03 April 2009

The Fifth Friday in Lent - The Way of Sorrow

This week the Stations of the Cross are found 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.

31 March 2009

Prayers for a delegate's "daddy"

Tom Fitzhugh, a delegate to General Convention from Texas (L5, Texas) requests prayer for his father who is declining and may not "last" the day. Tom's father has a variety of ailments but the lung cancer spread and is the culprit in this death.

Please remember Champe Fitzhugh, Jr, and also Tom as he is with his :daddy" during the final hours of Champe's life.

30 March 2009

Just what is a show-stopper for the schismatics?

In an interesting bit of spin, some in the schismatic communion are comparing the global market near meltdown to the meltdown in the Anglican Communion. One such person is the Rev'd. Mr. Charles Raven, "senior minister" of Christ Church, Wyre Forest. Christ Church is a schismatic community in the diocese of of Worchester.

Raven's article appears on SPREAD, a site "dedicated to the preservation and propagation of the reformed Christian faith as classically expressed in the Anglican Formularies[:] the Thirty-nine Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal." You'll find the entire article here.

Raven builds his argument upon remarks made by Lord Turner, newly appointed chairman of the Financial Services Authority, the United Kingdom's banking regulatory agency.
Just as lack of banking discipline has led to the global credit crunch, so a lack of spiritual discipline has led to what we might term the Anglican Communion's 'credibility crunch' - the growing realisation that, in its Lambeth form, it has ceased to be a body united around core doctrine and is taking on the nature of a religious debating society.

That is not to say that the Lambeth Communion lacks beliefs, just that they are the wrong ones.
This is more of the typical propaganda we've been reading for years; but it does contains a phrase that I have heard tossed about with increasing frequency as of late although this is the first time I've seen it in print
    The Lambeth Communion
It is part of a new strategy of proclaiming the schismatics as the authentic inheritors of the world's Anglican faith separating the Anglican Communion from the "Lambeth Communion." Remember, dear friends, words matter because words reveal much about the people who use the them.
Misplaced faith in ecclesiastical institutions and the ideology that being Anglican is defined by relationship to the Archbishop of Canterbury have led the 'instruments of unity' to concentrate on legalistic form rather than spiritual substance, with disastrous results.
It boils down to this: "The Archbishop of Canterbury is irrelevant to Anglican identity because we say so." Anglicans are errant to place faith in any "ecclesiastical institution" that claims Canterbury. Real unity, of course, is found in the schismatic movement.
With no effective restraint, a counterfeit Christianity has established itself within the Anglican Communion, pushing well beyond the boundaries of orthodox faith and morality in North America with the British Isles not far behind. Adherence to legal form means that ecclesiastical law can nonetheless be used aggressively to deprive orthodox congregations of their assets while those who encourage the law suits - some 60 in the United States alone - continue to participate in endless 'conversation'
Counterfeit Christianity? What is counterfeit Christianity. Neither Jesus nor the first, second or third century Christians would recognize the faith of the schismatics - they would be hard pressed to recognize the Christianity of any church today.

Twice we hear the evils of adherence to legal forms. This is an interesting comment coming from schismatics who are attempting to impose Levitical legalism on the world via Calvinism's legalism. What Raven means, of course is, "Imposing your legalism on us is wrong, yea sinful, but enforcing our legalism on you is right and godly." That's what the Puritans in the 1600s said and it is another evidence of the Puritanism of the schismatics.

As for the "law suits - some 60 in the United States alone" all legal action was necessitated by the illegal and immoral actions of the schismatics themselves. TEC is castigated, and is evil, for protecting itself. What logic. In case after case, the courts have decided the schismatics are a bunch of thieves.

The remarkable thing in Raven's assertion of "the Anglican Communion's 'credibility crunch.'" That is, of course, a false statement. As for credibility, well, that is not a word in the schismatics dictionary.

But, let us turn to the credibility of the schismatic for a moment. So far this is what we've seen:
I recently came across an article I missed back in 2006. In that article we find this smoking gun, though. Speaking of Akinola's actions, the schismatics in Virgnia said:
I can’t ignore what’s gone on though. It gives me pause. But I understand it well enough that it’s not a show-stopper.
The man was speaking of this statement from a statement to the people of Nigeria by Akinola
May we at this stage remind our Muslim brothers that they do not have the monopoly of violence in this nation. Nigeria belongs to all of us - Christians, Muslims and members of other faiths. No amount of intimidation can Change this time-honoured arrangement in this nation.
Their leader's advocacy of murder is not “a show-stopper.” However, for TEC to promote human rights is the "show-stopper" and cause the "faithful" to put themselves under the direct authority of a bishop who advocates and incites murder.

Who has the "credibility crunch?" The answer comes from Jesus' words "you shall know them by their fruits" (Mt. 7.16).

