In 2002, I came to the United States for graduate studies. I sought out the evangelical wing of the Episcopal Church but soon discovered that my beliefs conflicted with much of contemporary evangelicalism in the United States. I believed, for example, the debate over contraception had been settled long ago – since that decision should be guided by one’s conscience – and helping the poor is a Christian duty, since every human being is made in the sacred image of God. I was surprised, therefore, to learn that many Christians in the evangelical movement in the United States oppose healthcare for the poor as well as gun-control laws, demonize immigrants, and place the United States Constitution on par with the Bible. Even more surprising was my discovery that the arguments I had often heard African bishops use against LGBTI people were not African in origin. Rather, they were the talking points developed by conservative evangelicals in the United States. —
Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma, “American Culture Warriors in Africa: A Guide to the Exporters of Homophobia and Sexism.”
(This is also a nice reminder that labels like “evangelical” do not mean the same thing around the world.)
When Jesus expels demons and heals the sick, he is driving out of creation the powers of destruction, and is healing and restoring created beings who are hurt and sick. The lordship of God, to which the healings witness, restores creation to health. Jesus’ healings are not supernatural miracles in a natural world. They are the only truly ‘natural’ thing in a world that is unnatural, demonized and wounded… . Finally, with the resurrection of Christ, the new creation begins, pars pro toto, with the crucified one. —
(via Ray Ortland)
(Source: naminganimals, via rootedradical)
When the word says, ‘This is My Body,’ be convinced of it and believe it, and look at it with the eyes of the mind. For Christ did not give us something tangible, but even in His tangible things all is intellectual. So too with Baptism: the gift is bestowed through what is a tangible thing, water; but what is accomplished is intellectually perceived: the birth and the renewal. If you were incorporeal He would have given you those incorporeal gifts naked; but since the soul is intertwined with the body, He hands over to you in tangible things that which is perceived intellectually. How many now say, ‘I wish I could see His shape, His appearance, His garments, His sandals.’ Only look! You see Him! You touch Him! You eat Him! — St John Chrysostom ~ Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew (via sebastianmorris)
"Limitations of the Lectionary", Walter Sundberg -
The present preoccupation with the liturgical calendar provides further encouragement for unquestioning use of the lectionary. It is now a common experience in the church to be treated to a barrage of sermons which use the weekly pericopes largely for the purpose of illustrating liturgical concepts such as Advent or Epiphany. The poor congregation thus finds itself subjected to an endless series of abstract meditations on the emotions of “anticipation” or “realization,” or whatever else is thought to be relevant to the liturgical season.
Various aids and resources serve to reinforce passive obedience to the lectionary. For a distressing number of the clergy, weekly Scripture reading and sermon preparation have been reduced to the curious practice of studying the three assigned texts for the week. The ever-present temptation is to treat these texts as pieces of a puzzle to be fit together by analogy, typology, allegory, or a progressive scheme of salvation-history. Although this often leads the exegete to employ techniques that, in the words of Roy Harrisville, are better “left to Origen or to the author of the Fairie Queene,” such techniques are tried nonetheless, week after week, year after year.
There are people out there who will tell you that liturgy means “the work of the people”. That is not accurate and not true. As it came to be used in the Church, liturgy means “a work done for the people”. The primary liturgist is always Jesus. He’s the one who does the liturgy for the people. He’s the one who gives the public benefaction, the giving out of his gifts. He arranges for his people to be gathered together and for the salvation and life that’s in him to be distributed to them. Historic liturgy then is “wherein we live as the people of God”. It’s Jesus dishing out the gifts.
— Pastor Will Weedon, LCMS
On the day of Pentecost the Church was born and yet there were no Gospels as we know them today. It would not be a theological exaggeration to assert that the Church would be the Church in Her fullness even if She did not possess the New Testament. For many raised on the Reformational principle of sola scriptura this may seem a radical—even heretical—statement. …[T]here was a time when the Church did not possess this corpus of inspired writing and yet the Church existed in Her fullness, Christians experienced the truth of the faith in all its fullness. — Fr. Georges Florovsky, The Byzantine Fathers of the Fifth Century, Vol 8 of Collected works as recorded in “The Church, Tradition, Scripture, Truth, and Christian Life [p. 15] (via gospelofthekingdom)
The Ascension of Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ
"God ascends amid shouts of joy; the Lord amid trumpet blasts"
Troparion of the Ascension: Tone 4
"You were taken up in glory, O Christ our God; you gladdened the disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit. By blessing them you confirmed that you are the Son of God, the Redeemer of the World.”
Kontakion of the Ascension: Tone 6
"When you have fulfilled the plan of salvation for us and untied the earthly with the heavenly, you were taken up in glory, O Christ our God. Never parting from us but remain constantly, you proclaim to those who love you: I am with you and no one can be against you."
Readings: Acts 1:1-12 and Lk 24:36-53
The content of our faith is a valid response (in faith) to the real problems that form our history. Indeed it is the ability of the faith to inspire initiative and creativity when it confronts the problems of human history that is the contemporary Christian’s most persuasive sign of the divine origin of the message proposed to him by the faith. — Juan Luis Segundo, The Community Called the Church. (via locusimperium)
Through Christ, God gave every man the possibility of loving others, and he joined all men and every individual in solidarity; he thus put love in everyone’s hands as the divine instrument of salvation. This possibility is as vast and as ancient as humanity itself. It does not date from AD 1 or 30. Nor is it limited by the historical limits of the ecclesial community. Through Christ, it reaches all men. The more traditional strains of theology have always echoed these perspectives: The redemptive work of Christ, carried out within history, goes beyond the limits of time and dominates the whole unfolding development of the universe — both its past and its future.
But there is something that begins with Christ and that moves out solely toward the future: namely, the revelation of this plan that suffuses all time. The Christian is not the only one to enter into this plan. But he is the one who knows it. He knows the plan because he has received not only redemption but also revelation.
Juan Luis Segundo, The Community Called Church.
(Apologies for the exclusive language. I’ve left it intact because I think it’s important to encounter theologians where they are, not where we would like them to be.)
A Protestant exaggerates his distance from Roman Catholicism on every point of theology and practice, and is skeptical of Roman Catholics who say that they believe in salvation by grace. A Reformational Catholic cheerfully acknowledges that he shares creeds with Roman Catholics, and he welcomes reforms and reformulations as hopeful signs that we might at last stake out common ground beyond the barricades. (Protestants also exaggerate differences from one another, but that’s a story for another day.)
A Protestant believes (old-fashioned) Roman Catholic claims about its changeless stability. A Reformational Catholic knows that the Roman Catholicism has changed and is changing.
Some Protestants don’t view Roman Catholics as Christians, and won’t acknowledge the Roman Catholic Church as a true church. A Reformational Catholic regards Catholics as brothers, and regrets the need to modify that brotherhood as “separated.” To a Reformational Catholic, it’s blindingly obvious that there’s a billion-member Church of Jesus Christ centered in Rome. Because it regards the Roman Catholic Church as barely Christian, Protestantism leaves Roman Catholicism to its own devices. “They” had a pedophilia scandal, and “they” have a controversial pope. A Reformational Catholic recognizes that turmoil in the Roman Catholic Church is turmoil in his own family.
A Protestant views the Church as an instrument for individual salvation. A Reformational Catholic believes salvation is inherently social.
A Protestant’s heroes are Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and their heirs. If he acknowledges any ancestry before the Reformation, they are proto-Protestants like Hus and Wycliffe. A Reformational Catholic gratefully receives the history of the entire Church as his history, and, along with the Reformers, he honors Augustine and Gregory the Great and the Cappadocians, Alcuin and Rabanus Maurus, Thomas and Bonaventure, Dominic and Francis and Dante, Ignatius and Teresa of Avila, Chesterton, de Lubac and Congar as fathers, brothers, and sisters. A Reformational Catholic knows some of his ancestors were deeply flawed but won’t delete them from the family tree. He knows every family has its embarrassments.
Protestants are suspicious of a public, “Constantinian” church. While acknowledging the temptations of power, a Reformational Catholic views public witness as an expression of the Church’s mission to the nations.
A Protestant mocks patristic and medieval biblical interpretation and finds safety in grammatical-historical exegesis. A Reformational Catholic revels in the riches, even while he puzzles over the oddities, of Augustine and Origen, Bernard and Bede. He knows there are unplumbed depths in Scripture, never dreamt of by Luther and Calvin.
A Protestant is indifferent or hostile to liturgical forms, ornamentation in worship, and sacraments, because that’s what Catholics do. Reformational Catholicism’s piety is communal and sacramental, and its worship follows historic liturgical patterns. A Protestant wears a jacket and tie, or a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, to lead worship; a Reformational Catholic is vested in cassock and stole. To a Protestant, a sacrament is an aid to memory. A Reformational Catholic believes that Jesus baptizes and gives himself as food to the faithful, and doesn’t avoid speaking of “Eucharist” or “Mass” just because Roman Catholics use those words. — Peter Leithart