Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Episcopal Priests Lament the Death of Roe v. Wade

As expected, the radical abortion advocates are up in arms about the recent U.S. Supreme Court's decision striking down the earlier decision known as Roe v. Wade. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal organization's letter says enough as to how deeply wedded Episcopalians are to the pro-abortion movement.

Not to be outdone, a group of Episcopal priests allegedly proposed the following as, "A Service of Lament and Healing" (found here).

I reformatted this some,

"About this liturgy

This outline of a worship service was designed by a group of lay and clergy leaders within the Episcopal Church as a way for the church-at-large to respond to an anticipated overturn of Roe v. Wade in June 2022. The service may be just one way you may choose to respond pastorally to those who will be affected by the overturn of this historic precedent.

Since 1967, The Episcopal Church has maintained its 'unequivocal opposition to any legislation on the part of the national or state governments which would abridge or deny the right of individuals to reach informed decisions [about the termination of pregnancy] and to act upon them.' At the same time, we also recognize that issues surrounding family planning and reproductive health are complicated for many in the church, and we intentionally designed this liturgy so that all have space to be together in the presence of the Holy One in a time of grief, fear, confusion, hurt, and lament.

We offer this liturgy, then, as a gift to the wider church and religious communities, including our ecumencial and interfaith friends. We leave it as an intentionally 'open' document so that faith leaders may adapt prayers to local customs or circumstances. (Especially in an interfaith setting, appropriate sacred texts representing all faith traditions will need to be included.) It is a starting point—a framework of options and ideas around which to build. We invite you to adapt it to your own setting and context in the hopes of being a voice of healing and hope."

Yours in Christ,

The Very Reverend Katie Churchwell, Dean, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The Reverend Charlie Dupree, D.Min., Rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia
The Very Reverend Gray Lesesne, D.Min., Dean, Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis
Ms. Yuri Rodridguez Laureani, Seminarian, University of the South at Sewanee
The Reverend Katie Nakamura Rengers, Staff Officer for Church Planting, Episcopal Church Center
The Reverend E. Suzanne Wille, Rector, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Chicago, Illinois

Gathering

As the people gather, a few options to consider. Choose what’s right for you, based on your context:

The people gather in silence.

A single instrument (guitar, flute, piano, bells, singing bowls, etc.) plays.

Bells toll.

The church bells toll 49 times, once to commemorate each year that women have been protected by the United States Constitution to the liberty of making their own healthcare decisions, until today.

As the congregation gathers, they are invited to repeat or sing the following mantra, either silently or aloud: For God alone my soul in silence waits. God is present in me, in us.

Music

See suggested selections at the end of the liturgy.

Opening Acclamation

Officiant:  For God alone our soul in silence waits.
People:      God is present in me, in us. Amen.

Call to Worship

The Officiant welcomes the People with these or similar words

Tonight, we gather in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, changing decades of settled law. We might be angry. We might be frightened. We might be confused. We might be numb.

Tonight, we come together as a community in the wake of this shock. Tonight this is a place to hold all of these feelings, not to solve anything. Tonight, this is a place to bring all of our feelings, all of our fears, a place to rest in a time of chaos, of cacophony. Not everything we say or pray or sing tonight will be for everyone, for there are many people, many feelings, many convictions in this room. Rest in what is for you; let go of what is not.

In this time of fear and conflict, come, rest: whatever you feel, whatever you believe. Come, rest: whether you need to cry or to be silent or to cry out. Come, rest: with your fears and your worries.

This is a place, this is a time for lament. This is a time for reflection. This is a time for us to come together.

Hope will come. Action will come. Joy will come.

But for now, just be.

Reading 1: A piece of contemporary literature or a sacred text

Suggested contemporary literature:

An Excerpt from A Liturgy of Longing by Sandra Maria Van Opstal, found in Sarah Bessey’s A Rhythm of Prayer: A Collection of Meditations for Renewal; Convergent Publishing, 2021.

