Friday, December 31, 2010

Preaching the Word 1, Preaching Social Activism 0


In this article at the NYT, Sam Dolnick reports on the differences between two Methodist congregations who share a common building. You see, one congregation is dwindling while the other is soaring. Granted, there may be demographic changes involved, but the reporter nailed it when he describes the two ministers,
"Mr. Laporta, 55, hails from a church tradition of social action. He attends rallies for rent control and calls for immigration reform in his sermons. He says Mr. Peng ignores the plight of the illegal immigrants in his congregation.

Mr. Peng, 48, focuses more tightly on Scripture. 'The people need the Word,' he said. He contends that Mr. Laporta has left his members spiritually hungry. 'If the congregation needs to learn the policy, they can read the newspaper,' Mr. Peng said. 'That’s why their congregation doesn’t grow.'"

Read it here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Walkin in a Doggie Wonderland

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy; Psalm 126: v 1-2

This year, Rock Hill had a white Christmas for the first time in decades. The snow fall came late on Christmas night, but some of us had to venture forth to check it out (and to take care of business).

                                                         (Taken 12/26/2010)

Walkn' In A Doggy Winter Wonderland
by Unknown Poet

Dog tags ring, are you listenin'?
In the lane, snow is glistenin'.
It's yellow, NOT white - I've been there tonight,
Marking up my winter wonderland.

Smell that tree? That's my fragrance.
It's a sign for wand'ring vagrants;
"Avoid where I pee, it's MY pro-per-ty!
Marked up as my winter wonderland."

In the meadow dad will build a snowman,
following the classical design.
Then I'll lift my leg and let it go Man,
So all the world will know it's

Straight from me to the fencepost,
flows my natural incense boast;
"Stay off of my TURF, this small piece of earth,
I mark it as my winter wonderland.

"...our mouth was filled with laughter..."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lessons Learned?

One good thing about being an pewsitting Episcopalian is that even though you are not encouraged to do so, you just might develop a desire to study the Bible and Christian traditions. This is because you might walk away from the average worship service with a nagging feeling that something wasn't quite right. If you try to put a finger on it, you will usually find the source of the problem in the sermon.

Take Christmas Eve/Christmas Day 2010 for example. We learned:

1. The Holy family was like our dysfuctional families of today.
I think the Holy family functioned perfectly well thank you very much. If dysfunction were present, Joseph would have dropped Mary like a hot potato. In addition, the proof of the pudding is that since everything went according to God's plan, the family functioned perfectly.
1. a.) John the Baptist was like the crazy uncle in every family.
My uncles are not crazy.
2. Jesus was a good Jewish rabbi.
"Good" Jewish rabbis don't get crucified for blasphemy.
3. Paul was a rabbi.
No, he was a Pharisee.
"I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee..." (Acts 23:6).
4. Jews and Christians have hated each other for 2000 years.
A strawman used to support the rest of the revisionist lesson.
5. Isn't it wonderful that we have recovered our Jewishness?
I never knew that we had lost it. Didn't I read somewhere something about an Old Testament? שָׁלוֹם
6. Mary had more children after Jesus.
7. Isn't it wonderful that we have recovered our Catholic roots?

Those last two are contradictory.

The denial of the perpetual virginity of Mary destroys the preacher's argument that we have recovered our Catholic roots.

People argue that the mention of Jesus' brothers in certain passages indicates that Mary had more children, but tradition has held otherwise, and our preacher is pitting himself against some formidable opponents.

"In A.D. 380, Helvidius proposed that Mary had other children because of the 'brothers' in Matthew 13:55. He was rebutted by Jerome, who was arguably the greatest biblical scholar of the day. The Protestant reformer John Calvin seconded Jerome: 'Helvidius has shown himself too ignorant, in saying that Mary had several sons, because mention is made in some passages to the brothers of Christ' [quoted by Bernard Leeming, Protestants and Our Lady, 9]. Martin Luther agreed with Calvin that Mary was always a virgin, as did Ulrich Zwingli: 'I esteem immensely the Mother of God, the ever chaste, immaculate Virgin Mary' [E. Stakemeier, De Mariologia et Oecumenismo, K. Balic, ed., 456]."

The verses in question:

Matthew 13:55-56
55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”

Mark 3:31-34;
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?”

Luke 8:19-21;
19 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”
21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those ...

John 2:12
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

Acts 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

Cousins, brothers, whatever the case, if you bring the subject up as a statement of fact, you should be clear to point out that there are differences of opinion on the subject.

Ah well, another lesson learned.

