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.

6/30/2009

To Live With That Text Uncomfortably

“I take it as a method in my biblical studies that if I turn a corner and find myself saying, ‘Well, in that case, that verse is wrong’ that I must have turned a wrong corner somewhere. But this does not mean that I impose what I think is right on to that bit of the Bible. It means, instead, that I am forced to live with that text uncomfortably . . . until suddenly I come round a different corner and that verse makes a lot of sense”
—The Rt. Rev. N.T. Wright in a 1991 article, “How Can the Bible Be Authoritative?”

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6/29/2009

Take a Gun to Church

Pastor Ken Pagano
Pastor Pagano at New Bethel AG

New Bethel Assembly of God Church in Louisville Kentucky hosted an "Open Carry Celebration" this past Saturday inviting folks to bring a gun to church. Packing pistol-toting parishioners into the pews was an act designed to "celebrate our rights as Americans." Those with concealed weapons permits were able to carry loaded guns, while those without the permit could bring unloaded firearms. It was intentionally a separate Saturday event and not a part of their Sunday morning worship.

The pastor, Ken Pagano, is not exactly pushing his gun-toting on other Christians as he notes that "Pacifism is optional for Christians," but also says, "It's not a requirement." But the event was not without ready detractors. A Louisville Courier-Journal article said in part,
"Even if I were perfectly comfortable with open-carry handguns or gun rights, it seems to me a completely whole other thing to connect those rights to Jesus Christ," said the Rev. Jerry Cappel, president of the Kentuckiana Interfaith Community, a coalition of local leaders from various religions.

Tying in the event "with one who explicitly called us to put down the sword and pick up the cross and love our enemies and turn the other cheek, it just makes no sense," he said.

The Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper of Lexington, who has lobbied against laws such as one allowing citizens with permits to carry concealed weapons, said the event "would nauseate Jesus."
But to approach this event from a different perspective, how does it fit within the church's ministry in and to its community? I see that The Pastors Corner at the church's website lists as Goals For 2009: 1. Ministry outside the box 2. Evangelistic focus 3. Time management 4. Creating a culture. I don't know how he's doing on time management, but he's doing well on thinking outside the box and I trust this Assembly of God pastor to have an eye on evangelism through the news media interest this has generated. I'm not sure what was meant by "creating a culture" but this event probably fits that ideal as well.

So, it would be too easy and not a lot of benefit to poke fun at this Open Carry Celebration. I grew up hunting and going to gun ranges, so I am not simply firearm adverse. But I still don't like the idea of loaded weapons coming in to King of Peace. But while I am not prepared to follow suit, I still feel challenged. It reminds me a bit of our school director Gillian pulling off a huge Child Safety Awareness Evening in the wake of a horrible child abduction and murder in nearby Brunswick.

There are ways that fit us that get the community energized and bring them into our church, and hopefully through that connection to get connected with God in a more meaningful way. Rather than throwing stones at one who is not just day dreaming, but pulling off an event, it is probably more productive to be encouraged to act in ways that fit our congregation and community.

That's my take. What do you think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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2 Comments:

  • At 6/29/2009 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Okay, okay, you have discouraged me from poking fun at this event. I do agree this is outside the Box thinking, but I far as my history is concerned, back in rural Texas folks carried firearms with them to church all the time, children of certian age carried a loaded revolver or rifle on their dusty walks to school and church. This was in the 1800s though. The gun in those days meant food for the evening and clothes on your back, and in most cases your life. But really this is a riot, forgive the pun, more power em. And if anybody has to come down hard just remember there are still Churches who dance around with poisonous snakes. A loaded gun and making kissy face to a rattler is about the same in the danger department. But we can beat this blue all day, ooh, maybe next time they can have a skeet shoot instead of mandatory coffee time. Sorry couldnt help it.

     
  • At 9/24/2010 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Okay this is just begging for a religious shootout. Number one-why would you need to bring it in the first place? Sacrificing to God or something? You guys are nuts.

     

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6/28/2009

In Sure and Certain Hope


As the 10 a.m. worship service finished the post communion prayer, we processed out to the Memorial Garden to consecrate the ground and to commit to the earth the mortal remains of Marc Dickman and Barbara Morris, both of whom died earlier and their ashes were awaiting the garden. We gave thanks for the gift Marc and Barbara were to us and committed their remains to God, laying them to rest as the first two burials on our grounds (though Marc had been interred under the gazebo until today when his ashes were moved to be buried as others will under a granite marker).






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  • At 6/29/2009 8:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This was a very powerful moment. I did not know either of the family members. I felt like I have known them for years. I do know that it made me reflect on the ones I have lost and what a moment of peace. I had tears of both sadness and joy as we all sang I'll Fly Away.
    God Bless and Thank you Father Frank all of the peace you do bring to King of Peace.

     

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Titanic Mistake

The Titanic sank, in April of 1912. The next day, the headline of a famous newspaper was devoted entirely and exclusively to the death of the multimillionaire, John Jacob Astor. At the end of the article, the newspaper almost casually mentioned the other 1800 people who died. The other 1800 were not that important. Such is the attitude of the world and many public media, but not God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord is concerned about every single person and no person is lost in the crowd, however unimportant that person may be in the eyes of the world.
—William Barclay

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6/27/2009

Daughter of God

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus has the hem of his cloak touched by a woman as he is en route to the home of a synagogue leader whose daughter is near death. I preached on this passage before in the first person, saying:
Mine was a story destined not to be told. I was the one to die unknown, unremembered, unremarked. Then I got it into my head that all I had to do was reach out and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. Nothing more, nothing less.

