December 5, 2009

Episcopal Church Elects Second Gay Bishop

The diocese of Los Angeles has elected only the second openly gay bishop in the global Anglican Church, an issue that has caused deep division.

Rev Mary Glasspool, from Baltimore, was elected assistant bishop, although she needs a majority of national Episcopal Church heads to back her consecration.

The election of the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, six years ago created a massive rift.

Traditionalists insist the Bible unequivocally outlaws homosexuality.

But liberals believe the Bible should be reinterpreted in the light of contemporary wisdom.

The row led to the formation of a conservative breakaway Episcopal movement in the US - the Anglican Church in North America.

The head of the worldwide Anglican community, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has been under pressure to recognise it.


BBC religious affairs correspondent Chris Landau says that for an Anglican Communion already fracturing over the issue of homosexuality, this election is yet more evidence of the church's divisions.

He says that for many in the US, electing openly homosexual bishops is simply a reflection of the diversity long affirmed by that Church and that it would be very surprising if Mary Glasspool's election wasn't approved.

This decision represents an intransigent embrace of a pattern of life Christians throughout history and the world have rejected as against biblical teaching

Rev Kendall Harmon,
South Carolina diocese
Episcopal Church leader, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, has said she will consecrate any bishop whose election follows the rules.

Rev Glasspool is 55 and has been a canon in the Diocese of Maryland for eight years, Associated Press news agency reports.

It says she has been with her partner, Becki Sander, since 1988.

In a statement after her election, Rev Glasspool said: "Any group of people who have been oppressed because of any one, isolated aspect of their persons yearns for justice and equal rights."

The diocese's Bishop J Jon Bruno acknowledged there were rumours of a "concerted effort not to give consent" to Rev Glasspool's election because of her sexuality.

But he said: "I would remind the Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops they need to be conscientious about respecting the canons of the Church and the baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of every human being."

However, one traditionalist clergyman, Rev Kendall Harmon of South Carolina, told AP: "This decision represents an intransigent embrace of a pattern of life Christians throughout history and the world have rejected as against biblical teaching".

Delegates in Los Angeles have been voting for two assistant bishops - the other is Rev Diane M Jardine Bruce.

Bishops of the US Episcopal Church voted in July to overturn a three-year ban on the appointment of gay bishops.

Anglican leaders had asked the Church to observe the moratorium.

November 30, 2009

November 29, 2009

Heaven is an Acquired Taste

by the Reverend Scott Homer

In the name of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.

I want to begin with a quote from St Bernard of Clairveaux because it gives us a good grounding in the meaning of Advent. He said,
"We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible while the other two are visible. In the first coming He was seen on earth, dwelling among men; … in the final coming "all flesh will see the salvation of our God and they will look upon Him whom they have pierced". The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In His first coming our Lord came in our flesh and our weakness; in this middle coming He comes in Spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and in majesty. Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last."

Welcome to the first Sunday of Advent. The old church year is over. The new church year has begun. Last week we celebrated the end of the story, Christ the King, triumphant and glorious reigning forever and forevermore. This week we begin at the beginning, a people living in darkness, awaiting the coming of the Savior. That is what the word “advent” means: the coming or arrival of something of great importance. And so the Christian season of Advent anticipates the anniversary of the coming of Christ into the world, but not just that. Advent looks forward to the Christ’s coming again in glory. But there is more. Advent also recognizes the third coming of the Lord—the coming of the lord into our lives, here and now, to do the work of restoring God’s people—restoring you and me—to our original glory—to the way God intended us to be. Did you know that we are not currently the way God intended us to be?

This morning we prayed, “Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and to put on the armor of light…” That is very nearly a direct quote from the 13th chapter of Romans. St. Paul has just gone through a very long laundry list of the ways that the Romans ought to submit to authority and the ways in which they ought to be displaying holiness and now he wants them to know that this is a matter of some urgency. He says, “The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Our Lord is coming! The time to prepare is now! The day of Christ’s triumphant return draws near! We will see him coming on the clouds soon! Prepare now! Jettison your bad behavior! Trust in the power of the Spirit and do right, right now! Do it now while you still have the chance. If we are not earnestly preparing for him now, we will not be ready for him when he arrives.

In our Gospel reading this morning, Jesus is describing his second coming that will occur at some time in the future, and in the middle of that description he gives some advice. Jesus says, “34…Take heed…lest your hearts be weighed down in dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life and that day (of the second coming) come upon you suddenly like a snare…Watch at all times…” We have to be prepared for heaven. And St Paul says the same thing to the people in Thessalonica in verse 13. “Pray that God would establish your hearts unblamable in holiness…at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Our hearts need to be established. We have to be prepared for heaven.

Sometimes I think we Christians are a little naïve. We act as if one day the Lord will wave a magic wand over us and somehow, suddenly and without any effort on our parts, we will be transformed into angelic, sinless beings whose only desire is to do the right thing and to live in heaven praising Christ eternally. We act as if we can behave any way we please, do whatever we like, and nevertheless on that fateful day when we are called home we will be ready and willing to enter heaven as full fledged citizens of Christ’s kingdom. But that is not the message that the Bible gives us. Paul is clear. Jesus is too. If we hope to live in heaven eternally we are going to have to learn to like heavenly things. We are going to have to become righteous, virtuous people if we expect to live like righteous virtuous people. We have work to do. We are saved by God’s unmerited grace. We are given the power to change through God’s free gift of grace but we are not required to change. We need to be willing to change. We have to be willing to cooperate with God’s redeeming work in our lives, willing to be transformed, willing to cast off the works of darkness and willing to put on the armor of light.

We have to actually want to be like Christ and be willing to prepare to meet him. The great C. S. Lewis quipped, "the joys of heaven are for most of us, in our present condition, an acquired taste." I think what he meant is that, for most of us, the prospect of being in a perfect, eternal paradise is a bit disconcerting. The prospect of being eternally surrounded by unconditional love, of being in a place where there is no semblance of darkness, no opportunity to be the least bit naughty, causes us to recoil a bit. Are we really ready to caste off all the works of darkness? Are we really excited about the idea of goodness, virtue, honesty and truth telling being not just one of the options but the only option? Are we ready to give up our right to choose the wrong thing? Will we be content with the cardinal virtues? Or will we find all this virtue, goodness, light and love to be uncomfortable?

If we are honest with ourselves, if we really look into the mirror and examine our motives, I think most of us would have to agree that we find comfort in the occasional sin; and we take delight in our secret transgressions; and we rather like having the option of being dishonest when it serves our purposes. We certainly are not jumping at the chance to love our enemies. In fact, day to day, we show little interest in mimicking heaven on earth and we depend upon vice—the works of darkness—in some rather habitual ways. Behind closed doors we engage in activities we would never want people to know about. We take joy in seeing the people we don’t like suffering.

We like getting what we want, even when it costs others. I was listening to a Christian businessman describe an employee who was dishonest, manipulative and aggressively self-serving—not a very pretty picture. A pretty nasty character in many ways and yet the man concluded that although this is was not a person he liked, and he certainly did not admire, and certainly could not trust, still she made him money…and so she was a valuable employee. She possessed the only truly essential character trait. She could produce wealth.

It seems that C. S. Lewis was right, the joys of heaven for most of us, are an acquired taste—and in addition, a taste that has not yet been acquired, at least in some respects. The very things that define heaven are simply too rich for our tastes. And so this Advent season, represents another opportunity to recommit to the process of sanctification—of volunteering ourselves to the redeeming work of the Holy Spirit—it is an opportunity to gain more sophisticated tastes—those that will serve us not just today but in the kingdom to come. In this period in between Christ’s first coming, and that last great day when he comes in power and glory, we walk the road towards heaven, a journey from darkness to light; and our job on that road is to acquire a taste for heavenly things.

I have a nephew. When he was a teenager, for about a year, he ate nothing but Goldfish crackers and hotdogs. He claimed that he didn’t like anything else. Needless to say, he was not exactly the picture of health. He went to a wedding reception with a huge banquet table, full of wonderful foods but he could not bring himself to try any of it. He just kept munching on his crackers. And in spite of what he said, the problem wasn’t so much about what tasted good. He wouldn’t try anything else! How would he know how anything else tasted? The real problem was his unwillingness to try anything different. He was unwilling to stop eating the crackers and the hotdogs and to try something new.

That is a pretty good picture of most of our spiritual lives. We have lived with the same behaviors and the same attitudes for years. We go about doing the same things week after week. Things around us change. Some people we know get involved in new ministries. Some people we know are getting involved in prayer groups. Some folks are asking us about helping with outreach ministries. The pastor is telling us we need to be involved in adult education and bible study…but that all seems a little too uncomfortable to us. We don’t like anything different in our lives. We are content with our Goldfish and hotdogs. Needless to say, many of us are not the picture of spiritual health.

