May 27, 2011

Te Deum laudamus

You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord: we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of martyrs praise you.
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you;
Father, of majesty unbounded,
your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You Christ are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When you became man to set us free
you did not shun the Virgin's womb.
You overcame the sting of death
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
We believe that you will come and be our judge.
Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.

May 25, 2011

Pastoral Care AA Style

This is taken from an AA daily devotional entitled, Twenty-Four Hours a Day (Hazelden):

Working with others can be subdivided into five parts:

The first thing in helping people is to earn their confidence. We do this by sharing our own experiences so that they can see that we know what we are talking about. If we share frankly they will know we are sincerely trying to help. They will realize they are not alone, that others have had equally bad experiences and they will gain confidence that they can be helped. (May 23)

By frankly sharing we get them talking about their experiences. They will open up and confess things to us they have not shared before. And they feel better when this confession is made. It’s a great load that is lifted when they get these things out in the open. It is the things that are hidden that weigh on the mind. They feel a sense of freedom and release when they open up to us. (May 24)

A prospect must be convinced that they want (to stop drinking). They must see and admit that their life in unmanageable. They must face the fact that they must do something. They must be absolutely honest with themselves and face themselves as they really are. They must be convinced that they must give up their old way of life and realize that their whole fate depends on this conviction. (May 25)

Conversion means change. Prospects must learn top change their way of thinking. They must now face a new and different life. They must see and admit that they cannot overcome their past by their own willpower, so they must turn to God for help. They must start each day asking god for the strength to walk in his ways. This conversion to belief in god comes gradually, as they try it and find that it works. (May 26)

Continuance means staying with them after they have started on the new way of life. We must stick with them and not let them down. We must encourage them to attend church meetings, bible studies, and prayer groups regularly for fellowship and help. They will learn that life is a lot easier in the fellowship of others who are trying to do the same thing. We must help others by going to see them regularly or telephoning them or writing them so that they don’t get out of touch with the church. (May 27)

May 21, 2011

Another Christian Thumping

by Father Scott Homer

The headline reads, Apocaplyse Not: Harold Camping Wrong-Again-about 'The Rapture'. But the real news is not that somebody somewhere is predicting the end of the world. That is about as common as sliced bread. The news story is really about a news media that is so intent on slinging mud at Christian leaders and so devoted to making them look stupid that they will create a story just to promote anti-Christian sympathies. This Harold Camping guy predicted the rapture before. He got big news coverage before. He was wrong before. He is a crackpot and virtually every reasonable person in the world has said so. So, when is the media going to stop parading him and guys like him before the public as if they are legitimate spokesmen for the Faith? Answer: when the media is convinced that nobody is paying attention to the legitimate Christian leaders anymore.

Is Today the End of the World?

by Father Scott Homer

If you own a radio, TV, telephone or internet capable device then you have surely heard that some folks at the Family Radio Network are predicting that the Rapture will occur today at 6PM. Depending on the news source feeding information to you, this anticipated event has been characterized as "Armageddon, the end of the world, the return of Jesus Christ, and the Rapture." Commentators are focusing on doom and gloom when they are not focusing on the wackos that are claiming today to be the day. And if you are like me you are just confused by reporting that seems intent on laughing at these predictions and yet fascinated, even wishing, that God might actually intervene in the affairs of men again. So what do we make of all this?

Firstly, if the Rapture occurs at 6pm as predicted, and I have serious reservations about it (to say the least), it will be a very good thing for those who are raptured. It means they will be lifted out of the current mess and live in God's glorious presence with no suffering or pain. Not so good for the vast majority of people who would not be raptured! They would remain on earth enduring an increasingly dark and evil trajectory of world events that would eventually lead to the final end.

And that is the second point: The rapture, as described by St John is not the end of the world, although it would certainly point to the beginning of the end. The rapture is described as God sparing his saints from the final episode of Earth's demise, but that final episode takes some time and John is quite clear that the people who are not raptured, and who remain in the midst of the mess do so by their own choosing. They are those who refuse to listen to the testimony of God's messengers. The people of doom are the people choosing it! And that brings us to point three.

Do you love the Lord? Do you confess and repent of your sins? Are you trying to live as a child of God? Then you have nothing to fear! God is not a monster seeking to destroy people. (that would be the devil) The same St John who describes the final battle for Earth in Revelation writes in his first letter, "God is love." In other words, God desires that you prosper, not suffer. God desires that you be saved not that you be lost. God's desire is the restoration of the world and not its destruction. God is love and God's love will finally conquer. And that brings me to the final point.

