Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Case for Liturgy

Why Liturgy Rather Than a Service of Spontaneous Prayer?
posted February 25, 2012

Why does our church engage in worship using a liturgy of written prayers handed down and compiled in a Prayer Book?  Isn’t spontaneous prayer a much better way to connect with God?  These are excellent questions which deserve thoughtful answers.

Our Sunday morning worship follows a pattern of liturgical prayer which is two thousand years old.  Our liturgy seeks to touch all the bases of how we relate to God through confession, thanksgiving, praise, petition, intercession, and adoration.  In the creeds we are reminded of the nature of the Holy Trinity (our namesake) and what each of these three persons of God does in our lives.  In the confession we are called to reflect upon our sin and to confess to God and to amend our ways.  In the Eucharistic prayer we recall what Jesus did to redeem us from sin and how he makes a covenant with us between God and man.  Holy Communion allows us a time to partake of Jesus just as the apostles did at the Last Supper.  Our hymns and songs (some traditional, others contemporary) contain words and music which seek to engage us with God in his many aspects.  The lectionary of three Bible readings, Old Testament, New Testament Epistles, and Gospels, seeks to walk us through the entire Bible so that we don’t pick and choose our scripture readings based on the personal preferences of a pastor.

Each of the seasons of the church which we celebrate reminds us of a different aspect of God’s work among his people.  We have Advent for a time of waiting and anticipating the LORD’s coming to us.  We celebrate Christmas for the incarnation of God coming to be man.  Epiphany is a day and a season for the revelation of God to all mankind and the need for evangelism to proclaim his Gospel.  Lent is a time for penitence and a turning back to God from our sin.  Holy Week reminds us of Jesus’ passion and death.  Easter celebrates Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.   Pentecost shows us the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit with us.  Other seasons and feasts of the church are there to remind us of each part of our faith, or notable saints who  have served Christ by their lives and deaths.

We are not slaves to our liturgy.  It is an aide to worship, not the ultimate end to worship.  There are plenty of times when we can and should spontaneously pray to God in our own words, both in our worship services, and in our private prayer times. The liturgy reminds us of each aspect of God and our faith in him.  It frees our personal and private prayer times to engage God fully in all of his many facets.

Our liturgical prayer is not a hindrance to personal spontaneous prayer, but rather it enables us to get the most out our of improvisational prayer time with God.  It also helps to guide us so that our prayer is not ruled by our personal preferences and choices, but rather by the time-honored way that men and women of God have focused their prayer life over the entire history of the church.  The Holy Spirit works through both liturgy and through spontaneous prayer.  Using both we seek to tap all of God's resources for our worship services.

This article will appear on the new Holy Trinity Church Website (temporary website here) which is in development. -PD
(Picture by Raymond Dague)

'Voice of God' Alarms Installed in England Churches to Scare Away Thieves

By Setrige Crawford , Christian Post Reporter
February 24, 2012

Many churches in England plan to install "voice of God" alarms to their roofs to scare away thieves who strip off lead and copper.

The churches plan to hide movement sensors in the structures of their roofs that will set off a booming voice to startle intruders, according to the Telegraph. The "voice of God" alarm will let them know that they have been detected and that security is on their way.

The initiative in response to the "catastrophic" rate of metal thefts with an average of seven churches targeted every day. The plan is backed by the Church of England, the Association of Chief Police Officers and Home Office. the rest

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cat knows how to sign 'eat' and get attention

7 states sue to block contraception mandate

February 24, 2012

Lincoln, Neb. – Seven states filed a lawsuit Thursday to block the federal government's requirement that religious organizations offer health insurance coverage that includes free access to contraception for women.

The attorney generals of Texas, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Carolina jointly filed the lawsuit in a Nebraska US District Court.

Two private citizens, two religious non-profit organizations and a Catholic school also joined the lawsuit against the contraception mandate, which is part of President Barack Obama's sweeping health care law. the rest

 

Praised by Vatican official, 'Doonby' hitting screens


Rome report calls movie 'thriller with a haunting finale'
Anita Crane

As religious ministers and lay people across America protest President Obama’s abortion drugs mandate, on Friday the life-affirming movie “Doonby,” starring John Schneider, opens in Dallas, Texas, and Chattanooga, Tenn., with high praise from a Vatican official and other Christian leaders.

In its Feb. 12 edition, L’Osservatore Romano, the semi-official newspaper of the Holy See that typically focuses on official church and papal affairs, included a most unusual feature: a glowing review of “Doonby.”

Father Gianfranco Grieco, O.F.M. Conv., office head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, declared that “Doonby” is a “moving and thought-provoking psychological thriller on many levels with a haunting finale that will linger in your mind and obsess your consciousness as you tackle a puzzle that will challenge each and every perception or conviction while you experience forlorn feelings of speechlessness and shock, but ultimately of liberation!” the rest

Abortion's toll tackled in the film 'Doonby'

Homeschooling families can’t teach homosexuality a sin in class says Alberta gvmt

by Patrick B. Craine
Thu Feb 23, 2012

(LifeSiteNews.com) – Under Alberta’s new Education Act, homeschoolers and faith-based schools will not be permitted to teach that homosexual acts are sinful as part of their academic program, says the spokesperson for Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk.

“Whatever the nature of schooling – homeschool, private school, Catholic school – we do not tolerate disrespect for differences,” Donna McColl, Lukaszuk’s assistant director of communications, told LifeSiteNews on Wednesday evening.

“You can affirm the family’s ideology in your family life, you just can’t do it as part of your educational study and instruction,” she added. the rest

Bill to Allow Organ Farming from Unconscious Patients!

Thursday, February 23, 2012
Wesley J. Smith

Good grief! A Maryland state legislator has filed a bill that would allow surrogate decision makers to “donate” kidneys and liver lobes. From HB 449:
THIS SUBSECTION APPLIES ONLY TO A PATIENT WHO HAS BEEN CERTIFIED UNDER § 5–606(B) OF THIS SUBTITLE TO BE IN A PERSISTENT 8 VEGETATIVE STATE.
(3) A PERSON AUTHORIZED TO MAKE HEALTH CARE DECISIONS FOR ANOTHER UNDER THIS SECTION MAY AUTHORIZE THE DONATION OF A NONVITAL ORGAN IF THE DONATION IS BASED ON:
(I) THE WISHES OF THE PATIENT AS PREVIOUSLY EXPRESSED BY THE PATIENT; OR
(II) A DETERMINATION BY THE SURROGATE THAT THE DONATION IS CONSISTENT WITH THE PATIENTS RELEVANT RELIGIOUS AND MORAL BELIEFS AND PERSONAL VALUES.
Unconscious patients would hardly seem to be in a state of health to permit such surgeries. But surely when people can’t make their own decisions, surrogates–as fiduciaries–must work solely for the medical benefit of the incompetent person. the rest

Iran’s grand ayatollahs: Earth belongs to Muslims, end is near

02/23/2012
By Reza Kahlili

Iran’s economy is struggling because of crippling new restrictions on the country’s financial system, but no amount of sanctions will keep the mullahs from their headlong pursuit of nuclear weapons, which they hope will help usher in Islamic dominance of the world. The religious leaders believe it is their responsibility, as foreshadowed by the Quran, to bring about nuclear war to facilitate the coming of the last Islamic Messiah.

Two Iranian grand ayatollahs are now saying that the Earth will soon be under the feet of Muslims, as promised by the Quran. the rest

Richard Dawkins: I can't be sure God does not exist


He is regarded as the most famous atheist in the world but last night Professor Richard Dawkins admitted he could not be sure that God does not exist.
By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor
24 Feb 2012

He told the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, that he preferred to call himself an agnostic rather than an atheist.

The two men were taking part in a public “dialogue” at Oxford University at the end of a week which has seen bitter debate about the role of religion in public life in Britain.

Last week Baroness Warsi, the Tory party chairman, warned of a tide of “militant secularism” challenging the religious foundations of British society.

The discussion, in Sir Christopher Wren’s Sheldonian Theatre, attracted attention from around the world. the rest

UK: Occupy Protesters outside St Paul’s lose their eviction appeal

PROTESTERS outside St Paul’s Ca­thedral are expected to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, after the Court of Appeal refused on Wednesday to allow them to appeal against a High Court eviction order.

The Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, dismissed claims by Occupy London that the eviction planned by the City of London Corporation contravened their rights of freedom of expression and association, as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

The “unusually persuasive” case for eviction “easily outweighs” that of the protesters, he said, citing the extent and duration of the obstruction of the highway, the public nuisance, and the impact of the camp on the rights of worshippers at the cathedral. the rest

Time To Stamp Out Ugly Polyphobia

Bill Muehlenberg
23.2.12

Excerpt:
This is the twenty-first century after all. We are no longer back in the Stone Age. We all now know that marriage is about love only, not gender, or number, or even object. Love is whatever you want it to be, so let’s go the whole hog here.

Indeed, many homosexual activists have long championed such a complete liberationist view of marriage. For example, back in 1972 the US-based National Coalition of Gay Organizations issued its Gay Rights Platform. It offered, in part, this list of demands:

“7. Repeal of all laws governing the age of sexual consent.

8. Repeal of all legislative provisions that restrict the sex or number of persons entering into a marriage unit; and the extension of legal benefits to all persons who cohabit, regardless of sex or numbers.”

There you have it folks. The sky’s the limit. They have been arguing this for decades now. Yet whenever our side mentions the obvious slippery slope from same-sex marriage to group marriage, the other side spits chips and claims we are fear mongering and making all this up.

