Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Archbishop of Canterbury reacts to General Convention 06

Archbishop - 'Challenge and hope' for the Anglican Communion
27th June 2006

Archbishop's letter to Primates:
"Following last week's General Convention of the Episcopal Church (USA), I have been preparing some personal reflections on the challenges that lie ahead for us within the Anglican Communion. I have addressed these reflections to a wide readership in the Anglican Communion and they are being made public today on my website. I wanted to bring them to your attention accordingly, for you to draw to the attention of members of your Province in whatever way you see fit.
These reflections are in no way intended to pre-empt the necessary process of careful assessment of the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report. Rather they are intended to focus the question of what kind of Anglican Communion we wish to be and to explore how this vision might become more of a reality.
I am also sending you a copy of the press statement I issued at the close of General Convention, which you will see mentions the Joint Standing Committee working party that will be assisting in evaluating the outcome of the 75th General Convention.
I shall be writing to you again later this week, to invite your own response to me to various questions as the Communion’s discernment process moves ahead.
Text of reflection

The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today: A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion: a Church in Crisis?
What is the current tension in the Anglican Communion actually about? Plenty of people are confident that they know the answer. It’s about gay bishops, or possibly women bishops. The American Church is in favour and others are against – and the Church of England is not sure (as usual).
It’s true that the election of a practising gay person as a bishop in the US in 2003 was the trigger for much of the present conflict. It is doubtless also true that a lot of extra heat is generated in the conflict by ingrained and ignorant prejudice in some quarters; and that for many others, in and out of the Church, the issue seems to be a clear one about human rights and dignity. But the debate in the Anglican Communion is not essentially a debate about the human rights of homosexual people. It is possible – indeed, it is imperative – to give the strongest support to the defence of homosexual people against violence, bigotry and legal disadvantage, to appreciate the role played in the life of the church by people of homosexual orientation, and still to believe that this doesn’t settle the question of whether the Christian Church has the freedom, on the basis of the Bible, and its historic teachings, to bless homosexual partnerships as a clear expression of God’s will. That is disputed among Christians, and, as a bare matter of fact, only a small minority would answer yes to the question.
Unless you think that social and legal considerations should be allowed to resolve religious disputes – which is a highly risky assumption if you also believe in real freedom of opinion in a diverse society – there has to be a recognition that religious bodies have to deal with the question in their own terms. Arguments have to be drawn up on the common basis of Bible and historic teaching. And, to make clear something that can get very much obscured in the rhetoric about ‘inclusion’, this is not and should never be a question about the contribution of gay and lesbian people as such to the Church of God and its ministry, about the dignity and value of gay and lesbian people. Instead it is a question, agonisingly difficult for many, as to what kinds of behaviour a Church that seeks to be loyal to the Bible can bless, and what kinds of behaviour it must warn against – and so it is a question about how we make decisions corporately with other Christians, looking together for the mind of Christ as we share the study of the Scriptures.
Anglican Decision-Making
And this is where the real issue for Anglicans arises. How do we as Anglicans deal with this issue ‘in our own terms’? And what most Anglicans worldwide have said is that it doesn’t help to behave as if the matter had been resolved when in fact it hasn’t. It is true that, in spite of resolutions and declarations of intent, the process of ‘listening to the experience’ of homosexual people hasn’t advanced very far in most of our churches, and that discussion remains at a very basic level for many. But the decision of the Episcopal Church to elect a practising gay man as a bishop was taken without even the American church itself (which has had quite a bit of discussion of the matter) having formally decided as a local Church what it thinks about blessing same-sex partnerships.
There are other fault lines of division, of course, including the legitimacy of ordaining women as priests and bishops. But (as has often been forgotten) the Lambeth Conference did resolve that for the time being those churches that did ordain women as priests and bishops and those that did not had an equal place within the Anglican spectrum. Women bishops attended the last Lambeth Conference. There is a fairly general (though not universal) recognition that differences about this can still be understood within the spectrum of manageable diversity about what the Bible and the tradition make possible. On the issue of practising gay bishops, there has been no such agreement, and it is not unreasonable to seek for a very much wider and deeper consensus before any change is in view, let alone foreclosing the debate by ordaining someone, whatever his personal merits, who was in a practising gay partnership. The recent resolutions of the General Convention have not produced a complete response to the challenges of the Windsor Report, but on this specific question there is at the very least an acknowledgement of the gravity of the situation in the extremely hard work that went into shaping the wording of the final formula.
Very many in the Anglican Communion would want the debate on the substantive ethical question to go on as part of a general process of theological discernment; but they believe that the pre-emptive action taken in 2003 in the US has made such a debate harder not easier, that it has reinforced the lines of division and led to enormous amounts of energy going into ‘political’ struggle with and between churches in different parts of the world. However, institutionally speaking, the Communion is an association of local churches, not a single organisation with a controlling bureaucracy and a universal system of law. So everything depends on what have generally been unspoken conventions of mutual respect. Where these are felt to have been ignored, it is not surprising that deep division results, with the politicisation of a theological dispute taking the place of reasoned reflection.
Thus if other churches have said, in the wake of the events of 2003 that they cannot remain fully in communion with the American Church, this should not be automatically seen as some kind of blind bigotry against gay people. Where such bigotry does show itself it needs to be made clear that it is unacceptable; and if this is not clear, it is not at all surprising if the whole question is reduced in the eyes of many to a struggle between justice and violent prejudice. It is saying that, whatever the presenting issue, no member Church can make significant decisions unilaterally and still expect this to make no difference to how it is regarded in the fellowship; this would be uncomfortably like saying that every member could redefine the terms of belonging as and when it suited them. Some actions – and sacramental actions in particular - just do have the effect of putting a Church outside or even across the central stream of the life they have shared with other Churches. It isn’t a question of throwing people into outer darkness, but of recognising that actions have consequences – and that actions believed in good faith to be ‘prophetic’ in their radicalism are likely to have costly consequences.
Truth and Unity
It is true that witness to what is passionately believed to be the truth sometimes appears a higher value than unity, and there are moving and inspiring examples in the twentieth century. If someone genuinely thinks that a move like the ordination of a practising gay bishop is that sort of thing, it is understandable that they are prepared to risk the breakage of a unity they can only see as false or corrupt. But the risk is a real one; and it is never easy to recognise when the moment of inevitable separation has arrived - to recognise that this is the issue on which you stand or fall and that this is the great issue of faithfulness to the gospel. The nature of prophetic action is that you do not have a cast-iron guarantee that you’re right.
But let’s suppose that there isn’t that level of clarity about the significance of some divisive issue. If we do still believe that unity is generally a way of coming closer to revealed truth (‘only the whole Church knows the whole Truth’ as someone put it), we now face some choices about what kind of Church we as Anglicans are or want to be. Some speak as if it would be perfectly simple – and indeed desirable – to dissolve the international relationships, so that every local Church could do what it thought right. This may be tempting, but it ignores two things at least.
First, it fails to see that the same problems and the same principles apply within local Churches as between Churches. The divisions don’t run just between national bodies at a distance, they are at work in each locality, and pose the same question: are we prepared to work at a common life which doesn’t just reflect the interests and beliefs of one group but tries to find something that could be in everyone’s interest – recognising that this involves different sorts of costs for everyone involved? It may be tempting to say, ‘let each local church go its own way’; but once you’ve lost the idea that you need to try to remain together in order to find the fullest possible truth, what do you appeal to in the local situation when serious division threatens?
