Posted by: celticanglican | October 27, 2014

Discussing Religious Differences…Without a War

Some of the most enjoyable time I spent online was as a volunteer AOL messageboard host in the Spirituality area. I saw some examples of great discussions among people of different persuasions, as well as examples of how NOT to engage in discussion. Here are some tips you might find useful:

Know Exactly What You’re Talking About

In many cases, people attack a belief system or set of beliefs without actually understanding it. Examples include some people with a Oneness view accusing Trinitarians of believing in multiple gods or some non-theists assuming all Christians are fundamentalists. If you have a basic understanding of the other person’s actual beliefs, you will be in a better position to reasonably discuss the issue at hand. Each of us will make mistakes with our information sometimes, it’s whether we learn from it that makes the difference.

Don’t Be Disrespectful

Implying that somebody else is stupid, brainwashed, etc. because they don’t see your view won’t get either of you anywhere. Derogatory comments against other peoples’ beliefs (magic sky God, Paptist, PROtestant, tritheist, etc.) are often seen as inflammatory and usually only make people angry. Two good rules of thumb:

  1. Give others the same respect you expect to be given to your beliefs.
  2. Prefacing a statement with “I believe that” or “I don’t believe that”  sets a more positive tone.

Use Intelligent Discussion Techniques

Do your own “homework” on issues you don’t agree with or have trouble understanding. While it’s tempting to rely on “copy and paste” arguments, don’t make the mistake of letting others think for you. When your discussion involves Scriptural passages, avoid proof-texting and read them in context. Using logic and reason in your discussion makes a huge difference.

Posted by: celticanglican | October 21, 2014

Leading by Example

In 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, we hear about how early Christians in Macedonia and Achaia were brought to Christ largely by the example of believers who persevered in spite of heavy persecution. Leading by example is something that perhaps isn’t given enough due credit. We live in a world where “showing off” is not only okay in many’s eyes, but is even encouraged.

When a lot of people think of preaching the Gospel, they think of it in verbal terms only. In many cases, the prevailing thought is the more hellfire and brimstone, the better. Is this really what Jesus’ earliest followers would have us do?

Think about the witness of the early Church. Many Christians suffered and died for their faith. Others risked it all to be examples of Christ to those they encountered. In its own way, the Roman Empire’s persecution may have made the early Church grow though their goal was to end the new faith.

Christians in our time are suffering persecution for their faithfulness. Let’s pray that they may be true examples to all they encounter.

Posted by: celticanglican | September 30, 2014

A World Full of Egos

Philippians 2:1-13

Paul apparently had to contend with one of the same things that afflicts Christians today – people who don’t act in the spirit of Christ. From self-improvement movements that exalt humanity to godhood to an overwhelming consumerism that’s all about what we want, all the time, there’s a lot of selfishness to go around. Unfortunately, those of the Christian persuasion aren’t immune.

It often seems as though our world has gotten so full of greed that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that it’s not all about us. It’s very competitive out there, and many are struggling. Some get so caught up in their misfortunes that they can’t see that their actions have any effect on others.

it is always good to remember that Jesus gave us an example for how to deal with others. Remember, he didn’t regard his own divinity as something to be taken advantage of. In the light of that, who are we, as humans, to misuse our freedom to lord over and take advantage of others? Just some food for thought.

Posted by: celticanglican | September 23, 2014

Religious Orders and Faith Communities

An interesting look at religious orders in the Episcopal Church

Posted by: celticanglican | September 14, 2014

Going Forth Into the World

A hymn is often sung during communion, especially one with a focus on the Eucharist. If the priest or deacon commissions lay people to take communion to the shut-in and sick, this is usually done just after communion.

A prayer of thanksgiving is said. After all, we celebrate Jesus giving us the greatest gift ever given to mankind.

The priest gives a blessing. It’s customary to make the sign of the Cross while he or she does this, but you don’t need to.

Usually, the clergy, acolytes and Eucharistic Ministers process out during the final hymn. Depending on where the choir is seated, they might process out with the rest of the altar party.

If there is a deacon, they give the dismissal that encourages us to go out and joyfully serve God. The response from the congregation is “Thanks be to God!” The dismissal is typically the very last part of the service, but might be used just after the blessing (as seen in the video above).

