Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Caution Against Christian Prejudice

As, I believe, I have mentioned before, I have been singing through the Wesley hymns as part of my usage of Morning and Evening Prayer. Most recently I have been using Wesley Hymns (Compiled by Ken Bible. Lillenas [Nazarene] Pub. Co., 1982).

The hymnal included a section from John Wesley's A Plain Account of Genuine Christianity, which I found to be timely given a recent Wednesday evening discussion during which I talked with my congregation about lifting up and guarding the reputation of our sisters and brothers in Christ from other denominations. While we certainly have our disagreements, there are plenty of good Christians in other denominations. Just as we all know some "Nazarenes" by whom we would not want non-Nazarenes to judge us(!), so too, we ought to look at others the way we would hope to be looked at, with great Christian love and generosity.

Mr. Wesley cautions: "Be not prejudiced against [the Christian] for his name. Forgive his particularities of opinion and (what you think) superstitious modes of worship. These are circumstances but of small concern and do not enter into the essence of his character. Cover them with a veil of love." Amen.

New Blog Link

Those who may pay attention to the blog links on the sidebar will note that I have removed Fr. Peter Matthew's link. It is not because he and I had a falling out, or anything! It is simply that Peter hasn't blogged forever. If he starts up, I will quickly reinstate him on my sidebar. (Peter is the rector/pastor of St. Patrick's AMiA Church in Lexington, KY. My professor from Asbury, Lester Ruth, attends worship there.)

Since I removed Fr. Peter's blog, I decided to add a blog. This one is "Where Good Guys Wear Black." It is written by a local Anglican in the United Episcopal Church. While I've only made it to his church twice (they worship on Saturday afternoons, which is just not the best time for this pastor!), I received a warm welcome from him, from (then, Fr., now) Bishop Wesley Nolden (gotta' love the first name!), and Presiding Bishop Stephen Reber.

At the time I first met David+, he was simply Mr. David Straw (or perhaps he was, at that time Deacon; not sure). Since then, he has not only become Fr. David Straw, but "The Venerable David Straw, Archdeacon." - (For those who aren't familiar, becoming "Archdeacon" is not like being "downgraded" from elder/presbyter/priest to deacon. It means that he is on the bishop's administrative staff, and he gets to wear a purple cassock. - How cool is that!) - Anyway, congrats to David+ and +Wes.

For those not familiar with the United Episcopal Church, you will discover, by clicking on the sidebar, that it is one of the "continuing" Anglican churches. It is not a part of the newly forming Anglican Church in North America. You will find, by reading David's+ blog, they are "old school" (i.e., they use the 1928 BCP).

AMiA Winter Conference

For those interested in following the events currently taking place at the Winter Conference of the Anglican Mission in the Americas, I recommend reading my friend, Fr. James Gibson's, blog. He is there, "live." You can click on his blog link on the sidebar, or simply click, here.

You should know, this is not just AMiA folks. Several bishops from throughout the newly forming Anglican Church in North America are involved, including +Duncan and +Minns.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Big News for Anglicans & Roman Catholics

Anglican Mainstream is reporting that the Bishop of Rome (i.e., the Pope) is preparing to offer the Traditional Anglican Communion a personal prelature. (The full article can be read here.) What that apparently means is that the TAC would be a kind of semi-autonomous, global diocese without boundaries. It would retain its own clergy and laity and be headed by its own bishops, but it would be in full-communion with Rome.

The report indicates that this would be the most significant ecumenical event in Anglican-Roman Catholic relations since the English Reformation when King Henry VIII brought about the Church of England's split with Rome.

There are a couple of points that need to be clarified in this report in order to understand more fully what is going.

First, this is not a "done deal," as of yet. The main sticking point may be the issue of married bishops. That is to say, while Rome does not ordain married priests, they have accepted married priests who have joined the RCC. However, Rome has never accepted married bishops. On the other hand, the TAC has set no pre-conditions to their being accepted by Rome. They apparently have been willing for their clergy, not only to receive "conditional ordination," but outright re-ordination. They apparently have not set any preconditions concerning the acceptance of their married bishops. All they have wanted is the possibility of having and intact Anglican identity while being in communion with Rome (exactly, it seems, what this personal prelature would provide).

Second, the Traditional Anglican Communion is NOT the same thing as the Canterbury based Anglican Communion (i.e., the "official" Anglican Communion). Rather, they are a group of some 400,000+ traditional Anglicans that broke with Canterbury over issues such as women being ordained as priests and their further consecration as bishops and over issues of homosexual practice. They are, obviously, Anglo-Catholic in orientation. Their United States member is the Anglican Church in America.

This really is a huge event and could have repercussions throughout the Canterbury based Anglican Communion, including repercussions in the Church of England, the newly forming Anglican Church in North America and Anglo-Catholics around the world.
***A further article has been posted by Anglican Mainstream, here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Prayer for My Children

If children may the Scripture know,
Explain it, Lord, to mine;
And let them in the wisdom grow,
The tender fear Divine.
While in Thy Word Thy voice they hear
And use the grace bestowed,
Let it throughout their lives appear
That they are taught of God.
- Charles Wesley
Hymn #84 in Wesley Hymns (Compiled by Ken Bible. Lillenas Publishing Co. Kansas City, MO. 1982.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Prayer for President Obama

O Lord our heavenly Father, high and mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only Ruler of princes, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; Most heartily we beseech thee, with thy favour to behold Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, and so replenish him with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that he may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Adapted from Morning Prayer in John Wesley's The Sunday Service of the Methodists in North America.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Abundance of God's Grace

O Jesus, full of truth and grace,
More full of grace than I of sin . . .
(Charles Wesley, " O Jesus, Full of Truth and Grace)
Thanks be to God!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Church of the Nazarene Continues to Grow

During the Advent Season (yes, I know this is a bit late, but as I said, below, I took a bit of a hiatus from blogging! Anyway, during the Advent Season . . .) the Board of General Superintendents issued an episcopal Christmas letter. Among many things covered in that letter was the fact that during the year of 2008, the Church of the Nazarene surpassed the 1.8 million member mark! - Praise be to God!

The letter did not give the current total of Nazarenes in the United States, but the last I recall the U.S. membership was someplace between 600,000 and 700,000. The letter did indicate that the U.S. church took in nearly 39,000 members in 2008. That is second only to the African church, which received 62,000 members. The U.S. church has taken in over 30,000 new Nazarenes annually for a decade.

A New Year's Covenant Prayer

The following "Covenant Prayer" is listed as #484 in Sing to the Lord, the hymnal of the Church of the Nazarene. It is there abbreviated and adapted from the Rev'd. John Wesley's Covenant Service. A much more complete edition o the entire Covenant Service, including a more complete rendition of this prayer, can be found in the back of the book, Wesley Hymns, compiled by Ken Bible and also published by Lillenas Publishing (Nazarene Publishing House).

While I commend the entire Wesley Covenant Service to all, I offer, here, the shorter adapted version from the Nazarene hymnal and invite all who will to join in this prayer at the beginning of this New Year:

I am no longer my own, but Yours.
Put me to what You will,
Rank me with whom You will.
Put me to doing,
Put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by You or laid aside for You,
Exalted for You or brought low by You.
Let me have all things,
Let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
You are mine, and I am Yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven.