Monday, December 31, 2018

Flight 2018 Reports the Runway is in Sight

It's been quite a flight, from January 1, 2018 to the present and in relative moments, we'll be across the threshold and wheels on the ground.  As one incredibly grateful for the blessings experienced in the past 365 days, I am also one who'll be happy to close the calendar on a year that watched civility and public discourse die just a little more.  Friendships were made, friendships were solidified, and some friendships fell victim to  our toxic political climate.

We'll have to see just what 2019 holds for us all and our God willing, in another 365 days we'll take a cup o' kindness yet, For Auld Lang Syne.

Friday, December 28, 2018

In Christmastide, The Feast of the Holy Innocents

From today's Gospel:
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him." 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son." 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: 18 "A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping [for] her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more." Matthew 2:13-18, NKJV
"The Feast of the Holy Innocents", a day of which I became aware of very early on in my faith's journey, at the tender age of six.  Back then, it stood in sharp, harsh juxtaposition between the tenderness of the Nativity of Christ Jesus and the Barbaric world that the Logos of God was was born into.  The cries of Mary in the throes of labor were contrasted by the weeping of Rachel crying for her sons who were no more.  At six years old, it was a frightening story, but one that was devoid of personal context or reference.  Today, I can sigh and say that I've heard "Rachel weeping" far too many times.  I've heard this in a mother's wail, whose son had just taken his own life.  I've heard this in an anguish of a grandmother, whose grandson's life was extinguished in an automobile accident.  Both of these specific examples involved those young men who were created in the Imago Dei, in the Image of God, whose lives were taken out of season by the archenemy of the Almighty.

I've encountered skeptics who, when faced with this massacre of baby boys, aged two and under, often question why there's no "independent' account of this event outside of Saint Matthew's Gospel.  I typically offer this response.  Herod, Known as "Herod the Great" was a client of the Roman Empire who ruled the Roman Provence of Judea from 37 BC until his death in 4 BC.  While he may be remembered for his architectural upgrades to the Temple in Jerusalem, he can equally be remembered for his bloody slaughter of many in his own family, to include his wife, three of his sons, 300 of his military staff and countless others as recounted by the Historian Josephus.  From a historical sense, a few dozen toddlers in a rural village would hardly rate a footnote.  Yet for Rachel, the lifeless baby boy in her arms was her world, not a footnote.

The lamentation of this horrific event is captured in the melody we know as the "Coventry Carol", a carol penned in the mid to late Sixteenth Century.
Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child, Bye bye, lully, lullaby Thou little tiny child, Bye bye, lully, lullay. O sisters too, how may we do For to preserve this day This poor youngling for whom we sing, "Bye bye, lully, lullay"? Herod the king, in his raging, Charg├Ęd he hath this day His men of might in his own sight All young children to slay. That woe is me, poor child, for thee And ever mourn and may For thy parting neither say nor sing, "Bye bye, lully, lullay."
I've included it in this version of the carol, as performed by the choir of King's College.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Crossing, from Advent to Christmastide

From Yesterday's Gospel Reading:
"In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever." And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home." Luke 1:39-56 (ESV)
Yesterday's Gospel Reading for the final Sunday in Advent gave me much to think about as we enjoyed a quiet Sunday.  Much of it centered on Mary, mother of The Christ.  

In my faith's journey, Ive encountered extremes in how this your maiden of Nazareth has been seen by professing Christians of all sides of the faith spectrum.  Over the years, I've witnessed Mary elevated to the place of Co-mediatrix by some, to being almost completely marginalized by others; reducing her to a status slightly above being an egg donor.  Now in Adventide, 2018, the wackiest of the fringe left have attempted to make her a poster child for the woman "#MeToo" movement by inferring that she was an unwilling victim of a sexual assault.  I want to believe that no serious adult would see this latter assertion as being nothing beyond patent nonsense.  Then, there's the sweet, sentimental Christmas ballad by Mark Lowry in & Buddy Greene, and performed by Michael English and a host of others. This song posited the idea that perhaps the fair Mary may not have known the import of the child developing in her womb.

Given the scope of Old Testament prophecy, only a relatively small population at the time of Christ's birth that could meet the profile of the one who was to bear the Christ Child.  A Hebrew woman, a virgin of the Tribe of Judah and a descendant of the house of David who would be a Nazarene who found herself in labor in Bethlehem could be the one.  Clearly, the providential hand of the Almighty was at work; she was the chosen one. 

In engaging the fringe left or fluffy sentimentality of the popular culture, we can, through Saint Luke's account, demonstrate that Mary was not only cognizant of just what child she'd be carrying, but that she was a fully willing party to this Divine opus of grace.  Her words as seen in the Magnificat capture this.  Within this brief passage of the Gospel, Mary seems to speak as both poetess and prophetess, declaring the praises of the Almighty God and his promises to His people, Israel. 