We believe you are at work bringing peace. True peace—flourishing, wholeness, and well-being. We hear your words of truth and know in our minds that you are: Lord, the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome. You show no partiality. You defend the cause of the fatherless, motherless, and the widow. You love the stranger. We believe and we feel overwhelmed—sometimes it is hard to believe that you actually care about the injustice and suffering. When we don’t see your work. When we sense the apathy from the church. When we feel small and forget that we were designed to be different and to make things different. When we feel overwhelmed by the darkness in the world - the violence, injustice, poverty, oppression, abuse. Give us hope not to be overcome. Give us eyes to see your goodness for our world. Give us the strength to hold the pain of injustice in our world and faith that it will end. Give us courage to be honest with ourselves about why and how we are doing justice. We believe. So. Empower us to disrupt our broken thinking by learning truth from diverse leaders. Enable us to discover the beauty of justice and inspire action in others. Embolden us to display your goodness in the world.

OR

Ice Storm by Robert Hayden, American Journal; Liveright Publishing, 1982.

Unable to sleep, or pray, I stand by the window looking out at moonstruck trees a December storm has bowed with ice. Maple and mountain ash bend under its glassy weight, their cracked branches falling upon the frozen snow. The trees themselves, as in winters past, will survive their burdening,
broken thrive. And am I less to You, my God, than they?

OR

Suggested Scriptures from the Hebrew/Christian Traditions:

Micah 6:8

God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

OR

Genesis 1:1-5  

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness God called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

After the reading:

Reader  Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.
People  Thanks be to God.

The Psalm (sung or said)

Psalm 69: 1-4, 16-18  

1 Save me, O God, *
for the waters have risen up to my neck.
2 I am sinking in deep mire, *
and there is no firm ground for my feet.
3 I have come into deep waters, *
and the torrent washes over me.
4 I have grown weary with my crying; my throat is inflamed; *
my eyes have failed from looking for my God.
16 Save me from the mire; do not let me sink; * let me be rescued from those who hate me and out of the deep waters.
17 Let not the torrent of waters wash over me, neither let the deep swallow me up; *
do not let the Pit shut its mouth upon me.
18 Answer me, O God, for your love is kind; *
in your great compassion, turn to me.

OR

Psalm 139:1-11 or 1-23 
(Note the words in the optional verses - U.P.)

1 God, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
2 You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways.
3 Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
but you, O God know it altogether.
4 You press upon me behind and before *
and lay your hand upon me,
5 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.
6 Where can I go then from your Spirit? *
where can I flee from your presence?
7 If I climb up to heaven, you are there; *
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
8 If I take the wings of the morning *
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
9 Even there your hand will lead me *
and your right hand hold me fast.
10 If I say, "Surely the darkness will cover me, *
and the light around me turn to night,"
11 Darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day; *
darkness and light to you are both alike.
[12 For you yourself created my inmost parts; *
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
13 I will thank you because I am marvelously made; *
your works are wonderful, and I know it well.
14 My body was not hidden from you, *
while I was being made in secret
and woven in the depths of the earth.
15 Your eyes beheld my limbs,
yet unfinished in the womb;
all of them were written in your book; *
they were fashioned day by day,
when as yet there was none of them.
16 How deep I find your thoughts, O God! *
how great is the sum of them!
17 If I were to count them,
they would be more in number than the sand; *
to count them all, my life span would need to be like yours.
18 Oh, that you would slay the wicked, O God! *
You that thirst for blood, depart from me.
19 They speak despitefully against you; *
your enemies take your Name in vain.
20 Do I not hate those, O God who hate you? *
and do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
21 I hate them with a perfect hatred; *
they have become my own enemies.
22 Search me out, O God, and know my heart; *
try me and know my restless thoughts.
23 Look well whether there be any wickedness in me *
and lead me in the way that is everlasting.]

(I bet none of the priests who wrote this liturgy will read those red letter words out loud. - U.P.)