Twelve Days of Christmas by Tee Jules

I have always held that the twelve days of Christmas start on December 26. For that reason I have been holding back on posting this, one of my favorites, until today.

(There is nothing wrong with your new computer. The volume is low on the video, so set your sound level or put on those new headphones.)

To translate:

1 A Crawfish in a fig tree

2 Voodoo dolls

3 Stuffed shrimp

4 Pousse cafes

5 Pouldeau

6 Cypress knees

7 Fleur de lis

8 Crabs a brewin

9 Oysters stewin

10 Pirogue paddles

11 Duck decoys

12 Shotgun shells

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Il est né!

(From the Family Tree)

Il est né le divin enfant,
Jouez hautbois, résonnez musette.
Il est né le divin enfant,
Chantons tous son avènement.

Depuis plus de quatre mille ans
Nous le promettaient les prophètes,
Depuis plus de quatre mille ans
Nous attendions cet heureux temps.


Une étable est son logement,
Un peu de paille est sa couchette,
Une étable est son logement,
Pour un dieu quel abaissement.


O Jésus, ô roi tout puissant,
Tout petit enfant que vous êtes,
O Jésus, ô roi tout puissant,
Régnez sur nous entièrement.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Resolving Dissonance

“We were communicating emotions and ideas with grunts, groans, chants, and hums well before we were enunciating complex ideas like the ones we're sharing right now.”

-- Mark Jude TramoNeuroscientist/Neurologist
Harvard Medical School, Mass. General Hospital

When I heard the news of the death of Captain Beefheart on December 17, 2010, another bit of the past rose to consciousness, and also came to a resolution.


No, not Beefheart's passing, I meant that I am thankful to put certain memories to rest.

Some memories of interpersonal discordance remain troubling to this day, but the least of these pertain to differences over Beefheart.

Perhaps he was too avant garde, or maybe I was too conditioned to the melodies and harmonies of the 1940 Hymnal, but I never did "get it."

Perhaps a taste of his work might help you to understand:

I am sorry for all negative things I said about his albums, but the sound still goes against my grain.

I can only presume that other minds appreciate these sounds in ways unimaginable by primitives such as myself.

This is not unlike the problem of resolving conflicts between the reasonable, structured, and understandable musings of a conservative mind and the bizzare twists and convoluted effluent of a liberal one.

I wanted to watch William F. Buckley Jr. and "Firing Line," while my friend wanted to watch Jimmy Carter's State of the Union Address.

My mind still can't get around that State of the Union Address.

Similarly, theological differences are hard to harmonize. The Church has never fully come to grips with how to hold these dissonances together and sing the Lord's praises as one voice.
Resolving such dissonances is usually too difficult for the Church, and it is nearly impossible for the average human relationship.

"Relationship," that buzzword of the decade, fails.

Sadly, my late friend marched to the beat of a different drummer than I, so we went our separate ways.

Some differences are insurmountable. The earthly resolution seems to come through the distance of separation.

I pray the Lord both their souls to keep. May light perpetual shine upon them.
"He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear" - Isaiah 11:3
Maybe someday, after this body dies, they will explain it all to me, and maybe then I will understand what I thought to be so dissonant, and finally, at long last, it will resonate within me and I will "get it."

Until then, my opinion of his music remains unchanged.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Looking Forward to the Festival

On this the last Sunday in Advent, we sang our final refrain of "Saviour of the Nations Come" as we looked forward to the anniversary of our Saviour's birth. How we came to celebrate Christmas on December 25 is another story, but one I have heard is that ancient pagan festivals were conquered by Christ and given new meaning by men. All this so that we might be brought to celebrate His life instead of false idols, sacred poles, and the worship in the high places that so bedeviled our ancestors.

A while back, while researching the obscure details of the statutes of the church of Toul, I had a chance to stumble upon The Burlesque Festivals of the Middle Ages (pp155-158) and found the following that might pertain to this time of the year (excerpted, minor corrections made, and highlighting added).

"In the first ages of Christianity, when—a persecuted sect—it trusted to the force of individual conviction for its converts, these latter, in joining the religion of the Saviour, gave up at once all their old superstitions and prejudices. But when, in course of time, it became established as the religion of the state, the mass of the people soon disbelieved in the power of their old gods, and accepted the faith of the emperor. Churches took the place of temples, and the statues of their idols were thrown down and broken without much repugnance. But there was a host of old superstitions, customs, and observances, intimately connected with the old idolatry of the people, which were so deeply rooted in their habits and social life, that it was not an easy thing to persuade converts made under such circumstances to consent to their abolition. In fact, the Christian teachers found an advantage in chewing forbearance in the great religious revolution in which they were engaged, and they were wise in not shocking by a too abrupt change the deeply rooted prejudices of so many ages. It was their policy to substitute gradually Christian festivals in the place of pagan ceremonies ; and thus, amid the most riotous feasts and processions of the ancient ceremonial, new names and new objects kept the popular mind fixed to a better faith. In course of time, however, as the church itself became corrupt and its ministers venal, these popular excesses, which had at first been tolerated from necessity, were encouraged by the very persons whose duty it was to discountenance them ; and, during the middle ages, at certain periods of the year, even the holiest places became the scene of riotous festivals, which recalled in many of their characteristics the most licentious of the feasts of antiquity. It is true that these pseudo-Christian ceremonies were condemned by the better and wiser of the ecclesiastics, and that they were repeatedly proscribed by the councils of the church ; but these condemnations were either merely formal, or they were rendered ineffectual by the supineness and backwardness of those who ought to have put them in force. Too congenial with the general laxity of manners which characterised the feudal period, these ceremonies increased in force and intensity during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, until they became so great an object of public scandal that they could no longer be tolerated. Yet in Catholic countries, such as France, and Italy, and Spain, they continued to be observed in a suppressed form until the great dislocation of society produced by the French revolution at the close of the eighteenth century.

Among the Romans the latter part of the month of December was devoted to the noisy and licentious festivities of the Saturnalia. In the earliest times of Rome this festival had been restricted to one day in the middle of the month ; but the period of celebration was afterwards extended to seven days, and it was followed by a multitude of other festivals of the same character, called, from the circumstance of their commencing in the Calends of January, the feriae Kalendarum, which were continued during the month of January, and were but just closed at the time of the somewhat analogous festival of the Lupercals in February. This answers precisely to the period extending from the festivities of Christmas to the time of the carnival of modern times, of which the Roman festivities were undoubtedly the prototype. The resemblance between the old and the modern observances is too strongly marked to be easily mistaken. During the seven days of the Saturnalia masters were placed on an equality with their slaves, and all classes and ranks and even sexes were confounded together by disguises and masks, under cover of which were enacted a thousand different follies and extravagances. These were precisely the characteristics of the joyous festivals of the middle age. A curious coincidence is perhaps worth pointing out. It is well known that at the Lupercalia the Luptrcals ran about the streets in a state of nudity : a similar practice characterised the Saturnalia...

A theological writer who lived in 1182, Beleth, informs us that, in his time, in the archbishopric of Rheims and in other dioceses in France, at the festival of Christmas the archbishops and bishops and other high ecclesiastics went to play at various games with the inferior clergy in the religious houses. We trace this custom among the clergy, called by Beleth Decembrian liberty, in other writers. In the Saturnalia a mock king was elected by lot, who ruled at the festival. The practice of choosing mock officers, under the names in different places of kings, popes, abbots, was retained in all the burlesque festivals of the middle ages : in some parts a king is still chosen on the twelfth night. Public gambling was allowed at the Saturnalia. It is probable from the extract from Beleth that it was practised even by ecclesiastics at Christmas in former days, and from this custom we seem to have derived that of playing at cards at that period of the year. It is not necessary to point out the libertinism of speech and action which characterised the old as well as the modern Saturnalia.

These latter were chiefly prevalent in the countries which have derived their language and customs from the Romans, such as the French, Italians, and Spaniards, and are not found to have prevailed so generally among the purer Germanic tribes. The English festival of Christmas is of Saxon origin, and consisted chiefly in eating and drinking ; the mummery and masquerading, as well as the few burlesque festivals we shall have to notice as belonging to England in the middle ages, having been apparently imported from France. "
This year, I hope to not get so caught up in the modern versions of these festivities that I lose sight of the gift we should stay focused on this season: the gift of His incarnation, and His promise of our salvation.

Share the perfect gift this Christmas...

Only a few days left to find it...

Try it on for size yourself...

It will only cost you...


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Excellent Analyses of +VGR's Teaching

In today's lectionary reading from 2 Peter 1-10 , we are warned about false teachers. In that vein, I would call to your attention the following:

David Fischler at The Reformed Pastor completed a 5 part series reviewing Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson's series of articles for the "On Faith" column in the Washington Post. I commend the reviews to all who have to face these arguments both in the Church and in the world.

Here are links to the posts.
Gene Robinson Teaches the Bible
Gene Robinson Teaches the Bible 2
Gene Robinson Teaches the Bible 3
Gene Robinson Teaches the Bible 4
and finally,
Gene Robinson Teaches the Bible 5

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Glimpse a Geminid

There is still time, if you are brave enough to lay on the cold ground (18 degree (F) here), to see some Geminid meteors. I spotted 20 in 30 minutes just now despite my neighbor's street lamp and my moderately light polluted site. This seems like an unusually good year for this meteor shower. I stayed pretty warm thanks to a proper ground pad, good hiking boots, a blanket, and layers of clothing. I was a little anxious about the sounds of something large walking past me in the woods, but it was probably just a deer and not anything interested in making a meal of a half frozen stargazer playing dead on the ground.

If you missed them, you can try again next year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In the End, It was not a Monster

For her sermon today, Mary Cat related the Advent season to reading a familiar story, one in which you know the ending, over and and over again. The book she chose to use as an illustration was one of her favorites, "The Monster at the End of This Book."

Not being familiar with the story, my mind drifted to the first time I heard one of my favorites, "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." It was in fourth grade, and Mr. Andre, the Physical Education teacher/Assistant to the Assitant Headmaster/Assistant for Religious Education/and Assistant to Fill In Anywhere Else, a man I never trusted very much, chose this C.S. Lewis classic our listening benefit. At first we all thought we were a bit too old to be read to, but I came to look forward to this weekly break in our routine. For a youngster who was too young to recognize the religious themes, the monster near the end of this book had to be the death of Aslan at the hands of the witch. So, when we ended one week's reading at that horrible point, this young mind was left wondering, "Why did he have to die?" Pondering this over a long weekend, the tragedy felt all the greater, and is forever etched in my memory. I also remember the mixture of confusion, pleasure, and relief at Aslan's return when the story concluded with Mr. Andre's next reading.

I clearly remember Mr. Andre questioning us and instructing us on the meaning of Aslan's sacrifice. The "monster" was explained and was no longer to be feared.

Reading the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe again and again always seems to bring some new insight. I have the entire series in audio format which I have been through twice. Last night, the cinematic version aired on network TV. I watched the whole thing, enjoyed every minute, and was moved in ways I had not been moved before. I wonder how first-timers felt? Can film ever take the place of the experience of the written word?

Most of us have been through more Advents than Narnias, but despite knowing the back of the book, much can be gained by being open to hearing previously missed undertones, rejoicing at the new insights, and listening for the voice of calm of the author as He tells his familiar story again, and again, and again.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

It Is Not That We Grow More Conservative... is that the Church grows more liberal.

A copy of a recent short article by Tim Funk in the Charlotte Observer was thrust into my pocket the other day at coffee hour. I did not see the hand behind the missive, but after taking the clipping back to my underground lab and having it analyzed, I think I can identify the tell tale imprint of that old denizen of the dark, Deep Pew.

The story is about the retirement of the Rev. William Wood from First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte after 27 years as their pastor. During that time the church grew from 1200 members to 2200, "revenues" have gone from $600,000 to 6 million dollars, with this all occurring during a period of decline in the Presbyterian Church that parallels the decline in T.E.c. and other "mainline" denominations.

So what made First Pres. in Charlotte different?

Could it have been the preaching?
"William Rikard, a lawyer who served on the search committee that brought Wood to First Presbyterian, said he's (Wood) lived up to his early promise."

"'We saw a young minister who was full of energy and a willingness to preach with force and vigor,' Rikard said. 'He started that way and he has finished that way.'"

Or was it because Wood did not yield to the pressures of the modern age?
"Wood has his critics. Some have not forgotten that, though he welcomes gays and lesbians into the church, he voted in the 1990s to keep the ban on non-celibate homosexuals as clergy in churches affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA)."

Or was it his stance against secularism?
"At Davidson, first as a board member and later as an ex-board member, he fought a proposal that eventually allowed the election of non-Christians to the governing body at the school founded by Presbyterians."

Oh, you say, he sounds like a preacher who has grown too conservative over time. To that Wood answers,
"A lot of the leaders in the Presbyterian church have become so liberal," he said. "I have stayed in the same place."

We in T.E.c. often say the same thing, that the church's leftward drift makes us look more and more curmudgeonly with the passing years while in reality we haven't changed. Tensions occur when the left pulls so hard against the Bible (which does not move) that the people in the pews become confused and begin to wander. Such tensions require the strong arms of a preacher who teaches the simple truths to be found in the Bible to rein in his flock and to gather in the lost, especially during this time of increasing secularism, worldliness, and religious pluralism.

Having witnessed first hand the inevitable decline that occurs when the Word of God gets stripped of its power by being preached as the word of man, I am left to wonder if the mainline denominations, apart from a handful of stalwarts like the Rev. Wood, have sown the seeds of not only their own destruction, but also the destruction of the birds who happen to build their nests in those swaying branches of Christendom that do not root themselves on the solid rock that is the witness to our salvation.

Vic Van Den Bergh heard a question/statement this past week that he posted as I was finishing up this piece. It is as applicable to any denomination as it is to the CoE.
"Why don't those people who are the leaders of our denomination keep to God's Word and why don't they help (and protect) us ordinary people from having a line that just keeps on moving! Surely," they said, "What we believe must be constant and so those in leadership should be helping us maintain our consistency, not keep changing that which we believe to accomodate others or make us acceptable to others!"

Instead of redrawing increasingly vague, wavy lines, I was reminded what leaders are supposed to do and say,
"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."
Winston Churchill
Never surrender, and just maybe the invasion of universalisecular-pluralism can be stopped, and guess what might happen then????

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Advent Pageant: Lessons Missed

Today's service at ECOOS was a departure from our tradition in that the children of the parish put on an "Advent Pageant." This required some imagination on the part of both the creator, the music director, and the observer to keep us in the spirit of Advent without slipping into Christmas. While the children did a great job with what they were given, and the congregation was pleased with the results, I have to note the omissions that were made to the service because I am left with the feeling that something was missing.

The Psalm was one of the first things to go.  Todays' Psalm was going to be an expurgated version of Psalm 72, so I shouldn't complain too much. According to the lectionary, we should have heard Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19 ,
1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.

2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.

3 May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.

4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

5 May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.

6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.

7 In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

18 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.

19 Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth.Amen and Amen. 

Nice, but incomplete. Here are the missing verses including, as expected, an imprecatory one,
8 May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

9 May his foes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust.

10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.

11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.

12 For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.

13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.

14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

15 Long may he live! May gold of Sheba be given to him. May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all day long.

16 May there be abundance of grain in the land; may it wave on the tops of the mountains; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field.
Ah well, sacrifices must be made, but wait, there was another cut made in the reading from Isaiah 11:1-10 which was printed in the bulletin sans verses 3-4, 5.5, and 7-9. Here is how it came out as edited,
1 A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist...
6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
That sounds sweet. I am so glad the children were protected from some of the harsher language. Since most readers of these pages are older, I present the missing verses here,
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

5.5 and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Good thing they left out verse 8 or we might have heard another Freudian slip, but what is wrong with having the kiddos learn a little bit about the fear of the Lord and what happens to the wicked?

Alas, poor Paul, Romans 15:4-13 got cut altogether.
4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
‘Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles,
and sing praises to your name’;
10 and again he says,
‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people’;
11 and again,
‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples praise him’;
12 and again Isaiah says,
‘The root of Jesse shall come,
the one who rises to rule the Gentiles;
in him the Gentiles shall hope.’
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I am sure we could have editted out that mention of circumcison in v.8.

Gone also was the entire Nicene Creed as well as the Confession of Sins.

I didn't hear any complaints, but IMHO those are so very important that their omission must be noted.

Thankfully, I had a private confession with the Lord before the service, but I always worry about coming to the Lord's table unrepentant.

Apart from that and getting doses of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," and "Go Tell it on the Mountain" a few weeks earlier than expected, I should be thankful for the two blessings of today: no sermon, and the service was over in an hour.

Did I miss anything?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Should Sermons be Recorded?

I used to think sermons should be recorded until I came across something that c. michael patton at Parchment and Pen posted and described as the single greatest YouTube video ever. I suppose it might be... if you are a teenager.

I think the preacher meant to say "Lot went to pitch his tents."

It kinda reminds me of the time our Headmaster misread something in his morning announcements that were being broadcast over the intercom throughout the school. I remember that he was supposed to say, "Teachers may pick up their ditto 'sheets' at the office," but it didn't exactly come out that way.

Maybe our minds are in the gutter most of the time. Is it only our desire to please others keeps us from letting people see our inner thoughts? Can a prayerful life control the tongue? I guess none of us is perfect, and the inner thoughts that slip out can not only make people laugh but can cause people to cry as well. I think James had something to say about that,

"Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you realize that we will be judged more strictly,  for we all fall short in many respects. If anyone does not fall short in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body also.
If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide their whole bodies.
It is the same with ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot's inclination wishes.
In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze.
The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna.
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God.

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. This need not be so, my brothers."

James 3: 1-10