Second, it ignores the degree to which we are already bound in with each other’s life through a vast network of informal contacts and exchanges. These are not the same as the formal relations of ecclesiastical communion, but they are real and deep, and they would be a lot weaker and a lot more casual without those more formal structures. They mean that no local Church and no group within a local Church can just settle down complacently with what it or its surrounding society finds comfortable. The Church worldwide is not simply the sum total of local communities. It has a cross-cultural dimension that is vital to its health and it is naïve to think that this can survive without some structures to make it possible. An isolated local Church is less than a complete Church.
Both of these points are really grounded in the belief that our unity is something given to us prior to our choices - let alone our votes. ‘You have not chosen me but I have chosen you’, says Jesus to his disciples; and when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we are saying that we are all there as invited guests, not because of what we have done. The basic challenge that practically all the churches worldwide, of whatever denomination, so often have to struggle with is, ‘Are we joining together in one act of Holy Communion, one Eucharist, throughout the world, or are we just celebrating our local identities and our personal preferences?’
The Anglican Identity
The reason Anglicanism is worth bothering with is because it has tried to find a way of being a Church that is neither tightly centralised nor just a loose federation of essentially independent bodies – a Church that is seeking to be a coherent family of communities meeting to hear the Bible read, to break bread and share wine as guests of Jesus Christ, and to celebrate a unity in worldwide mission and ministry. That is what the word ‘Communion’ means for Anglicans, and it is a vision that has taken clearer shape in many of our ecumenical dialogues.
Of course it is possible to produce a self-deceiving, self-important account of our worldwide identity, to pretend that we were a completely international and universal institution like the Roman Catholic Church. We’re not. But we have tried to be a family of Churches willing to learn from each other across cultural divides, not assuming that European (or American or African) wisdom is what settles everything, opening up the lives of Christians here to the realities of Christian experience elsewhere. And we have seen these links not primarily in a bureaucratic way but in relation to the common patterns of ministry and worship – the community gathered around Scripture and sacraments; a ministry of bishops, priests and deacons, a biblically-centred form of common prayer, a focus on the Holy Communion. These are the signs that we are not just a human organisation but a community trying to respond to the action and the invitation of God that is made real for us in ministry and Bible and sacraments. We believe we have useful and necessary questions to explore with Roman Catholicism because of its centralised understanding of jurisdiction and some of its historic attitudes to the Bible. We believe we have some equally necessary questions to propose to classical European Protestantism, to fundamentalism, and to liberal Protestant pluralism. There is an identity here, however fragile and however provisional.
But what our Communion lacks is a set of adequately developed structures which is able to cope with the diversity of views that will inevitably arise in a world of rapid global communication and huge cultural variety. The tacit conventions between us need spelling out – not for the sake of some central mechanism of control but so that we have ways of being sure we’re still talking the same language, aware of belonging to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ. It is becoming urgent to work at what adequate structures for decision-making might look like. We need ways of translating this underlying sacramental communion into a more effective institutional reality, so that we don’t compromise or embarrass each other in ways that get in the way of our local and our universal mission, but learn how to share responsibility.
Future Directions
The idea of a ‘covenant’ between local Churches (developing alongside the existing work being done on harmonising the church law of different local Churches) is one method that has been suggested, and it seems to me the best way forward. It is necessarily an ‘opt-in’ matter. Those Churches that were prepared to take this on as an expression of their responsibility to each other would limit their local freedoms for the sake of a wider witness; and some might not be willing to do this. We could arrive at a situation where there were ‘constituent’ Churches in covenant in the Anglican Communion and other ‘churches in association’, which were still bound by historic and perhaps personal links, fed from many of the same sources, but not bound in a single and unrestricted sacramental communion, and not sharing the same constitutional structures. The relation would not be unlike that between the Church of England and the Methodist Church, for example. The ‘associated’ Churches would have no direct part in the decision making of the ‘constituent’ Churches, though they might well be observers whose views were sought or whose expertise was shared from time to time, and with whom significant areas of co-operation might be possible.
This leaves many unanswered questions, I know, given that lines of division run within local Churches as well as between them - and not only on one issue (we might note the continuing debates on the legitimacy of lay presidency at the Eucharist). It could mean the need for local Churches to work at ordered and mutually respectful separation between ‘constituent’ and ‘associated’ elements; but it could also mean a positive challenge for Churches to work out what they believed to be involved in belonging in a global sacramental fellowship, a chance to rediscover a positive common obedience to the mystery of God’s gift that was not a matter of coercion from above but of that ‘waiting for each other’ that St Paul commends to the Corinthians.
There is no way in which the Anglican Communion can remain unchanged by what is happening at the moment. Neither the liberal nor the conservative can simply appeal to a historic identity that doesn’t correspond with where we now are. We do have a distinctive historic tradition – a reformed commitment to the absolute priority of the Bible for deciding doctrine, a catholic loyalty to the sacraments and the threefold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons, and a habit of cultural sensitivity and intellectual flexibility that does not seek to close down unexpected questions too quickly. But for this to survive with all its aspects intact, we need closer and more visible formal commitments to each other. And it is not going to look exactly like anything we have known so far. Some may find this unfamiliar future conscientiously unacceptable, and that view deserves respect. But if we are to continue to be any sort of ‘Catholic’ church, if we believe that we are answerable to something more than our immediate environment and its priorities and are held in unity by something more than just the consensus of the moment, we have some very hard work to do to embody this more clearly. The next Lambeth Conference ought to address this matter directly and fully as part of its agenda.
The different components in our heritage can, up to a point, flourish in isolation from each other. But any one of them pursued on its own would lead in a direction ultimately outside historic Anglicanism The reformed concern may lead towards a looser form of ministerial order and a stronger emphasis on the sole, unmediated authority of the Bible. The catholic concern may lead to a high doctrine of visible and structural unification of the ordained ministry around a focal point. The cultural and intellectual concern may lead to a style of Christian life aimed at giving spiritual depth to the general shape of the culture around and de-emphasising revelation and history. Pursued far enough in isolation, each of these would lead to a different place – to strict evangelical Protestantism, to Roman Catholicism, to religious liberalism. To accept that each of these has a place in the church’s life and that they need each other means that the enthusiasts for each aspect have to be prepared to live with certain tensions or even sacrifices – with a tradition of being positive about a responsible critical approach to Scripture, with the anomalies of a historic ministry not universally recognised in the Catholic world, with limits on the degree of adjustment to the culture and its habits that is thought possible or acceptable.
The only reason for being an Anglican is that this balance seems to you to be healthy for the Church Catholic overall, and that it helps people grow in discernment and holiness. Being an Anglican in the way I have sketched involves certain concessions and unclarities but provides at least for ways of sharing responsibility and making decisions that will hold and that will be mutually intelligible. No-one can impose the canonical and structural changes that will be necessary. All that I have said above should make it clear that the idea of an Archbishop of Canterbury resolving any of this by decree is misplaced, however tempting for many. The Archbishop of Canterbury presides and convenes in the Communion, and may do what this document attempts to do, which is to outline the theological framework in which a problem should be addressed; but he must always act collegially, with the bishops of his own local Church and with the primates and the other instruments of communion.
That is why the process currently going forward of assessing our situation in the wake of the General Convention is a shared one. But it is nonetheless possible for the Churches of the Communion to decide that this is indeed the identity, the living tradition – and by God’s grace, the gift - we want to share with the rest of the Christian world in the coming generation; more importantly still, that this is a valid and vital way of presenting the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. My hope is that the period ahead - of detailed response to the work of General Convention, exploration of new structures, and further refinement of the covenant model - will renew our positive appreciation of the possibilities of our heritage so that we can pursue our mission with deeper confidence and harmony

