Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Final Text of the Anglican Communion Covenant: Clear Consequences

The Final Text of the Anglican Communion Covenant:

Clear Consequences

copublished, with permission, with The Living Church, and Covenant, 22 December 2009

By Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Archbishop of the Province of Kaduna, Nigeria

The final text of the Covenant is the result of hard work by the various carefully selected sisters and brothers from several parts of our Communion. We appreciate and thank them for all the sacrifices made during the course of their assignments.

In the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Covenant “is not going to solve all our problems, it’s not going to be a constitution, and it’s certainly not a penal code for punishing people who don’t comply.”

Members of this Communion need to be reminded that the 1998 Lambeth Conference took a position on the question of human sexuality which was revisited at the 2008 conference and reaffirmed. That position has therefore not changed. For individual dioceses that have gone against this agreed parameter we drew for ourselves, sections 4.2.5 and 4.2.8 of this final text of the Covenant are very clear on the likely consequences of their decision.

What section 4.2.8 recommends is already operational, in an analogous way, in some parts of our Communion. In the Church of Nigeria, for example, polygamists and the divorced are not officially accepted as leaders at any level and not even allowed Holy Communion. In addition, all women who are not willing to accept the discipline of this Church in holy matrimony cannot be members of the Mothers’ Union. To give them a sense of belonging, they are provided with an alternative: the Women’s Guild.

The proposed role of the Standing Committee in the Covenant (section 4.2) is an improvement on the liaison officers suggested in the Windsor Report (article 25). I hope the Standing Committee will be given all the necessary freedom and assistance to function effectively.

The Covenant gives non-Anglicans an idea of who we are and how we agree to resolve our differences as a family. I hope that bishops in every province will encourage robust debates and discussions of this final text of the Covenant. As the Archbishop of Canterbury has said, “We hope to see people agreeing to these ways of resolving our conflicts.”


The Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon is Archbishop of the Province of Kaduna, Nigeria.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Final Text of the Anglican Communion Covenant: Four Key Questions

From Fulcrum:

The Final Text of the Anglican Communion Covenant:

Four Key Questions

copublished, with permission, with The Living Church, and Covenant, 22 December 2009

by Dr. Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne

Interdependence and mutual accountability have always been the key features of the earlier drafts of the Anglican Communion Covenant (Nassau, St Andrew’s, and Ridley). It is encouraging that these are still at the heart of the final text.

The working party charged with producing this text, especially focussing on section four, is to be commended. The final text is profoundly Anglican, consonant with the trajectory of the Windsor Process and, it seems to me, is likely to lead to the majority of Provinces of the Anglican Communion adopting the Covenant. In the light of recent developments, it may well be that not all Provinces will enter the Covenant. Tragically, that may be appropriate at this time.

Responses from around the Anglican Communion to the various earlier drafts have been published in full, including one from the Church of England, concerning section four of the Ridley draft. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion have introduced the final text.

The working party has explained their guiding principles as ‘minimal revision’ but with some ‘clearer definition’ and ‘change of tone in language’. I believe they have achieved their aim admirably.

Four key questions are now answered:

1. Can dioceses commit themselves to the Covenant? The Covenant is designed primarily for ‘Provinces of the Anglican Communion’ – these are the ‘Churches of the Anglican Communion’ referred to in the text. However, dioceses are included in the phrase ‘any ecclesial body’ and some dioceses, eg ‘Communion Partner’ dioceses in The Episcopal Church, which may wish to commit themselves to the Covenant if their Provinces do not, will be allowed to do so. The working party quote again the principles of ‘The Lambeth Commentary’ (September 2008):

“If, however, the canons and constitutions of a Province permit, there is no reason why a diocesan synod should not commit itself to the covenant, thus strengthening its commitment to the interdependent life of the Communion.”

2. Can Churches which are not yet current members of the Anglican Consultative Council affirm the Covenant (eg The Anglican Church of North America)? Yes, but this does not make them members of the ACC and future membership will be with due process (section 4.1.5).

3. What of Churches which choose not to enter into the Covenant? The text deliberately does not deal with that matter, but the working party states that the Instruments of Communion should determine an appropriate response. This may appear weak, but it seems to me to be appropriate: not being invited to conferences and commissions may be in mind.

4. Which group will be monitoring the implementation of the Covenant? In this final text, is the ‘Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion’, which recently evolved from the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates’ Meeting and the ACC (Ridley Draft).

So, after a long period of gestation the Covenant is born. Let us be encouraged and continue our support in prayer.


Dr Graham Kings is the Bishop of Sherborne and theological secretary of Fulcrum

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

God Is With Us

Remember this, O Church, and we shall glorify that name throughout all the earth. And the question is settled for all time in the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ: God is with us. The only thing which remains to be seen is if we will be with Him?