Woman with HemorrageI had heard of Jesus. Everyone had by then. He was the healer from Nazareth that had set tongues wagging from the Decapolis to the Negev. I traveled more than most, and heard of Jesus everywhere I went.

I had begun seeking healing with sacrifices offered at the Temple. But as soon as the priests found out what my problem was, I was declared unclean. I was no longer fit to be in God’s presence. I was no longer welcome in the Court of the Women at the Temple in Jerusalem.

Feeling cast out by my God, I turned to everything anyone ever heard of doing. I sought out healers and magicians. I recited incantations in languages I couldn’t understand, to God’s of whom I had never heard. But mostly I sought out the care of physicians, any physician, all physicians. I ate every conceivable combination of herbs. I applied creams and ointments. I did anything they asked and paid everything I had.

As for me, the hemorrhage continued as did my spiraling descent away from others. They don’t tell you how sickness cuts you off from others. Oh get some quick fever that either kills you or leaves you spent but recovering and the family will rally around, but get some slow wasting disease and watch how others gently pull back all contact. No one wants to speak and certainly now one wants to touch you unless the illness should rub off on them. I don’t think it was conscious, but it was predictable. As soon as anyone found out I had been bleeding for five years, seven years, ten years—whatever it was by that point—he or she would pull back, withdraw.

I didn’t realize that being cut off from others was worse than the hemorrhage. But it didn’t matter anyway, because my health problems and I were one. I let my sickness define me and then so did everyone else.

Of course, I did hear of Jesus—everyone did in those days. There was talk of Jesus’ teaching with great authority. There was talk of how he could be the Messiah. Many hoped he would overthrow the Romans so that Jews could once more rule Israel on their own. But for people like me—the real sufferers—there was only one tidbit about Jesus that mattered. Wherever Jesus went, he healed people. Jesus touched the blind, the deaf, the lame and they could see, hear and walk.

I knew I had to get to him, but even that proved a disaster. First, it was hard to pin down where he was. Jesus was always crossing back and forth around the Sea of Galilee and then he traveled down to Jerusalem for the festivals too. It seemed that he was everywhere at once and never where I was. Then I did find him one day and even get close enough to speak, but I lost heart. I couldn’t dare to speak to him. If the stories were true, then I couldn’t risk speaking with him. After all God his Father’s own priests tossed me out of the Temple as unclean. I couldn’t bare for Jesus to reject me too. Where would I turn then?
The full sermon is online here: Daughter of God

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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6/26/2009

Neglecting a Small Thing?

Whoso neglects a thing which he suspects he ought to do, because it seems to him too small a thing, is deceiving himself; it is not too little, but too great for him, that he doeth it not.
Edward B. Pusey (1800 - 1882)

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6/25/2009

What the Word "God" Means

“My 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, Bishop of Durham

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6/24/2009

The Rhetoric of Crisis

My friend Jim, posted the quote below at his blog noting "I hesitated posting this as I fear that it falls into the very category I’m pointing to in the post."
“The church is immersed, in short, in a rhetoric of crisis…. At first I joined fully in the rhetoric of crisis. I found that it gave me entree to audiences…I began to get uneasy about my zealous viewpoint for three resons…. For one thing I found myself part of a cadre of interpreters who were touring the denomination saying things that seemed to procure more and more invitations to say more and more potent and decisive things.

I began to realize that the rhetoric of crisis is a rhetoric of power. It gives power to the speaker…the rhetoric of crisis takes power away from the laity and pastors by diminishing the significance of their work…. Second...the rhetoric of crisis profoundly serves U.S. culture’s idol of success.… Worse, the rhetoric of crisis distracts the church from the gospel it has been entrusted with proclaiming. It focuses on the institution instead of the message the institution represents to the world.”

Polity, Practice, and the Mission of the United Methodist Church, 2006 Edition, Thomas Edward Frank
I do believe that when we run around like ecclesiastical version of Chicken Licken proclaiming that the Church Is Falling, the institution suffers. But when we look less to the needs of the church and more to the real needs of the lost and hurting around us—physical needs, emotional needs and mostly the need for a real and meaningful relationship with God through a community of faith—then we are being about what the institution is for rather than worrying about the institution of the church for its own sake.

That's my take. What do you think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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  • At 6/24/2009 3:21 PM, Blogger Tom Sramek, Jr. said…

    Frank: I also think this dovetails with the lack of patience of our own "microwave generation" that is used to things being done in a minute, an hour, or at most a day or a week and so the rhetoric of crisis serves to exacerbate that sense that things must be done NOW and IMMEDIATELY or all will be lost. Contrast that with the Benedictine values of stability, obedience, and conversion of life over a longer time horizon, and Christianity looks downright glacial in comparison with the instantaneous culture surrounding us.

     

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6/23/2009

Drawing a Line When Children Are at Risk

"I am a strong supporter of the religious freedom of the family, including the freedom to raise children very different from the norm, but I have always drawn a line when the health of a child is seriously at risk."
This quote is from Yale Law School professor Stephen L. Carter who was responding to a case of medical neglect covered in the Religion News Service's article Oregon Parents to Stand Trial in Daughter's Faith-Healing Death.

Ava's parentsThe case, whose trial begins today, stems from the death of 15-month-old Ava Worthington whose bronchial pneumonia and blood infection could have been cured with antibiotics. The only treatment she received was prayer and anointing with oil. Her parents are charged with manslaughter and criminal mistreatment using a 1999 Oregon law created in large part due to the high number child deaths among the kids at the Worthington's Oregon City church, the Followers of Christ.

