Archive for January, 2009

February 1, 2009
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
A Light to Enlighten the Nations
Eucharistic prayers from different provinces of the Anglican Communion on each Sunday of the Epiphany season as a reminder that God reveals himself to the whole world in his Son, Jesus Christ.  This week: Prayers from the Church in India
This Week’s Lessons
Beginning with the leading of a star to the manger in Bethlehem and the voice of God announcing the Beloved Son on the banks of the Jordan River, Epiphany is a season of revelation.  As Jesus begins his ministry, his words and actions continue to “peel back the layers” of who he is and what God is up to. 
Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalm 111 (Anglican Chant: H. Walford Davies)
He makes his marvelous works to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and full of compassion. (v. 4)
Luke 4:31-37
This Week’s Hymns
436 Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates (Truro)
The use of this hymn today is suggested by Luke 4:32, “They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority.”  As Jesus teaches, heals, and casts out demons, the people begin to wonder about who he is—though it should be noted that the demons know immediately—and this hymn answers the question.  The original German text, “Macht hoch die Tur,” was written by the Lutheran pastor Georg Weissel (1590-1635).  The familiar and elegant English version is reminiscent of the stirring final verses of Psalm 24: “Lift up your heads, O gates; lift them high, O everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in.  Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of Glory.”  The translator is the indefatigable Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878), by whose efforts so many 17th century German texts made their way into 19th century English hymnals. 
The regal tune ‘Truro’ is named for the ancient cathedral city in Cornwall, the county on the peninsula that forms the southwest tip of Great Britain.  Its composer is unknown, and it was first published in London in 1789 with the words “Now to the Lord a noble song,” a hymn by Isaac Watts that has since fallen into disuse. 
567 Thine arm, O Lord, in days of old (St. Matthew)
We could easily sing this hymn every week through the whole season because it is pretty much a full summary of chapters 4-8 in Luke put into rhyme and set to music.  Particularly germane to this week’s lessons is the opening line, “Thine arm, O Lord, in days of old was strong to heal and save” as well as the reference in stanza 2 to the frenzied spirits calmed.  And it isn’t any wonder that the text of the hymn so closely follows the text of the Bible when one considers the credentials of its author, Edward Hayes Plumptre.  Educated at University College, Oxford in the 1840’s, he became quite a scholar and held teaching appointments and both Oxford and Cambridge but he continued to be active in pariah ministry until the end of his life. (more…)

cs-lewisThis sermon was first delivered by C.S. Lewis at St Mary the Virgin, Oxford England in 1942. Curiously enough, I was invited to preach at this church on Matt 27.45-56 in 2006. I can tell you, my sermon was pretty pathetic compared to this one! Lewis’ now famous sermon is well worth a careful read and meditation. Be sure to click through to read it all.

If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in teh Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.

“The Weight of Glory”, Sermon preached by C.S. Lewis on June 8, 1942. Read it all here

From CNN: High Stakes in Bad Times

Posted: January 29, 2009 by limabean03 in Current Issues

The principal reason I post things like this is to help motivate us to pray and look into what we can do right now to alleviate the suffering of others during this time. The stakes, as you can see, are much higher than unemployment.

By Paul Vercammen
CNN LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) — Elizabeth Gore, with a voice soaked in motherly calm, counsels her suicidal caller.

“You don’t want to live if you can’t find a job; I think we need to send you to an emergency room,” Gore suggests through her headset.

Gore is among the counselors at the County Mental Heath ACCESS call-in center. Counselors there reckon with Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate of 9.5 percent, among the worst in the nation.

“Well, it’s a big deal when you tell me that you don’t want to live if you don’t find something,” Gore stresses to her caller. “Do you realize what you’re telling me? I am not trying to preach, but that’s kind of frightening.”

“Lot’s of people don’t have jobs,” Gore continues with her caller. “You’ve applied for 200 jobs and only got one call back?”

