Do you desire to make your Christmas preparations and celebrations more Christ-centered?
Curious about how a full observance of Advent can lead to a more joyous Christmas celebration?
Would you like to find out how others approach the season of Advent?
Join us TOMORROW, Wednesday, November 28th when Jeanne from At A Hen's Pace will host a blog carnival focusing on "Anglican Advent Traditions"! We'll be sharing inspiration, information, activity ideas, craft ideas, music and more. Please plan to come for a visit!
We pray you'll be encouraged as you begin your Advent observance, or perhaps as you learn about it for the first time.
Bloggers - if you would like to submit a link(s), please email Jeanne at: hens(underscore)pace(AT) yahoo (dot) com with your link and a brief summary by noon on TODAY, November 27th. Feel free to "steal" the graphic above and use on your own blog.
If you have any trouble with that, email me and I'll send you the graphic file directly: kerry(dot)wmson(AT)gmail(dot)com. And please, spread the word!
Non-bloggers (or late bloggers), if you'd like to contribute, please feel free to do so in the comments section when the Carnival opens on Wednesday!
Our tradition, developed over a few years of being totally overwhelmed by homeschooling, is to put out a few special bits of the decorations on certain days (St. Nicholas’ Day, St. Lucia Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day –more later). The rhythm of the season was so nice, we've kept it up on purpose! It is lovely when the season slowly and gently unfolds before us.
The Study Praying with Anglican prayer beads has been a wonderful spiritual practice for me. I find that these “rote” prayers are beautiful meditations and encourage me to remove myself from the focus of prayers and place that focus on the Lord. I find these prayers are particularly helpful when the mind and the will are tired and weak. During Advent, I’ll be using some prayer bead prayers specifically for the season. (I printed this out and am now having trouble finding the link. I'll post it as soon as I find it, so check back!)
For personal devotions and contemplation, beyond my daily office, I’ll be using Advent and Christmas With Thomas Merton. This is a Roman Catholic publication which includes a few Marian devotions. These I could skip, but instead I’ll read them with an Anglican “eye”. (Expressing thankfulness for her rather than prayer to her.)
The Dining Room On the dining table, you’ll find our Advent Wreath as the centerpiece and this is where we will have our Sunday Family Advent devotions. As much as I’d like to have a nightly devotion, I’ve just not been able to pull it off. So, instead of setting a high bar and failing, we are setting the bar at a level that is reasonable for our family.
Our Advent wreath is a simple pewter one with the traditional purple and pink candles. Last year, I added some rosemary sprigs from my garden for evergreens. I enjoyed this because when they got dried out, I could easily renew them. The pewter wreath with loose evergreens is much easier for me to handle than making a fresh wreath every year and keeping the greens misted.
The Advent wreath will be replaced with a traditional Christmas Pyramid on Christmas Eve. It has the Nativity figures on three different levels. We go from the simple to the madly decorative!
The Family Room Couches are for reading: in lieu of a traditional nightly Advent Wreath devotion, we will return to a book we enjoyed as a family a few years ago: Jotham’s Journey. It is a gentle and serious story set in biblical times. Jotham is a young boy who ends up meeting the Christ Child. One reason I like this, is that we can flop down on the couch after dinner and just enjoy. With young kids, that is a much better option than formal prayers and devotions.
TVs are for watching: I LOVE all the cheesy, clay-mation Christmas specials! I also love most Christmas movies – no matter how dorky. BUT, watching these just gets my kids all “amped” up and impatient. And they certainly distract us from a focused Advent. So, what to do?
This year we are going to record all those beloved shows! I’ve already recorded “White Christmas” and “A Christmas Carol”. Now, we’ll be able to enjoy these during the 12 Days of Christmas! I know not everyone can do this, but if you can, I highly recommend it. One caveat: On those days when we are enjoying a little “foretaste” of Christmas, like St. Nicholas Day, we will probably indulge in one of these movies. Just enough to whet the appetite!
A Nativity to play with: during the Advent season, we put out our “play” nativity scene in addition to our decorative one. The play one is a Playmobil Nativity set we received a couple of years ago. This year I’m going to package the pieces into 24 boxes – one for each day of Advent. Ending, of course with, the infant Jesus on Christmas Day.