The Christ is coming! He is coming to restore the world. He is coming to take us home to our Father’s House and in house we will find a great banquet table. It will be filled with good things, exotic things, all for our enjoyment. When Jesus comes to take us home we can go to the party insisting that we are content with the limited diet we have been surviving on, or we can begin to open our minds to the possibility that there is more for us, much more than we have been willing to embrace up until now. This Advent season, I invite you to take a risk. Commit to casting away some dark behavior that has been dogging you. Make a confession with your priest. Seek help if you need it. It may seem risky. It may seem deadly but it is in fact, new life. Take on some spiritual discipline. Read a book about the Christian life. Join a bible study even though you don’t know all the answers. (Why would anyone study the bible if they already knew the answers?) Volunteer. Give to a noble cause. Commit to a regular time of prayer. Whatever you do, whether it be casting off works of darkness or putting on the armor of light, do it with the full assurance that you are not acting alone and in your own strength. Do it with the knowledge that God is with you—that the Lord has come into your life—that it is he who has inspired you to broaden your horizons—that he will give you the strength to accomplish the work.

Jesus Christ is not just a historical oddity. This Advent we are not just engaging in some long standing tradition of remembering Jesus’ birth. And Jesus is not just the hope of the future. We are not just anticipating the Last and Great Day when Jesus returns to set us free. Jesus has come. God is with us—right here and right now. We can’t see him. Most of the time we can’t feel his present either. He is with us none the less. And he is leading us and guiding us into the banquet hall. He is inviting us to share in all the blessing of the spiritual life. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Amen.

November 27, 2009

Restoration: God's Desire for Our Lives

Sermon, Christ the King Sunday, 2009
The Reverend Scott T Homer

In the Name of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

I want to talk about restoration work this morning because on this Christ the King Sunday we are reminded that God is in the process of restoring the world…and us…to it’s and our former glory. He is in the process of establishing Christ’s kingdom forever.

In 1985, I was driving through one of the old but really solid suburbs of Cleveland, a place called Lakewood, Ohio and I noticed a “for sale” sign on a lawn and I looked up to see the property and I saw what looked like a grand mansion towering over the surrounding neighborhood. It had never noticed it there before. I was so taken with the house that I pulled off to the side of the road and I just stared at it for a long time. It was gorgeous—stucco construction, 21/2 stories tall with large, long expanses of roof. It was huge. It had multiple chimneys, seventy plus windows, two wings. It was built in the country Tudor style—one of the prettiest homes I have ever seen. It was old and little had been done to maintain it. It was rundown and in need of repair. The realtors would have advertised it as a fixer upper or needing TLC—all those terms realtors use to try and persuade you that it isn’t as bad as it seems; but my mind was not overwhelmed by the problems. It raced with the possibilities. I started to dream about what it would look like with new paint, new landscaping, and a new roof. When it had been built it must have been the jewel of the town and although it had suffered much over the last sixty years it could be a jewel again. What this house needed was a new owner—someone who could appreciate its true worth—someone committed to the long, difficult task of restoring it to its former glory—someone with the substantial resources that would be necessary in order to accomplish the restoration. We ended buying that place. And for the next seven years we poured our lives out, and we poured our money into that glorious old house.

What we did at that house was “restore” it. The place had lost its original luster. It had fallen into disrepair. It had become a fixer-upper but we took that old place and we tore out all the old damaged plaster. We gutted the kitchens and baths and replaced them with all the modern conveniences. We installed updated electrical service, ran a new larger water main in from the street. We knocked out old walls and re-plastered rooms. Outside we put on a new roof. We installed stone walls and patios and fences. We planted shrubs and gardens. We repainted everything. And, when it was all said and done that old house was restored to all its former glory—maybe even a little bit more. That house was once again the jewel of the neighborhood and it was a joy to its owners—but I have to admit too that it was more costly than we had ever imagined, and in fact, if we had understood the cost I am not sure we would have ever undertaken the task.

I want to draw your attention to the opening collect—that prayer that we pray towards the front end of our service. It is called a collect because the purpose of the prayer is to gather us all together around a common theme—to collect use—in order that our prayer and worship time might be focused and unified. So lets look at the prayer focus for this morning—on this Christ the King Sunday. We addressed Almighty God as the One “whose will is to restore all things in His beloved Son,” Jesus Christ. Our common focus for our worship this morning is Almighty God’s desire and purpose to restore his entire creation in his Son Jesus. That is what we will be singing about. That is what we will be reading the Scriptures about. That is what I am preaching about: God’s desire is to restore all things—all the trees and all the rocks, all the oceans and all the stars, all the animals and all the peoples of the earth—everything restored—that is, everything that has lost its luster, everything that has fallen into disrepair, everything that has become a fixer-upper, God wants to bring back to its original glory. God’s desire and purpose is to see his entire creation back to the way it was intended to be before it fell into disrepair.

Now, our collect tells us that “the peoples of the earth are divided and enslaved by sin. And the collect has got that right. Sin is the cause of our disrepair. You see, God never intended for us to be sick. It was not God’s plan that we should cry from the pain of a broken heart. God didn’t want us to have to suffer disappointment, or to know the sting of rejection, or to be brought low by depression. God didn’t design us to hate one another, or to be envious of others. He didn’t design us to be self-centered. God didn’t create smog. He didn’t foul our water. God was opposed to those guys flying airplanes into the World Trade Center. He despises the wars we wage against one another. He hates the way we allow our brothers and sisters to waste away from famine and thirst. He didn’t create any of us to age or to die. Lots of people go through life blaming God for the messes we find ourselves in, but it’s not God’s fault—unless you want to blame God for allowing us to have free will. (But if you are unhappy with your freedom you will have to become content with being a slave) The truth is that the world, and everything in it has fallen, and all this evil has come to pass because, from the beginning, humanity has chosen to live apart from God (that’s what sin means). We operate independent of God’s will for us (that’s sin too), demanding our own way (yes that is also sin). Nevertheless, when God looks at us and at his creation he remembers his beloved, beautiful, flawless creation. He recalls the glory of his children before the fall when they walked unashamed before him. He remembers how perfect it all was and his mind races with the possibilities for restoring his people. It is God’s will that everything in the universe be restored to its former glory.

And at the personal level, we are like houses that have fallen into disrepair. I never used to notice, but as I get older more and more stuff is breaking down. In the old days, if I didn’t hear you it was because I wasn’t listening. Now I don’t hear you because I can’t hear. When I try to run I get winded easily. I’m taking a fist full of drugs every morning to maintain this and prevent that. I’m less idealistic than I used to be. I want to be idealistic. I just can’t overcome the years of hard knocks. I don’t experience the great joys that I knew when I was younger. Sickness grabs me and holds on to me much longer than it used to. I have become a fixer upper. We are all fixer uppers in God’s eyes. But this is not the way God intends us to be. This is not the way God designed us. He designed us to walk with him in paradise forever. When God looks down on his servant he remembers the plans he made for you. He remembers the beauty and the joy and the peace he wanted for you. I suppose God weeps when he sees what has happened to us. But his tears are not tears of despair. When God sees us and he sees the disrepair into which we have fallen He takes the steps required to restore us. And, the first step, the first thing that has to happen, just like it did with me and that house years ago, is that a purchase has to be made. God has to purchase us. We have to come to belong to him. If you don’t belong to Christ, don’t expect him to be doing any rehab work in your life.

God has made an offer for your life. He has offered to buy you back from your present owner—sin and death. Death has owned you since you first sinned but the Lord has paid the price to purchase your life back. He sent his well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for you. In Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, the price was paid for all your sins. In Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, the Lord tendered an offer sufficient for buying back your life and making you his child once more and forever. But you are still bound. There is one more thing holding you.
God has made an offer for your life…but the offer must be accepted. A house doesn’t get sold without the permission of its present owner. You have to agree to sell. You have to be sold out for Jesus Christ in order for the offer to take effect. The deed to your life has to be turned over to Jesus Christ. What must I do to be saved? Confess Christ crucified and accept Him as your Lord and Savior. The day you commit—or recommit—your life to Christ is the day when the work of restoration begins. It is just a beginning but it is a work that can not fail because God has the vision to see the project through. It is just a beginning but it will be completed because God has the strength and the resources to see it done. There may be a lifetime of rehab work before us. There may be some demolition work—maybe some excavating into areas left buried for too long. There may be lots of difficult days ahead and you may not see or feel the progress for a long time but “the Lord is able and he will do it.” Do you remember that quote from 1 Thessalonians? If you belong to him, if you have given yourself to him, “The Lord is able and he will do it.” And we will, one fine day, find ourselves restored to the dream the Maker had for us from the beginning. We will enjoy the fullness of life. We will live in the glorious light. We will know the peace that passes all understanding.

One last point: God’s desire and God’s purpose is that “all the peoples of the earth may be freed and brought together under the gracious rule of [our Lord Jesus Christ—God’s] well-beloved Son. People are set free the same way we are set free, that is, when they are brought under the reign of King Jesus; when they accept his ownership of their lives, and when they are sold out to the Lord. And people only come to Jesus by hearing the good news. This is why Christians are repeatedly asked to witness, to talk to other people, about their experience of coming into Christ’s kingdom, and of being blessed by God’s restorative work in their lives—to speak about the ways that Christ has made himself known to them—to speak about the freedom they are finding, the new life they are enjoying having sold out to Jesus. Christians are repeatedly asked to do good works, so that the world may see, so that those who do not know Jesus may learn about him by seeing the way his disciples act, and by benefiting from the works of kindness and mercy that his people perform. We love one another because Jesus loves us and gave his life for us—and if our king has been willing to give his life for me, and for you, and for us, then we ought to be willing to give our lives for one another too.

These days we hear a lot about reconciliation and the term is being abused. The work of reconciliation is not agreeing to disagree. It is actually about restoring broken people (people in some ways like us and some ways very different than us), restoring broken people to the Kingdom of God. It is like driving past rundown properties. It is like looking at distressed properties and seeing value in them, and committing to the work of restoring them. Reconciling the world to Christ is about investing our lives in the lives of those who do not yet know Christ. It is about the work of witnessing through our words and through our actions to the amazing grace that is being showered upon us day after wonderful day. It is about be grateful for the work God is doing in our lives and sharing the blessing with others.

There is one part of the story about our house in Lakewood that I didn’t mention. I wanted to wait until now. When I looked at that glorious but rundown old house and I considered how much it would cost to repair it, I knew that I did not have the resources necessary to get the job done by myself. And so, I went to my father and I asked if he would join me in the project. I asked if he would provide me with the tools I didn’t have and give me the money I needed to make it happen. And my father was delighted to help. In fact, he decided to join me in the project and together we worked until that place was done. Our church is being called out—we are being called out to witness to Christ and to bring people to faith and frankly, the project is too big for us. We need to ask our father to help. Pray to the Father. Pray everyday. Ask him to give us the tools we need. Ask him to give us the money we need and the other resources we need to make it happen. I know that our Father in heaven will hear our prayers and will delight in joining us in this greatest of all endeavors.

Lord we do ask for your help and your active participation, especially this morning as we begin the Mustard Seed Café, and as we look at doing prison ministries, and as we wonder about ways of moving our church outside the walls of this building and into the world around us. Open our eyes to see the potential in the people we meet, to see your intention in creating them. Open our hearts to commit to your will for the world, and to share our lives with others and to invite them to come and walk through life together. Lead and guide Lord until we find ourselves standing around your throne, worshipping you along with all our neighbors and coworkers and family, and singing Holy, Holy, Holy…we love you and we give you all the glory King Jesus.


November 24, 2009


On Friday, November 20, Archbishop Robert Duncan and numerous ecumenical Christian leaders from around the globe released the “Manhattan Declaration,” a 4,700 word statement which addresses the sanctity of human life, defense of a biblical and traditional definition of marriage, and the importance of religious liberty.

The document grounds itself in the Christian mandate to proclaim the truth regardless of cultural circumstances, stating that:

“Going back to the earliest days of the church, Christians have refused to compromise their proclamation of the gospel. In Acts 4, Peter and John were ordered to stop preaching. Their answer was, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’”

The Declaration was initially signed by more than 125 Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical leaders including Archbishop Duncan, Archbishop Peter Akinola (Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria), Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, and Archbishop Donald Wuerl of the Catholic Diocese of Washington, D.C., and former Catholic Bishop of Pittsburgh. Since the Declaration’s release, the number of signatories has grown to nearly 80,000.

The Manhattan Declaration website can be found at, where visitors can add their names to the rapidly growing list of support. A PDF version of the text is also attached to this email.

November 20, 2009

White House on Collision Course With Bishops Over Abortion -

Roman Cathoilics and Evangelical Protestants are coming together around shared values (in this case abortion and gay marraige). This is a very interesting time indeed. Check it out. Scott+

White House on Collision Course With Bishops Over Abortion -

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November 19, 2009

Get Your Daily Devotional Right Here

by Fr. Scott Homer

Our Daily Bread, is a daily devotional guide that we have been offering to members of the parish for some time now. It is now available as a link on my blog. If you will glance over to the right side of the blog page, just below the photo of the church building, you will see a link to Our Daily Bread's devotion of the day. Hope this helps!

Withdrawal Symptoms: Is God Giving Us What We Deserve?

By: Gene Davenport

In some respects, President Obama is like the man who, in an old story, caught a tiger by the tail. There is danger in holding on and danger in turning loose. Though he inherited three major problems – the economy, health care and U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan – his handling of these will have an impact on the nation for decades and will determine his own place in history.

In reality, the three areas mentioned are simply part of the chaos that engulfs contemporary Western society. Other manifestations of that chaos include the widespread breakdown of authority and personal responsibility, the increase in violence, the loss of respect for others and of a personal sense of decency and restraint, the political hysteria in radio and TV talk shows from both the right and the left – and on the list could go.

Twenty years ago, I wrote that Western society at that time exhibited characteristics commonly associated with insanity, including obliviousness to reality, absorption in a self-contained world of one's own invention, obsession with trivia and domination by paranoia. It was motivated by the contradictory drives of self-love and self-hatred and driven impulsively toward self-destruction. In other words, society, I said, was clinically insane. I see no reason to modify that observation today.

From a biblical perspective, we have been handed over to what English versions of the New Testament translate as "the wrath of God." For the apostle Paul, however, the wrath of God is not God's angry attack upon the world, but is God's withdrawal from the world, God's handing the world over to its own desires.

Some will say that since Paul also saw Jesus as the one in whom God reclaimed the world, God no longer acts the way I have described – that, instead, God so completely loves the world that he will never give up on it. Ultimately, that is correct. But that does not change the fact that there still are times when God abandons the world to its own devices. The work of God in Christ does not eliminate the wrath of God. It simply reveals it more clearly. And we experience the working out of that wrath as social and personal chaos.

Consequently, megachurches, mainline churches, independent churches, TV evangelists, church growth engineers, advocates of "bringing the church into the modern world," advocates of a return to Christian domination of the society – all, failing to recognize the reality of our plight, are simply tilting at windmills.

Although there have been religious thinkers with prophetic insight into the nature of our age – for example, T.S. Eliot, Thomas Merton and Ivan Illich (Catholic), Jacques Ellul and William Stringfellow (Protestant) and Martin Buber (Jewish) – there also have been secular prophets who saw the world more clearly than did most religious leaders – for example, George Orwell ("1984"), Aldous Huxley ("Brave New World") and Mary Shelley ("Frankenstein").

They warned that a world controlled by technology and good intentions would wind up with control in the hands of a few and with all those things that truly make us human having been sacrificed on the altar of efficiency. It is frightening that most college-age students today see as acceptable, even desirable, the very things against which Orwell and Huxley warned. In 1968 Huxley wrote "Brave New World Revisited" and he remarked that the prophecies made in 1931 were coming true much sooner than he had thought.

The constantly encroaching tentacles of government so feared by Libertarians, naively ignored by many liberals and blindly accepted by many conservatives are matched on the other end of the spectrum by the illusion of the Libertarians and most conservatives that either enlightened self-interest, rationalism or a combination of the two will lock the world into synchronization with some grand scheme of the universe and will produce a world of harmony.

So we labor on, using knowledge acquired by the natural and social sciences to increase our control over the world and our efficiency in that world. But we do so without the restraints of wisdom and humility. Consequently, even with the best of intentions, we plunge ever deeper into the chaos.

Gene Davenport is professor emeritus of religion at Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn., and theologian in residence at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Jackson. It is reprinted here courtesy of the Jackson Sun.

November 4, 2009

God Bless Our Clergy for their Sacrifice

by the Reverend Scott Homer

I just received the letter, the letter from the rogue “diocese” addressed to me. It was written by some assisting bishop I do not know. He lives far away and most of us have never heard of him. He speaks as if he has authority, yet he speaks for a small minority of the clergy and people of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. He appeals to a Canon that he has misapplied. He argues his case out of silence rather than from fact. This bishop, acting contrary to the will of the majority of our diocese and by remote control, like some sort of ecclesiastical drone aircraft, has notified me, along with over one hundred faithful, obedient and gifted clergy, that we have been “removed” as licensed, ordained priests of the Episcopal Church. But the judgment of this bishop and the renegade minority he represents are of little importance. I write for one reason and one reason only.

I write to express my deep gratitude to God for allowing me to serve alongside this extraordinary group of men and women in the Diocese of Pittsburgh who have demonstrated such great courage and strength, who have stood side by side and remained steadfast. I am awed by their devotion to the Lord and their willingness to suffer for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some have lost pensions. Many have lost friends. All face limited career opportunities and an uncertain future as a consequence of their stand for Christ. They are to be admired and applauded. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for reminding me that the Lord we worship is still worthy of our best. I am praying that the Lord God of Hosts will see your faithful witness and will honor it with blessing and honor and power and that you will see righteousness vindicated in our day.

As I look at the other names listed with my own I am deeply moved. It is a great honor to serve amongst these presbyters at this momentous time in the Church. Thanks be to God and to the Lamb!

Episcopal Diocese releases secessionist clergy from vows

Wednesday, November 04, 2009
By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has given clergy of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh an unwanted gift: release from licensed ministry in the Episcopal Church.

