Thursday, November 30, 2006

Guess the modern "worship" song

I'm rusty, so please point out the mistakes.

V. Gradatim super Orbem progredior.
R. Gradatim super Orbem progredior.

V. Tene me, ut ab veteribus ad novos tecum ambulem.
R. Tene me, ut ab veteribus ad novos tecum ambulem.

V. Per angulam Orbis circumvenio.
Orbem amplius ampliusque cognosco.
Dum nova video,
haec mecum adspices.

R. Tene me, ut ab veteribus ad novos tecum ambulem.

V. Dum per bona et mala eam,
me in via recta teneas.
Si non viam eundam videam
sciam te viam mihi ostendere.

R. Tene me, ut ab veteribus ad novos tecum ambulem.

V. Da mihi fortitudinem in asperitatem orbis.
Fac me amandum esse quamquam Orbs durus est;
saltem cantemque in omnia facta mea.
Tene me, ut tecum ambulem.

R. Tene me, ut ab veteribus ad novos tecum ambulem.

V. Plus vetus quam orbem es,
Plus juvenis quam vitam meam.
Vetus semper semperque novus
Tene me, ut tecum ambulem.

R. Tene me, ut ab veteribus ad novos tecum ambulem.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What is this King of kings?

Sermon preached at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Swanscombe on Sunday 26th November 2006 based on Daniel vii. 9-14, Apocalypse i.4-8 and St John xviii.33-37.

In all the world,
there is none as bald
at this moment as Pontius.

He is tearing his hair out.

Before him stands
a rather grubby little Jewish man
who looks as if he has been
beaten up rather badly.

His clothes are covered in dirt,
his lip is bleeding,
and one of his eyes looks a little puffy.

“That’s going to be a proper shiner,”
thinks one of the guards.

So what’s giving Pontius grief?

Well, this grubby man
standing before him
has been accused of being
the king of the Jews,
and it is these Jews that are expecting
Pontius to do something about
this troublemaker.

The real trouble is that
he doesn’t seem to be able
to get a straight answer out of Him
in this most peculiar trial.

After all,
how can you be accused of being a king?

“Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Are you speaking for yourself,
or did others tell you this concerning me?”

What kind of answer’s that?

How can Pilate find out the truth
if he’s going to get an answer like that?


“Are you speaking for yourself,
or did others tell you this concerning me?”

Pilate can’t quite decide whether
this Jesus is being disrespectful
of his office as Governor of Judaea.

At Jesus’ reply,
he shifts on his throne uneasily,
brushing away an impertinent mosquito
that has decided to try and drill for oil
in his arm.

Certainly, the Jews have shown him
little respect when they delivered
this man to him at this time of night.

They don’t seem to have any respect
for their king either.

What authority
does this poor Jesus
have with the Jews?

What is a ruler without authority?

Perhaps it’s a Jewish custom to treat their rulers like this.

They’re a mad lot these Jews,
always getting their knickers in a twist
about something!

“Am I a Jew?”
says Pilate,
“I don’t understand your customs,
but it was your people
that brought you to me.

I don’t understand why?

What have you done?”

Has this Jesus made
the biggest mistake of his life
declaring himself to be a king
of a people who don’t want himto be king?

What is a ruler without
any understanding of his people?


Jesus looks at him,
wiping away a little blood from His lip,
“My kingdom is not of this world.”

“What?” thinks Pilate,
eyes widening, “he’s a lunatic!

But if he is a lunatic
why are the Jewish authorities
so afraid of him?

Is he their king or not?”

Jesus continues,
“If My kingdom were of this world,
My servants would fight so that
I should not be delivered to the Jews;
but now My kingdom is not from here.”

“That’s true,” thinks Pontius Pilate
relaxing slightly at the news
that Judaea isn’t going to be overrun
by angry hordes intent on chopping him
into pieces.

But what is a ruler without people to defend his rule?


But this Jesus has admitted He has a kingdom.

