towered Jesus and one pulling me toward... Well I don't konw what.

    What do I do? He hates my church because I love it what then???

     
  • At 1/31/2009 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If I can't be myself for who I'm suposed to be, how can I see who God want's me to be.


    I guess i just got lost being someone else,
    I tried to kill the pain
    But nothing ever helped
    I left myself behind
    Somewhere along the way
    Hoping to come back around
    and find myself some day

    Lately I'm so tired of waiting for you
    To say that it's OK, tell me please
    Would you one time,
    Let Me Be Myself
    So i can shine,
    with my own light
    Let Me Be Myself

    Would you Let Me Be Myself
    Coz I'll never find my heart
    Behind someone else
    I'll never see the light of day
    Living in this cell
    It's time to make my way
    Into the world i knew
    And take back all of these times
    That I gave in to you

    Lately I'm so tired of waiting for you
    To say that it's OK, tell me please
    Would you one time,
    Let Me Be Myself
    So i can shine,
    with my own light
    Let Me Be Myself,
    For a while
    If you don't mind,
    Let Me Be Myself
    So i can shine,
    with my own light
    Let Me Be Myself

    That's all i ever wanted from this world
    Was to let me be me..

    Please, would you one time,
    Let Me Be Myself
    So i can shine,
    with my own light
    Let Me Be Myself
    Please, would you one time,
    Let Me Be Myself
    So i can shine,
    with my own light
    Let Me Be Myself,
    For a while

    If you don't mind,
    Let Me Be Myself
    So i can shine,
    with my own light
    Let Me Be Myself

    (3 doors down)Let me be myself

     
  • At 1/31/2009 8:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Anonymous,

    With whom will you ultimately be spending eternity? Do you follow your husband because he "hates" or do you follow God because He loves?

    The choice is yours.

     
  • At 2/01/2009 6:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I know the choice that I will make. I am at this moment following God as closely as possible. My husband will always be the same but I will not.

    Thank you.

     
  • At 2/01/2009 8:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You are so very welcome. Your husband can never take God from you! Ever!!!!!

     
  • At 2/01/2009 11:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Anonymous,

    Sometimes I just loose track of who I am and what I am working toward, I feel like I'm loosing ground, loosing the battle. I'm not able to find MY way in this search.

    Thanks for reminding me that I'm not lost as long as I keep my eyes on the lord, To keep following what I know to be good and true.

     
  • At 2/03/2009 12:08 AM, Blogger averagecandy said…

    For now, follow God's path. As you follow his, yours will become all the more clear. :) :) :) In the meantime, if you need someone to talk to, find me. I've been where you are. I'm usually wearing something with skulls on it.

     

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1/30/2009

God's Friend

"The one thing truly worthwhile
is becoming God's friend."
St. Gregory of Nyssa (c.335-c.395)

The Very Rev. William Willoughby III offers the following reflection on how our relationship with God should show in our lives in the bulletin of the church he serves, St. Paul the Apostle in Savannah:
Isaiah gives another perspective from which to consider our relationship with God. The Prophet speaks of God as our spouse. We hear that God's relationship to us is like a groom to a bride. God's love for us is so intense; God's delight in us is so complete, that the only metaphor that works for the prophet is that of a newly married couple. Daring imagery! It worked for the early church; it was an image that completely described the relationship which they discovered in coming to terms with the experience of Jesus' Resurrection. The New Testament is full of allusions that speak of Christ as the bridegroom and the Church as His bride. Too often in our fear of other and self we forget that God's love for us is so powerful that it is God's love which is driving the recreation of the Cosmos and that it is God's desire to rejoice over us and our place in God's vision.

A wedding at King of PeaceThe intimacy of this relationship proclaimed by Isaiah and revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ demands a public expression. It is my experience that the best marriages are those in which the spouses are first and foremost friends. Friendship by its very nature can not be secret, yet the belief persists in our culture that one can be a secret friend of God. Too many of God's children fail to participate in the relationship that is ours through Jesus Christ in a way that gives any indication of God's life giving nature. Too often the worship, fellowship and witness of the Body of Christ becomes a means of refueling or private encouragement that seems to fade into the background when examined or confronted with the greater context of life.

Friendship with Jesus is costly; both inside and outside the community we call Church. It demands that we walk unashamedly with our Lord through hostile territory and beyond. It means standing with friends in time of need and sharing their pain. It means learning the vocabulary of faith, hope and love so that we can speak with our hearts in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, which most assuredly comes through unruly relationships. Isaiah's vision, which was so heartily embraced by the early Church, can enable us to celebrate God's desire to rejoice over all of us and be a friend in foul as well as fair weather.