Though the first test of the law, it will not be the last as Ava's 16-year-old uncle died four months after his niece due to complications from an untreated urinary tract blockage. That boy's parents are also members of the Followers of Christ church, and will be going on trial for criminally negligent homicide in about six months.

Followers of Christ ChurchI am a strong proponent of the separation of church and state. We at King of Peace benefit from the state taking a hands off approach to our own worship as we do in fact serve wine to minors, yes in very small quantities, absolutely for religious purposes, and no one is forced or cohersed into anything. But we do nonetheless have the freedom we do enjoy as the state takes a hands off approach to our religious practice. I am also a strong believer in the power of prayer and have on many occasions have seen wonderfully miraculous results to laying on hands and praying for healing. And yet, I share the law professor's contention that there are rare cases when the state has not only the right, but the obligation to step in, particularly to protect children.

If the point were Ava alone, perhaps we could all look the other way as no actions on the part of the state will bring her back and I would imagine her parents have suffered in grief for her. But the trial will also protect other children by encouraging parents to both put their trust in God and to do so in relying on proper medical care. I consider the human abilities which have given us medical advances to be a gift from God and want to cut myself and my family off from the gift of medicine no more than I would want them cut off from the power of prayer.

That's what I think? What's your take on this case?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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  • At 6/25/2009 6:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am a parent of 2 and extremely bewildered by the actions of these parents. Although, I truly believe in prayer and miracles I believe in the reason God has brought these intelligent individuals to further themselves in the lives to be doctors and such. It breaks my heart that she could have been spared a short short life. May we pray for her family and others to remember God works in mysterious ways and sometimes we have to use the gifts God has given us through use of medical research and doctors.

     
  • At 7/05/2009 3:58 PM, Blogger Dave said…

    Separation of church and state is a confusing term. It's a metaphor used by Thomas Jefferson and was never intended to explain the First Amendment completely. Jefferson himself was much more likely to use the phrase "freedom of religion" when discussing the importance of the First Amendment. See this post: churchvstate.blogspot.com

    But for a liberal justice of the Supreme Court in 1947, when the "separation" phrase was first used in place of the actual words of the Amendment, the metaphor was easier to interpret in a way that limited religion. It has been used many more times in many more courts to do things the founders never had in mind.

    So when looking at Constitutional rights and limits, use the phrase "freedom of religion." It will present a more accurate perspective.

     

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6/22/2009

What People Think About Their Faith


The Barna Group has new survey results on faith in America, which found in part:
88% of American adults say that “my religious faith is very important in my life.”

Faith is not going away despite the prolific media attention devoted to the demise of traditional faith practices and beliefs. Nine out of ten adults admit that their faith plays a meaningful role in their life. There is nothing on the horizon to suggest that this is likely to change in the foreseeable future.

75% say they sense that “God is motivating people to stay connected with Him, but in different ways and through different types of experiences than in the past.”

There is a growing sense of release from traditional religious practices in this country. People are suggesting that they want more of God and less of the stuff that gets between them and their relationship with God. This mindset is equally common among Catholics and Protestants.

45% say they are “willing to try a new church.”

A staggering number of Americans – almost half of the nation’s 230 million adults – are open to changing their church home, demonstrating their lack of connection with their present community of faith and their desire to have a more significant connection. It may also be a reflection of people’s increasing lack of loyalty to both organizations and personal relationships, and the growing sense that there is always something better available if you can simply find it.

50% say “a growing number of people I know are tired of the usual type of church experience.”

It is not just the survey respondents who indicated their willingness to change churches or to consider different forms of church experience. Half of all adults said they are aware of such a willingness to experiment on the part of people they know because those individuals are tired of the common church experience.

71% say they are “more likely to develop my religious beliefs on my own, rather than to accept an entire set of beliefs that a particular church teaches.”

Levels of distrust toward churches, church leaders and organized Christianity have been growing over the past two decades. That concern – along with the heightened independence of Americans and the profound access to information that has characterized the past decade – may have led to the emergence of a large majority of adults feeling responsible for their own theological and spiritual development. Other studies have shown an inclination for people to view a local church as a supplier of useful guidance and support, but not necessarily a reliable source of a comprehensive slate of beliefs that they must adopt.

Across the board, the research showed that women are driving these changes. This is particularly significant given prior research from Barna showing that women are more spiritually inclined, are the primary shapers of family faith experiences, and are the backbone of activity in the typical conventional church.
Most Americans still find faith important, but what any given religious group thinks is irrelevant to their personal beliefs. This fits with a general deepening of individualism, right?

Don't we find increasing ways to be more unique and less a part of the herd? I can now make my own shirts or mugs or books or bumper stickers in quantities of 1 if I wish. I can create anything I want just for me. Technology makes this possible, but the desire to be individual comes from us, not the marketers.

In one sense, this is fine, we are individuals. We are each unique. But we are also made to be in community with one another. What I believe matters, but a church can and should also come together around what we believe ("We believe in God, the Father almighty..."). This matters less at some times of our lives, but when times get tough, we need others to stand alongside us. When we go through times of doubt, what we believe can sustain any one individual in our midst in a way that is important. Otherwise, we wouldn't have to bother with church and each could be a Christian on their own. But Christianity is a team sport, not a solo activity. And while it isn't essential for community that we hold all of our beliefs in common, but it does matter that we do hold much in common.

That's my take. What's yours?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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6/21/2009

A Father's Day Prayer

Lord

I am humbled by your greatness;
Re-fortified with your strength;
Amazed at your compassion;
Thankful for your forgiveness;
Blinded by all you've provided;
Impelled to do more for others;
Filled with great awe and wonder;
Comforted in your loving arms.

