Friday, August 30, 2013

++Justin Welby and Polling Data


Fr. Dale Matson

“The vast majority of people under 35 think that the Christian attitude to gay people is ‘wicked’ and ‘incomprehensible’, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.” “We have to be real about that, I haven’t got the answer and I‘m not going to jump one way or the other until my mind is clear about this," he said.“I’m not going to get into the trenches on it.” ‘“http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10271438/Archbishop-urges-Christians-to-repent-over-wicked-attitude-to-homosexuality.html

As ++Welby formulates an ‘evolved’ response to contemporary sexual issues (and I suspect he will) based on polling data rather than Scripture, society is in fact changing; for the worse. Miley Cyrus performed on the VMA awards recently in flesh colored underwear. Her twerking and provocative sexual gestures were only entertaining if one believes that obscene and outrageous behavior is a form of mainline entertainment. This kind of public display would have been blacked out on TV screens only 20 years ago. The moral line was moved a little further out. Does this behavior appeal to contemporary culture? The YouTube video version is already approaching 1.5 million hits.
   
Contemporary humans are doing what is right in their own mind. Civil conduct is in free fall. Polls are the new standard of what is acceptable. Morals have become what is customary. Unfortunately, what is customary is what is acceptable based on who is polled, who is asking the questions and how the questions are asked.

People no longer have a sense of shame about inappropriate sexual conduct. Anthony Wiener stepped down as a New York Congressman because of a sexting scandal only to run for mayor of New York City. Where was the repentance and signs of redemption? Somehow electing someone like Wiener probably appeals to lots of self-serving folks who want to lower the moral behavioral bar for themselves.

There is a story that in the 1960’s the engine blocks at the Pontiac Assembly Plant were having trouble meeting the minimum standards. The cylinder bore gauge failed too many engine blocks. The blocks had to be scraped. The solution was to stop using the gauge. Japan began producing higher quality cars and the rest is history. Whether the story is true or not, the point is that when standards are removed, problems arise.

As ++Welby offers up his social commentary, he is caught up in the fallacy of modern context and metrics. Polling is not robust research and subject to validity and reliability problems. Research is a search for truth not a way of validating a feeling or covering guilt. The gauge used by Anglicans for centuries is the primacy of Scripture, Tradition and Reason informed by God. For Anglicans human behavior is criterion referenced conduct, not norm referenced conduct. Evaluation of human conduct in a contemporary context is not even norm referenced in a longitudinal sense (over the last 2,000 years of recorded history.) Jesus the Christ is not just the living Word of God. He is the incarnation of all human standards of conduct. Why did ++ Welby not once mention the name of Christ. As a leader of His church it would seem appropriate.

If Anglicans need to repent and we all do need to repent, we should begin with the failure to love others. Loving others means telling the Truth. It means preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ who came to save sinners, of which I am one. In all of this, where is the sense for a need to repent and confess our sins? We are not OK. We were born broken and need the transforming love of Jesus Christ to change our hearts and minds. He does love, and accept us “As is” but loves us enough not to allow us to remain as is. A person without Christ is on a mission of self-destruction. Only through Him do we seek life and promote life in others.

Archbishop Welby, you may be leading Canterbury Anglicanism but things are changing in Anglicanism too.    
                      


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why I'm Anglican VII

 Because Of Our Episcopal Polity

Bishop Eric Menees

I know that being a Bishop and saying, “I'm Anglican because we have Bishops,” sounds a bit odd, but it's the truth. In part, I am an Anglican because our polity is based on a structure that is founded upon scripture. Said another way: Anglicanism is Episcopal.

What does that mean?  It means being organized in a structure that joins multiple congregations together under a single spiritual leader known as a Bishop. The Greek term for Bishop is episkopos (επίσκοπος), or "overseer." Not overseer in the terms of a mean ruler, but rather one who oversees the ministry of congregations in a specific geographic area known as a diocese.

The ministry of a bishop is to be the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese and the Pastor to the Pastors. That means the bishop is to be the defender of the sheep and the guide to the shepherds. The best way for the bishop to defend the sheep is to be a  defender of the faith. Through the centuries, the bishops have done a tremendous job of defending the faith - sometimes defending the faith by correcting one another. As the pastor to the pastors, a bishop cares for and nurtures the individual clergy. That means giving both instruction and moral support, and, when necessary, implementing discipline.

