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,, 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 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

Sticking Around

The doctrinal history of the Church of England asserts that it is both Catholic and Reformed; Apostolic and Evangelical; Prophetic and Protestant. The Prayer Book states: ‘Whosoever will be saved, it is necessary above all things that he hold the catholic faith...’. Anglicanism is a worldwide universal communion, and repudiates some of the claims of Rome, not least its soteriology, ecclesiology, its unique claim to catholicity and and its understanding of authority.

Unless salvation has ceased to be by faith; unless church governance has ceased to be synodical; unless infallible moral authority has indeed been imparted by God to one man, the doctrinal claims of the Church of England, founded on natural law through tradition, reason and experience, have as much validity now as they had four centuries ago. And let it not be forgotten that when Richard Hooker wrote The Laws Of Ecclesiastical Polity, Pope Clement VIII said of the book: "It has in it such seeds of eternity that it will abide until the last fire shall consume all learning."

The Anglican ship might have a lousy captain in the current ABC, but her bow is sound. And if she be holed beneath the waterline, let us rather reach for a bucket and repair the damage before simply abandoning her to the rocks and waves.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tim Keller in Louisville

Tomorrow night, November 16th at 7:00 PM at Calvin Presbyterian Church. Calvin is where Fr. Chris did his student internship during seminary. And Dr. Keller is very friendly to us Anglicans, having been instrumental in planting Christ Church in NYC.

Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters

A talk and book signing by the author, Dr. Timothy Keller (Excellent book review here.)

Free and open to the public - No reservation needed

As pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New York City, Dr. Timothy J. Keller makes a point of reaching out to immigrants, urban professionals and artists, offering an intellectually compelling case for belief in God. Newsweek magazine called Keller “a C.S. Lewis for the 21st century, a defender of orthodox Christianity.” He is the author of the best sellers, “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism” and, “The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith.” He will be at Calvin for a talk about his just released book, “Counterfeit Gods.” Books will also be available for purchase and signing by Dr. Keller.

This presentation is the final event of the annual Festival of Faiths, and is sponsored by Carmichael’s Bookstore.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thou Shalt Not Be A Vector

Do you think the parish needs one of these?

ROME (Reuters) – An Italian inventor has combined faith and ingenuity to come up with a way to keep church traditions alive for the faithful without the fear of contracting swine flu -- an electronic holy water dispenser.

The terracotta dispenser, used in the northern town of Fornaci di Briosco, functions like an automatic soap dispenser in public washrooms -- a churchgoer waves his or her hand under a sensor and the machine spurts out holy water.

"It has been a bit of a novelty. People initially were a bit shocked by this technological innovation but then they welcomed it with great enthusiasm and joy. The members of this parish have got used to it," said Father Pierangelo Motta.

Catholics entering and leaving churches usually dip their hands into fonts full of holy water -- which has been blessed by a priest -- and make the sign of the cross.

But fear of contracting the H1N1 virus has led many in Italy -- where some 15 people have died of swine flu -- not to dip their hands in the communal water font.

"It's great," said worshipper Marta Caimm as she entered the church. "Thanks to this we are not worried about catching swine flu. It is the right thing for the times," she said.

Luciano Marabese, who invented the dispenser, said he did so out of concern that fear of swine flu was eroding traditions.

And he is now blessing himself all the way to the bank.

"After all the news that some churches, like Milan's cathedral, were suspending the use of holy water fonts as a measure against swine flu, demands for my invention shot to the stars. I have received orders from all over the world," he said.

(Reporting by Eleanor Biles; Writing by Philip Pullella; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Paraskevidekatriaphobia & Isaiah 2:6

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of Friday the 13th. There are several theories about the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition.

One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day.

  • In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve hours of the clock, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, twelve gods of Olympus, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.
  • Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century's The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s. It has also been suggested that Friday has been considered an unlucky day because, according to tradition, Jesus was crucified on a Friday.

