Thursday, September 30, 2010


Fr. Dale Matson
“[we are] always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Cor. 4:10-11, NASB).
I have enjoyed a life a relatively good health and never taken this for granted. Since my ordination as a priest last January, my health has taken quite a downturn. I realize that I am not a spring chicken, as I write this on my sixty sixth birthday (The Feast Day of Michael and All Angels). There is even a bit of “survivor guilt” when I read the obituaries and see the passing of so many who are younger than me.
There has been a series of uncommon and unanticipated health issues since January. There have also been aches that seem incessant and systemic. This is the stuff that could fill up my prayers of petition. I have sought the Lord on this with no answer but continually feel that I am being intentionally pressed down and poured out. I am reminded of Mother Teresa’s private writings where suffering seems to be the central theme in her life. She said at one point that she wanted to drink from the cup of Christ’s suffering to the last drop.
This is not something that I have sought for myself but know that those who preach the Gospel will suffer. We would however, suffer even worse torment if we did not preach what we have been called by God to preach. “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.” (2 Timothy 1:8).
There are other signs such as the spring on our garage door breaking as we were getting ready to back out to preach one Sunday or my wife falling over the dog’s leash and cutting her chin severely enough before church for four stitches following my preaching on another Sunday. There is definitely an element of spiritual warfare but the physical suffering is something that I have not come to a full understanding about. Mother Teresa was able to fully grasp the extent of her suffering through a verse from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions.” (1:24).
It is my hope that if this is a suffering that Christ has called me to, that He will help me to understand better why this must be. If it is not abated I hope there will be more of Him and less of me. I can understand why St. Paul could say, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” (Philippians 1:21-24). I also know the difference between training soreness and injury pain and just plain aching all the time. I’m not calling myself a Padre Pio or a Mother Teresa but do understand better now how they participated in the suffering of Christ. I believe that suffering is not always the wages of sin. Sometimes it is through proclaiming the Gospel that we have “earned” a holy suffering.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Technology and Clergy

Technology and Clergy
Fr. Dale Matson

With my announcement that I had ordered a new computer, my clergy colleagues became concerned that it would cause such a drain on the power grid that they won’t be able to use their computers. They were probably imagining Clark Griswold plugging in his Christmas lights when I fire up my new computer for the first time. It will be state of the art at least for a week anyway.
When I think of the monasteries of the church, I think of solitary monks bent over manuscripts painstakingly illuminating copies of older works. When I think of clergy today, I often visualize them bent over a computer screen working on a homily, trying to fit a budget item into a cell on an Excel spreadsheet or trying to add one last new contact or calendar entry into a smart phone before the battery dies.
While clergy in general are more likely to be introverts than the general population, in a 2004 study (,
Michael Whinney noted that Sixty two percent of Anglican clergy are introverts. Perhaps this is why computers, the technology and the virtual communication are so attractive for us. When the Methodists left they took their method and their extroversion with them.
This is not intended as an indictment of those of us who wrestle with the technology. Like Jacob we have gained a blessing but we must limp knowing that software is time limited grace. For example, my dissertation was done on Word Perfect 4.2 and saved on a 360 kilobyte floppy disc. This would not accommodate a single photograph from a standard digital camera today. I can still vividly remember marching down with other faculty to the bowels of a computer lab to be instructed in how to compose and send e-mail.
Although technology can be counterproductive, I believe it can also be a very useful tool. Roman roads provided access for soldiers who conquered people in distant lands. These same roads also enhanced communication, commerce and even the spread of the Gospel message. Technology allows me to bid consultants such as Augustine and Clement to help me write a homily. It allows me to send information to parishioners, clergy and those seeking Holy Orders instantly. Documents can be sent, filled out and signed, scanned and returned in minutes. I recently watched the Archbishop of Canterbury kneel alongside the Pope before the altar as it occurred. I can access "YouTube" and be inspired once again by a young Billy Graham.
I can watch and be convicted by Paul Washer who is one of the greatest preachers of the 21st century.
And finally, I can watch my grandson and children in Kentucky on Skype until we can visit them in person. Yes, technology can enhance my study, ability to communicate and my relationships with others. There are certainly pitfalls and perils to technology but keeping up also helps this old priest remain adaptable and in the mainstream. May Christ also be found by those who seek him and may technology assist in that search. Amen

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How and why I became an Anglican Christian

