Monday, November 21, 2005

Only True, Only False, or ?

Salvation comes from Justification, by Grace, through Faith – Only True, Only False, or ?

This past Sunday was Christ the King Sunday and the Lectionary had some very interesting readings. They confuse me.

First was from Ezekiel 34:11-17 “…’I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down,’ says the Lord God. ‘I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice. As for you, my flock,’ thus says the Lord God: ‘I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats’.”
Key in on “I will seek the lost … and … strengthen the weak.”

Second was from I Corinthians 15:20-28 “… for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then as his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.
Here key in on “for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order.”

Finally came the Gospel reading from Matthew 25: 31-46 “Jesus said, ‘when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as as a shepherd separated the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. … And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ … Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to the least of these you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life’.”
And finally pay close attention to “And these will go away into eternal punishment.”

I am, and have long been conflicted with regards to salvation. Who makes the “cut”? Personal opinion, and easily able to be argued as wrong is my thought that: “God loves his creation and will not be satisfied until His ENTIRE creation is redeemed.” Please note the emphasis on the word entire. But, that seems to be my experience with God. So why am I a Christian? What then is the purpose of Christianity? The above three passages seem to be in conflict with each other. “I will seek the lost”, “all will be made alive in Christ, but each in his own order.” And yet finally “these will go away into eternal punishment.” I can’t reconcile this and it seems strange that we read all three in the same daily Lectionary. Spoke to my Priest after the service (you can hear his Sermon on the passages here: ). It's worth the time to listen. He and I agreed that we would get together to discuss Salvation sometime. Strictly from a theological view, mind you.

We both agreed that as Christians we're saved. But, if that's the case, why work so hard following Christ's teaching? And if, God forbid, the Father seeks to redeem ALL, why worry about any of it? What's the reward, "Where's the beef?".

Somewhere in there faith and the human spirit's desire to do good, to love and to be loved and to be in community has to enter into the equation. My wife and I get into discussions about this from time to time (she's not theologically as liberal as I am though I'm the more socially and politically conservative). We have NOT reached consensus on this one, and I don't anticipate doing so any time soon. And, in the scope of life, why worry about it at all?

Don't really have an answer, I guess I'm just a person who likes to resolve issues and can't seem to get a handle on this one and as a result it bugs me. As does "Who shot JFK?". And I don't anticipate getting an answer to that question anytime soon either.

“Do you know what it means …”

Haven’t been in much of a mood to write about New Orleans, I was in the City as soon as the Mayor began letting folks back in with my daughter to check on her apartment (she lives Uptown and had zero damage), but the City itself did look pretty rough, esp. Lakeside of Claiborne and the Quarter. Been hard to be upbeat; however, the following links and an article my wife showed me in Oprah Magazine have finally moved me to post. is a link that was sent me by my daughter, and more than anything else it gives an insight to the ethos of the people who make up NOLA. As an Episcopalian, I’m proud that my denomination’s local Cathedral Church played an important part in helping to revive the spirit of the City. Get me talking sometime and I can explain at length what the “Big Easy” really means to us. Not drunken revelry by any stretch, it’s family, friends, good food, good music, tolerance and friendship, a certain “joie de vivre” that I’ve not experienced any where else in the world. It’s like Grandma and Grandpa’s love: comfortable, relaxed, unpretentious and unconditional. another link the daughter told me about, written about a friend of ours (Phil M.). The Pontchartrain is probably my favorite watering hole in the City, I know “The King” and a lot of the other resident “stool sitters” mentioned and can see and hear them there if I just shut my eyes.

The article in Oprah was about how an extended family dealt with the evacuation. It’s written by a family member who lives in New York City but grew up in NOLA. She too speaks of the pull of the City to those who have embraced it.

So what’s the point of all this? I’m confident (actually have been all along) that the NOLA I know and love will be back and am looking forward to setting myself down at a table in the Bayou Bar on Friday or Saturday night after a delicious meal at one of the many great restaurants in the City (BTW: they are already beginning to reopen), ordering a Cragganmore “neat” and listening to my friend Phil play and sing and if I’m lucky maybe Dianne or “The King” will be there and entertain too. Because, I do, know what it means to miss New Orleans.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

New Words

I'm in my second year of E.F.M. (Education for Ministry), a four year course of study taught under the auspices of The University of the South (Sewanee for you less enlightened). Let me start by saying: "I have NO intention of becoming a 'certified Preacher man'."

Lots of us crazy Episcopalians use it as a learning experience to solidify our faith, develop our own personal theology and to teach us how to minister as laity. It involves a commitment of one night a week for 36 weeks for a period of 4 years, and annually paying tuition and purchasing the text. In doing so, we send bunches more than the cost of the materials to Sewanee as administration expense. It ain't a cheap program.

Anyway, first year is Old Testament, second year is New Testament and so on. I can really recommend E.F.M. as a great tool for your personal toolbox. Year one (O.T.) certainly broadened and deepened my knowledge as well as my faith and year two is continuing along the same path. In the past couple of weeks I've learned some really great words like kerygma and didache and Shema.

So, where am I going with this? At first I thought I wanted to tell all about what these words mean, but after letting this sit overnight and proof reading it, I changed my mind. I do believe that learning about the Shema has broadened my respect for the Jewish tradition. And that an understanding regarding these concepts and definitions seems to me to be worthwhile.

If you're so inclined, and don't recognize them, check 'em out.

Monday, November 14, 2005


I was kneeling in the pew in silence yesterday before Holy Communion, as was the rest of the Parish when a very young child loudly and gleefully cried out “Da-Da”. Don’t really know what prompted the outburst as it was quiet and I was engrossed in my own issues. Obviously, I was interrupted from my thoughts and prayers. Thanks be to God!

The child’s obvious elation in calling for their Da-Da got me to thinking. Isn’t that the way we should approach the Eucharist? Filled with joy at the opportunity to once again be reunited with our Abba. It seems that frequently we become too “bogged down” in the mundane to approach our Father (thru His Son) with the childish joy that this youngster had, excitedly and lovingly calling out to Da-Da.

That must be one of the meanings of “coming to Me as a little child.”

So, I guess that next Sunday, before Communion, instead of going over all the cares and concerns from the past week, I’ll try and just get closer to my Da-Da.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Drinking from a fire hose

Got a newsletter today from one of the organizations I tend to support. The author was speaking about people really "getting into" things, tending to overdo their initial experience which ultimately leads them to abandon the activity (he was referring in part to beginning a Faith Journey) before even getting started good. He used the metaphor of "drinking from a Fire Hose." Don't know about you but if I were to take a drink from a fire hose it would probably be the last drink I was in a mood to take for quite some time. I know it's hard not to immerse yourself in something you find new and interesting but in doing so it seems interest generally wanes and suddenly you're back to the start, dropping whatever held your attention and looking for something new.

He (the author) suggested taking things a little slower, developing discipline and committment along the way and then we are better able to follow thru with those things which we have begun, even so far as beginning lifelong relationships with them (esp. our Faith). I like the idea.

When counseling clients who are considering going into business, I try and explain my theory that most successes are built on habit. We get into the habit of buying Ford trucks, going to Church on Sunday, eating at one or a few restaurants we are comfortable with or shopping at one or two particular stores. Not always because they are the best, but because it becomes a habit and habits (good or bad) are hard to break.

It's probably wrong to connect Worship to habitual behavior, but I find that some Sundays I'm in Church because it's habit and not a burning need. And I think that's OK. The good side of that is when the need does burn I'm already in the habit of showing up. And even those "habit days", when I'm on autopilot, I tend to benefit my spiritual growth even without trying.

I suppose I should make a conscious effort not to drink from any Fire Hoses anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Do not leave until...

Just opened a copy of one of the many, many magazines to which I subscribe (far too many, to be sure). This one happens to be Sporting Classics which I believe is one of the finest outdoor hunting and fishing journals published, if you tend to appreciate the finer nuances of the sporting world. Outdoor Life or Field and Stream it ain't. Anyway...

The last page always includes various quotations sent in by readers, and it remains the first page I turn to when it arrives. I'm a sucker for quotes; other's thoughts seem to express my inner feelings better that I can. This issue had a keeper, though I think one has to look for the "deeper meaning" to fully appreciate it. It read:

"In olden times there was a common saying a man would use often when an old friend was leaving. So when I walk in what might be the last of this November season, I remember that saying. It's not a prayer, but a thought asked of the wind, the wild, and the season. 'Do not leave until thou has blessed me'."
November Season
Gene Hill

WOW... "Do not leave until thou has Blessed me." While it does apply to the season and its elements that make the outdoors so important to those who enjoy them, wouldn't it be even better if we could ask it of all with whom we come into contact? And offer it to others in return? You have to believe that life wouldn't be so confrontational if we could be blessed by and in turn bless all those with whom we come into contact.

So, if you happen to stumble upon my blog:
Blessings be upon you; and please, "Do not leave until thou has Blessed me."