On the other hand, another theory by author Charles Panati, one of the leading authorities on the subject of "Origins" maintains that the superstition can be traced back to ancient myth:

The actual origin of the superstition, though, appears also to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil - a gathering of thirteen - and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as "Witches' Sabbath."
Charles Panati, Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things, 1987, p. 13.

Another theory about the origin of the superstition traces the event to the arrest of the legendary Knights Templar. According to one expert:

The Knights Templar were a monastic military order founded in Jerusalem in 1118 C.E., whose mission was to protect Christian pilgrims during the Crusades. Over the next two centuries, the Knights Templar became extraordinarily powerful and wealthy. Threatened by that power and eager to acquire their wealth, King Philip secretly ordered the mass arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307 - Friday the 13th." (source)
Whatever it's origins, Friday 13th needn't be a day of concern for Christians. We have been delivered from superstitions - as Paul puts it throughout Ephesians, "through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places...even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus...Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."

Superstitious avoidance of cosmological schemes (I'm looking at you, 2012!) is against the faith that we have in Jesus Christ who has currently - and continues to - subdue his enemies in the highest places of spiritual, temporal, physical, economic, and philosophical authority!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places"! (Eph. 1:3 ESV)

New South Wales Province reaches out to AC-NA

Not sure how I missed this one!

On the final night of the 2009 Synod, the Anglican Diocese of Sydney has passed a resolution embracing the new Anglican province, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

In the words of the resolution “Synod welcomes the creation of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) under the leadership of Archbishop Bob Duncan and notes the GAFCON Primates’ Council recognition of the ACNA as genuinely Anglican and its recommendation that Anglican Provinces affirm full communion with the ACNA. Synod therefore expresses its desire to be in full communion with the ACNA.’

The resolution also asks the Standing Committee of the diocese to seek a General Synod motion affirming the national church be in full communion with the ACNA.

In moving the motion, Sydney rector Gavin Poole, who spent time in the US working at an Episcopal Church, spoke of his first hand experience with the liberalism of TEC and paid tribute to what he called ‘the courage of Archbishop Duncan’.

“Canterbury may be blind to them, but we see them and embrace them. Please offer the ACNA your right hand of fellowship” Mr Poole told the Synod.

The motion also asks General Synod Standing committee to note the publication of the Jerusalem Declaration and to encourage its study as a means to Anglican identity and cohesion.

Photo: Archbishop Jensen and diocesan officials during debate.

The motion was seconded by Sydney layman Robert Tong who helped in the creation of the province as a consultant to its governance taskforce.

Mr Tong was also at GAFCON when the Jerusalem Declaration was formulated and hailed it as “a clear statement about Anglican identity and coherence and based clearly on scripture.”

The resolution also contains a section on the recent Vatican offer to disenfranchised Anglicans.

The motion “Welcomes Archbishop Duncan’s assessment that the recent Vatican offer of a Personal Ordinariate ‘will not be utilised by the great majority of the Anglican Church in North America’s bishops, priests, dioceses and congregations’ and urges all Anglicans to reject the Vatican’s proposal”.

The President of the Anglican Church League, Dr Mark Thompson described that as an important part of the statement, even though it was a separate issue to the welcoming of the new province.

“The opportunity of the moment is to forge new understandings with orthodox Anglicans from different traditions – anglo-catholic, evangelical, charismatic - and through a principled co-operation, and the emphasis needs to be on principle, to rescue the denomination from the liberal agenda to which it has been captive for over 50 years” Dr Thompson said.

The motion was carried on the voices in the last hour of Synod.
I very much appreciate this recognition. But there is something troubling to me. Sydney has a disturbing history on the issue of Holy Orders and the Lord's Supper. In the past, there has been vocal support for Lay Presidency at the Lord's Supper(an issue which Spong of Newark supported in his Why Christianity must Change or Die). And there are current suits against the archdiocese on the issue of Diaconal Presidency.

