Saturday, December 29, 2007

Of The Mind and Heart...



"...Where the Mind is biggest, the Heart, the Senses, Magnanimity, Charity, Tolerance, Kindliness, and the rest of them scarcely have room to breathe..."


Virginia Woolf

Of Clergy and Pink Hats...


What's With All that Stuff?

What's with the difference in clergy, the different colored shirts, crosses, and "plus" signs? Such have been a few of the questions I have received since my consecration as a bishop last month. Briefly--and I do mean briefly--here are a few words on the matter:

There are three types of clergy in the Charismatic Episcopal Church with all three being ordained ministers; deacons, priests, and bishops. The laity are also ministers by virtue of their baptism. Actually they are THE ministers of the church--the ordained clergy are like the "coaches" with the laity being the "players" on the field and in the game.

Deacons are not to be confused with evangelical protestant deacons. Evangelical protestant deacons, for the most part, are laymen, not ordained clergy, who serve on a "board" and may have other assignments. They are not normally authorized to do priestly or sacramental duties, although good deacons in an evangelical church are a very valuable asset to the pastor and the church.

Our deacons are fully ordained clergy and, under certain circumstances, may marry, bury, be a pastor, serve Eucharist with pre-consecrated elements, counsel, pray, baptize, and assist the priest or bishop, among other duties. Deacons in our communion wear a gray clergy shirt. On Sundays, they wear a stole that is diagonal. Deacons represent the servant heart of Christ. They wear a silver, pewter, or wooden cross on a black cord. Some deacons are "permanent deacons" and will serve God as lifetime servants, usually in one church, unless they move to another location, assisting the priest and bishop. Others deacons feel called to the pastorate and are "transitory deacons" who, one day, may be ordained to the priesthood and will plant a church.

Priests may perform all of the sacraments except confirmation and ordination. They wear a black clergy shirt, although they may also choose to wear gray at times. On Sundays, their stole hangs straight down, hopefully equally, on both sides in the front. They wear a silver cross and chain. Priests represent the father heart of God. A priest may use a cross, or a plus sign, after his name in correspondence, for example, Father John Brown +. The cross indicates that he is a priest. Priests should also be good deacons, as far as their "servant hearts" are concerned.

Bishops may perform all of the sacraments. They wear a purple clergy shirt but--guess what--they may also choose to wear black or gray! Confused yet? They wear a gold cross and chain and wear a ring on their right hand indicative of their office. A bishop is the chief pastor in a diocese and is a pastor to ALL the members of the churches but especially to the deacons and priests. In our communion, bishops who lead a diocese are to be pastors of their own churches--demanding, but good for keeping their feet on the ground and their heads out of the ozone.

The bishop represents the government of God--but he should also be a prime example of a servant and be a good spiritual father. The bishops may use a plus sign, or a cross, in FRONT of their name as in: + John Brown. The cross takes the place of the word "bishop." So, + John means "Bishop John." Deceased believers also have a cross in front of their name in special services such as All Saints Day. So both bishops and deceased people have crosses in front of their names, which says something--I don't know exactly what-- but something.

But the truth is that it's ALL about the High Priest and, if it's not, we are wasting our time. Jesus is the High Priest in the midst of his people and He is the consummate servant, father, and king. Don't get all hung up about this stuff. If you desire to know something, just ask. There are no dumb questions, although I just might give a dumb answer---it's happened before! :o)

On Sundays, I wear a purple "beanie-thingy" called a "zucchetta," not to confused with "zucchini." Actually, it's sort of a "red-purple." A young boy asked me the other week, "Why do you have to wear that pink hat?" "For humility," I said. "For humility."

Anyway, I hope that answers a few of the questions you might have on your mind. If there are any others, let me know! If I have shared any incorrect information, I am certain that someone will correct me--but it's okay. I wear a pink hat and am learning humility.

Your servant,

+ David Epps


I have always liked + David and this little article is part of the reason why. Blessed is the man able to find some humour in religion and his job!

Seraph

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Divine Instruction



Jesus needs neither books nor Doctors of Divinity in order to instruct souls; He, the Doctor of Doctors, teaches without noise of words.

St Therese

Japan's Secret Christians



Kakure Kirishitan

IKITSUKI ISLAND, Japan (Reuters) - One by one, the sacred relics -- a medal of the Virgin Mary, a crucifix and other revered objects -- are taken from a cupboard and placed on an altar for a Christmas Eve rite passed down through centuries from Japan's earliest Christians. Then, kneeling in the simple hall built where martyrs are said to have been burned on this tiny, remote island 400 years ago, five elders murmur chants as they bow and make the sign of the cross. The kimono-clad deacons are descendants of "Kakure Kirishitan," or Hidden Christians, who kept their religion alive on Ikitsuki and in other isolated pockets of Japan during 250 years of suppression, adapting their rites to the demands of secrecy and blending them with local beliefs.

First brought to Japan by Portuguese missionaries in 1549, Christianity was banned a few decades later in 1614, initiating a period of bloody persecution that forced the faithful to choose between martyrdom or hiding their beliefs. Medals or hanging scrolls depicting saints and martyrs, often with Japanese features, were hidden in cupboards as "nando-gami" ("gods in the closet") and only taken out on special days. In an apparent echo of the bread and wine of the Eucharist, elders still share sashimi and sake as part of the Christmas Eve and other ceremonies. Huge "mochi" rice cakes adorn the altar. Transmitted orally and in secret, Latin "oratio" chants, "orasho" in Japanese, lost all but symbolic meaning.

"They preserved the style and form of the Christianity that they inherited, but the teachings were no longer from the Bible and changed into respect for local martyrs, so in that sense it can be seen as a Japanese ethnic religion," said Shigeo Nakazono, curator of an island museum who has studied the "Kakure Kirishitan" for years.

When Roman Catholic missionaries returned with the lifting of the ban in 1873, some Japanese Christians accepted their teachings, but others clung to what they saw as the true faith of their fathers. "'Gotanjo' is the day of Christ's birth. That's no different from Christianity," said Yasutaka Toriyama, 68, who holds the hereditary position of "gobanyaku," or head of a household that traditionally held a group's relics, such as scrolls or medals.

"But while ours is a religion that believes in Mary and Christ, we also believe that our ancestors who suffered persecution are gods."


This is a fascinating article. A picture of how a faith community isolated and uninformed can alter and dilute the very faith they tried to preserve.

blessings

Seraph

Friday, December 7, 2007

No Concelebration...









Court fines Lutheran pastors for job discrimination against woman colleague

A religious conviction does not justify discrimination against a female colleague in the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, according to Hyvinkää District Court. The court imposed fines on two male pastors, Tauno Tuominen, who served as acting vicar at the Lutheran parish at Hyvinkää, and Ari Norro, a visiting pastor, on Friday. The conviction was for gender discrimination against a woman pastor, Petra Pohjanraito, in March this year. Also fined was a member of the parish's church council.

The case revolves around an incident in which Norro, a member of the Lutheran Evangelical Association in Finland (LEAF), had been invited to preach as a guest on the Sunday in question. Shortly before the service, he declared that his conscience would not allow him to share the altar with a woman, even though she had been scheduled to officiate on that Sunday.

In the exchange that followed, Norro was supported by a member of the church council, who is also the head of the local branch of LEAF. Tuominen, Pohjanraito's immediate superior, was on hand, but did not take part in the discussion.
The court noted in its decision that nobody came to the defence of Pohjanraito, and that she was left with no choice but to leave.

The visiting preacher was convicted of discrimination. Norro was sentenced to pay 20 income-linked day fines, and the chair of the local organisation of LEAF was sentenced to 15 day fines. In his defence, Norro appealed to the principle of freedom of religion. However, the court found that he had exercised his religious freedom by agreeing to preach in the church without preconditions. The court also noted that the LEAF members were aware that Hyvinkää parish was bound by a report by the Lutheran Bishops' Conference last year calling for the equal treatment of pastors.

