Thursday, August 28, 2008

who can this be?

Sometimes an unexpected connection comes to mind as we experience prayerful listening to and meditating on a passage of sacred scripture. This was the passage: Mark 4:41 (ESV) And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?"
This was the connection: Hebrews 1:3 (ESV) He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
This is the One we receive under the forms of bread and wine, the one born of Mary. In the slang of today's youth, how awesome is that?!
If you haven't read this yet, you'll be glad you did:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What does the church look like

In the mid-nineteenth century, Charles Porterfield Krauth was faced with many of the same misunderstandings of the Church as we see in our own day. Listen carefully to his description of the Church:

“For as the Church is the mother of believers, as she is to bring forth children
of whom God is the father, so she is to train up in the faith those who are born of her, is to nourish her infants with milk, her adult children with solid food, to confirm the doubting, to strengthen the sorrowing and tempted, to arouse men from the sleep of sin, to lead the secure to repentance, to bring back into the way of salvation those who have wandered, and to keep all men in that way. But for these duties she needs more than those parts of doctrine which are the only necessary ones for the simple, who have neither the mental strength nor intelligence to go further. She needs for her ork the entire doctrine of Scripture, 'for perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.' --C. P. Krauth, A Documentary History of the General Council p. 365

What exactly does the mother of believers do?

1. She brings forth children of whom God is the Father. Holy Baptism
2. She trains them up in the faith. Apostles’ Creed
3. She nourishes her infants with milk, her adults with solid food. Lord’s Supper
4. She confirms the doubting. Confession
5. She strengthens the sorrowing and tempted. Lord’s Prayer and Daily Prayer
6. She arouses men from the sleep of sin. Ten Commandments
7. She leads the secure to repentance and back into the way of salvation those who have wandered. Take up the Cross daily and deny yourself.

Friday, August 22, 2008

watch and pray: carefully!

Be careful what you ask for! Adonijah thought to get back what he had lost, or better, what he never really had, through the intercession of the king’s mother, Bathsheba.
And he said, “Please ask King Solomon—he will not refuse you—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.” Bathsheba said, “Very well; I will speak for you to the king.”
Solomon saw the request for what it was, a clever ploy to undermine his authority by giving the woman who had been connected to King David to his malcontent brother.
If our requests do not serve to advance and establish the kingdom, even if we go through the most effective intercessor, God will not answer favorably, and what generated that request may very likely be put to death. So, once again, be careful what you ask for! Now therefore as the Lord lives, who has established me and placed me on the throne of David my father, and who has made me a house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death today!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

On 8 June 1978 (30 years ago) Alexander Solzhenitsyn gave a prophetic speech at Harvard University which is available online:

Here are a few bits to whet your appetite:
Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror. .... Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.
After the suffering of decades of violence and oppression, the human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer than those offered by today's mass living habits, introduced by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor and by intolerable music. All this is visible to observers from all the worlds of our planet. The Western way of life is less and less likely to become the leading model.
This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very basis of human thinking in the past centuries. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world which was first born during the Renaissance and found its political expression from the period of the Enlightenment. It became the basis for government and social science and could be defined as rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the proclaimed and enforced autonomy of man from any higher force above him. It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of everything that exists.

"Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?" (Acts 7:52) Stephen asked. How we need the prophetic gift and courage to speak truth to power in this new century.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

