Monday, January 31, 2005

”Follow Scripture, then turn left.”

Yesterday at St. David’s Denton was quite a treat. The Bishop of Dallas, The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton paid a visit.

His sermon was excellent, using all three scripture lessons . . . and St. David’s location. He began by noting that when he was given directions for his first visitation years ago, he was told “follow Scripture, then turn left” (which actually are the correct directions when coming from I-35). He noted that this reminded him of the Episcopal Church.

The theme of his sermon was that we need to be “not just off Scripture, but right on Scripture.” Being refreshingly straight talking, he remarked that being “prophetic” is today often portrayed as announcing something “new.” But that in the Bible, being prophetic is to call people back to God.

He also pointedly quoted Augustine in asking how can a man be a bishop and not hold to the Apostle’s teaching?

Like I said, he’s refreshingly straightforward. And that came through elsewhere during the service. He stumbled a little during the liturgy. St. David’s liturgy is a bit involved (which I like) so that may have thrown him off. But at one point, he just said, “Let’s take this from the top” and started the prayer over.

And during the recessional, he gave some kids a high-five while walking down the aisle. In this and other ways, his joy and humility showed.

By the way, for those who care for such things, his tat was excellent and very red. And he did bring a mitre. Sorry I don’t have a picture, but it was quite a sight.

I’ve wanted to see Bishop Stanton for some time. And I’m very glad I got to do so yesterday.
Judicial Pornography

With my being under the weather (as I still am) and with so much happening of deep interest to me, there is so much I could post on.

But then, this morning, I read of this outrageous federal court ruling on pornography. (Caution: Linked articles may be disturbing.)

When I first read this, I was so mad I could hardly see straight. But as I’m calming down a little, I see there is hope the Supreme Court will overturn this ruling.

But, still, it is an outrage. That hard core porn is protected at all (supposedly under free speech – I could use some free speech to say what I think of that, but I’ll restrain myself.) is an outrage.

I’ve long thought the day may come when it will be necessary to systematically defy a federal court ruling. Bush’s reelection has given me hope that his Supreme Court appointments can prevent such a constitutional crisis.

But if Bush is not successful in bringing sanity to our judiciary, I’m afraid we will face a constitutional crisis or, worse, a judicial dictatorship.

God help us.

Friday, January 28, 2005

I don’t have Adult ADD. Whoa, look at that bird!

You may have seen the ads for I actually went to the site and took the test. It says I don’t have Adult ADD, but I wonder. . . .

Take my reading habits for example. It’s rare that I can read any one thing for any length of time. The way I read is to rotate. I read from one book for a few pages, then read from another book for a few pages, and so on. I do actually finish most of the books I start (except for chess books), but it takes me a while. I guess I’m reading six books that way now.

Ditto for magazines, which I rarely finish. Hence the ridiculous height my to-read magazine stack gets. And I read everything from skate mags to First Things.

What’s strange is I wasn’t this way when I was a teenager. I regularly read 30-40 pages of a book at a sitting.

But no, I really don’t have Adult . . . . What was that outside?
The Shanley Trial

(Sorry I haven’t posted for a couple of days. There is so much I could post on. But I’ve been sick for a couple days (and still am) plus I was traveling yesterday.)

I’ve been looking forward to the Paul Shanley trial for a long time. He is the poster boy of all I despise in some clergy. He’s a uberliberal. He advocated man-boy sex and encouraged the formation of NAMBLA, the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Worst of all, for years and years, his superiors in the Roman Catholic Church didn’t defrock him. I would love to see scum like him rot in prison. . . .

. . . Or so I thought. You see, the prosecution lost three of his accusers. And the case of the fourth accuser is relying on repressed memories.

I have serious problems with repressed memories being used as evidence. Too often, repressed memories have turned out to be manipulated memories and even created memories. No telling how many innocent people have been sent to prison using repressed memories.

