Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Confessional Anglicanism is our Future

Some people allege that the Anglican Church in North America is hopelessly theologically muddled, a mere 20-year reset button on TEc, and an overly-diverse group that will fly apart as soon as the common threat of pansexualism is absent.

Archbishop Duncan says PHOOEY on that...we're in this together to confess Christ together, and our vision is still the GAFCON Jerusalem Statement.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Remembering Bp. Grafton

Bp. Charles G. Grafton was a lion of the faith, an ecumenist, and a mission-building bishop. He was a notable figure in early American Anglo-Catholicism (a turn toward the pre-Reformation faith that lived in England from 600-1400), leaving a serious body of works in letters and addresses.

He was the second Bishop of the Diocese of Fond du Lac. Prior to his election as bishop, Grafton was Rector of Church of the Advent in Boston.

Grafton was consecrated on December 15, 1875 at St. Paul's Cathedral, Fond du Lac by William E. McLaren of Chicago, Alexander Burgess of Quincy, and George F. Seymour of Springfield. Grafton founded the Anglican religious order Sisterhood of the Holy Nativity and was a founding member of the Society of St. John the Evangelist.

He is forever memorialized in a tune bearing his name which has been set to numerous hymns. However, I believe the most poignant is to "Sing my ton" the words of which are reproduced alone. Use this as your office hymn, or as thanksgiving for receiving the precious gift of the Lord's most precious body and blood in the Holy Communion.

Clyde McLennan - Now my tongue the mystery telling .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine


Preface of a Saint (1)


Loving God, who didst call Charles Chapman Grafton to be a bishop in thy Church, endowing him with a burning zeal for souls: Grant that, following his example, we may ever live for the extension of thy kingdom, that thy glory may be the chief end of our lives, thy will the law of our conduct, thy love the motive of our actions, and Christ’s life the model and mold of our own; through the same Jesus Christ, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, throughout all ages. Amen.

Sermon for Proper17C

Sermon Proper17C Humble Hospitality, Fr Chris Larimer from Fr. Chris Larimer.

A sermon on Luke 14 & Hebrews 13, preached at Holy Apostles Anglican Church in Elizabethtown, KY.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Coming ACNA Prayer Book

I have a feeling that some of the AC-NA folks are going to be really upset no matter what form the prayer book revision takes. Let's hope it's received better than the BCP was received in Scotland!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle

The name "Bartholomew" appears in the New Testament only on lists of the names of the twelve apostles. This list normally is given as six pairs, and the third pair in each of the Synoptics is "Philip and Bartholomew" (M 10:3; P 3:18; L 6:14; but A 1:15).

John gives no list of the Twelve, but refers to more of them individually than the Synoptists. He does not name Bartholomew, but early in his account (John 1:43-50) he tells of the call to discipleship of a Nathaniel who is often supposed to be the same person. The reasoning is as follows: John's Nathanael is introduced as one of the earliest followers of Jesus, and in terms which suggest that he became one of the Twelve. He is clearly not the same as Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Thomas, Judas Iscariot, Judas (not Iscariot, also called Lebbaeus or Thaddeus), all of whom John names separately. He is not Matthew, whose call is described differently (M 9:9). This leaves Bartholomew, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes. Of these, Bartholomew is the leading candidate for two reasons:

(1) "Bar-tholomew" is a patronymic, meaning "son of Tolmai (or Talmai)." It is therefore likely that he had another name. (A historical novel which may not be well researched informs me that a first-century Jew would be likely to use the patronymic instead of the forename as a mark of respect in speaking to a significantly older Jew.) "Nathanael son of Tolmai" seems more likely than "Nathanael also called James (or Simon)."
(2) Nathanael is introduced in John's narrative as a friend of Philip. Since Bartholomew is paired with Philip on three of our four lists of Apostles, it seems likely that they were associated.

