Archive for November 2011

Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity

November 20th, 2011 — 7:00am

This is the last of the Cranmer collects to close out the Christian year:

“Stir up we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people, that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee, be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Comment » | Grace and Life

Deep-set assumptions

November 17th, 2011 — 10:42am

“The structures of our experience, especially the everyday, routine, invisible taken-for-granted structures, have a profound effect in shaping the way we perceive reality. The deep, often unarticulated assumptions that guide each of us are shaped by a matrix of usually unremarkable experiences channeled in specific directions by cultural institutions. Over time, especially as we are part of a community with the same pattern of experiences, a pattern of conviction and affections begins to take shape. Call it a sensibility or a consciousness or a prejudice or a mentality or a mindset: it is deeply ingrained, usually unconscious, and extremely powerful.

“While we may hold explicitly to certain core beliefs, it is possible (and I would argue likely, in our time and place) for explicitly held core beliefs to be out of synch with deep assumptions, so that, when we have to react quickly or [in] a new situation, we often fall back on the deep-set assumptions rather [than] on what we actually profess. This is why, I believe, in our own time, the affinity between what Christians profess and how they act is increasingly vague and weak.” (Ken Myers, “Cultural Discernment, Christian Faithfulness, and the Postmodern Multiversity”)

Comment » | Pastoral Pondering

Faithlessness almost natural

November 16th, 2011 — 3:50pm

“Modern pluralism not only represents a multiplicity of ways of perceiving and comprehending the world but also a multiplicity of plausibility structures that make those perceptions credible in the first place. Put another way, fragmentation not only occurs among worldviews, but in the social structures that support those worldviews. The number and variety of cultural systems means that the social conditions supporting any particular belief system are necessarily weaker. Belief is certainly possible, but it is necessarily different. The confidence borne from beliefs that are taken for granted typically gives way to belief plagued by ambivalence and uncertainty. The uncertainty is not a matter of insufficient will or deficient commitment but a natural social psychological reaction to weakened plausibility structures. In such circumstances, one is no longer enveloped by a unified and integrated normative universe but confronted by multiple and fragmented perspectives, any or all of which may seem, on their own terms, eminently credible. This social situation obligates one to choose, but once the choice is made – given the ubiquitous presence of alternatives in a market culture oriented toward consumer choice – one must reaffirm that choice again and again. These are social conditions that make faithfulness difficult and faithlessness almost natural.” (James Davison Hunter, To Change the World, pp. 202–203)

Comment » | Things Come Lately

Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity

November 13th, 2011 — 7:00am

“Lord we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences, that through thy bountiful goodness we may be delivered from the bands of all those sins, which by our frailty we have committed: Grant this, &c.”

Comment » | Grace and Life

Different kind of power

November 12th, 2011 — 7:46pm

“The Son of God was the new Adam. He was both the actual presence and the harbinger of a new kingdom. Everything about his life, his teaching, and his death was a demonstration of a different kind of power – not just in relation to the spiritual realm and not just in relation to the ruling political authorities, but in the ordinary social dynamics of everyday life. It operated in complete obedience to God the Father, it repudiated the symbolic trappings of elitism, it manifested compassion concretely out of calling and vocation, and it served the good of all and not just the good of the community of faith. In short, in contrast to the kingdoms of this world, his kingdom manifests the power to bless, unburden, serve, heal, mend, restore, and liberate.” (James Davison Hunter, To Change the World, p. 193)

Comment » | Gospel and Kingdom

Uncritical assimilation

November 10th, 2011 — 10:12am

“For conservatives and progressives alike, Christianity far too comfortably legitimates the dominant political ideologies and far too uncritically justifies the prevailing macroeconomic structures and practices of our time. What is wrong with their critique is that it doesn’t go far enough, for the moral life and everyday social practices of the church are also far too entwined with the prevailing normative assumptions of American culture. Courtship and marriage, the formation and education of children, the mutual relationships and obligations between the individual and community, vocation, leadership, consumption, leisure, “retirement” and the use of time in the final chapters of life – on these and other matters, Christianity has uncritically assimilated to the dominant ways of life in a manner dubious at the least. Even more, these assimilations arguably compromise the fundamental integrity of its witness to the world.” (James Davison Hunter, To Change the World, pp. 184–85)

