31 July 2009

Help Fr. Terry help TEC

Fr. Martin has issued a challenge to all of us. Go read his post today and do what you're told to do. It's for the Lord, folks.
    Children, go where I send thee
    How shall I send thee?
    I'm gonna send thee one-by-one
    well one was a little bitty baby
    wrapped in swaddling clothing
    lying in the manger,
    Born, born, born in Bethlehem.

    Children, go where I send thee
    How shall I send thee?
    I'm gonna send thee two-by-two
    Two for Paul and Silas
    One for the little bitty baby
    Born, born, born in Bethlehem.

"What is man that thou art mindful of him"

As a child of the space age, I've always been fascinated with the NASA programme. I would love to venture worlds unknown and experience the vast expanse of creation. But, that was never a possibility for me.

Thanks to NASA we can see photos of what humans left on the lunar surface. It takes a lot to impress me, but I had goosebumps when I looked at the photos. Take a few minutes and visit the NASA space mission page.

Of all the photos, this was the most interesting to me because one can clearly see the astronaut's footpath after all of these years!

Fred pointed me to another great site: Hubble photographs. Thanks Fred!

30 July 2009

Jensen's afraid of Dave who?

Pray for this priest. If you want to know why, read this. It seems that Dave is the major thorn in the side of Mr. Jensen, the head roundhead of the Calvinist gang in Australia.

There is a line in the great literary work Brideshead Revisited. Charles has been listening to the dinner conversation at the Marchmain table. After Bridie finishes talking about religion, Charlies replies: "You know, Bridie, if ever I were thinking of becoming a Catholic, one conversation with you would end that."

It's sad, but like Bridie, one of the best arguments against religion is Peter Jensen.

29 July 2009

Thirty-five years and counting

Tempus fugit! Thirty-five years ago today the Philadelphia Eleven became the first women ordained as priests in the Episcopal Church.

The ordinations took place despite howls of anger and disgust by conservative members of the Anglican Communion. Some Episcopalians left TEC over the ordinations. But we survived.

The Philadelphia Eleven were all white, and either middle class or rich. Several were lesbians. Almost all of them had some experience with the civil rights movement.

In the 1970s, when the issue of women's ordination was loosening Episcopalians' girdles, the Philadelphia Eleven were a touchy subject. A woman named Mary Ann Peters wrote in 1975, "The women's movement within the Church no longer needs screaming, protesting, button-wearing suffragettes who merely antagonize others within a seemingly Christian community." Nancy Hatch Wittig, one of the Philadelphia Eleven, had a cool answer: "I heard the gospel long before I heard of the women's movement."

Thank God TEC heard the voice of the Spirit calling the church into a new "revisionist" theology.

Congratulations, Philadelphia Eleven - we're proud to know ya!

I don't find it odd that it took five years for the ordination of women as priests to become "legal." That was thirty years ago in 1979. Thirty years later, sex is still the one thing that threatens to end the Anglican Communion.

28 July 2009

Another San Joaquin Valley newspaper finally reports on Schofield's tumble

From the Merced Sun-Star

    The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has prevailed in its initial lawsuit against Anglican Bishop John-David Schofield, who was the first in the nation to lead his diocese away from the Episcopal Church over the interpretation of Scripture and the 2004 ordination of an openly gay bishop.

    Thursday, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Adolfo Corona ruled that Bishop Jerry Lamb, not Schofield, is the one true Episcopal bishop of the diocese.

    In his ruling, Corona said the 2008 changes made to the diocesan constitution to switch allegiance from the Episcopal Church to the Anglican province of the Southern Cone were "void." He also said the diocesan documents are clear: All property in the diocese belongs to the Episcopal bishop, which in this case is Lamb.

    Monday, Lamb called the court's decision "a pretty good ruling."

    He recently moved the Episcopal diocesan office from Stockton to St. Paul's Church in Modesto after the Anglican majority of that church's congregation relinquished its property, partly to avoid a lawsuit.

    "The court was very clear, at least in my reading of it," Lamb said. "They found that I am the Episcopal bishop, that I have charge -- I mean that the Episcopal Church has charge -- of all property and assets."

    Schofield could not be reached for comment.

    This was "the major" lawsuit among five filed by the Episcopal church and diocese, Lamb said. The lawsuit did not specifically name the 40 parish properties that have remained aligned with Schofield, so the diocese must take further action to claim them.

    Lamb said he would issue another "invitation" this week, hoping to find more parishes that will follow the path that St. Paul's took and voluntarily give up their property. If that doesn't work, he said, lawsuits against the individual properties will follow.