Tuominen was also sentenced to 20 day fines for job discrimination and neglecting his official duties, because he did not step in on behalf of Pohjanraito.
The court found that it would have been his duty as acting vicar to prevent the pastor from being put at a disadvantage because of her gender.The court also recognised as a mitigating factor the fact that Tuominen had a very short time to make a decision in the situation.

Norro said after the decision that he would appeal the case to the Court of Appeals.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hispanics and Democrats..



BY ALAN FRAM
Associated Press


WASHINGTON -- Hispanics are returning to the Democratic Party after several years of drifting toward the Republicans, with many saying Bush administration policies have been harmful to their community, a poll showed Thursday. By 57 percent to 23 percent, more Hispanic registered voters say they favor Democrats than Republicans, according to a survey by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center.

The survey found that among Hispanic registered voters:

• Forty-one percent said Bush administration policies have been harmful to Hispanics, 16 percent said they have been helpful and 33 percent said they have not had much impact.

• Forty-four percent said Democrats have more concern for Hispanics, 8 percent chose Republicans and another 41 percent said there is no difference.

• Forty-one percent said Democrats do a better job of handling illegal immigration, 14 percent named the GOP and 26 percent said neither.

Among Hispanics who are registered Democrats, 59 percent said they want Hillary Clinton to be their party's presidential candidate, followed by 15 percent who prefer Barack Obama. Among Hispanic Republicans, Rudy Giuliani leads Fred Thompson, 35 percent to 13 percent...


Not at all surprising

blessings

Seraph

Tear gas at Church


In an incident that a Cuban Catholic official called ''the worst attack against the church in 45 years,'' witnesses said police and state security agents raided a church in the eastern city of Santiago on Tuesday, using tear gas and blows to drag 18 dissidents to jail.

''This is an example of the relationship between the church and the Cuban government?'' said Rev. José Conrado Rodríguez, parish priest at the St. Teresita Church. ``This was a wild terrorist party.''

Human-rights activists say the roundup at the church capped a weeks-old crackdown by state security agents against a rising movement of young dissidents demanding more freedom and independent universities.The series of detentions of young people began last month when a handful protested recent municipal elections, and expanded days later when dozens were arrested for wearing white rubber wristbands that say CAMBIO -- change.

...The latest arrests occurred when a group of dissidents dressed in black walked from Santiago's cathedral to St. Teresita some 20 blocks away in support of other youths arrested last week in Havana. Once at the church, they planned a prayer service for their jailed friends.

...'Everybody wore something black, and some people were wearing stickers on their shirts that said, `I don't cooperate with the dictatorship' and slogans like that,'' Hechavarria said by telephone from Santiago. ''When we got to the church, about 25 patrol cars surrounded us on every side. It was huge. I have never seen anything like it,'' she added. ``Everyone rushed in the church, but they came in after us with tear gas. They were pushing and shoving and hitting people and saying any number of terrible things to the priest.''

While the witnesses said the roundup targeted the dissidents, they questioned why authorities waited until the marchers arrived at the church to arrest them.''Don't you think that's kind of strange?'' Conrado asked by phone from Santiago.''I was speechless. Who has ever seen such a thing in a church? There is no justification for this, and I cannot accept it,'' said Conrado, long known as a critic of the Cuban government. He said Santiago Archbishop Dionisio García later that day held Mass at St. Teresita and branded the incident as ''the worst attack on the church in 45 years.'' Conrado said his bishop was demanding answers from state authorities.

....Witnesses said 18 people were arrested, and one woman was released after eight hours, because she was lactating. They said we were CIA and mercenaries,'' said Tatiana López Blanco, the Cuban Youth For Democracy Movement member who was released at 2 a.m. ``I never thought I would see such a thing in a house of God.''

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Canadian Anglicans














To the Clergy of the Diocese of Toronto.
From: Bishop Johnson

Dear Friends,

As you know from the media, the Essentials Network met last week in Burlington to prepare for a formal separation from the Anglican Church of Canada. Please note that this is the “Network” branch of Essentials, and it is clear to me that it is not the intention or desire of the majority of those who are involved in the mainstream of the Essentials movement itself. (ed: divide and conquer?)

I am saddened but not surprised by this development. I do understand that some people may choose to leave their denominational tradition because they feel led to a different path. I, myself, left the denomination of my birth and early development to become an Anglican – and I have never regretted that decision. What I cannot countenance is a primate and province of the Anglican Communion in another part of the world claiming missionary jurisdiction here, not as another denomination but in competition as the “real” Anglican Church. A few clergy who have relinquished voluntarily their orders in the Anglican Church of Canada, or will soon do so, are actively engaged in this. This is not acceptable....

We have worked together in this diocese to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to build communities of hope and compassion, and to create space where faithful people of very diverse theological and cultural perspectives can all contribute to enriching our ministry and deepening both our understanding of and our engagement in God’s mission here today. We have done so, even in the midst of differences and ambiguity and discomfort, because we know we have been called together by Jesus Christ. We have been initiated into his life through baptism that unites us with him and with each other in a holy fellowship that is more than of our making, so much more!

...I list below ten cogent points from another bishop’s letter to his clergy that I think bear repeating as we respond to the Network’s actions:

• Pray for the unity of Christians, for a spirit of charity towards those with whom we may disagree, and for God’s forgiveness of our mutual failure to honour the prayer of Christ in St. John’s Gospel “that they may be one.”

• Give particular support to those conservative and traditional Christians who remain with their church and grieve the departure of friends.

• Teach our members about the genius of Anglicanism and its balance of Scripture, reason and tradition within the boundaries of common prayer.

• Emphasize in our preaching and leadership the centrality of mission and its priority over ecclesiastical politics.

• Challenge the false stereotypes that foster polarization - e.g. the ‘heartless conservative’ or the ‘unbiblical liberal.’

• Give thanks that our church, for all its messiness, is honestly and openly facing issues some other bodies cannot.

• Press forward in ministry and evangelism at the local level.

• Deepen our study and immersion in Scripture. Place ourselves under the authority of the Christ it reveals. Avoid both an empty relativism and a harsh literalism.

• Encourage both local media and the non-churchgoing public to understand the deeper roots of this development.

• Take the ‘long view’ - i.e. remember the consistent triumph of the Gospel over the historic fragmentation of the church, and the persistence of faith through the failures of human discipleship.

... Let us continue to worship, proclaim and embody the Good News of Jesus Christ in our Diocese! Please know that you are in my prayers during this holy season of expectant waiting, as I trust I will be in your prayers.

Yours faithfully,
(The Rt. Rev’d) Colin R Johnson,
Bishop of Toronto

Saturday, December 1, 2007

World AIDS Day


We are well into the third decade of a scourge that has expanded exponentially beyond a small specific group to almost every corner of the globe. Whilst in some areas, incidence may have turned, prevalence continues to rise and will do so for a long time- more young people will be infected, more orphans will occur.

Yet, today still 70% of infected people don’t have access to life saving therapies. Many still face stigma, economic deprivation and rejection because of their infection. Many still don’t have access to basic information or simple interventions that will reduce risk. This is not the time for complacency nor apathy. It is the time for compassionate leadership that recognises that the voiceless are often those who suffer most- who can they turn to if their leaders do not listen and heed their cries.

--Archbishop Emeritus Desmond M Tutu

Prayer for Peace

Lead us from death to life
Lead us from falsehood to truth
Lead us from despair to hope
Lead us from fear to trust
Lead us from hate to love
Lead us from war to peace
Let peace fill our hearts,
our world, our Universe.
Amen!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Boycotting Lambeth



Boycotting Lambeth would be ‘missing the point’, Bishop says! ,

Thursday, 29th November 2007. 2:54pm

By: Ed Beavan.

