Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rowan Williams and the Primates Meeting: The Falling Action

Fr. Dale Matson
This Primates meeting was a tragic example of the small portion of the World Wide Anglican Communion willing to publicly call Rowan Williams their Archbishop. His invitations, once the symbol of inclusion, no longer have the power to beckon Primates or legitimize membership in Anglicanism. Canterbury Anglicanism has now become a questionable pedigree. More and more it appears to be political and a vestige of a bygone colonial era. The selection process itself has played a role in this. Increasingly Canterbury is being swallowed up by and is simply reacting to the cultural changes of postmodern Europe. Perhaps some of this has always been the case. When the Anglican Communion is not a Communion in the Spirit the carnal structure is made manifest.

Instead of being the Archbishop of the WWAC Rowan Williams has marginalized himself to the extent that he has revealed himself to be foremost, a liberal agendist willing to allow the tail to wag the dog. His concerns and comments are myopic, political, worldly and tailored to impress and placate the liberal media. His proclamations were like Rorschach ink blots that provided pundits opportunities to waste more ink and bytes. His communications to his people have been lengthy, confusing and offered false hope to those of us who looked to him to provide a line that could not be crossed. The Anglican Covenant became the Maginot line. Many good moderates were coopted and misplaced their hopes there.

He has made himself into a smaller man than he was when he initially became the Archbishop of Canterbury. In attempting to represent the Communion, he has failed to defend the faith once delivered. He has ignored the context of the orthodox voices of church tradition and leaders of the other great Christian denominations. He has squandered the good will and devotion of the Global South and the trust of the conservatives in the Communion. He was not the Archbishop for our time because he represented a vocal minority and covertly manipulated and thwarted the other instruments of unity to advance the revisionist agenda. Most of all he has lacked the judgment to step down from an office he was never equipped to hold. I say this in past tense because while he is still physically the ABC, he is no longer the leader of the Communion. These words are not spoken in anger because his term as ABC has brought greater clarity in a Communion with irreconcilable differences. There can only be one Gospel in the church of Christ.

Lord, I ask that you bring forth a man for our beloved Communion that will speak Your words to us. May he have the courage of David and the Wisdom of Solomon. May he be filled with your Holy Spirit and willing to speak the truth to the spirit of this age. May he offer hope to those he leads and the name of Christ, the only name, to those who are perishing. May he wield the sword of the Spirit in one hand and a shepherd’s staff in the other in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Way Forward For Canterbury Anglicanism

Fr. Dale Matson
There is an old saying that poses the question, “Do great men make history or does history make great men”? It is time for a great man to say to God, “Here I am Lord, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8b). Great men are incarnational. They carry within themselves miraculous charisms that when applied to intractable situations provide unexpected remedies.

Canterbury Anglicanism and the Church of England are in crisis and need such a man. The Primates don’t wish for the historical See of Canterbury to fail even though it is inevitable that there will be schism within Anglicanism. The question will be then, “Will the See of Canterbury remain the focal point of 21st Century Anglicanism”? It can remain the center of Anglicanism but Canterbury must represent more than the historical roots of Anglicanism viewed through the blurred lens of contemporary culture. It must represent the heart of the faith also. This is what is missing. Canterbury needs a heart transplant. In order to do this it will depend on the willingness of a great man of God to say, “Enough”. He must be willing to be hated. He must be willing to die.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Church of England Rowan Williams has demonstrated that he does not reflect the mind of the communion and is no longer trusted by the Primates that represent the vast majority of Anglicans to defend their orthodoxy. The attendance at the Primates meeting only represents about one third the members of the Anglican Communion. This is essentially a vote of “No confidence” for Rowan Williams. Other leaders such as Pope Benedict XVI have seen the plight of disaffected Anglicans in England and offered refuge via the ordinariate. The danger to the established Church of England is not disestablishment which could untangle it from the politically correct secular government. The danger to the Church of England is that it could be banned because it would not be tolerated by an eventual majority Muslim population. Christianity in England must be robust enough to evangelize Muslims.

The next Archbishop of Canterbury must first heal the rift within his own Church of England. A politically correct appointment will only postpone the current decline but will eventually culminate in England no longer being a Christian nation and will not reconcile the absenting Primates. One need only read the press to see the anger toward the Church of England even by non-Muslims. Neither Christ nor pagans have patience for lukewarm Christianity.

For the sake of both a Christian England and Canterbury Anglicanism Rowan Williams should be asked to step down as the Archbishop of Canterbury. I believe the former Bishop of Rochester the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali is the man that God has called to lead the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. He has credibility with the orthodox Primates, knows Islam from the inside, is respected by Pope Benedict and could be the transitional figure for a non-colonial Anglicanism. He has dual citizenship in Britain and Pakistan. His academic credentials are impeccable yet he communicates with uncomplicated clarity unlike Rowan Williams.

Canterbury Anglicanism can be saved and is worth saving. If it is not saved, the Anglican Communion will endure even after schism but England will not survive as a Christian nation. If God has spoken to Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, I pray that he would respond to this call. I have said these things with a heavy heart.

“Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (BCP, p. 827).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cleansing of a Home

Fr. Dale Matson
“Almighty and everlasting God, grant to this home the grace of your presence, that you may be known to be the inhabitant of this dwelling and the defender of this household; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God forever and ever. Amen” (Celebration of a Home, Book of Occasional Services).

My grandfather built our home and when he died and my grandmother moved, my father bought the home from his family and our family moved into my grandparents’ home. My older brother and I slept in the same room and during the night I would sometimes awaken to see spirits hovering around. I would call out to my older brother who never saw them and was always irritated with me for awakening him. I don’t know if I had sensitivity about this because of God’s eventual call to Holy Orders but I have reflected on this and two other episodes in my life. In this case I believe that my grandparents who had embraced Mary Baker Eddy and the teachings of Christian Science had unwittingly encouraged these spirits to enter their home. After adolescence I never saw them in our home.

I was a visitor in a friend’s home that had initially been a mansion then a nunnery then it was moved to a large vacant country location. I awakened with a feeling that I was being watched and the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I have never had this reaction before or since. My friend stated, after the fact, that they did have doors open that had been closed and a dog that would begin barking furiously during the night for no apparent reason. In this case I do not mean to imply that Roman Catholic Nuns who formerly resided there were the reason for this experience. I don’t have any idea why this house would be affected.

I had a small home built in the early nineties and after moving in, had a similar sense that I was not the sole occupant in the house. It was as if I was a resident but not the owner. My spiritual advisor recommended that I light a candle and say a prayer in each room. She thought that it was possible that one of the construction people may have been involved in occult practices. After doing as she instructed, I became the sole occupant. I have lived in ten other locations over the course of my life without these experiences. In the house in which we currently reside our priest at the time we moved in offered the “Celebration for a Home”. I also performed this for my son and his family in their home. It is fairly standard practice in both the Christian and Hebrew faiths to do this for the new occupants of an existing or a new home.

It is easy to pass this off as nonsense not fit for the 21st Century. I do not believe that it is nonsense and recommend that everyone take advantage of the opportunity for the blessing of a home. This is a service offered by the church.

“Let the mighty power of the Holy God be present in this place to banish from it every unclean spirit, to cleanse it from every residue of evil, and to make it a secure habitation for those who dwell in it; in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Ibid). Amen

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Christian Church in Context

Fr. Dale Matson
“For in the multitude of your saints you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses that we might rejoice in their fellowship, and run with endurance the race that is set before us; and together with them, receive the crown of glory that never fades away. Therefore, we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, who forever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your name:” (Preface for All Saints, BCP, Holy Eucharist II.)

There is a view today among many contemporary church leaders that the church and its members are a product of the culture in which they are embedded. They are captives of context. Reality begins and ends with and on this earth. This view also shapes the churches response to this same culture. The response must be culturally relevant and welcoming. Come one come all. You may come as you are and stay that way. The message must be appealing and responsive to social needs. It must be sensitive, inclusive and affirming. It must adjust to social change and address environmental concerns. It is not a response to the command of God as much as human need. It is about the here and now of the material world. It is response driven by guilt and fear rather than love. It is serving others but not serving Christ in others. This church is devoid of sin, denies guilt, the need for atonement, salvation, faith, a God in Heaven, a divine and resurrected Savior and a Hell for those who chose to reject Him. There are no mysteries and miracles because there is no Spirit. All of the words are still used but mean what the relativists want them to mean. The meaning of words is based on convenience not truth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been replaced by many gospels for there are many ways. The gates of Hell will prevail against it for it is in fact not a Christian church. It is only a Potemkin village masquerading as a Christian church.