These issues are every bit as grave a threat to catholic order as are the more flash-point problems of women and gays.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Orthodoxy & the AC-NA

Since Metropolitan Jonah has revived talks between American Orthodoxy and American Anglicanism, I thought it worth revisiting some of the earlier reflections on the unity of our churches (written before the revision of catholic order in changing the matter of ordination).
Here's a selection from a Sermon preached at General Convention. No...not a recent one. Rather, one held shortly after the founding of the Protestant Episcopal Church (as opposed to the Church of England), in 1786. by William White, DD (soon to be elected Bishop of Pennsylvania, then later to serve as the Presiding Bishop). In it, he wished to show that the Protestant Episcopal Church was still in union with the catholic church - even as she established some judicatory independence from the Church of England - because she continued in the faith & practices delivered from the apostles.

BY the christian doctrine, I mean that which hath been held by the whole church, notwithstanding all the superstition and enthusiasm which have in different times and places in part obscured its lustre.

YES; however various the opinions of professing christians, there are in the holy scriptures the outlines of a system which nothing could obliterate: Conspicuous truths, which have been always seen and confessed by the great body of professing christians.

THAT there is one infinitely perfect God the Father; and one Lord Jesus Christ, God begotten of God, and thus possessed of all divine attributes, who having been "in the beginning and before all worlds," took in time man's nature upon him, to make in it an oblation for sin; and one Holy Spirit, who, being sent by the Father and the Son assists mankind by his inspirations; that these three divine agents are essentially united, as well in themselves, as in accomplishing the work of redemption; that the end of the gospel dispensation is to rescue man from the darkness and corruption of fallen nature, making him through faith acceptable to God, and enabling him to live in good works; and that the result of all is the bringing of those who shall believe in Christ with a faith evidencing itself in holiness to the everlasting happiness of heaven, which can be claimed only through his merits; are truths which have been never lost sight of by the visible church: They were indited by that blessed Spirit, who was to "lead her into all truth," and the upholding of them is essential to the accomplishment of the promise, "that the same divine Comforter should continue with her for ever."

THERE is therefore a doctrine which hath been at all times acknowledged; and it is "the inward glory of the King's daughter," the intrinsic worth of our holy religion.

AND here we have the true ground of church unity: Of the only unity fought for in the early ages; when the different churches of Christendom, knowing no other common head than Christ, lived in an happy agreement in the same faith under their respective Bishops, and in a delightful communion founded on that agreement.

HOW important then is the preservation of a faith thus maintained by the Catholic Christian world! And how great should be our caution, lest, by loosening ourselves from the common tie of the communion of saints, we cease to be a member of that body of which Christ vouchsafeth to call himself the head: A part of that church, in which he hath promised to be present "even unto the end of the world!"

Notice that he cautioned us to be careful lest - as an institution - we fall away from the core of the Faith and cease to be part of the Church. Dr. White, himself an old-style evangelical, didn't say that the faith is to be found solely in that expression of the Church. But rather that in all places where these truths are taught unblemished and unapologetically, there you have the communion of saints.

Some persons in power of other religious jurisdictions have recently claimed that they represent the historic Anglican witness to Jesus on American soil - and that the real heretics (parters-of-way with the church catholic) are those who insist that God has a plan of saving individuals. This person may believe what she likes, but needs to know that she is out of step the institution she claims to represent, and has long-since parted ways with the church catholic.

As for the rest of us, with the release of the Vatican documents paving the way to Rome, I urge us all to consider the price. We are already part of the catholic church. We simply don't recognize the universal & immediate jurisdictional authority of the bishop of Rome over all other dioceses, synods, and provinces of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We are seeking greater visible unity with other members of that church (as recent talks with the SCOBA affirm). But it must be unity - not supremacy; it must be welcome - not walking-mat.

I encourage us all to reclaim our catholicity and hold tenaciously to the root faith that makes us all one in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Image

can say WAY MORE than 1,000 words.

Take that, iconoclasts!

Good Day, Bad Day

11/11/18 at 11AM, Peace was declared on the continent - ending World War I. We celebrate this day (variously called Armistice Day, Veterans Day, Remembrance Day) by thanking Almighty God for the freedoms secured by those who served their country in uniform.

Tonight, at 7PM, St. Stephen Anglican Church will remember Veterans and active military personnel with a service of evensong.

I hope you can join us.

Unfortunately, today is also a day that - in the life of the church - marks two church councils that have undermined peace in the church. You can read about them at Fr. Chris' personal blog.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Church Society response to Anglicanorum Coetibus

From the Church Society

According to its own doctrinal standards and history, the Church of England's true nature is that of a Protestant, Reformed, Evangelical and catholic (in other words, universal) church. Orthodox Anglicanism is therefore defined by reference to these characteristics only, which are set out in the Thirty-nine Articles and the Church of England's submission to the over-arching authority of Scripture alone. Church Society seeks to defend and promote these defining characteristics, especially the Gospel of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone which is at the heart of the message and mission of the Church of England.

While acknowledging the correct stand taken by Anglo-Catholics against theological liberalism (the features of which do not represent true, Biblical Anglicanism), it should also be noted that the true doctrine of the Church of England does not embrace any of the teachings or practices which characterise the Church of Rome. (as opposed to those being truly catholic / universal. - Fr. Chris) For instance, the Church of Rome is fundamentally flawed in its claims about its own nature and authority and in its teaching about the means of salvation.

A proper rejection of theological liberalism should therefore not be accompanied by a turning to the Church of Rome and its unbiblical teachings and practices. Rather, both theological liberalism and the unscriptural teachings and practices of the Church of Rome are contrary to the Bible and to the historic doctrines of the Church of England as a Protestant, Reformed, Evangelical and catholic church.

The longing of Church Society is that all Anglicans, whether in England or elsewhere, would see and understand both the destructive nature of theological liberalism and the false nature, teachings and practices of the Church of Rome.

We grieve that the Church of England, along with our nation, has fallen so low in its spiritual and moral condition. We pray that God would pour out His Spirit on both church and nation.

We rejoice that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone and we pray that the Church of England will return to full adherence to its doctrinal standards, acknowledging the supreme authority of the Bible as God's Word and seeking to shape its teaching and practices by what He has revealed.

Further information relevant to this statement can be found here. We do no good to give up the traditions of deconstructionists & revisionists for the traditions of Romanists. While there can be legitimate debate about the place of the Patriarch of Rome within the great ancient patriarchal sees (Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Rome), it is against catholic principles for him to demand immediate jurisdictional and episcopal governance over all Christians everywhere - or to say that he is infallible. Especially in the absence of synodical ratification.

FiF-UK's response to the publication of Anglicanorum Coetibus

Forward in Faith in the UK has issued a response to the recent publication of Rome's openness towards Anglicans. This was the subject of much discussion at the last international assembly. I hope to hear from FiF-NA or at least Bp. Ilgenfritz in the coming days on this matter.

Nov 9, 2009

The Holy See has today published the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which will provide for Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. The text of the Apostolic Constitution, and its Complementary Norms, can be read here.

The Chairman of Forward in Faith, Bishop John Broadhurst, has issued the following interim statement to those clergy who look to him, as Bishop of Fulham, for episcopal care at the present time and he is happy to share it with the membership of Forward in Faith worldwide.

I had thought the original notice from Rome was extremely generous. Today all the accompanying papers have been published and they are extremely impressive. I have been horrified that the Church of England while trying to accommodate us has consistently said we cannot have the jurisdiction and independent life that most of us feel we need to continue on our Christian pilgrimage.

What Rome has done is offer exactly what the Church of England has refused. Indeed it has offered the requests of Consecrated Women? with the completion of its ecumenical hopes. We all need now to ask the question 'is this what we want?' For some of us I suspect our bluff is called! This is both an exciting and dangerous time for Christianity in this country. Those who take up this offer will need to enter into negotiation with the Church of England about access to parish churches and many other matters. This situation must not be used to damage the Church of England but I do believe we have a valid claim on our own heritage in history.