“Well don’t get too dismayed and too discouraged,” Gore says. “We are going to get you some kind of counseling first.”

Gore hangs in there with her caller like a bent nail. The suicidal woman agrees to go to a psychological evaluation set up by Gore, at a nearby clinic.

read the rest here

There’s nothing here that Leslie Newbiggin didn’t say fifty years ago. But Keller has an easy manner about him that makes him compelling to his audiences. If you’ve never been introduced to the points below the the religious dogmatism of relativism, then you should slow down and take it in.

About every other week, I confront popular pluralist notions that have become a large part of the way Americans think. For example, pluralists contend that no one religion can know the fullness of spiritual truth, therefore all religions are valid. But while it is good to acknowledge our limitations, this statement is itself a strong assertion about the nature of spiritual truth. A common analogy is often cited to get the point across which I am sure you have heard — several blind men trying to describe an elephant. One feels the tail and reports that an elephant is thin like a snake. Another feels a leg and claims it is thick like a tree. Another touches its side and reports the elephant is a wall. This is supposed to represent how the various religions only understand part of God, while no one can truly see the whole picture. To claim full knowledge of God, pluralists contend, is arrogance. When I occasionally describe this parable, and I can almost see the people nodding their heads in agreement.

But then I remind the hearers that the only way this parable makes any sense, however, is if the person telling the story has seen the whole elephant. Therefore, the minute one says, ‘All religions only see part of the truth,’ you are claiming the very knowledge you say no one else has. And they are demonstrating the same spiritual arrogance they so often accuse Christians of. In other words, to say all is relative, is itself a truth statement but dangerous because it uses smoke and mirrors to make itself sound more tolerant than the rest. Most folks who hold this view think they are more enlightened than those who hold to absolutes when in fact they are really just as strong in their belief system as everyone else. I do not think most of these folks are purposefully using trickery or bad motives. This is because they seem to have even convinced themselves of the “truth” of their position, even though they claim “truth” does not exist or at least can’t be known. Ironic isn’t it? The position is intellectually inconsistent.

In its pure form Pluralism is a fact. It’s not an opinion or a belief or a religion. In other words, not every one believes the same things. We live in a society that’s very diverse, not just ethnically, but also religiously. But when pluralism starts to become a philosophy, when it starts to become a religious dogma, then it becomes a different animal. And that’s what I want to call relativism — or religious relativism, philosophical pluralism. It goes by different names but that is the dogmatic religious assertion that all religions are basically the same, that no one knows the truth about God. And no one can know the ultimate truth about God in a way that invalidates other peoples’ religious opinions and the belief that it’s arrogant to say that you have the truth religiously and it is arrogant to try to persuade other people to believe what you believe religiously. That’s relativism, philosophical pluralism. And I would say that’s the default belief of most people you run into in our city.– whether they’re religious or not, most people think about religion that way.

Here is what I want to urge on you and try to unpack in several ways. And that is that relativism is itself a religious belief. It is a dogma. Relativism is. It has affirmations and denials and a missionary force. One of the affirmations of relativism is that God is ultimately unknowable. No one can know the truth about God. But how do one know that to be true? This assumes an ultimate understanding of spiritual reality. All religions are ultimately the same. All religions are following a path to God. It doesn’t matter how you believe, it matters how you live. Do you see this? Those are religious statements. Those are matters of religious beliefs, dogma. Doctrines! If people say, “No, I’m not religious. I’m saying you can’t know. I’m saying, Nobody can know the truth about God. I’m not claiming that I’ve got a corner on it.” But if you look at it closely, the statements of religious relativism are every bit as dogmatic as the statements of the Koran or the Bible. It’s a religious dogma.

read the rest here

Curiously enough, he held his first interview as President with Arab T.V. network Al-Arabiya. Our President conducted a strong interview. Personally, I think conducting his first public interview with an Arab T.V. network was a brilliant and concilliatory move. The interview is fascinating for several reasons, especially the Arab perspective on America. During portions of the interview, I found Obama’s naive optimism bleeding through a bit. Rather than criticize him for this, I think we would do well to remember that ideas have legs, and naive optimism will travel. Obama is a great rhetorician, and rhetoric has been the cause of the rise and fall of nations and has birthed none too few mighty political movements. I pray his optimism trickles down to some talented, motivated folks on the ground who can make a difference both home and abroad. Pray that the Lord will make it so.

I’m really starting to dig this guy…

We are Christians because we hold Christianity to be true. But other men hold Christianity to be false. Who is right? That question can be settled only by an examination and comparison of the reasons adduced on both sides. It is true, one of the grounds for our belief is an inward experience that we cannot share—the great experience begun by conviction of sin and conversion and continued by communion with God—an experience which other men do not possess, and upon which, therefore, we cannot directly base an argument. But if our position is correct, we ought at least to be able to show the other man that his reasons may be inconclusive. And that involves careful study of both sides of the question. Furthermore, the field of Christianity is the world. The Christian cannot be satisfied so long as any human activity is either opposed to Christianity or out of all connection with Christianity. Christianity must pervade not merely all nations, but also all of human thought. The Christian, therefore, cannot be indifferent to any branch of earnest human endeavor. It must all be brought into some relation to the gospel. It must be studied either in order to be demonstrated as false, or else in order to be made useful in advancing the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom must be advanced not merely extensively, but also intensively. The Church must seek to conquer not merely every man for Christ, but also the whole of man. We are accustomed to encourage ourselves in our discouragements by the thought of the time when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. No less inspiring is the other aspect of that same great consummation. That will also be a time when doubts have disappeared, when every contradiction has been removed, when all of science converges to one great conviction, when all of art is devoted to one great end, when all of human thinking is permeated by the refining, ennobling influence of Jesus, when every thought has been brought into subjection to the obedience of Christ.

read it all here

It’s worth taking the time to real the whole chapter carefully.  Below is one of the most influential minds of Western civilization recounting his conversion to Christianity.  All of Augustine’s powerful intellect is mustered alongside some equally powerful emotions rendered by the Grace of God.  As Augustine recounted his conversion I repeatedly felt tears well up at the glorious mercies of our Lord Jesus. 

A quick breakdown of the characters involved: Augustine (narrarator and Bishop of Hippo), Simplicianus (Father of renowned Bishop Ambrose), Ambrose (Bishop of Milan), Victorinus (Famous rhetorician who shocked the Roman world by his conversion to Christianity), Nebridius and Alypius (friends and roommates of Augustine), Pontitianus (a Christian well placed in Roman government), Antony (famous Christian ascetic whose lifestyle appealed to Augustine), Mani (spawned the Manichaean heresy that posited a dark force just as powerful as God), Monica (a faithful Christian and Augustine’s mother). I hope you enjoy this excerpt as much as much as I did…

He finally describes the thirty-second year of his age, the most memorable of his whole life, in which, being instructed by Simplicianus concerning the conversion of others, and the manner of acting, he is, after a severe struggle, renewed in his whole mind, and is converted unto God.

Chapter 1. He, Now Given to Divine Things, and Yet Entangled by the Lusts of Love, Consults Simplicianus in Reference to the Renewing of His Mind.
1. O My God, let me with gratitude remember and confess unto You Your mercies bestowed upon me. Let my bones be steeped in Your love, and let them say, Who is like You, O Lord? You have loosed my bonds, I will offer unto You the sacrifice of thanksgiving. And how You have loosed them I will declare; and all who worship You when they hear these things shall say: Blessed be the Lord in heaven and earth, great and wonderful is His name. Your words had stuck fast into my breast, and I was hedged round about by You on every side. Job 1:10 Of Your eternal life I was now certain, although I had seen it through a glass darkly. 1 Corinthians 13:12 Yet I no longer doubted that there was an incorruptible substance, from which was derived all other substance; nor did I now desire to be more certain of You, but more steadfast in You. As for my temporal life, all things were uncertain, and my heart had to be purged from the old leaven. 1 Corinthians 5:7 The Way, John 14:6 the Saviour Himself, was pleasant unto me, but as yet I disliked to pass through its straightness. And Thou put into my mind, and it seemed good in my eyes, to go unto Simplicianus, who appeared to me a faithful servant of Yours, and Your grace shone in him. I had also heard that from his very youth he had lived most devoted to You. Now he had grown into years, and by reason of so great age, passed in such zealous following of Your ways, he appeared to me likely to have gained much experience; and so in truth he had. Out of which experience I desired him to tell me (setting before him my griefs) which would be the most fitting way for one afflicted as I was to walk in Your way.