We have no certain information about Bartholomew's later life. Some writers, including the historian Eusebius of Caesarea (now Har Qesari, 32:30 N 34:54 E, near Sedot Yam), say that he preached in India. The majority tradition, with varying details, is that Bartholomew preached in Armenia, and was finally skinned alive and beheaded to Albanus or Albanopolis (now Derbent, 42:03 N 48:18 E) on the Caspian Sea. His emblem in art is a flaying knife. The flayed Bartholomew can be seen in Michelangelo's Sistine painting of the Last Judgement. He is holding his skin. The face on the skin is generally considered to be a self-portrait of Michelangelo.


Psalm 91 or 91:1-4
Deuteronomy 18:15-18
1 Corinthians 4:9-15
Luke 22:24-30

Preface of Apostles

PRAYER (traditional language)

Almighty and everlasting God, who didst give to thine apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach thy Word: Grant that thy Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God for ever and ever.

PRAYER (contemporary language)
Almighty and everlasting God, who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your Word: Grant that your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

Monday, August 23, 2010


One of the greatest canticles of the Church is the Magnificat, or the Canticle of Mary. It is traditionally sung every evening at Vespers or Evening Prayer. The settings of it are plethora, as is fitting for a song sung every night throughout the year. However, I've recently come upon one I wanted to share. It's set to the familiar tune UFFINGHAM (LM) by Brian Penney. You can listen to it in parts or in full choir here.

And of course if you're going to do this in a Solemn Evensong setting, don't forget the incense!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Global South to ECUSA and ACoC

"Think they'll get the message this time?"

No...probably not.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

There's Something About Mary

I’d like to explore some of the history of this Feast day of August 15th, which the calendar of lesser feasts and fasts calls the feast of Saint Mary the Virgin. The lesser feasts and fasts of the Church of England calls it the feast of the blessed Virgin Mary. The Anglican Church of Canada calls it the Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Lutherans call it the feast of Mary, mother of our Lord. The Orthodox Church calls it the Dormition of Mary, and the Romans call it The Feast of the Assumption of the BVM.

However, this feast was thrown off the liturgical calendar of the Church of England at the time of the Reformation. Was it because the Church of England didn’t like to celebrate the feast days of Saints? Not at all. If you look in the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 you see feasts for all of the biblical Saints, including red letter feast days for Mary—there are the feasts of the Purification of the Virgin Mary and Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary—again as red letter feasts with their own appointed collects and lessons. In the list of lesser feasts of the 1662 Prayer Book there is also the feast of Conception of the Virgin Mary.

However, the primary or principle pre-reformation feast of the Virgin Mary was pointedly omitted from both the list of red letter primary feasts and black letter lesser feasts. Why is this?

Well, we must consider that during the time of the Reformation there were many abuses related to the saints—excessive devotion to specific saints was one of those abuses. Indeed, one could call it the cult of the saints. Chief among those individuals around whom cults had developed was the Virgin Mary. There had arisen so many specific and esoteric beliefs about Mary by the late middle ages that the theological study of Mary herself had developed—Mariology, as we now know it.

The Church of England attempted to keep a middle path between ignoring the feast days of the saints altogether and keeping them as they had been kept before the Reformation. The primary calendar omits all but the Biblical saints, and the list of lesser feasts and fasts kept only the feast days of the saints of the undivided Church.—Saint Cyprian, Saint Augustine, etc. While it kept the Biblical feasts of Mary, her primary feast was set aside, because at the time it was not simply the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin, it was the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary—which means, of course, that she was assumed bodily into heaven. This belief had arisen around the 5th or 6th century and was based upon fanciful and apocryphal writings from the 4th century. The belief in the Assumption became accepted teaching in the 7th century Eastern Church. As the Roman Catholic historian Eatmon Duffy points out, “there is, clearly, no historical evidence whatever for it.”

