Kendall Harmon on December 22nd, 2014

Who, in the age of the internet, online gaming, Facebook and 3D televisions would want to move a pointer around on a board in the hope of getting a message from the spirit world?

The astonishing answer is, quite a lot of people! The story turns out to be true. Promoted by an apparently dreadful film (sponsored by Hasbro, the toy firm that holds the rights to Ouija boards), sales of the £20+ boards have gone through the roof. And it’s not just me who is mystified. As Simon Osborne wrote in The Independent: ‘What better time to talk to dead people for fun than the festival to celebrate the birth of Jesus?’

Hunger for the supernatural

This is yet another phenomenon reminding us that, for all the bold claims of new atheism that the world is moving into an age of rational thought in which every form of the supernatural is rejected, the ‘on the ground’ reality is very different. The hunger for the supernatural, the paranormal and the mystical remains intense and almost universal. Indeed, it seems that the more a ‘universe without God’ is talked up, the more people flock to the supernatural. If atheism is true, it’s very odd that no one seems to be following it.

A Ouija board is not, in any way, a game….

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Kendall Harmon on December 22nd, 2014

In truth, we Christians have been losing our traditions for centuries. Misplaced, misappropriated, misapplied—we have pulled the rich timbre from original intent, given ourselves over to cheap plastic toys and premade wassail. We have hurried the season because to us, Christmas is a day and not a season at all.

For our Orthodox brothers and sisters, though, the feasts during the days after Christmas not only mark time but also insert intentional delay in a world gone mad for Christmas kitsch. History aside, we have for centuries chosen to celebrate his coming on December 25. It has become a placeholder of a day when some of us remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. But then we go to bed, full of Christmas spirit, and wake up to traffic and spilled lattes and kids who want to spend their gift cards today. Where are the good feelings now?

For the early church, the purpose for 12 days of feasting following Christmas Day was to bring them to the edge of Epiphany. If, for various reasons, we do not entertain the liturgy of the days, can we at least entertain the purposes?

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Kendall Harmon on December 22nd, 2014

I don’t know what a perfect first-century family looked like, but I’m certain that Joseph and Mary didn’t fit the ideal. Joseph had no money. He had no safe place for his wife to give birth and no plausible explanation for her pregnancy. How scared they must have been. Their family was turned upside down before it even began.

I know about unusual families. I come from one. There is a picture in one of my mother’s photo albums of the day she and my stepfather were married. They are holding hands and looking pleased but also totally overwhelmed. Each had lost a spouse to cancer only 18 months before. Their kids are on either side of them—six teenagers with mouths stuffed full of braces, heads full of regrettable ’80s hair, each one of them with a dead look in his or her eyes. When I look at that picture and see my biological sister, my adopted sister, three step-siblings whom I didn’t know, my stepfather, my mother and me, I don’t see an ideal family. I see something quite unusual.

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Kendall Harmon on December 22nd, 2014

What can we expect of the Shared Conversations?

By Stephen Hofmeyr QC, Acting Chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council, writing in the Church of England Newspaper.

The Church of England is embarking on a process of “shared conversations” which has two objectives. The first objective is ‘to clarify how we can most effectively be a missionary church in a culture which has changed its view on human sexuality’. Amen! The revealed truth of the gospel is God’s truth for all people, everywhere, in every age. Therefore, the issue about being an effective missionary church is not about whether we are free to change what God has taught, but how to communicate God’s truth in a culture that has changed its view. In areas of human sexuality, that will require a communication of the Bible’s teaching about the body and sexuality which a generation ago would have gone without saying. So long as the scope of this first objective is correctly understood, it presents a wonderful opportunity. The second objective is ‘to clarify the implications of what it means for the Church of England to live with … “good disagreement” on these issues’. What are the possible outcomes of these shared conversations?

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The 46-year-old Bishop Samuel Gidudu of North Mbale Diocese was consecrated on November 16, 2014 at St Matthew’s Cathedral, Buhugu in Sironko District. The father of three, who is married to Ms Esther Gidudu, spoke about growing up amid wealth and then getting lost in a vice which nearly cost him his calling.

QN: Bishop Gidudu, how did you feel when you heard you were the bishop-elect of North Mbale Diocese?
A: (Laughs). At first, I thought the person who called to give the information was fooling me but I later asked myself, “Why should I be a doubting Thomas?” I composed myself and prayed about it and from then on, I started receiving calls from all over the country congratulating me upon the election.

I was actually humbled by the election. I believe that it is the amazing love and grace of God that I was appointed to be the next shepherd of the Christians of North Mbale Diocese.