For all that I am and could be
Comes from watching you provide
What your children require.
You are the perfect mentor.
You guide me down the right road
Holding my hand so I don't fall;
Whispering words I need to hear
While providing moral support.

You are the ultimate Father.
There is none better than You!
As Father's Day rolls around
I thank you for all you've done.
While words alone are not enough
I pray I can show you in deeds
To fill Your heart with great pride
Not for one day, but for always.

Happy Father's Day!
—by Charlotte Kuchinsky

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6/20/2009

Awestruck and Trembling

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, storm arises while Jesus and his disciples are at sea
A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"
The Rev. Dr. Lance Stone has preached on this passage saying in part,
The passage ends with the words, ‘They were awestruck and said to one another, ‘who can this be? Even the winds and waves obey him.’

In other words, the disciples were as terrified after the storm as they were during it. The wind and the waves may be scary, but they are no more scary than Jesus! And that is the real thrust of the narrative. This particular story has done its work in us, the hearers, not when we say, ‘isn’t it wonderful that Jesus is the great comforter who gives us peace in the storms of life?’ The story has done its work in us when we tremble, awe-struck and exclaim, ‘who can this be? Even the winds and the waves obey him!’ And if you find the storm frightening, just wait until you meet Jesus.

Of course that is not a message that we particularly want to hear in our modern therapeutic culture. It’s not a message that rhymes readily with our obsession with finding peace in an arduous and stressful world. After all, here we are with every conceivable technological appliance at hand. Here we are with every labour-saving, time-saving, effort-reducing gizmo and gadget – and yet we are more stressed out and on edge than ever. And the big yearning, the longing in all this is for something to help us cope with the strain. And every new age gimmick is targeted at helping people to function more effectively in the storm and to give them peace in their stressed-out lives. And we even tailor the Gospel in order to fit this priority and in the process we turn Jesus into a big, kind, uncle figure who is there to soothe us and to help us to manage the storms.

Well, there are three things that need to be said here, and the first is that Jesus is not particularly interested in storm-management. Or at least that is not what he is up to here. One of Mark’s interests in his Gospel is the clash between Jesus and evil in all its many manifestations. Right after this storm-calming incident Jesus and his crew reach the shore, and no sooner have their toes touched dry land than they are confronted by a demoniac named Legion because of the host of demons that reside in him. And Jesus stills his chaotic life in just the same way as he stills the storm. Indeed Jesus’ rebuke to the storm, ‘Silence! Be Still!’ is the language of an exorcism. Jesus exorcises the storm! In other words here, as elsewhere in Mark, Jesus is coming fact to face with evil in all its elemental, chaotic reality. Here Jesus comes face to face with a power that dwarfs human ingenuity and storm management skills. And what is called for here is not some kind, avuncular Jesus, not some ‘precious Saviour’, not some ‘good buddy’ Jesus. What is called for here is one in whom the whole counter-force of God’s negation of evil is present. That’s Jesus –and no wonder he is scary.

Just think for a moment of those disciples in that boat, buffeted and assailed by the storm. That surely is a vivid image of our human predicament. For all our ingenuity and technological know-how, for all our progress, we are still profoundly threatened by powers of death and destruction as we know only too well. And whether it is in acts of terror or mindless violence that suddenly erupt, or whether it is in ongoing intractable problems like global warming which render us helpless and impotent, we realise that ultimately we are powerless before the storm. We are humbled before the chaos and the evil and the death and destruction that it embodies. We may to some degree manage it: that is the job of politicians after all – more effective storm management –and they do what they can. But ultimately the storm is not to be managed, it is to be overcome and stilled. And any hope of final rescue, any hope of ultimate deliverance can only come from one who embodies a power so great – the very power of God - that we can only be left awestruck and trembling before him.
The full text of his sermon is online here: More Frightening than the Storm.

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6/19/2009

I would have ruined everything

Last night, the Rev. Dee Shaffer was ordained a priest in a service at St. Mark's, Brunswick. The preacher was her mentor, the Rev. Ted Clarkson of St. Andrews and St. Cyprians Episcopal Churches in Darien. As he closed the sermon, he told of the prayer below, known as Martin Luther's sacristy prayer. Ted told of how he was introduced to it in seminary and now endeavors to pray it daily as a reminder, that his ministry of priesthood rests not on his abilities, but on Christ working through him, which is a good reminder for all Christians, whether ordained or not:
Lord God, You have appointed me as a pastor in Your Church, but you see how unsuited I am to meet so great and difficult a task. If I had lacked Your help, I would have ruined everything long ago. Therefore, I call upon You: I wish to devote my mouth and my heart to you; I shall teach the people. I myself will learn and ponder diligently upon You Word. Use me as Your instrument—but do not forsake me, for if ever I should be on my own, I would easily wreck it all.

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6/18/2009

The Laity & After Service Coffee


This CartoonChurch.com cartoon originally appeared in the Church Times and is taken from ‘My Pew: Things I have seen from it’, published by Canterbury Press. (click on either cartoon to see a clearer version of it).

I love Dave Walker's insights. In this cartoon on the Laity, he identifies clergy as the ones on Saturday night who "have to stay in and work on a fifteen minute speach based loosely on the Bible" and who when dressed in street clothes are indistinguishable from everyone else. Yikes! I don't start on Saturday evening in working on a sermon and I my sermons are more than loosely based on the Bible. But even to write that sounds defensive. Thanks Dave!

Try another one. This one shows the all too often truth about after service coffee. Once again it makes me want to defend King of Peace, but do we really do better? Sometimes we do and sometimes we don't. This cartoon hangs by the coffee pot at King of Peace as a bit of a reminder:


This CartoonChurch.com cartoon originally appeared in the Church Times and is taken from ‘My Pew: Things I have seen from it’, published by Canterbury Press.

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6/17/2009

Shared Humanity



In his book on prayer With Open Hands Henri Nouwen writes of a compassion that comes from learning through prayer how alike all other humans we truly are:
Compassion grows with the inner recognition that your neighbor shares your humanity with you. This partnership cuts through all walls which might have kept you separate. Across all barriers of land and language, wealth and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, we are one, created from the same dust, subject to the same laws, and destined for the same end.

With this compassion you can say, "In the face of the oppressed I recognize my own face and in the hands of the oppressor I recognize my own hands. Their flesh is my flesh; their blood is my blood; their pain is my pain; their smile is my smile. Their ability to torture is in me, too; their capacity to forgive I find also in myself.

There is nothing in me that does not belong to them, too. There is nothing in them that does not belong to me, too.

In my heart, I know their yearning for love and down to my entrails, I can feel their cruelty. In another's eyes, I see my plea for forgiveness and in a hardened frown, I see my refusal. When someone murders, I know that I too could have murdered, and when someone gives birth, I know that I am capable of birth as well. In the depths of my being, I meet my fellow humans with whom I share love and hate, life and death."

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6/16/2009

Faith and Service

There was a time in the early days of Christianity that some occupations were seen as being incompatible with the faith. These included being an actor, a teacher and a soldier. Actors were by definition hypocrites, but the plays they put on were usually immoral and of pagan themes. Teachers of the time were expected to teach pagan philosophy and soldiers had to offer sacrifices to the Roman emperor as a god. Faith was seen as being in conflict with these ways of making a living.

I ran across a Washington Post on a Sikh trying to join the Army, Sikhs challenge US Army's ban on turbans, beards. I see his problem. I taught a Religion and Culture class at Valdosta State Univerity's Kings Bay Center and we looked at how Sikh beliefs conflict with culture. Central to this primarily Punjabi off shoot of Hindusim, are the Five Ks:

Each of these is a symbol of a Sikh mans faith in the deeper meaning of the word symbol, which means that it participates in the thing it signifies, like how the American flag is not just a patriotic sign, really participates in our understanding of what it means to be American. So to a Sikh man, cutting his hair (at all, ever) is a deeply held religious issue. In fact, there have been Sikh martyrs who haved died rather than cut their hair or shave. One of their major teachers (Guru Gobind Singh in 1699) wrote,

My Sikh shall not use the razor. For him the use of razor or shaving the chin shall be as sinful as incest. For the Khalsa such a symbol is prescribed so that a Sikh cannot remain undistinguishable from among a hundred thousand Hindus or Muslims; because how can he hide himself with hair and turban on his head and with a flowing
beard?

This is not some minor addition to the faith but central to it. Yet, this ideal conflicts deeply with the time-tested boot camp drill of taking all your possessions, shaving your head and creating a new group identity for you.

I wouldn't normally delve into Sikh concerns, but it makes me wonder what I would give up of my faith in order to serve my country. I could give up much in terms of my own convenience, but I couldn't budge on my belief in the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, the need we all have for redemption, the understanding I have of the Bible as God's Word, and so on. I think the Sikh should just shave his beard and cut his hair if he wants to serve in the military and to him that is like his telling me that I should just drop my belief in the Trinity if I ever want to do the same.

The Army is reviewing its policy as concerns this one Sikh physician who wishes to serve as an Army doctor. Where do we appropriately draw the line when it comes to the beliefs of another. Certainly, if there beliefs were that they should be able to abuse their wife or their children, we would set limits. But does a hair and beard matter so much? And yet what of the group identity created through the boot camp experience? How do we draw the line when it comes to the faith of another and still stay true to our ideals as a nation?

What would you give up (as concerns your faith) in order to serve your country and what would you instance on even to death?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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  • At 6/16/2009 1:50 PM, Blogger averagecandy said…

    There are other ways to serve your country other than joining the military. I hate to oversimplify the issue, but...ya.

     

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6/15/2009

A Drop in the Ocean


We ourselves feel that what we are doing
is just a drop in the ocean.
But the ocean would be less
because of that missing drop.
—Mother Teresa of Calcutta

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6/14/2009

Hear God's Voice

All of us are meant to be contemplatives.

Frequently we assume that this is reserved for some rare monastic life, lived by special people who alone have been called by God. But the truth of the matter is that each one of is meant to have that space inside where we can hear God’s voice. God is available to all of us. God says, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’

Each one of us wants and needs to give ourselves space for quiet. We can hear God’s voice most clearly when we are quiet, and then you begin to see with the eyes of the heart.
—Archbishop Desmond Tutu
from God Has a Dream, A Vision of Hope for Our Time

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6/13/2009

Choosing the Kingdom of God

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus gives three short parables which all tell what the Kingdom of God is like, including,
The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.
The Rev. J. Barrington Bates has preached on this passage saying in part,
Jesus refers to it as the “kingdom of God,” whereas some in our day prefer less monarchal or male imagery. Some suggest that we should call this the “realm” or the “commonwealth” of God – and the Greek of the original text supports this interpretation.

From an etymological viewpoint, the term derives from the word for “base” or “foundation.” It refers not to territory, as in the Kingdom of Siam, but to dominion, as in a semi-autonomous state that is under the sovereignty of another entity. In a way, our own Anglican Communion is an example of such a kingdom, as each of nearly forty churches – including our own Episcopal Church – is semi-autonomous. Yet each is also part of the Anglican family, and all of us under the sovereignty of God in Christ.