Child rape is a detestable crime. Paul Shanley is a detestable person. But I also detest prosecutors who are so concerned about getting scalps that they aren’t concerned that their methods could easily send innocent people to prison.

I also don’t like that the statute of limitations was waived in this case on a technicality. Statutes of limitations exist for a reason. Memories and sometimes evidence are not as reliable years and years after the fact. The statute of limitations in this case was 20 years. That’s plenty of time. Putting that aside on a technicality, especially when the case relies on repressed memories is flat wrong.

I have very mixed feelings about this case. If Shanley molested boys, and he probably did, and he walks, it will be sickening. But if he is convicted on such flimsy evidence, putting aside basic principles of justice, then what stops a prosecutor from using such tactics to imprison the innocent?

And don’t say that doesn’t happen. All too often, it already has.

The trial continues today.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A spooky announcement about this Easter

I’m a bit foggy of mind this morning. So instead of my usual intellect-packed post, I will go ahead and make an unusual announcement.

This Easter will be a very special one for me. Not only will it will be my first Easter as a confirmed Anglican, not only will it be it be my birthday, it will be the 30th anniversary of my first profession of faith.

When you look at a church calendar and see that March 27th Easters are quite unusual, it makes this coincidence downright spooky.

In any case, I intend to celebrate. And I’m open to suggestions. I’m probably going to St. David’s Denton Easter morning and hope to have lunch with friends afterwards. But I also intend to do something Saturday and Sunday nights. I might go to Christ Church Plano Saturday night and Denton Bible Sunday night. And I’ll be participating very much in Holy Week as a whole, of course. But nothing’s in concrete yet.

Any suggestions for the special day and week?

Monday, January 24, 2005

"Be strong!"

The two scripture lessons from yesterday’s Morning Prayer service got a hold on me. They were the beginning of Joshua and 2 Timothy 2:1-13.

God exhorts Joshua three times to “be strong and courageous.” Paul exhorts Timothy to “be strong” and to fulfill his purpose to pass on the Faith and to make disciples.

One reason this theme grabbed me is I know God is not having me move to Corpus just for my own enjoyment. I know he has greater purposes. But I can also sense that, now that the time for completing my move draws near, it will be a temptation for me to get lazy and timid and not strive to fulfill God’s purposes for my moving.

So it’s good to be reminded to “be strong” and not wimp out.

The fun of having dreams about the future and about serving God and others is one thing. Actually stepping up and following through is quite another.
I’m sure this is just a coincidence.

One of the two psalms for my morning reading today (following the 1928 BCP) is 127. It begins:

Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it.

I have an appointment with my builder this morning to begin the process of drawing up plans for my house.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Phillip Turner does it again.

I’ve become a fan of Phillip Turner.

He first came onto my radar screen with his excellent December 2003 First Things article, The Episcopalian Preference.

Now, he’s written another succinct must read, ECUSA’s God, a brief summary of the “working theology” of the Episcopal Church. His article is right on target. And, although Dr. Turner and I are both from an orthodox background very critical of the Episcopal Church’s theology of inclusion, he explains it so well that I have a greater understanding and even sympathy towards it. I understand better what makes liberal Episcopalians do that they do. As the Pontificator has commented, the ECUSA’s gospel of inclusion is an attractive counterfeit.

If you want to understand what makes the ECUSA tick, you will read these two articles.

I do, however, question Dr. Turner’s Anglican credentials. For he takes much less than 50 pages to say something and he does so clearly. No bishopric for him!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The International Adventures of the Reformed Episcopal Church (continued)

I’ve said before here more than once, that when it comes to Anglican realignment, you gotta watch the REC.

Well, more good news has come out. Talks between the REC (and partner church APA) and ++Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria, are proceeding fast enough that the Archbishop has invited two REC bishops and the Presiding Bishop of the APA to Nigeria to push things along further still.

One of the two REC bishops, +Ray Sutton (yes, the one who confirmed me), has also revealed that “We have already have several conversations with provinces in this part of the world.”

