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Archive for July, 2009

Hooker

Reading Hooker’s Book 3 of Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. Would that Anglican clergy read more Hooker than Hybels. The insecurity I sense in most of my Anglican brethren when their patrimony comes into question could be dispelled by sitting at the feet of our fathers in the faith and tradition.

Whatsoever we read in Scripture concerning the endless love and the saving mercy which God sheweth towards his Church, the only proper subject thereof is this Church. Concerning this flock it is that our Lord and Saviour hath promised, ” I give unto them eternal life, and “they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hands.”  They who are of this society have such marks and notes of distinction from all others, as are not object unto our sense ; only unto God, who seeth their hearts and understandeth all their secret cogitations, unto him they are clear and manifest. All men knew Nathanael to be an Israelite. But our Saviour piercing deeper giveth further testimony of him than men could have done with such certainty as he did, ” Behold indeed an Israelite in whom is no guile.” If we profess, as Peter did, that we love the Lord, and profess it in the hearing of men, charity is prone to believe all things, and therefore charitable men are likely to think we do so, as long as they see no proof to the contrary.

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We arrive in this world with birthright gifts – then we spend the first half our lives abandoning them or letting others disabuse us of them. As young people, we are surrounded by expectations that may have little to do with who we really are, expectations helped by people who are not trying to discern our selfhood but to fit us into slots. In families, schools, workplaces, and religious communities, we are trained away from true self toward images of acceptability; under social pressures like racism and sexism our original shape is deformed beyond recognition; and we ourselves, driven by fear, too often betray true self to gain the approval of others.

– Parker Palmer – Let Your Life Speak

What a great gift it is to find spiritual directors, mentors, spiritual friends, spouses who value helping us find our selfhood rather then fitting us into slots.

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By the time the average American is 18 years old, he or she will have witnessed thousands of fictionalized deaths on television, in movies, or in video games. Alongside this consider the fact that the majority of Americans will not have first-hand experience of another person dying in their presence.

Fictionalized death is truer today than real death for most of our parishioners. So how do we preach the cross? What can words do to bring alive the darkness of Good Friday and Holy Saturday when the Living God was nowhere to be found?

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From Torrance, p. 256: The powerful closing words of Incarnation: The Person and Life of Jesus Christ:

The depths of that [Jesus becoming a curse for us] are quite incomprehensible, especially when we realize that sin contains at its very heart and constitution as sin the divine wrath. By taking upon himself human guilt, Christ places himself at the very point where God’s Goodness, God’s holy majesty, resists sin. Jesus entered into that very situation where man’s being is menaced and threatened by annihilation through separation from God, and yet held in existence by the very fact of the divine judgment against it. And so by entering into the very situation where all the divine majesty is directed against the sinner in his and her sin, the Son of God, it might well be said, ‘hazarded’ and ‘staked’ his very existence and being in order to take all that fearful tension and judgment upon himself in order to save us.

Christ’s salvation is of such a kind that it expresses the ultimate reality of guilt and exposes it in all its stark actuality. It exposes it in terms of the wrath of God but at the same time manifests in the midst of it all the infinite and overwhelming love of God, and enacts the union of God and man in a union and communion that nothing can undo. In forgiveness Jesus Christ offers himself on behalf of and in place of the sinner, and the gulf of human sin guilt is spanned, but in throwing a bridge over the abyss, the depth and breadth of it are made even more evident. That is why Golgotha casts such a dark shadow over the world. That is why the cross unmasks the inhumanity of man, at once exposing sin and guilt and dealing with them at their worst – in mankind’s ultimate attack upon God in Jesus Christ – in God’s attack of love upon the inhumanity of mankind – and out of the heart of that there come two words that reveal the infinite guilt of humanity and the infinite love of God. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

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