First Sunday of Advent Year A 11-27-2022

The Gospel

Matthew 24:36-44
But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only. And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man. Then shall two men be in the field; one is taken, and one is left: two women shall be grinding at the mill; one is taken, and one is left. Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh. But know this, that if.…..[READ MORE]

Advertisement

THE NEED TO PRAY AND NOT TO GIVE UP Year C 10-16-2022

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Gospel

Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, `Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, `Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

***

Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.” This is one of two instances in this Gospel where Luke tells us the purpose of Jesus’ parable before relating the parable itself. The other instance is the next parable (18:9-14).

Prayer is important in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus prays (3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 22:41), and sweats drops of blood in the agony of prayer on the Mount of Olives (22:44). He also teaches the disciples about prayer (6:28; 11:1-13; 18:9-14; 19:46; 20:47; 22:40, 46).

The parable that follows tells of the persistent prayer of the widow. More importantly, it tells us of the character of God.

The parable raises a question: Is the purpose of prayer only to bring our hearts into line with God’s will or does it also change God’s mind?

There is no question that persistent prayer—continuing communion with God—reshapes our hearts to God’s original design. Once this happens, clogged channels are cleared to receive God’s mercies.

Of course, we prefer prayer to grant what we ask as we ask it—and quickly. We expect physicians to give instant relief. We expect motion pictures to inspire instant joy or sorrow. We expect technology to provide instant communication. We expect the stock market to bestow instant wealth. But God does not promise instant answers to prayer. Consider it a blessing! Imagine the chaos if God answered every prayer quickly and as asked. A loving God could never give every person unlimited power.

However, this parable seems to teach that God’s will—always good—is swayed by persistent prayer. In Psalm 18:6-16, David recounts how God interceded with earthquakes, smoke, and fire to answer David’s fervent prayer.

In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people.” (v. 2). Moses charged judges to render fair and honest decisions irrespective of the wealth or social standing of the petitioner (Deuteronomy 1:16-17)—but we cannot expect justice from this judge, who does not fear God or respect people.

Fearing God is a positive attribute in both Old and New Testaments. When Jehoshaphat appointed judges over Judah, he counseled them, “Now therefore let the fear of Yahweh be on you. Take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with Yahweh our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of bribes” (2 Chronicles 19:7). Luke has mentioned that God’s “mercy is for generations of generations on those who fear him (1:50). When Jesus tells us that this judge does not fear God, we know that the judge is not to be trusted.

Kenneth Bailey says that the word translated “respect” in the NRSV (entrepomenos) has to do with shame-pride and should be translated “has no shame” here. In that time and place, People would have regarded such a shameless man with contempt (Bailey, Through Peasant Eyes, 132). A parallel construct in our culture might be a sociopath—a person without conscience or compassion.

In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, `Grant me justice against my opponent.‘” (v. 3). Widows are symbols of vulnerability in both Testaments. With no means of support, they were dependent their grown children–or on charity (Raymond Bailey, 429).

Because of their vulnerability, the scriptures demand protection for widows:

God has a special affection for widows, orphans and aliens (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).

Just as God provided relief for the Israelites from their Egyptian captivity, God requires Israel to provide relief for other vulnerable people (Deuteronomy 24:17-21).

Those who fail in this responsibility shall be accursed (Deuteronomy 27:19).

God will kill the person who abuses widows and orphans, and the abuser’s wives will become widows (Exodus 22:22-24).

Jesus condemns those “who devour widow’s houses” (20:47).

The early church provides food for widows (Acts 6:1-6).

Widows are honored, because of their dependence on God (1 Timothy 5:3-5).

This widow, like the man who demanded bread from his neighbor in the middle of the night (11:5-8), persists in asking. Her feisty character is unusual for a woman in that patriarchal society, but she has the weight of scripture and justice on her side. She dwells on high moral ground, and everyone knows it. This judge would not tolerate this nagging behavior by a man, but even a judge who knows no shame must exercise forbearance in the presence of a woman who enjoys the protection of scripture and the sympathy of the community.

