28 February 2009

Duncan's delusional daze dawns dimly

For a number of years we have watched the schismatics at work. I wish I had pursued that degree in psychology so that I could write a post analyzing them from their acts. Make sure to click on the photo of the Delusionaries at the right.

One of the most interesting activities is watching them create reality out of whole cloth. Their sense of delusion makes Chamberlain's "Peace in our Time" look like reality. They have more brass than a fox in a hen house, to use that southern saying.

For background on the Pittsburgh story, I'll refer you to a post Fr. Jake wrote 7 June 2008.

It is customary for Bishops Diocesan to write a pastoral letter at Advent, Lent and Pentecost. Advent and Lent letters exhort the diocese to keep a holy tide, to prepare for the coming solemn feast day, and to do good works.

Bob Duncan, operating under the delusion that he is not only a bishop but also Bishop Diocesan of Pittsburgh, (he is neither, but) has released a "pastoral letter" to his ecclesial community.

One would think that he would exhort his people to keep a holy Lent. Ah, but we are dealing with Bob Duncan - so, of course, that's now what he did.

He begins his letter
As we enter the holy season of Lent, I have been thinking about the broken relationships we face. The depth of that brokenness was encapsulated for me in the most recent communication of the new Episcopal Church Diocese concerning our realignment and the Calvary Church litigation. I am especially troubled that the approach taken by the leaders of the new diocese misrepresents what the litigation to date has been about and calls into question the consistently expressed and long-standing commitment on our part to find a charitable and non-injurious way through the dispute between us.
At the beginning of Lent, Bob isn't thinking about the season of repentance, Our Lord's suffering or the coming Resurrection. The self-styled episcopous vagrans is thinking about his little schism and is attempting to pump up the troops.

Note what he draws attention to in the opening of this so called pastoral letter:
  1. He is worried about the brokenness he created
  2. The continuing Episcopalians are a "new diocese"
  3. The continuing diocese misrepresents the facts
  4. He wants a charitable, non-injurious way to keep the property which he is attempting to steal
Well, of course he is worried about the brokenness. The Primates of the Anglican Communion didn't proclaim him messiah at the Alexandria meeting. In fact, they said in section 10
It is not for individual groups to claim the terms on which they will relate to the Communion.

The leadership of the Communion needs to stand together, and find an approach to which they are all committed.

Any scheme developed would rely on an undertaking from the present partners to ACNA that they would not seek to recruit and expand their membership by means of proselytisation. WCG believes that the advent of schemes such as the Communion Partners Fellowship and the Episcopal Visitors scheme instituted by the Presiding Bishop in the United States should be sufficient to provide for the care of those alienated within the Episcopal Church from recent developments.
After the vote of no confidence in Alexandria (to which Akinola and Venables agreed) Duncan is worried that he may lose the farm he is trying to steal. The Anglican World is not falling at his feet as he believed it would.

As for TEC being a "new diocese" that is more of Duncan's lies. It is akin to the mayor of Los Angeles declaring LA is the real California and the rest of he state is the new California. But, claiming to be the real Episcopal Diocese is imperative to the cause. The Pittsburgh constitution says "Episcopal Diocese" and, like Ft. Worth, if they aren't that diocese, they are out in the cold. This is an attempt for legitimacy which they know they don't have. That makes them liars, doesn't it?

And of course he wants a non-injurious way out of the problem. He's afraid he may end up in jail for theft, which is, of course, where he belongs along with Schofield and Iker and Venables.

But the part that is most hypocritical is that he says the continuing Episcopalians misrepresent facts. Duncan and his lot are the masters of misrepresentation. It reminds one of that old joke "how do you tell if he is lying? His lips move."

In writing of the Calvary Episcopal Church litigation, Duncan says
This process was transparent. We have tried to follow the good example of St. Paul in the 26th chapter of Acts by speaking and acting openly, and “not in a corner.”

The leaders of the new diocese challenge the validity of the Diocesan realignment. Although we strongly disagree with this position, we recognize that some of these leaders publicly took this position at our 2007 and 2008 Conventions. In this respect, it is right to acknowledge that their position on this issue is consistent, and to recognize that they believe it their duty to challenge the legitimacy of the Diocesan action.

