Friday, December 11, 2009

Here I Stand

On the eve of the election of the 8th Bishop of the diocese, today's lectionary readings strike hard at religion gone wrong.
Revelation 2:18-29
The Message to Thyatira

‘And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze:
‘I know your works—your love, faith, service, and patient endurance. I know that your last works are greater than the first. But I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants* to practise fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her fornication. Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress, unless they repent of her doings; and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call “the deep things of Satan”, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden; 25only hold fast to what you have until I come. To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end,
I will give authority over the nations;
to rule them with an iron rod,
as when clay pots are shattered—
even as I also received authority from my Father.
To the one who conquers I will also give the morning star.

Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.


And then we have the reading from Matthew 23:27-39

‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, “If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.” Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation.

‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” ’


Year after year, diocese after diocese, parish after parish, have been given over to those who have abandoned the faith of the Apostles. My Catholic friends tell me that this is the natural consequence of the Protestant Reformation. Protestant friends tell me this is the consequence of post reformation modernism and post modernism. Liberal friends tell me that all is well, come join us in the big happy bed of the church of Thyatira.

Whither the Episcopal church? When will I again be able to use a capital "C" in describing this denomination.

It is time to take a stand by electing a bishop who stands firm for the Gospel and will boldly proclaim even those uncomfortable parts, the parts that talk about our desires to walk in the way of sin and death, and who will show us how the Gospel message proclaims the way out of this death trap.

I believe that by electing either Stockton Williams, Neal Michell, or John Burwell, Upper South Carolinians can make this diocese into a shining light for the rest of the Episcopal church.

17 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:49 AM

    "When will I again be able to use a capital "C" in describing this denomination. "

    Maybe it is time you had a prayerful conversation with yourself. If you are not proud of Us -The Episcopal Church - then leave us alone! Pewster - it is time you took your toys and went home.

    I am sad that you are voting tomorrow - your vote will not reflect what I would like to see in our next Bishop.

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  2. Anonimouse #1,

    Once again you demonstrate your abject lack of love and inclusivity.

    I am proud to represent you.

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  3. Anonymous11:17 AM

    Heh.

    Let's re-phrase.

    "If you are not proud of Us -[the revisionist activists in The Episcopal Church] - then leave us alone! Pewster - it is time you took your toys and went home."

    Please leave, Pewster. We can do without any conservatives in The Episcopal Church. Because you guys make us Really Really Mad. It's a lot harder to be As Liberal As We Wanna Be with your lot still here.


    Lovingly and Inclusively,

    The Moderate Centrist

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  4. "My Catholic friends tell me that this is the natural consequence of the Protestant Reformation. Protestant friends tell me this is the consequence of post reformation modernism and post modernism."

    And where were either of them when the Lord spoke to the Seven Churches?

    "And he who overcomes and keeps my works until the end..."

    Keep on keeping on, UP.

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  5. UP, it is amusing --tragic, mind you, but amusing nonetheless-- to read comments like those of Anon above. Why amusing, you ask? Simply, Anon's comment and benediction to you provides immediate evidence of the failure to heed Christ's last injunction to Thyatira:

    Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

    Irony, thy name is "Anonymous."

    My prayers for you and those with ears in Upper South Carolina today, my friend.

    Cheers.

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  6. Anonymous4:24 PM

    You guys just don't have a clue - it is not about Religion - it is about Belief - Belief is personal - Religion is man made!

    Try focusing more on Belief than Religion!

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  7. I believe whatever vote the pewster casts will be a good one

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  8. So much for the epistle of James...

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  9. Visit the electing convention of Upper South Carolina, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the enemy; let your holy angels dwell with them to preserve them in peace; and let your blessing, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, be upon them and their decision always; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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  10. Thank you Rob Eaton+,

    Lord, we humble ourselves before Thee that, not ours, but Thy will be done.

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  11. Anon, I speak but for myself, when I say, God's Word forms the basis of my Belief, and you are correct that it is personal. Your implied conclusion, however, that because Belief is personal and not collective, that all such Beliefs no matter how disparate are "correct," is not a valid conclusion. Neither is the implied conclusion that all Religious practice is irrelevant because it is "Man-made." Religious practice may be correct or incorrect, depending upon whether it is predicated on Truth. This gets back to the original question: "Is the Bible a)God's Holy Word and therefore b)The Truth. One's answer to that basic question determines one's viewpoint on everything else.

    Regards.

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  12. Just shy of 2 pm your time. Kendall Harmon has the #s up - Waldo showing best.

    Even if all three orthodox guys got their clergy votes behind one of them, there would not be enough to elect.

    Sorry. I know you put in serious effort on this and it is not looking good at this point.

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  13. The die was cast on the first (invalidated) ballot. Where's Waldo? Upper South Carolina, that's where. We are to be led into captivity. Lord deliver us.

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  14. Strange. You prayed "not ours, but Thy will be done", yet you don't seem to trust that that is indeed what happened. That, or that it is God's will that you be "led into captivity". That seems less strange than sad to me. You know, I don't mind that you hold different opinions from me on several important and controversial issues. What does bother me is the apparent smugness of some of your posts, as if you assume that, naturally, God (in his infinite masculine wisdom) agrees with you on these subjects, and that you are a lone champion defending God's interests. I know it is not your intent, but there's an arrogance in your posturing that makes it difficult to take you seriously. I agree with a previous poster that our life of faith is not about being "right". It seems to me that it's more about participating in divine love. Please make room for the possibility that the elected bishop, and others that don't agree with you, are participating in that love as sincerely and earnestly as they know how. I trust that that is certainly the case with you.

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  15. Anonymous7:41 AM

    RE: "You prayed "not ours, but Thy will be done", yet you don't seem to trust that that is indeed what happened."

    Not certain what Jessica means by this. Of course, it has often been the case that God's will involves judgement on the people. So I'm perfectly willing to trust that God's will was done.

    So while certainly the clergy and lay leaders of the diocese have chosen a revisionist as bishop, I would speculate that that indicates God's choice of judgement on our diocese.

    I hate it -- after all, I'm in the diocese myself. But the clergy and lay leaders made a choice that will lead to very sad consequences for all of us -- further radically declining parishes, dying parishes, another 10 to 15% loss in ASA in the coming years, and on and on.

    They've taken -- as the people of New Hampshire did and the Episcopal Church's General Convention of 2003 did -- a *massive risk* that the laity won't particularly protest or mind so much.

    Certainly the New Hampshire choice did not prove an accurate assessment of risk, either for the diocese or for the national church. Remember when it was "all going to die down by Christmas"?

    Well, it's now six Christmases later and far from dying down it's intensified and spread, with a seeming unending stream of departures, as well as people like me within TEC raising a ruckus. And that will only continue.

    So I expect that in the case of Upper South Carolina the clergy and lay leaders' risk assessment won't prove very accurate either.

    But we'll see five years down the road what has happened to ASA and giving. It will certainly be an interesting decade or more with Waldo as the bishop of Upper SC.


    Sarah

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  16. Jessica,

    Smug? No.

    Confident that the three revisionist priests in the running for bishop are revisionists? Yes.

    A loving response to these gentlemen is to show them the error of their ways and lead them back to the way that they were sworn to defend, uphold, and spread to the world.

    Sitting smugly? No.

    Sitting in fear and trembling? Yes.

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