Sunday, November 30, 2008
God works for those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:4)
O LORD God of hosts, how long…? (Psalm 80:4)
…you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 1:7)
…be on the watch… keep awake… (Mark 13:34-35)
"I would have despised myself if I hadn't continued - it was as simple as that - I just had to go on." Sir Edmund Hillary, account of reaching the South Pole
"I knew some people would say, 'Gee, it's wonderful what you're doing,' and others would say, 'I hope you die of cancer.' There had to be someone who would persevere through all that, and God just said, 'I'm picking you.'" George Tulloch, Titanic wreck researcher
Friday, November 28, 2008
USA Today reports on Evangelicals observing Advent (h/t TitusOneNine)
BabyBlue shares The Archbishop of Canterbury's beautiful Advent reflection (video)
Don't forget to look at the Advent resources at Lent & Beyond.
Episcopalians are made spiritually sick by sermons, classes and publications that are Bible-deficient.
How about using this time in exile to ingest what the Bible really says - the message that makes sense of all the Prayer Book stuff we say?
At our parish, we used an exilic summer to teach an outline of the whole Bible, and have now moved into exile house groups that are reading the whole Gospel of Mark. It will be the first time that some of these exiles have ever read an entire book of Jesus' words and deeds.
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3
BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Book of Common Prayer - prior to 1979 this was always the Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent).
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
- Greedy “Wall Street” types.
- Unaccountable and irresponsible public officials.
- Just plain people living beyond their means.
- Anybody with whom we disagree
In 1863, with the nation torn apart by Civil War, President Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation*. (Although some of his staff later said that it was written by Secretary of State Seward, an Episcopalian).
The message first invites us to look past the big problems and concentrate on the blessings at hand, and God who provides them:
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
It also calls on us to be mindful that we all have a part in the problems around us, and that we all need to seek God’s mercy and support:
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
There is great spiritual wisdom in the proclamation. It’s main point is that we look up from the problems and put our eyes on God, praise Him and thank him for His goodness, and humbly ask Him for mercy and help.
During a time of judgment and calamity, the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk sang a message (the Bible itself contains a direction that this passage should be accompanied on stringed instruments).
I won’t ask you to sing it, but let’s turn together to Habakkuk 3:17-19 and read these words of thankful praise in the midst of problems:
Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails and the fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold and there is no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.
Oglala Lakota go to tribal court against diocese; Tribal Council passes resolution calling for return of churches to tribe
In addition, the tribal members are asking the court to prevent the diocese from deconsecrating the churches and attached cemeteries.
Meanwhile, the diocese has called for prayer for Bishop Robertson, who was hospitalized for surgery and is to be resting at home for three weeks.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I just got word of a parishioner (not with either of those companies) being laid off, and another being cut back to part time.
And the situation at Citi's credit card division here (employs almost 3,500 people) is tense. Folks are on "pins and needles" and layoff rumors are out and about. The federal bailout will buffer faceless Citigroup but will not spare its 53,000 employees being laid off nation wide.
Pray for us all. Just appealed for some mortgage relief myself, and while putting figures together found out that my checking account is overdrawn. My wife's unemployment and constantly on-hold disability claim have been dragging us down for some time - things are now acute.
What's fascinating in the University Prez's statement of what Universities should be aboot:
Dr. Harvey Weingarten, president of the U of C, has stated in the past, "The role of universities is to promote, permit and enable the free exchange of ideas, debate and civil discourse. If universities do not support these values, which societal institutions will?" The president’s comment reflects the university’s own policy laid out in its Academic Calendar showing that the University aims "to promote free inquiry and debate."
So, what pressing emergency should negate such lofty values?
...the university is justifying its censorship of the pro-life display because of anonymous complaints, and claims that the display could provoke violent reactions. However, there have been no such incidents on the previous five occasions the display has been shown on campus.
Bet their drama dept. can put on some good Kafka (unless anonymous complains about it).
Monday, November 24, 2008
Bishop Fred Borsch used to joke, "What the Episcopal Church needs is a one-armed theologian. Someone who can't keep saying, 'On the other hand...'"
If you are a long-time Episcopalian, you've been bred to speak a milquetoast dialect of "tolerance, context, inclusion" and other "nice" words. Most of us in the clergy ranks have been bred to be politically correct and to people-please.
But here in exile, we can learn a new language! It is God's language, spoken by the prophets and most of all by Jesus Christ, the Word-made-flesh.
Learning to say, "Thus says the Lord" is surprisingly easy but it won't always make friends and influence people in the short term.
But it will deepen your friendship with God and influence you to be more the wonderful child your Heavenly Father designed you to be.
"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." Mark 8:36-38
Friday, November 21, 2008
The video clip is from the movie Castaway, which includes several heart tugging and thought provoking scenes about loss and letting go... the famous "Wilson" scene is at about 6:57.