From the 3rd century on, bishops, as the Chief Shepherds, have presided over the sacraments of Confirmation and Ordination as the holders and transmitters of apostolic succession - without which no priest or deacon may function. Apostolic succession is an important aspect of Episcopal Polity, meaning that the bishops are the successors to the apostles, and thus serve as a living connection not only to the early church, but to the very Head of the Church herself - Jesus the Christ. Thus, the bishop forms a bridge to the past, but also, through the diocesan structure, serves as a bridge to one another.


Because of our Episcopal Polity, we are not congregational - each congregation on its own with clergy and laity accountable to no one. We, on the other hand, live by Holy Orders, meaning that we practice mutual accountability: The Archbishop to the College of Bishops; the Bishops to the Archbishop; the Clergy to the Bishop; and the Laity to the Clergy and the Vestry or Bishop's Committee. Living in mutual submission is practical, biblical, and a holy way to live.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Why I Am An Anglican VI

We Honor Intellectual Inquiry and Pursuit

Bishop Eric Menees

In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, the Church Ad Project ran an ad using a picture of a coat rack in the narthex of a church, with a caption that said, "Check your hat not your brain at the door." I agree with that sentiment, and the Anglican church is at her best when we acknowledge the natural intelligence that God has given us, and then work on developing that intelligence with rigorous study of the Word of God and the Doctrines of the Church.

Anglicanism is a rational form of Christianity, and thus a rational form of pastoral care, because we take questions and intellectual curiosity seriously. Within the Anglican fellowship, if you have problems or difficulties, you are not immediately squelched or kicked out. Your thoughts will be taken seriously within the church. You may ask any question; raise any problem. If, on the basis of your study of scripture, you want a new way of expressing a biblical truth, the Anglican way is to discuss it and debate it, to sort out whether you are on track or off track. In the ACNA, we are keen on learning how to express age old Biblical Truths in a manner that can be understood by a modern pagan culture.

Secondly, it has always been the way of Anglican leadership to keep in touch with the world of thought and intellectual pursuits.  It is important to note that the English reformers were highly educated Oxford and Cambridge men.  A founding principle of the Anglican church is to examine the surrounding culture through the lens of Scripture, Reason, and Tradition, which is often referred to as the "three legged stool." That examination is not simply done in a laboratory or library, but in order to engage and confront the culture - thus making the church a cultural influence intellectually.


By engaging the culture, we take a risk of being overly influenced by the culture, and I would argue that too many of the mainline denominations have simply given in to the surrounding culture - embracing and blessing that culture. This is a danger and requires us to be extra vigilant and intentional, but it doesn't mean that we should simply withdraw from the challenge of transforming the culture by the power of God.  On the other hand, some denominations have sought to withdraw from the world, seeking to be the Lord's people in an alien land. However, Anglicanism seeks to engage the world, with the aim of converting it and transforming it. If we read Acts chapter 17, this is the model of St. Paul - to engage and transform. I believe that the Anglican way is more apostolic, more scriptural, and more intellectually honest.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Why I'm an Anglican V

  We are Evangelical and Evangelistic

Bishop Eric Menees

I move along to the fourth reason why I am an Anglican - because we are EVANGELICAL and EVANGELISTIC! Now, in the previous weeks I've explained that I am an Anglican because we are Biblical, Liturgical, and Sacramental. Being Evangelical and Evangelistic go hand-in-hand with the previous reasons, because it's all based on the person and mission of Jesus Christ - his life, death, and resurrection!

What does it mean to be Evangelical? The term "evangelical" comes from the Greek word (εαγγέλιον) euangelion, meaning "the good news" or the "gospel." Thus, the evangelical faith focuses on the "good news" of salvation brought to sinners by Jesus Christ.

I love the fact that our worship from the Book of Common Prayer is Evangelical from start to finish - we boldly proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ without holding any punches. The proclamation of the Good News was embodied by the early missionaries of the Anglican Church, who took the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever the English flag went, and sometimes where the English flag did not go. This includes China, Africa, the Eastern Coast of Central America, and especially East of Africa - where the Anglican Church is thriving. This evangelical zeal distinguishes the Anglican Church in North America (and the vast majority of Anglicans around the world) from many "mainline" denominations, which no longer teach that Jesus is "The Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through Jesus." (Paraphrase of John 14:6) We in the Anglican Church in North America, and here in the Diocese of San Joaquin, are proud signers of The Jerusalem Declaration, which clearly states that salvation is found in and through Jesus Christ, and him only. Here is a link to the Jerusalem Declaration. http://fca.net/resources/the_jerusalem_declaration/
or you can find it on our website www.dioceseofsanjoaquin.net and click the News and Events tab.

