December 30, 2011

The Queen of England's Christmas Message, 2011

One of the clearest statements of the Christian faith I have ever heard from a world leader.  Please take the time to listen to it.  Happy Christmas!

December 27, 2011

Maybe the Best Quote of the Season

"Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice."

-- Dave Barry

Tim Keller--Year End Generosity

The Bible says that God has poured out his mercy and Holy Spirit generously through Jesus Christ so we can be justified by grace (Titus 3:6). Why is mercy and forgiveness described in terms of ‘generosity’? Because God is under no obligation to give us any good gift. In fact, our sin has forfeited any favor or blessing we might have had. Yet, instead of giving us the punishment we deserve, he took that himself and gave us the riches of mercy and grace. He forgave, he was generous with us sinners.

In the book of James there is another way that God is said to be generous. The author urges his readers to become spiritually mature and wise, and if they lack this, they should ask God, “Who gives generously to all without finding fault.” (James 1:5) Here God is generous not in forgiveness but in ministry. He builds people up and shares his wisdom with others, and he is not stingy with his service, only giving to ‘deserving’ people. No, he ministers to others “without finding fault.” 

Generosity, then, is basically a matter of the spirit....

See full article:

RADICAL: taking back your faith from the American Dream

New book study begins Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012 at 7:30PM in the parish hall (Nine sessions)

I want to urge you to join me in studying this very special book!  If you only attend one study this year, let it be this one.  I read this book on vacation last summer and it has had a profound effect on how I am thinking about my life in America and my life in Christ.   You may not agree with everything this book says (I don't) but you will walk away with a much clearer understanding of your faith and God’s purpose for your life. 

The Book is entitled Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream .  The study guide and book cost $15.00 for each participant.  If you have the book, the study guide costs $5.00

Please sign up for the study by calling the church office at 724-774-0679, or by emailing us at, or by signing up on the bulletin board outside the parish office.

I hope you will call a friend in the parish and ask them to join you and me in this important study.

Fr. Scott  

Prayer for the Feast of St John

Merciful Lord, we beseech thee to cast thy bright beams of light upon thy Church, that we, being illumined by the teaching of thine apostle and evangelist John, may so walk in the light of thy truth, that we may at length attain to the fullness of life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. 

Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist

December 26, 2011

Word Origins: Holiday

The word holiday derived from the notion of "Holy Day", and gradually evolved to its current form.  The word holiday comes from the Old English word hāligdæg. The word originally referred only to special religious days.

The Feast of Saint Stephen

December 25, 2011

Christmas Day Eucharist: 11:00AM

Please join us for Christmas Day Eucharist at 11AM

Trinity Church
370 Beaver Street
Beaver, PA  15009

December 24, 2011

"Behold, I bring you good news of great joy..."

Visit to the Christmas Crib

“O Divine Redeemer Jesus Christ…I believe thou art the God of infinite majesty, even though I see thee here as a helpless babe.  Humbly I adore and thank thee for having so humbled thyself for my salvation as to will to be born in a stable.  I thank thee for all thou didst wish to suffer for me in Bethlehem, for thy poverty and humility, for thy nakedness, tears, cold and sufferings.

Would that I could show thee that tenderness which thy Virgin Mother had toward thee, and love thee as she loved thee.  Would that I could praise thee with the joy of the angels; that I could kneel before thee with the faith of St. Joseph; the simplicity of the shepherds.  Uniting myself with these first worshippers at the crib, I offer thee the homage of my heart, and I beg that thou wouldest be born spiritually in my soul.  Give me, I pray thee, the virtues of thy blessed Nativity…” 

(Excerpt from “Visit to the Christmas Crib,” St Augustine’s Prayer  Book)

WARNING: Christmas Prep Hazardous to Health

Warning: Christmas Prep May Be Hazardous to Your Spiritual Health:

We invest so much time and energy in purchasing just the right gifts for our loved ones.  We may make the mistake of concluding that the joy of Christmas is to be found underneath the Christmas tree.  We may find transient joy in the gifts we exchange but long after the electronics fail, the toys break, and the clothes shrink, true and lasting joy will be found only in God’s Christmas gift to you: your savior Christ the Lord.

How To Breeze Through Holiday Shopping

Brenda and I had to do some last minute grocery shopping yesterday.  We knew the store would be a mob scene so we decided to try a new strategy.  We decided to be demonstrably happy, joyous and free.  We were right.  The store was jammed with frustrated, lonely, anxiety ridden folks.  So we broke out our widest smiles, joked and played with one another and acted as if we had nothing else to do all day.  Lo and behold, the crowds lifted, the sea of humanity parted and we were able to walk through our shopping experience without muddying up our spirits.  God is good.  Merry Christmas.

