Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of California: The Earth and the Cosmos Are Reaching Out and Calling You

One should fully expect to see the prerequisite Episcopal delegation at anything related to "climate change" or "earth Day", so the following should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of California, Marc Andrus whose Magical Mandala Tour was featured on these pages a while back (Part 1 here, and Part 2 here). The following invocation is from the "People's Climate March" and it strikes me as something that one might hear at a pagan ceremony.
Invocation for the Conclusion of the People of Faith Service
People’s Climate March
Sunday, September 21, 2014
New York City
“Who calls the clouds of Monarch Butterflies to their annual 4,000-mile migration?”
“The Earth!”
“Who prompts the Arctic Tern in the air, and the Blue Whale in the Ocean to make their 12,000-mile migration?”
“The Earth!”
“Who starts the 500-mile Serengeti Migration, beginning with 250,000 Zebras, then 1.7 million Wildebeasts, and 400,000 Gazelles?”
“The Earth!”
“And who called you to make your journeys, from Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, California, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Everywhere to come to the People’s Climate March?”
“The Earth!”
“Then you are the prayer of the Earth, you are her invocation to God! The Earth and the Cosmos have reached out and called you to make your life a prayer for healing, peace, justice and integrity!” 
+Marc Andrus
Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of California 
Uh, like seriously, I mean get real Marc, ya know...

Shouldn't the answers to all of his questions be "The Lord!"? I think he has the whole thing upside down, but I guess that is the way people see things until their eyes are opened.

I hate to be one who quotes scripture to a bishop... not really, I enjoy it,
The heaven, [even] the heavens, [are] the LORD'S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men. Psalm 115:16 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Marriage Pledge and Upper South Carolina

With the redefinition of marriage spreading throughout the land, the issue has finally reached South Carolina where our state Attorney General vowed to fight to the last to uphold traditional male-female marriage, but a Charleston Probate Judge went ahead and issued six "marriage licenses" on Wednesday and our own county probate court followed suit on Thursday.

As the Attorney General appears to have failed, priests, ministers, and pastors in South Carolina face the prospect of being presented with a slip of paper from City Hall claiming that two people are "married" in the eyes of the State, and those persons may be asking for a blessing, a marriage service, or just the minister's signature.

What will our clergy persons do in this new era?

This past week saw the publication of "The Marriage Pledge" over at First Things. It reads,

"In many jurisdictions, including many of the United States, civil authorities have adopted a definition of marriage that explicitly rejects the age-old requirement of male-female pairing. In a few short years or even months, it is very likely that this new definition will become the law of the land, and in all jurisdictions the rights, privileges, and duties of marriage will be granted to men in partnership with men, and women with women. 
As Christian ministers we must bear clear witness. This is a perilous time. Divorce and co-­habitation have weakened marriage. We have been too complacent in our responses to these trends. Now marriage is being fundamentally redefined, and we are ­being tested yet again. If we fail to take clear action, we risk falsifying God’s Word. 
The new definition of marriage no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage between a man and woman. Our biblical faith is committed to upholding, celebrating, and furthering this understanding, which is stated many times within the Scriptures and has been repeatedly restated in our wedding ceremonies, church laws, and doctrinal standards for centuries. To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage. 
Therefore, in our roles as Christian ministers, we, the undersigned, commit ourselves to disengaging civil and Christian marriage in the performance of our pastoral duties. We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. We will no longer sign government-provided marriage certificates. We will ask couples to seek civil marriage separately from their church-related vows and blessings. We will preside only at those weddings that seek to establish a Christian marriage in accord with the principles ­articulated and lived out from the beginning of the Church’s life. 
Please join us in this pledge to separate civil marriage from Christian marriage by adding your name."  
Drafted by:
The Reverend Ephraim Radner
The Reverend Christopher Seitz

That is one way to handle it.

Here is another,

"My old man
He's a singer in the park
He's a walker in the rain
He's a dancer in the dark
We don't need no piece of paper
From the city hall
Keeping us tied and true
No, my old man
Keeping away my blues"

-Joni Mitchell from her album, "Blue"
The churches and the State have been cooperating in the marriage business for a long time, but only since 1911 have people even needed a government license to be married in South Carolina.

Our state makes about 1.8 million dollars a year from marriage license fees, and will be reluctant to get out of the business.

Maybe now is the time for clergy to follow the advice of Bishop Gene Robinson who in 2009 suggested the churches get out of the civil marriage business altogether.

Sarah Hey, a fellow Upper South Carolinian, has encouraged us to spread the pledge and to pass it along to conservative clergy members.

Since there aren't that many of those left, I think we should send it to all of our non-conservative clergy as well.