For a while he refused;” (v. 4a). Perhaps the judge is waiting for a bribe. Perhaps he reserves favorable treatment for wealthier or more influential people. Perhaps he just doesn’t want to be bothered.

but later he said to himself, `Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.” (vv. 4b-5). The word translated “wear me out” is hypopiaze—literally “hit under the eye.” While the judge cares nothing for God or man, he recognizes that this woman can create problems for him. There are two possibilities for the judge’s concern:

One is that he is simply tired of her nagging presence and wants to be rid of her.

The other is that he might get a “black eye” in the community for mistreating a widow. Some scholars discount this explanation, because Jesus tells us that this judge “neither feared God nor had respect for people” or “has no shame” (v. 2). However, judges tend to be politically astute. This judge might have no respect for people and no sense of shame, but he knows that people expect him to help widows. His continuing refusal to do so could undermine his position in the community—might even cost him his job.

But it makes no difference to our understanding of this parable why this judge gives the woman what she wants. This judge is not a “stand-in” for God. Instead, this parable contrasts this evil judge with our loving God.

And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones” (eklekton) (v. 7a). Jesus argues from the lesser to the greater. If the unjust judge will do the right thing for this widow, even if for the wrong reasons, can’t we expect God to do the right thing for us? Can’t we expect a loving God vindicate “his chosen ones”?

The idea of chosen ones (or the elect) is found throughout both Old and New Testaments. God chose Abram and Abram’s descendants, bringing them into a covenant relationship that made Israel to be known as God’s chosen people (Genesis 12:1-3; Deuteronomy 7:6). The New Testament continues this understanding, but with the church as the new people of God–the new elect (Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Timothy 2:10; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 2:9).

who cry to him day and night?” (v. 7). This story suggests “that every word of prayer must penetrate to a depth of the heart that can be reached only by unceasing iteration” (Bonhoeffer, Life Together). The passion of those who cry to God day and night reminds us of Jesus’ prayer just before his death. “Being in agony he prayed more earnestly. His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground” (22:44). The Father did not respond by removing the cup of suffering, but by redeeming it.

I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them” (v. 8a). The widow asks only justice and the judge grants only justice. This parable does not suggest that God writes blank checks. Instead, unceasing prayer grinds away at the sharp edges of our lives until our will is conformed to God’s redemptive purposes, making it right for God to answer our prayers.

God’s justice might not seem quick to us, because God measures time from a broader perspective. Nevertheless, we can be assured that God will vindicate those whom he has chosen.

In difficult times, we hear people say, “The only thing that we can do is to pray”—as if prayer is a weak substitute for meaningful remedies. This parable teaches us that prayer is itself a meaningful remedy—that it engages God’s power, making everything possible.

Will he delay long in helping them?” (v. 7b). The NRSV reads, “Will he delay long in helping them?”

The Greek is kai makrothumei ep autois—literally “and he is patient or longsuffering with them.”

Most scholars interpret verses 7-8 as Jesus’ promise that he will return quickly. But in his earlier discourse on the coming of the kingdom, Jesus said, “the Kingdom of God is within you” (17:21), and warned that before the Son of Man can return, “he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation” (17:25).

And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (v. 8b). This is the point of the parable. Jesus wonders if he will find faith when he returns at the end of time. He implies that persistent faith is possible where there is persistent prayer. The faithful will pray, and their prayers will increase their faith (Evans, 267).


 

This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.. It is believed that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

 

FAITH LIKE A GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED Year C 8-2-2022

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Gospel

Luke 17:5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, `Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, `Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, `We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'”

***

These verses are composed of four apparently unrelated sayings, but Luke weaves them together in a natural flow:

