A Homily for Pentecost 2020

From that first Pentecost until now, it has always been the belief of the Church that the Holy Spirit directs and guides us collectively and individually. God is not a distant being and the ascended Jesus has not abandoned us.

The above was taken from an article in the Irish Times in which the author went on to imply that we collectively had failed the spirit of Pentecost by not welcoming the diversity of immigrants and sexual identity groups into our midst. The author seemed to imply that in his opinion we should welcome with open arms all those who are unwilling to give up their languages, traditions, religious beliefs and sexual proclivities to not only become members of our communities, but our churches as well.

Apparently the author has failed to comprehend the cornerstone concept of the Christian faith; a diverse people coming together to worship God in a common manner with a common core of beliefs.

Leading up to the day of Pentecost, the book of Acts relates the challenges faced by the followers of Christ as they debated many things such as, for example, who should be admitted to the new faith. Out of this debate two millennia ago a consensus has evolved in that the church openly admits anyone willing give up their preexisting lifestyle and endeavor to live a new live according to principles established in the Bible.

The Melting Pot

This same concept lies at the original intent of the metaphor used to describe immigration to America, The Melting Pot. In 1883 the American Poet Emma Lazanus penned a sonnet that was later cast in bronze and affixed to the base of the Statue of Liberty. Near the end of the poem she writes; “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Almost all immigrants arriving in America, came here from a country where freedom was limited to one extent or another and usually the state they left behind was either a theocracy or an atheist state. In the case of an theocracy, competing religious paths were banned and often persecuted, or in the case of an atheist state all forms of religious expression were often persecuted.  Presumably they came here to begin a new life free of the old life style.

Until recently the commonality for all immigrants was to come to America and become a part of the American experiment, to live free from state or religious tyranny. They wanted to come to America to become one with other Americans, not to bring the trappings of their previous existence to America. Lazanus wrote; “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” Implying that the old traditions and culture should be left behind. In the first stanza she made it clear that the new colossus—the Statue of Liberty—was unlike the old Colossus of Rhodes of Greek mythology; but rather the new colossus symbolized the new land and new life made possible by the Constitution of the United States and its amendments. A contract with the people guaranteeing freedom in perpetuity.

The Melting Pot was a metaphor used to describe the concept of diverse peoples from diverse lands and traditions, leaving behind their old ways of life to begin anew in the freedom offered by the American way. Never was it imagined at the time that all immigrants would come here and reshape the culture to resemble that which they had presumably fled. If you are a part of the tired, poor and huddled masses learning to breathe free, why would you embark upon such a great journey as to come to America to recreate the oppression that made you tired, poor and a part of the huddled masses?

No the melting pot is not about diversity as it is currently defined, but rather about diverse peoples coming together to live a common dream.

In the same respect, the Christian church may be a melting pot of diverse peoples, but it cannot survive if we allow everyone to come in and change two thousand years of tradition that began on that day of Pentecost so long ago.

Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be born again to know the Kingdom of God, meaning that one must cast off their previous sinful lifestyle and begin a new life. When one accepts Christ as his savior he or she should make a conscious effort to leave behind the old ways and live a life in keeping with simple rules outlined in the Bible and congruent with the new covenant established by Christ.

On that day of Pentecost so long ago the followers of Christ never envisioned a day when the church would be expected to accept a diversity of beliefs or sexual lifestyles. In fact throughout the first several centuries of the church the great thinkers of the faith labored to establish a common core of beliefs that—that again until recently—remained steadfast. Even after the Protestant reformation and the founding of perhaps thousands of denominations, there still remain a core belief that defines the church. But today we find that this core is under attack and the tenuous commonality that united the many branches of the church is about to fail.

In the same respect forces outside as well as inside America have successfully destroyed the commonality uniting us as one people. The architects of diversity have driven wedges between the many racial and ethnic groups in America, tearing asunder the commonality that united us, just as they have also programmed people to believe that the church should accept any manner of sinful choices, activities condemned by God’s Holy Word, and that rebirth is no longer needed, that God accepts all people and their choices regardless of what is written in the Bible to the contrary.

While a common core has maintained the church through the ages, the destruction of that core foreshadows the end of the church.

Now more than ever before, the Christian Church and America need the Holy Spirit to once again descend upon us, to enable us to speak in tongues so everyone understands, that every ear is made to hear the voice of reason, that hearts are opened and made to see the truth that only the American way offers true freedom on Earth and Christ and his church offer freedom from death everlasting.

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He Is Risen: Darkness Is Defeated and Dawn Has Arrived

Just this week, the world watched in horror as one of its enduring symbols of faith, Notre Dame de Paris, burned helplessly. But we awakened the following morning to photos of a glowing cross standing amid the ashen rubble — a cross symbolizing pain and sacrifice, but also expressing an enduring hope.

