17 April 2009

Photos from Grace at Easter

Thanks to the workings of the email system, James in Colorado's email just reached me. It containted this link to photos of Grace and St. Stephen's Easter celebration. They are great photos.

Happenings in the Diocese of San Joaquin

From Fr. Terry Martin
    Last month, I suggested that we respond to the House of Bishop's Pastoral Letter with a series of community forums. I'm pleased to announce that four of these forums will be launched in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin beginning this Sunday in Ridgecrest:

All Souls' Episcopal Church
invites you to a community forum:

Growing Together:
Building Community
in Uncertain Times

    What: A forum for the public to inquire about needs and assistance--working together to alleviate the suffering caused by the current economic crisis.

    Who: Everyone in the Ridgecrest area.

    When: April 19, 2009 at Noon.

    Where: Historical Society Building, 230 W. Ridgecrest Blvd., Ridgecrest, CA

    A free lunch and children’s activities will be provided

    Future forums:

    April 26 at noon - hosted by Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Madera, CA.
    420 E. Main Street (look for the red tent).

    May 3 at noon - hosted by St. Francis Episcopal Church, Turlock, CA
    Crane Park, 155 E. Canal Drive (red tent).

    May 9 at noon - hosted by St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Tracy, CA
    1218 Holly Ave. (red tent).

    If you're in the vicinity, come and join us for lunch and some good conversation.

    Also, I'll be joining two other staff members from the Episcopal Church Center at the Ministry Fairs scheduled for late April and early May in San Joaquin. We'll be offering presentations and workshops.

    Ministry Fairs:
    April 25 at Christ the King Episcopal Church - 6443 Estelle Ave., Riverbank, CA
    May 2 at Church of the Savior - 519 N. Douty St., Hanford, CA

16 April 2009

Schismatic Primates recognise schismatic ecclesial community in North America

We knew it was coming and lo, and behold, it has. The schismatic Primates in the Anglican world have recognized the "province" of North America as the official "Anglican" presence in North America. The primates who met in London issued the following statement:
From its inception, the GAFCON movement has centered on the power of Christ to make all things new. We have heard this week of the great progress made in North America towards the creation of a new Province basing itself on this same biblical gospel of transformation and hope. We have also envisioned the future of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans as a movement for defending and promoting the biblical gospel of the risen Christ.

Yet we are saddened that little progress seems to have been made in resolving the present crisis in the Anglican Communion of which we are a part. The recent primatial meeting in Alexandria served only to demonstrate how deep and intractable the divisions are and to encourage us to sustain the important work of GAFCON.

The GAFCON Primates’ Council has responsibility of recognizing and authenticating orthodox Anglicans who have had to leave their original churches, and promoting the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) as a bulwark against this false teaching and a rallying point for orthodoxy. It is our aim not to divide the Communion further, but to provide a way in which faithful Anglicans many of whom are suffering much loss, can remain as Anglicans within the Communion while distancing themselves from false teaching.

At this meeting highly significant progress was made on both fronts.

We met with Bishop Bob Duncan and a number of the Episcopal leaders of the proposed new Province. Careful consideration was given to the new ‘Province in formation’ in North America. This is made up so far of approximately 100,000 Anglican Christians in Canada and the US who wish to be known as Anglicans and to be in fellowship with the Anglican Communion world-wide. We have asked whether we can recognize and authenticate this movement as truly Anglican.

As a result of this process, we celebrate the organization and official formation of ACNA around the same principles that gave rise to the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and now the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA). Though many Provinces have expressed impaired or broken communion with TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, our fellowship with faithful Anglicans in North America has remained steadfast.

The leaders of the schism have made it official: they will determine who is Anglican, not the ABC or anyone else. They have proclaimed themselves the owners of the store - they have claimed the privatization of the Anglican world.

We have the new organization recognised by the very people who created it, who do the bidding of the schismatics who pay their bills - the US schismatics.

But, they have revealed themselves to be the liars they always ahve been. Since their inception they have claimed they were not a new group, just a "fellowship" working inside the structure of the Anglican Communion. But their statement reveals the truth. They are now, and always have been outside. They have never wanted to be inside because they could not wrest the control of the communion.

I've been reading an old book on the life of Mary Stewart (Stuart), who was the Queen of Scotland. I came across a truly prophetic statement:
One of the most remarkable capacities of persons of hysterical disposition is, not only their ability to be splendid liars, but to be imposed upon by their own falsehoods. For them the truth is what they want it to be, what they believe is what they wish to believe, so that their testimony may often be the most honourable of lies, and therefore the most dangerous.
That is exactly what we have in the Donatist heresy of the 21st century. They are splendid liars and they believe their own lies wholeheartedly.