2. For the Church I saw to be full, and one went this way, and another that. But it was displeasing to me that I led a secular life; yea, now that my passions had ceased to excite me as of old with hopes of honour and wealth, a very grievous burden it was to undergo so great a servitude. For, compared with Your sweetness, and the beauty of Your house, which I loved, those things delighted me no longer. But still very tenaciously was I held by the love of women; nor did the apostle forbid me to marry, although he exhorted me to something better, especially wishing that all men were as he himself was. 1 Corinthians 7:7 But I, being weak, made choice of the more agreeable place, and because of this alone was tossed up and down in all beside, faint and languishing with withering cares, because in other matters I was compelled, though unwilling, to agree to a married life, to which I was given up and enthralled. I had heard from the mouth of truth that there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake; but, says He, he that is able to receive it, let him receive it. Matthew 19:12 Vain, assuredly, are all men in whom the knowledge of God is not, and who could not, out of the good things which are seen, find out Him who is good. Wisdom 13:1 But I was no longer in that vanity; I had surmounted it, and by the united testimony of Your whole creation had found You, our Creator, and Your Word, God with You, and together with You and the Holy Ghost one God, by whom You created all things. There is yet another kind of impious men, who when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful. Romans 1:21 Into this also had I fallen; but Your right hand held me up, and bore me away, and You placed me where I might recover. For You have said unto man, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; Job 28:28 and desire not to seem wise, Proverbs 3:7 because, Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. Romans 1:22 But I had now found the goodly pearl, which, selling all that I had, Matthew 13:46 I ought to have bought; and I hesitated. (more…)

crossFor anyone looking for a devotion to read during Lent, I would steer them towards this little work by Thomas A’ Kempis.  You can buy it here.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Author of our salvation and most gracious Dispenser of pardon, and most patient in tolerating man’s wickedness, I bless and thank you for the great pain, the many stripes, and the bloody wounds inflicted on your tender and noble body. From the soles of your feet to the crown of your head there was no area without its injury or lesion- either swellings or smarting wounds- with warm red blood flowing over your body.

“I praise and glorify you with the greatest reverence of which I am capable and with full interior humility, for the abundant shedding of your precious blood from your five sacred wounds as well as the other wounds, both great and small. In bleeding they give forth the most effective medicine for our sins, more precious than balm.

“Most gentle Jesus, you were so mistreated and manhandled by cruel men that you had no bodily strength left in you. Your veins were opened wide- not even the last drop of blood remained in you, and whatever of that sacred fluid has been in you in life has now in death been poured out for soul’s benefit as the price of our salvation.

“O five precious wounds, supreme signs of incomparable love, abounding with divine sweetness, it is from you that the sinner learns abiding trust- otherwise his guilty conscience would cause him to despair. In these wounds we find the medicine for life, abundant grace, full forgiveness, unstinting mercy, and the gateway to promised glory. Whatever defilement I incur or whatever sins of the flesh I commit, it is in these five fountains that I wash myself clean, am purified, and again made new.