THE Bishop of Ripon and Leeds has joined the growing chorus of prelates urging their Episcopal colleagues not to boycott next year’s Lambeth Conference.Speaking during his annual Advent Address at Ripon Cathedral today, the Rt Rev John Packer said bishops threatening to withdraw from the ten-yearly gathering on issues of principle were ‘misguided and missing the point’. He said the whole point of the conference was for Anglican bishops to discuss divisions and differences, since its inception in 1867 by one of his predecessors, Charles Longley, the first Bishop of Ripon and Leeds.

Prelates including the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, and the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Rev Peter Akinola, may boycott the conference over the gay row which is plaguing the worldwide Communion.Bishop Packer gave his unequivocal support to the Conference and said both he and his suffragan, the Bishop of Knaresborough, the Rt Rev James Bell, would be in attendance.

He said: “There could not be a greater contrast between the attitude of the bishops at Lambeth in 1867 and those who appear unwilling to attend in 2008 who I believe to be misguided and missing the point.“[In 1867] there was no sense of a need to achieve unity before meeting, or refusal to attend on the grounds of the deep divisions which then split Anglicans from each other. “Indeed the fact of such divisions was the chief incentive to meet.” Bishop Packer urged bishops to avoid trying to create the ‘perfect Church’ and said controversy could not be avoided. He concluded his Address by calling for all bishops to attend despite their differences.
“We shall only grow in Christ if we are prepared to listen to one another and learn from one another,” he said. “For the bishops they can only hear one another if we go in our disunity to Lambeth as bishops have done every decade since 1867. “To argue for unity before we can pray or talk together would mean that we shall never, ever be enabled to grow in Christ through his ministry and through each one of us.”

Bishop Packer’s comments follow recent calls by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, and Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Tom Butler, for prelates to support the Archbishop of Canterbury and not boycott Lambeth.


Thats pretty good bishop! I wholeheartedly agree!

Seraph

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Scrutinized to Death?



by The Rev. Jeffrey A. Mackey
a priest in the Diocese of New York
and canon theologian of
the Anglican Order of Preachers.





On a recent Sunday, I worshiped in a parish served by a faithful and good priest — a woman. Normally I do not have any reaction to such a reality since long ago I settled in my own mind and heart that “faithful and good” were the adjectives I wanted to apply to a priest, and that gender was insignificant to any discussion of call and integrity.

My convictions have not changed. But my perceptions are changing in light of the multiplication of “Anglicanisms” in the world. I fear I must be honest, for there are many faithful and good female priests.

I used to joke with my Baptist friends that they belonged to the “Heinz 57 Variety Denomination.” There were Southern, Northern, American, Missionary, Independent, Fundamental, Free-Will, and seemingly infinite other numbers of Baptists. I have many Baptist friends, and when we are together, we agree to drop the modifiers. Now Anglicanism is giving our Baptist brothers and sisters a run for the money. There seems to be a new acronym weekly. We have CANA, AMiA, REC, CAC, AAC, CCAC, ad infinitum. Each of these factions — and let’s be honest, they are factions — has its own position on catholicity, scripture, ritual, gender, et al. And no one knows all the nuances of all the factions.

I remember being an Independent Baptist for 14 months. It was a fearful thing, for one night at about bedtime, several deacons appeared at our door to determine if Mrs. Mackey, my wife, was wearing pajamas with “legs in them.” For anything with legs was, of course, meant for men! She was safe, I assure you, and we were allowed to remain undisciplined in the church.

I am fearful that we may be on the verge of vigilante tactics in the church as various groups will not tolerate certain ritual, certain clergy dress, certain scripture translations, certain genders to do sacerdotal ministry. Might it happen? It already is happening. In parish churches, institutions, and other church-related organizations, people are being put under severe anti-Christian scrutiny. I fear for many.

But I digress. Back to the wonderful priest a few Sundays ago. I looked at her doing her ministry, fulfilling her calling. She wore an alb and chasuble, read the morning lessons from the New International Version of the scriptures. I prayed that some of the acronym-hungry Anglicans were not present, for there was a real sense that where this woman was as a priest and leader of a congregation was due precisely to the actions and vision of those who would not be part of the acronym groups that are generally out of step with The Episcopal Church. I thought, “You are in a precarious place, dear priest and pastor.”

First, many of those who have found that they cannot continue in The Episcopal Church are people who find much catholic ritual, including vestments, unacceptable. The so-called “low-church” view of ritual and vesting is sufficient and the regalia of catholicity is anathema to many of the acronym-related crowd. I hoped there were no spies in church that Sunday. Had it not been for the progressive liturgical movement, the priest would not have been so arrayed that Sunday morning.

Then I knew that she had employed the New International Version for scripture readings. The very fact that this is allowed rubrically over the historic King James is a sign that The Episcopal Church progressives sought to broaden our experiences in hearing the scriptures.

Finally, a woman at the altar was a testimony that progressive visionaries reread the scriptures and found that indeed Paul may have just meant that in Christ there “is no male or female.” And so I fear for all my female priest friends, that they may find themselves the focus of inattention at best and defrocking at worst as much of emerging Anglicanism is not favorable to female priests. It happens, I know, for an ordained Southern Baptist friend of mine was recently sent a letter telling her that her ordination from some 20 years ago was no longer valid.

And I fear as well that those who are faithful saints in the acronym crowd will not succumb to the works-centered righteousness of fundamentalism. Newfound power can corrupt just as much as long-held power. And those who think they stand may need to watch, lest they fall. So my fear is for those who have reaped the benefits of progressive visionary thinking and praying and acting as well as for those who, ignoring previous progressive visionary thinking and praying and acting, are acting out of a non-Anglican ethos and are falling headlong into an individualistic congregationalism with bishops.


A thoughtful piece!

seraph

Thursday, November 1, 2007

+ Epps... Bishop!


Father David Epps, pastor of Christ the King Charismatic Episcopal Church, will be consecrated as a bishop in the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (ICCEC) on Friday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. The service will be conducted in the sanctuary of Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, Highway 54, Peachtree City.

Epps, 56, was elected at the U. S. House of Bishops in Orlando during October to serve the Mid-South Diocese which includes Georgia and Tennessee. The election was made necessary when, in June 2007, the Diocesan Bishop, The Most Reverend John W. Holloway, 53, suffered a debilitating stroke. Epps will serve as auxiliary bishop with Holloway remaining the diocesan.

The consecrators for the service will be The Most Reverend Charles Jones, Archbishop of the Southeast Province, The Most Reverend David Simpson, Bishop of Florida, and The Most Reverend Gene Lilly, Auxiliary Bishop of the Southeast Province.

Epps, who first began ministry as a youth worker in 1971, was licensed to preach by the United Methodist Church in 1975 and was later ordained in the Assemblies of God in 1978. In 1996, he was ordained a priest in the ICCEC.

Prior to 1983, Epps served United Methodist and Assembly of God churches in Tennessee, Virginia, and Colorado. In June 1983, he became the pastor of Fayette Fellowship Assembly of God, Peachtree City, which later relocated to Sharpsburg and was renamed Trinity Fellowship.

In September 1996, Epps and 18 other people planted Christ the King Church which met for six years at Carmichael-Hemperly Funeral Home in Peachtree City.In November 2002, the church relocated to its present site on 12 acres in Coweta County. The church currently has approximately 250 people who claim the church as their home. In addition, Christ the King has assisted in the planting of other congregations in Hogansville, Fayetteville, and Champaign, Ill.

Epps is a graduate of Berean College of the Assemblies of God, East Tennessee State University, the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, International Seminary, and Berean Graduate School of Divinity, an institution founded by Carrie Nation. He is a current doctor of ministry candidate at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry.

Epps, a karate black belt and former instructor, also received an honorary doctorate for his work with youth and martial arts ministry from Great Plains Baptist College and Seminary. For 18 years, he has served as the chaplain for the Peachtree City Police Department and is a graduate of the police academy in Fulton County.