“Are you a king then?”
asks Pilate,
feeling a little bit surer that he is getting
near the truth about the identity
of this weird little Jew.

“You say rightly that I am a king.

For this cause I was born,
and for this cause I have come into the world,
that I should bear witness to the truth.

Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

Pilate gives up.

“What is truth?”
he says dismissively.

Whoever this man is,
he is not a threat either to him,
or to the Jews.

Pilate decides that Jesus
should be free to live his life.

After all, what is a ruler without freedom?

The trouble is,
as we see in these, the last few hours
of the life of the Lord,
Pilate is not free to let Jesus go.


Is Jesus really a king then?

Is Pilate any more of a ruler than Jesus?

Pilate has authority over the Jews,
but he can’t seem to get them
to respect his decisions.

He doesn’t understand the Jews at all,
and if he had all the armies
in Rome at his disposal,
they wouldn’t get to Judaea
in time to prevent
a rather nasty massacre
if the Jews decided to revolt.

He may have the freedom
to try to impose his will on the Jews,
but he dare not exercise it
beyond what his army can do!
What do you think of Pilate’s status as a ruler?

Is it any better than any other world leader, even today?

What authority does any leader have?

What freedom do they have to do what they want?

Who fights for them?

Do they really know what their subjects need?

How do we answer these questions
about Jesus’ claim to be king?


Questions, questions, questions!

The fact that Jesus is the Son of God
means that he has complete freedom
over all of the Universe
– a freedom that He is prepared
to share with us.

Who fights for Him?
A heavenly army of angels
led by St Michael the Archangel
who defeats Satan,
and we too have angels to fight for us,
because He has given
His angels charge over us.

Does He know the needs of His subjects?

He knows us through and through.

He knows every thought that passes through our heads.

He may sit on His throne of fire in Heaven,
but His heart is with each one of us on earth,
and by living His way
of loving our neighbour as ourselves,
so will we know each others’ needs.

What authority does Jesus have?

He is our Lord and God.

All authority in Heaven and on Earth
have been given to Him,
and He shares this authority with the Church.

Is Jesus a king then?

Haven’t we just said so?

But if He shares all his kingship with us,
and if we keep a true faith with Him,
serving Him and loving Him
and worshipping Him,
doesn’t that make us kings as well?

What do you think?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Apologia pro vita mea (II): Watching out for falling lightning conductors!

Sorry, Cardinal Newman for borrowing your title again!

It seems that lately I am being asked the question "So why aren't you a Roman Catholic?" If I look at myself , I realise that I am practically a Roman Catholic, just from within the Church of England. So why don't I join up with the Holy See?

Well, the answer's obvious: I'm an Anglo-Papalist, i.e. I look to Rome for Doctrine and to His Holiness as Chief Bishop but I simply cannot convert to Rome on my own. I look for the reconciliation of the Anglos with the Romans wholesale, not in dribs and drabs. The Anglican way is rich robust and beautiful, but incomplete without the Roman Catholic Church, and I believe that the Roman Church would benefit enormously from what we Anglicans have learned during our sad time of separation. I would dearly love to see His Holiness engage in further talks with the truly Catholic Anglicans to heal this rift. I know I have Prayer-Book Catholic friends who would disagree with me heartily, but at least we walk in the same direction for the majority of our thoughts, and we can worship together - that can only be a good thing.

At present, I am in impaired communion with the C of E, i.e. I can only receive Communion from validly ordained priests (unlike many of the incumbents within the Communion), and I can only teach the Catholic Faith (unlike far too many priests and movements in the C of E). I am also in impaired Communion with my own Parish in that I have to insert the Nicene Creed and other parts of the Canon missing from the parish liturgy (which has been cobbled together from divers and dubious parts of Common Worship) while the rest of the congregation recite their substitutes (usually some dumbed-down affirmation).

So why do I stay? Because I have to - a situation not uncommon with Anglo-Papalists, particularly with my other more isolated fellows who like me are called to serve in a parish that doesn't want to know. That seems to me the whole point of Anglo-Papalism, that we are meant to be inferior Isaiahs, calling the people to the right way.