“I praise and honor you, christ, only beloved Spouse of the Holy Church, for your uncommon charity, by which you chose, through this covenant in your blood, to redeem my soul from the effects of Adam’s transgression, to cleanse it of all sin, to enrich and adorn it with the merits of your holiness. Sanctified by your grace, may I be found worthy of being united to you and later of being blessed in your glorious kingdom of light.

Thomas A’ Kempis On the Passion of Christ: according to the four evangelists (Ignatius Press: San Francisco 2004) pg 79-80

So it turns out when I initially posted Charlie’s notes from Sunday School I goofed and didn’t put up the full text. Here is the full text, far more spiritually edifying than just the notes! By the way, how cool is it that Charlie is able to derive “saved by Grace alone” by an exposition of the creation narrative? Pretty awesome.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw the light was good; and God divided the light from the darkness . . . . 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 anything 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 . . . . Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more . . . . And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.’ (Gen 1:1-4; John 1:1-5, Rev.21:1, 5-6a)

This morning we are looking at the Creation narrative set forth in the first few verses of Genesis. It is upon these verses that all of Scripture and the fullness of the Gospel hang. God’s creative power is the reference point that the Old Testament as the foundation of scripture is laid out; it is the reference by which the Cornerstone is placed. Without the fullness of the Trinity bringing about Creation, then our faith is in vain. Today I want to look at three major lessons of the Creation narrative, and how it relates to our life in Christ.


Most of us simply take the story of the Creation for granted, and fail to see the uniqueness of the claims made by Scripture concerning Creation. In all other religions, whether Greek, or German, or Babylonian, the gods arise from a chaotic primordial soup, and through battle with chaos, sea monsters, or each other establish their authority. For example, in Greek mythology, Zeus, the chief god, comes from the Titans, who come from Gaia, who come from Chaos which is simply the nothingness of which everything arises. In Genesis, Scripture makes the unique statement that God creates the material word, that he pre-exists chaos and creation, and therefore does not arise from it.

An understanding of the basis of our existence and the natural order is essential for our understanding of our salvation. If the natural order is Chaos or nothingness, then our existence and salvation depends upon our struggle to bring order out of the chaos. It is only through our struggle to give meaning that we can have hope. This is a battle, however, that will inevitably lose at death. However, if God is the basis of our existence and salvation, then there is no need to struggle. The only fight we have is against increasing and contributing to the chaos and nothingness in our lives. We understand that because God is the basis of existence we understand that we cannot bring about our existence and salvation though our own works. God is the natural state of our existence because it is though God that we arise. He gives ‘form and actuality’ to our existence. (Athengoras’ Plea, Ch.10). God created heaven and earth, the invisible and visible, by his Grace and thus we are saved by that Grace. (more…)

Cool New Awakening Grace T’s

Posted: January 26, 2009 by limabean03 in Trinity Tidings

Buy them here. All proceeds will go to assist our evangelistic mission amongst the homeless of Myrtle Beach.

bonhoeffer1Bonhoeffer’s “Cost of Discipleship” usually sends legalists into a frenzy of zealous works. And of course a shallow reading of the book would certainly affirm any legalistic tendencies one might have. However, a careful reading, even of the excerpt below will reveal that Bonhoeffer is no legalist. While he was thoroughly immersed in the world of Sola Gratia, Bonhoeffer does give a helpful corrective to some strains of Lutheran musings on grace. He argues that the gift of grace not only includes the forgiveness of sins, but grace also gives the new life of discipleship to the Lord Jesus. Read it carefully and read it all.

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living inarnate.

“Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for teh sake of it man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

“Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly becasue it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God. (more…)

An excerpt from my Christmas Eve sermon.  A little late!  The whole thing won’t be put up.  I simply don’t want to take the time to tidy up the notes.  But I hope this little portion is somehow edifying. 