Reading 2: A sacred text

Suggested Scriptures from the Christian Tradition:

(Why not say, "The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to...?) 

Luke 4:17-21
The synagogue assistant gave Jesus the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the synagogue assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed on him. He began to explain to them, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it.”

OR

Luke 18:1-8
Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my accuser.’  For a while he refused, but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, (ed note, my ESV reads, "Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think," - U.P.) yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’ ” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

(What about the cries from the millions of babies who died from abortion over the past 49 years? -U.P)

OR

Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

OR

Matthew 6:25-34

Jesus said: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

After the reading:

Reader             Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.
People                Thanks be to God.


Music
See suggested selections at the end of the liturgy.

Sermon/Speaker/Homily/Small group reflections

The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead.
On the the third day he rose again He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

OR

An Affirmation of Faith: A Profession of Faith, by Sister Joan Chittister, OSB  (modified)

I have learned to be skeptical about things coming from Joan Chittister, OSB. 


We believe in God who made us all
and whose divinity infuses life with the sacred.
We believe in the multiple revelations of God,
alive in every human heart, expressed in every culture, found in all the wisdoms of the world.
We believe in Jesus, the Christ, who leads us to the fullness of humanity, to what we are meant to become. Through Christ, we become new people, called beyond the consequences of our brokenness, lifted to the fullness of life.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of God on earth,
who keeps the Christ vision present to souls yet in darkness, gives life to hearts now blind, infuses energy into spirits yet weary, isolated, searching and confused.
We believe in God who is life.
Amen to courage, to hope, to spirit of truth, to nature, to happiness, to wholeness, to the partnership of people in God’s plan, to the Christ who calls us beyond the boundaries of ourselves, to forgiveness, and to everything that stretches our hearts to the dimensions of God.
In all of this, we can surely believe, as God does.

Offertory: Movement/Responding

The Officiant invites the People to respond.

Ensure that pens, pencils and pieces of paper are available (perhaps giving them to attendees as they enter the worship space). The Officiant invites the congregation to write down thoughts, feelings, emotions, words, and/or the name of persons affected by this decision. Collect the papers or invite the People to bring their prayers forward. The Officiant offers this or a similar prayer while placing the prayers on the altar: O God, receive the prayers of your people. Receive our hurt, receive our confusion, receive our anger, receive our helplessness. Receive us, Holy One—our everything—into your heart, and strengthen us to move ahead with clarity, wisdom, bravery, and strength. Amen.

Have candles available either in front of the altar or at a side altar. Invite the congregation to come up, as they feel called, and light a candle, offering up words, thoughts, emotions, and/or the names of persons affected by this decision.  

Offer a healing station with laying on of hands and anointing with holy oil.

Prayers

A Litany Based on The Prayer of St. Francis

Litanist: We pray for those who, near or far, are without peace tonight. We pray for all who partner with those in need of reproductive health care as they seek and strive to honor the dignity of every human being. We remember physicians, nurses, spouses, partners, friends, and strangers alike: may there be a great network of love and support to meet the demands of the times that lay ahead. May we learn to walk with each other without judgment or shame, knowing that it is with action that peace is found.
People: Lord, make us instruments of your peace.

Litanist: We pray for the hubris of humanity, that by acting legislatively, we assert that we can know the journey of another and deem it unworthy. We pray for an end to the dehumanization of those who claim autonomy of body and mind. May we be those who can love beyond our own needs and choices, knowing that it is within ourselves that we must first sow love if it is to grow through us.
People: Where there is hatred, let us sow love;

Litanist: We pray for those who have already been shamed and belittled and caused harm by their choices to seek reproductive health care. We pray for those who have already been harmed by state legislation that limits education and access to safe care. We pray for those who, because of fear or shame, cannot gather with us now in community.  
People: Where there is injury, pardon;