Another part of our Nativity, but separate from the PlayMobil scene is a little wooden box we use as a manger. I keep a can of “hay” nearby and the kids fill the manger with hay as they serve and make sacrifices for each other. I like to combine this with the tradition of doing something secretly for someone on behalf of the “Christ Child”. We are going to make little note cards for family members to leave behind when they do a good deed. The cards will say something like, “This good deed was done for you on behalf of the Christ Child.”
Music to listen to: Christmas music - I LOVE it, but hate to start listening to it so early. How do you keep Advent without missing all your favorite music? I’ve found an amazing online “radio” station. This guy broadcasts traditional music according to the church year – and he’s an Anglican! I’ve enjoyed listening to his All Saints’ music, and I can’t wait for the Advent music.
Since I also like the less traditional and more “cultural” stuff, too, we do enjoy some regular Christmas radio on our special celebration days.
The Kitchen Table The kitchen table is a very busy place in our house. This is where we do most of our “lessons”, our craft projects, and our food preparations.
Lessons: During the holidays, we operate on what I call “Holiday School”. It is quite a bit like “unschooling”, but with a holiday theme. All our activities during Advent will focus on “preparation”. We’ll prepare our food, gifts, and decorations. We’ll prepare our minds and hearts through reading poetry, stories and bible passages.
The Notgrass Publshing company has a great homeschool journal. These journals are for your students to fill in, but mine are too young or “allergic to pencils”. What I love is that the Notgrass journal helps you recognize the many areas of education (Spiritual, Service, Relations, Creativity and traditional areas like: Science, Math, Literature, History, Writing) by prompting you to apply your journal entries to these various descriptor boxes. The Notgrass journal will help us recognize how much we are learning through all this “fun stuff” – and most importantly it puts mom and dad at ease.
There will be some slightly more formalized learning, too. Math games and activities from Family Math will be combined with a holiday activity. For example, we have two large jars of buttons which the kids would like to use to make fancy refrigerator magnets. We will use a lesson from Family Math to sort our buttons in a number of ways and then we’ll use our sorted buttons to make our magnets. Other activities will include: measuring with Candy Canes, practicing or just learning the concept of “area” and “perimeter” while wrapping packages, and some simple fun math games.
Food: Another Advent tradition for us is preparing some of our special Christmas treats ahead of time. The kids can be wonderful kitchen helpers, so we’ll work together to turn out: breakfast breads (Orange-Cranberry, Banana, Pumpkin Spice), cookies (St. Nick’s Gingerbread, Sugar, peanut butter “blossoms”, pepparkokar, snickerdoodles, and others), and special treats (chocolate dipped pretzels, butterscotch haystacks, hot chocolate mixes). There is a wonderful combination of merriment and purpose during our family cooking, which adds to our Advent!
Check back in the coming days as I add these recipes.
The Family Calendar The Advent Season is filled with delightful mini-celebrations that ease our anticipation and kindle our devotion. However, to celebrate or observe every one would be a burden for us. So, we have carefully chosen a few that have particular meaning for us.
The Advent Season is preceded almost directly by St. Andrew the Apostle’s Day. Some people fast on this day in preparation for the beginning of Advent. We’ll have a modified “fast” in which we serve a “feral” meal. “Feral” meals, being the opposite of “Feast” meals, are simple and modest. Instead of our usual Friday night pizza, we’ll have a simple soup and salad meal.
Dec. 1st - today we’ll do the minimal Advent decorating: an heirloom Advent banner and the Advent wreath. The banner is a simple cross-stitched on linen with little loops on which to hang candies – one for each day of December.
Dec 2nd – first Sunday of Advent: We will have our first Advent wreath devotion and light the first candle. We will do this before we go to church rather than at dinner time, because our church now meets in the evening and has a potluck dinner afterwards. Each Sunday, we’ll do the same!