    The 40 Anglican parishes include St. Francis in Turlock, St. Matthias in Oakdale, St. James (the historic Red Church) in Sonora and St. Luke's in Merced. The property includes the diocesan headquarters in Fresno.

    Lamb acknowledged that he doesn't expect Schofield or priests in those 40 parishes to give up their properties soon. But he's confident about the future.

    "We will ultimately prevail," he said. "The earlier (California) Supreme Court ruling and now this ruling by the Superior Court judge give us the clear rights to the property and assets of this diocese."

The end of an era in The United Kingdom

In the hoopla of American life and the aftermath of our GC09, I missed an historical event of monumental significance.

On 25 July Mr. Harry Patch died at the age of 111. He was the last living British soldier still living in the UK to have fought at Passchendaele where more than 70,000 British troops died.

When Mr Patch was born, on June 17, 1898, the Marquess of Salisbury was Prime Minister and Queen Victoria had two and a half years still to reign.

Kitchener was 11 weeks away from fighting the Battle of Omdurman and the outbreak of the Boer War lay 16 months into the future. H G Wells's latest work, The War of the Worlds, had just been published in book form following its successful serialisation in Pearson's Magazine.

He grew up in Coombe Down, near Bath, left school at 15 and trained as a plumber. He was 16 when war broke out and reached 18 just as conscription was being introduced. He joined the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.

He was removed from the frontline after a shell attack which killed his friends.

In March, Mr Patch received the insignia of the L├ęgion d'Honneur from the French Ambassador, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, at his Somerset nursing home. Mr Allingham received the same honour the following week.

BBC has a tribute to Mr. Ptach here.

The sole remaining British born survivor of the Great War is now Claude Choules, 108, who lives in in Australia.

According to the BBC, America and Canada each have one living Great War soldier still living.

The Anglican Scotist nails it

You need to read the Anglican Scotist today. He has a brilliant take on the missive from Pope Rowan I.

Here is a wee example
[Rowan says] a person living in such a union [a SSU] is in the same case as a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond....

According to Williams, the case of a same sex couple that has sought out the blessing of the Church (big "c"), and irregularly received such a blessing, is equivalent to the case of a single heterosexual person--not even a couple--living outside the marriage bond. It is not merely that the situation of a hetero couple that merely cohabits but does not want marriage--having the real possibility of marriage open to them--is being compared to a same sex couple that wants to marry but cannot, not having the possibility open.

27 July 2009

Rome is burning; fiddle on Rowan

It is astoundingly amazing that on the centenary of William Reed Huntington, the archbishop of Canterbury has released his version of Summorum Pontificum on GC09.

You really have to read it; it is a masterpiece of lunacy. It has "ticked off" both sides. But then, Rowan has the Midas touch for doing that. I think that this latest bit from his computer is proof that one does not necessarily have brains and intelligence in the same cerebral cavity.

He begins his long statement by saying
[A] realistic assessment of what Convention has resolved does not suggest that it will repair the broken bridges into the life of other Anglican provinces; very serious anxieties have already been expressed. The repeated request for moratoria on the election of partnered gay clergy as bishops and on liturgical recognition of same-sex partnerships has clearly not found universal favour, although a significant minority of bishops has just as clearly expressed its intention to remain with the consensus of the Communion. The statement that the Resolutions are essentially 'descriptive' is helpful, but unlikely to allay anxieties.
So, where is the clear statement about stop border crossings and returning stolen property to TEC as the Windsor Report "mandated"?
We call upon those bishops who believe it is their conscientious duty to intervene in provinces, dioceses and parishes other than their own:
  • to express regret for the consequences of their actions
  • to affirm their desire to remain in the Communion, and
  • to effect a moratorium on any further interventions.
We also call upon these archbishops and bishops to seek an accommodation with the bishops of the dioceses whose parishes they have taken into their own care.

We further call upon those diocesan bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) who have refused to countenance the proposals set out by their House of Bishops to reconsider their own stance on this matter. If they refuse to do so, in our view, they will be making a profoundly dismissive statement about their adherence to the polity of their own church.
So, what did they do with that? They formed their own organization of theft, deceit and hubris all the while demonizing TEC for not doing what the thieves want TEC to do - capitulate totally.

Had Rowan addressed the theft, that would help repair the bridges, too, but, typically, Rowan is silent as the tomb on that. We must not upset the malcontent thieves who have stolen the building - must keep them happy, you know. Pip, pip. The real problem is not theft and deceit, it's what people do under the covers in their bedroom, not criminal acts. Might I have another biscuit, please?

