There are places I remember…

 

 

 

 

 

Places, practices and people form us. For many years, I looked at representations of the saints, recited the words of the liturgy and listened to the words of spiritual leaders. Sometimes I was bored, sometimes the words were tedious and made no sense and sometimes the presence of God shined through. Faith is more than cerebral. Faith is incarnate. Faith involves the senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Even if God does not dwell in buildings built by human hands, humans are shaped by the physicality of faith. This has always been the scandal of the Word made flesh and the nemesis of creation shunning gnosticism, past and present.

My faith was shaped in no small part by the visual beauty and the familiar words of prayer of years of worshiping at All Saints Episcopal Church and Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, AZ. My faith was also shaped by the people who I came to know as teachers and counselors – Paul Urbano, Ken Whitney, Anton Renna S.J., Al Miller S.J., “Sister” Mary, and the small prayer group that met Monday nights. They were able to listen and support a teenager trying to get through some tough times. I was also able to witness the Spirit firing up the church through the preaching & teaching of Dennis Bennett, Terry Fulham and Francis MacNutt.  Those were years of hope about what the church could become that turned to disappointment as the ECUSA drifted farther and farther into irrelevance. However,  over the years God was at work and I was able to encounter worship scholar Robert Webber, the Alpha evangelism program and most recently Wellspring in Englewood, CO an Anglican congregation that combines sound preaching, God glorifying music and a liturgy in which the words are prayed with sincerity and passion. Ancient & future worship is alive!

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S.B.C. calls the alt-right out.

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Sounds like there was a ground swell refusal to allow denominational bureaucrats to stall and remain silent:

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, decry every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we denounce and repudiate white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as of the devil; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we acknowledge that we still must make progress in rooting out any remaining forms of intentional or unintentional racism in our midst; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we earnestly pray, both for those who advocate racist ideologies and those who are thereby deceived, that they may see their error through the light of the Gospel, repent of these hatreds, and come to know the peace and love of Christ through redeemed fellowship in the Kingdom of God, which is established from every nation, tribe, people, and language.

Christos Anesti!

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How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?

First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he could make us share in the righteousness which he had obtained for us by his death.

Second, by his power we too are raised up to a new life.

Third, Christ’s resurrection is to us a sure pledge of our glorious resurrection.

Heidelberg Catechism, 45

What’s One Year?

2017

What’s one year?
12 Months
52 weeks
365 days
8,760 hours
525,600 minutes
31,536,000 seconds…
To be shaped by the Potter’s hand,
Strengthened by His Word,
Enlightened by the Spirit,
Nourished by grace, Forgiven by his mercy,
Conformed to his image,
More ordinary wonders, unexpected blessings & divine “suddenlies,”
Showing his love,
Closer to his Coming,
Nearer to Glory.

An Advent Poem

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In the darkest night, in the deepest pain, when all seems lost, no hope is found,

God is with us, Emmanuel.

Eternal light, shines forth bright, scatters the darkness around our hearts;

Fills with peace, the space within, his love reaches where none else may.

In midnight field, in nighttime fear, his presence guards our way; 

Not alone, not alone, joined with thousands unseen, joyful song rise again.

In the darkest night, in the deepest pain, when all seems lost, no hope is found,

God is with us, Emmanuel.

The Haven of Hope

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“My unchangeableness is the rock of your rest. When all the world is like the troubled ocean round about you, here you may fix and settle; I am your resting-place.”

(Mal. 3.6; Psa 62.6-7; 92.15; Jer. l.6; 2 Chron. 14:11)
FROM JOSEPH ALLEINE’S  “SAINT’S POCKET BOOK”

Welcome to the Kakistocracy!

Kakistocracy – (n) – government by the least qualified, most unprincipled citizens, most stupid members
Greek kakistos, worst, superlative of kakos, bad

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    The good news is Billary Inc. lost. The bad news is Trump Inc. won. As George Will has written the 2016 election turned out with a “loser who deserved to lose and a winner who did not deserve to win.” I guess it wasn’t so rigged as Donald thought.
Now we’re expected to let bygones be bygones, sing “Kum ba Yah,” have a group hug and jump in line & goose step with Boss Trump.

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Not so fast.
Losing the popular vote with 60,350,241 to 60,981,118 does not a mandate make.

I’m a 50+ year old White male, with 1 wife, 2 cats, 3 kids and 4 guns. Theologically, doctrinally, ecclessiastically I am “evangelical” (euanggelion – good news). But faced with 2 equally miserable choices, candidates who were both morally-challenged, ethically-challenged, and character-challenged, I voted for neither one. There’s little difference between going off a cliff at 35 MPH or 135 MPH except the speed of your own demise. I refused to support either party that has led us to this kakistocracy.