The New Sign!!!

It is being installed as I type! The bottom part will have LCD graphics, and the top decorative part was made by our own Bruce Burton at Burtek, his company!

I can't wait to see it with the graphics screen functioning!

As promised, a picture of my new nephew....

Seth Robert Eichenberger. Many of you have met the mom (Jennifer's sister) and dad - Laura and Troy. They were here at Christmas and for Meg's baptism.

My mother in law is down there helping them get adjusted to life with a baby in the house. God willing, we will get a chance to go down and see them in November for his baptism.

Another example of the secular media getting it wrong

Today's column by Deb Price in the Detroit News (7/26) is another example of getting it wrong. Although we are thankful that in her time of need she turned to our Lord and Scripture, somehow she was only able to see the 'warm and fuzzy' sayings, and completely missed out on the reality that we must "repent" and "go and sin no more". Also interesting to note...why is it that it has to digress into name calling? "Neaderthals?" Please!
Below is the second half of the column. If you want to see it all go to
Healing. I was looking for it. Forgiveness. I was looking for it. A way out of bitterness, remorse, resentment. I was looking for it.
And there was Jesus, busy in the Gospels, healing lepers and the paralyzed, chasing demons out of the emotionally troubled and offering a lifeline.
"I assure you," Jesus says, "even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."
For a person feeling immobilized by what felt like mistakes as gigantic as the Panamanian mountains in the misty distance, Jesus' no-strings promise was emotionally liberating. Back home, I began a daily trek to a noontime service at an Episcopal church near my newsroom.
Church regained a central spot in my daily life. My dark mood was slowly replaced by an ever-deepening commitment to trust spiritual tools to fix life's problems. That the Episcopal Church had already elevated to bishop a gay man in a committed relationship made me feel especially blessed to have been born into the denomination.
But that joy in finding a safe, healing place -- a true sanctuary -- was shattered last Wednesday when the Episcopal Church's national convention abandoned its moral high ground and urged that no bishop be confirmed "whose manner of life poses a challenge to the church" -- church-speak for "no self-respecting gays allowed."
Shamefully caving in to Neanderthals threatening to tear apart the Anglican church community, the outgoing and incoming presiding officers -- traditionally gay allies -- spearheaded the vicious resolution. They plunged my denomination backward at the very time when courageous church leaders are desperately needed to stand firm against those cloaking bigotry in religion.
Many gay Episcopalians will stay, feeling called to help enlighten the church. Others, fiercely torn, will ultimately decide that to sit in an Episcopal pew or put another dollar bill in an Episcopal collection plate would feel like a slap at the diversity-loving God who chose to make us gay.
Heartsick, I am walking away. I must find a new spiritual shelter. Yet my faith is unshaken: The Episcopal Church will one day listen to its better angels and call me home.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

How the secular media gets it wrong

It is disheartening to watch how the secular media (with minds on earthly things) doesn't understand biblical Anglicanism. One local paper recently did a fluff piece on a local Episcopal priest, devoting a portion to his unrepentant homosexuality. Coverage of the General Convention has been topical at best.

This morning Detroit Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson had a weekly news quiz, including a simplified choice of why the new Presiding Bishop elect is not acceptable to traditional Anglicans. Below is the question, his choice of answer, and my emailed reponse to him.
5. Some European and African members of the worldwide Anglican Communion threatened to break with the group's American branch, Episcopal Church USA, after the latter elected Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as its next leader. Non-American Anglicans are upset about her selection because: D. She's a woman.

