Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Erin go Gay: Bake Me a Cake as Queer as You Can... or Else!

With the recent news from Ireland of another Christian Bakery getting slammed for discrimination after refusing to put a pro gay-marriage slogan on a cake, it is becoming obvious that Christians are being targeted across the globe for their beliefs by homosexual activists who will stop at nothing in their assault on traditional moral values.

Gay rights activist Gareth Lee took Ashers Baking Company in Belfast to court in a civil action after it canceled his order for a cake with the slogan "Support Gay Marriage" on it. The case was funded by the British province's Equality Commission. 
The firm initially accepted the order but later contacted Lee to cancel it and refund his money. Lee told a court hearing over three days in March that the bakery's refusal made him feel "unworthy" and "a lesser person".
Unworthy my foot, this was a planned attack for which Mr. Lee probably felt proud.

The strategy of going after those in the wedding business is working so well that traditionalist pastors, ministers, and priests will probably be the next group to be stalked and brought to court in similar fashion. For this reason, states have been trying to create legislation to protect churches from such lawsuits, but why should just one class of individuals deserve such protection?  If the states can provide such a protection for clergy, why cannot laws be drawn up to prevent photographers, wedding planners, reception halls, destination wedding locales, bakers, and florists from being forced to participate in gay weddings?

The old nursery rhyme may never sound the same,

Patty cake, patty cake,
Baker's man;
Bake me a cake as queer as you can.
Prick it and prick it,
And mark it with LGBT,
And there will be enough for Tommy and me... or else!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Ascension

Ascension Window Church of Our Saviour Rock Hill, SC

This Sunday we remembered the Ascension of Jesus (officially the Sunday after the Feast of the Ascension). 

In previous posts on the Ascension of Christ, I have thought about what this event means to modern people. Granted, I might not be qualified to do so since many would consider this writer to not be among the "modern." 

I believe the most pressing issue, and the one that will come up if one is asked to explain the Christian faith is whether or not this event is fact or fiction.

I hear it all the time, "Do you really believe that Jesus was lifted up into heaven and sits at the right hand of God?" The assumption is the anyone who does believe this must be a relic from the iron age.

I also hear, "You don't have to believe in it to be a Christian."

Hmmm...

As a Christian, the Ascension as witnessed by the disciples cannot be tossed out as a mere postscript to the life of Jesus of Nazareth.  The Ascension is a crucial part of the story. I don't think one easily can say that that Jesus was resurrected but not ascended. It would be easier to say the Jesus was not resurrected and not ascended, as some of our more outspoken Episcopal bishops and theologians have claimed in the past, than to deny the one and accept the other.

As Christians, we should shout the message that "Christ has risen" just as loudly when proclaiming his ascension to an unbelieving world as we do when rejoicing in his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

So where did he go, and what is he doing there? I fall back upon the words of another dinosaur, J.C. Ryle (1816–1900)  the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool,

"Christ is now carrying on in heaven the work of a priest, which He began upon earth.He took our nature on Him in the fullness of time and became a man, that He might be perfectly fitted to be the Priest that our case required. As a priest, He offered up His body and soul as a sacrifice for sin upon the cross, and made a complete atonement for us with His own blood. As a priest, He ascended up on high, passed within the veil, and entered into the presence of God. As a priest, He is now sitting on our behalf at the right hand of God; and what He began actively on earth, He is carrying on actively in heaven. This is what Christ is doing." — J. C. Ryle


"That same Jesus who once died for sinners, still lives at the right hand of God, to carry on the work of salvation which He came down from heaven to perform.He lives to receive all who come unto God by Him, and to give them power to become the sons of God.He lives to hear the confession of every heavy-laden conscience, and to grant, as an almighty High Priest, perfect absolution.He lives to pour down the Spirit of adoption on all who believe in Him, and to enable them to cry, Abba, Father!He lives to be the one Mediator between God and man, the unwearied Intercessor, the kind Shepherd, the elder Brother, the prevailing Advocate, the never-failing Priest and Friend of all who come to God by Him.He lives to be wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption to all His people—to keep them in life, to support them in death, and to bring them finally to eternal glory." -J. C. Ryle


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"But, look, gaze about...the ministry is flourishing!" - Matt Kennedy


We in the United States have watched as the courts rule again and again against bakers and photographers who decline to participate in same-sex weddings on Christian principles. Our Episcopal church on the other hand is in no danger of such litigation as it has been in the forefront of the "marriage equality" movement. Leaders of the Episcopal church seem to believe that all is well with the organization, but the numbers say otherwise. At least the world approves of what the Episcopal church is doing even if that does not result in growth. The Church that caters to the world may be misled by the world's approval and by the rare examples of short-term growth into thinking that it is following the Holy Spirit, but it is following an altogether other spirit, the Spirit of the Age. The following are some words of wisdom I lifted from Matt Kennedy's Facebook page which may help clarify my point,

"The Corinthian church grew rapidly from the start and by the writing of Paul's first letter is likely still growing. There are baptisms all the time, Communion is happening. The church experiences great outpourings of spiritual power. Many people exercise miraculous gifts; prophesy, words of knowledge, tongues. God’s presence and power is palpable. Of course, they’re biting and quarreling with each other and grumbling against Paul. Yes, they adjust the gospel to make themselves more attractive to other Corinthians and the gospel less embarrassing. So, yes, they’re divorcing each other and suing each other. And there's a man sleeping with his father's wife (but he really is a nice generous guy, you should meet him). And it is true that others are going to temple prostitutes and women refuse to have sex with their husbands. And, yes, just about everyone is participating in pagan feasts. But, look, gaze about...the ministry is flourishing! God is blessing the Corinthian Church! More, obviously, than he’s blessing you Paul. We’re saved, Baptized, empowered, sustained, Spirit filled...who are you Paul? You're beaten, reviled, chased from town to town...who are you to knock what God is doing in Corinth? 
Paul's response? Be careful. God is patient. He's long-suffering. Don’t confuse God’s patience with approval “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" - Matt Kennedy  from his sermon of 03/08/2015  on 1 Cor 10:1-6, "An Illustration of Disqualification"

Let us turn back from adjusting the gospel to make the Church and ourselves more attractive to the world. That is not what the world needs most. The world needs the plain truth as recorded by the biblical witnesses that we are called to repent and not called to celebrate our brokenness, but to celebrate our salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

This summer I hear the drumming, Twenty-three thousand dead in Ohio...

After all the bad news I included in my 1000th post, I thought it might be good to put up a little good news, but it must be tempered a little...
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP via yahoo)
"The number of abortion providers in Ohio has shrunk by half amid a flurry of restrictive new laws over the past four years, and the number of the procedures also is declining, according to a review of records by The Associated Press."
"Seven of 16 Ohio abortion providers have either closed since 2011 or curtailed abortion offerings, while an eighth, in Toledo, is operating under the cloud of pending litigation, according to AP interviews and examinations of state licensing and business records."
"Ohio saw induced abortions fall from 25,473 in 2012 to 23,216 in 2013 — a period when 5 of the 7 affected providers closed or curtailed services — state figures show. That was the lowest level recorded since the state began tracking the data in 1976, and part of a general downward trend that began in the late 1990s."
Way to go Ohio, but in absolute terms 23,216 abortions is still a huge number considering there were 139,694 live births in Ohio in 2013 (source Centers for Disease Control publication p. 123). This means that if you are conceived in Ohio, then you have a 15% chance of being sucked out of the womb either whole or in pieces.

Does anyone remember 45 years ago when four protestors were killed in Ohio and how that was turned into a rallying cry against the Vietnam war and the President of the United States?

Remember Neil Young singing, "Ohio"?
"Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?" Neil Young, "Ohio"
Why is it that nobody today is singing, "Twenty-three thousand dead in Ohio"?
"Eric Holder and Obama coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Twenty-three thousand dead in Ohio.
Gotta get down to it
Mothers and doctors are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew us
And found us dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?" UGP
It was youth Sunday at our church today, and I wonder how many of those and other states' missing 15% might have helped fill the ranks of our youth group today.
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

1000th Post!

While this milestone may go unnoticed by the rest of the world, it shouldn't! I try to publish new posts on this blog twice weekly (Sundays and Wednesdays), and usually there is more than enough material out there to comment on, and this week is no exception.

For one thing, we have the never ending tragi-drama played out as the great ship TEc slips slowly beneath the waves.

One example: Is General Convention going to recommend to amend the marriage canon to make it gender neutral?