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Evangelical supporters say Donald has changed. I’m looking for proof. Genuine change is made up of genuine repentance, contrition and restitution, none of which have been evident in Donald’s behavior or statements since winning. Moral character used to matter to evangelicals – I guess that’s optional now if it’s an election year!
I’m still waiting for his tax returns. I’m waiting for him to apologize to John McCain & the Khan family. I’m waiting for him to ‘fess up about his assault of women.
Guess I’ll be waiting a long time.

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What would happen if voters for the defeated party acted like Republicans did when they lost to President Obama? Like John Boehner, offering his plans for the President’s agenda: “We’re going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.” Or the Trumpster himself who called the 2012 election a “total sham and a travesty…. We are not a democracy!” Or like countless bloggers since 2008 have suggested the president’s assassination by putting his face on targets, threatened divine punishment or prayed for his demise and death?
But that would be unseemly.

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The Donald has made some big promises. I doubt Trump will be the savior people expect him to be.If he doesn’t follow through those that voted for him may turn on him quickly and viciously.
Peter Hitchens wrote – “Maybe Mr. Trump will turn out to have been kidding us. Maybe he will surround himself with advisers of brilliance and subtlety, who will prove to have mastered the problems of reintroducing protection in a world governed by open borders and increasingly dominated by China. Maybe all that stuff about jailing his opponent was just talk. Maybe, despite all those years of, er, locker-room behavior Mr. Trump will turn out after all to be a Christian gentleman in office upholding the ancient virtues. I do hope so. But forgive me if I decline to be optimistic.”

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I wonder if Donald will survive 4 years without impeachment – it will be due either to his propensity for outrageous behavior, trying to run the executive office like “The Apprentice” instead of as the executive leader of a nation or worse – his thin-skin and low tolerance for critics and opposition point to darker authoritarian possibilities.
I hope I’m wrong . I will pray for our nation. I will pray he genuinely experiences converting grace that is abundant in the fruit of repentance.
I pray the damage from this fiasco will be minimal.

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Grabber in Chief?

“When a government is in its prime, the public good engages the attention of the whole; the strictest regard is paid to the qualifications of those who hold the offices of state; virtue prevails; everything is managed with justice, prudence, and frugality; the laws are founded on principles of equity rather than mere policy, and all the people are happy. But vice will increase with the riches and glory of an empire; and this generally tends to corrupt the Constitution and in time bring on its dissolution. This may be considered not only as the natural effect of vice, but a righteous judgment from Heaven, especially upon a nation which has been favored with the blessings of religion and liberty and is guilty of undervaluing them and eagerly going into the gratification of every lust.”

Samuel Langdon (1723-1797)

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To start – I have no rat in the “Billary Inc. vs. Trump Inc.” rat race – I consider neither major party’s presidential candidate fit for the highest office in the land. I am voting for a 3rd party candidate that aligns with my political and moral views. I am not persuaded that I am “throwing away” my vote – if the GOP had wanted to defeat “Billary Inc.” it could have nominated a plausible candidate of whom there were sufficient number to at least make a contest of it. But due to Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee & a majority of the delegate’s desperation and terror of Hillary, it has given into a hostile take-over of the party and is now held hostage by a psychopathic text-book narcissistic, sexual predator who has a scorched earth policy of relational skills. Now that Trump seems to have decimated his chances for even a close loss, he has resorted to theories about left wing-media conspiracies, threats of uprisings or simply whining. He has no one to blame but himself.

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Sadly, some Christian leaders on Trump’s “Evangelical Executive Advisory Council” have proven hotter & more wanton for power than Oholah and Oholibaha (Ezekiel 23) reversing their long cherished culture war morality, principles and values to excuse Trumps insults of war heroes & veterans, judges and citizens of different ethnicity, and minimize and dismiss his extended history of misogynistic words and actions against women with “yeahbuts” – the lame justification usually employed by 6 year olds (yeahbut -it’s not as bad as he-she-they did) or platitudes about forgiveness that demonstrate the cheapness of Trump’s so called conversion &  how willing they are to trivialize the Christian gospel.

Maybe as Russell Moore has pointed out, this is the last death rattle of the old-guard Religious Right establishment. I will skip the funeral. Maybe after the smoke & fog of the election has cleared, believers can get back to the work of being the church and making the land in which we live a better place than Trump Inc. or Billary Inc. portray it.