Monday, September 10, 2012

Labor Day - Licentiousness


Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9

Moses said: So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the LORD your God with which I am charging you.


You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!" For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is whenever we call to him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?


But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children's children.

Psalm 15 Page 599, BCP

Domine, quis habitabit?

1 LORD, who may dwell in your tabernacle? *
who may abide upon your holy hill?

2 Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right, *
who speaks the truth from his heart.

3 There is no guile upon his tongue;
he does no evil to his friend; *
he does not heap contempt upon his neighbor.

4 In his sight the wicked is rejected, *
but he honors those who fear the LORD.

5 He has sworn to do no wrong *
and does not take back his word.

6 He does not give his money in hope of gain, *
nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

7 Whoever does these things *
shall never be overthrown.

James 1:17-27

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God's righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act-they will be blessed in their doing.

If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" He said to them, "Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

'This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.'
You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition."

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person



I'll wager you, like me, did not have occasion to use "licentiousness" in a sentence this week.

It is clearly something naughty. Since it is in a list of naughty things. 

"fornication, - definitely naughty
 theft, - naughty
murder, - naughty
adultery, - very naughty
avarice, - naughty
wickedness, - naughty (& maybe redundant)
deceit - naughty,
envy, - naughty
slander, - naughty
pride, - naughty
folly- naughty

So... Licentiousness must be naughty too. But what particular naughtiness is this? And why focus on it today?

First let's look at the "what" question. What is licentiousness?

The root of the word is the same one that gives us the word "license."
As in "Ma'm, may I see your license and proof of insurance please."

A license is a privilege granted by a greater authority. You have to work hard to get it ( ask the parents of any teenager) and you can loose it too.

But there is nothing naughty about having a Drivers License, or a Medical License, or even a license to cut hair, and if you do something naughty with your license, they take it away.

So Licentiousness must be something different than having a license, and it is.

Licentiousness is behaving as if you have a license, when you do not.

Practicing Law or Medicine without a license, Driving while license suspended, these are examples of secular Licentiousness.

Spiritual Licentiousness is behaving as if God has given us permission to do something that, in truth He has forbidden.

That is the answer to the "why" question. Why are we focusing on Licentiousness?

We are focusing on Licentiousness for the simple reason that we live in a culture that has made Licentiousness its core value.

Think about it.

All around us we see a world of wounded, damaged and broken people.

Not wounded by war or accident.
Not damaged by crime or starvation.
Not broken by slavery or oppression.

Instead these people are victims of - getting exactly what they wanted.

"Do whatsoever thou desireith." is Satan's sales pitch from the beginning of time.

Parts of our culture have adopted this as their Battle Cry.

"victimless crime"
"you're not the boss of me." and
"Who are you to tell me what to do?"

Are the hall marks of Licentiousness.

It does us little good to reply "it isn't me telling you, but God!"

That might have worked in 1549, although I doubt it. It certainly doesn't work today.

Today we can only watch for the casualties of Licentiousness to fall, and when they do we need to be there. Not with an "I told you so." but with a kind word, a hot meal, a helping hand.

And most of all with an example of a life being lived in the glorious freedom to be found within the boundaries of God's will and love.

The culture may shout "I can do whatever I want!"

We must answer softly, "We will be here for you when you discover you didn't want that after all."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Evloution of (this) Blog

This blog began as a sermon text & study notes page. But…

Gradually the Preacher has transitioned from writing out a manuscript to be posted on this site, to preaching without a manuscript, and posting the recording on iTunes as a podcast. You can subscribe to the Podcast using the button on the left side of this page.

If you do subscribe, you will not be alone. The podcast now has over 1000 subscribers from all over the world!

At the same time the Church Newsletter has experienced the same changes that have impacted all print media from the Tribune to the New York Times; Less up-to-date, frequently lost in the junk-mail snowdrift, often somewhere else just when you need it.

Accordingly we are transitioning both this site and the Newsletter into a new communications plan. From now on we will endeavor to post here on a current basis all sorts of things that are of interest to our common life.

You can receive email notice of new posts automatically by joining this site, also just to the left.