So, tonight as the sun sets on our individual worlds, the setting sun will light ablaze the fifth candle the Advent Wreath, and churches will be gathering to welcome the Christ Child afresh.  And as we welcome Him once more, may we strive to apprehend an understanding of Mary, one that's rooted in Holy Scripture rather than popular culture.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Advent's Longing

Advent, a season characterized by hope, longing, and expectancy.  This season was observed by the faithful as early as the Fourth Century.  It was seen as a time to remember both the Messiah's incarnation as the Christ Child, and a recognition that the infant born of Mary & Joseph that night in Bethlehem, would return to us as he promised.  The swaddled, helpless babe of the manger would (and will) return as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.  

The promise is more sure that our Earth's axis, and we along with all of creation await the consummation of the promise.  The ancient Antiphon Veni, Veni Emmanuel brilliantly captures this longing.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Tuesday Reverie in Advent

Its a bright, cold Tuesday as we press into Adventide 2018 here in Suburbia Majora.  Today is just a bit colder, considering that our Republic now mourns the passing of who might be considered one of our last Kinder, Gentler Presidents of recent memory President George Herbert Walker Bush.

In an age where bluster and bombast seem to be our chief bi-partisan activity, many who know nothing of President Bush would be easily tempted to dismiss him as a meek, milquetoast figure.  This could not be farther from the truth.  Unlike our present age where male adolescence seems to last deep into the 3rd decade of life, President Bush lived in a world where 18 year old males were men in every sense of the world.  Though denied a vote, or even the privilege of legally hoisting a frosty beer in toast to their victories, these young men courageously rose to whatever challenge standing in the way.  Their safe spaces were their foxholes, armor, or aircraft cockpits.  "Triggered" was what happened to their weapons that were wielded in defense of liberty, and the annihilation of Totalitarian Fascism.  Which speaking of, they clearly saw true fascism for what is was, not merely things or ideas that they found distasteful.

I would challenge any would-be rising young person to consider the lessons of lives the like of our late President Bush.  Rather than allowing Leftist organs to tell you what to think, consider the man in his own words.

 George H W Bush
June 12, 1924 - November 30, 2018

Monday, September 03, 2018

Evening Reverie

It's in the evening on Labor day, the unofficial end of summer 2018.  Tomorrow, the school busses will be lumbering through Suburbia Majora and life will be pointed towards Fall and Winter.  The summer has slipped past us like a dream.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Insights from the Vicar of Grahamville

James Gibson, Vicar of Church of the Holy Trinity, Grahamville in Ridgeland, South Carolina, shares some insights in this essay on the Mass. I found it especially insightful as I'm the one who bids the dismissal as Deacon at the end of the Eucharistic celebration. You can read it here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Wednesday Reverie

Over the years, I've found most of Pink Floyd's music to be dark and despairing.  Yet, "Wish you were here" is a tune that resonates deep in my psyche for some reason.  It speaks to the ache of friends lost to both death and estrangement, and the void their absence has left in our lives.  My faith blunts this loss in the fact that I'm confident that the separation will not be permanent and I will see them again.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Genius that is Jeff Lynne

There are two musical Titans in my musical life story, the second of which is Jeff Lynne of The Move, and later, the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO).  As far as the North American charts go, their Out of the Blue project probably represented an apex in popular exposure.  This two LP set contained "A Concerto for a Rainy Day" on side three, where "Mr. Blue Sky" was the last movement of the Concerto.  Jeff shares some insights on that particular piece.  

Indeed, Mister Blue, you did it right...

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Genius that is Mike Oldfield

Those know me, those who've followed this Blog, or who've known me through Facebook or other social media are well-aware of my deep appreciation for the talents of the British recording artist Mike Oldfield.  I became a fan while in Elementary School when I'd first heard his single,"Tubular Bells" on Coatesville's AM 1420, WCOJ back in late 1973.  The song, to Mike Oldfield's chagrin, almost immediately became known as "The theme from The Exorcist".  

In this brief video, with Dutch subtitles, Mike shares the story behind the genesis of his iconic composition.  To the loss true audiophiles, most American listeners have only heard the first three and a half minutes of the work, missing out on its fullness.  Enjoy.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday Reverie

A reminder, we're on a timeline and what we know will someday be transformed in an instant when He will return, to judge the quick and the dead; the point where the Kingdom will have no end.

Answer, if you hear a call today.

Two Sides of the Same Bad Penny

This weekend marks the anniversary of an ugly chapter in our recent American History, one that pitted two diverse groups of Americans on the hot streets of the Old Dominion.  The event, which occurred a year ago has yet to have been properly engaged and has served only as a fault line from which Americans continue to attack one another.  
Last August, Charlottesville Virginia became a flashpoint as two schools of Socialism, National and International, used the pretext of historic monuments to clash in the streets.  Their combined behavior diminished our image as a land of stability and safety.  Today, "AntiFa" and a mulligan's stew of white supremacist groups will converge on D.C's Lafayette Square to out-obnoxious one another, tarring our already strained national dialogue.