The gesture is symbolic, since the Anglican clergy left the Episcopal Church in 2008, when the majority of voters at the diocesan convention chose to secede from the denomination. Leaders of the minority who remained Episcopal say they want to remove the Anglicans from their rolls without using disciplinary charges of "abandonment of communion," as was done elsewhere.

Yesterday Bishop Kenneth Price Jr., of the Episcopal diocese sent letters of release to 135 priests and deacons.

This release "was for causes which do not affect your moral character [and] does not affect your ordination, which is indelible," he wrote. Should any clergy desire to return to the Episcopal Church "my door will always be open for such a conversation."

While Anglican leaders say they appreciate the gracious tone of the offer, they believe it is a suspect use of a canon written for clergy who want to renounce their ordination. Few responded to the first offer that the Episcopal diocese made last month.

"It's unfortunate that we're in this situation, but it is asking us to renounce our vows, which we cannot do," said the Rev. Mary Hays, canon to the ordinary for the Anglican diocese.

"They're interpreting the canon in a way that it's not been interpreted before. We're all in a tough place, but our clergy have not abandoned their ordination vows."

The split occurred because then-Bishop Robert Duncan and most diocesan officials believed the Episcopal Church had failed to uphold biblical doctrines on matters ranging from salvation to sexuality. After secession the Anglican diocese joined the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America. Both the Southern Cone and the Episcopal Church belong to the 80 million-member global Anglican Communion.

The Anglican diocese also has joined the new Anglican Church in North America, which seeks recognition as a province of the Anglican Communion and which is led by now-Archbishop Duncan of Pittsburgh. On Saturday the Anglican diocese will vote on a proposal to affiliate solely with the Anglican Church in North America, while Archbishop Duncan would also remain a bishop of the Southern Cone.

Ann Rodgers can be reached at or 412-263-1416.

Read more:

November 3, 2009

Cardinal joins Protestants in planting trees to mark Reformation

An encouraging article but note: Luther did not break with the papacy in Wittenburg. He merely listed his complaints there. The truth is the papacy ex-communicated Luther much later in the town of Worms. Scott+

Wittenberg, Germany (ENI). A top Vatican official has joined other global Christian leaders in the eastern German town where Martin Luther broke with the papacy, at a tree-planting ceremony that looks to closer ties on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

The ceremony took place in Wittenberg, the German town known as "Lutherstadt", 492 years after Luther nailed his epoch-changing 95 theses to a church door there, leading to the breach with the 16th-century papacy

"It is possible for us today to together learn from Martin Luther," said Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity as he planted the first of 500 trees on 1 November in a landscaped Luther Garden, forming part of the celebrations for 2017.

Churches worldwide are being encouraged to adopt one of the trees planned for the Luther Garden and also to plant a tree themselves, to denote a link with the birthplace of the Reformation. Kasper said a tree would be planted at the Vatican in Rome.

Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Orthodox and Reformed leaders gathered alongside Kasper in the Luther Garden in sunny autumn weather.

"This newly planted tree reminds us that Martin Luther's call for reform in the Church was a call of penitence that also affects us today," said Kasper at the ceremony, which followed the anniversary of Luther's action on 31 October 1517 that led to often bitter quarrels between Protestants and Catholics.

The Luther Garden is planned around a landscaped adaptation of the Luther Rose, a symbol of Lutheranism based on the seal with which the Protestant Reformer authenticated his correspondence.

The idea is inspired by a quote ascribed to Martin Luther, "Even if I knew that the world were to collapse tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree today." Close to the Luther house on the outskirts of the town, two thick old trees still stand that locals claim Luther planted.

"Today is another milestone," the general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, the Rev. Ishmael Noko, told Ecumenical News International. He noted that the tree planting in Wittenberg came after celebrations in Augsburg the previous day to mark the 10th anniversary of the LWF and the Catholic Church signing an agreement about the doctrine of justification, a central point of contention at the time of the 16th-century Reformation.

"The Catholic Church and the Lutherans have given shape to this as an ecumenical event. 2017 will be an ecumenical event," the LWF leader said. "The dialogue will go on," said Noko. "We have had our hiccups but we're still moving forward and every step we've taken in the last 10 years is a step towards ecumenism. The joint planting of the trees today is such a step. It is another step forward and this provides energy and strength for the ecumenical movement."

The joint declaration on justification stated that the condemnations on this issue made by Catholics and Lutherans against each other's teachings of the Reformation at the time do not apply today.

"It is fitting that churches should plant trees as a symbol of commitment to God's creation at this time when world attention turns towards the climate conference in Copenhagen in December with its focus on the impact of environmental destruction," the Rev. Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, said as he in turn planted a tree.

"This is a reformation event, the nailing of the theses in 1517. It is also an ecumenical event," Nyomi told ENI. "1517 has to do with the renewal of the whole church family and therefore needs to be commemorated ecumenically, affirming our common heritage."

Cardinal Kasper told ENI that he hoped the 500th anniversary of the Reformation would be marked jointly by Catholics and Protestants.

The 16th-century events, "divided our people and divided the Church", said Kasper, who until 1999 was the Catholic bishop in Stuttgart, in southern Germany. "It is a day we hold in common and for which we have a joint responsibility," he stated.

"Now again that which belongs together grows together," Kasper said in the Luther Garden, using a phrase of former West German chancellor Willy Brandt after the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and referring to hopes for unity between East and West Germany.

The tree-planting ceremony came 20 years after local Christians gathered in Wittenberg to celebrate Reformation day and to call for reform in communist-ruled East Germany, where religion was discouraged. Nine days later the borders between East and West Germany were opened.

The fact that Christians are now a small minority in the town where Luther started the Reformation means ecumenical cooperation is even more important, said Siegfried Kasparick, the Protestant regional bishop for Wittenberg.

"Today Wittenberg is one of the most de-Christianised zones in Europe, and 85 percent of our population have no connection to any church," said Kasparick. "Therefore, it is really bad when we fight each other."

ENI featured articles are taken from the full ENI Daily News Service. Subscribe online to the Daily News Service and receive around 1000 full-text articles a year. Unless otherwise stated, ENI featured articles may be re-printed, re-posted, re-produced or placed on Web sites if ENI is noted as the source and there is a link to the ENI Web site

The Death of an Archbishop

Here is an article about the continuing violence in the Southern Sudan and the local impact. The Reverend John Dauu has worshipped with us and Elain Storm ministers at St Philip's in Moon Twp. Scott +

Faith J.H. McDonnell
Featured in World Magazine "Do the math" November 07, 2009

Before the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the National Islamic Front regime and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), death was a daily reality in South Sudan. Khartoum's crude but efficient anti-personnel bombs—barrels stuffed with shrapnel, dropped from aging Antonov aircraft—targeted those who opposed its forced Islamization and Arabization. Khartoum also waged war through slave raids, orchestrated famine, helicopter gunship attacks, scorched earth campaigns, displacement of people, and the killing of church leaders.

Now, despite the peace agreement, the regime's long-term agenda for South Sudan apparently has not changed. Reports claim that Khartoum recruits and arms proxy militias to destabilize the South, killing civilians and scattering its people once again. At the same time, the Islamist regime uses money and promises of power to divide Southerners against each other. In this way Khartoum may demonstrate that the South, scheduled for a secession referendum in 2011, cannot govern itself.

On Aug. 29 a militia of Lou Nuer killed 43 people and wounded 62 in Wernyol, a Dinka town. Among the dead was Episcopal Church of Sudan archdeacon Joseph Mabior Garang, killed while officiating at a morning prayer service.

Most likely, the militia (and its sponsors) targeted Mabior because he was a prominent, beloved leader in the community. He had recently become archbishop of Twic East diocese, newly formed to accommodate the fast-growing church in Bor county, which is part of Jonglei state in South Sudan.

While the Obama administration has focused on legendary atrocities in Darfur, the western region of Sudan, the UN reports that the rate of violent deaths in South Sudan now surpasses that in Darfur. Lise Grande, UN Deputy Resident Coordinator in Southern Sudan, recently said more than 2,000 people had died and 250,000 had been displaced by inter-ethnic violence across the region.

Witnesses report that Mabior was shot twice in the legs and that his attackers may have also used a military knife called a "sonki." After the first shots, 30 men and women from the church and town, including tribal chiefs, soldiers, a university student and other youth leaders, and several of the town's oral historians, covered Mabior with their own bodies. All 30 gave their lives in their effort to protect him. Mabior died two hours later.

In the aftermath of Mabior's death the Episcopal Church of Sudan is grieving: "Everyone in the diocese of Bor and the diocese of Twic East is painfully shocked and devastated at losing Joseph. Archdeacon Mabior was a father to many and a mentor to many of us who are clergy," said John Chol Daau, a priest of Bor diocese currently studying at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa., and a former Lost Boy of Sudan who worked closely with Mabior.

After Mabior's death, Daau phoned Nathaniel Garang, the bishop of Bor. "Son, I lost a strong man, a follower of the living Christ who never hesitated to preach the gospel of Christ to our people," Garang said as he wept. "He was like my frontline captain as he and I preached the gospel . . . a great intercessor . . . a pastor and a leader . . . full of patience and love . . . very humble. . . . He would always want to care and serve in any circumstance."

