Archive for July, 2007
You also need to check out the latest words from Archbishop Drexel Gomez regarding the future of the Communion. Here is a summary:
*Same-sex relations relate to God’s ordering of life and therefore core doctrine
*Little prospect of Primates’ Meeting after September 30 – ACO will plead lack of money
*Individual provinces may derecognise TEC
*Possible new US Province
*People in TEC want to root out traditional Anglicanism
*Global South see Lambeth downgraded to expensive prelatical training course
*Boycott by Nigeria alone (120 bishops) would make a big difference
*Lambeth decisions will not be representative of the thinking of the Communion
*ABC’s threat to rescind some invitations to Lambeth widely discounted
I think Gomez is right in that Lambeth will be the ultimate showdown. I think it a foregone conclusion that the House of Bishops will reject the Primates Communique in New Orleans. Hopefully, the Primates will force the ABC to call another Primates Meeting to respond to the same this fall.
God made Sun and Moon to distinguish seasons, and day, and night, and we cannot have the fruits of the earth but in their seasons. But God hath made no decree to distinguish the seasons of his mercies. In paradise, the fruits were ripe the first minute, and in heaven it is always Autumn: his mercies are ever in their maturity…
He brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light; he can bring thy Summer out of Winter, though thou have no Spring. Though in the ways of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintered, and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, damped and benumbed, smothered and stupefied till now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the Sun at noon to illustrate all shadows, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries. All occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons.
John Donne (d. 1631), quoted in Ordinary Graces, Edited by Lorraine Kisly
SERMON: PROPER 12, YEAR C
SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2007
CALVARY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, BUNKIE, LOUISIANA
Our lesson from Genesis today is one of my favorite biblical stories, where Abraham asks God to have mercy on Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham ask God not to sweep away the righteous with the unrighteous in the city, and asks if there were 50, 45, 30, 20, and then to 10 men left in the city, to which the Lord replies He would not destroy the city if there were only ten men within it who were righteous. This story is one of the bases for Jewish liturgy. If a Rabbi is unavailable, 10 men can perform certain Jewish rites. They call this a minyan. The other part I really like about this passage is how Abraham plays spiritual defense attorney. He pleads for the lives of the righteous within Sodom and Gomorrah. What is interesting, and this is echoed in our Gospel reading for today, when we ask things of God, he often gives us so much more. Abraham asks God to spare the righteous in the cities, God says he will spare a whole city and not just the ten righteous men are found there. One other point form this story is that Abraham stops at ten. He could have asked to save the city if there was only one righteous man. But, Abraham, who has an intimate relationship with the Lord, knows that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah – sexual immorality and cruelty – are serious business. In reality, all Abraham is asking the Lord to do is for the Lord to do HIS will, not Abraham’s. In our Gospel reading today, Jesus teaches us to pray this way in the Lord’s prayer. In it, we pray for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done. We aren’t praying for our wishes to come true, but for God’s will to come to pass. Then, in our own humility, we pray for our daily bread and for forgiveness of our sins, realizing that God’s forgiveness to us is conditional on our forgiveness of others. It is within God’s will that we receive our daily bread and forgiveness of our sins. This is what God wants for us.
Abraham’s pleas also show the same persistence Jesus is talking about in our Gospel today. The story about the neighbor knocking on the door at midnight for bread, and continuing to knock until he gets it. The original text of the Gospel, when it uses the work “knock”, is actually a verb that connotes not just knocking once, but continuing to knock until the door is open. Persistence is a virtue which God appreciates.
There is another thing that the Genesis passage makes clear – God’s wrath against sin is assuaged only by righteousness. It is a preview from the earliest of Biblical times of why Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was necessary for our personal salvation. Only Christ’s righteousness can save us from our own unrighteousness, our sinfulness.
St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians speaks directly to this point – the record of our sins – our spiritual rap sheet – is nailed to the cross by Jesus taking our sins upon him and Jesus, the righteous man, giving his life for us.
St. Paul also gives us a warning, as does the account of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis. Those who follow the Lord must not become captives to our culture. He writes: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.” What man will rationalize through philosophy and human tradition is often not what God wants. Sodom and Gomorrah proves that.
How do we really know that want God wants for us is better than what we often want? I’m sure the folks in Sodom and Gomorrah thought that what they were doing was just fine and was what they wanted. I’m sure the Greeks and Romans of Paul’s time were doing and feeling the same way. Why, then, should we prefer what God wants for us over what our culture, our human tradition, tells us we should want? Jesus tells us in the Gospel today: “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” God, who created us and sustains us, knows what is best for us. So, when the Bible tells us something and the culture we live in tells us to do something else, we need to do what the Bible says. Our culture says if you are unhappy with your marriage, get a divorce. Jesus says, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Our culture tells us to acquire great wealth and possessions, Jesus tells us to sell everything we own and follow Him. Our culture tells us to avoid the sick, the poor, and those in prison; Jesus tells us to care for them and in so doing we are caring for God.
So even if, our culture, our friends, our families, even our churches are telling us one thing, and God’s word is telling us something else, we are to, as St. Paul writes, remain rooted and built up in Christ and established in the faith, just as we were taught.
“As long as someone does not deny the very basic doctrines of the Church – the creation, the death, the resurrection of Christ and human beings being made in the image of God – then the rest really helps but they are not the core message.
“And I haven’t found that in ECUSA or in Canada, where I was recently, they have any doubts in their understanding of God which is very different from anybody. What they have quarrelled about is the nature of sexual ethics.”
He nevertheless emphasised that Dr Williams does expect those who attend Lambeth to abide by the decision-making processes of the Anglican Communion.