From the Episcopal News Service:
The A050 Task Force on the Study of Marriage is recommending that the 2015 meeting of General Convention authorize Episcopal Church clergy to officiate at same-sex marriages.
The task force proposes the change in its just-released Blue Book report by way of a resolution (numbered A036) that would revise Canon I.18 titled “Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony” (page 58 of The Episcopal Church’s canons here).
The revision removes, among many edits, the language of I.18.2(b) that requires couples to “understand that Holy Matrimony is a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman.” Removing that and other gender-specific language from the canon, the report says, addresses the mandate in the group’s enabling resolution that it “address the pastoral need for priests to officiate at a civil marriage of a same-sex couple in states that authorize such.”
Section 3 of Canon 18 would be rewritten to, in part, remove the requirement that the couple sign a declaration stating they “solemnly declare that we hold marriage to be a lifelong union of husband and wife as it is set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.”

Need more? Let's take a look at "priests behaving badly" (some of these are recent; others go back a couple of years).

Episcopal Church council meets amid bishop's arrest (The Baltimore Sun) 
Priest at famed Manhattan church charged with DWI after exiting Holland Tunnel in Jersey City (NJ.com) 
A Wilmington Island priest and a former teacher arrested for child pornography (WJCL News) 
Episcopal priest gets 45 days for smuggling drugs into jail (Bangor Daily News) 
Former Ben Avon Episcopal priest sentenced in child pornography case (TribLive.com) 
So. Pines (NC) police step up park monitoring, charge priest (Episcopal) with indecent exposure (more like public sex with another man, ed.) (WNCN) 
Somerville priest arrested on charges of repeated indecent assault of a child parishioner over ten years (Boston.com)

And lastly we have from "High Church" Episcopalians,
Priest Preaches 'Thank God for Marijuana' (Patch.com)
“Thanking God for weed might feel a little awkward at first,” Schuller said in the video. “Thanking God is going to feel so much better than throwing stones at people who are already stoned.”
With so much material, can there be any doubt that someday I may be working on my 2000th post?


  

Sunday, May 03, 2015

If You Love Me, Why Won't You Bless My ______?


Today's Gospel reading was John 14:15-21 which is pretty much self-explanatory except for one detail that people argue about (highlighted),
Jesus said to his disciples, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
"I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."
The lectionary tries to manage the problematic detail, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" by adding 1 John 3:(14-17)18-24 which contains,
"And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another"
Isn't this precisely what most Christian arguments boil down to, "How do we love one another?"

Is it love to sugar coat scripture so as not to offend those who otherwise would have to cover their ears when Jesus speaks on marriage, divorce, and adultery or when the Apostles speak against sexual immorality and homosexual behavior?

Is it love to bless things which scripture condemns?

It is not love as it creates a rite within the Church which conflicts with a clear reading of scripture. Condoning and living with such a conflict will only increase doubt, and it will ultimately diminish belief in the very name of Jesus Christ himself.

Should we abhor anything if love is what it is all about? I think yes, especially things which lead to more doubt because,
The tension between belief and doubt is the battlefield of Christian obedience. The stakes are very high. Faith is called on to direct all our actions (Heb. 11; James 2:18; Rom. 14:23). In the Christian, unbelief leads to timidity, error, and disobedience. A life of faith leads to courage, discernment, and obedience. In that tension we live every day. The fight for faith is the very real struggle of the Christian life (Eph. 4:13–14). - Tony Reinke, the author of "Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books" (2011) and "Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ" (2015).
If ye love Him, keep fighting for the faith.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pray For My Friend's Unbelieving Husband

The following is just one example of the kinds of things I read from time to time on Facebook. This came from a friend's husband. A crusty old sourpuss, he usually avoids my postings like the plague, but on occasion someone lets him out of his cage. The man does not like comments in support of traditional interpretations of the Bible (in this case the creation narratives) (expletives cleaned up but bad grammar left intact),
 "the bible is nothing more then an old time comic book that ignorant fearful people hold next to their a$!#;@*s where it belongs. Anyone who believes in the fantasies of the 'bible' are simply short a ton of brain matter making them believe in cartoons and  nonsense written a long time ago and keep in print by thieves who want nothing more then to control others, (Mostly females)...Sorry, you are a j@#$%;..."
 and he likes Jesus even less,
"you are either really dumb or a plant from the right...You don't have a thinking brain, or you would not believe in some cartoon god b@!!$%*t, so maybe thats it, you simply can't think and you are terrified of death, hence you believe in some all powerful know it all god creature that will bail you out of the casket and bring you into some fairytale place you call heaven where all the morons who believe in the cartoon god become resurrected with the butchered son of a god thing. Speak about insanity...."
Pray also for all of those who clicked "Like" beneath those comments.

Forgive them Lord for they know not what they do.