Since this belief had no scriptural warrant the feast bearing the name of the Assumption was—rightly I believe—done away with in the official calendar of the Church of England. As I said, this does not mean that Anglicanism had forgotten the saints of the Church, nor did it mean that it had forgotten one of the primary saints of the New Testament. The goal of the new red letter calendar of Saints of the Book of Common Prayer was to make their celebration Christocentric in nature—the black letter lesser feasts and fasts pointed to the life of the ancient Church. The goal of the Saints was to point to Christ, and keeping the feast of the Assumption made this rather difficult , since it was centered around a nonbiblical and ahistorical event, and required numerous theological explanations and justifications.

When this once primary feast of Mary was reintroduced as a lesser feasts in America, Scotland, England, and Canada, mention of the Assumption was omitted, and now it was simply the feast of the BVM, Saint Mary the Virgin, or in its strongest form the “Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary” (which is also the Eastern Orthodox title for the Feast). Now we have a feast of Mary that can celebrate the entirety of her life in relation to Christ, rather than celebrating an apocryphal event. This reminds one of the fact that in Orthodox iconography Mary is always to be presented holding the Christ Child, never alone (as she often is in the West), for her primary theological importance is that she was Theotokos, which is most often translated as Mother of God, but this manner of presenting the Greek is a little misleading. In English this makes it sound as though the emphasis is on the Mother. A more literal translation would be “she who gave birth to Him who was God”—and here the emphasis is on the deity of the child, not the motherhood of Mary. However, the very mention of a human mother implies the humanity of the Son, even after the divinity of the Son has been expressed and emphasized. We have here the very mystery of the Incarnation and are reminded of what Saint Paul has to say of the Person of Jesus as concerns his origin: “when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.”

Paul focuses on Christ’s fulfilling of the law, his humanity in conformity to his divinity to fulfill what we could fulfill not due to our sinful natures. Indeed, Paul does not even mention Mary’s name. But Mary is at the beginning of the historical drama of the Incarnation that Paul preached. In the liturgical life of the Church she appears most prominently at Christmastide, in statuary form as part of nativity displays, without prejudice in the homes of Christians of all backgrounds. The feast of Saint Mary, as well as the other Prayer Book feasts of Mary, allow us to dwell further on the biblical events surrounding this mystery from Mary’s perspective and examine what we can apply from her experience and example, to our lives.

In the gospel lesson for the feast we hear Mary rejoice in the part she will play in God’s plan of salvation. And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."

Her soul magnifies God. Her spirit rejoices in Her savoir. This song of praise echoes Luke’s Gospel from just a few verses earlier where Mary tells the angel Gabriel:
"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."
And Elizabeth’s words to Mary: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

She hears God’s word. She counts herself blessed to be chosen by God. She responds to God’s word obediently. Luke tells us that Mary pondered all these wonderful and strange events in her heart, but it does not tell us that she fully comprehended these events. Indeed, Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph did not understand what Jesus meant when they found him in the temple and he told them Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" Mary’s reaction can teach us about our own reactions to Christ ‘s role and work in our lives. Sometimes we won’t understand. Sometimes we have to wait and see. As Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature there were still times when Mary and Jesus’ brothers, in their inability to comprehend His work, sought after Him to bring Him home. Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus’ family thought He was crazy and attempted to seize Him. All we can do is wonder what Mary thought. We know that Mary knew the Jesus’ true origins, but we cannot know what she thought of the path His ministry had taken. Even if she knew He was the Messiah, like so many of Jesus’ disciples she may have misunderstood His actions.