Source: He Is Risen: Darkness Is Defeated and Dawn Has Arrived, by Timothy Head, writing for TownHall.com April 21, 2019

With every news cycle we hear of another example of the darkness that seems to be ever increasingly prevalent in our world, especially for Christians and the Church.

Just this morning we are confronted with news of another attack on the faithful:

A series of eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on Sunday, killing at least 207 people, including dozens of foreigners. source: News18.com

Officials in Sri Lanka have reported that the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers and have made the following request:

Sri Lanka Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene has urged media not to publicise the names of today’s attackers as other extremist groups could exploit the situation. “Don’t give extremists a voice. Don’t help to make them martyrs,” he says. (source: ibid)

Indeed the times are dark for the followers of Christ and his church.

But as Mr. Head wrote for Town Hall in the quote first above; Continue reading

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A Prayer for January 4, 2019

O God, the author of all good, I come to You for the grace another day will require for its duties and events. I step out into a wicked world; I carry about with me an evil heart. I know that without You I can do nothing, that everything with which I shall be concerned, however harmless in itself, may prove an occasion of sin or folly, unless I am kept by Your power.

Hold me up O God and I shall be safe. Preserve my understanding from subtlety of error, my affections from love of idols, my character from stain of vice, my profession from every form of evil. May I engage in nothing in which I cannot implore Your blessing, and in which I cannot invite Your inspection. Prosper me in all lawful undertakings, or prepare me for disappointments.

Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with food suitable for me, lest I be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or be poor, and steal, and take Your name in vain. May every creature be made good to me by prayer and Your will. Teach me how to use the world and not abuse it, to improve my talents, to redeem my time, to walk in wisdom toward those without, and in kindness to those within, to do good to all men, and especially to my fellow Christians. And to You, O God, be the glory.

Amen.

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The Parable of the Persistent Widow

Luke 18 New International Version (NIV)

1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what Continue reading

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A Prayer for 13 September 2015

Grant, O Lord, Thy protection
And in protection, strength
And in strength, understanding
And in understanding, knowledge
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it
And in the love of it, the love of all existences
And in that love, the love of spirit and all creation.

Amen

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A Prayer for 9 September 2016

Our Father, we beg Your blessing for the weak, the sick and the old; all who are finding themselves being targets of the vicious attacks of the adversary; we ask that our Lord Jesus bless and protect all who stand up for the Christian dignity of persons. That you Holy Father enlighten those who are traveling down death’s highway by their involvement, in any way, with either the aspects of the contemporary culture which are emblematic of Satan, the cult of the self, relativism, or any of the new age errors of our times, we pray that you envelop our culture with Your Divine protection and help us both individually and as a nation to true enlightenment, conversion and repentance of our selves and restoration of our culture. Help us to turn from our national sin of greed and materialism, and return to, and once again, become a Christian nation, on the narrow road, that is, the path to becoming one nation under God undivided by ego, personal agenda and selfishness. Amen.

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Is Jesus the answer to “What’s after death?”

Recent statistical studies have shown that among young people there is an increasing number turning away from or were never introduced to Christianity. Astonishingly these same studies show large percentages of these same young people have a growing desire to know what lies after death.   Their concerns seem to indicate that want to believe that there is something else rather than to accept the secular atheist answer that this is all there is.

Many of these youth—like their parents before them—become seekers, or those who closely examine or participate in various spiritual paths; usually outside Christianity as they have been Continue reading

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The Emperor’s New Clothes

“The Emperor’s New Clothes” (Danish: Kejserens nye Klæder) is a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two con artyists who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. [1]

A vain Emperor who cares about nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires two tailors who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor’s ministers cannot see the clothes themselves, but pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions and the Emperor does the same. Finally the weavers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk play along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Then a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor suspects the assertion is true, but continues the procession. [1]

I often think of this folktale when I witness modern day people believing that which is ostensibly lies.  As the above excerpt from an Wikipedia entry points out, Continue reading

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Mentoring the New Christian

Episcopis Contemplationes

Self identifying as a Bishop of an independent Christian church, one might presume that I peruse many Christian periodicals and online sources related to Christian news, inspiration, and philosophy and one would be correct in that presumption as I am guilty as charged. However it would be a mistake to assume that all who identify as Christian also avail themselves of the many opportunities for continuing Christian education that are available online as well as at local retail establishments. Sadly it has become apparent—as heralded by many Christian writers—that our various Christian churches, primarily Protestant churches, have grossly failed to teach the basics of Christian thought, philosophy, and tradition.

This general complaint—that of failure to do what some refer to as to disciple newly made Christians—was recently again lamented

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The Benedict Option

Episcopis Contemplationes

The Benedict Option:

A Series of Essays Exploring the Future of Christianity In a Post Christian America

Why We Are At this Point: One Perspective

For years prognosticators have warned that America would follow Western Europe down a path of social destruction in which traditional values, conventional customs and constitutional rights would be rejected in favor of a moral relativism that sends the message to all that it is acceptable to do as

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