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.

4/30/2010

Doubt is useful for a while


From Yann Martel's thought-provoking novel, Life of Pi:
I'll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if he burst out from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" then surely we are permitted to doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.

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4/29/2010

The Measure of Your Love

Some quotes from Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), the great peacemaker and Doctor of the Church, on this her feast day:
Catherine of Siena"You are rewarded not according to your work or your time but according to the measure of your love."

"There will be love in proportion to faith and faith in proportion to love."

"They love their neighbors with the same love with which they love me."

"The service you cannot render me you must do for your neighbors. Thus it will be evident that you have me within your soul by grace."

"The soul is in God and God in the soul, just as the fish is in the sea and the sea in the fish."

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4/28/2010

Do Not Wait

Do not wait; the time will never be "just right." Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.
~George Herbert (1593-1633)

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  • At 4/28/2010 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    LORD, THOU HAST GIVEN ME SO MUCH...GIVE ME ONE THING MORE...A THANKFUL HEART. (That is also a quote by George Herbert, or as close as I can remember it.)

     

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4/27/2010

Why I Finally Joined a Church


The title is from a Salon.com article of the same name by Jane Roper in which she answers Why I Finally Joined a Church? Roper grew up as a part of a Congregational Church and her husband's mother was Jewish and father Episcopalian, but both functionally secular. She turned away from the church and other organizations in her 20s. In the article she describes how her kids made her join anew, this time a Unitarian Universalist Church:
Our twin daughters are only 3. Currently, their Big Questions are mostly along the lines of "Where is my Cookie Monster doll?" and "Why can't I have more raisins?"

But it won't be long before they'll start asking what happens to people after they die, and why so many bad things happen in the world, and whether or not there's a God. There will be other, less metaphysical religious questions we'll need to answer. Like: Who is that lady in the blue dress standing in the clamshell in our neighbor's yard? And can we get one?
She goes on to write,
I want my children to see that a group of people can work together, give of their time and talents, and support each other through life's joys and sorrows not because they're family or even necessarily friends, but because they believe that it's an important part of being human.

I also want to expose them to good, old-fashioned community in a world where, increasingly, community happens only in virtual spaces....I want to make damned sure they understand kindness, empathy and respect for other people. Of course, joining a religious community isn't the only way to do this. But it's a way to practice and think about these values on a regular basis, with intention. Lord knows I could use the practice, too.
Those of us who spend out lives in church don't see this perspective enough, that of someone whose life has not revolved around the church's schedule. Christian churches struggle to compete in a secular society and I think part of that problem is that we fall into line and try to compete. But we do not have something to serve you needs alongside other things to serve your needs. Christianity really wants to give you needs you never knew you had, like the need to love God and love you neighbor as yourself. In this, we do not offer a product to be consumed, but a God to be known and loved and a changed way of seeing all creation.

To be honest, I am strongly Trinitarian and am not exactly pleased as punch that the church she found is UU, which in its very name drops Trinitarian language. It's odd that I have that reaction as I am pleased that my nephews in Tennessee are part of a UU congregation where they live. It is a way to bring spiritual questions into your life and I am glad they have that community.

All that aside, Roper's story shows us the longing for what a church offers in someone who was, in her own words, one for whom joining a church was, for a long while, unthinkable? The answer is simple and not easy. Those of us who know and love our congregations and the difference they make in our lives must tell our friends about it. Just like we easily suggest a restaurant or a movie, we need to suggest our congregation. Don't varnish over the fact that Christian community can be messy, but let them know why it is worth your time and energy to be in church on Sunday. But the goal is not more church members, but more people finding a place and a people with whom to discover needs they never knew they had.

That's my take. What do you think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, E-vangelist

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  • At 4/27/2010 7:08 AM, Blogger Cathy said…

    Frank, I would like to know where I can get a larger image of the map so I can see some of the text written on there.

     
  • At 4/27/2010 9:13 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Cathy,

    It's at http://www.valpo.edu/geomet/pics/geo200/religion/adherents.gif

    I have also now made it a link, so you can click it to find the largest image I know to be available on the web.

    peace,
    Frank+

     

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4/26/2010

An Episcopal School for Camden County

King of Peace Episcopal Day School will have a meeting at the church at 6 p.m. on May 13th to share with all interested parents information on expansion plans.

Since 2004, the school has operated a preschool for children aged 18 months through four years of age, which has been honored by the State of Georgia as one of the top 1.5% of programs in the state.

Excellent, Not Exclusive
As with its preschool program, King of Peace Episcopal Day School will maintain the lowest possible fees while riaisng the bar for education. Some scholarships will be offered from the first day and the school will seek additional funding to assure that the school remains excellent, but never becomes exclusive.

K-2 Program and Beyond
Last year, the school purchased 12 acres near the intersection of Kings Bay and Colerain Roads for a future private school. The school is considering starting a private K-2 school this fall in a leased building and later moving to our own building on our land, but we need to gauge parent interest. Students entering as second graders will be able to continue into at least fifth grade as a part of The Elementary School program.

The meeting on May 13th will give the school an opportunity to share plans, answer questions and then receive community feedback. Information forms will be collected from interested parents that evening.

The meeting will be held at
King of Peace Episcopal Church
6230 Laurel Island Parkway, Kingsland, Georgia
(912) 882-7067
We are located just west of Camden County High School

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4/25/2010

Slamming the Door



When you say a situation or a person is hopeless,
you are slamming the door in the face of God.

~Charles L Allen

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4/24/2010

Our Shepherd Leads Us

A Roman mosaic in Ravena of Jesus as the Good Shepherd

The Psalm for tomorrow is that most familiar of Hebrew poetry, the 23rd Psalm, which in the King James Version says,
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul;
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his Name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
The Gospel reading has Jesus in Jerusalem for the Festival of the Dedication of the Temple (which we call Hanukkah) saying,
My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.
My friend and fellow church planter, the Rev. Susan Snook, has drawn these two passages together in a sermon written a few years ago in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting that says in part,
At the Feast of the Dedication, the feast we now know as Hanukkah, the people remembered how the nation rededicated the temple after a great leader, Judas Maccabeus, defeated the Greek conquerors in 164 BC. The festival remembered the suffering of the Jewish people under the Greek Empire, and rejoiced at their great victory. Against this background, with Roman soldiers hovering and memories of thousands of crucified would-be rebels and other unjust suffering fresh in their minds, people asked Jesus, “Are you the Messiah?” Would Jesus be the new hero who would drive out the Roman invader? Would the nation be free and independent once more?

The people crowding around Jesus want a clear and decisive answer. Instead, he is cryptic and evasive. The people want him to speak with authority about weapons and strategies; instead, he talks about sheep. To their demand that he assume the leadership for which they have been hoping, he answers with a claim of leadership so astounding that many of them pick up stones to kill him on the spot: he claims to be one with God the Father.

This is no gentle, clear-eyed Jesus on a green, rolling hillside; this is a fierce, uncompromising Jesus, a Jesus who refuses to meet any earthly expectations, a Jesus whose frame of reference is so far removed from that of the people around him that it is a wonder he escapes with his life. And indeed, John tells us that the next time Jesus dares to show his face in Jerusalem, the chief priests cook up a scheme to have him crucified.

How do we reconcile the gentle, kind shepherd Jesus, the one who would go anywhere and risk anything to save even the smallest lamb, with the Jesus who provoked his enemies to violence? And how does this Jesus have anything at all to do with the worries and dangers of our lives? How can our faith in Jesus help us through a tragedy like the one at Virginia Tech? What can the gentle shepherd do to help?

The wonderful thing about Psalm 23 is just how realistic it is about the darkness of life. Perhaps the picture we get of the Good Shepherd from art and music and childhood memories is an image of pure light and pure sweetness. But the psalm itself knows darkness and fear. Like the writer of the psalm, many Christians have traveled through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. They too have known the threat of the unknown. And yet many have also known the comfort of God’s presence, walking alongside them through that dark valley. Many people have felt the exquisite sweetness of Jesus’ love surrounding and enfolding them in the most difficult moments of their lives. Many have experienced transcendent holiness and light in the darkest of times.

People who spend much time with those who are ill or bereaved begin to know what kind of help brings true comfort. Comfort does not come from assurances that everything will be all right or from platitudes that try to explain why everything that happens is God’s will. Comfort comes from the simple presence of companions who are willing to sit alongside us in our darkest hours, to walk through the darkness with us, to help us make the darkness holy, and to rejoice with us when small glimmers of light finally begin to shine.

And at the heart of it, that is what our Christian faith can tell us. It tells us that our Lord and Savior, the great hero who liberates us, is not the God of light alone. Jesus is sovereign over the darkness too, because he too has been enfolded by darkness. Like us, he has grieved over the senseless waste and tragedy of life. Like us, he has agonized over those who suffer. As all of us will eventually, he has entered into the darkness of death. And with all of us, he promises to walk that road so that we do not have to walk it alone. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

The ultimate truth of our Christian faith, the truth we remember this Easter season and every Sunday as we celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection, is that our Shepherd leads us out of death into life.
The full text of her sermon is online here: Our Shepherd Leads Us.

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4/23/2010

Christians Have an Essential Unity

There’s the joke that I have heard told with several different denominations inserted into the punch line. A person dies and goes to heaven. On the first-day-in-heaven tour, they see a high wall surrounding a portion of paradise. The person asks St. Peter (who is always the tour guide in jokes like this) why the wall is there. St. Peter motions the person off into the distance and then whispers, “That’s the area for the [insert name of denomination here]. They think they are the only ones here.”

It’s as if you can’t get into heaven if you don’t believe exactly what I believe. That sort of we-are-the-only-true-Christians attitude is a real turn off for folks who have not come to faith yet. Sometimes a non-Christian can get the idea that if Christians cannot even agree on what to believe, why should they bother to try to sort it out?

This attitude is a problem that Jesus saw coming. The night he was betrayed, Jesus prayed with his disciples. That prayer, recounted in John 17, ends with a prayer for “those who will believe in me through [the disciples’] word.”

That means us. We have come to believe in Jesus because of the word of the first disciples. Had they never gone out and told Jesus’ story, we never would have heard it. We believe today because of an unbroken chain of believers back to the time of those first disciples. So when Jesus prays for “those who will believe in me through their word,” Jesus is praying for those of us gathered here today and for all the Christians around the world.

Jesus prays, “that they (meaning us) may be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they (Jesus is talking about us again) also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Jesus prayed for unity among all Christians. Jesus’ heart’s desire is that we may be one with God and through that oneness with the triune God we may be one with one another. This unity leads to Jesus’ true desire, that through our unity, the world may see and know that Jesus is God’s own Son, the savior of the world.

So what’s the answer? The end of denominations? A stop to all distinctions among Christian groups? If that were to happen, which denomination would we be? What exactly would we believe? How would we worship?

I believe the answer is in Jesus’ own prayer. Jesus prayed, “Father make them one as you and I are one that the world may believe.” If we are to be one as Jesus and the Father are one, then how are Jesus and the Father one? God is a Trinity of persons—one being, yet three distinct persons. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are one and yet each unique. We, too, are to be unique persons, separate from one another and yet in communion with each other.

We are not all created just alike and so we will each approach God a little differently. Denominations allow us to express this diversity. Our various churches allow us each to find the best way for us to approach God within a loving community of fellow Christians. There is no need to break down the uniqueness found within various branches of the Christian faith. However, we must find some ways to show that we have an essential unity, even in our diversity.

The solution is not to squish all Christians into a one-sized-fits-all faith. The solution is to present an outward face that shows the world that we know that our similarities matter more than our differences. Churches are not in competition. Churches are allies in the cause of spreading the Christian Gospel. The Bible does not teach that all heaven rejoices when a person or family changes from one church to another. All heaven rejoices when someone trapped in a life of sin learns that God loves her or him, God wants what’s best for them, and God desires a relationship with them. A child of God coming to that knowledge is what makes all heaven rejoice. The more we show the world our unity as the Body of Christ, the more we prepare the way for more people to experience that life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ.

The above is my religion column for today's issue of the Tribune & Georgian. The same page of the paper carries news of King of Peace hosting a community-wide worship service for the May 6 National Day of Prayer with a multi-church choir singing Holden's Evening Prayer.

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4/22/2010

Training and Correction

You will never know how much you believe something until it is a matter of life and death....If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.
~C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock

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4/21/2010

Life is on a stroll


It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll. This is how God does things.
~Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

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4/20/2010

The moment God is figured out


The moment God is figured out
with nice neat lines and definitions,
we are no longer dealing with God.

~Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

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4/19/2010

Wounded by a Church


The Bible tells us to love our neighbors,
and also to love our enemies;
probably because generally they are the same people.
~G.K. Chesterton

The Barna Group has been studying the 100 million Americans who haven't been to church in six months or more. The study found that most of those who have are not in church on Sunday (61%) do not define themselves as having no faith or no religion, but self-identify as Christian.

Why are Christians not in church? Here I wish the answer was surprising, but it's not. They are out of church because the church has hurt them. A previous Barna study of the adults in this group showed that nearly four out of every ten non-churchgoing Americans (37%) avoid churches because of negative past experiences in churches or with church people. The Barna Report notes:
Bestselling author Stephen Mansfield has written a new book (ReChurch) that digs into those experiences. As one who has been wounded by past church behavior, Mansfield encourages those who have been hurt by the local church to overcome that pain and suffering – if not in response to a biblical command or for the benefit of the church, then for their own healing and maturation.

Citing numerous examples, Mansfield notes that God uses people’s pain – and their own immaturity, in some cases – to reshape us. There is no denying that many churchgoers get wounded by the insensitive or ignorant actions of others in the church. Mansfield points out, though, that those instances are opportunities for us to love others who, like ourselves, are simply “flawed sinners.” Fleeing from the source of pain and suffering, rather than addressing and overcoming it, leaves us wounded and bitter, and does nothing to enhance our lives or those of the people responsible for that suffering.

The solution, according to Mansfield, is forgiveness – the same forgiveness that Jesus offers to each of us who have wounded Him. Christianity, after all, is about receiving freedom through God’s forgiveness extended to us. Offering that same forgiveness to others is the only means to us becoming healthy and whole again.
The full article is online here: Millions of Unchurched Adults Are Christians Hurt by Churches But Can Be Healed of the Pain.

This is not surprising as Christian community is messy. We are humans and humans have a tendency to let one another down and to cause each other pain. Sticking with such a fallen institution is not easy, but it has its rewards. This quote captures how I feel fairly well:
How much I must criticize you,
my church and yet how much I love you!
You have made me suffer more than anyone
and yet I owe more to you than to anyone.
I should like to see you destroyed
and yet I need your presence.

You have given me much scandal
and yet you alone have made me understand holiness.
Never in this world have I seen anything more compromised,
more false, yet never have I touched anything
more pure, more generous and more beautiful.

—Carlo Carretto (1910-1988)

Yet, I believe that even if every Christian gets it wrong in how we live out our faith in our daily lives, that Jesus is still right. This does not excuse the way churches hurt people, in fact it shows how important that it is to work to be safe places of healing. As we are the Body of Christ, we must live worthy of that calling. This applies to the gross injustices recently being reported about the Catholic Church. While the unconscionable acts reported must be stopped and the perpetrators removed from ministry, this does not begin to touch on all the way churches cause harm.

I am aiming my sights lower if you will at the quite legal, but also deplorable forms of judgment and condemnation meeted out in Jesus' name but unworthy of the title Christian. In my office I have heard through the years many painful stories of the ways in which churches have left Christians wounded, but still seeking that connection to God they felt in Christian worship.

What does this bring up for you? What has your experience been?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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  • At 4/22/2010 9:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love being and Episcopalian, but in my past being married once before and needing guidance I went to my priest, the one that I trusted more than myself.

    We talked, I told him what was going on and how I felt I opened myself to everything that I was afraid of. That was not the matter, what mattered was that I was to stay with my husband. In the end did because of what Father Carstons said to me.

    I stayed until it was almost too late, for me and our daughter. I now understand that he (Father Carstons) lived by the old rule, you are his wife and you stay no matter what.

    But at this time, what was said to me and told to be the way God wants it to be in the end hurt both my child and I.

    If I had been strong enough to stand up and say no, enough is enough I truly believe things would be different for my daughter today, she would have a father to look to.

    I love the church I fell in love with as a very young adult, but I also hate the church that as an older adult let me believe I was doing wrong by wanting to leave a man who hut me.

    And in the end he ended up hurting me in a way that I can never forgive myself for.

     

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4/18/2010

Asking to be changed

Prayer is not asking for what you think you want,
but asking to be changed in ways you can't imagine.
~Kathleen Norris (1947- )

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4/17/2010

Plenty of Room in the Net

click to find out more about this paintingIn tomorrow's Gospel reading, Jesus' post-resurrection appearance occurs on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The disciples are back at the nets and have turned up no fish. He tells them to cast on the right side of the boat. They do as he says and catch more than they can haul in, landing 153 fish.

I have preached on this odd detail of knowing how many fish are in the net, saying in part,
With the impetuous Peter paddling to shore, the remaining disciples struggle in the hundred yards with bulging nets in tow. Once on shore we are told that they have caught large fish, 153 of them.

I want to pause here for a moment. 153 fish. Really. Who counted them. John, the future Gospel writer stops being the disciple whom Jesus loved long enough to turn into reporter. This will make a great scene in my book John thinks and starts stacking up the fish. “One, two, three, four. No Nathanael don’t move them, I’m counting. One, two, three, four.” And on he counts until “151, 152, 153.” So much for breakfast on the beach with Jesus.

The great commentator on scripture, Jerome, offered a different possibility. Jerome cites a source that Greeks taught of 153 species of fish. If Jerome is right, this number may be symbolic of what is actually happening on the beach that morning. When they followed Jesus’ instructions, the disciples did not just catch fish, they caught big ones. And they didn’t just catch a lot of fish, but all the kinds of fish there are to be caught. Now that’s the fishing story to end all fishing stories. They didn’t just have a good haul of fish, symbolically they caught them all. It is the fish story version of the line from Revelation that says, “You ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

What I think is going on here is that the spiritually-in-tune John is telling us what they really learned that morning they had the big catch, and it was not a fishing lesson. These men were apostles, which means someone who is sent out. Jesus was sending them out to start fishing for people in a big way and he provided an object lesson to bring the point home.

The Kingdom of God is not just for people who look like you, think like you, act like you. The Kingdom of God is for all the peoples of the earth. And the net is big enough to hold them all without tearing. John makes this point clear in writing, “Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though they were so many, the net was not torn.”

click to find out more about this paintingThere is room in God’s kingdom for everybody, all kinds of people. In fact, the net won’t be full until it has every kind of person in it. Every tribe, language, people and nation. Don’t worry. It won’t tear. There is plenty of room in the net.

Then came breakfast. Jesus feeds his disciples again. Bread and fish, just like with the thousands on the hillside. This is making the message even clearer. See the net that catches all the kinds of fish and does not break. See the meal of bread and fish, just like before. Now remember that you are to go into all the world with this message of God’s love.

The hard part would have been leaving the beach...Yet, if those guys stay on the beach, then the Good News of Christianity never reaches you and me. Jesus longed for a relationship with all that he had made and the way to get it was for these guys around the campfire to get going....

It happens again and again. A church feels like a family. We all know and love each other. We may rub each other the wrong way now and again, but when it is family-sized, it feels like family. Every family has its little problems, folks who go on and on at family reunions and bore you with their stories. But, you just know that you took your turn with Uncle Joe at the last get together and so cousin Sally is taking her turn this time. It will be OK. Yet families grow. Folks marry, babies are born. Things change. But with churches, if we don’t watch it, we get that cozy breakfast on the beach feeling and forget that the net isn’t even close to full. We can look at a congregation and feel satisfied, everything is just about right. Jesus looks around and sees a lost and hurting world that needs someone to reach out to it in love and finds all the folks holding nets feel like their net is just about topped off. I’m sorry Jesus. This boat is full. No more room for smelly fish here....

Our loving God wants all creation to love like Jesus loves, and guess what? You are the one holding the net. Since the net is the Kingdom of God, you might not even be sure if there is a net, or if you are in the net yet. But God is still giving you the chance all the time to love as Jesus loves. You can sit back by the fire and decide to listen a bit more to the fish stories, or you can reach out in love with confidence that there is plenty of room in the net.
The full text of the sermon is online here: Plenty of Room in the Net.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Fisher of Men (Women and Kids too)

click to find out more about this painting

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4/16/2010

A Piece of Mud

Lillian TrasherJacksonville native Lillian Trasher (1887-1961) began working in a North Carolina orphanage after one term in a Bible college. At the orphanage, she heard a missionary from India speak of her work there. Lilly knew that God was calling her to help people. Ten days before her wedding in May 1910, she broke off her wedding engagement to serve as a missionary to Africa.

In 1911, she arrived in Assyut, Egypt, and took in an infant whose mother had died. She rented a small house to care for the baby and the first donation she received was 35 cents given by a local telegraph boy. Within five years she was caring for 50 children. The locals called her "The Child Saver."

Lillian TrasherBy the time of her death in 1961, the Lillian Trasher Orphanage had grown to some 1200 children. During her lifetime, Lillian Trasher cared for 25,000 Egyptian children. A primary school, dormitories, a chapel, and sports facilities were built on the orphanage grounds. She loved the children who came into her care, but she never forgot that it was Christ in her giving her the capacity to love them. She said, "When Jesus healed the blind man in John chapter 9 by putting clay on his eyes, it wasn't the mud that healed, but the power behind the mud. God can use me or any other piece of mud."
God, whose everlasting arms support the universe: We thank you for moving the heart of Lillian Trasher to heroic hospitality on behalf of orphaned children in great need, and we pray that we also may find our hearts awakened and our compassion stirred to care for your little ones, through the example of our Savior Jesus Christ and by the energy of your Holy Spirit, who broods over the world like a mother over her children; for they live and reign with you, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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4/15/2010

Social Justice

At The Washington Post and Newsweek's On Faith online forum, the panelists are hitting the recent hot button debate over justice and Christianity in answering
Fox News commentator Glenn Beck claims that faith-based calls for "social justice" are really ideological calls for "forced redistribution of wealth . . . under the guise of charity and/or justice," and that Christians should leave their churches if they preach or practice "social justice."