Within the ICCEC, Epps has served as canon to the ordinary for the Mid-South Diocese, canon to the ordinary for the Archdiocese of the Armed Forces, chair of the Diocesan Commission on Ordained Ministry, as a member of the Mid-South Diocese Bishop’s Council, and as a member of the Provincial Council for the Southeast Province.

A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Epps also served with the Tennessee Army National Guard and served as a chaplain (with the rank of captain) for the Georgia State Defense Force, an auxiliary of the Georgia Army National Guard.
Epps has been published in over 20 magazines and journals and he has served as a regular weekly columnist for The Citizen newspapers for nearly 11 years.

He is married to the former Cynthia Douglas, a professor of nursing at the University of West Georgia. They have three adult sons and nine grandchildren.

The consecration service, which will be followed by a reception, is open to the public.

Article courtesy of The Citizen

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Immigration Laws














A PRAYER FOR INMIGRANTS

Our God, you have given us in your word
the stories of persons who needed to leave
their homelands—Abraham, Sarah, Ruth, Moses.

You have chosen that the life of Jesus be filled with
events of unplanned travel and flight from enemies.

You have shown us through the modeling of Jesus
how we are called to relate to persons from
different nations and cultures.

You have called us to be teachers of your word.
We ask you, our God, to open our minds and hearts
to the challenge and invitation to model
your perfect example of love.

Amen.

seraph

Friday, October 26, 2007

Application of the Gospel...?




Sunday closest to October 26
Year C
BCP






Luke 18:9-14

Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, `God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, `God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted."

Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, Have mercy on me a sinner...!

blessings

seraph

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Break Ups...



NEWS FROM VIRTUOSITY ONLINE...
CHARISMATIC EPISCOPAL CHURCH SPLITS. More news. In my last VIEWPOINTS I said the schism in the CEC had resulted in many leaving and going to Rome. A priest who is leaving the CEC himself wrote to say that many of those leaving have gone to Western Rite Orthodoxy, but the most common destination has been for AMiA, CANA and the Anglican Province of America."Individuals have indeed gone to Rome, but parishes cannot do so. Thus, considering parishes are moving toward Anglican jurisdictions. It is much more accurate to describe the movement as toward Anglicans, including myself. Many former CEC priests have chosen to affiliate with AMiA and are busy planting parishes. Not a few parishes have also chosen to affiliate with AMiA. Lately, others have begun to affiliate with CANA. Eventually, however, it seems likely that a large number of former CEC clergy and parishes are in conversation with APA-REC. In the end, this may result in the largest single quorum of all." The source told VOL that the total number of parishes being planted by former CEC priests added to the parishes that have/are joining with Anglican bodies could total well over 30 Anglican parishes, when all the dust settles.

I am uncertain as to the accuracy of this news, it does not seem that way from where I am looking. It sure feels bad to have this kind of news about your church reported...such a letdown! My heart goes out to the Episcopalians who seem to have been in the news and blogs ad nausaum for the past year! I guess time is needed for all to settle. In the mean time the best we can do is pray!

blessings

seraph

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dire Consecuences...




This is just so funny...
what an argument for an open
Immigration policy!!!






It brought a smile to my face, but got me thinking!

There is a lot of truth conveyed in this image, and it is not just related to burritos. Migrants, with documents or without them provide services that our economy needs and our people demand, those that call for lower wages, more effort and hard labor ...the kind of work me and you typically do not want.

I wonder how we would manage without the laborers, fruit pickers, construction workers, nannies, waiters, gardeners and yes... the burrito makers that are so much a needed part of our society?

As the immigration debate and the persecution of immigrant families continues I wonder if people remember that many of their ancestors came here under similar circumstances!

Does the Liberty lady still say the words of welcome?

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door

blessings

seraph

No Outcasts...



TEC Presiding Bishop Speaks...

"...That person my friends is the image of Christ"

Katharine Jefferts Schori



Opening with an overview of the mission-driven September 20-25 House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori set the tone October 16 for her second webcast held at the studio facilities of Trinity Church, Wall Street, in New York City.

...She said the statement that was produced in the latter part of the meeting represented "a remarkable consensus among the bishops." ..."both affirms the church's commitment to the full dignity of gay and lesbian persons and cautions us to wait before their full sacramental inclusion."

She concluded her opening remarks by quoting one of her predecessors, Edmond L. Browning, "who was fond of saying 'in this church there will be no outcasts.'"

"I concur, and I challenge each one of us to consider who it is we would most like to be rid of," she said. "That person, my friends, is the image of Christ in our midst. There will be no outcasts in this church, whether because of sexual orientation or theological perspective. God has given us to each other, to love and to learn from each other. May God bless each and every part of this body."


How refreshingly Anglican...kudos to the Lady
seraph

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Different Kind of Truth..


Finding love and redemption in the Anglican Church

By Emily Garcia
Princetonian Contributor
Photo by Jaewon Monica Choi

I first met Steve White in the doorway of a pantry in a big shambly church in Trenton. I was there for Community Action, working with the Crisis Ministry, and he was there for our Professor's Night to discuss Tracy Kidder's "Mountains Beyond Mountains." During the discussion we had been mulling over Paul Farmer's exhortation to help the world in whatever way you can. I brought up the passage from the New Testament in which Paul speaks about the church as a body, saying the eye cannot take the place of the hand and so forth, and in this same way, how we must all find own places in the whole world working towards social justice.

After our dinner, I snuck away to grab a glass of water, and at the doorway to the pantry I ran into Steve. He was dressed formally, in black with a white collar, with clean rimless glasses and neatly cut hair. I don't remember exactly what he said, but I do remember my first impression was something like, "Oh gosh, not a priest! I've got enough guilt already!" He thanked me for my comments during the discussion and introduced himself as the Episcopal chaplain. At the time, my knowledge was such that this brought up in my mind a small note-card which read only, "1: The American version of the Anglican Church; 2: Like the Roman Catholics, but without the pope." (These assumptions are actually in many ways correct: the Episcopal Church is the American "daughter" of the worldwide Anglican Communion, so anyone who is Episcopalian is also Anglican.)

Steve asked about my religious background; I told him that my family is evangelical, but that I hadn't been going to church for a while — two years in fact, and not because I was uninterested, but because I didn't find our evangelical services helpful or enjoyable. I would leave on Sunday mornings feeling conflicted, angry and guilty — feeling unworthy without knowing how to make things right.

Of course, I didn't actually say all of this to Steve, but I think he could tell. That semester they had a seminarian leading a Bible study every week, he told me, and she had in fact been raised evangelical — would I like to join? He wrote down my name and said he'd put me on the email list.

I was intrigued. I joined the Bible study and met the second person who would change my life. Jill Young is an intelligent, thoughtful and profoundly spiritual woman; with her guidance I found a way to escape the black-and-white world of pseudo-intellectualism in which I had trapped myself. Through her intellectual integrity and sensitive heart, I began to discover in myself an inclination toward an intuitive truth that is believed and understood rather than "known," and toward a greater appreciation for uncertainty and grayness, a defining characteristic of Anglicanism as a whole.

I began the Bible study joking with my parents, "Don't worry, I'm not going to become Episcopalian or something!" In December I took part in my first service (Lessons and Carols), and the Sunday before Ash Wednesday I started attending regularly. I asked Steve at least one question every time I saw him. Why do we pray for the dead? Do you believe in Purgatory? Where does the Book of Common Prayer come from? Why do priests have to wear fancy clothes? Our discussions always went further than the initial questions, branching into bigger ideas: How should we read the Bible? How should we interpret it? How should Christians act in the world? I was shocked — and relieved — to find a place where people thought it acceptable to disagree with Paul's thoughts on women, where silence and stillness were valued and where poets were cited as theologians.