How and why I became an Anglican Christian
Fr. Dale Matson
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10, NASB)
I was raised as a Southern Baptist and gave my life to Christ at age eight in my Sunday school class. God for me was a wrathful vindictive God who was to be appeased more than pleased. The sermons were full of law, fire and brimstone. On one side of Church was a plaque “Attendance Last Week”. A plaque on the opposite side of church was for “Souls Saved Last Week”. The altar call at the end of the service seemed like an endless wait for someone, anyone to come forward. I remember feeling guilty about holding hands with my first girl friend as we sat and sang together. My last memory of the church is the Haley’s Bible Handbook which I still have, given to me by the pastor in 1962 for high school graduation. I never went back to this church. Folks came to my parent’s home to persuade me to return and I told them that I needed more time to think about things. They of course, told me where I was headed in no uncertain terms.
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." (Romans 1:17, NASB)
It was half a lifetime of struggle later that I began attending a study called “Life with God”. It was actually an adult catechism course offered by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. In the small catechism, Martin Luther paired “fear” with “love” in each explanation of the Ten Commandments. I believe it was during this experience that I finally connected Jesus Christ to God. In fact, He was and is God. He was a God that I could love. He was a God that loved me. I was baptized as an adult in the LCMS and later was involved in the Charismatic Movement as evidenced by speaking in tongues. The LCMS church was wary of the Charismatic’s. Although they were not dispensationalists, there was a doubt expressed by the leadership that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit were still available. The most remarkable experiences for me were a sense of the love the parishioners had for Jesus and for one another and the addition of the sacrament of the altar, Holy Eucharist. It was now a service of both Word and Sacrament. In addition to the concerns about the Charismatic experience, the LCMS did not offer a monastic approach to life where an individual could have varied opportunities for private worship also. It seemed that many of the reformed theologians had neglected the early church fathers with the emphasis on “Sola Scriptura”.
“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2, NASB)
Fifteen years ago my wife and I were seeking a church where women were on a more equal footing with men yet I wanted to retain the liturgical worship setting. As we went through confirmation classes I found the “Book of Common Prayer” to be an answer to prayer. It was a worship book for both public and private settings. In addition to the Psalter, it contained the Baptismal and Eucharistic Services, Pastoral Offices, Ordination services, the Catechism, a calendar celebrating the feast days of Saints of the Church and the Historical Documents of the Church. I was now united to the Saints of the church since the Apostles. What a story! This was a continuation of the church of the New Testament. The Anglican Church was for me a kind of reformed Catholicism. Some call it “Via Media”, between Roman Catholicism and Protestant. The Celtic Church was already in place. The church in England preceded Augustine of Canterbury the first Archbishop of Canterbury sent to England by Pope Gregory the Great in 596.
With primacy of Scripture and the addition of Tradition and Reason (informed by God) the Anglican Church offers an opportunity to deepen and widen ones quest to see the face of God. We include our brothers and sisters who have gone before us. Their ancient councils with the guidance of the Holy Spirit came to agreement on critical issues facing the early church. Those decisions inform and guide our decisions to this day. Many have laid down their lives for the faith including the author of the Book of Common Prayer, Thomas Cranmer. Anglican missionaries shipped their goods overseas in a coffin because they did not expect to return alive. Anglicans are not as well known as Roman Catholics or folks from the Greek Orthodox faiths but they are the third largest Christian denomination. How much has the Anglican Church affected my life? I became a Deacon and then a Priest in this church. It is the final place God will call me to on this earth. It is a faith worth living and dying for.
“Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as I trust shall never be put out” (Thomas Cranmer’s final words while being burned at the stake.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sin, Behavior and The Fruit of the Spirit