pray for China

I've been wearing a wrist-band for a couple of weeks that says in English and Chinese: "Pray for China". As we've watched the Olympics in Beijing our prayers have been for the leaders, the people and for the Christians of China, that the kingdom of God would come and His will be done, and most of all His Word and Name have free course and set the captives free.
Then I read this morning in Isaiah 60:12, "For the nations and their kings who will not serve you shall perish, and those nationis will be utterly desolate." This clearly refers to the body of Christ (no Zionist heresies, please!), the Church and as such gives a refreshing perspective, for believers, on those nations that wantonly persecute Jesus (Acts 9:4). As Jeremiah says (22:13) "Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness and his rooms upstairs without judgment". "Unless the LORD build the house, those who build it labor in vain" (Psalm 127:1). A most timely word for this political season.
Then there is that wonderful commercial for wind power in which a disc thrown by a Greek athlete is unexpectedly carried off course by the wind, and strikes the Parthenon which suddenly crashes into the familiar ruins we know today. Unintentionally, I'm sure, this can be seen as prophetic picture and fulfillment of what is in store for all that is built on human wisdom. As you think about or view this commercial, try to see the spiritual truth it portrays.
Lastly, as wonderful and most revealing as the Pastor Rick Warren interview with candidates Obama and McCain was this past Saturday, one was left with the false impression that we have only two choices in the upcoming election. There are at least two other candidates worthy of your consideration: Bob Barrr (Libertarian Party) and Chuck Baldwin (Constitution Party). imho, they deserve equal time.

Friday, August 15, 2008

St. Mary, Mother of our Lord

O higher than the Cherubim,
More glorious than the Seraphim,
Lead their praises, Alleluia!
Thou bearer of th'incarnate Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord.

Long has it been my conviction that proper appreciation of the Holy Family, i.e. Jesus, his mother Mary and Joseph his foster-father, would go a long way to clearing up cultural confusion over roles of men and women in the church and family (domestic church). Appropriate love, honor and respect can then be given to men and women in their God-given roles without unncecssary competition and confusion.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

pastoral response to court decision

From the August 2008 Forum Letter came this comment from Bishop Allen Vigneron of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland (CA). For the full text, see this link:
Just wondering: why did the Church allow the State to define and control marriage in the first place? Try a search on The Uniform Marriage and Marriage License Act of 1923.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

seeking and saving us

So long as we imagine that it is we who have to look for God, then we must often lose heart. But it is the other way about: he is looking for us. And so we can afford to recognize that very often we are not looking for God; far from it; we are in full flight from him, in high rebellion against him. And he knows that and has taken it into account. He has followed us into our own darkness; there where we thought finally to escape him, we run straight into his arms.
So we do not have to erect a false piety for ourselves, to give us hope of salvation. Our hope is in his determination to save us. And he will not give in!
This should free us from that crippling anxiety which prevents any real growth, giving us room to do whatever we can do, to accept the small but genuine responsibilities that we do have. Our part is not to shoulder the whole burden of our salvation, the initiative and the program are not in our hands: our part is to consent, to learn how to love him in return whose love came to us so freely while we were quite uninterested in him.
(by Fr. Simon Tugwell, O.P. from "Prayer, Living with God" 1975 Templegate Publishers.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

daily prayer

"As you are going, therefore, make disciples of all the nations..." (Matthew 28:19a) Indispensible elements for fulfilling the Great Commission (imho) begin with the weekly commemoration of Jesus' resurrection and receiving Him in the Eucharist. The phrase "as you are going" suggests the discipline and holy habit of Daily Prayer. In addition to daily Matins and Vespers, I am beginning to pause at 9:00 a.m., noon and 3:00 p.m. for an intentional few moments of prayer.
At 9:00 a.m. (Terce) In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Eternal God and Father, by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed: Guide and strengthen us by you Spirit, poured out on your Apostles at this hour, that we too may give ourselves to your service, and live this day in love to one another and to you, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
At 12 Noon (Sext) In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. We adore you, Lord Jesus, in your cross and passion, through which you have brought life and joy into the world. O Christ our God, who at this hour didst stretch Thy loving arms on the Cross that all men might be gathered unto Thee, help us and save us who cry unto Thee:
Glory to Thee, O Lord!
At 3:00 p.m. (None) In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, at this hour on the cross you commended your spirit into the hands of the Father. Grant, we pray, that at the hour of our passing from this world we too may commend ourselves to the Father, and be received into the Paradise of your everlasting kingdom, where, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, you live and reign, one God, now and forever, Amen.