29 March 2009

Judica - Lent V

The Fifth Sunday in Lent
Judica Me

Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-13 or Psalm 119:9-16; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33
    Introit:Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art my God and my strength. -- (Ps. 42. 3). Send forth Thy light, and Thy truth: they have conducted me, and brought me unto Thy holy hill, and into thy tabernacles.
Phillips Brooks, author of “O little town of Bethlehem,” and briefly Bishop of Massachusetts, was also responsible for one of the masterpieces of American nineteenth-century church architecture: Trinity Church in Boston’s Copley Square. Brooks played a very direct role in Trinity’s design. However, there is one feature of Brooks’ design that is visible only to those who preach in Trinity church. Brooks had these words carved on the inside of Trinity’s pulpit: “Sir, we would see Jesus.”

They are, of course, the words that “some Greeks” spoke to Philip when both they and Jesus and his disciples were on their way to Jerusalem. The Greeks were more than likely non-Jews who were fascinated by Judaism’s antiquity and its profound ethical teaching. They were known as “God-fearers,” and they were numerous in the first century. Many of these “God-fearers” would have converted to Judaism had it not been for the requirement of circumcision. Along with Jesus and his disciples, the “God-fearers” were on their way to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem. But Jesus was also on his way to suffer, die on the cross, and be raised again.

When Philip reported to Jesus that the Greeks had asked to see him, Jesus exclaimed, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” This is a major turning point in John’s gospel. Scholars tell us that John is divided into the “book of signs” and the “book of glory.” In the “book of signs” (the first part of John) Jesus performs seven miracles that John refers to as signs. They begin when Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana and culminate with Jesus’ greatest miracle: raising Lazarus from the dead. Throughout the “book of signs” Jesus makes enigmatic references to his “hour” or “time” and says that it has not yet come. When his mother tells him that the revelers at the wedding feast have run out of wine, he says, “My hour has not yet come.” In John 7:8, Jesus tells his disciples that he will not go to Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths because his “time has not yet fully come.”

But when the Greeks asked to see Jesus, he knew that the hour had come for him to be glorified. As Jesus amplifies his enigmatic comment about the hour of his glorification having come, we realize that Jesus’ idea of glory and our idea of glory are radically different. For Jesus, to be glorified was to embrace the cross, the epitome of suffering:

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. … Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. … And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

Because non-Jews such as the Greeks were seeking to meet Jesus, he knew that his mission was no longer restricted to Israel but had become universal. It was time for him to be lifted up – that is, crucified – so that all people could be drawn to him.

For us glory is about having more: more money, more prestige, more power. For Jesus, glory was about giving more, and he demonstrates this throughout John’s gospel, but nowhere more vividly than in the final chapters. Jesus gives himself to his friends by washing their feet. Then he gives himself to the world by dying on the cross.

It is the completion of the great arc of self-emptying that began with the opening verses of John. The cosmic Word by which God spoke creation into being descends from on high and is clothed with flesh, “and we beheld his glory.” The Word Incarnate heals the sick, feeds the multitude, raises the dead, and finally completes his task by dying on the cross, and only then resumes the glory that is rightfully his.

“Sir, we would see Jesus.” Phillips Brooks knew that everyone who steps into a pulpit and presumes to preach the gospel needs to think about those words, because the great temptation of preaching is to give our hearers something other than Jesus. “We would see Jesus,” our listeners plead, and we give them our learning, comments on the day’s news, a witty joke or two, but too often there is little of Jesus in our preaching.

But it is not only preachers who do this. All around us are people who want to see Jesus. Do they see him in us? Do they see the Servant-Lord who washed the feet of his friends? Do they see the prophet who cleansed the Temple? Do they see the healer who made the blind to see? If we are to let people see Jesus in us, then we must go ourselves and sit at his feet, let him heal us, feed upon his body broken for us, and above all stand at the cross and wonder as the Word that spoke out of the void lapses into silence and death.

A few years ago, a rabbi at a large Reform synagogue published an editorial in the local newspaper on Christmas Day. He said, “I like Christmas, and I like Christians. My only problem with both is that they need more Jesus.”

Precisely. Sometimes those who are outside the circle of the church can see and name our problems far better than we can. We all need a lot more Jesus. It’s not only a problem for preachers; it’s a problem for every one of us who are called by the name of Christian.

“Sir, we would see Jesus,” the Greeks said to Philip. We, too, need to see Jesus, so that when others want to see Jesus, they can see him in us. As the old spiritual puts it:

    In the morning when I rise,
    Give me Jesus.
    When I am alone,
    Give me Jesus.
    When I come to die,
    Give me Jesus.
    You can have all the world,
    But give me Jesus

-- The Rev. J. Barry Vaughn, Ph.D., has led congregations in Alabama, California, and Pennsylvania. He has preached at Harvard, Oxford, and the Chautauqua Institution, and more than fifty of his sermons have been published. He is a member of the history faculty at the University of Alabama and is rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Birmingham, AL.