Dec 6th – St. Nicholas Day: We’ve done away with the secular “Santa Claus” and restored St. Nicholas! Our shoes are set out beside the fireplace the evening before and St. Nicholas leaves a small present or two and some goodies. We have a big family breakfast – Daddy even takes the morning off! In the past, we’ve spent the day baking and decorating gingerbread men and bishops. But this year, we might make them a few days ahead of time and then spend St. Nicholas day delivering them to friends with notecards telling about St. Nicholas. This just seems more in the spirit of the day and the saint!
We’ll bring out some of our “St. Nicholas” (or Santa Claus) decorations today. Not too many, just a few. I like to put them all on one table or shelf to make a St. Nicholas display of sorts.
Dec. 9th – Conception of the Virgin Mary (Theotokos): In lieu of the Roman Catholic observance of the Immaculate Conception (on the 8th), I’m choosing to adopt the Eastern Orthodox day. Regardless of what you believe about Mary, this is certainly a good day to spend some time honoring her through prayers of thanksgiving.
Perhaps, we’ll bring out our nativity Mary and Joseph and let them begin a procession around the house until they arrive in “Bethlehem” on Christmas Eve.
Dec. 13th – St. Lucia Day: My MIL’s family is Swedish. She was born there, but her parents immigrated to America when she was quite young. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed learning and adopting some Swedish customs. St. Lucia (or St. Lucy) is a particular favorite of mine because she was an Italian (part of my heritage is Italian). You can read a bit more about how Swedes traditionally celebrate the day and about St. Lucy.
We celebrate the day with special St. Lucia buns, which are rich, saffron bread (like a challah bread). I make small breads for each child and drizzle some icing on top. This year I’ll wake my daughter up and let her help me prepare the special “candlelight” breakfast. We’ll probably serve it in the kitchen, but we might get adventurous and serve breakfast in bed. Later, I make larger St. Lucia breads which are served with orange marmalade rather than icing on Christmas morning.
In the evening, we’ll put up our Christmas tree. The tree is hung with lights and that is IT! No decorating until Christmas Eve. We will also put lights at the windows and other selected locations in the house. (Lucy’s name means “Light” – and we’ll talk about how she reflected God’s light to those around her.)
Dec. 21st – St. Thomas the Apostle Day: This is a new celebration day for us this year, and a particularly Anglican one, too. (Roman Catholics celebrate his day in July.) Besides learning about St. Thomas this day, we will put out the final decorations around our home, including the rest of our “nice” Nativity scene. (Mary and Joseph have been traveling here for sometime, but now they will be getting much nearer!)
Dec. 24th – Christmas Eve: Tonight we begin our Christmas feast with a very full day. We will decorate our tree, remove our Advent wreath (replaced with the Christmas Pyramid), enjoy a festive meal, open a few special gifts, and enjoy the first glass of Svenska Glogg. I know this isn’t really a traditional or Anglican way to spend the day before the Christmas Vigil, but it is an accommodation to my MIL who loves to have a big Christmas Eve feast (Swedish tradition).
In the past our parish has often had a late afternoon family church service. We’ll either go to that or Hubby and I will sneak away (grandparents will stay home with kids) for midnight mass. Maybe both!
The Laundry Room A wonderful Scandinavian tradition is to do a “spring” cleaning before Christmas – An Advent Cleaning. With 3 kids “helping” (and making more messes along the way), this can be a monumental task. But, I love having a clean and organized house before the Christmas mayhem of guests, gifts and gluttony. So, we’ll incorporate the cleaning and decluttering into our Advent preparations all the while remembering that we are doing our part to “prepare the way” for the Christ Child in our home as well as our hearts.
We will start going room by room next week. If we do a little each day, we’ll get through the whole house before the end of Advent. Then before Christmas, we just need to do the basic weekly cleaning chores.
My Writing Desk To be true to the Advent spirit, one might consider waiting to write cards until AFTER Christmas, but I’d never get to them if I waited! This year, I’m going to get our cards ready during Advent (part of our Christmas preparations) and mail them on the 26th of December. The post office will be delighted, I’m sure.
Two newly discovered leftover delights one for the stomach and one for the mind. Stomach first! Delicious, yummy and perfect: Turkey-Barley soup! I tried a new recipe last night to use up the leftover Turkey we brought home from Mother-in-Law's home. Really delicious! I got most of it from that Simply in Season book I mentioned earlier, but I've adapted it a bit for use with roasted turkey.
