Posted by: celticanglican | August 12, 2017

Prayers in Honor of Charlottesville Events

Sometimes, words totally escape me and the events of earlier today in Charlottesville have helped make today one of those times. However, these beautiful prayers from the Book of Common Prayer are very appropriate:

For the Departed

Eternal Lord God, you hold all souls in life: Give to your whole Church in paradise and on earth your light and your peace; and grant that we, following the good examples of
those who have served you here and are now at rest, may at the last enter with them into your unending joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the
unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

For the Human Family

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Social Justice

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may
crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In Times of Conflict

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Oppressed

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to
eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer attributed to St. Francis

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where
there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.



Posted by: celticanglican | July 31, 2017

The Ups and Downs of Prayer Partners

Many prayer requests deal with very serious and often heartbreaking issues – cancer, serious injuries with a life and death struggle, divorce and other family issues. Sometimes, some of the difficulties you encounter come off the keyboards or touchscreens of your fellow prayer partners. However, there is a light side – you just have to find a reason to smile or laugh when you wonder why you even bothered embarking on being a prayer partner.

Here are a few of the “difficult” fellow prayer partners you may encounter and how to deal:

The Culture Warrior

You send them an email showing support when they request prayer – and so it begins. A simple email saying you’re praying without a single remark about your religious background or politics turns into a succession of forwards from religiously-oriented PACs televangelists, and local religious leaders. The problem: It’s just plain rude to try to recruit someone you hardly know into a cause they may not support, but unfortunately too many see it as their “religious duty” to do so. The solution: Nicely but firmly tell them prayer requests are always welcome, but that you don’t support their cause and prefer not to receive political emails. If they don’t take heed but you still want to be able to receive their prayer requests, consider just deleting the offending emails or making use of your provider’s email filtering options (one of my Gmail accounts has an interesting assortment of filters, to say the least).

The Nit-Picker

This is a type of “prayer partner” I encountered once and hope I never do again. This person invited people who were forwarded their devotionals to send in prayer requests, then complained about the contents of the requests. A prayer request regarding an imprisoned Chinese pastor was dismissed as irrelevant because the arrest had happened a few years prior, and another request was picked apart literally bit by bit with complaints, including summarizing which of their needs they would pray for and which they wouldn’t. Really? The problem: Who needs any of that? The solution: Some people maybe just don’t need to be part of your prayer circle, and this person could be one of them.

The King (or Queen) of TMI

In many cases, less is more, and this includes prayer requests. I’ve encountered everything from requests that blurt out home addresses and phone numbers to someone that felt the need to share that a friend who blacked out lost control of their bodily functions during the fainting spell. (You really can’t make this stuff up!) If the friend read the copy of that request that was sent to hundreds of other people, I’m sure he quickly became an ex-friend. The problem: Praying for someone doesn’t have to include violating their privacy, sharing personal info that could put their safety at risk, or sharing embarassing details about bodily functions, sexual issues or the like – it’s sad that it’s come to having to tell adults not to blab about certain things. The solution: If prayer partners can submit requests to a site where they are posted publicly, use moderating tools so you have to approve the request before it appears, and have a policy against allowing personal info or too many details that are best kept private.

The Info Seeker

People have any number of reasons for submitting prayer requests that are “unspoken” or general healing, financial, etc. needs and these reasons are usually privacy-related or because the actual circumstances are fairly complex, making a more generalized request better suited. I once encountered a prayer partner from a self-described deliverance ministry who said they didn’t accept unspoken needs because they HAD to know the circumstances – whatever happened to God knows the situation? (Interestingly enough, I later encountered someone who had exited their ministry after feeling judged after sharing about her divorce). The problem: God already knows our needs before we ask, and invidual prayer customs can and should accommodate prayers that don’t come accompanied with a multi-page bio. The solution: Some people are inclined to snoop and meddle, asking too much info from prayer requests is unfortunately one way to do that and possibly pray in manipulative ways. Consider seeing their prayer list if published online – ministries that just use a person’s name and a brief blurb or line detailing the basic need have a good perspective, IMO.

What are some of the difficulties, if any, you’ve encountered in prayer ministry involvement?