The doctrinal standard demanded by Rome is the New Catechism which most of us use any way. We would be allowed to use Anglican or Roman rites and our ordinaries would have jurisdiction. We will all need to meet and talk. I would hope that this could take place in collaboration with the PEVs and other Catholic bishops. It is not my style to give a expansive analysis of a document that I have only received today nor will I answer the question 'What are you going to do?' That is something we need to work out together.

Every Blessing,

+John Fulham

Calling bluffs, indeed. I'm sure many clergy in England will find it appealing to move towards Rome. I pray that they do not, however, abandon the balance of evangelical catholicism that embodies the best of the Anglican witness to Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Take-aways from a small church conference presented by Dr. David Ray. David Ray is a small church pastor and small church coach. He has taught classes on the small church in seminary and has advised numerous small churches around the country. Here are some of the highlights as cataloged from a brother presbyter in the REC:
  1. The largest problem with small congregations is an “inferiority complex”. We must get rid of the idea that “small is bad”. After all, before 1950 unless you were in a big city you were probably a small church.
  2. Every single small church Dr. Ray has seen fail is because of one reason…Negativity. “A negative attitude kills a small church long before a lack of money, resources or a lack of membership ever could”.
  3. No successful small church considers being small “bad”. They have a sense of family. A sense of, “We take care of each other”.
  4. Ask yourself, “Why you want to grow?” If the answer is anything other than, “to spread the gospel” it’s the wrong answer.
  5. At the last judgment God will not ask, “Were you successful?”…But, “Were you faithful?” Focus on what is important.
  6. Small churches cannot be good at everything. Pick your strengths and play to them. After all, David did not slay Goliath with Saul’s sword. David used what worked for him.
  7. Be size appropriate. Pick hymns and liturgy that work for a small parish. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Pick hymns easy to sing and music people like.
  8. Don’t forget, big mega churches even have to use “small church ministry groups” to be successful. A small church really does it better than they do anyway.
  9. “Small churches are hard to join and are even harder to get out of.” A lot of people like anonymity. They want to be lost in the crowd. Many people don’t want to be bothered. People that join a small church love relationships. They don’t mind being called up and asked, “What happened to you on Sunday?”…“It’s hard to leave a small church because…People will hunt you down.”
  10. Small churches that are successful are not self absorbed, but look outward. Find some community projects and do them.
  11. Small churches do wonderfully at: Carry-ins, birthdays, graduations…Really any excuse to eat and socialize. Do those things often!
  12. Identify one person in the parish that has “something to catch”. (i.e., a cheerleader, a deep faith, a positive attitude) and replicate it.
  13. “The Moth Principle”…People are like moths. They are attracted by light and warmth. Give out both of these things…Always!
  14. Just identify one problem every couple of months and solve it!
  15. Don’t get hung-up on “we must have young people.” Don’t ignore trying to get young people…But, remember every single one of us are getting older and there is always a “new crop of older folks coming-up”…In fact, wait long enough and you will be one of them. One parish in Florida never gained a person under forty-five but grew from eight members to over a hundred members in five years by being loving, faithful and just having a “good time”.
I'm sure happy to belong to a small church family.

Servant Leadership

How can you become a leader – not just at St. Stephen Church – but in the kingdom of God as well?

Here’s the path we suggest. Obviously it’s tailored to our unique setting – our location and our theology.

1. Be a worshipper!

The Lord’s Day worship at St. Stephen Church is designed to continually focus on Jesus Christ and what it means to repent our our sins, confess His Lordship, and spiritually commune with Him. There’s literally no other place to start!

2. Be a servant!

Whether you serve alone to meet a need, serve with a ministry team, or with one of the parachurch ministries in this city, Jesus says that the one who would be great among His people must be a servant (Matthew 20:25-27). As we mature in Christ, we should aim to serve both inside and outside the church on a regular basis.