“The Archbishop of Canterbury is very clear that he still reserves the right to withdraw the invitations and that those who are invited are accepting the Windsor process and accepting the process about the covenant.
“But in another sentence, he said that attending Lambeth is not also a test of orthodoxy.
“Church regulations and Church legislation should not stand in the way of the gospel of love your neighbour.
“You are members of one body and therefore you should listen to one another and find a way out.
“I want to say to both sides, you would do well to come to the Lambeth Conference for us to hammer out our differences.
“It will be no good for either side to say, it doesn’t matter now, we can just do anything we like.”
Poor Doctor Sentamu, though. He really doesn’t know how bad things have gotten here. But, Doctor Williams does…he wrote a reply to Jack Spong…
You take a one pound to one and a half pound Texas broil (which, if you shop smartly, should cost you all of $3.00 or so with grocery store discount card.) I often buy these steaks and freeze them, which translates to one average Mardi Gras plastic cup filled with ice, 3 ounces of Old Forester bourbon and filled to the brim with Coke zero to cook the steak with no defrosting for medium rare. On one side coat with zero calorie zero fat I can’t believe it is not butter spay (the most revisionist thing out there) and liberally sprinkle Durkee’s steak dust. Flip and coat the other side with spray butter and Montreal Steak Seasoning for McKormick’s or Mrs. Dash. Heat gas grill to 450 degrees, and cook steak. As steak is cooking, spray the side you just turned over with, what Sarah Drell calls “Dad’s steak potion” which consists of equal parts of extra virgin olive oil and Lea and Perrin’s Worchestershire sauce, which works well with those used spray butter containers of which you will have many around after discovering this recipe.
When cooked like you like it, remove from the grill. Serve with: scalloped potatoes and green beans or salad. Wine: Menage a Trois California table wine or an Australian cabernet shiraz blend.
Your mileage may vary. Serves two to three.
I received this email today from someone who apparently read this piece from last December. I think he must have stumbled on the FedEx piece somehow, and got the impression that I was a pastor. He wrote:
Maybe I am wrong, but from you I feel a boast of religion, and in you, a strong spirit of control left frustrated and unsatisfied. I do mean to attack and antagonize this spirit. Starve it sir. Give it nothing to feed on.
To you, humbly I say: Give this all to God, Elder. Seek his spirit and his presence, not religion. Seek his compassion and grace, not tolerance. God did not give you these things to write about Fedex, it’s a pointless waste of time, he did give you his son, and he did give you a ministry to serve…….not to control….
Seek the spirit sir, Prophecy, Hear his voice, Wait for His voice, Wait for His Word……then deliver it dear sir, as you have been chosen to do. Give God a container to fill. Do all of these things sir, and this container will overflow with abundance………then give it away again….
With love and prayers,
I wrote back:
Firstly, I am not a pastor, but a lay person.
Secondly, I am lawyer.
Thirdly, at the time, I was admittedly frustrated by FedEx.
As to the rest of what you have written, I will think and pray on it for reasons probably far beyond what you were thinking when you wrote it. God bless you.
Your brother in Christ,
I’m still thinking about what he wrote. But it does have me thinking.
Very simple recipe for my Eggplant Parmesean. You can either make it like you would chicken or veal parmesean (use thicker slices) or layer it like lasagne noodles in a casserole dish like I do for Wednesday night supper to feed a crowd.
After “peeling” the eggplant like you would a potato, you slice them as you want to…small circles or long strips in whatever thickness you want, but no more than 1/3 of an inch thick. 1/4 inch thick works best, I think. Put slices on paper towels and lightly salt on both sides (to get rid of the bitterness.) Then you dip the slices in egg and coat with Italian bread crumbs (do not use the kind with cheese flavoring added – just plan Italian bread crumbs) then fry in virgin olive oil until golden brown. Top with (or layer) with your favorite Italian type tomato sauce (Prego is good, but I’ve even used the Kroger brand; can use right out of the jar or doctor it up – whatever you would do if making Lasanga or speghetti) and Parmesean cheese (not the dry stuff, the shredded stuff); bake until cheese is melted and bubbly. I usually bake at around 425 or 450; it is okay to use a convection oven as well and it cooks it pretty fast.
Serve with a Shiraz, Coppola’s Rosso Classic, or Santa Rita Carmenere, a Ceasar Salad made with Cardini’s dressing, and garlic bread that isn’t too greesy so you can use it to sop up the tomato sauce on your plate.
From an email:
In August the diocesan gatherings resume under the leadership of the “Task Force on Reconciliation and Healing.” The guiding principle voiced by Bishop MacPherson: “We must first be reconciled to God, and then with each other.” Thus we have two tasks. Much attention is being given to the second of these tasks. Through dialogue among those who rarely sit at the same table, understanding is gained and friendships established or renewed. There is reconciliation without agreement, but reconciliation nonetheless.
But what of Task One: Reconciliation with God? The real problem of reconciliation is not with those with whom we disagree, but between ourselves and our God as we struggle with spiritual contradictions directly related to our membership in The Episcopal Church. We who hold to the “Faith of our Fathers” are coming to realize that we are living a hopeless lie by maintaining ties with a church intent on purifying itself of “backward” orthodox beliefs such as the uniqueness of Christ and the authority of holy scripture.
When the various Communion “processes,” — Windsor, Dar es Salaam, Covenant — run their course without any concession by TEC, and its enthusiasm for innovation continues unabated, membership therein by orthodox believers becomes incompatible with membership in the Body of Christ. It is this epiphany which is driving individuals, parishes and entire dioceses to seek reconciliation with God through separation from TEC.
“From hardness of heart and contempt of thy Word and Commandents, Good Lord, deliver us.”