Rev. Jim Wallis disagrees, saying social justice is a faith-based commitment "to serve the poor and to attack the conditions that lead to poverty," central tents of the teachings of Jesus and at the heart of biblical faith.

Who's right? How does the pursuit of justice fit into your faith? Is 'social justice' an ideology or a theology?
The responses include my friend Rabbi Jack Moline who wrote in part,
Arguing from presumptions about the American form of government and economy about the mandates of the Bible is dishonest, specious and irresponsible. It is also irrelevant. The values taught by the diverse interpretations of religious communities in the United States do not determine, individually or collectively, what kind of government we ought to have. Likewise, American values do not determine the beliefs and practices of diverse communities of faith.

It is irresponsible for a religious figure to lay claim to government policy by dint of his or her faith. It is likewise irresponsible for a self-proclaimed "rodeo clown" to lay claim to understanding of religious teachings by dint of his television ratings.

What is responsible is for each of God's children to take responsibility for a just society and a just world.
Quaker recorded minister Max Carter wrote in part,
Query #41 in Britain Yearly Meeting's book of faith & practice says, "Try to live simply. A simple lifestyle, freely chosen, is a source of strength. Do not be persuaded into buying what you do not need or cannot afford. Do you keep yourself informed about the effects your style of living is having on the global economy and environment?"

I'm not the one to start throwing stones, myself, though. I am among the privileged of the world and have, even on a Quaker educator's salary, more than my share of the earth's wealth. I gladly re-distribute what I have been blessed with - but I should do more. I would hope Glenn Beck does the same, voluntarily, from the enormous wealth he gains from his "bully pulpit." I would hope that his major complaint is about "government mandated" re-distribution of wealth, not about Jesus' advice to a person of wealth in his day seeking advice about gaining "eternal life." Jesus' response? "Go; give all that you have to the poor, and follow me."

Sounds like re-distribution of wealth to me! Maybe Jesus should leave the church.
R. Albert Mohler Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, offered a nuanced response both conceding the point on justice, while wanting to hold churches accountable if that is their only Gospel. He wrote in part:
As an evangelical Christian, my concern is the primacy of the Gospel of Christ — the Gospel that reveals the power of God in the salvation of sinners through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The church's main message must be that Gospel. The New Testament is stunningly silent on any plan for governmental or social action. The apostles launched no social reform movement. Instead, they preached the Gospel of Christ and planted Gospel churches. Our task is to follow Christ's command and the example of the apostles.

There is more to that story, however. The church is not to adopt a social reform platform as its message, but the faithful church, wherever it is found, is itself a social reform movement precisely because it is populated by redeemed sinners who are called to faithfulness in following Christ. The Gospel is not a message of social salvation, but it does have social implications.

Faithful Christians can debate the proper and most effective means of organizing the political structure and the economic markets. Bringing all these things into submission to Christ is no easy task, and the Gospel must not be tied to any political system, regime, or platform. Justice is our concern because it is God's concern, but it is no easy task to know how best to seek justice in this fallen world.
You can read the full statements of any of these writers by clicking on their name in the text above to go to their own full response. All the panelists responses are linked from here: Social Justice.

I agree with Mohler's central argument, if not with all of his text. We are to be all about the Gospel of Jesus. The whole Gospel. So, yes, we are to be about justice. We should not ignore the needs of those around us. The Book of James states it this way:
Judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? (James 2:13-16)
Justice is something that God will bring about in the fullness of time, but that we are to be about in the meantime as we share the love of God with others. Liberation theology is on to something important in saying that persons of faith should help end oppression and injustice in the here and now.

Yet we must admit that this good theology can become an ideology if we divorce the justice itself from the connection to God whose love for us is what spurs us to reach out in love to others. This is not a political view. This is much more important than the merely political. We should not trade the Good News of Jesus for the news of any political idea or system as it is always a bad trade. In the process, we miss any idea of sin and redemption as well as forgiveness and healing. The shalom of God is not simply a lack of hostility, but health, healing and wholeness and we don't want to lose this theology.

The love of God is broader and deeper than any ideology. I am dancing along the edge of politics to make the apolitical statement that we are to love God with all our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves, which is always Good News.

That's my take, what's yours?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

The above fits with my earlier video Jesus Said...Love

Facebook users can find the video here: YouTube—Jesus Said

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  • At 4/15/2010 7:55 PM, Anonymous val said…

    Check out this blog, interesting to say the least
    http://thegoodtale.blogspot.com/

     

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4/14/2010

More of The Present Future



I mentioned yesterday that I meet with a group of Episcopal clergy to discuss the future of the church and how we can better prepare for the changes brought about by our changing cultural landscape. That group has read and just discussed The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church by Reggie McNeal. Here are some more quotes from the book itself:
The deal is this: we have assumed that if people come to church often enough they will grow. We've got to be much more intentional than this.
Let me ask you: If the world could be changed through conferences and seminars, wouldn't it have happened a long time ago? We don't need a conference on prayer. We need people to pray!
I can tell you within minutes of arriving on a church campus whether or not a guiding vision is operative, Does the landscaping look like it's been left up to God to take care of? Does anyone greet me when I enter? Are staff members begging for volunteers? (I don't mean recruiting—that goes on in organizations with vision. I mean begging, badgering, cajoling, guilting people into service.) Are lackluster or mediocre efforts expended on ushering, singing, custodial services, teaching, signage, and so on?
I know plenty of churches that have capitalized on their strengths in the face of glaring weaknesses. In fact, their strength is what fills in their brand content, gives them ministry identity, and distinguishes them from the pack.
The key is the presence of mission. Missionless religion that calls itself Christianity is an affront to God, however it styles itself.
Basically, he sees that the institutional church, which is about and for the institution, is dying out. In a postmodern culture, fewer and fewer people will be interested in supporting the institution for its own sake. However, he remains convinced that the mission of God in the world begun in Jesus, will continue and will prevail. He is against churchianity and for a return to Christianity, which he feels will be more like the book of Acts than recent years of church history.

