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This page last updated 18 December 2009
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Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking.

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Letters from 7 to 13 December 2009

Like all letters to the editor everywhere, these letters express the opinions of the writers and not Anglicans Online. We publish letters that we think will be of interest to our readers, whether we agree with them or not. If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.

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Happy Holidays, eh?

My problem with Heifer is its recent decision to play down its Christian roots and faith-based history. Having presesed Heifer, they use the escuse of bugets shortfalls forcing program and event cutbacks. However, as evidenced by the Overlook farm in Massachusetts which cancelled its annual Living Nativity using this excuse but which is sponsoring a Living Gifts event the same day the Living Nativity had been planned which requires aroudn teh same number fo staff and volunteers. Do they do good work? Yes, but I do not feel like apologizing for being a Christian and I no longer support organizations that try to go secular in the name of political correctness or the hopes of securing bigger non-faithbased bucks!

The Rev William Bergmann
Good Shepherd, Clinton
Ayer, Massachusetts, USA
7 December 2009

The once and future St Nick

Thank you for all your spiritually sane and happy leading articles that lift one's spirits each week, not least the latest that honours St Nicholas. But I must say December 6th is ALWAYS his festival whether or not it coincides with a Sunday in Advent. "Transferring" saints' days seems rather silly when it is on Sundays that people are most likely to be present in church to celebrate them, and our common sense 1662 Book of Common Prayer makes no rules for such coincidences nor for moving or omitting them.

In 1608 John Donne wrote a poem "Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling upon One Day" and Geoffrey Studdart Kennedy wrote a poem, "Good Friday falls on Lady Day", both well worth reading in this context - not least by compilers of "liturgically correct lectionaries". In 2005 when the two holy days, Good Friday and Lady Day coincided, I know, for example, of one appropriate sermon preached on St Mary at the Cross.

James Woodforde in his diary in 1767 says he read the Accession Service : "as it happened...on a Sunday, I was obliged to as directed". And in 2009 Martin Warner wrote in the Church Times that "by a happy coincidence, the feast of Pentecost" (ie Whitsunday) "falls this year on the same day as the feast of the Visitation".

In my own Sydney parish in fact every year we kept St Nicholas's Day on the first Sunday in December as well as observing the particular Lord's Day. A shortened BCP Matins followed by the Offertory and the rest of the 1662 Holy Communion, included two hymns especially written to honour the real "Santa Claus", with a boy bishop and Sydney Diocese's first girl bishop appointed and duly robed in copes and mitres - also a first for Sydney - to distribute the gifts for the Sunday School children. The service also included children the lighting of the Advent wreath and the usual "prayer candles"- providing over 22 years, in a working class parish, the continued value of the BCP if used, I hope, imaginatively, regularly, and with pastoral flexibility.

In the ordinary world no-one understands if e.g. S.David's Day is kept other than on March 1st, S.Patrick's other than on March 17th, S.George's on April 23rd, S.Andrew's on November 30th - even if they may be a secondary element in the service, and when S.Nicholas's Day falls on a Sunday, it is a special opportunity to remind Virginia and other children, and adults, that yes there is a true Santa Claus but one, who despite the faults some allege he possessed, did live once in Myra and who lives today with the whole company of heaven.

The Revd John Bunyan
St John the Baptist, Canberra
Campbelltown, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA
7 December 2009

Any plan that involves sweets is a good plan

With your front page letter about St Nicholas I thought I would share our chapel's St Nic story.

How do you make sure your parishioners get a taste of Christmas when they all go home on “Christmas Exodus” effectively having them away for Advent 4, Christmas, and 1st Sunday after Christmas? Celebrate the Feast of St Nicholas! Soldiers-in-Training will be sent home from training during the peak of the season leaving most of the Army’s chapels (at least those on training installations) empty for Christmas.

I thought about this as I planned the worship services through Advent and realized that St Nicholas’ Day was on Sunday this year. I decided that these Soldiers should celebrate a feast day with each other prior to their going home. Setting aside the norm of transferring the saint day, we had a Feast of Saint Nicholas at our Chapel of Christ the King on Sunday (the only day I can get them there due to training requirements). The Soldiers got to enjoy a time of fellowship and were allowed to eat the, otherwise forbidden while training, sweets they so often crave.

My wife Becci and our girls made them fudge, pumpkin bread, and a host of other treats for their enjoyment. They also each received the gift of a set of “Anglican Prayer Beads” donated by with which my assistant and I added a couple prayers for those in the Armed Forces they could use to enhance their prayer lives.

They all had a great time.

CH Steven Rindahl
Chapel of Christ the King - Memorial Chapel
Fort Jackson, South Carolina, USA
7 December 2009

Which is the greater sin?

Once again it bewilders me to read statements or comments offered by the ABC condeming the election of a lesbian as a Bishop of Los Angeles. The same reaction came from Lambeth Palace on the day Gene Robinson was consecrated. However, on the same day as the Robinson Consecration, Camilla Parker-Bowles moven into Clarence House to live with the next King of England and the next head of the Church of England (without benefit of marriage)and with absolutely no peep from Lambeth.

It is demoralizing to listen to the Archbishop extoll the evils of non-celebate homosexual and lesbian bishops and not extoll the evils of the anti gay laws enacted in Africa. To me it is not a matter of taking sides rather speaking out of both sides of ones mouth. Which is the greater sin, Your Grace?

Br. Robert James McLaughlin, BSG
St. Mark's
Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, USA
7 December 2009

Will the last Christian to leave the city please turn out the lights?

Your latest Sunday missive is as always (albeit for assorted reasons from week to week) a provocative delight.

My children used to delight in the St Nicholas legends that I would tell them ("all we know, and indeed rather more than we know, of St Nicholas")

But why, I wonder, do we say "Istanbul," which is only a Turkish-language elision of "Constantinople," when we don’t say München or Roma or Mockba? Our Arab and for that matter Indian Muslim and Pakistani friends call it Constantunia, as they have always done, after all. (I learn this from utterly lovely Saudi Arabians of my recent acquaintance. I never succumb to invidious ethnic stereotype but some splendid exception presents him- or herself and utterly confounds it: "Who *are* the Israelis, anyway – clearly what we are always told is nonsense – and why do so many of them look exactly like us?") I’m all for political correctness when it costs no effort, does no harm and probably does some good ("him or her," "African American," "Native American" and "aboriginal Canadian," for example) but surely "Istanbul" is bending over backwards when our Turkish friends have expelled or exterminated nearly all Christians but insist that the Greek Patriarch be a Turkish citizen.

Mac Robb
Holy Trinity Fortitude Valley
7 December 2009

Taking a stand

It seems to me that irrespective of any member of the communion's position or lack of position on homosexuality, they have to decide with regard to the Ugandan bill to introduce life imprisonment or the death penalty for homosexuality, are they standing with the mob, stones in hand, or are they standing with Jesus between the mob and the woman taken in adultery?

Robert W. M. Greaves
All Saints Anglican Church Jakarta
Jakarta, Indonesia
11 December 2009

Earlier letters

We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All published letters are in our archives.



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