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.

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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?

12242008 ChristmasEve00028

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.
Posted by: celticanglican | April 19, 2016

Seasoning – Not Just for Food!

John Wesley preaching outside a church. Engraving. Wellcome V0006868

Maybe our evangelism needs to be more like this famous man’s and less like some of today’s “teachers”

Colossians 4:5 – 6 has some of the wisest advice in Scripture, situated within a chapter that many overlook because of its directives that apply to another culture. However, there is some wisdom for this day and age that you should bear in mind when reading.

The Church in its infancy struggled with the role of marginalized groups, such as women, Gentile believers, and slaves. Admidst this, the earliest followers had to figure out how to best reach out to people in a way that united, rather than divided.

Many people today use little, if any, discretion in their dealings with each other. This holds true not only for religious beliefs, but also for politics and other idealogy-based beliefs.

It’s unfortunately easier for people to shout out or shut out ideas they don’t like than appreciate the fact that the other person has their own “story” that has influenced their beliefs. This doesn’t mean we must accept everyone’s beliefs as truth, but that we should season our words with salt in order to approach others.

Think about it, why are you more likely to listen to? One that constantly tells you you’re wrong, evil, headed to eternal separation from God, etc. for disagreeing, or one that respects where you’re coming from and tries to understand?

Preaching the Gospel for Christians is often about having doors opened that would otherwise be closed. We need to strive to make sure the door remains open for us, rather than acting in a way that makes non-believers shut us out.

Remember the old adage about how God gave us two ears but only one mouth. Maybe this is so we can listen more and use our talk more responsibly.

 

Posted by: celticanglican | March 31, 2016

No, He’s Not Here!

Antiveduto Gramatica - Mary Magdalene at the Tomb - WGA10352

When we hear the Gospel reading from Luke 24:1-12, we hear one of the phrases in Scripture that is so important, yet so overlooked: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” There is so much faith and hope in these words!

These words are true not only for Jesus, but for us. Yet, why do we, in so many cases, keep looking for those whom God has called into God’s nearer presence, as though the grave/columbarium/wherever is the end of the story? For all those who have been baptized into, lived and died in God’s fellowship, it’s not the end by a long shot.

It’s often said that death brings out the worst in people. Things often change for the worse in a family after losing one of their members, and some of the turmoil is caused by common beliefs that aren’t truly Scriptural, but people insist on clinging to just the same.

Grief is difficult, and often compounded by guilt and mourning what could have been. When family members somehow feel as though following every final wish to the letter is absolutely sacrosanct, the focus shifts away from the Christian hope and onto death.

Maybe if we were to focus on what God did for us through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, we could allow ourselves to step away from the tomb and into a fuller, more abundant life. Here are a couple of thoughts for your consideration:

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there; I did not die. – Mary Frye

From the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, re: the Burial Office

The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all meaning in the
resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we too, shall be
raised.

The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that
“neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else
in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ
Jesus our Lord.”

This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. The very love
we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted
by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So, while we
rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord,
we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn.

Posted by: celticanglican | February 15, 2016

Last Rites a No-Go for Lapsed Member?

Joseph T. O'Callahan gives last rites to an injured crewman aboard USS Franklin (CV-13), 19 March 1945

I haven’t posted any answered FAQs in awhile, and have an unaddressed one that I think is worth sharing.

Q. I know of a Catholic family that recently lost a lapsed Episcopalian family member and did not call for an Episcopal priest to do last rites so far as I know. This has caused some friction with another family member who felt that they intentionally denied their loved one last rites because they were more concerned about keeping their relative’s spirits up and seemed to think a pastoral visit would needlessly depress them. Even though the deceased Episcopalian was not devout, did their relatives have the right to refuse to call a priest, if that is in fact what they did?

A. In short – no, the only person that would have had the right to refuse the sacrament of healing (which is what the service commonly known as last rites is) was the deceased themselves. Even if they were lapsed, they would still have access to the sacraments as a baptized member. There are a lot of misconceptions about “last rites” as performed in the TEC, namely that it is drawn-out, requires a last confession, has to be done only when death is imminent, or can be done after death – none of which are true.

It’s entirely possible that the family, because of the difference in denominations, did not see the sacrament of healing, as performed in the Episcopal Church, as being as valid as or similar to their own.  I’ve provided some general info below that anyone can use as a helpful reference that hopefully answers questions.

The healing service only takes a few minutes, and any family members present are welcome to join in the prayers. Although the church member MAY make a confession, it is not required and, indeed, in our church, the general confession is sufficient. The sick or dying person receives the laying on of hands and anointing with oil, and may receive communion if they are able to, as can baptized family members or friends present who want to. Should a priest arrive after death, a different set of prayers for the person’s soul and comfort of the family is performed.  Rather than dragging a person down and depressing them, it can serve to give a person hope and somewhat of a sense of refreshment. If this family did deny their loved one this sacrament, they all missed out on a true gift and blessing from God.

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