Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Holy Innocents.

The Collect.

O ALMIGHTY God, who out of the mouths of babes and sucklmgs hast ordained strength, and madest infants to glorify thee by their deaths: Mortify and kill all vices in us, and so strengthen us by thy grace, that by the innocency of our lives, and constancy of our faith even unto death, we may glorify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Epistle. Revelation 14:1-5 (ESV)

Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.

The Gospel. St. Matthew 2:13b-18

an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Monday, December 27, 2010

Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist

The Collect

MERCIFUL Lord, we beseech thee to cast thy bright beams of light upon thy Church, that it, being illumined by the doctrine of thy blessed Apostle and Evangelist Saint John, may so walk in the light of thy truth, that it may at length attain to life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. 1 John 1:1-10 (ESV)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

The Gospel. St. John 21:19b-25 (ESV)

And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


The Nativity of our Lord, or the Birthday of Christ, commonly called Christmas-day.

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only. begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

This Collect to be said daily throughout the Octave.

The Epistle. Hebrews 1:1-12 (ESV)

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”?

Or again,

“I will be to him a father,
and he shall be to me a son”?

And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God's angels worship him.”

Of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels winds,
and his ministers a flame of fire.”

But of the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”


“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
and your years will have no end.”

The Gospel. St. John 1:1-14 (ESV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Fourth Sunday in Advent

The Collect.

O LORD, raise up, we pray thee, thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and 'deliver us; through the satisfaction of Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, world with out end. Amen.

The Epistle. Philipians 4:4-7 (ESV)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The Gospel. St. John 1:19-28 (ESV)

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

(Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Third Sunday in Advent

The Collect.

O LORD Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so pre pare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever,* one God, world without end. Amen.

The First Sunday in Advent

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and [the]* dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

This Collect is to be repeated every day, with the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas-day.

The Epistle. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 (ESV)

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

The Gospel. St. Matthew 11:2-10 (ESV)

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent Season

The First Sunday in Advent

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and [the]* dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

This Collect is to be repeated every day, with the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas-day.

The Epistle. Romans 13:8-14 (ESV)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

The Gospel. St Matthew 21:1-13 (ESV)

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Sunday Next Before Advent

The Collect.

STIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Epistle. Jeremiah 23:5-8 (ESV)

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”

The Gospel. St. John 6:5-14 (ESV)

Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.

The Epistle. Colossians 1:3-12 (ESV)

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

The Gospel. St. Matthew 9:18-26 (ESV)

While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. And when Jesus came to the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity.

[I have been unable to blog for over a month due to computer issues -- the motherboard on my computer went out. I now have a new computer and regret any inconvenience. -- DC+]

The Collect.

O GOD, our refuge and strength, who art the author of all godliness; Be ready, we beseech thee, to hear the devout prayers of thy Church; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

All Saints' Day.

The Collect.

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This Collect is to be said daily throughout the Octave.

The Epistle. Philippians 3:17-21 (ESV)

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

The Gospel. St. Matthew 22:15-22 (ESV)

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone's opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

(A Couple More) Reflections on "Restoring Honor"

I have just got off of the phone with a friend with whom I've discussed the Restoring Honor rally in some detail. He's a Southern Baptist minister who agreed with me that Russell Moore's column was spot on. As we talked, I was reminded of a couple of things that built upon what I wrote last night:

1. When there was some discussion regarding Mitt Romney's Mormonism in 2008 I said at the time that I could vote for him if he got the nomination (I was a Fred Thompson backer from the beginning but when he dropped out after a lackadaisical campaign -- long after the South Carolina primary -- I hoped that Romney would be the candidate) because I was voting for my President, not my Bishop. It was, and is, a matter of sphere sovereignty; I could easily vote for a candidate whose positions were in line with a Christian worldview despite their having a heterodox theology over against a candidate with whom I was in theological agreement but whose politics were less than sound.

Ironic, then, that much of American Evangelicalism is ready to elevate Glenn Beck to something uncomfortably close to its episcopate.

2. I also recalled a conversation that I had years ago in college with a professor -- now deceased -- who leaned to the left both politically and ecclesiastically (a Southern Baptist, he was an early member of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and complained about what had become of his Alma mater, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in the "Fundamentalist Takeover*"). I studied under him at a state university and, while our theological differences became more stark over the years, I learned much from him and counted him a friend until his death. As we were talking it came up that the Army curiously classifies LDS chaplains as "Protestant." He retorted, "I guess they don't have a category for 'cult!'"

Ironic that my liberal friend got what many of the Evangelicals in the United States seem to be missing!

*As an aside, when trying to determine the theological position of a Southern Baptist, a good indicator is to see how they refer to what happened in the late 1970s through the early 1990s. If it is called the "conservative resurgence" then they are reliably conservative/evangelical. If they call it the "Fundamentalist takeover" they are almost certainly a liberal. Another quick indicator is to casually work the name of Al Mohler into the conversation. If they get visibly angry, they're probably a liberal. If they smile, they're probably a conservative/evangelical, if they get puppy dog eyes, they're almost certainly of a Reformed stripe and are probably members of the Founder's Movement.