 

Posted by: celticanglican | July 11, 2017

10 tips on better emails or social media posts for newbies

Originally written June 18, 2007 and revised on July 10, 2017
Some helpful email tips for Internet newbies from a regular email list and Facebook user
1. LOWER YOUR VOICE! Typing an e-mail all in capital letters (uppercase) is considered shouting or screaming, and may make your messages appear angry. In fact, some forums or discussion lists will not permit messages written entirely in caps, and computer users who type all in caps in such forums may find their messages ignored by other members and delated by admins. Typing in mixed case (using proper capitalization) is better. If a disability keeps you from typing properly, all lowercase is considered much more acceptable than all caps. If eyesight or physical limitations make caps or using a large font more practical, you might want to preface your message with a quick note like (CAPS DUE TO EYE ISSUES) so your messages aren’t misunderstood. Even better, learn how to use your computer or device’s magnifying tools.
2. LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP
The many Facebook groups, messageboards, feeds and e-mail discussion lists out there are very tempting. However, learning about the forums you’re interested in getting involved with before you join will save you a lot of time and frustration. For all forums, it is recommended that you read their website, pinned posts or FAQ’s before signing up, as well as read without posting for a few days to get used to things (commonly called “lurking”). Most (except for so-called free speech forums) have certain guidelines or terms of service you must agree to before participating. Make sure you find out how to register or subscribe/unsubscribe before doing so, especially when subscribing to a mailing list. Nothing angers mailing list users quicker than sending an unsub request to the whole list!
3. CHECK IT OUT! Most of us have gotten one of these at some point: an outrageous story about something that is supposed to be true but allegedly never made the news, an e-mail promising some type of reward for forwarding it to so many people, a warning about a virus that no anti-virus software can fix, or someone offering something that sounds too good to be true. These are commonly known as Urban Legends, hoaxes, or scams. Snopes and Truth or Fiction are some good options, for starters.
I’m sometimes asked, “But what’s the harm in forwarding it anyway? Some of my friends just like getting e-mails” Unfortunately, e-mail hoaxes can create problems which will be addressed in another post. My advice? If a friend of yours just likes receiving e-mail, even a short personal note every day or so will probably be appreciated. In fact, most people probably prefer a personal note from their e-mail friends now and then over a lot of forwards.
4. KEEPING YOUR SYSTEM HEALTHY
Viruses. Yuck! Not only do computer users have to worry about viruses, there are also Trojan horses, “password sniffers”, and other malicious files to look out for. These will be discussed in further detail in my Virus section. Your best defense is to have an up-to-date anti-virus program installed. There are some files out there that aren’t viruses, but can damage your system if opened. As a precaution, avoid downloading attachments from people you don’t know. If you have a high-speed connection (cable, DSL, etc.), using a firewall is recommended. CNET is a good resource to find recommendations for anti-virus/anti-malware and firewall options.

5. WARN ‘EM FIRST! If you’re sending an e-mail as an attachment, it’s a good idea to warn your recipients first, since some people will delete e-mails with attachments unread if not warned beforehand. Also, please keep in mind that just because your e-mail program supports pictures, sound files or stationary, doesn’t mean everyone else’s does. What looks like a beautiful e-mail with nice stationary, lots of pictures, and background music on your computer may simply show up as three pages of code, or worse, as a multi-file attachment on someone else’s. How do you compromise? You may want to find out from your friends whether they can receive pictures, HTML, etc. in their e-mail or not. Send the pretty ones to your friends who can, and send a plain text version to those who can’t. Also, keep in mind that e-mails that have been forwarded numerous times may sometimes be automatically converted into attachments that can only be read using certain mail programs. More on eliminating this problem can be found below.
6. MAKE NEW FRIENDS, BUT MIND YOUR MANNERS
Never add someone you’ve met to the list of people you send e-mails to without asking them first. However well-intentioned, sending someone a lot of e-mail they haven’t asked for may still be considered spam, and you could lose your ISP account if someone complains. Don’t risk it.
7. IF YOU HAVE YOUR OWN MAILING LIST…
It’s advisable to use one of the free mailing list services availiable, rather than simply creating a group in your address book. Mailing list services make lists easier to manage and you also don’t have to worry about adding or removing people to a list yourself, since your members can sign themselves up and also unsubscribe themselves. Another consideration, too, is that if you create a group in your address book and don’t have a way to back it up if your system crashes, your whole list will be lost. A free mail list service, such as Yahoo Groups or Mail Chimp helps eliminate the possibility of your recipient list being permanantly lost. Regardless of what method you use to manage your mailing list, NEVER add ANYONE to your list without their permission. Better yet, provide them with the information on how to subscribe, and let them sign up themselves if interested. All mailing list services have strict rules against unauthorized sign-ups, and even if you send e-mails out using your address book, you could still be accused of spamming if you add someone to your list without permission, and lose your ISP account. Again, please don’t risk it!
8. DON’T TOUCH THAT BUTTON!
Have any of the following ever happened to you? 1.) You send an e-mail to friend, and get back a response from someone you don’t know saying they thought it was funny. 2.) A friend sends you an e-mail that’s a hoax and you (and several other people) get an angry reply back from an address you don’t recognize. 3.) A friend forwards an e-mail to you and several others, and someone sends everyone on the recipient list an invitation to see their website.
This is what happens when someone replies to an e-mail using the Reply All button, instead of Reply. While the Reply All button does have its uses , for the most part it shouldn’t be used when replying to something your friends have sent you. If you hit Reply All, a copy of your response is sent to everyone the original message went to. Depending on what ISP you use, this could be construed as spam, so it’s best to leave the Reply All button alone.
9. CLEANING UP YOUR E-MAIL
Have you ever received e-mails that appeared to be long, but when you read the message, 75% of it is headers (information showing where the e-mail came from), and only a small portion is an actual message? E-mails like this not only can be difficult to read, but also tend to convert into attachments automatically, which can be a problem for many computer users. Also, it leaves behind of trail of information about who sent the e-mail to whom, which isn’t good for privacy. How do you clean up your e-mails?
Highlight the part you want to forward (NOT including the headers showing who it was originally sent to) with your mouse, select COPY from the EDIT menu, open a new e-mail and select PASTE from the EDIT menu. (If it doesn’t paste automatically, make sure your cursor is inside the new e-mail). Now, send it as you would any other e-mail. If you don’t know how to copy, and paste, here’s how. Windows users, highlight the text you want to copy, then hold down the ctrl and C keys. Paste it into a new email by pressing ctrl and V. Mac users, use the same process but use the Command Key (with the apple on it) instead of ctrl.
Also, contrary to popular belief, e-mails with attachments do NOT have to be sent as forwards. If you receive an e-mail with an attachment you want to share, download the attachment, open a new e-mail, and attach the file you’ve just downloaded to your e-mail.
10. KEEPING YOUR ADDRESSES PRIVATE
What IS blind-copying, anyway? It’s a feature provided by most e-mail programs that allows you to send e-mails to several people without everyone seeing everyone else’s e-mail address. Why is it important to blind-copy when sending e-mails? First, it keeps the e-mail from becoming unnecessarily long. A list of 20 recipients in the To: field is enough to make your e-mail twice as long as it needs to be. The second, more important reason has to do with safety. Many people forward e-mails to friends without deleting the original headers. Once you’ve forwarded an e-mail to your friends and they’ve sent it on to their friends, and so on, you have no control over who ends up seeing your e-mail address or your friends’ e-mail addresses. You could find yourself getting a lot of spam mail, or being contacted by strangers with ill intentions.
Most e-mail programs give you a choice of putting your addresses in the To; Cc; or Bcc field. Always select BCC (blind-copy). (Please note-some e-mail programs require you to put something in to To field anyway, even if blind-copying. If this is the case with your e-mail program, you may want to put your own address in the To field). What if t if your e-mail program does not have a blind-copy feature at all? First, make sure there isn’t something you have to do to make the BCC field show up (your email app’s Support section should tell you). If it turns out that your e-mail program doesn’t provide a blind-copy option at all, I would suggest signing up for a web-based e-mail account for sending e-mails to your friends. Also, I would recommend contacting the maker of your e-mail program and urging them to add a blind-copy feature. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.

Posted by: celticanglican | June 5, 2017

So I Send You….

In many churches this morning, everyone sang the version of “Hail Thee, Festival Day” (or “Hail Thee, Vegetable Day” according to the mis-heard lyrics version <g>) written for Pentecost. This hymn exemplifies what makes Pentecost so important in the life of the Church.

One of the lines reads: “Bright and in the likeness of fire,
On those who await your appearing,
You whom the Lord had foretold
Suddenly, swiftly descend.”

Tying this in to John 7:37-39, we can easily see how much this promise meant to Jesus’ earliest followers, and what this can mean for us, today.

