Letters from 23 to 30
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Present and accounted
Thank you for your
reminder that 'the church is only one generation away from extinction'. Humans
have a tendency to think that it must have been better in the past, or will
be better in the future — for some reason, we don't want to live in
the present, to 'be present' to our existence as it is, and that is as true
in our personal lives as our corporate and church lives.
I always enjoy having
a look at AO. There is much here to stimulate thought, and there isn't too
much of a northern hemisphere bias!
Blessings on your
work and your ways,
Robyn Parkin, N/TSSF
Anglican Church of St James, Lower Hutt
Wellington, NEW ZEALAND
26 May 2004
As it wasn't and is
Loved the 'front
page' essay last week. It reminds me of a scene in 'I, Claudius',
in which an actor and an ex-actor are discussing the dismal state of
things in their profession. The ex-actor says, 'Well, the theatre isn't
what it was'. The actor responds,
'That's true, but you know, it never was what it was'.
St John's Church, Jamaica Plain
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
28 May 2004
Once again, your weekly
letter was uplifting. The stats you cite emphasize that the Church has
always 'lived on the edge', and that while today's turmoil may be focused
on the issue of sexuality, it is no more troubling than was the issue of
the ordination of women, the revisions of prayer books down through the years,
the admission of children to Communion, and a hundred other eruptions and
boils that have marred the body of Christ almost from its beginnings. And
yet, this Church we love has survived, albeit sometimes in a fractured state.
All this proves to me that the Holy Spirit is at work.
Years ago, when I
was in some distress over a major disagreement in my own parish (not
the parish I now attend) a friend of mine, a priest of the Anglican Church,
said wisely, 'A parish
where there is no sign of turmoil is dead. The fact that people care
enough to wrangle indicates that the Spirit is stirring them up!' I've never
forgotten that, and it is my belief that the Spirit is stirring the worldwide
Church vigorously at present! I wonder what the statisticians in 2104 will
make of all this as they ponder the fate of the Church in their time.
Blessings on you,
you wonderfully sane people!
The Cathedral Parish of St John
Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA
24 May 2004
option in the States
Liz Callison wrote
last week, 'I decided that this conscious and public reaffirmation would
be an infrequent and regular practice of mine going forward — with
me using the process to engage more deeply and with intent on what I do each
and every Sunday in some form. For no really good reason, I decided on 10-year
increments, so in two years' time, I will be up there with the confirmands
reaffirming my own commitment'.
Reaffirmation of baptismal
vows doesn't take place only at confirmation services. At every baptism as
well, each person in the congregation publicly reaffirms his or her own vows.
Like many parishes,
we routinely do baptisms at our Sunday services. For a variety of reasons,
not least that I have a teen-aged daughter , I'm starting to wish that weddings,
too, could be conducted as modest but joyous congregational events celebrated
at the regular Sunday services. But I digress...
Anyway, at yesterday's
9 a.m. service, a parish family presented their new baby to be baptized.
In due course, we all recited the promises of the baptismal covenant. For
some reason, I started pondering the words I've recited dozens of times.
Suddenly the words started to sink in; it occurred to me that those promises
really are worth committing one's life to.
So Liz Callison doesn't
need to wait two more years if she doesn't want to — she can simply be part
of the priesthood of all believers at the next baptism in her parish.
D. C. Toedt
St John the Divine Church
Houston, Texas, USA
24 May 2004
War, truth, and the
I regret that Robin
Bridges was distressed by my comments concerning my reflections of U.S.
President Richard Nixon as it relates to current events. I would not want
to engage in a debate with anyone about the ethics of governments to tell
the truth, because history has already given us an indication that the nature
of government itself is basically secrecy and misinformation to its governed.
My major concern about all that is going on in the world is the justification
of war or wars in the Name of God.
God deplores war or
any activity of humankind that turns us from the Gospel of Love proclaimed
by Jesus of Nazareth. It is so easy for some people to sing praises to God
on the one hand and then ignore all the teaching of Jesus on the other. I
suppose that is the paradox of faith. However, among the
great treasurers of Jesus' teaching is one about 'truth'. He said: 'You will
know the truth and the truth will set you free'. It would seem logical that
'truth' has a liberating effect on the human soul. If we claim to follow
Jesus then we are to be truth-tellers. Some years ago at a national meeting
of one of our sister denominations a resolution was passed by their legislative
assembly directing the church leadership to 'tell the truth.' That action
amazed me that the church should have to be reminded to do that to begin
If we hold that the
standards of the gospel are to be lived daily by persons of faith then it
is expected of those persons to tell the truth at all times and in all places.
The credibility of the Gospel itself becomes an issue. Now when one talks
of the effect of this on persons of faith from other religious traditions
not Christian, it becomes an even more important practice to be truth-tellers
for the followers of Jesus.
Nations rise and fall
in the eyes of world opinion, including the United States of America. However,
this is the nature of world politics. It is when the Christ's Gospel begins
the downward spiral in the world it is a sign that Christians have forsaken
a life of truth living, as well as truth telling. I often try to imagine
what if for over 2,000 years all who followed Christ were like those first
disciples what kind of world would we live in today.
September 11 was a
dark day for Americans. I lost some good friends that day. It changed the
way we think about security and safety in our great country. However, there
was a dark day for the world on a day when God's only Son was crucified on
a cross for a world He loved so very much. I hope the cross will always overshadow
such days as September 11. The souls who were lost on that day were not alone;
God was with them because of the cross. The Christ of the cross overcame
death that we all might live with God forever.
I truly apologize
for the offense I caused to Robin, but I am not ashamed of the Gospel of
Christ for anyone. Thank the Lord for the openness of the Anglican Communion
and this website.
William A. Flint,
St. Columbs Episcopal Church, Ridgeland
Jackson, Mississippi, USA
25 May 2004
We launched our 'Letters
to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our