In "The Ascent of Mount Carmel," John of the Cross warns that even very good devotional items can allure and fixate us - pulling us down from our ascent to God:
Let the soul be sure that, the more closely it is attached to an image or a motive, the less will its devotion and prayer mount to God. For, although it is true that, since some are more appropriate than others, and excite devotion more than others, it is well, for this reason alone, to be more affectioned to some than to others, as I have just now said, yet there must be none of the attachment and affection which I have described. Otherwise, that which has to sustain the spirit in its flight to God, in total forgetfulness, will be wholly occupied by sense, and the soul will be completely immersed in a delight afforded it by what are but instruments. These instruments I have to use, but solely in order to assist me in devotion; and, on account of my imperfection, they may well serve me as a hindrance, no less so than may affection and attachment to anything else.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Here's the deal: in around 587 BC God allowed his chosen people to fall into the hands of the Babylonians. The cream of the Jerusalem crop were carried off to Babylon and sat in depressing exile for decades...
Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we thought of Jerusalem. (Psalm 137:1)
Why did God let this happen?
They have harps and lyres at their banquets, tambourines and flutes and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD, no respect for the work of his hands. Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding... (Isaiah 5:12-13)
For too long, Episcopalians were "God's frozen chosen", "country club Christians", "Catholic-lite", "the thinking person's church," and all kinds of other rationalizations for pleasing ourselves and ignoring God.
And so we sit in exile, in a spiritually exhausted, conflicted, shrinking (dying, really) imitation of a church. It is a time of punishment, but also of purging for a better day to come...
"Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the Lord has punished her twice over for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:1-2)
Now, we can't declare an end to the exile or "fix" it. Only God can announce that, in His way and on His schedule. But as Fr. Baumann blogged, "...all the ills of the misguided Episcopal Church provide an opportunity for the faithful to dig in, strive for continuing fidelity, and hold onto the seeds for the time when the soil shall be ready to receive them and produce a rich harvest. Only God satisfies. Nothing else can..."
Since we're stuck here in Babylon, are there any Godly, satisfying things to see and do?
Here at NPA Travel Services, we will offer some suggestions for your time in exile. Be watching this blog for travel tips from the Prophet Ezekiel.
Local news report here.
Daschle was national co-chair of President-elect Obama's campaign.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Gay "marriage" event fizzles in Rapid City; in CA, Episcopal Church goes to court against the family.
Meanwhile, in California, two Episcopal dioceses have joined in an orgy of lawsuits to overturn Proposition 8, by which the voters overturned activist judges who foisted "gay marriage" on the Golden State.
h/t Jackie Bruchi at Stand Firm.
Governor Rounds on State Budget: "Everyone is going to have to do with less." Meanwhile, SD shows high academic achievement despite low funding.
A fight looms over education funding. SD ranks last in national per student funding. At the same time, the state scores highly (top 10 nationally as recently as 2004) on comparative measures of academic achievement.
South Dakota has been somewhat sheltered from the national economic downturn, but housing starts and prices are beginning to stall and fall. State business and finance data are here (scroll down for links to the most current figures).
h/t South DaCola
Back in the '70s, "Continuing Anglicans" walked away from TEC because of changes to The Book of Common Prayer and the ordination of women to the priesthood. Both groups continued to shrink. The Continuum fragmented into various tiny jurisdictions.
Today, with TEC (and the Anglican Church of Canada) devolving into truly wretched parodies of Christianity (a good summary of the rot is here ), North American Anglicans are seeking relief by...
- Staying in TEC and waiting on God;
- Staying in TEC and waiting on the worldwide Anglican Communion to come up with some sort of solution to the chaos;
- Leaving TEC to form a new North American Anglican franchise, with at least some recognition by overseas Anglicans;
- Just leaving TEC to go to other churches or no church at all.
There are excellent people in all of those groupings. TEC is losing its most able and vigorous leaders, either by watching them leave or by marginalizing those who remain. (Example: My parish is wrapping up a 3-year capital campaign that exceeded all projections. Meanwhile, the diocese just launched a capital campaign of its own - without even talking to any of us or including any of us on the planning team.)
South Dakota (heck, just Sioux Falls!) is a snapshot of Anglican splintering and shrinkage. There are folks in the pews just marking time (based on comments I hear, the best chance for a unified Anglican entity would be something called "I Just Want My Episcopalian Funeral"). There are folks who leave but won't be part of any alternative organization. There are folks who say they want to be Anglican but won't participate until there is an alternative organization. There are folks who leave for other churches. There are folks who... well, you get the picture. And this is in a city with three Episcopal congregations, with a combined average Sunday attendance of under 300.