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1/29/2009

What "God" Means

James B. Janknegt's Crucifixion at Barton Creek MallMy proposal is not that we understand what the word ‘god’ means and manage somehow to fit Jesus into that. Instead, I suggest that we think historically about a young Jew, possessed of a desperately risky, indeed apparently crazy, vocation, riding into Jerusalem in tears, denouncing the Temple, and dying on a Roman cross—and that we take our courage in both hands and allow our meaning for the word ‘god’ to be recentered around that point.
The Rt. Rev. N.T. Wright (1948- )

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1/28/2009

Cornering the God Market


In the days of my youth, the assumption was that everyone was Christian. Yes, we knew that some people were Jewish and we were vaguely aware that some folks somewhere were adherants of miscellaneous faith traditions. But, if you were American, you were Christian.

The End of Automatic Faith
A new survey by the Barna Group Christianity Is No Longer Americans’ Default Faith says this has changed. The Group's website summarizes the findings as follows:
The survey shows half of Americans believe the Christian faith no longer has a lock on people’s hearts. Overall, 50% of the adults interviewed agreed that Christianity is no longer the faith that Americans automatically accept as their personal faith, while just 44% disagreed and 6% were not sure.

Two-thirds of evangelical Christians (64%) and three out of every five Hispanics (60%) embraced that position, making them the groups most convinced of the shift in America’s default faith. The study also showed that residents of the Northeast and West were much more likely than those from the South and Midwest to assert that Christianity has lost its place as the first faith option people consider. People who said they are politically conservative, however, saw things differently than did the rest of the country: a slight majority of conservatives claimed that Christianity remains the natural choice of most Americans.
Cafeteria Plan Beliefs
The same survey also found that "By a three to one margin (71% to 26%) adults noted that they are personally more likely to develop their own set of religious beliefs than to accept a comprehensive set of beliefs taught by a particular church." This differs dramatically from a few generations back when one's church provided a moral framework generally accepted as is. The survey findings also stated:
Faith, of whatever variety, is increasingly viral rather than pedagogical. With people spending less time reading the Bible, and becoming less engaged in activities that deepen their biblical literacy, faith views are more often adopted on the basis of dialogue, self-reflection, and observation than teaching. Feelings and emotions now play a significant role in the development of people’s faith views - in many cases, much more significant than information-based exercises such as listening to preaching and participating in Bible study.
Critical Thinking Encouraged
On the one hand, I am quite pleased at the level of individual thinking verse group thinking the survey reveals. We should each decide how to assimilate our faith into our daily lives. Critical thinking about what we are told is a good idea and one I highly encourage.

As one involved in preaching and teaching, I also love the idea that people do things to learn more about their faith so that when they reflect individually on their beliefs they have more data for that reflection. Too often, we rely on what we think the Bible says or were told it says, when it is a better idea to read and reflect with others and then to reflect on your own.

I am fine with not being able to count on having a corner on the God market. I don't mind at all that folks are thinking for themselves about issues of faith and belief. I find this positive. I also hope we find ways to study more and deepen our understanding of the faith that is in us.

Living into the Answers
The church has much to teach and it isn't always what you expect. Christian education in sermons, in Bible studies and other settings provides you with more grist for the mill, so that your personal thoughts and feelings are based on more solid knowledge instead of what you remember from Bible story books as a child. You will find not a pre-packaged set of answers ready for you to swallow whole, but some profound questions and more information on how Christians through the centuries have thought, prayed and lived into the answers.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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1/27/2009

Surprised in Heaven

We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven.
God has a soft spot for sinners.
His standards are quite low.

Desmund Tutu (1931- )

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1/26/2009

Solid Faith

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1/25/2009

Music


Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.
—Martin Luther (1483-1546)

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1/24/2009

Fishing for People

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, Mark tells of Jesus calling four fishermen,
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
We will sing Hymn 661 in our worship, though we will do so to the easier tune of Amazing Grace rather than the one in the hymnal. The text goes:
They cast their nets in Galilee,
just off the hills of brown;
Such happy, simple fisherfolk,
before the Lord came down.

Contented, peaceful fishermen,
before they ever knew
The peace of God that filled their hearts brimful,
and broke them too.

Young John who trimmed the flapping sail,
homeless in Patmos died.
Peter, who hauled the teeming net,
head-down was crucified.

The peace of God, it is no peace,
but strife closed in the sod;
Yet, brothers, pray for but one thing—
the marvelous peace of God."
I have preached on this scripture passage together with this hymn before saying in part,
That hymn, They Cast Their Nets in Galilee was written by the Mississippi poet/planter/lawyer, William Alexander Percy. Percy knew a thing or two about unrest. As the First World War raged in Europe, he worked for the Commission for Relief in Belgium, which sought to feed the starving millions cut off from food supplies by the war. When America entered the war, he served in the infantry and rose to the rank of Captain, earning the French Croix de Guerre and a silver star in the process. Percy returned to Mississippi and joined his father, a U.S. Senator in opposing the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in their own town of Greenville. It was during this time that he wrote the poem “His Peace” which gives the text for our Gospel hymn. The war hero Will Percy, who had fancied himself as an idealist, was dismissed as nothing more than a sissy. In the process Percy saw his share of strife closed in the sod.

He Qui's painting of the sceneFor Simon and Andrew, James and John, that strife lies ahead of them. The fishermen’s nets were full—if not literally, at least figuratively—when Jesus called the men. Simon and Andrew, James and John did follow Jesus because fishing was not working out for them. All four were assured a decent living if they remained as fishermen. They left their nets to follow Jesus in search of something more.

They did, of course, find much more. It must have been a wild ride to travel with Jesus from the shores of Lake Galilee that day to be present for most every significant event in his ministry. The amazing teaching, the astounding miracles, and standing up to the powerful on behalf of the oppressed. Those four fishermen got everything they bargained for and more. In the words of our hymn, the peace of God filled their hearts “brimful and broke them too.” Jesus’ followers died to everything they had been or wanted to be in order to be born anew as apostles—the ones Jesus sent out into the world with the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

Following Jesus’ resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the disciples set out to turn the world upside down.
The full text of that sermon is online here: Hope for Fishy People

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  • At 2/07/2010 1:21 PM, Blogger Joseph P. Mathews, OSL said…

    I love "They Cast Their Nets in Galilee"! A friend of mine just posted the second verse on his Facebook and I'm partial to the last so I replied using the text you provided.

     

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1/23/2009

But If Not


In today's religion column for the Tribune & Georgian I reflect on the miracle of flight 1549, by looking at the miracle of the little boats of Dunkirk in 1940 when the three words "But If Not" launched a massive evacuation effort. The article is online here: But If Not. It begins:
“But if not.” These three words were the sum total of the communiqué sent from the British Expeditionary Forces facing a rising tide of German forces threatening their annihilation while at their backs lay the North Sea. In May 1940, these three words galvanized Britain into action sending a ragtag fleet of boats into harms way to effect a miraculous rescue.

More than 345,000 English and French soldiers lined the beach at Dunkirk. The flat sandy beach was 400 feet wide at low tide and half that in high tide. The gentle slope of the shore made it impossible for many of the British Navy’s ships to get in close enough to bring the stranded soldiers to safety.

A well-placed combined French/English attack had caused the Germans to think the force larger and better able to effect a defense than they were. This led to some regrouping and a small opportunity for evacuation. The first day of the evacuation, a mere 7,000 men were taken to safety.

It was clear that it would take a miracle to get the remaining 338,000 soldiers off that beach in time given the ships at the disposal of the Royal Navy. Then came the three words, “But if not.”

The three word message spoke deeply to a nation with a strong shared tradition of biblical literacy. The words were from the King James Bible’s translation of Daniel 3:18. Three young men—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—had refused to bow down and worship an image of gold that the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, had set up. As Jews, they worshipped God alone and would not do as ordered by the king even though they were told that if they remained stubborn, they would be burned alive in a furnace.

The three men told the king, “If it be so, our God, whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

With this story in their national memory, the words from Dunkirk resonated deeply with a clear message. The troops trusted that they would be rescued miraculously from the beach somehow, but if not, they would never bow before Hitler’s armies. They would die in honor on the beach before they would disgrace their nations with surrender.

The three words hit home. A ragtag flotilla of fishing boats, yachts and other merchant ships and pleasure craft took to the sea piloting straight into harms way counting on being the miracle for which the men with their backs to the sea were praying. A total of 860 little ships brought the miracle evacuation snatching men shoulder deep in the frigid sea to the safety of larger ships waiting further off shore.
The full article continues here: But If Not

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1 Comments:

  • At 1/23/2009 6:35 AM, Anonymous kelly said…

    Great article, and so very true! With Joe's situation, I suffer from the "what ifs". They usually hit around 1-3am and batter my brain for the rest of the morning. But,I know I can't have the "what ifs" going on all day. So, by the time I've had enough, I'm pleading to God to save me from drowning in these fears and to take control of them for me. Shortly thereafter, I can focus a bit . Within a few hours of arriving at the hospital, God will send somebody with a solution, or a means to a solution. It may not be the easiest solution, but usually, it's a great place to get started and stay on track!

    So, I do know that God is there and working miracles everyday for our family through others! It is just like He's sending out those small boats one at a time!

     

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1/22/2009

The Existence of God


It is as impossible for man to demonstrate the existence of God as it would be for even Sherlock Holmes to demonstrate the existence of Arthur Conan Doyle.
—The Rev. Frederick Buechner (1926- )

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2 Comments:

  • At 1/22/2009 7:46 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    I know there is a God. Every animal with a finger has a finger-sized nostril. That's just funny. (That shows creative and humourous design.)

     
  • At 1/22/2009 9:13 AM, Anonymous Kelly said…

    And, it fits your own finger! So, don't ask your friends to pick your nose, unless the finger fits, of course! :) Ewwwwwwww!

     

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1/21/2009

Words Fail

On December 28, 2008, Meredith Wagner was baptized at King of Peace and marked as Christ's own forever. This past weekend at the age of six months, she died peacefully, but unexpectedly in her sleep. Last night we held a memorial service at Allison Memorial Chapel.

The sermon is now online here: Words Fail. The gist of it is not to listen to the words people say in times of tragedy in order to make you feel better, but turn down the volume and listen to how the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart.

Please pray for the Wagner Family who faces such a tough road toward healing. They are good people in the midst of a very tough time:
Merciful God, you grant to children an abundant entrance into your kingdom, in your compassion, comfort those who mourn for Meredith, and grant us grace to conform our lives to her innocence and faith, that at length, united with her, we may stand in your presence in the fullness of joy; for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen

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  • At 1/21/2009 9:58 PM, Blogger Tom Sramek, Jr. said…

    Wow. I've walked with a family through the unexpected death of their six year old. I can't imagine doing it for a six MONTH old. Prayers for all concerned, including you!

     

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The Diocese of Georgia


View Larger Map

The map above is an interactive one through Google Maps linking to the churches of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, which as you can see, covers the lower 2/3s of the state. The Diocese of Atlanta covers the remainder of the state.

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1/20/2009

Transition of Power

Inauguration Day is something wonderful that we take for granted. Yet in much of the world, a bloodless transition of power seems like a pipe dream at best. Today two men with differing views on how to solve the problems faced by our nation will participate together in an orderly turn over of executive power. For the light this long scheduled, orderly change of president shines in places of injustice, I give thanks.

The following is from the Book of Common Prayer, page 820:
O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

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  • At 1/20/2009 7:56 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    May God bless America. Amen

     
  • At 1/20/2009 8:53 AM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Today is truly an historic day in the history of our nation. I hope President Obama is up the myriad challenges facing him. I suspect, like with all great men, these troubled times will bring out the best in him.

    Like it or not he will be our president for the next four years and he really needs our prayers.

     
  • At 1/22/2009 2:22 PM, Blogger All Saints Episcopal Church said…

    presidentialprayerteam.org

     

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1/19/2009

No Neutrality in Injustice


If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
Desmund Tutu (1931- )

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1/18/2009

Finding Christ


Anyone who is to find Christ must first find the church. How could anyone know where Christ is and what faith is in him unless he knew where his believers are?
—Martin Luther (1483-1546)

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1/17/2009

Come and see

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, we will hear the call of Philip, who then called Nathanael:
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."
It is a very quick move from Philip being called by Jesus to his inviting Nathanael. This is our task to. First, we follow Jesus and then we invite others to come and see. Here's an interesting story of invitation from Rumors:
A three-wheeled philosopher
From “The Spirituality of Grandparenting,” by Ralph Milton
Northstone, 2008, available at www.woodlakebooks.com

Bev and I were staying at Redeemer College in Hamilton, Ontario a number of years ago. It was a beautiful day and I was sitting on a chair out on the lawn, reading. I had just decided to retire from my work as publisher, but the decision raised a batch of unnamed anxieties.

Along the sidewalk came a girl on a tricycle – about six years old was my guess. We smiled at each other. Then she stopped, gave me a most intense look and asked, “Are you old?”

I’m usually quite quick off the lip, but the child’s question stopped me cold. She waited. Maybe she knew she had asked a profoundly disturbing question. Eventually, I responded. “Yes. Yes, I am.”

Then she said, “Will you play with me?”

Were the two questions connected in her mind? They were in mine. They said to me, “If you are old, I will trust you.” For her, none of the bad jokes they throw at people on their birthdays, just: “Will you play with me?” And I wanted so much to do just that, to hear more from this three-wheeled philosopher, to learn from her wisdom and to delight in the joy of her life.

But we lived in a real world, my little friend and I. So I had to say, “I would really like to play with you, but first you need to go and talk to your mom or your dad, and if one of them comes here and tells me it’s OK, then we can play.”

“My dad doesn’t live with me anymore,” she said very soberly. “I’ll ask my mom.”

She didn’t return. But she had left her gift with me.

She had changed me from a man, fearful of retirement, angry at his age with its limitations and necessities, to a man delighting in his age and its possibilities – transfigured by the candid, open, affirming trust of a child.

“Yes, I am old. And yes, I would really like to come and play with you.”

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1/16/2009

Made Whole, Made Clean

Forgiveness is the answer to the child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again.
Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961)

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  • At 1/17/2009 10:21 PM, Anonymous Kelly said…

    We're working on it! We've never been in this position, where it's sooooooo hard to forgive.

