Thursday, October 25, 2012

How we preach the Good News

These difficulties notwithstanding, there might still be possibilities for sociology if the gospel which we preached retained its integrity as the sovereign will of God demanding and enabling the response of man in the totality of his being. But the disturbing fact is that in recent years the preaching of the Gospel has gone awry. How has this happened? We have reacted rightly from the pragmatist panacea type of apologetic: the "if only" preaching, which is not a gospel but a sort of insurance policy—"if only" you would repent and turn to God, then peace and security for mankind would be round the corner. Rightly reacting from this perversion of the Gospel we are now eager to say that God is to be proclaimed for God's own sake and his glory, without much mention of the sort of society which reflects God's glory. Again, we have reacted rightly from an over-liberalized evangel which appeals to reason and assumes that unconverted human reason can perceive divine truth without conversion of the heart. So, reacting alike from a false pragmatism and a false intellectualism, we have come back to the gospel which proclaims God in his own right and calls for moral decision and submission....

This is an excerpt from The Most Rev'd., and Rt. Hon. Michael Ramsey's address on faith and society given to the Church Union School of Sociology in 1955.  Note that Ramsey was Bishop of Durham at the time.

Thanks to Kendall Harmon for exciting my interest in this article. 

It should and can be read in it's entirety here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Liturgical prayer and the formation of the Christian

I often take the liturgy of the church for granted.  In the busy moments of everyday life, the daily office of prayer can become just one more hurdle to the end of a crazed day. 

Recently I've had to focus more than normal on just getting through the prayers.  And yet I know there is power in those prayers.  I know there is joy and peace to be found in the words spoken by millions of faithful people, day in and day out over the church's long history. 

One of the ways I am trying to revive my passion for prayer is through the deliberate reading of the Psalms.  Lately I have been using the daily cycle out of the Book of Common Prayer that allows the person to pray through the Psalms in a 30 day span of time.  Notice how I used the words "pray through," and not "read through."  There is a difference and there in might lie some of the trouble I've been encountering.

I gotten in the habit of viewing the daily office prayers as just another task in a busy day, and I've forgotten it is a moment when I encounter the living God who created heaven and earth.  I often find when I rush through the words I forget to listen to God as He tries to speak to me through those very same words, and most especially through the words of the Psalms.  They are the bible in miniature.

The Psalms appointed for the morning of the 20th day of the month are Psalms 102 and 103... 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, * and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, * and forget not all his benefits.

He forgives all your sins * and heals all your infirmities;
He redeems your life from the grave * and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness;
He satisfies you with good things, * and your youth is renewed like an eagle's.
The LORD executes righteousness * and judgment for all who are oppressed.
He made his ways known to Moses * and his works to the children of Israel.
The LORD is full of compassion and mercy, * slow to anger and of great kindness.

It's something I have to work on a little.  But it doesn't worry me too much.  Like most people, there are ebbs and flows to my prayer life, and I am thankful in all of those moments I have the liturgy of the Church to keep me focused...even if I take it for granted...and even when I forget to listen to God speaking through those prayers.  But most especially, I am grateful in those moment when I do forget, for it is then that the prayers help me remember.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Doug Hahn to be next Bishop of Lexington

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I am thrilled and honored to be called to be the Seventh Bishop of Lexington. Kaye and our family share this excitement. I have long had love for the people of Kentucky, and over the last several months have grown especially fond of the people of the Diocese of Lexington — those inside and outside the Episcopal Church. I know that my passion for these people and my passion for God’s church will bring us a long and fruitful ministry together.

I am grateful to Kaye for her presence in this journey. She is my joy. I am grateful for the many people of the diocese who have invested heart and soul in this process; for Bishop Chilton’s steady care of the diocese; for the prayers of my Bishops and colleagues in the Diocese of Atlanta; and especially for the people of St. Thomas Church in Columbus, a people whose care for one another is deep, and whose courage and imagination always take them to new places of service in the world. I am also grateful to the other candidates for their commitment to the church. I am grateful to God, in whose service we all find our highest, truest and best selves.