About once each five-hundred years in the life of the church there is a major upheaval. That's what we are witnessing. We are in the midst of the final battle, though.

This is the schismatic Waterloo and they realize it. They must gain power at all costs and they do not care about the collateral damage. They will crawl over all the dead bodies in the Western World to grasp the flag of victory. And once again, as in the days of the inquisition, hey are more than happy to use the legal system to reinforce their troops. That's why the fundamentalists poured an obscene amount of money into the "Yes" campaign in California. It is why they are so hysterical over the issue. It is the last gasp of the dying.

But, thanks be to God, the past is finished and gone, all things are being made new.

The full press release by the schismatic primates will be found here.

UPDATE: Make sure to read Jim Naughton's comments.

12 April 2009

St. John Chrysostom's Easter Sermon

This homily is read at the Easter Vigil in each Orthodox Church throughout the world.

    Christ is Risen!

    If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival. If anyone is a wise servant, let him, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord. If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.

    If anyone has labored from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let him keep the feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; for he shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.

    Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!

    Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness. Let no one lament his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Saviour's death has set us free.

    He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into hades and took hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted his flesh! And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, "Hades was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions." It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!

    It took a body and, face to face, met God! It took earth and encountered heaven! It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!

    "O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory?"

    Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
    Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
    Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
    Christ is risen, and life reigns!
    Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!

    For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the First-fruits of them that slept.

    To him be glory and might unto ages of ages. Amen.

And for Gören, and me:

    Kristus är uppstånden!

    Är någon from och gudfruktig, då må han glädja sig över denna sköna och ljusa högtid. Är någon en vis tjänare, då må han med fröjd gå in i sin Herres glädje. Har någon mödat sig länge i fastor, då må han mottaga sin lön. Har någon arbetat ända från första timmen, då må han idag mottaga sin rättmätiga lön.

    Kom någon vid tredje timmen, må han hålla högtid i tacksamhet. Kom någon vid sjätte timmen, så må han icke tvivla, ty han skall ej gå något förlustig. Dröjde någon ända till nionde timmen, så må han träda fram utan att tvivla, utan att frukta. Kom någon först vid elfte timmen, så må han icke förskräckas för sin försumlighets skull. Ty Herren är barmhärtig; han mottager den siste likaväl som den förste. Han ger frid åt den som kom vid elfte timmen likaväl som åt den som verkat från första början. Den siste förbarmar Han sig över och den förste hugsvalar Han. Den ena lönar Han och åt den andre skänker Han gåvor. Han mottager gärningen och avsikten hälsar Han. Han ärar verket och prisar beslutet.

    Träden därför alla in i vår Herres glädje; mottagen eder lön, de första likaväl som de sista.

    Rika och fattiga, fröjden eder med varandra! Uthålliga och lättjefulla, ären tillsammans denna dag. I som fastat och I som icke fastat, glädjen eder idag.

    Bordet är dukat, njuten av det! Kalven är gödd, må ingen gå hungrig; alla mån I njuta av trons fest, alla mån I mottaga nådens rikedom.

    Ingen må gråta över sin fattigdom, ty det allmänneliga konungariket har uppenbarat sig. Ingen må begråta sina överträdelser, ty förlåtelsen har strålat fram ur graven. Ingen må frukta döden, ty Frälsarens död har befriat oss.

    Han som hölls fången av den, har tillintetgjort den. Han som nedsteg i helvetet, har fängslat helvetet. Han lät det erfara bitterhet, när det smakade Hans kött.

    Jesaja såg detta i profetisk syn och utropade: "Helvetet", säger han, "erfor bitterhet av att se Dig där nere." (Jes.14:9).

    Det erfor bitterhet, ty det störtades. Det erfor bitterhet, ty det kom på skam. Det erfor bitterhet, ty det dödades. Det erfor bitterhet, ty det besegrades. Det erfor bitterhet, ty det fängslades. Det mottog en kropp och ställdes inför Gud. Det mottog jorden och fick se himmelen. Det mottog, vad det såg, och föll på det osynliga.

    "Du död, var är Din udd, du dödsrike, var är din seger?" (1.Kor.15:55).

    Kristus är uppstånden och du är störtad.
    Kristus är uppstånden, och demonerna ha fallit.
    Kristus är uppstånden och änglarna glädja sig.
    Kristus är uppstånden och livet bor ibland oss.
    Kristus är uppstånden och icke en enda död finnes i graven.

