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Psalm 42- Looking to God in the midst of Change in the Church PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Monday, 27 October 2008 08:45
As the deer longs for the water-brooks, so longs my soul for you, O God. My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God; when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?

Undoubtedly I have used this Psalm before in these QT Thots. It is in today's reading from Oremus, but it is alos one of my favorites and I meditate on it often.

My tears have been my food day and night, while all day long they say to me, ‘Where now is your God?’

No, I don't go around crying or being down in the dumps all the time, but I am often depressed because my God (and the doctrines about my God) don't seem to be in vogue these days. He (and they) never have been popular among scoffers and skeptics, but the "God" many Christians I talk with or listen to seems to be different than the God I have known and served all my life. The same is true of the Doctrines I have believed and preached through out my lifetime. This can, on occasion, bring me to great sadness.

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Why don't many Priests preach? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Friday, 04 July 2008 17:58
I have heard many Episcopal Clergy attempt to "preach" and, by my standards and expectations, they  failed miserably!  Many people who attend Episcopal Services are Roman Catholic and do not seem to have a problem with what they hear. Very probably, they simply do not know any different- a homily is a homily.  This is probably true for many cradle Episcopalians, too.They have nothing to compare to.  Besides, for both groups, the Main Course is the Food on the Lord’s Table, not the fare served up from the pulpit.  This is probably how many Priests see it, too. 
 
Only those of us who have regularly tasted the Bread of Life, served with verbal eloquence and flair, flavored with both erudition and humor (or at least good illustrations) could be expected to appreciate the Staff of Life which is a well constructed and well delivered sermon.  There is a big difference between the food on a fast food dollar menu and that on the menu of a first class full serve restaurant.

The superior food will be healthier, better tasting and satisfying.  Jesus himself has said the words that come from God are what give us life.  A good sermon will effectively and skillfully expound those words, the Scripture, illustrating and applying them to the lives of the people listening in the pew.  A good sermon will appeal to the mind or intellect, it will stir and arouse the heart and emotions and finally lead to an act of the will, a decision to apply and obey what has been heard.  These are the three stages of a good sermon.  It has a strong beginning and a clear conclusion.  Most of the sermons I have heard by Episcopal clergy just somehow begin and meander and don’t go anywhere.  They just end in a quick benediction and usually within 10 or 12 minutes (or less) 

Faith comes by hearing the Word.  A perfunctory confessing of the Creed after the typical homily has been heard is not that faith.  If we want people to grow into mature Believers, full of strong faith and well grounded in Christ and His Word [and we do, don’t we?] they must hear the Word preached boldly in its fullness over time.  The old saw is still true: Sermonettes make for Christianettes.
So the question: why don't many Priests preach?  Thank God for the few that do!!
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Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2008 08:42
 
A Different Kind of Memorial PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Wednesday, 02 July 2008 07:09

 

On Memorial Day, the nation recalls to mind those thousands of Americans who have become casualties of war.  We recollect the sacrifice each has made for our Country.  Parades with speeches and wreathes or flowers laid on graves in cemeteries are the usual things that facilitate our remembrance.  Visiting and touching the sculptures that memorialize our dead soldiers, especially in Washington D.C., is a particularly effective way to recall the departed and what they did for us.  That can be a very emotional experience.

All Christians of every kind agree that what Jesus commanded for the Memorial of His death on our behalf is a particular Meal. That is what He wanted to enable our recollection of Him and His sacrifice.  Is that Memorial the same as all the others.  Does it have the same function?

One of the favorite things my father liked to do was go out to restaurants.  Sometimes, when we are out to eat as a family, I recall him- the experience will often make me think of him.  But of course, Father did not command us to eat at a restaurant as His memorial.

The meal Jesus commanded was a specific meal.  He planned the menu.  There were to be no changes or substitutions of any kind.  He even commanded exactly what was to be said and done during this Memorial Meal and even who was to participate in it.  Again, no exceptions.  All of it- the words, the food and the actions of His memorial Meal were instituted by Him.  None of that is true of any meal I have eaten that reminded me of my father.  It is also not true of any sculptured monument, parades, flags or concerts and songs we use to remember our war dead on this Holiday. 

The menu: a loaf of unleavened bread and a cup of the fruit of the vine

The words: [Jesus/Celebrant] This is my Body, given for you.  This is my Blood, the Blood of the new Covenant, which is poured out many for the forgiveness of sins

The participants: Disciples alone.  Later, Paul reported that only those who examine themselves first to be sure they recognize the bread and wine to be the Body and Blood of Jesus may participate.

The action: [Jesus/Celebrant] took, blessed and broke the bread, likewise, he took the cup and distributed each with the command to take and eat/drink. 

There is something else that makes this meal unique.  Except in my memory, my father is not present at the table in the restaurant.  The deceased soldiers are not present in the parade or at the cemetery except in the thoughts of observers standing there. 

As a Reformed Catholic, I do not believe Jesus is physically present in the bread and wine (these elements are not changed into the literal Body and Blood of Jesus nor are the literal Body and Blood received with the  Elements)  However, the Bread and Wine are more than mere symbols.  They do more than represent the Body and Blood of Jesus, which is the Baptist (Zwinglian) point of view.  I was led to this conclusion by what Paul says in 1 Cor 10:16- when we chew the bread and drink from the cup we are literally “partaking” or participating in the Body and Blood of Jesus.   And in 1 Cor 11:29 Paul teaches that eating and drinking improperly is to be guilty of sinning against the Body and Blood and to bring judgment upon ones self with physical consequences.  Surely, more than mere symbols are involved.  Surely there is more than pieces of bread and cups of grape juice involved in the Lord’s Supper. I have come to believe Jesus, is truly present in the words and actions of His Meal.  The words and actions of the Meal communicate the person of Jesus.  This is what makes the Eucharist a very different  kind of Memorial.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 April 2009 09:21
 
When is a Meal not a Meal? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Wednesday, 02 July 2008 07:08

Children and Eating at the Lord's Table

Reformed Anglicans insist that when the Elements of the Lord's Supper are offered to the folks in the pew, the Celebrant must say,

"Take, eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you and feed on Him in your hearts by faith with thanksgiving." 

Our current Celebrant never says this.  This means he most probably holds to the concept that as the Elements are received and digested physically, they act as spiritual food and give nutrition to the Communicants, whether they feed in their hearts by faith or not.  This would explain why small, squirming children are welcome at the rail and are given the Elements, even though they could not possible understand their meaning and could not be feeding on the Lord in their hearts by faith when they chew and swallow.  I have heard it explained, by Priests, that the Elements are real food and nourish those who take them regardless of their faith or lack thereof.  The analogy is made to eating food at the table at home.  It does the children good, they say, even though they do not understand anything about nutrition or how food "works" to keep them alive.  It just does, automatically- the same as the Elements in Communion do.

Well, I don't buy that at all, neither did the Apostle Paul who said, "whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself".  (1 Cor.11:27-29)

Classic Anglican teaching in the 39 Articles of Religion agrees with Paul
 
XXVIII.  Of the Lord’s Supper.

The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another; but rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.
 
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
 
The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith.

I am so bold to say that many who received Communion this morning, including those small children who were fooling around before, during and after, did not meet the criteria. 
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Last Updated on Friday, 19 September 2008 08:56
 
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