Brian - this over simplifies a very complex issue. It is much bigger than just her gender. She is a rampant supporter of a non-biblical view of human sexuality and is so deficient in her basic theological understanding of scripture that her first sermon as Presiding Bishop elect refered to Our Lord as MOTHER JESUS. In light of the dozens of other wrong theological things she has preached or published in the last 12 years, which puts her directly in conflict with the demands for accountibility made by the worldwide leaders of our Anglican Communion, her gender just a small portion of the problem with her election.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Welcome Seth Robert!

News from Georgia/Tennessee border, where Jennifer's sister Laura lives with her husband Troy (Jennifer is my wife, for those who don't know). Tonight we welcome the news of the birth of Seth Robert Eichenberger. 7 lbs, 5oz! Pictures to follow soon. Mom and baby are doing well.

A Te Deum Laudamus for the good news!

Details on our very busy Kelly family weekend to follow in the next day or two.

Friday, June 23, 2006

So now what???

General Convention 2006 is over, and it appears to us traditionalists to be an unmitigated disaster. The delegates refused to submit to the requirements of the Windsor Report, instead substituting at the last minute a half-hearted resolution which doesn't put us in compliance on the issue of homosexuality (ordination or marriage) as required by the primates of the Anglican Communion. Additionally, GCO6 elected a woman to be presiding bishop (her gender being problematic to much of Anglicanism and to the majority of the Universal Church), and she then turned around and on her first day as PB elect gave a sermon calling our Lord "Mother Jesus". She is also a vocal supporter of this unbiblical sexual deviance. The Convention refused to undo the Executive Council's actions of affliating ECUSA with a pro-abortion group NARAL, and refused by a huge margin to take up legislation affirming the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and the only name under heaven by which you can be saved. As I said in the June Eagle - every three years I am deeply ashamed to be an Episcopalian.

BUT - God is still in charge. As the gospel song goes, "The Battle is not yours, it is the Lord's." And as I posted last week, St. Paul predicted these things would happen. As he said (in this more modern translation).

“I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

And so as the smoke clears and the bishops begin to make sense of all this, we continue to preach the Word to correct, rebuke and encourage - with GREAT PATIENCE (this is perhaps the hardest part - Patience) as it is all sorted out.

At St. John's nothing changes. We still worship and glorify his holy name, strive by grace for the holiness he desires for us, and seek to share the good news with others and bring them to Jesus.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Our busiest week of the Summer

Okay, so I know Summer officially begins today but this week will be our busiest of the Summer.

Every Morning at 8:00am I take Andrew to Swim Practice, and get 1/2 mile in myself while he practices. This will last for a couple of weeks.

Then this week, Monday through Friday
11:30 to 12:30 - Sam has Karate Weapons Camp
1:00 to 2:30 - Sam and Andrew are Junior leaders for the beginner's Karate Camp.
3:00 to 5:00 - Sam, Andrew, and William participate in Advanced Karate Camp.

At least the evenings are varied. Monday night Jennifer had to lead her La Leche League Meeting and I took Sam to fencing. Tuesday night Andrew had a baseball game (won 19 -10) and then Sam and I cut the neighbor's lawn (Sam's new 'job' to help pay for his rockets).
Wednesday night I have the Vestry meeting. Thursday evening Jennifer and Meg have a party of some sort to attend. On Friday we have a chiropractor's appointment.

On Saturday Andrew has a 7am Swim Meet, and then Sam, Andrew and William have Karate from 9:30 to 11am (the pool is next to the gym where the karate is held). Then we are going to an open house for a recent grad in the afternoon followed by Andrew's baseball game at 5pm.

On Sunday we worship the Lord in the morning, and then Jennifer takes Andrew to his home run derby and all-star game and Sam and I are off to Jackson, MI for the Model Rocket Club launches.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Identifying heresy

Here is a great quote from The Living Church on line, concerning the new P.B. saying it was Donatism to imply that she couldn't consecrate new bishops (Donatism was a heresy concerning the worthiness of the minister effecting the sacraments). But of course, it assumes the rest of the sacramental formula for ordination is correct: including right substance/object (a baptized male), and right intention (to do as the Church has always done in accordance with Scripture) for which the bishopess seems sorely mistaken. Bishop's Iker and Ackerman understand theology and ecclesiology.
Speaking at a press conference after her election, Bishop Jefferts Schori said she “hoped to be able to deal” with requests “pastorally” from traditionalists not to act as chief consecrator of new bishops opposed to the ordination of women. She would also to seek to respond theologically by addressing the “heresy of Donatism. The actor in a sacramental act, the validity of the sacramental act is not dependent on the holiness or qualities of the actor,” she explained.Bishop

Iker disagreed, saying, “the vast majority of Anglicans have not accepted the concept of the ordination of women as bishops and the vast majority of Catholic Christians around the world don’t accept women’s holy orders at all. To think that she is going to educate people on what the Catholic Church has believed for over 2000 years is feminist hysterics.”

“It’s gnosticism to think that you have new hidden information no one else has,” Bishop Iker said.

The election of Bishop Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop and chief consecrator of the bishops of The Episcopal Church presents a challenge to the “sacramental certainty” of the Church, Bishop Ackerman said. “The Bible, the ecumenical councils, the Vincentian canons” (The catholic faith is that which has been believed everywhere, at all times, by all people - SJK+) are founts of “our knowledge of sacramental certainty” and should not be interpreted through “sociological constructs” based on American “exceptionalism,” he argued.

“I think that the outcry internationally will be rather significant” from the election, he noted, but added that it would be “very unwise to do anything precipitous. If I truly believed I was a member of a Protestant denomination, I would say to people that we would have to act immediately.

“But my ecclesiology is that we are part of a world wide Anglican communion. I don’t await permission from the rest of the Communion,” Bishop Ackerman said, “rather I recognize that consensus is an extraordinary component in the way we do Anglican theology. It’s just that the Episcopal Church doesn’t seem to be aware of that.”

Looks like the Presby's are theologically challenged as well

Having had to fight to get a diocesan billboard removed, placed near my parish church, that proclaimed "My God is Mother: I am an Episcopalian", it is intersting to see that the Presbyterians, also meeting in convention, are just as theologically challenged! God help the mainline Protestant Churches in America!