4 c water 4 c chicken or turkey broth 1 1/2 c diced carrots 1 c diced celery 1/2 c barley 1/2 c onion 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp each pepper, sage, thyme
Combine in a large soup pot. Cover and simmer for one hour.
1 lb roasted, chopped turkey 2 T ketchup 1 T soy sauce Add to soup, allow meat to heat and serve.
This can also be done in the slowcooker! Just throw all the ingredients in the cooker and set on low for 6-7 hours.
I served this with warm, crumbly, buttery corn bread. DELISH!
"Let us be thankful that Thanksgiving has not yet fallen to the Kindergarchy, as has just about every other holiday on the calendar, with the possible exceptions of Yom Kippur and Ramadan. Thanksgiving is not about children. It remains resolutely an adult holiday about grown-up food and drink and football.
The weather, which provides the backdrop to Thanksgiving, is also much in its favor. In most parts of the country cool, sometimes cold, it doesn't usually blow the holiday away with tornados, hurricanes or great snow storms. Warm jackets, sweaters, corduroy trousers are the order of the day--comfort clothes, the sartorial equivalent of comfort food.
Comfort food is what Thanksgiving provides, and to the highest possible power. Large browned turkeys, rich heavy stuffings, sweet potatoes, cranberries.... Everyone has in mind his or her own memories of splendid Thanksgiving dinners.
Thanksgiving also has inclusiveness going for it. The holiday really is for all Americans, though I suppose a sourpuss leftist might, with boring trenchancy, be able to interject it isn't such a fine day for Native Americans.
While secular in tone, Thanksgiving is also slightly religious in spirit. I am having Thanksgiving this year at the home of my son and daughter-in-law, and because of the slight religious nature of the holiday have asked them not to invite Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens or any of the rest of the atheist gang, all of whom seem likely, if on the premises, to put a dampening spirit onto the proceedings.
I wish the poet W. H. Auden were still alive, so that he might be at the same table where I eat my Thanksgiving dinner. Auden, I think, nicely captured the spirit of Thanksgiving when he wrote that, in prayer, it is best to get the begging part over with quickly and get on to the gratitude part. He also wrote, 'let all your thinks be thanks.' "
Having been inspired by the book Simply In Season, I've been trying to cook "seasonally" for the past few months. We've all enjoyed the fresher food and I've felt a sense of relief and release! No longer do I feel the urge to present something "new and different" at meals. By cooking seasonally, we enjoy the fresher and often cheaper produce and I feel we are eating in a more natural rhythm. This may not be new to many of you, nor is it new to me, but it is easy to get so used to all types of produce being available at all times of year, that we lose the art of cooking with the harvest.
I highly recommend the book! Here's what we are eating this week. Many of the recipes come from Simply in Season (marked with an asterix). Those that don't are still inspired by the seasonal cooking concept.
I came across this recipe back in the summer and gave it a try. It really does make for a deliciously moist roasted turkey! I've also halved the brine and used it for a roast chicken with equally good results. This recipe calls for juniper berries - I've no idea where to find these, so I've left them out. Perhaps it is better with them, but my family thinks they are unnecessary. I do have several large rosemary bushes, so I used that when I roasted the turkey to take the place of the juniper.
Keep in mind, you need to brine a fully-defrosted Turkey for a whole day, so plan ahead accordingly!
Here's the recipe: I found the following recipe for brine that can be used for chicken, turkey, or a pork roast on recipezaar.com. It is originally from Chez Panisse. It makes a LOT of brine, so you'll need a big pot in which to submerge the roast. Also, you'll have to plan ahead for soaking time - a day for poultry, 3 days for pork.
Chez Panisse Brine 2 1/2 gal. of cold water 2 c kosher salt (table salt works well, too) 1 c sugar 2 bay leaves, torn into pieces 1 bunch fresh thyme, or 4 T dried thyme 1 whole head of garlic, peeled 5 whole allspice berries, crushed 4 juniper berries, crushed
Prepare the brine and soak: place the water in a large pot that can easily hold the liquid and the meat you intend to brine. Add all the ingredients and stir for a minute or so until the sugar and salt to dissolve. Refrigerate poultry in brine for 24 hours; pork for 3 days. If the meat floats to the top, use a plate or other weight to keep it completely submerged in the brine.