The Good News of Jesus Christ is that Jesus died on the cross to redeem man, and thus to reconcile God and Man. All who put their trust in him, all who claim Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, have eternal life. (Romans 10:9)  Thus, when we take our last breath on earth, the very next second the believer takes his first sweet breath with Jesus in Heaven.

Evangelical describes our beliefs and acknowledges Jesus’ call to us in the Great Commission to go to all the world "baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19) This is seen in all aspects of Anglicanism, and moves us from simply being evangelical to being evangelistic - putting evangelical beliefs into practice.
 
Archbishop Cranmer captured our evangelical and evangelistic spirit when we wrote the collects (prayers setting the tone of that Sunday's worship) in the first Book of Common Prayer. These collects have been passed down through the generations, and are used every Sunday in our worship.  The Collect for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany reads: "Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that thy people, illumined by the Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen"
 

What would the church be like if we lived into the beautiful image that collect sets forth?  Clearly we are not there yet, but I live for the day when the Diocese of San Joaquin and all Anglican Christians see that beautiful prayer realized.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Fall, The Tower Of Babel, Hubris And The Confusion Of The End Times


Fr. Dale Matson

I have kept in touch with one of my best friends from High School. We went to school in Suburban Detroit. I was his best man at his wedding. In a recent phone conversation, I was pained deeply by his understanding of current events. I believe our world views are now so distinct from one another that there is now a deep and unbridgeable gulf between our understandings of reality. I believe that this is a judgment from God on our country and our world.

“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) There is certain clarity in the first commandment. Whether we make things, others or ourselves god, we do it at our own peril. God’s Word plainly teaches that He is the be all and end all of human existence.

 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5) This temptation appealed to an innate weakness in the innocent but ambitious human soul. It was the same weakness that led to Satan being thrown out of heaven. Satan wanted to be equal with God. Human pride and hubris was an opening and an opportunity for Satan to bring down the human race and separate them from fellowship with God. Their reasoning no longer informed by God was fatally flawed, misguided and self-serving. Separated from God, they gave their authority over to Satan.

By the time of Noah, the human race had become completely degenerate. “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.  The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.  So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created.’” (Genesis 6:5-7a)

Following the great flood that destroyed all humans other than Noah and his family, there was a resurgence of the human race. There was also a resurgence of the hubris in the spirit of men.  
 “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.’” (Genesis 11:4a) In other words we hear once again that man wanted to be equal with God. The city and tower of Babel means “gate of God in Greek but in Hebrew, it means confuse or confound. At that time the human race had a single language. God caused humans to speak in a multitude of languages. Their arrogant unity was destroyed and they dispersed over the earth.

Today there is great evil in the world. False prophets are saying that evil is blessed and what is good, is evil. There is a great confusion. The human heart is once again puffed up by arrogance and hubris. While knowledge has increased, communication has decreased and confusion has increased. Today, people believe that they have a basic right to do whatever seems right in their own mind but give no quarter to God. “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.” Romans 1:28). 

It won’t be long before the human race will find itself in the midst of the end times; those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. Repent and return to Christ our only hope.


” But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Why I’m an Anglican IV


Bishop Eric Menees

Because It’s Sacramental!

You will remember from your catechism class, that the traditional definition of a sacrament is: “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” I pray that, more than just remembering from catechism class, you are receiving God’s Grace regularly in and through the sacraments. God’s Grace is what sustains us, fills us, comforts us, equips us, and impels us forward.

Essentially, the sacraments of the Church are one of God’s ways of speaking into our lives pastorally. The two primary sacraments commanded by Jesus - Baptism & Holy Eucharist - speak powerfully to Christ’s sacrificial death upon the cross in the ultimate act of redemption. In the sacrament of Baptism, we have that outward and visible sign of water and oil in receiving God’s Grace and redemption. I came to Christ as a young man, and was baptized at age 14 (though two years later I learned that the nun at St. Francis hospital in Lynnwood, CA baptized me and every child born there from 1950 - 1970... but that’s another story).