I joined the confirmation class, not because I wanted to be confirmed but because I had so many questions. As I kept learning, however, I started to fall in love. I cannot even express what it was like to learn that perhaps all my questions were not signs of sinfulness or fault; I can't begin to explain the overwhelming and startling joy at encountering a God who did not look at me only to see where I had failed, but who accepted me and called me to higher places. On Easter morning I was baptized. Four weeks later, on Good Shepherd Sunday, I was confirmed, and officially, happily, enthusiastically joined the Anglican Communion.

I have found in the Anglican Church a long sweep of tradition and a wide spectrum of beliefs and doctrines, all centered around a message of love and redemption. I have found an intellectual engagement with Scripture and theology that is balanced precariously but perpetually with a sincere spiritual yearning for holiness. To be fair, not all of my interest and passion for "religion" (i.e. God) arose solely from having joined the Anglican Church; rather, it is in this particular expression of Christianity that I have found my home. It is the place where I have found safety and acceptance enough to explore myself and the world, and to continue the journey toward knowing God.

Amen and Amen!

seraph

Barbies or Birth Control ...



Maine School offers Birth Control...

After an outbreak of pregnancies among middle school girls, education officials in this city have decided to allow a school health center to make birth control pills available to girls as young as 11.

King Middle School will become the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available, including birth control pills and patches. Condoms have been available at King's health center since 2000. Students need parental permission to access the school's health center. But treatment is confidential under state law, which allows the students to decide whether to inform their parents about the services they receive...
I found this to be extremenly disturbing!

I do not let the school give my children even Tylenol . Parents are morally and legally responsible at that age range to make all medical decisions for their children who may not understand the implications and risk of the medication they take.

It seems that an outbreak of pregnant 11 year old girls in middle schools should prompt the school district to contact parents, child protection agencies, hold people accountable and educate about responsible age appropiate behaviour, NOT put birth control pills on the hands of children...!


seraph

The Beloved Physician


PRAYER

Almighty God, who didst inspire thy servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son: Graciously continue in thy Church the like love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of thy Name; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Amen!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

From Bishop Ken Myers...


A Christian I admire posted this in a different blog. I am still thinking and praying about all it conveys. Yes...this is an old picture!!!!

I registered, but it wouldn't let me post under my registered name, so I'm doing it this way.

Shall I weigh in? Since it was an affront against my wife which was one of the central pieces of the San Clemente problem, perhaps I might make a couple of observations on the retirement of the Patriarch.

I went to the Patriarch's Council over a year ago asking the Patriarch to step down, for a variety of reasons. He said he would if the Council thought it best. They didn't. In a round the table poll, I was the only member asking for him to step down. Interestingly enough, many of them expressed to me "on the side" that Bishop Adler was "a mess", in deep personal crisis, unfit to truly lead, and I was promised that he was going to take "an extended sabbatical" during which he would release the reins of leadership.

A letter was drafted, insisting that there had been NO sexual harassment by the Patriarch. I was told, erroneously (and manipulatively) that if Shirley and I said there was sexual harassment it automatically became a "legal" issue and HAD to be addressed in a court of law. Not wanting it to become a legal matter, rather something dealt with in the context of the church, we refrained from the language of "sexual harassment" and said that there had been inappropriate behavior. This was spun into a strong categorical denial that there had been any sexual harassment charges leveled against Bishop Adler.

Later, one of the Patriarch's Council members told a priest, "We intentionally marginalized Myers". This man was someone I had counted a good friend and someone I had trusted. It was a deep cut.

Through much grief and pain, my diocese left the CEC a month later. We left in mass, but within a matter of months experienced fragmentation - some going to Orthodoxy, some going to Rome, some going to Bishop Zampino, some going to Bishop Fick. That experience was also very, very painful.

Now, a year later, Bishop Adler admits to his local congregation that he had been inappropriate toward the wife of a close friend (that means, Shirley, the wife of his close friend, Ken). Likewise, other allegations were brought forth, and are at least reported to have been admitted to.

Now, I receive emails from some of the priests who have left my fold (good men, I might add), saying, "if only this had happened" a year or so ago none of the fracturing of the CEC or of our diocese would have happened. Indeed.

So, you all must understand that it is with some measure of incredulity that I read the official report: Bishop Adler has retired. His retirement has been graciously accepted by the others and thanks offered for his years of service. Not a mention of the scandal. Not a mention of the sin. Not a word about having been wrong in previous decisions.

I recognize the need for civility, but I detest spin. Couldn't there have been even the simple admission that there were problems? That mistakes were made? That this wasn't just the giving of a man a golden watch at his retirement party? It all has a ring of hollowness to it.

I think what people really yearn for is honesty.

Those men who came to me privately saying, "Keep pressing the matter. Don't let up" but who refused to speak when I spoke; those men who said to me, "He's messed up" (but using language much stronger than "messed"), but refused to demand correction; those men who said privately to me, "He MUST step down" but who when polled said, "No"; those men who insisted that there was "no sexual harassment" but admitted to "marginalizing Myers" - will they make amends? Will they even dare say publicly that sins were committed and grievous mistakes were made?

That Bishop Adler has "retired" is a good thing. I still love him very much, miss him, and pray for him. I hope his life is brought into a good and godly balance and restored to a healthy place. And so now what, for those left in leadership? I love and respect Archbishop Woodall, who had the courage to write on this forum under his own name. I understand what he means when he writes, "For those of you who have left the CEC for whatever reason and have expressed your pain and anger, may God in His mercy begin the healing process in you which enables you to forgive those who have intentionally or unintentionally hurt you and to move on with your lives." I would simply suggest that "the healing process" is best accomplished when there is godly repentance by the offending party. I would suggest that a good start would have been Bishop Adler publicly asking forgiveness and particularly doing so directly to those he sinned against. A good continuance would be for the leadership of the CEC to not spin this as a retirement, but deal honestly with the matter and to perhaps, themselves, in a spirit of repentance, ask forgiveness of those many who have been devastated by the choices they have made (or failed to make) in the past - choices of publicly whitewashing rather than simply being honest.

Archbishop Woodall suggests that those who have been hurt, even intentionally, come to a place where they can "move on with your lives". We are moving on with our lives, Shirley and I. With a diocese that has completely exploded, with significant financial difficulties, with the struggles of moving forward in a new communion, with the personal pain of friendships lost and the abuse of authority figures - we are indeed moving on with our lives. It's just that such a moving on would be much easier if there were a little bit of genuine repentance and admittance of wrongdoing.

That's all I'm saying. Twelve Step stuff. Bible stuff.

+Ken



Lord Jesus Christ son of God, have mercy on us...

seraph

Patriarch Retires...




Statement from the ICCEC's Patriarch Council, October 15, 2007




The Patriarch’s Council of the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, meeting in Orlando, FL, October 15,2007, accepted the Most Reverend Randolph Adler’s retirement as Primate and Patriarch of the ICCEC. We wish to express our gratitude and appreciation for his founding of and many years of service to our church and we express our deepest love and affection for him and his
wife, Betty, and our best wishes for their future.


without comments for now

seraph

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wedded Bliss...

"...We've been too busy to fight..."

A Scottboro couple recently celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary, one of the longest marriages among living people when compared to reports in the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records.


Alonzo, 97, and Beulah Sims, 94, celebrated their anniversary a day early Sunday at the nursing home where they have lived since May 2002.Without their families' approval, the two teens married in 1927, when he was working at a farm, plowing fields with a mule and picking cotton for 50 cents a day. The couple, who raised six children, credit their long lives to hard farm work and eating lots of vegetables. They moved frequently to find farm work, going from Paint Rock Valley near Garth to Atchley Bottom in Madison County and then to Woodville in the 1960s. They said their eight decades of marriage have been virtually free of fussing.''We've been too busy to fight,'' Beulah Sims said.