I have been umming and ahing about whether I ought to renew my Reader's licence. I have felt like taking off to an Anglican Catholic Church which Albion found for me, and have felt the temptation to swim the Tiber which another dear friend has been urging me. I love both of those churches very deeply because to me they are part of the same wholeness, even though they may not perceive it in the same way that I do. However, my time is not yet, and I must stay in the C of E in a vain attempt to call on the deaf ears of a failing church. There will come a time when I will have to go, and it may not be in the very distant future, and so I do hope to strike up a good relationship with the ACC even while I am still in rapidly darkening regions.

The first thing that perhaps I need to see is how the C of E will manage women "bishops". There really is only one way forward with this - the third province. It simply will not work otherwise.

The second thing is how long I can stick out the "all-singing, all-dancing" Mass at my church. Well, God will give me strength there, I pray, especially if I have to remain there.

As I say in my blurb on my blog (a blog blurb - sounds positively revolting!!) my calling appears to be "to seek the Truth and to help others in their search for it". Of course, my parish only want to hear what they want to hear and will not engage me in debate or dialogue, so I inhabit the edges wild and dishevelled like Patrick Troughton in the Omen. Guess I'll have to watch myself when it gets stormy! Your prayers would be appreciated. Let me know if I can help by praying for you too.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

This is the Word of the Lord

This is my latest article for the Parish Magazine, the December/January issue.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

“This is the word of the Lord”. These are the words said every Sunday by at least two readers and our response to these Scripture readings is always “Thanks be to God” even when the phrase “this is the word of the Lord” appears in the middle of the text being read. It’s an automatic response to a phrase that is engrained within ourselves as part of our Christian belief.

Most of the time the phrase trips off our tongues without too much thought, and its easy to do when the passage that we’ve just heard tells us about the fidelity of God despite our sin. However, sometimes it seems to be rather a weird thing to say considering what has just been read to us. Do we want to say “this is the word of the Lord” in response to “Take all the prophets of Baal and let none of them escape” or in response to the story of the rape of Tamar and the sad death of her brother Absolom in the second book of Samuel. Can we really say “this is the word of the Lord” in response to the savagery of Psalms 58 or 109? Sometimes it just doesn’t seem like it is the word of the Lord. How do we reconcile the savage sounding God who commands the wholesale slaughter of the people of Jericho with the loving God of the New Testament?

A few weeks ago, on Bible Sunday, we read in St Paul’s second letter to Timothy that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” This is all very well, but this sentence of St Paul was written before many of his other letters and before any of the Gospels were written. Indeed, the Gospel of St John was written after St Paul had died. How can this sentence of St Paul that we use to justify our use of Scripture be used to apply to things written afterwards, and without St Paul’s knowledge.

What people don’t seem to realise is that the Bible is incomplete. It is not merely a manual for living life, nor just a textbook for understanding the will of God. It doesn’t seem to make sense in places; in yet other places it is fussy over seemingly ridiculous details which do not seem to matter. The Jews of the First Century were treating the Old Testament just like that. These Jews could easily say “this is the word of the Lord” while stoning an adulteress to death.

At Christmas time, we hear a different phrase: “this is the Word of the Lord”. How is this different from “this is the word of the Lord.” Do you see the capital “W”? This Word is a person, our Christ, the Messiah promised to the Jews with their Scripture, and the Gentiles with their science and philosophy. At Christmas time we celebrate the fulfilment of the word of God in the Person of the Word of God – the Lord Jesus Christ. Without the Word of God, the Bible is rubbish, meaningless twaddle, the gibberings of madmen, inaccurate historians, the wild imaginings of deluded fools.