I hope all of my Southern Baptist friends know that the above was written in good natured fun, accurate though it may be!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Reflections on "Restoring Honor"

First of all, if you want to read the definitive reflections on the "Restoring Honor" rally, read the Rev'd Dr. Russell D. Moore's "God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck." I can't improve on what Moore says and won't even try; I'm in essential agreement with his reflections.

I've been listening to Glenn Beck on and off since 2003 -- when he first aired on one of the local talk stations and have generally found him informative and entertaining. I have from time to time somewhat jokingly referred to him as "my favorite Mormon," and while I have never gone to one of his shows nor have I bought any of his books, I did consider purchasing one and taking it to be autographed when he made an appearance at the Barnes & Noble that is across the street from my office (the crowd was unbelievable and I didn't have the time or the inclination to endure it to see him). When he launched the 9-12 Project I gathered with some friends at a local bar for a viewing party (I've not been to any meetings since then so I'm hardly a "member," but I so share some of their concerns and have attended a couple of Tea Parties [not the same thing, but there is certainly some overlap there]). I have friends who were on the Mall on Saturday; most of them will probably disagree with my thoughts.

Mr. Beck is an unapologetic member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is certainly his right to belong to that sect, and my disagreements with it -- which are substantial -- don't prevent me from enjoying his show (they also wouldn't have prevented me from supporting his fellow-Mormon Mitt Romney [which I did for a time in 2008, after Fred Thompson had withdrawn from the race for the Republican Presidential nomination)]. Harry Reid being a notable exception, most of the Mormons that I have encountered have been very traditional, family oriented, and pro-life -- people with whom I naturally have much in common and with whom I'm happy to stand politically and socially.

Why, then, am I less than enthusiastic about Restoring Honor, an event that I actually considered attending? Sarah Palin, who made voting for the 2008 Republican Presidential ticket acceptable to me and of whom I continue to be a fan, was there, as was Alveda King, whom I heard speak eloquently and with conviction at a banquet for the Lowcountry Pregnancy Center here in Charleston several years ago. One would think that this would be my must-attend event of the summer, something to which I would flock like a moth to a flame. One would, it turns out, be mistaken.

Mr. Beck called for a renewed emphasis on family and faith -- with which I completely agree. "The Kingdom of God will not arrive on Air Force One" may or may not be original to Cal Thomas, whom I first heard say it in 1994, but it is completely true. If the Republic is to be preserved politics will indeed play a part, but it will be a bit part as hearts are turned to God and renewed individuals, families, and churches proclaim God's truth and live transformed lives. Again, shouldn't I be completely on board with Glenn Beck?

It turns out I can't be. Time and again I heard people -- Christians who are on the right side of the battles raging in their churches regarding doctrine and manner of life -- say that Glen Beck says what pastors don't have the guts to say and that what he says is what he need to hear in the churches. While some of that may be true (the cultural mandate is very real and Christians are called to declare the whole counsel of God), one can hardly be said to be doing so if one gets all of the family values messages right and then gets the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures, and the Holy Trinity wrong. Mr. Beck, as a faithful Mormon, gets all of these and more wrong -- despite how right his message may sound and despite how attractively it may be packaged, I cannot pretend that those issues are inconsequential. I do not claim to have watched all of the rally (I was in a class for most of it), but I do know that time and again Mr. Beck referred to himself as a Christian (he frequently does so on his radio program) and time and again speakers who hold to the historic Christian faith did so as well either directly or by implication.

Mr. Beck proclaims another faith. A faith that is similar to Christianity (therein lies much of the danger) but different on key points. As Dr. Moore so aptly points out, the problem is not with Glenn Beck, the problem is what it says about American Christianity. Dr. Moore writes, "It’s taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck" -- true indeed and very damning, as Glenn Beck couldn't be dubbed the leader of America's Christian Conservative movement with approbation from many of those Christian Conservatives unless there was a huge vacuum at the helm; there is, and his ascendancy to that spot indicates just how vivid it is.

Do I think Christians should be active in the pro-life movement? Absolutely! I have been and will continue to be so. Do I think that Christians should be active in the political process, seeking to apply their faith in the public square? You bet. Do I think that Christians should work with those of other faiths in the political sphere? Yes, if they can do so without compromise. But most certainly do not think that Christians should be willing to sacrifice the essentials of the faith in so doing. Katharine Jefferts Schori , John Shelby Spong, and others are rightly taken to task when they preach a liberal universalism that denies the uniqueness of the Gospel; a conservative universalism that does exactly the same thing is just as bad -- maybe even worse. If the Church wins the culture war but denies historic Christianity in so doing, it will be no victory at all.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service; Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. Galatians 3:16-22 (ESV)

Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

The Gospel. St. Luke 10:23b-37 (ESV)

“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Sunday, August 15, 2010

St. Mary the Virgin

The Collect.

O GOD, who hast taken to thyself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of thine only Son: Grant that we who have been redeemed by his blood may share with her the glory of thine eternal kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Eleventh Sunday After Trinity.

The Collect.

O GOD, who declarest thy almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity; Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. Isaiah 61:7-11 (ESV)

Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot;
therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
they shall have everlasting joy.

For I the Lord love justice;
I hate robbery and wrong;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their offspring shall be known among the nations,
and their descendants in the midst of the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge them,
that they are an offspring the
Lord has blessed.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord
God will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.

The Gospel. St. Luke 1:46-55 (ESV)

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Tenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

LET thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants; and, that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (ESV)

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

The Gospel. St. Luke 19:41-47a (ESV)

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

And he was teaching daily in the temple.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Collect

GRANT to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as are right; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle. 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 (ESV)

For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

The Gospel. St. Luke 15:11-32 (ESV)

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Seventh Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

LORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. Romans 6:19-23 (ESV)

I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Gospel. St. Mark 8:1-9 (ESV)

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thoughts on the Blessings of a Christian Community

[N.B., I missed posting the propers for Trinity VI due to a very busy day, part of which contributed to the subject about which I write below. I regret any inconvenience. --DC+]

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles." --Acts 2:42-43 (ESV)

It surprises some who know me to learn that I have never been an Episcopalian. I was born into a long line of members of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (the old "Southern Presbyterian Church" -- its initial name had been the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America and members of my family were members of it throughout its existence), amalgamated against my will into the Presbyterian Church (USA) just before my 13th Birthday, where I remained until shortly before going to seminary when I went under care and was eventually licensed by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After being drawn into the Anglican way of Reformed Catholicism I joined and was eventually ordained by the Reformed Episcopal Church, where I remain canonically resident today. When the Anglican Church in North America was formed in 2009, the REC was a key part; I was privileged to be at the Inaugural Assembly (my thoughts about which can be read here).

I provide this ecclesiastical mini-biography with apologies for its length to provide context for my observations regarding Christian community because it has been my blessing for the past two years to serve as assisting clergy at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston, South Carolina on a part-time, non-stipendary and somewhat limited (I don't celebrate Holy Communion) basis while remaining chaplain for an area hospice. After determining that it was time to resign from the Reformed Episcopal parish where I was blessed to serve as Assisting Presbyter for nearly four years I suddenly found myself a parishless hospice chaplain. While I visited several local parishes I found myself most often attending the Cathedral for several reasons: the fairly high liturgy and the evangelical ethos resonated with me; I found the preaching of the Very Rev'd William McKeachie, the then-Dean edifying; the choral music was great; and the people were friendly. Shortly after Easter 2008 Dean McKeachie suggested the possibility of my periodically assisting and I was happy when I began doing so. Assisting became more regular -- eventually a regular affair when I wasn't doing supply work elsewhere.

Dean McKeachie retired in 2009 and the Rev'd Peet Dickenson, a priest whom I'd known only vaguely during the time he was on the staff of St. Michael's Church in Charleston, was called as Dean. As is done in such cases, I offered to resign and was happy when the proffered resignation was not accepted. He's officially been there for just over a year and I have begun to do some work with the youth, do some pastoral care, and have continued worship leadership and occasional preaching all while continuing to work as a hospice chaplain.

As I write this it's very early in the morning on 12 July 2010. On 13 July I'll celebrate my 40th birthday. This evening a number of friends from the Cathedral surprised me with a party that was arranged, in complete contravention of my directive, by Dean Dickenson's lovely wife Jenny. It was a truly humbling experience to have so many people care enough to want to honor your birthday, to be toasted, given gag gifts (hopefully the Fixodent won't be needed for some time) and some not-so-gag gifts (a very talented artist who serves on the vestry will paint a piece for me, I was given some really nice cigars, and some other great gifts). I was toasted and, in turn, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to toast LTC John Scott Nelson, who was a year ahead of me at Georgia Military College and has just redeployed from Iraq commanding 1-4 Cavalry; he returned with all of the troopers that he took with him -- no small accomplishment!

Due to obligations elsewhere (helping to charter a new chapter of the Order of St. Vincent one week, doing supply work on two others), I've been away from the Cathedral for three Sundays in a row (I will, however, be preaching at all three services on 18 July) and I have dearly missed it. A community is being built around common faith, warm fellowship, and prayer and I am blessed to be a part of it. My hope for my fellow Christians is that they too will find a church where the same is happening!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day.

[July 4.]

The Collect.

OETERNAL God, through whose mighty power our fathers won their liberties of old; Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Fifth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

OETERNAL God, through whose mighty power our fathers won their liberties of old; Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Epistle. Deuteronomy 10:17-21 (ESV)

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen.

The Gospel. St. Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.