I’m a bit pressed for time. And I probably shouldn’t engage in speculation anyway. But I’ll say it again: You gotta watch the REC.

By the way, on the home front, the REC is growing, opening a new church a month for the last 6 months.

Can you tell I’m happy I joined?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

More from Ephesians

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed . . .
Ephesians 4:30

Something I’ve known almost from Day One as a Christian is that God’s Spirit lives in me and in every Christian.

But that’s still hard to get a grip on. I do think if we (I) were more aware that the Holy Spirit really lives in us, we would be a lot more sensitive about what we do or say. God has so lavished His grace on us that He even lives in us by His Spirit. So why would we ever want to do anything that would grieve that Spirit Who so loves us, Who is closer than close?
An established church in a secular state?

The Church of England is reconsidering how many church appointments the Prime Minister should make.

That brings up a larger question: should the Prime Minister make appointments to church offices at all? And that brings up a further question: should the Church of England continue to be an established church?

Although like any red-blooded American, I don’t like the idea of an established church, I concede it might be feasible . . . when a society has a Christian consensus and when the vast majority of government office holders are indeed Christian. Note I said “might be.” A cursory look at the history of the Church of England shows that having an established church can be, quite literally, a royal mess.

But when you have a secular society and state, then the state should butt out of church affairs. Having a secular state involved in church affairs (with the exception of matters such as, say, preservation of historic church buildings) can only be corrosive to that church in the long run. Among other issues, what’s to keep a secular Prime Minister from appointing an Archbishop of Canterbury who is hostile to the Faith? Continuing to have an established church in England is problematic, both for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion as well.

The time for an established church in England is past.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A straight-talking bishop?!?

Apparently such a creature actually exists, judging from +Jack Iker’s report on the House of Bishops meeting.

Do read his report. This excerpt is particularly telling:

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Bishops issued a statement called “A Word to the Church.“ The most positive aspect of this carefully worded document is an “expression of regret,” which is one of the first actions called for by the Windsor Report. But don’t be misled by what the statement says the Bishops regret and what they do not regret. They regret “the pain, the hurt, and the damage caused” to others in the Anglican Communion by what we have done. However, they do not regret the actions taken that caused the alienation and division in the first place. ‘We want to remain a part of the Communion, but we intend to keep on doing what we have been doing.’ It is sort of like a man apologizing to his wife for having had an adulterous affair, and asking her forgiveness, but then continuing on with the illicit affair anyway.

He goes on to say (as I have) that the HOB is engaging in “lame” delaying tactics.

+Jack Iker has the substance (or lack thereof) of the HOB meeting nailed. But I thought bishops were all trained not to say such . . . such truthful things!

+Iker must have skipped that training. It doesn’t hurt that he’s from Texas as well. Us Texans shoot straight and talk straight.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Warm fuzzy ecumenical Quote of the Day

On one day he actually burnt at the stake three Protestants and beheaded three Roman Catholics, which is a sort of ecumenism I suppose.

Diarmaid MacCulloch on Henry VIII, from an interview with ABC, Austrailia.

Along with the 1928 BCP Morning Prayer, I’ve been reading Ephesians . . . well, somewhat along as I fall a little behind as usual.

I’ve read Ephesians several times at least, but it still always blows my mind. It’s like a peep to the throne into God’s will for us. And God’s will is awesome way beyond comprehension. I read Paul’s prayer of 3:14-21 during my Morning Prayer today, and it amazed me. Verse 16 especially grabbed me where Paul prays “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”

That’s some serious power God desires for us, is it not? I would not dare to pray such things if they weren’t right there in God’s word. How amazing is His will for us indeed!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Looking at the bright side…

The news out of the ECUSA House of Bishops meeting isn’t all bad. A minority of bishops did make a good strong statement in response to the Windsor Report. Their steadfastness encourages the orthodox worldwide and further isolates Episcopal apostasy.

