Archive for March, 2012

Stand your ground, or turn the other cheek?

March 31, 2012

The killing of Trayvon Martin by a Sanford, Fla. crime watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, has gained national attention and demonstrates how emotion often trumps facts. Zimmerman is often shown by the media in his mug shot pose, which is not the most flattering for most of us, while Martin’s publicity package sports images of an adolescent clear-faced boy. Both are probably far from the truth. Meanwhile, various stories have been leaked purporting to demonstrate that Martin was no harmless kid and, by inference, had it coming. What really happened matters little when there are bigger fundamental interests held by passionate single-minded factions. This thing has descended into a bunch of shrieking clichés, well nurtured grudges, and long running misunderstandings. It’s about guns, race and fear. Nicely done, Mr. Satan.
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The resurrection and the gospel of salvation

March 28, 2012

For several hundred years now, one of the favorite topics for biblical scholars concerns the gospel message. Is it just about salvation? Are we not called on to imitate Jesus? Indeed, we are commanded to take up our crosses and obediently join Jesus on the road to Golgotha. The gospels announce the Kingdom of Heaven. There is a social gospel within the message. Once we hear the gospel, the needs of others take on a new significance. As we enter into the time when Christians recall the great acts of Christ’s final days, this question takes on a special necessity.

Some of us who follow the Daily Office from one of the old lectionaries are reading Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church in which there are some definite ideas about resurrection. If you went speed reading across chapter 15, as some of us are prone to do, you might miss the way Paul ties the gospel proclamation and the fact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.If we are going to think about the gospel and salvation, it might be good to flip back to another key passage (I hate doing this, but we probably should consider a little background before jumping into a conversation about salvation and the resurrection). The letter to Roman believers, however, states what is probably the strongest definition of the “good news.”

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
(Romans 1:16-17 ESV)

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PASSIONTIDE. Collect for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called Passion Sunday

March 24, 2012

WE beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Why bother with being a Christian?

March 23, 2012

Some of us were sitting around over lunch having the kind of conversation that can be appreciated only by nuclear physicists and theologians (not that I consider myself a theologian). Anyway, one of the difficulties is that the science guys are a generally lot smarter than the God squad. Nonetheless, we plodded on trying to sort out universalism, the Gospels, and salvation. Finally , there was a very good (and an extraordinarily brave question. After all the hard work of being a Christian, and the tremendous personal struggles with evil, considering everything the Christian gives up (insert your favorite sin here), and what do we get in return anyway? We fast, we pray, we pretend to get along with people we really despise. Our opinions sometimes get us in trouble. We are in a never-ending conflict with the fleshy instincts – the very sensations that provide so much physical pleasure.

God does not seem even slightly impressed with our sacrifices made to his honor and in obedience to his law. You would think that he would feel some sense of obligation to, at least from time to time, come across with that healing, or the job, or the relationship we so seek and for which we fervently pray. But, no. Sometimes it’s “yes” and sometimes it’s ‘no.” Why do we put ourselves through the trouble? Of course, I sprang to my feet with the correct answer. Read the rest of this entry »

Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

March 17, 2012

GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The role of Satan in American politics (Part 2)

March 15, 2012

This continues the thoughts in a post you will find by scrolling down. It is probably better to read the first part first. As we consider Satan’s affirmative activities in politics, it is probably appropriate to note that the scriptures do not hold a very high opinion of human government.In Gen 11 there is the slightest glimpse of urban life and a strong government. You know the story of the Tower of Babel and how the people decided to build a city instead of populating the entire earth, which was the will of Yahweh. Both the Flood and the account of Sodom and Gomorrah speak of corruption and violence. Let’s not forget that notorious genocidal madman, Pharoah.

When the people of Israel cried out for a human king, Samuel warned them how it would go then, and things have not changed much since.

He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.” (1 Sam 8:11-18 ESV)

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Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent

March 13, 2012

WE beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be our defence against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The role of Satan in American politics (Part 1)

March 8, 2012

Many modern Americans deny his existence, and even more doubt that there is a place of eternal damnation for those who follow him. He has been portrayed as fantasy and villan. In tiny sects of disconnected oddballs, he is worshiped as a living deity. He encountered Jesus in the wilderness and offered him the kingdoms of this world.

Paul warns believers about the “cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:13). The “present darkness” is thick and gloomy since man’s rebellion against the pure will of God. If human nature is corrupted and the entire creation is suffering the effects of this terrible separation from the Creator, that would certainly include our families, friendships, business dealings and government. When man does what comes naturally to the sinful nature, the results always include suffering and degradation.
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Collect for the Second Sunday in Lent

March 3, 2012

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Those lesbians are at it again! Trouble at the communion rail

March 1, 2012

Here is a story that caught my attention because, in the first place, I am curious about all things pertaining to the Roman Catholic Church, and, secondly, this deals with one of the most difficult and misunderstood areas of church life, discipline. Where to begin?

The Washington Post carried the original story of a woman denied communion at her mother’s funeral in a Roman Catholic church.

Deep in grief, Barbara Johnson stood first in the line for Communion at her mother’s funeral Saturday morning. But the priest in front of her immediately made it clear that she would not receive the sacramental bread and wine.

Johnson, an art-studio owner from the District, had come to St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg with her lesbian partner. The Rev. Marcel Guarnizo had learned of their relationship just before the service.

“He put his hand over the body of Christ and looked at me and said, ‘I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin,’ ” she recalled Tuesday.

She reacted with stunned silence. Her anger and outrage have now led her and members of her family to demand that Guarnizo be removed from his ministry.

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