The truth is, the one follows on perfectly from the other. The arguments for one are exactly identical to the arguments for the other. This sexual anarchy is all of a piece. Once you decide that marriage must be dismantled, then anything goes. Everything is now up for grabs. the rest

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians...

Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other's hearts in prayer. ...Charles G. Finney image by Piotr Drabnik

Christian Clubs Told to 'Stop Whining,' Meet in Homes Like in Communist China

Stephanie Samuel , Christian Post Reporter
February 22, 2012

NASHVILLE – An Americans United for the Separation of Church and State official told Vanderbilt University Christians to "stop whining" about the institution's all-comers policy and hold their meetings in private homes like Christians in communist China.

During the 2012 National Religious Broadcasters Convention's public policy debate on Tuesday, AU Executive Director Barry W. Lynn defended Vanderbilt's right as a private institution to impose a campus-wide nondiscrimination policy that could potentially drive religious student organizations off campus.

Those who oppose the policy, he said, should "get over it" and "stop whining."

"I would suggest that people in this position – to use a phrase on a button in my dentist office that he always wears when he works, it says, 'stop whining.' I'd say stop whining here. Why not do what evangelicals do: go out into the world, out into the community [and] have your meetings, if you have to, off campus. Show your faith [and] meet with students not in a club room somewhere in the university, but in those home churches that kept Christianity alive during the darkest days of communist China." the rest

Parents Sue: Sperm Bank Sperm Resulted in Cystic Fibrosis

by Rebecca Taylor
2/23/12

A couple in Texas is suing a sperm bank in New England because their child has cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is a devastating disease that is caused by mutations in the CFTR gene. People with cystic fibrosis have mutations in both their copies of the CFTR gene; one mutation from their father and one mutation from their mother. The Kretchmars are suing because the sperm they purchased to have their son, Jaxon, carried a cystic fibrosis mutation. So did Mrs. Kretchmar. Now Jaxon has CF. the rest

1500 year-old ‘ Syriac ‘ Bible found in Ankara, Turkey

23 Şubat, 2012

Ankara / Turkey – The bible was already in custody of Turkish authorities after having been seized in 2000 in an operation in Mediterranean area in Turkey. The gang of smugglers had been charged with smuggling antiquities, illegal excavations and the possession of explosives and went to trial. Turkish police testified in a court hearing they believe the manuscript in the bible could be about 1500 to 2000 years old.After waiting eight years in Ankara the ancient bible is being transferred to the Ankaran Ethnography Museum with a police escort...

...The bible, whose copies are valued around 3-4 Mil. Dollars had been transferred to Ankara for safety reasons, since no owners of the ancient relic could be found.

The manuscript carries excerpts of the Bible written in gold lettering on leather and loosely strung together, with lines of Syriac script with Aramaic dialect. Turkish authorities express the bible is a cultural asset and should be protected for being worthy of a museum. the rest

Turkey's 1500-Year-Old, $28M Bible Linked to Gospel of Barnabas?
The Vatican has made an official request to gain access to a 1500-year-old Bible worth $28 million currently held by the Turkish government in Ankara, Turkey. There is speculation that the Bible may be a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas – a telling of Jesus' ministry Muslims believe is part of the original Gospels.

Photocopies of the holy book's pages are reportedly worth about $1.7 million, but the relic isn't so extremely valuable just because of its age, but also because of its construction and its contents. The Bible is handwritten in gold lettering on loosely strung together animal hide and written in Syriac. Syriac is a dialect of Aramic – Jesus' native language. Aramaic itself is rarely present in today's society, as it is now only spoken in a small village near Damascus...

First robin of 2012!

Feb. 23, 2012

I have been watching for the first robin of spring and saw one in our backyard late afternoon today-Raymond grabbed his camera of course. I don't ever remember seeing one this early, but am not surprised because of the mild winter. -PD

The Coming Age of the Laity

February 22, 2012
by Christopher Manion

On the first Sunday in February, Catholics across the country heard homilies condemning the HHS mandate requiring Catholic institutions to subsidize free contraceptives for their employees. A friend of mine, shaking her head, wondered why the diktat had caught our bishops by surprise.

“How could they not see it coming?”

There are three aspects to the answer: The mandate, the bishops, and the laity.

True to form, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius cynically timed the mandate to coincide with the March For Life. No wonder her bishop barred her from the Eucharist – she could hardly have made the scandal more pointedly public. The mandate was immediately condemned and rejected by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, USCCB President, and my own Ordinary, Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington. Our bishops appear to have suddenly realized that we are at war. Good for them.

But how could they not see it coming? the rest

Pope to tweet one message a day for 40 days of #Lent


Hey there, media savvy generation -- as we enter the Lenten season, Pope Benedict XVI would like your attention, and he and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications think they know just how to get it: with one Papal tweet a day throughout the 40 days of Lent.