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Associated Press--
The divine Trinity -- "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" -- could also be known as "Mother, Child and Womb" or "Rock, Redeemer, Friend" at some Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) services under an action Monday by the church's national assembly.
Delegates to the meeting voted to "receive" a policy paper on gender-inclusive language for the Trinity, a step short of approving it. That means church officials can propose alternative phrasings for the Trinity, but congregations won't be required to use them.
One reason is that language limited to the Father and Son "has been used to support the idea that God is male and that men are superior to women," the panel said.
Others said the church should stick to the way God is named in the Bible and that Jesus' famous prayer is addressed to "Our Father."

Monday, June 19, 2006

Moving further away from being Anglican and Catholic

As the General Convention plods along, we continue to watch as the delegates and bishops continue to legislate and vote ourselves further into an inconsequential protestant sect, rather than a member of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, as we proclaim in the Creed and profess in our Articles of Religion. Among the things done already include legislation declaring the scriptures to be anti-Semitic at times, and therefore not only misinterpreting them, but trying to water them down or disregard them. The Jews need Jesus as well, and the scriptures firmly show this! And yesterday they voted to elected a woman as the Presiding Bishop (the titular head of our denomination and international & and ecumenical representative of the church). She not only holds positions contrary to scripture concerning human sexuality and the authority of scripture (lots of quotes and records of votes back this up), but her being a bishop at all flies in the face of the Universal teaching of the Apostolic Churches (Anglican, Roman and Orthodox) and further places a wedge between us and the rest of the Anglican Communion (few provinces have women bishops, and only the smaller, mostly non-growing provinces even attempt to ordain women as priests). Below is a bit from an AP report on the election yesterday, including a quote from the wonderfully, godly, bishop of Quincy.
God help us as we sort it all out.
In 2003, the Americans shocked the Anglican world by electing the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Placing a female bishop at the head of the denomination may further anger conservatives overseas and within the U.S. church. Jefferts Schori voted to confirm Robinson."I will bend over backward to build relationships with people who disagree with me," she pledged at a news conference.

Rev. Canon Chris Sugden, a leader of the Anglican Mainstream, a Church of England conservative group, said Jefferts Schori's election "shows that the Episcopal leadership is going to do what they want to do regardless of what it means to the rest of the communion."Episcopal bishops elected Jefferts Schori on the fifth ballot. She collected 95 votes, with 93 votes split among the rest of the field--six candidates, all men. Other General Convention delegates confirmed the choice.

Gasps could be heard throughout the vast convention hall when Jefferts Schori's name was announced. Bishop Keith Ackerman, leader of the Quincy diocese in western Illinois, one of three in the U.S. that will not ordain women, said he was "too distraught for words."

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A great quote summing up the ineptitude of the Anglican Communion

I saw this quote today in the USA TODAY on line and I think it sums up how the Communion, particularly the USA, Canada, England, and a small portion of Africa (ie...South Africa) has become a ship without a rudder.

Is our common bond a mission to save souls? To bring people to Jesus? To glorify Him and Magnifyu his Holy Name? Here is the summary from the USA TODAY, with a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu (who recently told the World Council of Churches that he thought it was sinful to imply that Jesus was uniquely the way to salvation).

The worldwide Communion, which claims 77 million members, is not a hierarchical organization like the Roman Catholic Church. There's no overall discipline, no legal or financial web. The ties involve "bonds of affection," history and a shared evangelical mission.
So what do Anglicans do? Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, former archbishop of South Africa, once answered: "We meet."

Unfortunately, we meet, and do bad things.....

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Changes to the Roman Mass

Today in the secular press there has been some coverage on the changes coming to the English version of the new (1960's) Roman Catholic Mass. Interestingly, these changes are in fact just better translations of the Novus Ordo (New Order) of the Mass, which is of course in Latin. For decades traditionally minded theologians in the Roman Church (unfortunately, a minority as they are here in ECUSA) have been yelling that the American version was an awful translation, motivated by bad theology! The same bad theology influenced the revision of the 1979 American prayer book in the Episcopal Church!

Notice many of the changes match....our liturgy! That is because our 1928 liturgy, and its predecessors have their foundation in the ancient Western Liturgies (Roman, etc.) with good theology! Now with Rome correcting itself, could we pray for an American correction?
And my Roman friends who follow such things are saying the next big push is to return the altars to the proper position with the priest leading the prayers, instead of praying to the priest and visa versa! The current pope, while Cardinal, wrote the preface to one book pointing out the fraud of the 'facing the people' innovation, and he and spoken at other times that this should be done facing East (as we do at St. John's).
From the associated press...

Exchanges between priests and parishioners that now say "The Lord be with you" / "And also with you" would become "The Lord be with you" / "And with your spirit."

The Act of Penitence, in which parishioners confess that they have sinned "through my own fault," would include the lines "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault."

In the Nicene Creed, the opening words "We believe" would become "I believe."

Early in the Eucharistic Prayer, "Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might" would become "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts."

Before Communion, the prayer "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you" would become "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Old Rectory

As the work crew was digging the 6 foot hole for the footer for the new sign, we ran into something unexpected. We ran into the foundation of the old Rectory at St. John's! The Rectory stood next to the Church from the 1860's until 1936, when it was torn down for the widening of Woodward Avenue. Actually, before 1905 the Rector lived elsewhere, and the building was used for Diocesan and YWCA offices. We hit the back end of the old building with cement at least 18 inches thick...and lots of bricks!

So, a decision was made to move the hole two feet south to avoid the foundation, which is now dug and the cement footer poured. God willing, the new sign will be up and functioning be the end of next week.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Today (Tuesday) at Mass....

....we commemorated St. Anthony of Padua's feast day. A great Franciscan saint, we read his bio at the service, being reminded of his academic accumen, as well as his personal humilty and holiness (you can't have the second without the first!)

The Mass appointed for the day in the old American Missal was that for "Doctors of the Church", a title for specifically designated academics. And the Epistle Reading for the service was from St. Paul's second lesson to Timothy, containing the following lines.

2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Of course, lines 3 and 4 reminded me of the continuing struggle with the novelties of doctrine being promoted by the Episcopal Church, particularly highlighted by General Convention being in session. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized two things.

1) Paul predicted it...it was happening in his own times and has happened in all time periods in the Church - perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that there is theological apostasy going on now in The Episcopal Church.
2) Paul doesn't tell Timothy to form a committee or organization, hold a protest, or start a new denomination. He tells him to Preach the gospel anyway all the time, watch in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.