We live in a world where it’s often difficult to imagine any type of divine spirit being at work. The never-ending threat of terrorism, concerns about war, economic and other uncertainties due to political circumstances, all of these are threatening to anyone’s inner peace.

One thing we can take away from this: we live in a world that is thirsty. We need to constantly heed Jesus’ invitation to “drink”, no matter how full of blessed assurance we fancy ourselves to be.

We must constantly remember how to be effective witnesses even against difficult odds. That first generation and subsequent Christians changed the world of their day by:

  • Continuing in the teaching received from these early Christians
  • Resisting evil and repenting of sin
  • Preaching the Good News by word and example
  • Striving to love one’s neighbor while acknowledging that we often fall short
  • Working for justice and peace

Okay, maybe it’s a tall order in the light of troubling events throughout the world in recent weeks. With God’s help, though, we can do it.

Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Posted by: celticanglican | May 10, 2017

I’m back, and some updates

I’ve been mostly absent from the blogosphere due to having gone (back) to college and personal matters. However, I’m back and you’ll be seeing posts from me fairly regularly.

Here are the changes you’ll be seeing:

  • My Liturgical Christianity blog will mostly become a resource site, with posts related to the content appearing here at CelticAnglican’s Ramblings
  • The Stop Pet Euthanasia blog will also mostly focus on pet rescue resources, and I’ll resume posting related posts here
  • The Celtic Fair Directory, True New England and Friendly Bluebonnet will have more of an online trading post emphasis
  • My posts on my veteran family blog and guest posts on Spiritual Abuse will continue
  • A new blog post category is coming, more when it lands 🙂
  • Some older posts will be deleted (i.e. prayer requests from months or years ago) or recategorized – don’t worry, I’ll provide navigation links)

Please stay tuned, I’m sure you’ll enjoy seeing what comes next.

Posted by: celticanglican | February 3, 2017

Go Back Into the Shadow or Into the Light?

Presentation at the Temple (Georgia, 12th c.)

On Feb. 2 each year, a major feast on the Church calendar is somewhat overshadowed by a better-known event: Groundhog Day. Even though we all know the spring has a very specific scientific arrival date, it’s still temping to see whether the little guy in PA saw his shadow or not.

This day is also the date for the Presentation of Our Lord, celebrating Jesus’ presentation in the Temple according to Jewish law (Luke 2:22-40). It’s also known as Candlemas and is also the last date you can leave your Christmas greenery up for without feeling silly. 🙂

Obviously, there is no longer a temple in Jerusalem and the Church has never had a ceremony quite like the presentation of Jesus’ time. However, I think we might be able to identify with some of what this young couple might have been feeling, given the circumstances of their time.

God’s people, under both the Jewish and Christian covenants, have never been promised the easy path – if anything, their stories have been riddled with hope amidst adversity. During the time of the prophets in the Hebrew scriptures, there was a longing for the Messiah.

Conflicts between the civil and religious authorities or the melding of the two are definitely something that the people of Jesus’ earliest days knew well. Staying faithful and waiting in hope while living in a world seemingly antithetical to both had to have been hard.

Just as we know that spring will come whether Puxatawney Phil sees his shadow or not, we know that God’s redemption in Christ is always here, no matter what the world wants to hurl our way. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Posted by: celticanglican | December 31, 2016

A Holiday That Never Was – Or Is?

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Going into a retail store the day after Christmas is often interesting in an unconventional way. The same location that was full of holiday decor, festive (if not great) music, and displays geared towards Christmas is now more ordinary. Gone is the holiday decor, the piped-in music is back to its usual self, and the seasonal displays are all 100% Valentine’s Day.

If you didn’t know any better, you might conclude that Christmas never was. Thankfully, that’s never the case – Christmas did originally happen over 2000 years ago. The reality that is Christmas is still here today, even if you have to get past a lot of superficial trappings to see it.

Many who keep their decorations up past Christmas, listen to Christmas music after that point, or otherwise don’t get into the spirit of things before Christmas might feel odd – is there a place forr less conventional celebrations?

Remember, despite what the retailers and pop culture would have us think, the Church season of Christmas doesn’t wrap up til January 6th. If you still feel like being merry, go right ahead, you won’t be “weird”. You’re in good company, especially seeing that our Orthodox friends celebrate on January 7.