December 21, 2011

The Real Problem in Whoville

We all seem to agree that it is a heinous crime for the Grinch to steal Christmas from the Who’s in Whoville.  After all, if there is no gift under the tree or no Christmas feast, little Cindy Lou Who might cry!  So, of course, the story must end with the Grinch’s conversion—not from God hater to God lover, not from secular humanist to Christian, but from stingy miser to extravagant gift-giver.  The Grinch must experience a transformation alright, but the transformation is from agent of material deprivation to agent of economic stimulus.  Bottom line:  when the Grinch is changed, when his heart grows ten sizes that day, Little Cindy Lou Who gets her stuff and everybody lives happily ever after, or do they?
The problem appears when we consider that little Cindy Lou Who is not permitted to hear about the Christ child.  There is no nativity in the center of the Christmas morning revelers, no explanation of the source of the celebration.  The elders in Whoville have agreed to keep the matter of the Christ, and most especially the Cross, secret and private.  Whoville is happy for some ambiguous reason.  The song they sing is not praising God for his work of redemption—just a happy little ditty.
And so, while little Cindy Lou Who is entitled to Christmas gifts and a Christmas dinner, and the momentary happiness they may provide, she is doomed to eternal unhappiness because she is denied a relationship with Jesus Christ.  The life of true purpose, meaning, and hope that relationship with Christ yields is denied her.  The very thing we had hoped to avoid is assured: little Cindy Lou Who cries.  I don’t know about you but it sounds like a bad deal to me.  Better Christmas morning should stink.  Better there should be nothing under the tree, no Christmas dinner, better for the Grinch's heart to grow and for him to become the preacher who returns the gift of the gospel to the children of Whoville!  

December 20, 2011

Would We Recognize the Christ Child?

Would We Recognize the Christ Child If We Saw Him? It might be harder than we think. We might be tempted to look for him in a hospital or perhaps a birthing clinic in some suburb but I do not think we would find him there. We might look for a blond, blue eyed Jesus but I don’t think those attributes would fit the correct profile.

 Jesus would look much more like one of the babies carried on the backs of the women in Kajire, Kenya than like a baby in a stroller at the Beaver Valley Mall. Jesus had dark hair, dark skin and dark eyes. If he was not hungry most of the time he certainly did not get much more than the bare essentials. He grew up in an uneducated, religiously fundamentalist household. The idea that worshipping God was somehow optional would have appalled him and his people. He and his parents lived in tiny houses, like the adobe shacks that house Mexico’s poor. He had little or no discretionary income. He walked everywhere he needed to go. Communications? His ears and his voice. Entertainment? Studying Torah. Medical Care? A few home remedies. Jesus and his family endured a hard life, a short life, and a life of deprivation…nevertheless it was a life devoted to giving thanks to God for the manifold blessings they received.

We will be most likely to find the Christ child when we look in two unlikely places. We will find him living and ministering among the least, the last and the lost. It is his desire to give his life for them. And we will find him anywhere people devote their lives to worshipping the one true God. Jesus is always present among those giving God thanks and praise.

December 14, 2011

Jesus Talks Money

This reminds me of an old expression: “The last thing we place in Jesus’ hands is our checkbook.” Scott+

Mammon: Servant or Master?

According to the Old Testament, if I didn’t tithe, I was stealing from God. (Malachi 3.9) Jesus took it several steps further. He said, “Pick one—only one. You can’t serve both God and Money.” When I first read Jesus’ statement about serving God and Mammon, it seemed simple, almost obvious, but when I thought about it, I realized many of my decisions had been improperly motivated by money. I asked myself, do my actions and motivations revolve around money, or do I use money as a tool to achieve my goals? Do I use IT, or does IT use me? When I have to make a decision, who decides?

(Wealth Conundrum, Ralph Doudera, Signature Editions, 2007)

December 13, 2011

Christians Scared to Death of Death

“A detailed national survey…from 2003 claimed that fully 92 percent of Americans believe in God, 85 percent believe in heaven and 82 percent believe in miracles. But the deeper truth is that such religious belief…brings believers little solace in the face of death. The only priesthood in which people really believe is the medical profession and the purpose of their sacramental drugs and technology is to support longevity, the sole unquestioned good of contemporary Western life. Christianity, in the hands of a Paul, an Augustine or a Luther, is a way of becoming reconciled to the brevity of human life and giving up the desire for wealth, worldly goods, and temporal power…[But many Christians today] are actually leading desperate atheist lives bounded by a desire for longevity and the terror of [death].”