To roast: Poultry - stuff cavity with desired herbs (chicken: onions, lemon wedges, herbs such as thyme, parsley, rosemary/ turkey: lemons, herbs, onions of desired). Rub the skin with oil to help browning; sprinkle with fresh pepper - salt is not needed due to the salt in the brine. Cook uncovered in a 400-degree oven until done (about 1 hr 15 min for a 3-4 lb chicken or 12-15 minutes per pound for a turkey). Boneless pork roast: Sprinkle the roast with pepper and herbs such as sage, thyme or tarragon,if desired. Roast uncovered in a 400-degree oven for about 12-15 minutes per pound.
I only did a large turkey breast, so there was no cavity. Instead, I just shoved lemon quarters in various places around the breast. Same with the rosemary. The turkey is so incredibly tender and juicy! The "chef" who shared the bring on recipezaar.com said that it should really help keep the "leftovers" wonderfully fresh and moist.
I have the distinct honor of being an "Auntie" to a friend's adopted daughter. I traveled with my friend to China this spring to bring her new daughter home. Seeing "YuYu" meet her mom for the first time and watching her "unfold" during our two weeks in China was an amazing experience. Having the opportunity to experience her bonding with her family has shown me the beauty of adoption.
YuYu is a delightful addition to their family - and truly their family would not be complete without her!
Heveanly Father, Defender of the orphan, rise up and secure justice for the oppressed. Move in your people to embrace Your justice and pursue it for Your children. (from Shaohanna's Hope prayer calendar)
Do you desire to make your Christmas preparations and celebrations more Christ-centered?
Curious about how a full observance of Advent can lead to a more joyous Christmas celebration?
Would you like to find out how others approach the season of Advent?
Join us on Wednesday, November 28th when Jeanne from At A Hen's Pace will be hosting a blog carnival focusing on "Anglican Advent Traditions"! We'll be sharing inspiration, information, activity ideas, craft ideas, music and more. Please plan to come for a visit we pray you'll be encouraged as you begin your Advent observance, or perhaps as you learn about it for the first time.
Bloggers - if you would like to submit a link(s), please email Jeanne at: firstname.lastname@example.org with your link and a brief summary by noon on Tuesday, November 27th. Feel free to "steal" the graphic above and use on your own blog. If you have any trouble with that, email me and I'll send you the graphic file directly: email@example.com. And please, spread the word!
Non-bloggers, if you'd like to contribute, please feel free to do so in the comments section when the Carnival opens on Wednesday!
Today is the feast day of St. Margaret of Scotland whose name and spirit graced my previous parish. So, I'm posting this link in honor and thanksgiving for the church body that was St. Margaret's (the church building still stands, but the body of Christ that was St. Margaret's has been irrevocably changed) and with a prayer for the church body that remains there still. I miss so many of them.
Please forgive my moment of snobbery, but Virginians are not a truly humble lot when it comes to our history. This is the time of year we get our hackles up..all these black-shod Pilgrims! I say...BAH HUMBUG! Allow me to do my part to dispel these sad rumors that have placed the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth.
"What?" you say...you didn't know? Well, allow me to introduce you to the history we Virginians hold dear.
The first colonial Thanksgiving was held at Berkeley Plantation in Virginia - not Plymouth, Massachusetts. This location is not far from the Jamestown settlement (1607). Here is what the "Virginia is for Lovers" tourism website says about the day:
On this day, Dec. 4, 1619, these 38 men from Berkeley Parish in England were given the instructions: "Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God."
Here is a great history lesson from another website (which happens to be local to the Jamestown area - Chesapeake, VA, actually). You'll see why my Anglicanism runs deep...one of my family's ancestors is mentioned, a Reverend Robert Hunt. Oddly, I'd never realized that he was among the original Jamestown colonists. Mom neglected to tell me that part!