The Christian church and her members were intended to live in the world but were ultimately not citizens of it. If we mean by cultural relevance that the church takes on the values of society to obtain what is called today “street credibility” then it is nothing more than an adjunct social welfare agency. On the national level it is termed a “Religious Initiative” or “Faith Based Partnership”. This church is an auxiliary agency of the government. On the international level this involvement is for some, the “Millennium Development Goals” set by the United Nations. It is society setting the goals of the church and why not, humans cannot escape their culture because they are culture bound.

The Christian Church and its parishioners however exist in a much larger context. It is not just local, national and international. We are also a part of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is eternal not temporal. It is universal in time and space and it is about the saving of souls and the worship of God. The context is without boundaries. Our community of faith has provided context for us through Scripture and Tradition. We are called by Christ and led by the Holy Spirit. Although we live out our life on this earth in a particular place for a finite period, we see ourselves embedded in the Kingdom of God that existed before the world was created and was brought to us here on earth by Jesus Christ in whom we also live and move and have our being. (Acts: 17:28).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Abortion: The Modern Holocaust

Fr. Dale Matson
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you and before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5a, NASB)

I was at my weekly old guy’s breakfast meeting today. We usually go for a bike ride following breakfast. One of our group members escaped the Nazis in Germany and we frequently talk about the horrors of the holocaust. I mentioned a Washington Post news article from yesterday about the modern holocaust of the murder of live birth babies in an abortion clinic (not including the abortion of unborn babies) and it suddenly became silent. The next comment was, “Well, we should get going on our ride.” What is this all about? I cannot believe there could be such indifference to this. This is not an unwillingness to discuss the unpleasant in general just the unpleasantness of abortion. Maybe it is because the group is all men and they have been told that it is not their business. Mainly I believe that talking about it would make it real.

A portion of the article stated, “Dr. Kermit Gosnell, whose abortion clinic was described as a filthy, foul-smelling ‘house of horrors’ that was overlooked by regulators for years was charged Wednesday with murder, accused of delivering seven babies alive and then using scissors to kill them.”

My undergraduate university experiences (interrupted by two years in the Army) included the awakenings of the ecological movement, "God is dead" and Paul Erlich’s “The Population Bomb”. His dire predictions ultimately led to a decision by my wife and I to only have two children (called Zero Population Growth) and a mindset that abortion was a reasonable approach to include in population control. At that time I had fallen away from church and was no longer a Christian.

When I returned to the church and rededicated my life to Christ, it was as if a light switch had been turned on and changed my thinking about human life in general and abortion in particular (It would take a few more years to conclude that capital punishment was also wrong and not consistent with being prolife in general). After my rededication I didn’t need a graphic exposure to the procedures or educational material. Abortion was wrong for me unless the life of the mother was in danger. At the same time, as a crisis intervention worker I offered comfort to many women who suffered from depression on the anniversaries of their abortion.

The church needs to speak out boldly against the murder of newly born and unborn children. Any church that allows one of its leaders to call abortion a “blessing” simply because a woman has a legal right to make that choice is no longer a Christian church. A woman’s right to choose does not supersede the unborn child’s right to life. Scott Peterson was convicted of double homicide in the murder of his wife Laci who was pregnant. This is because she had a human being living inside of her.

The unconverted mind may resist the truth about the sacredness of life. The mission of the church is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that people can be saved. Saved people see things differently than before they were saved. A converted heart leads to a converted mind.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, NASB). Amen

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dangerous to Self/Dangerous to Others

Fr. Dale Matson
“Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let a beast's mind be given to him, and let seven periods of time pass over him.” (Dan. 4:16, NASB).

Jared Loughner murdered six people and injured fourteen others in Tucson Arizona this past week. This is another testament to our failed mental health system and is yet one more call for mental health reform. When the tipping point for treatment is dangerous to self or others, then it is no longer a mental health issue. It is then a legal issue and the police become involved. When Psychotropic drugs were introduced they were touted as the panacea that would save the day. The drugs are not a cure and the individuals who need them frequently stop taking them. There are untold thousands of folks living with their families and on the streets. Their families have pleaded for help and hear the same mantra. They must be dangerous to self or others.

I can remember the parents of a schizophrenic son pleading with us to help their son who had just stripped all the paneling and drywall off their interior cabin walls as some kind of defense against the aliens who were sending him messages. When we advised his parents to notify the police they said, he is not a criminal in need of incarceration, he needs hospitalization and treatment. This is an all too common and tragic scenario for the families of the mentally ill.

I was involved at the county level and was working in our inpatient unit the day it was permanently closed. It was a sad day for the families of the mentally ill. The rationale was that it would be cheaper to treat them in Community Based Residential Facilities (CBRF’s). So the mentally ill were passed from the state facilities (deinstitutionalization), to the county facilities to the CBRF’s. The CBRF’s were not equipped to deal with non-compliant residents and after wearing out their welcome in a number of CBRF’s, they were given a bus ticket. We used to call it “Greyhound Therapy”. Many of the folks that once had medical care; counseling and county services eventually had no access to any of these things. With the advent of the new system of crisis intervention and CBRF’s, a new group of folks was gradually introduced into the streets along with those already there.

I worked for years with individuals, both adults and adolescents with mental illness. I believe there is also a new generation of mentally ill individuals who would have been marginally productive and capable of living independently except they compounded their difficulties with drugs. The drugs took them over the reality precipice and created individuals with chronic difficulties. I pray that we will reform our mental health system. Using the streets to house the mentally ill is worse than the intentional use of the expressways as ponding basins for excess rainfall.

There needs to be a reexamination of what constitutes adequate care for the mentally ill and how to fund it once again. As a blogging associate from Texas who also has a mental health background stated, “To what degree should we as a community let them slide into degraded lives on the streets? Underneath that question is a discussion about choice and personal freedom vs. the ravages of mental illness.”

“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” (Matt. 25: 35-36, NASB).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Activites of Daily Living

Fr. Dale Matson
“ADLs are defined as the things we normally do...such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, grooming, work, homemaking, and leisure. The ability or inability to perform ADLs can be used as a very practical measure of ability/disability in many disorders.” (

While the Christian life is one of liberty as led by the Holy Spirit, it is also one that is conducted decently and in order. (1 Cor. 14:40, KJV). The passage is used most frequently when discussing the order of worship but it is primarily about the witness of worship. This can also be applied to life in general which is lived as worship. How do we offer witness to others by the way we conduct our lives? I am not just talking about the public witness of church attendance. Are we faithful in conducting our Christian ADL’s?

I do not believe that a Christian led by the Holy Spirit needs to live a hectic, undisciplined, under-productive life. It is contrary to the life that Christ has given us. “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b, KJV).

The prayer closet part of the Christian’s life is conducted as the Christian ADL’s. Here are some ideas for the ADL’s. How do you begin your day?

I rise early before the other occupants of the house awaken and begin with a daily devotional. It sets the tone for how the rest of the day is conducted and there are numerous devotionals available to choose from. Following this I journal the previous day’s highlights and this also reminds me of things left undone. I include my dreams because God speaks to us in our dreams. My wife and I walk our dogs together and discuss our previous day and anticipated events of the current day. So much of remaining oriented requires a continual reorienting as we move through our day. I then exercise with various sport activities. As a part of my day, I make sure to connect with at least one friend and one relative. I don’t mind being the one who usually initiates the contact. Meals are a great reason to get together. I am retired so volunteer work is helpful to others and necessary for me however these ADL’s were a part of my life while employed. My email and blogs are modern ways I also stay in touch with others and attempt to affirm or encourage them. I also attempt to write on a topic that strikes me each day and re-frame a complaint into a statement of the desired end result.

What about travel? I take the same routine on the road with me. I have a travel journal that I can remove pages from and put them in my home journal. I take swimming goggles, bike helmets, running shoes etc. with me.

These are my ADL’s that regularize, standardize and organize an ordinary life. These are not measures of an especially Holy life. They are the measures of a normal Christian life that continues to sustain me and those who God brings me into contact with including those He brings to my remembrance. I hope others never feel that I don’t have time for them and that when I am with them; I am not paying attention because I am frantic to be somewhere else. “Come unto me, all [ye] that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28, KJV). Amen.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Fr. Dale Matson
We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for feast day of Holy Innocents [December 28th ]).

This past Saturday a young man with a history of irrational behavior and a mission of evil shot and killed six people and wounded thirteen others. The most compelling image for me is the smiling innocent face of the youngest victim nine-year-old Christina Taylor Greene.

Our world today seems saturated with violence, a failed mental health system and incoherent responses from those who are charged with protecting and leading us. Where do we turn when our world seems to be in such chaos? In the end all we have is faith, hope and love as our prayers rise to God. That is how we express our hope and how we attempt to reclaim our joy. That is how we extend our love to those we cannot help in any other way.

This atrocity in Arizona reminds me of another horrific event. In October of 2006 a man took several Amish girls hostage. He shot all ten hostages, killing five and then killed himself. What makes the incident in the Pennsylvania unique, unlike the tragedy in so many other cases, is the response of the hostages and the community following the murders. The Amish girls Marian and Barbie Fisher, 13 and 11, requested that they be shot first that the others might be spared. They were unafraid and Christ like in their response. The Amish community did not call out for justice knowing that it would only mend a small part of the huge hole rent in fabric of the community. “The Amish answered the ‘English’ as they call those who live in the secular world, with their own generosity of spirit, even toward the Robert’s family. Community leaders sent a representative to the family to express forgiveness. As donations came in from across the country to pay hospital bills, the Amish asked that a fund be set up for the Roberts family as well.” (Newsweek, 10-16-06, P.39).

The gunman’s widow stated, “Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need. Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community and is changing our world” (Ibid).

In cases like this, justice when applied is important but ultimately an inadequate remedy. It does not restore lives or even confidence in the system. It does not restore the hearts of those who hear of it. It is forgiveness that makes the circumstances restorative and transformative. It is forgiveness as much as any other virtue that demonstrates that Christ is being formed in us. As our anger subsides, let it be replaced by forgiveness.

“And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear especially Christina Taylor Greene and those who perished with her beseeching thee to grant them continual growth in thy love and service; and to grant us grace so to follow the good examples of all thy saints, that with them we may be partakers of thy heavenly kingdom. Grant these our prayers, O Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.” (Prayers of the People, Rite I, BCP, p.330)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Meditations of a Plumber Priest

Fr. Dale Matson
For those of you who follow what I have written with any regularity I am pleased to announce that I have written a book of meditations which is composed partly of topics addressed here on the Soundings site and brief homilies from Morning Prayer. I make no pretense that it is profound or breaks new ground for I am an ordinary person. The topics are also ordinary with a look at life through the eyes of someone who has passed from death into life. Even if there were no Heaven, and there is, I would be a Christian. The Christian life has meaning and mission provided by God. It is the only life that is not self-destructive. It is an ongoing dialogue with God In the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a life in service to others not an attempt to exploit or have dominion over others. I am a weak person who owes all of my strength to Christ. Christ has not just come to me through my service to others. Christ has come to me primarily through the selfless assistance I have received from others. I have never taken this for granted and marvel at how often even now that I turn aside the grace of God. The meditations are intended to comfort and exhort others. The Book is titled “Meditations of a Plumber Priest” and available through Amazon Books or Barnes and Noble. I took the cover photograph in McClure Meadow on the John Muir Trail.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Catechesis as Exit Counseling for the ACNA

Fr. Dale Matson
Even though our Diocese is out of TEC, we still have a lingering scent of TEC on us. There is still the idea that the former TEC pedigree was valid and in taking ourselves out of the Episcopal Church we have a fresh start. This is probably what the Israelites thought when they escaped from Egypt also. This pedigree was valid at one time but then there was no reason to leave was there. It ceased to be valid during the last generation. Those of us who came out need exit counseling in the form of Catechesis. We can no longer get away with identifying ourselves as “Not TEC”. I was in TEC for eleven years but came from fifteen years in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. (If you are Lutheran and don’t know which synod you belong to, you probably are not LCMS). The LCMS faced a similar crisis in the early 1970s over the place of Scripture in the life of the church.

The LCMS has maintained its conservative historical faith by strong leadership and parishioners who have been taught and understand what it is to be a Lutheran Christian. They understand well the Priesthood of all believers. Each parish has a board of education and it is a part of the Lutheran DNA to school their own children when possible at least to the eighth grade. What is different for them is that the conservatives remained and the liberals left.

Like any departure from a dysfunctional family those who leave must rediscover their identity. They must determine what part belongs to them and what part needs to be left behind. Part of the difficulty for us is that we still use the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. It is a TEC Prayer book and an uncomfortable reminder of where we came from. If Lex Orendi, Lex Credendi is a reality then our worship shapes our belief. The Anglican Church North America will need a prayer book to fashion a modern Anglican ethos connected to historical Anglicanism but distinct from the contemporary version of TEC. The Liturgy will be important and so will the Catechism. I believe that when a new catechism is developed it would be useful for all existing members to re-experience what it means to be a catechumen. Grace is free but discipleship is not cheap.

It is also important for parishioners to be familiarized with the constitution and canons of the new province of the ACNA because a change in ethos is being introduced. There is an increased emphasis on Evangelism because we believe Jesus Christ is the only way. There is a great emphasis on growth and church planting because we believe we have something to offer that the world desperately needs. There is call for an increase in the involvement and responsibility of the lay order. This is not the church you came from. We are not just removed from TEC, we are no longer Episcopalians. You can say that it is them who left Scripture and Tradition behind but we must say that we have left the name behind. Each of us has to ask ourselves, “What does that mean”?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi

Fr. Dale Matson
Our lectionary Psalm for the second Sunday after Christmas was Psalm 84, a Psalm of worship and praise to God. It wasn’t until after I talked with our organist about the gradual hymn that she had selected that I realized that it was also based on the 84th Psalm. What struck me in particular was the last line of our Hymn "How lovely is thy dwelling place". “…for thou shalt surely bless all those who live the words they pray.” Immediately I thought of the Latin axiom Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi which essentially means, As we Worship (Pray), So we Believe, So we Live. I would also add and so we become.

There is a more modern version of this concept, “You are what you eat” (Victor Lindlahr) but originally this concept was from the Liturgy and had both a literal and figurative understanding. “We offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him.” (Thomas Cranmer, Book of Common Prayer, 1549).

The liturgy not only predated the Creeds, it predated the Christian Church. The liturgy was the form used for worship by the Jews in the Temple. The Christian church added primarily the Eucharist and Apostolic writings to an existing liturgy. Christians are the children of Abraham by faith and form.

There is an obvious reciprocity and interplay between worship, believing, living and becoming but it is this order which has fostered stability in the Christian Church and in the spiritual lives of those sustained by the Church. The first and great commandment is to Love God. It is God that provides the faith to believe and the reason to live. It is God that Sanctifies us in a life of service empowered by and dedicated to Him. A life lived in this order is rational, ordered, meaningful, efficacious, sacrificial, virtuous, prioritized, empathetic and unencumbered.

In the liturgy our personal and collective history is grounded in eternity. After The Gospel is proclaimed in the liturgy of the Word, we then have the liturgy of the table which contains the Gospel also. In the anamnesis we remember the atoning sacrifice of Christ, in the epiclesis the Eternal Word is reincarnate and in reception we experience the mystery of reunion. We are in God and He in us. Hallelujah.

The liturgy, the psalm and our lives have Selah moments that upon reflection are mystical. There is an indescribable joy in all this. Amen

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Fr. Dale Matson
“Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of sons is their fathers” (Proverbs 17:6)

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick….now how does that go grandma? The boys are over for a visit. I sometimes think it is a contest to see who can be sillier. I enjoy the mock scolding by them. “Grandpa, DON’T be so silly. Come and smell the chocolate on my breath. Meals are the best and worst time for me. It’s like recess with food. “Grandpa, that’s not snow on the roof, it’s HAIL! Well excuse me for not being precise enough for a four year old.

I just had to check on them in the other room. From here it sounded like a tantrum but a quick check with grandma indicated it was only boys practicing wild animal sounds. I always ask them to make a noise like a rabbit. “Grandpa, rabbits don’t make noises”. Yes, boys that’s the point.

We were up in the snow yesterday and they were both so excited about icicles. There is such a wonderment and innocence about two and four year old children. It’s so fun to be “original” once again with “Don’t eat the yellow snow”. Sticks are also a necessary tool for working snow; for pounding it into submission; for reducing it to its basic crystalline structure.

Grandparenting children is kind of like riding a bicycle. Memories of my parenting experience seems to come back and inform me …. and yet it is not the same as it was parenting. Then it was a serious business and I was so different also. This is where the grand-kids come to get dirty and have their toys stolen from them by our Airedales. This is where the hands of children and dog spit intermingle. This is where germs are used as grandpa’s ally in making men.

When our house has stray toys grandma is happy. They are like random reminders of her dear grandsons. (I will not allow a license plate bracket that says anything about grandchildren). For me, their toys are objects that I step on in my stocking feet. Jacks are especially painful. We walked the dogs in the rain today with the boys. They have their own pace. Very fast and very slow. Well, thank you Father for these boys. Their parents have just arrived and Grandma and I are saved once again from the kiddie monsters that never sleep, never nap and never tire.

"Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 18:3) Amen.