I was able, then, to make a public renunciation of Satan, and a public acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. That grace was signified with the symbolic washing away of my sins and anointing with oil, sealing me “as Christ’s own forever.” My baptism was a turning point in both my life, and in the life of my family. Soon after that service, on January 2nd 1976, my parents began attending church with me, and my brother began attending church with his girl friend and soon-to-be wife. God’s Grace spoke powerfully into our lives.

Holy Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper, is a sacrament that speaks pastorally into our lives on a weekly or even daily basis, and, frankly, I can’t imagine life without the great joy of receiving the sacrament or the privilege of celebrating Holy Eucharist. What a tremendous honor it is, for any priest, to look into the eyes of a forgiven sinner and say, “The body of Christ. The Bread of heaven.” At that moment, we have a foretaste of the heavenly banquet and the assurance of Christ’s amazing love for us who do not deserve it, but can only receive it!

Of course, in addition to the two primary sacraments, we have Christ speaking into our lives in the other five sacraments of the Church.

Confirmation - is that moment where men and women, at an age of understanding, both renounce Satan, and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior (or confirm that acceptance). This is especially powerful for those baptized as children, who had no say in the matter. At Confirmation, men and women are set aside and empowered for ministry and leadership in the church. I have always said, and firmly believe, that the Lay Order is the most important of the church.

Marriage - is that sacrament which affirms the biblical plan of setting aside one man and one woman in the life-long partnership of husband and wife.  The comfort and care given to the couple is not meant only for them, but for their families, if God grants them the blessing of children. Marriage also gives us an expression of Jesus’ relationship with us, His Church. In the marriage service, as the rings are exchanged, the couple say to one another, “I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am and all that I have I honor you.” This is the ideal that the sacrament of marriage sets for the couple and with Christ Jesus.

Confession/Reconciliation - is that sacrament where Jesus speaks to us audibly through the priest as he pronounces absolution. Knowing that, when we come to the Lord with an humble and contrite heart, we are, indeed, forgiven of our sins. I make my confession regularly, and I am, as a forgiven sinner, always moved to hear those words, “I absolve you of your sins: In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Lord has put away all of your sins. Go in peace and pray for me a sinner”

Ordination - This is a sacrament reserved for those who are set aside for the ministries of Deacon, Priest, or Bishop. God speaks so powerfully and pastorally into the lives of individuals and the church, through the sacrament of ordination, by providing structure for the church and her ministry, and by setting aside individuals to be used for the Glory of God and the benefit of man.

Holy Unction - This sacrament of prayer, laying on of hands, and anointing with Holy Oil, is the epitome of Jesus speaking pastorally into our lives. When we are ill and sometimes at the point of death, to receive the loving prayers, the words of scripture, and the laying on of hands by a priest or bishop, speaks so powerfully of Christ love for the sick and dying - a condition, because of the Fall, that all of us have and will find ourselves in.


One of reasons that I am an Anglican is because of our emphasis on God’s Word and God’s sacraments, which speak so powerfully and pastorally into all aspects and times of our lives!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Water In The Wilderness


Fr. Dale Matson

"But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:14, KJV)

If you are traveling in the wilderness, perhaps the most important commodity is water. Without water you will only last about 3 days. Of course there are negatives to water. Water is relatively heavy. One liter of water is 2.2 pounds. That is more weight than my sleeping bag, more than my sleeping pad and nearly as much as my tent or pack. Sometimes water is too abundant and presents an obstacle, in the case of a swollen creek or river. In that case you will have to find a means to cross such as a log.


You may have to ford the creek risking being swept downstream in the current.

video


Sometimes God intervenes and miraculously provides a path through the water as a temporary avenue for His people. For the enemy who pursues, there is certain death when the water returns. Crossing the Red Sea and the River Jordan was both a milestone and a type of baptism for God’s people.

Fortunately most established and maintained trails in the wilderness follow a stream and/or cross streams and creeks along the way. This is a blessing for the wilderness pilgrim who only has to carry enough water until the next source, be it a stream or a lake. There is a caveat in this since many streams are seasonal. Just ask those who visit Yosemite in the Fall only to discover that Yosemite Creek and Bridalveil Creek no longer provide waterfalls and we must wait until the winter snows again replenish the source lakes in the high Sierras.