Simon Critchley, The Book of Dead Philosophers (Vintage, 2008)

Don't Drink the Water!

“Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith says the fastest growing religion in America today is neither Christianity, Islam, nor some eastern religion. It is what he calls Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD). In MTD, the most important “truth” about God is that he wants us all to be nice, to feel happy, and to be delivered from pain (that’s the therapeutic part). Outside of being available when I need him, God will not interfere much with my life (there’s the deism)…Smith says that MTD is in our culture—including our churches—like fluoride is in our water.”*

Don't drink the water!

*“When God Seems Far Away,” by John Ortberg, Leadership Journal, Fall 2011

December 5, 2011

A Little Bit of Care

By The Rev Scott Homer

Some people wonder why we don’t take care of our own poor first. Why send money and resources half way around the world when we have poor people living in our own communities? Here is the simple answer: America does not have poverty. Compared to the poverty in Africa, Asia and South America, what we call the American poor are actually people, for the most part, enjoying a quality of life superior to the middle class in much of the rest of the world.

According to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the CIA Fact Book average per capita income differs greatly between the United States and much of the Third World. In Kenya, for example, the average person lives on $775 per year. The average American lives on $47,184 per year.

Those numbers mean that if the average American were to receive only one week’s paycheck they would already have more money than the average Kenyan receives for all 52 weeks combined. Imagine getting your first check in January with a note attached that said, “Don’t spend it all in one place. This is it until next January!” How would you survive? What would you do? Those numbers also mean that even our poor, those depending on public assistance, are living far more comfortable existences than their third world counterparts. Remember, an average of $775. Per year means half of the people are trying to survive on less than that and many are dying because they simply can’t live on much less than that.

Even the poorest Americans enjoy clean drinking water, a luxury that 80 percent of people in the world do not have. Even the poorest American receives health care, regular food assistance, education, and housing assistance if he or she seeks it. For much of the world there is virtually no health care, food is scarce even during good times, education is minimal and there is no such thing as housing assistance.

Children suffer the most. Out of a thousand live births only about 7 babies will not survive in America and all but 8 will live to celebrate their 5th birthday. In Kenya, 65 babies will die shortly after being born and 85, nearly one in ten, will not live to be 5 years old. Most of these deaths are the result of poor nutrition, contaminated drinking water, and treatable childhood diseases. That is to say that most of these children could have been saved with a little bit of care.

A little bit of care…that is where we come in.

December 2, 2011

Money Is A Spiritual Matter

This is an excellent article on the theology of giving from Bishop John Geurnsey. Please take the time to read it all. Scott+

The Bible says that our decisions about money and possessions are spiritual decisions; they affect, for good or ill, our relationship with God. The Bible addresses the issue of our finances over 600 times and Jesus talked about money more than anything else except the Kingdom of God. What does Scripture say about money? It can be summarized this way:

1. God is the giver of all that we have. What we possess is not earned, but is a gift from God. In the wilderness before they entered the land of milk and honey and gained riches beyond anything they had known before, the people of Israel heard this warning from Moses, “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18). Or as Paul puts it,“What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).

2. We are accountable to God for what we do with what He has given to us. We are managers, not owners. Jesus told the story of a master who entrusted three of his servants with his wealth, giving to one five talents [each talent was worth thousands of dollars], to another two talents and to the third one talent. After a time, the master came to settle accounts with them. To two of the servants he said, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.” But to the third he said, “You wicked and slothful servant…! So take the talent away from him and give it to him who has the ten talents” (Matthew 25:14-30). God will one day call us to account for how we have handled our money.

3. One aspect of being a trustworthy steward is giving. Giving brings us closer to God. Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide for yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a
treasure in heaven that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:32-34).

4. As we give, we are called to tithe, to return to God at least 10% of what He gives us. “All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30). Jesus confirmed the tithe as the standard for Christians when He said, “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter [love and justice] without neglecting the former [tithing]” (Luke 11:42).

5. God wants us to give in thankfulness and joy. “What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me?...I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Psalm 116:12, 17). We give not begrudgingly out of guilt or duty or pride. We give thankfully for all that Jesus has done for us.

As a church founded on Scriptural authority, the Anglican Church in North America is committed to living out biblical principles in our daily lives. May the Lord give us the grace to trust Him fully with our finances and become truly biblical followers of Jesus.

In Him,
The Rt. Rev. John A. M. Guernsey
Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic