Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Conversion to ProLife

This report from Chuck Colson is an excellent follow up from yesterday's reflection on the Conversion of St. Paul. I hope it will spur you to consider how crucial is the work we will be doing during our Lenten 40 Days for Life.
People often ask me if I believe in miracles. Of course I do! I see them every day. Because a changed heart is nothing short of a miracle.

If your conscience required it, could you turn your back on the job you’d dedicated your entire adult life to?

That’s what Abby Johnson did. After nine years as director of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas, Johnson left in October to join the Coalition for Life, a group that holds prayer rallies outside that same clinic—and a group of which she had once been a vocal critic.

Johnson cites two reasons for her decision to walk away from Planned Parenthood. First, she says, it bothered her that the organization was so focused on performing more and more abortions in order to bring in more and more money.

Johnson had believed that pregnancy prevention was Planned Parenthood’s main goal. But, she says, “It seemed like maybe that’s not what a lot of people were believing any more, because that’s not where the money was. The money wasn’t in family planning, the money wasn’t in prevention, the money was in abortion.” And Johnson reports she had “a problem with that.”

But as Johnson tells it, the moment that really changed her heart occurred when she was called in to help with an actual abortion procedure, which was not part of her regular duties.

This was her first time watching the procedure on an ultrasound. She says, “I could see the whole profile of the baby...I could see the whole side profile. I could see the probe. I could see the baby try to move away from the probe....I just thought, ‘What am I doing?’...And then I thought, ‘Never again.’”

Two weeks later, looking out the clinic window and seeing members of Coalition for Life outside praying, Johnson walked out of the clinic and joined them.

She has never looked back.

As you might expect, no one at Planned Parenthood knows quite what to make of Abby Johnson. The recriminations have been flying thick and fast. They’re accusing her of lying about why she left, of stealing files from the clinic where she used to work, of any number of other things.

Apparently, they don’t know how to handle the idea that her conscience might have convicted her.

But Johnson’s story should serve as a cautionary tale for pro-lifers. For all of us as a matter of fact. Especially when we’re dealing with polarizing issues like abortion, we Christians must remember that our fellow human beings are not the enemy. Here’s one where we thought the woman was. But she saw the truth.

Remember, Paul spells it out so clearly for us in Ephesians: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

So even as we fight to save lives (and we’re reminded this week of the importance of that with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade) we must still keep our minds on our larger mission, which is to love the world. And it’s the only way we’re going to bring change.

Martin Luther King said it beautifully: He whom you would change, you must first love. This means every human being—pro-life and pro-choice—because everyone is made in God’s image. And we all, as the result of the Fall, stand in need of redemption.

So we need to do everything we can to reach out to the Abby Johnsons of the world, and pray that God will change their hearts—for their sake, and for His glory.

If it happened here with Abby Johnson; it can happen again.

Further Reading and Information

Planned Parenthood Clinic Director Joins Anti-Abortion Group
ABC News | November 5, 2009

Abby Johnson, Ex-Abortionist
Rod Dreher | Belief Net | November 3, 2009

Changed: Making Sense of Your Own or a Loved One's Abortion Experience
Michaelene Fredenburg | BreakPoint BookTrends | January 20, 2010

Heroine for Life: Lila Rose Takes on Planned Parenthood
Mark Earley | BreakPoint Commentary | August 20, 2009

Mugged by Ultrasound
David Daleiden and Jon A. Shields | Weekly Standard | January 25, 2010

Originally posted at Fr. Chris' personal blog.

Monday, January 25, 2010

On Conversion - St Paul's and Ours

Lately, I've been dealing with some folks on another blog that, by their defense of a heresiarch and their own indifference to doctrine while holding office in a church, have become enemies of Christ and His gospel. My first, human reaction was to get angry. But God has been dealing with me - breaking my heart for those who find themselves breaking upon the Law of God.

And today, in my Daily Office recitation, I come upon the story of Paul's conversion on this its feast. And in singing the office hymn, God reminded me that I should never give up hope for those who are now enemies of the Gospel. God may yet make them His greatest messengers. That's hope and change you can believe in!