May our years together be filled with mutual respect and affection, passion for God’s people and God’s earth, and great wonder at the mystery of Grace that surrounds us. May the world see Christ’s light among us, and in that light know that they, too, are part of God’s beloved community.

Christ’s Peace.
Doug Hahn+

Q & A, The Very Rev. Dr. Douglas Hahn from Episcopal Diocese of Lexington on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

And then there were Six...

A nominee has been added by petition to the ballot for the next Bishop of the Diocese of Lexington....

The Rev'd. Dr. Bruce Boss, Rector, Church of the Nativity, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Check out all the profiles and videos here.

And continue to pray for those who will elect on August 18, 2012.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bishop Nominees announced

The nominees for the next Bishop of Lexington were announced this week.  They are...

The Rev. Ronald Abrams, Rector, St. James Parish, Wilmington, NC
The Very Rev. Dr. Douglas Hahn, Rector, St. Thomas, Columbus, GA
The Rt. Rev. Santosh Marray, Bishop Assisting, Diocese of East Carolina
The Rev. LaRae Rutenbar, Interim Rector, St. Peter’s, Rome, GA
The Rev. Nigel Taber-Hamilton, Rector, St. Augustine’s-in-the-Woods, Freeland, WA

A complete profile of each of the nominees can be found here.

The petition process for additional nominees will be open until June 5th.

Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose a bishop for this Diocese of Lexington, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bonnie Anderson says No to another Term

My response to the news that Bonnie Anderson will not seek another term as President of the House of Deputies of The Episcopal Church was, "Thank God."

I do not intend to be rude or mean spirited, but what I say next will probably sound like it.

The years of leadership under both President Bonnie Anderson and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori have been a disaster.  Rather than focusing the Church on mission and evangelism, they have spent their time, in private and recently in public, bickering and fostering an attitude of distrust among Episcopalians far and wide.  It is sad.  For all the good they have done, and the great good they could have done not only for the Church but for women in leadership, their disputes over power and control and who should or should not speak for the Church is how they will both be remembered.  Shame on them and one us for allowing it to continue as long as it did.

This might be a time for Bishop Katherine to consider what Bonnie has announced she will do...Step aside.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Good Friday Meditation

I was looking over my blog today and thought I should post the meditation I will be using at the community Good Friday Service tomorrow.

It will be my first such event in Fort Thomas. I'm looking forward to the service, and I hope my fellow clergy keep to the two paragraph limit we have been asked to observe. If not, this evening Good Friday service might linger on into the Vigil...

"I Thirst..."

In these two simple words, we are confronted with the stark reality of Jesus real human suffering. Up to this point, He has been the comforting shepherd offering forgiveness and promising eternal bliss, the doting son caring for His mother and best friend, and even the reticent philosopher reflecting openly about God’s ability to act in the physical world. But suddenly we are forced to see Jesus as we see ourselves, wounded, suffering, and exhausted by what life has dished out. From the beating and abuse, Jesus’ strength is at an end and in this pleading moment asks for the one thing that will briefly give him solace, something to drink. Yet as life so often does, it heaps insult upon injury, offering Jesus a stimulant in the form of vinegar, so he might be even more aware of his pain and agony.

In the light of the Passion and Resurrection, this scene becomes symbolic of our own struggles within fallen humanity. In only a small way, we too suffer injury and pain, malice and contempt from many corners of our earthly pilgrimage. Whether it be unemployment, a broken home, an abusive spouse or addiction, we expect the best in life only to be reminded we live in a less than perfect world. It is unfortunate that in the midst of strife, our humanity often looks in all the wrong places to find that which will quench our thirst. Reflect with me for a moment. When in your own life have you sought comfort from trouble only to find yourself deeper in the hole? In our sorrowful moments, we do well to look upon the one who said, “I thirst,” and remember His words to the Samaritan women. “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again.”