AntiFa, a group who's name seems to fall straight from the pages of Orwell's 1984.  While claiming ostensibly to stand in opposition to Fascism, they seem to adhere to the tactics and conduct of the European Fascists of the last Century.  Like the Klan, they also hide behind masks lest reasonable freedom-loving Americans would see their adherents for who they really are.  Politically, their leanings align with the Socialist International and is diametrically opposed to the historic democratic republican ideals from which the American Republic was born.  The White Nationalists, or "Alt-Right" on the other hand, have been described many as "American Nazis", and this description well-earned for many reasons.  This confederation has veiled their ethnic and racial animus behind the veneer of American Patriotism in ways which are quite similar to their Munich-based forerunners from a Century ago as well. Though progressive pundits have identified them with the classical conservative movement, there is nothing that is "Conservative" or "Right" about them at all. Like the Fascism of AntiFa, they too are rooted in thought that is thoroughly un-American.  In the spirit of truth in advertising, naming them as the Faux-Right would be a far better descriptive label.  They're not an alternative expression of Conservatism, they purposely and thoroughly misrepresent that worldview.

Left to their own devices, both of these Socialist elements, National & International, could drag our Republic into the dystopia of post-Imperial/ante-Weimar Germany as they spill into our streets to battle for the hearts and minds of America.  If either side were to succeed, it would be enlarge part due to the apathy of the vast middle of the spectrum who don't grasp just what is at stake.

Understand this as well; both antebellum southern monuments/relics, and the Donald Trump presidency are little more than straw men and pretexts in all of this.  National & International Socialism have been at odds with one another since their inception and will continue to battle for dominance within the marketplace of ideas.

Today's rally in Washington must serve as a wakeup call to both classical conservatives and liberals alike.  Both parties need to speak in one voice, repudiating both AntiFa and all strains of ethno-Nationalism.  True American patriotism knows no race, creed, or color.  It can serve as a bulwark against those who seek to divide us by race, gender, or class.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Sunday Reverie

Its been one of those Sunday's where it becomes so helpful to meditate on the words and music of Rich Mullins, Troubadour for the Lord. 

Saturday, August 04, 2018

To be an Anglican Hooligan

(c) 2008 Anglican Hooligan Shoppe
(Author's Note:  The following essay has been percolating in my brain now for nearly a decade.  It was the recent experience of the Rector of New Creation Anglican Church in Hagerstown, MD which finally inspired me to place the fingers to the keyboard and type away.  Hat's off Father Justin, and hat's off Father Gerry for the entire idea of the Anglican Hooligan.)

 Time has a way of zipping by in a blur, yet there are some things that stick out in one's memory.  It was back in 2007/2008 during my then nascent rebirth into the Anglican Faith, and I was searching out some "witness wear" to tell the world that this one-time Pentecostal Preacher had traded the sawdust, for the Canterbury Trail.  In searching the internet for T-shirts, I found one that jumped off the screen and said click on me please!  It was a white, sleeveless T-shirt emblazoned with a Celtic Cross, flanked by two figures who I perceived to be Augustine, overlaid onto a pair of open wings.  Perfect for showcasing ones guns in the gym while speaking to ones spiritual zeitgeist.  In retrospect, my guns were larger in my mind than in reality. A Decade later and though I'm beyond wearing that T anywhere away from the pool or hot tub, I'm still drawn to its simplistic but powerful message.

The expression, "Anglican Hooligan" easily creates a dichotomy.  The words themselves at first take seem absolutely antithetical to one another.  The word Hooligan conjures up pictures of a rough, rowdy and unrefined sort who lowers the property value of whichever neighborhood they move into.  "Anglican" on the other hand paints a more refined image.  Polite to a fault, ensconced in Tweed and faintly smelling of pipe smoke; one might typically envision the Anglican as a gentle, unoffending sort who'll go to great lengths to preserve order and tranquility; one who goes along to get along. Many Americans too, have a misunderstanding of Anglicanism in general that can be born out of either ignorance or prejudice, depending on how its manifested.  On numerous occasions, I've had people say, upon learning of my Faith expression,say something along the lines of "Aren't you people just like 'Catholics'?" or with a whiff of derision, "you people are pretty much 'Catholic-lite"anyway, right?".  And of course today, now that the executive leadership of the American Episcopal Church is finding itself to the Theological and Social Left of the Unitarian Universalists, many of these same people will dismiss Anglicanism altogether as a sub-christian sect.   But even for those who have a grounded understanding of Anglicanism, the term can be incongruent.  The couplet can almost seem to create the image of Andy Capp meeting the Vicar.  For a moment or two, take this invitation to reimagine the moniker in light of some historic truths.

Christianity was spread through the world by men whom polite society would have easily considered Hooligans; crude hayseeds and fishermen who came into towns and cities, upsetting the settled order with strange doctrines.  These men and women were bold, unapologetic, and unafraid.  They engaged and rocked their worlds without fear of reprisal, often to their own demise.  This same spirit was evidenced in the Sixteenth Century with the birth of Anglicanism.  When Mary Tudor attempted to extinguish the flame of Anglicanism through her own backfires, kindled with the bodies of the faithful, "protestant hooligans" chose death over the shame or recantation.  In our own time, we're surrounded by Anglican leaders who stood the red line over the issue of historic orthodox Christianity when many of their peers were  either willfully surrendering, or simply acquiescing to the social and cultural mores of our day.  I consider these facts in the light of the Eleventh & Twelfth Chapters of the Letter to the Hebrews and see a cloud of witness that continues to grow larger by the day.