Join us tomorrow night (Christmas Eve) at 5:30PM for Evensong at St. Stephen Anglican Church as we lift high the name of Him who brought Himself so low as to become one of us, and adore Him as He draws near once again in the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood.

Home in Nazareth Discovered!

The remains of the first dwelling in Nazareth that has been dated back to the time of Jesus have been unveiled - just days before Christmas.

The find that could shed new light on what the hamlet was like during the period the New Testament says Jesus lived there as a boy, Israeli archaeologists said.

The dwelling and older discoveries of nearby tombs in burial caves suggest that Nazareth was an out-of-the-way hamlet of around 50 houses on a patch of about four acres.

A residential building from the era of Jesus Christ being exposed near the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth

It was evidently populated by Jews of modest means who kept camouflaged grottos to hide from Roman invaders, said archaeologist Yardena Alexandre, excavations director at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The place was so small Jesus would almost certainly have known all the houses - and might even have prayed there.

Based on clay and chalk shards found at the site, the dwelling appeared to house a 'simple Jewish family,' Alexandre added, as workers at the site carefully chipped away at mud with small pickaxes to reveal stone walls.

Nazareth holds a cherished place in Christianity. It is the town where Christian tradition says Jesus grew up and where an angel told Mary she would bear the child of God.

'This may well have been a place that Jesus and his contemporaries were familiar with,' Alexandre said. A young Jesus may have played around the house with his cousins and friends, she said. 'It's a logical suggestion.'

The discovery so close to Christmas has pleased local Christians.


Jacques Icaram, a priest at the Church of the Annunciation, stands at an excavation site of an ancient house in the northern Israeli city of Nazareth

'They say if the people do not speak, the stones will speak,' said a smiling Rev. Jack Karam of the nearby Basilica of the Annunciation, the site where Christian tradition says Mary received the angel's word.

Alexandre's team found remains of a wall, a hideout, a courtyard and a water system that appeared to collect water from the roof and supply it to the home. The discovery was made when builders dug up the courtyard of a former convent to make room for a new Christian center, just yards (meters) away from the Basilica.

It is not clear how big the dwelling is - Alexandre's team have uncovered about 900 square feet (85 square meters) of the house, but it may have been for an extended family and could be much larger, she said.

Alexandre said her team also found a camouflaged entry way into a grotto, which she believes was used by Jews at the time to hide from Roman soldiers who were battling Jewish rebels at the time for control of the area.

The grotto would have hid around six people for a few hours, she said.


Israel archaeologists work at the excavation site, built on the ruins of three earlier churches on the site where Christians believe Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that she would give birth to Jesus


An Israeli archaeologist works at the site: The home dates to the time of Jesus in the town of Nazareth where he is said to have spent the better part of his life

However, Roman soldiers did not end up battling Nazareth's Jews because the hamlet had little strategic value at the time. The Roman army was more interested in larger towns and strategic hilltop communities, she said.

Alexandre said similar camouflaged grottos were found in other ancient Jewish communities of the lower Galilee such as the nearby Biblical village of Cana, which did witness battle between Jews and Romans.

At the site, Alexandre told reporters that archaeologists also found clay and chalk vessels which were likely used by Galilean Jews of the time. The scientists concluded a Jewish family lived there because of the chalk, which was used by Jews at the time to ensure the purity of the food and water kept inside the vessels.

The shards also date back to the time of Jesus, which includes the late Hellenic, early Roman period that ranges from around 100 B.C. to 100 A.D., Alexandre said.


Father Jacques Icaram walks in the excavation site. Archaeologist Yardena Alexandre says remains of a wall, a hideout and a cistern were found after builders dug up an old convent courtyard in the northern Israeli city

The house was discovered in a dig carried out ahead of the construction of the International Marian Center of Nazareth by the Galilee city's Chemin Neuf community next to the Church of the Annunciation

The absence of any remains of glass vessels or imported products suggested the family who lived in the dwelling were 'simple,' but Alexandre said the remains did not indicate whether they were traders or farmers.

The only other artifacts that archeologists have found in the Nazareth area from the time of Jesus are ancient burial caves outside the hamlet, providing a rough idea of the village's population at the time, Alexandre said.

Work is now taking place to clear newer ruins built above the dwelling, which will be preserved. The dwelling will become a part of a new international Christian center being constructed close to the site and funded by a French Roman Catholic group, said Marc Hodara of the Chemin Neuf Community overseeing construction.

Alexandre said limited space and population density in Nazareth means it is unlikely that archeologists can carry out any further excavations in the area, leaving this dwelling to tell the story of what Jesus' boyhood home may have looked like.

The discovery at 'this time, this period, is very interesting, especially as a Christian,' Karam said. 'For me it is a great gift.'

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas turned upside down

Has he turned your world upside down, yet?

Monday, December 21, 2009

G. K Chesterton and the evidence for the virgin birth

When G. K. Chesterton was arguing against a rationalist who denied miracles on the ground that experience is against it, he cited this:

There was a great Irish Rationalist of this school who, when he was told that a witness had seen him commit a murder, said he could bring a hundred witnesses who had not seen him commit it. (Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 176)

Anybody ever told you that it couldn't possibly have happened that way just because they've never seen it done?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Veni Veni Emmanuel

Still waiting... Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What shall we say?

“Do you ever try to do good to others? If you do, remember to tell them about Christ. Tell the young, tell the poor, tell the aged, tell the ignorant, tell the sick, tell the dying – tell them all about Christ. Tell them of His power, and tell them of His love; tell them of His doings, and tell them of His feelings.

“Tell them what He has done for the chief of sinners; tell them what He is willing to do until the last day of time; tell it to them over and over again. Never be tired of speaking of Christ. Say to them broadly and fully, freely and unconditionally, unreservedly and undoubtingly, ‘Come unto Christ, as the penitent thief did; come unto Christ, and you shall be saved.’”

~ J.C. Ryle

Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots, 220.

PraiseGathering Publications - Wonderful Words Of Life .mp3

Found at bee mp3 search engine

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reflecting on John the Baptist's ministry

...and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. (Acts 16:33)

Over the years, I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with calling the forerunner of Jesus “John the Baptist.” Sometimes I’ll call him John the Baptizer; other times, John the Forerunner. The reason, of course, is that calling him “John the Baptist” sounds to some ears like “John the Lutheran” or “John the Presbyterian” or “John the Methodist.” That is, they hear a denominational distinctive rather than the man who paved the way for the coming of the Lord who is over the whole church.

This is especially dangerous for those of us who are liturgical, as we will always encounter John in the wilderness of Advent. On more than one occasion I’ve heard ordained clergymen from Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches saying that believers baptism is “more biblical” than infant baptism, and I’ve even seen some Anglican churches “dedicating” rather than baptizing infants.

Plenty of ink has already been spilled over the exegetical arguments for (and against) household baptisms, so I don’t plan to revisit those (brief review here). Instead, I want to draw your attention to a couple of the theological implications of infant baptism (a.k.a. paedobaptism or covenant baptism), implications which are very practical.

First, infant baptism says that salvation is about what God has done, rather than what we have done. For those who insist on adult baptism, the key element seems to be the free will “decision” one has made to follow God. By contrast, infant baptism testifies clearly to God’s sovereign work in salvation and regeneration, and His faithfulness to His promises. It underscores the reality of original sin, and puts on display the fact that God alone is able to bring us into His family. Like an infant being brought forth for the sacrament, we’ve done nothing to merit God’s favor. I can't underscore this enough: infant baptism teaches that salvation is not the result of our works. Grace alone (sola gratia) is truly catholic doctrine!

Second, infant baptism testifies that our children are real, genuine members of God’s kingdom. They are not little pagans that need converting - rather, we can bring them up as Christians, and safely presume that they are saved until (God forbid) they give clear evidence otherwise. Such a doctrine is enormously practical, and can give a great deal of comfort to anxious parents. It’s part of our Communion’s recovery of the historic practice of paedocommunion - and a salutary correlate to our pro-life stance.

I really don’t believe that Anglican leaders have any liberty in this area, as infant baptism is plainly taught in Article 27. Beyond that, I’m convinced that the practice is perfectly scriptural. Read the venerable Browne if you don't believe me.

So baptize those babies!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Have you ever noticed that the Book of Common Prayer provides texts for a number of poems that don't look like hymns, and yet they also aren't psalms? These are called canticles. A canticle is a biblical song other than the psalms. The term also sometimes refers to a well known hymns of the early church.

We sang several of them set to metrical tunes in Sunday's worship. We'll be singing more on Christmas Eve. Here are the biblical references for the BCP canticles:
Canticles mandated for Daily Prayer
Canticle of Zechariah or Benedictus (Luke 1.68-79): Morning Prayer
Canticle of Mary or Magnificat (Luke 1.46-55): Evening Prayer
Canticle of Simeon or Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2.29-32): Close of Day