After all, as Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications points out, "many of the key Gospel ideas are readily rendered in just 140 characters."

Anybody can sign up to follow the pope, whose papal message will be tweeted in English, Spanish, Italian, French, German and soon in Portuguese via @Pope2YouVatican, but this effort was conceived to bring the unfaithful back to the fold. the rest

Today's tweet:
BXVI: The Lenten season offers us once again an opportunity to reflect upon the very heart of Christian life: charity.

Euthanizing the Elderly With Macular Degeneration in the Netherlands

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Wesley J. Smith

Excerpt:
And this is a real indictment of Dutch medical “ethics:”
The committee must therefore decide whether the patient’s suffering was caused by a medically recognised condition. In this connection it notes that, under the existing due care criteria, suffering that is unbearable with no prospect of improvement must be largely due to a medically recognised condition. However, there is no requirement that this should be a serious condition…The committee noted that macular degeneration is a medically recognised condition. There is no effective treatment for it, or any prospect of improvement. What this means is that this case is not a ‘finished with life’ situation as defined above, and that the physician’s actions lay within the medical field…The committee found that the physician acted in accordance with the statutory due care criteria.
Good grief. Culture of death, Wesley? What culture of death?
Full Essay

Albert Mohler: Casino Culture and the Collapse of Character

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Excerpt:
But all the glitz cannot hide the damage caused by casinos. Casinos attract and produce those described as problem and pathological gamblers, along with a host of others. In Gambling in America: Costs and Benefits, Grinols developed a sophisticated cost-benefit analysis in order to determine whether casinos are actually helping society, or causing harm.

His verdict: “The evidence indicates that casino gambling fails a cost-benefit test by a wide margin.”

Grinols’ research led him to estimate that the introduction of casinos in a community would produce about $34 per adult, per year. At the same time, gambling exacts a toll of far greater dimensions, estimated at between $180 and $289 per adult citizen, per year. The casinos do usually produce income, but this income is canceled out by social costs.

As Grinols documented, other problems associated with casinos include marital breakup, the abandonment of children, psychological stress, loss of employment, and suicide. the rest  image
You can dress a casino up to look like a family resort. You can disguise a casino as a high-end hotel. Nevertheless, the casino remains what it is — an engine for capturing wealth from those who are enticed to enter. State governments that authorize casino gambling are also authorizing the fleecing of their own citizens.

Archbishop Duncan’s Ash Wednesday Message

So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled with God. [I Cor.5:20]
22nd February, A.D. 2012

Ash Wednesday
Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil. [Joel 2:13]
So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled with God. [I Cor.5:20]

TO ALL WHO SHARE IN THE LIFE OF THE ANGLICAN CHURCH IN NORTH AMERICA:

Beloved in the Lord,

We have come again to the awesome season of Lent. The name of the season comes from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning spring. Our English word lengthen comes from the same root, for this is the season when days lengthen in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the season when we, too, are lengthened or stretched because we are invited to get our relationship with our God and our relationships with each other restored and renewed. Getting things right is hard work, often painful work, but from the effort comes the immense fruitfulness of an Easter and Pentecost – a summertime, if you will – of our souls. Lent is when I must prune my roses – and when I need to allow my Lord to prune me – so that a riot of color and beauty and fragrance can occur in a couple months’ time.

As I have said my prayers in recent days, I have had a very strong sense that it was time to write you again, both to invite you into the opportunity of Lenten discipline and devotion and to share with you the results of some of the corporate pruning our God has already been engaged in. the rest

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Christ is the wisdom of God...

Christ is the wisdom of God; and in the knowledge of this Christ there is wisdom for you. Not wisdom only, but life, forgiveness, peace, glory, and an endless kingdom! Study Him! Acquaint yourself with Him! Whatever you are ignorant of, be not ignorant of Him. Whatever you overlook, overlook not Him. What ever you lose, lose not Him. To gain Him is to gain eternal life, to gain a kingdom, to gain everlasting blessedness. To lose Him is to lose your soul, to lose God, to lose God's favour, to lose God's heaven, to lose the eternal crown! ...Horatius Bonar image

BREAKING NEWS: Iran Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani Facing Execution “Firm In Christ”


By Stefan J. Bos
Wednesday, February 22, 2012

TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani facing imminent death has urged his church to remain "firmly in Christ" shortly after a court apparently ordered his execution, a church official told BosNewsLife.

Nadarkhani was still alive Wednesday afternoon local time, February 22, but it remained unclear when he would be hanged on charges of "apostasy" or "abandoning Islam", confirmed the pastor's Church of Iran council member Firouz Khandjani.

The Lakan Prison, near the pastor's northern home city of Rasht, is viewed as notorious by rights activists as several inmates were allegedly "secretly hanged" their, without a fair trial. Nadarkhani, who is married with two children, was however "allowed yesterday to speak with his wife from prison," said Khandjani.