Indeed, there are folk who take the Bible and treat it this way, interpreting it for themselves, making what it says bend to fit their understandings and attempt to make all around them conform.
All Scripture is indeed God-breathed through the Word of God. Jesus is called the Word because He communicates to God the Father for us, and to us from the Father. It is only through Him that we understand the will of God, and it is only through Him that all those difficult passages of the Old Testament make sense, even if we can’t see how it makes sense. There will be justice for the dead of Jericho, for Absolom, for Tamar, for the millions of slaughtered men women, children and animals, just as there will be justice for all who have been wronged. There will also be mercy in abundance too. Don’t ask how justice and mercy can both be achieved, only God knows that, but justice and mercy are all achieved by the Word of God, born in a stable, brought up as a carpenter, taught as a rabbi, died as a criminal and was raised in body mind and spirit as our Redeemer and Saviour.

Now if there is a danger that the Scripture could be misread, misinterpreted or misrepresented, then what safeguard have we for the Word of God? Well, the Word of God isn’t just found in the Bible, that’s why the Bible is incomplete. The Word of God is in the Church Herself, present in every Mass, in every prayer, in every house-group, within the heart of any human being who genuinely holds Christ as Lord. We should listen then to the teachings of the Church which have been built century on century from the lives of all who have served Christ before, and whose lives are only briefly sketched in the pages of the book we read every Sunday.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Continuum

It is 1 year ago, that a certain Albion Land set up his blog The Continuum. It was as a direct result of this that this little blog came into being, since I pressed the wrong button while trying to post a comment, and found myself lumbered with a blog! Well, this blog has a little way to go before its first birthday in late December. But none the less I'd like to thank Albion, Fr Hart, Fr Kirby and dear old Ed for keeping a mine of information going.

If you want to be part of the Continuing Churches, then this blog is necessary reading, and more. The Continuum as a Church needs to work harder at getting its message across in a liberally dominated society. We need to broadcast our news and come together if we are going to be regarded as the proper Anglican Church (which we are, since we follow the Tradition and Scripture and Reason faithfully). So, dear Reader, if you have never visited the Continuum blog, do it now! You won't regret it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Tradition is not an argument."

I found this on Julio's blog. How I feel for him. We're in a world of iconoclasts insistent on breaking down structures or reasoning and communicating, just so that we can somehow be "free" to be ourselves.

The irony is that it is God who wants us to be free to be ourselves. Indeed He has freed us from the slavery to sin in which we are forced to be anything but ourselves. Now that is part of Christian Tradition - the ultimate freedom - to be what God made us to be. To cast away Tradition is to cast away our link with this Truth.

But why does society want to get rid of Tradition which it sees as restrictive? Why is Tradition so oppressive? Perhaps there is a bit of displacement going on here.

It's easy to displace onto others the faults that we ourselves have, or ascribe inadequacies to others when it is our worldview which is skewed.
We flip the bird to the driver who speeds past us honking their horn aggressively, without realising that we are the one who is driving unhelpfully slowly on the motorway.

If Tradition doesn't allow us to do what society thinks is reasonable, then it must be that Tradition is wrong, and it must be bowlderised so that it fits what is correct in the modern sense. Tradition is a threat to the modern way of living, and the modern way of living cares only about now, never about tomorrow, less still about yesterday.

Tradition has carried the Catholic Faith through all Catholic Christians, all of whom encountered in different ways as different people in different countries with different cultures the same God, the same Truth, the same Creed (modulo a filioque) and received the same Baptism. Tradition binds us together and bids us not to be selfish, isolationist or intolerant. Daily, the current of the World dashes our bodies against the Rock of Tradition, and in so doing we are made smooth like polished pebbles.

Society cannot see this because Society sees what it wants to see, and to it Tradition is more honoured in the breach than in the observance. However, let us not concern ourselves with the big picture. By living our lives according to the Faith that our fathers (all the way back to Our Lord Himself) held but living it as part of our lives as who we are, then we work on the smallest scale possible, sowing minute seeds of fidelity and love that will be missed. God will ensure that these are watered and will grow to proportions that people will not be able to ignore. Let us not depise the day of small things but rather do what little we can. Therein lies the hope of one who is Traditional in the world of Iconoclasm.