God loves you & so do I,



Sunday, July 1, 2012

REMEMBER thy servants Carter & Ian, O Lord, according to the favour which thou bearest unto thy people, and grant that, increasing in knowledge and love of thee, they may go from strength to strength, in the life of perfect service, in thy heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

4 Pentecost 2012

In Neil Stephenson's novel Anathem two atheists are watching a service in a monastery. One is explaining the prayers to the other. "Why do they keep telling their god how great he is? Does he forget frequently?" "This is just the prelude, then they ask for goods & services." Don't blame the atheists, they are just describing what they see. "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" "Teacher, do you not care that I am unemployed?" "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" "Teacher, do you not care that I have cancer?" "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" "Teacher, do you not care that my sister got gran's china?" "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" "Teacher, do you not care that this life is not a perfect paradise where I get everything I want?" "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" The fretful Christian is a greater threat to the spread of the Gospel than all the atheists and all the jihadists put together. We all stand up and confess our faith in the words of the Creed. But when we show by our deeds that we are making our decisions based on fear, we tell everybody that we are liars. Now let's be clear a moment. We are not talking about a feeling of fear. When your car starts to skid or you hear something go bump in the night - you feel fear. That is an involuntary emotional reaction. We have no more control over those feelings than we can control how fast our hair grows. It is when we make the choice to act on that feeling that we deny our faith. "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" Didn't I bring you the good news of eternal life? So it isn't that you are perishing, it is just that you didn't really believe me. "Teacher, do you not care that I am unemployed?" Didn't I tell you about the lilies of the field? So it isn't that you are unemployed, it is just that you don't really believe that God will provide your daily bread. "Teacher, do you not care that I have cancer?" Didn't I teach you about the man who was born blind? So it isn't that you have cancer, it is just that you don't believe that this too is for the glory of God. "Teacher, do you not care that my sister got gran's china?" Didn't I teach you about treasure in heaven, where moth and rust cannot destroy and thieves cannot break in and steal? So it is not the china, you just don't believe that your sister is more important to me and to you than the china. "Teacher, do you not care that this life is not a perfect paradise where I get everything I want?" Didn't I teach you that there was a perfect paradise, until your first parents broke it? So I came to give you a new world where you get exactly what you need, even if it isn't what you want. So it isn't that you don't get what you want, it is just that you don't believe that I know what is best for you better than you do. How do we respond in faith? When we feel fear, we act against the feeling not with it. We rebuke the winds of emotion in faith. When there is a storm at sea we pray and pull on the oars knowing that the ship is in Gods hands. If we come to shore we will give thanks, if we drown we will come indeed to a better shore, and give thanks all the more. When we are unsure of how we will pay our bills we pray and humble ourselves to accept the loving charity of our brothers and sisters. Knowing that our vocation, our calling is from God, not the want-ads. When we are sick we pray, confessing our sins and seek the lesson of the suffering. Knowing that to live is Christ and to die is gain. When we are wronged we forgive, knowing that the person who wronged us is as precious to God as we are and that our love for them is greater than any thing they may have broken or stolen. Teacher do you not care? Yes I care very much, about you! So much that nothing can snatch you out of my hand.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rehab for a Heretic?

Why are some parts of the Episcopal Church like an AA Meeting with an open bar?

The Diocese of Atlanta will be asked to consider rehabilitating a 4th century Bishop who taught that humans are much better than it would appear. My my, isn't that comforting!

Whereas the historical record of Pelagius’s contribution to our theological tradition is shrouded in the political ambition of his theological antagonists who sought to discredit what they felt was a threat to the empire, and their ecclesiastical dominance, and whereas an understanding of his life and writings might bring more to bear on his good standing in our tradition, and whereas his restitution as a viable theological voice within our tradition might encourage a deeper understanding of sin, grace, free will, and the goodness of God’s creation, and whereas in as much as the history of Pelagius represents to some the struggle for theological exploration that is our birthright as Anglicans, Be it resolved, that this 105th Annual Council of the Diocese of Atlanta appoint a committee of discernment overseen by our Bishop, to consider these matters as a means to honor the contributions of Pelagius and reclaim his voice in our tradition And be it further resolved that this committee will report their conclusions at the next Annual Council.

Submitted by the Rev. Benno D. Pattison, Rector, the Church of the Epiphany 

Background (from Wiki):

