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Posts Tagged ‘Church’

O Lord, maker of all things, master of the universe: send your Holy Spirit to our brothers and sisters in France this day. May they be comforted and find peace in the midst of such chaos. May the light of your redeeming love through Jesus Christ, our Lord, shine brightly upon the darkness in which they find themselves. Allow your Church to be your mouthpiece, to give words of solace; and may we be your body, that those who mourn may find shelter in our bosom. For those who have died, we ask that you have mercy upon them, and grant them entrance into your eternal kingdom, according to their faith and your will. We cry out to you O Lord, and ask that you forgive those who have perpetrated this evil. For they did not know the truth of their actions. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus, that evil may be chained, and righteousness reign forevermore. Amen.

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I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

  • And of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord.

  • He was begotten, not made and is of one essence with the Father.
  • Through him all things were made.
  • Who for us and for our salvation he came down from heaven.
  • He was made incarnate by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
  • He suffered under Pontius Pilate.
  • He was crucified, died, and was buried.
  • He descended into the place of the dead.
  • He rose from the dead on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
  • He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
  • He shall come again to judge the living and the dead.
  • His kingdom shall have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit.

  • Who is the Lord, the Giver of Life.
  • Who spoke through the Prophets.
  • Who with the Father and the Son, is worshipped and glorified.

I believe in one holy Church.

  • Which is universal, and for all peoples.
  • Which is the Communion of Saints.
  • It is timeless and beyond the reach of mortal death.

I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.

I look for the resurrection of the dead, and life everlasting.

  • Which is a bodily resurrection.
  • The righteous shall enter the world which is to come.
  • The righteous shall not taste of death again.

Amen.

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For over two thousand years, the universal Church of Jesus Christ has focused itself upon the principal act of Holy Communion. The Eucharist, as it is also known, is the central act of worship for the historic Church. By its very practice, the people of god are edified and made to remember the redeeming passion of our Lord. Without he Eucharist, we deny ourselves the very salvific body and blood of Christ Jesus. Therefore it should be made proper to observe the feast of our Lord on a regular basis, and the Eucharist should always be the foundation of regular Christian worship.

Upon this foundation must be laid the works of the people, to be bricks which are built upon each other to become a habitation place for the Lord our God. A holy temple, built of prayer and worship, that the sacrifices of the saints may be holy and acceptable unto the Lord. The God of our fathers has deemed us worthy to be called his children. Let us therefore offer up to him sacrifices of praise and mercy, that may billow up to the heavens like clouds of incense, aided by the great heavenly host.

In personal practice, and communal, praise and prayer should be offered to God continuously. When there is doubt or uncertainty, feel free to borrow from the rich stores of Christian history, and Scripture. Ancient hymns of praise and despair can be found in the Psalms. Many Christians throughout the ages have relied upon the Psalms when prayer was required, but many Christians have also found it useful to use other prepared prayers as well. It is comforting to be a part of the holy Church, a communion of saints, who have prayed the same prayers in different tongues throughout the ages. An unbroken succession of worship to our Lord and God.

Not to be neglected is a continuous pattern of confession of guilt. As humans we are not perfect, for if we were to be perfect, a need for Christ Jesus would not exist. Therefore we should continuously examine ourselves in our day to day lives and practices, that we may be holy and blameless in the sight of the Lord. However, when there is sin present, it must be acknowledged and confessed before God and man. This is so that the Church may be one in Christ, and that all sins are forgiven before partaking in Holy Communion. For the Scriptures are clear that all must be at peace with each other, and if someone begrudges another yet still partakes of the Holy Supper, they bring damnation upon themselves.

It is proper also, that all members of the body of Christ be baptized for the remission of sins. The water washes away the sins from the body, as repentance washes away the sins from the soul. It is of no coincidence that in the Scriptures those who profess faith in Christ are immediately baptized. For one must be baptized to be born again. It is a sign of the new Covenant of God with his people. To refuse baptism is to refuse the blessings of the people of God. One cannot belong to the Church, if they have not been baptized.