As a wilderness pilgrim, I am careful to note on the topographical map where the creeks cross the trail. I refill my containers at each opportunity. Being thirsty means that one cannot take in nutrition either since water is needed for digestion. The mountain air is dry and dehydration is an ever present possibility.


Water is an amazing substance. In the form of ice, it carved deep canyons. The Kings Canyon is over 8,000’ deep. Creeks continue to erode mountains today. Water seeps into cracks and the expansion as ice further fractures mighty boulders. As I hike, I can hear the sound of creeks and waterfalls as I approach. The sounds are telltale and welcome signs that my parched throat will again be refreshed. Yes, there are flies and mosquitoes that share the water but soon I have climbed away from the dip in the trail created by the stream, being careful to hop carefully from rock to rock.

Water is the lifeblood of the wilderness. The fauna and flora could not exist without it. Sometimes you can see the evidence of water before you can hear or smell it. There is vegetation on either side of a creek as it flows through granite, slag, scree and boulders. How important is water? When water leaves the wilderness, it flows down toward towns and cities. There would be no life on earth without water. God created water before He created light.

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily; I say unto thee, except a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5, KJV)




Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lose Your Job? God Has Other Plans II


Fr. Dale Matson

In 2011 I wrote about the problem of unemployment for older Christians in the workforce using myself as an example. http://sanjoaquinsoundings.blogspot.com/2011/02/lose-your-job-god-has-other-plans.html.

Recently the issue of unemployment for older adults was addressed in a New York Times article by Alina Tugend (July 26, 2013). http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/27/your-money/unemployed-and-older-and-facing-a-jobless-future.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

Although Alina herself, is in the vulnerable age demographics of many unemployed, her pedigree of degrees from Yale and U.C. Berkley and current job with the N.Y. Times will probably insulate her from the fate of so many others her age who cannot find employment.

If I were looking for helpful suggestions on finding employment from her article, I would not be encouraged or comforted. “For those over 50 and unemployed, the statistics are grim.” She quoted Nadya Fouad of U.W. Milwaukee. “Helping people figure out how to cope with a future that may not include work, while at the same time encouraging them in their job searches, is a difficult balance.” Where is the hope in a statement like that? Don’t you think that would be double minded advice at some level?

Calling yourself “semiretired” may be a way of coping according to the article but ultimately it is nothing more than denial. "And even more, 'they should know the problem is not with them but with a system that has treated them like a commodity that can be discarded,' said David L. Blustein." Calling yourself a victim will not help either.

One gets the sense that Alina is treating unemployment of older folks as someone on the outside looking in. Unemployment is not some unmentionable disease contracted by the lower classes and those with limited skills. Her understanding is more like my young family doctor who tells me that my arthritic pain is a normal part of aging. So just accept it?

Those in the article, who counsel job seekers, tend to see a job as a means of identity formation and sustenance. “Is it the high social status? The identity? The relationship with co-workers? It is important to examine these areas, perhaps with the help of a professional counselor, Professor Fouad said, to discover how to find such meaning or relationships in other areas of life.”

How about this advice from the Triathlete Scott Tinley instead? “Your job determines how you live. What you do away from your job determines who you are.”

When I interviewed returning adults for the Masters/Credential School Psychology and School Counseling programs at Fresno Pacific University, I hoped for a sense of service to others and particularly, Christ in others. These were older adults who had not found their niche, were burned out in other professions, were not challenged any longer or wanted a job with meaning. We actually had two bartenders retrain as School Psychologists. Their crisis was a life crossroad.

I was disappointed when the first questions to me were, “How much money can I make?” or How soon can I get out of the program?” I encouraged those folks to find other paths for retraining.

As someone who has been there, treating the job search as a spiritual task is my best advice. As Christians we are called in our final Eucharistic prayer “And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.” (BCP 366) What is God calling you to do? Don’t look at it with limitations “...For man this is impossible but with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

Above all, don’t be discouraged. In my preparation for my transition from an unemployed skilled worker to a reemployed professional, my continuing consolation from God was, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13). Biblical abundance does not mean being rich. It means having enough. I retrained for the Priesthood beginning at age 60. I had lots of jobs and three great careers. I had been led to each one by God.

As a suggested devotional during your search, read Voices of the Saints by Bert Ghezzi. I will not say, “Good luck.” I will say, “God speed!”


