The Importance of Love

November 30, 2006

Four Candles

I was reading a sermon from one of my favorite priests, Zelda Kennedy (the sermon can be found here), and enjoyed this story.

Four candles slowly burned. The ambiance was so soft that one could almost hear them talking. The first candle said, “I am Peace, yet the world is so full of anger and hatred and fighting that nobody can keep me lit.” Then the flame of peace went out completely.

The second candle said, “I am Faith. I am no longer indispensable, therefore it doesn’t make sense that I stay lit another moment.” At that moment a breeze softly blew out Faith’s flame.

Sadly, the third candle said, “I am Hope. People don’t seem to understand my importance, so they simply put me aside. I haven’t the strength to stay lit.” And, waiting no longer, Hope’s flame went out.

Suddenly a child entered the room and saw the unlit candles. “Why aren’t you burning? We are supposed to keep you lit until the end.” Saying this, the child began to cry. It was at this time that the fourth candle answered, “Don’t be afraid; I am Love. With Love we can relight the other candles. With shining eyes, the child took the candle of love and relit the others.

The flame of love should never go out in your life. And with love, each of us can live a life of peace, faith and hope.

I love Zelda’s stories.  She told me this story at one point in my spiritual journey and I had forgotten the story until now.

What I was learning at that point in my life was that love is a verb, not a noun.  Love is not a feeling, but an action.  Love requires something of us.  It is not passive.  It requires us to give something.

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The Daily Office

November 29, 2006

Daily OfficeEphesians 1:3-14

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ in him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

“He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love… according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

I think this sets out a great theology of inclusion.  That even before the Logos– the Christ– was incarnate on earth we were ALL set up to be held blameless before God in love, and that God, in the fullness of time, will gather ALL things in him– things in heaven and things in earth.


Same Thing, but Shorter

November 28, 2006

You are HereI just posted this comment on Susan Russell’s blog, and it seems like it made about the same point as my last entry but with a lot fewer words so I thought I’d repost it here:

“Where does the Bible say that the world is flat?”

A strict reading of the text (Gen 1) gives a pretty firm impression that there is a flat world under a dome, and lights suspended from the dome (I think the word in the text actually translates better as canopy than dome). Of course ignoring for a moment that light comes before the sun was created, the sun and moon are placed in this canopy above the earth– assuming an earth-centric universe.

What the text certainly does NOT say is “let galaxies be formed with solar systems that have suns in the center, and let one solar system in particular be formed that has a planet orbiting around it form…” You get the point.

To think that the authors of Genesis had some preconceived prophetic scientific understanding of the universe is a bit naive. And when somebody realized it was naive they got ostracized. Now, we realize that GLBT issues aren’t written so precisely in Scripture either. And, in due course– typical of our broken human nature– those who have a hard time changing would like to ostracize those who are figuring out just how imprecise these areas of Scripture are.

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Gutenberg BibleWe’ve had many discussions here about the nature and purpose of the Bible.

I’ve argued many times that the Bible is a narrative of our faith, and needs to interpreted accordingly.  It is divinely inspired, but as it is a narrative of our journey as a people of God it has to be looked at with a critical eye in order to understand God’s message for us.

Others see it as a historical document; a rule book straight from the mouth of God.  Solo scriptura, and all that.

I read an article by John J. Collins of Yale entitled The Zeal of Phinehas: The Bible and the Legitimation of Violence that I found extremely interesting for a seminary class (you can find it here, full MLA citation below).

It discusses how the Bible has been used repeatedly as justification for violence throughout history, recent and not so recent, using passages we conveniently leave out of our Sunday lectionary.

I’m particularly interested in this, because as I have pointed out again and again there are those who would point to the Bible and our Tradition as the sole and “unalterable” source of the Spirit’s revelation to us.  This line of reasoning, so they claim, makes it impossible for the Holy Spirit to be doing what they call “something new” (what I call ‘the same old thing’) today in revealing to us “new rules” (what I call ‘the same old inclusive God’) by showing us how limited our historical tradition has been in excluding gays and lesbians from full inclusion in the church.  “The church has always said it was wrong”, so they argue, so God must think it is so.

That line of argument is based on the inerrancy of the Bible.  That line of reasoning has been used for many sins of the church in the past.

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Grace and Thanks

November 25, 2006

Sunrise over Cemetery.  Photo by Richard BoltI stole this from Susan Russell, who got it from Jim Naughton, who wrote it.

It is easier to believe in chance than in grace. Chance requires nothing from us. In fact, if life is a succession of random events, than any response to good fortune is superfluous. Grace is different. In receiving grace, we are challenged to become channels of grace. This is more than a matter of a few good deeds (although those help); it is an invitation to place one’s self in God’s hands, and devote one’s self toward what we perceive as God’s ends. Thanksgiving, then, is a call to action: a gentle poke to awaken our collective conscience – to remind us that to whom much is given, etc.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yet another Daily Office

November 22, 2006

Daily OfficeThere was a discussion here several weeks ago about whether or not someone who read the law to another was judging the person they were reading the law to.

I think today’s daily office settles the matter (James 4:11-12):

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?

Adds quite nicely to Judge not lest ye be judged, in my humble opinion.

And it adds quite nicely to yesterday’s post on the our need to live together in our diversity whether or not we agree with each other.  It is not our job to tell each other what to do when our actions do not interfere with others– in fact it is our job to live with each other embracing those differences.


I don’t usually post things like this, but I’ve had quite a few discussions with folks who like to look at the Anglican Communion as a governing body for the church’s autonomous provinces which are held together by the mystery of the bonds of affection in the Holy Spirit.  I do get tired of writing about the antics of the Church.

As pointed out on Fr Jake Stops the World, the Archbishop of Capetown in South Africa recently made some statements calling to light some of the lesser publicized but equally important prounouncements of Lambeth, the worldwide gathering of all Anglican bishops:

  1. ++Ndungane is disappointed at the overwhelming attention paid to resolution 1.1 (on human sexuality)
  2. Resolution 2.2 describes the Lambeth gathering as a “consultative body.”  Those looking for a papal replacement– whether in a single person, council, committee, or gathering of any kind will not find it in Anglicanism.  We just don’t place that kind of authority for doctrine in our leadership centrally.  While some look to 1.1 as an authoritative doctrine for the church, it simply isn’t.  It is a consultative, not authoratative, pronouncement.
  3. Resolution 5.13 reasserts the agreement between the bishops of the church to respect the autonomous borders of each province, which have been violated most recently by Nigeria and other orthodox provinces.
  4. A resolution to condemn gay and lesbian people was defeated at Lambeth, which should be noted given the way that 1.1 has been interpreted.

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