Tuesday, November 29, 2011
In my sermon last Sunday, I mentioned that December is a month of tradition, not innovation. Now don't get me wrong, I love traditions (how could I be an Anglican if I didn't?) and have many in my family. But the danger in tradition in that we stop examining why we do what we do, or even what we're doing and we just start going on auto-pilot. As long as we focus and are intentional about them, traditions are wonderful ways to celebrate Advent and prepare for Christmas. Traditions point to a meaning beyond us, unite us to the past, and give us something to look forward to in the future.
In this post, I invite you all to share some of your favorite holiday traditions (and feel free to reflect on them, either on this blog or to yourself).
One of mine, which I no longer get to do since I've been ordained, is Christmas Eve dinner. In my family my father's mother makes homemade lasagna (they are Italian). We would eat and then attend the "Midnight Mass" afterwards. Now I do dinner between services, perhaps I'll pre-make a small lasagna dish and have Tyler put it in the oven to eat it between services. What are those traditions that you do which make the holidays the holidays?
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
So here, I thought it would be a good thing to explore the readings from Sunday that we'd normally read. This Sunday is the last of the liturgical year, and is called Christ the King Sunday. Take a look at the readings for the day and reflect on them. It's not as old of a tradition as you might suspect, not even 100 years. Some folks also call it Stir Up Sunday because of a historical prayer often said on that Sunday. In the Episcopal Church, that particular pray comes up on the Third Sunday of Advent. But think of the year 1925. The world had just finished the first World War, empires were beginning to rebuild, religion was being critiqued. So the Pope thought that we needed a reminder that we have only one king, one ruler, one lord, one leader- and that is Christ.
We have wonderful readings today, I sort of wish I was preaching a full sermon on them. The other two years of the lectionary cycle have readings from what we would call Good Friday- they are stories of Jesus' crucifixion. In those years, it is a way to remind us that the kingship of Christ is not what we expect.
This year, the readings are different. Instead of telling us how Jesus became the king, they tell us what sort of king Jesus is. The passage from Ezekiel is absolutely wonderful and would definitely provide wonderful sermon material. "I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out." "I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice." I don't need to say anything, do I? Preaches for itself.
Then in Matthew, we encounter the well known "truly I tell you, as you did it to one of these you did it to me." Great passage that gets us thinking about the King who cares for his people, the King who is glorified in his people, the King who cares for his people as much as he cares for himself.
Would love to get your comments on this-
- does our world appear to know that Christ is King?
- does our church?
- how do you proclaim Christ's kingship in your life?
- how could you do so?
- what do you think of Christ as King?
- what do you think of the idea of having a Sunday set aside for this feast?
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
I'm at Duke this week doing continuing eduation through a Divinity School program called the Clergy Study Leave program. I'm here sitting in on classes, meeting with professors, catching up on reading and recharging my spiritual/physical/emotional batteries. I've completed an online course on pastoral care this week and will also be looking ahead to Thanksgiving Day's sermon, as well as my 11/27 and 12/11 Advent sermons.
This morning (and this week's blog post topic) I had the priveledge of meeting with Dr. Stanley Hauerwas. I must admit, I'm not one of his "followers." I don't disagree with the man, just haven't read much of his work. There are some people out there who would consider themselves "disciples" of his; I am not. But nonetheless, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with one of the great theologians of our age.
I am interested in the topics he presents in books (which. I hav.e yet to read), namely "Working with Words" and especially "Resident Alien." Most observers of American Christianity will notice that cultural Christianity in America is no longer the religion of Moses, Jesus and Paul. Christianity has lost its edge, its eschatological tone, its place of primacy in our lives. Folks that live as true disciples of Jesus are strange and live in ways that differ from the majority, hence Hauerwas calls them the resident aliens. Ever since Constantine made Christianity legal and dominant, we have lost the counter-cultural witness which undergirds the message of Jesus.
How do we reclaim this? Hauerwas said that we need to stop using the word "we." He said that politicans say "we are fighting a war on terror." Who is the "we," he asks? Christians shouldn't be supporting war he would claim. Our culture and political system now speaks for us as people of faith. We also discussed what evangelism is about- namely witnessing to friends about the impact of faith in our lives.
Christianity is certainly changing. Hauerwas said that he thought that there would be fewer Christians, but that hopefully God is forming us to be "meaner and leaner," or more dedicated even if there are fewer of us.
Do you ever feel like a resident alien?
Do you feel the strain between true discipleship and American "Christianity?"
Have you witnessed by inviting a friend to church?
How do you think Christianity might change/thrive/struggle in the future?
Back to studies and reading, see you all on Sunday.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
- via media- which is Latin for the "middle way." Hooker lived in a church that was between the traditional Roman Catholic world and the new Protestant Reformation world. Hooker argued that truth was found in the middle, not in the poles. It's essentially bipartianship at it's best. Take healthcare reform for example, are the Republicans right? No. Are the Democrats right? No. But is the best healthcare option somewhere between the two sides? Probably. We don't know everything there is to know, especially about God. So by listening to all sides, hearing different revelations, and discerning where the real truth might lie, it is often found to be in the middle.
- the "three-legged stool" of Anglicanism:
- Scripture- this was primary for Hooker, it is the Bible, or the revealed word of God
- Reason- reason is where science, philosophy, and our own experiences and thoughts come into play. We all can be theologians at this level.
- Tradition- this is where the wisdom of history and the Church come into play.
- Hooker says about all three of these are needed to do proper theology or to find the via media. We interpret Scripture through Reason and Tradition; reason is kept in check by being grounded in Scripture and vetted by the Tradition; and Tradition is reminded of it's Biblical roots in Scripture and kept relevant by Reason. It's sort of like a system of checks and balances on the Truth.
- Where are you on one of the poles and perhaps need to come toward the middle?
- What voices do you ignore?
- Does Scripture, Reason, or Tradition speak louder to you?
- Have you ever found a situation where these seem to be in conflict?
- How can you apply these to your daily life?
- How have you seen these three legs of the stool abused?
- What do you think of Hooker's theology?