"He did not speak with her about the court order. However he urges his church to stay firmly in Christ," the church official added. A lawyer of Nadarkhani was informed about the execution order, although the defense team has not yet received official written notification from the court. the rest

PAKISTAN – Christian students discriminated at University because they “do not know the Koran by heart”

Epic Skies: time-lapse of the American southwest



 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. Isaiah 35:1-2

Story

Finding Lent resources at Lent & Beyond


The links below to the blog Lent and Beyond are great place to go to help make a Holy Lent! -PD

ALL LENT ENTRIES

Ash Wednesday resources

Lent Devotionals

Lent Prayers

Lent Quotes

Lent Resources (including family and children’s activities)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Take up thy Cross," the Savior said...

"Take up thy Cross," the Savior said,
"If thou wouldst my disciple be;
Deny thyself, the world forsake,
And humbly follow after me."

Take up thy cross, let not its weight
Fill thy weak spirit with alarm;
His strength shall bear thy spirit up,
And brace thy heart and nerve thine arm.

Take up thy cross, nor heed the shame,
Nor let thy foolish pride rebel;
Thy Lord for thee the cross endured,
To save thy soul from death and hell.

Take up thy cross and follow Christ,
Nor think till death to lay it down;
For only those who bear the cross
May hope to wear the glorious crown.
...Charles W. Everest image by Elise Wormuth

Essay: A scary and simple fact: Pro-aborts don’t like people

by Kristen Walker
Mon Feb 20, 2012

Excerpt:
So I sat down just now to write and — I swear this is true — I opened up a P.J. O’Rourke book for absolutely no reason, and literally opened up to a page that said this:
The real message of the conservative pro-life position is, as the prefix indicates, that we’re in favor of living. We consider people — with a few obvious exceptions — to be assets. Liberals consider people to be nuisances. People are always needing more government resources to feed, house, clothe them, pick up the trash after their rallies on the National Mall, and make sure their self-esteem is high enough to join community organizers lobbying for more government resources.

Bingo!

Is it as simple as that? Maybe it is. Maybe abortion advocates see every accidental pregnancy as a welfare check or an unfulfilled woman who has to has to take precious time out from her freelance graphic design career to rinse out baby food jars. Whereas you and I see a baby as a beautiful joyous gift of possibility and hope and love and adorable magicness that one day grows into a man or woman who maybe invents a cure that works in 30 seconds for those sores you get on your tongue that make you feel like the world is ending.

The simple and scary fact: all those people who have turned free or cheap abortion and contraception on demand into a right and a sacrament? They don’t like people. the rest

A Convergence of Conscience and Command

Feb 21, 2012
Elizabeth Scalia

Excerpt:
This brings us to what is fractured, which would be the previously sound relationship between the U.S. Government and religious entities that—for the past 230 years—have been considered efficient and helpful co-deliverers of social services beneficial to the public good, but are suddenly become public hindrances. On January 31, the administration amended the policies of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program: those working for church-related schools, or charities are no longer eligible. An administration-supporting associate informs me that the move “was showing sensitivity to the establishment clause.” As a similar explanation seems to lay behind the administrations refusal to allow the USCCB’s continued assistance in providing aid to victims of human trafficking, I suspect such “sensitivities” will soon render ineligible for federal loans those students attending church-related schools. One wonders if such a hyper “sensitivity” will eventually find religious interests ineligible to parade (or protest) on public streets.

This is of a piece with the administration’s unprecedented assault on First Amendment rights to freedom of religion and the exercise thereof, a move calculated, some believe, to eventually push the churches out of the public arena altogether and redefine freedom of religion as mere freedom of worship. That notion seems a great deal less paranoid than it did, even a week ago as, at a recent congressional hearing, Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro appeared to suggest that religious liberty doesn’t extend beyond the right to worship. the rest 

The Catholic Betrayal of Religious Freedom

In Hawaii, it’s 1984 all over again

Monday, February 20, 2012
by James Hochberg

The Hawaii Legislature is currently considering the “Hawaii Safe Schools Act,” which claims to target bullying and harassment at schools. In reality, it is a mechanism for imposing a pro-homosexual, state-mandated orthodoxy on students and teachers.

The Board of Education already has a much more balanced policy that would be uprooted by this legislation. BOE Policy 2210 requires that student discussion of issues which generate opposing points of view shall be considered a normal part of the learning process in every area of the school program. It also mandates that teachers refer students to resources reflecting all points of view, that discussions—including contributions made by the teacher or resource person—be maintained on an objective and factual basis, and that stress be placed on learning how to make judgments based on facts.