The Book of Revelation does not end with smoke, rubble and ash. The final scene is not one of total devastation and destruction. Rather, it is one of a restored and perfected world in which our God reigns. Jesus Christ reigns in victory in a new Heaven and a new Earth where evil, sin and death are vanquished and where God's people live, in the flesh, enjoying an eternity of peace and joy. There may be battles that must be fought along the way. There may be suffering and loss to endure but the story does not end in desolation. Quite the contrary. It ends with God's people victorious and in glory!

So, come Lord Jesus. May today be the day! And whether it is or is not, may we today give you the praise and the glory for all the wonderful blessings that you have showered on us, this day and always. Amen.

May 19, 2011

Update on Bud and Kathleen

I got a surprise phone call from Bud the other day. It was good to hear his voice: same old joyful demeanor! Bud and Kathleen are living and doing ministry in East Aurora, NY. Their son Jacob is now 18 months old. Bud is serving in an ACNA parish there and is asking that we pray for new members. The parish is small and struggling to pay the bills. If you would like to drop them a note and say hi I am sure they will appreciate it. Bud's email address is Blessings, Fr. Scott

May 18, 2011

Packing the Right Things for the Big Move

by Jay Morgan

(Our Senior Warden reflects on his recent transition and the ways it informs our understanding of our parish's own transition. -Fr. Scott)

I prayed with Fr. Scott last year about my growing family’s need for a larger home. I began by thanking God for all His provisions. Scott interrupted me: “Ask Him for a house.” I started again with another rambling prayer. He interrupted again: “Ask Him for a house.” So I asked plainly, putting my family’s need before Him. Several months later we moved into our new home. But, as the Lord provides He also teaches. Searching for a house is one thing—moving into it is another…

Just four people moving a mere five miles––yet it was difficult to decide what to take, what to replace, or what to throw out. Can we really part with our 20-year-old college textbooks? (The answer, apparently, was “no.”) The kids no longer play with these toys, do they? (“We still want them, Dad.”) Speaking of the kids, they were leaving the only home they had ever known. We have had to juggle packing with their school schedules and our two jobs—and our fifteen-year-old dog that is in frail health. To add to the stress, our appliances began dying: first the washing machine, then the oven, and finally the vacuum cleaner.

On moving day, our refrigerator’s icemaker line leaked all over the kitchen floor after the movers had taken the unit away. As a plumber worked at the old house, an electrician was updating the old wiring for the new washer and dryer. Both were unplanned expenses. Still, we are grateful for the electrician and plumber’s expertise and for the movers who had done the heavy lifting.

Even though we are thankful we are frustrated with the piles of boxes still unpacked—boxes with labels such as “pictures,” “clothes,” and “vases—very breakable.” That last label, I imagine, was for me. And while most of our furniture works well, some pieces do not. That dresser is too big, that table is too small, and did that floor lamp always lean like that?
After this move I now have a new appreciation for the Exodus. The Hebrews left the only home they had ever known, laden with plunder, and being chased and seemingly cornered. On the other side of the Red Sea, the Israelites had fashioned their Egyptian gold into the form of a calf, a representation of an Egyptian god. Yes, it is hard to let go of old places and familiar things.

In our Christian journey, letting go of the old is what we are called to do. In Colossians 3, the Apostle Paul admonishes us “to set our minds on the things that are above not on the things that are on earth” (v. 2). We are raised with Christ and hidden in Him, Who is seated at the right hand of God. In that sense we all have that new heavenly address; yet we bring the wrong things with us. Those things labeled “impurity, covetousness, slander, and anger,” (vv. 5-7) for example, do not fit with our new heavenly surroundings. Trying to bring them with us will only cause pain, frustration, and sorrow. The things that will fit in our new home are labeled “compassion, kindness, humility, patience, meekness, forgiveness.” Tying these all together, writes the apostle, is love (vv. 12-14).

Our parish is also on a kind of Exodus. Trinity Beaver with most of the diocese has left The Episcopal Church. Without either accusing TEC of holding us in bondage or making light of real slavery—we have property that we have taken with us in our departure and we are being pursued. Yet, whether we litigate, negotiate, or relocate, we need to be sure that we pack “the things that are above.” We will need to bind these heavenly things in love for ourselves (such as “patience”) as well as for our TEC counterparts (namely, “forgiveness”). While our Trinity home for the future is uncertain, we know that the Lord is leading us to something new. And He has already done the heavy lifting in our deliverance, so let’s pack appropriately.

By the way, I looked up in my calendar when I had prayed with Fr. Scott for a house. It was March 2, 2010. Diane and I signed the closing papers on February 25, 2011, 360 days later.