From every human point of view, this is hopeless. Which is why we need to stay in God's Word and prayer. It was a blessing to run into Psalm 106 this morning. It is a summary of Old Testament history, in which the people constantly forget God and fall away from Him, only to have his love bring new life out of their messes:
Again and again he rescued them,
but they chose to rebel against him,
and they were finally destroyed by their sin.
Even so, he pitied them in their distress and listened to their cries.
He remembered his covenant with them and
relented because of his unfailing love.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh and others say it's happening. THERE IS A PRESS RELEASE.
This is the formal coalescing of the Common Cause Partners.
The move was innevitable. The message of traditional Anglicans was marginalized and rejected within the Episcopal Church. Even as these Anglicans walk away, TEC spends millions of dollars suing and harassing them.
What recognition the new Province will have from international Anglican leaders is a matter of speculation. There will likely be a patchwork of coalitions as the Anglican Communion suffers the same undisciplined unravelling as the Episcopal Church. There is analysis at The Living Church. THERE IS A CRITIQUE BY A TRADITIONAL ANGLICAN HERE.
This will have minimal impact in South Dakota. News does not circulate well in this Diocese, and the prevailing attitude remains "Well, I've always been Episcopal. Sorry the church is dying. Oh well."
Behind the scenes, this news is likely to foist an ideological TEC loyalist on South Dakota as the next Bishop. The diocese gets about 1/2 its funds in grants from the Episcopal Church, and TEC will not allow the emergence of candidates critical of the denomination's New York bureaucracy and its failed policies.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I am Father Tim's wife, Melissa. Thank you for allowing me to indulge myself and share our excitement as Lincoln High School, Sioux Falls, South Dakota won their first state title, since they've been keeping state titles. The score was 27-20. Our son is on that team. (He looks well on camera)!
A player being interviewed said he thinks the coach emphasized brotherhood the most, as they went into the game. Prayer was sent by email several times a week to team members and their parents for almost a month. Prayer Changes Things. The underdogs won. The Lord must have felt it was finally time!
Fort Worth is 4th Episcopal diocese to break away
The Associated Press
FORT WORTH, Texas
The conservative Diocese of Fort Worth is splitting from the Episcopal Church in a long-running debate over how to interpret the Bible.
It is the fourth diocese to secede since 2003, when the denomination consecrated the first openly gay bishop. The other three breakaway dioceses are Pittsburgh; Quincy, Ill., and San Joaquin (wah-KEEN) in Fresno, Calif.
Fort Worth Episcopalians voted on the move Saturday. Their decision could set off a complex legal battle over who owns local church property.
Fort Worth Episcopalians who oppose withdrawal say that five parishes and hundreds of parishioners will stay with the national denomination.
The Diocese of Fort Worth serves about 19,000 people.
Friday, November 14, 2008
If you are planning worship, sermons, studies, family devotions or preparing your own soul, take a trip to the L & B site as the Church prepares for a new year.
That beautiful, quiet place on a mountain top overlooking Santa Barbara helped shape my Christian life. The community there really taught me to value and keep at the Daily Offices of the Prayer Book. It was at Mt. Calvary that I first encountered and read The Ascent of Mount Carmel, St. John of the Cross' classic that has engaged and challenged me ever since.
I attended and led numerous parish retreats up there.
I will never forget one night when the Franciscan Friars of historic Mission Santa Barbara invited the Holy Cross Brothers to a celebration down the hill, and I was one of a few guests to have the whole, silent retreat house to ourselves as the mission bells tolled and the sun set into the Pacific.
As John of the Cross would remind me, all things (even very good spiritual things) are nada - nothing - they must be released because they eventually hinder the soul's progress toward God.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Info about MAP is in my "Useful Links" down the right side of this page. God can do amazing things from very small, humble beginnings - and our willingness to do things His way goes a long way.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
What a gift we received in yesterday's Epistle,
I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died,
We matter to God. God sent His Son, who sent His Spirit-filled apostles so that we would be "informed" about the hope of everlasting life. Turn down the volume on theatrical, churchy intonations of "brothers and sisters" and hear it in its original simplicity: because God cares about us, He adopts us and we are made brothers and sisters of one body and blood with Christ.
so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
God cares about our grief - He "stores up our tears in His bottle" , He blesses those who mourn, He calls us to "weep with those who weep" - but He wants our grief to come from love and compassion, not futility and despair. He gives us a new hope in the midst of grief...
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.
Paul here states the hope that fills his explanation of Holy Baptism. Because we are joined to Jesus, we can believe that death is not the final word. How important to understand our own baptism, and to lead others to the water of life in Christ. Like the people in our Old Testament Lesson, we need to renew our covenant with the Lord in order to receive its blessings.
For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord,
Our hope is revealed by God. It is not an emotional band aid the church made up to make people feel better. It is not a product of human theory and speculation. It is a promise from the mouth of the Lord.
that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.