This balanced policy would be uprooted by the act. The problems start with its definition of bullying, which includes behavior that a student finds “intimidating” based on his or her “gender identity or expression [or] sexual orientation.” Even worse, “harassment” is defined simply as “annoying, or alarming…expression that causes another student…to feel uncomfortable.” Rather than focusing on the bullying activities (name-calling, physical aggression), the act focuses on how the victim feels. the rest
This means that if two students were privately discussing, for example, biblical teachings on homosexual behavior, and another student overheard the conversation and claimed to feel “annoyed” or even moderately “uncomfortable,” then the two students could be punished for bullying. The act thus poses a real danger to the First Amendment protected rights of such students

NJ: Clergy will offer ashes at train stations and shops, mobilizing Lenten ritual

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
By John Heinis

Clergy and lay members of Episcopal churches across the state will hit the streets on Wednesday, Feb. 22, to distribute ashes to mark the start of the Christian holy season of Lent.

The Church of Our Saviour in Secaucus is one of 20 churches in Northern New Jersey participating in the “Ashes to Go” program on Ash Wednesday.

The Rev. Barbara Lewis of the Secaucus church will perform the service at the Frank R. Lautenberg Train Station, located at the intersection of County Road and County Avenue, from 7 to 8 a.m.

“I thought this was a great way to reach out to people who normally would not walk into a church,” Lewis said, noting this is the first time she has participated in the event. the rest

Hey, if the people are not coming to the church you can always go to the people...

Obamacare vs. the Constitution

By Charles Krauthammer
02/21/2012

Give him points for cleverness. President Obama's birth control "accommodation" was as politically successful as it was morally meaningless. It was nothing but an accounting trick that still forces Catholic (and other religious) institutions to provide medical insurance that guarantees free birth control, tubal ligation and morning-after abortifacients -- all of which violate church doctrine on the sanctity of life.

The trick is that these birth control/abortion services will supposedly be provided independently and free of charge by the religious institution's insurance company. But this changes none of the moral calculus. Holy Cross Hospital, for example, is still required by law to engage an insurance company that is required by law to provide these doctrinally proscribed services to all Holy Cross employees.

Nonetheless, the accounting device worked politically. It took only a handful of compliant Catholic groups -- Obamacare cheerleaders dying to return to the fold -- to hail the alleged compromise, and hand Obama a major political victory. the rest

Monday, February 20, 2012

Anglican Unscripted Episode 29


Posted February 20, 2012

This week Kevin and George discuss completely outdated materials that were Indispensable 10 years ago. They also banter about Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her role in Christian England. Also in Episode 29 your hosts delve into the differences between 815 and ACNA and provide updated announcement from AMiA Bishops and PEARUSA. After commemorating Whitney Houston and a word from Bishop Nazir-Ail on the Arab Spring your host seek help from the Unscripted viewing Audience.

Robert S. Munday: What will the Episcopal Church look like in 2030?

Common Prayer, Uncommon Beauty

By Jonathan Aitken
from the February 2012 issue

The magnificent Book of Common Prayer has been going strong for 350 years.

Last year, this column and the world celebrated the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. This year brings the 350th birthday of another magnificent monument of early modern English—the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP). All who savor the riches of our common linguistic heritage should rejoice in its commemoration. For the BCP's combination of spiritual wisdom and literary beauty gives it a following far beyond the ecclesiastical frontiers of Anglicanism, Episcopalianism, and the Church of England that originally commissioned it.

The BCP was the creation of Thomas Cranmer, a Tudor statesman blessed with a genius for the writing of prose bordering on poetry. A court favorite of King Henry VIII, who made him Archbishop of Canterbury, Cranmer compiled the various prayers, collects, and orders of worship that eventually emerged as the 1662 prayer book. However, before it could be published in its final form its principal author was burned at the stake for his Reformist sympathies during a period of Catholic repression.

Although these power struggles have long since been forgotten, Cranmer's majestic command of the English language lives on. In the words of his leading biographer, Diarmaid MacCulloch: "Millions who have never heard of Cranmer or of the muddled heroism of his death have echoes of his words in their minds."

These echoes of Cranmer's gift for language ring down the centuries because he had a perfect ear for cadences that are both beautiful and eternal. He wanted "a mere ploughboy" to be able to remember the BCP's most powerful phrases. He did not hesitate to borrow from the finest spiritual writers of his time such as Miles Coverdale, an early translator of the Psalms, and Archbishop Reynolds, who authored the prayer of General Thanksgiving. the rest  image

Cananda: Catholic students can't boycott religion course, top court rules

February 19, 2012

Catholic parents in Quebec cannot keep their children out of an ethics course at school that teaches them about other religions, the country's top court has ruled.

The Supreme Court of Canada on Friday rendered its decision in a controversial case that was cast by some observers as a matter of religious freedom versus a bid by the province to increase tolerance.

The case pitted a set of Catholic parents against the school board and the province of Quebec.