Getting info on General Convention 2006

With the Internet even more prevalent now than just 3 years ago, no less 6, there is lots of instant information that can be accessed about General Convention, particularly if you are a news junkie as I am.

Several people have asked me where they can access some news on General Convention, other than the bad news that the regular media will be sure to cover since it will be sensationalized.

Here are some sites to access, each with their own slant. Do not go to any of them if you have a weak stomach for things political. Even Church politics can be ugly business!
And in case you didn't know, much of The Episcopal Church is not traditional, bible-believing like St. John's. Many have fallen for all sorts of novelties and innovations in the place of solid religion. Some of what you read might be shocking! Rest assured, these novelties will not be introduced at St. John's in Detroit.

First, I recommend the online edition of The Living Church, a weekly Episcopal newsmagazine for which I serve on the foundation board. The Living Church is a balanced, yet traditional leaning viewpoint of the Church in general

The American Anglican Council has a website to follow General Convention that can be found here.
http://www.americananglican.org/ The AAC is a very traditional evangelical organization of the Episcopal Church

A group of classically minded Anglicans at General Convention are blogging (on-line diaries) at
http://gencon06.classicalanglican.net/ See te links at the bottom left of this page to other blogs.

Another site for news, conservative although sometimes overly sensationalized, is David Virtue's

Finally, Dr. Kendall Harmon has a fine blogsite at http://titusonenine.classicalanglican.net/

The Official News arm of the Episcopal Church (usually pretty left leaning on 'issues') can be found at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/gc2006news/

Monday, June 12, 2006

To bury the dead

One of the traditional "corporal works of mercy" is the bury the dead (the others are: Feed the hungry, Give drink to the thirsty, Clothe the naked, Shelter the homeless, Visit the sick, Visit those in prison ). The article below is quite disturbing, and reminds me that last year when the police here in Detroit were called to stop scavengers from stripping copper from a closed funeral home, they found two unclaimed bodies still in caskets in the home. To date one of them have not been identified! Make your arrangements for you burial or cremation, put it in writing with a lawyer, and make some financial arrangements now to have it done (insurance, etc.). Also, places like the Michigan Cremation Society make it much more affordable than going through a funeral home if finances are tight.
Some Ohio Families Refuse to Claim Bodies
By Associated Press

AKRON, Ohio - Thomas Tellis died in March, but his cremated remains are still waiting to be claimed at a Canton funeral home. Shortly after the 89-year-old's death, investigators located Tellis' daughter, but the woman, who was born out of wedlock and raised by another man, refused to claim Tellis' body.

The case is part of what coroners and funeral directors see as a disturbing trend: bodies going unclaimed because relatives are either unwilling or unable to shoulder the responsibility or expense of burying the dead.

Often, the reasons are economic. Funeral costs average more than $6,000, and that can create a burden for people struggling to make ends meet, said Harry Campbell, an investigator with the Stark County coroner's office.

While Stark County deals with only a handful of unclaimed bodies every year, more populous urban counties, such as Cleveland and Columbus, see a greater number. Last year Cuyahoga County investigated 43 cases. Franklin County had more than 140.
While these cases amount to only a fraction of the bodies that coroner's offices tend to annually, they are among the most disheartening.

"It's a fairly widespread issue," said Dr. Lisa Kohler, Summit County medical examiner. "Either the family members cannot or will not take financial responsibility for burying their loved one, or we cannot find next of kin.

"In some of these situations, we do find family members that readily acknowledge that they're capable of providing financial assistance, but want nothing to do with them. That seems to be a fairly common situation."

In one instance, a woman contacted the Ohio Funeral Directors Association, which handles indigent cases, to pay for the funeral of her dying mother-in-law, said Trey Wackerly, a Canton funeral director and member of the organization.

At first the woman claimed she couldn't afford it, but when Wackerly pressed her, she acknowledged that there was insurance money, but that her family didn't like the mother-in-law and hoped to use the cash to remodel their kitchen.
"I couldn't believe it," Wackerly said.

These situations are a sad commentary on just how weak family ties have become to some people, said David Corey, executive director of the Ohio State Coroners Association in Columbus.
Still, there is no law against refusing to claim a body, and local governments cannot force relatives to take on the responsibility of burial.

"When people walk away, they aren't avoiding a legal obligation, just a moral obligation," said Scott Gilligan, an attorney with the Ohio Funeral Directors Association.

Unclaimed bodies still receive a burial, but the county is often saddled with the bill when the deceased had no estate that could be used to cover expenses. Counties have different protocols for dealing with such cases. Some bodies are cremated, others are not. Most end up in indigent plots in local cemeteries.

Either way, workers treat the deceased with respect, said David Turney, an investigator with the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office.

"One way or another, we make sure they get some dignity. Maybe more in death than in life," Turney said.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A prayer for General Convention 2006

Written by my theology professor in seminary, Dr. Peter Toon. Dr. Toon is president of the Prayer Book Society. This prayer was found on his blog at www.anglicansatprayer.org

O Lord our God, who in thy mercy doth both see and know the confusion of disordered minds, hearts and wills within the leadership and membership of the Episcopal Church, regard with pity, we beseech thee, all members of this Church. Especially, look with loving-kindness upon those who are to be present at the General Convention.

By thy light we see light, and we know that such is the present depth of the rejection of the revelation and law, and rebellion against thy perfect will amongst Episcopalians, and even in our own hearts, lives and families, that we cannot but tremble before thy Majesty and Holiness in fear of thy just judgment. We confess with shame that our love of the present evil age with its debased culture has been so intense that we have sought to be guided by it and to adjust our church doctrine and morality to agree with it.

Yet within this darkness, that we have caused to descend upon ourselves, we give thee grateful thanks that thou hast caused lights to shine upon us from churches overseas. In fact, thou hast caused churches, which only came into existence when the Episcopal Church had been around many years, to become the means of making many Episcopalians aware of how they were failing to hear the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to obey his commandments. In the midst of our self-imposed confusion and sinfulness, thou hast caused a ray of hope to appear.

Not for our sake, but for the sake of thy well-beloved Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, have mercy upon us all, we beseech thee, O Lord. And, most particularly, have great pity upon the members of the General Convention, we pray. Make each and every one of them aware of their total dependence upon thy grace and providence. Plant in their souls the desire to search for, know and do thy will for this Church. Give them the wisdom and courage to do all that in them lies to work for the reform and renewal of the Episcopal Church. And, O God our Father, regard with especial pity the house of bishops, called to be shepherds of the flock of Christ. So chastise them in thy love that they will learn to love thee with new zeal, inspiration and enlightenment. Grant that what thy Word teaches and requires they will delight to proclaim and implement. Let there be revival in this branch of thy Church and let it come in such a way as to point to thy wisdom, grace and glory.

We acknowledge before thee, our Lord and God, that thou hast perfect knowledge of where this Church is now and where it needs to go in the future to please thee. By thy providence and through thy Spirit, and in thy great mercy and grace for the sake of thy Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, work in our midst, we beseech thee. Work, we pray, to the end that an erring and disobedient people may become a humble, believing and obedient people, and that thereby the Episcopal Church will by its worship, doctrine and living, in submission to thee, adorn the Gospel of the same Lord Jesus Christ in the years to come to the glory of thy holy Name.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Fr. John M. Scott - Rest in Peace

Three weeks ago I posted something about my mentor, Fr. John M. Scott. That post can be found here http://stjohnsdetroit.blogspot.com/2006/05/priestmentor-fr-john-m-scott.html

Fr. Scott passed away. Below is a part of his obituary. May he rest in peace.
On Wednesday, June 7, 2006 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania occurred the death of The Rev. John M. Scott, D. Min. A Requiem Eucharist will be celebrated at St. Mary's Church, Hamilton Village 3916 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, June 14, 2006, at 11:00 a.m. The Right Reverend Edward Lee, Jr., presiding

The Reverend John M. Scott, a retired priest of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, died after a long illness. After his ordination to the priesthood on All Saints Day of 1953, he served as vicar of St. James Church in Long Beach, Long Island until he was called to be rector of All Saints Church in South Charleston, West Virginia from 1956 to 1962. He then served as Rector and Chaplain on the Penn Campus of St. Mary's Church, Hamilton Village from 1962 until 1992. After his retirement, he served as Interim Rector of St. James, Prospect Park and as priest to St. Dismas from 1996 to 1997.

John's core identity was that of a Franciscan. He was an active lay member of that order for fifty years, serving as guardian of the Third Order for many years. John was a graduate of Union College, Nashota House Seminary and in later years received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

During his tenure at St. Mary's, John was an untiring activist for many causes during the time of political unrest and change in the sixties and seventies.

He leaves a loving family including his wife Frances, three children, Catherine Scott, Larry Scott, and Julia Trout, and three grandchildren, Will Trout, Alex Trout and Sophie Scott. Memorial contributions may be made to the Society of Saint Francis, Little Portion Friary, PO Box 399, Mount Sinai, NY 11766

Rest Eternal grant to this thy servant, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A warning to Traditional Clergy

My old bishop, Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, spoke to the clergy of the Diocese of Ft Worth (TX) and addressed some issues of the upcoming General Convention and the relationship of the Episcopal Church to our world-wide Anglican Communion. Ft. Worth is one of the most traditional dioceses of the Episcopal Church (lots of clergy with 'SSC' after their name, like Fr. Bedford and I are privileged to bear), and Bishop Duncan is one of the most traditional Evangelical bishops of the Episcopal Church.

It was an honor to serve under him!

This article is from The Living Church Foundation www.livingchurch.org
'Prepare for Crucifixion,' Bishop Duncan Tells Fort Worth Clergy 06/06/2006

Citing the example of Peter, the disciple who returned to Rome to face certain death, the moderator of the Anglican Communion Network told a May 31 gathering of clergy of the Diocese of Fort Worth to prepare for a “crucifixion,” but assured them that in the long run “God will reform his Church.”

The Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh, conducted the clergy day discussion on the Episcopal Church, the Network, and the Anglican Communion at the invitation of the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth. The gathering, attended by about 70 priests and deacons, was held at the diocesan camp in Granbury, about 30 miles south of the see city.

The day began with a Eucharist celebrating the Feast of the Visitation. In his sermon, Bishop Duncan noted that an important difference between the Colonists and the British during the Revolutionary War was in the way they treated their enemies. The British, he said, “gave no quarter,” but the Americans treated their enemies according to the principles they espoused. He reminded the congregation that the epistle for the day, from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, admonishes God’s elect to “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” to “bear with one another” and to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

During his first talk, which focused on the Network and the Episcopal Church, Bishop Duncan told the clergy that, if they were looking for a single event or moment of schism, “it has happened.” The moment, he said, was the confirmation three years ago of the election of the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire during the 74th General Convention. A comment from the floor concerning earlier events that some in the diocese consider equally fateful, such as the change in the teaching on divorce or the ordination of women, prompted a discussion of the history of the church over the last 100 years. Church leadership now, Bishop Duncan noted, is largely in the hands of a generation, including himself, that came of age learning to “destroy institutions” and does so. Describing the present state of affairs in a church that blesses same-sex unions but whose laity do not know scripture, Bishop Duncan said, “We have thrown out the baby, and we are savoring the bath water.”

Later the discussion moved to the Anglican Communion. The lack of a truly common Book of Common Prayer, due to revisions in several provinces over the last quarter century, and the tradition of allowing a secular government to select the Archbishops of Canterbury, have destabilized the Communion, according to Bishop Duncan. It is remarkable, he noted, that the latter has worked as well as it has for so long, but the mechanism is inherently flawed. He predicted that future leadership of the Communion will shift to the Global South.

In his own experience, Bishop Duncan said, he now feels he has more in common with the Roman Catholic bishop and Orthodox Metropolitan of Pittsburgh than he does with fellow members of the House of Bishops.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

GC 2006 - I'm not going

A parishioner asked me today if I was going to the General Convention. Even though it is relatively close by (Columbus, OH), I am not going. I am not a delegate to Convention and quite frankly I would rather spend the time here with the family and with the parish.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A parishioner at my former parish passed away today.