The kind of kingdom Jesus describes is just like that: it is a kingdom in which the members have choice, the free will to make decisions about their lives, their involvement, their direction, and their future.

And the first choice we get to make is about which kingdom to call our own. You see, when Jesus talks about the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven, he is talking about a kingdom inhabited by the righteous, and this kingdom is not the only kingdom.

Jesus thinks the most obvious other kingdom – Satan’s kingdom – is not worth a fig, but he does acknowledge that it exists. In Luke’s gospel, for instance, he asks, “If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand?” The kingdom of evil is real; it’s all around us all the time, and we are lured by it and sometimes swayed by it.

The hope, of course, is that God will draw all persons to himself, and that everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven. That is Jesus’ prayer, and that must be our fervent and unwavering prayer as Christian people: that everyone will choose the path of righteousness.

But the persistent reality of this incarnate world is that some people make other choices. The examples are legion. In our age, we can think of Timothy McVeigh, who chose to bomb a building in Okalahoma City rather than serve the poor in the name of Jesus. Or Adolph Hitler, who sought to exterminate a people and dominate the world rather than serve as the least of these who are members of Christ’s family.

There are many, many others, of course. And these are the extreme cases. Most of the world will not plot terrorist attacks, commit murder, or seek global domination. But we nevertheless have choices to make. We can choose the path of righteousness, or that other path. And we make that choice in big ways and in little ones, over and over and over again throughout our lives. Mostly, thanks be to God, we choose the path of righteousness, we choose to enter into the kingdom of God.
The full text of his sermon is online here: Choosing the Kingdom of God.

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6/12/2009

Piety, Study and Action

Yesterday, I shared the 22 questions that John Welsey's Holy Club members of considered every day. Today, I want to share a short group of questions I gather with four others to ask each week:

    Piety
  1. Have I maintained my commitments in my Rule of Life?
  2. With what other spiritual aids have I nourished my union with Christ?
  3. What moment did I feel closest to Christ?

  4. Study
  5. What have I studied that has increased my understanding of my relationship with God?

  6. Action
  7. Apostolic Successes and disappointments—in my family, in my work, in my environment
  8. How did my previous plans work out?
  9. News of the Christian community?
  10. What are my plans for the coming week?
  11. Thanksgivings and intercessions.
symbol of Cursillo for the Diocese of GeorgiaThese questions are those created for a Cursillo Reunion Group. Cursillo is a three-day retreat held in the Episcopal and Catholic churches. It is like Walk to Emmaus in the Methodist church and Tres Dias in other denominations, including pentecostal churches. Cursillo means "short course" and it is intended to be a short course in Christianity. The talks are given mostly by lay people about how they live out their faith day to day.

The weekly gathering to ask the questions above is a discipline strongly suggested for those who have attended Cursillo as a way of holding yourself accountable for keeping your commitments in the faith.

Knowing you have to sit down with others and answer for how you have been reading the Bible and praying, studying in the faith, and taking action based on your faith, is a great way to encourage faithfulness within yourself and the people with whom you meet. Just asking yourself about each week of your life, "What moment did I feel closest to Christ?" is highly revealing.

I encourage you to find a group that can hold itself mutually accountable for acting on your faith. Most churches have an opportunity for this through any one of the many groups that meet there. If you are at King of Peace, we can find room for you in one of the several Cursillo Reunion Groups whether you have attended Cursillo or not, and if you attend King of Peace and are interested in an upcoming Cursillo retreat, please speak to me in person.

In the archives is the religion column Creating a Rule of Life.

peace,

Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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  • At 1/02/2013 5:24 PM, Blogger myronboice said…

    I am in a Cursillo reunion group with from 4-7 men and we have met for 4-5 years. The problem is that the others do not follow the P-S-A format, rather, they give weekly anecdotes of their one or more, "God-moments", i.e., incidents that brought God to the fore. I want to get them on track but they ignore what I say. I am simply going to ask the purpose of this group and just get a personal clarification. I did my best to explain and urge them to get a life plan,to no avail.Men are set in their ways and they will do what is comfortable.

     
  • At 1/02/2013 5:24 PM, Blogger myronboice said…

    I am in a Cursillo reunion group with from 4-7 men and we have met for 4-5 years. The problem is that the others do not follow the P-S-A format, rather, they give weekly anecdotes of their one or more, "God-moments", i.e., incidents that brought God to the fore. I want to get them on track but they ignore what I say. I am simply going to ask the purpose of this group and just get a personal clarification. I did my best to explain and urge them to get a life plan,to no avail.Men are set in their ways and they will do what is comfortable.

     

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6/11/2009

22 Questions

John Wesley
Over at The Greatest Story Ever Told, my buddy Jim reminds us of the 22 questions the members of noted Anglican John Wesley’s Holy Club asked themselves every day in their private devotions over 200 years ago.

Tomorrow, I'll share the list I work through with a group each week. In the meantime, the Holy Club questions are still quite a list worth considering:

  1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
  2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
  3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?
  4. Can I be trusted?
  5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
  6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
  7. Did the Bible live in me today?
  8. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
  9. Am I enjoying prayer?
  10. When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?
  11. Do I pray about the money I spend?
  12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
  13. Do I disobey God in anything?
  14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
  15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
  16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?
  17. How do I spend my spare time?
  18. Am I proud?
  19. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
  20. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
  21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
  22. Is Christ real to me?

