Sunday, March 22, 2009

Snake on a Stick

On my way to church today, I had a thought. "Okay, for the past few weeks the sermons have been short, but nature abhors a vacuum, so this week the sermon will be at least 20 minutes long."

Nature is happy. Balance has been restored.

Actually, the sermon wasn't bad. Charlie focused on the good works we as a parish are doing, and he rightly gave credit to God from which they come. By choosing ten of these works, I knew that time would be an issue as it would be difficult to limit each effort to a mere sixty seconds. I was encouraged in the thought that the subject matter would be changing regularly and digressions would be minimized.

I will disagree with Charlie in that I cannot give unflagging support to the Episcopal Relief and Development contribution basket because I have seen how these monies can be misused. There was the ugly letter written by a certain Dr. Louie Crew in 2004 to to Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi and Other Bishops of Uganda after Uganda announced they were going to distance themselves from monies from the Episcopal Church USA (following the consecration of V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. The letter and discussion can be found at StandFirm. Here is an excerpt:

"We have been a major contributor to your Planning, Development, and Rehabilitation (PDR) Department, an arrangement that lets you identify the needs and put the gifts where they will be most effective. Most of ERD's grant to Uganda of $284,000 in 2001 and of $138,500 in 2001 were funneled through your PDR.

Should ERD stop making those appeals and stop making these grants?

Should ERD screen its donors to find out who consented and who did not consent to the consecration of Bishop Robinson?

Is the Church of Uganda cutting itself off from the Episcopal Church's funding of numerous Communion networks, such as our major funding for the provincial secretaries conference currently taking place in Johannesburg?

Will the Church of Uganda continue to contribute only .5% to the costs of the Anglican Consultative Council, or will it increase that amount to offset subsidies by The Episcopal Church, which contributes 29.3% of the costs of the Anglican Consultative Council? (See the contributions of all 38 provinces at"

Comments noted that in the ERD’s Form 990 filed in 2006 for the fiscal year 2005, ERD spent roughly $4.5Million in expenses to dispense $11.6Million in charity.

Rest assured that some of your ERD dollars will go to the needy. Don't be so sure that the ERD won't be used for political reasons.

This is why I wanted to hear something about the snake on a stick. Recall today's O.T. reading from Numbers 21:4-9,
"From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.’ Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.’ So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live."

I wonder if the Archbishop of Uganda has a bronze Dr. Crew on a pole somewhere?


  1. Now there's a visual...Queen Lutibelle on a stick.

  2. Bull Street1:53 PM

    Dear Underground--I take it the Rev. Foss didn't preach the gospel from John 3:16. Maybe he isn't using the Revised Common Lectionary yet. Did you also have the reading from Ephesians about "not by works lest anyone boast"? Touting the parish's good works on that Sunday with that reading seems to go against the grain.

  3. Thanks for dropping by Bull Street,

    We heard John 3:14-21 in the readings, but I don't think we heard much more about it after that. I have a theory that it might be considered exclusivist and would take a great deal longer than twenty minutes to explain away.

    To his credit, the rector gave the real credit to the Lord for all good words, and I took the ten great works sermon to be boasting of the Lord's works.

  4. Bull Street2:40 PM

    Fair enough on the good works.

    Too bad about John 3:16.

    Wow! Leonardo Ricardo checks out your site. Has he flamed you badly yet?

  5. My image in bronze must be be pasted on a pole somewhere.