Friday, March 28, 2008

Yaroslav Pelikan On The Need For Creed

Over on Per Christum, this interesting post was noticed.

Public Radio's interview with the late theologian. Here’s a transcript of an excerpt I found particularly quotable:

Tippet: So, what is it about Christianity that has needed creeds?

Pelikan: Well, what it is about religious faith that needs creed is that religious faith in general, prayer addressed to “to whom it may concern”, sentiment about some transcendent dimension otherwise undefined does not have any staying power. It’s OK to have that at ten o’clock on a Sunday morning when you’re out with your friends somewhere, but in the darkest hours of life you gotta believe something specific. And that specification is the task of the creed. Because, much as some people may not like it, to believe one thing is also to disbelieve another.

Tippet: *curtly* Huh.

Pelikan: To say yes is also to say no.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Worship Our Goal - Mission Our Work

Dean Robert Munday, Nashotah House president, recently wrote:

Minneapolis pastor and author John Piper, in his book,
Let the Nations Be Glad! has written:

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Mission exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.

But until the worship due to God resounds among people of every nation, tribe and tongue, missions must be the pre-eminent work of the Church. The love that we are to give to God and to our neighbor is incomplete until every one who draws breath has been given the chance to own and express that love.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

True Meaning Of Easter

In our contemporary culture, Easter has largely been relegated to being a festival of Spring, eggs, chicks, rabbits and the generic rejoicing of new life. While in themselves nice things, yet, as Christians have we also allowed these themes to express our own understanding of the resurrection of Christ? We confess in the Creed our belief that Jesus was "crucified, died and buried." True enough.

We also confess that Jesus also "rose again on the third day." Also, spectacularly true! Alleluia!

However, there is this phrase in the Creed that lies between the two phrases quoted above. These words; "he descended to the dead" (or into hell). What are we to make of the apostolic church having included this phrase as an essential, core belief of Christianity? Essential enough to include the truth that Jesus "descended to the dead"? To understand this is to grasp a much greater truth of Easter and why this feast is to be seen as the greatest Feast of all. Jesus certainly did not descend into hell to suffer, nor did he descend to merely proclaim his victory over the devil. There are even greater things here.

Notice in the icon depiction that Jesus extends his hands to Adam and Eve, pulling them from death. Contemplate that in the resurrection, Jesus has destroyed death, broken down the gates of Hell, and defeated the Devil. The victory of the empty tomb is the victory of Christ over sin, death and the devil. The victory was total, complete and death was plundered. Hallelujah.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday

Lord Jesus Christ, who didst stretch out thine arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of thy saving embrace. So clothe us in thy Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know thee, to the knowledge and love of thee; for the honor of thy name. Amen.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Go To Dark Gethsemane

As a young boy, I would have the rare opportunity to enter my grandmother's "parlor", that strange, dark, front room that was never used except on the rarest of occasions.

On the wall was this picture, or one much like it, framed in a wonderful old world frame. This picture served as my personal icon or mental picture of Jesus praying in the garden.

A few years back, I had the privilege of walking and praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, overlooking the Kidron valley, on the Mount of Olives. Part of me returns to that place on Maundy Thursday each year. Pictures are important to prayer, Scripture reading and faith.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Holy Week Begins

This week, we Christians call Holy Week, we set time aside to contemplate the works of Christ on our behalf for our redemption. St. John, the evangelist, dedicated half of his Gospel to telling the story of Holy Week. This Sunday, in our churches, we will bless real palm branches to use in our worship. Later, these palms will often be woven into crosses to place in our homes for a year. (directions found here)

"Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord."

This familiar song from Palm Sunday is called the Song of the Children and is joined with the Song of Angels and Cherubim in heaven;

"Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of Your glory".

Together, these songs make up the Sanctus, the song we sing each week at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer. At the altar of the Eucharist, heaven and earth are joined in unending praise and thankfulness.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Hands On Housing

Smaller mission parishes have something in common, and that something is often a feeling of not being big enough, not having enough resources to make a difference in ministry to a community. St Brendan’s Anglican Church in Austin, Texas has found a way to overcome that sense (or excuse) of being too small to make a difference.

In most major towns there are cooperative ministries, often made up of many small faith communities such as our own. Getting involved in these groups via acquaintances with other clergy has led us to a significant involvement in our local community: ministering to the less fortunate through a program called Hands On Housing. Hands on Housing is dedicated to providing essential volunteer-based home repair services to the marginaliz
ed in our society - the elderly, the poor, the disadvantaged, the disabled. This ministry, overseen by Austin Area Inter-religious Ministries, is the largest volunteer home repair effort in Austin. We repair and revitalize homes for homeowners that cannot afford to do needed repairs and thus enable them to remain in their own homes.

There are two main repair events per year repairing 25-35 homes, engaging upward of 1,000 volunteers. Other smaller projects are ongoing throughout the year. The upcoming work project begins April 26.

The typical client served is over 70 years old living on less than $10,000 per year in a home he/she owns and loves but cannot maintain. The clients are often approached to sell their homes but they do not want to leave the home they love and have lived in for often well over 20 years. Our repair efforts enable them to remain in their homes in safety and dignity.

While making such repairs, we help build relationships across social and geographic boundaries. Working with others, we help our neighbors in need.

It is wonderfully satisfying to be united with other faith communities to foster respect, partnership and transformation in service of the common good. We, the small, are called to be, and can be instruments of His transforming love.

John 15:12 - My command is this:
Love each other as I have loved you.

The Rev. Jeff Johnston
Saint Brendan Anglican Church (Austin, TX)

Contact Information

11195 S. Grayling Rd.
Roscommon, MI 48653

Telephone: 586-264-6044
msjanglican "at"