    Y'all please pray for the woman and the family that hit Joe.

     

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1/15/2009

Hope in Crisis


Mohan'nad, a nine-year-old boy whose leg was saved
by the doctors and staff at Al Ahli Arab Hospital.

I wish I had something profound to say about the current crisis gripping Gaza for 19 days now. But pointing out that Hamas started the crisis with their rocket fire, misses the abuses that preceeded those attacks. Then you could move back in a line of tit for tat abuses in which a world of hurt has been done among some Palestinians and some Israelis, and even by Palestinian governmental groups and the nation of Israel.

But no matter where you point, or how one tries to bring clarity to the issue, it is difficult to convey all the facts and present all the sides of the multi-faceted problems. Each side has been victimized. Each side has used brutal acts in a cause it considers just.

Hamas looks from here like a terrorist group, rather than a legitimate political party. And from here, recent Israeli actions seem out of proportion and leading to more civilian deaths than called for even giving the Hamas technique of hiding arms in heavily populated areas.

I understand why Israel would want to protect its citizens from rocket attacks. I also understand how the current campaign that has left 1,000 Palestinians dead and another 4,000 wounded while only killing 13 Israelis will complicate peace efforts. New wounds keep being made and old wounds broken open. All this makes the healing hoped for in a two-state solution to seem so distant.

But all of that is the view from afar. I can not imagine the pain and loss this has caused close up. So while we pray for a solution, I will opt not for the profound, but for the hopeful. An Episcopal News Service article tells of the Episcopal Hospital in Gaza—Al Ahli Arab Hospital brings hope to Palestinians amid Gaza crisis. The 3,000 Christians in Gaza are a minority, but they are present and the hospital is vital to Gaza. As the article points out, "The hospital's location in the very heart of Gaza City is now placing added responsibility on its work, which is being carried out so bravely and selflessly by the hospital staff."

Hospital Director Suhaila Tarazi says, "This is a place of love and reconciliation" as Christians and Muslims work together for healing. She adds, "We are all children of Abraham working in mission to help one another."

The bright spot is not merely that there is a hospital tending to wounded in Gaza, but that a Christian hospital is there working toward healing in the midst of immense suffering among a majority Muslim population. I pray that a cease fire will occur and that negotiations can move toward a lasting peace in which true reconciliation is possible. It seems like such a longshot, but then I look to a Christian Hospital in a Muslim battleground and I see it as a glimmer of hope.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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1/14/2009

Torture Is a Moral Issue


An Episcopal Life Online article, 'Reject practice of torture,' religious leaders tell President-elect Obama, tells of a broad coalition of leaders calling on the new president "to restore our nation's moral standing in the world by rejecting the practice of torture."

The campaign is being spearheaded by a group calling itself the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. The 34 signatories to the statement sent to the President Elect include The Episcopal Church and an array of Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups within the U.S. accounting for the majority of worshippers each week. The NRCAT website includes online resources like the one created by the Roman Catholic Church called Torture is a Moral Issue.

I have watched enough seasons of 24 to know that Jack Bauer can't get through a single day of saving our nation from certain annihilation without torturing at least one person every other hour. But one person's torture is another person's "enhanced interrogation technique." The Catholic booklet linked above compiles the following on how torture is defined internationally:
For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions....no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

The International Red Cross defines torture as “existence of a specific purpose plus intentional infliction of severe suffering or pain.”

Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions prohibits that prisoners of war be subjected to “violence to life and person, in particular … mutilation, cruel treatment and torture, . . .outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.”
There are many intelligence professionals who insist torture doesn't work anyway as a person in extreme stress will say anything to stop the pain. See the officials quoted in the Washington Post Column The Torture Myth or the MSNBC article Does Torture really Work?.

On this issue, I stand by my earlier words. Three years ago I wrote a column for the Tribune & Georgian, Approving torture would kill the soul of U.S. I wrote in response to the flak Senator John Mccain was taking from both sides of the aisle for "an amendment to the bill before the Senate which would make clear policy for all, including foreign held detainees, our current laws banning torture, and ruling out cruel or degrading treatment of prisoners."

In supporting McCain's measure, I wrote,
While some Americans may have committed atrocities in the past, we as a nation have never condoned this. The actions of the few were not committed with the knowledge or consent of the many. But if the McCain Amendment is stripped off the defense bills, or diluted to allow the CIA to be an exception, we will be condoning inhumane treatment, including known torture methods as a viable option.

Even at the strictly practical level, this makes no sense. Rather than giving us crucial information to save lives, when Americans use torture to obtain information, we only justify those who would torture Americans. Our fellow citizens—especially our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines—deserve better.

The state of affairs around the world is bad enough without us creating conditions which could lead to their being further abused by others if captured. When another nation uses torture against our citizens, on what basis will we take a moral stand against their actions if we have already stooped to their level?
I stand by these words calling for us to reject torture by any name as policy for our nation. We must reclaim the high ground rather than finding new depths to which enhanced techniques are allowed to sink as approved methods used in America's name.

That's my take. What do you think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

But if you are willing to listen,
I say, love your enemies.
Do good to those who hate you....
Do for others as you would like them to do for you.
—Jesus in Luke 6:27-31 (New Living Translation)

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  • At 1/14/2009 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Leaving the person being interviewed "no effective choice" but to say what you want him to say is torture and it doesn't work. See the Atlantic article: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/01/a-bushie-says-t.html

     

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1/13/2009

A Little Bit of Good

Do your little bit of good where you are;
its those little bits of good put together
that overwhelm the world.

Desmond Tutu (1931- )

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1/12/2009

Optimism



“No Christian can be a pessimist,
for Christianity is a system of radical optimism.”
—W.R. Inge

I took the How Optimistic Are You? Quiz at Beliefnet. The quiz looked deep into my few answers to its questions and determined that I had just enough right answers to fall into its most optimistic group:
Bright sunshine: Life is great—and it will continue that way! Not only do you tend to find the silver lining in every cloud, you also believe that silver lining will stick around for the long term.
Why am I a bit disappointed? In the question of is the glass half empty or half full, I prefer my father's answer of the engineer who says, "the glass is 50% too large for the present need" which seems more realistic.

Why am I not surprised? Because in any given group and situation, I am always looking for the silver lining. How about you?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity;
an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
—Winston Churchill

“The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns;
the pessimist stares at the thorns,
oblivious to the rose”
—Kahlil Gibran quotes

“If it weren't for the optimist,
the pessimist would never know how happy he wasn't.”
—Anonymous

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1/11/2009

Pleasing God

Click here to go to Daily Desert Wisdom


Somebody asked Antony: "What shall I do in order to please God?" He replied: "Do what I tell you, which is this: wherever you go, keep God in mind; whatever you do, follow the example of holy Scripture; wherever you are, stay there and do not move away in a hurry. If you keep to these guide-lines you will be saved."
The quotation above is one I have lifted from Daily Desert Wisdom, a blog offering "A daily drop of wisdom from the men and women who turned to the desert for spiritual testing and transformation on their journey toward God." Drop in to that blog for thoughts on the spiritual journey from ancient Christians who sought to devote their lives to pleasing God.

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1/10/2009

Filling in the Gaps

May the water of Baptism enliven you;
may the faith of Baptism strengthen you;
may the community of the Baptized support you;
and may Christ who was Baptized for you
keep you in the love of the Father

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, we hear Mark's account of Jesus' baptism in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. John J. Pilch has written of this passage saying,
Mark’s brief account of Jesus’ baptism is an excellent example of Scripture as “high context” literature which omits many important details because the author expects the listeners or readers to know them and fill in the gaps.

In “low context” literature, no details are left out; examples are legal documents such as contracts, loan and credit card agreements, and mortgages.

Mark expected his audience to supply their distinctive cultural understanding of kinship, including paternity.

KINSHIP
Jesus presumably leaves his family and village to come to John for baptism. This movement is very symbolic. In the ancient Mediterranean world, family is one of the central social institutions. Individuals have no identity or meaningful existence apart from the family.

Middle Eastern audiences would not miss the significance of Jesus’ symbolic break with family ties. What will he do now? A person not embedded in a family is as good as dead. Jesus has taken what seems to be a very shameful step away from his family.

BAPTISM
The Baptism of JesusThe circumstances of the baptism of Jesus provide an immediate answer to this startling predicament. A voice emanating from the torn-open heavens declares Jesus to be son of God, beloved of and highly pleasing to the Father.

In the ancient world with its very primitive understanding of reproduction, it was impossible to prove who was the actual father of a child. For this reason, only when a father acknowledged a baby as his own did that boy or girl become a son or daughter.

We know that Joseph, by agreeing to marry Mary who was not pregnant by him, performed precisely this task on behalf of Jesus. Joseph accepted Jesus as his son and embedded him into the family to give him honorable standing and a secure setting in which to live.

Now that Jesus has symbolically left family and village behind, none other than God personally acknowledges him as a beloved and obedient son.

Still, one difficulty remains. Honor is a public proclamation of worth accompanied by a public acknowledgement of that worth. The torn heavens indicate that this is a public event. If not for that fact, Jesus’ experience would be quite personal and, in this society, meaningless.

Yet the text does not mention crowds or other witnesses. Who else hears this statement? Who will acknowledge and confirm this public claim to honorable status for Jesus?

Clearly, Mark expects those who hear and read the Gospel to recognize the eminent source of Jesus’ honor and provide the confirmation required. You and I are expected to recognize Jesus as pleasing son of God.

In the ancient Mediterranean world, Jesus’ true identity was a critically important matter. A son of an artisan from a backwater village has no legitimacy as a public figure (“Where did this man get all this? . . . and they took offense at him” [Mark 6:2-3]). But the legitimacy of the son of God as a public figure is incontestable.

How do American believers “fill in the blanks” of high context passages in the Bible, such as Jesus’ baptism?

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1/09/2009

Compassion

Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.
—The Rev. Frederick Buechner (1926- )

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1/08/2009

My Old Buick and Me

This past Tuesday (the Feast of the Epiphany), Bishop Harry Shipps marked the 25th year of his consecration as a Bishop. He served as the eighth Bishop of Georgia and since his retirement has served as an assisting Bishop in Texas and elsewhere. What follows is a recent reflection of his for the newsletter of St. Paul the Apostle, Savannah:
I have an old Buick. It is a 1993 model with 127,675 miles on the speedometer, and the engine sounds a bit like a coffee grinder. I love my old Buick and I take good care of it. In return, I think it appreciates me and serves me well.

I also have an old body, 1926 year male issue. It has many miles on it. It doesn't hear too well and moves rather slowly these days. I take good care of my body and I think I get good returns, all things considered. What do the old Buick and I have in common? The need for regular maintenance and care, with the full understanding that nonetheless we will wear out someday. Eventually we both will need disposal, as repairs and replacement parts no longer keep us running.

Is there a lesson here? I think so. I must be prepared to give up my old Buick someday. It is inevitable. I also must be prepared to leave this old body someday. But not too soon! The Buick will go to the scrap heap. But I have a higher hope for me, not for my body, as that will be disposed of efficiently. My hope is for the real me, the me that continues on after the body is gone.

What is my hope? We find it in the New Testament. It is a life in union with God, the creator of the cosmos. This God is 'personal,' and is 'love' in the full sense of the word. This God has been revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. We know our hope, even though we cannot imagine the details of a life beyond the created universe, out of time and space.

The care we must give ourselves reaches beyond the body to the real you and me. That care is the practice of the Christian religion to the point "that we live in such a state that we are never afraid to die."

+HW Shipps

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1/07/2009

Your Own Life

Pay mind to your own life, your own health, and wholeness. A bleeding heart is of no help to anyone if it bleeds to death.
—The Rev. Frederick Buechner (1926- )

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1/06/2009

The Final Form of Love

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime,
Therefore, we are saved by hope.

Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense
in any immediate context of history;
Therefore, we are saved by faith.

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone.
Therefore, we are saved by love.

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous
from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own;
Therefore, we are saved by the final form of love,
which is forgiveness.

The Rev. Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

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1/05/2009

Burning of the Greens Video



Here's the YouTube video of last night's festivities. It's not what I had in mind. I cut the whole thing to time out perfectly to the Doors song Light My Fire. But YouTube (rightly) blocked it. Such much for: No time to wallow in the mire...It's time to set the night on fire.

I replaced that soundtrack with two songs written and performed by my brother-in-law, Breck Steele. He's an awesome musician. But I was too lazy to recut the video to match the tunes. So enjoy his words and music alongside the photos and video of last night. Thanks to Kenn and Amber for sharing photos.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Copyright-infringing Pastor

Below is the video that was YouTube's kind solution. They gave us a free soundtrack for the video. you can try that version as well with the same pictures and video and its acoustic take on O Little Town of Bethlehem:

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  • At 1/06/2009 12:12 AM, Anonymous Amber said…

    AWESOME video!!
    It is still very good even though the other song would have been so fitting.
    Thanks for a great night everyone. We are already looking forward to next year.

     

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Economy Down, Church Attendance Flat

An article at BeliefNet.com Poll: No Evidence That Recession Pulls People into Pews says that a recent Gallup Poll found,
Despite anecdotal evidence cited in high-profile media outlets, Americans' worship patterns have held steady in 2008, the Gallup Poll reports. Since mid-February, Gallup said, it has asked 1,000 adults a day how often they attend church, synagogue or mosque.

About 42 percent have said they go weekly or almost weekly, with no increase in September through December, when the recession tightened its hold on the U.S. economy.

Gallup also said there have been no significant change in the percentage of Americans who say they attend church about once a month, seldom, or never.
Gallup has been polling 30,000 people a month to track the data and has found no change.

Why do you think that the tragedy of September 11 packed people into the pews, but a downturn in the economy has had no similar effect?

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1/04/2009

Burning of the Greens


More than 100 people turned out for the Burning of the Greens and our biggest fire ever thanks to about 60 poorly watered Christmas trees.
