The gift giver, God in the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth, lets us know some things about himself even as an infant. I would like to draw your attention first to where the gift giver decided to be born. In Luke’s Gospel we read:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

Modern archeology does not have many kind things to say of Bethlehem. It was, what we might call a “one horse town.” It had no main public road access, but was a dead end shoot off many miles from the main thoroughfare. It was a town you tried to get out of if you could, as Joseph eventually did. The only thing that brings Joseph back to Bethlehem is that the government forced all people to return to the city of their birth so that they could be registered for taxation purposes. This means that the tiny town of Bethlehem was overwhelmed with guests. Now because Bethlehem was far removed from the highway, it had no commercial “inn” as you and I might understand it. Rather it only had a guest house, which in all reality was a large shed attached to someone’s private home where guests could stay for the evening with the herds they were travelling with through the village. Because the shed is intended for both humans and cattle, one large feeding trough and water trough are in the center of the shed. These troughs, filled with slop, filth, and cattle drool were a host to numerous diseases such as e-coli and salmonella. Here, in the midst of strangers and disease, in the most public way possible, Mary gives birth to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And since all the ground is taken by snoring shepherds and goat herders, a feeding trough is emptied of its slop and filth, some hay is hastily stuffed in it, and the Son of God is placed there.

There is something to be learned here. When you think of Bethlehem, you don’t think of a pathetic, one horse town, you think of an idyllic city that was the home of the baby Jesus. When you think of a manger, you don’t think of disease and hay, you think of a beautiful baby, calm, glowing with supernatural splendor. This is because God, in Jesus, can make all things glorious. Even if he’s laid in the most disgusting feeding trough, it is no longer a trough but a manger, more than that. It becomes the fulcrum of songs sung with joy, something to be delighted in! As Spurgeon says of the manger, it was only his presence that could glorify the manger. Anything that comes into contact with Jesus, whether it be Bethlehem, or a manger, or Joseph, or Mary, a leper or paralytic, a thief, all these things are made glorious by his touch.   Most importantly Jesus makes the cross glorious. On the cross, where he takes on the sins of the world and dies upon the tree, that instrument of death is made glorious.   The tomb he is laid in, the place of death is emptied and is made glorious. And the disciples, no longer doubting cowards but brave apostles, come into contact with Jesus and are transformed, made glorious.

And he not only does this with things we read about in books, but he can do this with you. A failing marriage, the savior can make glorious. Fractured relationships with children, the savior can make glorious. A drug addict or alcoholic, touch them to Jesus and he will make them glorious. And you, with thoughts and actions that you are too ashamed to tell anyone about, rotting away in the soul, Jesus can make you glorious as well. Because he makes glorious anything he touches.

A communion sermon delivered by Samuel Rutherford to the Westminster Divines in 1643. At the time communion was irregular. Ministry of the word would have been the daily devotion, while communion would have been a once a week or even once a month devotion. At the communion service, it was common to give two sermons. One for the ministry of the word, one for preparation for the Lord’s Supper. I’m not sure if that was the case at Westminster to be honest. Either way this sermon is a helpful look into history, as well as a majestic articulation of the passionate love of Jesus for sinners.

Of all wonders that ever were read in a printed book this is the first: Christ made an exchange; Christ would coss [barter] lives with you, and make a niffer [exchange]. He never beguiled you, for He took shame, and gave you glory. He took the curse, and gave you the blessing, He took death, and gave you life. The fairest Candle that ever was lighted is blown out. The Head of the Church is dead, and the Lord of Life is laid down in the grave! No wonder that the sun, that did shew [perhaps, “share,” i.e. suffer along with Him] part of his labours, be shut down; because the great Sun of Righteousness was shut down in the grave, and a stone laid above Him. Good right have ye to Christ, accept of His niffer [exchange], and change with Him, and take His best blessing and purchased redemption.