Let us go forth into the world and REJOICE in Christ’s Incarnation

 

Posted by: celticanglican | September 26, 2016

Legalism

50 Mark’s Gospel Q. disputes with the establishment image 1 of 3. Jesus disputes with the Pharisees. French School

Originally posted 4/26/2008, some revisions 9/25/2016

Much of the problems that occur in today’s Church stem from varying degrees of legalism.  While legalism is found in the Bible, it’s often hard to pinpoint it in a modern-day context. Legalistic thinking doesn’t belong to the realm of any particular group.  It can also afflict individuals in groups not known for legalism. (Christians who act as though one’s entire Christian walk hinges upon involvement in certain ministries come to mind).

All Christian groups have time-honored traditions that are important to them.  Some have distinctives in how they dress or their behavior.  These aren’t bad things in and of themselves.  It’s when they’re treated as though one’s salvation hinges on them that they become a problem.

The Pharisees, a Jewish group of Jesus’ day, kept the laws of the Torah and also added their own traditions to the observance of the Law.  A lot of these traditions lead to legalism, as faithful observance of the Law typically entailed following the extra traditions in addition to what was directly commanded in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Jesus had several clashes with the Pharisees over such things as healing on the Sabbath, which the Pharisees believed was unscriptural.  However, Jesus pointed out that the Law allowed for one to rescue an animal that had fallen into a pit on the Sabbath. (Matthew 12:11-13) It seems that the issue wasn’t abstaining completely from all work, just what wasn’t necessary. This is an example of how Scripture can be misinterpreted to end up being more about rules than relationship.

At the Council of Jerusalem described in Acts 15, a conflict arose between those who thought that Gentiles had to formally convert to Judaism and keep the Law to become Christians, and those who thought that the Law was only given to the Jewish people.  This was probably the first case of legalism within the Church.  The first group expected more of Christians entering the Church than God did.

In the end, legalism occurs when the trappings and rules become more important than why the traditions are kept. It’s very easy to lose sight of why traditions are kept, and focus solely on keeping them. This is what we must avoid.

Posted by: celticanglican | June 26, 2016

Community Evensong – Any Takers?

It would be nice if Christians of multiple parishes or denominations came together for more than just interdenominational Lenten studies and similar activities (nothing wrong with these, but it seems that’s often the only time churches can organize such things). Here’s an idea: how about hosting choral evensong services?

Not familar with this term? It’s a form of the evening prayer service in the BCP that is primarily chanted or sung.

I was somewhat inspired by this idea after regularly prayed Evening Prayer on Fridays with the help of The Daily Office’s Video Evensong service. It’s a real treat that blends traditional and contemporary music.

Here are several reasons that such a service can be a good idea:

  • Many congregations have no choir or one with few members – combining choirs provides more chances to sing beautiful worship music
  • If some contemporary music is incorporated, it gives church musicians a chance to use their talents
  • Depending on the time of year and location, the service might be a good one to hold outdoors

I’ll be posting a suggested outline that people may want to use as a resource on The Liturgical Christianity Portal blog (which is not going anywhere, but more on that later) soon.

 

Posted by: celticanglican | June 17, 2016

A “Peculiar” People

Various groups over the years have seen themselves as a “peculiar people” (I Peter 2:9), a designation that applies to Christians as a whole. For many of us of the Episcopalian persuasion, others see us as peculiar according to the dictionary definition.

A recent visitor to my Liturigical Christianity Portal blog’s Facebook page shared her struggles as an Episcopalian in a largely non-Episcopalian area. Much of what she said resonated with me in my own experiences.

Some things I’ve learned while living in the proverbial “Bible Belt”:

  • Many people simply want to convert you because you’re not part of their sect – It’s unlikely you will make any headway in such cases unless they accept that others can be saved. Pray to show the light of Christ in your interactions with them.
  • Others, because of theological differences, may see traditional practices as lacking in light of the personal conversion experiences favored by evangelicals – This can be an opportunity to explain our practices, and how they bring others closer to God. Realization that Jesus never manadated sinners’ prayers or altar calls, and that these are based on certain historic traditions, may lead to a better understanding of the role of traditions.
  • At the end of the day, what unites Christians is more important than what divides us. – There is, after all, one hope of our calling that were are called to (Ephesians 4:4). Keeping our focus on Christ, where it belongs, can help bring about a more unified Body.

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