In answer to that ever-present question, "Yes" - you and your loved ones who have died in Christ will see one another again.
Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Let me say it again: this hope of eternal life is not a band aid or "closure." Paul does not write, "Console one another," he says "encourage one another". This is a call to activity - a living hope to share life with Christ now and forever. This is a call, as in our challenging Gospel, to "have oil in our lamps" and "be alert", seeking Christ at all times. And in so doing we are prepared, like the wise bridesmaids in the parable, to celebrate with Christ and all the residents of heaven forever.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
The road gets plenty rough - Lincoln (9 - 2 record, ranked #4 in South Dakota) must play at #1 Brandon Valley (11 - 0) tomorrow (Saturday) night.
And the winner of that game faces the winner of Washington vs. O'Gorman... those two teams were the only two to beat Lincoln during the season.
However it all comes out, we're very proud of the Pats and of course #63, Tim Fountain (Jr. and a Junior).
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Governor Rounds of SD is meeting with staff. Interstate 90 (major east-west route across the state) is closed. I-29 (north-south) might close in a bit. Reports of snow several feet deep in the Black Hills, with wind gusts up to 70 mph on parts of the Plains.
Please pray for all people here, and for public safety, utility and transportation folks.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
I found some help in an old friend:
He then says that the way is narrow -- that is to say, the way of perfection -- in order to make it clear that, to travel upon the way of perfection, the soul has not only to enter by the strait gate, emptying itself of things of sense, but has also to straiten itself, freeing and disencumbering itself completely in that which pertains to the spirit. And thus we can apply what He says of the strait gate to the sensual part of man; and what He says of the narrow road we can understand of the spiritual or the rational part; and, when He says 'Few there are that find it,' the reason of this must be noted, which is that there are few who can enter, and desire to enter, into this complete detachment and emptiness of spirit. For this path ascending the high mountain of perfection leads upward, and is narrow, and therefore requires travellers that have no burden weighing upon them with respect to lower things, neither aught that embarrasses them with respect to higher things: and, as this is a matter wherein we must seek after and attain to God alone, God alone must be the object of our search and attainment.
St. John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel II.VII.3
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The picture in this post is a 3 month old human being in utero. We have scientific and medical knowledge not available to the Supreme Court when it decided, in Roe, that what you see in the picture is not human and is just disposable tissue.
In other words, Roe rests in part on junk-science which the pro-abortion folks refuse to address. They fling words like "choice" and "privacy" while denying the obvious, material evidence right in front of them.
So, then, who are the unthinking zealots? Who are the ones clinging to pious, abstract words and hiding from the light of truth?
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Christians continue to view abortion as the taking of a life. People with other world views (and some nominal Christians) have other priorities, mainly tied to forms of self-satisfaction.
So, you won't likely see legal change - but the distinction between a Christian understanding of human dignity and the understandings held by others comes into sharper relief. South Dakotans are, after all, Americans, and the prevailing national view is, "Let me do what I want. I am responsible to no one but everyone is responsible to provide me with cushions against the consequences of my actions." This is beyond labels like "liberal and conservative" - it is the national feeling of entitlement.
The beauty for the church (and here I mean the universal fellowship of those who believe in Christ) is that the New Testament itself was written for those outside of the self-satisfied mainstream. As we heard from Jesus on All Saints' Sunday, the values of God's kingdom are opposite of, upside down from, and just not at all like the values of the world. The church grows in faith and vitality when it is "outside looking in."
I continue to find help in what God said to Ezekiel:
“Stand up, son of man,” said the voice. “I want to speak with you.” The Spirit came into me as he spoke, and he set me on my feet. I listened carefully to his words. “Son of man,” he said, “I am sending you to the nation of Israel, a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me. They and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day. They are a stubborn and hard-hearted people. But I am sending you to say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ And whether they listen or refuse to listen—for remember, they are rebels—at least they will know they have had a prophet among them.
“Son of man, do not fear them or their words. Don’t be afraid even though their threats surround you like nettles and briers and stinging scorpions. Do not be dismayed by their dark scowls, even though they are rebels. You must give them my messages whether they listen or not. But they won’t listen, for they are completely rebellious! Son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not join them in their rebellion. Open your mouth, and eat what I give you.”
Then I looked and saw a hand reaching out to me. It held a scroll, which he unrolled. And I saw that both sides were covered with funeral songs, words of sorrow, and pronouncements of doom.
McCain has early lead (expected).
Democratic incumbents in Senate (Tim Johnson) and House (Stephanie Herseth Sandlin) are well ahead. (AP is calling Johnson the winner.)
Measure 11 (bans elective abortions) is losing in early returns... but this all depends upon which parts of the state are in so far. 140 out of 799 precincts are in at 8:35 p.m. "No" is leading, 55% - 45% at this point.