That's his take. As I have been big on saying that we need to set about BEING the Body of Christ, and emphasized the mission of the church as serving our community in Jesus' name and so spreading the Gospel beyond our walls, I tend to agree with him. What do y'all think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Missionary

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  • At 4/14/2010 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Interesting --- the post modern church, emerging church, deconstructing Christianity (and Judaism, and God, and, and ---) We are back in a movement of "throw out the money changers" as in Jesus' time, and a time when the Temple and Priests and unnecessary rituals and rules (that all included an exchange of money) were the focus rather than worshiping God and helping the unfortunate. Turning a "Church" (temple, mosque) into a MISSION --- now that's something to look forward to! Don't need a building for it -- just faithfulness and a decision to live intentionally. Not as easy as "religion" but more fulfilling every single day!

     
  • At 4/14/2010 10:56 PM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Their brand content.....? Are we really to the point of seeing the Church this way? Where do we stop trying to mold the church into something palatable to the culture in which we find ourselves?

    Reminds me of a congregation that once upon a time changed it's name from Lord __ ___ ___ to Joy. In my opinion it was a fatal mistake. Too generic, too noncommittal, not enough genuine worship. We are called to be the salt and the light, not the warm and fuzzy faith you can put down and take up when the situation requires it.

    When do we quit asking the Church to conform to the standards of the world and start insisting that the world conform to the Church and its teachings?

     
  • At 4/14/2010 11:13 PM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Today Fr. Stephen on his blog "Glory To God For All Things" (http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com) says:

    "God cannot be chosen or consumed as though He were a product among products. Neither is He an idea or slogan to which we may give allegiance."

     
  • At 4/15/2010 7:49 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    November,
    While the quote above with brand content is from the text, it is a very anti-marketing, anti-give in to the culture book, where he says that the church in North America has by and large become more secular than the culture.

    It is interesting however for an author seeking to overturn the consumer mindsight that he still uses such a consumer term. If he means, this is what your congregation will be known for in the community, it probably still does not help.

    It's not that the church meets our needs, but that through the church we discovery needs—worshipping and serving God—that we may never have known we had.

    Thanks for commenting here. Since I started an RSS feed to post these on my Facebook page each day, I receive little comment here and so less productive back and forth like this.

    peace,
    Frank+

     

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4/13/2010

King of Peace in Bloom





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The Present Future

I meet with a group of Episcopal clergy to discuss the future of the church and how we can better prepare for the changes brought about by our changing cultural landscape. For that group, I've read the book The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church by Reggie McNeal. McNeal has been a denominational leader in the Baptist church who teaches seminary, serves as a leadership development coach, and challenges the church from within. I wanted to share some quotes from his intentionally provocative book:
The North American church is suffering from severe missionary amnesia. It has forgotten why it exists. The church was created to be the people of God to join him in his redemptive mission in the world. The church was never intended to exist for itself.
The church that wants to partner with God on his redemptive mission in the world has a very different target: the community.
What you must do is two things: create a culture informed by missiology and create venues where people can practice being missionaries.
What if denominational reporting inquiries asked, "What percentage of your congregants feel they grew to be more like Jesus this past year?" What if church leaders asked each other, "How is God at work in your people?" or "Where do you see Jesus bustin' out?"
Here are his six tough questions:

1. The collapse of the church culture.
•Wrong question: How do we do church better?
•Tough question: How do we deconvert from Churchianity to Christianity?

2. The shift from church growth to kingdom growth.
•Wrong question: How do we grow this church?
•Tough question: How do we transform our community?

3. A new reformation: Releasing God's people.
•Wrong question: How do we turn members into ministers?
•Tough question: How do we turn members into missionaries?

4. The return to spiritual formation.
•Wrong question: How do we develop church members?
•Tough question: How do we develop followers of Jesus?

5. The shift from planning to preparation.
•Wrong question: How do we plan for the future?
•Tough question: How do we prepare for the future?

6. The rise of apostolic leadership.
•Wrong question: How do we develop leaders for church work?
•Tough question: How do we develop leaders for the Christian movement

I will share some more on this tomorrow.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Neo-Apostolic Leader Wannabe

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4/12/2010

Going Home Again

The nave of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Rome, Georgia

Saint Peter's Episcopal Church nurtured me and my family in our faith and supported me as a leader in the years leading up to my answering God's call to ordinained ministry. I was a 31-year old father of a three-year old and the 150-year old church made room for Victoria and I in significant leadership. Through leading children's church and Senior High EYC, we gained experience that continues to help us in ministry. But most importantly, we shared our lives in that wonderfully messy, not always easy creation from the heart of the Trinity—Christian community.

It had been 13 years since we last stepped foot in St. Peter's when we went to Juliet Voccio's wedding rehearsal this past Friday evening. Walking into the church was an experience in returning to a place of significant spiritual growth, a homecoming, in a way I had not anticipated. How great it was to take in the church building and see again the stained glass that had looked over us in our time at St. Peter's. Then officiating at wedding itself and even moreso attending the 10 a.m. worship service on Sunday, we reconnected with the congregation. The Rev. Don Black has since retired, but we keep in touch. The Rev. Roger Ard is doing a great job as Rector at St. Peter's. In 13 years, there were many new faces to be sure, but so many more familiar faces grown a bit older. The very people who had supported me and my family, making the ministry which has followed possible.