However, even if Mary (and many of the disciples) didn’t fully understand the work of her Son, she was present in His earthly life until the end. John’s Gospel and Mark’s Gospel attest to her continued presence. We find her at the foot of the Cross. Ultimately, we find her as well at the founding of the Church in the Book of Acts. “All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”

While we cannot say that Mary was assumed into Heaven, or that she was perfect in all of her actions, we can say that she was blessed amongst women, blessed for all generations, a woman who rejoiced in the knowledge that she needed a savior and that in her God she had a savior. We can say that she followed her Son her entire life, saw her own flesh and blood suffer and die a painful death upon the cross. . .and still find her in the Upper Room, rejoicing once again in the knowledge of her own salvation through Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, her Son and our Lord. So, in Mary’s life we see the grace of God, reliance upon that grace, obedience to the will of God, and persistence in her faith through times of doubt, inability to comprehend, and probably fear. We see ultimate persistence. Let us pray that we too will be filled with grace, conformed to the will of God, and persist to the end in the Christian life that is laid before us.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Church Lights - Their Use and Meaning

Church lights (candles) symbolize God’s Presence in the sanctuary and the spiritual enlightenment His Gospel brings our lives. Roman practice differs slightly, but in the main carries the same symbolism. Looking at the chancel (by the communion rails) in most churches, we see two major lights. First on the Gospel (left side) we see a small red light mounted on the wall. This is the Altar Lamp that burns in honor of the constant Real Presence in the reserve Sacrament (consecrated wine and host) kept in the tabernacle / aumbry - a small, ornate box centered on the back portion of the Holy Table. or on a wall nearby.

The other major lights are the candles on the Holy Table, divided into two groups, signifying Jesus in both His divine and human natures. At many parishes, you’ll see two groups of three each on the back of the Table, called “Office Lights,” lit when conducting the offices of the Church, such as Morning/Evening Prayer, Holy Matrimony, or Funeral services. In other parishes, there will simply be two larger pillar candles beside the Holy Table which are lit for the same purpose.

The two lights in front of these - or directly on the table - are the Communion Lights, used during the Eucharist. All the lights echo Christ’s words, when He said, “I am the Light of the World” (St. John 8:12) and other passages referring to God’s light, such as St. Matt. 4:16 and St. Luke 2:32.

The last light in many churches is the Paschal Candle. This is a large white candle normally kept our of sight, or next to the baptismal font. The candle is blessed every year at the Easter Vigil service, having the year inscribed on it and (traditionally) five grains of incense inserted into in in the shape of a cross. It is often decorated with other signs of the resurrection as well. Some parishes - especially those with elaborate Holy Saturday / Easter Vigil services - have special rituals surrounding the entrance of the Paschal candle. These rituals can include chanting the Exultet (normally done by a deacon), dipping the base of the candle in the baptismal font, and using this candle to light the tapers that will ignite the rest of the office and communion lights. (This practice is especially important in parishes that light a Paschal fire near the entrance of the church door for the vigil.) The candle is brought to the front of the church from Easter until the Ascension (when its removal visually symbolizes Christ's immediate light being taken from our presence). Then the candle is either stored or kept near the font. However, for baptisms and funerals (which, for Christians, is the completion of our baptismal death into Christ), the candle returns to a prominent place. I should also note that this is a Western / Latin Rite practice. The East uses a different type of candle. However, this practice antedates Jerome - and was clearly a common practice long before the Council of Nicea.

The candles recall times when ancient Christians met at night to avoid discovery and needed the lights to worship, but are retained to remind us of those days and to focus us on our Heavenly Father of Lights. Scriptural authority is solid for their use—found in Ex 25:31 & 40:25, Lev 24:2 & II Chron 13:11— and reminds us—we carry the Light of Christ!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bp. Guernsey on Prayer

Since I didn't get my sermon recorded last Sunday, you get something even better: Bp. John Guernsey (Ordinary for Diocese of the Holy Spirit) teaches on prayer while visiting Redeemer in Camden, NC.

Bishop John Guernsey Teaching on Prayer from Craig Stephans on Vimeo.

Bishop John Guernsey of the Diocese of the Holy Spirit of the Anglican Church of North America visiting Church of the Redeemer, Camden, NC.


Don't be taken in by relativists who try to tell you that universals don't exist. They believe in universals...they just can't argue the strength of their value opinions, so they say no one can.