In a society where most marriages do not last it is quite inspiring to read about this elderly couple who have made their relationship last. I must admit reading this brief story of their lives together it does not strike me as a recipe for wedded bliss..but its hard to argue the experience of 80 years ! This is one that defies odds and predictions! They married young, had no family approval, worked at unskilled jobs had way too many kids for our society's taste and frecuently moved, all markers of risk of dissolution in a marriage. Yet these two, amidst the busyness of hard work, raising children and making ends managed to remain together and after 80 years report enjoying each other's company.

Maybe the marriage experts are missing something! It seems that money, family support, marrying when older and more sucessful, limiting the number of children and having more quality time are not necesarily conducive to longterm sucess in marriage! Certainly not for most of us AND..according to these two real experts....maybe we all have too much time in our hands!

seraph

Thursday, October 11, 2007

CEC Troubles





"...A cord of three stands is not easily broken..."



More problems and rumors of trouble in the Charismatic Episcopal Church of North America(CEC). Almost year after the communion was impoverished by the loss of 7 bishops and about a third of the congregants new allegations of impropriety in the leadership at the national level threaten to shake this community once again. The flagship communion of the convergence movement; a home for all christians seems to be shaking on its foundations...will the cord be broken...again?

It is hard for me to pinpoint a single reason for the problems that have buffetted the CEC. Some have pointed at very human flaws of its leaders and failure to deal with problems at the highest levels of authority. Others have focused on the CEC's lack clear doctinal guidelines and no liturgical uniformity. Yet for others the problem lies on the interpretation of one the foundational principles of the CEC, consensus government.

While the idea of seeking the consensus of the Holy Spirit by a group of men in relationship with one another and under the leadership of a priest or bishop is laudable, the practice has been less than admirable! There have been allegations ranging from secrecy to spiritual abuse and manipulation, a disconnect betwen the higher echelons of power centered in the Patriarch and his council and the parishes that incarnate the CEC at the local level.

This week the bishops meet in council, next week the Patriarch's council convenes and the story will be written!!! I must confess to being a little afraid of what will happen, whatever the outcome ! If nothing of substance occurrs and the staus quo remains it will signal a death for many hoping for reform. If significant problems are revealed and changes implemented, it may also be the death of this Communion as we know it.

May God in his mercy embrace all clergy and lay people in the CEC, many of which have given so much for love of him and this church. May he lead us to safety and give us joy and hope!

seraph

Peace Blessing



I heard the most beautiful blessing at church this Sunday. I found it so very inspiring. Bishop Jane Dixon used it for the Liturgy after 911 at the Washington National Cathedral....




PEACE BLESSING

Go forth into the world in peace,
Be strong and of good courage,
Hold fast to that which is good,
Render no one evil for evil,
Support the weak, comfort the afflicted,
Honor all people, Befriend the poor
Love and serve the Lord with singleness of heart,
Rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit;
And may that Spirit so fill you that you
Go forth from this place seeing the face
Of Christ in each person you encounter. Amen!


New Bishop for the CEC




Seal of John Holloway Bishop of the Diocese of Georgia, a wonderful priest and friend!




Canon David Epps- Bishop Elect sends out this email notification

It seems that I am soon to be made a bishop. It is a position which I have not sought, for which I have not campaigned, and, in all truth—at least for the past few years---have not desired. All this has come about not because I have come to a place where my leadership abilities are profound and undeniable or because my accomplishments are such that they cannot be ignored. Quite the opposite, in fact. It has come about because our bishop, The Most Reverend John Holloway, age 53 and the father of four, suffered a massive stroke in early June and has been severely disabled since that time. As in war, when a commander is wounded or killed, someone has to be promoted so that the battle may continue and the enemy defeated. So it is with me. Our commander is wounded and I am to receive a battlefield promotion. Such was the decision of our American House of Bishops in Orlando last Monday...

It seems strange to me that I will have a new designation. Whereas, at present, I am “Father David Epps,” or “The Reverend Father David Epps,” I will soon be “The Most Reverend David Epps,” People who know me are aware that I am not very “reverend” and am certainly not “the most reverend.” The people in my church will most likely continue to call me “Father David,” a designation with which I am most comfortable since it conveys relationship rather than position.

I will be the “acting bishop” of the Mid-South Diocese which includes Tennessee and Georgia. I suppose I will have to cheer for the Bulldogs now (except when they play Tennessee). When, in the grace and mercy of God, Bishop Holloway returns to health and resumes his duties, then I will stand aside and serve as his auxiliary or assisting bishop...

When I was elected last Monday, the bishops gave me the news and then apologized for having elected me. There was no applause, no backslaps, no cheers of congratulations. The moment was sober because the challenges ahead are daunting. I am, of course, honored and humbled. And, for the foreseeable future, there will no funds available to carry out the work—this promotion will actually come at a cost to my church and me. I will be consecrated in November, the Lord willing. I feel intensely unworthy which, in truth, I am. But I will do my duty. Lord have mercy. Pray for me.

Father David Epps is the founding pastor of Christ the King Church

Saturday, September 29, 2007

St. Michael Prayer


















St. Michael the Archangel,defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares
of the Devil.May God rebuke him,we humbly pray,
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen!

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Beloved


Courtesy of: " What's In Kelvin's Head..."


....Each Eucharist I celebrate teaches me something new...Each time fresh. Each time something that God offers back to us, increasing the knowledge that we have in justice restored, hope revealed, holiness amongst us and resurrection life itself.



Today I celebrated a Eucharist in circumstances which were new to me but which felt old and traditional all the same. A new addition to the range of things that human beings have wanted to mark with the sharing of the bread of heaven and the wine of new life. Today it was in celebration of a Civil Partnership between two people whom I have come to know through my work.

Duncan wrote last week of his sense of holiness in being with a couple as they vow to be with one another for life. I know that feeling well, yet every time it surprises me just a little. The most intimate of moments a couple ever have, but shared with their families and friends and in the awesome presence of the living God. Today was no different.

As I helped the two men through their vows and then served communion to them and their friends in thanksgiving, I knew the Eucharist of old. And I knew the Eucharist afresh. I know Christ at that meal every time. Today it was knowing him holding the beloved disciple in his arms as he shared with his friends on his last night and as he has done at every Eucharist since.

People like me have been waiting for services like the one I celebrated today for so long....Christ the beloved one has been waiting much longer.

Kelvin Holsworth is Provost of St. Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland.


This is what all the fuss seems to be about in the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion and indeed, as our world changes, an issue that all Christendom will have to revisit for good or ill! There is no doubt the language and image this post conveys can provoke strong feelings. For some, disgust and utter rejection, for others rage yet for some determination, encouragement and hope.

Even though the Bible seems to be clear in its condemnation of same gender sexual intimacy, to hear people from varying perspectives discuss the Scriptural implications as they apply to modern day Christians,one would think they were reading completely different texts! For some it is a forbidden choice that uniformly leads to hell and damnation...Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve!!! What's in that guy's head???? For others it is a given, a natural orientation to be lived out in the context of fidelity and committed love, as all Christian relationships. To spice it all up...its not just about concepts but about persons, some of which we may know and love and whose lives and relatioships stand the most to lose by the tenor and substance of our conversation.

I must admit to not being able reconcile these two seemingly logical and absolutely passionate yet divergent points of view. There is of course Christian tradition to consider as we interpret Scripture, yet, sometimes we have been as blind as the Pharisees were, and like them, just as unable to recognize in the disturbing words and actions of Jesus the good news of God!

Will this one issue be the destruction of TEC and the Anglican Communion or will it be as others an oportunity for growth and discernment? God knows and time will tell...!

Seraph

Priorities...Healthy Kids!




Senate Passes Children’s Health Plan

By ROBERT PEAR

Published: September 28, 2007



WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 — The Senate gave final approval on Thursday to a health insurance bill for 10 million children, clearing the measure for President Bush, who said he would veto it. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, one of 18 Republicans who voted for the bill, said the White House had shown “little if any willingness to come to the negotiating table.”

