Saturday, May 1, 2010

May 16, 2010. Seventh Sunday of Easter

© 2010 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

“Glory everlasting”?

Anything in this life that is pleasant becomes unpleasant when sustained indefinitely without cessation. A piece of candy held in your mouth for longer than a few minutes begins to sour and in short order will make your mouth sore. Eating even a large dessert can be pleasant, but not when you are in a contest to see who can break last year’s record on eating multipe servings of the dessert. Some pharmaceutical companies warn you to contact your physician if the effects of their products, meant to enhance pleasure, are sustained for more than four hours.

Robert Frost put it:

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower,
But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief.
So Dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Much good poetry celebrates transience. It's fundamental to the order of this world.

Theologian C. S. Lewis said that even as a Christian he was a long time coming around to belief in the afterlife. Transience in this life led him to believe in heaven. The alternative, he felt, was to view God as a sadist, as one who creates desire but never allows it to be completely fulfilled. Lewis viewed heaven as a place not bound transience, not bound even by time.

I confess that I am not into Christianity for these big rewards. I would remain a Christian even if I were to learn for sure that there is no afterlife. I rejoice in redemption in this life and do not require further blessing. For me redepmtion is something no winning lottery ticket could provide.

If there is a heaven, I hope that when I get there, throne rooms and glory days won't be required, at least not required of those who prefer more modest fare.

Acts 16:16-34

Nor was Saint into Christianity for the miracles it allowed him to perform or for those performed on his behalf. The earthquake made it possible for Saint and Silas to be saved from the tortures of their prison; the earthquake made it possible for them to escape. But by remaining in jail when they did not have to, they revealed a greater salvation. Their jailer asked what he must do to be thus saved.

The faithfulness of Paul and Silas prompted the salvation not only of their jailer, but also the salvation of all in the jailer’s household. The jailers washed the wounds of Saint and Silas and then fed them.

Psalm 97

Like many others, this psalm talks about other gods, not just the LORD. First it refers to those “who worship carved images and delight in false gods!” but in the next phrase seems to take those other gods as real enough to be demanded to bow before God: “Bow down before him [the LORD], all you gods.”

Two verses later, the psalm addresses the LORD directly, exclaiming, “you are exalted far above all gods.”

There is a tacit polytheism here, albeit an absolute affirmation of Jaweh’s supremacy.

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

Most of us take pleasure in finishing a book. This passage is the end of the Christian bible.

The ending is decidedly succinct: “Surely, I am coming soon” is followed by “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Then a 12-word blessing: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.”

That's especially short as the ending of a very long book, or more accurately, the ending of the final book of 66 books in the collection.

Just before this ending, John proclaims, "Let everyone who is thirsty come"

Yet in much of the history of Christianity, persons have tried to make this text more complicated. Some generations have said

  • Let everyone who is thirsty and a Catholic come, or
  • Let everyone who is thirsty and a Protestant come, or
  • Let everyone who is thirsty and white come, or
  • Let everyone who is thirsty and heterosexual come, or
  • Let everyone who is…..

The unamended version is still radical, still salvific:

  • Let everyone who is thirsty come

That’s Jesus’ only requirement for communion, that you be thirsty.

See 365+ Reasons to be Anglican/Episcopalian

John 17:20-26

In this prayer Jesus is praying not for himself, not even for his beloved disciples who know him already, but for you and for me and for all disciples thereafter.

Jesus' desire for all of us is quite simple -- not that we be rich nor that we be profound, nor that we be theologically correct……..but we “may all be one.”

Jesus tells God, “The world does not know you” but stresses the his disciples now know God because of his witness. He notes that future generations will know god because of the witness of those who precede them. That still is true: if people in the future will know God, that will happen because of “our” witness.

How much do Christians grieve about our divisions?

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace; Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly union and concord: that as there is but one Body and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Book of Common Prayer, United States of America, 1928

Writing in 1999, Rt. Rev. Donald Perschall, Presiding Bishop of the American Anglican Church, described the fragmentation that has occurred even among the Traditionalist Movement in Anglicanism, of which his group is a part:

Historically, there has been a lot of anger and hostility directed at those who have left by those traditionalists who have stayed and against those who have stayed by those traditionalists who have left. There has also been hostility between those who left - we all did not leave for the same reasons: for some it was the Prayer Book changes, some the ordination of women, others the issues surrounding homosexuality, and still others could not stand the perceived lawlessness - canons that have been selectively ignored or enforced when it served a liberal agenda. Today, there are over 600 churches in North America alone in this movement.

In March of 2003 Bishop Perschall left the American Anglican Church to be received as a priest in the Episcopal Church. He now serves in the Diocese of Dallas.

See also

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