Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Judge

This Sunday's reading from Hebrews 4:12-16 caused me to think about how we humans try to decide who is telling the truth, especially in light of the recent Justice Kavanaugh confirmation proceedings.

Over the millennia we have devised various methods of judging. The ancient Hebrews went through a time when there was no one to judge, then there were "Judges", then the Kings, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Romans. In the United States we now have the court of law, the court of the press, and the court of social media.

Still, we are often left wondering where the truth lies.

The fact of the matter is that The Truth never lies. Instead, it lives as Paul writes,
"Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account."
 When one takes an oath to tell the truth, and if it is taken with the words, "So help me God", the oath taker should remember that the word of God is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of his or her heart, and when their judgement day comes, all will be laid bare.

There is no such thing as "my truth", "his truth", or "her truth". The fact that we even speak in such terms should tell us that Truth is something that we are looking for, a hope, an ideal, something beyond us.

Luckily for us there is someone who has promised that he will advocate for us when our time to face the Truth comes.
"Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Accept Jesus as your advocate and Saviour, for on that terrible day when all of our lies, evil thoughts and intentions are exposed, He will stand beside you, placing his bloody hands on your shoulders and saying, "I died for this one too." 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Episcopalians In Need of Pastoral Care Following the Kavanaugh Hearings

The Justice Kavanaugh confirmation hearings took up a lot of the media's attention for the past  several weeks. The reaction from Episcopalians has been predictable. The national organization of Episcopalians whined that Kavanaugh's name be withdrawn before all of the facts were in, presuming guilt in order to claim a righteous stand against a nominee who they were vehemently opposed to anyway because of their fear that he might swing the court to restrict abortions. 

We heard about this via an e-mail from the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina last week,
By David PaulsenPosted Oct 4, 2018[Episcopal News Service] 
"Episcopal leaders, congregations offer pastoral responses in wake of Kavanaugh hearings  
With Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court potentially on track for a final vote in the Senate as soon as this weekend, some Episcopal leaders are adding their voices to the ecumenical response to Kavanaugh’s hearings and the sexual assault allegations against the judge.
The National Council of Churches, of which the Episcopal Church is a member, issued a statement Oct. 3 calling on President Donald Trump to withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination because of his testimony during the hearings and his judicial record.
'Judge Kavanaugh exhibited extreme partisan bias and disrespect towards certain members of the committee and thereby demonstrated that he possesses neither the temperament nor the character essential for a member of the highest court in our nation,' the Council of Churches said."
These so called "churches" are really not interested in the judge's demeanor, it is all about abortion, abortion, abortion.

Nobody needs pastoral care, especially from Episcopal false teachers.

Apparently, some of the few remaining conservative Episcopalians who actually read these missals from Bishop Waldo's communications team were upset enough to let him hear about it. The Bishop was forced to apologize because of these "few" who spoke up. He issued the following letter yesterday,

9 October 2018
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This past weekend, we sent out our usual EDUSC News email update. As always, our goal with this update is to share news from across the diocese and the larger Church. We make no political endorsements or condemnations, of persons or parties.
In our weekend edition of the EDUSC News, we included a report from the Episcopal News Service about Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. The article led off with a summary of a statement by the National Council of Churches, of which The Episcopal Church is a member. We felt the statement was newsworthy regarding the larger Church, meriting its inclusion.
However, the majority of the article focused on various ways that dioceses and parishes across the country have responded to victims of sexual assault. The article highlighted the difficult but necessary work done by those gathered at General Convention this summer, listening to stories of those who have been victimized by others in the Church.
A few took exception to the inclusion of this Episcopal News Service report, to the extent that it is worth addressing with the whole Diocese.
These past few weeks, our national conversation about sexual assault took a new turn, bringing us into further difficult and consequential considerations. Women and men who are victims of sexual violence experience unspeakable trauma with often lifelong consequences. We must pray for all who suffer, including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and her family. We must also pray for those who are accused, even falsely, for they suffer consequences as well. So, in this moment, we pray also for Justice Kavanaugh and his family.
It is difficult to deny that we as a nation seem to be living on the edge of a knife. Any number of subjects and events create opportunities for us to feel anger and bitterness toward one another and to give up on our relationships with each other within the Body of Christ. Ephesians tells us to approach one another “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” This is our call especially in the midst of conflict, a call to which the apostle Paul repeatedly called the earliest Christian communities.
When it comes to claims of sexual abuse in our institutions, our diocesan policy – and indeed the practice of The Episcopal Church – is to hold everyone affected in prayer. This ENS article failed to do that. We must take accusations seriously, and we must respect the dignity of all people; those who have suffered sexual assault and those who have been accused.
Therefore, when we are on the edge of a knife that seeks to cut us apart from one another, we, as the Church, must find a way back to each other. We must find ways to be open and honest with one another. We must listen before we judge.
I take every accusation of sexual violence seriously. I also seek to respond pastorally to all involved, both the accuser and the accused, and their families. I invite each of you to do the same.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew WaldoBishop, Diocese of Upper South Carolina
I am still waiting for Bishop Waldo to apologize for sending a large chunk of these conservative Episcopalian's money to the National organization each year, money that goes to support heresy and of course abortion, abortion, abortion.