3. Be a Disciple!

It’s important for the mature Christian to know their own soul and its deceitfulness and also to know the Word of God. Here’s where to start -

A. Daily Prayer and Bible Reading, including

B. Small Group Studies

C. Take a spiritual retreat, or work with a spiritual director, to know your soul

D. Complete a program of study that will help you know God’s Word (ask Fr. Chris for suggestions)

E. Offer the clergy help in getting other students engaged in these studies!

4. Be a steward

To be a steward means to get your own financial house in order. That’s easier said than done these days, but we will work to encourage one another in this area. All of us should use debt responsibly and not be held in slavery by financial turmoil. Part of being a steward means giving faithfully to your local congregation as God prospers you. In return our church will be a good steward of the funds you give.

But there is more to “stewardship” of our lives than simply the financial aspect. If being out of debt were the measure of stewardship, Scrooge would have been a good “steward” instead of a moral failure who needed to be transformed!

We encourage men to pursue faithfulness using the character attributes of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 as their guide. Likewise, we encourage women to consider Proverbs 31:10-31 in their pursuit of faithful stewardship of character. Your name is a gift that's been given to you - have you been a good steward of it? What about of your Christian tradition?

5. Be a Prayer Warrior

We do far too much without ever asking God’s help or seeking God’s wisdom. We proceed in our own strength and wonder why we fail. Prayerfulness begins with our daily time of prayer before the Lord and extends as we pray for those around us (as discussed at “Pray For Your Block”) so that the Lord will go before us as we seek to transform Louisville (and beyond) in Christ’s Name.

6. Be a Messenger of Hope!

When Jesus Christ claims us for His Own, He sets us free to serve Him! We become “Messengers of Hope” who introduce others to His grace!

Some call this “Gossiping the Gospel”, but whatever you call it, it’s ultimately pointing beyond ourselves and to Jesus Christ the Lord and His Wonders to set free a world addicted to the “Sewers of the Self”!

7. Pursue Your Calling!

All God’s people have holy callings in their roles as men and women, husbands/fathers, wives/mothers, parents and children, citizens of the state, and business owners or employees. Some have special callings within the Church as well.

Do you have a special calling for service upon your life? If so, others will soon know it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Diversity & Tolerance

If you immediately condemn anyone who doesn’t quite believe the same as you do as forsaken by Christ’s Spirit, and consider anyone to be the enemy of truth who holds something false to be true, who, pray tell, can you still consider a brother? I for one have never met two people who believed exactly the same thing. This holds true in theology as well.

- Martin Bucer

To my friends who insist that AC-NA will spin apart because of evangelical and catholic and charismatic Anglicans coming together, I say: PHOOEY. How much more classically Anglican can you get than Martin Bucer, a man who started out as a Dominican priest and worked tirelessly to bringing conciliation among the leading lights of the Lutheran, Genevan/Swiss, & English Reformations?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What Makes A Good Funeral?

Fr. Chris shares some insights from Dr. Tom Long at his personal blog.

As members of the Church, having been baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is appropriate that all Christian persons be buried from the Church. As we believe in the resurrection of Christ, so we also believe that our bodies will participate in His resurrection at the Last Day. These concepts are foundational to our identity as Christians, and we affirm them when we recite the Creeds of the Church in worship. As members of the body of Christ, it is most important that the Burial Office be a service of public worship, and that it be read within the context of the Holy Eucharist. To do so is a powerful symbol of our being joined to the whole Church, both the living and the dead.

As the Prayer Book states (BCP 507), the Burial Office is an Easter liturgy which finds its meaning in our Lord's victory over death and the grave. In this liturgy, we celebrate the life and ministry of our deceased sister or brother. And, we look forward in an eschatological way to reunion with those who are dead, and with Christ himself, "the pioneer and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).

Even so, our joy in the passing of a loved one into the larger life in Christ neither can nor should preclude a natural outpouring of grief. Whenever we have become separated from one whom we love, grief over that loss is a good, healthy and God-given emotional response. Indeed, one purpose of the funeral rite is to aid in the facilitation of such grief by clearly showing the finality of death until the time of resurrection. How an individual experiences grief in no way provides a measure of that person's faith, Christian hope or love for the deceased.

We will be remembering loved ones - those living with us and those living face-to-face with God - in a special Veterans Day service at 7PM. I hope you can all join us.