Those who have been baptized into the Church, are also like young children in need of guidance. They are new to the faith, and can be easily misled by false teachers. It is then the duty of the Church to instruct the newly baptized in sound doctrine, that when trials and temptations rear their ugly heads, they may be combated. This more than anything else is pivotal to the continuance of the Church. Without this teaching, the souls of the masses are forfeit. In this way we seek to guard against the attacks of all evil forces, that the truth of Christ might prevail. But this can only occur if we guard up our spiritual children in the whole armor of God, teaching them discernment and truth, and that which has been believed at all times by the Church universal.

There is one other integral part of the Christian life which must be examined: acts of mercy. As we are called “Christians”, it is important that we act in a manner that is consistent with the teachings of Jesus. Time and time again, the Gospel of Christ prioritizes the poor, infirm, and oppressed. Therefore it is not only proper, but necessary, that the body of Christ put forth physical action to evidence their faith. Not only should we pray for those who are at a disadvantage, but we should also help them physically when we see the need. By this we may preach Christ not only by our words, but by our actions as well.

It is in my opinion then, that all of these in conjunction with the exposition of the Scriptures on a regular basis should form the regular worship practices of the Church. This is how the Church universal has behaved for the past two millenia, and I see no reason that it should be reformed in this regard or changed. To do so I believe, would be detrimental to the fabric of the Church. In particular, I believe this to be why so many churches in America are failing. They have forsaken many of the essentials of the life of  the Church, which has led to spiritually immature and vulnerable members.

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I remember the first time I was introduced to Christian Pacifism. It made literally, no sense to me whatsoever. As an eighteen year old kid (saying that as a twenty-six year old kid), the thought of Christian Pacifism was anathema. The very idea made me sick to my stomach. Pacifism wasn’t Christian in my eyes, it stood in direct contrast to everything I had been taught to believe by my culture.

My parents didn’t raise someone who was so easily turned away from differing viewpoints, however. The more the idea of pacifism disgusted me, the greater I wanted to delve into it and see why someone would commit to such lunacy. It also required me to confront head-on passages of Scripture that not only went against my worldview, but against the very god I believed in.

Having a crisis of faith is never fun. People don’t do this for kicks and giggles. The very bedrock of your faith is shaken to its core, because it was built on something that you’re not sure will withstand the test of time. Jesus gives a parable about this in the Scriptures. Everyone who builds the foundation of their faith upon the teachings and actions of Jesus will be able to withstand all the winds and rains and storms that may come. But those who do not build their faith upon the example of Jesus, will be like a man who builds his house on sand, and the first storm that comes will knock it down. And great will be its fall. (Matthew 7 & Luke 6)

The more I dug into Scripture, and the more I read the words of Jesus, the more my foundation began to crumble. My faith, my house, was built on sand. And the fall was great indeed. I became confronted with the very same question that plagued C.S. Lewis during his own crisis of faith. Either Jesus was a madman, or he was the Son of God.

Fortunately beneath my sand, was a bit of bedrock. That happens sometimes. My house fell, but I was able to clear away the sand, and begin building anew. It took some time, but I knew the foundation was firm (although I do still find granules here and there). My neighbors and friends and family laughed at me. I probably felt a bit like Noah, my faith being mocked. Yet I knew that somehow everything would be alright, because my new faith was built upon a Gospel that was solid. A Gospel of Love.

There have been some bumps along the way. Faith journeys are never easy. And there have been storms, Lord have there been storms. I’ve had hurricane winds blow against my heart and soul, and there have been times when it was all I could do to not give in. But our God is a mighty fortress, and happy are those who put their trust in Him.

The journey isn’t over yet. I still have a long road ahead of me. I’m still learning this path of love and peace, trying to show mercy and grace. (It’s been eight years since I started on this road, and you’d be surprised how little you actually learn in that time). A little something that helps me along in this regard is a quote by Stanley Hauerwas: “I say I’m a pacifist because I am a violent son of a bitch. I’m a Texan. I can feel it in every bone I’ve got. And I hate the language of pacifism because it’s too passive. But by avowing it, I create expectations in others that hopefully will help me live faithfully to what is true. But that I have no confidence in my own ability to live it at all.”

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It is remarkable to me that there are so many who view the Catholic Church with such disdain, even now. Do not misunderstand me, I’m no Papist. My great-grandfather’s dying words were, “Damn the Pope!”. But surely we have come to a point in the Christian religion where we can disagree on secondary issues, even so far as to call each other out on where we disagree, without questioning the salvific status of the other person.

No man has knowledge of who will enter the gates of Paradise. But I do not see how one can damn another professing Christian, especially when it is a man like Pope Francis who seems so remarkably intent on spreading the Good News of Christ to the poor and the least of these. It seems to me, that Pope Francis is the most Christ-like pope there has been in ages.

Do I have issues with the Church of Rome? Absolutely. For starters, they can begin to renounce papal infallibility when speaking ex cathedra, begin to consecrate women to Holy Orders, and allow Latin Rite priests to marry. But these are not salvific issues. None of them contradict the message of the Gospels, which is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit.

However, I have noticed a remarkable lack of the fruit of the Spirit when it comes to folks who lambaste the Catholic Church and Pope Francis, and refuse to acknowledge his stature and prominence in spreading the Christian religion. They would sooner gnaw off their own foot, than to admit that the Pope may indeed be a Christian, and may indeed be advancing the cause of Christ.

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I’m still trying to figure out how to define my experience watching “Selma”, last night. The closest I can come to, is that it was a spiritual experience. “Selma” is heart-wrenching, and beautiful.

The entire film, I could not help but think, “My God, what have we (white Americans) done?”. The answer to my question came in the movie itself. When any white person stands by, and does not speak out against racism when it rears its ugly head, we have implicitly condoned it. It is our sin of omission.

“Selma” also illuminates the activities of Dr. King in Selma, Alabama. His leadership of a non-violent protest against those who sought to harm and kill him. How disappointed I was to learn that while “Selma” had a full audience, a film that glorifies the life of a military assassin was sold out.

This is the sin of the Church in America – we have failed to speak out against the violence of this nation. We have implicitly stood by as our government systematically oppresses and murders its enemies – at home and abroad. Many in our churches have even explicitly supported or participated in such efforts.

We have glorified the military industrial complex as our savior and have placed our hope in our elected officials. Yet the Scriptures speak out, and proclaim a new way of life. That in the Kingdom of God, swords are beat into plowshares. That those who live by the sword, shall die by the sword. The Gospel of Christ is this: Love thy God, love thy neighbor, love thy enemy, love thine own self. Love.

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Which then is the love of Christ? The killing of enemies for national pride? Or the sacrifice of one’s life for the freedom of others?

Skip “American Sniper”, Church. Go see “Selma”.

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Litany of the Broken

Officiant: Let us approach the throne of God with humility and solemnity, asking Him to grant us our petitions by His grace and love.

O Great God of Heaven, have mercy upon us;
And hear our pleas.

We are but sinners approaching a Holy God;
Have mercy upon us.

Yet here we intercede for the broken among us;
For those who are in distress.

We ask that your Holy Spirit give comfort to those who are grieving;
For blessed are those who mourn.

We pray for those who suffer from loneliness;
For you are with us always.

We pray for those who have been alienated from your Church;
For you would leave the ninety-nine for the one.

We pray for those whose marriages have ended with divorce or annulment;
For your love knows no bounds.

We pray for those who have been victims of abuse and persecution;
For justice flows from your throne like streams of living water.

We pray for those who have been afflicted with illnesses of the body;
For you are the Great Physician.

We pray for those who suffer from addiction;
For you are the God who has delivered us out of Egypt.

We pray for those who suffer from mental diseases;
For you O Lord, are our peace.

We pray for the poor and the oppressed;
For the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.

We pray for those who struggle with belief;
For blessed are the poor in spirit.

We pray for ourselves, and all others;
For we have strayed away from You, and the road is dark.

Allow that we may partake in your Divine Nature;
For you have granted us fruit from the Tree of Life.

Grant these petitions O Lord as you see fit, in accordance with your Holy Word. We ask these things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Amen.

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