Republican opponents of the bill, like Senators Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and John Cornyn of Texas, said it would be a big step toward socialized medicine, would shift people from private insurance to a public program and would allow coverage for illegal immigrants and children in high-income families....

It seems unthinkable that in a country like ours, touted to be the richest in the world, where billions have been spent on war over the last several years there is such a thing as children without health insurance!!!

Makes one wonder about properly formed conciences....? Republicans, many who claim to be prolife, need to remember that term is not defined just by opposition to abortion! It is about the promotion of life, "abundant life" as Jesus spoke of! Pro-life must necessarily involve work on the erradication of violence, poverty, abuse, neglect and disease....health insurance making access to care for all children...rich poor, illegal or not is really a no -brainer!

Charity begins at home...!!! Kudos to those in the Senate, Democrat and Republican alike who decided to put differences aside and the welfare of children first!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Killer Condoms...



The Guardian
September 27, 2007

HIV-infected condoms sent to kill Africans, claims Archbishop.




...Mozambique's Roman Catholic archbishop has accused European condom manufacturers of deliberately infecting their products with HIV "in order to finish quickly the African people". The archbishop of Maputo, Francisco Chimoio, told the BBC that he had specific information about a plot to kill off Africans. "I know that there are two countries in Europe ... making condoms with the virus, on purpose," he alleged. But he refused to name the countries. The Catholic church has resisted pressure to amend its opposition to the use of condoms despite the Aids pandemic. Archbishop Chimoio told the BBC that abstinence was the best way to fight HIV/Aids…..

I am speechless....conspiracy theorists of the world rejoice...mayhem in Mozambique!!! While I wholeheartedly agree that abstinence is the best way to fight HIV...for the millions of HIV infected the world over and for those whose husbands, wives or significant others are infected, it seems insane to deny at least a measure of protection.

If there ever was a case of dogma dooming the devout,the delusional or the dumb this is it! Lord have mercy....

seraph

Two Way Street...



How cute and sadly true...
they say the grass is always greener elsewhere!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Episcopalians Respond....



A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners


"I do it all for the sake of the Gospel so that I might share in its blessings." 1 Corinthians 9:23

The House of Bishops offers the following responses to our Anglican Communion partners. We believe they provide clarity and point toward next steps in an ongoing process of dialogue. Within The Episcopal Church the common discernment of God's call is a lively partnership among laypersons, bishops, priests, and deacons, and therefore necessarily includes the Presiding Bishop, the Executive Council, and the General Convention.

Summary

* We reconfirm that resolution B033 of General Convention 2006 (The Election of Bishops) calls upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees "to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."

* We pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

* We commend our Presiding Bishop's plan for episcopal visitors.

* We deplore incursions into our jurisdictions by uninvited bishops and call for them to end.

* We support the Presiding Bishop in seeking communion-wide consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.

* We call for increasing implementation of the listening process across the Communion and for a report on its progress to Lambeth 2008.

* We support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.

* We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety, and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.

Will anyone be even remotely satisfied with this statement? I wonder...???

Words of God...



“…Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path…”

There is, for the Christian, no book as sublime as the Bible! It has for us the story of God and his dealings with humanity, and in its pages, in a real sense you encounter the very Word of God. The Bible for me has been not just formative in my religious thought, but a source of guidance, strength, consolation and peace. Yet, as I struggle to live my life as a follower of Christ I find that, beautiful and inspiring as it is, its message can be misunderstood! There are concepts taken at face value in different time periods and cultures where the original words were penned and .... some have changed. People engaged in that inspired writing had ideas we no longer hold! Our modern concepts of God, humanity, sin, life have all been the subject of conversation, study, prayer, investigation and debate for at least two millennia and wether we like to admit it or not....have evolved.

I have also found that sincere, wonderful Spirit filled people can have very diferent perspectives on what a particular passage of the Bible means and how it should be applied to our times. Sincere Christians have disagreed on the propriety of slavery, the rights of women, individual reading of the Bible, the use of instruments in church, speaking in tongues, the Eucharist and a host of other things. Sometimes, as society and the church have evolved, Christians have ended up on the wrong side of issues , and their interpretation of particular texts of the Bible found to be quite nearsighted...! Sometimes it has happenned, even ilustrated in Scripture, where sincere folk quoting Bible passages quite right have been dead wrong! Even the brightest light can not iluminate eyes that want to remain shut, nor the Words that free penetrate our plugged ears.

It is for these reasons that my study and application of Scripture must be full of prayer, openness and love. Whereas it is, for me useful, for all instruction, and contains those things necessary for salvation, a generous attitude has to be given to its interpretation. The rigid dogmatism of the “letter” has been known stifle the movement of the Holy Spirit that leads us to ever more freedom, knowledge of Christ and love of neighbor.

seraph

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why We need The Anglicans




From Where I Stand by Joan Chittister, OSB. Published Today in the National Catholic Register.

The question the Anglican communion is facing for us all right now is a clear one: What happens to a group, to a church, that stands poised to choose either confusion or tyranny, either anarchy or authoritarianism, either unity or uniformity? Are there really only two choices possible at such a moment? Is there nowhere in-between?

The struggle going on inside the Anglican Communion about the episcopal ordination of homosexual priests and the recognition of the homosexual lifestyle as a natural state is not peculiar to Anglicanism. The issue is in the air we breathe. The Anglicans simply got there earlier than most. And so they may well become a model to the rest of us of how to handle such questions. If the rate and kinds of social, biological, scientific and global change continue at the present pace, every religious group may well find itself at the breakpoint between "tradition" and "science" sooner rather than later.

Theological questions driven by new scientific findings, new social realities, new technological possibilities abound. How moral is it to take cells from one person for the treatment of another if all human cells are potentially life generating? Is that the destruction of life? If homosexuality is "natural," meaning biologically configured at birth, why is it immoral for homosexuals to live in homosexual unions -- even if they are bishops? After all, isn't that what we said -- in fact, did -- when we argued "scientifically" that blacks were not fit for ordination because blacks weren't quite as human as whites? And so we kept them out of our seminaries and called ourselves "Christian" for doing it. Without even the grace to blush.

It is not so much how moral we think we are that is the test of a church. Perhaps the measure of our own morality is how certain we have been of our immoral morality across the ages. That should give us caution. We said, at one time, that it was gravely immoral to charge interest on loans, that it was mortally sinful to miss Mass on Sunday, that people could not read books on the Index, that the divorced could not remarry. And we brooked no question on any of these things. People were either in or out, good or bad, religious or not, depending on whether they stood at one end or another of those spectrums.

Clearly, the problem is not that definitions of morality can shift in the light of new information or social reality. The problem is that we don't seem to know how to deal with the questions that precede the new insights. We seem to think that we have only two possible choices: the authoritarianism model, which requires intellectual uniformity and calls it "community" or a kind of intellectual anarchism, which eats away at the very cloth of tradition in a changing world.

The problem is that threatened by change we are more inclined to suppress the prophetic question than we are to find the kind of structures that can release the Spirit, that can lead us beyond unthinking submission while honoring the tradition and testing the spirits ...

From where I stand, we need those who can develop a model of faith in times of uncertainty in which the tradition is revered and the prophetic is honored. Unless we want to see ourselves go into either tyranny or anarchy, we better pray for the Anglicans so that they can show us how to do that.


A beautiful piece...Yes; Pray for the Anglicans ..we all need them!
read the whole article here: http://ncrcafe.org/node/1336

seraph

Brotherly Love



Yesterday I got to meet with a group of men which whom I have shared the life of faith for the past 13 years. We are all very different, yet by God ‘s grace have been able to pray for one another, speak into each other’s life and together endure some pretty difficult moments in the life of our church.

