Monday, April 12, 2010

Pedophile Priests, the Roman Catholic Church and Other Christians

Reading this article, regarding then Cardinal Ratzinger's actions, or lack thereof, is chilling for a host of reasons. I'll let you draw your own conclusions as you read the article.

Perhaps, as is alleged, the process showed no evidence of a "cover up." Maybe so and maybe not, but at the very least, the entire agonizingly slow investigation reveals a shocking willingness to protect the "universal church" over protecting the bodies, souls and spirits of children. Add this to the numerous sordid stories of other areas of the country, the world, other cardinals and bishops, and the widespread disregard for innocent people makes me feel queasy. I am appalled, disgusted, and grieved. I am also deeply sad for the numerous Roman Catholics who feel betrayed by their church. And I am extremely glad that my own denomination, among others, handles these kinds of allegations very differently. Sadly, at least in my area, many deeply angry Catholics refuse to darken the door of a Catholic church but are unwilling to consider the possibility of attending another kind of Christian church. Contrary to Ratzinger's remarks, the "universal church" is not just Roman Catholics.

And on a different but related subject, see It's Not About Celibacy by Jesuit priest, James Martin. Many people have said to me something like, "Well, until they let priests get married they'll keep having this problem." I disagree.

Obviously, I do not believe that one must remain single in order to minister effectively. I think that celibacy could be an option for for certain Catholic religious orders. Those who feel called to priestly ministry but also want to have a family, like Protestants, could join different orders. An increasing number of Catholics seem to agree. But to equate celibacy with the kind of psychological disturbance, (and sin) that is involved with sexual abuse is disturbing. Do we believe that unmarried persons are more likely to commit rape? (If you do, you do not understand that rape is not simply a sexual act but a violent one.)

For that matter, isn't it time that we Protestant folks stop viewing single clergy as somehow suspect? Have we totally thrown out the Apostle Paul's remarks on this? There are advantages to a celibate life, and Rev. Martin enumerates them well in his article.
And last, lest we non-Catholic church folks be temped to secretly rejoice a bit at the troubles of others, remember that what affects one religious body in a community affects all the religious organizations around it. What affects one denomination will result in difficulty for all of us. Catholic clergy, most of whom want to serve people and are doing so under increasingly difficult circumstances, need our prayers. So do all those precious people who feel betrayed by their church leaders and those who suffered in silence or who, when they spoke up, were shamed, ignored, or marginalized in other ways. The damage is horrific and immeasurable.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Dr. P. Would Give Him a Million Bucks if He Could. Me too.

Update: Sorry about the broken link. I fixed it.

Thanks to D.P. for this info.

Take a look at this article. If we can't all support this poor family, then we are in sad shape indeed! Please donate if you can and/or spread the word.

I suspect Fred Phelps is in for a big shock one of these days... Lord, have mercy!

Monday, April 05, 2010

It is Finished

Ahem...don't mean to be sacrilegious.

If you have been on a journey with me during the days leading up to Easter Sunday, I appreciate the "company." I hope something blessed you in some way. I decided to blog every day mainly for myself, hoping to accomplish a couple of different things (and I did). I did miss, I think, three days. Not so bad! I hope to be a more consistent blogger going forward.

I enjoyed a wonderful Easter weekend, attending a community Good Friday service in the town where I work and now attend church, a nice day Saturday enjoying the unusual early spring warmth as we did some errands, shopped, and prepared food for Sunday. Then yesterday we attended Jubilee AG where I formerly was the pastor. B-I-L Kevin and daughter Kris' and family still go there. Kris (who will be an officially-recognized new Rev. later this month) shared a reflection on resurrection which was excellent. Then we dropped Trinity off with Uncle Kevin and the family went to prison for Easter services. Daryl read scripture, I preached, and Kris made me proud again with too wonderful dramatic presentations. Then home for egg hunting with Trinity (who was SO cute). She insisted on getting back into her new dress, and her glee at discovering the hidden eggs was as great as mine might be to discover hidden $100 bills. Then a nice dinner with the family, which doesn't happen all that often because of schedules.

I also made an important decision.