Here is another gem
5. In response, it needs to be made absolutely clear that, on the basis of repeated statements at the highest levels of the Communion's life, no Anglican has any business reinforcing prejudice against LGBT people, questioning their human dignity and civil liberties or their place within the Body of Christ. Our overall record as a Communion has not been consistent in this respect and this needs to be acknowledged with penitence.
Tell that to the so-called "Global South" and Akinola in particular. He advocates laws to make homosexuality a capital offense punishable by death.

He is correct, though, that the AC has been a strong supporter of anti-human rights when it comes to GLBT people. TEC, the CoC and the SEC have stood mostly alone in equal rights and justice for the GLBT community.
6. However, the issue is not simply about civil liberties or human dignity or even about pastoral sensitivity to the freedom of individual Christians to form their consciences on this matter. It is about whether the Church is free to recognise same-sex unions by means of public blessings that are seen as being, at the very least, analogous to Christian marriage.
Yep, heard that in the 50s and 60s when to those uppity blacks wanted to marry white people. The bible clearly condemns that.
9. In other words, the question is not a simple one of human rights or human dignity.
Yes, there it is: slavery is okay, owning women is okay. After all, it's all there, approved in the bible. Human rights and dignity be damned.
14. Sometimes in Christian history, of course, that wider discernment has been very fallible, as with the history of the Chinese missions in the seventeenth century. But this should not lead us to ignore or minimise the opposite danger of so responding to local pressure or change that a local church simply becomes isolated and imprisoned in its own cultural environment.
Yes, we have been wrong in the past, but we are not wrong now.

For me, this is the best bit - and it clearly shows that Rowan has no idea what the Anglican Communion has been or actually is
18. To accept without challenge the priority of local and pastoral factors in the case either of sexuality or of sacramental practice would be to abandon the possibility of a global consensus among the Anglican churches such as would continue to make sense of the shape and content of most of our ecumenical activity. It would be to re-conceive the Anglican Communion as essentially a loose federation of local bodies with a cultural history in common, rather than a theologically coherent 'community of Christian communities'.[Emphasis mine.]
Did he not read history at University? That is exactly what the communion has always been. We have been and are a loose federation of local churches. Nor have we ever had theological coherence. To state otherwise is to show a complete ignorance of the historic Anglican Communion.
20. The Covenant proposals of recent years have been a serious attempt to do justice to that aspect of Anglican history that has resisted mere federation ...
Now, who could it be that has "resisted a federation" and wants to impose their theological interpretations upon all Anglicans.

Could it be the Anglo-Catholics? No?

Perhaps the Middle-roaders? No?

Let's see, who is left?

Perhaps the Calvinist the minority who is still unhappy that Edward and Cromwell died and they lost absolute ecclesiastical and temporal power?

The communion functioned perfectly well until an attempt to make it a monolithic structure was imposed on the communion. Beginning with Carey (who wanted to be King) and nearly brought to fruition under Williams, the "re-conceive" has been that the AC is a single church with a single view of doctrine.

As I have repeatedly said,this has nothing to do with sex: it has to do with power and the accumulation of power. And Rowan wants a tipple tiara. Thankfully, he's not going to get it.

Read it all here.

And after you've read it, read Brother Tobias Haller's post today. And then read some of Huntington's writings. Most enlightening.

26 July 2009

Fr. Jake's resurrecting

Fr. Jake is contemplating resurrecting the old blog. Go vote on "yes" or "no." I voted yes. Cast your vote under the Update the Resume thread.

Trinity VII - Pentecost VIII

The Seventh Sunday after Trinity
Proper 12 Year B
Suscepimus, Deus

(RCL) 2 Samuel 11:1-15 and Psalm 14; or 2 Kings 4:42-44 and Psalm 145: 10-19; Ephesians 3:14-21; John 6:1-21
    Introit: We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple; according to Thy Name, O God, so also is Thy praise unto the ends of the earth; Thy right hand is full of justice. -- (Ps. 47. 2). Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised, in the city of God, in His holy mountain.
    Collect: O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The crowd clamors after Jesus for healing. The Great Physician is healing the sick and there are many in search of his healing touch. Yet there is something more going on here than a health clinic or even a faith healing revival. The Gospel of John tells us “A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.”

Notice that John tells us the crowd “saw the signs.” In John’s gospel, miracles are signs that point beyond themselves. The miracles are not important merely because this or that person is healed or because Jesus changes water to wine and so on. The miracles are signs that point to the reality of who Jesus is by showing his mastery of creation. And so the crowd gathered for healing, but they keep following him because of the signs.

Then Jesus provides a new sign. The crowd is hungry and Jesus will feed them. He has been feeding them spiritually and now he will fill their stomachs as well. He takes the small offering of bread and fish, gives thanks for them and distributes the food to the hungry multitude. There is enough bread for twelve basketfuls of leftovers. As for the fish, we are told that everybody ate “as much as they wanted.”