  • First, Jesus deals with the problem of temptation—”occasions of stumbling” (vv. 1-2). This could include any number of stumbling blocks to faith: Hireling shepherds (John 10), sexual or financial sins on the part of the clergy, persecution, false teaching, behavior by established believers that could be misinterpreted by newer believers to their detriment (1 Corinthians 10) (Stein, 431). The penalty for such misconduct, Jesus says, is worse than sudden death.
  • Second, Jesus balances judgment with grace by addressing the way that we should deal with people who hurt us. We are to rebuke the offender and, if there is repentance, we must forgive. The requirement for forgiveness is absolute, even if the offender repeats the offense and the plea seven times a day (vv. 3-4). Earlier, Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (11:4). We are in frequent need of being forgiven, so we need to forgive frequently.
  • Third, the disciples, sobered by these requirements, ask Jesus for the faith required to meet them. Jesus does not respond by dispensing faith on the spot, but instead tells them about the power of faith, even a very little faith (vv. 5-6).
  • Finally, Jesus tells a parable that helps the disciples to understand their high calling. Expectations are high. Nothing that we do can be considered to be above and beyond the call of duty (vv. 7-10).

Increase our faith” (v. 5). The demands of verses 1-4 are harsh, and the disciples wonder how they can ever meet them. They recognize faith as a gift from God, and ask, “Increase our faith!” They can ask for faith; they can prepare themselves to receive it; but it is God’s to give.

In this Gospel, faith has been mentioned only five times so far (5:20; 7:9, 50; 8:25, 48). These all relate faith to faithful behavior, so these disciples might be asking Jesus to help them to remain faithful (Green, 613).

If you had faith the size of a mustard seed” (v. 6a). The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds. Jesus chooses this tiny seed to set up a contrast with the large sukamino tree—engaging in hyperbole to demonstrate the great power of even the smallest bit of faith. It is the same kind of exaggerated language that he will use later to describe a camel going through the eye of a needle (18:25).

Is Jesus suggesting that the disciples have the required faith or not? Some scholars believe that Jesus is affirming the disciples’ faith, while others believe that his words constitute a rebuke to disciples for their lack of faith. In the parallel story in Matthew’s Gospel, the disciples failed to heal an epileptic boy, and Jesus says that their failure was one of faith (Matthew 17:20). Since Luke leaves the matter of the disciples’ faith unsettled, we should probably let Matthew settle it for us. If we do that, Jesus means, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed—which you do not yet have….” The time will come, however—after the resurrection—when they do have such faith.

But the required faith is faith in God—not faith in self or money or weapons or raw power or people. The power behind the faith that Jesus mentions here is God’s power, and it is faith in God that allows us to appropriate that power.

you could say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (v. 6b). Matthew’s version, the more familiar one, speaks of moving a mountain instead of uprooting a tree. In Luke’s version, Jesus speaks of uprooting a sukamino tree—probably a large mulberry tree—and planting it in the sea. The point is that faith, even in small quantities, has great power. The person of faith taps into God’s power, which makes all things possible—even moving trees (difficult) and causing them to grow in saltwater (impossible). It is not our faith that works these wonders, but the God who stands behind our faith. Our faith, then, is like the thousand-dollar bill printed on paper worth only a penny. Such a bill has value only as it is backed by the full faith and credit of the government. So also our faith has value only because God blesses faith and empowers the faithful.

Jesus will nudge the disciples along one small step at a time—but only after the resurrection will they have great faith and great power.

How, then, do we get this powerful faith?

  • The disciples had it right; faith is the gift of God, so we can pray that God will increase our faith. Time spent in prayer is fundamental to faith development—but there are also other things that we can do to cooperate with God, who wants to increase our faith.
  • Association with people of faith builds faith, so our participation in the worship and life of the church is important.
  • The scriptures inform and correct our faith. Without the guidance of the scriptures, we tend to have faith in something smaller than God—money, a charismatic person, the government—something that will ultimately disappoint us. The scriptures keep drawing us to God so that we can develop the kind of powerful faith of which Jesus speaks here.
  • We grow in faith as we act in faith. Every gift of God is strengthened by the exercise of it, and this is true of faith. One word of caution: Just as the ordinary foot soldier sees too little to know how well or badly the battle is going, the ordinary Christian also has limited vision. The early Christians who were dying on crosses alongside the roads or in the Coliseum were acting in faith, and some may have felt that God had betrayed their faith. We can now see that their blood was not shed in vain, but instead became the manure that promoted the church’s strong growth. Faith means believing even when the outcome seems in doubt.

Next we have the Parable of the Under-Appreciated Servant. The master has a servant or slave who works both in the fields and in the master’s house. It would seem fair after the servant has worked all day in the fields for the master to fix the servant’s dinner. Instead, the servant prepares the master’s dinner and cleans up the table. Only then does he tend to his own needs.

This parable is difficult for several reasons. First, it seems as if Jesus is approving slavery. Second, it seems uncaring and unfair. Third, it is not our experience. We are accustomed to rewarding faithful employees (or to being rewarded), lest they find a more generous employer (or lest we find another job).

This story, however, does not commend slavery any more than the Parable of the Good Samaritan commends robbery. It simply uses a situation common in Jesus’ day to illustrate a spiritual truth—that our relationship to God is based on grace rather than works.

This is a hard but important reality for us to grasp. The Christian life is often difficult, and we are tempted to feel that God has abandoned us. Even Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). But once we have adopted “the attitude described in this parable we can meet the most severe temptations that come our way in our Christian work” (Wallace, 116).

We should also note that the Greek doulon or doulos can be translated servant or slave. Given our sensibilities regarding slavery, it would seem better to translate it “servant” here.

Jesus modeled the kind of servant-ministry to which he calls us. He came to earth, not in Rome, but in Palestine—not with a silver spoon in his mouth but with a feeding trough for his cradle—not in a time when he could address the world on television, but when communication was limited to the reach of his voice—not to sit on a throne, but to hang on a cross. If we have a quarrel with the demands of discipleship, we must address our objection to the one who has modeled the kind of sacrifice that he asks us to make.

Bailey notes a number of parallels between this parable and the Parable of the Watchful Slave, where the master serves slaves who have proven themselves faithful (12:35-40). The earlier parable has to do with Jesus’ Second Coming, but the current parable has Jesus already present among his believers. It calls believers to focus on serving Jesus today rather than inheriting a spiritual reward at the end of time (Bailey, Through Peasant Eyes, 119).

Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded” (me echei charin to doulo—surely he does not have gratitude or grace to the servant) (v. 9). In Luke’s Gospel the word charin or charis usually has to do “with credit (6:32-34) and favor (1:30)” (Bailey, 121). The issue, then, is whether the master is indebted to his servant for carrying out the master’s orders. This rhetorical question anticipates the response, “No! Of course not!” (Bailey, 122).

The point is NOT that God does not reward obedience, but that our obedience never puts God in our debt. Our salvation is therefore always dependent on God’s grace (God’s undeserved favor—God’s gift). We stand in need of grace every day. We would be supremely foolish to stand before God at Judgment Day and request to be judged on the basis of justice instead of grace.


 

This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.. It is believed that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

Regarding Covid-19 Vaccine

To the Bishops, Priests, other clergy and Friends of the Archdiocese of St. Michael
Greetings in the Name of the Lord.

Be it known to the world that by these presents, the College of Bishops of the Archdiocese of Saint Michael have resolved and stand in solidarity against the use of the various Covid-19 Vaccines for the following reasons;

Our Deeply Held Religious Belief About Our Bodies and Conscience
Because we are believers in Jesus Christ, His Holy Spirit, God Himself, dwells within us. Our Bodies are His Temple. (1 Corinthians 6)
Scripture makes it clear that God’s temples are places of great importance in the relationship between God and man. God dwells in the Temple, and there a man communes with Him. God speaks harshly of, and deals harshly with, those who defile his temple. (Jeremiah 7:1-15)
The Temple is defiled when it is used in ways that distract from its purpose, that deny the glory of God, that invite sin, that lower God from His place of dominance in the life of the believer, that reduce his trust in God’s plan and ultimate control over his life, or that by these means or others corrupt his relationship with God.
We must use our bodies to glorify God. We must do this to the best of our ability, employing our God-given reason and attempting at all times, in good faith and under varying circumstances, to do what pleases Him.
For the sake of relationship, God has shared with us His image and likeness. We look like Him in some respects, and we are like Him in others. He has given us many of His own attributes in small doses. Our innate sense of what is right, and our freedom to act upon it, are two of those attributes. They impose upon me a duty to act in accord with my conscience.
Our conscience tells us we cannot take any of the available Covid vaccines. There are several reasons for this:
1. We find that Abortion is a grave evil. We absolutely cannot participate in it or benefit from it, even remotely. Where there is any question about whether the covid vaccines have made use of fetal tissue, in their manufacture or even in their testing, We cannot morally involve ourselves. But it is unquestionable that all three available COVID-19 vaccines have been manufactured or tested using fetal cell lines from aborted human children.[1]

  • Johnson & Johnson/Janssen:  Fetal cell cultures are used to produce and manufacture the J&J COVID-19 vaccine and the final formulation of this vaccine includes residual amounts of the fetal host cell proteins[2] (≤0.15 mcg) and/or host cell DNA (≤3 ng).
  • Pfizer/BioNTech:  The HEK-293[3] abortion-related cell line was used in research related to the development of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Moderna/NIAID: Aborted fetal cell lines were used in both the development and testing of Moderna’s [4] COVID-19 vaccine.

2. Unlike other measures that can be reasonably taken to avoid illness, willingly receiving the vaccines into my body defiles God’s temple in the following ways:
a. The vaccines act at a genetic level that invades the province of God. Our genetic physiology is His design, extraordinarily complex as only He could make it, and understood only as He can understand it. Our understanding is shallow.
we cannot morally participate in tinkering with a powerful and dangerous thing, within this temple, that we poorly understand.
b. The acceptance into our bodies of any of the available covid vaccines would place my trust in Man over my trust in God. This defiles His temple.
c. Our duty to God is to reasonably preserve our health, not endanger it. There is evidence available, and worthy of consideration, that the vaccines are dangerous to our bodies.
3. Our faith teaches us that our conscience must be informed. The vaccines have been quickly configured. Many fair and important questions remain unresolved. A sufficiently informed decision cannot yet be made. Taking the vaccine at this point is a morally careless act.
4. Although we are not in communion with the Roman Catholic church we agree with their teachings that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”[5] Thus, the Archdiocese of Saint Michael’s teaches that We must not be forced to take a COVID-19 vaccine. We agree with and follow the teaching of Catholic prelates who, on this issue of conscience, have come down against any use of the available abortion-derived vaccines because it would be sinful to cooperate, even indirectly, in the crime of abortion. In particular:
Bishop Joseph E. Strickland:

I urge you to reject any vaccine that uses the remains of aborted children in research, testing, development, or production. Testify to the truth that abortion must be rejected and make a choice that is consistent with the dignity of every human life from conception to natural death and is rooted in a mature faith and trust in eternal life, not fear of suffering in this life.[6]

Cardinal Janis Pujats, Archbishop Tomash Peta, Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider:

The crime of abortion is so monstrous that any kind of concatenation with this crime, even a very remote one, is immoral and cannot be accepted under any circumstances by a Catholic once he has become fully aware of it. One who uses these vaccines must realize that his body is benefitting from the “fruits” (although steps removed through a series of chemical processes) of one of mankind’s greatest crimes. Any link to the abortion process, even the most remote and implicit, will cast a shadow over the Church’s duty to bear unwavering witness to the truth that abortion must be utterly rejected. The ends cannot justify the means.[7]

5. The Bishops of the Archdiocese of Saint Michael’s agree with the teaching of other Roman Catholic bishops, including those of Colorado and South Dakota, also corresponds to my sincerely held personal religious belief that I cannot partake of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines specified above:

We are pleased to see that in the case of the most recent Denver vaccine mandate there is accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs. This is appropriate under the laws protecting freedom of religion…. The vaccination question is a deeply personal issue, and we continue to support religious exemptions from any and all vaccine mandates.[8]

The Bishops of the Archdiocese of Saint Michael’s must stress, however, that even though we are not Roman Catholic, our personal religious belief are the same. We cannot have anything to do with vaccines that are connected in any way to the act of abortion. We could not live with ourselves if we were forced to be injected with any such vaccine.
6. As the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Guidance on the protection of sincere religious beliefs states, it does not matter whether one’s sincere religious belief happens to correspond to that of any denomination or that it might even contradict the teaching of one’s denomination. What matters is that one has a sincere religious belief, which I do, concerning the immorality of recourse to abortion-derived vaccines. To quote the EEOC’s Guidance document in the Code of Federal Regulations:

The fact that no religious group espouses such beliefs or the fact that the religious group to which the individual professes to belong may not accept such belief will not determine whether the belief is a religious belief of the employee or prospective employee…[9]

7. Also, we are aware that the United States Supreme Court has held that “[W]e reject the notion that to claim the protection of the Free Exercise Clause, one must be responding to the commands of a particular religious organization.” Frazee v. Illinois Dep’t of Emp. Sec., 489 U.S. 829, 834, 109 S. Ct. 1514, 1517–18, 103 L. Ed. 2d 914 (1989)(emphasis added).
In conclusion, in my capacity as Presiding Bishop and speaking for the College of Bishops of the Archdiocese of Saint Michael’s, I set my hand to this document on this the Fifth day of October in the year of our Lord Two Thousand and Twenty-one.
++Benedict-Johns

 

[1]https://lozierinstitute.org/update-covid-19-vaccine-candidates-and-abortion-derived-cell-lines/
[2]https://www.fda.gov/media/146303/download
[3]https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.09.08.280818v1.full.pdf
[4]https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2622-0.pdf
[5]https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20201221_nota-vaccini-anticovid_en.html
[6]https://stphilipinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Ethical-Vaccine-Letter-Bishop-Joseph-Strickland-12.8.2020-.pdf
[7]https://web.colby.edu/coronaguidance/2020/12/11/schneider-vaccines/
[8]https://tinyurl.com/p5rpp8md
[9]29 CFR 1605.1 (“Religious” nature of a practice or belief).

A Change in Name or Direction, No, Just Branding

As the years have gone by, it has become increasingly apparent to this Episcopal See that to identify ourselves as an Orthodox Anglo-Catholic Church might be somewhat misleading.  Although we use the rites of the Anglican Church and hold very valid lines of Apostolic Succession from both the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church we hold very little resemblance to any of those institutions.

Furthermore we have to this point identified as being part of the Independent Sacramental Movement (ISM). These jurisdictions modeled after the Old Catholic Church founded by the schismatic Bishops of Utrecht in the Netherlands; are in fact predominantly Progressive in regards to their views on secular social positions.

With all this said, while we share some commonalities with these other branches of Christianity, we are also unique.  While we are an openly Sacramental Church, practicing a liturgical worship format with the Holy Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper) at its center, similar to that practiced by the Anglican, Orthodox, Roman Catholic ISM and Old Catholic Churches and we believe in the same Creeds and the Seven Sacraments; we do have specific differences that set us apart.

  • Unlike the Orthodox, the Old Catholic, and the Roman Catholics, we do ordain women.
  • Unlike many within the Independent Sacramental Movement we hold traditionalist views on sexuality, marriage, and other American social constructs.
  • Like the Orthodox, we do not recognize the offices of Cardinal or Pope while we may or may not choose to demonstrate respect for those people who have the titles bestowed upon them.
  • While we may resemble–in our faith and practice–the orthodox Anglican churches, both those that are and those that are not in communion with Canterbury, but we are not ourselves in communion with any Anglican body and therefore should not attempt to identify as Anglican.  We do not seek to mislead anyone.
  • While we might be considered Protestant in that we stand aside of Catholicism, we disagree with some of the commonly held beliefs of Protestants that originated with the Reformation, such as but not limited too the heresy of once saved always saved. For more on this heresy read here and here.

Some say that Anglo-Catholicism is a bridge between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. It is not a compromise between Catholicism and Protestantism but the central mainstream tradition of the undivided church shared by the churches of the East and West. It is what all first-millennium Christians believed and lived, and what Rome and Constantinople still possess in common today—the consensus fidelium of apostolic tradition.  While not identifying as Anglican or Roman Catholic, we seek this same original Christian tradition as practiced by the first-millennium Christian Church.  This synergy that defined traditional Christianity.

So if you will take the time to look above at the byline of this blog, you will see that it now reads; “A Sacramental Christian Church ”

If you have questions about this change or who we are, please click here

A Proclamation on Holy Saturday

On This Thirty-first day of March, in the year of Our Lord Jesus Christ Two Thousand and Eighteen, as we observe Holy Saturday; I Benedict-Johns in my capacity as Presiding Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Michael, do proclaim that this jurisdiction of the Independent Sacramental Movement—churches that maintain valid lines of Apostolic Succession but yet stand apart from the Roman Catholic Church—in keeping with traditions long established by the Anglican, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic, do choose to venerate as Saints certain historical figures who have gave of Continue reading

Open message to the clergy and friends of ADOSM

To the Bishops, Priests, other clergy and Friends of the Archdiocese of St. Michael;

Social Media, has of late demonstrated a remarkable, if not breathtaking propensity to actively discriminate against conservatives, Christians, and causes that promote or up-hold the US Constitution as well as those that honor traditions held dear for thousands of years. As such I exercise my personal right to minimize my use of these platforms as such activity is used to encourage advertisers to support these social media conglomerates, generating revenue that is being used to effectively destroy those principles we hold dear.

More to the point, I have of late limited my interaction on social media to proselytizing the Gospel or bringing awareness to issues that many of the laity are oblivious too.   Messenger is an intrusive application designed to replace Text (SMS) messaging and or email and expose you to FB’s advertising. Personally I will not install this app on my cell phone or tablet, therefore I can only respond to messages from my PC which I am seldom at. If you need a rapid response to a question, please do not depend on messenger.   If you have my phone number you can text me or send an email to bp-benedict@outlook.com or use the contact us form on https://archdiocesestmichael.wordpress.com/contact-us/

 

Thank you for your cooperation.

An Open Letter From The Presiding Bishop

Many ministries like to claim that they are spirit led. For those readers unfamiliar with the jargon commonly used by more traditionally minded Christians, Spirit led basically means that we believe that God, through the Holy Spirit, communicates his direction to us. In other words as changes in a ministry are necessitated, after careful prayer and discernment, a spirit led church moves in a direction toward God’s plan in accordance with his will. Unfortunately some of us mistake the voice of the “Spirit” with something else; and in this extreme circumstance we see ministries not moving toward God but Continue reading

A Position Paper

It has come to the attention of this Episcopal See that the heresy of Interfaith Christianity is once again rising. Interfaith Christianity is a ministry that includes paths outside of Christian tradition and is a heresy whereas Intra-faith (also known ecumenical relations) is not generally considered a heresy except by certain denominations.

Those that have known me for many years, also know Continue reading

Antinomianism

Some weeks begin more interestingly than others, lately most weeks are no more news worthy than the previous one.  If you regard the atrocities, murders and dogs of war of today to be no more or no less horrendous than the same acts committed yesterday, then one day seems as bad as any other day.  Just when pessimism seems to be the prevailing attitude, and you convince yourself that the rhetoric of the eschatologists is right on the mark and we are indeed in the end of days and then suddenly you see a couple of articles that provide some degree of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel; and the week seems to stand out from all its predecessors.  This week was one such notable when in as many days two articles appeared in the Christian media regarding the fallacies of Antinomianism.

Antinomianism; the doctrine that insists that Christians are exempt from the moral laws outlined in Gods Holy word, is said to have been employed by Martin Luther as a means to explain the teachings of Johannes Agricola who was presenting a perverted version of the reformation doctrine of justification of Faith alone. [1]

As Christian authors have again tackled this subject recently, we can safely assume that far too many modern day Christians have fell victim to the idea that because of God’s expansive grace, we can do whatever we want and still enter into the Father’s kingdom.  Actually the casual reader of Christian media would quite naturally jump to the conclusion based upon on the number of articles published in the last couple of years, that there is a growing movement within the church calling for a return to preaching on sin and the path of holiness.

In all fairness to those that sincerely believe in Grace and Grace alone teachings, we have to acknowledge that many if not most hold to the idea that once saved, or born again, the sincere believer in Christ would automatically want to live a life as sin free as possible; if but from the love of God alone, surely they would want to abide by the heavenly Father’s words and ways.  But amazingly we encounter some that insist that they can do whatever they want and God will forgive them their past present and future sins.  Now admittedly we are all sinners, and even though we are born again we will no doubt occasionally sin, but this teaching is not a license to blatantly sin.  For example God will probably forgive the married person who on one occasion looked at a person of the opposite sex and thought that person to be more than just attractive; what might be a momentary lapse into blatant lust and that which Jesus referred to as adultery of the heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)

However this does not excuse the unrepentant adulterer, it does not allow any latitude for the extreme “hook-up” culture that is so prominent today in which people have untold numbers of intimate partners and—biblically speaking—illicit affairs.  Just as God knows what is in the heart of the occasional sinner, he also knows what is in the heart of those that continuously sin, unrepentantly without any remorse until the moment they stand facing the final judgment and say Lord, Lord… (see Matthew 7:21-23 where Jesus said;)

“Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice Lawlessness!”

While on its face value Sola Gratia, or Grace Alone is not entirely a heretical teaching, but it seems to be misunderstood and mistranslated into what some currently refer to as “Hyper Grace” [2] or the condition we have been discussing in which the believer is forgiven all sins, past present and future, unconditionally without repentance.  Would it not make sense to try to live as sin free as possible?  To try to do as Jesus said in Matthew 7:21

“(not everyone) shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he (but only those) that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

The flip side of this coin is those that disagree with the concepts touched on here will say that we are promoting works, or the heretical concept that you can earn salvation.  Quite possibly this idea originated as a knee jerk response to the Roman Catholic dispensations of the pre reformation era in which (some say to raise money for the construction of St. Peters in Rome) the Vatican sold dispensations, in effect blessings guaranteeing the purchaser a place in heaven, a practice not too far removed from modern day prosperity gospel concepts.  Obviously you cannot buy your way into heaven nor earn it through good works, but the born again Christian should naturally feel compelled to do good works, to put into practice what Jesus preached.  He or she should want to feed the hungry, serve the poor, etcetera. Even James said “Faith without works is dead.” James 2:14-26

Those that promote a variety of Antinomianism usually will tell you that trying to live a sin free life is in effect a work and is not necessary; which may be true. But this philosophy sends the message that there is no moral absolutes, no immutable moral laws defining right versus wrong.   For Christians to promote a philosophy that could oh so easily misconstrued by marginal Christians or the undereducated in Christian doctrine is frightening as one could jump to the conclusion that this erroneous teaching is responsible for many of the ills of the world.

[1] New Advent Encyclopedia online http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01564b.htm

[2] ‘Hyper-Grace’ Message Creating Culture of Lawlessness, by DANIEL K. NORRIS for Charisma News;  http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/from-the-frontlines/45305-hyper-grace-message-creating-culture-of-lawlessness

 

 

Saint Michaels Chapel

Some weeks begin more interestingly than others, lately most weeks are no more news worthy than the previous one.  If you regard the atrocities, murders and dogs of war of today to be no more or no less horrendous than the same acts committed yesterday, then one day seems as bad as any other day.  Just when pessimism seems to be the prevailing attitude, and you convince yourself that the rhetoric of the eschatologists is right on the mark and we are indeed in the end of days and then suddenly you see a couple of articles that provide some degree of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel; and the week seems to stand out from all its predecessors.  This week was one such notable when in as

View original post 845 more words