Litanist: We confess, God, that we are a United Divided States. And we wish that we were in perfect harmony with you and with each other, and that pregnancy would only occur in situations of love, safety, perfect health, and to the benefit of mother, child, family, and community. But that is not so now. In our discord, may we find grace for each other. In our discord, may we offer supportive and caring companionship to each other. In our discord, may we find union with you, the God who loves us. May we be committed to union in the face of imperfect circumstances, imperfect relationships, and imperfect democracy.
People: Where there is discord, union;

Litanist: We pray for an end to legal action, rhetoric and violent acts that target reproductive health care providers. We pray for the day when health care providers, women and their families, can exercise their rights to reproductive choice in security and peace. We pray for those who are not of the same mind regarding reproductive rights and choices, that all may be led to wise actions and safe choices. May our earthly faith, combined with the faith of the great cloud of witnesses, be strengthened to meet the days and demands that lay ahead.
People: Where there is doubt, faith;

Litanist: We pray for those who are afraid, lost, and in the midst of turmoil of spirit and mind. We pray for those who lament the loss of bodily autonomy, for those who fear the loss of other civil rights, and for those who fear the unknown of the world ahead. We pray especially for all who will be disproportionately affected by a lack of reproductive rights, especially people who are Black, Indigenous, Asian, Brown, People of Color, trans and nonbinary. We pray for all who live in poverty, and for those who live in rural areas, who will also be disproportionately affected. May we be resolved in our commitment to hope, knowing that to hope in God is to never hope in vain.
People: Where there is despair, hope;

Litanist: We pray for those who have died because they lacked access to safe health care. We pray for the loss of life yet to come from forced childbirth and illegal abortion. We pray for the continued assault on the respect, dignity, and citizenship of those in need of reproductive rights. May we remember that there is no darkness too dark for you, God, and that your presence is never-failing.
People: Where there is darkness, light;

Litanist: We pray for the most vulnerable among us, especially children and families who will be affected by this decision. May we remember and make sacrifices to care for all who will face economic hardship, hunger, and difficult choices because of this new ruling. We pray for those in grief and sorrow as they look to the future with dread and trembling. We pray for those who do not see the promise of hope and those for whom life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness will never be realized. May we be comforters for those in sadness and bearers of joy for those who have none.
People: Where there is sadness, joy.

Litanist and People:
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
        hallowed be thy Name,
        thy kingdom come,
        thy will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
        as we forgive those
                who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
        but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
        and the power, and the glory,
        for ever and ever. Amen.

OR

The Lord’s Prayer                                                        
New Zealand Book of Common Prayer

Beware of the New Zealand Prayer Book! 

Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and for ever. Amen.

Concluding Words of Blessing

The Officiant says these, or some other blessing

Friends, as you go out tonight into what may feel to some like a new, strange and uncertain world,
may God make you an instrument of God’s peace: Where there is hatred, sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy. God our Mother, grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
And the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, be among us always. Amen.

                                                   (based on the Prayer of Saint Francis)

Music
See suggested selections at the end of the liturgy.

List of suggested hymns/music
Love take a walk with me (By Charles Murphy)
Don’t be afraid (by Ana Hernández/Fran McKendree)
You shall cross the barren desert (Wonder, Love, Praise 811)
Abide With Me (Hymnal 1982 662)
O God, Our Help In Ages Past (Hymnal 1982 680)
Lord, Make Us Servants Of Your Peace (Hymnal 1982 593)
There’s A Wideness In God’s Mercy (Hymnal 1982 470)
Heal Me, Hands of Jesus (Wonder, Love, Praise 773)
I Want Jesus to Walk With Me (Wonder, Love, Praise 805)
Keep Me Every Day (Lift Every Voice and Sing II 173)
Now It Is Evening (My Heart Sings Out 159)
O Mary Don’t You Weep (traditional African-American Spiritual)
Hazme un instrumento de tu paz/Lord Make Us Instruments of Your Peace (By Sebastián Temple. In Flor y Canto)
Danos tu luz (by Juan Espinosa. In Flor y Canto) 
Nada te turbe/Let nothing disturb you (Taize. In Flor y Canto)

These priests are sick folks. 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

More about that disciplinarian

Last Sunday we listened to a passage from Galatians in which St. Paul wrote that we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian (the Law), and I argue that now we are held to a higher standard, and that we must be cautious when people say that they are being led the Holy Spirit to preach and to do things that are contrary to the Holy Scripture. 