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  • At 1/04/2009 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We love the pics of your events. The birthday boy is a cutie.
    Grandparents from MO

     

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Clapping vs. Non Clapping


The low church way to usher.


The high church way todo the weather report


Note:
Our annual Burning of the Greens is tonight. We'll start the low country boil at 5 p.m. The party begins in earnest at 6 p.m. Bring ingredients for low country boil or a covered dish and something to drink. See y'all there!

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  • At 1/04/2009 7:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very funny! What do you mean by low and high church?

     
  • At 1/04/2009 12:56 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Low and High are terms used in describing the formality of a church service. So that a low church Episcopal service can seem quite Methodist while high church churches are referred to as Anglo-Catholic for being a more Roman Catholic leaning church in terms of worship style.

    I have heard the terms applied to Methodist churches
    so that a low church Methodist Church seems Baptist and a high church one is more Episcopal.

    High church would include things that are very King of Peace like our vestments and incense. Low church would include things that are very King of Peace like our simple worship space and our more contemporary music.

    I trust I have confused the issue.

    peace,
    Frank+

     

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1/03/2009

The Journey of the Magi

Frank's photo from IsraelIn tomorrow's Gospel reading the Magi come visit the baby Jesus bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Thanks to the magic of the internet and the folks it brings in, my most popular sermon page at King of Peace's website is a sermon on this passage looking at it through T.S. Eliot's poem, The Journey of the Magi. Gil introduced me to the poem and has twice done a wonderful dramatic recitation of it, which really adds to the Epiphany service.

Eliot's poem tells of the journey the magi made. It begins,
'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For the journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
The full text of the poem is online here: Eliot's The Journey of the Magi.

The sermon looked at the poem through the time in which Eliot wrote it soon after his conversion to Christianity and while working on two other known works which shed light on the poem. The full text of the sermon is online here: The Journey of the Magi, but the gist of it is that the Magi's long journey to find the baby Jesus is an invitation to a spiritual journey of our own. Those of us who think we know all about Jesus may be content to sit still, but God is still calling us to farther horizons.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
King of Peace Episcopal Church

Note:
Tomorrow night we will hold our annual Burning of the Greens. The event starts at 6 p.m. Come enjoy the oyster roast, low country boil and the roaring campfire on the grounds of King of Peace.

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1/02/2009

Whose Kingdom Do You Prefer?


On this Second Sunday after Christmas, there are three options for Gospel reading in the Revised Common Lectionary. At King of Peace, the first of these alternatives will be our Gospel reading for tomorrow. That reading skips a few painful verses and tomorrow we will read those as well, so that the innocent babies of Bethlehem are not forgotten as we recount the story of Mary and Joseph's flight into Egypt to save Jesus from the jealous King Herod.

Katerina Whitley has preached on this Gospel reading saying in part,
Look at the history of the Herods and compare them to the stories of Jesus – the child born to a poor young mother who said yes to God; the child protected by a good man named Joseph who obeyed the words of the messengers of God. Who made a difference in subsequent history and in the hearts of human beings? Who is remembered with love and devotion? Who is worshiped and obeyed? And whose life and death changed the world? Think about Herod and then think about Jesus of Nazareth. Whose kingdom do you prefer?

One bribes the Romans with money taken from the taxes of the poor people of Judea in order to curry favor with the conquerors and hold on to his throne. The other urges his followers to give what they have to the poor while he himself lives as one who has nowhere to lay his head.

Herod uses violence that brings forth more violence; Jesus resists violence by offering peace and forgiveness.

Herod builds palaces and temples to his own glory while Jesus builds the kingdom of God by turning the values of power and wealth upside down.

One lives by injustice, the other by justice.

Herod orders death while Jesus offers life.

Who is the one we long to emulate?

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Patience with yourself


Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew.
—Saint Francis de Sales

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1/01/2009

All Things New



For last year's words belong to last year's language
and next year's words await another voice.
Little Gidding II —T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

The object of a new year is not
that we should have a new year.
It is that we should have a new soul.
—G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

You must display a new nature because you are a new person,
created in God's likeness—righteous, holy, and true.
—Ephesians 4:24

But now is the time to get rid
of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.
Don't lie to each other,
for you have stripped off your old evil nature
and all its wicked deeds.
In its place you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature
that is continually being renewed
as you learn more and more about Christ,
who created this new nature within you.
—Colossians 3:8-10

What this means is that those
who become Christians become new persons.
They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone.
A new life has begun!
All this newness of life is from God,
who brought us back to himself through what Christ did.
And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him.
—II Corinthians 5:17-18

And He who sits on the throne said,
"Behold, I am making all things new."
And He said,
"Write, for these words are faithful and true."
—Revelation 21:5

So let us celebrate the festival,
not by eating the old bread of wickedness and evil,
but by eating the new bread of purity and truth.
—I Corinthians 5:8

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