So, how are we to make application of this as we live out or lives as Third Millennium Anglicans?  Whether we live on the Left Coast, in Hagerstown, Suburbia Majora, or in your town, the guiding principals remain the same.  To be a fruitful, reproducing Christian is to live out one's life in a scrum.  We are called to move the Kingdom down field to the goal, which will be actualized when our Messiah and Lord makes his ultimate return; that day when, as stated in the historic creeds, "He will come again to judge the quick and the dead, and that His kingdom will have no end."  Yet the fact that we exist in this scrum implies that there is an opposing side to the scrum that is working at cross purposes to staunch the forward momentum of our line.  This triad of the World's system, our own fleshly nature, and our Adversary the Accuser is working tirelessly to blunt, slow and stop our forward momentum for the Kingdom of God.  Clearly, this is not a place for the timid who've no stomach for the struggle.  The Casper Milquetoast follower won't survive for very long in this scrum and will be shoved to the sideline, and rendered ineffective. 

So, to be an Anglican Hooligan is to move forward without fear, possessing only the fear of the Lord (to do so otherwise is mere arrogance, not fearlessness).  Understand, Though I've written this from the perspective of an Anglican, these principles are universal to any orthodox expression of Christianity.  Regardless of your worshipping community, you've been called to move forward in faith, with full confidence in the one who called and redeemed you, and continues to empower you through His Holy Spirit.

Game on Hooligan!  keep plowing down field until you hear the final whistle.  Maranatha! 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Asking for your Prayers

This will be A very brief post this morning.  If you pray, and know the power of prayer, I would ask your prayers for a sister-Blogger and faithful saint who has been battling advanced stage cancer throughout this year.  She was hospitalized and is in need of Divine unction.
O God of heavenly powers, by the might of your command you drive away from our bodies all sickness and all infirmity: Be present in your goodness with your servant, that her weakness may be banished and her strength restored; and that, her health being renewed, she may bless your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thank you, and I hope to share a good report.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

"What Rosanne Said..."

I would have much rather shared thoughts on an another topic, but again, our national attention is being wrested away by the media outlets infested by the thin-skinned.  For all that's occurred over the past twenty four hours, our biggest national story for the moment is Ms. Rosanne Barr, and what she tweeted.  If we could see past our collective national amnesia, we might recall that throughout her public life, Ms. Barr has been a crass provocateur with the ability inflame the sensibilities of all sides of the sociopolitical spectrum, and one who on occasion has had brief flashes of funniness.  In the 1990's, she tweeked many in middle America with her bad rendition of our National Anthem where she ended the off-keyed performance by spitting, scratching, and feigning to adjust a protective cup.  From her farm in Hawaii, she called for the public decapitation of Bankers following the Banking meltdown of 2007-08.  She had also once inflamed members of the Jewish community as she boasted of being a pall bearer at her Grandmother's funeral while she was considered ceremonially unclean.  So, when the volcano that is Rosanne experiences an eruption such as the other night, we shouldn't be at all shocked.  
"and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks." Ephesians 5:4 (NASB)
What does bother me in all of this is is the growing sense of selective indignation that seems to fall solidly along ideological lines.  In other words, the way we've become "Balkanized in our Butt-Hurt".  Many of those who are now baying for the banishment of Rosanne were themselves, chortling with joy over Ms. Michelle Wolf's shtick just a few weeks ago. But don't think I'm giving Rosanne a pass in all of this; I found her little twitter bit to be equally distasteful, unfunny, and unhelpful.

The Ad hominem attacks in Ms. Barr's tweet storm were base, crass, and unsettling.  I do hope that this was, as she confessed, done under the influence rather than typed with a clear head.  Yet this said, we're demanding that one woman be silenced as we celebrate the vicious, venomous verbal assaults of another woman.  This is a cognitive dissonance of the first order.  Our demands for civil decency must be nonpartisan.

Love one another my friends.  

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

From the Book of Common Prayer, 1928 Edition:
"ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; We give thee thanks for all those thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence, that the good work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen."
This beautiful prayer, found in the 1928 edition of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, was excised from their 1979 prayerbook, along with other prayers for members of our Armed Forces.  Perhaps, this was fed by the Liberal animus towards all things military which was so prevalent in those post-Vietnam days of the late 1970's.  Perhaps it was a result of that unpopular war that the crafters of the new prayerbook intentionally left it out.

The morality/immorality of war is a discussion for another day, yet, we have an obligation to remember those who answered the Republic's call in the time of struggle.  So today, we pause to remember the Blacksmith who fell at the Battle of the Brandywine.  We recall the carpenter who fell in Maryland in the Battle of Bladensburg, the clerk who fell at Marye's Heights, and the iron worker who fell on a beach in Normandy.  From Camden to Kandahar, have given their last breath, answering the call.  This is why we stop on the last Monday in May to remember them.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


I'm going to busy prepping for a three week teaching engagement over the next few weeks, so the site may get a little quiet.  I will be posting the lesson outlines as they're completed.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Some Saturday Reverie

From the Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Saturdays:
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Saturdays had a certain magic to them when we were kids.  It was a time of innocence when you could get up at 7:00 AM, have a few bowls of your favorite sugar-packed breakfast cereal, and enjoy a few hours of Cartoons.  How things have changed from those 60's & 70's Saturday mornings.  The networks no longer air cartoons, and any parent who would deign to allow their children to eat sugared breakfast cereals are held up to a certain level of scorn.  Back then, Saturdays (along with Sundays) were a day off for a majority of Americans.  True, people worked on the day, but these would typically be those employed in the retail/food sectors, or those providing vital health & safety services.  Today, Saturday is just the day that follows Friday as our economic realities have morphed over time.  Yet for all the changes, there is one fact that has not changed, and this is the fact that today is the day before Sunday.

Saturday precedes Sunday, and though this might sound like a Captain Obvious type aphorism, it has application.  Tomorrow will be a day to worship of the Almighty for many.  Followers will gather at their respective places of worship for prayer, praise, proclamation, and to celebrate.  As an Anglican Deacon, I will be proclaiming the Gospel, leading saints into corporate prayer and public confession, and bidding those saints peace as they go forth, "rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.  All of these aforementioned things were never met to be entered into in a casual manner.  Rather, they've always have meant to be approached thoughtfully and deliberately. This is why today's Collect exhorts us as it does.

Rather than being a cryptic call to a seventh day sabbatarianism, the prayer exhorts the very opposite.  The writer is calling those who'll be in the house of the Almighty tomorrow, to take the time to prepare today.  We pray that by "putting away all earthly anxieties" (through laying or cares and burdens at the foot of the cross), that we would be prepared for the service of the sanctuary tomorrow.

This isn't the exclusive command for the clergy, far from it.  All who enter into a heart of worship tomorrow will be engaged in that "service of the Sanctuary".  Our participation in corporate worship is our service.  This is why we are called to take time today, that we might make His praise glorious tomorrow.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thursday Evening Reverie -- "Jackson's Song"

This song hit the American Airwaves in 1974 and had been considered a Christmas song since then.  Yet for me, in November 2014, the song rose again in my soul when Jackson joined us on a Saturday Evening in Stafford Hospital.  I can't listen to it without welling up or getting a lump in my throat.

Ascension Day

From the Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Today marks the Feast of the Ascension in the Western Christian Calendar.  This 40th day after Easter, is when The Christ lighted off the Mount of Olives to take His place at the right hand of the Father.  Scripture records other Ascensions, notably that of the Prophet Elijah.  But unlike those other ascensions, this one would be accompanied by the witness of Angels as recorded by Saint Luke in his Acts of the Apostles:
"9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." Acts 1:9-11 (ESV)
For the Apostles and the others, this moment was the capstone on a whirlwind 44 days and a period where they saw their Master institute a new commandment.  They saw Him arrested and die on a cruel Roman cross.  They witnessed His resurrection from the grave and along with 500 other witness, saw him repeatedly over the proceeding 40 days.  Now, on a mountaintop, they saw Him disappear from the physical realm and enter a realm outside of time and space.  They stood gobsmacked, trying to apprehend what they'd all witnessed.  Here in this moment two men, clearly Angelic, echoed the words of their Master and promised that the Christ who left their realm would someday return to it in the same dramatic fashion.

This day stands to remind us of some powerful truths.  It recalls the day when Jesus, having completed His mission to redeem fallen humanity, returned to his home realm and rightful position, seated as the Son of the Most High God.  Though Scripture doesn't explicitly state it, I suspect that all of Heaven erupted into a cry of triumphal joy.  But it doesn't end here.  There is, as the late Paul Harvey would say, a "rest of the story".

In a moment known only by the Godhead, Christ will once again rise from His throne and enter back into our sphere.  As the historic creeds remind us:
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.
I invite you to reflect today.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Blog Worth a Visit

When I have the opportunity, I like to point out and plug blog sites that I enjoy visiting.  Let me introduce you to The Six Chix, the site of six very talented artists, and a comic that's regularly shared on my Facebook feed.  From their "about" page, here's a bit about the blog:
"Six Chix is a unique daily comic strip. It is created by six women cartoonists who each draw a day of the week and then rotate the Sunday strips. Isabella Bannerman draws Mondays; Martha Gradisher draws Tuesdays; Susan Camilleri Konar draws Wednesdays; Mary Lawton draws Thursdays; Benita Epstein draws Fridays; and Stephanie Piro draws Saturdays. Each cartoonist writes and draws with her own style and perspective. In any given week, you might find gags about the economy, technology, zombies, pirates or health care — and the main characters will be female and funny."
You can find the Six Chix Blog here. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 28, 2018


So its the weekend and a time when we should be decompressing after the workweek.  Easy to do, but the peanut between the ears doesn't take a day off.  For the past two days, i was putting Siri, my iPhone AI Digital Assistant through her paces with interesting results.  In all, she is purposely coy and cool as a cucumber.  But as I was asking her a battery of questions, my mind traveled back to 1981 and Jeff Lynne's release of the Time.  

The track, "Your's truly, 2095" seemed to look towards Siri and Alexa.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Going Home -- Reflections

(Blogger's Note:  This essay was composed back in 2010, after running up to Coatesville following my Dad's emergency Gall Bladder surgery.)

Two Friday's ago, I was on Strode Ave, preparing to turn east onto Lincoln Highway. Looking east, and taking in the full vista of Coatesville, I was filled with a sadness.
"How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave. 2 She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has none to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her enemies."  Lamentations 1:1-2
We traveled east on Lincoln Highway, crossing Brandywine creek and heading into town. My eyes were met with decay and dirt. A block of shops in the town center were replaced by a gaping dirt patch. Across the street, people were sitting idly outside of a laundromat. Further on, my eyes met the crumbling bronze work on the steeple of the church that was once First Baptist. As we continued, there was a growing "Bizarro-World" feel to things. The buildings were, for the most part, the same. Yet, they were occupied with other activities. Gibney's, Teti's, Sante's were all still "there", but were occupied by different businesses.

Stirling Street offered the next bit of shock. I alluded to the fact in a previous post that everything seems smaller than the way it appears in Memory; the 800th block of Stirling Street is no exception. Looking end to end at a strip of pavement less than 1,000 feet from end to end, I was stunned in apprehending the fact that the first 8 years of my life were played out on this small stage. But for all the change and decline, there sat Holly and Ginger Chenger on their front porch. It was for a moment, like stepping back into a late spring afternoon in 1970.

* * * *
Since returning home, the city has experienced another tragedy as two young men, mired in thuggery and culture of violence, had their showdown at Sixth and Lincoln Hwy. In the end game, a 16 year-old lay mortally wounded and a 23 year-old effectively ended his life.

So what's the future hold for Coatesville? Is she doomed to become Pennsylvania's Camden, or Chester County's Beirut? Is she resigned to end her death spin into the ground as a burnt out carcass of what she once was? I don't believe that this is a foregone conclusion. But what's to be done? Coatesville is in dire need of Divine intervention, and must set out on a path of repentance, reconstitution, revitalization, and revival.

I'm calling on every Priest, Pastor, Rabbi, and Evangelist between the Checker and Caln bridges to call a solemn convocation. Every person of faith needs to gather in tears, fasting and ashes, to repent and intercede for their beloved city. Until the hand of providence moves on behalf of Coatesville, she'll remain mired in fatal inertia.

Coatesville must reconstitute as a community. Recalling her history as a station on the underground railroad, she must embrace a post-racial view where divisions are cast aside and an emergent sense of unity is fostered. The city must become a "hyphen-free" zone where the citizens apprehend the truth that regardless of race or ethnicity, they're all citizens of the same city; they stand and fall together. Once this worldview is embraced, they can begin to aggressively take on crime, and blight.

The citizens need to vote out any civic leader who has failed in their promises to bring about change. Too, these leaders must never loose sight of the truth, that they aren't there to "rule", they've been placed in office to represent their constituents. These leaders should be held accountable, and required to create a climate where business and industry can once again thrive. As the local economy stabilizes and expands, unemployment rates will dive, deficits will evaporate and quality of life will swing upward.

Municipal and cultural revival will be the end result. This is hard and it will be hard. Yet, its attainable for a community that rises up to say that "We ARE Coatesville, and we're through with the status quo of the past 35 years."

Monday, April 23, 2018

April 23rd, and the End of Days?

"The Rapture", or specifically,  the secret snatching away of the Church before the epoch-ending events described in the apocalyptic writings in Scripture is a relatively new innovation in Biblical thought.  This doctrine was first taught in the 1830's by John Nelson Darby, a founding leader of the Plymouth Brethren, a breakaway group from the Anglican Church.  In the 18 centuries prior, there was no such doctrine.  I don't believe any reasonable person would consider this teaching to be heresy, but the majority of the Christian Tradition holds a different view.

The Christian Faith (Roman, Eastern, and Protestant Traditions) have viewed the actual return of The Lord as a matter of settled doctrine, and it is affirmed in the Historic Creeds of the Church ("He shall return to judge the living and the dead...") What becomes issue is the idea if "date setting", especially in the light of Christ's own words.  The Master declared that "No one knows the day and the hour that the Son of Man will return."  Perhaps more importantly, this statement was preceded by the exhortation to "Watch and Pray" that the hearer would be prepared and not caught unaware when the Master manifests himself.

"We need not fear the fictitious Planet X. But we need to admit the reality that we are one day closer to eternity than ever before. And we have only today to be ready". -- Jim Denison
Commentator and author, Jim Denison,shares his thoughts on this latest Rapture prediction in today's Denison Report, which is linked here.

My personal thoughts on this are pretty simple.  Each Sunday I, along with millions of my best friends, affirm the truth of Christ's return.  There is nothing to stop that return on any given day and the nanosecond the Father commands it, the event will be set into motion.  And, given the fragility of human life, an accident, sickness, or sudden medical mishap could irrevocably propel me into His presence.  For me, this is the "watching" part of the exhortation, which is why, in-turn, I pray to be found faithful in each new day. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tuesday Morning

From the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A beauty in praying the Liturgical Hours is their ability  give us a sort of lay line in charting the direction of our day.  And for me, I see the Office Morning Prayer as a sort of Laying the Keel of the ship that will take us on through to the nighttime.  The particular Collect seemed to jump from the pages this morning, especially in light the past Sunday's "Taste of Heaven" Gathering.  I'm tying this Collect to the recent gathering as it was Pastor Tony Addinall of All Nation's Church of God who captured this truth in his opening invocation.

The prayer opens with the declaration that the Almighty has created for Himself, a species (if you'll have it), of one blood.  He then at the appointed time sent his very expression, His son, to bring redemption to this fallen people who were of one blood.  Apprehending this truth is the beginning of the demolition of the false barriers which divide us.  Its the wrecking ball that demolishes the barriers of ignorance, fear, mistrust and hatred.

We can't affect this in our own.  It is only by the power and agency of the Almighty that humanity might be moved to seek God, and be drawn to Him. Yet in this, He has called us to be the transmission medium for His call to go forward and be heard by a world that's not intuitively listening for this call of the one God to His one people. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Reflecting on A Taste of Heaven 2018

"A Taste of Heaven", a vision of the Prince William County Ministerial Association, conceived twenty years ago, gathers churches from across Prince William to worship together under one roof for one Sunday.  It takes a venue like the Hylton Memorial Chapel to effectively host a gathering of this size.  Its a morning of inspired worship, powerful praise, and challenging messages as a few thousand followers of the Christ come together in one heart and one spirit.  Anglicans, Baptists, Charismatic, and Non-Denominational believers set aside their own distinctive liturgies as Christ is elevated, seeds of unity & reconciliation are sown, and friendships are made/reinforced.   In some ways, it was reminiscent of Camp Meeting from back in the day, minus the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes.  But best of all, it was two hours where the saints came together to desegregate the most segregated hour of the week in America.

There was a great takeaway for those attending yesterday's gathering in that "Unity is not Uniformity".  Our Devotion, our Worship, our unique traditions all aim to lift high the name of the Almighty.  We are one body that can find its unity in its diversity.

Its my hope and prayer that events like this would spread all across the commonwealth and our nation.  Too, I'd pray that this "taste" would leave saints desiring more.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Morning

From the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Each morning is a new opportunity to strive to "Get it right".  Irrespective of what we did, or failed to do yesterday, today is a blank page waiting to be written. Even so, the desires and direction of our hearts will strongly influence the trajectory of our lives in this new day.  This is why seeking the Lord first in our day's is essential spiritual life habit to our walking in victory.

May our Lord guide your every step today.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Morning in Suburbia Majora

From the Book of Common Prayer:

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Praying for Children

Do you pray for children?  Let me qualify this; do you pray for children who're not your own, or ones who are not a part of your greater family?

Since becoming a parent nearly 35 years ago, like most of you, I've prayed daily for my sons for a myriad of concerns.  And when nieces, a nephew and grandchildren came on the scene, they too were added to the daily prayer roster.  Last summer, another subset of children were added to the daily prayers.  In the interest of their privacy, I'll simply refer to these ones as "The Five" (with apologies to Mr. Gutfeld & company).

Who are The Five?  The Five are a group of elementary school-aged kids whom I had the blessing of teaching during last year's Community Vacation Bible School (CVBS).   CVBS is a revolutionary concept in implementing Vacation Bible School.  For years, churches throughout communities across America would hold VBS at their local facility, effectively reaching a small number of children, with most of these already being associated with that particular church.  CVBS broke that mold by launching VBS out into homes, parks, community centers, etc. across the County allowing for the reach to children who might not ever come in contact with a local church.  Its a true Gospel multiplier.  Where historically, a church might share the Good News with dozens of children, CVBS can effectively reach hundreds of young people.  It was in this venue where I met The Five.

It's been a joy to lift these three girls and two guys up in prayer daily, asking the Almighty to commend them to the care of His Guardian Angels for their watching and protection.  That joy is multiplied when you're suddenly afforded the opportunity to serve one of them during the Eucharist, then seeing their face light up when they learn that they've been prayed for. 

All of us want the very best for the children around us, and prayer for these little people works towards that end.  Let me encourage you consider some non-familial children whom you could include in your daily prayers, and prepare to be amazed.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Thoughts on Holy Saturday

From this morning's Gospel Reading:
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. 
The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, `After three days I will rise again.' Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, `He has been raised from the dead,' and the last deception would be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can." So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
Yesterday was a day like none other.  Outside the city walls of Jerusalem, a cosmic collision of the temporal and eternal took place, affixed to a cruel Roman cross. In the eyes of some, it may have appeared as the death of a desperate hope of throwing off the yoke of Imperial Rome. To others, it represented the messy death of a wide-eyed troublemaker. Still to others, it appeared as the timely demise of a troublesome meddler who was bent on usurping a culture and religious system. Irrespective a body, now still and lifeless, hung between heaven and earth. The eyes that stare in from outside of our timeline saw something completely apart. To these eyes, there on Golgotha's hill hung the only propitiatory offering that could satisfy a Holy and Just God. Just moments prior, this God-man suspended above the earth cried out "Tetelestai"! The debt for sins ancient and future were paid. The God-man then stepped out of our timeline and willingly yielding his life back into the hands of the Father. 

Those follower of the master, who hadn't abandoned him, now had approximately three hours to see to the matter and in doing so, would render themselves ceremonially unclean for the coming feast Yet in their devotion, they sought the body of Jesus who might have otherwise been cast into the burning garbage dump outside of the city walls, gehenna. Instead of becoming food for carrion, the remains of the Christ were lovingly laid in Joseph, a leading Sadducee's tomb.

A day later, the Jewish priestly aristocracy was nervous. They knew that in spite of the Christ's resounding declaration, that this was far from over. With the Roman governor's approval, the tomb was sealed with the signet of Imperial Rome. This seal was a dire warning to would be hoaxers that should they attempt to steal Christ's remains, they would suffer the same fate as the one lying on the other side of the stone.

From the standpoint of the Apostolic band, this had to be a crushing day. One of their own had handed Jesus over to the authorities and was now dead by his own hands. Their "class president" made a profanity-laced denial of their Master and was now living with the disgrace. The rest were hiding somewhere in the city, for fear that perhaps after the feast, they would be next.

Yet, we soon learn just how one day changes everything.

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Good Friday Meditation

This evening at All Saint's, we observed the solemnity of Good Friday in the worship service that is known as "Solemn Collects and Reflections", with the reflections being given by our Priests and Deacons.  I was asked to offer a reflection through the eyes of the Centurion who was present and overseeing the crucifixion of the Christ and the two thieves that afternoon.  This is a first person reflection, but offered as if the Centurion was speaking in the form of a letter that was written to his father, who himself was a retired Centurion.  Some license was taken as Scripture provides no "back story" on this man.

#  #  #  

  Gaius Longines, a Centurion in the service of Tiberius, and the citizens of Rome.  I greet you Crasius on a day that has been like none other since my cohort was posted to this dour corner of the Empire.

  As you’ve long known, I accepted a commission as a Centurion in civic duty, desiring to serve the greater glory of Rome.  In my heart I had always dreamt of driving out the barbarians as you did, from our far frontiers.  instead, my cohort was posted to the Tenth Legion in Judea.  Rather than expanding the frontier, my cohort now works to maintain the tenuous peace between Governor Pilate and this rabble population.  I have found myself to be far more an executioner of common criminals than a soldier, combating worthy adversaries.  Yet today is difficult to understand, which is why I write you, my esteemed father.

  Over the past few days, Jerusalem has been groaning as Jews from throughout the province have been converging on the city in preparation for one of their observances.  Along with their faithful, thieves and other criminals arrived to prey on the unsuspecting.  Two such culprits, along with an insurrectionist named Barabbas were placed in our custody to await execution. Yet this morning, temple leaders delivered up a fourth man, one allegedly claiming to be the King of the Jews.  Pilate took an interest in this man and determining that he’d committed no capital crime, ordered him beaten for being a nuisance.  Yet those religious leaders insisted that he’d be put to death, and demanded clemency for the insurrectionist.  Pilate, being a shrewd man, acquiesced to their demands, fearing a riot.

  A short time later, the three were delivered to my custody for execution and seeing this “king”, I drew back with a deep horror.  He wasn’t simply beaten, one member of the cohort whipped him with the flagrum while another severely wounded his head with those dreaded capparis spinosa thorns, leaving him a seething walking wound.  I’ve seen the horrors of battle, yet this churned my constitution and I was compelled to avert my gaze. Beaten and bruised, I was amazed to see him standing silently, without a sound.  It became clear after setting off for the execution site that this wretch would die enroute, so I compelled an onlooker to carry this “king’s” cross.

  On the brow of the hill, each had a placard affixed to their cross, according to Roman law, stating their name and crime.  As the day wore on, it was punctuated by cries, curses and the jeering contempt of passersby; it wasn’t so with this “king”.  I’m acquainted with the language of Jerusalem, and what this Nazarene was saying intrigued me.  He was asking forgiveness for my century who crucified him.  He offered comfort to a thief and later, let out an emotional cry to his god. 

  The afternoon progressed as a gathering darkness seemed to encircle and swallow Jerusalem.  The man spoke of his thirst.  I’ve never considered myself a compassionate man, yet I ordered the soldiers to share a drink of their beverage.  This seemed to revive him as he raised his head spoke once more, then expired before us.  In my heart, I was struck.  An innocent man was executed today, but he was much more than one not guilty of any crime.  He was as a son of the gods, or perhaps the very Son of God.

  At any case, his remains now lie in a sealed tomb A Guard mount is watching over it to see that no mischief occurs or his body disturbed.