I hope you’ve enjoyed this opportunity to learn more about the hows and whys of the Eucharist.

Posted by: celticanglican | September 1, 2014

The Gifts of God for the People of God

Receiving Christ’s Body and Blood in the form of bread and wine is personal, yet also corporate. The priest breaks a single large piece (known as a priest’s host) before distributing the bread to the congregation. This might be accompanied by an anthem, known as a fraction anthem, that is said or sung.

The priest also extends an invitation immediately before communion is distributed. This serves as a reminder that the sacrament doesn’t belong to one congregation or one denominational body. It’s freely available to all baptized Christians.

The congregation comes forward to the front of the church, where communion is distributed by the priest(s), deacon(s) (if any are present), and Eucharistic Ministers. You may stand or kneel. If you choose not to drink from the common cup, you may dip the bread. Declining the cup is okay, too, just make sure you cross your arms over your chest when the chalice bearer comes around.

If you can’t come forward, tell an usher and one of the clergy or Eucharistic Ministers can bring communion to you. If you’re not baptized or your own denomination doesn’t let you receive in other churches, you can come forward for a blessing. Make an X over your chest with your arms and the priest will bless you.

The choir typically sings appropriate hymns during communion.

Posted by: celticanglican | August 26, 2014

Eucharistic Prayer: The Work of the People

The priest begins with an ancient (going back to the 2nd century) responsive prayer called the Sursum Corda. He or she then prays a prayer known as a preface, which recounts God’s acts in a way that relates to the season or occasion being celebrated. The congregation joins in singing the Sanctus, which is drawn from Isaiah 6:3 and Matthew 21:9 9the video below uses traditional language).

The prayer continues with a telling of man’s creation and fall into sin, along with God’s act of redemption in the person of Jesus. This prayer also recounts Jesus’ words of institution when he gave us in Mark 14:22-26. It’s the participation of both the priest and the people assembled that makes it a sacrament.


Next fellows The Lord’s Prayer, given to us by Jesus (Matthew 6:9-13)

Posted by: celticanglican | August 19, 2014

Of Thine Own Have We Given Thee….

This is the point in the service where the collection is taken.  However, the emphasis here is on the bread and wine, rather than the money. The bread and wine used in communion are typically purchased ahead of time, rather than furnished out of homemade bread and wine, as was commonplace in ancient times.

However, they are still presented by members of the congregation. We offer them to God and God gives them back to us in the form of Christ’s Body and Blood.

The priest prepares the table and this may be done by a deacon if there is one. There is often a special choir anthem sing during this time. A presentation hymn is sung at the end of the offertory and this is typically the well-beloved Doxology.

Posted by: celticanglican | August 10, 2014

…and Also with You!

The Kiss of Peace, similar to today's passing the Peace

The Kiss of Peace, similar to today’s passing the Peace

The Peace. It can be one of the nicest parts of the service for newcomers. Depending on the size of the church, this can consist of a few friendly handshakes with those closest to you or it can involve lots of hugs. Though the Peace can be exchanged right before communion, it’s more common to have it just before the Offertory.

This practice takes its inspiration from the Kiss of Peace that was exchanged during early Church services (see 1 Thessalonians 5:26). This was a common greeting during the time of Jesus. In keeping with more current customs, the greeting is more customarily a handshake, or possibly a hug if between family members or good friends.

When we “pass the peace”,  it’s more than a way of saying hi. It’s a way of demonstrating being at peace and harmony with each other before receiving Christ’s Body and Blood.

Posted by: celticanglican | August 3, 2014

A Clean Conscience

Even though private confession is an option in the Episcopal Church (see the video above), most people prefer the general confession that usually takes place before exchanging the peace. (It can also take place at the very beginning of the service). When we say the confession together, we acknowledge our need for God’s forgiveness in our lives and our willingness to accept that gift. We need to be aware of God’s forgiveness in our lives (1 John 1:9)

The priest pronounces absolution, this helps serve as reassurance that our sins are no longer held against us. The Christian walk should never be about waiting to see if there’s even one slip-up.  A healthy view of confession and absolution helps us keep sin and forgiveness in a proper perspective.

One of the advantages of a general confession, especially when said just before exchanging the peace, is that it also gives us the opportunity to examine ourselves and make sure that we are at peace with those we will break bread with.

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