The same cannot be said, however, for the new diocese leaders’ recent adoption of Calvary’s arguments regarding the 2005 Stipulation and Order. On behalf of the new diocese’s Standing Committee and Board of Trustees, Dr. Simons and Mr. Ayres (the presidents of each body) have written: “We call attention to the stipulation signed in good faith by Bishop Duncan’s attorneys on October 15, 2005, which clearly defines how assets are to be disposed of, if any attempt to leave the Episcopal Church occurred – they are to stay in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church.”
Notice that all the schismatics have done has been done in the light. I guess they don't count the top secret Chapman Memo with the top secret plan to subvert TEC and steal the property, which was accidentally sent to the wrong person who made it public, or the secret conclaves with Akinola running back and forth from the primates' meeting to the schismatics meeting.

One of the interesting things about Duncan's letter is its timing - he released it the day after the California Supreme Court refused to hear arguments in the property case and said, once again, the property belongs to the National Church. Except for Virginia, all the cases have gone against the schismatics. In the Virginia case, argument is going to be made that the Civil War era law used to decide the case is contrary to the 14th amendment. When that law is overturned, the property will go to TEC, too.

This is the best bit, though:
The leaders of the new diocese, and many within TEC, will insist on a legal fight over the validity of our withdrawal from TEC. We will engage in this battle, as we must. But there should be no mistake on the following points: the Stipulation and Order does not address the Diocese leaving TEC, and the leaders of the new diocese want nothing less than all Diocesan assets.
Well, of course TEC wants all diocesan assets: the assets belong to TEC in the first place. It is the schismatics who want to steal it, and Duncan is their leader.

Like Akinola's recent rant, Mr. Duncan's letter is an attempt to make the faithful believe Duncan is still the long expected messiah come to set schismatics free. He did all the expected things except to blame +Robinson and compare the schismatic's persecution to the plight of the people in Zimbabwe, Sudan and Gaza as he did previously. By the way, you must read this from back in 2007 regarding why use +Robinson as the whipping boy.

Mark Harris wrote an good article in May 2008. The Lead had a good follow up based on a comment made at Mark's blog

27 February 2009

Via Dolorosa - The Way of Sorrow

As one of my Lenten disciplines, I will attempt to make no posts on Fridays. Instead, I will post a link to an online Stations of the Cross for you to walk.

This week the stations are here.
We adore thee, O Christ, and we bless thee because by thy holy cross thou hast redeemed the world

Almighty and eternal Father, accept our prayer of thanksgiving for your Beloved Son, our Saviour and Lord. As we recall his Sacred Passion send the Spirit of Christ into our hearts, we beg You, so that whether we pray or work we might do all in union with Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

26 February 2009

Bad news from Tim and Fran

Tim and Fran are still at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, NY and will be there for sometime. Tim in not doing well and the disease is progressing.

He is still unable to eat or sleep. His breathing is labored and his resting heart rate is very high. He is receiving both plasma and blood transfusions to improve his blood chemistry.

They have decided to start him on decadron as the myelofibrosis has progressed into acute myeloid leukemia.

He is unable to rest for more then 30 mins at time because of the disease. He moves from the bed to the chair to get some relieve. This is very difficult for Fran as she has no relief as well. She is up with him around the clock to tend to him.

This is the link to the hospital where all visitor information can be found. Fran really could use some visitors to cheer her up although she will tell you she is fine.

They are in room 728. How about we all sen them a card - mention the blog so they know how you learned of their need.

The noose tightens on Schofield

The California Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal by the schismatic thieves in the Diocese of Los Angeles. That is not good news for the Steal-a-church bunch lead by deposed bishop David Schofield.

You may read about this over on the Grapevine who scooped us all according to the time stamp.

Basically, the court said, again,
Applying the neutral principles of law approach, we conclude, on this record, that the general church, not the local church, owns the property in question
The only action the court did take on this issue was to modify three sentences in the original decision. The decision is here. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page.

The whole property issue is not settled, yet; but this is another nail in the coffin. The precedent has been set and upheld by the California Supreme Court.

This is indeed bad news for Schofield and his fellow thieves in California or his chief Southern Conehead, Gregory Venables, who has knowingly received stolen goods into his province. Which is an illegal act according to his own province's constitution and canons.

Off Topic has a "worthy of a read" posed on the development.

25 February 2009

Lent Online

There are a myriad of Advent devotions and devotionals available online, many of them from the Anglican Spirituality. I've only found one Lenten online site:

All Saints, Atlanta has a great daily devotion here.

There is our Forward Day By Day which has devotions for eveyr day of the year. You'll find that here.

From The Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Living earth: joining the Hymn of All Creation comes from the ELCA e-Advocacy network on how we live as earthy companions, combining God's relationship with creation and our journey is found here.

Bless Now, O God, the Journey is a set of reflections offered at God Pause from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN. It is found here.

From the Mennonite tradition, Goshen College has daily devotions for Lent. You may access them here.

From the Roman tradition, a "Five Minute Devotion" for each day of Lent is found here.

Quadragesima - Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:1-2,12-17, Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

    Introit: Hear us, O Lord, for Thy mercy is kind: look upon us, O Lord, according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies. -- (Ps. 68. 2). Save me, O God: for the waters are come in even unto my soul.

In the epistle we just heard, St. Paul beseeches us to be reconciled to God. And his way of being reconciled may surprise you. Paul does not suggest a confession, or propose any self-examination, or lay out a lengthy program or exercise. He tells us that we should simply accept the grace of God when the time is right, and, behold, now is that acceptable time.

This is not a message many of us are ready to hear. Most of us were taught that the lengthy period of Lent was one of penitence and fasting, a time provided for those who were separated from the church by their sins, so they could be reconciled by acts of penitence and forgiveness. In fact, we will hear words very similar to those following this. That is, of course, one meaning of our Lenten season.

For most of us, Lent is the time of sometimes painful self-examination, during which we scrutinize our habits, our spiritual practice, and our very lives – hoping to make ourselves better, trying to make ourselves worthy of the love of God.

We “ramp up” our prayer, fasting, and self-denial in order to remove worldly distractions from our lives. And we take on Bible study, classes, and service projects in order to add meaning and depth to our existence.

For some children, Lent means no candy. Or a coin in the box whenever they say a bad word. For adults, it may be consuming less meat or alcohol, or attending that Lenten program at the church.

However we go about it, the goal is pretty much the same: Lent makes us ready for Easter. Quite simply put, we are better able to appreciate Resurrection joys come Easter Day by enduring these Lenten disciplines now.

Except, just a moment: St. Paul says we need to be reconciled to God – now, today.

Not after enduring a forty-day fast. Not after lengthy Bible study. Not even after we pray, but now, here, today: Be reconciled to God.

And the blessed apostle not only invites us to be reconciled to God, he actually beseeches us. That is, he pleads, implores, presses, begs, and demands. “We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. … Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.”

For many of us, this could mean a whole new kind of Lenten discipline. Instead of putting our hand into the refiner’s fire, we would be dancing in flames of love’s delight. Instead of seeking to squelch the voice of sin within us, we would be cultivating the sounds of joy. Instead of wallowing in our guilt, we would be reveling in our gratitude.

For not only did God create us, and everything there is; not only is all of creation wonderfully good; and not only are we offered the grace of God; but we are also offered that again, and again, and again.

We are offered God’s love in times of hardship, affliction, and tumult; in times of hunger, calamity, and sickness; and in times of peace, surplus, and prosperity.

We are offered God’s love both in times of distress and in times of accomplishment; in times of triumph and in times of failure; in times of righteousness and in times of sin.

Yes, that’s right: even when we sin. When we do things we know are wrong; when we hurt ourselves or others; when we lie, cheat and steal: that is when God loves us most.

Because when we sin, we need God even more. We need courage to turn away from darkness and to face the light. We need daring to turn away from the world’s false comforts and to accept the enduring grace of God. And we need faith to turn away from death, and face the new life that is freely given to all of us.

To paraphrase the blessed Apostle, God has put no obstacle in anyone’s way. God finds no fault in anyone’s ministry. And so, as servants of God, we are called to commend ourselves in every way. We are called to seek those qualities St. Paul writes about: purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God.

Some of these are character traits we can cultivate in ourselves. We can commit ourselves anew to promote forbearance through patience, to emulate purity through simplicity, to encourage knowledge through study, to foster kindness through gentleness, and to nurture truthful speech.

The rest are not things that are up to us, really. They are not results of our labors, or products of our will. The Holy Spirit, genuine love, and the power of God are not up to us. There is nothing we can do to create these, nothing we can do to snuff them out.

But we do have a choice. And that choice is whether to allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit, whether to let genuine love enter our heart, and whether to open ourselves up to the power of God.

And in this we have an entirely new idea for a Lenten spiritual discipline. Not giving up things, if such a discipline makes us miserable. Not taking on things, if that makes us miserable. But cultivating good qualities and opening ourselves up to the power of God, because only that can make us truly satisfied and content.

So, let’s go through that list of St. Paul’s in detail.

First, forbearance. What can we do to increase our patience, to cultivate self-control, tolerance, and restraint? The list of specific steps will be different for each of us, but the objective is the same: to become more merciful.

Next, purity. Now, we can’t become more pure, we cannot restore innocence – but we can cultivate decency, transparency, and simple cleanliness.

Then there’s knowledge. This may be more like a traditional Lenten discipline than many of the others, for we can increase our knowledge and love of for the divine by meditating on God’s holy Word. We can increase our knowledge of the church through reading. We can devote ourselves to learning more about who were are as Christian people.

After this comes kindness. This Lent, let us all seek to be more compassionate, more gentle, more considerate. It can be our aim to set aside all spite, viciousness, and harsh talk – no matter how people treat us.

Last among the virtues we can work on, is truthful speech. Honesty, candor, and integrity can be elusive. It is sometimes easier to tell a white lie than to maintain fidelity to truth. But if we take a few tentative steps in that direction, we will be better for it.

To become more merciful, more pure, more knowledgeable, more kind, more truthful – these cause us to behave more like God. And how can we do this? How can we emulate perfection, how can we aspire to the goodness that is the divine?

That’s where the second part of this discipline comes in: to allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit, to let genuine love enter our heart, and to be open to the power of God.

The only way any of this can work, the only means of making this a life-changing season, the only method for making permanent changes from destructive patterns of behavior is to seek divine assistance.

And that is what we are especially called to do in Lent. To acknowledge that we are not doing the best we can, to aspire to do better, and then to seek God’s guidance and God’s help in the lifelong process of becoming all that we can be.

For in each one of us is a spark of divine goodness that compels us to persevere with great endurance through afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, and hunger.

We do this because we know at our core we are called to something better. As Christians, we are called to cultivate purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, and truthful speech. And this we do through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in the force of genuine love, and by the power of God.

So, this Lent, may we all be reconciled to God; for, behold, now is the acceptable time.

24 February 2009

Arkansas Presbyterian congregation elects openly gay deacon

Our brother blogger, Arkansas Hillbilly, pointed me to a story in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette about the first openly gay deacon in the Arkansas Presbyterian Church USA (possibly the first openly gay deacon in the denomination).

According to reporter Frank Lockwood,

Little Rock's Second Presbyterian Church, which has 1,700 members, elected a slate of a dozen adult deacons, including openly gay member Michael Upson.

The candidates ran unopposed and the slate was approved by voice vote. Only a smattering of "no" votes was heard, and the outcome was greeted with some applause.

The vote was the first of any church in the Arkansas Presbytery since it voted to remove restrictions on homosexuality from the denominations book of order.

Upson has been in a committed relationship for the past twenty-two years. He is also a bell choir member, sunday school teacher, Vacation Bible School teacher, and in charge of the church's acolyte programme.
Elder Cyril Hollingsworth said the election won't change Upson's role at Second Presbyterian dramatically.

"Frankly he'll be doing the same kind of work and service that he's been doing in the church. It'll just be in an officer capacity," Hollingsworth said.

In a Feb. 9 "Dear Fellow Members" letter, the nominating committee said that Upson "is a gay man and has been in a relationship with another man for some 22 years."

The letter said Upson will declare a "scruple" - essentially a conscientious objection - to the constitutional ban on homosexual ordination. If the church's governing officers, known as elders, decide he is fit to serve, he will be ordained to the diaconate.

The Presbyterian Church's constitution currently requires ordained deacons, elders and ministers "to live either in fidelity within the covenant marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." But the church's national governing body, known as the General Assembly, voted in June for a constitutional amendment deleting the language on sexuality.

Meeting in San Jose, Calif., the General Assembly also voted to nullify past church judicial rulings on the fidelity/chastity standard and to allow ministry candidates to raise "scruples" if they disagree with the church's constitution.

A majority of the denomination's presbyteries must approve the amendment before it takes effect. But the "scruple" provision is already on the books.

Now, even the Calvinists aren't Calvinist enough for some quasi-Anglicans.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is the nation's ninth-largest religious body.

Shrove Tuesday decisions

It seems that with each proceeding year, time seems to pass quicker. Here it is, Shrove Tuesday again.

For much of the Anglican world, that means pancakes. Throughout the UK and the United States, the large majority of parishes/missions will be having a pancake supper at the church this evening.

When I was a kid, at our parish that meant pancake races, waiters in costumes and a really good time. It wasn't a carnival, but it certain had a festive atmosphere.

While much of this festive supper was taking place, our priest would be in the church, sitting in the Sanctuary, back to the altar rail waiting for the flood of parishioners wishing to be shriven. That's where the term "Shrove Tuesday" originated. It comes from shrive which means 1) to hear confessions and pronounce absolution and 2) to receive absolution of one's sins.

Alas, the flood of penitents was never a deluge. It was something between a brook and a creek.

While we ate our pancakes, bacon, sausage, and drank gallons of tea (made with loose tea!), the conversations would always include the phrase "What are you giving up for Lent."

The answers given to that question were always fun to hear: chocolate, smoking, ice cream, spinach, smoking, math, TV, and the best one of all those years -- "my husband."

In the 1980s it became fashionable to "take something up" for Lent. An extra charitable activity, attending Evening Prayer during the week, using the Lenten "poor boxes" we each were given on Quinquagesima Sunday.

I prefer the old ways of giving something up. that's more a "suffering" than working at the local food bank or homeless shelter one day each week.

This year, I shall be giving up Pepsi (in all forms). That may sound very trivial, but for me it is a true sacrifice -- the last thing I want to drink before I transition from morality to immortality is Cherry Pepsi. I'll also be taking up something.

The Church of England has a new programme for Lent this year called Live Life, Live Lent. Unfortunately the programme is in booklet form only and not available for web views. However, there is a Sixteen Facts about Lent page (more for the younger crowd, and an About Lent page from the booklet for our edification.

What are you giving up for Lent? What ever it is, or is not, I wish you all a very holy Lent.

Remember that tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, is the Communion wide day of prayer for Zimbabwe.

The glory of these forty days
We celebrate with songs of praise;
For Christ, by Whom all things were made,
Himself has fasted and has prayed.

Alone and fasting Moses saw
The loving God Who gave the law;
And to Elijah, fasting, came
The steeds and chariots of flame.

So Daniel trained his mystic sight,
Delivered from the lions’ might;
And John, the Bridegroom’s friend, became
The herald of Messiah’s Name.

Then grant us, Lord, like them to be
Full oft in fast and prayer with Thee;
Our spirits strengthen with Thy grace,
And give us joy to see Thy face.

23 February 2009

Akinola's silence is prophetic

I've been ruminating about the letter of rebuke sent by the Rt. Rev'd Mr. Peter Akinola, heiland of the episcopi vagrantes, to the Most Rev'd and Right Honourable Mr. Rowan Williams, Metropolitan Bishop, Primate of All England, and Spiritual Head of the Anglican Communion.

By now all of you will have read the letter found here. Also, many of you may have read the lengthy diatribe, The Episcopal Church: Tearing the Fabric of Communion to Shreds, prepared by Akinoa's henchmen. Notice that the attacks on the Most Rev'd Katharine Jefferts-Schori are authored by the Rev'd Matthew Kennedy, who was recently told by the court to vacate the TEC property he was attempting to steal.

One of the interesting darts they fling at TEC is "Accelerating Litigation." Apparently Akinola's US owners do not believe theft is worthy of legal intervention. We should not be surprised: criminals stick together. I believe part of the criminal code says, "assist other criminals by moral and material support."

For TTLS's new readers, some background is necessary. The quote above certainly describes the schismatics in TEC and their supporters, chief of whom has been Akinola. He is a man who has a history of immorality and unchristian virtue. For one thing, he promotes violence against Muslims.
The revenge killings came a day after the country's leading Anglican primate, Archbishop Peter Akinola, warned Muslims that they did not have a "monopoly on violence." He said churches "may no longer be able to contain our restive youths should this ugly trend continue".
When asked about his part in the massacre, he smugly said he was doing what the Holy Spirit had told him to do.
. . . When asked if those wearing name tags that read “Christian Association of Nigeria” had been sent to the Muslim part of Yelwa, the archbishop grinned. “No comment,” he said. “No Christian would pray for violence, but it would be utterly naive to sweep this issue of Islam under the carpet.”

He went on, “I’m not out to combat anybody. I’m only doing what the Holy Spirit tells me to do. I’m living my faith, practicing and preaching that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to God, and they respect me for it. They know where we stand. I’ve said before: let no Muslim think they have the monopoly on violence . . . [Emphasis added]
He has resisted repeated calls to explain his remarks and to repudiate the violence.

He is also famous for his attacks on GLBT people and has called for their murder.
Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God’s purpose for man
He defended exceeding vicious laws in Nigeria with would send people to prison, or worse, for merely talking with someone who is suspected of being homosexual.
When the Nigerian government introduced legislation last year making not only same-sex relationships an offence, punishable by five years' imprisonment, but also those who support such relationships (potentially any parent, relations or friend of a gay person), the archbishop vigorously approved.
This hypocrite has the hubris to lecture Rowan Williams on who the "enemies" of the Communion are. This charlatan wants to lead that Communion.

This is the moral and religious leader to whom the fundamentalist wing of TEC have looked for their spirituality. What a very sad comment on the theology of the fundamentalists.

Perhaps we should let John Cardinal Newman speak to the subject:
If any part of the Church be proved to be antichristian, all of the Church is so, the Protestant branch inclusive.*
Jesus had this to say:
Those who do evil hate the light and do not come into the light lest their works should be reproved. John 3.20

All men will know that you are my disciples -- if you love one another." John 13.35
Paul and James continue the theme:
They profess that they know God; but by their works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. Titus 1.15-16

What does it profit if a man says he has faith but does not have works? James 2.14
To most of the Seven Churches in Asia Minor, Jesus said, "I know your works . . ." He knows Akinola's works, too, and they do not survive the scrutiny of Jesus teachings and, therefore, are antichristian.

Fr. Jake (The Blog-father) wrote some excellent posts on Akinola (some linked above). You'll find them here, here, here, and here.)

Turning to the letter itself, there are three interesting observations to make.

First, Colin Coward of Changing Attitudes calls the authorship of this letter into question. What we know for sure is that it is not written in the precise style of any ghostwriter Akinola has used heretofore and it is certainly not the writing or speaking style of Akinola. My first guess was Minns but it doesn't sound convincingly like him. It could be Chris Sugden. It could be a combination of several of the usual suspects. We will probably never know for sure.

Second, Akinola has been uncharacteristically quiet since he was detained by the Jordanian government and barred from entering the kingdom. That decision had to come from someone in a very high government position who probably reads The Times. We shouldn't be surprised if Akinola is never allowed to enter a Muslim country again. Nor should we be surprised to read that he has been indicted for war crimes.

Third, according to sources, there was no show of bravado and arrogance from Akinola in Alexandria as has been his modus operandi. Quite the contrary, he was eerily quiet and, surprising all who attended, he agreed to the final communique. Then, a few days later he releases this letter. Why?

I believe it was an attempt to refocus the schismatic movement back to himself.

It appears that Archbishop Akinola is no longer the primary front person for the schismatic alliance within the Anglican Communion. Perhaps he has passed the baton on to Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone? More likely, the baton was passed for him.

ADDENDUM: According to the Lead this morning, more violence is happening in Nigeria and more deafening silence from Akinola.

* The Patristic Idea of Antichrist, No. 83 of Tracts for the Times, republished in Discussions and Arguments on Various Subjects (London, New York, and Bombay 1897)

22 February 2009


The Last Sunday after the Epiphany

2 Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Mark 9:2-9
    Introit: Be Thou unto me a God, a Protector, and a place of refuge, to save me: for Thou are my strength and my refuge: and for Thy Name's sake Thou wilt lead me, and nourish me. -- (Ps. 30. 2). In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: deliver me in Thy justice, and save me.

