Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Monster in the Closet

Charlie did a good job with today's sermon keeping it to 14 minutes on this a "low Sunday" at ECOS. He focused on Death. To Charlie, Death is the monster in the closet, the fear we all have. The lessons for today dealt with the resurrected Christ and what Acts, 1Peter, and John tell us about close encounters of the early Church. Close encounters with the risen Lord that is. Charlie illustrated the close encounters with the lovely description of passing smells between Jesus and his disciples. For some reason I never thought about Jesus and whether or not He had brushed His teeth after the resurrection until this point. Talk about Monster breath! Charlie pointed out that we need not fear death (or morning mouth?)any longer. The monster in the closet has been conquered. (It now eats cheese doodles). Now, if we no longer fear death, why do so many people show up on Easter, and then turn around and miss the rest of the story the following week? Take away the fear of death and do you take away a reason to attend church?
How about the other monster in the closet, the plastic chairs we are using in Lumpkin Hall while the sanctuary is undergoing reconstruction. Could it be that the plastic chairs of our temporary abode are not as comfortable as the old wooden pews of the sanctuary? Do you know of anyone who is voting with their derriere and attending another church for this reason?
I did miss not hearing about "Doubting Thomas" today. I have always been fond of him, but that can be the topic of another sermon.
Speaking of other sermons, here is one that I liked. I call it "Show Me the Jesus." It has this great quotation "The church today has so muddied the gospel water that we can preach forever and never get around to Christ crucified. We’ve added cultural issues and social issues and theological issues to the gospel which probably would have confused the first-century Christians. They only had an eyewitness story to tell of a Messiah who died and rose again. This is what Christ did, and that is what the church preached.”

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Old Fashioned Easter

Never mind the carnival being put on by the church next door, here at Our Saviour we have been having an old fashioned Holy Week. The only thing we missed was a good Maundy Thursday p.m. service. The services at Grace Lutheran were offered, but I just could not see having drums and a praise band for this service, so I abstained and studied the theology of Andrew Lloyd Webbber instead.

Today's Easter sermon was delivered by Fr. Dunbar. He took us through Job and Ecclesiastes to illustrate the difference in Old Testament thinking about death and New Testament's startling claim of Resurrection. Without getting into the walking cadaver question, the somebody stole the body argument, or the Star Trek transporter hypothesis, Fr. Dunbar helped keep us aware of the remarkable claim of Christians that Jesus lives. The "dualism" that Bobby referred to had me going back for further reading in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Years ago a philosophy student I knew was grappling with the "Mind-Body problem." I was too immature to ask about the "Body and Soul" problem, but after trying to read these linked papers, and becoming hopelessly confused, I think I will stick to what I believe is a simple Christian approach. That is, this is just another one of those things I will have to have Jesus explain to me after this body dies.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lent, It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Apologies to Eddie Pola, George Wyle

It's the most wonderful time of the year.
With the kids wearing ashes,
and all getting lashes,
"Be of good cheer,"
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

There'll be prayers for the hosting,
martyrs for roasting and time for
shovelling out of the snow.
there'll be scary ghost stories and
tales of the glories of Lents
long, long ago.

It's the most wonderful time of the year.
There'll be much quiet woeing
but hearts will be glowing,
because the Resurrection is near.
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


In the interest of keeping a Holy Week, turn away from your computer and return to the Lord. Comment Moderation has been enabled for this week to help protect us from ourselves. UP

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It Is All Greek to Me

Reg and I have problems with Lowell's take on Matthew 19.

Matthew 19:3-6

My interpretation is different. I thereby question the Church's past moves to liberalize divorce. Throw me to the Lions! Thanks Lowell for staying engaged.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Goya's Ghosts

I watched the film "Goya's Ghosts" the other day. As I was feeling a bit under the inquisition after the last few posts, the film struck a few chords. When people question the Church, guess what happens? People get upset. In the days of the Inquisition, the Church had methods of dealing with dissent. The inquisitor would put people to "The Question." This is presented graphically in the film. The "religious" argument is presented that if you are truthful, God will sustain you throughout torture even unto death. Of course, the failure of this argument is demonstrated through the revelation of man's weakness in the character of the Inquisitor Brother Lorenzo who fails in his own time of being put to the test. The film is less about Goya than it is about the Ghosts of the inquisition, those spectres who did not conform and were put to "The Question." It is also about the way we tend to become the very thing we despise. You may want to add this movie to your catalog.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Down in the Valley (of Bones)

Out the depths (of Lent) we were treated today to the hope of resurrection starting in Ezekiel 37 with the valley of bones and moving to Romans 8 where He will give life to these mortal bodies, and then to the raising of Lazarus. Fr. Foss delivered the sermon and did a good job staying on topic and on time, although I personally would have heard more on the reading from Romans and "setting the mind on the Spirit." I guess that if we had gone there, the sermon would have run too long. And what was it that he said about the choir corner?

And what about the baptisms today at both the 8 o'clock and 10:30 services? I don't want to discourage baptisms, but for some, there may be an issue with having a baptism during a Sunday in Lent. I tried to do a little research on this and found that some Episcopal Churches do allow this while others do not except in unusual circumstances such as the health of the child or maybe if the family threatens to leave if it is not done when grandparents can be present. Of course, a baptism could be held in private in these circumstances. I personally like baptisms, but I also like traditions such as Lenten disciplines and the idea of using the Lenten period to prepare oneself for baptism. Looks like another tradition gets tossed into the valley of dry bones. Someday, Ezekiel's dream may be fulfilled and this particular old tradition will be given the breath of life.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Where Are the "Unchurched?"

Am interesting poll from the Barna group is in the title link. Suggestions were made as to how to reach the unattached.
"The best chance of getting them to a church is when someone they know and trust invites them, offers to accompany them, and there is reason to believe that the church event will address one of the issues or needs they are struggling with at that moment."

How do you learn what issue that person is struggling with? Say "Welcome" and listen to them!
How about help with reaching the intermittent or "under-churched." The under-churched group must contain persons on a spiritual quest or those struggling with an issue. Say "Hey, we've missed you" and then listen to them!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Blind Men Walking

After all the commotion of the past week, it was good to get back to basics today at ECOOS. Charlie delivered a good sermon on the healing gospel focusing initially at the humorous parts where the formerly blind guy argues with the pharisees. The sermon could have been a little shorter, and I wondered about the reference to tossing out the "antisemitic" tone of John's Gospel. When we are made uncomfortable with a Biblical text, maybe we are the proverbial "Dum Dums" who need some explanation and perhaps more study rather than tossing out the parts we don't like. Sometimes we learn more from looking inward for the causes of our discomfort. The commotion of the past week with the departure of the Stringer family, a family that has devoted much time, talent, and treasure to our youth program makes me uncomfortable. Let us not be blind to what is happening around us, and simply toss this off, but use this as an opportunity for discernment.