Friday, October 28, 2011

At Compline

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who alone works great marvels Send down upon our Bishops and Clergy, and all People committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of your grace ; and that they may truly please you, pour upon them the continual dew of your blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday Nightcap

An Ode to True Love

Friday Reverie

Our eyes and other physical senses fight hard to prove Hobbes correct, that our existence is simply "Nasty, Brutish, and Short", yet our hearts tell us a different story as the Almighty has placed his thumbprint on each human heart. There is life beyond the firing of our neurons and the beating of our hearts. Saint Augustine proclaimed, in speaking of the Almighty:

"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you."

Its a mysterious aspect of the Dichotomy that makes us human; Our fallen hearts are at war with the Godhead. Yet, that same fallen heart cries out and aches for the the comfort that only the Almighty brings. Tonight, my thoughts, wishes and prayers are that we who are yoked with the Christ would present Him to a parched world, unsullied by our personalities or politics.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bishop Mark Lawrence

Seems the Catbird can be a "day late" in offering up salient thoughts at times on the passing scene in the Anglican universe. Even so, I'd like to put some thoughts out there concerning a faithful Shepherd who seems to be getting the dirty end of the stick. In the interim, my prayers are lifted for the Bishop, his family and his flock. Godspeed Bishop Mark!

Two Weighty Questions -- Question #2 (Part 2)

I hope to bring these thoughts in and park 'em in the hangar with this one.

We've been kicking around the questions, "What is the primary mission of the Church?" and "What is the greatest hindrance to that mission?" since this post back at the start of October. This morning, I'll share thoughts on how we become that stumbling block and how we might take a wrecking ball to it. Though there are many things that may occur at the micro level, I believe we can categorize these on a macro level through describing them as our being "Off Focus", "Off Frequency", and "Off Sides".

"Off Focus". The Westminster Shorter Catechism (paraphrased) describes the "chief aim of man" as to "Glorify God and enjoy Him forever". By implication, our focal point as the Church is the Almighty God. All too often in our contemporary American cultural church, its become a type of group therapy that's centered on my feelings, well being and self improvement. The moment He leaves the center of our lens, this focus distorts and can ultimately be lost. When first person pronouns are the dominant component of speech related to the Almighty and His Church, its a good time to perform a focus check. You see, its about HIM, not US. When examining our prayers, are there more "you's, your's, him/his", or "I, me, mine's"?

"Off Frequency". As an amateur radio operator, I can tell you that there is nothing more frustrating than not having a proper frequency, or communicating with someone whose radio is off frequency. Are we hearing from God? Very few of us have (or will ever) experience a Theophany/Christophany where we experience that "close encounter of the third kind" with a member of the Godhead. This said, He has made it possible to hear from Him through encounters in His word, prayer, events and others. Through these, God has made himself clearly known. If we're looking to hear from Him in ways other than these, we're not going to hear much of anything in the way of the divine will of the Father.

"Off Sides". One is ostensibly "Off Sides" in American Football when they're where they shouldn't be when the ball is snapped. Not only does this nullify the play but it costs the defenders precious yardage. The saint who is off sides has a similar effect on their team as well. The ways in which a saint can be off sides on God's gridiron are too numerous to to list in this space. However, through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we'll receive immediate feedback when we're not where we should be. Its when we ignore this conviction that we cease to be spiritually healthy and productive saints. This individual not only has the move of God choked in their life, but their likely hindering others.

The bright spot in all of this is the fact that any or all of these are highly treatable in the life of the saint. Our God is a master at remedial maintenance and the dirtiest of us can be made white as wool. He's also made "a way of escape" from these setbacks through a course of preventive maintenance. Our ability to hinder the mission of the church is greatly reduced when we're looking for God, listening for God, and being mindful of our standing within the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday Reverie

I'm taken back for a moment when I realize that this song is almost 20 years old. Even so, Between the lyrics and video, it is chocked full of New Testament imagery that it always arrests me back whenever I hear it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Meanwhile, back at the protest...

Hmmm, maybe there is something inherently evil about paying for a quality education.

Following the Money... All 168.9 Million

(A tip of the Zuchetto to Nickie Goomba...)

Why are the unwashed basement dwellers being allowed to occupy private property in NYC? Simply stated, their rent on the space has been generously provided by YOU, the American taxpayer. The dots are connected for us over on "It Don't Make Sense".

So 53 percenters, does this mean we can claim these folk on our 1040's?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Two Weighty Questions -- Question #2

I was posed with a two-pronged question earlier this week, one that deserved the most thoughtful answers possible as the question has eternal weight. What is the mission of the Church and what is the greatest hindrance to this mission's completion? Now, onto part two of the question, "What's the greatest impediment to the completion of the Church's mission?"