This Sunday we heard a passage further along in Galatians that should put the nail in the coffin to any innovation that attempts to create a new "fruit of the Spirit".

Galatians 5:1,13-25

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

For you were called to freedom, brothers; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy (and murder), drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

"What the flesh desires is opposed by the Spirit" pretty much sums it up.

Today's society lives to satisfy the desires of the flesh. 

It should not be the desire of the Church to try to satisfy such desires.

 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Strip Searches and the Transgender Officer

In today's upside down world everyone seems to be bending over backwards in an attempt to appease the "transgender" folks. Bending over backwards while upside down can lead severe disorientation which is what we see in the United Kingdom as reported by GBNews

Transgender police officers who were born male can still strip-search female suspects, according to official guidance from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

The NPCC, the representative body for British police chiefs, states that once officers have transitioned, they can “search persons of the same gender as their own lived gender”.

The guidance was issued in December 2021 and was brought to light by Superintendent Cathy Larkman who described it as a “devastating blow to women’s trust in the police”.

Ms Larkman, who recently retired after serving for more than 30 years, said: “The more I read it, the more shocked I was....

The NPCC guidance reportedly says: “Chief Officers are advised to recognise the status of Transgender colleagues from the moment they transition, considered to be, the point at which they present in the gender with which they identify.

“Thus, once a transgender colleague has transitioned, they will search persons of the same gender as their own lived gender.”

The guidance adds: “If the refusal is based on discriminatory views, consideration should be given for the incident [to] be recorded as a non-crime hate incident unless the circumstances amount to a recordable crime...."

“This is a devastating blow to women's trust in the police. Women are not even an afterthought in this guidance — they are completely non-existent. Everything is geared towards the sensitivities of the officer doing the searching.

“They claim they are trying to be inclusive. But this isn't inclusive of women and it doesn't respect their sex.”

 Lord help us.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

"We are no longer subject to a disciplinarian"

This Sunday's reading from Galatians 3:23-39 contains some of Paul's argument about the meaning of Old Testament "law" and its place in determining our salvation.

"Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise."

I have heard it said by former members of the Episcopal church's Executive Council that this verse can be taken to mean that we are free to make up our own rules.

Generalization of, "we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian" from its specific reference to having to follow Old Testament law in order to please God to mean freedom from following its moral codes is perhaps the most egregious error that those who "belong to Christ" can possibly make. After all, if we belong to Christ, we must strive to follow his rules, and He came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it.

When a Christian tries to justify some non-Biblical innovation by using, "We are no longer subject to a disciplinarian", you can try to reason with them by asking, "What are we subject to?" They will usually counter by saying, "The Holy Spirit", and we all know what that means. It means the spirit of the age, a spirit that as it runs counter to scripture can not be considered "holy" by any means.

So here we are slaves to Christ whose words have told us the discipline we might face if we deny Him.

"But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 10:33

Now that is one serious disciplinarian. 



Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Churches and Justice Targeted = Not Newsworthy

 The non-news media here in the U.S. has been particularly not-busy when it comes to attacks on pro-lifers lately, but perhaps that has always been the case. This past weekend we saw absolutely zero coverage by the old mainstream Sunday news shows of the attempted assassination of one of our Supreme Court Justices. In addition, we have seen little U.S. coverage of the massacre of 40 men, women, and children inside a Nigerian Catholic church for which the Nigerian government blames the group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). And what about attacks on churches here in the U.S. since the Supreme Court documents about an abortion case came to light? 

Crickets.

Get Religion has a good critique of news non-coverage of real events here in the U.S.