Quebec's Ethics and Religious Culture program became mandatory for schools in May 2008. the rest

Albert Mohler: When the Accounts Are Called: A Christian Understanding of Gambling

Monday, February 20, 2012

The nationwide explosion of legal gambling may well be the most underrated dimension of America’s moral crisis. With the expansion of state lotteries, casino gambling, and new technologies, the gambling industry is poised to grow even further in the next decade.

According to some estimates, as much as one-third of the nation’s money supply now moves through the gambling industry each year. Looking at a recent annual economic report, management consultant Eugene M. Christiansen determined that “Americans spent more on gambling than they did on health insurance, dentists, shoes, foreign travel, or household appliances.”

The Bible is clear on this issue. The entire enterprise of gambling is opposed to the moral worldview revealed in God’s Word. The basic impulse behind gambling is greed—a basic sin that is the father of many other evils. Greed, covetousness, and avarice are repeatedly addressed by Scripture—always presented as a sin against God, and often accompanied by a graphic warning of the destruction which is greed’s result. The burning desire for earthly riches leads to frustration and spiritual death. the rest image
Gambling corrupts the culture, polluting everything it touches.

The Sacred Dogma of the Left

Feb 27, 2012
By JONATHAN V. LAST

In the conflict between the Obama administration and the Catholic church over mandated contraceptive coverage in health insurance policies, it’s easy to understand the motivations of the church. Catholics object to artificial contraception—and to abortifacients and sterilization, reimbursement for which is also mandated—as a matter of doctrine, owing to their beliefs about the dignity of the human person.

The church’s allies—evangelical Christians, Tea Partiers, and other non-Catholic conservatives—are motivated by a conviction that, theology aside, the Obamacare edict forcing the church to pay for procedures it finds morally objectionable is an unconstitutional trespass on the free exercise of religion.

But what is it that motivates those on the left? Why do they care so deeply about the kind of insurance coverage Catholic employers provide? It’s not as if NARAL and Planned Parenthood devotees are heavily represented in the workforce of Catholic institutions. And you don’t see petitions from leftwing pressure groups calling on the church to provide better dental and vision coverage, or mental health benefits. Which would, as a pragmatic matter, be much more helpful for more of the workforce than the contraceptive mandate. No, for the left, the fight isn’t about social justice or the proper scope of the state. It’s about the contraceptives. It’s about sex. the rest

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A.S. Haley: General Convention, Same-Sex Blessings, and +Bennison

February 18, 2012

At its national level, the Episcopal Church (USA) becomes more and more absurd each day. Consider just the following stories:

1. Last August, two leaders of the Church's Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM), who were involved in developing materials for same-sex blessings, presented their case in Canterbury, England for a meeting of the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation. Their presentation was not well received.

2. The SCLM went on to approve a report to and proposed resolution for General Convention 2012 on same-sex blessings. The resolution proposes a trial rite for use over the three following years, and calls for a further report to be made to General Convention 2015.

3. That paragon of episcopal virtue, the Rt. Rev. Charles E. Bennison, Jr. of Pennsylvania, immediately jumped on the bandwagon and told his clergy that approval of a rite for blessing same-sex unions at the upcoming General Convention is a certainty, and any priest in his diocese who thereafter fails to perform them on demand could face disciplinary proceedings.

Isn't that remarkable? To go from polite rejection to mandatory usage within the space of six months? As they say, it could happen only in the Episcopal Church (USA) - where the Canons mean nothing and the Constitution is play. the rest

Ash Wednesday & Lent in Two Minutes

Church of the Holy Trinity, Syracuse NY, hosts ordination of Joshua F. Davis

February 19, 2012

With great joy, our fifth ordination service at  Church of the Holy Trinity was celebrated by The Rt. Rev. Derek Jones, the bishop for Anglican Chaplains with CANA and ACNA. Joshua F. Davis was ordained to the priesthood on Saturday, February 18th. Fr. Davis is currently serving as a chaplain in central Pennsylvania at several prisons. This ordination marks the eight person ordained at Holy Trinity.  (pictures by Raymond Dague)


Bp. Derek Jones preaching

Prostrate before the altar

Leslie Moellering presenting a Bible to Joshua's wife Margaret 

Bp. Derek Jones, Fr. Chris Moellering, Fr. Joshua Davis

Surrounded by family

Rev. Robert G. Eaton: Sermon for Transfiguration Sunday

Feb. 19, 2012

Recall the last verse from our reading today in the ninth chapter of the Gospel of Mark: “As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”

The mission of the church is both foreign and domestic. In the most obvious understanding of the phrase “foreign and domestic,” it means there are individuals within our own nation, even our own neighborhoods, who have yet to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ; and there are individuals who live in places outside of those domestic boundaries to whom the mission of the church is extended. Thus the mission of the church is to the whole wide world.

It can also be seen in today’s gospel reading, the telling of the events on the mountain that we know as “the Transfiguration of Christ,” that from a different perspective, the foreign and domestic mission exists not only wherever the gospel has not yet been accepted, but within ourselves, we who are the church. We often are in need of preaching to ourselves.