Other Canticles / Biblical Songs
Glory to God or Gloria in Excelsis (Luke 2.14, with additional material)
Canticle of Miriam and Moses (Exod. 15.1-2, 11, 13, 17-18)
God’s Chosen One (Isa. 1.1-4, 6, 9)
The Desert Shall Blossom (Isa. 35.1-2, 5-6, 10)
Canticle of Thanksgiving or First Song of Isaiah (Isa. 12.2-6)
Seek the Lord or Second Song of Isaiah (Isa. 55.6-11)
The New Jerusalem or Third Song of Isaiah (Isa. 60.1-3, 18-19)
The Spirit of the Lord (Isa. 61.1-3, 10-11)
Canticle of Hannah (1 Sam. 2.1-4, 7-8; cf. Magnificat)
Canticle of David (1 Chr. 29.10-13)
The Steadfast Love of the Lord (Lam. 3.22-26)
A Canticle to the Lamb (Rev. 4.11, 5.9-10, 12-13)
Canticle of the Redeemed (Rev. 15.3-4)
A Canticle for Pentecost (John 14.16, 16.13a, 14.26; Acts 2.2, 4a; Rom. 8.26; Joel 2.28)
A Canticle of Love (1 John 4.7, 8; 1 Cor. 13.4-10, 12-13)
Christ, the Head of Creation (Col. 1.15-20)
Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2.5c-11)

Deuterocanonical Songs from Scripture
Canticle of Judith (Judith 16.13-15)
A Canticle of Creation (Song of Three Young Men 35-65, 34)
A Canticle of Penitence (Manasseh 1-2, 4, 6-7a, 11, 13c-15)

Other Ancient Hymns, Not From Scripture
Hymn to Christ the Light or Phos Hilaron: Evening Prayer
We Praise You, O God or Te Deum Laudamus

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Posted December 11, 2009 at 5:26 PM

Grateful for the gracious guidance of the Holy Spirit and the leadership of the Most Reverend Robert Duncan, Archbishop and Primate, the Provincial Council of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) held its first annual meeting in Toronto, Canada on 11 December 2009. The College of Bishops of ACNA met immediately prior to this meeting in Burlington, Ontario on 10 December 2009.

The Provincial Council is the governing body of the Anglican Church in North America and consists of bishops, clergy and laity representing each of the twenty-eight constituent dioceses, clusters or networks.

The Provincial Council and the College of Bishops devoted these first meetings to putting in place the officers and structures necessary to fulfill the mandate to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ as faithful Anglicans and members by God's grace in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.

In faithful obedience to the Great Commission we enthusiastically embraced the 1000 Churches Proclamation as presented to the College of Bishops by the Rev. Canon David H. Roseberry of Christ Church, Plano, Texas, and committed ourselves to the multiplication of one thousand new congregations within the Anglican Church in North America in five years.

We also

  • Welcomed the new Diocese of the Gulf Atlantic and consented to the election of the Reverend Neil G. Lebhar as its first diocesan bishop. The College of Bishops also welcomed the Right Reverends Todd Hunter, David M. Loomis and Silas Tak Yin Ng as missionary bishops serving in the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Right Reverend Harry S. Seamans as an Assisting Bishop in the Diocese of Mid-America and the Right Reverend Richard W. Lipka as an assisting bishop in the Missionary Diocese of All Saints.
  • (Ed. - Bp. Lipka was the president of the Communion of Christ the Redeemer, a sort of "holding tank" for former CEC bishops, clergy, and congregations who were waiting for the establishment of the AC-NA.)
  • Gave thanks for the growing number of Provinces of the Anglican Communion that have declared themselves to be in full communion with the Anglican Church in North America, and the enthusiastic expressions of support from a growing number of Ecumenical partners.
  • Expressed profound appreciation for the recently released Manhattan Declaration that affirms core Christian values regarding Religious Liberty, the Sanctity of Life and Holy Matrimony and urged all clergy and people to sign it.
  • And, mindful of the controversy surrounding a bill concerning homosexual behavior that is being considered by the Uganda parliament, restated our commitment to the sacredness of every human person as made in the image of God, from conception to natural death and without regard for religious convictions or manner of life. We also gave thanks for the faithful witness of the Anglican Church of Uganda and encouraged them to stand firm against all forms of sexual exploitation and in their publicly stated commitment that “the Church is a safe place” for all persons, especially “those struggling with sexual brokenness.”

The Provincial Council expressed its profound appreciation for the gracious hospitality shown it by the Anglican Network in Canada and in particular gave thanks for the servant leadership demonstrated by the moderator, the Right Reverend Donald Harvey.

Looking forward to the Christmas Season and the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ the Council was reminded that the angels announced it as Good News of Great Joy for all people. In light of this the Council urged all its congregations to make a special effort to reach out with the transforming love of Jesus Christ, especially to those in their surrounding communities who face economic hardship, or other challenges that lead to their marginalization.

This first meeting of the Provincial Council has been a rich expression of our common life. We leave encouraged in our mission to extend the Kingdom of God through Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Clement of Alexandria

A native of Athens, was converted to Christianity by Pantaenus, founder of the Catechetical School at Alexandria (then the intellectual capital of the Mediterranean world), and succeeded his teacher as head of the School about 180.

For over 20 years he labored effectively as an apologist for the faith and catechist of the faithful. He regarded the science and philosophy of the Greeks as being, like the Torah of the Hebrews, a preparation for the Gospel, and the curriculum of his School undertook to give his students both a knowledge the Gospel of Christ and a sound liberal education. His speculative theology, his scholarly defense of the faith and his willingness to meet non-Christian scholars on their own grounds, helped to establish the good reputation of Christianity in the world of learning and prepare the way for his pupils.

Clement is not on the present Roman calendar (having been removed by Bellarmine at the time of Galileo, when the Roman See was undergoing a period of wariness about intellectual venturesomeness), but is on the Eastern calendar and many modern revisions of the Anglican calendar. His influence has been considerable.

Propers for Clement of Alexandria - Priest, Teacher and Apologist

The Collect.

O GOD, who hast enlightened thy Church by the teaching of thy servant Clement: Enrich us evermore, we beseech thee, with thy heavenly grace, and raise up faithful witnesses who by their life and doctrine will set forth the truth of thy salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - 2 Peter 1:2-8.

GRACE and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Gospel - St. John 6:57-63.

AS the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Reference and Resources:


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Clyde McLennan - Come, Thou long expected Jesus

Found at bee mp3 search engine

3. Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

4. By Thine own eternal Spirit,
Rule in all our hearts alone:
By Thine all-sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne. Amen.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lift Up Your Heads You Mighty Gates

Clyde McLennan - Lift up your heads

Found at bee mp3 search engine

2. A Helper just He comes to thee,
His chariot is humility,1
His kingly crown is holiness,
His scepter, pity in distress,
The end of all our woe He brings;
Wherefore the earth is glad and sings:
We praise Thee, Savior, now,
Mighty in deed art Thou!

3. O blest the land, the city blest,
Where Christ the Ruler is confessed!
O happy hearts and happy homes
To whom this King in triumph comes!
The cloudless Sun of joy He is,
Who bringeth pure delight and bliss.
We praise Thee, Spirit, now,
Our Comforter art Thou!2

4. Fling wide the portals of your heart;
Make it a temple set apart
From earthly use for Heaven's employ,
Adorned with prayer and love and joy.
So shall your Sovereign enter in
And new and nobler life begin.
To Thee, O God, be praise
For word and deed and grace!

5. Redeemer, come! I open wide
My heart to Thee; here, Lord, abide!
Let me Thy inner presence feel,
Thy grace and love in me reveal;
Thy Holy Spirit guide us on
Until our glorious goal is won!
Eternal praise and fame
We offer to Thy name!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Even Atheists Understand

A lot of people are talking trash about the New Atheism (and in some cases, rightly so). But I want to address the oldest atheism. The oldest atheism is the atheism that God's chosen people (under the old covenant, mostly national Israel; under the new covenant, the baptized) exercise when they disbelieve the gospel.

“The world does not consist of 100 per cent Christians and 100 per cent non-Christians. There are people (a great many of them) who are slowly ceasing to be Christians but who still call themselves by that name; some of them are clergymen. There are other people who are slowly becoming Christians though they do not yet call themselves so. There are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ but who are so strongly attracted by Him that they are His in a much deeper sense than they themselves understand. There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it...”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Ch. 10, “Nice People or New Men.”
How do you know if your a Christian Atheist or if you're a Christian? Let me pose some questions that can guide us on the path:
Is the law written in my heart?
Do I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?
Do I love my neighbor as myself?
Do I live by the Spirit?
Do I love the brothers?
Do I kill sin?
Do I repent?
Do I believe?
Do I die to self?
Do I follow Jesus?
Do I love Jesus more than the world?
  • More than family and loved ones?
  • More than life itself?
Is Jesus my treasure?
Do I delight in him above all else?
Do I obey his commandments?
Do I treat suffering people as if they were Christ himself?
Is my faith working through love?
Do I forgive others as God forgives me?
  • Am I aware enough of God's forgiveness that I can forgive myself & others?
Am I increasing in holiness?

Feast of St. Andrew


Psalm 19 or 19:1-6
Deuteronomy 30:11-14
Romans 10:8b-18
Matthew 4:18-22

Preface of Apostles

Collect: Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give unto us, who are called by your Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Icon of St. AndrewMost references to Andrew in the New Testament simply include him on a list of the Twelve Apostles, or group him with his brother, Simon Peter. But he appears acting as an individual three times in the Gospel of John. When a number of Greeks (perhaps simply Greek-speaking Jews) wish to speak with Jesus, they approach Philip, who tells Andrew, and the two of them tell Jesus (Jn 12:20-22). (It may be relevant here that both "Philip" and "Andrew" are Greek names.) Before Jesus feeds the Five Thousand, it is Andrew who says, "Here is a lad with five barley loaves and two fish." (Jn 6:8f) And the first two disciples whom John reports as attaching themselves to Jesus (Jn 1:35-42) are Andrew and another disciple (whom John does not name, but who is commonly supposed to be John himself -- John never mentions himself by name, a widespread literary convention). Having met Jesus, Andrew then finds his brother Simon and brings him to Jesus. Thus, on each occasion when he is mentioned as an individual, it is because he is instrumental in bringing others to meet the Saviour. In the Episcopal Church, the Fellowship of Saint Andrew is devoted to encouraging personal evangelism, and the bringing of one's friends and colleagues to a knowledge of the Gospel of Christ.

Just as Andrew was the first of the Apostles, so his feast is taken in the West to be the beginning of the Church Year. (Eastern Christians begin their Church Year on 1 September.) The First Sunday of Advent is defined to be the Sunday on or nearest his feast (although it could equivalently be defined as the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day).

Several centuries after the death of Andrew, some of his relics were brought by a missionary named Rule to Scotland, to a place then known as Fife, but now known as St. Andrew's, and best known as the site of a world-famous golf course and club. For this reason, Andrew is the patron of Scotland.

When the Emperor Constantine established the city of Byzantium, or Constantinople, as the new capital of the Roman Empire, replacing Rome, the bishop of Byzantium became very prominent. Five sees (bishoprics) came to be known as patriarchates: Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Byzantium. Now, the congregation at Rome claimed the two most famous apostles, Peter and Paul, as founders. Antioch could also claim both Peter and Paul, on the explicit testimony of Scripture, and of course Jerusalem had all the apostles. Alexandria claimed that Mark, who had been Peter's "interpreter" and assistant, and had written down the Gospel of Mark on the basis of what he had heard from Peter, had after Peter's death gone to Alexandria and founded the church there. Byzantium was scorned by the other patriarchates as a new-comer, a church with the political prestige of being located at the capital of the Empire, but with no apostles in its history. Byzantium responded with the claim that its founder and first bishop had been Andrew the brother of Peter. They pointed out that Andrew had been the first of all the apostles to follow Jesus (John 1:40-41), and that he had brought his brother to Jesus. Andrew was thus, in the words of John Chrysostom, "the Peter before Peter." As Russia was Christianized by missionaries from Byzantium, Andrew became the patron not only of Byzantium but also of Russia.

Andrew is the national saint of Scotland (thus appreciated, even by Presbyterians! - Ed.). George (23 Apr) is the national saint of England, Patrick (17 Mar) of Ireland, and Dewi = David (1 Mar) of Wales. George, who was a soldier, is customarily pictured as a knight with a shield that bears a red cross on a white background. This design is therefore the national flag of England. It is said that Andrew was crucified on a Cross Saltire -- an 'X' -shaped cross. His symbol is a Cross Saltire, white on a blue background. This is accordingly the national flag of Scotland. A symbol of Patrick is a red cross saltire on a white background. The crosses of George and Andrew were combined to form the Union Jack, or flag of Great Britain, and later the cross of Patrick was added to form the present Union Jack. Wales does not appear as such (sorry!). Whether there is a design known as the cross of David, I have no idea.

by James Kiefer

On Jordan's Banks

Clyde McLennan - On Jordan's bank

Found at bee mp3 search engine

Mark 1:4-9

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Advent of Our God

Clyde McLennan - The advent of our God

Found at bee mp3 search engine

The advent of our God
Our prayers must now employ,
And we must meet Him on His road
With hymns of holy joy.

The everlasting Son
Incarnate deigns to be;
Himself a servant’s form puts on
To set His people free.

Daughter of Zion, rise
To meet thy lowly King,
Nor let thy faithless heart despise
The peace He comes to bring.

As Judge, on clouds of light,
He soon will come again,
And all His scattered saints unite
With Him in Heaven to reign.

Before the dawning day
Let sin’s dark deeds be gone;
The old man all be put away,
The new man all put on.

All glory to the Son
Who comes to set us free,
With Father, Spirit, ever One,
Through all eternity.

Isaiah 40:9-11

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Heart of Anglocatholic Worship

Taken from Fr. Chris' personal blog:

"You may take away from us, if you will, every external ceremony; you may take away altars, and super-altars, and lights, and incense, and vestments; you may take away, if you will, the eastward position; you may take away every possible ceremony; and you may command us to celebrate at the altar of God without any external symbolism whatsoever; you may give us the most barren of all observances, and we will submit to you. If this Church commands us to have no ceremonies, we will obey. But, gentlemen, the very moment any one says we shall not adore our Lord present in the Eucharist, then from a thousand hearts will come the answer, as of those bidden to go into exile, "Let me die in my own country and be buried by the grave of my father and my mother!" to adore Christ's person in His Sacrament, is the inalienable privilege of every Christian and Catholic heart. How we do it, the way we do it, the ceremonies which we do it, are utterly, utterly indifferent; the thing itself is what we plead for..."