Sin, Behavior and The Fruit of the Spirit
Fr. Dale Matson
“For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.” (Romans 7:19-23, NASV).
This is a difficult passage. Who among us can’t identify with his struggles? He talks about his mind and will directed toward God but actions being contrary and directed by the evil resident in his members. It would seem that he attributed his sinful actions to his body which was captive to sin. Perhaps a more contemporary way of saying this is that he was a captive of his own repeated behaviors. This is especially true of those suffering from addictions or obsessive compulsive behavior. Behaviorists rightfully claim that the more we do something, the more likely we are to do it again. Behavior therapy is less and less about extinguishing or reducing inappropriate behavior and more about providing replacement behaviors.
So, how does this apply to Christians wanting to live a victorious, holy and transcendent life? I believe there are two approaches to dealing with sinful behavior. The first approach is to find a replacement behavior. If we take the seven deadly sins for example, there are also seven corresponding virtues. If we are at heart a greedy person then acts of generosity help balance out the greedy behaviors. Often the counsel of Jesus was behavioral in its intent. “If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.” (Luke 6:29, ESV). We don't just do things for people we love; we love people we do things for. That is why Jesus asks us to pray for our enemies. It may heap coals on their head but it also changes our heart toward them. The second approach is less behavioral and more a matter of faith. In Galatians, St. Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (5:22-23) This means that God is growing good fruit in His children by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
I believe as we journey through this life as Christians, God helps us to understand that it is our proper response as Christians to love and serve Him. Once again, the focus is not primarily about what we do for God but our acknowledgment of what He is doing in and through us. More and more it is Christ in me that acts from godly intentions. We simply cannot of ourselves live a Holy life that is not empowered by God the Holy Spirit. “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

CAPA Conference Statement

The following is an excerpt from The Conference Statement of the 2nd All Africa Bishops' Conference, which was held in Entebbe, Uganda, August 23-29, 2010. Two statements were released at the conclusion of the conference, both of which may be downloaded at the link provided below. A portion of the CAPA Primates Statement is presented in the preceding post, which follows this one. It is humbling to see not only their commitment to the Church in Africa, but their commitment to Global Anglicanism, as well.

2. The Anglican Churches in Africa will maintain its stand on the protection of Anglican orthodoxy and authority of Scripture as a rule of developing a Christ-centred life to uplift human lives and dignity.

3. The Anglican Churches in Africa recognises its historic contributions to the growth of Christianity right from its inception and propagation of the gospel throughout the continent and, in particular, the role of the African Church fathers and martyrs. We also recall its immense contributions during the missionary era to the provision of social facilities such as education, healthcare and the production of the African elite. Based on this, the Church mobilises its resources and takes its responsibility in shaping the Christian minds of the church worldwide in the third millennium.

4. We affirm the Biblical standard of the family as having marriage between a man and a woman as its foundation. One of the purposes of marriage is procreation of children some of whom grow to become the leaders of tomorrow.

5. Whereas we accept the rationale for an Anglican Covenant, we realise the need for further improvement of the Covenant in order to be an effective tool for unity and mutual accountability.

6. There is a more urgent need today for bishops to listen to their flock if they are to make this the African century of the Christian Church in terms of energy, growth and vision. To this end, lay participation in the ministry of the church is to be vigorously enhanced.

7. While we will always be prepared to listen to voices from other parts of the global Communion, it is pertinent that the rest of the world listens to the unique voice of the Churches in Africa. In this context, the Anglican Churches in Africa commit itself to a renewed engagement in global mission, recognising that in the 21st Century mission goes from "everywhere to anywhere."

8. The African continent continues to grapple with the problem of religious intolerance which, in many cases, negatively affects the rights, the ministry and the welfare of the church. While the conference calls upon Christians in Africa and elsewhere to be tolerant of other faiths, we must stand for the defence of the human and constitutional rights of Christians and churches in various countries. We will not compromise the commitment of the church to global mission.

The entire statement can be downloaded at

All African Bishops' Conference

The following is an excerpt from the All African Bishops' Conference CAPA Primates Communiqué released on August 31, 2010:

6. Being aware of the reluctance of some of those Instruments of Communion to follow through the recommendations of the Windsor Report and taken by the Primates Meetings in Dromantine and Dar es Salaam we see the way ahead as follows:

A. In order to keep the ethos and tradition of the Anglican Communion in a credible way, it is obligatory of all Provinces to observe the agreed decisions and recommendations of the Windsor Report and the various communiqués of the past three Primates Meetings, especially Dar es Salaam in 2007. We as Primates of CAPA and the Global South are committed to honour such recommendations.

B. We are committed to meet more regularly as Global South Primates and take our responsibilities in regard to issues of Faith and Order.

C. We will give special attention to sound theological education as we want to ensure that the future generations stand firm on the Word of God and faithfully follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

D. We are committed to network with orthodox Anglicans around the world, including Communion Partners in USA and the Anglican Church in North America, in holistic mission and evangelism. Our aim is to advance the Kingdom of God, especially in the unreached areas.

The entire statement can be downloaded at