I discovered that several parishioners have kept up quite closely with our progress. The internet makes reading sermons and religion columns easy enough, and also allows for news to flow freely. A recent issue of our newsletter The Olive Branch hung on the St. Peter's Newsmakers bulletin board in Daniel Hall. I was humbled. I find that my words fall short of conveying what it was like. But I am reminded of Brandon Watson's video about King of Peace. It showed in words and pictures this concept of discovering your own name amid a group whose names you don't always know, but who are a part of your spiritual journey nonetheless. So, as I fall short of conveying the experience, I will let Brandon do so for me:



Facebook users go here to see the video: You Will Know Them.

It was an enriching experience to go home to St. Peter's. It also brings to mind the significant support and experience gained at St. Philip's in Baden, Maryland; St. Hilary's in Kibondo, Tanzania; and Church of the Spirit in Alexandria, Virginia. Each of those congregations also nurtured my journey toward ordained ministry in important ways. I return to them now in my mind, looking around their spaces and seeing the faces of those with whom I worshipped. I trust that a return to King of Peace would be similarly meaningful for those nurtured in our congregation.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pilgrim

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  • At 4/13/2010 8:59 PM, Anonymous Amber said…

    Father Frank, Thank you for sharing all this with us. Your story really touches my heart. Our family has grown SO much in our faith in the past 4 -5 yrs at King of Peace. I know we will not always live here in GA with Geoff in the Navy. Some day we may experience what you did, some of it anyway. I don't see Geoff going off to seminary anytime soon :) But we do enjoy working with the children of the church just as you all did. Anyway your words were touching and brought tears to my eyes. We are going to miss you and Victoria VERY,VERY much!!

     

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4/11/2010

Equal Neighbors

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself"...dethrones feeling and good fortune and replaces them with the 'shall'....

A Statue of KierkegaardAccording to Christ, our neighbor is our equal. Our neighbor is not the beloved, for whom you have a passionate preference, nor your friend, whom you prefer. Nor is your neighbor, if you are well educated, the learned person with whom you have cultural affinity - for with your neighbor you have before God the equality of humanity. Nor is your neighbor one who is of higher social status than you, and you love him because he has higher social status. This is mere preference and to that extent self-love. Nor is your neighbor one who is inferior to you, and you love him because he is inferior to you, because such love can easily be partiality's condescension and to that extent self-love.

No, Christian love, this 'you shall', means equality. In your relationship to people of distinction you shall love your neighbor. In relation to those who are inferior you are not to love in pity but shall love your neighbor. Your neighbor is every person, for on the basis of distinctions he is not your neighbor, nor on the basis of likeness to you as in contrast to others. He is your neighbor on the basis of equality with you before God.
~Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), Provocations

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4/10/2010

How do we know Jesus' resurrection was real?

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, we will read of the disciple Thomas doubting Jesus' resurrection after Jesus appears to the others while Thomas was away. I preached on this passage making a case for what we know about the resurrection and why I believe:

Last Sunday was Easter and we joyously celebrated the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection. A week has passed. The joy has subsided enough to look at things in the light of day. I want to dare to ask the question, “How do we know they didn’t just make it up?”

After all, we were all born centuries after that first Easter. On a morning when we have just read how Jesus’ own friend Thomas doubted whether the resurrection was true, we should feel emboldened to ask a couple of questions of our own. How do we know that the disciples did not just wish Jesus had been resurrected? How do we know they didn’t have something at stake in fooling everyone else into thinking that Jesus came back from the dead?

First, I want to give the standard answer and show the problems some folks have in accepting it. Then we will look a little harder to see if we might have something more to say on the matter to see if it holds up.

Here is the way the standard answer goes. The best proof of the resurrection is the change in Jesus’ own disciples. Before the resurrection, those same apostles were scared, hiding from persecution. After an encounter with their risen Lord, they were brave enough to take to the streets as Peter does in this morning’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

Yes, the disciples might have told a lie to keep the Jesus’ myth going, but not once it came at the price of their very lives. The disciples were in a position to know whether the resurrection stories were the truth or a lie. They were the very witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. They might lie to keep the story going if it meant filling their purses with money, but when persecution came, they would back away from their claims of Jesus’ resurrection. When push came to shove they would not die for a lie?

That’s the standard answer and it works pretty well. The Bible does describe to us the beginnings of persecution against the early Christians. We hear of the first Deacon, Stephen, being stoned to death. But, we have no reason to believe he was a witness to the resurrection. We also read of the death Jesus’ brother James, who was himself converted by an encounter with the resurrected Christ. James was pushed off the top of the Temple for refusing to renounce his faith in Jesus. James would have been in a position to know the truth. Would he have died for a lie?

As for the other disciples, their fates are not described in the Bible. In fact, there is no good solid historical evidence for what happened to them, just traditions, that sometimes contradict one another. Yet, the traditions all have the apostles dying for their faith with the sole exception of John, who is said to have died of old age in Ephesus. Even if a skeptic were to grant that the traditions about these men having been put to death for their belief in Christ were true, would this prove that Jesus was really and truly raised from the dead? Not exactly.

Let’s be honest. It could have been a delusion—mass hysteria fed by a desire for the resurrection to be real. Maybe they felt that Jesus was somehow still present to them and they wished it into a historic fact. Or maybe they talked of Jesus’ teaching still being with them and later believers worked with the story until they told it that Jesus’ was resurrected. A symbolic event could have been confused as being an historic event by people living a few generations later.

The full sermon is online here: The Resurrection: An Apology and it continues by taking an honest look at the evidence for the resurrection.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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4/09/2010

Faith Like a Lion

Christianity is not just a thought or an idea, but a way of life. Faith in our Trinitarian God should fully involve our whole beings. However, it is easier, safer, to keep God at arms length. One would not want to go overboard with this whole faith thing.

