Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wise Counsel from a Smart man.

In the wake of the tragedy that befell Charleston, SC last week, many from all sides of the debate have offered up opinions concerning the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia (C.S.A).  One thing that has struck me is the running theme of "States Right's" from individuals whom I know to be anything BUT racist.  I contend that though well-meaning in their intent, their conclusions are flawed base on their lack of understanding of the climate of the post-bellum South, and those fighting a guerrilla campaign to maintain the status quo.

Jim Denison, of the Denison Forum wrote a timely and salient piece on this latest wedge issue in today's mailing.  The entire piece can be read here.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Time to Retire the Colors

One hundred and fifty years ago, our Republic saw the end of five years of hostilities which left us riven and bleeding.  970,000 Americans (north and south) perished across these five April's.  It took close to a century for some parts of our nation to recover from the physical effects of combat, deforestation, and troop concentrations as the battle lines moved north and south over those five years.  Even so, though two sides cast their lots, our Lord declared the outcome; The Confederate States of America were defeated and the the Union was reconstituted.  Despite this, there were those who would refuse to acknowledge the defeat of a cause and would engage in in guerrilla warfare against not only those working towards reconciliation, but people of color and differing faiths.  These individuals cherry-picked a banner from a lost cause, the battle flag of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to serve as their banner to rally their troops in the oppression of a people.

We fast forward now 150 years to a time where people of good will striving to finally bind the wounds of a century & a half ago.  If our Republic is to truly move forward, this Banner of oppression (the battle flag)  needs to be permanently be retired and the Democrats who used it as a Shibboleth for a Century, (Fritz Hollings, Jimmy Carter, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Al Gore) need to come forward and acknowledge their identification with it and to denounce it.

As to the flag, its high time those colors are once and for all retired.  Think about it for a moment; do German's fly the Nazi-era flag as it's an (unfortunate) piece of their heritage?  No, flags like these are only flown in the name of hate.

Finally, let me approach this from a purely Christian point of view.  We're called by scripture to not intentionally offend our neighbor.  Taking a queue from St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians:
Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. I Cor 8:13 .
  Now clearly, we make no apology for the Gospel, but this is anything BUT the Gospel.  It really shouldn't matter whether great-great-great-grandfather was a foot soldier dressed in butternut or a confederate general, if we're celebrating that fact in a way that brings offense to another we're acting sub-Christian

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Watching & Waiting, A Devotion for Holy Week

I had the opportunity to share this last evening at All Saint's Woodbridge...

From the time I was old enough to apprehend the events surrounding the passion of our Lord, I was captivated and would try to imagine what it would be like to be a face in the crowd as events unfolded.  This has only intensified as I grew into adulthood.  Songs like “Were you there?” or “I only want to say” from Jesus Christ, Superstar served to fuel these desires to have wanted to witness those events.  But for all these flights of fancy, I learned a much more profitable way.

Rather than letting our imaginations run free, chasing events and dramas of our own makings, we need not look further than Holy Scripture in order to catch a glimpse of Christ’s passion and propitiatory death.  St. Matthew’s gospel narrative gives us a gripping account of that moment, as Jesus was about to become the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world.

In one such moment, we find our Lord and his eleven remaining disciples at the gates of an olive grove on the eve of the Passover.  It had been a long day that was punctuated by the Seder meal, which was full of carbohydrates and wine.  It was approaching midnight when the band arrived, minus one disciple who departed to deliver his master over to those who desired his death.  It was here that Christ instructed eight members of the band to wait, while he and three of his closest disciples walked deeper into the into the grove.

With each step deeper into the olive grove, the gravity of what would soon transpire began to crush the sacred heart that bore no sin.  Its fair to presume that in his omniscience, Jesus was very likely seeing the next sixteen hours of his life unfold.  Scenes were unfolding; the cohort that was converging on their location, the bitter cynical kiss of the traitor, the lying testimonies of those who would come before the Sanhedrin, and the crowds calling for his crucifixion.  These alone were terrible but the coming hours would hold an unimaginable terror for the Son of God.  For all of eternity, Jesus knew the sweet communion of being one with the Father.  Yet soon, in a moment that would seem an eternity in itself, that communion would be severed.

It was in this dark moment that he commanded the three to wait and watch.  These words are somewhat defanged in our contemporary language.  Yet for Peter, John & James, these words had tremendous weight.

The three were commanded to remain and wait.  For most of us, the idea of waiting can bring unpleasant thoughts to mind.  Here in Northern Virginia, waiting can almost seem like a curse.  Daily, we wait in traffic.   We wait in lines.  We wait for the next available operator after pressing a number of the language of our choice.  It’s our natural inclination to hate waiting.  We acquired this early on when even as babies, we hated waiting as evidenced by our 120 decibel cries when the baby bottle was delayed.  We’d muscle our way to the front of the line because we didn’t want to wait our turns.  It’s made manifest in our day-to-day language in expressions like “I can’t wait”. 