Lord God of our fathers, who in reconciling the world to yourself have made friends of your enemies, forgive me when I forget how I was your avowed enemy before you won my heart. Use me to reach those who are set against you, through the love and grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit in everlasting unity. Amen.

Clyde McLennan - We sing the glorious conquest .mp3

Found at bee mp3 search engine

We sing the glorious conquest,
Before Damascus’ gate,
When Saul, the Church’s spoiler,
Came breathing threats and hate;
The rav’ning wolf rushed forward
Full early to the prey;
But lo! the Shepherd met him,
And bound him fast today.

O glory most excelling
That smote across his path!
O light that pierced and blinded
The zealot in his wrath!
O voice that spake within him
The calm, reproving word!
O love that sought and held him
The bondman of his Lord!

O Wisdom ord’ring all things
In order strong and sweet,
What nobler spoil was ever
Cast at the Victor’s feet?
What wiser master builder
E’er wrought at Thine employ
Than he, till now so furious
Thy building to destroy?

Lord, teach thy Church the lesson,
Still in her darkest hour
Of weakness and of danger,
To trust Thy hidden power;
Thy grace by ways mysterious
The wrath of man can bind,
And in Thy boldest foeman
Thy chosen saint can find.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Act of Uniformity - 461 years of Biblical Worship

What Began in 1549 with an Act Of Parliament Endures Today!

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s words of worship (and Merbecke’s chant settings of those words) will resonate Sunday in Anglican churches that value scripture and tradition — and are reasonable enough to practice “inclusion” regarding conservative Anglicans. “Conservative” in this sense means “conserving and practicing that which is good.”

Cranmer’s Prayer Book was proclaimed the official liturgy of England by Parliament on January 21, 1549. The Act of Uniformity (text here), as the measure was called, addressed “The Book of the Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church after the use of the Church of England.”
Several minor changes have been made over the centuries, but the towering language — great language for great things — and, more important, the core faith expressed by that language, remain the same in the 1928 BCP. This magnificent book is the keystone of our faith today in the Anglican Church as well as other churches that have adopted it or portions of it (normally through the 1662 version in legal at the time of the great missionary movement during the 18 & 19th centuries). Moreover, the classic Prayer Book is treasured as a jewel in the crown of the entire Western Canon by readers and scholars who appreciate the English language.
It wasn’t until 1979 that the first major revisions appeared in the language and, consequently, in the meaning of the religion itself, chiefly in the secular “Baptismal Covenant.” This sociopolitical phrase is regarded by many revisionists, according to their own words, as the most important declaration in the liturgy. Another revision is a slight manipulation of language in the Creeds that denies the divine nature of Christ. If you haven’t noticed this sly edit hidden in plain sight, read it carefully and you’ll see.

No small changes, these, and vexatious to the vast majority of Episcopalians, who will be happy to learn that, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the 1662 & 1928 BCP have been greatly exaggerated by liberal bishops and clergy. Although the 1979 book was adopted by General Convention as the official liturgy — and, as we learned at last summer’s General Convention, is now considered in revisionist circles terribly old-hat – the 1928 BCP is still in use throughout the Church wherever Episcopalians discern the difference. How quickly the 1979 went out of fashion! Yet the classic, scripture-based 1662 & 1928 BCP endures.

If you are clergy, consider observing this pivotal day in Church history by conducting services this Sunday and next from the 1662 or 1928 BCP. You’ll leave church refreshed, renewed, and ready to take on whatever the coming week has in store.

Cranmer Lives
Cranmer Lives.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Upon This Rock

Petros, Peter, which means “rock” made a rock-solid confession, when asked by Christ whom men say that he is, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” This is divine revelation, not given to us by flesh and blood, but by God the Holy Spirit.

And our Lord said to Peter, “Upon this rock [petra], I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” [Matt. 16]. But shortly thereafter Christ was rebuking the rock-man when he wanted to resist, with all good intentions, the very rock upon which the church is built: Christ and Him crucified!