And in spite of their mealy-mouthed ways, the majority showed their true colors. They in effect said, “We are going to keep pushing our homodox heterodox agenda, including acting against orthodox parishes who won’t kiss our . . . rings. BUT as far as whether we will respond to the Windsor Report beyond saying nice words and giving token apologies, we are going to take. our. sweet. time. In fact, we’ve only begun to take. our. sweet. time.”

And, now, I’m actually becoming more positive about the February Primates meeting. For I think most of them can see right through the HOB statement. And I think most of them will not play that game.

Now if I’m mistaken about that . . . . Well, I’m trying to be positive here.

In any case, I’m praying for the Primates. This week’s collect, which has already become a favorite of mine, is now all the more appropriate:

O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people who call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

I told you so.

The statement from the ECUSA House of Bishops just came out. And, sure enough, I was right back on January 5th. Their statement attempts to buy time with a call for lots of “study” and “conversation.” Shockingly, I didn’t notice “dialogue” in the statement, but the dodge concept is certainly there.

The money passage:

We have only begun a serious and respectful consideration of how we might respond [to the Windsor Report].

We have only begun to stall and play political games by buying time!

Further, we have not had sufficient time to give substantive consideration to recommendations in the Report calling for a moratorium on diocesan boundary violations or the call for a moratorium and further discussion of the authorization of liturgical texts blessing same sex unions.

No. You’ve had plenty of time. And your political game of buying time is one more instance of disregarding the rest of the Anglican Communion.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Reality check of the day

Those who buy the moral equivalence of different religions and cultures need a reality check. Here’s one for starters. In India, dalit (or “untouchable”) victims of the tsunami are being denied aid because of the prejudice of India’s Hindu caste system. One lowlight:

What is worse is that both the police and the affected fishermen are not allowing our people to deliver food and water to the dalits. About four days back police severely beat up and then arrested a dalit for taking rice from an aid agency. They even demolished what was left of his house...

By the way, many dalits are Christians. If memory serves me right, dalits are more likely to be Christian than any other caste. Contrast the Gospel message of God’s love and salvation being available to all with their historic treatment at the hands of Hindus, and that’s very understandable.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Who is being realistic or not?

I’ve misplaced my notes from this past Saturday’s talk by Bill Atwood at Trinity Episcopal, Dallas. But he clearly felt that those who think a little Anglican fudge from the ECUSA will keep it in an intact Anglican Communion are mistaken. He stated clearly and repeatedly that going along with the status quo is something the Global South primates simply can not in good conscience do. And given Canon Atwood’s contacts with various primates, that evaluation should give us pause.

Christopher Seitz, president of the Anglican Communion Institute, feels likewise, that wishful thinking among ECUSA liberals that this will all blow over and conservatives in the Communion will “get over it” is unrealistic at best:

My life has been built around this church. I believe we are now, however, watching a tide going out, slowly, steadily. Some see it as benign. Some are unaware of it. Some are worried but don’t know what to expect. Some are indifferent to it or contest it. Some see it as a time to collect free fish! But in my judgment, it is a sign that we are facing a fierce incoming tide here in the American church: a Communion tsunami if you will. What worries me most is the degree to which members of the church in this American region dispute that the tide’s recession means anything particularly grave, or that there has been no serious tide recession in point of fact. That is potentially the single most destructive aspect of our season, to my mind: The belief that all will blow over, that everyone will get used to things, that angry conservatives (call them what you will) will in time just walk out, and we can have the church we all believed we always were anyway. Or maybe we can just hunker down, in whatever bunker we can construct, and hope it all goes away. If I say anything tonight, it is that this is not realistic thinking and living.

You can read more of his thoughts on the current situation here.

Clearly, someone is being unrealistic. But I’m not sure who. Canon Atwood and Rev. Seitz both have excellent contacts with the Global South primates. Their assessments are not to be taken lightly at all.