Pelagianism is a theological theory named after Pelagius (AD 354 – AD 420/440), although he denied, at least at some point in his life, many of the doctrines associated with his name. It is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special Divine aid. Thus, Adam's sin was "to set a bad example" for his progeny, but his actions did not have the other consequences imputed to original sin. Pelagianism views the role of Jesus as "setting a good example" for the rest of humanity (thus counteracting Adam's bad example) as well as providing an atonement for our sins. In short, humanity has full control, and thus full responsibility, for obeying the Gospel in addition to full responsibility for every sin (the latter insisted upon by both proponents and opponents of Pelagianism). According to Pelagian doctrine, because humans are sinners by choice, they are therefore criminals who need the atonement of Jesus Christ. Sinners are not victims, they are criminals who need pardon.
Pelagianism stands in contrast to two other prominent theological theories: Semipelagianism and Total Depravity.
Semipelagianism is a Christian theological and soteriological school of thought on salvation; that is, the means by which humanity and God are restored to a right relationship. Semipelagian thought stands in contrast to the earlier Pelagian teaching about salvation (in which man is seen as effecting his own salvation), which had been dismissed as heresy. Semipelagianism in its original form was developed as a compromise between Pelagianism and the teaching of Church Fathers such as Saint Augustine, who taught that man cannot come to God without the grace of God. In Semipelagian thought, therefore, a distinction is made between the beginning of faith and the increase of faith. Semipelagian thought teaches that the latter half - growing in faith - is the work of God, while the beginning of faith is an act of free will, with grace supervening only later.[1] It too was labeled heresy by the Western Church in the Second Council of Orange in 529.
The Roman Catholic Church condemns semipelagianism but affirms that the beginning of faith involves an act of free will. It teaches that the initiative comes from God, but requires free synergy (collaboration) on the part of man: "God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. the fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration".[2]"Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life."[3]
The term Semipelagian is used retrospectively by theologians to refer to the original formulation, and has been used as an accusation in theological disputes over salvation, divine grace and free will.
Total depravity (also called absolute inabilityradical corruptiontotal corruption, orAugustinianism) is a theological doctrine that derives from the Augustinian concept oforiginal sin. It is the teaching that, as a consequence of the Fall of Man, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin and, apart from the efficacious or prevenientgrace of God, is utterly unable to choose to follow God or choose to accept salvation as it is offered.
It is also advocated to various degrees by many Protestant confessions of faith and catechisms, including those of Lutheranism,[1] Arminianism,[2] and Calvinism.[3]

OK class: 
Of the three, Pelagianism Semipelagianism and Total Depravity, which has been the foundation of doctrine of the Church for 1600 years?

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 11, 2011

Is Your Religion Your Financial Destiny?

The economic differences among the country’s various religions are strikingly large, much larger than the differences among states and even larger than those among racial groups.
The most affluent of the major religions — including secularism — is Reform Judaism. Sixty-seven percent of Reform Jewish households made more than $75,000 a year at the time the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life collected the data, compared with only 31 percent of the population as a whole. Hindus were second, at 65 percent, and Conservative Jews were third, at 57 percent.
Read it all 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Five Affirmations on the Eucharist as Sacrifice

Five Affirmations on the Eucharist as Sacrifice

Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue in the United States
January 6, 1994
At the forty-first meeting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue in the United States of America (ARC/USA), on January 6, 1994, having in mind the significant agreement on the eucharist represented by The Final Report of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission and responding to the request in the Vatican Response to the ARCIC I Final Report for clarification, we wish as the official representatives of our two Churches in the United States to make together the following affirmations:
  1. We affirm that in the eucharist the Church, doing what Christ commanded his apostles to do at the Last Supper, makes present the sacrifice of Calvary. We understand this to mean that when the Church is gathered in worship, it is empowered by the Holy Spirit to make Christ present and to receive all the benefits of his sacrifice.
  2. We affirm that God has given the eucharist to the Churches a means through which all the atoning work of Christ on the cross is proclaimed and made present with all its effects in the life of the Church. His work includes ‘that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world’ (Cf. Art. 31 BCP [USA], p. 874). Thus the propitiatory effect of Christ’s one sacrifice applies in the eucharistic celebration to both the living and the dead, including a particular dead person.
  3. We affirm that Christ in the eucharist makes himself present sacramentally and truly when under the species of bread and wine these earthy realities are changed into the reality of his body and blood. In English the terms substance, substantial, and substantially have such physical and material overtones that we, adhering to The Final Report, have substituted the word truly for the word substantially in the clarification request by the VaticanResponse. However, we affirm the reality of the change by consecration as being independent of the subjective disposition of the worshipers.
  4. Both our Churches affirm that after the eucharistic celebration the body and blood of Christ may be reserved for the communion of the sick, ‘or of others who for weighty cause could not be present at the celebration’ (BCP, pp. 408-409). Although the American Book of Common Prayer directs that any consecrated bread and wine not reserved for this purpose should be consumed at the end of the service, American Episcopalians recognize that many of their own Church members practice the adoration of Christ in the reserved sacrament. We acknowledge this practice as an extension of the worship of Jesus Christ present at the eucharistic celebration.
  5. We affirm that only a validly ordained priest can be the minister who, in the person of Christ, brings into being the sacrament of the eucharist and offers sacramentally the redemptive sacrifice of Christ which God offers us.
As the Vatican Response had already recorded the notable progress toward consensus represented by The Final Report in the respect of eucharistic doctrine, in the light of these five affirmations ARC/USA records its conclusions that the eucharist as sacrifice is not an issue that divides our two Churches.