If conservatives were as mean and hateful as those acting up against everything Republican these days, pastoral care would be needed. Imagine hateful people hounding their bishops and their families, interrupting their meals at restaurants with chants of "Baby killer" or "Heretic". Imagine them planting thousands of tiny crosses in front of those bishops' cathedrals. Imagine them having die-ins in front of those bishops' cars preventing them from driving home. Imagine confronting them as they enter General Conventions or at their hotels during the convention.

Just imagine, because it won't happen.

We know how to behave, and besides, the S.S. Episcopal is sinking anyway, and we don't need to waste any more torpedoes on her.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Uncomfortable Words (For Revisionist Preachers)

This Sunday's reading is from Mark 10:2-16,
Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’
Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

The last time I heard a revisionist Episcopal priest give a sermon after this Gospel reading, the focus was on the little children being brought to Jesus and how Jews considered children to be unclean, and that no respectable rabbi would ever touch them. "Humbug", I thought and understood he was not going to talk about the elephant in the pews, you know, Jesus' opinions about marriage and divorce.
But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’
These "red letter words" are hard for revisionists to spin so they are usually conveniently ignored. Once ignored, everything else falls into place. Romans 1 can be trashed, the Old Testament can be bashed, and any part of scripture that you don't like can be buried.

Jesus' words are so plain here in taking us back to the beginning of creation. You can't argue with him on this unless you are willing to deny his Lordship by saying that he was wrong, or that he was meeting his audience where they were, or that his statement is about heterosexuals and has no bearing on same-sex marriage.

If you are in an parish where your preacher tries one of those arguments, or if he/she/it ignores those "uncomfortable" words, close your wallet or pocketbook and run for your life.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Episcopal Decline: Marriage and Baptism go together...

From my lifelong friend Wallace Hartley comes this,

As an observer from my ACNA lifeboat, I get to witness to the death throes of the S.S. Episcopal with every passing piece of flotsam and jetsam that drifts by carried on the waves of the internet.

Most recently, Jeff Walton at the IRD reported the dramatic drop in marriages and baptisms being broadcast by that sinking ship.

While it may make sense to most of us that Christian Marriage should lead to children which should lead to Baptism and little Christians who grow up to be big Christians who marry and have more children and therefore more baptisms, this common sense seems to have escaped Episcopalians who have abandoned Christian marriage for either hooking up,  "Holy Shacking Up", or same-sex marriage, none of which are advised by our Lord, and all of which will lead to the declines seen in the graphs pictured above.

Every time my friend the UndergroundPewster points out that Episcopalians need to repent and try to follow our Lord's desires for us, he/she gets slammed by someone calling themselves "Anonymous" who simply refuses to accept that the denominational ship is going down because it has gone off the course God charted for it long ago.

Watching the disaster unfold, I penned the following, 

With apologies to Apologies to  James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn,
"Marriage and Baptism Go Together" 
Marriage and Baptism, Marriage and Baptism, go together it's common wisdom, known for generations, but lost on Episcopalians. 
Try, try, try to explain to them, and they'll say its evolution. Try, try, try and you will only add to their confusion. 
Marriage and Baptism, Marriage and Baptism have gone the way of Confirmation. Like the Catechism also, Gone the way of the dodo. 
Try, try, try to explain to them, and they'll say its evolution. Try, try, try and you will only add to their confusion. 
Marriage and Baptism, Marriage and Baptism, declines Episcopalians cannot fathom, let me tell you brothers (and sisters) you can't have one without the other.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Stumbling Blocks and Millstones

This Sunday's Gospel reading from Mark 9:38-50 is usually used by revisionist preachers to justify ecumenical activities (as long as they don't include groups like ACNA). There is much more to this selection from Mark that usually gets ignored by revisionists. Let's see if you can guess which parts might be problematic to some,

"John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’  But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
 ‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me,* it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell., And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
‘For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’"

Mark 9:38-50 should prove to be a stumbling block to revisionist preachers because in it Jesus talks about millstones being tied around their necks and about them being tossed into the sea or being thrown into hell if they fail to cut out their revisionist teachings.

Since revisionists do not take the Gospel literally, they will never give up their teachings, even as their denominations go to Gehenna, sinking from the weight of those millstones.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Progressive Garbage in, Progressive Garbage Out: Is Heaven a Place on Earth?

One thing that is reflective of the progressive mindset is that we can create heaven on Earth or that we should be working to do so.

For the past few months there has been an annoying commercial running on television by the appropriately named Progressive Insurance company that proudly proclaims the progressive worldview. If you haven't seen and heard it, here it is,

"Heaven Is a Place on Earth" is a song from 1987. It hit number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 on December 5, 1987. It also topped the charts in  the UK. The lyrics are concerned about romantic love, but stray into theology with the refrain and words like this,
"They say in heaven love comes firstWe'll make heaven a place on earthOoh, heaven is a place on earth"

Here are the rest of the lyrics,

Ooh, baby, do you know what that's worth?
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth
They say in heaven, love comes first
We'll make heaven a place on earth
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth

When the night falls down
I wait for you and you come around
And the world's alive with the sound
Of kids on the street outside

When you walk into the room
You pull me close and we start to move
And we're spinning with the stars above
And you lift me up in a wave of love

Ooh, baby, do you know what that's worth?
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth
They say in heaven love comes first
We'll make heaven a place on earth
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth

When I feel alone, I reach for you
And you bring me home
When I'm lost at sea I hear your voice
And it carries me

In this world we're just beginning
To understand the miracle of living
Baby, I was afraid before
But I'm not afraid anymore

Ooh, baby, do you know what that's worth?
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth.
They say in heaven love comes first
We'll make heaven a place on earth
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth

In this world we're just beginning
To understand the miracle of living
Baby, I was afraid before
But I'm not afraid anymore

Ooh, baby, do you know what that's worth?
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth
They say in heaven love comes first
We'll make heaven a place on earth
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth

My choral director missed the theological issue completely and was most annoyed that sometimes she might act like "Jamie" the director of the choir in the commercial. Everyone chuckled at the truth in her comment, but I cringed at the thought that no one saw the potential danger of the progressive worldview being conveyed by this seemingly harmless television ad.

The zeitgeist works its way into our mindset in many ways so we should be very careful about what society is feeding us.

As the updated saying goes, progressive garbage in, progressive garbage out.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Oh Those Missing Verses: Adulterers!

This Sunday's reading from James 3:13-4:3,7-8 cleverly cuts out the uncomfortable words James has for all of us by deleting verses 4-6.

First let's read the version most Episcoplians will hear in the pews today,

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for* those who make peace.1 Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 2 You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet* something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Missing are three important verses of warning,
 4 Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, ‘God* (He) yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? 6 But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says,‘God opposes the proud,   but gives grace to the humble.’ 
Typically, the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) cuts out language that warns us of God's potential to regard us in a negative light. The impression the RCL  editors create is that we can do no wrong, that God is never angry with us, and that we do not have to fear the Lord.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" - Proverbs 9:10.
Imagine the lack of wisdom in a generation that is not taught the fear of the Lord.

Imagine the doom facing a generation that embraces friendship with the world over fear of the Lord.

I am afraid that is the unintended consequence of following an expurgated version of the Bible as heard every Sunday in Episcopal parishes that follow the Revised Common Lectionary.