Still, I have seen liberals get away with murder in mainline denominations again and again. Partly out of that experience, my gut feeling is that the ECUSA will get away with its disregard of the instruments of authority in the Anglican Communion. Plus there has been talk that ++Rowan Williams simply will not go along with suspending the ECUSA. I do hope and pray that such talk and my gut feelings are what are being unrealistic. We’ll see.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Anglican Relief and Development Fund

The Anglican Relief and Development Fund was set up after a number of Global South provinces announced they would refuse contributions from the Episcopal Church USA. The chief purpose of the fund is to help replace those contributions for Anglican brothers who are strong on principle, rich in Christ, but quite needy when it comes to finances and physical basics.

I’ve wanted to contribute to them for some time, but have had trouble finding their address. But now I’ve found it: ARDF, 905 Oliver Building, 535 Smithfield St. Pittsburgh, PA 15222. I would encourage those with a web presence to post the address prominently. Here’s more information .

On top of ongoing needs, a number of the Global South provinces are now suffering from the recent tsunami.

Now, Global South Anglicans are supporting us conservative Anglicans in a big way, and we say we are supporting them. Well, to be blunt, now is the time to put up or shut up. Our Anglican brothers overseas are in need, and we need to support them.

Enough said.
It’s not all about sex, but . . .

The meeting Saturday morning at Trinity Episcopal Dallas featuring Bill Atwood was interesting.

I might mention highlights from Canon Atwood’s comments tomorrow. But first, the conversation at my table was interesting indeed. A gay gentleman joined us and let us know about his orientation and relationship at the beginning of our table discussion. I appreciated his honesty and good questions. And he handled our disagreements well.

One of his comments was that the current controversy is too much about sex. Something inspired me to respond that it’s not all about sex, but that conservatives are largely to blame for that perception. For when a stink should have been raised was when John Spong was not defrocked. I said that was a total breakdown in church discipline. And that conservatives didn’t put their foot down then, but have instead waited until now certainly invites the perception that it’s all about sex.

(Of course, if I were more historic, I would have used Bishop Pike as my example. But anyway . . . )

And that’s something we all at the table agreed with. (No, the gay guy didn’t like Spong either.)

And I do think the non-discipline of Pike or Spong should have been when conservatives put their foot down. (I’ve discussed the importance of church discipline in a number of my ongoing Churchly Quality Control posts.) And conservatives are now paying the price for that in a number of ways, including the perception that we are just getting worked up about sex.

And that’s unfortunate, because it’s not all about sex. It’s about the Gospel and the authority of Scripture. It’s about the very basics of Christian faith. Read, for example, this article from Canada. Note Bishop Michael Ingham’s writings and the divisions in the Anglican Church of Canada over the heart of the Gospel. This fight is about faithfulness to the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

But again, conservatives have taken decades too long to join the fight with the needed resolute commitment. And misperception is only one of the costs of that.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Do liberals want to split the Anglican Communion?

Actions such as this and their timing make one wonder.

The Bishop of Lincoln’s willfully bad timing as well as past willfully bad (and divisive and inexcusable) timing on same-sex blessings from +Chane and +Curry in the U. S. among others at the very least shows that staying in the Anglican Communion is not very high on some bishops’ list of things to do.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Churchly Quality Control XII 1/2: Liberal Church Leaders revisited

I saw this excellent quote this morning that is all too relevant to my December 30th post. (Thanks to VirtueOnline.) And I just can’t let it pass by.

We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of is your continuing your ministry after you have come to hold them. We always knew that a man who makes his living as a paid agent of the Conservative party may honestly change his views and honestly become a Communist. What we deny is that he can honestly continue to be a Conservative agent and to receive money from one party while he supports the policy of another."
C.S. Lewis on Apologetics, 1945

That very well expresses what has been my gut thinking for a long time. I don’t begrudge people having unorthodox opinions (as much as I may let myself be provoked by the opinions). I’d lose a lot of friends and alienate myself from my family if I did. What I do find unacceptable are those who hold unorthodox views – and really unchristian views if we’re to be blunt – holding church offices.

I could say (rant) more about how utterly absurd and, yes, evil that is. It has certainly provoked me almost as long as I’ve been a Christian. But I’d rather you have Lewis’s wonderfully succinct statement in your mind than Mark having a conniption.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Blame the Fundamentalists!

All civilized people know that everything that is wrong with the world can be blamed on the Fundamentalists.

Your guy didn’t get elected? Blame the Fundamentalists!
People actually wish you Merry Christmas? Blame the Fundamentalists!
There is hate in the world? Blame the Fundamentalists!
Some church people have the temerity to insist on orthodoxy? Blame the Fundamentalists!
Your multimillion blockbuster epic movie flops? Blame the Fundamentalists!
Review: Carols From King’s DVD

Yes, I know the Christmas season is ending, even for us Anglicans. But I just got this DVD. And there’s been a request for guidance on Anglican music. So on to the DVD, Carols From King’s.

What can one say? -- this is the Choir of King’s College Cambridge performing their renowned Christmas offering, Nine Lessons and Carols.

But avid listeners to the Christmas Eve radio broadcast of Nine Lessons and Carols may be disappointed on a few counts. Much of the 2000 service on the DVD comes across more like a performance made for BBC television (which I think it is) than as a service. As such, it at times lacks the emotion of the live radio broadcast.

Poems and such are often read, replacing some of the traditional scripture readings. I find that a travesty. And, unlike the radio broadcast, we aren’t treated to a boy chorister reading the first scripture lesson. Not having a very British, very earnest boyish reading of the first scripture lesson takes away an important part of the Nine Lessons experience. You might as well have Kid Rock sing the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City.

The camera work is often mechanical focusing on the same choristers over and over again, while neglecting others.

And it ends badly with the ending organ voluntary truncated.

The music is still wonderful, of course, with excellent sound, rising above the aforementioned shortcomings. Those with good surround sound especially rave about the sound quality. My speakers and surround sound are both a bit dated, but I was still impressed myself.

And, a nice touch, the chapel slowly darkens during the performance as it does on Christmas Eve.

A special historic treat on the DVD is the first ever television recording of the Nine Lessons service from 1954. Of course, the sound and picture are not up to 21st Century standards. But this recording retains much of the gravity, emotion, and realness of the service that today’s television productions can squeeze out. The historic nature of this recording alone makes this DVD worthwhile.

The conversation between the last three directors of the King’s College Choir is also of interest to any fan of the choir.

Although the 2000 production should stick more closely to the wonderful traditional Christmas Eve service, this is still an excellent DVD. I played it for hours and hours as soon as I got it.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Bishop Howe writes his fellow bishops (in vain).

The Bishop of Central Florida John W. Howe, in a letter to his fellow bishops, has spelled out quite well the bare minimum the ECUSA House of Bishops must do in responding to the Windsor Report.

But they will instead do what he warns against. They will try to “buy time” with calls for “study” and “dialogue” no doubt.

That’s the M. O. of liberal mainline leaders – when they’re not crushing the orthodox, of course. Yes, when opportunity arises, crush the orthodox with all undue haste (e.g. General Convention 2003 and its aftermath), then stall any attempts to undo the damage with calls for “study” and “dialogue.”

It’s my prayer the Primates won’t play that game.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Boomer church and Gen-X church and “small groups”

I came across an interesting article on how young evangelicals are doing church differently than Baby Boom evangelicals. Being the misfit that I am, I was born somewhat in between the two generations although most pop demography puts me at the tail end of the baby boom. And my ideas are somewhat between the two generations at times. For example, I reject, for the most part, the post-modernism common among young evangelicals. (Sorry, no time to address that at this time.)

On the other hand, I’m not a big fan of how the Boomers do church. Now I didn’t realize it might be a generational thing until recently. But, say, the program-orientation and hyper-professional staff of the big boomer mega-churches is a turn off for me.