I hope you had a great weekend as well. Pastor Dee Anna will be back soon. And I'm pondering some things I'd like opinions about, but that will some of the 40 or so people who have been visiting lately will have to de lurk. Can you do it? Sure you can!

Friday, April 02, 2010

At the Foot of the Cross

From John 19
Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, said, “I thirst!” They filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.
And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.

Thank you Reverend Mommy, for this beautiful poem.
I Stand at the Foot of the Cross

It is Friday
It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.
Nothing can be said,
nothing can be done.
Action is futile – hebel.
I can hold the other's hands and weep,
but I cannot be comforted.
It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.
The air is heavy still with waiting and longing.
Waiting for the inevitable, longing for the impossible.
Can this cup pass from me?
I look around me –
all the colors are muted.
Dusty browns and grays –
Cold and metallic.
Rolling black clouds
cover the brilliant blue of the sky
As my soul is occluded by pain.
All that remains is the red of the blood
Running down the weathered wood of the cross.
It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.
I reach out and touch the raised grain of the wood.
It is rough against my fingertips.
The pong of unwashed wool and bodies crowds my nose.
I smell fear, pain, death.
I taste it at the back of my throat.
I hear the labored breathing from the cross.
Death is near.
It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.
Remember Him!
Remember Him
as the silver cord is severed,
as the golden bowl is broken.
Remember Him
as the pitcher is shattered at the spring
and the wheel broken at the well.
Remember Him
as the dust returns to the ground it came from and
His spirit returns to the God who gave it.
It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

I pray each of you has a "Good Friday" that is indeed good--good with an awareness of what Jesus has done because of love. As we enter into a time of waiting, may our identification with him in the hour of suffering and death make our coming celebrations all the more beautiful and joyous.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Cup of Blessing

Today is the day some of us attend services that include sharing in communion. This year I will be attending a Passover meal, but when I return home I will prepare the bread and cup for myself, and I will light a candle, spend some time in prayer and meditation of scripture and "share" the body and blood of the Lord with any of you who might join me, at least in cyberspace, in a few moments of contemplation. So when you have some time, I invite you to go find a small glass and some wine or grape juice and a piece of bread. Light a candle if you like. As I do this I will be praying for you. Ready?

We do not have to talk very much in order to pray well. We know that God is there in His holy tabernacle; let us open our hearts to Him; let us rejoice in His Presence: This is the best prayer.

-- St. John Vianney

Dear God,
Holy is your name! We thank you for sending your Son to be our Saviour. We offer our praise with gratitude in our thoughts for all the glorious things you have created, and the wonderful things you have done. Thank you for bringing us to this night in our lives, for times you have sustained us, healed us, restored us, and blessed us. We rejoice that we are invited to be in your presence. Amen

Spend a few moments in silence as you invite the Holy Spirit to join us.

1 Corinthians 10:14-17
Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

As I read these scriptures earlier today the words that stood out to me were "the cup of blessing." Some of us from the free church tradition can learn from Catholics and mainline Protestants about reverence and significance as we approach the Lord's table. Are these itmes symbolic? I believe so, but to make them merely symbols is to disregard what the Apostle Paul calls, "blessing." Yes, doctrinal stances and traditions differ about just what the elements of communion are to us, but it is clear from the passage that at the very least we are sharing these things as a reminder not only of what our Lord accomplished for us but also a reminder of our shared community, our shared salvation, our shared redemption, our shared hope, faith and love, given to us by the one who died on Calvary. Let's give God permission to meet us in whatever way is best at this moment, and to bless us with the bread and cup in whatever way God wills to do.

I suggest you enlarge the video to full-screen mode.

Luke 22:19-21
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

Eat the bread, remembering Jesus as you do so.

Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

Take the cup, remembering Jesus as you do so.

Jesus, Lamb of God, I pray for those who are sharing in the body broken for us and in the blood shed for us. I ask for wisdom as they face challenges and opportunities, courage as they walk in this dark world as a child of Light, comfort as they mourn losses and disappointments, healing for those who are ill in mind, body or spirit. I ask for mended relationships, renewed hope, strengthened faith, and a new awareness of your divine love. May we sene your presence as we move through these next days, aware of how great is your love for us. Amen