Last night, December 21st, was the longest night of the year for me and for everybody else in the northern Hemisphere. It was also the coldest night we have had in a while. Fitting, I guess. Fortunately I was snuggled up warm next to my wife in our living room watching a movie and feeling little if any of the affects of the winter weather just outside.
Even though this has been a rushed year and a rushed Advent, it has been a good one nonetheless. The gifts are purchased or made, the house and the Church are now decorated. There is little to do but wait...wait for the crowds to gather, wait for the carols to be sung, wait for hearts to me made joyful once again by the story of the Christ child's journey into this world so long ago and into our lives today. I hope all of you will have a merry Christmas and a truly happy new year.
My hope and my prayer for you all this Christmas-tide and always is that you will welcome Jesus, the light of the world, into your hearts and minds, and that you will allow your own lives to be used to bring light to others. Enjoy your celebrations of the coming of the light, be good news for others, and remember that the kingdom of God is present when little things are done in love. God bless you and strengthen you to do such things and to be an instrument of that Kingdom. And, if you are among those who are passing through darkness, may your needs be seen and answered in genuine love and real care.
As Christians gather in worship we celebrate the way in which the birth of Jesus makes access to God open to all. ‘This is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us.’ That love of God is for all humankind and we are bound into an equality of need and the chance to respond. The Christmas story makes this real in a number of ways.
Read the rest of the Christmas message from the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church here.
Take a look at this from a new article featuring Archbishop Williams...
One friend suggests [Rowan's] refusal to "speak out" is a reflection of Jesus's own approach, especially when Christ refused to answer Pontius Pilate's questions at His trial, as described in Mark's Gospel. "I think that, again, one of the things the Gospel ought to do is make us question the way we put our questions," Williams says. "So that, right throughout the ministry of Jesus as well as at His trial, a hostile person sitting there could say, 'He never gives a straight answer to a straight question: "Do we pay tribute to Caesar?"' And Jesus pushes it back and says, 'What are we really talking about?' I think it's always important to ask before we make the snap answer: what are we really talking about?"
God chose to show himself to us in a complete human life, telling us that every stage in human existence, from conception to maturity and even death, was in principle capable of telling us something about God. Although what we learn from Jesus Christ and what his life makes possible is unique, that life still means that we look differently at every other life. There is something in us that is capable of communicating what God has to say – the image of God in each of us, which is expressed in its perfection only in Jesus.
Read all of the Archbishop's Christmas message here.
My salvation coach raised an interesting question. Salvation is a central theme of the Christian faith. Salvific themes of the Old Testament include escape from captivity, freedom from oppression and hope for a transformed and reconciled world.
In the New Testament Jesus announces the coming of God’s kingdom by forgiving sins and healing the sick. This is the work of salvation, which the Church would continue, instituting a new Heaven and a new Earth.
At least three things stand out. The first is that this salvation is experienced corporately, not individually. The Old Testament writers speak in terms of a community in which the presence of God could be experienced within a fellowship bound together by devotion to God. For the writers of the New Testament, Jesus was never to be thought of as a personal saviour, as though He were our personal toothbrush.
We are not saved individually, as though by some private act of divine indulgence. It is within the community that we can find forgiveness for the past, and hope for a way of beginning again.
What Duncan and Minns propose – that Duncan become the Archbishop of a newly minted non-geographical province with the support of GAFCON primates such as Peter Akinola of Nigeria and Henry Orombi of Uganda – is a rejection of the respectful diversity and generous orthodoxy that defines the Communion. It is a repudiation of the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury in our communal life. It flies in the very face of what it truly means to be an Anglican. For Minns to suggest that he is leading a “new reformation” is ludicrous and demeans the historicity and value of the real Reformation as we know it and live it. The movers of the proposed new province embarrass themselves, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion by the self-serving media coverage they have worked so hard to achieve. The news of the proposed province appears at a time when more than 28 million Americans are living on food stamps, one out of every 10 new mortgage holders is facing foreclosure, unemployment is at its highest level in decades, the auto industry is “tanking” and the real danger of deflation or a possible depression looms large on the horizon. In the global south, millions live on $1 a day, and wars, ethnic and religious violence, poverty and the AIDS epidemic continue to wrack the African continent. To learn in this context that Duncan, Minns and their allies think that the most important issue facing the church is the sexuality of the Bishop of New Hampshire suggests a level of self-absorption that is difficult to square with the teachings of Christ. And to learn that the New York Times considers the complaints of these deposed, retired and irregularly consecrated bishops to be front page news suggests a fixation on “culture wars” reporting that deprives readers of a true sense of the challenges facing the church in this country…
Where do you draw the line? Well, you might reasonably reply: 'What sort of line?'
All over our beloved creaky Anglican Communion, we find lines, borders, boundaries: 'The Bible plainly says so'. 'That's not part of the faith once delivered to the saints.' 'You must assent to these things to be part of the Anglican Communion.' Where, many of us have often lamented, is classical Anglican ambiguity? Shades of grey? The fabled 'large tent', in which paradoxical tensions can presumably sup together, at the Lord's table? We've seen lines drawn even there. Who on earth wants to do any more line drawing?
I began teaching a new bible study today to a group of local pastors. From the aspect of church background, this is the most diverse group I have worked with in awhile. Their desire, to learn more about the Early Church Fathers.
Today I gave an overview of what the next few weeks will look like including the divines we will focus on. In dividing up the material, I made up 3 categories, the apostolic fathers, ante-Nicene and post-Nicene. Then I said, "studying the Apostolic Fathers will make you better pastors, the Ante-Nicene and Post-Nicene's will make you better preachers." Why? Because the early fathers where for the most part ministering to a people under marginalized by persecution, and the Nicene's were working out the finer points of the Incarnation and the Trinity while working on the unity of a Church taking on global leadership post Constantine.
Whether you agree or not, it made for some interesting discussion. And hopefully it will make a better pastor out of me.