It is an interesting paradox here portrayed for us in Matt. 16, a very wholesome and worthy lesson for us all. The rock of offense, is the rock upon which the church is built: a bloody, suffering and dying Jesus, scorned and rejected, cross and suffering, not some glorious triumph, at least not in the eyes of the world. Through the deepest and lowliest and most disdainful shame and suffering is how our Lord builds His church.

And He uses weak, human vessels, like St. Peter, and the words of His confession. He used a man who would betray him in public, and denounce him through cussing like a sailor! And yet that man's mouth, through preaching, would later open the kingdom to the Gentiles.

Upon the preaching of the confession of Peter, our Lord continues to call, gather, enlighten and sanctify the whole Christian Church on earth, and He promises, to the very end, to keep it with Jesus Christ, our head and master, in the one true faith.

Praise God for the confession of St. Peter! Glory to Christ for the rock upon which the church is built and for the “rock-men” and “rock-women” who proclaim and share and teach and spread the Word abroad into all the world, in all the wonderful and various vocations given among us! Praise be to God for the confession of St. Peter, the confession of the church throughout all the world.

The readings appointed for today are:
First lesson: Acts 4:8-13
Psalm: Psalm 23
Epistle: 1 Pet. 5:1-4
Gospel: Mark 8:27-9:1

Let us pray:

Almighty Father, who inspired Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the Living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

For a Roman perspective, look here.

For an evangelical's perspective, see here (or this online master's thesis which provides patristic as well as exegetical support).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Did you remember your baptism?

Then you're not only remembering what happened to you, but to Jesus and to all Israel (that is, all the covenant people of God). Jesus was baptized to identify with us - and in our baptism, we are identified with him. As Paul wrote, if we die with him in our baptism, we rise with him in his resurrection.

This song has been in my heart ever since Sunday (which was an AWESOME time with Bp. Ilgenfritz). I thought you'd appreciate it as well. (Note, the music is 6v where the song is only three...so sing it twice!)
Clyde McLennan - Rise, my soul, to watch and pray .mp3

Found at bee mp3 search engine

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blessed Epiphany

What Is Epiphany?

“Epiphany” means “manifestation” or “appearance.” Christians have observed a day of Epiphany to commemorate the revelation of the Messiah in connection with the visit of the Wise Men. Many churches in the Western world celebrate this day either on January 6 (at the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas) or on the Sunday closest to this date. Some call it “Three Kings Day.”

So Epiphany Is A Day, Not A Season Like Advent or Lent?

Right. Traditionally. But more and more congregations and families are treating Epiphany as a season of the Church Calendar. It’s a time to focus on the gradual revelation of Jesus’ person and mission in the minds and hearts of his disciples as He ministered on earth, and a time to realize our own mission: to spread the gospel, declare “the Kingdom is at hand,” and carry the “ministry of reconciliation” wherever we go.

Why Should Christians Observe Epiphany?

Epiphany — especially if treated as a season in your private devotions, church services or family worship — is designed to highlight key aspects of our Savior’s earthly ministry, such as:

  • the miracles of Jesus
  • the parables of Jesus
  • the prophecies of Jesus
  • the teachings of Jesus, such as the Sermon on the Mount

It is also a natural bridge between Christmas, the celebration of Christ’s coming, and Lent, the period of lament, reflection and confession leading to the cross. So in short, Epiphany, as part of the Christian Year, is a tool for preaching the gospel to yourself, your family and your congregation.

What Are Some Bible Texts And Statements Of Faith Applying To Epiphany?

  • Psalm 72
  • Isaiah 49:5-7 and Isaiah 60
  • Matthew 2:1-12
  • Luke 13:22-30
  • John 8:12
  • Romans 15:5-13
  • 2 Corinthians 4:4-6
  • Ephesians 3:1-12
  • Titus 2:11-14
  • Revelation 21:22-26
Lectionary Readings:

Psalm 72:1-7,10-14;
Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12

Preface of the Incarnation

PRAYER (contemporary language)

O God, who by the leading of a star manifested your only Son to the Peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

(With help from Sojourn)