Boomer church obsession with small groups is another turn off. A couple paragraphs from the article really hit home:

Boomers and Xers may use the same words differently. Baby boomers who hear the word community often think in terms of programs, such as small-group ministries, which may mean a group of 10 or so random people who don't know each other -- meeting once a week, maybe, to sojourn through life together in two hours or less.

But for young evangelicals the word community reflects the need for deeper relationships. Many say that churches can't put random people together and expect honesty and transparency. Small groups are organic, emerging from relationships among people who spend time together -- almost like "family." "We are filling in a deficiency," Mr. Burmeister says. "The church has an opportunity to become a family to the family-less."

My previous two churches put a lot of emphasis on being in small groups. At least one staffer even found fault with me for not being in a small group at all times, though I frequently got into small groups during my time at both churches.

(Thankfully, most Denton Bible staff I was involved with were very flexible and let me do other things when there wasn’t a small group that worked for me.)

But I eventually saw that small group ministries are not a good fit for me. They took an evening a week from me, usually when I didn’t have many evenings to give up. Usually the leader let meetings go late, and I’m not a night person. Usually there was someone who dominated the group and pulled it in directions irrelevant to the stated purpose of the group, and usually the leader was too weak to gently stop that domination. And frankly when I’m tired at night, I don’t have the patience for that. By the time a small group was over, I was so worn out and/or fed up, I didn’t stay to socialize. Often, I didn’t feel that connected to most of the people there anyway. (And I freely admit I can be a square peg.) Not much “community” there.

Now not all small groups were so bad. A few were great and helped me grow and make good friends. And they are a good model for many. But overall, it’s just not a good model for me. And I’m certainly not alone in that. Given that their composition is somewhat “random” – whoever happened to sign up – it’s only by God grace if a small group does work well.

My current church, on the other hand, doesn’t have small groups that I have noticed. We’re so small, small groups might be redundant! But there is a very natural “organic” coming together of people. The rector invites people to his house for a BBQ. Or the single guys (without the help of a program – there is no “singles group”) decide after church to have a movie night.

And we know each other over the long haul, not just for the length of a small group program. And it does feel like family.

Granted, it easier for a small church to come together in such a natural ad hoc way than a large church.

We’re a very traditional church, but, perhaps without thinking about it, we’re doing some of the things the young evangelicals in the article are doing. And it works. Maybe it’s because it’s Biblical, organic, and real. It’s not overmanagement; it’s not trying to shoehorn people into a program.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Christmas ain’t over until God says it’s over!

I’ve discovered that one of the benefits of being Anglican is that the Christmas season isn’t over until God says it’s over (on January 6th, Epiphany, of course ;) ).

I’m very glad of that because yesterday’s service at St. David’s was wonderful and Christmasy. There was a little nativity scene by the steps to the altar. There were enough candles to make an Anglo-Catholic blush. There were plenty of favorite Christmas carols, including Nowell.

And, most importantly, so much of the service pointed to various aspects of God’s grace in the Incarnation that I had to pray “such things are too wonderful for me.” And, yes, I got a bit teary eyed.

Wow, what a special service for me. That I didn’t make it to a Christmas weekend service for various reasons made yesterday’s service that much more special. I’m so thankful I got to go to an excellent Christmas service after all.

Dang, if I’m not careful, I’m going to tear up again.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Where I’ll probably be next Saturday morning…

Church this morning at St. David’s here in Denton was wonderful. I might post on that tomorrow.

But there I found out about a special meeting of Anglicans in Dallas this coming Saturday. It will be a time of praise and of praying for Anglicans around the world. It will also be a time of learning with Canon Bill Atwood of Ekklesia speaking. I suspect the Windsor Report and the Anglican Communion's response to it will be at least a subject of his talk.

The time and place: January 8th 10am to noon at Trinity Episcopal Church, 12727 Hillcrest Road in Dallas. I will probably be there. (If there’s name tags, I’ll be Mark and will try to put “WannabeAnglican” somewhere on there.)

I haven’t found a handy link about the meeting. If anyone has one, feel free to post it in the comments.