Wernyol is home to other Sudanese in the United States. James Kuer Garang Manyok, another of the famous Lost Boys orphaned during Sudan's civil war, was Mabior's cousin and now lives in Virginia. Kuer said that although his parents were killed in the war he still had hope because "Rev. Joseph, the man of God, was still alive. And now he is gone."

He added, "all those who were murdered during that brutal attack are blood relatives to me." He had met almost all of the victims when he returned for the first time in 22 years to Wernyol in the spring of 2009. "I don't know what to say or do," he said sadly.

A number of Americans met Mabior this past June when he hosted a short-term mission team from St. Philip's Anglican Church of Moon Township, Pa. The team leader, Anglican clergywoman Elaine Storm, said, "Archdeacon Joseph was a man that passionately loved Jesus and passionately loved God's people." In a filmed interview conducted by missions team member Kathy VanDusen, Mabior thanks the Lord for protecting his life "up to now," and tells how he came to faith in Christ and began to raise churches under the trees in war-torn South Sudan.

In a Sept. 1 appeal, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul (Episcopal Church of Sudan) joined SPLM officials pointing out that the tribal groups comprising the militias had been cattle raiders. But these militia are attacking administrative headquarters and towns where no cattle are held. Deng Bul said, "In the view of the church, this was not a tribal conflict as commonly reported, but a deliberately organized attack on civilians by those that are against the peace in Southern Sudan."

Storm holds the same view. She, her sister Danielle, and her father Nick were all part of the Anglican mission team. She wrote to President Barack Obama and other government leaders about Mabior's death, urging more U.S. action to protect South Sudanese. A student at Eastern University, Storm wrote of Mabior, "He was a kind and gentle man and has left a family and a community of people who relied on him." With her letter she included a copy of a photograph taken by her father of Mabior playfully presenting "availability" beads, the Dinka traditional necklaces worn by girls of marriageable age, to her and Danielle. He smiles broadly, full of life, as he drapes the beads around their necks. "People who I now know and love are dying," Storm told Obama.

"It appears that the northern government is violating the comprehensive peace agreement," said Storm. "It appears that the government of South Sudan needs international assistance. Who is keeping northern Sudan in check?"

No one, perhaps. In a more recent attack, on Sept. 19, the same militia of heavily armed Lou Nuer waged an early dawn attack on the local government center of Duk-Padiet, also in Bor county. The militia overcame local youths and organized forces trying to defend the area and ambushed several places at once, according to South Sudan military spokesman Major General Kuol Diem Kuol. This attack left 80 dead and 46 wounded.

But Lou Nuer have been victims, as well. In an August attack on Akobo in Jonglei, Murle tribesmen killed 185 Lou Nuer—mostly women and children. Also in August, northern Ugandan rebels, the LRA, attacked Ezo Town in Western Equatoria. They killed three people, including an Episcopal lay reader, and took 10 children from the Ezo Episcopal Church. In each attack, property was destroyed, hundreds were wounded, and 250,000 have been displaced again from their homes. In each attack, locals report, militias were well-armed with new automatic weapons, dressed in professional uniforms, and were well-trained and organized.

President Obama's Sudan Special Envoy, Major General Scott Gration, has expressed willingness to help renegotiate terms of the CPA at Khartoum's request. But a big question for the administration is whether Khartoum can renegotiate in good faith. At a July hearing on Capitol Hill, SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum Okiech warned that the Khartoum regime had distributed 79,000 AK-47s to militias throughout Sudan. At the same time, the government of South Sudan is under pressure from the UN, U.S. Agency for International Development, and others to collect guns from civilians in South Sudan. The imbalance leaves Southern villages vulnerable to war, not peace.

Used by permission | © WORLD magazine, all rights reserved

October 29, 2009

Trinity Offers Support to Diocese

To: The People of Trinity Church, Beaver
From: The Reverend Scott T Homer
Date: October 29, 2009

Dear Friends,

A couple of weeks ago I wrote you about the judge’s decision against the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. I am writing you again to inform you that our parish was asked to help mount an appeal of that ruling. We were asked and we have agreed to lend funds to the diocese. I want you to know a little about that decision.

If you have attended any of the meetings where we have spoken about the litigation you have heard me say that our lives are not about the property. They are about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our common goal is to worship God in the beauty of holiness, not to worship in any particular structure. My position has not changed. Our purpose remains the same. We are called to remain focused on reaching out to the least, the last and the lost. That is the mission of the churches but if the churches of the diocese were to lose their assets it would severely damage the mission and ministry that those parishes are doing here in Western PA. On Tuesday night, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh voted to appeal the lower court decision against them. Our Bishop concurs.

As the Standing Committee was considering their options it became obvious to them that the judge’s decision must be appealed in order to protect the integrity of the diocesan structure and the rights of our parishes to decide their own future. But although it was obvious that the case ought to be appealed there were no liquid assets available to pay for such an appeal. Unless funds could be found the diocese would have to suffer the inevitable consequences of an unfair ruling—loss of property and the right to self-govern. I became aware of their need about ten days ago and I told the diocese I would ask our parish leadership if they would be willing to lend them money in order to enable them to mount a legal defense. Vestry had already decided that in extraordinary times like ours we ought to be using our invested funds and not holding onto them as a hedge against some distant anxiety.

On Monday night, at a special meeting, the vestry voted unanimously in favor of lending the money to the diocese. (The amount is substantial. Any member of the parish can ask and we will make the amount known. I just don’t want to publish it here). We have advanced the money to them with a letter signed by vestry. Both this letter and that one will be posted in the parish this Sunday. Virtually every vestry member expressed regrets, not that they were giving the money, but that there were no viable options, no alternative paths that made any sense. We all expressed hopes that this thing could be over soon so that we might concentrate fully on the mission and ministry of the parish. You need to know just what a difficult decision it was. I am very proud of the integrity and faithfulness demonstrated by each one of them. I pray that you will support and encourage them through your vocal affirmations and through your private prayers.

As I write, we await the formal announcement of the intent to appeal. We have no idea what the future holds but I am at peace. We rest in the assurance of God’s grace and good favor towards us. A wise senior member of the parish offered this advice the other day. He said, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3.5-6) We serve an awesome God and it is in His power that we trust.

In Christ,

Scott +

Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh Will Appeal Ruling

October 29, 2009


Today, we are pleased to introduce ourselves as The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. Previously known as The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, our diocese is comprised of fifty-five congregations; 51 local congregations with a very long record of service to Pittsburgh area communities (in eleven southwestern Pennsylvania counties), and 4 congregations beyond the immediate region. We were the majority (67%) on the vote to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and are the majority now: 55 Anglican Church congregations as compared to 27 Episcopal Church congregations.

Our purpose in asking you here today is to announce our intention to appeal the recent ruling of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. The court ruled that a minority of our former parishes, which now claim to be a diocese affiliated with the Episcopal Church, shall hold and administer all diocesan assets. The appeal will be filed once the court issues a final order directing the transfer of all diocesan property to this minority group.

Our decision to appeal is for the purpose of protecting the mission of our fifty-one local congregations. Left uncontested, the award of all diocesan assets to the minority party, a group that comprises only a third of the parishes that were a part of our diocese when we withdrew from the Episcopal Church, would establish a precedent that we believe the minority would use to take steps to seize all the assets of all our local parishes. Indeed, the minority's website proclaims as much. This litigious action, which is supported by the aggressive leadership of the Episcopal Church, is unfair, unreasonable, and unconscionable.

A further reason for the appeal is to address the question of the legal right of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh to separate from its former denominational affiliation (The Episcopal Church of the United States). This essential question has never yet had its day in court throughout the legal action in which the Episcopal Church minority is the plaintiff and is suing for all the assets. Many of these assets were donated in good faith by generations of families in our fifty-one congregations. There must be an equitable agreement and distribution. There is a Christian way to resolve this dispute.

The Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh are actively engaged in effective, caring ministry and the planting of new congregations, both regionally and nationally. Our local congregations stretch from Slippery Rock to Somerset to Waynesburg. We are urban, suburban, town, valley and mountain congregations. Shepherd's Heart in Uptown, Seeds of Hope in Bloomfield, and Church of the Savior in Ambridge are among our most celebrated ministries to the urban poor and to urban youth. Half of all mission agencies in North America are headquartered among us and are led by our people. Unhesitatingly, the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh is committed to protecting and expanding the extraordinary ministries of these dynamic congregations and agencies.

The appeal announced today will be funded from several significant contributions, the first of which is in hand. An Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh Defense Fund (The Staying Faithful Fund) has been established and is receiving donations. None of the ordinary gifts of our people or assessments of our congregations will be used to support the appeal.

We are building for the future, not dependent on the past or controlled by the culture. We proclaim the Christian Faith as once for all delivered to the saints. We rejoice in the generosity of our people and stand firmly on the solid Rock who is Our Lord Jesus. We share what we have, whether much or little. We are Anglican Christians transforming our world with Jesus Christ. We are the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Opinion: The Diocese Must Appeal

We await formal announcement from the Anglican Diocese of their response to the judge's decision. As you may recall, the judge found in favor of TEC (Calvary)and awarded all diocesan assets to them. You also know where I stand on our appropriate values. I believe that property and money matters are secondary to mission and ministry and that our attentions must not be diverted from the task of Gospel minsitry, even when the issue is our church building. Nevertheless, I am writing to make an argument for appealing the lower court ruling.

There are at least three major reasons why an appeal is essential:

1. Gospel ministry is done primarily at the parish level. Local resources fuel all sorts of humanitarian efforts. Local resources pay for the missions that are reaching out to the lost and the lonely. Local resources pay for worship. If the court ruling stands it will substantially compromise the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ in our region.

2. The court ruling ignores the fact that the diocese of Pittsburgh acted in complete accord with their own constitution and canons, followed all proper precedent, and had the right to decide, as a diocese to realign. If the ruling stands it would strip us all of our standing within a legitimate diocese of the Anglican Communion.

3. If we are stripped of our status as a legitimate diocese we are also barred from defending ourselves corporately and will be forced to defend ourselves, as best we can, individually. This would represent a tremendous hardship on all but the largest and best financed parishes. It is much easier and much more fiscally responsible to fight as a diocese.

Please pray for the Anglican Communion, for the Diocese and for our parish. Pray that God's will be done and that He gives us the grace to follow him at all times. I continue to pray for each of you and I am seeing my prayers bearing fruit. I admire your courage and your faithfulness.

In Christ,

Fr. Scott Homer

October 26, 2009

South Carolina Distances Itself from Episcopal Bodies

From; The Living Church Online
Posted on: October 24, 2009

The voting margins were huge on Saturday as a special convention of the Diocese of South Carolina approved four resolutions supported by the diocesan bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark Joseph Lawrence.

A fifth resolution addressed diocesan convictions on sexuality, without explicit implications for the diocese’s relations with the Episcopal Church.

As Bishop Lawrence urged approval of the resolutions, he acknowledged criticisms that they have attracted: “The resolutions that are before us, while seeming tepid to some, have to others the feel of haste, even imprudence.”

Those disagreements are clear even within the diocese. Only about six miles from the convention’s meeting site, Christ Church in Mt. Pleasant, is St. Andrew’s Church, which already has begun a 40 Days of Discernment program to decide whether it will separate from the Episcopal Church and, by extension, from the diocese.

In mid-September, the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina said the diocese “teeters on the edge of schism” from the Episcopal Church.

In summary, the five resolutions said:

1. “In the Diocese of South Carolina, we understand the substance of the “doctrine, discipline and worship” of the Episcopal Church to mean that which is expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Creeds, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and the theology of the historic prayer books.”

Approved by 86 percent of voting clergy, parishes and missions.

2. “That this diocese authorize the bishop and standing committee to begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them, the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference which have expressed the mind of the Communion, The Book of Common Prayer and our Constitution and Canons, until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions … and that the Diocese of South Carolina declares that the most recent example of this behavior, in the passage of Resolutions DO25 and CO56, to be null and void, having no effect in this Diocese, and in violation of our diocesan canon (XXXVI sec.1).”

Approved on a vote by orders.
Clergy: 87 yes, 17 no, 1 abstaining.
Parishes: 39 yes, 8 no.
Missions: 14, yes, 3 no, 2 divided, 1 abstaining.

3. “That this diocese … will work in partnership with such Dioceses as are willing to form missional relationships providing gatherings for bishops, clergy and laity for the express purpose of evangelism, encouragement, education and mission … and that the parishes of this diocese are encouraged to enter into their own missional relationships with orthodox congregations isolated across North America and to pursue effective initiatives which are lay-led and supported.”

Approved, 85.1 percent.

4. “That the Diocese of South Carolina endorses the [Ridley Cambridge Draft] of the proposed Anglican Covenant, as it presently stands, in all four sections, as an expression of our full commitment to mutual submission and accountability in communion, grounded in a common faith.”

Approved, 87.5 percent.

5. “That this diocese will not condone prejudice or deny the dignity of any person, including but not limited to, those who believe themselves to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. Nevertheless, we will speak the truth in love as Holy Scripture commends for the amendment of life required of disciples of Christ. It is love of neighbor and the abiding concern for their spiritual well being that compels such honesty and will never allow us to remain silent.”

Tabled until the diocese’s regular convention in March 2010.

In a sweeping address of nearly 4,000 words, Bishop Lawrence gave an extended defense of the resolutions, which were prepared by the diocese’s standing committee in response to his address to clergy in August.

Both in that address and this one, he compared false doctrine to kudzu, a fast-growing and destructive vine found in the Deep South.

“This false teaching that I have called the gospel of indiscriminate inclusivity has challenged the doctrine of the Trinity, the Uniqueness and Universality of Christ, the authority of Scripture, our understanding of baptism, and now, that last refuge of order, our Constitution & Canons,” he said. “Like an invasive vine, like kudzu in an old growth forest, it has decked the Episcopal Church with decorative destruction. It has invaded and now is systematically dismantling the fundamental teachings of our Church and our Christian heritage.”

He defended the proposal, in the second resolution, that the diocese withdraw its deputation to the triennial General Convention.

“The General Convention is not the answer to the problems of the Episcopal Church,” he said. “The General Convention has become the problem. It has replaced a balanced piety in this Church with the politics of one-dimensional activism. Every three years when the Episcopal Church train pulls into the station of General Convention more traditional, catholic and evangelical Episcopalians get off the train and do not return. Do you know that in 1968 this Church had 3,600,000 members? In 2008 we had just barely over 2,000,000. It is even less than that now.”

Further, he defended the resolutions as helping the diocese affect not only the Episcopal Church but also the broader Anglican Communion.

“The landscape around us in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion is changing almost daily,” he said. “This week alone has brought remarkable and gracious news from the Vatican, but it will give us little relief but that of hope that one day all who hold the faith of the apostles shall be one. Meanwhile these four principles need to guide us; otherwise we will be tossed about by every windy gust of news or tidal wave crashing on the shore.”

Douglas LeBlanc

October 20, 2009

Anglican Church in N America responds to Vatican Offer

We rejoice that the Holy See has opened this doorway, which represents another step in the growing cooperation and relationship between our Churches. This significant decision represents a recognition of the integrity of the Anglican tradition within the broader Christian church.

While we believe that this provision will not be utilized by the great majority of the Anglican Church in North America’s bishops, priests, dioceses and congregations, we will surely bless those who are drawn to participate in this momentous offer.

We concurrently thank God for the partnership that orthodox Anglicans have long enjoyed with the Roman Catholic Church, and are profoundly grateful for the many acts of kindness shown on local, diocesan and national levels, as they have stood with us in our time of trial.

While our historic differences over church governance, dogmas regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary and the nature of Holy Orders continue to be points of prayerful dialogue, we look forward to an ever deepening partnership with the Catholic Church throughout the world. We pledge our earnest prayers for all those touched by this initiative, as we look forward to the publication of the Apostolic Constitution detailing today’s announcement.

The Most Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan
Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church in North America
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican)

Vatican welcome to Anglicans boldest move since Reformation

The Vatican on Tuesday opened the way for Anglican communities to switch allegiance en masse. Hundreds of thousands of Anglicans angry over the church's liberal stance on women and gays may convert.

By Nick Squires | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the October 20, 2009 edition

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Vatican City - The Vatican launched an historic initiative Tuesday to make it easier for disgruntled Anglicans worldwide to join the Roman Catholic Church. The church said the move was not a swipe at the Anglicans but it could nevertheless result in hundreds of thousands of churchgoers unhappy with openly gay and female clerics defecting to Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI gave his approval to a new framework to bring back into the fold Anglicans who oppose their church's liberal stance on gay marriage and the ordination of women priests and gay bishops while allowing them to retain some of their separate religious traditions.

The move comes nearly 500 years after Henry VIII's desire for a divorce led him to break with Rome and proclaim himself as the head of the newly formed Church of England in 1534. The framework is the Vatican's most sweeping gesture toward any schismatic church since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century and the Thirty Years' War that followed it in the 17th century. That war ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which acknowledged the right of monarchs rather than the Vatican to determine their national faiths, prompting Pope Innocent X to declare the document "null, void, invalid, iniquitous, unjust, damnable, reprobate, inane, empty of meaning and effect for all time."

Over the centuries, relations between the various Christian faiths have improved and both Anglican and Catholic leaders were at pains on Tuesday to say that warming relations between the two churches will not be affected by the new plan. But both churches have been struggling to retain adherents in recent years, particularly in the developed world, with poorer countries their only growth spots.

Individual Anglicans have long been free to convert to Catholicism, as former British prime minister Tony Blair did after leaving office in 2007. But the so-called Apostolic Constitution will enable entire Anglican communities to transfer their allegiance en masse.

The pope was responding to "numerous requests to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in various parts of the world who want to enter into full and visible communion" with the Catholic Church, Cardinal William Joseph Levada told a news conference. He is the American head of the Vatican's doctrinal body.

Vatican officials declined to say how many of the world's 77 million Anglicans might take the opportunity to convert to Catholicism.

Anglican conservatives

The Traditional Anglican Communion, a vocal group of 400,000 conservatives who split from the Anglican Communion in 1991, are expected to move towards Rome.

"We have had requests from large groups, in the hundreds," said Cardinal Levada. "If I had to say a number of bishops, I would say it's in the twenties or thirties."

His American colleague, Archbishop Joseph Di Noia, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said after the press conference that he believed the number of bishops ready to convert was closer to 50.

They would come from the United States, Australia, and the island nations of the Pacific, he said.

Cardinal Levada was asked whether the Vatican's new policy weakened the Anglican Church's standing.

"I would not dare to make a comment on that. After the long years of the British Empire, and the work of Anglican missionaries, the Anglican Communion is a diverse and very varied worldwide communion."

Under the new constitution, married Anglican priests will be allowed to enter the Catholic Church but will not be ordained as bishops.

Will African Anglicans move?

The initiative was in response to years of lobbying by Anglicans who had become disenchanted with Anglican liberalism, a dissatisfaction which reached a crisis point in 2004 when the Episcopal Church in the United States ordained the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

That move and other liberal shifts, such as a Canadian diocese's willingness to bless same-sex unions, have been fiercely opposed by more conservative Anglicans, particularly in Africa.

The new framework was announced simultaneously in Rome and in London, where the head of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, said he did not see the Vatican move as "an act of aggression." (Read a Monitor profile of the archbishop here.)

Neither was it a vote of no confidence in the Anglican Church, he said, but a sign of maturity and understanding between the two faiths.

But Vatican commentators described it as a blow to the Anglican Communion. "For people who harbor the vision of Anglican unity, this will be a great disappointment," said Vatican analyst Francis X Rocca, of the Religion News Service.

"But it may also help to let off steam within the Anglican Church. If disaffected traditionalists leave, then they will lower the tensions over issues like gay marriage and women clergy."

Vatican expert John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter wrote in a blog post that while the opening by the Vatican had long been rumored, some Catholics feared "potentially negative repercussions in relations with the Anglican Communion – whose leadership might see it as 'poaching.'"

October 15, 2009

Thanks for the pictures Dwayne!


If you are wondering, "where's Dwayne?" He is behind the lens. Thanks for the great photos Dwayne!
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More trips planned--stay tuned

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Canoe Retreat Photo


It was cold, and a fire was the first order of business when we got to camp.
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Another Retreat Photo


I can't help feeling better connected to God when surrounded by the beauty of his creation.
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Men's Retreat Photo


Men of the parish paddled about 25 miles down the Allegheny River from Kinzua Dam to Tidioute. They stayed overnight at Buckaloons Campground and participated in Book/Bible study. It was great seeing bald eagles soaring over the river and great to see eight men sharing their lives with one another.
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October 7, 2009

Judge finds in favor of TEC--What does this mean for us at Trinity?

from Fr Scott Homer

The judge in the case Calvary Church vs. The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has found in favor of Calvary Church. This is a substantial loss to our diocese. Some 15 million dollars in assets will be lost unless the case is successfully appealed. The case did not address the issue of who owns parishes and parish assets and so, our immediate future is not imperiled by this court decision.

I have imported two documents for your review. One is a report on the Judge’s ruling from The Living Church foundation. The other is Bp Bob Duncan’s response to the ruling—a letter you will heard read in church this Sunday. The two will give you a reasonable understanding of what has happened which something that will not happen if you rely on newspaper reports.

Just a word from me: As you know, the men of the parish have been scheduled to go on retreat this weekend for about six months. While the news about this court case is important, it does not present a matter of such magnitude that it ought to interrupt our ministry. The trip is going forward. What does this judgement mean to us? Well, it is simply too early to tell. We will know more in a few days.

The wardens and I met today and made substantial progress. This evening I will be with diocesan leadedrship and I will be meeting with your vestry tomorrow evening. Following that meeting I will advise you all of what we have learned and how we are thinking we need to proceed. In the meantime, please pray for wisdom and guidance for me and your leadership and please avoid rushing to judgment or wrong conclusions. It is a time for steady, calm and reasoned action.

Finally, if you should have any questions or any anxieties that you would like to share I am always available to take your call. My numbers are in the parish directory. God bless you all. I am very blessed to be placed in this faithful congregation.

In Christ, Scott+

Archbishop Duncan Responds to Ruling

7th October, A.D. 2009
A pastoral letter to be read in all the churches on Sunday, October 11th,
A.D. 2009 and in Saturday services preceding.

Beloved in the Lord,
We lost. In human terms we lost. Bishop and Standing Committee, together with Board
of Trustees, thought we understood the document that was signed on our behalf in 2005
that ended the first phase of the Calvary lawsuit. But yesterday, the judge found against us on the basis of that document.

The team that has provided extraordinary legal counsel to us, and to others in similar cases across the country, has issued the following statement: “We believe the opinion and order is contrary to applicable law, disregards the agreed assumption of valid withdrawal by the Diocese from TEC, violates the assurances given us that the issue of the ‘true diocese’ was not part of this proceeding and denies us due process of law.” Accordingly we reserve all of our rights to appeal.

We will take a time for further counsel and prayer, seeking God’s guidance on whether to file an appeal. After that, we will, of course, fully comply with the court’s order to facilitate an orderly transfer of DIOCESAN assets to the Episcopal Church Diocese. We have mostly lived without benefit of these assets since January. We have demonstrated that we can live without them. It will be sad not to have the resources left by previous generations to draw on, but God will be faithful. Two hundred and fifty years ago the first Anglicans at Fort Pitt had nothing. One hundred and forty five years ago the Anglicans who first organized our diocese had nothing. God was faithful to them. He will be faithful to us.

The court’s decision has nothing to do with PARISH property, including the funds held
in trust for you. The stipulation of 2005 spelled out a mediated process for parishes
wishing to leave the “diocese.” Your bishop, your standing committee, your diocesan
council and your board of trustees will all work with your parish leadership toward this end. We invite the leadership of the Episcopal Church Diocese into working with us for the good of all congregations, both Episcopal Church and Anglican Church

The gospel for this Sunday is Mark 10:17-31, the rich young man. In the passage Jesus
promises that those who are willing to leave everything to follow him “will receive back a hundredfold.” Jesus is speaking to us and to our situation. Now is the moment we are called to trust Him at His word. I am willing. Your leadership is willing. Are you?

Our future is so bright in the Anglican Church in North America: Converted individuals, in multiplying congregations, fueled by the Holy Spirit. Do not despair. “He who has called you is faithful, and He will do it.” (I Thessalonians 5:24)

On Friday night November 6th I invite as many of you as can to join together, physically or by internet or in spirit, in St. Stephen’s Church in Sewickley (beginning at 6 p.m.) to thank God for his goodness to us, to offer up the immense transition of this last year, and to celebrate the prospect of our life in our new Anglican Province. The best is still ahead. Our God reigns.

Faithfully in Christ,
Bishop of Pittsburgh
Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America

Judge Favors TEC Diocese in Pittsburgh Property Case

Posted on The Living Church Online: October 7, 2009

A county judge has ordered the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) to surrender diocesan property and assets to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Calvary Church, Pittsburgh, filed the lawsuit against the Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan, then the Episcopal Church’s Bishop of Pittsburgh, and the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in October 2003.

Pittsburgh’s diocesan convention voted in 2008 to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina. The Episcopal Church has reconstituted the diocese, which consists of approximately 40 percent of its previous membership.

Judge Joseph M. James of the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County ruled on Oct. 6 that a court-approved agreement from 2005 requires that property remain with a diocese of the Episcopal Church.

“Regardless of what name defendants now call themselves, they are not the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America,” the judge wrote.

“The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America did not cease to exist when the defendants chose to withdraw,” the judge added. “The defendants could not extinguish an entity that was created and recognized by the intervenors.”

The judge’s order does not include buildings among congregations that followed Bishop Duncan out of the Episcopal Church.

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September 20, 2009

The Greatest is the Servant of All

Sermon, Mark 9.30—37 Fr. Scott T Homer
In the name of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Sometimes, I think that we read the Bible as if it is somehow isolated from our daily lives, as if Matthew and Mark and Peter and Paul are living in some sort of time capsule and that their words are some sort of historical oddities. We look at them as curiosities. We don’t seem to see how they are relevant to our modern lives. And that is too bad because the Bible writers demonstrate an uncanny wisdom about human nature. Their observations are often precisely accurate. And why shouldn’t they be? People today are really no different than they were then. We suffer from the same spiritual diseases now as people did then.
St. James tells us that, “where envy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” And I think it is fair and in fact helpful to invert the saying and to conclude that where we find disorder and every vile practice we will find that jealousy and selfish ambition are at its root. Where you’ve got one, you’ve sure to have the other. And in our day and age we have an abundance of both disorder and vile practices.
By disorder, St James means conflict. We know about conflict. We live with it all the time. Forget about the minor bickering and separations that plague our days. Let’s just look at conflict at the extremes. America has become a very dangerous place to live. A couple of years ago I looked up the number of military fatalities suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan and compared it to the number of murders in America. I wanted to see how the numbers compared. What would you guess was the bigger number? If you guessed murders in America you are right. In fact, the statistics are not even close. There were three or four times as many murders in America as combat fatalities. We are killing each other by the droves. And violence is not restricted to our streets. You don’t have to leave home to get hurt. One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. And this year alone, 1.3 million women will be physically assaulted—not by a stranger, not because she wandered down the wrong alley somewhere but by someone she knows and in her own home. We know about disorder. We know about conflict. And we know about vile behavior as well. Drug and alcohol addictions, pornography, child molestation, abortion, suicide, our children are cutting themselves, we see demonism and Satan worship at disturbing levels. And these are just the extreme things. In fact, America has developed a rather prodigious list of social ills. In terms of “every vile practice” we have really distinguished ourselves.
But speaking about “America” is just a way of holding the problem out at arms length where we aren’t implicated. We personally aren’t involved. It is simply too antiseptic. The fact is that we are involved. All of us are affected. The problem isn’t “theirs out there.” It is ours right here. The question for most all of our families today is not, ‘is there vile behavior in our midst but rather which ones.’ If you aren’t an addict you don’t have to look very far to find one in your family tree. If you aren’t being abused you know someone pretty close to home who is. Chances are way above 50% that one of your computers contains downloads of sexually explicit materials. Each of us can, if we have a heart for honesty and the courage to examine our lives, catalog our own personal list of things we would rather nobody knows about us. We don’t talk about the messes. We don’t admit our faults to one another. In fact we have an unspoken agreement with one another that we will pretend that our lives are happy, healthy and whole. If you don’t expose me…I won’t expose you. And so, disorder and vile behavior abound in our lives even as we agree to pretend that they do not.
So, we know what St James is talking about when he talks about disorder and vile behavior. And if our hypothesis is true, then we ought to see envy and selfish ambition at the root of it all.
If we are ever going to know freedom from the tyranny of sin, and if we are ever going to know peace with our neighbors we are going to have to understand what the Bible is telling us about the relationship between the mess we find ourselves in and our own self-centeredness. And I think we need to look particularly at the self-centeredness issue because even envy is only a manifestation of it.
What is self-centeredness? What does it look like? Bette Middler was on a talk show years ago, and she had been going on and on about how wonderful her life was and finally she looked at the talk show host and said, “But I have done nothing but talk about myself…what do you think of me?” Self-centeredness, there just is not room for anyone else. Like small children, adults in our society act as if all of their passions must be satisfied, right now. We step over people to get what we want. We have become unable to have a reasoned conversation with someone who disagrees with our position. Our lives are lived isolated from everyone else. We see other people as a means to our end. We become greedy. We find we are increasingly angry because, after all, the world does not seem to be as devoted to me as I am devoted to me. Our relationships suffer.
Our society has decided to glory in self-centeredness. It is sold to us as a virtue. We see books telling us how to go about getting the things we want from life. (They are always about how we can successfully manipulate others) We see television commercials telling us that we deserve to be treated lavishly. We are told that you can’t love anyone else unless you first love yourself. Even our means of communicating with one another have grown incredibly isolated and self-focused. How many of you are on facebook? Facebook is all about me, talking about me, so that the world might see me in the way that I want them to see me. Our obsession with our own lives really is a mess and it really does go a long way in explaining why we are suffering the social problems we are suffering. After all:
If how I feel is the most important thing then why wouldn’t I abuse prescription drugs? If me getting what I want is the most important thing then why wouldn’t I beat up my spouse when she wants something different? If my gratification is the most important thing why wouldn’t I be willing to degrade and humiliate another human being in order to get my perceived needs met? If my self-centered interest is the only thing that matters then the world becomes nothing more than a tool that I manipulate as best as I can to get what I think I must have. And when all of us are trying to do the same thing then we end up in constant conflict with one another. Every time your interests conflict with mine I must find a way to defeat your purpose in order to accomplish mine. Disorder and vile behavior are the inevitable fruit of a hedonistic society. And by the way, every culture that has gone down this path has failed. History books are full of stories about hedonistic societies that used to exist.
Now St. James contrasts this dysfunctional way of living with a functional way. He says that, “the wisdom from above (that is the wisdom from God that will give life) is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.” And that is all very good stuff BUT to get to the real solution we will do far better by looking to Jesus and listening to what Jesus has to say about it. In Mark chapter 9 we see self-centeredness rearing its ugly head amongst the disciples. Jesus asks his disciples what they were talking about while they were walking along and sheepishly they admit that they had been arguing (there is that disorder and conflict theme again) and it had been over the issue of who was the greatest. (there is that self-centeredness theme again) Isn’t that amazing? Right under Jesus’ nose. Apparently nobody is exempt—not even the chosen twelve.
Jesus hears what happened and he immediately understand that this is a serious problem. And he addresses it without delay. This is the correct way of dealing with our sin—quickly and without compromise. It never gets easier by waiting. Confess it now. Get help now. (and one of the things I admire about the apostles is that they always remain teachable. They never refuse Jesus’ correction. They don’t try to defend their actions or rationalize their faults. They submit to Jesus’ teaching time after time after time. It would be better for us if we were more teachable.)
We have all heard, a thousand times, “the first shall be last and the last shall be first and if you wish to lead you must be the servant of all.” And we treat it as a hard teaching but in fact it is not that hard at all. Do you want to have a successful job interview? Pay a lot of attention to the interviewer. Honor what they are saying to you. Be helpful to them. Listen carefully and respond compassionately to what they are saying. More often than not, if you can make the interview about the interviewer’s self-interests you will have won the job. Who do you like to talk to? People like Bette Middler who only talk about themselves? Or somebody who takes a genuine interest in you and asks questions about you and listens to your concerns? Who are you most likely to allow to lead you? Isn’t it the one you know has your best interest at heart? We are most likely to trust, to obey and to follow the one who loves us, cares for us and is kind and generous to us. And so the person who puts themselves last, who thinks of others first, who acts out of love, is the one who exhibits the best leadership gifts.
You see, when Jesus puts that child in the middle of the circle, that kid doesn’t mean anything to any of them. He can’t give them anything. He is just a burden. And yet, Jesus says, when you help this helpless one, you are being the most godlike. When you care for the least, the last and the lost; when you sacrifice your life to save the life one someone who can never hope to repay you; when you give generously knowing full well that you will never get it back; when you suffer pain in order that someone who does not care about you will not have to suffer, then you are truly living like God lives and doing what God does. This is the highest ideal. This is a purpose worth working to achieve. It is the impossible dream and the great experiment. And if we were able to attain it our society would be transformed. We would see freedom from addiction. Our lives would be characterized by strong, caring relationships. We would know peace with one another and our lives would be blessed by God’s powerful presence in our midst. Love, which is what we have been talking about, conquers all, heals all, restores all…and it is a quite distant possibility. We get glimpses of it but we are not there yet. We need help. We need a savior who can do what we can not do for ourselves.
Now I believe that this saying from Jesus is more than just a moral teaching on the advantages of loving one another. As Jesus talks about the last being first and the first last, as he talks about the greatest being the servant of all, Jesus points to himself. Jesus is the Anointed One. Jesus is the Holy One of God and yet, even as he is speaking to his disciples he is on his way to Jerusalem. He is going to Jerusalem to complete a mission. He is fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 53. He is to become a ransom for many. He is to become sin in order that sinners can be set free. The Greatest is about to become the least, the last and the lost. He does this voluntarily. He does this for people who don’t care about him, people who can never repay him, even people who despise him. The first becomes the last in order that the last might become the first.
And when Jesus sacrifices himself for your sake, his sacrifice is completely sufficient. When Jesus dies on the cross for your sins you are truly set free. You need do nothing in order to be saved, other than to believe in your savior. It is no longer about you being good enough. I heard a wonderful illustration last week. A woman got on a bus carrying a suitcase. And as the bus lurched along she hung on to that bag with all her might…but after awhile she grew weary of the weight of that bag but still she hung on to it. Finally, the bus driver turned around to her and he said, “Lady, you can put that bag down. This bus is powerful enough to carry you and that bag to our destination.” Friends, Jesus is powerful enough to carry you and your sins. He will see you safely home.
And something happens when we put that bag down and we trust in Jesus. We find that we have been set free to act unselfishly. You see, as long as our future depends on us and our efforts, we will find that we are acting selfishly. We have to. If we don’t get what we need nobody else will get it for us. (and that is where most of us live most of the time. But it doesn’t have to be that way.) We can accept the truth—that the Son of God has died in order that we might live. We can entrust our lives to Jesus, and when we accept the fact that he has all power is completely capable of carrying us to our destination, us and our sins, then our days can be devoted to more important things—like the service of others—like becoming more Christ-like—like celebrating this tremendous gift of life that we have been given—like worshipping this awesome God who has given everything in order that we might spend eternity with him.