There is a time-tested way to avoid getting carried away with faith. Get inoculated with a weak case of Christianity early in life to avoid stronger strains of the religion later. Get involved, but not too involved. Have faith, but do not really do anything about it. Don’t pray, avoid reading or otherwise studying the Bible, skip worship on Sunday and every other day. Then when someone mentions Christianity, remind people that you already are a Christian. Let the pushy people who bring up faith know that you do have faith, but that you don’t have to go to church or read the Bible to believe in God or pray. That weak form of faith will help you keep a full-blown infectious faith at bay.

The only downside is that a weak form of faith offers little comfort when the world dishes out epidemic-sized problems. A weak faith may inoculate you against catching a stronger faith, but it will offer little help when your company downsizes you out of a career or the lump in your wife’s breast proves to be malignant.

Faith that will see you through the hard times in life must be more than head knowledge. Not just, “Oh yeah, I know all about that God stuff.” Faith should be something that is part of every part of you. That level of faith is not merely a vain hope that something might be right. Deep faith that infects your whole being comes through sure and certain knowledge that the thing you believe is true. That committed faith comes through trusting God and then experiencing that you can rely on God’s promises.

Begin by talking honestly to God about your hopes and fears. Pray for the things that concern you. At first it is the empty hopeful faith wondering if there could even be a God. But as you experience the ways that prayer changes things for the better, you will gain confidence and nurture a more active faith.

There is a story from Africa of what it means to have faith that is more active. Vincent Donovan was a Roman Catholic missionary among the Masai people of East Africa. In his book, Christianity Rediscovered, he writes of the challenges of translating the Gospel into the Masai language. He did his best to learn the Masai language and to tell the Masai people of Christ in their own words. One Masai elder listened to missionary each week for many months and came to except the Christian faith. Then he challenged the missionary on the word faith itself. He told Donovan that the word he used in Masai for faith means literally, “to agree to.” The Masai elder explained that faith does not just mean to agree to something. It is much more demanding, much more personal than that.

The elder explained that faith that only means “to agree to” something is like a white hunter who comes and kills a lion with a gun. The man stands a great distance from the lion and pulls a trigger. Only his eyes and his finger take part in killing the lion. The man is in little danger and is hardly involved in the kill. The Masai elder said, “This is not faith.” For one to really have faith, to truly believe” he said, “is like a lion hunting its prey. The lion’s nose, ears and eyes all search out the Savannah for the prey. The lion’s legs give him the speed to catch the prey. The lion throws all of his body into terrible death leap and the killing blow from her front paw. As the prey falls, the lion wraps her front legs around the prey and pulls it to her and makes the prey part of her as she devours it.” The elder finished, “This is the way a lion kills. This is the way people are to believe. This is what faith is.”

The Masai elder was right. Faith is meant to be more than simple agreement with an idea. If you want your faith to stand the test of all that life has to dish out, then you will need a more active faith. Trust God. Let God in to more and more of your life and you can have lion-like faith which others will find infectious.

The above is my religion column for today's issue of the Tribune & Georgian.

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4/08/2010

Angels out of demons

If pride turned some of the angels into demons,
then humility can doubtless make angels out of demons.
~John Climacus (579-649)

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4/07/2010

Be Not Angry

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be,
since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.
~Thomas A` Kempis (1380-1471)

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  • At 4/07/2010 8:12 AM, Anonymous Peter Carey+ said…

    Beautiful and challenging quote, thank you for finding it and posting it! I'm borrowing it (with credit to you) and posting it on my blog today, too...
    http://santospopsicles.blogspot.com/2010/04/be-not-angry.html

    Thank you, I enjoy your blog and your work!

    Peace and Blessings,

    Peter+

     

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4/06/2010

The Purpose of the Bible

The whole purpose of the Bible, it seems to me, is to convince people to set the written word down in order to become living words in the world for God’s sake. For me, this willing conversion of ink back to blood is the full substance of faith.
~the Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor

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  • At 4/06/2010 6:57 PM, Blogger Clarence said…

    The only purpose for the bible is to keep one self on the narrow path. It is not to judge others. Not people or other denominations of the Christian church. What we believe God has made clear to us as individuals. One on one. Me and God, and you and God.

    Clarence.

     
  • At 4/07/2010 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The only purpose of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament is to ponder the substance of God and our relationship to the Creator. If we do that well, we will have less time to judge one another.

     

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4/05/2010

The Sound of Silence

"For God alone my soul in silence waits."
—Psalm 62:1a


A Salon.com article considers silence in interviewing George Prochnik, the author of, In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise. Salon writes,
For most Americans, silence is hard to find these days. Traffic, airplane noise and public transport fill most major cities. Cellphone conversations have taken over the parks and sidewalks, buzzing electronics have invaded our homes, and each store has its own carefully shaped "sonic environment."

Most of us accept these noises as a normal byproduct of our gadget-obsessed times, but in his new book, argues that this barrage of noise is more than just a nuisance; it poses a real threat to our cardiovascular system and mental health, our ability to concentrate, and, perhaps most dangerous of all, it turns our political discourse into a shrill barrage.
The full interview is here: In Pursuit of Silence.

Noise seems omnipresent. Where and how do you find silence? What is its value?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue
Pursuer of a post-Lent, Post-Easter silence

We need to find God,
and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness.
God is the friend of silence.
See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence;
see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence...
We need silence to be able to touch souls.
—Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)

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4/04/2010

Easter Photos


We had wonderful worship at both 6:30 and 10 a.m. The small sunrise service was nice, ending in the Memorial Garden as the sun rose. The 10 a.m. service was a vibrant celebration of the resurrection with two baptisms, special music and a wonderful feelings all through it.






















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