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6/10/2009

Some loveableness in all of us

click here to see more by Hyatt Moore
There is a difference between requiring love of the neighbor and finding the lovableness of our neighbors. Søren Kierkegaard wrote of this in his Parable of the Two Artists in his book Works of Love

click here to see more by Hyatt MooreSuppose there were two artists, and one said, "I have travelled much and seen much in the world, but I have sought in vain to find a man worth painting. I have found no face with such perfection of beauty that I could make up my mind to paint it. In every face I have seen one or another little fault. Therefore I seek in vain." Would this indicate the artist was a great artist?

On the other hand, the second one said, "Well, I do not pretend to be a real artist; neither have I travelled foreign lands. But remaining in the little circle of men who are closest to me, click here to see more by Hyatt MooreI have not found a face so insignificant or so full of faults that I still could not discern a more beautiful side and discover something glorious. Therefore I am happy in the art I practice. It satisfies me without my making any claim to being an artist." Would not this indicate that precisely this one was the artist, who by bringing a certain something with him found then and there what the much-travelled artist did not find anywhere in the world, perhaps because he did not bring a certain something with him! Consequently the second of the two was the artist.

Would it not be sad, too, if what is intended to beautify life could only be a curse upon it, so that art, instead of making life beautiful for us, only fastidiously discovers that not one of us is beautiful. Would it not be sadder still, and still more confusing, click here to see more by Hyatt Mooreif love also should be only a curse because its demand could only make it evident that none of us is worth loving, instead of love's being recognized precisely by its loving enough to be able to find some lovableness in all of us, consequently loving enough to be able to love us all.
Note: The artwork accompanying this entry is the work of Hyatt Moore, who painted The Last Supper with Twelve Tribes, a 10-foot wide canvas giclee print of which graces the entry hall at King of Peace. His work exemplifies Kierkegaard's artist who finds beauty in all people.

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6/09/2009

Nominations for 10th Bishop of Georgia

Greetings Saints!

The search committee has completed its work in making nominations for the next Bishop of Georgia. I am among the five persons nominated and will stand for election on September 12 as the Diocese of Georgia meets in convention to elect its Bishop.

If the clock was rolled back a couple of years, I would have been able to assure you that I did not feel called to serve as Bishop of Georgia, and that I would have then readily turned down the honor of a nomination. But during that time, I had been encouraged by some who knew me well to see how I had already been involved in oversight in ways not typical for a priest, but that fits well with the central role of a Bishop. I did prayerfully consider this and have over the past 18 months had this affirmed in different ways. I therefore allowed the people who contacted me about making a nomination on my behalf to do so.

I have worked through the search committee to articulate as clearly as I could my vision for creating a team to proactively work toward clergy wellness while supporting our 71 congregations to more fully live into being the Body of Christ in their communities. Being named alongside four other well-qualified persons is humbling. It is also the search committee's thoughtful and prayerful confirmation that I should stay on this path toward the election. Full particulars on the nominees will be posted shortly at www.georgiabishopsearch.org

I do feel called to this. But I do not know whether God has called me to this election or to be the next Bishop of Georgia. I do know that God has laid on my heart a process for effecting positive changes for this diocese that I love. I will be therefore be available to the election and see where it leads.

This is extremely awkward for me with King of Peace. One would never go to an employer and state "I might be leaving in September, or I might stay around." But our relationship is more than employer and employee and I trust that you will join me in trusting God with what comes next. I am confident that if God has called me to this and if I am elected, then I am also confident that God has a plan for King of Peace and the congregation will not just be fine, but will grow from strength to strength.

The vestry has known of this possibility and has prepared for the possible future. Were I to be elected in September, I would remain at King of Peace through Sunday, October 12, with a goodbye function on the 11th. An interim priest would be hired for the year following my leaving, during which time a search committee could be formed and a new pastor hired. In The Episcopal Church, a parish (and we will soon be a parish) has a good deal of autonomy in hiring its clergy, with the Bishop providing support in that process and maintaining only the ability to veto a poor fit (which is rare). No one would be sent to King of Peace. The congregation would be involved in the decision through a search committee and through having a chance to have candidates come to King of Peace to celebrate the Eucharist and preach.

I get ahead of things only to let you know, that if I am elected, plans are in place to make sure that you are all well cared for. In the meantime, I counsel you to stay calm knowing that God did not bring us this far to leave us and all shall be well.

I ask for your prayers for the discernment of the diocese, for what we most want is God's will for this election.

peace,

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

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  • At 6/10/2009 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was thrilled and gratified that you are one of the nominees for the 10th Bishop of Georgia. The committee was farsighted in nominating you. After serving on the COM for 15 years, I will say that you are one of the 3 finest candidates that was seen during my tenure. (The other 2 are Ted Clarkson and Leslie Hiers.)You have done an outstanding job at Kingsland and I would be thrilled if the Holy Spirit led the September Convention to nominate you.
    God bless you and your family during these next few months.
    Laura Phinizy

     
  • At 6/13/2009 12:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Congratulations Frank. Even though my heart is heavy knowing you could be leaving KOP, I know God does have a plan for us and I have always known that you are well fit for the bishop. It is as if you are already gone, but that is really not true....you will still be a part of KOP and will watch over us as any good shepard would. Your talents are amazing! It would be selfish for us to deny you our blessings and prayers for you, Victoria and Griffin. Funny, you asked to stay at leat 10 years and this is about it.
    Charlie and Shelby say hello from Virginia and they also are not surprised that you have reached the last 3 candidates.
    Take Care,
    Celeste

     
  • At 6/25/2009 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am so torn. Of course, I want was is the best for you and which path that God leads. I also know I have never been so intrigued to listen to a sermon or a story that you speak when I listen to you. I feel like this will happen and we can only go on from here learning from what we are taught and how our hearts will lead us. Know that you and your family are in our prayers. If it is meant to be then know you will be truly missed both as Father of KOP and as friend.

     

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Parish, the thought

King of Peace from the air
Referring to people who attend King of Peace is trickier than it might first seem. One wouldn't want to say "members" as you certainly may attend regularly, faithfully even, while not choosing to join the church. "Attenders" is an awkward word. So "parishioners" seems to work best. King of Peace is then the parish (used here as synonymous with church) and so anyone who attends is a parishioner.

Yet as noted at Dictionary.com parish may refer to a geographic area as one meaning is "a political subdivision of a British county, usually corresponding in boundaries to an original ecclesiastical parish." For example, the British comedy, The Vicar of Dibley, in its very title tells that the Vicar of the church has the cure of the souls in the political unit of Dibley. As the Church of England is the national church, everyone in that geographic area is within her parish whether they ever attend the church or not.

Looking at this idea through his evangelstic fervor and not wishing to be so bound to set borders, 18th-century Anglican John Wesley declared, "I look upon the whole world as my parish."

our sister church in EnglandOur sister church The Parish Church of St Michael and all Angels, Kingsland England features at its website the Parish Plan for Kingsland and that plan is a decidedly communal plan for that political unit, rather than merely a church plan for its own purposes.

So the term parish does not apply here in Georgia the way it did and still does in England, from whence we get the word. However, there is something to that perhaps anachronistic use of the word. For as I was asked to plant a new Episcopal congregation in Camden County, I was given the title "Diocesan Missioner for Camden County" and charged with reaching persons with no church affiliation. That charge still applies.

To grab a term from marketing, people within our area who have no church home are the target market for King of Peace. This is no new idea as World War II era Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple said, "Church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of non-members."

To consider Kingsland as our parish means to see the whole geographic area as our responsibility. And as we have a responsibility for the cure of souls in our community, everyone you see around town is a parishioner of King of Peace. They are our neighbor for whom we bare responsibility in sharing the love of God.

peace,

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

King of Peace (top right) alongside our nearest neighbor, the high school

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6/08/2009

Disturb Us, O Lord

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

—Circa 1577, Attributed to Sir Francis Drake

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6/07/2009

Devotion

Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) wrote in Wisdom of the Sadhu
Once, as I traveled through the Himalayas, there was a great forest fire. Everyone was frantically trying to fight the fire, but I noticed a group of men standing and looking up into a tree that was about to go up in flames. When I asked them what they were looking at, they pointed up at a nest full of young birds. Above it, the mother bird was circling wildly in the air and calling out warnings to her young ones. There was nothing she or we could do, and soon the flames started climbing up the branches.

As the nest caught fire, we were all amazed to see how the mother bird reacted. Instead of flying away from the flames, she flew down and settled on the nest, covering her little ones with her wings. The next moment, she and her nestlings were burned to ashes. None of us could believe our eyes. I turned to those standing by and said: "We have witnessed a truly marvelous thing. God created that bird with such love and devotion, that she gave her life trying to protect her young. If her small heart was so full of love, how unfathomable must be the love of her Creator. That is the love that brought him down from heaven to become man. That is the love that made him suffer a painful death for our sake.

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6/06/2009

The Untammed Wind

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, the Jewish leader Nicodemus goes to Jesus at night for a chat, and in response hears the best known verse in the Bible,
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
I have preached on this passage before with a sermon written from Nicodemus perspective:
I was named Nicodemus. Nicodemus means “conqueror of the people.” Ironic. I was the one who was conquered. Vanquished, liberated really, in the fullest sense of that word. I was conquered quite willingly by the spirit of God.

I went to Jesus at night. It had to be night. Jesus was a noted Rabbi to be sure, but I was a member of the Sanhedrin, the select inner circle of Jewish leaders. I could not afford to be seen with Jesus. Not yet anyway. So I went to him under the cover of darkness. It strikes me as funny all these years later. I went to the light of the world at night.

I went to Jesus because I was intrigued by the signs and wonders he was doing. I knew that no one could heal the sick, exorcise people of demons, and do the other miracles unless God allowed it. Some wondered if Jesus was a trickster, a charlatan. But this was no sleight of hand. Jesus was the real thing—miracles happened wherever he went. Lives were changed for the better and they stayed changed. Paralytics walked. The blind saw. The deaf heard.

I went to Jesus because I knew in a spiritual sense I was blind, deaf and lame. I wouldn’t even have admitted it to myself at the time. I was supposed to be the one with the answers. But deep inside I knew I needed healing.
The full text of the sermon is online here: The Untammed Wind.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

PS: I am heading out for a week of vacation. The blog will autoload each day, but I won't be online checking on it. Y'all enjoy and I will catch you in a week.

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To God Be the Glory

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6/05/2009

God's Love Is Worth Sharing


On the final day of our Kids in the Kingdom Week, the theme was Go'ds Love Is Worth Sharing.


The kids try picking up 80 pounds of dirt as a group to get a feel for the pack weight carried by a typical Roman soldier, then Geoff picks it up himself, showing that it is possible, if difficult.






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  • At 6/05/2009 6:38 PM, Blogger MKL said…

    What a wonderful week this has been....Thank You God for letting me play a part in it.
    Thanks also to Amber and Geoff for all the many hours of hard work and preparation so that all would run smoothly.
    Check it out now!!!!!!!!!

     

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6/04/2009

God's Love Saves Us


On Day Four of our Kids in the Kingdom Week, the theme was God's Love Save Us.


Geoff teaches the kids how a bucket brigade could save the city in case of fire.



A thief is caught stealing bread at snacktime. Then the shopkeeper gave him the money to buy the bread from her, so that he would not have to be punished for his crime.







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