I have to admit that I didn't get to know him as well as I got to know his wife and children when I was the curate at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, PA. He wasn't the most regular of attenders (baseball scheduling being a part of the problem).
Please pray for his wife Ramona, and children Eric Jr., Kevin, and Ashley.
PHILADELPHIA - Former major league umpire Eric Gregg, known for his big personality, extra-wide strike zone and oversized frame, died Monday night, a day after a massive stroke. He was 55.
"I want him to be remembered as someone who loved the game of baseball, someone who was determined to make it no matter what," his son, Kevin Gregg, told The Associated Press.
Gregg, whose struggles with weight problems saw him reach almost 400 pounds, told family members Sunday morning at his home in Ardmore, Pa., that he couldn't feel anything on his left side. He was hospitalized and died at 6:45 p.m. Monday.
Gregg was among 22 umpires who lost their jobs in 1999 when their labor plan of mass resignations backfired. Known for his large strike zone, he worked the 1989 World Series, four championship series, two division series and one All-Star game.
"He was so determined to be in the game and he got there," Kevin Gregg said.
Gregg called his first game in 1975 and became a member of the NL staff in 1978. He was left jobless after union head Richie Phillips called for mass resignations as a way of forcing an early start to contract negotiations.
In December 2004, Gregg and five other umpires whose resignations were accepted in 1999 received severance pay and health benefits for themselves and their families. Gregg received $400,000 under the deal.
"It was his dream to be in baseball," Kevin Gregg said. "When he realized he couldn't go back to work, it took a lot out of him. To this day, I think it was sometimes painful for him to watch games."
Kevin Gregg recalled a story about when his dad was a high school catcher, a coach told him he was too big to play and wasn't ever going to be good enough.
"He had the mentality of, 'Damn that, I'm still going to be involved," Gregg said.
Gregg said his dad saw a commercial for umpiring school and decided that's how he would make it to the major leagues.
In early March, the former umpire had his right knee replaced. Kevin Gregg said his father was taking blood thinners to prevent clots.
With his wide smile, gregarious personality and lively stories from his days in the majors, Gregg remained a fixture in town. He worked at a popular sports bar Chickie's and Pete's in northeast Philadelphia as a jack-of-all trades bartender, host, or waiter and also poured beers at their concessions stand at Citizens Bank Park.
He was plagued by financial woes soon after he left baseball. Gregg said he borrowed money from Phillips, umpire Jerry Crawford and former umpire Terry Tata just to pay the mortgage.
Though Gregg once earned a six-figure salary, he complained in 2000 that he could not afford college tuition for his sons or braces for his daughter.
"He got squeezed in that umpire thing and then it seemed like from then on, things didn't really roll his way after that," Yankees coach Larry Bowa said.
The 6-foot-3 Gregg, once fined $5,000 for failing to report at 300 pounds, was often criticized for calling strikes too wide.
In Game 5 of the 1997 NL championship series against Atlanta, Florida's Livan Hernandez struck out 15 batters and the Braves' Greg Maddux fanned nine as the teams combined to set a championship series record with 25 in the Marlins's 2-1 win. Eight players were called out and several more fell behind in the count as Gregg appeared to make the plate wider than its usual 17 inches.
"Eric will be ever known for one game, but I don't think that's fair," Braves pitcher John Smoltz said.
In 1996, shortly after his friend and fellow umpire John McSherry died, Gregg entered a weight-loss program at Duke University. By adjusting his diet and exercise program, he lost 100 pounds from his former frame of nearly 400.
"We feel very blessed that he's been able to do what he did in his career and his life," Kevin Gregg said.
Umpire crew chief Tim McClelland recalled when Gregg was one of his instructors at umpire school in 1976.
"Probably one of the most well-liked umpires, because he had a great personality, a great sense of humor," McClelland said. "I think he was well-liked amongst umpires, amongst players, because he had such an extroverted, bubbly personality."

Thinking about the upcoming General Convention

From the Rector's Report of the June Eagle
Every three years I dread being a member of the Episcopal Church of the United States. Dread, because every three years the National Church meets in its Convention. Since the year I left for seminary in 1991 I have feared not only the results of the decisions made at this national Church gathering, but also the accompanying press coverage of the convention. It is every three years that we become “Yeah, but…” Episcopalians. “Yeah, but…” Episcopalians are those of us who, being confronted by neighbors and family members who have read or heard the news reports about the events of the General Convention ask us if these things are actually true. We then answer, “Yeah, but…” as in “Yeah, but in our parish and internationally these things are certainly not practiced/accepted/promoted, etc.” Every three years it is one issue or another, although one particular issue concerning God’s created plan for relations between one man and one woman in Holy Matrimony, and the attempted deviance from that standard, leads the coverage in the media.

Three years ago, after the last General Convention, we printed up bumperstickers that said, “Many Episcopalians still believe the bible is true.” When you scratch below the surface of many of the “issues” facing the Church, you find underneath not the issue, but the struggle of biblical authority—the foundation of our Church herself. Are we free to do as we please and change the teachings of the Church to suit the times, or are we to interpret the times and convert them by the sure Word of God through His revelation in Scripture? I hope it is obvious that as a parish, and most of our worldwide Anglican Communion, stands for Biblical Revelation as the standard for faith in Jesus Christ!

Rest assured that The Faith has not and will not change here at St. John’s, no matter what happens at General Convention. So PRAY, PRAY, PRAY for the Episcopal Church!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Holy Ghost Novena - Day Nine (Saturday)

Ninth Day (Saturday)
Thou, on those who evermore Thee confess
and thee adore, in Thy sevenfold gift, descend;
Give them comfort when they die;
Give them life with thee on high';
Give them joys which never end. Amen

The Fruits of the Holy Ghost
The gifts of the Holy Ghost perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Ghost, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Ghost. These Fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.

Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Thy heavenly fruits, thy Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Benignity (the quality of being kind and gentle), Goodness, Faith, Mildness, and Temperance, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Thy inspiration may merit to be united eternally with Thee in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.

On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds, and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore You, Adorable Spirit, Helper of my infirmity, to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for Your servant heareth." Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

Holy Ghost Novena - Day Eight (Friday)

Bend the stubborn heart and will,
melt the frozen warm the chill.
Guide the steps that go astray!

The Gift of Wisdom
Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all the other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of wisdom it is written "all good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands." It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Saviour: "Take up thy cross and follow me, for my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all the passing joys and satisfactions of earth. Help me to attain them and possess them for ever. Amen.

On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds, and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore You, Adorable Spirit, Helper of my infirmity, to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for Your servant heareth." Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.