There are factors working against the individual believer which in my opinion, also seek to work against the mission of the Church, as it is a greater extension of the believer. Saint John recognized these as "the world, the flesh, and the devil". I'd pose that "the flesh" (a.k.a "Us") is the single greatest impediment.

The "world" (not to be confused with creation) has stood in opposition to the church since her birth. At its best this world is indifferent to mildly antagonistic towards the church and at its worst, proactively hostile. But the world is a known variable that we've known about since Christ spoke to us on the issue (...If the World hates you...) The very fact that the church exists in places like North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Myanmar stands in testimony to its ability to impede its mission.

What can be said about the adversary that's not already been said? Luther said it well when he penned:

For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

This accuser could, left unchecked, smash the the church into dust and scatter it on the four winds. This same accuser is also, under the submission of the Almighty and can only execute what is permitted. The very Lord who promised that the "Gates of Hell" would not prevail against the church, will not permit Hell's dark slumlord to do so either.

This leaves us with the big Mea Culpa; We have met the enemy and he is us, as both Walt Kelly and the Underground Pewster have opined. I'll explain in my next installment.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Two Weighty Questions -- Question #1

I was posed with a two-pronged question earlier this week, one that deserved the most thoughtful answers possible as the question has eternal weight. What is the mission of the Church and what is the greatest hindrance to this mission's completion? Now, onto the more fuller answer to prong one.

The mission of the Church in its most essential form is to reflect the Glory of the Godhead, as well as bring glory to its Head, Christ Jesus. Our mission whether we would be Anglican, Roman, Eastern, Baptistic, (any of us who name Christ as Lord) is to live, move and breathe in such a way the the radiant and invisible Glory shines out to the world around us. Its a mission of lifting the Godhead high daily in a world that can be at its best indifferent to the Divine, and overtly hostile at its worst. Its a mission that is both individual and communal at once.

Our success in carrying out this mission has been extremely variable in the two millennia since receiving our marching orders. At times this radiance was blinding as saints stood in arenas, signing their testimonies in their own blood and torn flesh. Sometimes this radiance was eclipsed by our own folly of walling ourselves off from the greater world or exchanging the gold of Scripture for the pyrite of speculation and fable. Yet when God's people came to Him broken and contrite, He would restore them and His radiance would shine again like the sun.

I see three streams, as presented by Scripture as the primary means of accomplishing this mission objective: proclamation, presentation, and preparation.

The Church has been called to proclaim the Word of God. The church hasn't been called to be the herald of "social justice", preach equality (gender, sexual, or otherwise), political viewpoints (left or right), prosperity, financial freedom or anything of the sort. When this occurs, we reduce ourselves to a reflection of the world around us; one thats neither salty or bright. Rather, we're mandated to proclaim the reality of a eternal and holy Godhead, a fallen and corrupt humanity, the inexorable collision course that each are on, and the reconciliation offered by the satisfactorily atoning death of God the Son (Jesus).

The Church has been called to lift the Sacraments of our Christ, Baptism and the Eucharist. These sacraments are far more critical than we may realize. We were, in the creation, made to be primarily both visual and tactile learners. Though there is a significant degree of learning through hearing (ergo the "proclamation" of the word), the bulk of what we're come to understand came from a hands-on or eyes-on moment (e.g. We may have repeated mom's warning of a hot stove by rote, but didn't actually learn until our fingers were singed). In these Sacraments, we see the mysteries of our faith represented in an outward and visible form. We see the cleansing that is received when a life is yielded and brought under the submission of Christ. We see elements poured out and torn like the Divine body that was bad a propitiation for our sins.

Finally, there is the mandate for the Church to Equip her saints. In this equipping, the saints are given the message and tools to become change agents in their worlds. This equipping occurs through the execution of proclamation and presentation. The equipped saint is a spiritually empowered saint, one who is able to impact their circle of the world with the radically transforming power of the Gospel of our Christ.

A New Look

The Catbird Seat has been kicking around out here on the cybersod since August, 2006, launching into the blogosphere with this post. Its truly amazing what all has transpired since those fist days. One thing that hasn't changed is the site layout & design. I'm considering a "new hairstyle" for the site.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs left this realm this evening. He will be missed.

Two Weighty Questions

Someone tossed a two part question my way this morning; What is the mission of the Church and what is the greatest hindrance to that mission? My "short answer" part one is to glorify the Almighty through:

  • The Proclamation of His word

  • The Administration of His Sacraments

  • The Equipping of His Saints
My short answer to part two is we (I) are/am the greatest hindrance to this mission.

I'd like to, over the next day or so, provide a "long answer" in support of these propositions.