As for the murder of Christians by Muslims in Africa or elsewhere, you have to search the web to learn about that subject. Sometimes you have to go to Jihad Watch for updates.

Anyone or any news that goes against the narrative of the day is to be silenced.

Such is the world in which we live, and who rules the world?



Sunday, June 12, 2022

The Power of the Trinity

 Trinity Sunday is one of those days when we pause and celebrate the mystery of what God has revealed about himself in the Bible. Christians have grappled with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three in one throughout the centuries, and on this Sunday, many preachers will (usually the young assisting priest) stand up and try to present a homily about the mystery. 

One thing I look forward to on Trinity Sunday is the singing of The Lorica or "St. Patrick's Breastplate". In it we remember the power of the Trinity. Bind Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to yourself as a modern day St. Patrick when you go out into the world.

Back in 2009 my friend Wallace Hartley posted the verses that you do not get to sing (you will probably guess why) as well as a more literal interpretation of the lyrics (see below). The expurgated verses are bracketed and highlighted. Listen to the organ rendition by clicking on the video.


From Satucket.com's lectionary pages for today (please note the verses in brackets are not to be found in the 1982 Hymnal.

THE LORICA, OR, ST PATRICK'S BREASTPLATE

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
his baptism in the Jordan river;
his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb;
his riding up he heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet "Well done" in judgement hour;
the service of the seraphim;
confessors' faith, apostles' word,
the patriarchs' prayers, the prophets' scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
and purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.

[Against the demon snares of sin,
the vice that gives temptation force,
the natural lusts that war within,
the hostile men that mar my course;
of few or many, far or nigh,
in every place, and in all hours
against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
against false words of heresy,
against the knowledge that defiles
against the heart's idolatry,
against the wizard's evil craft,
against the death-wound and the burning
the choking wave and poisoned shaft,
protect me, Christ, till thy returning.]

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

A more literal translation, by Kuno Meyer, is the following:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgement of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of the Cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of the resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In prediction of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendour of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak to me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me,

[From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From every one who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in a multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,

Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body
and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poising, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So there come to me abundance of reward.]

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye of every one who sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

"It was Pride that changed angels into devils"

"It was Pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as  angels."  - St. Augustine
Here we are in the month of June which is now called "Pride" month. The only people who are supposed to be so honored are proud LGBTQrsxyz rainbow flag draped (we hope draped) humans. St. Augustine would be aghast at some of the sights and sounds that we are being subjected to, but he probably would not be surprised. 

Webster lists the following as synonyms for pride:
ego, pridefulness, self-esteem, self-regard, self-respect
Notice how most of the synonyms are self-centered.

Thomas Aquinas wrote, 
"inordinate self-love is the cause of every sin (1,77) ... the root of pride is found to consist in man not being, in some way, subject to God and His rule." (From Deadly Sins)

 I once did a year of caregiver training in which we were led by The Rule of Benedict. One of the most important lessons Benedict taught me was the exercise of humility. When we humbly approach the altar rail and fall on our knees to receive the Eucharist, we express that we are subject to God and his rule. I was first humbled when I came to an understanding of, and acknowledgement of, God's supremacy, and his love for me, a love would die for me as Jesus my Lord and Savior. We humans do not like to be "lorded over", especially we Americans, but as Christians, we know that we must bow down before the cross, and when we do, we do it not as "Proud Christians", but as an act of humility and out of our love for God. 

Today's version of "Pride" with its celebrations, parades, and nonstop media coverage is the opposite of God-centered humility. The type of pride on display this month elevates mankind's fallen nature to a place of highest honor. Note to everyone: Our fallen nature (which is displayed in all of its forms daily on the network news broadcasts) is nothing to be proud about. 

So, this month the Devil should be proud of his work as he seems to be winning the spiritual battle, but in the long run it is Jesus who will win, and it is Jesus who will gather his humble followers to him in a celebration unequaled by anything this Earth can offer.