Ok, now this is just laugh out loud funny, but possibly only if you are homeschooling. If you are not a homeschooler and you read it (please do, you'll learn something about us), please do not get all offended. We don't mind the questions...they just get old after the 474th time. You'll understand if we need to laugh at them a bit, right?
Can I tell you how many, many, many journals I've had around my house?
Well, I have a lot.
Why? Well, I love the idea of journaling, but I just can't keep it up for very long. I start a journal and keep it up for a couple of weeks or even months, and then before long... my discipline wanes. Then a few months later, I decide I need to "do that journaling" thing again. But, one must have a shiny, clean, new journal...can't use the old one. Thus I have a number of partially-filled notebooks. I find that depressing...it seems such a failed task.
A couple of months ago, I gathered all those journals (I think there were 8 or 9) and looked over them. I ripped out all the pages, put them in order, and stapled them together. What a difference that made! What had seemed a collection of fits and starts...was actually a fairly good journal covering the last 5 or 6 years. Sure there are some huge gaps, but all in all, I have a decent account of my thoughts and experiences. That was a great encouragement!
Journalling is a discipline I want to incorporate into my daily life...but, I have yet to find a method that suits me. Perhaps I am too perfectionistic. This perfectionism means I desire to have a journal that is "just so"...orderly, comprehensive, disicplined, and yet, that doesn't really reflect me. It also doesn't suit me. And when I cannot maintain that level of order and discipline, I give up!
I need to let go the desire to produce a perfect journal. I need to just JOURNAL. So, I'm going to try once again. However, this time, I'm going to control my desire for perfection. This time, I'm going to keep these words in mind...
"What sort of diary should I like mine to be? Something loose knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind. I should like it to resemble some deep old desk, or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through. I should like to come back, after a year or two, and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life, and yet steady, tranquil compounds with the aloofness of a work of art."
~Virginia Woolf, from A Writer's Diary (As quoted in "Some Deep Old Desk or Capacious Hold-All": Form and Women's Autobiography, Suzanne Juhasz, College English, Vol. 39, No. 6. (Feb., 1978), pp. 663-669.)
I have a new journal (well, really it is an old one that was a gift, but has never been used). I hope it will be a place to record any sort of "solemn, slight or beautiful thing" that I find delight in.
In my last post I alluded to a new Reformation in the Anglican church. (Actually, since the Anglican church didn't come directly out of the Protestant Reformation, it might be called the Anglican Reformation.) So, what would that new reformation look like?
Over the past 40 years there has been a drift away from orthodox ways of speaking about God. In some places in TEC instead of God being referred to as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, He is addressed only by function as creator, redeemer and sustainer, and not in personal ways. The problem with this approach is that it makes God more remote and the fact is God has revealed himself to us through the Scriptures not just by function, but in personal terms as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Another example is when the name LORD is replaced with "God." So instead of the Liturgical greeting:"The Lord be with you" you may encounter in some parts of TEC "God be with you" or even "God is in you" with the response: "and also in you." The word LORD apparently is perceived as too male, and too authoritarian.
The earliest creedal statement was simply "Jesus is Lord." And yes, it was meant to be authoritarian. I was very sad when I attended the Interfaith service at Calvary last week, to see precisely such a change had been made to the liturgy. When it came to share the Peace, the wording was not: "The peace of the Lord", but rather "The Peace of God."
2. There is a lack of clear teaching about the divinity of Christ: In answer to a question referencing the divinity of Jesus, in an article published earlier this year, the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Shori, said this: "If you begin to explore the literary context of the first century and the couple of hundred years on either side, the way that someone told a story about a great figure was to say 'this one was born of the gods.' That is what we're saying. This carpenter from Nazareth or Bethlehem - and there are different stories about where he came from - shows us what a godly human being looks like, shows us God coming among us." At best that is ambiguous or confusing, and at worst it is false teaching.
Jesus was much more than someone who "shows us what a godly human being looks like." And the Church does not say that he was "born of the gods." The biblical witness and the faith of the church is that Jesus is the Son of God: fully God and fully man. The Word became flesh (John 1). We proclaim this truth weekly in the Nicene Creed.