This new sign points not simply to Jesus’ mastery of creation, but how with Jesus we move from scarcity to abundance. There was a lack of sufficient money or food. Philip told Jesus that there was not enough money to buy food as, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” Andrew told Jesus, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”

The disciples look to the situation and see that there is not enough to go around. Why spend what little money we have when even a mound of money would not be enough? Why take the little food the boy brought when it wouldn’t be an appetizer for Jesus and the disciples, much less a meal for a multitude? Resources are scarce. When there is not enough to go around, it is not the time to share, but the time to hoard.

Jesus has a different view of the situation. Jesus operates out of abundance. Not only is there always just enough, but there is more than enough. With this hungry hoard, there is fish enough for all to get what they want and bread enough to gather together twelve basketsful of leftovers.

This is a sign that points beyond Jesus to the earlier experiences of the children of Israel. John has tipped us off that the Passover is drawing near. And at that time of year, thoughts of the Jews naturally turn toward the Exodus experience. Under Pharaoh, the people had been enslaved. The book of Genesis ends with the story of their enslavement. In times of plenty, Pharaoh hoarded the surplus produce of the fertile Nile plains. During famine, the people had been forced to give first their money, next their livestock, then their land, and finally their lives to Pharaoh in exchange for food.

The bread of Pharaoh was the bread of fear, scarcity, and slavery. Pharaoh demanded your very life and even still, there was never enough. By the time of the Exodus, the Children of Israel have long been slaves in the land of Egypt.

As the people were brought out of Egypt, they were fed in the wilderness with manna, the bread of angels. Although to get from Egypt to the Promised Land they had to cross an uninhabitable wasteland, each day God gave the people all the food they needed. There was always enough and nothing could be hoarded. The manna would rot if someone tried to store it for the next day. This was the original daily bread, a sign that God would be faithful day after day after day with enough to meet the needs.

With this story in mind as well as the miraculous feeding stories of the prophet Elijah, the people gathered that day on the grassy hillside saw a new sign. They ate the bread and fish that Jesus broke and shared, and in so doing they saw the ultimate sovereign. Why bow to the Roman Caesar, or even the Jewish King Herod? With those leaders, things were hardly changed from slavery under Pharaoh. No matter which leader, the empire offered scarcity to its people and hoarded the riches in palaces the people could never enter.

But here was Jesus on the hillside, freely offering abundance. Everything the people needed for life came without cost. Jesus offered not merely free healthcare and free food. Jesus offered a change from scarcity to abundance. There would be more than enough for everyone.

John’s gospel tells us, “When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.”

Jesus pulls back. The people have seen the sign and misinterpreted it. Jesus did not come to set up an earthly kingdom, but to inaugurate God’s eternal reign.

Just after our reading for today, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” Jesus wants much more than to heal people who will later get sick again, or to feed people who will again hunger. Jesus wants to give them more. The something more Jesus offers is that to which these signs are the markers. Jesus tells them, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life.”

As we continue reading through John’s gospel in coming weeks, Jesus will draw out the lesson of how he is the Bread of Life and will further connect what he is doing to how God fed the people in the wilderness during the time of Moses. For now, we see that the crowd wanted Jesus to be their king. This is perfectly natural. Who wouldn’t want a king who fed you spiritually and bodily? Who wouldn’t want a king who could heal both the body and the soul?

The multitude, satisfied by the meal, desired to always have Jesus care for their every need. And from our viewpoint twenty centuries later, we can see what the crowd that day could not see. Jesus did come to begin a reign of abundance. But his reign was and is eternal, not bound by time or place. Jesus came and gave life to those bound to the soul-killing ways of the empire where everything you have to give is never enough.

With Jesus, we offer our very lives – ourselves, our souls, and our bodies as a living sacrifice. We offer the broken places that need healing. We offer the sinful places of our lives that need repentance, forgiveness, and redemption. We offer our spiritual hunger and thirst and find spiritual food and living water in abundance.

We find in Christ the Reign of God breaking into the here and now. God knows our needs and provides strength for today and hope for tomorrow. It’s what the masses wanted when they tried to make Jesus their king, and we discover that eternal reign not for an age bound in time and then gone. In giving our lives to Jesus, we cross over from death to life, from the scarcity of an empire to the abundance of the Reign of God.

Jesus continues to gives us our daily bread, and that is one commodity never in short supply.

-- The Rev. Frank S. Logue is a church planter in the Diocese of Georgia and the vicar of King of Peace Episcopal Church in Kingsland, GA. Email: frank@kingofpeace.org