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New-to-Me Blog

I found an interesting post at a new-to-me blog by Fr. Tom Ferguson, the newish Dean of Bexley Hall. I was struck by his two most recent posts concerning the ongoing feud between the Presiding Bishop and the House of Deputies President of the Episcopal Church.

On a personal note, I have been more than a little frustrated with their long running temper-tantrum behavior toward one another--as if we Episcopalians don't have enough problems. It was bad enough in private, but this week the feud went public. Typical, the cause of the fight going public...Money and who gets to decide what to do with it.

Fr. Tom is quick to point out that this childish behavior on the part of our leaders needs to come to a quick end...

Crusty Old Dean has noticed with interest some of the folderol surrounding who, apparently, may speak to whom in what capacity. This week has seen dueling emails from the Office of Communications of the Church Center, claiming that the President and Secretary of the House of Deputies declined to forward a request from the Presiding Bishop to send a link of a video message from her to their email list. This was followed, in succession, with the President of the House of Deputies expressing dismay that her action would be interpreted in such a way, further pondering precedent for the Presiding Bishop addressing clerical and lay deputies.

This was set against the backdrop of dueling budgetary and financial proposals: one, endorsed by the Presiding Bishop, calling for 19 percent in diocesan asking and budgetary cuts roughly equivalent to 9 staff positions – and another, endorsed by the PHOD, calling for 15 percent diocesan asking and resulting in perhaps 36 staff cuts....

Is this what we have come to? Are the parameters of the debate to be defined by some real, purported, or imagined kerfuffle between the PHOD and PB? COD laments that his Irish grandmother’s phrase, “Don’t get your knickers in a twist,” would be deemed sexist given the gender of both presiding officers because yea verily, knickers are twisted all over.
Is this what we shall discuss at the expense of other, more pressing, and more existential, concerns?

Let us list the problems: a denominational health plan causing great anxiety; 23% reduction in average Sunday attendance in a decade; 58% parishes eliminating or reducing a clergy position, not to mention the overwhelmingly white and elderly demographic of our church against a country that is increasingly religiously and culturally pluralistic. Note: sadly, list is not meant to be exhaustive or inclusive. Faced with another kairos moment similar to that of the 1780s-1820s, when the very existence of our expression of Christianity is in doubt, is this really what we are discussing? What Bonnie and Katharine are saying or not saying to one another?

This is only a snapshot what you will find at this interesting take on all things Episcopalian.

Check out the entire article I reference a this link...

And check out Fr. Tom's blog here...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thunderstorms in January

What a crazy morning.

As I walked the family dog this morning and the rain began to increase, I saw a flash in the distance. My first thought was, "there is no way in the world that could have be lighting." But I was proved wrong a moment later when a slow rumble of thunder rolled across the ridge where my apartment complex rests.

As I came inside, my daughter was quick to ask how cold it was. "5o degrees," I said, shaking the rain off my shoulders.

"Sounds like tornado weather to me," chimed my daughter.

"No way. Not in January." I tried to sound convincing....

A couple hours later, I'm in the office and just finishing Morning Prayer. Outside the rain and wind are churning. Maybe my daughter was right.

It doesn't matter today. On Sunday, I celebrated my first Eucharists with the people of St. Andrews, Fort Thomas. About five minutes into it, we all breathed a sigh of relief and since then my mind and heart have been at peace.

I have to admit, I was more than a little nervous. So was the congregation. It has been many months leading to this moment. Plenty of time for anxiety to take root. But all of that has been cut down, and what remains is future and a new chapter yet written.

So although there might be thunderstorms outside on this January day, I can't help but think of God's hand of providence (so beautifully carved in the reredos above the high altar at St. Andrew's, and seen in the picture above). It seems God is still at work in this world, though sometimes it might be hard for us to see it. And it's good to remember that even though the storms might blow around us, God's hand is there to shelter and guide and bring peace.

Sicut flumen pax...Peace like a river