Why I'm An Anglican III

Bishop Eric Menees
- Because We Are Liturgical
I'd like to continue my explanation with why it is that I am an Anglican. One of the great strengths of the Anglican Reformers was their wisdom in seeking to "reform" Catholicism, not abandon her. One area where the more Protestant churches went afoul, was with their abandonment of liturgy and all things liturgical because they appeared "Romish."

The liturgies of the church are in fact deeply scriptural both in quoting scripture but also expressing it in a most pastoral manner.

So what is liturgy? Well, it is most often described as the "work of the people." I would expand that definition to say that it is the "Work of the people in ministering to the people of God and worshiping the Lord God almighty." Liturgy is what Christians do when they gather together for worship. I always find it odd when I meet Protestants who argue that they are not liturgical. However, if you go to a service you will find a set way of organizing worship - generally speaking they gather together, sing some songs, take an offering, offer prayers, hear some scripture, listen to a sermon, sing some more and have announcements. No matter how you slice it that is liturgy.

What I love about Anglicanism is that we embrace that liturgy and seek to make it as beautiful and transformational as possible. To do that we rely upon music that is ancient and modern. These are songs of praise that speak to a deep and profound theological reality of God's redeeming love in Jesus Christ. When I sing those hymns I am proclaiming the Truth of Jesus Christ and worshiping God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Whether that hymn is Ode to Joy or In Christ Alone. "Joyful, Joyful, we adore thee God of Glory, Lord of Love; hearts unfold like flowers before thee praising thee their God above." Is it possible to read those words and not hearing Beethoven's music in their minds ear? When those verses and that music was first written in the 18th Century it was the pop music of the time but speaks to a timeless truth and reality. So too with hymns 21st century hymns like In Christ Alone - "In Christ alone, my hope is found, he is my life, my strength, my song."

In the Liturgy we very intentionally take up an offering of our treasure to be used for the Glory of God, the spread of the gospel and the ministry of the church. This offering is biblical and right allowing the entire church to return to the Lord a portion, (which should be a minimum of 10%), to him in gratitude for the other 90% that we use to support our families, ourselves and our communities. Note that when we gather up the offerings we bring them to he altar and hand them to the priest or deacon who raises them up before the Lord and the congregation with one voice either sings or says words from scripture known, as the Doxology - "Praise God from whom all blessings flow. (James 1:17) Praise Him all creatures here below.(Psalm 145:21) Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts. (Rev. 5:11-14) Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen" (2 Peter 1:11)

In the Liturgy we read the Word of God, and as I mentioned last week, if we gather for worship every Sunday over three years we will have read over 80% of the bible. However, in Anglican liturgy we not only hear the Word of God we interact with it - praying together the psalms and responding both physically (standing for the gospel and sometimes the psalms) and verbally responding to the Lector by proclaiming our affirmation to the proclamation of the Word saying "Thanks be to God," a phrase given in scripture by St. Paul, among others, in his letters to the Corinthians.

In the Liturgy the Word of God is faithfully preached. This should be a challenging exposition of the scriptures read that day that include a practical application to the lives of the people gathered. Through the movement of the Holy Spirit who opens our hearts and minds this will sometimes be a very challenging and uncomfortable message, and at times a very comforting message of assurance. However, it should always be bible-based and include practical implications for life. I thank God for the preaching of my clergy in the diocese and regularly listen to them online.
In the Liturgy we offer, individually and collectively, prayers to God. Prayers of praise and thanksgiving, prayers of petition asking God for his assistance for ourselves and others, prayers for those in authority and prayers for the church. I love the fact that our liturgy forces us to look beyond ourselves and our perceived needs, wants and desires.

In the Liturgy, we proclaim our faith in the words of the Nicene or Apostles Creed. This profession of faith is so important as an affirmation of our faith and defining, for ourselves and others, who we are as Christians. Additionally, the public affirmation of our faith connects us with Christians from the first century to the present day and connects us with Christians around the world and across most denominational lines.

In the Liturgy we share in the sacraments of the church that speak into our mind, heart and soul.
Lastly, in Liturgy we participate in a beautiful work that through music, symbols, clothing and rituals, connect us to one another across time and across the divide of human and divine. I love the liturgy of the church because in that eighty minute time frame, give or take, I can intentionally set myself in the presence of God and have a glimpse into His Kingdom!


God bless you all!