But from either perspective, the calling, the display of brilliance, the overshadowing cloud, the voice of God, and even the command to wait to tell, all has to do with the power of God released for the sake of the mission to be successful. The power of God.

The beginning and the end of the mission of the church is meant to be conducted in the power of God.

That conclusion is found in today’s gospel reading, and pointed to in another verse from the ninth chapter of Mark that is not included in today’s reading. The first verse of Chapter 9: “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

Indeed the Kingdom of God has come with power. From the work of God in creation, through the prophets as we heard in the story of Elijah and Elisha, to the conception of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the miracles of Jesus retold in this season after the Epiphany, and now to this moment on the mountain.

This power of God is intended to be revealed to the world, both foreign and domestic, through Jesus in the preaching and proclamation of the church, the Body of Christ.

You see, as both Matthew and Mark record, it is not simply that Jesus “was transfigured,” but that “he was transfigured before them,” the three disciples. It is not simply a display of power; it is for the benefit of the witnesses, to remind them, and us, of the eternal name Emmanuel, “God-with-us.” If God is with us, then so is His power; and that is exactly as He intends.

Sometimes, though, is it not difficult to see the power in the church? We all have stories about how the church has faltered in its mission to the world, rather than portrayed the life-changing, transfiguring, transforming power of God. Blunders are not limited to Peter.

Take for example, the bloopers in church bulletins, which are often very funny, although sometimes they hit a little too close to home. A bulletin from a Methodist congregation read: “Don’t let worry kill you. Let the church help.”

Another church bulletin, prompting the Prayers of the People, read: “Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.”

Certainly, there will always be failures within the church, but if the beginning and end of the mission of the church, the Body of Christ, is meant to be conducted in the security of the power of God, then where in the gospel do we find our guidance for doing it properly?

In regard to that Mission, one major failure of the church has always been paying so much attention to ourselves that we neglect the mission of proclamation. It might be because we have decided we have to be polished as Christians before presenting ourselves to the world. But who will ever achieve perfection to prove their worth? Certainly not Peter, James, and John. Yet God worked through them mightily despite their imperfections.

On the other hand, we may be paying more attention to ourselves because – just like the rest of the world around us – we continue to be in great need of the healing Love of God. Placing ourselves into the gospel story, we desperately want to be the recipients of God’s call as His “sons and daughters” whom he loves. And yet there is only One about whom God is speaking at that moment. And through that Son, Jesus, is the love of God revealed to all of us. We can’t set aside Jesus.

We need to know what Mission is. Our guidance here in the Gospel of Mark will be found in Jesus’ instruction to the disciples. As they come down the mountain Jesus tells them they are not ready to tell about “what they had seen.” Looking for direction for mission, in that phrase, our eyes are turned back to what happened.

What did they see? They saw the power of God revealed in and through Jesus Christ.

And what did they hear? They heard the voice of God saying about the Son of God, “Listen to him.”

Here, then, is the most basic definition of the mission of the church: pointing to Jesus and telling others that the Almighty God has proclaimed who he is, and to do what he says.

This is what a missionary is called to do, just as the three in our readings today were called to be apostles and called to be witnesses on the mountaintop. We pray for missionaries and for their sometimes perilous work in foreign or domestic lands, who also have also seen Jesus and have heard from God the Father. We pray that we all may understand our baptismal duty to point to Jesus and proclaim him as the only begotten Son of God, the Lord and Savior.

So now we come to the question again: If the beginning and end of the mission of the church is meant to be conducted through the power of God, then where in the gospel do we find our guidance?
Do you hear release for mission in the gospel reading? In fact, as we look again at verse 9, we hear restriction, not release: “Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”

The key word is “until.”

So we turn our search to those few chapters where we hear of the discussions, and learn of the appearances of the risen Jesus. And in our search we find in the first chapter of Acts that Jesus tells the disciples, once again, to wait. Wait for the promised Holy Spirit.

Jesus is very precise, too, in that first chapter of Acts, in the purpose of waiting, and the purpose of the coming Holy Spirit: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.”

Right mission depends on power, and that power comes from the Holy Spirit.

At the Transfiguration they saw it. And they lived with it, in Jesus. And that power would be proclaimed, and lived. The mission of the church, from beginning to end, when done the way God wants it done, is accomplished through the power of God.

Lord God, empower our missionaries in the Holy Spirit as they go, and as they point to and proclaim Jesus. May each of us be open to the invitation to go ourselves. We pray that all of us may be empowered and living in the Holy Spirit that we will all live the mission no matter where we are, to the Glory of God and the building up of Your Kingdom. Amen. Found here image
RCL – 2 Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Mark 9:2-9)

— The Rev. Robert G. Eaton has been the rector of The Episcopal Church of St. John, Tulare, California, in the Diocese of San Joaquin, since 1989.