What a sight is our Lord Jesus going out of the gates of Jerusalem, and His cross upon His back! He went like to fall under it, He was so weak in body and weary in soul, when He went to the top of Mount Calvary. And all the time He saw black death before Him, and a curse. He was even then bearing God’s curse upon His back, and that was heavier than the cross. Look on Him, and follow Him, He will not bid you lend Him a lift [offer any help]. Give Him obedience, and give Him love, for it is better to Him than if you had been crucified for Him. Look upon Him, and look for Him. “Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” Christ this day lets you see all the footsteps in your way to heaven. In His death and blood He made a new way to heaven. He went in an hard way Himself, through God’s curse, and painful sufferings. He bids you not follow Him that way, but believe in Him, and love one another. And stick fast by Christ. The old gate [way] ye dought [could] never have gone; but Christ’s market-gate is a sweet and easy way. If ye will bear Christ’s yoke, and so love Him, ye and He will come in each others’ hands together to heaven. And ye will be the welcomer that He is with you – “A little while,” says Christ, “and I will come again.” Take you here Christ’s flesh in token that He will come again to you, and marry you to Himself for ever. Your new husband hath said, within a little while He will come again and see you; and see that ye keep yourselves for Him; abide in Him. Christ says to you, “My dearest ones, weary not, fight on, I shall be at you your fray-hour [your hour of battle]. Be true to Me, as I was aye true to you.”

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Below is a recent letter from the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina concerning Diocesan convention and other Anglican affairs. Check it out below. The full letter is linked at the bottom of the page

I’ve read enough church history to know some ecclesiastical storms are unavoidable because the church carries out her mission in a world of stormy climates and changing seas. Some storms are less disturbing than predicted, while others hit you with a 70-foot wave after the chief petty officer has announced calm seas ahead. The Episcopal Church at its 2003 General Convention chose to head straight into a gathering storm. Some of us at this convention warned that departing from the charted course of Scripture and catholicity was sheer imprudence. Bishop Salmon, Kendall Harmon, John Burwell and others from the South Carolina deputation were among those who warned of impending danger. As a deputy to General Convention from the Diocese of San Joaquin and a member of the Committee on the Consecration of Bishops, I, too, warned in a minority report from the committee of possible irreparable harm from the course charted. Nevertheless, the majority of the crew—bishops, priests and laity—thought we were merely alarmists. So into the storm we headed. At this point no one knows how it will turnout. This old ship of the Anglican Communion is rolling about on rough seas. More than a few passengers have been tossed overboard, some are in sick bay, and still others have gathered in lifeboats. It is an unfortunate situation, and all the more so in that it was avoidable, or at least could have been more adequately prepared for, and perhaps the worst of it even circumnavigated. Where the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church go from here frankly no one knows. These are uncharted waters for all of us. I suppose those of us who love Holy Scripture may take solace in the narrative from the 27th Chapter of The Book of Acts where St. Paul warns the captain and crew of the ship that was taking him to Rome not to set sail, but, ignored as he was, they were soon engulfed by a tempestuous wind called a northeaster. Yes, God’s ultimate purposes were accomplished but at great loss to ship and freight.

I mention this because as we prepare for the upcoming 218th Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina the stormy seas have not abated in the almost six years since General Convention 2003. If anything, the swath from the northeaster has broadened and intensified, engulfing more and more provinces of the Anglican Communion. While nothing is certain at this point, it seems clear to me that there is no immediate solution to our present crisis. In the midst of a storm, most of us can only react to changing circumstances as they develop. My commitment is to keep in line with the Scriptures, the historic faith of the Church, and the larger Anglican Communion. So long as we can remain Episcopalian and keep with these three instruments of trustworthy navigation, there is no reason at this point to man the lifeboats. Though many would like to see this crisis ended, or hear prophetic predictions of calmer seas, such are not likely to be forthcoming. The next foreseeable sounding of significance is the Primates’ Meeting in February 2009 and the Anglican Consultative Council in May. At both meetings, issues regarding the Anglican Covenant and, I suspect, the proposed new province in North America will be in the forefront. Then comes TEC’s General Convention in July. It’s questionable that any of these will be ports of decisive destiny; still, vigilance is a virtue.

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