Honestly, I do not think it was a total surprise to them that I was the more liberal of the bunch. Let’s see what could have given that away? ….I can not think of a thing! I wonder if the endearment “socialist of the bunch” could possibly mean they contemplated the possibility? Hmmm! Yet, it is one thing to suspect it, another to hear it from the horses own mouth.

As they very patiently listened to my convictions on topics such as the ordination of women, empowerment of the laity, a yearning for the “soft margins” which seemed to be the hallmark of our community in times past I must admit to feeling very blessed. At no point did I perceive disrespect, rejection, accusation nor judgment; although in many things they probably hold views very different from my own.

In the essentials unity….Christ , His love, the One Spirit that lives in us all, the One cup we have drank of so many times, the friendship and struggles we have faced , all seemed to be at the forefront of our conversation and allowed us to be truly all part of one body, one family…the church. The rest…well, in non-essential unity and in all the rest charity. I saw that yesterday in practice and am encouraged by that demonstration of concern and brotherly love.

Now if they could just see things my way ….all would be great….!

seraph

Saturday, September 15, 2007

All Well!




"...And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well in the end'...."

Blessed Julian of Norwich

Friday, September 14, 2007

Orthodoxy...lovely...Generous!





I have just finished this book a friend passed on to me. The title did sound a little odd and fun.... I liked it right away!

Well, never judge a book by its cover did not prove completely right this time. The more I read the better it sounded....wow...a better written, very edited, better thought out transcript of conversations and random thoughts me and others have had throughout the years. Some one actually thought this stuff out and put it in print...! My hat goes off to Brian McClaren.

As an Anglican in the CEC, having had the opportunity to interact, learn and love Christians from almost every conceivable tradition, I identified completely with many of the concepts and ilustrations in this book. A coincidence or the Spirit at work in many different places in the Church????

Yes I can relate to that.... I am a Christian...and would hope to be that kind the...

missional + evangelical + post/protestant + liberal/conservative + mystical/poetic + biblical + charismatic/contemplative + fundamentalist/calvinist + anabaptist/anglican + methodist + catholic + green + incarnational + depressed-yet-hopeful + emergent + unfinished CHRISTIAN."

you too

seraph


I know people like this....this may even be me....hilarious!!!!!

seraph

Good Omens!



"I don't see why it matters what is written. Not when it's about people. It can always be crossed out"

These are the delightful words of Adam; Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of this World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, Lord of darkness...AND.... eleven year old boy head of the "Them", an unlikely gang of boys and even a girl raised in the town of Tadfield.

As he faces Metatron voice of God, Beelzebub, the Four riders of the Apocalipse, Crowley an unlikely demon, Aziraphale his angelic counterpart and a confused group of bystanders, Adam proves to be a surprise for all. The Antichrist child raised in an average home, complete with friends and a dog is found to be less and much more than the host of hell and heaven's armies expected.

I loved this book and this line in particular. How true it seems in the light of the Scripture writings whose protagonists include the likes of Jacob, Sampson, Rahab, Mary Magdalene, the Sons of Thunder, a lucky thief.....and as this truth of grace applies to our lives, often on a daily basis...crossed out indeed!

The humorous take on theology, angelic relations, the end of times, made for very fun reading . In a lighhearted and often irreverent manner, the authors touched, questions we often are afraid to ask about the plans of God, the nature of truth and the contradictions that so often are a halmark of being human.

...a must read!

seraph

Forgive Them....



PHILADELPHIA - An Amish community that lost five girls in a Pennsylvania schoolhouse shooting massacre last year has donated money to the widow of the gunman, the community said Wednesday. The Nickel Mines Accountability Committee, which was set up to handle more than $4.3 million in donations from around the world after the shootings, said it had given an unspecified "contribution" to Marie Roberts, a mother of three.

"Forgive our debt as we forvive our debtors"....Oh really???

It is one thing to pray these beautiful words but, I dare say, most of us would shudder at even the possibility of putting them into practice, particularly under these dire circumstances.

Tragedy and pain brought out the sympathy and generosity of many around the world towards the obvious victims, this in itself is admirable! Yet to see the Amish community, so horribly affected by the murder of their children, reach out to this family is inspiring. The grace to look beyond their pain allowed them to see hurt in places many would have not wanted to look...

Violence and evil have more victims than we initially see and, in choosing to reach out even to those connected to the perpetrator, there is a healing and blessing that speaks louder than any sermon....! It takes words out of the pages of our religious books and out of the realm of speculation and prayer into a practical reality....

...pretty shocking!!!

seraph

Saturday, August 11, 2007

CEC - colored glasses



This month it will be 15 years since I first set foot in a Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC). It was love at first sight for one raised in a barren, very conservative, very Baptist Church. Wow... Eucharistic, Charismatic, Evangelical...a home for all Christians, unity in essentials, freedom in non essentials in all things charity !!! How could anything so wonderful ever go wrong?

Needless to say I have been cured of much of that early idealism in the living out of the Christian life in this community. Surprisingly enough , despite all the ideals, people here, as everywhere turn out to be just that, people in great need of God's mercy, folk capable of greats acts of love and awful acts of selfishness...just like me, same people , different day and place.

This summer, as leaders in the CEC work on firm definitions of "who we are" I find myself yearning for the wonderful ambiguity of earlier years. The ample boundaires of generic Anglicanism, the Creeds, Book of Common Prayer, seemed to provide structure enough! People came to the CEC from a myriad of backgrounds and, in that sharing of diverse perspectives, I and many, found our faith challenged and enriched.

In retrospect, each of us saw the CEC though our own colored glasses. We all came for different reasons, looking for different things, following a vision whose commonality was convergence worship, not necessarily theological or liturgical uniformity. For me, it was a escape from the fundamentalism and conservatism of the church of my youth. For others, a safe harbor from the perceived heresies of liberal Protestantism.For evangelicals an embracing of the sacraments, for the charismatics the stability of goverment, for the high church folk, finally, smells, bells and you get to raise your hands in worship!!!! All wonderful, while ambiguity and tolerance is the order of the day....a crisis when each of these attempt to remake the church to fit their own image.

That the CEC is not socially liberal and more ecumenical is a shock to me and many in my parish who have lived the life of faith precisely thus for the past 15 years. Who voted Republican...really? Of course we welcome immigrants , dont you? Permission for an ecumenical service....why? This is the CEC aren't all christians welcome? Gays and lesbians? ...don't ask, don't tell, Open communion?...the Lord's table not ours...aren't the remarried after divorce also welcome?

Yet, as the dust settles, it seems more clear that our new found freedom was only a perception...how the CEC was incarnated in this little corner of the world! This summer it is becoming much more apparent that there are a lot more essencials, a lot less non-essentials, a lot more defining of orthodoxy , a particular flavor of worship prefered, a goverment style that defines "us", a preference for fundamentalism in Scritural interpretation, certain exclusions in who can serve, certain folk not in communion...less of the "in all things charity" than originally appeared.

What will happen? Time will tell ....! What will emerge after this summer? It is in the hands of God. Many will undoubtely applaud the changes and be grateful that finally, after all this time, the CEC can speak with a united voice....one faith, one liturgy, a uniform discipline....clear, unambiguous...God be praised forever!

Ughhh...how dull and horrid! Kind of like trading a multiethnic buffet for a uniform menu....sure, it is easier to list and pronounce, but something is definitely lost in taste!!! It seems our multicolored glasses are being replaced for new fangled blue ones that, supposedly, will allow all to see things less hazy, as they TRULY are....kind of like the tasteless plastic ones distributed at 3 D flicks! Can't see well without these ones....!

I for one will miss the glory days of idealism and ambiguity, where a "home for all Christians" seemed to mean all were welcome, all had something to contribute, all had a place at the table of the Lord....and, for now, keep my trendy pink and purple shades firmly on my nose.