The three disciples weren’t made of stained glass; they were men who shared the same weaknesses that seem to trip us up at any turn.  Waiting didn’t come any easier to them.  Nonetheless, Jesus commanded them to wait.  He didn’t direct them to kill time while spoke with the Father.  No, to wait in the garden was in a sense to abide with Christ in the grove on that night.   They had heard this before when Christ exhorted them and others to abide in him, otherwise they would have no part with him or his Father’s coming kingdom.  The night would soon become terrifying and there would be a strong temptation to scatter off into the darkness.  In this command, they were exhorted to resist this temptation.

The three were commanded to watch.  This wasn’t a mindless or inattentive watching like one in the departure lounge, nor was it the casual watching of the world while sipping an iced Americano at Starbucks.  This was active and attentive watching.  It was in a real sense, watching as if one’s very life depended on it.  The three were called to watch like a storm spotter on a day when conditions are ripe for tornadoes to spin into life.  Tonight, Peter and the sons of Zebedee were called to watch their Lord, watch out for one another, and watch themselves. 

This night would be a time for courage, and the band of disciples would have to go into it girded in prayer, wide-eyed and abiding in their Lord.  Yet for all of Christ’s clear words, they were overcome by the late hour and their big meal.  For this, they felt the rebuke of their master who called them back to watchfulness.
What can we take from all of this?  Like the Disciples, we also live in interesting times. 

They were mere hours from seeing the Father’s redemptive plan for humanity unfold. They would hear Christ cry out “it is finished” as the offense of sin was paid and the Father’s righteous anger was quenched.  Three days later, they would witness the resurrection of the one whose visage was marred beyond recognition.  Forty days later Christ would return to his throne at the right hand of the father. 

Jesus demonstrated the power of obedient waiting and watching.  Through his waiting and watching he was able to, as the writer of Hebrews stated, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

We live on the eve of Christ’s return.  We don’t day or hour, but we do know that it will come upon us suddenly.  The events of that great and terrible day will be as transformative as Good Friday.

In our day, we’re called to wait, watch and pray.  One beauty of Lent is that it gives us focus and a time of self-examination.  But how do we do these things, in a world that seem to be completely contrary to the Kingdom of Heaven?  In the words of one contemporary pastor, we “pray, pray, pray, pray, pray”.  As we ask, we will receive.  As we seek, we will find.  As we seek the Lord’s empowerment, we’ll grow in this.  St. Paul encourages us in that in and through Christ, we can do all things.

  Tonight in this watch, I’d invite us all to a moment of self-evaluation and rededication to watching and waiting on our Lord. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Saint Andrew of Baghdad

The Reverend Canon Andrew White is vicar of St George's Church, Baghdad, the only Anglican church in Iraq. He has thus been dubbed the “Vicar of Baghdad". He is also President of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. He was previously Director of International Ministry at the International Center for Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral,  England. 

My local paper, The Freelance Star, did a piece on Canon White today.  You can read it here...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's About Time...

The Associated Press is reporting the the United States is now providing arms to the Kurds in their death struggle against the scourge of ISIS/ISIL.  FInally.  

Time and again, we've fumbled the ball when it came to the Kurdish people.  This was evident, particularly, in our failure to call for a Kurdish homeland state following the 2003 Iraqi war.  This single act may have solved a number of issues as well as creating a solid ally in a region where the world desperately needs stability.  Hopefully, this action will build goodwill with the a people who have the iron will to stare down the horde and leave them to be carrion in the sands.

It can't be stated enough that ISIS/ISIL must not only be stopped, they must be completely destroyed beyond an ability to reconstitute or continue.  Their bloodlust will not be satisfied and their is no depths to their dark imaginations as attested to by the imagery coming from the region.  So far, I've not posted any of the graphic images of the their handiwork.  It is hard for even seasoned Marines to view.  This evidence confirms the stories of just what they've done to children.  Hell, and the Lake of Fire hold a special place for the bottom-dwellers who do these things to the Lord's littlest lambs.

I'd invite your continued prayers for the faithful of the region who remain in harm's way. Pray too for the Yazidis and pray for the Kurds.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Rethinking Pop views on Christ's Return

William Lane Craig, in an interview with Charisma News, speaks to the error of Darbyism that sprang up in the Nineteenth Century and is fueled both the Left Behind books series and the soon to be released film.  You can read the article here.  

Make no mistake, Christ is returning.
“You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.”

Monday, August 04, 2014