Comment » | Gospel and Kingdom


November 6th, 2011 — 5:07pm

“When I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies in me; when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out; when I meet with the grief of parents upon a tombstone, my heart melts with compassion; when I see the tomb of the parents themselves, I consider the vanity of grieving for those whom we must quickly follow; when I see kings lying by those who deposed them, when I consider rival wits placed side by side, or the holy men that divided the world with their contests and disputes, I reflect with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions, factions, and debates of mankind. When I read the several dates of the tombs, of some that died yesterday, and some six hundred years ago, I consider that great day when we shall all of us be contemporaries, and make our appearance together.” (Joseph Addison, “Westminster Abbey”)

Comment » | From the Dead Thinkers

Twentieth Sunday after Trinity

November 6th, 2011 — 7:00am

Here are several Cranmer collects for the late weeks of the Trinity season, prior to the final two Lord’s Days of the Christian year:

“Almighty and merciful God, of thy bountiful goodness, keep us from all things that may hurt us; that we, being ready both in body and soul, may with free hearts accomplish those things that thou wouldest have done; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

“Grant we beseech thee, merciful Lord, to thy faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

“Lord we beseech thee to keep thy household the church in continual godliness; that through thy protection it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to serve thee in good works, to the glory of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

“God, our refuge and strength, which art the author of all godliness, be ready to hear the devout prayers of thy church; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Comment » | Grace and Life

True and false righteousness

November 4th, 2011 — 9:30am

“Ye have heard, my brethren, . . . how that the publicans and sinners drew near unto our Redeemer, and how that He received them, not only to converse, but also to eat with Him. And when the Pharisees and Scribes saw it, they murmured. From this learn ye, that true righteousness is merciful, and false righteousness is contemptuous, albeit that the righteous also oft-times feel moved with just indignation at sinners. But it is one thing to feel thus indignant through pride, and another to feel so through love of law. The righteous [in] their hearts . . . prefer before themselves them whom they are correcting; they hold as better than themselves them whom they judge. And thus doing, they watch by carefulness over them, which are committed unto their charge, and, by lowly-mindedness, over themselves. On the other hand, they whose exaltation cometh of a false righteousness, look down upon their neighbour, but are softened by no mercy toward his misery, and are all the more sinful, because they perceive not that they themselves are sinners. Of such were those Pharisees who judged the Lord because He received sinners, and, in the dryness of their own heart, rebuked the very Fountain of mercy.” (Gregory the Great, 34th Homily on the Gospels)

Comment » | Life Together

What the gospel does to life

November 2nd, 2011 — 3:18pm

I should like to encourage Your Grace, who are a young man, always to be joyful, to engage in riding and hunting, and to seek the company of others who may be able to rejoice with Your Grace in a godly and honorable way. For solitude and inwardness are poisonous and deadly to all people, and especially to a young man. Accordingly, God has commanded us to be joyful in his presence; he does not desire a gloomy sacrifice. . . . No one realizes how much harm it does a young person to avoid pleasure and cultivate solitude and sadness. Your grace has Master Nicholas Hausman and many others near at hand. Be merry with them; for gladness and good cheer, when decent and proper, are the best medicine for a young person – indeed, for all people. I myself, who have spent a good part of my life in sorrow and gloom, now seek and find joy wherever I can. Praise God, we now have sufficient understanding of the Word of God to be able to rejoice with a good conscience and to use God’s gifts with thanksgiving, for he created them for this purpose and is pleased when we use them. . . . It is my opinion that Your Grace is reluctant to be merry, as if this were sinful. This has often been my case, and sometimes it still is. To be sure, to have pleasure in sins is of the devil, but participation in proper and honorable pleasures with good and God-fearing people is pleasing to God, even if one may at times carry playfulness too far. Be merry, then, both inwardly in Christ himself and outwardly in his gifts and the good things of life. He will have it so. It is for this that he is with us. It is for this that he provides his gifts – that we may use them and be glad, and that we may praise, love, and thank him forever and ever.” (Martin Luther to Prince Joachim of Anhalt, 1534)

Comment » | Of Worship and Work

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