I did.

So far, I do not see any Upper South Carolina clergy as cosignatories.

C'mon, there has to be one or two still left, or has the purge by our bishop been complete? 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

++Welby: "The Flourishing of the Church of Those Who Disagree"

As the CofE moved this week to ordain female bishops, the money quote unwittingly came from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby himself, (via AFP)
"Today we can begin to embrace a new way of being the church and moving forward together,"
"We will also continue to seek the flourishing of the church of those who disagree."
The results of the  Episcopal church's experiment of being the church of those who do agree (re: female bishops) suggests, the future of the CofE is likely to be one of steady decline.

This vote ensures that the "church of those who disagree" will indeed flourish (as long as it continues to hold true to the Biblical teachings on the nature of bishops).

Thanks for giving it a kick start Justin!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Words Too Strong For Sunday Ears?

I am quite certain that nobody will notice the omission from the Gospel reading today which was Matthew 25:14-15,19-29,
 Jesus said, "For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, `Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.' His master said to him, `Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, `Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.' His master said to him, `Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, `Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master replied, `You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away."
No, the important part that went unheard was not verses 16-18. It was verse 30,
"And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." AKJV
(Addendum: This verse was mentioned in today's sermon, but it was immediately qualified as we were told that surely the cast out would be let back in next Sunday. I never knew Hell had a revolving front door.)

This Sunday, the pewsitters may have been spared the awful ramifications of being unprofitable, but next week they should get a redeeming dose. For those who do not take the danger of being cast out seriously, or who think that Jesus could never have meant eternal separation from Him, or who presume that the devil does not exist, Our Lord continues in Matthew 14 and separates the sheep from the goats as He says,
 "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:  I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.  Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." Matthew 14:41-46
 That would make three Sundays in a row (link to last Sunday's post) where consequences too terrible to imagine are described by Jesus himself to those who are unprepared, lazy and unprofitable, or lacking in mercy.

Do you think He is trying to send us a message?

As Colin Smith points out at Bible Study Tools,

“They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord” 2 Thessalonians 2:9 
"To be shut out from God’s presence and from His power is to be without hope and without love forever. This is one of the hardest truths in the Bible. But here’s something I’ve discovered—the hardest truths can produce the most tender hearts. If you grasp this most difficult of doctrines, God will use it to soften your heart today."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Phillip Jenkins: "America’s last Episcopalian walks among us today"

The Midwest Conservative Journal directed my attention to this article at Patheos.

"My own Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) just released its annual statistics, showing a rate of decline that would be truly amazing if it were at all unexpected. Between 2012 and 2013, the denomination’s membership fell by 1.4 percent, to 1.87 million, while Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) fell by 2.6 percent. Those percentages may not sound like much, until you realize that these are figures for a single year, and they closely echo the percentage drops for several preceding years.  
If we extrapolate that rate into the not-too-distant future, then the number of people attending Episcopal churches on a typical Sunday will be negligible by mid-century, typical of a tiny sect rather than a great church or denomination. It won’t reach zero for a while, but in effect, the church will cease to exist. 
That mid-century date is really not far off. In fact, the baby baptized at my church last Sunday will by that point only be a young adult in her 30s.  
Non-attending notional members will persist for a few years longer, but by the end of the century, we should be talking total disappearance. 
In that scenario, America’s last Episcopalian walks among us today." - Phillip Jenkins

As I have mentioned before, the causes of the rush off the cliff are legion, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to do the calculations as to the trajectory of the Episcopal church.

My comment at the MCJ,

The shift is nearly complete from being called the Republican party at prayer to being the Democrat party without a prayer. Playing dress up on Sunday with phony clerics who don’t really believe the source documents of Christianity just won’t bring people to Christ.

Is there a way to reverse the trajectory? Of course there is, but nobody on board the starship Episcoprize seems willing to toss the captain and crew out into the vacuum of space and make the passengers study the owner's manual in order to find out how we should have been flying this thing in the first place.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014



'TWERE heaven enough to fill my heart
If only one would stay,
Just one of all the million joys
God gives to take away.

If I could keep one golden dawn,
The splendour of one star,
One silver glint of yon bird's wing
That flashes from afar;

If I could keep the least of things
That make me catch my breath
To gasp with wonder at God's world.
And hold it back from death,

It were enough; but death forbids.
The sunset flames to fade,
The velvet petals of this rose
Fall withered-brown-decayed.

She only asked to keep one thing,
The joy-light in his eyes
God has not even let her know
Where his dead body lies.

O Grave, where is thy victory?
O Death, where is thy sting?
Thy victory is ev'rywhere,
Thy sting's in ev'rything.

Studdert Kennedy