The transfiguration of Jesus is perhaps the definitive mountaintop experience. Here on the top of a mountain, Peter, James, and John are left with no doubts as to Jesus’ credentials. In this account from the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is filled with the radiance of the presence of God with his “clothes becoming dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.”

Then we read of the presence of Elijah and Moses, further confirmation that Jesus is indeed the long-awaited Messiah. And finally there is the voice of God booming through the clouds declaring, “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!”

Who could argue with the voice of God coming through a cloud?

In response to Jesus’ transfiguration, Peter wanted to preserve this Kodak moment for eternity; he wanted to capture this event by building three houses: one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Just as Mary Magdalene wanted to hold onto Jesus after his resurrection and never let him go, Peter wanted to keep hold of this moment and preserve it forever.

But this is not how God wanted the disciples to respond, God asked the disciples to “listen” to Jesus, not to preserve him like an archive in a museum.

Peter, James, and John were not just invited into the mystery of the person of Jesus; they were also called to listen. The voice of God from the clouds declared, “This is my Son, the beloved, with him I am well pleased, LISTEN TO HIM!”

At this point, it is important to note that at the end of the previous chapter in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus called to the crowd and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Immediately following this invitation by Jesus to become active participants in his ministry, we have the account of the transfiguration, with God telling the disciples to “listen to him!”

These are the same words that we heard at Jesus’ baptism with the addition of the phrase, “listen to him.” The phrase “listen to him” in this case carries the Old Testament connotation of “obey” as well as to pay attention and to listen. Through our own Baptismal Covenant we not only accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we also say that we will “listen to him.” We say that we will seek and serve Christ in all persons and strive for justice and peace amongst all people.

We are all called to seek out the transfigured Christ in the world, and as we do so, we are called not just to wonder and delight in that presence, but we are also called to “listen” and to respond with a servant’s heart and in humility. We are called to listen when our brothers and sisters are suffering, when they are in need, when they are disenfranchised and subject to injustices.

We are called to listen not only as individuals but also as a community, as part of the body of Christ. As a community, we raise up individuals on our behalf to be in relationship with and to listen alongside our sisters and brothers in other parts of the world. We lift up these people we call missionaries as our ambassadors, our representatives to be in an active relationship with those who experience the transfigured Christ through different lenses.

As we celebrate World Mission Sunday today, we especially remember the missionaries of the Episcopal Church; those individuals who are called by God and our communities to leave their homes and to encounter God in other parts of the world, to be in relationship with and to listen to people from a culture and a land that is different from their own.

For many years we have named these people “missionaries,” but perhaps they can be more accurately described as pilgrims, as people who travel outside of their own communities to encounter, to listen to, and to relate to the transfigured God present within our sisters and brothers throughout the world.

You can read about them on the many blogs and Web sites through which they record their journeys, their joys and sorrows, their successes, and their challenges. The Episcopal Church has over 70 missionaries working in 35 countries around the world. Our missionaries are young adults serving as part of the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) program, they are young families serving together, and they are older adults who desire to share their faith and their skills and to listen to our partners around the world.

You are invited to support the ministry and work of our missionaries, to learn more about what they are doing on our behalf, and to learn about the culture and faith of the people they are traveling alongside. You can support these missionaries through your prayers, through corresponding with them, and through your financial support of these representatives of the Episcopal Church as they relate with other parts of the Body of Christ in the world.

The transfiguration reminds us that Jesus is the Son of God, but more importantly, the transfiguration reminds us to listen to Jesus. We listen as we seek out and relate to the transfigured Christ in the world, both as individuals and as a community through our relationships with other parts of the Body of Christ.

-- The Rev. David Copley is a seasoned missionary with experience in Africa and Latin America. He joined the Episcopal Church Center staff as Mission Personnel director in 2006. He is responsible for the recruitment and support of more than 70 persons serving as missionaries and Young Adult Service Corps members in approximately 30 countries worldwide. E-mail: dcopley@episcopalchurch.org.