James DeKoven, DD in a speech before General Convention, 1874

God With Us...are we with them?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. We have much to be thankful for, despite the economic downturn. The day after is "black Friday" - when stores hope to be put "back in the black" after a dismal retail season. But for some children, black Friday is just going to be another dark day.

I was struck by this meditation by Chuck Colson on the value of the Angel Tree program. St. Stephen Church has faithfully taken on at least one Angel Tree family. This year, we are stepping up and taking two families. There will be food to provide, clothes to warm them, and toys to brighten their lives.

Would you consider making a contribution to cover the costs of extending the love of Jesus to our Angel Tree families? You can designate it through your tithes check. Alternately, if you'd like to personally purchase for a need (perhaps while you're shopping on Friday), contact Pat Miles. She has the sizes for the children and can coordinate other gift-givers.

Thank you so much!

Us With Them?

Chuck ColsonToday I want to tell you about a young lad named Emmanuel. And then I’m going to ask you to help with an urgent need by showing a prisoner’s child that God truly is with us.
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I can’t sing the words of that familiar Advent song “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” without remembering a young boy—a child of a prisoner.

Every year, Patty and I deliver Angel Tree Christmas gifts to the children of prisoners. And I’ll never forget one year in particular, when Patty and I drove into a housing project to deliver our gifts.

We saw broken windows and grim-faced gang members lounging in doorways. After parking our car, we found our way to an apartment and knocked on the door. A boy, about 9 years old, cautiously opened the door.

“Merry Christmas,” I said, holding out the presents. “These are from your Daddy.”

Immediately, the door swung wide open to let us in. The boy’s mother was on her way home from work, and as we waited for her, we saw that the apartment inside was a wreck. The furniture was torn, the stuffing falling out. A scraggly Christmas tree leaned up against the wall, bare of any presents.

When I asked the boy his name, he replied, “Emmanuel.”

“Emmanuel,” I said, “Do you know what your name means?” I opened my Bible and read from Matthew: “And they shall call him Emmanuel—which means ‘God with us.’”

Just then, his mother came to the door. Emmanuel threw his arms around her thighs, crying, “Mama, Mama, God is with us!”

In Emmanuel’s clear voice, I heard the message of Christmas afresh: that God is indeed with us always—and in a special way at Christmas, when He entered history through Jesus Christ.

I was particularly reminded that He came for the prisoner who turned His back on Him. He came for the mother who can’t make ends meet. And He came for the child who cries himself to sleep at night because he’s never known his daddy.

God is with us. And He has given us the rare chance to be with those who desperately need Him.

Each year, Angel Tree brings this message of hope to hundreds of thousands of children of inmates. Church volunteers deliver Christmas gifts—and the Gospel message—in the name of the incarcerated parent. Think what this means—not only to the children, but to the moms and dads in prison as well.

But this year we are facing an unprecedented crisis. Although churches have committed to delivering gifts to some 300,000 children, due to the slow economy and some other factors, there are 50,000 children as of today who remain unclaimed. They have no sponsors.

And so I’m doing something I’ve never done before. Please go to our website, AngelTree.org, as soon as you’ve heard this broadcast, and sponsor one child for a donation of $35.20—enough to send a gift, Gospel materials, and a message from mom or dad to that child. Or maybe you could take two or three, or more, as God leads you.

And you could ask your church to help as well. Maybe they can adopt a group of children in an area. The thing is, we must not fail. No child should be forgotten this Christmas.

God showed us that first Christmas that He is with those who have no hope. And we have the rare privilege of taking that message to these children. Sign up, please, at AngelTree.org today. Please, we need your help desperately.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Competitive Vulnerability

Crossposted from Fr. Chris' blog.

Novelist Sara Maitland coined the term “competitive vulnerability” to describe those who believe their pain must be bigger than that of others so that they achieve a moral high-ground or greater voice or more grievances to be redressed.

There's a problem here - especially for people that are working to be pastors: If all I'm looking for in your hurt is to see your bet and raise it, I'm looking at it the wrong way. Sadly, this is all too often the tactic taken in church disagreements.

Abraham Maslow once said, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. " Mainline seminaries have sold out to the "oppression / patriarchy / issues" ticket, and are creating ordinands that are incapable of reflecting on ethical, theological, biblical, or political issues outside of that framework. And the people (parishioners & clergy) are poorer for it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Casting Crowns to Christ the King

Yesterday, we read about the Kingdom of Christ - a Kingdom that advances not with force of arms, but rather as people come to know the TRUTH. We focused on the Gospel lection, and thus gave short shrift to the rest of the readings. I wanted to reiterate a lesson from the epistle reading:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Let's remember that we have been made a kingdom of priests, serving under Christ the King - the faithful witness to the TRUTH and the king of kings. And we're not there because of any goodness in ourselves, but rather because Jesus loved us and freed us from our sins by his shed blood.

Casting Crowns consistently ranks at the top of my list of the best contemporary Christian music artists. They consistently combine musical excellence with theologically correct and emotively effective lyrics. One of their songs came to mind as I was reflecting on the passage: Who Am I?

Below is a video that a church produced showing what can be done with another artist's music. I thought I'd share it - and we're happy to entertain suggestions for ways that we can integrate the arts more effectively into the building up of Christ's Kingdom at St. Stephen and beyond.

Who am I?
That the Lord of all the earth,
Would care to know my name,
Would care to feel my hurt.
Who am I?
That the bright and morning star,
Would choose to light the way,
For my ever wandering heart.

Not because of who I am,
But because of what you've done.
Not because of what I've done,
But because of who you are.

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean,
A vapor in the wind.
Still you hear me when I'm calling,
Lord, you catch me when I'm falling,
And you've told me who I am.
I am yours.
I am yours.

Who am I?
That the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love
And watch me rise again.
Who am I?
That the voice that calmed the sea,
Would call out through the rain,
And calm the storm in me.

Not because of who I am,
But because of what you've done.
Not because of what I've done,
But because of who you are.

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean,
A vapor in the wind.
Still you hear me when I'm calling,
Lord, you catch me when I'm falling,
And you've told me who I am.
I am yours.

Not because of who I am,
But because of what you've done.
Not because of what I've done,
But because of who you are.

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean,
A vapor in the wind.
Still you hear me when I'm calling,
Lord, you catch me when I'm falling,
And you've told me who I am.
I am yours.
I am yours.
I am yours.

Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear
I am yours..
I am yours..

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration

Yesterday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., over a dozen evangelical, Catholic, and Orthodox leaders faced the microphones to announce the release of an historic document—one of the most important documents produced by the American church in the last 50 years.

It is called the Manhattan Declaration, and signed by over 140 leaders representing every branch of American Christianity.

The Manhattan Declaration is a wake-up call—a call to conscience—for the church. The Declaration begins by reminding readers that for 2,000 years, Christians have borne witness to the truths of their faith. This witness has taken various forms—proclamation, seeking justice, resisting tyranny, and reaching out to the poor, oppressed, and suffering.

Having reminded readers about why and how Christians have spoken out in the past, the Declaration then turns to what especially troubles us today—the threats to the sanctity of human life, the institution of marriage, and religious freedom.

The Declaration notes with sadness that although “public sentiment has moved in a pro-life direction,” pro-abortion ideology “prevails today in our government.” Both in the administration and in Congress, there are many “who want to make abortions legal at any stage of fetal development, and...provide abortions at taxpayer expense.”

The Declaration isn’t a partisan statement. It acknowledges that since Roe v. Wade, “elected officials and appointees of both major political parties have been complicit in giving legal sanction to the ‘Culture of Death.’” The result of this bipartisan complicity is an increasingly prevalent belief that “lives that are imperfect, immature, or inconvenient are discardable.” This lethal logic produces such evils as euthanasia and the “industrial mass production of human embryos to be killed” for their stem cells.

The response to this kind of assault on the sanctity of human life requires what the Manhattan Declaration calls the “gospel of costly grace.” This starts with the willingness to put aside our comfort and serve those whom the broader culture would deem outside the scope of its concern and legal protection.

The cost may be higher. Christians may have to choose between the demands of what St. Augustine called the “City of Man” and the “City of God”—which, for the Christian, is really no choice at all.

I encourage you to read it, and then - if in agreement - lend your aid by signing it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Living Church

Cross-posted from Fr. Chris' personal blog.

“When the Church takes account of only the present, she does nothing but change; if she looks only to the future, she does nothing but dream; only when she is conscious of being the living tradition of Christ is she truly renewed.”

Anthony Burton, former bishop of Saskatchewan

Lord, give us eyes to see
both what we have been,
and what we shall be.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Worshiping the King this Sunday

Help me out, folks. Which version would you rather sing this Sunday? The traditional?
O Worship the King - Lyons

Found at bee mp3 search engine

Or the Chris Tomlin style?

O Worship the King
Found at bee mp3 search engine