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North Korea warned that any U.S. punishment over the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment would lead to damage “thousands of times greater,” with targets including the White House and Pentagon.

Hackers including the “‘Guardians of Peace’’ group that forced Sony to pull a comedy about the assassination of Kim Jong Un ‘‘are sharpening bayonets not only in the U.S. mainland but in all other parts of the world,’’ the Kim-led National Defense Commission said in a statement published yesterday by the official Korean Central News Agency. Even so, North Korea doesn’t know who the Guardians are, the commission said.

North Korea has called on the U.S. to hold a joint investigation into the incident, after rejecting the conclusion by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that it was behind the attack. President Barack Obama said last week that Sony had ‘‘suffered significant damage,’’ and vowed to respond to North Korea ‘‘in a place and time and manner that we choose.’’

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Kendall Harmon on December 22nd, 2014

Almighty and everliving God, who didst strengthen thine apostle Thomas with sure and certain faith in thy Son’s resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in thy sight; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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Kendall Harmon on December 22nd, 2014

Lord God Almighty, King of glory and love eternal, worthy art thou at all times to receive adoration, praise, and blessing; but especially at this time do we praise thee for the sending of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, for whom our hearts do wait, and to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, be honour and dominion, now and for ever.

–Prayers for the Christian Year (SCM, 1964)

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Kendall Harmon on December 22nd, 2014

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint. Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in thy tent for ever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of thy wings!

–Psalm 61:1-4

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Jill on December 21st, 2014

Advent 4

Psalm:  am: 61, 62   pm: 112, 115
OT:  Isaiah 11: 1-9
Epistle: Revelation 20: 1-10
Gospel:  John 5: 30-47

Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle (Transferred) Patron Saintsof Architects, Construction workers and Cooks

O Antiphon’s of the Day – O Rex Gentium

LATIN TRANSLATION: O Rex gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: O King of the gentiles and their desired One, the cornerstone that makes both one: come, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth.

The Antiphon asks us to consider that the King of all the nations reign is drawing near both on the calendar and in the ultimate promise of his return. Of course in a world where many powers claim a power and authority that others are to submit to. Of course, this Antiphon reminds us that despite what the like of ISIS may suggest, this King is the measure of all to whom power has been entrusted, of all principalities that have come or will come.

LITURGICAL THEME FOR THE DAY: While many in the Church in the West observe this feast on July 3rd, Anglicans and those who follow Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite observe St. Thomas Day as a day where in years past the people usually commenced their Christmas preparation of cleaning and baking on Thomas Day. It can serve as a reminder to us to put our finishing our external preparations for Christmas. So for example in Tyrol and in parts of Canada, this was considered “pie day”, with meat pies baked for the family, then cooled and frozen. They are saved for the feast of the Epiphany, and are thawed, reheated and eaten. While,in England, this was a day of charity, when the poor women went a “Thomasing” or begging. Wheat was cooked and distributed for the poor.

More importantly is to be mindful this day of the words of Thomas when he exclaimed “My Lord and My God!” (See John 20:24-28) and, in so expressing his faith, gave Christians a prayer that will be said till the end of time. Perhaps Thomas is identified with the most out of all the Apostles because he embodied weakness and lack of understanding. Some would argue that it is in our human weakness that we learn through humility that holiness is a gift of God, not a human creation. It is given to ordinary men and women with weaknesses; it is God who gradually transforms the weaknesses into the image of Christ, the courageous, trusting and loving one. Are we ready this last week of Advent to allow God to do that in our lives? Transform our frailty to faith and our distraction to dedication?

BIBLICAL REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY: the longing the world has for Christmas has a parallel expression in today’s Old Testament lesson despite the motivations being quite different between the spiritual and the material. The prophet Isaiah states his and no doubt all if Israel’s longing for the great king. He knows the origin as he exclaim the power of a “shoot from the stump of Jesse,” He like us is desperate for something real and not temporary, a genuine sign of the presence of God in the life and world.PRAYER: Ever living God, who strengthened your apostle Thomas with firm and certain faith in your Son’s resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in your sight; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Spiritual Discipline /Activity- Prepare some baked goods and home cooked foods and offer it to those who will be feeding the poor and disenfranchised this holy season. Along with this is the custom to observe this as “pie day”, with meat pies baked for the family, then cooled and frozen. They are saved for the feast of the Epiphany, and are thawed, reheated and eaten and shared with others in an Epiphany feast. December 21 is usually the shortest day of the year, yet this day usually commenced the Christmas preparation of cleaning and baking. In England, this was a day of charity, when the poor women went a “Thomasing” or begging. Wheat was cooked and distributed for the poor.

Ancient Words/Present Grace:“The Christian faith not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one.” David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748

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