3. There is a lack of clear teaching about Salvation and Sin: Questioned about selfishness and falleness, the Presiding Bishop said this:·"The human journey is about encouraging our own selves to move up into higher consciousness, into being able to be present in a violent situation without responding with violence ... " and in the same interview she went on to say: "The question is always how can we get beyond our own narrow self-interest and see that our salvation lies in attending to the needs of other people."
This is not the Gospel story of sin and redemption. The Scriptures teach that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23). The Scriptures teach that salvation is not through our works, or our efforts to move up to a higher consciousness, or even through attending to the needs of others. Our salvation lies in Jesus, "who while we were still sinners, died for us." (Rom. 5:8); and all who believe in the LORD and call upon his name will be saved. (Rom. 10:13)
4. There is a drift towards universalism: The Presiding Bishop says of Jesus: "we who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box" (Time Magazine: July 17,2006). Jesus said: I am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6).
When, some years ago, I first heard Bishop Duncan speak of us living in a time of Reformation of the Church throughout the world, I confess I wondered if that was a little grandiose. I now believe, without a doubt, that he was right. This was illustrated for me, once again, just last week. I was deeply saddened to hear Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu deny the particularity of the Christian Faith, mocking the idea that Jesus could possibly be the only way to God, and declaring that all religions are worshipping the same God, just by different names.
The archbishop is a great man who has done wonderful work for reconciliation and peace. I salute him for all the good he has done, but I am sad and troubled that he would be so dismissive of the supreme work of love and salvation that our Lord Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.
5. There is a loss of confidence in the Gospel as Good News for all: The official teaching of the Anglican Church on the issue of human sexuality is that which has been set out by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 (Resolution 1:10). But here's the key point concerning the Gospel that I want to make:[The Conference] "recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships." [emphasis added]. It is that confidence in the transforming power of God that the actions of TEC now challenge.
So instead of welcoming and loving all into the church so that they might experience transformation, TEC simply welcomes and affirms people just as they are - denying them the healing and hope and transforming power of God.
6. There is erroneous teaching and practice regarding human sexuality Over the past couple of decades there has been a serious rejection of the clear teaching of the Bible and the Church on human sexuality and marriage. The clear teaching of Scripture and tradition and of the one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church is that sex is for marriage. The only sexually intimate relationships that are good and holy according to Scripture and tradition are those between a man and a woman, within an intended life long, faithful covenant of marriage. That means that pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, gay sex, any sex outside of marriage is all contrary to God's will. This is the clear teaching of the Bible and of Jesus.
7. There is a seemingly 'social justice only' view of the mission of the church I have struggled to find any clear statements from the Presiding Bishop about the basics of the faith. From her inaugural sermon through to all kinds of talks and sermons and interviews that I've seen or heard extracts from she seems to be concerned primarily with a political and social gospel. She seems to be concerned principally about the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. There is much to be commended about these goals and much to challenge us - but they are by no means the same thing as the message of salvation for those who are perishing. (John 3: 16). If the Millennium Goals are our gospel message it falls seriously short of the message of proclaiming "Christ and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
8. There is contempt for the Authority of the BibleBishop Bennison has said: "The church wrote the Bible, and the church can rewrite the Bible." No, that is a serious error.
9. There is failure by Bishops to defend the faith The role of a bishop in the words of the 1662 ordinal is: ''to banish and drive away from the church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to the Word of God." - Here in the States, the very opposite is true. Rather than drive away false teaching many of the bishops of TEC embrace it, celebrate it and declare to be good and holy that which God declares to wrong. To ordain an openly gay, non-celibate man - when the rest of the world urged TEC not to do this - is not only contrary to Scripture but is also an arrogant display of American intransigence.
10. There is a lack of respect for truth or unity There seems to be a cavalier spirit among many in TEC that disregards the mandate for unity with the one holy, catholic and apostolic church. Claims are made by 'progressives' that they are putting truth ahead of unity. However the 'truth' they claim is that it's a matter of social justice and Christian virtue to bless same sex unions and permit practicing gay and lesbian people to hold any office within the church. This is, of course, is contrary to the truth as revealed in Holy Scripture. And the only unity they secure is among a tiny minority of the church worldwide.