    Ty Kristus är uppstånden från de döda såsom förstlingen av de avsomnade (1.Kor.15:20).

    Honom vare ära i evigheters evighet. Amen.

Resurrexit - The Resurrection of Our Lord

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Easter Day - The Resurrection of Our Lord

Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8
    Introit: Those of you who have nearly lost someone near and dear will find the gospel today within your experience. In wartime, families hope to avoid and yet expect the knock on the door. There stand uniformed and grim-looking people who have come to announce that a young person is missing in action or dead.
Others have sat in one of those ambitiously cheerful waiting rooms, expecting a surgeon to appear to tell them the worst or perhaps the best. Time seems to stand still. Hope comes and goes. Perhaps we pray or tell God off or both. Our companions try to comfort us, awkwardly. There’s always one person who is brave enough or foolish enough to assure us all will be well. We’d like to believe, but Uncle Charlie always looks on the bright side.

When we hear that the young soldier is alive after all or has been found and is safe and well, we thank God. We affirm our belief in miracles. When our loved one is safely in recovery we think Uncle Charlie was so right!

Please don’t believe for a moment that the disciples were so faith-filled on Easter morning that they expected to meet the Risen Jesus. First-century Jews were no more used to people emerging to life after death than we are. Many of them believed that at some future time the righteous would rise and inherit a new earth. Many, like perhaps some of you, didn’t really believe in life after death, let alone dead people coming to life. They went through life with no hope of a future life, and yet they worshipped God, perhaps hoping for a better deal now, or on the off chance that God had something great in store for them.

The gospel records are quite clear that the disciples had no idea what Jesus was talking about when he said he would rise again. St. Peter begged Jesus not to risk his life and had been called “Satan” for his troubles.

The gospel choices for today, one from St. John’s gospel and one from St. Mark’s, tell the same story in different ways.

John concentrates on Mary Magdalene. She loved Jesus so much, was utterly downcast and grief stricken, crying her eyes out as she stumbled into the tomb and found it empty. She had seen Jesus die, really die, cruelly, on the Cross. She came to be close to him just as some of us have wanted a last look at a loved one in the funeral home. Even that is taken from her. She turns and senses someone close, probably a gardener up early. “Where have they taken him? Where have they put him?” she blurts out. She is sure that the religious leaders have removed him so that his tomb won’t become a site of pilgrimage.

It is only when the “gardener” says her name, “Mary,” that she knows it is the Lord. When someone who loves you speaks your name, there is something special, something wonderful about the way it sounds.

Jesus tells Mary not to cling to him, but rather to go and tell his followers that he is alive.

Mark, in his usual hurried style, tells of a group of disciples going to the tomb. It is empty. A young man tells them to go and tell the disciples that Jesus is alive. They run back but then say nothing.

Perhaps Mary does tell the waiting group of friends what she has experienced. Perhaps it is Peter and John, Peter the new leader and John the Beloved, who speak with authority and love. We don’t know.

In both the John and Mark versions there’s something important for us to grasp about Easter. Jesus warns Mary not to hang on to him but to tell the good news. So much of our religion is about us. We want Jesus to live in order that he may give us what we want, or keep us safe, or heal us, in this life. Even if we believe in an after life, our belief is vague. We are rather like the people in Jesus’ day who go through the actions of religion with some hope of being rewarded now.

Jesus tells Mary to go “tell” that something extraordinary has happened. Jesus is Risen. Jesus tells Mary that he has not completed the action yet. The Resurrection is not primarily about eternal life. The Ascension completes that part of the whole. The Resurrection is about new life, a new world, a new country. This new country isn’t geographical. It is made up of the dead, the living, and those who are not yet born, who in their lives “tell” that Jesus lives, and work in Jesus to lay the foundations of a new heaven and a new earth.

St. Mark tells us that the disciples ran from the empty tomb and didn’t say a thing! Perhaps they are as embarrassed as we are to blurt out our faith that “Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again.” So we talk about justice, and good works, and piety, and the outward things of religion. We become experts on how the service should be taken or how the parish spends its money. We say nothing at all about the crux and core of Christianity. Christ is Risen.

All the religious things we involve ourselves in, justice and mercy, worship, and parish affairs are good in themselves. Yet without the presence of the Risen Christ at the heart of what we believe, we are, as St. Paul said, “of all people the most miserable.”

Christ is Risen. Be glad, wipe away your tears and then go tell the Good News.

-- Fr. Tony Clavier is rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, La Porte, Indiana, in the Diocese of Northern Indiana. He is also dean of the Michigan City deanery. His email address is anthony.clavier@gmail.com.